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Archive for the ‘New story’ Category

Cusps

In Hautvoir, Local projects, New story, notes, proto drafts on January 19, 2016 at 9:21 am

So many strands of thoughts, images… This one, for instance – a chance view on something streaming across a social media platform : a small boy (about three years old). Adults hand him a stick and invite him to strike a piñata shaped like a roly-poly being about his size. The boy obliges with one or two swats. Then, he drops the stick, approaches the figure and hugs it in obvious sorrow. Behind him, the adults laugh.

Moving ever so slowly into this new attempt at story. I suppose the pace will pick up with other characters. Something tentative about this one. Clearly, he hasn’t been doing much “sharing” for a long time.

Allez. In my case, the socializing begins in forty minutes. Shower, breakfast, and move along.

A First

In Animals, Current reading, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, New story, notes, Querying, Sanford Meisner, Synopsis on January 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

Morning showed up much too early today – at 5 AM, in fact. The dog, eager to move. Not I, so I indulged in a fantasy life wherein no external obligations impinged on my morning off. The fantasy carried me all the way to 5:30 AM after which I went outside and kept a distant eye of the dog so she wouldn’t swallow too many poisonous items. Said poisonous (or intentionally poisoned) scraps put a real damper on pleasant strolls with a canine. Some folks around here put out poisoned rice against the pigeons, others poisoned meat against cats, dogs, rats, mice, whatever.

No poisoned bait ingested this morning. I indulged further by napping on the couch, then reading one of Deborah Eisenberg’s short stories titled Robbery. Now, at almost 9 AM, I’ve opened the shutters at last, and am giving slow thought to the day’s activities.

There’s a somewhat disjointed, suspended feeling at play. For once, after finishing a piece of writing, I’m not in a state of bereavement, but neither am I clear on what happens next out in the story world. Real life keeps providing fresh material – no problem there. But stories don’t spring up just because events suggest themselves as likely contenders.

As for taking on the synopsis/query letter business…the haze that rolls into my head reminds me of someone’s definition of laziness as the universal remedy against useless work. While querying may not be useless, it definitely feels like homework, something there’s no lack of in my life.

Friday morning off. A fresh supply of Badoit to buy at the downtown mini-mart. Plants to water, floor to sweep while listening to music in my head. A fond nod to Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano because some fictional characters provide a sense of family. From one book to the next, you know how Montalbano will react, you know desk officer Catarella will bang Montalbano’s door against the wall while delivering phone messages he’s gotten wrong. You know the rich and powerful will win but die anyway. And while Montalbano angsts and searches out the answers, you know he’ll eat first-rate Sicilian foodstuffs.

Friday morning off. The pace is bound to quicken soon enough.

 

Cave canem (beware, yes, but listen too)

In A post to keep afloat, Absurdlandia, Animals, Current reading, Food, Fun, Games, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, New story, notes on January 7, 2016 at 8:38 am

had I bought the book when I first encountered it at an outdoor sale… never mind. At least, I acquired a copy for less than twenty-five euro. I wasn’t about to pay out eighty-six euro for the privilege of a bilingual (Latin-French) edition of Barbatus the small dog using his investigative skills to solve the murder of the old tavern keeper. I haven’t met Barbatus yet. Something tells me his sniffing skills must make him a kin to at least two other imaginary canines: Inspecteur Magret and Milo the Talking Dog (both unknowns to the general public, but dearly loved by their familiars). The book should arrive before the end of the month. Will the next story – ah. Yes, of course (a thought just zipped by and told me  the imaginary woman’s dog sings as far off-key as she does.)

Note on the topic of singing dogs : Whether in annoyance or delight, my real dog responds to the phone’s five-note signal when a text message comes in. A fairly close imitation (call it a variation and my dog becomes a genius.)

***

Meanwhile, the things-in-need-of-solving crowd up close again. Before I go there, a brief real-life note concerning rough seas, as in: the boy who cooked a birthday meal for a friend last night made it across the sea after crossing Mali and Algeria, and then being herded onto a rubber dinghy in Libya. The dinghy, designed for eighteen people, held ninety. Instead of taking a day, the crossing took three because they got lost. Food ran out and drinking water was a luxury such as the CEO at Nestlé’s can’t begin to imagine (he’s the man who claims water should be privatized since it’s not an essential, basic human need.)

Last night, we ate and talked. After the meal, we sang and talked some more. The search continues for solutions to legal and administrative hurdles that make Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, crossed with Kafka’s The Trial, appear like basic survival tools in a world that gets curiouser and curiouser all the time.

hectic (the word)

In Absurdlandia, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, New story, news coverage, photography on January 6, 2016 at 9:47 am

hectic (the word) – according to the Online Etymology Dictionary the sense of  “feverishly exciting, full of disorganized activity”, dates from 1904. As a condition, it’s definitely an ongoing trend.

Every once in a while, crossing the bridge or organizing materials for another foray out into the thickets of the Real World, I wait. For someone? For something? For the hectic sensation to subside.

More questions than answers. Like in the school exercises where a child must match up a term in the left column with another in the right. Except there’s only one correct combination for each, in a child’s school exercise. Not so out in the world of Real Life.

