Mind the Gap

London 057Last night I dreamed I returned to the United Kingdom. I always meant to go back there, to live there for a time once more as I did when I was at University.  The last time I visited, I took my then fourteen year old daughter. We enjoyed such an adventure. There was no plan. We traipsed around England, mostly staying in London, exploring freely. London had changed a bit since my school days, but not so much as to lose that ambience of long endurance and that incredible air of fable. Time still seemed in long supply, and I believed I would return again. I did not factor in the world going quite so utterly mad.

I dreamed of a withered and dying United Kingdom, a divided and broken land, its culture and people utterly vanquished.  South Kensington, the place I had lived as a student, was lined with crucified bodies, heads on spikes. Masked men wearing  black robes patrolled the streets, heavily armed. In my dream, they turned to carrion birds to feed on the ashes of the land they conquered. It was horrifying. Perhaps, a symptom of watching entirely too much Game of Thrones.

I woke up weeping for its demise more than I think I would for my own country. I rolled out of bed in the night’s darkest hours before dawn and immediately took to my computer to seek plane reservations that I might return there before my visions could come to fruition.  All of this, thinking I was awake as I woke to a bright morning to find my reservations well in place. I packed and gathered my passport and arrived in London. No, I had not awaken from my nightmare. The UK was still there, but it felt dead, like a movie set more than the real place.  I told myself it was the hour of the day, and entered the tube station at Piccadilly Circus.

People packed into the platform and that gave me comfort. Here they all were, citizens of London, waiting for their train. The train came and true to nature, the people queued up to enter as a mechanized and polite voice reminded them.

“Mind the gap.”

No one did. BY the time I boarded the train, all of those people disappeared into the gap which for me was a simple step and for them, an unscalable chasm. Then I awoke to my life once more, and I wrote this blog post. Let this only be a nightmare. Please, world, mind the gap.

Coffee, Tea, Revisions, and The Pug Method

Ah, revisions. Endless revisions and a long, hot holiday weekend with too much light and one pug. I am running out of clean coffee cups rapidly and actually losing my mind. 

It starts at 4 Am the first day off my day job.  I light candles, put myself under some headphones to block out the world with ambient music, and on comes the computer. I write and revise until the pug wakes up and demands her morning ritual – a walk, breakfast, and a cuddle. For me it’s more coffee and a protein shake. More revisions. 

Then there is passing out, perhaps lunch or something like it, more revisions until the pug needs another walk. Then outside I go for a swim, maybe to read a little (clears the creative palette), and then up for a shower and more revisions. I accidentally walked into the wrong apartment on my way up from the pool today. It’s day 3 of this routine. And my mind is beginning to blow apart from reality. 

There is no bedtime. I try to sleep the last few hours of daylight. Then as the sun is quitting for the day, the pug and I venture out for a final walk. Then it is more coffee and more revisions. An hour of sleep here and there in an attempt to revise 99,145 words in a long weekend. This is in hopes of having this book ready for beta readers in 5 weeks. 

I suspect The Pug Method is employed by precious few of my fellows.  I have tried the stay healthy and sane methods, a few hours here and a few hours there worked into the routine of a responsible adult.  It doesn’t work for me. A routine of that kind renders my writing dull and predictable.  Only when I deprive myself of sleep so I can write in the darkness am I able to call the magic.  It is not a fault I seem to be able to fix. 

How do other writers manage? Can a real writer work their craft like a 9-5 job? I can’t imagine that myself. If only I were not so rapidly running out of time. 

Hot Pug in the City

Frankie  is a bit unsure how she feels about this new fangled city living. She is learning about elevators and little parks with area designated for dogs. There are no little streams and woods, and she laments the turtles, foxes, snakes, and rabbits we no longer encounter on our walks. And it is hot and muggy with many hills and stairs to climb. 

Everything is changing, but Frankie has all of her beds and toys, and her odd writer human to walk her, feed her, and rub her tummy. She is content. 

Frankie worried for a day or two that the human who feeds her might be devoured by all those boxes. It was a close thing too, but they were unloaded and their contents put in order.  Why does one human need so many books?

Frankie is pleased at how excited her human is about the recent feedback she received on her WIP from an actual editor. As Frankie sees it, if her writer human can publish, then perhaps the frequency of her day job jaunts will be shorter, and there will be more tummy rubs for her. 

The office has 2 beds that suit Frankie. That will make enduring the writer human’s long hours of revisions easier.  

With each hour, Frankie is happier and really, it is almost like that other place with the foxes, turtles, rabbits, and snakes was a dream that evaporates in the morning late. Time for a new chapter. 

Story of a Life In an Attic

IMG_0596In 10 days from the writing of this, I will move to another place, closing the door on decades of my life and starting something new. Today, I packed up my attic, separating trash from treasure and skipped rocks through the story of my life.

KateandStuff 028I found loads of pictures, thousands of pages of writing going back as early as 1981, material for hundreds of books I won’t live long enough to publish. I found music and memory in old journals.  I found an old flask among my daughter’s high school things that still had liquor in it. That made me laugh.  I kept the flask. She looked so innocent back then. You’d never think it, huh?

IMG_0585There were all my daughter’s beanie babies. At her birthdays from about the 4th birthday to maybe the 8th birthday, we used to hide all the beanie babies as a bit of a treasure hunt and the children would trade them in for prizes.  I couldn’t manage to let go of those either.

