The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, June 10, 2011

No Catty Writers Allowed

photo by balkers

        In a former life, I was a quilter. Only handwork for me. While other quilters pieced used a sewing machine, I hand-pieced whenever possible. While others used a long-arm (a huge industrial-sized quilting machine) or quilted with their little Singer/Viking, I loved the process of handquilting. Machines slayed me. The meticulousness of weaving a needle--the tinier the better--in and out of layers of fabric and relaxed me. It was my form of meditation.

         Now I knit. And although I could make vests and wall hangings and occasional bed quilts in my former life, I can only make scarves as a knitter. Fat scarves. Skinny scarves. Long ones. Short ones. Even though my inability to follow a knitting pattern limits me, knitting still serves several purposes. I can make beautiful gifts for friends, and the process of knitting relaxes me.

         If you do crewel, I won't be cruel and say, "I've done that. I don't like it." If you engage in counted cross-stitch, I won't make you cross by declaring you "anal" and continue on about how nit-picky your personality must be. If you love to do crazy quilting, I won't make any snide remarks about your degree of sanity.

         If you're a writer and you're into zombies and the undead (Joe, I'm talkin' 'bout you!), I'm clueless. But I'm not going to consider your talents any lesser than mine. I have no skill in that area, but I bow down when your red carpet is rolled out and your magazine article/short story/novel is carted out. And if you write romance novels, I cannot understand how you do it, but I'm not going to cut you down because your abilities differ from mine. 

         Have you ever been put down over your area of expertise? (You don't have to name any names.) Has anyone ever looked down their nose at where your talents lie? (You don't have to identify the nasal cavity, unless you want to!)

         If you want the high falutin' version on this issue, go to Hope's blog. And if you want to talk trash about my post...keep it to yourself.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What I Did for the Muse

Hatchet           Gary Paulsen is one of the most prolific authors around. He writes mostly books for kids in upper elementary/middle school. His most well-known book is probably Hatchet.  The novel is about a young boy who is on a small plane when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. Brian must land the plane and then figure out how to survive out in the wilderness (with mostly just a hatchet) until people figure out he's gone. (He's out there for a long time...It would be complicated to explain I actually don't remember why no one figured out he was missing for a while. But they didn't.)

       Gary, in real life, had a rough life. He slept on a mattress on the floor of his family's basement, he had to hunt (because he was fond of eating, and his parents didn't consistently provide him with food) and he even hunted and trapped so he could afford clothes and supplies for school. He grew to love the outdoors, and as an adult continues to have adventures in the wilderness, incuding running sled dogs for many years.  

        What is the point of this drivel? Come on! Get to it!

        As Gary was writing Hatchet, he had Brian go fishing, since Brian was starving. If a person is mildly hungry, they'll eat the Mrs.-Paul's-Captain-D's part of the fish we all eat. But, Paulsen asserted, if a person has been hungry for days, they will eat all of the fish. Even the eyeballs.

       Because he's a conscientious writer, Paulsen wanted to make sure he described the eating of the eyeballs in a way that would ring true. And what better way than to eat an eyeball?

         He was out with his sled dogs one day, went fishing, and popped one of the fish eyeballs into this mouth. It was so disgusting, he immediately threw up. One of this dogs was thrilled with this snack, and started gobbling up the vomit. That made Paulsen throw up all over again. 

           This story is in Paulsen's book Guts. In this memoir he tells of being attacked by a crazy moose, about the time he shot a deer and had to ride it home on his bicycle, and many more marvelous tales. It especially appeals to boys. But it's also a writer's book. There are several stories where the reader gets to get inside his head and examine his motivation. 

What would you be interested in experiencing in order to make your writing more realistic?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Magpie Tale #68

     This is written for the prompt on Magpie Tales; it was a photo of a fake (let's hope it's fake) eyeball. I could not save it and post it here, so I found something on as similar as I could.

       Try out a poem or vignette. Try out a Magpie Tale. (And you'll be delighted with a crystal-clear photo, along with inspiring writing...)

photo by fakebread

Randy's Eyes

Out of his head
for their occasional cleaning,
they sat.

just like Randy.

Wallowing in sorrow,
strumming angst-filled songs,
he fled...

Blind to all he left behind.

(Poet's Note: My first boyfriend---the first one I did not stalk, the first one who returned my affections, the first one who did not give me, as a sign of their affection, an Army jacket pin to wear--was Randy who was blind and who did have his eyes taken out occasionally for "cleaning.")

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Slip and a Lie...a Pool Poem

        Although I hardly ever post poetry, I am today, and for several reasons.One, I got sucked in by a hilarious comment Brian Miller made on Fireblossom's blog, which made me want to a check out his blog. He has a poetry blog, was featuring poems about pools---any kind of pools--and I thought...why not?

      Secondly (and finally), this poem came about in an interesting fashion. I was trying to write a prose piece about when I fell off the side of the high diving board and broke my arm (a true story). The memoir (written in indented paragraphs) just would not work.

      So, I switched the genre, and it flowed out...

      Let this be a lesson, if it's one you have yet to learn: if at first you don't succeed, after you've tried and tried and tried again...try another genre!

      (And if you're still awake, here's the poem:)

photo by shanleigh 1973
A Slip and a Lie


defying the sandpaper grip
like a thread through a needle
I slipped
slid under the handrails
fell off
the high dive
half on the concrete
(my arm, stranded)
the other half in water

rising to the surface
one arm useless, damaged
two eyes searching, afraid

looking for someone who

(the lifeguard’s chair was empty)

all along the edges
stood skinny swimmers
layers of water slid off their browned bodies
their knees knocking together
in the cool summer breeze
and their tongues loose at both ends

my swan dive
(done for them)
ended up breaking a wing
suddenly he appeared…
a savior in a Speedo
lifted me up
rescued me

(the absent lifeguard—
never really absent—
had dived off his tower
cutting through the water
the instant
I slipped off the side of the board)

my head down
and refusing to take a bow
I left
left the diving tank
my feet propelled me away from the catastrophe
my arm dangled useless at my side

as I walked toward the exit
I spotted a few kids
(strangers to me)
who missed my fall
the graceless fall
my loss of face

huddled together
shards of frozen Milky Ways
formed brown trails down their chins
as the chocolate melted in their mouths
I slid into their circle
and became one of them
…just for an instant

I cloaked myself under the pretense of a spectator
instead of what I truly was
just a few moments ago—
the featured performer

“did you see what some girl did
in the diving tank” I asked
and left
wrapped up in my beach towel
and my lie