At someone’s birthday tonight, a young man will serve a national dish the person ate when visiting his country. Every time the combo comes down to the meeting between this person and that other, things get real again. What’s possible, what isn’t. What may be possible, if attempted. What must go unexplored, and so on.

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and if you must choose. If the choice must exclude one so another can have his or her chance. Of necessity, the next trek out into story will deal a lot with choice.

 

Fishing around

In and other spirits, coffee, Current reading, Food, Names and Titles, New story, notes, or juice, Story material, Tea, Uncategorized, Wine on January 5, 2016 at 9:32 am

Published in nineteen sixty-three. Paper: foxed to the point of framing the black and white line drawings of oil cruets, fishes and lobsters dancing off happy plates. Not to mention the recipes. A Crabe Pouf, at a lowly one hundred and sixty-one calories, for instance. Or baked apple with a marshmallow stuffing. Or the two-page testimonial to Sucaryl in which the author – a dietician, according to the book – expounds on its stupendous virtues and assures her darling female readers she is not paid by the manufacturer to promote this wondrous adjunct to weight loss.

All this, in one of the books that find their way to the local Social Center as donations. For me, the real come-on wasn’t the title (500 nouvelles recettes pour maigrir) but the dietitian’s name. Of Basque origin, the name Behoteguy means “shelter for mares”, according to Google. Which is fascinating in and of itself.

So into the stewpot goes the name Behoteguy along with the typically sixties-style drawings and page layout. The recipes… What can I say. All signals turn red when someone starts the list of ingredients for a “Chinese” recipe with: 1 large can of bean sprouts. Ghost of Chicken Boiled in Welch’s Grape Jelly* – Begone!

The stewpot? The holding file, if you prefer, where assortments and oddments must collect so that a vague first outline of something new can emerge. The other story is quite finished but I have no time today to fiddle  with automatic features for page-setting.

Oh, and here is a line drawing showing a pineapple, a bottle of bubbly, a glass (with bubbles), a pear, a banana, an apple, cherries, strawberries… On the bottle, a label. It reads

Clic

quot

Poor Veuve Clicquot. To thee I raise my bowl of café au lait.  But the book inspires. Into the stewpot it goes.

 

*A classic one-time experiment, straight from my mother’s kitchen. For the uninformed: when boiled long and hard in water and grape jelly, chicken skin turns an astounding shade of… No time to dwell on finding the proper name for the shade. In fact, it may still be in need of invention.

A brief one on my way to the new place

In Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, New story, proto drafts, Sanford Meisner on July 24, 2015 at 7:17 am

for the extraordinary morning light – clear sky combined with fresher air in the early hours then – ah. How could I have missed it -viewed from the back, the way the coat jacket bunches over his right shoulder, and how he leads with the right foot as if shouldering his way onward through a narrow opening. Felix was one of the main characters in the first Hautvoir story. Thanks to a man from the subsidized housing unit, walking in front of me this morning, an important feature falls into place. Apart from which, a folding chair awaits in the unlocked trunk of a new neighbors’ car. Documents, food, water, books, laptop, admin papers, garbage bags, in my trusty green shopping cart. Of course, I had to forget an all-important something pertaining to the reading on the electricity meter at the old place – required to activate the new meter. Worse case scenario: power won’t be on before this evening. allez hop for now. First order of business: clearing some of the debris around the front door. Cheers to Sanford Meisner, and other such sources of inspiration.

Connections

In Animals, Drafts, Food, Hautvoir, Local projects, Music, New story, Revision on December 31, 2014 at 10:12 am

Frost on the roof tiles. Fog of frost on the town. The dog sleeps, still and quiet with her nose up against  the radiator. So close, I worry. Lean down to check she’s breathing. She flutters an eyelash or two, and gets comfy again.

Dress. Go shopping for a few missing items. I have the buckwheat flour and the yeast for the blini. Forgot to buy some butter – never have any at home.

The story is finished, save for the final and tedious laying out of title and author name on each page (no, Virginia, I haven’t yet figured out the automated way to do this – sigh.)

Books all over the place. Year end. But I’m more interested in what arcs from back then, through now, into things unknown yet. Or not understood.

The story is finished, but the characters are still milling around. Suggesting a sequel. Saying things like: we could play some more with you in the next one, if you like.

But I must shop and prepare the batter for the blini, first. I’ll set the dough to rise near the radiator. One side of the radiator for the dog (on the floor), the other for the batter (on a chair). With me up close, just in case.

Those that don’t add up, and never will

In Animals, Current reading, Games, New story, Querying, Synopsis, Uncategorized on December 27, 2014 at 8:40 am

Years ago, someone close to me had what she considered the solution: write to formula. You know you can. You’ve written to any number of specs from any number of clients. Find a genre you like, read as many as you can, then do what they’re doing.

The mathematical approach. Works for the 1-2-3, algebra, algorithms. Even works for music.

