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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Write Fiction

Sometime last winter, I posted on a temporary page that I had going on that I was going to write this particular thing, and then I was going to write that thing, and then I was going to write this other thing. Then I looked at it and I thought, but, I don’t do that, I don’t discuss my plans like that, what the heck? It isn’t necessarily about being “secretive” about a current, or upcoming project, it has more to do with being and staying motivated to complete the work. I think that I had previously used the analogy of talking about working out or going to the gym, versus actually working out. As much as I have talked about it, it probably isn’t a secret to anyone paying attention that I have an actual list of books, stories, of my writing to work on, publish, what have you.

But, there’s this other thing that happens, or can happen, sometimes, I had a moment of, “Well, no one is going to stop me from writing this thing, and this thing, and this other thing too! So, there!” And in that, the idea of something of a memoir came up, again, in poems, sort of, not a start to finish autobiography, because I’d already said I wasn’t writing that, but something talking about the back stories behind some early poems. Well, that’s another trap that writers sometimes fall into, the trap of The Cool Idea. The cool idea isn’t necessarily a good idea, or a smart one. So, I’ll always write poems, but, and I’ll say it again, I’m telling you for the last time, I am not writing any kind of a memoir, probably not ever, and, I’ll tell you why. My thoughts, feelings, and opinions, on the subject of fiction versus non-fiction, and how I arrived at such, because, this could, perhaps, be helpful to others.

1.) It makes me completely miserable ( writing nonfiction). I really don’t want to. If you’re going to write something like that, a memoir, an autobiography, I think you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. When I was younger, I had these grandiose thoughts about, well, about a lot of things, but about that this, writing non-fiction, would help people or, oh this, or saving the world, things like that. I wanted to buy the world a Coke and teach it to sing, in perfect harmony. What’s so special or different about your story, or mine? I’m saying that not to deride the value of any person’s personal story, but saying that in asking myself the question, for me, would the misery of the writing of it be worth the imperative value of the story as a “unique”story? For me, that answer is no. The truth is that there are many wonderful memoirs out there, if you’re looking for something to read along those lines. I read Shawn Colvin’s memoir, “Diamond in the Rough”, last year, and it was really good, helpful even. Now, if it was about money, how much money would make the misery involved in writing a memoir worth it to me? Not to quote Star Wars, but, “More well than you can imagine.” And trust me, on this, my imagination, when it comes to amounts of money that would make such an undertaking worth it to me, is thoroughly schooled in the math of the matter.

2.) It would, or might, hurt people who I don’t want to hurt. Anyone considering writing a memoir who isn’t considering this point, might be lacking the emotional depth needed for such a work. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I went through a very dark time, during that time, I made some not great decisions with regard to my writing, possibly in regard to some other things too. I hurt some feelings that I did not intend or want to hurt, even if people had hurt me, even if they had it coming in some way, a lot of it was still out of character for me. If you’re writing a memoir and you’ve got any kind of story to tell at all, chances are you’re going to hurt other people. There are people who I don’t owe the consideration of the time of day to, and plenty who, I’m sure, feel likewise about me, well, then be done with them, I say. Don’t give them one more minute of your life. Evil people aren’t a new invention. Most of us aren’t all good or all bad. I haven’t ever been a vengeful person, that’s not a motivation for me, I happen to be of the firm belief that life evens things out, God knows what He’s doing. There are those who think that you have to forgive people to move on, or that if you forgive them, well, then you won’t be mad anymore, or that that somehow makes them good people again, or that it makes you one. I’ve learned that you don’t have to forgive people to move on, they don’t have to forgive you, you can just be done. Indifference is a beautiful thing. Forgiveness is a deeper matter, I’ve found that if that’s going to happen, it will in its own time. But, there are others who, even if they really hurt me, I know they were able to hurt me, because I cared, and that means there was some bit of myself there that I want to respect, and some bit of them too, or of that moment. There are people who I hurt, intentionally or not, and that’s life, but what I know from having been hurt, well, a lot of those apologies don’t quite get it done. People do that to one another along the way which isn’t to make light of it, but to say that, okay, at some point, it’s been enough. So, there are the people whose feelings don’t deserve consideration in such a matter, and in most every life, at some point, there are likely situations where everyone has been through more than enough. There are also “innocent bystanders” in any such situation, meaning that perhaps they weren’t main characters but they were wherever and they didn’t do anything to me, they’ve gone with their lives, some of them are completely different people, changed or grown up or whatever, and they’ve every right to that. I thought of all that a long time ago. I wrote my autobiography once, for myself, and then I burned every page of it, more than a decade ago, because I decided then that that isn’t who I want to be as a writer, or a person. Getting older comes with the applicable comprehension of the wisdom behind such statements as, let sleeping dogs lie.

