I’m anxious to start on my next writing project. The book of original poetry and art called All Ways A Woman, done in collaboration with artist Lynn Centeno, is launched and we are well into marketing it at various venues. Our schedule of appearances for April is full. I’ve been sharing the journey with you. It’s exciting and fun. But now I’m ready to dig into another project.
It’s a collection of short stories. I’ve been pecking away at the work and now I want to move it into the main stream of my attention. Some of the stories are new which, I discover, I’m not really finished with yet. I’m still writing. Others, older work, I want to fine tune, parts of which I’m seeing with new eyes, especially the endings. And, interestingly, there is one I don’t want to touch at all. It’s called “The First of the Season” and the story represents the first time I saw myself in print, my first story accepted by an editor of a literary magazine.
I can still feel the thrill of picking up the literary journal, excitedly running my finger through the Table of Contents, finding my name, running my finger over the type several times. I know how hard I worked, how insecure I felt, how I wanted to paint pictures and scenes and invite the reader to feel what the character Tommy was feeling.
There’s another story called “Parallel Worlds” which will receive a new title and a new heartbeat. I’m currently reading a novel called Georgia by Dawn Tripp, about the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. On page 78 Tripp describes her imaginings of O’Keeffe returning to a work she’d done previously:
I go into the back room and pull out sketches I made last summer of the natural bridge I visited once in Virginia. I remember passing through it, the smell of the greenery, the cool gray of the rock, and how, when I looked back, the orange dusk struck its edges.
I leave the drawings on the table and begin a new sketch. Lines over the paper, shadow by shadow, details stripped – not the bridge as it was but as I felt it blow through me in that moment I turned and looked back, the moss ripped with light.
I’d lost something in the writing, trying to bring the story to a conclusion. I’d lost what had “blown through me” as I created the story of a man called Ray and his relationship with his father. I lost the feelings, stripped them away, instead of writing Ray’s truth. I’m excited to work with this story.
There’s another which is overly dramatic, based on a newspaper article I read. It needs to be swept of its artifice. It especially needs more craft. It’s a story in which less would be more. The title is Baggage and if after working on it, I’m still not liking the story, it will be cut.
Then there’s the problem of the whole collection needing a title. Right now I’m using an interim title of one of the stories, Not Even Gloria, but I know that title will not hold. I need to see more of what the collection has to say in total. At the moment, I only have this statement:
for those of us everywhere who do what we must
At the Desert Writers Expo Book Festival on March 30, I talked with Heidi Simmons, writer for the Coachella Valley publication called CV Weekly, and lover of short stories. (I interviewed her for my blog a few years ago when I discovered a series she did on the short story. She was kind enough also to interview Lynn and me about our book All Ways A Woman while at the Expo.) Her articles and reviews have introduced me to writers and short stories I haven’t read before. I like her enthusiasm for the genre.
So the bones are set for my next project. The short story writer has fewer words and less space to grab readers and their thoughts and emotions, to make them care. I have work to do.