SUN!

little girl outdoorsThe day is beautiful.  There must be something redeeming in that statement but I’m afraid that means nothing while I’m sitting here inside.  I did a bunch of bitching when the weather was no so great.  Last winter was either ice or snow for the most part.  Technically we are still in spring, but it’s a lot more like summer out there and I’m here at home, only stepping outside to have a smoke.  The weather is beautiful.  No rain.  No hail.  The few clouds in the sky are afraid to even show themselves on a day like today.  Only the most brave and puffy are lingering in the spring fresh air.

Most of you are probably screaming through the monitor to get my butt from this house and get some sun.  I have the option of going to a pool for Chrissakes, but I’m still here typing.   Don’t get me wrong, I love the beautiful weather.  There something so simple as to get into my car and not have to worry about whether I will have to have a cover on my skin, or even have to trudge through feet of snow, dig out my car, and pray I don’t become the a tree’s worst nightmare, sliding out of control on ice.  Maybe it’s too beautiful.  Yeah, I’ve set it.  With a week of rain coming up in the forecast, I need to take advantage of this perfect day, or living with the Noah effect will make it all the more precious.

I’ve thought about it.  I really need to get out of here.  But here is my dilemma, what am I going to do?  With all these options what could I do? What would I want to do?  If I lived in Key West, I know what to do, go to the beach.  What else would you do?  Here in mostly landlocked Pennsylvania there really isn’t much to do.  I don’t want to spend money, for what?  Sun?  Most of the time it’s free, assuming there is enough sunscreen on you that you don’t wind up paying for it in the end.   I know that is just my negativity talking, but there is something to be said for stage 3 melanoma to ruin a guy’s day.

Sun has always been a component of my family; picnics, outside parties, etc.  It was the great gatherer; start the grill and they will come.  Hot and sweaty sizzling under the great orange ball in the sky was part of every childhood summer.  There was always a weekend holiday party to be present at.  Meeting the relatives.  Chowing down on food, going home, and lying in bed realizing kind of what it was like to feel like a lobster in a pot of boiling water.   I look back fondly, although at the time I was wonder what the fuck did I do to deserve all this itchy peeling skin in places I didn’t know I had.   If I wanted peeling skin, I could have avoided the sun and put rubber cement or Elmer’s glue on, wait for it to dry and then peel it off.   NO PAIN!

Cars are whizzing by, I can see though my window.   Trees are all green and smiling, are caressing the gentle breeze.  Joggers run up and down the hill next to me.  Squirrels jump and frolic in the high dandelioned grass, playing tag.  A bird just bumped my window.  Mosquitos are even on the job, sucking blood from unsuspecting naked arms and legs.  This could be a great memory.  I could be lying in bed later in the week, unable to get up because of the drearies brought on by the copious amounts of rain thinking of this time, when once I decided to step from the safety of my apartment, to bask in the rays of the great life giver in the sky.  I could, or I could just watch more television.

Spaghetti with Ketchup

english  handwritingI’m so frustrated, I could make spaghetti with ketchup.  Anyone that knows me that is like fighting words, vomit, or like finding out that McDonald’s is dropping the seasonal McRib sandwich again; there is anger, dismay,  a feeling of being out of control.  I’m all about the San Marzano tomatoes, a can of paste, and a cup of wine when I make spaghetti sauce.  Mangled pork, in any configuration, with plenty of barbeque sauce, onions, pickles, etc. should be on the menu all the time. The McRib is like the McDonald’s version of White Castle Hamburgers; I buy them by the sack!   Writing sometimes frustrates me to the point where I feel like I’m writing ‘spaghetti with ketchup’ instead of taking the time to make the good stuff.  It’s a challenge sitting at the computer, setting the focus of my mind, turning on the music, and go into another world for a while.  Writing is one of those things that can be described as agony and ecstasy. Guess what I’m feeling now?  It’s been a whole week since I’ve had the chance since I’ve put the preverbal ‘pen to paper’ but today I had some free time over lunch to go into my special world.  Most real writers have the cavalier attitude of ‘just do it’ and when I’m in that zone, I can crank out words as much as anyone.  Well, not anyone, but at least as good as average literate person.   I can spin a phrase or two and soon I’m looking at the bottom of the page ready to go on to the next.

I guess I’m a little concerned.  I’ve been revising my new novel Mariline, and I’ve been making some major changes.  Yes, it worked fine the way it was, but ‘fine’ is just not enough.  I want people to ask questions, wonder, want to rip off all their clothes, punch their neighbors, and scratch their head.  I threw out the last 10 chapters and rendered an entirely new ending.  I think it’s really come together.   I’ve cut scenes.  I’ve edited down others to make it streamline, accessible, and clean.   It gets right to the story, it doesn’t wait around for things to happen.  It has morphed from a scattered NANOWRIMO novel of three years ago, into some monster of a thing.   I think will make a statement, and that statement has an explanation point at the end of it, along with some choice verbs and nouns.   I have to say that because what kind of writer would I be without some braggadocio?

So between having to go the distance like a bloody and beaten prize fighter, and adding more pertinent scenes, I’m staring at a chapter trying to eke out some content. The flickering computer screen is filled with swirling words; some that make sense and others that are merely there as placeholders for others.  Like a sculptor or a painter, I see the medium before me, ready to get my fingernails dirty and my hands all full with slop, hoping not to pull or paint over the beauty and thus make it ugly, losing the meaning, the purpose, the value.

There is a tight rope a writer travels over when revising.  You need to keep fidelity to the story.  You need to keep it tight and clean.  But you also have to know when your poetic bullshit is too much, no matter how much you and the Gods have told you they love it.    Bring back McRIBS!!

Jack McVoy Writer’s Block

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird Most people at one time or another have writer’s block.  In the story Spoon Girl, Jack is afraid to write another novel after having his last become so popular.  In the book, his book Malaise gets nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and gets made into a major motion picture. I couldn’t imagine what kind of stress it could put on you having to write another book, but Jack touches on that emotion.I loosely thought of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mocking Bird.  Incredible book, but Harper (so far) never published another novel.

Where does the idea Spoon Girl come from?

Spoon River EJ:  While most people like to think that Lisa in the book is called Spoon Girl because she asks Jack to sleep over and they spoon.  But her title of “Spoon Girl,” given by Jack comes from Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology.   In the story, Lisa is being haunted by a ghost, who tells her old time stories to write in creative writing class. Jack’s research into previous owner of Lisa’s home revealed Elizabeth Fronk, who migrated from the Spoon River area in Indiana.