• ethics,  family,  introspection,  motherhood,  writing

    Happy New Year!

    blue_new_year_greeting_card_266209I spent the last day of 2015 switching between taking care of a sick baby, a sick cat and sorting through boxes of my mother’s things.  It’s not just my mother’s things — we are hoping to move in the spring, so I’ve spent the last week decluttering our basement storage so that when we show the house to potential buyers that it looks like a place where you can put things.  I’ve been going through all the stuff that we’ve forgotten that we owned, like fish tanks and snorkel fins and Halloween decorations, and trying to find new homes for them so that our house looks like a place where someone else can put their forgotten stuff.

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    The upshot is that Baba and the cat are both on the mend.  Our eighteen-year-old tabby tore out the dew claw on his hind foot on Christmas Eve, which led to him spraying blood all over our kitchen floor and being very indignant about all the antibiotics and pain medication that I’ve been force-feeding him for the last week.  He’s also been cordoned off from the back yard, which wasn’t too big of a deal until he started feeling better.  It has been Howl O’Clock ever since.  On Thursday, I strapped Baba to my chest and slung the cat carrier over my shoulder and went back to the vet for the follow-up exam.  Baba ate much of the furniture in the exam room while we waited, but the cat’s prognosis is good, even if he is still forbidden from his backyard prowling for another week.  Howl, howl, howl.

    Baba is a little slower to heal, and we’ve spent most of last few nights attending to her cough. It wasn’t exactly my plan for ringing in 2016, but it is what it is. In a sense, I can’t think of a more appropriate way to ring out 2015 than to stumble around with exhaustion after a long night of baby tending.  Here’s to more sleep in 2016.

    After a hard week’s work, I am also beginning to see an end to the basement clean-up. It is a fitting project for the end of the year — trolling through old photographs, journals and letters puts me in a deeply reflective mood. I’ve now outlived enough of my relatives to have accumulated  generations of memories, so many of the letters and photographs that I’m rediscovering aren’t even mine.  Now, I am saving them for Baba, in the hopes that some day she will care as much about our family history as I do.

    I did find my childhood diary, which has only fuelled my recent desire to take up journalling again. For a writer, the benefits are obvious.  I have journalled privately on and off through the years, but it has been off again since Baba was born.  I already struggle with finding enough time to work on fiction and this blog, and journalling was competing with that time.  Time may be a finite resource, but I find that I’ve missed the clarity that journalling gives my thoughts and emotions.

    And yet, after finding my mother’s diaries, I am not certain about leaving behind such a detailed written record for Baba to find one day. My mother died suddenly, decades before she expected to. Her journals are filled with beautiful writing, but it is clear that they were an outlet for her when she was troubled or struggling with the depression that always chased her. This isn’t the picture of her grandmother that I want to leave behind for Baba. Every time I find my mother’s journals, I can barely stand to read more then an entry or two, because I know they weren’t meant for me. I know that I should destroy them, but I also can’t seem to bring myself to do so, knowing that they might have answers to some of the questions of my early life. They provide context to my memories, which my mother might have been able to do if she had lived longer.  I was raised thousands of miles from our extended family, so I don’t have the network of shared memories from cousins and siblings and aunts and uncles and grandparents that so many people do.  I just had my mother, who died too soon.

    In this cleaning, I found a baby memory book that she wrote for me, which has satisfied my curiosity about many questions that I’ve had this year. No one remembers when I began to walk, but my mother wrote it down for me. I found when I got my first tooth, grew my head of hair, began to sit up. I’ve wanted to know this all year so that I might know what to expect with Baba’s development. And here is a book that tells me everything!  I was so excited by this that I turned around and ordered a memory book to fill in for Baba, in case she finds herself in the same position that I am in now.

    What if there are more answers, more context, in my mother’s journals and letters? I remember my mother, mostly as the grinning, silly, playful person that she was much of the time. But Baba would only know her through these very painful journal entries. That isn’t a fair picture at all. And yet, my mother kept journals from 20 years before she died. Did she want us to find them?  Could she just not stand to them go?  There are some questions I just can’t answer.

    For now, I’ve put the journals and letters back in labelled boxes and pushed them to the back of our storage area.  I tell myself that after we sell our house and move that I might pull them out and read through them, but I know that a thousand things will take a higher priority.  They are journeys into the past and it is, after all, a new year now, ripe with the excitement new stories and memories to come.

    Happy New Year!


