Tuesday, August 31, 2010

By Request

It was a year ago August 24 when the younger of my two older sisters passed. It's been the four of us two older sisters and my younger brother, since our parents died within two years of each other way back in the 50s, so the loss of one of the four of us was a difficult event. You might think that early loss prepares you, but it really doesn't. On the day we thought she would be leaving, I was unable to get to where she and my other sister and my brother, and her family were holding vigil, so I wrote what came to me and sent it on, and they read it aloud at her bedside. My brother has asked me to post it here, in her memory and our ongoing and constant love.

Quiet Now

Time Bandits

I never saw the movie, so I don’t really know what the title meant in context, but it feels appropriate for the past few weeks. It’s been over a month since I’ve posted. And what’s been accomplished? I’ve tweaked the query again, but still not to my satisfaction, to send off to a fellow writer for critique, adjust again as necessary, and begin another round of querying. Thank God this missing month is one where many agents take time off. But what of my WIP? Would that be the inchoate whisperings of a story to follow up my current novel and give Carter another adventure? Or do I leave him alone and move on? Unlike the writers who can hardly keep up with the novel ideas (ha) bombarding them for birthing, I have to mine the dark undercurrents to find and catch them. Then there’s the old couple still in the kitchen on the second page of the short I’ve started based on a newspaper article last winter about…well, never mind. I’ll save it for the story.

I don’t know how we lived before computers. Quite well, in fact, but, just sayin’. I made it through school with a portable non-electric Corona, but editing papers was no easy task without cut and paste. It did teach patience and typing skills. And I thought I’d forever carry the yellow legal tablet in a hardback cover for the inspired moments in the park, at the beach, at a cafe table outside the museum. But then came the 90s and all that took a backseat to moveable text. I mention this only because I’ve spent almost the entire last week falling behind on everything while I tried to repair the laptop I use the most. Two complete clean installations of the operating system, neither of which worked after days of downloading software and Microsoft updates. Finally I resorted to spending two days on the phone with techs in India (I’ve grown fond of the accent) and the Philippines while they worked remotely on it. It seems finally to be fixed, so now I’ve spent the past day and a half catching up on blog reading and emails that had piled up. And really, who but me gives a shit? But as with my yellow legal pad, so goes the world, and soon the book will be a collector’s item, an objet d’art as we read on our e-readers. What that means for publishing I’ll leave to the many many bloggers discussing it. (And whom I keep reading to stay current, and there goes more writing time…)

So, on writing, I haven’t much to add after this absence, because not much has been done. But I do believe that downtime, whether stolen or forced upon us, is good for the process as well. As long as it doesn’t become a habit. If I’d been inside writing or working on my query last week in the early evening, instead of outside enjoying a cocktail with my partner, I would have missed the extraordinary event of looking up at a flurry of large wings in a pine in our back yard to see a red-tailed hawk sitting there. Well, he wasn’t, of course, just sitting there. He’d spotted his dinner and this was just taking his seat at the restaurant. He disappeared into the trees for a moment. I was disappointed not to have been able to see him fly away. There’s something eternally wondrous to me about a hawk in flight. But then he returned to the branch, this time with his dinner. I love bunnies as much as the next guy, but hey, they do wreak havoc on a garden, and a bird’s gotta eat. So he/she sat there, munching, watching us watch him, for nearly half an hour. We were able to walk up under the tree close enough to see his meal hanging from the branch and the one foot that held it. Close enough to see its markings and face and the slight crest of its head feathers. I said aloud, “don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you,” idiot that I was, realizing, if I may anthropomorphize for a moment, that this huge bird with razor talons and beak must have thought, “Yeah, right. You hurt me. That’s gonna happen.” So, after a while, the bird finished and with those pale-undersided wings spread and minimal flapping, took off and was gone up the alley. And that’s all. Just one of those rare and wonderful moments of pure, raw nature up close and personal. Thanks, bird.

But the writer’s journey is never done, so on to another revision, another round, another new blank page. Forgive my rambling, but I needed a self-indulgent kick in my own ass to get this thing moving again.