2015 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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“…if I had my goddam choice…”

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“You know what I’d like to be?” I said. “I mean if I had my goddam choice?…I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all…And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff–I mean they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d be the catcher in the rye…”
Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
Who wouldn’t like to have written that? You can hardly put into words everything he’s caught in those lines–every bit of longing and need, every bit of hope, every bit of love. We want to know Holden, and we think we do.
I don’t think JD Salinger even wanted the fame and fortune that book brought him. What he wanted was to write it.

“Two coyotes looking for afterbirths…”

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“Two coyotes looking for afterbirths trotted through a pasture to the east, moving through fluid grass, the sun backlighting their fur in such a way that they appeared to have silver linings.”–from Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Proulx, in That Old Ace in the Hole.
coyote-stalk-by-wildphotons

When people argue about writing for pleasure or writing for profit or writing for the audience, I think about sentences like that. People writing to capture truth, to lay it out to see if it moves you the way it moved them. To see if it leaves you vulnerable.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAYQjB0&url=https%3A%2F%2Fhoundwelfare.wordpress.com%2Ftag%2Fcoyote-population%2F&ei=avsiVcm9B8PyoASNtoG4CA&psig=AFQjCNH-uTAryliKPWfkhHZL23QbdNOL8A&ust=1428441631301951

The Snake

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Water drops on blue background

From Jumping: a Novel.
Babe, on the arrival of her sisters. [I have three sisters.]

“I remember seeing a snake come down from the porch roof of a cabin I was staying in with friends. As we watched, it extended half of its length down through space as if the space had substance to support it, leaving its other half anchored on the porch roof. It lowered that front half right into a fir tree leaning against the porch, into the nest of a small mourning dove, a nest clearly visible to our group on the porch, a nest with two small eggs in it.
The dove had left the nest, probably because we had scared her off by coming out on the porch, and the snake had seen its chance. It moved into the nest with half of its body still on the porch roof, and swallowed both eggs, so quickly, so effortlessly, I could almost believe it hadn’t happened. I didn’t want to believe it had. Then it withdrew itself back up onto the roof, again as if suspended by invisible wires, and disappeared from sight. We stood there, silenced by the finality of its act. . . .
“Later I found a snakeskin tucked in the fold of the bottom step of the back porch. It was beautiful, elegant, like a woman’s elbow-length opera glove, dropped unheedingly, while she was on her way to somewhere else. . . .”

Liking our female characters

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ScottandBaileycast

I’m writing about a lead character who is going to jump into the Void, and I want to like her more.  Isn’t it enough that she has the courage to jump? What’s missing?  I think about the female characters I like–most recently, Scott & Bailey, the detectives on a PBS series (that’s them above, with their boss on the left).  Why do I like them?  I have to admit the truth–it’s because they smoke, drink, and make bad relationship decisions.  And they might have tattoos.  They’re a mixture of girly-girls (make-up, skirts, heels), bad girls (smoking, drinking, etc.), and smart girls (we have evidence of this, usually in their work).

But I discover there’s something else that’s part of the hook–they have some kind of inner courage, every-day courage, the kind no one else usually knows about but that is a defining pattern for them. They hold steady on this. That’s what I want to see in my lead character–something that isn’t publicly seen but that is regularly practiced, that helps us understand her jump.  Other women might have a pattern of drama, a pattern of manipulation, a pattern of hiding, even a pay-it-forward pattern of kindness.  But these women have a consistent pattern of courage born from living against the grain.

If they come up against rejection, abandonment, violence, they don’t stick at that spot, memorializing it so that they can borrow from it later.  They’ll either take it aboard or they’ll discard it, but–either way–they move on.  They aren’t held back a grade because they haven’t gotten what came before.  They decide and move on.

I think it’s a hard thing to have.  Life pounds and pulls, telling them they’re weak or stupid or crazy, but bent and weather beaten, they stand, deciding against the grain.

For me, that makes these characters jumpers–women who would. Without making a fuss about it.  It’s what will make my lead character a jumper.

And I don’t think they’re alone out there.

I think that’s what you might be, if you’re reading this. A jumper. That’s what keeps me writing to you. I’m looking for the jumpers.