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Monday, October 24, 2016

Spectacular? I'll say!

Real autumn arrived this weekend with a whoosh of wind, pelting rain squalls and an overnight drop in temperature to the point the heat kicked on.  Thankfully, the waterworks let up for the field trip we’d planned Saturday, a quick visit with the busy-attending-school-and-working-daughter, followed by a trip to the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Roger Williams Zoo, in Providence, RI.  Said industrious daughter took a break to scope it out with a friend last week.  Her pictures were so stunning, my husband and I decided to give it a go.

The two of us don’t often do big crowds or tourist-type attractions, but this one made it to the exception list.  For anyone who has been in previous years, you’ll be happy to know that they organized it differently, so weekends aren't the mad-house they were apparently, in the past. Crowded? Yes.  But controlled, and worth the bit of patience required to traipse the zoo grounds in the dark, to view thousands of pumpkins, carved and painted into pure art.

Monday, October 17, 2016

And...Last Light

Friday night, when the TV weatherman announced the full moon-rise for Saturday would be at 6:05 pm, and predicted the sky to be clear, I decided to scratch off a bucket list item.  To that end, at 5:30 Saturday evening, my husband and I drove to a neighboring town with a lovely view of, you guessed it, a lighthouse, from across  the harbor.  Yeah, I know. Lately, all of my posts are of a similar theme and well, sorry. 

Actually, I’m not. The thing of it is, I love the water, I love lighthouses and I never get tired of where we live. That said, pictures of the moon rising from the ocean in front of this particular light are almost cliché in our neck of the woods, but I’ve never taken one and I was pretty jazzed that the timing and the weather would be right to do so.  Anxious to get a good shot, once we arrived, I asked my husband’s opinion as to the best place to stand. He laughed and pointed.  “It looks like that’s the right spot.”  Gulp.  About twenty photographers had staked out positions on the parking lot, the rocks and the sandy strip beside the harbor.  No word of a lie, they all had cameras with lenses half the length of my arm. 
Keeping my amateur-photographer distance, I set up my tripod and waited.  When we got close to the appointed time, everyone started checking their watches.  “I’ve got 6:03,” “Mine says 6:06.”  The moon, which should have appeared magnified and orange just over the horizon, didn’t…until, finally it bled through a haze, a ghost of itself, appearing as a fingernail, then a half, and then the image for which we all waited. The photographer closest to me cursed. “Damn clouds.”

Clouds or not, I clicked away, until satisfied, I stopped. Then, while all those pros scrabbled across the rocks, lugging their tripods over the sand, determined to take pictures from different angles, I simply watched the moon climb in the sky—which, in my mind, was the best picture anyone could get, anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lighting it Up

I had comp time coming, and since my normal Friday workday ends at noon, I extended the long weekend and took the morning off.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a day to myself with nothing on the schedule, and I woke up feeling odd—conflicted as to what to do with the time.  But, I got where I needed to in the end.  The remains of a firewood delivery lay piled in our driveway, and after lugging wheelbarrows full of it to the back yard, I decided I’d earned an “Artist’s Date,” a practice I learned while working through TheArtist’s Way, by Julia Campbell.

Consider an “Artist's Date an indulgence in creativity, something to spur inspiration, and I could use a little help in that department.  To that end, I headed to Fort Revere, a historic park up high on a peninsula, with expansive views of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay.  I brought the camera and the tripod, with one goal in mind.  To get a nice picture of Boston and Graves Lights, seemingly parallel to each other, at the mouth of Boston Harbor. 

I’ve taken enough pictures now to know that light is more intriguing in the early in the day and pre-sunset.  I, however, arrived mid-morning, and with a postcard clear day, there wasn’t much going on in the sky.  But still, I took it all in, the boats plying back and forth across the water, the airplanes circling low on their approach to Logan Airport, and of course, the lighthouses.  Boston Light, located on Little Brewster Island was the first lighthouse to be built in what is now the United States.  It’s celebrating its 300th anniversary this year.  Grave’s Light, built in 1905, is a newbie by those  standards.  But when you stand on the mounds of an old fort and look across the bay to the two sentinels, it’s as if they’ve been there always, as if back in some ancient time, they thrust up from the sea.

The pictures came out pretty, but the visit itself was more important to me.  "Just what the Doctor ordered," as my father used to say.  I drove home and finished a draft of my current project.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

IWSG - Ready or Not

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read other posts, click here.

This month's IWSG question: When do you know your story is ready?

This is a tough one.  I guess it depends on the story. If I’m writing a fifteen-hundred word feature for a magazine and my deadlines are tight, I come home after an interview and spend a few hours pounding out a draft.  After a day or two, I look at it again with fresh eyes, find flaws in the writing and whip it into shape. Then I walk away one more time.  A few days later, the edit is usually for minor details.  Each time I work on the piece, my goal is to make the story the best I can at that particular moment.  That said, when my stories appear in print, usually a few months later, I almost always find something I’d change, on which I could improve.

For a novel, well, I’m still learning the answer to the question.  I’m on my fourth try now, and I write a lot of drafts.  For my last “completed” work, the magic number was seventeen.  After three or four, I get someone to read it, and it usually comes back to me requiring a major overhaul.  I put it away between drafts, to give myself enough time to clear out my infatuation with my own writing, so I can see all the warts.

So, when did I “know” the last novel was “ready?”  Well, I answered my critique partner’s questions, changed what I could, put it aside, read it and found more flaws and then edited it some more, had it read again and made more changes still.  Finally it felt like it was the best story I could write.  That’s when I started working on a query letter.  

I received a few full requests for that book and a couple of partials too.  Getting those nibbles, but no bites made me understand that while the book may have potential, it’s not ready yet.  In between drafts of book #4, I’m pondering picking up #3 again, after a year-and-a-half.  Perhaps, with “new eyes” I’ll find a way to improve upon it.  To find a way to make sure this time it really is ready. 

I'm not sure I've said anything scintillating here, but I'd sure love to know when you know your story is ready.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Old Photos

Pictures of Rangeley at First Light

That fall day
I rose pre-dawn
and slogged,
through straw grass
at the edge of the lake
thick with ghost trails,
tangled yarn mists.
I focused,
depressed the shutter,
focused again,
it was possible
to catch the swirl,
the held breath,
the call of a loon
across water.
Surely, photos
evoke enough?
Their replay, though
reaches out
with color and light
but absent
the yearning prickle
triggered by the loon,
the curtain of
freshening air,
the speak of sun
mounting camel hills
on its way to sluice
the morning sky.
How, after
my frost-prints
I hiked splintered steps
light with the lift
of benediction.

The porch creaked
when I tiptoed in,
awake, but ready 
to reclaim my space,
to nest under
a wool blanket
and slip into the heat
from the other side.