Monday, October 29, 2007

Failure to Blog....

Amazingly enough, Henri’s Companion, set as it is in the “no land to be seen anywhere” Gulf of Mexico, has been the cause of a serious dry spell in my blogging efforts. I struggled with the rewrites, waffled with the issue of the right name, and second-guessed myself for ‘way too long. One 1500 word short story shouldn’t take near that much time!

Pre-Henri’s Companion, I would have probably doubted (for the millionth time, I’m sure) my calling as a writer. But, in spite of the angst and protracted length of time in the rewriting, I believe that I have learned quite a lot. Seeing the project through is the major accomplishment to come out of the piece. There are lots of little notes of interest along the way, not the least of which is ‘… you don’t have to take every good suggestion made and shoe-horn it into the plot…’ I wasted more time than I care to remember with that one. I had to finally go back and decide that my basic premise with Henri’s Companion was a good one and that it just needed refinement, basic editing and then polishing. Let me say again, I am MUCH better off having learned to trust my first instinct.

So, back to the extended lapse in time between blog entries… since I’m still employed full time, am still a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother, my time is fragmented. I cling possessively to the Tuesday nights I spend with my writers group like a drowning woman because it’s the one thing I’m still doing solely for myself. The people I love and who love me have a right to expect a certain amount of my time and attention. I gladly give it to them. Basically, it’s the time I spend at work, an increasingly unfulfilling endeavor, which I find myself resenting. For the time being, there’s nothing to be done about that.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Henri's Companion, Henri's Loss....Henri's Companion.... again?

I've worked diligently on this little scrap of what is now about 1500 words. I've probably written 5000 to 6000 words trying to "get it right". I've had great critiques on this piece... clarifying, insightful and much appreciated.

My non-writer readers have been very helpful in pointing out problems which never occurred to me... the "why didn't they paddle over to the drilling rig and board it to save themselves" resulted in research on drilling rigs/production platforms with my brother and the ultimate writing out of anything thus related. The observation of my boating expert reader that Henri was obviously a negligent boat owner because the boat must have been poorly maintained causing it to sink sparked a discussion with my writing group in which we decided it didn't matter why the fishing boat caught fire and sank. There has been discussion with various readers and writing group members about vague references to the "companion" and more specific references to "Hank". I'm still working on that issue. Currently the necessary big fix has to do with the last paragraph where Henri's condition on rescue is being evaluated. Research from a knowledgeable friend has finally come through and I'll be fixing that today.

By far, the most frustrating issue for me has been the name of the piece....Henri's Companion... Henri's Loss... now, Henri's Companion again. Henri's Companion is the title that causes music in my mind. It feels right. That said, I recognize that titles are extremely important and what feels right may not always BE right. The title is still up in the air and I'm not so sure either of those will be correct in the end. The jury is still out....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Henri's Companion

I've been struggling with a story for Humble Fiction Cafe's current project, our "Split" anthology. My dichotomy "appear/disappear" story was progressing but had grown much too unweldy for the time I have to devote to completing the project. I knew I had to do something different or risk not being able to meet our deadlines. I'd been reading a book (I'll supply the title and author when I have time to find the book again) on creating "scenes".

I went to bed last Friday night thinking about needing to do a new story which takes place in a limited locale and with a limited number of characters. I got up Saturday morning with the idea in my mind for a story I'm currently calling Henri's Companion. After my meeting Saturday morning I spent two hours at the Octavia Fields Library in Humble doing my discovery draft. I'm very pleased with the results and I'm very relieved to finally have something completed to work with. I know the rewrite is going to be brutal, but with some very good suggestions from Victor and Dorlana already in hand, I'm looking forward to working on it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spelling Confession... Entry 4 (and 5)

The word is bona fide and the issue was whether it was one word or two. I spelled it correctly but was unsure of my choice so I had to look it up.

bona fide – (for my purpose) neither specious nor counterfeit; authentic

“I’ve created a bona fide ghost in my dichotomy.”

Okay, these issues seem to never end. I misspelled authentic (even while looking at it in the dictionary ) when I was writing the above definition, soooooo….

authenticworthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact

“The signature on the inside cover of the book was verified as authentic by the book appraiser who researched it on behalf of the museum.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It's All About Haden...

My oldest grandbaby graduated from high school last Saturday afternoon. It was a wonderful event, marked by the seventeen family members and friends who made the trip to Beaumont.

