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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thoughts on reading and writing...

From my size 6 1/2's

It's another winter coming to a close, and I'm still editing my novel Drinking from the Fishbowl, it seems to be taking forever to accomplish this feat, but I'm taking my time (as I should) to make this book into what I have envisionedI love the process of writing and I love to readI'm constantly reading and I cannot stress it enough, that reading is very importantbooks are important—especially for a writer (or anyone wanting to become a writer.)

Books that have inspired me...and my two "girls" in the middle.
Reading is a transformational experience, what makes it a special experience is it’s very personal, the reader becomes immersed into another world—the writer’s construct. People who are avid readers are passionate about books—and when you’re a writer, that’s another story—it's more personal. It was through reading that I knew that I wanted to be a writer—early on, I read books that transformed my life, my way of thinking and seeing the world. I became interested in observing nature and what made people tick. I had a lot to learn, more than the mechanics of it taught in school. I had the desire to write and the aptitude to do it, but it seemed as if I did not know what I wanted to write about—I did but I didn’t—it was frustrating; there were lots of false starts. For years, I carried around lots of nonsense bits and pieces—ideas that were mere fragments, I never wrote them down because whenever I did write these things down they made no sense on their own. For the most part, they were just there in my head, as if they were waiting for me to find a use for them.

I wanted to write something that was mine—something more than “write what you know”. I wanted to write books that mattered—books with a deeper meaning. I wanted to write what I call "human documents", novels with complex relationships, communities of people with overlapping histories, books about the conflict with dreams and realities. Books about ghosts of the past and the ghosts that haunt us now, and a broad spectrum of cause and effect—what the soul is supposed to be—what it could be—Free will and Determinism—psychology and philosophy. It took a long time to get there—it was a natural progression to commit myself to writing, I just knew when I was ready to start, once I started, there was no turning back. Those fragments of ideas and bits of this and that fit perfectly in the places where I used them—even the ones I thought were impossible made sense once they were applied. At first, I was upset that it took me so long to come to this, being a “late bloomer”, but no, it was the right time, I had a few things to experience first, before I could write. I’m glad I waited.

It's so strange how the things I write about conflict with who I am. It's always a mystery to me how my characters develop and then have the audacity to do the things they do or say the things they say. I always find it odd when it’s assumed that they’re about me in some thinly veiled convolution—no, not I, I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes at all. Of course, writing is a very personal experience, naturally, personal experiences and observations are taken from the toolbox and become part of the construct, but for the most part, I’m just making it up as I go along—it’s just a story.

Goodness knows I feared that I bit off more than I could chew on more than one occasion once I committed myself to writing novels. I’ve experienced what I call a creative “sweet spot”, writing with the emotional spigots on full blast is an immersion unlike anything I’ve experienced creatively, it is a strange sort of mix of misery and ecstasy. It’s a worthwhile experience,  but just when I begin to doubt myself, I read what I’ve written and then I know I've done a good thing—I’ve followed my bliss.

Writing a book is difficult, but it is probably one of my happiest times. I have muddled my way through as best as I can with no pedigree on paper or an affluent background with names of people who could pave my way—I’m truly on my own with this. I like it that way. I will stand and fall on my own merits. I write my books much in the same way that I make art as a painter—it’s intuitive. It’s such a rush to sit down with a few notes, character studies, phrases, and brief conversations written down on scraps of paper or in a notebook and then start filling in the blanks, letting the story happen
—I'm always in awe of the creative process.

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart, it’s a given that not everyone is going to be receptive to what I’ve done, and I’m always grateful to those who are kind enough to read one of my books and tell me they enjoyed reading it.  It’s a solitary process and very lonely at times, I think I enjoy editing my books almost as much as writing them, the fine-tuning process can take a very long time, but I know when I’m done with it, I am satisfied with what I’ve done. If anything, I’ve learned that writing requires patience, practice, and persistence—and I will always read. 

That’s my story, I’m sticking to it.

The books in the photo:

On the right, (read before 1999)

Mikhail Bulgakov, the Master and Margarita

Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

E. M. Forster, The Celestial Omnibus

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Joyce Carol Oates, Wonderland

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

On the left, (read after 1999)

Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa and Shadows in the Grass
Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban

Paula Fox, Desperate Characters

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Gustaf Sobin, The Fly-Truffler

Joyce Carol Oates, Bellefleur

The two book ends are Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages by John Cowper Powys and The Voice of England by Charles Grosvenor Osgood.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Living with a little monster for one year...he's a good kitty until he isn't...

Yes, it's been one year since the little monster came to live with us...he's a much better kitty now than he was back then...

The "little thug"

Looking out the window

Getting some fresh air

String and crinkly paper...a perfectly pleased kitty

Not everyone can say they have a little monster in their bathroom sink...

