Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Remember Me



Hi everyone -- hope you're having a good week! I'm working very hard on a new draft of some old material so if you have any revision advice or comments about the process (do you like it better than the first draft or is it more tedious), please feel free to leave them. I'm going to post an old poem today as we lead up to my old friend Hank's death day (Sunday) and will be back at you tomorrow.

Remember Me On This Computer

I'm not contagious, the woman on the plane
said. I just had some face work done.
It's not healing like they said it would.
We talked during the flight, and I discovered
that she had carried a list of pallbearers
in her purse since she was twenty-one. I add
and delete all the time, she said. The vagaries
of the heart! The kind of detail you'd love,
I thought, remembering your pallbearers, one my
ex-husband, another an ex-boyfriend. The typo
on your funeral program, What A Fried We Have In Jesus
and how that would have made you laugh. How my dad
laid his hand on your casket and said Good-bye, old buddy
and then the sound of your casket being lowered
into the ground. There is no other sound like it.


Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I don't need no make-up, I got real scars." Tom Waits

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: World's Greatest Dad

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday!

9 comments:

Heff said...

Having a GREAT week now. Thanks for stopping by.

Keith Hood said...

Hey Michelle,

Interesting. I'm in the same place. I've been working on several brand new stories but I've also been revisiting and revising older work, some of which you've read and critiqued before. Looking back, I've found some older work that is pretty stinky and not worth redemption. I've found other work that I love but but just isn't working for some reason. Perhaps my favorite story I've had a problem with is the "Ronnie story" about the gay man living with his sister and his boyfriend. I workshopped it with C. Michael Curtis of The Atlantic and he actually loved the story with some reservation but couldn't really nail down why it wasn't working either. I have a new idea that I'm playing with. I recently read "How Fiction Works" by James Wood and he goes on at some length about the advantages of "close third person" POV which he refers to as "free indirect style." I really like the James Wood book but I hate his awkward sounding terminology and prefer to use "close third" when talking about POV. Anyway, reading the book has led me to believe that the problem with the "Ronnie Story" may be the POV and I've been actively working to change the POV from first person to close third and I do think it's opening up the story in very good ways. We'll see. I've set a deadline of March 10 to finish the story but I'm really good at moving deadlines.

Examining POV is the main thing I'm looking at in revising older work. I'm also thinking of changing the POV of another story you're familiar with and one that Dan is quite fond of and he may hate what I thinking of doing to the story. You may remember "The Misevich Women" about Sonny and his girlfriend Marcia, on a mission to kidnap his kids. The story was originally "close third" from Sonny's POV. I'm thinking of changing it to "close third" from Marcia's POV. That is a drastic change that guts the story to some degree. I'm still in the thinking stage on that one and haven't touched the original text yet although I have written some new narrative with Marcia as the POV. We'll see.

One other thing that helps me in both the revision and writing process is reading. I find that reading other writers always gives me ideas for new stories and gives me ideas on revising current and older work and that's even true if what I'm reading has no similarities to anything I've written or anything I'm working on. It still turns the lightbulb on over my head. It's weird how that works. I have been reading a lot lately. My favorite new collection of stories is "Girl Trouble" by Holly Goddard Jones. She has a great writing career if anything that follows is even nearly as good as the stories in that collection. Also, reading the new Carver bio by Carol Sklenicka. Theresa is reading a book of essays, "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell and she had me read an essay titled: "Late Bloomers: Why do We Equate Genius with Precocity?" Basically, it's an argument that many writers bloom in their later years and Theresa had me read it as encouragement. It was and it's something I'd been thinking about lately anyhow. I think I'm approaching my writing, old and new, with a level of maturity one would hope to have at age 56 and I think that may be more important than considerations of POV, tense, and whether or not to modify a noun.

Best wishes with your revising.

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the walking man said...

The truth found in remembering the oldest of friends conveyed in words that bring that ratcheting sound as they are forevermore lowered into the earth is that they remain still.

Rewrites...edits? What is this you speak of? Are you saying it's not perfect the first time? jaysus it's to late now to go back. I'll leave it to you kids to rewrite history in your own words.

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Charles Gramlich said...

I might have considered a list of pall bearers when I was too young to imagine that I might truly die.

Dave said...

Michelle:

Best. Picture. Yet!

BTW: Is that an engagement ring?

Ooh! Ooh! Invite me to the wedding! I will come, seriously! Even to Detroit! (Please have wedding in broad daylight!)

What kind of cookware do you prefer?

the walking man said...

Dave...why do you say "Even to Detroit" like it would be a bad place to arrive at?


I am still resisting the word verification but the spammers are becoming a trifle annoying.

Dave said...

Let's Just say that I'm waiting for the new, slim Detroit.

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100225/METRO01/2250391/Detroit-Mayor-Bing-emphasizes-need-to-shrink-city

Ad as for the word verification:

Anything to get rid of the spam!