Compost: My WIP

If you read my blog post from August 16th, you know I have started sharing snippets (unedited, first draft snippets!) from my new WIP, a novel with the working title of “Masks and Stories.” It is my hope that sharing these snippets will encourage me to keep writing this new book, and not let it go dormant again.

So here’s another passage:

“Long ago, or maybe only yesterday, there was a young girl who didn’t belong where she was born. She did not look like anyone in her family, or even in her town. They had blue eyes or green eyes, but no one else had dark eyes the color of mink, like she did. They had smooth pink and white skins, but her skin was a freckled goldy-brown. Their noses were short and broad, but hers was narrow and crooked. Their fingers were wide and stubby, as were their toes, but hers were long and thin. Their hair was brown and straight as plank boards, but her burnt orange locks grew in curls that were painful to comb in the mornings. In short, everyone else was beautiful, and she was not.”


Comments are welcome.

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Haiku Friday: Blessing

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Blessing:

may bears protect you
may otters share their laughter
may wolves howl welcome

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

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Sharing History: The Consequences of Children’s Literature

One of the participants in my memoir-writing class remembered reading Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky, a 1939 classic children’s book about a courageous little tugboat, to her four-year-old son. It became his favorite book, and he demanded that she read it nearly every night for about a year. “I guess it’s true that literature has great power,” she said, “because he was fascinated by boats from then on. In fact he made them his life’s work – he’s now the captain of a ferry boat!”

What did your mom read to you when you were young? How did that book affect you? Or … what are you reading to your children or grandchildren right now?

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Goody Beagle: UPS Men, Squirrels & the End of the World as We Know It

A fat squirrel came onto my porch and ate MY cookie that the UPS man left for me!

I howled and howled through the glass door and no one did anything and the fat squirrel went right on eating my cookie.

I believe the world is ending.

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Haiku Friday: Birds

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Birds:

robins, crows, juncos
chickadees, flickers, sparrows
it's crowded up there

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

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Writing: Word History

I want to explore one last idiom, and it’s a doozie.

Do you know what a doozie is? Well, of course you do – it’s something that is really cool, impressive, or costs a whole lot of money.

But you may not know where this word originated. It’s a fairly new word, born in the 1920s. Have you ever seen a Duesenberg car? If you’re not a car nut, probably not. But if you’ve ever said, “What a doozie!” you are referring to this car.

The Duesenberg was a car built during the 1920s that was one of the most expensive and extravagant cars ever. It was made entirely by hand and its price was out of reach for middle class people, and even a stretch for the rich.

Maybe calling the Duesenberg a doozie brought it down out of the stratosphere, so even plain folks could talk about it.

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Compost: My WIP

When I left corporate America and became a full-time writer, I thought, “Wow how cool, all my time just for writing!” Ideas for stories, novels, essays, and poems jumped around in my mind like caffeinated fleas.

And then I began ghostwriting. I write for other people, and I love it. However, there is a downside. I’m often so busy writing for others that my own work takes second place. Ghostwriting earns me reliable money. Making money from my own work is more of a crap shoot. Ghostwriting means I have made commitments and promises to other people. With my own writing, the commitments and promises are made only to myself, who I find easier to negotiate with.

The upshot is that many of my fleas have stopped jumping and gone back to sleep.

So what to do? One day I had a brainwave. One of the commitments to myself that I do keep steadfastly is to write this blog. I’m not writing for others here, this is my own work. So what if I shared here, on this blog, pieces from my current “for-me” WIP?

Right now I’m working on a novel with the working title of “Masks & Stories”. It’s about the masks we wear and the stories we tell, and how they make us who we are. I like it. I like it very much. When I work on it, I get excited. And when I share it, it becomes real.

So every now and again I’m going to share snippets of this WIP here on my blog. Maybe just a sentence or a paragraph at a time. This is kind of scary, since these will be first draft snippets; they are unedited, will probably change, or may even be eliminated from the final product. But I believe that sharing these snippets will keep me trucking along on this book that is crying out to be written. I think it will keep my fleas hopping.

I’ll start at the beginning, with the first paragraph of the book (as it is now). If you want to comment, I’d love to hear what you think.

“We opened the door and trooped eagerly into the house, just like we always had before. But we stopped in the entry way, the four of us bunched together as if uncertain of where to go, since Grandma wasn’t here to show us. Only a moment, but a long one, while her absence shouted from the walls and echoed in the empty air.”


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Haiku Friday: Starting

Here’s my haiku for today, on the topic of Starting:

finish what you start
your mother always said so
you know she was right

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

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Sharing History: We Are Actors

After dinners at our large tribal gatherings on Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July, while my cousins and siblings ran playing and screaming around the house, I was usually hiding under the dinner table listening to the adults, my parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, talk. Because I was hidden by the long white tablecloth, they didn’t know I was there, and freed from the inhibition “not in front of the children!” they would tell the real stories of their lives. Beer, wine and scotch would be poured, and sex and death and scandal would ricochet around the table. Long standing jokes would be resurrected and laughed over again. Speculation and opinions about old family mysteries would be offered up and argued over. Politics, religion, history and wars: no topics were taboo. Since my family was filled with loud, passionate people, the stories tended to be juicy.

Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, all the great themes of the mid-20th century played out around those Thanksgiving dinner tables. My father and his brothers told war stories from Italy and the South Pacific and Korea. My mother and aunts told of sugar rationing, clothing coupons, factory work, and the mind-numbing effects of the 1950s on housewives. They marveled over “miracles” such as penicillin, the polio vaccine and (in hushed voices) the birth control pill. They worried about the Russians getting ahead in the Space Race, and the spread of communism. They rejoiced over modern conveniences such as easy-to-fix packaged food, and speculated darkly on the dangerous effects of Elvis Presley or Chubby Checker’s Twist on impressionable young minds.

Most of us tend to see “history” as something that happens to us. But the truth is that we ourselves, each of us, contribute to and participate in history. We are actors, not just reactors.

Don’t make your kids hide underneath the dinner table in order to know what you really feel and think, or what you have really done and seen. Share your stories with them.

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Goody Beagle Says: Crows and Aliens

A huge Crow haunts my lawn. He struts like he owns it. Who does he think he is – an Eagle?

This Crow took up with a girl Crow almost as big as he is, and now there are baby Crows who are growing way too fast for comfort. Even The Cat is afraid of them. They are sure not afraid of her, or of me either.

I think this upsets the Natural Plan, don’t you?

Perhaps these Crows are Alien Crows from another planet. Be Very Afraid.

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