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.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

On Flowers in the garden and "Gritty Realism"

This is the "Granny" of lilacs...she's a big ole girl and lives happily in my yard, she's so tall, I can look out my bedroom window and see these gorgeous blooms when I open my eyes in the morning...the season for lilacs does not last long enough! They're beginning to fade...usually, since we're cooler here in the 'upper elevations', my lady outlasts the lilacs in the city below, but this year has been so peculiar, they bloomed earlier...usually I would have her lingering into June...on her shady side, I found a few blooms that have not yet started to turn brown, they break my heart they're so beautiful!

But now, just in time for Memorial Day, the spirea has started to bloom by my porch (don't they look like a shower of fireworks?), this one on the corner has overwhelmed my variegated hosta below! I'll trim it back after she finishes blooming so the hosta can breathe!

Next week the Irises will be in bloom...the stalks with the buds have come up these last few warm days, and there are little yellow points at the top...soon, very soon!

The little chipmunk mommy has been visiting for 'eats' at the hand pump in the morning, I got lucky with the camera and snapped a quick shot of her before she ran off...

I've been on vacation, and spending much of my time in the garden, I have made some new artwork (I will post later at Follow Your Bliss), and made progress with some of my writing...weeding always helps with working out the plot knots in the brain...unfortunately, my back hasn't been too pleased with my being in the garden, I take frequent breaks, rest, read, write, make art, then go back, do a little more...and repeat the process...Max has been loving the time outside...
He often finds a shady and weedy place just like this one and "vanishes" from sight, which often sends me searching for him, calling his name (becoming frantic) and I'll finally catch site of those ears perking above the tall grass...and then the wagging tail ("I'm right here, can't you see me wagging my tail?")...eventually, he tips over and shows me his "stuff"...but you don't need to see his stuff...and I think he'd be very embarrassed if I photographed his exposed belly (he is very camera shy) and then posted it on my blog for the world to see!

I've been spending lots of porch time with the laptop doing edits on my novel The Fractured Hues of White Light, which I'm hoping to have published this summer...I was tweaking a paragraph in Chapter 7 today and then something hit me and I started writing fresh new lines...this paragraph I have dismembered and put back together several times over the course of two weeks, and now this! Oh I was joyfully writing, and then after I was done I couldn't believe I did this! What the hell am I doing? This book is done, why am I adding new work? But no, it isn't new, Samantha and Guthrie are still walking on the beach, they're still having the same discussion...the memory from a long time ago is there, only left unsaid between them, and I reminded them of it, and it just came together beautifully. (Deep sigh) I love when that happens! This work that I do...writing...I'm still trying to get a handle on it...even ten years after I started really doing it...it's still a mystery to me, the "how come" of it. (I can still hear that voice in my head saying "Why can't you write something nice?", it's usually said in my mother's voice...you know the one, that nagging vicious critic.)

Last night, while reading The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973-1982, I found a passage from 1975 that she wrote about her writing process...I have read dozens of her books, have admired her work since I was a teenager when I first read Wonderland, and now I'm finally reading the things that I've needed to "hear" as a writer...this is a small part that I read last night...

"Gritty realism" and that sort of thing. "Uncompromising." "Lifts the lid off." Etc. One does want that - but more, far more. ... The challenge is to wed the naturalistic and the symbolic, the realistic and the abstract, the utterly convincing story and the parable...that is, to bring together the psychological and the mythic in one character at all moments...and to wed time and eternity in a seamless whole. So it is rather like walking a tightrope. One does want surface realism, but one wants just as much an allegorical or mythic universality, relating not to surfaces but to the inner experience, the life of the soul itself. Those who do not believe in the "soul" will hate this kind of writing, not knowing what it attempts; those who do not believe in the "world" (because they are very religious, or politically conservative, or neurotic) will detest the naturalism, the feel of "gritty reality" even when it isn't gritty but is rather attractive. Only those readers who are, somehow, in the center...as I am...who share my vision, however unclear it is...necessarily unclear...will be able to respond to my work without distorting or misreading or rejecting it. This is a risk I take gladly. Though perhaps I have no choice. (Joyce Carol Oates, January 12, 1975)

I couldn't have said it better myself! She wrote this when I was just beginning to think of this stuff (12 going on 13) , I knew then that I wanted to write books, and there were stories inside my head, but I didn't have the words yet...and my penmanship was crappy. Now the words have arrived (thank goodness for laptops), and are in print. (Some of them.) I know what it is that I'm trying to do with my books...and just reading this section of her journal last night made me feel 'right' about what I've done with Dusty Waters and the others...these prickly little novels of mine...they are mine, I take ownership of them, the words, and I love my characters to pieces...I'm just so happy to have finally made them, to commit my time and energy toward the effort of making them...

I have no choice. This is what comes. It hasn't been easy writing them, the immersion is so complete while writing...making a drawing or a painting feels so fantastic, it's more immediate, I get my hands dirty, and then I'm done...writing is a whole different beast...more demanding...time consuming, all consuming...exhausting...terrible and beautiful. I love it. I'm addicted to it...it's like waking from a dream, a sleep with no rest...

Very strange. It is very strange indeed.

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