Thursday, December 28, 2006
I've been thinking a lot about the creative process this week. My dear husband gifted me with MOCKINGBIRD, a biography of Harper Lee, for Christmas. Friends of Miss Lee gave her a year's worth of financial support so she could write her book. I keep thinking, what if these 'angels' hadn't taken the author under their wings and provided her with the means to produce what is a classic novel about the South and racism? Would TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ever have been written? Every artist needs the support of someone who believes in him/her. Van Gogh had Theo. DaVinci had the wealthy Medicis. Michelangelo had patrons all over the place. But they're visual artists. Who supports the writers of this world? Grants, yes, there're some of those out there. Film institutes give film makers some moolah. But most of the writers I know either teach (sucking creativity out of you by the ton) or labor at boring jobs they hate, praying to get home to their true work, albeit exhausted at the end of a long day. A few of us have the unwavering support of families who believe in us, and for this, I'm truly grateful. What a wonderful gift, that of emotional and financial support for something that seems so esoteric to those who don't write. It's rare, believe me.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Speaking of feathers, a young hawk has been using my yard for his buffet table. I ran into him by accident as he munched on a squirrel, and he and I stared at each other for what seemed to be quite a while. I think he was wondering if I was going to make a grab for his lunch, and I was wondering if he was interested in eating cat. Specifically, mine. The Biffmeister may have his yard forays curtailed until the Hawk finds fatter squirrels elsewhere. What surprised me most was this wildly beautiful creature treating a half acre of suburbia as if it were an unpopulated expanse of trees and critters. The way my mind works, I extrapolated this line of thought into the untamed and wild humans who don't know how or can't survive in civilization. I feel another plot coming on... Jeremiah Johnson was one of my favorite movies. Have to track it down and rewatch it. None of this makes sense, I know, but my mind is hopping around like Santa from chimney to chimney, and trust me, I know where I'm going.
Merry Christmas to you and yours, if I don't make it back before the 25th.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In spite of the chaos of Christmas entertaining (sigh, why do we do this to ourselves?), I'm getting work done on Darkroom. Still tweaking. Still searching for the perfect verb. Since I don't read in the genre I'm writing (and never will again, since judging the Edgars about did me in), I picked up Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May and Kingdom of Summer. They're the first two books of three, written in the early 1980s, and are a retelling of the Arthurian legend that's most original. I love the deft use of supernatural elements and the fight between the Light and the Darkness. Good books. I'm going to track down the third book in the trilogy and research her newer books as well.
My nestlings are coming home this week, so the house will be filled for Christmas. That's my present to myself. I hope you and yours enjoy your time together.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Without NASCAR, (sob, sob!), I tried to fill my need for Speed by watching the NASCAR awards banquet. Please, get rid of Jay Mohr. He's an embarrassment. All in all, everyone looked uncomfortable in tuxes and best behavior. At least Denny Hamlin knew it ("Did I suck?"), and provided a rare moment of genuine humor, unlike Mohr's forced tackiness.
The fir tree is on the front porch, ready to come inside so I get decorate it. Colored lights are everywhere, and once I start the baking for my dad's 85th birthday party, it'll smell like Christmas as well as look like it. I love this run up to the 25th, but by the day after Christmas, I want it all down and packed away.
BTW, anyone have any ideas for gifts to give the man who has everything, and if he doesn't, he goes out a buys it?
Thursday, November 30, 2006
But I'm baaaccckkkk. . . and now that the outdoor Christmas lights are up, I'm feeling more in the spirit of the season. The tacky NASCAR Christmas palm tree is lording it over the family room (yes, you read that correctly), and the traditional fir will go up soon in the living room. Oh, I loaded the palm tree up with red chili pepper lights, to add insult to injury. I'm entertaining this season, and I can't wait to see jaws drop when their owners see Tony Steward, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards all over the tree. The shock value alone will be worth the effort, LOL.
I ran into a lady looking for a good mystery/suspense/romsusp yesterday, and to my shock, the shelves were devoid of the authors I love to recommend. Not a one was out - and it's not a good trend. I know shelf space for booksellers is at a premium, but jamming Nora Roberts (merciful heavens, the woman is prolific) and Janet Evanovitch into every square inch doesn't leave room for other good authors. Enough with the backlists, please.
I'll be in and out in the next few weeks, inbetween all the hubbub and working on the umpteenth version of DARKROOM. I love this book, and it's not leaving my computer until I have it exactly where I want it.
