A New Novel, and All The Bright Young Things At The Last Picture Show

I am in the final stages of making my “Loralee” novella available again. I plan to make this one as inexpensive to purchase as possible. It will be available in paperback and on kindle, a month or less from now probably. This re-write and edit took longer than I expected it to. The proofreading took longer than that. I also did everything that I could think of to distract myself from the task at hand. I “window shopped” online frequently, made playlists, got back into pinterest again recently. I managed to keep exercising and working out, but I also made five dozen of the best oatmeal and sugar cookies that I have ever made. I’m not kidding you, these were some good cookies. The last few days I haven’t slept hardly at all and I’ve consumed some terrible food and snack items, noodles, which I regret pasta and noodle carbs. every time, popcorn, the natural kind, it was good but still I rubbed salt in my own eye, a quesadilla yesterday, and today, nachos. I ate healthy things too, of course. It gets to the end stages of working on something and I just don’t want to fool with food so there’s the grabbing of convenience and junk food, and the over-consumption of caffeine ( as if)  I’ve realized, need to plan better for that. I worked on some landscaping and planted some plants. I didn’t color my hair during this write , but I think I probably will in the next few days, just blonde, always blonde, from now on only blonde. (I’m sure I said that at some point before but really, I’ve learned my lesson about the hair color. I’m a blonde, obviously.) I’ve got new eye-glasses ordered! Super cute, excited about those. (Six years ago I didn’t wear reading glasses, now I have to.) I made memes. I couldn’t seem to stay on task for any length of time with this one and somewhere in the middle of it, I realized why I kept wandering off to chase butterflies. I’m ready to write something new.

I have abandoned all such goings on that would entail working through any kind of  list of things I’ve already written, it’s all free-wheeling now! I don’t even want to talk about those dark days of the idea of that regimented, stifling to the creative depths of my soul, list. But really, it gave me something to focus on though it is no way that I’d ever attempted to work/write before. “Loralee” will be the fifth book that I’ve nudged out the door since last September. I’m not tired or burned out in general, but I think it was what I needed to do to get me to here.

I’m going to be working on a book that will be a conglomeration of things, poetry and other writings, taking the title for it from a poem I wrote that I’ve already shared here, All The Bright Young Things At The Last Picture Show.  Of which I know I once was one, which is part of the understanding of it. Yes, it is something loosely inspired by the classic 1971 film masterpiece, “The Last Picture Show.” ( And the novel of the same name which I have ordered to add to my ever growing reading stack.) I think that these are things that I couldn’t have written prior to this stage of my own life and experience as a woman, as a person, as a writer. It’s something that I’m looking forward to the composition of.

The new novel does not have so much as a working title. I cannot tell you anything about it other than I know where it begins and I don’t intend for there to be any “monsters” in it other than those of the strictly human variety. Again, this is something I couldn’t have written, known where to begin, prior to now.  I’ll be done with both of these writings, writing these books, whenever I’m done with them. I would be surprised if I’m finished with either this year. ( but then, it also wouldn’t surprised me if I finished writing both books.)

It’s summertime and I’ve got house stuff that I want/need to get done. I want to really spend some time reading, write some more books reviews. I want to watch some movies, catch up with some things, let myself really get into some things for a while, find out what I feel like I’m into right now. I think I was feeling that too with re-writing this one, like I needed to get out of the car and really stretch my legs, get some fresh air. It also might be a good idea to spend some more time promoting the books I’ve already got out there. Not my favorite part of doing this but a necessary part, even if minimally. I’m interested in the creative part, in doing my writing, my work. I’m feeling like I’ve found my groove with it again, and that is a beautiful thing.

Teri

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You know, in case you ever need a meme-quote thingy. When I set out to distract myself, I don’t play at it, I get the job done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Origins and Mythology of Red Line Wine, Some Relics and Memorabilia

I’m not particularly fond of sharing too much in the way of personal anecdotes with regard to story origins, idea origins, inspirations. I think that there was, or is, a certain age where there’s kind of a momentary reveling in the adventures or exploits of one’s youth as such, where we tell those stories, and then, I think, in some regard, we outgrow telling them. For me, I know, that as I’ve matured well out of my twenties, certainly my perspective has changed with regard to the past, and no doubt, it will again before this life is over. I also think that it can sometimes take away from the work for the reader. That said, we can also hang onto some things a little too long, and I did say that I would talk about this particular book of poems and prose a little bit more.

