There's a wonderful article/interview in the July 13, 2009 Newsweek (p 63) about Kay Ryan. She's the Poet Laureate of the United States. It briefly chronicles her, at first reluctant, journey to publication. That in itself was interesting and full of the rejection pitfalls that many aspiring writers endure. Also covered are some of her published works and how she became Poet Laureate.
But it's her poetry itself that is so stimulating, and thought provoking.
Tenderness and Rot
Tenderness and Rot share a border. And rot is an aggressive neighbor whose iridescence keeps creeping over.
No lessons can be drawn from this however.
One is not two countries. One is not meat corrupting.
It is important to stay sweet and loving.
Ryan started with the self publishing route, then moved to small presses, finally graduating to "a major trade house. . . the poet whose first work was self-published commands poetry's biggest platform."
Ok, so it's 5:25 in the morning, and I get out of bed because I hear the ominous clicking of toenails on tile of my incontinent dog. (Yes, I even have a post to explain that statement.) I'm in no mood for a forced game of dog crap hide and seek, so I get up and take her out. As I'm waiting for her to come back in, I check, with much inward trepidation, the four mouse traps on our counter.
Sidebar. I have to. I live in a house that was built in 1826. There were mouse runs in it before I was even born. I'm not a slovenly housekeeper (not a word, Natalie). They've been getting into the house for almost 200 years. Not a whole lot I can do about it besides always putting boxed food in plastic containers and the like to discourage them.
Anywho - The Man had called for an all out war on this particular intrepid rodent. And I was behind him all the way. It was trying to make a nest in the bottom drawer of my oven. I'm out for some serious blood.
So I force myself to peek at the first two traps. They're your standard snap trap with peanut butter on them. Like the previous two days, the peanut butter is gone, the trap is still intact, and there's a mouse turd next to it.
With many a colorful explicative turn of phrase involving this mouse and all it's ancestors back into the beginning of time itself, I check the next trap in line. It's a plastic circular trap that lures the mouse in and closes when it does. I'm a little leery of this one ever since a former uber-mouse which must have been a direct relative of this one chewed its way out of one of these traps after it was in the outside trash can and then began chewing through two layers of said trash can to free itself. I still have the chew holes to prove it. The Man heard the noise, opened the trash can, and out sprang this hopped up mouse. Suffice it to say, the Man was lucky to get away with his life.
I check the dubious circle trap. It's still set. So I turn my wary gaze over to the new trap. We knew we weren't dealing with your everyday run of the mill vermin. I was at my wits end and starting to look a little like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack during his quest for the gopher.
I found myself dreaming of plastic explosives in the shapes of mice and rabbits just to destroy this thing. In that vein of thinking, we went in search of a better mouse trap yesterday and found one. It's a little plastic cave like thing with a deadly trap inside.
This trap, The Man set up on that little space of counter top behind the sink fixtures. And then promptly left for the weekend to go to the American Lemanz race in Connecticut with his brothers.
So here I am in a summer pajama top and undies, no corrective lenses in place at the moment, squinting at a long straight tail and fat hindquarters splayed out from the opening of the cave trap.
My first reaction is the freaky ick jump-back combined with the gross out circular dance. Which admittedly ended in a small victory dance. But then my sleepy brain realizes, I'm the only adult in the house until Sunday; where I then turn my powers of colorful invectives on The Man since clearly the disposal of all formerly living things falls squarely into man-land territory.
Now I've seen Re-Animator and Pet Semetary.
Back in the day I was a full on horror-flick-watching-Stephen-King-reading junkie. The macabre was my drug of choice. Now? Not so much. But because of my former horror addiction, I now have an extensive mental file of every way in which I can be gruesomely killed by another. Including death by deranged animals - okay, cats- coming back to life to terrorize you.
If cats, then why not mice?
I look again at the long stringy tail and start making some noise just to check if it's still alive. Nothing. No twitching, no busting out of the cave like the Hulk. I make some more noise, just to triple check-I am dealing with the spawn of uber-mouse, here. Nothing. So I begin to gather my implements of destruction.
Long post, I know. Hard to believe you're still with me.
Picture if you will a grown woman in a pajama top and underwear, her husband's flip-flops, gigantic leather gloves, iron tongs from the wood stove, and a flimsy plastic grocery bag. And still without her glasses on. (If I could have scrounged up a welder's mask I would have.)
I stand poised, holding the heavy tongs in my gloved hands. The gloves are ten sizes too big and unwieldy as all get out. The tongs are clearly not the right disposal tool, but I'm not getting too close to this thing. After several botched attempts consisting of a lot of grossed out squealing and tiptoe icky dancing, I finally maneuver the trap and dead mouse into the bag. Quickly tying the top, trying hard not to think about how flimsy it is, I run it out to the trash can where I realize that there is still an escape route hole in the lid.
So now I have until trash night on Thursday to wonder if it's going to come back to life, re-infiltrate the house and murder me in my bed.
