Saving Mr. Val


The sense of presence slid gently across the cluttered desktop, palpable as sunlight. Nudging past my elbow, it rippled up my spine and chilled my shoulders, staking its claim to my consciousness like a squatter moving into a deserted house.

Suddenly attentive though not yet uneasy I turned, expecting to see my calico scowl of a cat peering at me across the dining table, irritated with my absorption in my work, intent on drawing me away for a bit of play. But the cat was nowhere to be seen.  When her name and a gentle, trilling call brought no response, I stretched and looked, unwilling to move from my chair.  She wasn’t under the table, not hidden in the plumpness of sofa cushions.  No sleeping cat lay draped across the wooden chair, her paws kneading at the air where they rested between turned spindles.  

Perplexed by her absence as much as by the vague promptings that had unfocused my attention, I turned back to the computer, ready to dismiss my unease and settle back into my work. Continue reading

Furnishing Our Stories


I suppose there are as many reasons to blog as there are bloggers.  Curiosity about the world, a willingness to accede to Durrell’s conviction that reality can be reworked to show its significant side and the pure pleasure of shaping words all have played a roll in developing and sustaining my personal commitment to this strange new phenomenon of our time.

One thing I particularly enjoy about blogging  is the response I receive from readers.  Comments have ranged from challenging to congratulatory to caustic, but no matter their form, I always find them stimulating and engaging.   To my taste, good blogs exhibit a certain tentativeness, exploring rather than defining the subject at hand, and good comments reflect the same qualities.  Writers and readers work together, inching their way forward through thickets of allusion and argument to reach provisional conclusions.  Occasionally they unearth a real, if unexpected, treasure. Continue reading

No Mo’ WriMo


As November 15 approaches, we’re nearly halfway through National Novel Writing Month.  I’d never heard of the event (NaNoWriMo to the cognoscenti) until it was mentioned by Becca, of Write on Wednesday.  Initially I paid it little mind, even when I realized several Write on Wednesday contributors were going to participate.  But NaNoWriMo began popping up everywhere on the Web, as though it suddenly had found a new and better PR firm.  Even the WordPress Forums weren’t immune.  Promoters there sounded a bit like Ron Burgundy.  NaNoWriMo, it seemed, was “sort of a big deal”.  I decided I should pay attention.

First, I read about the program.  (Its goal: for each participant to produce a 50,000 word novel within the month of November.)   I read and considered discussions about the program.  I read reflections from people who had participated in the program in the past.  And then, I decided not to participate. 

The first reason is that I’m not a fiction writer at heart, and I know that.   Becca’s original question about NaNoWriMo  – “Do you have a novel inside you waiting to get out?” – did send me off to have a look around my mental premises.  I reached back into the crannies of my mind, opened up drawers filled with preconceptions and sorted through piles of prejudices.  I pulled out my passions and interests from under the bed, rearranged the stacks of leftover sentences and paragraphs in the back closet and even checked behind my little stash of preferences and neuroses.  There’s no novel in there, anywhere.  I’m not surprised.  I read very little fiction by choice, generally being led to an author’s fiction by their essays or letters.  So, there’s no particular reason to believe the desire to write fiction would be lurking around the edges of my life. Continue reading