There is a theme that carries throughout these poems, and really, through much of my other work as well, the roses. The first poem that I ever wrote was titled simply, “Flower.” I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, flowers seemed poetic, and since, at nine years old, I thought that all poems were depressing, or had to be, I wrote about a dying flower. The first “Knights of Stolen Roses” poem, happened somewhat unintentionally, in 1985. When I was sixteen, walking home at night, across the wrong side of the tracks, but not the really, really, wrong side of the tracks, perspective, I would walk by two houses that sat across the street from one another, both yards were enclosed by wrought iron fences and gates, and both yards were overflowing with roses in every color that roses come in. The scent was intoxicating. My home life wasn’t a cheerful one, my secret thing to do on those walks home, was to reach through the fences, into the roses, and break one off to take home with me. I’d let the thorns dig right into my hand. I’d put the rose in a bud vase next to my bed so that I could wake up to a rose there every morning. When the rose would die, I would steal another one. These became my nights of stolen roses, there was always at least that one thing to look forward to in the morning.

So, that summer, I’d gone out one night, with the young man who is now my husband, whom I’ve written a lot of things for and about over the years, and at some point not long after, I was writing a poem about the day turning into night, the evening time. What often happens, still, when I write a poem, is that I’ll get the first line of it all at once and it goes from there. I wrote,

“Color the days in a fuchsia haze,

And the nights of stolen roses.

Color the sky in a midnight dye, …”   

I looked at it. When I read it out loud, nights, became Knights, and The Knights of Stolen Roses were written into existence. From there, for me, this theme became the personal mythology of my youth, being a teenager in a small town, “Tinker Town,” because being a teenager in a small town all there is to do is tinker around, and The Knights of Stolen Roses, well, what a wonderful idea. I’ve not ever counted how many such poems there are now, that the “Knights” are mentioned in, all these years later, though this theme carries through nearly all of my writing in some way. Though it isn’t a place in time that I would ever want to revisit, it has added to the richness, to the depth, of my life in ways that I’m still understanding, and certainly it has contributed to shaping me as a writer, and a person.

Red Line Wine is a collection that I originally put together between 1994-1996, and it isn’t exactly the same collection that I’ve published now. It’s been twenty plus years since then, there are things that I don’t feel the same way about, there are things that I’ve wanted to preserve for the people they were written for, and, frankly, the first time I wrote it, I kind of kitchen-sinked it, meaning that I included every poem that I’d written up to that point, everything but the kitchen-sink. I am a better editor now.

So, now, I’m in a time where the entirety of my life has changed over the course of the last however many years, and I’m taking a moment to understand that, to be present with this transformation. I think that some of us shed our proverbial skins, or cocoon up and come out of it, many times in a lifetime. There’s a wonderful quote, or a quote that I think is wonderful right now, that applies to cutting lose of some things ~

“Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Well, I’m not going to toss it all, but I am sifting through it. Going through my files I’ve found things that I was looking for in writing this and couldn’t find, at least one poem about a knight on a quest that should have gone into the book, and other assorted rarities, including some of the original longhand drafts that I thought I’d burned years ago. So, I’m going to share a few of those things here now, and welcome you into the mythology of The Knights of Stolen Roses, and some of the poetry of their time.

Being a writer isn’t only about the writing itself, granted you can’t really be a writer if you don’t do that part of it, and a lot of it, but being a writer is also very much in how one imagines oneself as such. Red Line Wine is a sentimental collection for me, it’s those old notebooks, and the scribbles that I cut my teeth on and have moved well beyond, but still learn from every day.

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Written when I was eighteen, beautiful penmanship, misspelled “lightning.”
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From 1994 or 95, some of the symbolism of the poems. I’m not an artist, made me smile to find this, or laugh out loud. It’s kind of cool though.
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I had many an unfinished novel to my credit at that point. I think that’s why there remains something pure about this work, I was writing it for all of the right reasons.

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The poem that I would have included had I been able to find it.

 

This poem was a deliberate attempt at writing a poem in keeping with the theme and I’ve never been sure about what I think of how it turned out, but it does tell a story, about conquering fears.

Standing in the Light, 2/26/91
The Virgin Queen takes sweet flight,
into the deep and changing night,
to find the soul prepared to fight,
and welcome standing in the light.

