I am about halfway through “Reading Like a Writer” by Francine Prose. She is really helping me to slow down and savor the sentences and word choices in my reading and my writing. And she is adding to my ever growing list of books to read, some by writers I’ve never heard of. Henry Green, anyone?
I just finished “The Knitting Circle” by Ann Hood. I felt rather voyeuristic as I read this novel, knowing how closely it mirrors her own experience. Her five-year-old daugher, Grace, died unexpectedly from complications from strep a few years ago. In the book a young daughter also dies and it is told from the perspective of the mother who finds herself learning to knit. The author also learned to knit when the usual comfort she found in writing and reading and language in general had left her after the loss of her daughter. I am not the sort of person who cries easily while reading but this one did it. It’s every mom’s worst nightmare. I’ve attempted to write stories that deal with the loss of a child in hopes of some kind of writerly magic preventing it from happening in reality as Kate Braverman once said but it is just too huge to grapple with. It gives such a raw incite into the grieving process that I read it almost with one eye closed, unable to watch it full on.
“Moral Disorder” by Margaret Atwood is another stunning book by this author. It is a series of interconnected stories that reveal the life of Nell as a child and adolescent into young adulthood through a complex relationship with Tig. The stories are structured in this sweeping arc of time that envelopes their lives. Carefully rendered, closely observed- trademarks of this writer.
Currently reading “The Dead Fish Museum,” a story collection by Charles D’Ambrosia.
On the last day of National Poetry Month I took my youngest to a poetry reading at our library by Keith Taylor. One line that struck me was “dancing under the temporary stars.” In the car my daughter asked me what my favorite poem had been. I was embarassed to realize that they had all kind of run together for me but she had a list of her favorites which once she began numerating then jogged my own memory.
I went to make a card for a friend’s 30th birthday the other day. Once I got into my art space I started finding objects that all went together and ended up creating a wall hanging as a present. I do have a photo and I really must learn to transfer it off my camera, onto my computer and onto my blog. Really, it’s on my list of things to do. It was so much fun to create. I had no real expectations, or very low ones- just gonna make a little card. No big deal. I’m thinking that low or no expectations might serve me in many other areas of my life too.
I’m in the middle of another huge rewrite of this story, “Japanese for Butterfly.” I thought I was at the point of reading it out loud and fine tuning the prose but earlier today it came to me that I need another scene which happens to be one I wrote in the first story. So I am merging the old story and new story into an even better story I hope. My goal is to finish it this week so I can start on the next story so I can have it ready for my writing group by May 20. I also want to make a list of journals to submit 3 different stories to, one that is 10,000 words. I thought I’d make a list one day, write cover letters the next, print out stories the next, label, stuff and mail the next. Baby steps since I really hate this part of the process.
“You can’t write seriously without reading the greats in that particular way that writers read, attentive to the particularities of the language, to the technical turns and twists of scenemaking and plot, soaking up narrative strategies and studying various approaches to that cave in the deep woods where the human heart hibernates.”
– Alan Cheuse
…that cave in the deep woods where the human heart hibernates… I love this!
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