Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday, Monday

Well, it was back to school before dawn this morning in the cold and dark for a day that was less than fabulous. And now here I sit trying to make sense of files and notes for things I wrote a very long time ago.

How do you go back and pick up a novel? Pick up the vibe, the ebb and flow, the character voices, the tone when you've had other voices and thoughts in your head?

So as I sit here contemplating, I'll just go with the flow of others who have been putting up snippets of work for others to puruse. And with that in mind, as I continue to bang my head against my desk, here is my snippet of story.
Reeds sway, silent sentinels chasing shadows. A night heron crows as it takes flight. The call of a willet pierces the early morning stillness, and he catches the black and white pattern of a flashing wing as it comes in for a landing.

His hand finds hers. Long, cool fingers wrap his as she leans in, strong and solid beside him, fused shoulder to hip.

The whisper of bare feet is lost here to the sounds of the shore; the soft rustle of grass, the screams of gulls swooping low, the gentle slap of waves coming home.

Sand is implacable here. It blows and shifts, changing boundaries and erasing everything.

He can almost forget there’s a world up the bluff on the other side of the highway.

They crest the dune together, in lockstep, the way they do everything, and stop and stare.

Shards of brilliant gold explode on the horizon; the first orange-red brush strokes of a rising sun painting a lightening blue-black sky.

The breeze shifts; picks up; sea and salt and sun; time and tide. It’s all right here, right now as the world transitions into life and light.

He slips in behind her; slides his arms around her, pulls her back tight against him, hands gentle as they glide along the curve of her belly.

A small shiver runs through her and into him as she leans back, quiet and still in his arms, hands covering his.

He buries his face in her hair; breathes her in deep, feels the band around his chest loosen as he exhales softly in her ear. “High tide.”

She hums in response, stretches out an elegant arm; pulls his focus out as she points down the beach. His arms wrap her tighter and he rests his cheek on her hair as clear, hollow eyes track his sisters across the sand, onto the pier.

All his senses push; salt air and sea breeze and the sun climbing high on the horizon converge and he blinks hard against the sudden sting in his eyes.

Through crystal tears he sees they’ve reached the end of their journey; stand suspended statue-still between sea and sky and sand; the illusion of solid ground.

He wonders if they’re crying as their arms stretch out in unison over crystal-clear blue water.

Her voice is soft and low as she shifts against him. “Your mother, too?”

“Dad kept her ashes.” Possessive hands roam over her belly; his eyes drift shut as he feels a strong kick. “He wanted this.”

He wants to move; can almost feel himself step, feels sick as he wonders what it would be like to be standing there next to them.

She shifts again, and cool, satin fingers wrap his hands; stilling them.

He anchors himself against her; doesn’t know how long they stand there. But the sun’s climbing higher on the purple-pink horizon, burning off the haze, and she’s in his arms as he watches his sisters disappear across the sand.

She shifts and steps, slides her hand into his and leads him down the dune.

The scent of sea and salt carries on the breeze, and he’s going to walk on the beach with her.


  1. You know how much I love the evocativeness (is that a word?) of your writing. thanks for sharing this.

    "How do you go back and pick up a novel? Pick up the vibe, the ebb and flow, the character voices, the tone when you've had other voices and thoughts in your head?"

    To that question...I have a great deal of difficulty finding a center when it comes to writing. I've found places--literal places--where I feel comfortable and focused.

    Getting back into a novel though...I think it really helps to read it from the beginning. I've found that when I do that, and even make little minor changes or notes, I can hear it again. If I become involved with the story again, as a reader, then I think I may be on a good path to writing a good story. And certainly if I reach the end and say "damn! I want to see what happens next" then I know I've got to take those voices and run with them.

    I guess in a nutshell, read it the way you'd read someone else's book or work. What catches your eye? What doesn't work for you as a reader? What words and phrases are weighing it down? Which are raising it up? That way you're approaching it with some degree of objectivity, and also in the guise of a person who will eventually read your work.

    I hope that makes sense!

  2. Oh, and in the spirit of writing and sharing:

    I always feel compelled to share insights into creativity.

  3. I think you’re right about the importance of place in writing. Like you, I have found that there are places where I feel comfortable, focused, and like a writer. And I’ve been incredibly productive in those places.

    And strangely enough, that has nothing to do with how neat or organized (or not) my workspace is. Or how new my toys are. It’s bigger than that. Or maybe it’s smaller and inside. I’m not sure.

    I do have to sit down and slog though what I’ve written. Sort out the good, the bad, the ugly, and the salvageable. Reading it all with a reader’s eye might be more beneficial and useful than reading it with my inner editor screaming at me.

    So yes, it all makes sense. And thank you as usual for the invaluable insight.

  4. I've always found that, even with a new work, I have to set it aside for awhile, let it rest, like a bread dough, and then when it's ready to rise, LOVINGLY read it again.

    If you go into it thinking, like EP said, it's work, you'll never finish it. Read it from a reader's point of view (minor editing aside -- you can't really help it). If you like what you've written, really like it, then go for it.

  5. I love your imagery of bread dough rising; that really resonates for me.

    And I think you’re absolutely right about the lovingly part. Sometimes we are our own worst critics, and we really need to step back and see with new eyes.