Haden graduated 16th in his class of about 300 students. He graduated wearing the collar of the National Honor Society, the golden ropes of an Honor Graduate and the multi-colored ropes of a Gifted and Talented Scholar. He received UIL Scholar recognition, scholastic merit recognition by the U.S. Marine Corps, and was honored as the only member of this senior class to have perfect attendance through four years of high school.

Haden will attend Lamar University in Beaumont in the fall, planning to major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Business.

Our lives changed dramatically when Haden was born in November 1988 and I expect it will again be dramatically different when he moves away from home for the first time August 18th.

Note: Photo is of Haden and Halee, his girlfriend, on the patio at Carrabba's, where we had dinner after the graduation exercises.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spelling Confession... Entry 3

The word is "ecstatic"... members of Humble Writers Group will know why I needed this particular word... meaning: of, relating to, or marked by ecstasy.

(A nod to Dorlana)... "Victor was estatic when his commercial won Grand Prize!"

....fingers crossed.......

Friday, May 4, 2007

Spelling Confessions... Entry 2

The word today is "naive"... meaning marked by unaffected simplicity; or deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgement.

This is a word I've looked up a million times and still am uncertain about and, therefore, I continue to look it up almost every time I have to use it. In a Word document, it's easy: Spellcheck will reassure me. Places where I don't have the convenience of Spellcheck, it's back to the dictionary. (sigh...)

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Rescue of Darryl, the Tech Guy

Darryl is my computer tech. He's not mine, exactly. He actually belongs to the county in the sense that they pay him. Darryl has helped me out of more than one computer related jam in the last four and a half years. Today I had the chance to return the favor.

The AS400 serving my county government is in our building which is attached to the county jail facility. Our north end annex is getting a long-overdue T-1 line. It's been installed for a week or so but only today began to do its job. Darryl came by to tell me he was working on it. I talked to him briefly when he let me know what he was doing and I got busy with my work and forgot he was on the premises.

Then I got a phone call.

"Sheriff's Office..."

"Joy! This is Darryl... I need help!"

"Sure, Darryl... what's up?"

"I'm locked in the Boiler Room... COME GET ME OUT!"

I grabbed my ID badge and headed out the back door into the jail lobby and waited impatiently while the big doors were opened. When I made it past the internal security door, I asked the first jailer I met where the boiler room was. She pointed to the near hallway, a door I'd never noticed before. It wasn't an automatic door but one that only opens with a key so large as to look cartoonish. I banged on the door and yelled for Darryl. I could only faintly hear him banging and yelling back. The jailers looked at me as if I had finally lost it. The gawking jailers grew quickly to a group of six.

I asked, "Who has a key?" They looked at each other and shrugged.

My impatient "Find a key!" sent several of them off in different directions.

One of the remaining jailers asked how Darryl got locked in the boiler room. Then a newly arrived jailer admitted to having found the door ajar earlier. She had closed it for security.

Finally a key arrived and the door was opened. Darryl rushed out, sweating and very relieved to be released. He related how, after completing the T-1 inspection in the boiler room, he found himself locked inside. As it turns out there is only one corner in the boiler room, between the boiler itself and the pipe rack, where his cell phone actually got a signal. He had to hold the phone in the corner to get enough bars to make a call.

By the time we got back to my office, Darryl had cooled off a little and was able to laugh about the incident.

Any Friday is a good one when you get to rescue a friend.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I Found Bob Seger at the Gas Station

I’ll admit to being a lady of mature years. Just how mature is my secret, but I will tell you I witnessed Elvis’ first television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Music has always been important to me and my love of Rock and Roll saw me through my teenage years. I now realize I missed a lot of fantastic music beginning in the mid sixties when I defected to Country Music. I’ve tried to make up for that with a willingness to listen and learn. That’s how I found Bob Seger at the gas station.

Sitting in the gas station with the car windows down and the sun roof open while my husband pumped gas, I heard a haunting melody from the Cadillac Escalade that pulled in next to me. The man driving the pearl white SUV got out to buy a soda but left the music playing at a level where everyone at the station could enjoy it. Had it been Rap or even the mind-numbing sameness of “New Country”, I would have been annoyed at having to listen to someone else’s music. Instead, I was intrigued at the hauntingly beautiful sound of the male singer’s voice filling the late evening coolness. I didn’t recognize the voice or the song so when the driver returned to his vehicle, I got out of mine and stopped him.

The forty-something driver was a little spooked by this lady of mature years approaching him and, until he made sense of my question about his music, he looked about ready to bolt.

“Excuse me, Sir.” I said as non-threateningly as I knew how. “Who is singing in the music you’re playing?”

He relaxed a little and looked down at me. He was quite tall and husky and I was short in comparison. “It’s Bob Seger.”