  • motherhood,  writing

    November, NaNoWriMo, Some Falling Down

    Some time between August and November, Baba changed from being a baby to being a little person — a little person that is brimming with opinions and ideas and curiosity.  I don’t know how it happened, but I suspect the when was sometime around when the plates in her skull fused together, transforming her from mewling newborn into a person.  An actual person, who spends every waking minute trying to find out more, more, more about her world.

    Almost overnight, she had a child’s face and head, and a child’s thoughts to go in it.  Two days after she learned to crawl, she tried to stand, dragging herself up on anything that she could grab.  Now that she can easily stand with help, she’s trying very hard to stand without help.   She manages to succeed for brief moments — a few seconds here, a few seconds there.  She’s taught herself to fall, so when her legs buckle, they buckle neatly beneath her, bringing her down onto her rump.

    Most of the time.

    My writing journey has felt much the same lately.  I’ve had a second short story accepted for publication and I have been holding off on writing here until I have the details to share with you, but it’s been nearly a month now, and the details haven’t come.  So I will share that I hope that things are happening.  The journey continues, but it does so haltingly, a wobbly baby step at a time.

    In the meantime, I decided to distract myself with NaNoWriMo, because I have deeply missed first draft writing.  I am working on an existing project — the novel that I began in graduate school — and I have been furiously burying myself back in the 18th century in order to do it.  Trying to write this intensively while taking care of my Baba has been a constant exercise in acceptance of my own humanity.  Although an experienced NaNoWriMoer, I am nearly 5,000 words behind where I should be. I am only scribbling off this post now because today’s writing went well enough that I started to close the gap.  This year, it’s not about winning NaNoWriMo — it’s about getting back to writing something new every single day, which I haven’t done for months.  On a day like today, when the baby slept and the trains were kind, my success fills me with energy.  I want to stay up all night and crow from the roof.  Tomorrow, well, tomorrow is, as they say, another day.

    And so it goes.  The days pass and I watch Baba, whose journey feels like a reflection of my own.  In the garden, the leaves turn and fall off of all the bushes and vines that I’ve planted, and I know that they too will be back to their productive summer glory…one of these days.

  • writing

    Easy Come, Easy Go?

    Kiera Knightly in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
    Kiera Knightly in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

    Mr. Bennet treated the matter differently. “So, Lizzy,” said he one day, “your sister is crossed in love I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough at Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably.”

    Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

    I had planned on sharing the news with you today of my first publication, a flash fiction story about two people who meet in a diner near a college campus.  “The Diner” was due to be published this morning in The Saturday Night Reader, an online and print magazine that specializes in stories under 1,000 words.

    Instead, I must share with you the sad news of the end of The Saturday Night Reader, as I received notice this past weekend that they closed their doors for good on Sunday.

    Well, okay then.

    It is far worse news for them than it is for me,  of course, but I must admit to a deep disappointment.  After so many years of writing privately, it was a great relief to have a story sell so quickly after I started submitting.  To finally be able to call myself a published author was a validation that all of this time and effort actually was leading me somewhere.  I know that I will get there again, but I need to grieve a little first.

    So there.  That’s the grieving done.

    One piece of writing advice that you hear over and over again is that you need to have a social media platform to have any chance of success with traditional publishers.  This is because the publishing industry is struggling enough (thanks, Amazon!) that taking financial risks on unknown authors is harder to do.  Having a successful social media platform tells a publisher how many fans the author already has, which lets the publisher make a guess at how much money they might make off that author.   It’s just business, baby.

    Other than this blog, I had held off on spending time developing any of this, because it felt like I was wasting time that would be better spent writing.  But with a publication pending, I finally set up a Twitter feed and set myself to learning about marketing.  It…has been an interesting learning curve.  After nearly a month of “interactions,” I still haven’t figured out how to get meaningful conversation and contacts out of it, even though I gain new followers daily.

    My greatest puzzlement has been my followers — the first of which found me before I had posted any content.  I quickly discovered the game of Twitter, as it applies to the writing community, which is to follow lots of other writers so that they will follow you back.  We all win from this — we all appear to be very popular.  But does it translate to book sales?  And, when you follow thousands of people, how do you get any meaningful content out of the Twitter feeds that you read?

    I admit it.  Social media does this introvert’s head in.  Won’t you be my friend/reader/mutual followee anyway?

    So here’s a serious question for you Twitterers and writers.  What tactics do you use to make social media worth your time?  How do you turn the constant chatter (or the loudest-chirp contest) into something that works for you?  Did playing the follower game translate into professional success?

