Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Writer's Digest Book Rescue

I've decided that I will not make any lengthy posts until I finish my short story collection---and in celebration, I'm going to post a FREE short story on this blog---yep, one from the collection. Not sure which one I will put up here...

I hit a snag. I turned to a book I got from Writer's Digest Books---it is called "Fiction First Aid." I looked at it and it made me look at my character's motivation closer---and then I wrote LONGHAND and started writing the rest of the story that way [with some way cool Liberty of London journals I got at Target on sale for $2, I might add---and yes B, one may be coming your way at our next writer's group meeting] and had a big breakthrough....

First, the story about the psychic is really probably more about the priest. I was centering the plot on the wrong character---the psychic is merely the catalyst for the story. Because her story was more --well, crazy, I was paying attention to her. Kind of like the kid who yells and screams when he only has a skinned knee....

Okay, this post is too long when a story collection is unfinished...then I'm going to launch the publicity blitz [whatever that means] .

Hopefully by next post I will have a short story up here....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

God on the Quad-- UNC Safe Place

A week or so ago [dang, where has time gone?] I went back to my beloved Alma mater with L, one of my cool daddy friends from UNC. L was there with her daughter C, visiting the campus, and since I had not seen C since she was a baby, it was great to catch up.

After getting some noms from Whole Foods to have as a picnic, L met another friend and I took off my shoes and spread out on the cool grass of the quad--well, Polk Place technically. For those of you who have never been to UNC-Chapel Hill campus, there is a reason they call it the Southern Part of Heaven...and it's not because I'm biased. Some American Association of Architects labeled it as one of 50 US campuses designated as "works of art." Google it... love the pictures...

This is a picture of where I chilled out---courtesy of the blog 'justinsomnia'---or maybe not courtesy [if I'm stepping on any toes, I'll take it down, dudes]

At any rate, I forced myself to look up at the sky and the trees and just took time to STOP and be quiet.

Sometimes, I've heard shrinks say that if you have a panic attack, you should close your eyes and picture your "safe, happy place," which I always thought was a load of crap until I actually tried it. For some reason, this campus has always served as that visual oasis. I also sometimes pray as I think about it, and I visualize walking with Jesus across campus [for some reason, Jesus is always wearing a gray plaid shirt and jeans, but that's another entry].

If you haven't rubbed your bare feet across soft grass in a while, I highly recommend it. It was as if I could hear every bird, every twig, every squirrel shuffling through the blades of grass...and I found myself wishing that I could find a job in the Chapel Hill area and move there so I could experience that every day...and then, call it Divine revelation, I pictured my Jesus image, and could almost feel God say, "Is my sky any less blue where you are? Are the grass and the trees completely different? "

It was then I realized that it was not so much the location, but that I needed a change in my attitude. That I needed to learn more about how to be QUIET and how to rest and LISTEN.

So, it wasn't the burning bush by any stretch of the imagination, but I'd like to think I had an encounter with God on the quad. And I'm very blessed for it.

I wrote this poem on the quad that day...

As I was chilling out at the quad, I saw this older--but still young (at least compared to me)-- student [well, he looked about 23-25--he had long hair so it was kind of hard to tell] and he walked across campus with such defiance--not rebellious defiance, but just defiance against the mundane pratter of here and now, and beating against the vague voices of restlessness that would demand he start a dot com empire, wear a tie everyday, and make a million dollars at all costs.

For some bizarre reason, being I guess more rested, I wrote a poem right then and there about this unknown student, and how I wish I had carried more of that 'good' defiance with me. It reminded me of when I was at UNC and I felt that everything was possible---and to a certain extent, I still do, but rarely with the loving abandon I had once before.

Here's the poem--and yes, it's a draft so no one get all critical of it. I'm NOT a good poet.

And yes, copyright, all rights reserved, yada, yada, yada...

I think I would have loved you....

I think I would have loved you
sometime, somewhere,
maybe when I was younger
and without unraveled cares
of emptied patience long forgotten
behind yellowed teeth and empty breasts...

...as you walk boldly across campus
I think I would have loved you
sometime, somewhere
and traced my fingers across the corners of your tribal tattoo
calligraphy in Celtic knots and ivy dreams
on your sun-drenched abdomen

And I would not be intimidated
by your Sampson-length golden honey locks
I think I would have loved you
sometime, somewhere
your silky sheen mane fondling your shoulders
in the same way mine did a thousand years ago

And I would not be annoyed
by your crusade to challenge everything
and drink your desires off the cuff of your sleeve
I think I could have loved you
sometime somewhere
and dreamed outrageously with you

But now I must bathe in dusted cobwebbed-settles
and men with rusted crucifixes dangling on
secondhand gold-plated chains
and set the alarm for six a.m.
I think I could have loved you
sometime, somewhere...