Monday, April 28, 2008

Getting Grubbie

I'm back.

Exhausted. Thrilled. Energized.

What a fabulous conference - the Muse and the Marketplace. Sponsored by GRUB STREET. In my old stomping grounds of Boston and Cambridge, no less.

The generous writers sharing their knowledge and experiences: superb. We're talking about Anita Shreve (Body Surfing), Jennifer Haigh (Mrs. Kimble), Chuck Hogan (Prince of Thieves), Julia Glass (Three Junes), and Karl Iagnemma (On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction and The Expeditions; I've blogged about him before, this scientist-writer, and he is soooo cute in person). Bret Anthony Johnston (Corpus Christi: Stories) gave a fabulous session on point of view; he is a natural teacher.

And of course, the keynote speaker was Jonathan Franzen, who's reading from The Discomfort Zone moved me to tears as he related Kafka and Rilke (my personal poetry fave) to seeing his family members as individuals rather than mere relations. Beautiful.

I met several cyber-writing friends, including Steve from the Nudge-Nudge Collective, my on-line writing group, and MAGS, and TIM. And though not a friend of mine, I did chat with the incomparable Janet Reid, agent with a 'tude.

I went to this conference for a number of reasons, but mostly as a litmus test of sorts: to see if I've been deluding myself these past two years about this writing path I've journeyed on. I sought validation for: 1/ my writing; and 2/ my heart.

In reverse order... I realized as soon as I met Steve and his wife Dee in the 1369 coffee house in Inman Square that my heart was indeed in the right place. I love writing. I love talking about it, sharing it, reading the writings of others.

My writing... was validated, in ways I could never imagine. First, during Editor Idol. When the first page of BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT was read aloud by a professional actress before a crowd of a 100 and three editors posing as Randy, Paula, and Simon made it without an interruption, followed by three nodding heads and "yes, this is good. I'd read more," you couldn't have pulled me down with an angel. The meeting with a agent who runs what I'd describe as a boutique agency grounded me a bit more, but her words of "you have talent" and "this submission rose to the top" gave me more reason for elation. BUT... (there is always a but, isn't there) my story is a quiet literary one, a story without the "WOW" factor called for debut works. It seems that a fate worse than not publishing may actually be publishing without either strong sales or reviews. I was advised to make another editing pass on BTB, then keep it in reserve after the first book is published.

At first, her advice kind of devastated me. But then, I realized she was looking at me, the career writer. She was looking out for me. And perhaps she saw enough good in those first 20 pages of my freshman effort to think I have more books in me.

Guess this means it's time to move onto PURE.

BUT... I will market BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. One of my teachers, a wonderful mentor named Lauren Mosko, agrees BTB is probably best suited for a small press. And I am okay with that because I am not sure what path I want my writing to take - commercial or literary. And more and more, the agent scene is the commercial one. And perhaps the most stressful one.

So I will continue to plug away on my novels. And my poems. This IS getting ridiculous==> LOVE SONG ON THE INNER LOOP Based on a prose piece from a novel-in-progress.

I feel blessed, blissed, exuberantly happy I am writer.

At least today.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am Sorry (Yellow)

Another poem makes the POETRY HIT PARADE AT POETIC ASIDES... the prompt: apology.

This one hits close to home...

On another note, off tomorrow morning to THE MUSE AND THE MARKETPLACE, a writing conference sponsored by the not-for-profit GRUB STREET in good old Beantown. Besides listening to writers like Jonathan Franzen, Anita Shreve, Karl Iagnemma - among many others - and meeting with an agent (shushhhhhh!!!), I also will be meeting, for the first time ever, several cyber buddies, including Steve from my Nudge-Nudge Writing Group and MAGS, from the Triggering Town.

I'll be back with more details... later. Now, gotta pithy up my pitch.

Peace, Linda

Monday, April 21, 2008

I AM a Hack

As evidenced by my POETRY. <====SEE HERE. Scroll down the link...

Hmmm... maybe I should give up my night job, you know - that novel thang. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

6S: The Book

It's here.

Tax day cometh, and so does the debut of 6S: THE BOOK. An eclectic anthology of stories told in exactly six sentences by over 100 authors. Including me (!!!!!). I have three micros in volume 1, all excerpts from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. Here, the first sentences of each...

