Poetry: “Remembrance of You”

Remembrance of You

I lie in bed, eyes closed to avoid light’s jagged edge,

my mind blazing with thoughts of you.

Years have passed since I last saw you.

The features of your face are fading into a blur.

The scent of roses wafts through the air

and pervades my thoughts,

but only for a moment.

Memories tarnished by time.

Your fingers interlaced with mine.

Salty skin that smelled of patchouli and amber.

The low timbre of your voice as you said, “I love you.”

The buzz of silence is maddening, cutting into my thoughts, and my eyes snap open.

In my heart the fire still flickers, the flames licking at my sanity.

As desire swells I cannot escape

my burning passion for you.

The scent of roses turns rancid,

and my eyelids grow heavy

 thinking of you.

***

I originally wrote this many years ago before I even started creative writing.  I revised it recently.  I’m not a poet by any means though XD  If anyone has any thoughts, advice, or constructive criticism you are welcome to share 🙂  I keep going back and forth on the line “Memories tarnished by time,” and “My memories are tarnished by time.”  I think the latter is grammatically correct, but it doesn’t flow as well with the rest of the poem.  I love poetic prose, but poems are very different from short stories and novels.  Maybe I’ll try to write some more poems in the future.  Guess that means I have to incorporate some poetry into my reading.

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Hooked By the First Line

An interesting point I’ve seen critters focus on is the importance of the opening paragraph, especially the first line.  I typically give books several pages before I decide whether or not to continue reading, but I can usually tell from the first few lines whether or not I’m going to enjoy it.  I thought it would be kind of fun to compile a list of opening lines from some of the books I have.  Some stories have dedications on the first page or two, which is why they don’t start till the third page or so.

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.  Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one that what had gone before.  Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. ” ~The Road (published 2006) by Cormac McCarthy, page 1.

“At dusk [leaflets] pour from the sky.  They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into the ravines between houses.  Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobblestones.” ~All the Light We Cannot See (published 2014) by Anthony Doerr, page 3.

“Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece.  All the way from Alabama a-walking.”~Light in August (published 1932), William Faulkner, page 1

“The Salinas Valley is in Northern California.  It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into the Monterey Bay.”~East of Eden (published 1952) by John Steinbeck, page 1.

“‘Corruption?  I’ll tell you about corruption, sonny!’ The old man glared into the flames in the fireplace and trembled all over, biting so hard on the stem of his pipe that it crackled once, sharply, like the fireplace logs.” ~October Light by John Gardner, page 1.

“Snowman wakes before dawn.  He lies unmoving, listening to the tide coming in, wave after wave sloshing over the various barricades, wish-wash, wish-wash, the rhythm of heartbeat. He would so like to believe he is asleep.” ~Oryx and Crake (published 2003) by Margaret Atwood, page 1.

“It was Wang Lung’s marriage day.  At first, opening his eyes in the blackness of the curtains about his bed, he could not think why the dawn seemed different from any other.  The house was still except for the faint, gasping cough of his old father, whose room was opposite to his own across the middle room.” ~The Good Earth (published 1931) by Pearl S. Buck, page 1.

“The escalator crept along slowly, straining upward  In an old station like this, what else could you expect?  But the wind swirled like a wild thing inside the concrete pipe–ruffling his hair, tugging the hood off his head, sneaking under his scarf, pressing him downward.” ~Nightwatch (published 1998) by Sergei Lukyanenko, page 3.

“I had seen her just the day before–a day of pale blue skies and summer breezes. We had stood on the lawns beneath the chestnut trees and she had said: the leaves are talking to me Charlie.”~The Piano Man’s Daughter (published 1995) by Timothy Findley, page 1.

“It was love at first sight.  The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him.  Yosarrian was in the hospital with a pain in his liver that fell just short of being jaundice.”~Catch-22 (published 1961) by Joseph Heller.

“In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin’s son, grew up with his friend Govinda.  The sun browned his slender shoulders on the river bank, while bathing at the holy ablutions, at the holy sacrifices.”~Siddhartha (published 1922) by Hermann Hesse, page 3

“Mabel had known there would be silence.  That was the point, after all.  No infants cooing or wailing.  No neighbor children playfully hollering down the lane.”~The Snow Child (published 2013) by Ewoyn Ivey, page 3

What many of them have in common is that the pull the reader into the world that they have created, and make us care about what is happening.  The first few lines also set the mood for the story.  After reading the intro for The Road, you can already tell the story is going to be dark and full of angst.

An interesting point is that when you compare the introductions of older fiction to their modern counterparts, it’s obvious that modern audiences expect more of a hook.  Maybe that has something to do with the fact that people have less patience now.  We are always looking for faster and more efficient ways to accomplish things.  It only makes sense that this would extend to fiction.