    While I puzzle over the mystery that is the modern world, I’m back to working on polishing some more short fiction for submission.  Stephen King gave a piece of advice in his book On Writing that I have kept close to my heart over the last few months.  If you have enough work submitted, then it doesn’t matter when the rejections come — you still have hope for the fate of the submissions that you’ve yet to hear back on.

    So, cheers, Stephen King.  I’ll clink this glass to yours as each rejection comes in — after all, I’m one of your 971,000 nearest and dearest “friends.”


  • human moments,  motherhood,  writing

    Human Moments, No. 5

    The boy is tow-headed, in the classic sense, his hair blonde in the way that you only see on young children.  He crowds in to the park bench with his brother, who might have been a twin, and his small sister.  They all stare at Baba, from ever-decreasing distances.

    Baba, for her part, stares back at them.  She hasn’t had much experience with children that can walk, and she finds them interesting, nearly as interesting as standing up.  The girl, a curly-headed two-year-old reaches out to touch Baba on the face, while her brother repeats his question impatiently.

    “Is it a girl or a boy?”

    “She’s a girl,” I say, uncertain how to navigate this minefield of children.  Near me, his mother shakes her head, while his sister pokes Baba in the cheek.  “She’s pretty!”

    “But she’s wearing blue!”

    Really?” his mother asks him.  She stands a few feet away, ready to swoop in the second her daughter crosses a line.  We had met just a few moments before, strangers bonded in a quick alliance against greater numbers.  “Really?  You know we’ve talked about–“

    “I like blue very much,” I say quickly.  “I’m a girl, aren’t I?”

    “Yes,” he says, looking at his brother for confirmation.  The other boy nods, shoving his hands into camouflage pants pockets.

    “I would even say blue is my favorite color.”

    He digests this for a moment, then speaks again.  “But, are you sure she’s a girl?”

    “Yes,” I say, laughing.  “I’m pretty darned sure.”


  • books,  culture,  writing

    Where Do You Buy E-books?

    When I moved in to my neighborhood seven years ago, there were three independent book stores, which fell like dominoes that year.  Then Borders Books & Music by my office turned into a bank, while my beloved Strand Annex notified its loyal customers that it was combining with its parent store uptown. The loss of the Strand Annex really hurt, because I was in the habit of spending my lunch hours browsing through stack after stack of stories.  Some of my most memorable books came off the dollar pile there — short story collections from the 50s, post-apocalyptic survival novels, books recording art exhibitions long since forgotten.

    Browsing seems like a lost art now, since it is difficult for me to drop into a nearby book store, even though I live in one of the most populated places on the planet. Every New Yorker knows that the song goes “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” so I admit a great anxiety for the future of book stores everywhere.

    Just yesterday, I got into the old discussion about paper books versus e-books.  I read both, depending on what’s at hand, but increasingly, it is digital books that available.  I do still order books to be shipped to me, from time to time, when the book is something special, or illustrations are an important part of the text.  But with shipping fees being what they are and the nearest book store is an out of the way forty-minute drive,  digital books are accessible books.

    And yet, I’m invested in publishing and writing remaining a profitable industry.  While Amazon is notoriously exploitative of writers and publishers, I bought into their system for convenience when I bought my first Kindle. But I’ve finally reached the moment where my conscience won’t allow for it any more.  I decided I wanted to support a real book store, a place where people can go and look and feel and touch books. Some of my best memories as a teenager happened while browsing the shelves of Barnes & Noble in a mall that is now closed and gone, and I want the next generation to have that experience too.

    I finally gave into my want-not-need longing for a modern e-reader.  I bought a Nook, thinking that at least my new book purchases would support Barnes & Noble — an actual brick and mortar book store as well as a company that has fairer practices for publishers.  Then I discovered that you cannot download ebooks that you purchase through their store; they will deliver them to your Nook, but you cannot download them anywhere else, including your computer. If you later decide that you wish to use a Kindle or a laptop or a tablet that is not from Barnes & Noble to read your purchases, then you’re out of luck.  If Barnes & Noble stops selling the Nook, again, you’re out of luck. This is not purchasing books — this is borrowing them at full price.