3.) In every true story, is a multitude of fiction. That right there, is a true statement in more ways than one. Telling your true story is, pardon the expression, kind of blowing your wad, in a lot ways. If you are a writer, you’re drawing from your own life, your own experiences, in some way, at some point, you can get a lot more mileage out of that if you’re writing fiction. Sure, some people who know you, or knew you, might be able to read something and say, “Hey, that’s the diner up on old highway 96 she’s writing about, she just moved it to another street, it wasn’t on that street. What’s she doing? There wasn’t no damn whale mural painted on that wall.”  That’s what makes it fiction. Once you do that, you are writing fiction. You can take that same diner and drop into a million different stories and change the painting on the wall every time, change the street it’s on, etc. Your larger audience, and hopefully if you’re a writer, at some point you’re thinking about your larger audience, doesn’t know that “real” diner, and they just know the one you made up. People out there don’t know that you wrote cousin Lolly into the south side madame, or the fairy godmother, or the Duchess of Delusion in the Forest of Barking Ferns, and they don’t need to. Fiction, is a lot more fun to write, way more fun to write, in every way.

4.) What do you want to talk about? Imagine that the book you’ve written is the biggest hit in the world. You’re on a book tour. People love your book, and day after, they’re coming up to you and want to talk about what you wrote. What do you want to talk about? And is the paycheck you got for writing that memoir enough to make it worth it to be talking about it for however long? Telling an anecdote now and then, saying, “Oh yeah, that’s from my own life, kind of based on this trip we took once.” isn’t the same thing as writing your true story, not in the least, not at all. If I say that it was my mother that introduced me to the likes of Perry Mason, Kolchak, Alfred Hitchcock, who gave me a book to read about a vampire, who let me watch the film “Ghost Story” with her, and said I might like the movie and the book, “Wolfen”, ( I still need/want to read that book), sharing those anecdotes, that she encouraged my poetry and fiction, or honoring those influences, isn’t the same as writing a memoir or autobiography. Saying you got an idea for a story from a song, or rambling about books, music, and movies, also, not the same thing. So, what do you want to talk about? Stuff that makes you miserable, or stuff that makes you laugh and smile and that makes writing a fun thing for you to be doing?

5.) Vampires and Werewolves OR Whatever You Want to Invent to Write About. I recall when I thought that all stories were fiction, unless they were books about important historical figures, like the biography of Abraham Lincoln.  I even remember when I thought that biographies were boring. I didn’t want to write about vampires. I threw a lot of fits about that, for quite a while, and I now think of it as part and parcel of my own snarling transformation to writing fiction, and writing horror. I am, primarily a noir writer, a crime story writer, and a poet. I started writing my vampire novel, THE SLICK FURIES, and I couldn’t stop writing it. The story was rolling and I knew where it was going and I knew the ending and I was excited to be writing it. Writing fiction is limitless. I’ve learned more truth from writing fiction than from any true story I’ve ever written or tried to write. I’ve published four books, of those four, the vampire novel is my favorite. During the course of the last five years, I wrote six books that were completely new, and amassed enough material for a couple of others. I’ve written a variety of fiction, and of varying lengths, everything from flash fiction to full length novels. It’s afforded me the opportunity to figure out what I enjoy writing, what I want to do. There are stories that I’ve written that, while I think they’re very good stories, I didn’t enjoy writing them, and to even think about some of them, makes me kind of sick to my stomach. There are stories that I’ve written that I even think are great stories, but that I wish I hadn’t written because looking at them now, I really understand where that influence was coming from. I don’t have any interest in writing things that make me feel that way. Like figuring out that for me, “On the Road”,  was something that I read at the end of a phase that I was going through, and though it was my favorite book for about ten years, more than ten years ago, well, I’ve read some other things since then.  Jack Kerouac died an unhappy man, his glory days and ability to revel in them, or lie to himself and romanticize about what he was observing or had observed, behind him, he drank himself to death. Stephen King and Anne Rice both got sober. I don’t know if that’s really any kind of comparison or not, but there you go. I think, as a writer, it’s important to give yourself the time to figure that kind of thing out, to sort out your own influences, and sometimes, time, is the only thing that can do that for you. I love writing long form fiction, and I can do it, not everyone can. I love the challenge of it. It makes me happy. ( Though, personally, I’m probably done writing about vampires for the foreseeable future.)

 

I did some complaining on my way to these realizations and decisions and understandings and what not, took some wrong turns, have had to make corrections. Really, it was the first time in my life that I know I was, for a while, a “complainer.” So I guess I needed to, in that it provided some kind of relief, but the reason I was never a complainer was because, it really doesn’t do any good, never really has made me feel any better, like just talking about working out. Which is also why I didn’t share the four thousand word rant that I wrote last night, it was helpful to me, but otherwise wasn’t constructive. Now, here you have why I’ve become a fiction writer, I enjoy it, it’s fun for me, it makes me happy.

Every writer, every person, has to find their own way, has to find what works for them as an individual. Like I always say, find what works for you, and treat it like the gospel.

TS

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.