OR, WHY YOU CAN’T BE NEIL GAIMAN

American Gods

A good perspective from Flash Fiction. Or as a dear friend used to say, “There’s always someone richer than you.”

NOTE: If you like writing one thing (novels in particular), woot. Don’t read this piece, even though it might help. You don’t want what I’m selling.

Envy is rife amongst writers. It’s the first stage of jealousy and rooted in daydreams. Few daydream about labor. We daydream about success as reward out of thin air. Example:

How awesome it is to be Neil Gaiman? Rock star of genre fiction, with more success than a dozen mid­listers combined and multiplied by his current stock of awards and accolades. He is rich, famous, does what he likes, and makes fun commencement speeches.

The trouble is, you can’t be Neil Gaiman…

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A Beautiful Listen

Podcasts are the savior of all commutes, even to the grocery store. Here are a few from Raymond Carver, one of the best in my estimation. Carver Podcasts

Raymond Carver (Picture: Bob Adelman)

Kew Gardens by Virginia Woolf

garden

 

We compared favorite first lines. This one needed a whole paragraph. Who else but Virginia Woolf could make leaves sound so sensual?

 

From the oval shaped flower-bed there rose perhaps a hundred stalks spreading into heart-shaped or tongue-shaped leaves half way up and unfurling at the tip red or blue or yellow petals marked with spots of colour raised upon the surface; and from the red, blue or yellow gloom of the throat emerged a straight bar, rough with gold dust and slightly clubbed at the end. The petals were voluminous enough to be stirred by the summer breeze, and when they moved, the red, blue and yellow lights passed one over the other, staining an inch of the brown earth beneath with a spot of the most intricate colour. The light fell either upon the smooth, grey back of a pebble, or, the shell of a snail with its brown, circular veins, or falling into a raindrop, it expanded with such intensity of red, blue and yellow the thin walls of water that one expected them to burst and disappear. Instead, the drop was left in a second silver grey once more, and the light now settled upon the flesh of a leaf, revealing the branching thread of fibre beneath the surface, and again it moved on and spread its illumination in the vast green spaces beneath the dome of the heart-shaped and tongue-shaped leaves. Then the breeze stirred rather more briskly overhead and the colour was flashed into the air above, into the eyes of the men and women who walk in Kew Gardens in July.

The Scratch

Handsml

By Raymond Carver

It’s a day for contemplating our self-destructive habits, as humans. Here’s a thought from the best.

 

I woke up with a spot of blood

over my eye.

A scratch

halfway across my forehead.

But I’m sleeping alone these days.

Why on earth would a man raise his hand

against himself, even in sleep?

It’s this and similar questions

I’m trying to answer this morning.

As I study my face in the window.

wings

Jerry's wing

A guest post and iPad drawing from the supremely talented Jerry Leibowitz.

 

i remember

when these wings

were ribs

and that late afternoon

in a february fog

as a bent man

stepped safely to the curb

in the moment

a cab driver

inadvertently swerved

to check his watch

and the ache

in my chest

my ribs

uncurling backward

 

and i remember

when these wings

were ribs

and the grey early morn

doused with dew

as the buck

twitched at a fly

barely evading

the hunter’s bullet

 

and i recall

a pocketful of hours

before a dawn

when a child awoke

to battering voices

from a faraway room

dangerously close

then somehow

transcended fear

suspended doubt

and accepted calm

that followed

as reassurance

that things

 

would be better

and they were

 

i remember

when these wings

were ribs

and the agony

the rapture

as they

straightened

and curled backward

bones emulsifying

to mist and light

as i climbed

the great olive tree

to find a nest

full of fine down

and small feathers

that once belonged

to sparrow chicks

that now beckoned me

from higher branches

to follow

their ascension.

Lemon

Guest Post by Deborah Fletcher Blum

lemon_small

 

Lemon is like a question. It wants something from you. But it wants to hold onto that thing for itself too. It gives and takes back. Is tart and zesty and willful. Sometimes totally irrational. And it is yellow, because the sound is perfect for the taste.

 

I squeeze you for juice and drink you up.

I always loved you raw and didn’t care that I was teased for it.

You wanted to be something people can handle only in small doses.

You like that about yourself.

It means you are strong.

 

Deborah Fletcher Blum has taught art and English at schools in Kenya, New York, and L.A. She studied painting and liberal arts in college and has always been fascinated by cultural differences and “samenesses.” She is writing a middle grade novel set in Kenya.