Incorporating the Author’s Personal Life into the Novel: Losing my Sweet Bella-Cat

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I have been crying for 3 days now–off and on–mourning the possible loss of our little Bella (the beautiful girl above). She went missing August 9th; this is the 3rd day. We live in Maine, just moved here a few weeks ago. She would go out onto the land–woods and field–and never strayed very far. Not like out other bog Tom, Larry (but he’s a grizzled woods vet; she, however, is just two, and new to the outside.

I blame myself for my total ignorance of the wildlife in this area, and for letting her go out that last time. After doing some research, I see there are coyotes. We have not heard any, but, I know better now. She got out that night . . . and we found her little collar in the field the next day.  There was no sign of her being taken–by human or animal alike–just her little collar on the hill; and my memory of her jumping out the window, and my watching her go. I have scoured the field looking for blood, fur, anything to tell me she was attacked. But have found nothing. I’m crying now thinking about my sweet Bells.

My daughter and I made posters today and put them up around town. Maybe some won’t understand this, but I am one of those whose fur-babies are family.

Every morning when I wake up–4:20 to drink coffee, meditate, then write–she comes to the computer chair, stands up, and taps my lap. And meows. I pick her up, and we cuddle while I write my stories down. Now, for the past few days, in the mornings, there is just me and my words. I got used to her coming in. She would sleep in my sons room, but, she’d hear me wake up and scratch at my bedroom door. I miss her.

And I hate that she’s gone.

Yesterday, my little morning-time friend crept into my current story. I wrote about her and cried for her absence: what better way for a writer to cry. I wonder how many other emotional bits of fiction come from the authors word-for-word memories? Their own loves, losses, experiences–not just a close depiction, but a word for word account? I bet it happens more often than one might think. And I bet most of the pieces given to the book by the author, taken from his own heart and soul, draw just a bit more out of the reader.

Those we love literally rub off on us, leave something on and inside of us. A dusting of them over us. And, when the winds blow just right, and the story and heart align, that dust blows onto the reader, leaving something on and inside of them, as well. An alchemy to take away. A piece of univeral living, rediscovered in heartache and joy by another human being like us.

We are so much the same, aren’t we?

We cry.

And us writers, well, we cry and write from the bottom of the well.

Thank you for reading about my Bella. I pray she comes home, so we can make even more memories.

Calling all Writers and Readers: Plot vs. Mind-Blowing Prose

Good evening, wordpressians. I hope you are well, laughing, doing what you do best. I am full of home-cooked burgers and fries, and am ready for some alone time.

I was thinking about this today, and wondering what you all think. As a reader, there is absolutely nothing I love more than reading a novel which reads like straight-up poetry. Wait, let me reiterate: GOOD poetry. Not a bunch of flowery, over-pompous, self indulgent bologna, but read, solid prose. Like Fitzgerald, Rilke, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Stephen King and Murakami. Where one could linger over the words, the lines, like wine, hold it within your mouth. Let it sink in through your glands, your pores, and the skin of your thrilled fucking fingers. Ohhh . . . yes. That’s where it’s at for me; what this art is all about.

Check this out:

“Sitting in the flickering light of the candles on this kerchief of sand, on this village square, we waited in the night. We were waiting for the rescuing dawn – or for the Moors. Something, I know not what, lent this night a savor of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang songs. In the air there was that slight fever that reigns over a gaily prepared feast. And yet we were infinitely poor. Wind, sand, and stars. The austerity of Trappists. But on this badly lighted cloth, a handful of men who possessed nothing in the world but their memories were sharing invisible riches. ”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryWind, Sand, and Stars

 

And this from the same novel (one every reader muct read):

 

“You, Bedouin of Libya who saved our lives, though you will dwell forever in my memory yet I shall never be able to recapture your features. You are Humanity and your face comes into my mind simply as man incarnate. You, our beloved fellowman, did not know who we might be, and yet you recognized us without fail. And I, in my turn, shall recognize you in the faces of all mankind. You came towards me in an aureole of charity and magnanimity bearing the gift of water. All my friends and all my enemies marched towards me in your person. It did not seem to me that you were rescuing me: rather did it seem that you were forgiving me. And I felt I had no enemy left in all the world.”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryWind, Sand, and Stars

 

The romance of the words in books such as these is more romance than most romance novels hold—in plain view—today. But this is coming from the Shakespeare geek (no greater writer than he!).  And yes, I am a poet, and for me it’s more what lies between the lines—the unseen questions that bubble up from the visible words. I like beautiful descriptions (but nothing trite please; that metaphor has to snap!), and philosophical poetic prose, over fast moving plot or tripe. If I’m going to invest my precious time (did I mention I have five young kids?!) into a book, it’s going to have to leave my mind utterly breathless. I want to swoon; spend time inside each line as if they were lovers (cheesy…perhaps…but this is really how I feel!); I want to know the author intimately through the words they have written for me.