The hunchback troll begins his quest,
into a world that dare not rest,
in search of a warrior at his best,
to rise and face the darkest test.

While in the kingdom the priest does pray,
while the wizard’s magic seeks its own way,
and the peasants hide from the light of day,
to think the words they dare not say.

From the mountain he did ride,
the Gypsy King who would not hide,
across the land and rivers wide,
he didn’t make it, but he tried.

While the warrior on his way was lead,
to see the demon’s blood run red,
to separate it from it’s head,
the warrior came to kill it dead.

The demon knew he had to cheat,
and almost had the warrior beat,
but he would not accept defeat,
and drank the demon’s blood, so sweet.

He but had to take a bite,
of a demon’s soul on a moonlit night,
to find before him a beautiful sight,
and welcome standing in the light.

In the poem “The Knights of Stolen Roses,” the “fiery red” and “forever blue,” have been attributed to being Knight’s colors, and they are, but the true origin of that bit of business is that the color red is my favorite color, and I mistakenly, for many years, thought that my husband’s favorite color was blue, it isn’t. Sometimes it isn’t all that mysterious but if I were to go through every poem and tell you that I was looking for a word that rhymed here, or an adjective that could describe a color there, it might ruin some of it for you, the reader. I think that’s why poets tend to leave the deciphering to the scholars, while we just try to get the words down on paper in a way that seems right to us.

If you’d like to read the rest of the poems of Red Line Wine, it is available on Amazon.

If you’d like to read some of my other poems, there are a few here.

Sincerely,

T.S.

Resilience. Carrie Fisher. The New Modern. How To Be Yourself.

So, I’m uploading/importing files to Kindle Direct and, apparently, that can take a minute, unless I start typing something else, I figure, and never mind that I need to vacuum and dust, and I thought, I’ll write that post now.

Last night I watched the HBO sort of documentary, it was more personal than that, “Bright Lights,” about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. It was an exceptionally well done, intimate, revealing, glimpse into the lives of these two enigmatic, iconic, stars. That sounds canned.

I grew up watching old movies, was a fan of the Golden Age of Hollywood. There was the glamour of it, of course, but I was drawn to the stories behind the stories, how the “movie stars” became movie stars. In those days, the Hollywood studio system controlled every aspect of the lives of the actors and actresses under contract to them. Everything was about the canned image, the keeping up of appearances. Love affairs and scandals were kept from public view, as much as possible, and nonetheless, became the stuff of legend. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rosellini, Elizabeth Taylor and, well, Eddie Fisher, the husband of Debbie Reynolds, for one, among others.

I read quite a few movie star biographies because so many of them were “rags to riches” stories, the kind of thing that got so many naive young ladies to get on a bus and head out to Hollywood back in the day, however, what it was that appealed to me about those stories was that there was always a strength of character presented, presented, as in, a lot of those stories are loaded with fabrications as well, because that’s what they did, they put the best face it on it all that they could. There’s something to be said for that, there’s a lot to be said for that sometimes. Debbie Reynolds was a product of that Old Hollywood system, and that made for some tough dames. The old school, “Never let ’em see you sweat, kid.” I’ve known women like that, women who said things to me, in my youth, like, “That’s when you really know you’ve got ’em by the balls!” But, only as an aside, you’d have never in a million years heard them utter such a thing in “public” or in polite company. Stoic. There’s great strength in that.

Debbie Reynolds personified this kind of stoic strength, putting the best face on it, right to the end. In this documentary, it is so there at the surface as she’s telling Carrie how they should be seen, how they should appear to be while they are in public, as they’re going to an awards show where she will be the recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award, even though she’s barely well enough to be there. It’s apparent after her final show appearance on stage, as she’s carting around a casino afterwards saying that you can’t let life get you down because life is hard and if you do, it’ll kill you, you’ve got to keep going. It’s there in her making light of her “bad” marriages right to the end, because it’s how she owned it and controlled it. I was reminded of why I read those old biographies, because those women had great big balls to go play in the rough and tumble world that is Hollywood, especially back in those days, they had moxie, they had independent spirit, they had intestinal fortitude, and they had backbone for days. The show must go on! I took strength from those examples, what they said to me was, Yes, life’s a total bitch sometimes. This is how you do it! And that was Debbie Reynolds, without ever saying the word “bitch,” that you know of.