Hope you all save some time for the writing. I know it's what helps keep me sane this time of the year.
Monday, November 20, 2006
I'm hosting the Big Dinner this year, so my writing time is taking a hit. I can plot as I mash, baste, peel, and saute', but it's harder, LOL. It's a lovely day, Thanksgiving, and I'm very appreciative of this opportunity to thank all the people who mean so much to me, for their love and support.
BTW, I just started Eileen Dreyer's HEAD GAMES, and she had me with the first page. Scary stuff, great hooks,and wonderful writing. I also finished Karyn Witmer's A SIMPLE GIFT, in case I didn't mention it, and it's a book you need to run, not walk, and buy. A rings-true story of a marriage in trouble because of a troubled child, and what happens when a surfeit of love is thrown back in your face. I cried. The ending is good, however, so all you HEA types will be satisfied.
On another and not so pleasant note, I hear there's a row between the prolific and well-respected Anne Stuart and an anonymous blogger who crowns herself Miss Snark. The issue is: can you ever criticize your publisher in public? Well, do you criticize anyone, except politicians, in public? Is it a Southern thing, to keep your complaints private? Probably, as it's very old-fashioned. I wouldn't have said (for print)what AS did, but she just has more balls than I ever will. Dirty linen and all that stuff. . . At least AS doesn't believe in rolling along with the status quo, which is a good thing for writers who want more.
And don't we all?
Still and all, gratitude pays huge dividends, and wanting, it seems to me, denies having the good already bestowed.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Speaking of Cup runs, loved seeing Kevin Harvick up on the wheel yesterday at Phoenix. Harvick, you're the man. Johnson may take the Cup this year, but he hasn't won the races Harvick has. Running second all the time doesn't make you a winner in my book. Here's to next year, and a 2007 Cup champ I can respect. I want goosebumps when the winner takes the checkered flag. Harvick is one of the rare breed who can do that for me.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
However, stock cars and NASCAR aren't on my anti-progress hit list, not yet. Brian Vickers' lightning fast qualifying for the race in Texas tomorrow got my heart pumping. Okay, so some things can still go really, really fast.
Wish the writing went faster. Normally, I'm pretty quick, but right now, it's going at the pace of a very old, very slow mare. I'm not going to apply the whip, not yet. I'll let it plod along until something jumps out of the bushes and gives it a good scare to get it going.
I'm reading The Thirteenth Tale, sold to me by a bookseller who recommended it highly. I love the way it describes the narrator's love affair with books, but in all honesty, it needs to get itself in gear. A little bit of Brian Vickers wouldn't hurt.
Okay, so I'm slightly hypocritical when it comes to speed. Stock cars and book openers need it.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Yesterday's race in Atlanta ended up on TiVo because we were too busy to watch. Yikes. Must prioritize better. The fall plantings had to get in the ground, however, while the weather is good. I want peonies next year, and had to clear room for new azaleas. Digging in the dirt is good for creativity, I've found. New ideas turn up with the loam.
I'm into gratitude in a big way, as well. I'm grateful for safer cars (won't go into details, but now I NEED a new car), a loving family, and all that's right in the world. It's easy to get swept into negativity, but so much more productive to see the positive side of things.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
What the TV cameras didn't show was Jack Sprague's little girl, racing onto the track and into his arms after he exited his truck. Watching him swinging her around in a big bear hug, I thought to myself, "this is the real prize, and he knows it." Good man.
Maggie Sefton, of the Knit One, Kill Two mystery series, is coming to visit on Thursday. It'll be fun to see her again.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
We're racing this weekend - my fav short-short track, Martinsville, where we'll have our college kids and their buddies in tow. Even my intellectual, quiet, very refined child is going. We talked her into the Daytona Busch race this past summer, and much to our surprise, she loved it. On her feet, fist pumping the air, she screamed for Todd Kluever in the 06 car like a Nascar veteran. Now, she even owns a Greg Biffle hat and has an 06 sticker on her car window. Our racin' child is, of course, going - I don't think we'd be allowed to survive if we didn't pick her up on the way to the track, LOL. Looking forward to it.
