Saturday, October 30, 2010

1667 Words Per Day

Myles Smyles and Ginny Floow used to be writing buddies, but now they are writing rivals.

The two met as undergrads at UCSD, eloped in Vegas and divorced one month later. But they always remained admirers of one another's work ever since they'd been workshopping in Creative Writing 101. They continued critiquing and editing as loyal writing buddies for a whole decade after their brief marriage. Alas, a terrible misfortune turned them on each other.

Eventually, Myles grew to be the kind of writer who relies on improvisation and composing from the gut while Ginny writes according to mind maps and outlines; she researches and fact checks. But that's not the reason why these two writers have grown to despise one another. We'll get into that later.

Tonight, both writers sit grinding their teeth anticipating the serious writing work ahead. Both writers plan to participate in this year's National Novel Writing Month. Both writers have their pen's poised. This year hundreds of thousands of writers out there will be taking this 50,000 words in one month lightly; they enjoy writing for the hell of it, the fun of it, the literary abandon. Myles and Ginny, on the other hand, are in this for blood. Neither writer will rest until he or she has outwritten, outworded, outstoried the opponent.

In her quiet Study, Ms. Floow is prepared for National Novel Writing Month. For the past few weeks, three main characters have been doing lots of talking, moving, acting, thinking, loving, hating, eating, shitting, dressing, making their beds, etc. etc. inside Ginny's head. She has been sitting at her writing desk with her notebook open, completing writing prompts, watching her characters engage in whatever activities the prompts prompt. She has mind mapped and highlighted and has note-taken in the margins, Tonight she will sleep with her outline beneath her pillow.

Her opponent, Mr. Smyles is just as prepared. Myles has been WiFi-ing in coffee shops and beer gardens all over San Diego, He's been playing fast and loose with the "What If..."game, has engaged in dreamstorming and diving headlong into the white-hot center of his unconscious. He's come up with sordid but lovable characters and a plot for an erotic, legal thriller. The sensualist in him is on high alert--his skin pulses: Code Orange. Now he writes about lips pulling away from a straw of slurped lemonade. Now he writes about fingers feeling for change in a deep pocket. He will sleep with another whore tonight while he recites the words to his favorite novel, Finnegans Wake, in his sleep. He's going to write a novel called, Thanks Be to Godfrey, about a guy named Godfrey. He's dreamt that the opening line of the opening chapter goes something like, "Godfrey be nimble. Godfrey be quick. Godfrey jump over your financial advisor's dick!"

At midnight on November 1, Ms. Ginny Floow and Mr. Myles Smyles will proceed to write rival novels. Place your bets, folks; it's going to be an exciting race. What do you think? Which writer will win? On your mark! Get set!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Piper's Father

damn boots! Every morning I squeeze my whole life into Steel Toe. For what? Roxy says the trash covers me so thick she can't find my dick. She'll leave me soon, too. And I'll be alone again. The kids hate me. Women think I am trash just because I collect it for a living. To hell with everybody. Yeah, I could boast that I've still got one son-of-a-bitch pal that sticks with me: Migraines. I've learned to make these headaches my friend because before the awful Pain sets in, I know ecstasy; I have this vision. I am always welcomed to enter a garden made of glass. The grass is green shards that I am able to walk over without getting cut. I walk through the garden. Moonlight reflects off a glass water fall. A kind woman with long, red hair made of glass takes my hand and says, "Breathe." Her hand doesn't shatter when I hold it. That feels so nice. Hell, it's the only chance for me to get something true and pure and beautiful, makes a man feel alive. Then the vision escapes me, and I suffer. I lower into the depths of the sofa with my whole body clenched like the devil's bleeding fist. When the pain leaves me, I get ready for work. Curse you head, and I stuff my feet into these

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Piper's Mum

She folded her sister Boo's letter into its envelope, then she picked up the phone. "I must see her, Boo." She said into the receiver, though she hadn't even dialed a phone number.

Piper's mother had assumed Piper was preparing to get married, and she wanted to see Piper before the big day to pass on all the secrets of The Absent Mama Legacy before Piper had a chance to start a family of her own. Boo's letter mentioned that Piper was making a wedding dress. Of glass. Piper would be turning thirty now, right? Who was she going to marry, her mother wondered, that singing coach whom she had fucked in high school? Though she may have disappeared from Piper's life, her mother knew an excellent card reader. She was sure she knew more about Piper than Piper did.