I found the last bill I paid my daughter’s private school. The last of her college stuff she dumped off before taking off for New York. There were yearbooks, grades, college acceptance letters, honor roll certificates, team pictures, and all that kind of thing.  Video games, old music CDs, a score of broken phones and sunglasses, shattered bits of memory and life, somehow all the pain absolved as the bad went into the trash and the diamonds made from all of it found places in well-marked boxes.

That was all the stuff I expected to find. Maybe not some of the writing. That was lovely as I had wondered where I had put so much of that.  Then I began to find things from my life, before my daughter came along. And so the story of my life played tunes in my head. In a recent blog post, Janet Reid, Queen of the Known Universe and agent extraordinaire, wrote about the The Distinction Between Rhythm and Cadence,  something Mr. Harry Chapin demonstrated as only a master of words can.

Yeah, he thought he was writing about his life and his wife. What’s genius is that we all have this thing that is the story of a life, not the same story. It was a wife for the song writer, a child for me, a husband or father for someone else. But holy shit, these words came crashing back to me today. I could remember 23 and 15 and then 35 and on until I this very day.  So, from the grave, I give you Harry Chapin as he recalls the story of my life.

 

IMG_0597IMG_0600I can see myself it’s a golden sunrise
Young child open up your eyes
It’s supposed to be your day.
Now off you go horizon bound
And you won’t stop until you’ve found
Your own kind of way.
And the wind will whip your tousled hair,
The sun, the rain, the sweet despair,
Great tales of love and strife.
And somewhere on your path to glory
 You will write your story of a life.

 

911newyorkafterAnd all the towns that you walk through
And all the people that you talk to
Sing you their songs.
And there are times you change your stride,
There are times you can’t decide
Still you go on.
And then the young girls dance their gypsy tunes
And share the secrets of the moon
So soon you find a wife.
And though she sees your dreams go poorly
Still she joins your story of a life.

IMG_0601So you settle down and the children come
And you find a place that you come from.
Your wandering is done.
And all your dreams of open spaces
You find in your children’s faces
One by one.
HouseHunt 034And all the trips you know you missed
And all the lips you never kissed
Cut through you like a knife.
And now you see stretched out before thee
Just another story of a life.

So what do you do now?
When she looks at you now?
You know those same old jokes all the jesters tell
You tell them to her now.
And all the same old songs all the minstrels sang
You sing ’em to her now.
But it don’t matter anyhow
‘Cause she knows by now.

Nanowrimo2016So every chance you take don’t mean a thing.
What variations can you bring
To this shopworn melody.
And every year goes by like a tollin’ bell.
It’s battered merchandise you sell.
Not well, she can see.
And though she’s heard it all a thousand times
IMG_0598Couched in your attempted rhymes
She’ll march to your drum and fife.
But the question echoes up before me
Where’s the magic story of a life?

Now sometimes words can serve me well
Sometimes words can go to hell
a3b6e4e3-c51e-46cf-b9b1-588b25e40f5cFor all that they do.
And for every dream that took me high
There’s been a dream that’s passed me by.
I know it’s so true
And I can see it clear out to the end
And I’ll whisper to her now again
img_0445Because she shared my life.
For more than all the ghosts of glory
She makes up the story,
She’s the only story
Of my life.

 

 

Good-bye #AtoZChallenge

GYes, there are tons of songs about Good-bye. This post is not about a song. However, if you want to put my departure to music, have at it. Maybe next year I will continue this theme, but this year, I must bid adieu to this challenge.

I really enjoyed this last year. This year, it’s stressing me out and hurting my progress on my WIP.  Life is rearing its ugly head; moving, downsizing, health,  family issues, death, and taxes are running up against a merciless hour glass so something had to give.  Maybe I’ll be able to rejoin next year. If I am still around…

I will resume normal blogging at some later date. For now, I will visit other blogs and such, but my contributions will fall outside April. Thanks for the support.

Full of Grace #AtoZChallenge

FI cannot, will not tell the story behind why this song shakes me so hard. It’s too personal.  I did think Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series made lovely use of the song and wished that the reality of letting go of someone you really love was so easy.

No one, not even my precious daughter knows the story behind this.  The song keeps my secret and holds my pain. Music does have that power. It’s better this way….

 

Edge of Seventeen #AtoZChallenge

EIn 1981, I was still looking at that bright edge of seventeen, aching to vanquish fifteen,  hoping for more freedom at sixteen, and thinking at seventeen, no one would treat me like a kid anymore.  So funny how your perception of time and age change over the years. This song seemed to ache and yearn in all the ways I did at the time.

Whenever I am dealing with an adolescent girl in story, this song helps recall all that passion, confusion, want, and curiosity.  I do know most adolescent girls are probably not the frightful terror I was back then when I knew it all. My daughter certainly seemed to traverse her adolescent years with far more aplomb than I managed. Different aches. Different yearnings.

Some few months before my daughter moved to New York, she and one of her good friends took me to see a Fleetwood Mac cover band.  My daughter loves the music of my youth more than I did when I was her age, and she and her friend listened to the stories these old songs conjured up from my past. The band closed with Edge of Seventeen, and I was amazed how a song can make something that happened long ago seem like it was only yesterday.