The book revisions languish as I assemble all the racing gear, tailgating food and supplies, make sure batteries are operational for all the headphone radios, etc. No complaints - it helps to get away from the computer for a few days. My new motto is: don't sweat the small stuff. It's the big picture that counts, both in fiction writing, where you have to have a story and without one, even the most brilliant prose is just that, prose, and in life. Take care of the details, but don't obsess. Remember, it's the big picture that counts.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Growing up means taking what you don't like or want along with the good stuff. It'll turn around if you hang in there long enough, and if it doesn't, well, it's time to take another tack, find another path, etc. When a book doesn't want to come around, no matter how many chances I give it, how much I spill my heart and craft into it, it's time to shove it under the bed and let it gather dust bunnies.
You may have gathered I'm in the throes of manuscript revisions. One is coming along nicely, thank you very much. The other....well, it's half-way under my bed at this moment. I'll give it another go tomorrow, but I refuse to suffer over it anymore if it's not going to be nice.
Jimmie Johnson, be nice. Earnhardt has been. And if you can't be nice, at least have the decency to mope out of sight. Under a bed, maybe, with the dust bunnies to keep you company?
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Missing the game plan by that itty-bitty bit happens all the time in the land of fiction writing. Now, no one hits the wall, no one flips like a quarter settling a bet, and no one gets hurt. (I hope not.) But let's be honest - sometimes we just can't get that chapter "right," or a character doesn't quite come to life. It's almost there, but it's still a miss, and you end up in the infield wondering what happened to your story. Been there, done that - a lot. What do you do? As Junior says, there's always a race next week, and there's always another chance to fix the bad stuff. And if it's not fixable, well, you shake your head and walk away. Sometimes the frame is too bent.
Just finished Shana Abe's The Smoke Thief, a fantasy romance set in Georgian England that's lushly written and filled with exquisite details. I've never read Abe' before, but I'm glad I found her.
Saturday, September 30, 2006
When I'm working on a book, however, I'll fool with it 'til the cows come home. I'll spray it with ideas and stick it with words, then pull them out and throw them back in, until it feels right for the story. Getting the story into shape requires patience and persistence, both efforts I'm willing to give the work.
Not hair, however. It's on its own. I wonder about that word, hairdresser. Did it originate in the days when men and women wore elaboratelyl powdered wigs that needed 'dressing?' I'll have to check that out. I might need the information one day for a story. You never know...
Oh, just read Jennifer Archer's Off Her Rocker. I liked it, but I still think her The Me I Used to Be should have won the Rita Award. I'm also re-reading Elaine Pagel's Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. It's been a while since the last reading, and I'm still pulled into it as I read. Lots to think about.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Good point and well said. Why do we settle for "almost" there? Service that's barely service. Repair work done in a sloppy manner. Books that have a great opener, then slide downhill from there. We shouldn't settle. I'm a quick writer, which means that once I have the story and characters in my head, I spill them on the page. Going back, I clean up the language, polish, cut, add where I need to, and hopefully pat and shape the story into a firmer mold than that first draft. I can't imagine doing otherwise. When it leaves my hard drive, it's as good as I can make it. Not perfect, and often not what I originally envisioned, but I'm usually exhausted with doing my best to make its final form as good as I can.
As my father always said, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.
And as my husband says, why settle?
And to Jeff Burton, congrats on the Dover win. He didn't settle for second this time. What a great race with Matt Kenseth.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Diversions abound, I fear. The ten cup races that remain in the chase. Weekends traveling to the races. Some good movies. Loved "Hollywoodland." "The Illusionist" was perfect. A new Rexanne Bechnal book I just picked up. (Old Boyfriends - what a winner.) Dust bunnies and dog fur all over the office. Parents Weekend at my daughters' schools. Friends. Dates (! Yes!) with my dearest. Empty nesting is like being newly married. I highly recommend it. But the diversions are going to have to go away if I'm actually going to get anything done, LOL.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I'm reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips' AIN'T SHE SWEET? I don't know how I missed it, since DREAM A LITTLE DREAM one of my favorites. The heroine did something (actually, many things) that were unforgivable when she was a teenager, but now she's back in town, fifteen years later, downtrodden but not willing to give up until she does what she needs to do. Her goal is altruistic, but how to show a character who, before the book began, did something so awful the reader cringes while reading about it - that's where the magical Phillips touch is at its peak. If Harvick was the Magic Man on Saturday, SEP is the Magic Woman of women's fiction.
Tomorrow is the day when everyone will be thinking of the Twin Towers in NYC. It sounds very sixties and trite, but what we need is Love to overcome hate. Hatred has no power and can only crumple like a wet paper bag when exposed for the fraud it is by the power of such love.
