I’ve cancelled my writing groups for the month of April. People are wishing me well, supporting me in this choice to take care of myself. And I just keep explaining it’s not like I’m taking a holiday. It’s not like I expect true respite here. I am only reaching for a little less stress. This is an act of desperation. Attending any Zoom meeting right now requires superhuman effort. Leading the meeting pushes the stress into the extraordinary range. I adore my Meetup sessions. There are beings there I love with every bit of me. But I can’t relax into them right now, can’t bring my whole self. My attention is split and scattered, my body anxious, stiff, my heart constrained. I am going on hiatus in the hope I can find a way to lead these sessions again with an undivided heart. I miss you already, my dear ones. May April be good to you.
My dragons in the books I’ve been rereading are like magpies, drawn to the shiny, the silver, to the gold of Napoleon’s eagles. I like glitter, too, and quiet neighborhoods and memories of Sundays when I was a child in Tujunga, and I sat in the back seat of our white Monza while my father drove, and every store on Foothill Boulevard was closed and the sidewalks were empty.
[Spontaneous writing prompt, words were silver and Sunday. The books I reference here are Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.]
The anthology with my short story, “Between My Ribs,” was released on November 1st. It felt like an auspicious date, part of the Halloween, pagan new year, día de los muertos set of days when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest. A magic time, a good day for the book to be born. As I write, I see another layer. In my short story, the veil is thin, too. I grin, loving this connection I am drawing now. But I don’t know why I didn’t announce it, didn’t tell you all about it right away. I think maybe it’s a little bit because I am not one for tooting my own horn, as they say. It makes me self-conscious. And maybe, too, because there is a part of me who feels silly to be promoting the release of my first short story. But I bought extra copies, and one of my favorite people in our writing group at the library bought one. I got to inscribe it for her, and it was such a delight. My first signing. And I am bringing copies to the writing retreat, even if it may be a little goofy, even though it is not my first book but my first story. I am bringing them because I love the idea of them sitting there. It makes me almost teary with a kind of tender gratitude. And now, finally, here I am telling you about it, my dear readers. I wanted to tell you right away, but I didn’t. I hope you’ll forgive me.
I read the last page of Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing, brimming with hope. I cradle the book, both arms against my chest, kiss the cover, cry grateful tears. Nonviolent resistance wins. Bird, Maya, Madrone—all safe. I’m awake with longing. Oh, to move people!
[15 of 30 in November, re-posted from today’s tweet @tryingmywings]
[I’m not sure how many of you—my dear readers!—might be interested in my online writing sessions and workshops, but I thought I’d share this survey with all of you just in case. Note below, too, I am looking for someone to help with my November writing retreat. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are available.]
Please take this survey to provide feedback on upcoming writing events!
There are only 10 questions, and the survey is anonymous. I want to find out the best times to offer the new online writing sessions, find out about the cost, gather ideas for upcoming sessions on the writing process and the craft of writing and hear your ideas and dreams about possible future events.
I took the survey VERY slowly, including extra comments and not just checking the boxes, and spent close to 7 minutes, so I know it can be completed in 5 minutes or less. I would really appreciate it if you can take the time to weigh in on these things to help me plan future sessions, especially the online sessions.
Once you submit, it will show you the current results. I’ll plan to report the final results, as well. The survey closes at midnight on Halloween.
Thanks very much in advance!
P.S. I am also looking for someone who may be interested in helping out at the November writing retreat for a reduced rate. Please contact me as soon as possible for more details.
I say the sky, the orange umbrella, deep autumn blue, bluest back as far as I can remember, the scalloped edges of the umbrella a work of art, a silkscreen printed across the clouds.
You say oh. No. It has been this blue all week. It began Monday. You must not have noticed. Today is Saturday. Six days in a row now of this striking blue, like the sky in postcards, Switzerland sky. Where have you been?
I say I have been right here, lying on my back every day but Thursday, doing my yoga, looking up at the sky. Today is different, deeper, more vivid. Yes, I say, it’s been beautiful all week. But today the sky, the umbrella, they are like the Mediterranean. Today they speak Greek.
You say oh. Yes. Maybe I forgot who I was talking to. It is impossible for you to be wrong, even in this.
I say yes. Maybe you forgot. Maybe you forgot who the artist is, who the lover of light, of color, of texture. You forgot why I might have seen this, why I might have noticed this difference, and you did not.
[Editor’s note: Although the umbrella and the deep blue sky are real, this was a spontaneous writing I did in my Meetup group based on a prompt from Two Sylvias Press for April’s poetry month. It feels like a real conversation to me, but it is an imaginary one.]
My new piece doesn’t win the Fish Flash Fiction contest. I am stunned. I thought I was going to win. I thought “The Second Flood” was that good. (Did I know I thought I would win? Have I ever thought I would win before?) I scan the short list and then the long list. My piece is not on either one. If I needed to right now, I would be unable to speak, to push out words that make sense. I scan the short list and the long list two more times in case I missed my name. It is not there. There were more than 900 entries, but I can’t believe my story wasn’t even in the top ten percent. I plunge. I wonder how I could have been so delusional. How could I think my piece was any good at all? I know I am a terrible writer. I am underwater, deep in the cold sea where no light lives. I don’t know how long I stay submerged. Maybe work drags me back up, makes be break the surface, breathe air, answer helpdesk questions, grade summaries. Days pass. I am lying on my back in the courtyard in chavasanah. I dream up ways my livelihood might move even more toward my writing. I picture percussive instruments at my writing retreat, and my feet bounce on the yoga mat. I think of a new way of structuring, “When I Was a Dog.” My fingers itch for the pen. “Commit more deeply to your No. 1 focus,” this week’s horoscope says, “and throw yourself into the daring adventure of it.” I leap. This water is warm, strewn with sunlight. I roll over and float on my back, let the tide take me. I remember I can swim.