Saturday, May 24, 2014

Revising in the Merry Month of May . . .

A trip from the west coast to the east coast of two weeks is sure to shake up the old writing schedule. But that's a simple matter of packing and unpacking, creating a writing space out of a corner, and rising early (despite the time change) to work when everyone else sleeps.

Add the intensity of a family reunion and a wedding, where hugs and tears were exchanged all around, the sunniest of days, the most prodigious amount of food, and then the wrench of saying goodbye.

I can report that the next round of edits is now complete on Years of Stone, bringing me closer to my goal of publishing this summer. Hooray!

And then came the most blistering review of Years of Stone. This rearranges how I'm thinking about where I am. For the review comes from an established, respected publication in response to the full mss. After a summary, here is that last paragraph:

Deidre's is a unique journey and her story's setting a fascinating one, but this novel gets ahead of itself from the start, robbing subsequent developments of importance. There are the beginnings of interesting characters, but they fail to flourish as the book skids from one plot line to the next. Static despite abrupt plot developments and emotional shifts and lacking the heart that its opaque central couple is meant to provide, this book flounders, leaving a flotsam of interesting factual tidbits and only feints at engaging characterizations in its wake.

First, the review is about the writing, not the writer. That's important. And, I have received that rare gift, a look at the structure of my story from another viewpoint, that of a seasoned reviewer.

So, folks, it sure looks like another round of edits is needed to analyze pacing, consistent character development, abrupt plot shifts, and, perhaps most important, the inner life of my main characters. 

This level of editing may take the rest of the summer and will require looking at those bedrock issues I confront through my writing -- the fear of abandonment and survival against seemingly impossible odds. But I will persevere!

Wisteria at Longwood Gardens, PA (Camp 2014)

Monday, May 05, 2014

Z is for Zydeco . . .

End the month
with dancing,
I’m thinkin’
banjo, washboard, fiddle,
an’ the lilt of Creole talkin’
dark eyes flashin’
an’ we drinkin’ home-made,
sitting on that rickety wooden 
slat back porch
built out over the bayou,
danglin’ yer feet o’er the side,
crawdads ticklin’ yer toes,
and waitin’ for them
dugout canoes to come on in,
tie up below, especially Jake,
carryin' his hand-held squash box,
Granny Broussard 
two babes slung on her side,
an it’s a Saturday night.

Wish I were a Creole with a history of making music like this that lilts through each day, stitching years of bayou history and culture together, family times good and bad.

This clip of Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys (about 4 minutes) just might brighten your day.

Y is for Yakety Yak . . .

My feet want to dance 
right out the door; 
the words I held back, 
I don’t hold back no more: 
Ha! yakkety yak! 
That saxophone blared 
a brand new what if and 
thank God, what’s next
in my head and in my heart. 
Yakety, yak! 
And I don’t look back. 

What a time it was. Back in Seattle in the 1960s on Saturday nights, we teens thronged together in dance clubs. Those amazing musicians pounded out the beat, the saxophone player were gods, and we didn’t think about anything but the music. 

The Coasters and “Don’t Look Back” echoes even now with that jolting sense of possibility and freedom. Here's a 1 minute 47 second sound byte that will take you back!