Monday, September 04, 2006
I like the idea of trying something different. Forget tires, forget pit times, forget riding the low or the high line - get down to basics. Betting it all on a splash of gas was gutsy, and even though Reed looked totally dejected by his 21st place finish, he deserves kudos. He tried the ultimate strategy - did he have enough gas to cross the finish line without a pit stop? Not this time. But I liked his thinking. Go flat out, put it all on the table, don't hold anything back.
That's how I hope to write. Throw it all on the track, don't hold back. If it doesn't work, well, it doesn't work. But I'll have tried.
By the way, the Richmond race this coming weekend promises to be a lulu. Kasey's Big Mo better stick with him if he wants to make the top ten for the Chase. Think of me tailgating and screaming my fool head off at the track. Can't wait!
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Did I mention reading Rexanne Bechnal's OLD BOYFRIENDS? It's wonderful, and I highly recommend it. I wish I'd written it.
So, I'm working on WHATEVER LOLA WANTS, shaping up the first three chapters and synopsis, while I let SAVING THE SUN GOD sit. Time away from something new is what works for me - I can see it with "fresh eyes" when I pick it up again to give it a thorough reading. LOLA is rolling onto the hard drive at a mile a minute. I'm really liking the heroine, Genevieve Caradon, who has just adopted a multi-racial child in Macedonia, Georgia. Lola, the child, wants a daddy to dance with her at the father-daughter dance at her school, and Gen is determined to give Lola whatever she wants. Only Gen is middle-aged, never had a serious beau, and is a librarian who was raised by her two gay uncles. Lola, however, is determined. How she goes about getting men interested in her new mommy is a riot to write.
It's nice to be home. The dog and I are still listening for a car door to slam about 3:30, 4:00, and a crowd of kids to pile into the house, but we're loving the quiet.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
But when my daughter's first day of classes at her university were cancelled because an escaped killer (two law enforcement officers slain) was on campus, I experienced one of those horrible mother moments when your stomach literally knots and you can't breathe. If I hadn't been with my writing friends, having our monthly plotting session, I'd have been flying down the road, pedal to the metal, to her school to protect my baby. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and we continued to work on plot problems, all the while praying for calm and the police. The bad guy was apprehended, the campus went back to normal, and I can breathe again.
Real life is much scarier than fiction, trust me. It takes a lot of prayer to see through the darkness.
Friday, August 18, 2006
I'm living with to-do lists permanently attached to my hand these days. I'm hoping, once my oldest is back at her university in another week and a half, I'll be down to one thing to do - WRITE. It's been hit and miss this past week, and I'm feeling antsy about my hero and heroine. I'm anxious for them to get into more trouble, work their way out of it, and discover they love each other at the same time.
An interesting tid-bit from RWA Nationals - did you know that of the mass market paperbacks sold, 55% of them are romance? And of that 55%, 20-25% are classified as paranormals. Wow. Interesting statistic.
Before I forget, run out and buy John J. Lamb's THE MOURNFUL TEDDY. Good mystery, great read, even if you're not a teddy bear collector. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 13, 2006
The horrible heat has broken for a few days, and I took time to plant an ornamental given to us by a friend, as well as tackle the hairy bushes. Ripped out my fried tomato plants, sigh. It's a lot like writing through the hairy parts of a work -in- progress. Taking a few hours to trim back the wild branches in the story gives me a clearer view of where I'm going with the next chapters. Tearing out the dead parts makes the plot cleaner as well. Hate doing it, but it's better now rather than later. If I'm terribly fond of the discarded prose, I saved it to another file and delude myself that I'll be able to use it later. Never happens.
Oh, read James Lee Burke's Crusader's Cross while at the lake. I'm worried about Dave.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
So, off to Atlanta next week for the Romance Writers of America conference. I love the energy that comes from assembled artists. It's almost as if we absorb creativity with every breath at a conference with the depth and scope of RWA's. The only down side is having to wear shoes - I really have a hard time in a hot summer slipping into anything but sandals on my feet. So if you see a lady in a suit wearing Dr. Scholl's, you'll know I gave up on the shoes. Say hi if we run into each other on an elevator!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
I'm putzing with the current WIP. Made a huge dent in my TBR pile in Florida (beach, umbrella, book - what else is there?), and came out of them with an uneasy sense that I don't like a lot of the new stuff. Judgmental characters. Too much insight, answers that come too easily. Coincidences that solve the mystery. Flawed characters who are almost perfect in their flaws. So I found some old Georgette Heyers I'd packed for the girls (I have one Jane Austen fan who will read GH because she's as close as she can get to the Real McCoy, and honestly, how many times can you read Pride and Prejudice?), and fell in love with her all over again. Witty dialogue. Characters who struggle to understand and cope with situations beyond their control. Flaws that are both unique and very human. Charm mixed with pathos, frustration, and anger. What a writer she was. I'm green with envy.
