She’s just turned sixteen the first time she lets him fuck her and all she can remember about that afternoon is that when he’s done, he turns to her, and asks if she’s done (with his history notes). She gets up from where she was sitting on his floor, grabs her textbook, and leaves. He still waves at her in the hallways.
When she’s about eighteen she notices a small string protruding from her left breast and when she pulls it, she can hear her heart unraveling. It becomes the symphony that soothes her to sleep and each night she closes her thumb to her forefinger and rips outwards, pulling, pulling. Part of her just wants to see how far she can unravel it before she’s stuck with not much inside and having to sort out the tangled mess she has withdrawn.
At twenty-two, she wears high heels and feels as if her soul hovers above her head and winks at the men on the streets. Their souls, however, are stuck inside of them, smoking out through each wolf whistle and catcall. She catches them and puts them in a jar that illuminates her face when she turns out the lights.
Forty-seven and she laughs when she reaches the end of the little thread. She promptly begins cramming the wad of string back from which it came, but it has accumulated too many knots to return into the neat little slit. Resigning, she sets the wad upon her divorce forms, and the string coils into a signature.
The rest she doesn’t remember.
Your skin is a new
language; a texture I can
never stop feeling.
At a workshop not too many years ago a newer writer began to condemn a best selling novel, pointing out all its flaws and jagged edges. I listened for a long time, nodding.
“All those things are true,” I said. And gave him the C.C. Finlay quote. “But until you learn what the good parts were that excited the reader, you’re always going to be bitterly upset about what is wrong with that bestseller. Learn to spot what worked in that book, and you’ll be able to move forward. And you’ll be a lot less upset all the time as well.”
The C.C. Finlay quote: “A novel doesn’t excite readers because you took all the bad stuff out of it, it excites them because of all the good stuff that’s in it, regardless of the bad.”
Would note that this is good advice for writers as well as critics/reviewers. Noting what even a book you hated did well is a worthwhile exercise.
shit I need to do more often in almost every area of media
Sometimes you want to write, but you have no plot ideas. Perhaps your fingers are itchy to write, you want to meet a submissions deadline, a character is bugging you to tell their story, or a single image, phrase, or scene is sitting heavy in your head. But you still can’t find the whole story.
So what can you do?
- Start with characters: find their names, their backstories, their relationships. Create detailed descriptions, draw them, build their family trees. Get them interracting, put them into a room together, or bump them into each other in the street. Read their diaries, their love letters, their bank statements. Get to know them inside out. This is one place where you may find your story.
- Start with a world: create your map, name the towns, lakes, forests, and mountains. Work out the trade routes, position the markets, the ports, and the industry. Find the history, predict the future. Draw out the borders, bring war, re-draw the borders. Get down to street level and see who lives there. Walk the streets yourself. This is one place where you may find your story.
- Start with a room: stand in the middle of a room and open your eyes. What does the room look like? What’s in it? How many doors and windows are there? What is the room used for? Who uses it? What has happened here, and what is going to happen here? This is one place where you may find your story.
- Start with an object: pick something up into your hand. What is it? What is it used for? Who owns it, and who owned it before them? What is it worth, either monetarily or sentimentally? Has it been lost, found, stolen, given away? Why is this object important? This is one place where you may find your story.
sometimes i wish that it was always sunset
that the sky would always be a brilliant blue
(like your eyes)
melting into yellows and oranges and reds
soft pastels that wrap around the clouds and the stars and the moon like
a gentle blanket
where there is nothing but soft spoken words and no regrets
little lights dance upon the skin between the leaves of an oak tree
laying on the grass
in mid summer
where we don’t yet have to say goodbye
the first thing i ever masturbated to was the the thought of andromeda chained naked to a rock, and i think that says quite a bit about me.
i broke a promise to my sister last week. i told my mom about how she - my sister - got to the gynecologist’s office, sweat breaking across her skinny brown back, and when they called her name, her stomach seized and sent her meager breakfast splashing into her lap. i imagine she cried.
i’ve never been afraid of doctors like she’s been. when we were little and the doctor held up a needle, they’d have to pin her down to get it into her arm. i’d cry, but only after, and only because of the pain.
i think my dad likes driving dangerously close to the concrete walls on the highway. if he wants, he can twist the wheel just a bit and set us scratching against that barrier. anytime he wants to, he can do it.
The daughter sits at the table, book in hand, “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.” A Christmas gift. Her father bustles around her, lifting papers from counters and stuffing them into big black garbage bags.
“—and I don’t know what she’s doin’, out all night like she got all the time in the world.” He’s in the kitchen now, pans clanging in the distance. The daughter flips a page, humming deep in her throat. “…who’s taking care o’ them kids? she ain’t!” He pulls the bag with him into the next room, drops it on the floor next to the table. He then starts stuffing more papers inside.
Clean, swipe, he begins to tie up the bag. “God, your sister.. how do I deal with that?” She flips another page, glances up as her father moves back into the kitchen. There’s a shuffle, he grabs old bottles, uneaten leftovers from the fridge, tosses them in the bag.
“Stayin’ out all night—them kids got school in the mornin’!”
She flips a page, pauses, stares at him. “today is Saturday.”
“What? No, it’s Sunday.”
“Yesterday was Friday, they had school yesterday, remember? tomorrow is Sunday.”
He drops the bag’s flaps and pounds up the stairs. There’s rustling (checking his calendar) before his boots touch the steps again and he grunts. He huffs out, once he reaches the second to last stair, “well…it’s SATURDAY and she got those kids out all night.”
The father laughs, hops back down the stairs, and starts tying the garbage bag again. His daughter flips a page, continues reading.
Wow, I need to get back into the grove of posting and updating this blog. These days, I’m trying to focus on more original things rather than fanfiction, so I think I’ll get to posting a few flash fictions I’ve written. Sorry for not being more active.
Now that I’m out for the summer, it’s time to get down to business.
(And also time to start researching literary magazines)