    Although my profession makes me think more about technological disaster than most people, it’s not crazy to be suspicious of the perils of allowing your bookseller to store all your books for you. While painstakingly downloading my library from Amazon (book by book, as Amazon provides no other method), I’ve repeatedly hit the message that the title I want to download isn’t available.  Once, while on a downloading frenzy, I was even logged out of my account.  I’m sure that was accidental…or am I?

    I’m not looking to pirate my books.  I’m simply interested in being able to transfer my property between any e-reader that I choose.  I want all of my books, no matter where I buy them, to work on the same device.  I finally got this worked out with my current set of e-books after fiddling with removing DRM for a few days so that I could put my Amazon purchased e-books on my Nook.   (This method has worked well for me.)

    I am admittedly the sort of person who, repeatedly and willingly, makes her life more difficult for the nebulous sake of principles. I want authors and publishing houses to be paid fairly. I want to support book sellers. I want to also own the books that I buy. This doesn’t seem like such a strange desire.   So, what to do?  How do I buy e-books?

    After doing a lot of reading, I’ve settled on a combination of direct purchases from publishers that offer DRM-free books and using Kobo to purchase books that are not offered in a DRM-free format.  Buying DRM-free books directly from the publisher has its obvious advantages, while Kobo is an online marketplace that facilitates e-book sales for independent book stores. If you’re inclined the way I am, you’ll do your shopping through your favorite book store and, presuming they’re a Kobo affiliate, follow their links for your purchase so that some of your money goes back to the little guys.  You can find a list of Kobo affiliated book stores here.

    Kobo delivers its books in .epub format, which can be read in Adobe Digital Editions.  As a Linux user, I’ve set it up Calibre to scan for .epub books and automatically remove the DRM.  I have to manually transfer new books to my Nook (which Calibre makes simple), but I get a a DRM-free copy for my efforts.  If I ever decide to buy a different e-reader after the Nook, all of my purchases will transfer to it without hassle.  Its a little more work, but let’s me sleep a little better at night.

    I think what we will see as the e-book market matures are more marketplaces like Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where book are rented like DVDs. But what will that mean for authors? Will they see royalties for every rental? Or will it become even harder to make a living as a writer?  With the death of brick-and-mortar book stores and decreasing funding for local libraries, how will the next generation learn to love books the way that we do?

  • writing

    On Being a Real Writer

    writingThere are days where I spend my time marvelling at the coincidences of the universe.  As I’ve struggled to turn away from my news feeds, to stop reading story after story of human beings being awful, to try to convince myself that art has value in a world filled with such suffering, I received a notice that one of my stories has been accepted for publication.

    Just  like that, I will go from being an aspiring writer to a published one.

    The brain is a funny thing.  I read the email with the understanding that it would be a rejection, because it was only my second response out of the submissions that I made last month.  When I saw that it was an acceptance, the achievement suddenly became so much less worthy than when it was out of reach.  It must be a terrible magazine, I thought, if they’re taking *that* storyThey must accept just anyone.

    But they are not a terrible magazine.  It is not a terrible story.  The magazine did not somehow adopt lower standards just because they want to publish my work.  I worked hard for that 1,000 words of fiction, honing it and whittling it down into something much better than what I started with.  I did the legwork and figured out a few appropriate markets, then worked to format it appropriately and submit.  (Lesson learned: if your story is on the verge of being flash fiction, make it so.)  There was quite a bit of discovery, which required new approaches and hard work.  That alone is a reason to be proud.

    Artists are, of course, famous for their struggles with self-doubt.  What we do is so subjective that perfectly good pieces of work can be undervalued for centuries before they find the right audience.  Likewise, we’ve all seen art with astonishingly poor craftsmanship become bafflingly popular.  With the advent of social media, it’s certainly obvious that success in the publishing industry often is as much about having a magic number of followers than any inherent artistic merit.  With the accessibility of self-publishing and the many online web magazines, it also feels like there is just so much more of everything already out there.  If you go looking for books written around a certain person or topic, there’s likely to be five or more, published in the same year.   I’ve often wondered if it’s even worth publishing, as much as I like to dream about a life where all my financial worries are taken care of by my writing.  Is publishing just adding another voice to the already shouting crowd?  Where does my voice fit in?  How will I know if it’s any good, when popularity matters more than artistry?

    Yet, I want to write as well as I can.  I want to give back stories to the world, because I have enjoyed so many.  The kindest thing that a stranger has ever done for me has been to create a three-hundred-page world where I can lose myself for a few hours.  I want to pay that forward.  I know that to get to that point, I need to start sharing my work with larger audiences, so that I get the feedback that I need to keep improving my storytelling.