Time to quit the putzing and get in gear. As Elliot Sadler (the #38 M&M car) says, put it in fourth and stay there. (Has anyone else noticed how cute he's gotten?)
Friday, June 23, 2006
I thought it was hard to write in the summer when my children were little, but it's just as hard now. I can find a zillion other projects demanding my attention. Hours spent watering the Viette day lilies, the zinnias and geraniums, the pikake and impatiens, weeding the garden and mulching it, are well spent, but not conducive to finishing a book. Sigh. I'll get it done, but only if I can't find any more excuses to pull me away from the office. Now that I've given in to the AC, I can't complain that it's too hot to work at the computer.
But I can worry about the Mountain Laurel I put in the ground two weeks ago. Maybe I'd better check on it, see if it needs more water in this heat.
Monday, June 12, 2006
I love the company of other writers. The creative energy never fails to work its magic, and the gift of new ideas and ways to get the words down on paper is priceless. Even when the writing is trickling like mud through an hour glass, being with other writers lifts me up and inspires me to get back to work. The writing has been slow recently - family obligations, graduations, life - but I'm ready to plunge back into the melee and start shaping characters and plots again. I love this part the best - the stage where I'm learning who these people are and why they're doing what they're doing. Reworking a finished piece is never fun, and it's hell when I can't figure out what went wrong. Whenever I see the missing puzzle piece, however, I feel as if I've been given a gift from the writing gods.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, May 26, 2006
The site's new look is fantastic. Plus, I have a few pictures from tracks we like. (Nascar, of course, LOL.)
Friday, May 19, 2006
Monday, May 08, 2006
Monday, May 01, 2006
Now back to work on the action/adventure/romance. I'm dying to see how these two, Matt and Frankie, figure out they can trust each other. Trust is the first step to love for them, but it's going to be a long row to hoe. I believe in making life hard for my characters, on the theory that they have to earn their right to happiness. Working hard for the good stuff makes for a better story and better people, in life as well as in fiction.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
It's the same with my closets. Packed to the gills with the extraneous. I've toyed with the idea of a mass throw-away. A wholesale tossing of stuff no one cares about. However, there's one problem with my resolve to make more space. In my family, one line of women were sewers. Their creative talents showed up in smocked baby dresses, embroidered blouses, and elegant gowns that have been passed down through the generations. When my oldest child had to dress as her book character for a book report in the third grade, I found a 1930s dress for her to wear as she pretended to be Beverly Cleary. The other daughter discovered an original Hawaiian 1930s gown to wear to a dance, a style and era that fit her curvy figure perfectly. The same daughter wanted a graduation dress that wasn't like everyone else's (they have to wear long, white, and no cap and gown), so we shopped for a pattern and fabric to her liking. It's finished (thank goodness, well before the big day), and she brags to everyone how she and her mother made her dress. I'm sure her friends think she's insane for not buying a wedding dress, which is the norm for this crowd. She'll be the one in a simple white eyelet sundress she helped sew. One day, she'll find that dress in the back of a closet, and it'll bring back memories I hope she'll cherish. So for now, I've talked myself out of tossing the closet contents.
Unlike my story-stopping chapters, they can stay.
Monday, March 20, 2006
I heard a talk by the incomparable Merline Lovelace a couple of weeks ago and was very grateful for her comments about how to start a story. I know what to do - get into the story with a solid swan dive. But for some reason, I always have to work out about forty pages before the story starts. The current work-in-progress has had at least five opening incarnations - a record for me. And I’m still not happy with it. Merline reminded me of the basic truth I’ve always worked with, and I just need to take a strong hand to the first three chapters and delete like crazy. Easier said than done, LOL.
