Monday, November 26, 2012

The Write Time to Give (re-post from Dec/11)

Have you ever bought a gift for someone and been unable to part with it? This year it was a leather purse. I have had the affliction for a number of years−a great number. Of course, I would always buy replacement gifts for my friends. At least, I hope I did. Yes, I am sure I did.

I first noticed this eccentric glitch when I purchased an address book for a long-time friend. The moment I saw the book, I thought of her. Without question, I had to buy it. It was beautifully illustrated and had Friendship quotes throughout. I leafed through the book, stroked the cover, wrote down some of the quotes, and then tucked it in my desk drawer. No, I could not let it go.

 Now on the positive side, each time I looked at the book I thought of my friend. However, I did feel a slight tug of guilt. Well, it was not as if I actually used the book. I did not write phone numbers or addresses in it. I did look through it often though.

 After several years, I came clean. We met for lunch and I had the book wrapped in tissue inside a gift bag. It was not an occasion: it was time to part with the book.

 I explained what happened. I never worry about my friends thinking I am weird. If they have not figured that out by the time we establish a close relationship, then ...yes, I am sure they have figured it out.

 Anyway, she was very good-natured about my misgivings and thanked me, saying she had been meaning to buy an address book. There, I felt better. I still think of the book and remember some of the quotations. They remind me of the childhood friendship we shared.

 Then, of course, there was the year I bought the snow globe− the one with the mahogany base. Each year that I take it from the decoration bin and unwrap it, I think of the friend I purchased it for. We have not seen each other in over ten years. And you see, I have never forgotten her. The globe is special to me. I place it on my dresser. It is there for me to look at each morning and each night throughout the winter season. Yes, I think of her often. I am certain she would have liked the snow globe.

 Ah, I can’t help remembering the Christmas book. It was too long ago for me to recall where I bought it or the circumstances surrounding the purchase. It was an appealing combination of stories and recipes. A red satin ribbon bookmark attached to the spine. I knew she would appreciate the quality and content. But, I just couldn’t give it to her.

 Each year I opened the book and reverently turned the pages, thinking of my friend and remembering all the good times we shared over the years. Our friendship was synonymous with this glossy covered book, the jacket still in pristine condition. Yes, I took special care of this book; the way one would a cherished friendship.
She visited one day and leafed through the book herself. Do you like it, I asked. It’s beautiful, she replied. I knew you would like it, I sighed. I bought it for you years ago. Her snorting laugh was about what I expected. My closest friends knew.

 Last year as I was packing away the Christmas decorations, I sat on the floor with my treasured book, slowly turning the pages, admiring the font, the stories, remembering the recipes, and I decided. It was time. I wrapped it in tissue and delivered it to her. I could not wait until the beginning of the next Christmas season. No, I had to give it to her then. She could put it away and have it for next year. I had to give it to her right away.

 This year when I took out my Christmas books, I missed the ritual of sitting cross-legged on the floor re-visiting the pages of my friend’s edition, but knew I had done the right thing. I hope that she enjoys the book as much as I did over the years.
The leather purse I bought this Christmas will remind me of the intended recipient forever. I don’t think a purse is something I would gift after I have used it, but just the same I will remember this person each time I slide open the zipper or catch my keys on the exquisite lining. Each time someone compliments the stylish handbag I will think of her.

Who could ask for a better friend?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writing on the Run

I was composing a death scene.  The setting and characters were in place and the dialogue was writing itself.  That’s when I saw the cops.  A cruiser was coming up behind me.  I instinctively checked the speedometer and eased my foot off the accelerator.

Up ahead, two cruisers had stopped on the overpass and an officer was looking over the rail at the highway.  Two more police cars were merging from the ramp to my right.  Over in the eastbound lanes, another cruiser was approaching.

Beyond the overpass, flashing blue and red lights drew my attention to the side of the road.  Two cruisers each had a car pulled over. A uniformed officer with a blonde ponytail was outside her vehicle and approaching one of the cars.

My exit was just beyond this spot.  No longer on the highway, I rounded the first bend in the road and encountered another set of flashing lights.  A heavyset cop was returning to his vehicle and the woman he had pulled over was signalling to enter the flow of traffic. 
My death scene would have to wait. My interest had shifted to the extraordinary number of police patrolling the area. 

As I arrived at the gym, a suspicious looking character was standing on the outskirts of the parking lot.  His shoulder length, wild, frizzy hair, and tangly chest-length beard caught my attention immediately.  Aside from his disheveled appearance, he carried two or three faded cloth bags filled with Idon’tknowwhat, and was eyeing up a Hummer parked in the lot. 

He stood to the side of the vehicle, looking it over front to back appearing to pay particular attention to the rear license plate.  Aha, I thought, he's looking for the getaway vehicle.  I would have liked to aid in his capture but I was already running late.

In an effort to avoid the empty parking spot in front of the bakery, I circled the lot twice.  No luck - there was no other available opening.  Grabbing my bag, I slammed the car door shut and ignored the entrance to the bakery, hoping I could do the same when I came out.

After the workout, I drove through the parking lot but there was no sign of the dubious vagrant.  I continued to the next stop on my agenda without seeing further police activity. 
The death scene that had been going so well on the way into town disappeared from my mind.  Now it was more of a cop chase that ended in a shootout.  I absently licked the cannoli cream filling from the corner of my mouth while imagining this homeless person as the object of an inordinately orchestrated manhunt.  My tongue probed each tooth for crumbs as I began my re-write. 
The bank robbing drifter, hair and beard aflutter and carrying cloth sacks bulging with cash, shuffle-walked between the parked cars until he found an appropriate escape mode.  At the last minute, he grabbed an innocent bystander and forced her into the vehicle. He careened out of the parking lot behind the wheel of a hot-wired Hummer.  His hostage pressed her face against the back window as he sped up the road. She looked a lot like the woman from the bakery.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reading and Writing

It felt strange when my long-term project ended.  To have my routine disrupted was disconcerting and I found myself circling, unsure where to land. 

