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

Magna Carta–what?

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A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_226_-_John_Signs_the_Great_CharterThis year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, the closest document England has to a constitution. They’re one of three countries without a written constitution, along with New Zealand and Israel. Our constitution is based in part on the Magna Carta.
Why?
It was created out of real protest, not by politicians.

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

It was the first time protesters spoke truth to power and had a real impact–they would no longer be ruled at the whim of the King, a tradition in place for as long as anyone could remember.
It is the origin of the legal concept of our right to due process of law for people and property.
It’s still used–Darcus Howe, an outstanding Civil Rights leader in England, in the case of the Mangrove Nine, 1971, used Magna Carta as his defense.

Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail cover

One historian said recently–it has survived by magic rather than its words. What it carries is hope. And that’s how people have used it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/15/belfast-g8-protests_n_3446781.html

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.

 

 

Are you selling out when you sell yourself? Sure!

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You can’t let it change you.  Then it’s not selling out.  But is that even possible?  Nowadays, if you’re a writer, you’re in sales.  We just used to think someone else would be doing it for us.

The other day, the 21 year old technical whiz who works with me and I produced the first draft of a video for youtube.  The publisher will either edit it and put it up or send us back to the drawing board.  Their marketing person said two minutes, don’t read, talk about the book, but don’t give it away.  Right now, we’re at five minutes and six seconds.  And we’ve got lots of out-takes.  A couple of times we got to laughing and almost couldn’t stop. The techie/director took care of lighting, sound, time, setting, wardrobe, hair frizzies, script management, feedback, production design, and more.  I supplied the script and showed up.  That was a lot!

I think the truth is my apprehension, at core, comes from the fact that I’m still getting to know the book.  I wrote it and moved on to the next one.  Now I look at it and try to remember.  I’m surprised and unsettled by the comments of others who’ve recently read it.  They’ve seen something I didn’t know was there and been moved by it.  The book is clearly a thing unto itself.

I will say, as I go back into Jumping, looking for things to quote or things for readings, I find a lot I remember and still like.  Maybe that’s because I know the book wasn’t written just by me.  Go, little book!

 

 

I’m in my own words now.

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Last night, someone close to me who is reading Jumping said to me that so far Chapter 12 is his favorite, the most beautifully written.

It’s a description of one of the main characters–Miles, Duncan Robert’s uncle and a fellow jumper–and I’d thrown it in at the request of my editor, who wanted more background on Miles to explain the later anti-war stance he takes into the Void, into an epic battle scene.

I wrote that chapter straight as it came to me, not questioning it, not needing to edit it.  My editor didn’t touch it, either.

Now I see my words differently, because of what my friend said.

I’m in my own words now, not someone else’s. I haven’t been reading much since I’ve been writing.  I don’t think I was supposed to be reading, so I could steep in my own words for a change, after a lifetime of reading–since I was a child and won contests for reading the most books. I’d never let go of the words of others as the way, not seeing the power of my own words to set a life by.

No matter what happens to Jumping out there in the world, I see myself and my words differently.

I hope readers keep talking to me.