    This first publication is just a start, a small story in a small magazine, with a small payment.  (More details to follow, when the work is actually in print.)  But it’s more than that too — it’s a validation that my writing can be more than a hobby, that there are professionals out there that think it has merit.  This is a tremendous thing.  Later, I’ll worry about that dream of the luxurious house in the woods, where I sit in the loft in front of the huge bay window and write my stories, which naturally flow effortlessly into a perfectly complex first draft.  It’s a beautiful daydream, but it is just dreaming.  Getting my work out there, networking with other writers, keeping a blog — this is the reality of where I need to be right now.

    The next steps are in progress.  I’m already working on the rewriting of the next story that I’ll send out into the world.  On Sunday, I’m meeting with a new writing group that focuses on literary fiction, which is usually code for, “No vampires or ghosts here, thank you.” (Will they love or hate my magic realism?  I don’t know!)  The meeting place is very nearby — my current favorite writing cafe, as it happens — and the group is new, so I am hopeful that it will become a regular resource for me.  Certainly, it will be helpful for me to have the deadlines imposed by meeting with other writers, since finding time to write new fiction has been very challenging since Baba came along.  And yet, it feels like years of work are finally coming together for me, as my daily life becomes so much more writerly.

    And how will I celebrate my first publication?  Well, I sure hope it’s by getting published again, very soon.

  • introspection,  photography,  politics,  work,  writing

    A Syrian Crisis

    I was thrown into a whirlwind of self-doubt last week, after seeing a single photograph.  If you’ve paid attention to the news at all, you already know the one — a drowned toddler, clothed in vibrant primary colors, washed up on a beach.  You probably know the story, too; another migrant family, desperate to escape the civil war in Syria, put their trust (and their savings) in the wrong boat captain.  Half the family drowned and, because of the death of a child, the world is suddenly paying attention.  This is the power of photography – to capture human suffering with a strength that makes people pause their lives and actually do something.

    Suddenly, the world has been afire with criticism for the European reactions to the millions of Syrian refugees.  Perhaps it is because I am now a mother, but that image has haunted me in a way that I can’t remember another photograph doing.  Every child, no matter their nationality or language or ethnicity, has become mine.  It is only chance that my Baba is safe in her crib, while so many Syrian children are still in danger.  To be a parent is to be so aware of how vulnerable you are to great loss, at any time.  It is to know that your heart walks around outside your body — and to fear what will happen to you if you live long enough to see tragedy strike.  This child, Alan Kurdi, was born during the civil war that has torn Syria apart.  He never experienced the safety that I have been able to give to Baba, simply because she was born here and not there.

    It is an awful thought. My heart breaks for his family — for all of the families that have had to make such desperate choices.

    One of the members in an online mothering group that I belong to posted about having a feeling of gratitude that Alan Kurdi’s mother also drowned.  At least she was spared the pain of living, after the drowning of her sons.  It’s an awful sentiment, a terrible thing to say out loud, but also a feeling that I fully understood.  If I were unable to keep Baba safe, but I survived….living would be the harder course, by far.

    When he was interviewed by the press, the words of Alan Kurdi’s father really struck me.  My wife, he said, my wife was everything to me.  How do I go on?  How does he, after the death of his life partner and two of his children?

    How do you go on in the face of such loss?  Your children, your wife, your community, your home.  What do you do when your entire world has become a place of danger, a place of loss?

    It puts the trivialities of my daily trials into a certain perspective.

    What can I do from here?  I can donate money.  That’s easily done.  But what can I do?  Do my daily efforts contribute to making the world a safer place, a place where “the refugee problem” is solved not by finding refugees new homes in new countries, but creating a place where we don’t make refugees in the first place?  In my job, I build a communications network, but that seems feeble.  My writing…well, I have had an artistic crisis, as every trivial scene I’ve ever written feels empty and hollow.  I haven’t written a word all week, because what could possibly be the point of it all?

    I’ve read that there are more people on the move in Europe since the end of World War II.  Armies of people are sitting in camps and at checkpoints on national borders.  Vivid photographs of their marches through fields and along highways have made it across the world.  It’s touching — and frightening — to see just how many people have had to give up their lives.  My heart goes out to them.  It makes everything I do to get through the day seem meaningless.  What does a clever story matter, when there are people who have lost so much, suffered so much, through no fault of their own?

