The Spiral Grove

The place for creative updates!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Brutal Truth

First off, did I call Jackson a wide eyed boy in that last post? In some cultures he would be a man! He's certainly got some years on the boy in the Old Man and the Sea (Hemmingway).

Anywhoo, today I am going to be brutally honest about two things. Being insane and being, well, fat. Which is hard to talk about even if it is true and getting better.

First off insanity. People generally consider me a bit off when they see me on the street. A throwback from the Victorian era who only has the hat part right, and is otherwise securely in the 21st century for better or worse. But this morning, after singing a near aria (in the shower) about soap in my butt crack and the pure joy of knowing that soap kills fleas, (which we currently are suffering an infestation of, read I AM LUNCH for these uncrushable bloodsuckers) I sat down at my beloved (and I mean that in the truest sense of the word)PC and realized I am utterly mad.

Last year at the Arkansas Writer's Conference Bruce Holland Rogers, keynote speaker, said "If you read only one Literary Magazine, make it The Sun".

I had never heard of the Sun, but being enamored with Bruce Holland Rogers (who has a beard, and let's face it, I am a sucker for facial hair on a man) and all, I ran right out and bought the Sun. I meant to subscribe, but keep forgetting, which doesn't really matter because the manager at the closest hastings to my house stocks it regularly, and I have bought it faithfully, which is better for the Sun, they make more money this way right? I mean it costs me twice as much, plus gas! Am I good American or what?

Anyhow, true to Mr. Holland-Rogers (had to use both names to distinguish him from that other Mister Rogers with whom I am enamored so much that if I could ressurrect the dead, I would promptly seek a divorce and remarry him {Mr. Fred Rogers}. Only he wouldn't marry me, cuz he was a good man, and would never marry a floozy who would do such a thing).

But I digress, I LOVE THE SUN. And as a result of his regular collumn in The Sun, I love Sy Safransky, whom I have never seen but feel like I truly know him. After all I have cried with him in the hospital room when his daughter was in the car crash, and riden many a Tsunami Wave with him as he struggles to make sense of our world. I show this love by buying his magazine and also by periodically sending him some or other thing I have written that I believe to be my best, in hopes that one day I can share some copy space with this humble man.

Since the submission/rejection cycle takes so long, and since I provide on every submission my uber professional e-mail address, and since that is NOT the address I use every day, I discovered this morning that I have developed a new habit. Well, I've probably been doing about a year now, but it has taken me until the morning to realize it.

Every time I sign on to read my many e-mails, I habitually, religiously, click the "switch screen name" button on my toolbar thinking "Today is the Day! Sy Safransky has arisen early (or stayed up late depending on the hour) and he has written me to tell me of my genius and how he loved my story (or essay or whatever he hasn't rejected yet).

I click, I see that big fat ZERO in the number of e-mail's collumn and then I think, "Well, he probably hasn't finished his cofee yet, or he's still in bed with his wife, or maybe he has gone to Sumatra to help sunami victims and my story is sitting on his desk unopened".

This happens every day, several times a day. Sometimes I even say it out loud.

And now I am admitting it to the world, or at least to everybody who is subscribed to my blog. Of course in writing this I panic and think, "Oh God, did I include a link to my blog on my submission? Will Sy (we are on a first name basis in my world) read it and think I am trying to guilt him? What if he Googles his own name and my silly blog shows up?"

Once the panic attack passes I think to myself, "OK Hat Woman, he is raw on the page. He admitted he was an asshole who cheated on his wife once right? So, he is an intelligent man, he will understand that I am simply being honest, naked on the page...and he will surely surmise that as much as I want that.."You are brilliant, of course we want your story (or essay) e-mail, he knows I only want it if he means it. Doesn't he?

And speaking of naked on the page, before I close I MUST tell you ladies (and good gentlemen)who read this faithfully, I have lost a few more pounds. I am at my lowest weight in almost ten years and get this...you know those fanny firming panties famous with grannies the world over? The ones rendered infamouse by the movie Bridget Jones Diary?

Well, I was wearing the smallest pair of white pants I have been able to squeeze into the other Wednesday (thanks for asking about the hat Ernie!) and of course I put on those fanny firming granny panties. Who wouldn't in white pants? Well I put em on, THEY FELL BACK OFF AGAIN!!!!

I went running out of the bedroom in my robe and hugged by almost 16 year old son and said "You won't believe this! But my fanny firming granny panties ARE TOO BIG! They fall right off."

His reply, "Gee mom, that's good I guess, can you please let me go now." all with a quizzical expression.

OK, thats me this fine Thursday. Off to buy a new tire and rim, even two flat tires in one day (more on this later) cannot darken my mood (no dear, I definitely NOT depressive today). James is tapping his foot at me. Time to go. Ta ta and love to EVERYBODY okay?

A Mom Moment with My Muse

Despite great efforts at procrastination I finally got the fire going in my mind and got busy with Mabel's Grave. My son Jackson has really been an inspiration to me, or at least a fabulous cheerleader. He is the first person I shared my inspiration with on this novel and he was so excited about he made me promise to let him read it as it was written. Well, I didn't exactly promise, because I don't really like to show my work to family and friends. Every writer knows that family members are the worst possible critique partners, they either love everything you do because they are family, or they are overly critical. There is just no objectivity.