Gotta get some. I have all these ideas for stories in my head. I just can't seem to finish any. I need a relief pitcher or a closer or something.
I haven't had much time to write for the past month or so, but my schedule is opening up. So I need to start working on my word count. I have half of a free read posted on my website. I need to finish the other half of that and get it up.
I've given myself a timeline for Shifting Her World. If the first draft isn't done by the end of September, I'm putting it aside indefinitely to focus my attention on Brass in Pocket. I've given myself a deadline of the end of the year to finish the first draft of that one.
I'm toying with the idea of a progress meter on the blog to try and be publicly accountable. I need to light a fire under my ass to make some forward progression. I feel more like a hobbyist right now than actually focusing on writing as a career.
Life is filling up with other things and pushing my writing time aside. I need to get on the shtick.
I also need to put together my presentation for the CPRW writer's meeting. I'm the speaker for September. (How to add realism to your fighting scenes to create a kick-ass heroine - or words to that effect.) I'm hoping since it will be Labor Day weekend that no one will actually show up. The last time I presented in front of my peers I broke out into hives on the drive home. Misty, Vicki, Megan or Natalie will need to bring along an emergency case of calamine lotion. That or Captain Morgans so I can get rip roaring drunk before hand.
These are some of the barrel racing photos. This is predominantly a female rodeo event. They need to navigate the horses around three barrels in a certain order and direction, then race full out to the finish line. The best time at this one was 16 point some odd seconds.
There was a junior round where kids under fourteen competed. A little girl, who had to be about ten or eleven, burst into the arena at a flat out full run on a huge horse, hair flying, and body bouncing. Maneuvered the barrels and stormed out. The whole time she had the biggest smile plastered on her face. Just unadulterated joy pouring from her the whole time. It was the cutest thing I've seen in a lot of days.
This is the team roping. It happened down at the other end of the arena, so we didn't get many good pictures. Two riders flash out after a cow. The first has to rope the horns, the second has to then rope both back legs in one shot. This is really tough. A lot of skill involved. Plus you need to trust your partner.
On a different note, I had a good time Saturday. We had a writers meeting. There wasn't a speaker, but it was still great to get together. I rode my motorcycle as an added bonus. A nice day.
I have to admit that I'm still recovering from vacation for a bunch of different reasons. It was a hard time. There were some good points, but it's left me drained in a lot of ways.
I haven't been able to make myself sit and write. I need to put out some word count. To do that I need to make some decisions about what I want to accomplish with my writing, what it means to me and if I'm actually any good or just spinning my wheels. That last one is what will really determine the rest.
I saw a movie last night. Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School. I had never heard of it before (no shocker to me - check out this post for an explanation), but the cast was impressive. Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty), Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Wahlberg, John Goodman, Danny Devito, and a host of secondary characters that you will immediately recognize their faces. It was sweet and shmoopy and funny and poignant and sad. And it trusted the viewer to get it.
Don't doubt that it had it's flaws, but there was a way to it that drew me in. The movie touched on important points, just kissing lightly, then danced away to let the viewer mull them over. On some themes it came back and kissed a little deeper, but others it left alone. And that was what truly caught my eye last night.
I love the details in stories. Especially the characters. Back stories, reasonings, why they do what they do, what makes them tick. I fill mine up ad nauseum, if I'm not mistaken. And I think it comes down to trusting the reader. Which I'm not sure that I do enough.
This movie really brought that home to me. I enjoy thinking through a movie or book, trying to get into the characters' heads and motivations. I don't like to be spoon fed. The film last night hovered on the edge, right at the peripheral, and teased and coaxed until you knew all on your own. It kept me engaged by walking a fine line of giving me just enough.
And that illuminated again this idea to think about with my writing. (As if I needed another thing.) Something to strive for as I progress. It's difficult to hint and tell without telling. Hard to coax the reader instead of laying her out flat with a machine gun volley of details.
No, not really, but I figured I needed some type of disclaimer or warning statement before inflicting my Montana vacation pictures on you all. (Or y'all, as I heard pretty frequently this past week.)
Had a pretty good time. Got some ideas for characters and setting while I was out there. I need to take some time to write them down before I forget them.
The Man took some good rodeo pictures, so I'll start with them. I'll post the bull and bronc riding ones.
These are the bronc riders participating (this guy, grudgingly) in a fund raising auction for the rodeo association.
The rodeo was really interesting. I've been to one before. I really like the barrel racing and team roping. I'll post those later.
This is my one hundredth post. I feel like I need to celebrate the accomplishment or something. We'll see what I come up with when I'm not so jet lagged. We got in last night around dinner time after traveling all day. Up a four, over an hour drive to the airport, and two planes later we landed. I'm still reeling.
Hopefully I'll get another post in this week. We'll see. You know how crazy things are after vacation, playing catch up and all. For now I must go appease the sea monkeys. They weren't chummed, but they're swimming a fine line up there. Wish me luck.