WE HAVE TO BEGIN SOMEWHERE

In picking up on the ending of my first published novel as the starting point for my most recent work, 50 years later, I’m given a foundation to build on. There’s a set of central characters (five siblings plus our hippie-boy) within existing situations (the tragic car crash, the restaurant, the campus). Can you also see this as presenting a larger puzzle to work out? How many more pieces will be required? Just how big will it be? Will it really fit on our table?

There’s also a backstory, one that can’t be ignored even when the new book is expected to stand on its own rather than as a sequel. In this case, a backstory with parts I feel need to be downplayed or softened. After all, some of it’s downright embarrassing! Go take a trip with Subway Hitchhikers if you want to know why.

Still, one thing that pleases me with my new novel is how much of that past recedes into the background. This is the daughter’s struggle, after all, years later. What’s Left is ultimately about what’s happening with her as she relates it, even when she’s looking at old photographs or asking questions. Here she makes her debut as an 11-year-old when her father vanishes and moves forward.

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SHIFTING GEARS ON HIGHWAY ‘18

You no doubt noticed a new look at my suite of blogs here at WordPress during the past year. In midsummer I converted to four quite different templates – or what WordPress calls themes – each one a sharp new presentation for the unique material of the blogs. The process also prompted a redefinition of their separate identities.

Much of my literary attention last year focused on my newest novel, which underwent two major revisions and a cleanup reading – along with a new title. You’ll hear a lot more about it through the coming year. In fact, the Red Barn will be engaged in conversations about the many themes running through the big book. Look for the new Cassia’s World category.

Doing that has me anticipating fewer postings here – typically three a week, rather than seven to 10. To be frank, there were weeks when I felt things were getting way too hectic. Sometimes less really is more.

One other refinement: My Tendrils category will be getting more playful. I hope you like it – more way than one.

On the other sites, Chicken Farmer, I Still Love You is settling more fully into its inland New England character. More photos, mostly of historic brick mills, will accompany the serialization of my Big Inca novel, before giving way later in the year to poetry that fits the region.

As Light Is Sown steps up its pace to two postings a week, mostly short entries drawn from my books Religion Turned Upside Down and Stillwater. Consider it provocative inspiration. I hope.

While I’m not anticipating any further big genealogical reports at Orphan George, I am looking forward to excerpting from helpful correspondents over the years as one way of acknowledging their generous assistance. Maybe I’ll throw in some more family photos, too. We’ll see.

Finally, my Thistle/Flinch imprint will explore fresh typographical concepts in six of the new releases – venturing somewhere between broadsides and chapbooks, I expect. This new lineup of free offerings is all poetry.

~*~

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

 

Here’s the latest at THISTLE/FLINCH.

 

CAN YOU REALLY STEAL TIME?

Rubato is not the only approach in music, stealing a bit of a beat from one note to give it to the next. Fermato – the bird’s eye – stops the count altogether, however briefly.

As if time in daily life is all that mechanical. Some days, after all, after longer than others. Or some minutes seem to go on forever, unlike others that leave us breathless.

Now, back to that matter of Rubato

~*~

Poetry
Rubato

For these poems and more, visit Thistle/Flinch editions.

 

MAY WE GROW OLD GRACEFULLY

Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.

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  1. Somehow as a Subway Hitchhiker (at least in my imagination and dreaming) I’ve settled in a small city in a cluster of small cities amid moose and deer and the occasional black bear. As well as the eagle, overhead. Here, with my city farm, as we garden.
  2. Always the Outsider – even when I’m the Leader.
  3. This slow process of learning to trust each other again.
  4. Yet some Wants are also Needs! (To be loved, accepted – even as a writer – even successful or victorious in some manner.)
  5. My Wall is an aspect of Control. (Even if it’s so classic it’s trite.)
  6. Sometimes it seems we don’t play. We don’t play enough.
  7. The pathway is not straight but strait. Not even like a tightrope. No wonder I’m so often off-kilter.
  8. In the beginning was the Plan and the Plan was (as I paraphrase the gospel of John). Yes, simply was. And all we have to do is step into it! As if it could really be that simple.
  9. This is hardly a Literary Life. How different my work would be had I led another existence. Something with more time for serious reading, teaching, refined social circles. Rather than laboring out in the field.
  10. So comforting, this thick terrycloth bathrobe that reaches to my ankles – not a given, at all, when you’re tall. Nice way to round out the year.

~*~

Set for winter. We burn about three cords of firewood to help heat the house each year.
Set for winter. We burn about three cords of firewood to help heat the house each year. As they used to say, “Half your hay by Groundhog Hog,” meaning the amount you’d need left to get through a full winter. It applied to firewood, too.

SO THIS IS THE GOOD LIFE?

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. Is anything more relaxing than sitting in front of a wood fire? Even when it means sitting on the floor?
  2. Gift-buying husbands? Just look! As she says, they’re subjected to indentured shop-itude.
  3. First day of winter and the flannel sheets should be on the bed by now, if not earlier. Flip the mattress and rotate, too.
  4. Our traditional Christmas dinner includes fresh homegrown Brussels sprouts, which means I’m out in the garden harvesting – sometimes in several feet of snow. Likewise with kale and chard: frost improves the flavor.
  5. Let me suggest Mary, as the mother of the church … a slightly different twist on the Nativity story.
  6. For someone who’s lived under relentless deadlines, Christmas itself can be seen as another damn deadline. Or series of deadlines. This year, I think I’m ahead.
  7. Still, I’m deeply grateful for the sense of release – notes, poems, correspondence … the logjam broken … now that the poems and novels are available.
  8. Grandfathers have grandfathers too. In case you’re in one of those inner-child perspectives.
  9. What are the theological dimensions of Alzheimer’s or dimentia? Where are the connections – the response ability – when your story gets so fragmented you’re no longer connected to anything you encounter?
  10. Tell me something true.

~*~

Our own holly, in front of the house.
Our own holly, in front of the house.