Now that Piper was getting married, she wanted to see her to tell her that it was Piper's duty to have children and then abandon them.

Piper Kincaid didn't know she had come from a long line of mothers who abandon their children, a tradition that dated way back, possibly before the days of Hansel and Gretel.

Some of the first abandoning mothers had done it on doorsteps of neighbors or at churches. Later, the fashion became leaving your infant in dumpsters of empty city alleys. These past few generations, abandonments turned more sophisticated: a mother stayed on with her brood for a few years, then made a quick exit, leaving Daddy with little ones who couldn't yet wipe their noses. Other abandoners got super demanding occupations, like being a suffragist or a lawyer, and forgot about the kids, though they were right under her feet. But Piper's mother wasn't like any other mothers. She made her exit after her eldest was eighteen years old! She had made motherhood into a long acting career; she'd pretended to enjoy mothering for eighteen years before she disappeared, leaving Quinn, her boy, and Piper, her pubescentl girl. This Mum patted herself on the back for sticking around long enough and then escaping just at the time when she'd have to give that awful birds and bees talk. She'd never been good with words; she'd mess up the sex talk anyway. Besides, she told herself, this Mrs. Kincaid's exit had been so dap. There had been headaches and spousal conflict and broken glass--the stuff that good novels are made of! Hey, Hansel and Gretel's Mama, or Cinderella's Mama: eat your hearts out! Mama Kincaid was surely the Queen of Abandoning her Children.

When Mama Kincaid finally did return to Quimby in her Mother-of-the-Bride floral attire, she fell to her knees and wanted to shatter her own heartless chest to discover herself facing Piper's best friend, Rebecca O'Leary, who wept as she embraced an urn full of Piper's ashes.

Breast cancer?

Mama Kincaid held her face in her hands and said, "Oh, my sweet daughter!" She'd never before used that word when thinking of or describing the girl she'd given birth to. "Oh, my sweet daughter." She repeated as if she didn't believe that voice were her own.

After that, no one knows what came of Mum Kincaid. Boo didn't hear from her ever again. And we can assume that she fired her Psychic.

The Wine of Astonishment

I read Margaret Ronda's poetry this morning and again this afternoon and this evening. And the sky that had fallen on a clutch of baby chicks lifted and whirled and opened. The weather these past few weeks in San Diego has brought gloom and clouds and uncharacteristic thunder and lightening. This makes the people slouched in the waiting room sit up and say, "Oh. Was that thunder?" And when I read Ms. Ronda's lines about looking upon the sun as the wine of astonishment, I pause my life cartwheeling before my eyes. I pause. To contemplate. Sky. Element. Light. Cloud. Pitch. Loam.

Then, I sit down to break bread with The First Person. A reliable Narrative Voice. Mum scoops spoonfuls of mush into my mouth. I gag on language and pull a face. Someone says grace after we eat. Someone gives thanks for words that un/canny. Soon I will steady my writing fist and scold that mysterious bird caller, "I must stop ignoring my eyes."

Margaret Ronda's words complicate meal journey potty time mucus, color laundry, pile toys, befriend, sinister routine, habit clouds, bark, and disappear me. Reading her words falls the Rain? And San Diego needs rain. Oh, how we Give Us This Day Our Rain!

I listen. Friends. You sit rainstorms away wiping facefuls of breaded puree?

Her wrists, are they pulsing now with wild, intimate, preened feathers? I lean my ear to her Coast.

Footfalls and callings away pass through. Dark disguises itself as sunset. Light plays dress up with Night. Makes wonder coherent to the strangely dressed lady who is reading on the park bench while the past-your-bedtime orphans invent games on the playground that is built over the old graveyard in Mission Hills. The reading lady lifts her hand and jubilantly cries out, as if she is buying rounds in a pub: "My treat: one poem for every laborer who helped move the headstones and the fog to the new graveyard in Old Town! And one for everyone who built this playground!" She wishes to celebrate, but not alone.

Nobody gives thought to those still buried here. Here are your children, your stomp stomp, your wild rumpus, your monkey callers. The revelers come every day to mash grapes and pour wine over the monkey bars and down the slides until the bucket swings floodeth over. A vintage from coastal Gleeyards with velvety layers of sorrow spice and bliss berries. Cheers! Here's to the Poet and to Astonishment!