Archive for November, 2011


Sunday, November 20th, 2011

I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. For me, it ranks right up there with Halloween as far as favorite holidays. I love a house full of family, special foods and a busy, sizzling kitchen, games and walks and evening pie and movies. And now ever since Sophie left for college, I love Thanksgiving because it brings her home. Poet Sharon Olds describes the feeling perfectly.

First Thanksgiving
by Sharon Olds

When she comes back, from college, I will see
the skin of her upper arms, cool,
matte, glossy. She will hug me, my old
soupy chest against her breasts,
I will smell her hair! She will sleep in this apartment,
her sleep like an untamed, good object,
like a soul in a body. She came into my life the
second great arrival, after him, fresh
from the other world—which lay, from within him,
within me, Those nights, I fed her to sleep,
week after week, the moon rising,
and setting, and waxing—whirling, over the months,
in a slow blur, around our planet.
Now she doesn’t need love like that, she has
had it. She will walk in glowing, we will talk,
and then, when she’s fast asleep, I’ll exult
to have her in that room again,
behind that door! As a child, I caught
bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds,
looked into their wild faces,
listened to them sing, then tossed them back
into the air—I remember the moment the
arc of my toss swerved, and they entered
the corrected curve of their departure.


Do, or Do Not

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month thinking I might respond well to the power of competition and a compressed deadline to produce the basic material for a novel (finally). And guess what? My novel is clipping along nicely because I know exactly what it is about and have already figured out how the plot breaks down and reassembles itself.  I feel like I know who these characters are, why they’re behaving as they are, and why they matter.

Still, why would I do this crazy thing, signing up for National Novel Writing Month? I’m already working full time and trying to polish off a degree. But that’s just it. As a working writer, I produce a minimum of 5,000 polished words a week, often more. By the time I’ve done that, it’s not easy to turn my attention to a voluntary creative writing project. To successfully complete National Novel Writing Month, I need only to complete 1,500 or so words each and every day of November. Not polished words, though, just words. Huge difference in terms of time required.

Really, should 1,500 words of daily dreck be so hard? I don’t think so, though I’d never do it without the pressure. Who’s got the time?

Time is the clincher for me (and for everyone else, which is partly why some smart people created this competition, to help us all overcome that). This 30-day challenge offers a compelling (and if you choose, public) reason to make time to write a novel, however dreadful the “novel” may be. Yes, I can  produce 50,000 words in 30 days  if someone gives me a deadline–so thanks, NaNoWriMo.

Once I have the raw dreck of 50,000 or more words, I can make that dreck into a book. Hopefully, a publishable one. That’s a possibility I  feel kind of rosy about, even in these dismal times. After years of polishing material of all types, I’ve learned that for me, polishing is not the hard part. Mass production is the hard part. My own “un-owed  to anyone” creative words are the mountain. Climb that mountain … and arrive, or something like that. Art comes later.

Yoda told me, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

I think I will do, thanks to this push.


Happy Everyday Sounds

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Wind through pines
Rain, anywhere
Coffeemaker gurgling
Husband’s voice in the dark
Boot heels on pavement
Dishwasher running
iPhone’s text alert
Keyboard clacking
Teakettle whistling
Church bells
Dog barking at mailman
Prius going silent
Oven door opening
Eggs frying
Quarters jangling at bottom of bag
Piano in the hospital atrium
Footsteps on the stairs
Skin against sheets
Children’s voices in unison
Cats’ tongues on fur
Dogs howling with joy
Radiators hissing
Fire popping
Rakes and shovels
Pages turning
Pencils on paper
Skirts rustling
Children sleeping
Waves crashing
Tires in driveway
Sleet on glass
Water rushing
Key in lock
Creaky floors
Paintbrush against water-filled mason jar
A little kiss