“My routine.”

June 30, 2011 § 9 Comments

Italian playing cards.

Those two words belonged to my Italian grandfather, Nonno.

My brother, sister and I rolled our eyes at the mere mention. Who would want to do the same thing over and over and over?

Plus his routine was so…routine. For exercise he walked laps around the kitchen counter (a hundred tiny circles).

He lay in wait for the mailman, and then, when he was sure the small truck had moved on, he would collect the mail, flipping through it as he carried it up the driveway.

This was the part of my grandfather’s routine that caused my mother to
get a PO Box. As a frequently-rejected fiction writer (a term which applies to any fiction writer) the double-disappointment of receiving that terse “not for us” and my grandfather’s sympathy, “Oh, Gloria! Rejected again. Why don’t you just give up?” was more than she could bear.

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It’s Truck Night!

June 22, 2011 § 8 Comments

Ever notice the park on Tharpe?

It’s easy to miss the flat, buildingless lot next to Burger King.

A loop of asphalt driveway; a sparse, scruffy lawn; a few shade trees and those heavy concrete picnic tables and benches that say, seriously people, this is a park.

That’s pretty much it.

I can’t think of a single reason to go there, especially when the mercury sets its lazy butt down on the hundred degree mark and gets comfortable.

Unless it’s Truck Night.

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The well.

June 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

My mother had a metaphor for how writers store and retrieve memory. She called it “the well.”

Every experience, whether good or bad, is thrown down into the well, and then, brought up again when it is needed to inform a story.

But memory is a great reviser of truth–especially a writer’s memory. So I’d say we toss memory into the ocean, where it is smoothed and polished and returned to us stripped of everything but what gives it meaning and significance.

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Summer, in full.

June 10, 2011 § 19 Comments

It takes summer heat to make a cloud like this!

We topped 100° more than once in May, and according to the calendar summer doesn’t even start until next Tuesday.

We’re stunned.

And a little worried.  If it’s this hot already, what will August be like?

But the official start of summer is a human notion. Each summer comes on in its own way and time, unaware and unconcerned about the calendar.

Most Americans only visit summer anyway. They sprint across its sun-baked parking lots from air-conditioned car to building, they book a week to “do summer,” lured by the proximity of a beach, or the cool of the mountains. They experience few of the ordinary summer days that unfold just outside their own front doors.

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Doing the voices.

June 2, 2011 § 11 Comments

The audio version of "Crossing Jordan."

My love of story began with the sound of my mother’s voice.

I was a halting early reader, but as my mother read aloud, Dr. Doolittle and Alice and Toad of Toad Hall all spoke to me.  She gave each a distinctive voice with idiosyncrasies of pitch and pace.

Because of this early association of story and sound I grew up to be a writer who hears the words first, often speaking them aloud, testing their sound before putting them on paper.

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