Archive for August, 2013

Knocking at the door.

      As a rule, you get only what you go after. But sometimes visitors come to you, uninvited, but not unwelcome.

One of a pair.

Fawn.

      Some visitors are anticipated, but land early.

Fallen but unforgettable

Maple rag.

       And there are visits, not uncommon, but remarkable in the details. 

Eastern garter snake.

Stored sunshine.

       Paradise with mildew and stinging insects, is paradise, all the same. Which you can prove simply by seeing who comes along to share it with you.

      The final edit of a novel is a long long slog, if only because final never ends. You cannot enter a paragraph without making a change, for the better, you hope, or fixing an error. The tenth pass is the charm. Ghost Walk will be published in the next few weeks. Until then, I welcome visitors who are beautiful and silent and arrive when my eyes are screen sore.

 

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Harvest home.

      You kill back the grass and till the soil. Add compost, manure, phosphate, lime, and till again. Plant the seeds and plant the seedlings, mulch and weed and water and spray. Then the flow flips, and the yield comes inside, comes for dinner.

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       Weeks later, months later, the pay-back exceeds expectation. Excellent fruit.

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      Like a novel growing in the mind, only a much quicker yield, and edible, suculent in fact beyond belief. 

 

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It was a very good day in the neighborhood.

 

     Flutter by the butterfly bush.

 

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      Sometimes, for a while, nothing is wrong.

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Character driven.

      Whenever I’ve gotten seriously stuck in a story, almost always it is a character who takes my hand and leads me through. Generally it’s a character already established in the story, with all the attributes necessary to solve the problem already attributed. An author has to trust the characters, and sometimes get out of their way.

      We make up the stories, to begin with. But once underway a true story (true fiction) will be found to contain what its telling takes. The characters, once set in motion, in a context, live out their tale. Authors are not stenographers for a muse. But that’s often not a terrible metaphor for the first draft of a story. Nor are we editors who clean up the wordy mess the muse has spewed, unreadalbe until tightened and focused, or who flesh out the telegraphic hints the muse has tapped onto the wire. But sometimes it feels that way.

      There’s never any help, taking the first to the finished draft. That’s all on us. And it is a long, long grind: letter by letter, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, chapter by chapter. You don’t do it once. You do it relentlessly, over and over. Ten times, end to end, is probably a good average number of passes.

      By the time all that’s done, we have no doubt our names belong on the cover. But sometimes, during that wild giddy wondorous first phase, we’re sure we should be sharing the credit with … well, somebody or something not entirely of our making.

      But then we think how dumb it would sound, to share with our own characters. Dumb, except maybe to another author.

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Loitering with intent.

      Really? Just one day? Does it concentrate wonderfully the mind of the swallowtail? One day in the air, in the sun, then eggs under a leaf, your death, then a cocoon and a pupa and a larva, an interval of destructive dining. Eventually, there’s another day, but not yours. You gotta really be hoping it doesn’t rain. On your day.

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Flower Power

 
 A day in the life. The life in a day.

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