    What am I doing with my life that really means something, when there are such problems in the world?  It’s a question that has lingered with me, ever since I saw a single photograph.

    How to Donate:

    Neil Gaiman and the UHCR’s Efforts for Syrian Refugee Relief
    Unicef’s Syrian Campaign
    International Rescue Committee

  • human moments,  writing

    Human Moments, No. 4

    “That’s a raven.”

    The crow-like bird hops along a wall built high on top of a mountain, craning its head toward us, the curved, black beak opening and closing hopefully.

    “No way. Ravens are huge.  That bird is small,” I say, clearly demonstrating my expertise in all things avian.

    My Beloved laughs.  “They’re little!  Like that one.”

    “Don’t you know about the ones at the Tower of London?  Huge.  At least three feet tall.  But not as big as that eagle I saw when I was running on the beach in Washington.  That one was at certainly four feet tall.”

    “Four feet!  No way. They don’t come that big.  That would be a gigantic bird.”

    “It was gigantic. I was afraid it was going to eat me.  It’s one of the scariest things that’s ever happened to me.”

    “Four feet.” He laughs again.  “Was it standing on its tippy-talons or something?”

    “I swear it was at least four feet tall.”. I pull out my phone, determined to prove my point immediately.

    His baritone giggle ripples out of his chest, filling the cavern of the car.  “Tippy-talons,” he says.  “That’s a good one.  Tippy-talons!”

  • writing

    Toothbrush Inspiration

    The other day, I woke to my alarm for the first time in months.  By some miracle, it was 5:30 a.m., but Baba was still asleep in her crib, contently dreaming about whatever it is that babies dream about.  I stumbled to the bathroom to start my morning rituals with the sweet luxury of not having to rush.

    Then, about the time that my toothbrush swirled around my bottom left molars, I realized that my mind was in medieval Iceland, with the characters of my first novel.  It was as dark there as it was outside my window, but the scene was more desperate.  It was one of the pivotal nights of my protagonist’s life and I could feel, from my toothbrush down to my elbow, the angry energy in her arm.

    Aha!  I thought.  Now I can go on with that.

    Perhaps it is just my curse that I always want to work on the project that I’m not currently working on.  Writing is a practice; the more that I do it, the more my creative ideas flow. Working on any project inevitably spurs ideas for the projects I have on the backburner, which makes focus difficult.  Inspiration hits wherever and whenever it will.  Holding onto the ideas that it generates until you have time to actually do something about it is the harder part.

    I am traditionally a seat-of-pantser, but that hasn’t worked out well for me on novel-length works, because I tend to write myself into  corners that don’t resolve neatly (or, in the case of this novel, at all).  I paused in the writing of my Iceland novel, nearly two years ago, to go off and study more formally, in the hopes that I could come back to it with the skills I needed to let me take the project where I want it to go.  Now that I’ve added another degree to my file cabinet, I want to put those new lessons into practice.

    So for now, I am working out more details the plot, and enjoying visiting with the characters that have lived in my brain for such a long time. My main focus is still on revision and submission of my short fiction portfolio, which is teaching me about the literary journal and web magazine market.  (My favorite discovery so far: publications that want you to give away your work and tip the editors for the privilege of reading — and likely rejecting — your stories.  I apparently do not want to be published that badly.)  I had a goal of submitting two different stories to five different publications by the end of August, which I am right on track for meeting.  And yet, my fingers itch to go back to Iceland and continue seat-of-pantsing.  There will be a full drafted outline before I let myself go there again, because the  last thing I want to do is write another 150,000 words of character development.

    And yet, it couldn’t hurt to write just one scene, could it?  Just one?

  • human moments,  writing

    Human Moments, No. 3

    The Japanese sumac in the yard of the house by the train station is tossing violently, as gusts of rain hit it with the force of a god’s eternal frustration. Across the tracks stands a plastic enclave that provides an illusion of shelter, its yellowed plastic walls holding back the force of the storm, while puddles in the parking lot turn into small, racing rivers.

    A trio of women arrives, emerging from their umbrellas and dark rain coats. They circle together and chat about the normal topics: length of storm, effect on hair, efficacy of their clothing choices. The blonde, her hair carefully curled, her voice shrill, laughs nervously after every comment she makes.

    We press closer and closer to the walls to avoid each other as more people arrive. At last the train comes, honking in an angry whine, hurling itself into the station like the force of the wind. Carefully we board, pulling down our umbrellas and hoods and making new stories with our damp bodies.