Category Archives: Anthology

Blocked

Years ago I wrote this paragraph in a rush. Years later I still need to finish the last few pages to complete this story. I should, very soon; the suspense is killing me.

It was supposed to be funny, the way the invisible borderline officially cleaved the marble floor of their house, running obliquely from the corner window towards the staircase, and thrusting the dining area and kitchen from part of the living room. The house was riven between two governments: one portion lodged in a city and the other entrenched in a municipality. Eleanor’s stepfather, for instance, could have laughed at the fortuity and joshed her mother: “Where would you like to eat tonight, dear? Pateros or Taguig?”—the tone and endearment achieved perhaps after a bottle of pinot noir. And he would pronounce the names Pa-táy-ros and Tágweeg, the way Americans do, and Eleanor would see little value in correcting him; her stepfather wouldn’t think it as significant as her properly stressing the first syllable of inventory, the second syllable of guitarist,and the third syllable of mountaineer. Her mother, in a voice as small as her frame, would pretend to consider the question and then simper, “Tágweeg,” as if she too shared his ruddy cheeks and pale skin. And maybe her mother could take the banter a little further: say, if there would be someone who would call for Eleanor, her mother could say, “May I put you on hold? Lenlen is in Pa-táy-ros,” tittering as she would hand her the phone. (Enlightened, her mother no longer told callers if she could please “hold” them.)

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Speedwriting

Holy moly!

Four months left on my self-imposed countdown to finish a set of stories.

I have, so far, only these:

  • Two stories I’m satisfied with–hurray for small mercies!
  • Another that’s 2/3 done and on its quintillionth iteration (no such word but there should be considering the sheer number of revisions this story has gone through)
  • The beginnings of a story on friendship and all the glitter that surrounds it
  • A story about going home, which is turning out to be an essay
  • An essay on a shipwreck off Palawan, which is really about why I dive even when I’m deathly afraid of water
  • An essay on face value, possibly my own
  • A half-essay on my father that had started as a blog post, which I’m not sure I’d want him to read

Oh, I’ve been remiss. I need to finish these and then write new ones. How can I in four months?

First, I have to stop perfecting my stories. I should just write. The poet William Stafford said, “Write to your lowest standard.” I should write and do the rewriting later.

Second, I have to do a little each day to fulfill this project. The days are long but the years are short. Each day toils on slowly, yet the year suddenly twists into another –ber month (it’s September in another day!), hitting us in the gut and leaving us gasping, Where did the time go?

So.

Somewhere in the busyness that I call my day, there must be at least a half-hour I can carve out for writing. Maybe when my three-year-old is swallowed whole by Disney Junior. Or in the one minute it takes for the conditioner to work on my hair. Or maybe I just have to wake up a half-hour earlier than the rest of the world.

I just gotta.

Word becomes flesh

I attended a book launch. And something inside stirred. A dream reborn. As Hubby drove us home, I said, “I’d really like to write a book.” He said, “This year?” I was unnerved by the immediacy of his deadline. “Yes. No. Yes.” I said. I wasn’t too worried about my answer. I know I meant yes.

So, yes.

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Affirmation

A writer I admire told me today that one of the books he’s looking forward to reading is mine. What can I tell him: I want to read that book too.

Tonight I need and embrace, fully, the encouragement I’ve received.

365 days

Trust me to copy someone else’s idea.

Bad idea to start a writing blog–or a blog to spur me to create–on an unoriginal thought. But the premise of the Julie/Julia Project–and the pluckiness of the film–is charming, perhaps serendipitous: Julia is to Julie as Jimmy is to Janet. I, too, have an affable Eric. So I imitate, and hope either Julie, Julia or Jimmy is flattered. And that I do produce publishable work in 365 days.

There are, thankfully, differences.

  • My Julia thinks I’m a writer. He sent me a note–a challenge?–last June: “May there be more stories from you!”
  • I don’t write out of a sense of drift or because–borrowing the elongated vowels of Meryl Streep’s Julia Childs–“I don’t have anything to dooooo.”
  • My dry spell is caused by fear. I made excuses. I don’t want to anymore.
  • I use the Sheffer stroke |, not the forward slash /. The slash sounds violent, implies equality between mentor and tenderfoot, and seems to require a choice: Julie or Julia. The Sheffer looks cleaner, and the disjunction shows more respect.

So here we go. With one eye on tonight’s episode of Lie to Me and an ear tuned to Hubby’s comments on our daughter’s “classic” photos, I write.

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