Now, I vaguely recognized the name and knew Bob Seger must have lots of hit albums out there. The man began to ease toward his vehicle and I could feel my husband staring at my back and wondering what the heck I was doing talking to this strange man.

I ventured further, “What’s the name of the song?”

He looked like this was way more conversation than he wanted to have with this strange woman but he quickly blurted out, “Turn the Page.”

I smiled and thanked him and turned to return to my car. He was away like a shot. As I drove away, my husband asked what that was all about. When I told him, he just gave me the look that means ‘I’ll never understand this woman’.

The next day, I searched my iPod music for Bob Seger songs. Many of the song files were given to me by my brother who is younger by six years and of a whole different Rock and Roll generation. I found a few Bob Seger songs but not Turn The Page. In my next shopping trip, I found the first volume of Bob Seger Greatest Hits containing that song and so many others I now enjoy. I followed up with Bob Seger Greatest Hits Vol. 2.

Since I found Bob Seger at the gas station, I found Phil Collins on Carol’s radio at work. Who knows who I’ll find next… and where.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Charlotte 1947~2007

Charlotte’s birthday is Sunday. She died January 8th. She died from the complications of her alcoholic condition. I don’t know how long she had this problem. I only became aware of it five years ago. We haven’t been close since a few years after high school. She pushed me away more than thirty-five years ago.

Charlotte and I were first cousins and grew up in the same small town, going to the same small school and often in the same classes and after-school activities. I am older by about five months and I was always the leader, having the stronger personality. She was always happy to go along with whatever I wanted to do and I felt responsible for her in our elementary school days. In junior high, our relationship changed and she became more like the sister I would never have. We double-dated in high school and even worked for the same big corporation in Houston when we graduated. I assumed it would always be that way. To my dismay, it wasn’t.

When our children were small, Charlotte moved to Oklahoma with her husband, returning to his home town. I was astounded that she would move so far away from our childhood hometown, but I assumed it would only be a minor difficulty in our life-long friendship. Instead, it was the end of our relationship.

I wrote Charlotte and called often in the first few years after she moved. She was cordial when I made the effort but never reached out to me in return. I only saw her at occasional family gatherings, but she didn’t even call me when she was in town between those events. It took me a long time to get the message and, after I finally did, I spent a number of years feeling hurt and resentful. Eventually, I let go of the hurt and resentment and contacted her when I felt the need and expected nothing of her in return. I didn’t dwell on the issue.

When I learned of her alcoholism, I mourned. I wondered if I could have been a better friend, if I’d given up too easily and too soon. I don’t know what I might have done differently. Perhaps, I place too much importance on myself in her life.

I realize that I have shuffled Charlotte’s loss aside and I have avoided dealing with it. I know I will have to do so some day, but I’m not ready now. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to deal with it. For now, this is all I know to do:

Happy Birthday, Charlotte… RIP

Spelling Confessions... Entry 1

Spelling has always been an easy subject for me. At this stage of my life, I still spell better than 99% of the population but I'm no longer confident of my ability on a day to day basis. Therefore, I am seldom far from a dictionary. Using this blog, I'm going to publicly atone for my failures by posting the words I have to look up. So.... Entry 1:

intrigue - (I wanted to spell it intregue) - to arouse the interest, desire, or curiousity of. Note: I know it has other meanings, but this is how I was using it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Book Review: The Children of Men

The Children of Men by P.D. James - I had no knowledge of this book until I was sucked in by the photo of Clive Owen on the cover. The photo is from a new movie by the same name.

I was very interested in the premise of the story... England in 2021, coping with the decline of society and man. There have been no children born since 1995 because males have become sterile. The plight of the elderly and infirm is at a critical point, pushed toward "voluntary" group suicide by the ruling Warden of England. The aging population loses interest in sex and fills its emotionaly barren existence with elaborate christening rituals for kittens and slides away from Christian ways into a revival of paganism. The Warden's cousin, Theo Faron, an Oxford professor, well-to-do, divorced and emotionally constrained, lives an increasingly isolated and bleak existence until he meets a group of dissidents. The small group plots against the Warden's control of the country and a govermental policy of enslavement of immigrants and abandonment of criminals on an island of horror. When they are threatened with exposure, Faron helps them to escape and ultimately falls for one of the group members. In finding love, he also finds a reason to care about life.

While I believe this book was well-written, it moved very slowly and I struggled to stay with it. I tend to invest myself in a story and I am not easily discouraged by a slow pace. In the end, I was very disappointed in this book and I don't recommend it.