>>PHARMING. The small room reeks; yellow urine puddles by the john, streamers of toilet paper and clods of crap circle slowly in the bowl.

>>ANOTHER TECHNICOLOR MOMENT. Blurred, my eyes land on the photo: the two of us at Nantucket harbor, the sunset glowing behind us, a gaudy Mai Tai, while I stare into the camera, serious as the wind whips my hair, but he looks at me, eyes soft, mouth curved in a small smile.

>>HIGH FLYER. My very atoms vibrate: from caffeine, from sleep deprivation, from the constant moving forward.

The online journal runs daily, rain or shine, and features famous folk (Ethan Hawke recently popped in withhis own 6S) as well as those of us who aspire to be. And a lot of writers in my cyber-circle are featured. One of three guarantees in life, along with death and taxes, is that 6S: The Book will be a damn good read.

Birthed by Rob McEvily and available from AMAZON.

Peace, Linda

Friday, April 11, 2008

Life Happens

And gets in the way at times. Like the past two weeks, work's been whacking me into a flubbery, brain-dead blob of silly putty. Among other things, work keeps pecking at my brain, my heart, pushing me off-kilter.

The day job is a complicated web, one rife with politics and intrigue and behind-the-scenes-deals. Lots of bad behaviors, borderline ones, and as I climb the ladder to the higher echelons of the Ivory Tower, I see more and more stuff I wish I didn't. It keeps me up nights, so I'm tired, too. But I console myself - all this soap-opera-boxing is incredible fodder for PURE, which deals with many of these very not-so-academic issues. So I absorb, like a sponge, try to stay quiet, and scribble madly when I can.

See? Even my prose sucks...

What little writing energy I do have these days is invested into the Poem-A-Day challenge, posted daily at POETIC ASIDES and, for the first week only, HERE.

The challenge is just that - a challenge - far more difficult than I imagined. Think of it as NaPoWriMo - a blitzkrieg of verse. And there's some damn fine stuff being spouted at Poetic Asides, so it gets... intimidating. But everything I post is pretty much a first draft, armatures for further revision and polishing later this year. I am committed to finishing out the month and continuing with my daily Vitamin P.

Of course, I'm (still) readying BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT for various pitches and manuscript reviews and conferences and readings and contests - all that jazz. I'll be in Beantown for The Muse and the Marketplace at the end of this month, then the Washington Independent Writers conference in DC on June 14. 'Tis the beginning of the marketing season, so I'm busy.

My writing buddies have had some notable success the past few days:

>Jimmy the Prince has TWO offers for a publication contract for his brilliant DARK SIDE OF THE SOUL. TWO!!!!! I'm a reader, editor, nudger, friend, and am so very proud of him and his story.

>Kim of Kenai Peninsula placed in the top 5 (out of over 1,100 entries) Writer's Digest 11th Your Story - go Kim! (It was an excerpt from her novel TOWING WATER).

>Chrys from Orcas Island has an excerpt of her memoir MOONCHILD published in SHARK REEF.

>And Kelley has her first 'literary' short forthcoming in GUD.

Keep writing, friends; clearly, you're all doing the amazingly right thing. Peace, Linda

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Asparagus are Up... Celebrate with Poetry

April showers bring May flowers... Lousy poem, wonderful sentiment.

Around the third week in March, I start to scan the earth carefully, looking for signs of upheaval and rebellion. I especially watch the asparagus beds; their arrival is the harbinger of Spring.

On March 29, two days earlier than last year, I spotted the first spear thrusting bravely forth. Two weeks before the first meal - yum. This week, the lilacs have budded, forsythia blazes, the currants have set green knobs, along with the hydrangea, and the plum trees are covered in soft white blooms.

April is National Poetry Month. I am joining a few other intrepid poets at Poetic Asides and will pen (or try to) a new poem or some facsimilie every day. For this first week, I'll post my scribblings here daily (and remember - these ARE first drafts. Very first drafts!).


APRIL 1 - Newton’s Principia
(or A Young Boy’s Lesson on Gravity)

He flies free beneath shocking blue brilliance,
on cider-tinged air, quills quiver and twist.
Crimson stains white, the world roars its silence;
bodies of mass fall, clenched into tight fists.

