Friday, October 12, 2012

Publication News!

I am excited that one of my stories, "Edward Hopper's Women," is the first piece of fiction being featured by the lovely and Seattle-based Pacifica Literary Review!  Go and check it out HERE.  I wrote the first draft of this story in 2009 and polished it up for publication afterwards.  It's oh so nice to see it in print.

I've also had two stories accepted by District, another brand spanking new and high quality literary publication.  I'll be sure to link to those stories as they go up!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


A few minutes ago, I wrote the final paragraph of one the character's stories in my novel.  I've been with her voice since Day One, and although it sounds hokey to say it, she is the one that I've written the novel for--if it wasn't for her stubborn, insistent voice, I wouldn't be where I am now.  I'm a bit superstitious about spilling too many of the beans about the book or its characters, but I can share that I've long planned to have two interwoven sections: one with her, and one following another, related character.  It's all planned out in my head (except, of course, for all the lovely digressions that end up being the best writing), and I double-spaced and typed in the subject header of "Part Two," I found myself at a loss.  I'm entering a new phase in the drafting process, and while I am excited because it means that the book is moving forward, towards where I want it to go, I feel what I think is probably a normal fear that I won't be able to sustain this switch in point of view and tone.  I worry that I'll miss the heady composition process from the point of view of my first character, whose very tics of speech and taste are so clear to me, it's almost as if I've ridden in a car with her for days, listening to her unbroken monologue.  Suddenly: silence, with all its pregnant expectation and blankness.  I realized, while facing down that daunting "Part Two," that I needed to come here and write about being afraid to press that I can actually press on.  These are uncharted writing waters for me.  What if I write past the point of comfort, past the point of a neat ending?  What if I just keep going?  Well, I suppose it's time to find out.  Gulp.
Another note: I haven't unpacked most of my books, but was restlessly rooting through my boxes of unread tomes, trying to unearth something compelling for my next read.  I found this little James volume (pictured above), which I believe I purchased as one of a dozen during a Seattle Public Library sale.  I felt it came back to my notice for a reason, so voila, I am now reading it.  And, hello, double negatives and strings of dependent clauses.  An imitation late Jamesian sentence: "It was not that she had not noted the effect she had produced on him, even while being unsure of the effect being altogether something that she could have produced, had she been aware of being able to produce effects, but then she was of a type wholly used to the assumption that when an effect had been made, surely at its heart, an intention had lain behind it."  Of course, psychologically, not so inane at all, but the style is incredibly dense.  I feel I must stick with it, however, due to the charming Hug Coupon bookmark that I found inside.  The paperback edition itself is from the 50's, and a prior owner had gone through and hand-taped the spindly pages back to the spine.  At a guess, I'd say the "coupon" dates from the same era.  On the back is written: Clayton, 11:15 Wed. at Carol James - audition for "Noah"on-camera industrial.  This one's for you, Clayton.  I hope you got that part.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just Shelved

George Eliot: The Last VictorianGeorge Eliot: The Last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very delightful and thorough biography of Marian Evans/Lewes. I'm not sure the lay reader who hasn't read at least two of Eliot's works would enjoy it, but the textual interplay between art and life was really fun to uncover. I think I actually enjoyed the beginning sections of the book when Evans was still finding her way towards fiction the most. Many fascinating letters survive from this time. One real tragedy is that no letters survive between Eliot and her longtime companion George Henry Lewes. Surely one of the most enduring and passionate literary love stories of all time, between such unlikely figures! Alas. I bet they wrote some great letters. However, still highly recommend this biography for any fan of Eliot and the Victorians!

View all my reviews

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rounding the Seasons

A couple of days ago, I found myself longing for a specific poem about autumn.  I knew I had read it before, and that it was a well-known, oft-anthologized work.  I riffled through my memory, recalling that the poem was infused with a sense of drowsiness, the sharp smell of a cider press, the subtle-sweet scent of autumn's glorious decay.  Was it Yeats?  Something about gold, or another poem about the beloved "quiet one"?  Was it Dylan's young boy, singing in his chains by the sea?

But no, the poem I sought was Keats' "To Autumn."  "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" it begins, full of praise and exhortation.  There is a cider press, and a winnowing wind, and the long locks of autumn, golden in the sun.  The poem is infused with a honeyed sense of time, with languour, with, really, all those lovely -our words that signify leisure and slow time.   It sounds a bit like the autumn I am inhabiting right now--one I have not experienced in this specific setting for eleven years.  And oh, how worthy of an ode it is.

I smelled the first intimations weeks ago as I hiked into the Teton Range with my family on a very hot and sunny day.  The soft, sweet smell of the yellowing heart-shaped aspen leaves immediately conjured the first signs of an autumn I had completely forgotten.  I thought of all of the poets who have dedicated their work to each of the four seasons, and I listened to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"--the alternating frenzy and light strings of a year's passage.  In all the years of living elsewhere, autumn was always the season I had missed.  And how could I really say I had come home again until I experienced its return--right here?  I realize now that we can never truly love--or know--a place until we have experienced it in its roundness.  Every day is a gradation in color, every day adds a new, delicate tine to the comb of the chilling breeze.  Every day is a revelation.

This morning, I drove the curve of the highway, returning home towards town, and saw the crest of the Grand Teton peeking out over mellow, pastoral hills and fields, its crags just rinsed in snow.  My soundtrack for the drive--Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliette"--swelled with grandeur during my favorite portion of the score, which I will unashamedly admit is the ultra-romantic balcony love theme.  (So beautiful!)  Ah, yes, there loomed my beloved.  Sighted with full orchestra accompaniment.  There have been so many moments like this for me in the past month that startle me into feeling vibrantly alive and full of an intense, heart-pressing gratitude for being here at this moment in time.  For seeing this place that has been relegated into memory for eleven years through a newly-discovered season, and a newly-discovered me breathing within it.

(I realize all of these blogs from Jackson have ended on somewhat of a heart-swelling note of effusion so far, but what can I say?  Effusive seems to be the name of the game for me right now...  As Modest Mouse would say, Blame It On the Tetons.)