Luminous Rapture

Completed my Short Story 101 month feeling renewed, refreshed and provoked with a plethora of ideas brimming. The working title to my new short is shown above. I don’t want to give away too much but let’s just say this workshop allowed me to steer off course in unknown waters of pure imagination of the graphic kind. I’m so used to writing my family dramas or relationships with romantic entanglement stories that my mind brewed something fresh and fun even though there’s murder, torture, betrayal, theft involved. You never know what your psyche is going to pull through the surface and I’m thrilled with what I concocted. With that said my instructor Hank Lewis was amazing. A powerhouse of lyrical prose and knowledge. His own work just sang poetic sublime. He shared a fair amount of parental/offspring dynamic, thematically some of the pieces resonated with my own. My fellow students shared some evocative pieces and the assignments helped me dig deep with form, structure, language and voice. I didn’t want this class to end.

I love when I have epiphanically induced moments of inspiration through classes when an instructor slam dunks or hits it straight on the nail with guidance that motivates, invokes and pushes your limits. Writing is work, lots of work in the beginning for us novice writers, sometimes seasoned ones too. There’s always so much wisdom to attain through the thoughts and ideas of another that stoke your fires and I’m there people. Like I said, I wrote a short unlike something I’ve ever thought to delve or explore in this particular genre but I did and I’m over the moon happy about it. Thank you Mr. Lewis for an enlightening and rejuvenating class this past month.

I wanted to share some Summer Reading I embarked upon these past two months. A few of these books were pretty lengthy and took some time to read, but I enjoyed the escape and found they were worth mentioning, plus I indicated early on I’d share some books I loved. Some are short story anthologies. I like to do research and homework when working on specific pieces and since I was focusing on short form I found Joyce Carol Oates as a source of uplifting artistic individuality. I took a Master Class of hers on Short Story Telling and was invigorated with newfound revelations. Here’s my summer selections:

I am no one you know – short stories by Joyce Carol Oates
Lovely, Dark, Deep – short stories by Joyce Carol Oates
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – A novel by Ocean Vuong – beautiful details of self discovery.
The Index of Self-Destructive Acts – A Novel by Christopher Beha
The Prophets – A Novel and recommended by my beloved cousin Stephanie 🙂 Robert Jones Jr is magnanimous with story telling, a must read!
Mexican Gothic – A Novel by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, this writer is starting to grow on me. She’s a modern pillar of blended folklore, myth within present time.
Silver Sparrow – A Novel by Tayari Jones.
Last but not least my favorite all time writer. Wonders of the West – A Novel by Kate Braverman. I shared one of her short stories in my Short Story workshop – Women of the Ports from “A Good Day for Seppuku.” She inspires me on a muse level and I’m just blown away by her mesmerizing and hypnotic style every time I read her work!

So there you go, my list of must reads. Reading is homework, builds skillset and voice, language, style. I have my favorites and I keep adding the more I read new work, but here’s a slew of noteworthy authors to check out and mainly women because I support my gender in this craft and POC because they have written the most thought provoking and lovely stories I’ve read presently:

Kate Braverman

Rachel Kushner

Elaine Kahn

Bett Williams

Rachel Resnick

Emma Forrest

Stephen Graham Jones

Gabino Iglesias

Joy Harjo

Rebecca Roanhorse

Jon Bassoff (local author in my area, gothic noir style!)

Catherine Wallace Hope

Taylor Reid Jenkins

Louise Erdrich

Zadie Smith

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Edwidge Danticat

Rudolfo Anaya

Raven Leilani

Laura Pritchett (Colorado Author)

Joyce Carol Oates

Roxane Gay

Joe Hill

I just love reading and anything that moves, grabs, sings to my soul is worth mentioning, including authors AND in case you may be looking for someone new to read, I hope this list offers some choices on your reading log!

Grand Lake, Colorado

I’m ending with a picture of my favorite getaway. West of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park; Grand Lake is an idyllic, lowkey mountain town that I love to relax and savor every bit of nature. I dream of owning a huge home on the lake there someday but for now we’re finally returning for a much needed vacation in September this year. There’s a favorite indie, local bookstore I shop exclusively for book gifts on the main strip. The owner is always gracious when I do and tells me I’m the highlight of her sales for that week, yes I spend that much on books.