He has learned to love lap time...
He might be plotting to take over the world...or just contemplating his next move in Star Craft...whatever it is, the little wheels are turning in that little kitty head...

One year later....
When people ask me "How's the black cat doing?" I reply "He's a good kitty until he isn't." It's taken all year to get to this place with him...he's ours...goodness knows, no one else will want the little fiend, but we love him in spite of his unpredictable socio-pathic behavior issues. I can kiss the little black fuzzy face, rub his velvety soft, plump belly, but I'm always aware that he can turn on a dime. He still bites and draws blood on occasion.When he makes that "squeak" noise EEP! or OIK!  look out...

His tail is always twitchy so that is at times a false positive...or false negative...or...who knows what the fuck it means, he's unpredictable.

It makes me sad to think that someone abused him to make him the way he is...we've been patient with him, we have loved him, kept him safe, have made him fat, and spoil him rotten with lots of toys and attention...he lives in the bathroom, so he's always going to have visitors. I feel bad that he doesn't get along with the other cats (yet.) We're working on it. We transfer him to our library and to the living room alternately so he has lap time with people and there are doors with windows through which he can glare at the other cats and stick his paws out at them...and they can stare at him without fear of him jumping on their backs and coming away with a mouthful of fur...

Other people gave up on him...which is how he wound up hiding underneath our porch one year ago during a bitter cold spell in March. Hungry, cold, scared, his ear clipped by a TNR group and the fur growing back on his backside where he had recently been neutered. Cut loose to work it out on his own because he was unwanted...

I feel good that we have adopted him into our family...which means, we have saved his life.

He's a little monster, our little Monster... yes, his name is The Little Monster...or Monster for short.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

…an Unthinkable Thing happened: Rashid Khalifa, the legendary Ocean of Notions, the fabled Shah of Blah, stood up in front of a huge audience, opened his mouth, and found he had run out of stories to tell. – from page 22, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie

I came to this book via my Fred, who is taking a class in which this book happens to be on the textbook list—he passed it on to me when he finished it. From the first paragraph, I loved it—let me tell you what I discovered during my journey to there and back again. This is a book to be read with a light heart and with no set parameters—the delightful wordplay and singsong rhythm of the prose made me laugh a good deal. It reminded me of Dr. Seuss stories so much that in my mind I was able to construct a fantastical landscape, populate it with the wonderful creatures and people described, brightly colored as traditional Indian Folk Art (just Google Mithila Painting to see what I mean.) It is a story about storytelling. It is a fairy tale in the tradition of all fairy tales, an allegory full of the tallest of stories that hit home so true—ideas, freedom, the importance of storytelling and imagination. As it was written during the time Rushdie spent in hiding, it is a very revealing narrative about freedom of expression. A father losing his ability to tell stories due to upsetting personal circumstances and because of this temporary lapse in his ability and desire to do so, someone official decided to turn off his “subscription” to the Story Water supply from the Great Story Sea—my goodness, that’s worse than writer’s block.

What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?

This peculiar question is raised by an outside character of dubious intentions and is the initial cause of this situation for the storyteller. It’s always odd when I run up against someone who thinks that way—it makes my heart hurt because that’s a person who is missing a valuable resource in life—imagination—the ability to suspend belief for just a little while to enjoy a story. I could never figure out why it was such a crime to ‘make up’ a story—lying to get out of trouble is a different thing entirely, telling a story for its entertainment value is completely different, but somehow it’s believed by some to be dishonest. There have been many books over the years that have caused a fuss for one reason or another, sometimes they strike a chord in people so sharply that it pisses them off to no end—some of our greatest stories are smuggled out of places where they are forbidden. The way I see it from my size 6 ½’s, that’s somethin’ special when a story causes a ruckus—oh, well, you can’t please everybody.

When writing fiction, pen to paper, from the first word onward, out there beyond the fringe of the known world is the place labeled “here, there be dragons!” It is a magical experience to make up stories—it is a gift that an author is fortunate to have, and a gift for the reader who is fortunate to receive it.

Having some knowledge of Indian mythology and culture might be to the reader’s advantage coming into this story, but it’s not a necessary requirement to read this book, it’s accessible language has an endearing quality that is as comfortable as a bedtime story for a child—magical and surreal—exotic and dream-like. It is comprised of a good many familiar elements, classic literary references to Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, One Thousand and One Nights, it also reminded me of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a little bit. Then there is a Beatles song I Am the Walrus happily tucked into the mix with the characters the Eggheads and the Walrus who are the inventors of the Processes too Complicated to Explain (P2C2E)—and of course, Dr. Seuss.

It’s loads of fun, it’s priceless and timeless, I adore it.