And as a writer?

I write what comes, and hope I do it well. But more than anything I wish to connect. First with the divine process of the writing itself, second, with those reading my work. I guess it’s all about who you are, one’s sum total of every memory, and which story decided to come forward.

There are some though (I know many) who prefer the plot driven stories, and can’t be bothered with philosophical, poetic tone. It’s all about who we are. But . . . when you find that perfect book that has everything? Plot, likable characters, words that make ya go, mmmmm! Then, magic grows. And somewhere, another work of art is born. At least that’s my romantic take on it: breeding through reading.

Hey, I think I kinda like that.

One more quote to leave you with. (Murakami is such a perfect medium between literary and plot. )

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

And you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

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WHO ARE WE WHEN WE WRITE?

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Every morning without fail, I meditate. In the past year, I have missed less than a handful of days: two of which due to the flu and absolute delirium, the other three during my recent move 1100 miles away (in a car with 5 kids, two weimaraners, and two cats howling their misery through the chaos). But other than that: I’m golden.

And then, after drinking my second cuppa Jo and surfing the almighty web, I write. Yessireebob, those magical hours between 4:20 a.m when my alarm goes off, and whenever my kids get up and demand me be their mother (boy that sounds bad!), I live fully inside of my mind–wherever that constitutes “me”. I could discourse all day long about this, but, i have beans and dogs on the stove (us poor arteests call it “indoor camping”), so I won’t.

My question is, when we, the writer, is writing: who are we?

And the closest I can get to an answer is that our cumulative we, is, no longer.

For me, writing feels like a continuation of my meditation on a whole other level. The moving of a body of energy far above the crown, out and into the ether; where all the writer has to do is be still and become the story-filter. Where every opposing aspect of our selves just fucks off: goes fishing; streaking naked in a mass body exodus, reeking havoc on shocked passers by; or, more often than not, blissfully back to sleep. And then, when we are breathing through the roof of our heads, we are left with something other:

the writer, alone.

One of my two favorite poets, Arthur Rimbaud wrote: I is an other. This is how I write. When I’m in that atmosphere–when I am the filter–I am as close to the divine as i think I could ever be. So for all those (you know who you are!) who think me bat-shit-crazy for waking at such an ungodly hour: these are the reasons why. Why I rise eagerly at 4 a.m; why I’m so often smiling; why I still find myself dutifully anchored to the roots of earth, like the photo I sculpted above. Not only do the words take me out of myself, but also, they ground my body-house . . . let it chill after a seriously long day of gravity.

So cheers, my fellow writers and word-chasing dreamers.

(Writer and reader alike: is there any place you’d rather be than awake in the glory of words?)

x

Female Peter Pan: Girl with a YA Heart

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Even now I should be writing more on my new novel (a literary/magical realism), but instead I find myself here: reaching out to the blogging community, others on their own road through already over-crowded slush piles and discourse of other writers with similar stories to tell. Whether those stories are of rejection after rejection, and constant critique of their little darlings, or of their triumphs over adversity–to the top of an agent’s list. Those are the stories i wish to read, and, likewise share. it’s the food of us writers after-all! Poets and novelists alike. How else would we be able to see over both sides of the fence, if we hadn’t stood on both sides, fully immersing ourselves inside both the verdant Kelly green, and the dry parched earth, too barren to support any life? that brown shit is the fodder for our wordy belly fires…and the green, our ever expanding highway.

I love that I’m a word-geek who used to choose reading Shakespeare in my bedroom alone at twelve years old, over kissing boys behind the school like my friends. There are no lips like those of Romeo’s, nor truth more potent or secretive than that found inside Hamlet’s breath.

So if you find yourself on my road, stop in a Kristi’n tavern, and stop by for a beer and a chat. I’d love to hear your stories.

cheers,

Kristin