Oh, I just received my panel assignment for Malice Domestic. Nine a.m. on Sunday, the 23rd of April, with a book signing to follow at ten a.m. Yes, the River Knows has been out since December, so maybe those of you who’ve read it would like to stop by and tell me what you think. I’d love to see you!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Since mysteries are focused on murder and mayhem, I haven't had this problem - until yesterday. I sat down to write the murder scene for a character to whom I've become inordinately attached. She's solid, living, and needed to die to propel the action. Couldn't do it. Just couldn't leave her dead in the fields of Culvert County. Instead, I gave her a reprieve by telling myself I could use her in another way, and proceeded to shoot a secondary character. He'll have to get a bigger role in rewrites to make his death serve the same plot function as Elnora's would have, but at least I skipped over the dilemma of losing Elnora.
This power-of-life-and-death thing is scary, sometimes. When and if you meet Elnora, congratulate her on her ability to take her own destiny into her fictional hands, and let me know if I did the right thing for the story by reprieving her. I sure hope so.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Friday, February 10, 2006
Saturday, February 04, 2006
I wish my fiction drove people into action to right wrongs and do what's right. Think of CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY. What a novel! All I can do, so far in my career, is shine a light in the dark corners of the individual human experience as my characters live it, and hope the revelation spreads luminosity and healing once the last page is turned. If the stories are entertaining as well, I'll be halfway there.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Good words. Strong words. A Turkish novelist, recently accused of crimes against the government for his criticism of its practices, is another activist who has garnered international support. Charges against him were recently dropped. We can make a difference. Speak up if you see wrong being done. Don't tolerage even a tiny bit of it. Work to obliterate evil done in the name of the "greater" good.
When you think about it, novels are a pretty good vehicle to carry the message. In the guise of entertainment, they can unmask the ugly, laud the good, and condemn the bad. My last mystery, Yes, the River Knows, deals with racism in the South, but its message is about redemption. Even the worst of all the ills can't hide if writers keep pulling back the skin to expose the wound to the light of day.
Think about the potential difference each of us can instigate. Mind-boggling.
Monday, January 23, 2006
On another note, I'm sick of Hewlett Packard computers and their crummy warranty service. Long tale made short, HP refuses to replace a disintegrating keyboard on a less than three-month-old laptop. Keys fly off willy-nilly, keys stick, and I haven't even had a chance to abuse this Pavilion yet. Their attitude is arrogant and condescending, and I'm willing to take them on in court. Tackling a big corporation is going to be fun. It may even find its way into a book!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The good news is, Florida and the Daytona 500 are a mere four weeks hence. Yes! I've taken my Mark Martin hat from the shelf and started wearing it around instead of my wool cloche. The sunglasses have gone into my race day backpack. I'm plotting our route to the track, where we'll park, what food for the tailgate party.
The sun toasts my arms, the engines rumble and scream like the Allman Brothers on a roll, and high octane fuel spits out fumes - in my imagination. Four more weeks! Yes! I can hold out!!
Monday, January 09, 2006
I'm really lucky, and I know it. I have writing friends who are not only nice people with good hearts, they have the courage to tell me when I'm messing up a manuscript. I just returned from a weekend where we camp out at a friend's condo in the mountains and work. And I mean, work. We brainstorm, critique, plan, encourage, etc. I discussed a book I wasn't happy with, and they hit right at the heart of the problem. Now, I just need to rip it apart and start over, but at least I was only sixty pages into it. It could have been a lot worse.
On the up side, everyone came away with a firm idea of what to do next with the writing and how to get there, and that's pure gold. There's nothing like creative energy that mushrooms, and we had that going on. Good food, good friends, creative energy, and a beautiful view - what more could a writer want? Oh yes - husbands who held down the home front while we worked. Boy, are we lucky, each and every one of us. And we know it.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Our second trek takes us on New Year's day through Cold Harbor, where Grant threw men like confetti at Lee's army. He wrote in his autobiography that Cold Harbor was his one regret. Men pinned their names on scraps of paper to the backs of their uniforms, hoping their bodies could be identified when the shooting stopped. Corpses were stacked for barricades, as Union soldiers tried to shield themselves from bullets that ploughed the dirt fields without ceasing. We just returned from there, and as has happened each time my feet hit the ground at Cold Harbor, I feel uneasy. There's something about the place that forces me to walk faster, get back to the car quicker. They're still there, the thousands of dead, and I honor their sacrifices, their horror, their sheer guts that forced them to their feet to run into a wall of sharpshooters when the command to do so bugled forth.
Every time we pull into the tiny parking lot, I remember what those men, dead so long ago, sacrificed to keep our country a union. I feel, through every inch of my being, a pale shadow of those long, awful days under a hot June sun.