Out of curiosity, based on these intros, which books would you want to read?   I’ve read all of these so my choices are biased.

Research Needed for a Short Story

One of the less fun aspects of writing fiction is research.  The amount that needs to be done depends on what you are writing because some stories necessitate more than others.  It makes for a more authentic story.  This is a list of the research I ended up doing for my 6,000 word story about a man that kills himself.  I don’t want to mention the name of the story because I’m going to submit it to literary magazines in August.  I probably used like 5-10% of the info that I read about.  If you try to cram in too much technical stuff the story sounds forced.

By far the worst scene of the whole story was the car crash.  I hated writing it.  Action scenes are hard to write, and this one was intense.  How do you convey the horror of getting in a car crash and watching your girlfriend die in a fiery cage of twisted steel?!  Ugh.  I gave it my best shot XD  I have a few weeks to distance myself before I submit so I may come back and revise that part.  My favorite scene was probably the intro where he shoots himself.  I guess that sounds morbid XD  I mean I enjoyed writing it.  Perhaps because I have been on the brink of suicide before so it was cathartic to write about it.

List of Research Topics 

1. Pictures of compound fractures (The pictures gave me nightmares D:)

2. Accounts from people surviving near death experiences

3. Accounts from car crash survivors

4. The taste of different vodkas

5. Guns, what they look like and how to shoot one

6. How long can someone survive after a bullet wound to the chest

7. Videos of car crashes (I hated this.  It was awful)

8. Videos of drunk driving

9. Treatment for a gunshot wound

10. What year the Seattle Seahawks were playing the Superbowl (random I know XD)

11. Jail time for manslaughter due to drunk driving (I ended up not using this info)

I’m Not a Writer but Someone Who Loves To Write

My parents are moving to the other side of the country after living in the same house for about 15 years.  They asked me to come over and sort through my stuff, so I could take what I wanted.  I’m going through my old schoolwork and trapped underneath a mountain of the most vibrant shade of purple prose was a budding writer.  I was using metaphors at ten years old even though I didn’t know what a metaphor was until I was much older, and there were bits and pieces of insightful prose in my high school essays.  It means something to me because I feel like a fraud among other writers because I didn’t spend my whole life writing.  I’m not a writer, but instead someone who loves to write.  A distinction with a big difference.

Unlike a lot of other writers in the blogosphere, I didn’t spend my whole life writing fiction and/or fanfiction.  As a child I wrote lots of stories about ponies, unicorns, and princesses, but after age eight I didn’t write for fun anymore.  I’m not sure why I stopped, but I lost interest in it.  However, I’ve always had a voracious appetite for books.  Margaret Atwood touched my heart in 11th grade.  Her prose was so gorgeous, and I just fell in love with her as a writer.  There’s some neurochemistry beyond my ability to put into words that happens when I come across poetic prose.  It’s just ummmmf * -*

In 12th grade AP English I realized how much I enjoyed writing, but I wouldn’t branch out on my own and start writing fanfiction till I was in my mid-20s.  Last year I made the transition into original fiction, and that’s when I became aware of the fact that I was different from most other writers.  After going through all of my old schoolwork, I realized I always had the heart of a writer so maybe I’m not the black sheep of the writing community like I thought I was.

Here is my high school tribute to my 12th grade AP English Class.  Even then I had a penchant for angst and poetic prose though it would be years before I could write something decent.

I thought about writing a dedication to each individual, but I don’t think that’s necessary. In the big scheme of life names become a blur and memories fade. At the moment high school seems so significant, but in a while it will be just an indistinct memory worn away by time. I wish to address the larger picture. I would like everyone to know that in some way or another they had a positive influence on my life. There are a few of you who have become very close friends and intertwined your lives with mine. I need not mention who you are because I’m sure you already know. Then there are also some of you that have caused me pain, but it doesn’t matter now. . . I don’t wish to dwell on bitter memories because in the end I have benefited from each and every one of you. It was nice because I’ve been in class with so many of you for four or more years now. Since I have moved so much in my lifetime, I’ve never really had a chance to enjoy seeing my classmates mature. Although I had a really difficult time when I started school in this district five years ago, I now feel at ease around every one of you. Surprisingly, English is my favorite class, and at the heart of it is you Mrs. X [name removed for security purposes]. I never really got to know you personally, but in many ways I feel like we have a close relationship. You helped rekindle my love for writing and perhaps I have found a bond with you in that way. There will never be a time again in my life quite like this; a time of decay and a time of growth.  I thank all of you for being such a large part of my life. I will probably never see most of you again after graduation, and your distinct identities will most likely fade into obscurity, but as a group I will remember you. . .

