Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night...

And, I shall not. But the light, or enthusiasm for Cucariva, my literary-suspense novel to which I devoted some 18 months, had been waning. Many dozens of queries unrequited. But today,  I had an agent say she was very intrigued, and request a full manuscript. She's giving me a little time(I have no time, but shall make it) to polish up. Still a longshot, but any progress affirms perseverance, and rekindles the flame. Here's a snippet from an early chapter:
He clambered up the stairwell to the street, which tilted crazily, so that he had to steady himself on the railing. Something brushed his ankle and he looked down like an oafish giant and stared as a bevy of rats scampered past. He would cut through the park. It loomed pitch and silent beyond the pale glow of the streetlights, but soon his eyes adjusted and the park’s architecture budded into resolution like a strange, post-modern birth. The benches, the walking path, the oaks looming tall and imprinted like midnight sentries.
It was a perfect night, really. Almost enough to persuade him that the ordeal now before him was as ethereal as the stars dropping away along the slope of the blue-black firmament. The city slept. He crossed in darkness through the park, which fell out before him, flat and dark and promising ahead only darkness still, a great promontory at the edge of the earth.

We'll see what happens, but either way, I need to finish final revisions so I may do justice to the effort. There's a lot of my heart in that book. Thanks as always for your support, and I'll keep you posted.

PS: Amazing, I am reminded as I dive back in tonight, how no matter how many times you edit, you always find more...

Friday, January 26, 2018


Night, which had become his most steadfast companion, spoke to him one evening.

Why, it inquired of him, do you continue along this road? 

“Because,” the man answered, “it is the only one remaining to me. The one to which I am consigned.”

Night contemplated this a while, as the man walked on.

Forgive me, Night said at last, for I am but darkness, but I dare say you’re wrong. There is always another path. There is always turning back.

The man, requiring no contemplation, replied, “Not for me.”

Ah, said Night. Punishing yourself. You choose this path in penance.

“In truth,” said the man. “I can no more choose it than I can choose to breathe. And every breath speaks that truth. Speaks her name.”

They were silent a while more, until Night said, in scarcely a whisper: I know. I’ve heard you.

The man nodded, walked on. A latticework of stars traced across the deep-set firmament. Flickering in their fathomless remove. Planets and galaxies entire waxed beneath their aegis, these coldest of sentinels; the passing of a nameless, wayward soul, of not the slightest consequence. 

Do not begrudge them, urged Night. Even their light shall one day extinguish. 

“I begrudge them not in the slightest,” said the man. “If a broken heart is the worst of my travails, I should call myself lucky.”

Be kind to yourself, Night offered. Loss is loss; pain is pain.

“Yes,” said the man. “That it is. But to have lost the love of my life, is at the very least the rawest validation of having found her. There is no greater blessing.”

Night smiled at this, in that nearly imperceptible way of things incorporeal. An easing, however brief.

What, Night asked the man, did you love most? Was she the woman of your dreams?

“She was the woman who gave me the dream,” said the man. “She was all things love and light. Light in the darkness—err, no offense—and light in the light.”

No offense taken, said Night. But light in the light—what do you mean?

“She lit up the world. Everyone. No matter how things were in that moment. Made the dark days brighter. Made the bright days, brighter still. Saw the best in me. Loved me even for my worst. Made me believe again, in the man I could be, the man I must be.”

You loved her deeply.

“Still, and always.”

There must be anger; there must be pain. 

“Only the latter,” said the man. “Sometimes I want to be angry, but I can’t. She is the only soul on earth for whom my heart cannot harbor an angry sentiment. Even in this pain, there is but love. That is her legacy, whether she desires it or not. Even in her absence, she’s taught me true love.”

They walked on, these sojourners. At length, a wind kicked up, and the smell of rain perfumed the air.

Storm coming, Night said. 

“And let it,” said the man. “Therein resides one reason more. She was at once, my storm and my refuge. Never did my heart know such tempest, and such peace. No matter that she’s severed it, never a stronger connection have I felt.”

To this day?

“For all days. No matter where we were, with her, my heart was always home. She remains, and ever shall be, my touchstone.”

The storm grew nearer, but they walked on, for their road was their road, and the storm was a storm, neither the first nor last they would encounter.

You still live for her. 

“In many ways, yes.”

And would you die for her?

“Aye,” said the man. “I have.”

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ringing in the Grind...

Talk about a cold open, 2018. The intrepid canine and I ventured out into a sunny, -5-degree morning, he, the Great Pyrenees, infinitely more suited in his God-given coat. He stalked on out, invigorated, as I shivered along, thinking through clacking teeth, I need to write today.

And every day, really. New Year’s Resolution? Sure, why not? But soon the revelry and inspiration will wane, spiraling away like my frozen breath on this artic morning, and what then? For such is the nature of things: the excitement ebbs, the guests trickle home, even our Muse, especially any other than the one greeting us each day in the mirror. Life goes back to its daily grind, but, you know, that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Writing IS a grind, for most of us anyway. “It is by sitting down to write every morning,” noted Gerald Brenan,  “that one becomes a writer.” Sure, we’ll have moments of epiphany (too cold and too tired to conjure the adjective for that…epiphaneous? Epiphanific? Spellcheck has rebuked both). But even those moments of precious elucidation are fleeting, and we must return to the grindstone, for it is at once our whetstone, our covenant. Oh, the Muse might visit, but don’t give up your chair. She might toss you a bone, but she really only came back for her hat. Keep at it. “If I waited for perfection,” said Margaret Atwood, “I would never write a word.”
I write fiction, but one of my favorite scribes is nonfiction icon Erik Larson, who told me, among other things, that what separates an amateur from professional, is completion. Write the thing. And yes, there are indispensable ingredients, but as Doctorow reminded us, “Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”
That it is. So be it resolved that today, we’ll write. And again, tomorrow. Even if only a little. And if you miss a day, start over the next. The grind will keep grinding, after all. “Writing,” said Gwendolyn Brooks, “is a delicious agony.”
Write on.