Read lots, escape through stories and relish in the imagination of others. Take care of yourself this week; take a nap, watch a feel good comedic movie, take a walk around a lake, call up an old friend, journal notes of gratitude, eat dinner by yourself at a nice restaurant because you deserve it, hug your loved one and give them a kiss. We have one life to live in this realm, make it count so you don’t have to keep coming back to try and relearn the same lesson.

Carpe Diem!

Nostalgia and Fairy Gardens

I’m wrapping up Chapter 26, a backstory/past chapter. The main character reminiscing her teen years, already a mother at 18 with her first son and where she was in life. Although my novel is fiction based with real events woven through the scenes, I often find while writing about the past and embellishing quite a bit on the fiction part, I fantasize about an alternate plane. I’m sure many people do the same thing when in retrospect, we can’t help wondering if we’d chosen certain people, places or comebacks, where we would’ve ended up, presently.

Sometimes, it’s fun and other times morose, BUT I don’t allow the past to sneak in and play tricks with my mind. I write it out, and play with those scenes; What if she said “Go fuck yourself.” Instead of keeping her mouth shut with her tail tucked in between her legs, cowering in agony. What if…instead of responding or reacting impulsively, she just walked away and never spoke to “said person” again, or what if she was brave enough to take the leap and make that move to a different city or take the job she was afraid to pursue, disallowing feelings of failure or anxiety to consume her better judgement. That’s why I write. I MAKE IT, WHAT I WANT in stories.

I’m happy and comfortable where I am in life. Nearing my fifties, it’s true what they say, the older you get, you stop allowing silly emotions or trivial life crap to interfere and at times destroy your inner peace. The good old adage “Youth is wasted on the young” painfully and also endearingly quoted by George Bernard Shaw, makes sense now, in my current age.

When I was in my twenties, older people in my life used to share stories of their youth wishing they could go back for a “do-over” or the popular line I always heard as a young person, “If I were your age, knowing what I do now. I’d do things differently.” I didn’t understand this declaration in my twenties and felt somewhat offended at times. I remember a discussion my younger son and I had on a hike we took in Nederland, about generational labeling. He felt offended by the “millennial” definition because he didn’t identify with the mold and criteria of his generation’s theme. I told him my generational label was worse. We were called Generation X aka the “Slacker” generation. He just felt in a nutshell, it was redundant, the need for our culture to label or symbolize any generation, period. I understood his point and agreed. A millennial and slacker go off in the woods pondering what’s better; stop motion animation or computer graphic images, libraries (this sucks Mom, just “Google” it) versus Internet research – Side Note: I really miss the Dewey Decimal System in the old school card catalogs, opening those little drawers to find the card you need to find the book you’re looking for is not the same as using the online computer, I digress, moving on, – reading books in print versus tablets, cell phones versus rotary phones and lastly what’s better–being dubbed a millennial or slacker.

As I grew older, shifting and evolving, these “youth wasted on the young” statements began to make some sense, however in my personal retrospect I’d rather change my trajectory NOW and not go back and do it over again, because that’s part of our life experience. If we didn’t learn from our mistakes or choices how could we pass lessons on to our own children, exemplifying what we gained or missed in our youth, hoping they potentially choose wiser and strive to rise above. Writing this novel has risen a lot of emotive to the surface and it’s challenging to keep up the momentum and yet, at the same time, I find it’s been a rewarding and motivational experience. The more I write, the past stays further behind. I’m finding peace with this cathartic process. On my writing journey, I’ve read some books on inherited family traumas and books based on true stories about children convicted of their violent crimes.

I read Mark Wolynn’s It Didn’t Start With You as a client of therapy and for research. Insightful, gripping (when you have those aha moments as I did reading through this) and resourceful. There are Q&A sections to help you narrow down through the family tree where YOUR own behavior or mannerisms may have been inherited from; Grandma had the same body image issues or Great Uncle Leon on your Dad’s side had obsessive compulsive tendencies. It’s also a short and concise read, narrowing down science and fact.

Two more great reads on Trauma and Drug Addiction (two of the main themes of my novel)

Bonnie Badenoch’s The Heart of Trauma focuses on trauma affecting the brain and how cognitive therapy assist in addressing the client’s healing process. This reads as a college textbook with case studies interwoven guiding the reader in understanding the triggers behind the situation and the deeply embedded root of the trauma causing a chain reaction from the brain and what the brain is experiencing before it even hits the person on an emotional level. Great read, but needs to be read carefully in order to absorb the information provided.

