Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wee Elizabeth

The sweetest little thing...a bucket of sunshine! (I consider myself very lucky to have a mini-donkey for a friend!)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The "Suchthings"

From page five in chapter one of Dusty Waters, a Ghost Story by Laura J. W. Ryan (Field Stone Press, 2009)

...He never knew what hit him; that fact was plain on his face when I saw him still sitting there after the body was long gone.

For three years after Dad’s death, his ghost remained seated at the kitchen table, puzzling over why no one but me could see him; being just a little shit at the time, I didn’t have the verbal tools to explain—or to comfort. Of course, no one believed me, because “there are no such things as ghosts”—or so I’ve been told. Only Dad would have believed me if he were alive and could come to my defense. So, I identified his classification as a "such thing"—I separate the words now, but at the time, it was one word suchthing. It’s kinda funny how a child’s mind processes what they are told; it’s dreamlike, words have a visual substance to them—I tried to picture their meaning—at least, what I thought they meant in context with the feeling expressed by the speaker.

I knew Dad was dead—his body dead and buried, but as a suchthing, he was still there, only I could see him. I never really mourned losing him, because I hadn’t really lost him, just the part of him that I could touch....

This is my “little big” book...she’s a special “girl” to me, not just because she became the “first born” in this project that I’ve set out to do (the project objective is “being read”), but she simply means a lot to me in terms of my vision as a writer...she’s exactly the book I wanted her to be...a ghost story that is as much about life as it is about death. A girl born with a gift, seeing ghosts and communicating with them, and the consequences of that gift...coping with the burden of it (instead of the “boo” of it.) 

There’s also a dragon that lives under her bed...and that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to spoil it.

A writer carries around “stuff” inside their heads for years before doing something about any of it...I started writing it all down in 1999...much of what came out during that time splintered off to become five separate stories, all of them overlap as the characters are all acquainted with one another in some form, sometimes briefly, sometimes for a lifetime...I write with the idea that there’s more than one side to every story and people influence one another for good or bad. (Dusty Waters is the only ghost story in the lot, but that doesn't mean I won't revisit Dusty and Tanglewood again.)

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it, the discipline and time investment involved in writing, editing, designing, and finally putting it out there to be read. It’s worth it.

Drinking from the Fishbowl is shaping up...I'm going through the usual see-saw of doubt and certainty that is typical at this stage, so I know I'm getting close to the end of this part of the process. I'm working out in my head how I want it to "look" when I get to the design stage...the cover and content both...but I'm getting ahead of myself, I'm still polishing the beauty until she shines...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Four books of February...

Me n' wee Elizabeth on a bitter cold winter night, both of us bundled up!
Oy! I am so done with this winter...unbelievable how bitter it has been, and the snow....

Any way...I'm not here to rant about the weather... I have been busy editing Drinking from the Fishbowl for the last month of Saturdays so I didn't feel compelled to set it aside to do anything else...yet, I devoured books with gusto, so I took a break from the massive manuscript and finally whittled my thoughts into shape today...

First up, Grendel, by John Gardner. I love the dragon, that chapter was the best part. What is not to love about a fire-breathing dragon, lounging on a pile of treasure, and opining about free will and determinism? It’s not just about the Grendel side of the story—it’s political, it’s psychological, it’s philosophical—perfect. Grendel should have listened to the dragon’s advice, “…seek out gold and sit on it.” Grendel’s undoing is the nature of the beast—with that said, the human race will likely snuff itself out due to its nature. Nature itself has a tendency to run its course over time and zap—gone. There is no need for a dragon to come along and burn down one mead hall or a big shaggy monster to come along and eat them one by one—

John Gardner was taken from us too soon—dang, imagine what he would have written since…

While I was reading Grendel, I was also reading Notes from the Underground by Dostoyevsky...what a pairing of solitary characters, right? They actually went well together...played nice mostly...

Dostoyevsky is the master writer of the human document, this one is a little-big book—effectively compact. Self-awareness is overwhelming if you dwell on it too much—(especially a downfall for writers and artists of all types.) Isolation, anxiety, sends the mind to thinking—thinking too much. It’s a disturbing inclination to inventory one’s unhappiness, failures, and the harm done to you—trauma is unforgettable. Happiness is ephemeral, it flits with the wealth of a butterfly, and is gone, off to the next garden of flowers, to chase a mate, dispelled by a breath of wind, or destroyed by a predator; thus, we’re back to the grim extreme of unhappiness. Goodness knows, if everything was happy-go-lucky we’d have nothing to aspire to or to overcome. Some can play their victim card well, and move on, while others—no so much, they wallow in it, and never get beyond their misfortune, they fail to grow. There is a twinkle of humor if you read it right, the sarcasm ever so sharp—worth a grand laugh out loud. It’s a book to linger over, slow down the reading pace to absorb it, and to open to a random page to revisit for the treasures it offers.

The next pair, The Hours and Play It As It Lays were read separately, one followed the other...they blended well with one another...tho' The Hours was far more gentler than the other...

“But there are still the hours, aren’t there? One and then another, and you get through that one and then, my god, there’s another. I’m so sick.”—from pages 197-198

Illness—any chronic pain, mental or physical—can distill one’s life down to the hours—only if you’ve been in this “place” could you ever understand the terrible passage of time while you endure (or not.)

A lovely book that was made into a lovely movie—damn, it’s almost too tidy, beautifully woven and written. Perfect. Too perfect—perhaps this is a flaw, but it’s one I’m happy with. 

I read Virginia Woolf at least once a year, sometimes twice if I can get away with it.  Now I must re-read Mrs. Dalloway.

This next one blew my doors off...seriously..Wow—dang, wow! This book is so intense my head hurts. My heart hurts.this is my first time reading Joan Didion, so, I have some catching up to do...

The solitary and solace—itchy uncertainty, horrible anxiety—and then there’s ‘nothing’. There, in that deep hole of depression, you know it’s easier to sit at the bottom of that hole, feeling sorry for oneself and flipping off those who say they want to help. Oh, please, stop helping me—but if you insist… the temptation to accept the help is because there’s always that teeny-tiny glimmer of hope that things will be different this time—and then there’s the fickle finger of fate, oh fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck. The directionless, going with the flow, blow in my ear, I’ll follow you anywhere (because I have nowhere else to go)—hoping to disappear without ever leaving. 

Why do you fight?...To find out if you’re alive.—p. 196

The meaning of ‘nothing’. Nothing keeps me up at night. That’s why I write.

Other news...one of my photographs was published in The Sun magazine in the March 2015 issue!

I'm incredibly happy about it...very honored...I've admired The Sun for many years, and finally got up the guts to submit some photos and poems...I was so surprised to receive the "fat" package in the mail this week.

I have plowed my way through my manuscript Drinking from the Fishbowl...all 702 double-spaced pages of it (it seems I lost a couple of pages along the way.) I marked it up, took notes, and will do another pass through at a much slower pace, to tweak where it is weak, to cut where I think I need to cut it...I have a good sense of what I need to do, especially when I get this squirmy feeling in my gut while reading it. I will try to be brave and heed this notion, dig in, find what is bothering me about it, and remove it. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by it and lose heart, but I've come so far. It's really a good story, I know it can be better...