Mystery novels use something of the same principle. They go from grade-one simplicity to elegant solutions to complex equations. When you put down the book, no matter how bleak the story or its outcome, there’s a sense of justice served or of something settled, once and for all. A killer, identified. A reason, or a modus operandi: same. A relationship: terminated or re-redefined forever by the revelations.

I’d love to write a book like that. I’d love to look at it with the satisfaction a mathematician must experience once he’s solved an intricate polynomial equation. Or when I watch a little kid “get it”, whatever the “it” may be.

Except none of my stories work out that way. Some questions get answers, but most of them don’t. Most of the questions open out on more questions. The End doesn’t lead to a sense of completion. Too many things unanswered. Too many unanswerable. Plus, of course, answers no one wants to claim as theirs.

Who done it? Why? How? More to the point: how will the knowing change the course of future events and redefine what you thought you knew? Whereto, now that none of the witnesses happened to look down from a high window at precisely the right moment?

I love mystery novels. A whole section of my bookshelves is devoted to them. There’s any number of writers I would love to be, but am not.

Maybe I’ll do my own online thingie and call it Platypus Press. Joke. My computer-related skills give new meaning to the word dummy.

Secrets. Clues. Riddles. How I loved solving them as a child. How smart and competent I felt, every time I did.

What’s a mystery with no answers? A mystery. It niggles, and forces you to write another story, for those moments when you feel that this time, for sure, you’ll “nail it”, whatever “it” may be.

Some day, I told myself, you’ll see, some day

In Local projects, New story, Querying, Synopsis on August 15, 2014 at 7:17 am

The email account: screwed-up as part of an ongoing process. With the added delight of the phone account registering incoming calls, but not allowing outgoing ones in response.

This is the wonderful context in which, having concluded revisions to the story, I face the dreadful exercise which consists of sounding the great universe out there, on the off chance a beep or a squeak will not only respond by saying yes, let me have a go at reading this story of yours, but – BUT ALSO – come back with oh yes, how about you and I working together to make this story available to a wider and paying readership.

I look at what I just typed out, and shake my head. All these wonderful, fabulous agencies and their fabulous, wonderful agents tweet, text, phone one another at the speed of light. Bombarded they are with tweets, emails, texts, and phone messages from other wonderful, fabulous people – clients, publishers, editors, hurray, hurray. (Plus, of course, those bothersome idiots who consider their wares worth anyone’s attention – ah me, those bothersome wannabes.)

And here I am fool from a long line of fools, imagining I will get through with my deficient email and phone? Get through to someone who will not treat my wares as substandard aluminum imitations of The Real Thing?

I write and I write and I write. I revise. I start over. I write some more. And I’ll keep on doing it. But when I type in the words THE END and realize no one, not a single living and breathing soul out there will lift the tip of a finger to signal interest in my tossing the story their way, it takes more than the love of writing and the need for it to make me want to attempt yet another pitch out into the resounding silence and indifference.

Self-pity? One hundred percent, unadulterated. Brave and plucky nobodies don’t have to deal with all the angst of celebrities great and small. Brave and plucky nobodies can take the time to watch the sun rise and the cloud patterns change above their heads. But brave and plucky nobodies get tired too. Agents get tired. Editors and publishers get tired. Why should brave and plucky nobodies be any different.

Waste of time

In Current reading, Drafts, Local projects, New story, notes, proto drafts, Querying, RLB trivia, Story material on July 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

Where to begin. With this :

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Yesterday saw the customary military parades with appropriate flags on display. The usual droning bromides in the speeches while the real drones dropped their latest crop of spilled guts and torn limbs, prompting deaths, wounds,  angry crowds, fear, panic – and the military parades Lest We Forget.

Lest We Forget what? That we love regret as much as we do the excitement of thrilling times ahead? Lest we forget the thrill of danger combined with the knowledge we’re OK? Sure, the thrill of love is great – but how often can you expect to experience it? Personally, that is.

Therefore: military parades. The amazing display of uniforms and groups of bodies pretending to be geometrical figures.

Over here, the year is Dedicated to the Commemoration of the First World War. Here we go with every variation available on the theme In Flanders Fields the Poppies Grow. Poppies, wink-wink. Discrete symbol for discrete drops of blood. There’s nothing discrete about bodies hit at high velocity by explosive devices, be they made of iron, wood, leather or any other material known to mankind.

Do I expect wars to stop because I hate them? No. A pity. I am short, fat and aging. Omnipotence: not an option, nor a personal wish-to-have. The biggest question on my personal agenda: do I dig into the revision of another of my pieces of writing, or do I forge ahead in another attempt at storytelling someone, somewhere, will “get”? As in: care about, and want to share with others. Wish to represent. Wish to put out there for others to read.

I forget where I read the comment. A literary critic or agent, saying Kafka wouldn’t stand a chance at publication in today’s market. So what. He’s published and available for anyone who wants to read him.

The real question for this one short, fat and aging person: how best to tackle this one day, now available for one day only.

As for why people waste their time and mine playing computer wink-wink, I don’t know. (Offerings on the setting for blogs I follow now appearing in double again. If someone has something to say, say it and get on with living, yes? Or is playing internet tiddlywinks your idea of having a good time? This, under the category RLB trivia.)