The Heart of Trauma – Bonnie Badenoch

Gabor Mate’s In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts is a great read on how drug addiction affects the brain and why it’s not so easy for addicts to just stop. I didn’t agree with some key theories he had on root causes behind individual drug addictions, but appreciated his efforts in assisting and addressing the needs of the drug addicts he treated on the streets. This is a long read (about 500+ pages) with a lot of patience to get through it, but he writes engagingly, sharing stories of clients’ addictions and analyzing his own personal addictions (not drug related, he discusses all forms of addiction and how the brain triggers these addictions.) Anyway, for a person who is like me, doesn’t understand and at times isn’t always accepting of addiction because I never had the issue, it was informative and eye opening.

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Gabor Mate

Lastly, I’d like to mention this book I have not read yet and evidently there’s a Netflix movie based on the book. This is a novel about a teen convicted of murder. I pulled it off my bookshelf to read soon, as it relates to my novel in terms of a teen being convicted for a violent crime (not the murder part in my personal circumstance) and because I like to read the books FIRST before watching the film adaptations. Walter Dean Myers’ Monster

Monster – Walter Dean Myers

I’ve embedded hyperlinks in the title of these books to purchase, if interested, between BookBar and Tattered Cover bookstores based out of Denver. Feel free to find them elsewhere, but as I noted in a previous post, I’m a huge advocate for independent bookstores.

Ok, I got nostalgia and trauma out of the way, or Nostalgic Trauma, however way you perceive, it’s all relative. On a lighter note, when I write emotionally draining chapters and feel the need to shift energies–I tend garden. I incorporated, this year, in my backyard, a fairy garden. I wanted to do this for so long and it’s come full circle. This is the first phase, first development. I’m adding on, as I’m admittedly addicted. I can’t help it, it’s a good addiction though, right?

I wrote a short story a couple of years back about a wife who creates her own fairy garden in the backyard, unbeknownst to her, two magical entities were eagerly awaiting in the shadows, completion of the garden, so they could move into one of the homes she set up. It was a leprechaun named Lanny and fairy named Sheila who moved into the cream colored, copper tin-roofed, green-doored home. My writing group got a kick out of the story. Here’s some pictures I took during the day and at twilight (trying to capture the solar powered homes and blue rock that light up at night but they didn’t in these pictures) to show off my hard work. Building fairy gardens is not easy. I put a lot of sweat and time into this, but it brought happiness and joy while I was working calmly and methodically. It’s the little things people. YOU MAKE IT, WHAT YOU WANT. I have to keep throwing my blog’s core value in the mix. No matter what you’re pursuing in life; YOU Make it what you want.

If you know of any fairies and magical creatures looking for some prime fairy garden real estate, send them to Firestone, Colorado. I’ll be adding more phases, so in the meantime, there may be a waiting list.

Enjoy life, read a book for hours, walk on a trail or in a park absorbing the beauty surrounding you, smile at people even if they don’t smile back, spend time with your loved ones, laugh, breathe, meditate and love. Rinse and repeat; live each day as if it’s your last.

Narrative Device

Ok it happened, finally…first Short Story class tonight and I’m pumped, invigorated and most importantly INSPIRED! I set up a once a week, evening write time with “J” which she wholeheartedly agreed considering she’s been in a writing slump since her beloved mother passed. She’s part of another writing group collective, that meets during the day, but wanted to keep up our writing flow together as a team. When you develop a nice intimate, relaxed environment with another writing partner who keeps your accountability in check, you want them around even if, momentarily it’s one day a week.

I like this class; it’s a small group setting, about nine of us total and everyone conveyed a sense of friendliness and openness to the group. I could feel the positive, creative energy flowing through the internet airwaves. Hank, as the instructor refers himself, is a powerhouse of knowledge and wisdom on the literature and storytelling forefront and I’m over the moon ecstatic about making a wise investment and choice enrolling in this class. My first one for the year.

What is my overall objective?

What is there to learn from this story?

Why are the characters pertinent to this story?

We had some profound handouts Mr. Lewis emailed to the class, to read, review and discuss our thoughts and ambitions as writers from these pieces. What stood out and why? We read and reviewed the first “Model Short Story” uploaded by one of the students, first up on the roster to submit for discussion. Hers, a short titled “Orton” provided a benchmark of what Mr. Lewis’s expectations were in a model piece as far as structure, form, plot and story were concerned. I’m on a motivational power boost to propel my writing narrative at a new level.

The path to artistic freedom – Black Canyon National Park, Montrose, Colorado 2018

I can do this, I won’t give up!