Weekend Writing Warriors #11

wewriwa

This weekend I’m participating in a blog hop known as Weekend Writing Warriors.  It’s fun.  It’s something I do sporadically when I have the time.  A bunch of writers share 8 sentences from a story they are writing or have written.  If you would like to participate, here is the link: http://www.wewriwa.com/

This snippet comes from a short story of mine that is about a man searching for redemption in this life and beyond.  The resulting non-linear narrative is about his memories, reality, and delusions as he is dying.  Without going into more detail that’s about all I can say XD  This is actually towards the end of the story.

XXX

He washed up on the shore sopping wet with a mouthful of gritty sand. The moon, pale as milk glass, hid among the clouds. He stood up, brushed the debris off of his clothing, and headed towards the lights of civilization. His parent’s house was only a few miles away.

He looked up at the sky. After Emma died the stars had lost their luster. He saw them now for what they really were, molten spheres of plasma floating in the cold expanse of the universe, millions of miles away from each other, utterly alone. It sent a chill down his spine.

XXX

Work has been kicking my butt physically and emotionally so my writing has been sporadic as of late, but things seem to be getting better again.  This snippet comes from a short story I’ve been working on for a while.  I’ve rewritten it like ten times XD  It’s taken that long to get it right.  It finally has the feel that I was looking for when I originally started writing this piece.  I’m working on the final draft right now so I can submit it to a few literary magazines.

Submitting a Short Story: Cover Letter

I’ve set a tentative goal to submit my suicide short story to about 2-3 literary magazines in late February.  It’s been through 8-9 drafts so far, but it feels like it’s almost there now.  I need to write the final draft in a week or two and then let it rest for a week or two before submitting.  It was my first real short story of original fiction (prior to this I had just written fanfic), and there was a lot of stuff about writing I didn’t even know I didn’t know.  Now I know some of what it is I don’t know, so I guess that’s progress, maybe XD  It feels kind of weird to still be working on this thing (though I took a 4 month writing/reading hiatus for my new job), but hopefully my next short story won’t need such a grueling editing job.  Although my next short story won’t be told from the POV of a dying man having delusions, so that already makes it easier.

Apparently you need a cover letter which freaked me out a bit because I don’t know of a good way to summarize my story or the reason I wrote it without sounding too emo or macabre.  It looks like you don’t need to go into detail though.  The story is more about finding peace and redemption than it is about suicide, but it’s a sensitive subject, and I don’t want to upset anyone with my cover letter.

I’m also in the process of coming up with a pseudonym.  For now I like the name Ella Hall, but that may change in a week or two.  I love the name Ella, but I’m not sure about Hall.  I’ll probably dedicate an entry to why I’m not publishing (more like attempting to publish XD) under my real name, but that’s beyond the scope of this entry.  For others who are curious or in the same boat I found some helpful articles on the subject.

Links to Helpful Blog/Articles About Cover Letters:

Writer’s Digest: Literary Journal Submissions 101

Freelance Writing: Cover Letters For Short Stories

The Review Review: Your Perfect Cover Letter

David Fitzpatrick’s Examples of Good and Bad Cover Letters

If anyone has another good resource about this issue, please share 🙂

Writing Snippets from the Deleted Scenes of a Short Story

I did some major reworking of my suicide short story, which included ripping out an 1800 word chunk and rewriting it as something different.  I used to have a difficult time throwing away a large chunk of something I had written.  Even still, it took me like several drafts of this story to realize that it wasn’t working and I was forcing it in.  I think part of that is because I didn’t want to just throw it away.  I worked hard on some of those metaphors.  So I’ll post some of it here XD

I may end up using it in some form in another story, but I’m 99% sure it doesn’t have a place in this one, so it’s safe to post it for now.  These three are from the same snippet, so the first two are connected but the last one isn’t.  Just for context, the protagonist’s girlfriend was killed in a car accident.  I have some more I might post in the next few days.

“His grief was so immense that it felt like his heart disintegrated, leaving an all-consuming emptiness in its stead. His friends and family were sucked into the void, drained of their energy and affection until they had nothing left to give but apathetic condolences.”

“Alcohol was the only friend he had left. They had been together since his freshman year in college, and over time their relationship intensified. It dulled the pain and made him comfortably numb. After the booze-induced coma wore off, his emotions washed over him like a tidal wave, pulling him under until he was drowning in sorrow. He tried to keep his head above water, but it felt as if he was swimming in wet cement, and he was tired of fighting just to stay alive.”