Enter Carrie Fisher. The prodigal daughter of Old Hollywood, the opposite of her mother in so many ways. At the very beginning of the documentary, she’s taking a soufflé that she has made out of her own oven in her very lived in kitchen and she’s spewing the words, “Fucking criminy.” She chain drinks Coca-Cola’s like they’re going out of style, she smokes, splashes herself with glitter, has a player piano in her bathroom. The walls are green, purple, blue, red, whatever, and on them are such delights as a painting that she describes as “A very unhappy woman who looks like Kevin Spacey.” When she appeared in her first movie role in the film “Shampoo,” her mother didn’t want her to say the line, “Want to f____k?” wanting her to use the word “screw” instead. Warren Beatty went to the house to talk to Carrie Fisher’s mother about that, the f-bomb stayed. Carrie Fisher, the daughter who had to find the strength to say, “I can’t do it your way. I can’t do it the old way.” And in that, showing everyone a different kind of strength, a different kind of resilience and backbone.

It was an incredibly moving portrait to be able to understand the depth of meaning that was on display in this representation of a true changing of the guard, the transitioning from not only one generation to the next, but from one era to the next. It occurred to me that I was raised with so many of those old ways because they weren’t just the ways of Old Hollywood, they were the ways of the world, the old social mores, not just about the way that a woman or a lady should behave, but about the way that people in general should behave, like not sitting down at a table, to eat, without taking your hat off. It wasn’t a matter of being phony or fake, keeping up something of a facade for “the sake of appearances,” though some certainly used that to be fake and to hide horrible things, it was that the world was a different place, people understood things in terms of there being no point in wallowing in it or focusing on the ugly because yes, life was hard, but it went on, and best to get on with it. They also understood the great buffer that manners and a mannerly society can often provide, for everyone. BUT, I was always of a mind of, I can’t do it your way.

I understand Debbie Reynolds stoicism. I understand Carrie Fisher’s, “Fucking criminy.”I realized, that has been so much of my own struggle, and I’m sure that of many other women of my generation.

As I watched, I realized that there are a couple of generations now to whom those old ways are completely unknown, and to whom they must seem patently ridiculous, if not unfathomable, not only as ideology, but in practice. Actress Loretta Young, who was single at the time, had a child with actor Clark Gable, hid the pregnancy, gave the child up for adoption, so that she could adopt it back as her own, without the public ever knowing, in order to protect their careers as Gable was married to Maria Langham. Who now would ever think of such a thing? Or try it if they did?

I think of Carrie Fisher in “The Blues Brothers,” as the mystery woman with her arsenal, just blowing shit up.

This is how social structures are rebuilt, reformed, as though they were fashion, and in some ways, they are.

I was moved by the revelation of this relationship, enduring friendship, between mother and daughter. I thought it was wonderful to get to see inside the homes of two great stars who very obviously actually lived in their houses, that were essentially only a walkway from one another. The sterile super-mod glass, chrome, polished marbles of celebrity mansions so often presented to us these days are complete bores, totally lacking in creativity, by comparison. Debbie Reynolds went into debt collecting up old movie memorabilia in the hopes of building a museum to share and preserve it, though that never happened, her affection for, and care of, this time in movie history was completely admirable, filled with affection and sentimentality. Carrie Fisher’s home was filled with things that she loved seemingly without a moment’s thought for whether or not any of it “went together,” or what anyone might think of it, and it was amazing.

There was something so exceedingly normal here, at one moment they’re all standing around in formal wear in the driveway, Carrie, her daughter, actress Billie Lourd ( Scream Queens), Carrie’s brother Todd, his wife, actress Catherine Hickland, limousines waiting to take them all to an awards show, and they’re waiting on grandma, Debbie Reynolds. They could have all been heading to Bingo together for the fanfare involved, except that they weren’t. What struck me about it was that it was less staged, less fake, than any A-list star wafting by in their sunglasses, looking at the ground, that you’ll see anywhere today. Secure in themselves, so famous that it was normal, and they were over it. Carrie Fisher was completely over being famous, and that’s famous. But there’s a lesson in that for everyone, about how to be.

These two women, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, gave us two completely different examples of resilience, and strength, of backbone par excellence, they did it right. I think that Carrie Fisher personified, in so many ways, a new kind of modern which is, simply put, being and embracing oneself. Completely inspirational.

T.S.