So he has accepted my position of hermited recluse and has been patiently awaiting the completion and eventual publication of my little tale of horrors. I have been struggling with the manuscript though, and so I sat down with him tonight and had a chat about the kinds of things he likes in books, what traits he likes to see in heros and heroines, how fast he likes the pace and how he likes to be fed the back story. This was all very interesting research for me and it helped me solidify some key points in my mind.

So Jackson is my muse. With his insights he is midwifing this particular tale and when it is done it will by all means be dedicated to the wide eyed boy with much love and appreciation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Non-Linear Life


Deadlines shmeadlines. So what June is over tomorrow! Yes, I had promised to finish a certain project by tomorrow, and it is almost finished, but the past week or so another project has been nagging at me. Keeping me awake, forcing me out of bed, forcing me to grab a pen and sit under the ancient cedars and plot it out.

Tonight I will plug away and try my level best to get this project a bit closer to done, hopefully I won't get distracted by the other too much and in the end, by the middle of July I may have two new novels instead of only one.



At least we have these pretty wildflowers growing in the driveway!!!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Destiny Thwarts Disaster!

Well, its well past time for an update. On the creative front I have been taking a bit of a break from words and dabbling in paint instead. Having gessoed over a couple of previous efforts I am currently working on a night waterscape. It is coming along. Still much to do, but I am fairly happy with it so far, though I really wish I lived someplace where I could take some art classes and even just hang out with other people who have similar interests.

It has been a really wild couple of weeks on the daily life front. Our 14 year old son built a tree house and in the process managed a good fall and pierced his foot with a rusty nail. It happened on a Wednesday evening and we spent the night in the Emergency Room. He was pretty gimpy for a few days but he will be fine. His injury played a real role the next night when our place was visited by the fury of nature in the form of a Tornado. Living in tornado Alley as we do, I have seen my share of them, but this is the closest I have ever been to one physically. We got a call from a friend saying there was a report of a tornado on the ground in our vicinity and saying the news folks were urging people in the SlapOut area to take cover. So the boys ran to the storm shelter, I had to help Jackson along since he was limping. It was so windy I had to fight to get the door open and to wade through the air to the shelter. By the time I got there 3 boys were already down the steps. When I reached the top of the steps with Jack, Robby yelled "STOP!"

There was a four foot long rattlesnake on the second step of the shelter. The other boys had run right past it. I guess it startled the snake as much as them and it had coiled itself up in the corner of the step. That is when I looked over and saw the funnel. It was indeed on the ground and headed straight for our house. My oldest son used a 2x4 and bashed our reptile friend to death. I shoved Jackson and the baby down the steps and ran back into the house to get my 16 year old daughter who was holed up in her room "disbelieving" that a tornado was coming our way. In the ten years we have lived in Oklahoma we have spend many hours needlessly in storm shelters. Not because there was no tornado, but because it simply didn't hit our particular house. So she was being stubborn and I had to go get her. When we got back outside the Tornado was not touching the ground anymore, it was maybe 20 feet off the ground and quite a bit closer to our house. There was debri flying everywhere, I couldn't hear much for the roar of the storm. By the time I got the cellar door open the Tornado was doing a strange dance and I saw it shift direction, it began moving westward. We spent the next 2 hours in the shelter listening to the hail pounding on the metal door above.

The next morning there were trees down in the road and fields West and South of our house. There was debri all over the fields from the storage buildings and several windows including a window on one of our vehicles were smashed. In addition, the already damaged roof of our house is much worse and the resulting water damage caused part of the kitchen ceiling to fall in.

All in all, it was quite an experience. The power of the storm was very terrifying but it was beautiful too. There was also something almost spiritual that happened to me personally. When I put 5 of my kids in the cellar and saw the storm moving our way I knew there was a good chance it would reach the house before I could get in there and get Geri, but there was no question in my mind that I had to try. When I closed the door I saw my baby's eyes. The thought crossed my mind that I might never see her again and that if I didn't she probably wouldn't even remember me. But it didn't slow me down. I think I was in the house and out again in under a minute. By the grace of God the tornado turned and didn't actually hit the house and the only debri that hit us in transit were some tumbleweeds which, while they stung a bit, didn't do any serious damage.

An experience like this really makes me think about things. It was especially telling for me because about a week before I had had a dream in which my grandmother Louella (who always represents spirituality to me God fearing woman that she is) was warning me of a tornado. I saw it in the dream and the baby was in it's path and the other kids were too far away for me to warn them. In the dream I ran to the baby and put her in the shelter and it ended as I was trying to decide whether to join her in safety, or run for the other kids and risk my life trying to save them in vain. The dream plagued me for a week or so before the real life experience. Now that it is all over there is much to ponder and much to be thankful for. We are certainly very blessed both for our survival and also for the lessons to be learned from such an awe inspiring experience.