(In a rondeau redouble, the first stanza is very important - the next four echo each line in turn, using a proscribed rhyme sequence. Very tricky. But very fun and satisfying.)


APRIL 2 (Prompt: You are someone else)

The Boss of You

Another interminable day
in the nosebleed section of heaven.
Some omnipotent manager
I, my mignons messing
with my catseye marble.
I whip out that ole white magic,
transform bullets into gumdrops,
quell tidal quakes,
heal old folks aches,
banish traffic snarls,
and let junkies yearn
for something more
than pill-fashioned euphoria.
These miniscule problems
at last retired,
I head down to Molly G's,
throw quarters in the juke,
straddle the stool,
and share a tall
frosted one.


APRIL 3 (Prompt: a haiku)

Ceaseless, snow drifts down,
shimmers pure on starless pine -
a choir of silence.


APRIL 4 (Prompt: giving thanks)

My Virtual Salon
(Or thanks to Al Gore for inventing the Info Superhighway)

Electrons pulse,
weaving invisible ribbons,
a maypole twisting
all of us together,
we writers,
disparate and desperate
for commune of words.

A miracle, we find each other,
crawling through blogospheric interspace
from our physical centers -
the wilds of Kenai,
Orcas Island, swinging Joisey,
Beantown and Trigger Town,
Carolina on my mind,
Hon City, Geneve
across the pond,
and points in between and beyond -
to arrive here, NOW,
a virtual salon.

(Thank you, dear writing friends, my nudgers and compatriots).


APRIL 5 (Prompt: Worries)

Monday morning before the garbage truck comes

and the mockingbird sings,
I lay in the too-warm room,
your breath a steady,
irritating reminder
of nirvanic slumber
that eludes me.

Instead, my head
waltzes, thoughts
baraging my brain
like so much clutter
the whirring truck
will soon pick up -
the library books,
no bread for lunches,

and what's for dinner anyway?
The client meeting,
and calls for freezing rain
to snarl the overlong commute.
Forgotten birthdays
and unpaid bills,

the perfume on his collar
(not mine) slide into static,
white noise to accompany
tomorrow's appointment
with the radiologist.


APRIl 6 (Prompt: Chronicle the Day)

On My Father's 70th Birthday

Rain pelts the window.
In the grey-drear of this morn,
the only light the soft blue
emanating from this screen,
the words come slow,
really not at all,
and silently I blame
my nine-year old
padding down the stairs,
too early, to sit beside me,
as he does every morning.

Soon, the others stir,
the day passes in the smudge
of daily chores
that bind us a family
and divert from my inner life:
groceries, then lunch,
and a mystery ride to the country,
the smell of apples and rosemary,
the phone call home before the evening stroll,
the tinny murmur of a movie,
the goodnight story
and the house, at last, stills again.

My son, tucked under flannels,
dreams while I do battle
with words that still come slow,
because the ones I need to write
are too close to let out.


APRIL 7 (Prompt: ramble)

Lexington Market, Baltimore

Five days a week I take the metro to work,
never quite knowing what I'll see or hear,
for this is the West side, the quasi-gentrified
parcel of space where smack deals are a norm -
an interesting sociological observation.

Today emanated grey and dreary,
unlike last Thursday, the last day
I went into the office,
and even though that day
the sun blared bright
and, for the first time in what seemed eons,
a spit of warmth cradled the cracked sidewalks,
everything around me screamed desolation:
the toddler wailing as a woman, cussing,
cigarette dangling from her mouth,
dragged him through the intersection;
the sparrow pecking at drying vomit,
a beautiful orange-flecked beige,
spewed under the large urn potted
with petunias; the rat, smashed
flat against the cobblestone of the street,
hapless victim of some larger monster;
and always, the spent needles, the flaccid
condoms, chicken bones and peanut shells,
and the smell of stale urine
following me as I ride the escalator up, up, up.

It wasn't until rounding the corner
of the behemoth building that everything
slowed, relaxed; men and women, most emaciated,
walked in groups of twos and threes,
faces plastered with beautific smiles.

Methadone will make you happy.

Now, the day done, I leave my work behind;
the rain spits down, not heavy enough
to haul out the umbrella but enough
to be a nuisance to my shellacked hair
and Italian leather pumps, and I marvel
at the sudden cleaness of the quiet, empty streets.