Monday, October 22, 2012

First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys.

The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm. He came along the street of Green Town, Illinois, in the late cloudy October day, sneaking glances over his shoulder. Somewhere not so far back, vast lightnings stomped the earth. Somewhere, a storm like a great beast with terrible teeth could not be denied.
I just realized that this will be the first Halloween without Ray Bradbury, who died earlier this year. I have been thinking about him, because this autumn has been very much like the autumns we used to have. The leave began to flame as soon as October came. I wasn't prepared. Global warming, or climate shift, or both has me almost used to ninety degree temperatures in September, and made snow in winter a rarity.

This fall is different. It's been cold enough, of and on so that I've considered turning the heat on. Yes, you heard me. Heat. We've days and days of leaden skies and cold rains. The wind has knocked the color off the trees and made the front hall of my house moan at night.

At least I hope it's the wind.

We've had a Something Wicked This Way Comes autumn. In the book, Bradbury describes what a mid-western autumn looks like, smells like and feels like perfectly. Fall in this part of the country has a particular kind of light, low and slanted somehow, that makes everything look out of kilter, slightly dangerous. The small town that I grew up in always decorates its block-long Main Street for holidays. This year they tied corn stalks to the street lamps. And to the corn stalks, they tied scarecrows. I parked in front of the coffee shop, and looked up into the eyes of a scarecrow with a potato sack mask painted with a leering jack-o-lantern face, his arms spread wide. I found myself stepping as far out of his reach as I could. It just seemed like good sense.

In that low light, under the overcast sky, I had, just for a second,the feeling that the town was holding its breath, waiting for the storm. Waiting for Mister Dark to come strolling around the corner, carnival in tow.

It was like meeting up with an old friend, anticipation tinged with unease. So, of course, I thought of Ray Bradbury. I always picture him from the beginning of the old Ray Bradbury Theater TV show, in an office full of oddities; Martians and mummies lurking, sitting behind his desk, typing on an actual typewriter. And that's when I remembered, wait, oh no....

So I can't help thinking that this perfect, surreal, creepy fall is entirely for him, just to remind us, to say goodbye.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Just an update.

The reading went well. We had a small audience, but a good one. Each member of the workshop read well too. We had four vastly different stories which was great. There was a piece about knowing that there is something there in the dark that isn't in the light and going there anyway. Patricia read one about a woman who finds out what she must do to protect her child. Nancy's story was about being a child learning to be alone, and then not.
Mine? Well, you already know what mine was about.  Is about....  For the moment, anyway.  The big surprise there is that I am becoming fond of the story, which makes me feel a little good.
But, as I said, the reading, though small, was a success.  I hope that the next time (I'm still trying to decide if I want to do a next time), but the next time, there will be more people.  When I talk to other writers, I'm always surprised to hear that, yes, they're married, but no, their spouses (husbands, I've not really talked to many men who've said this) have never read anything they've written.  Maybe surprised is the wrong word. It makes me sad. How do you marry someone that you haven't met.  Because really? If you haven't read my work, you don't know me. 
But before you think I'm bashing men, let me say, that I don't believe that all husbands/partners are left out because they choose to be. I think that we, as writers are afraid of sharing, because what if the partner hates it?
I say it doesn't matter. I say you have to realize that your partner is not your editor, and thank him (okay, or her) for the effort. And keep asking them to make the effort. I don't think it's important for your partner/family/best friend to love your work to keep loving you. It's important that they appreciate it and support it. 
End of rant.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fiction Workshop Writer's reading

I didn't get as much done as I would have hoped on the Workshop story as I would have liked this last week, but I did have the privilege of having everyone in the Workshop edit the new stuff for me. That was very nice. We are going to give a reading of our works in progress next Tuesday. This should be interesting. When I was thinking about what I wanted to do for this thing, I tried to hit all the high points of short story writing. Well, all the ones I know about. I think we talked about most of them. We talked all the reasons to write short fiction, we talked about some of the approaches we can use to tell a story, point of view, character--even a little bit about plot. Then we talked about editing, and even a bit about publishing.

The very bottom of my list of things to talk about was readings. Everybody knows that in order to sell your words, occasionally, you have to read them in public. I think most writers have a love-hate relationship with preforming. On paper, sitting in the booth at your diner with your headphones in? Yeah, sure, that's the best. For me, that's when the writing sounds exactly how I want it to. In my head, each character has her own voice, and even the right soundtrack behind them.

Now, standing in front of group of people, with my story in my hand? That's completely different. I can't shake the feeling that I'm going to fail the story because I know I can't make it sound like it does in my head-like it does when people read in for themselves. I know it's just going to be me, standing in front of a bunch of people, and who wants to see that?

So why did I insist on the reading at the end of the Workshop? Because I know that it's important. As important as posting a blog each week, or advertising your latest publications on Facebook. Maybe even more. It's important to read your words to people, to build you audience. And, like everything, it's important to start where you're starting. So, if you're so inclined, come and give us a listen, okay?