For those of you who follow my writing updates on The Write Break facebook page, you know that I have finished my novel, Bad Seed.  After the initial wave of euphoria, I slowed to a weary, grinding, mind-numbing stop.  Gradually, I’m recovering. 
I will begin sending queries on this psychological thriller in the New Year.  First, I must compose an attention-grabbing query.  Something that will make publishers and agents drop their coffee mugs and shout, Eureka!  That's a bigger challenge than writing the novel!
Speaking of challenges, I am working on a series for the First Monday magazine. A rather bizarre (would you expect any less of me) look at the ritual of obituaries, eulogies, and grief. 
The second article, It’s Your Eulogy – Get it Write, of the tongue-in-cheek series will appear in the December issue of the magazine. The article, Write Your Own Obituary appeared in the November edition. The link to this Up Close and Personal column is on the facebook page.

Following the advice of those close to me, I am taking a bit of time before diving into a new novel.  An upcoming retreat will clear my head for the next challenge.  The timing is excellent.  Yes, a few days away are always good for rejuvenating the mind and soul.  Naturally, I’m looking forward to the solitude.

In the meantime, I would like to catch up on my reading.  Two writers whom I’ve met online have just released new books.  Audrey Austin, from Elliott Lake, Ontario, just celebrated the release of her book, Ellen and The Hummingtree.  If the initial reviews are to be believed, it’s a winner.  I must order it immediately. 

Terry W. Ervin II just released a book of short fiction entitled, Genre Shotgun.  Couldn’t resist that book after reading about it on his blog, Up Around the Corner.  Keep an eye on future posts of The Write Break for my review of both Terry and Audrey’s publications. 

A Canadian publisher is currently considering my collection of stories.  It could be several more months before I find out whether the manuscript will make their published books list this year.  Fingers and toes crossed! 

I’m still hearing laments that readers can’t leave a comment on my blog.  (I understand, as I have problems at times leaving a comment on other blogs).  Well, my friends, there is a way around that glitch. 

  • Scroll up to the beginning of this blog.  There is a facebook ad on both sidebars.  These links will take you directly to the The Write Break facebook page.  Click on one of them. 
  • Now you are on the facebook page. Click on LIKE.  (It's near the top of the page.)  The Like will change to Liked! That’s it! 

Okay, now you will receive my writing updates on your facebook home page, you can check the site anytime, AND you can easily leave as many comments as you like, post a message to me, or share your thoughts!

It will be awesome to see you there!! 

Monday, November 05, 2012

Wrong Night to Write

Does she see the pill plunger?  She’s not stupid.  She’s runs away when she see it. 

I’m not sure of its technical name, but that’s what I call the long plastic thingy that holds the pill.  You put it in her mouth and push the plunger.  Voila, the pill is down her throat – or not.  Make sure she doesn’t spit it out.  I was offering suggestions to my husband in the other room; coaching him on how to give the cat her nightly pill. 

Anxious to finish the final read of my novel, I decided to forgo a book launch (regrets) and a writers’ meeting (missed the gang), both scheduled for that night.  

My husband suggested we relax in front of the fire if I wasn’t going out, and then he would finish preparing the roast beef dinner I had started.  I agreed to a timeout, thinking that an hour away from the desk wouldn’t hurt.

After the break, it seemed as if I just started back on the computer when he called me upstairs for dinner.  I’m not sure about other writers, but when I’m denied an overpowering urge to write or work on a manuscript, the thoughts in my head turn to an ache in my stomach.  

Following the post-dinner cleanup, I put off a couple of other evening chores until morning.  I was practically chomping at the bit to get back in my office.  After checking my notes, I found where I’d left off in the manuscript.  That’s when I heard him calling the cat. 

I had asked as a favour if he would give Tiki her nightly pill.  Something he avoids, if possible.  Just sit back in your recliner and she’ll come to you, I called out from the office. 

I read another paragraph of the manuscript. 

No, she ran upstairs, now, he said as he passed the office door. 

I rubbed my forehead.  Do you want me to do it? 

No, no, he insisted, you keep working.

I read the next paragraph only to realize it was the same paragraph.  There was a time when disruptions didn’t disturb my train of thought.  Not anymore. 

At the sound of a crash upstairs, I pushed my chair back from the desk.  What happened?  Are you okay? 

He laughed.  I tripped on the mat when Tiki ran between my feet and I fell back against the stove.  I’m okay. 

Never mind about her pill, I called up to him.  I’ll give it to her when I come to bed. 

I read the next paragraph − at least I thought it was the next paragraph. 

Moments later Marv came into the office.  I gave the cat her pill, no problem.  We both grinned. 

What’s wrong with your arm, I asked, as he dabbed blood with a tissue. 

That’s nothing, he said, it happened when I tripped.

After a goodnight kiss, I wheeled back to my desk and stared at the screen until I found my place.  Phyllis, he called down to me, could you let the dog out before you come to bed. 

I thought of my four-day writing retreat at Thanksgiving.  The unbroken silence.  Days and nights of writing and reflection.

I yawned once, and then yawned again.  The house was quiet.  I scrolled down the screen to ‘The End’.  I scrolled back up.  My sigh told me I wouldn’t be reaching ‘The End’ − not for another day. 

I shut down the computer, turned out the light, and called the dog.