Sink

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               Officially notified, she sat down at her desk, staring without seeing.  There was something she had to do, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.  This was all wrong, and they were expecting some sort of response.  Her eyes roved across the items on her desk, on her shelf next to it, pens, notebooks, should she write in a notebook?  Stab into an artery with one of the pens? 

               She stopped at the little bottle of Higgins ink.  Unopened, purchased for some creative urge that was never satisfied.  She carefully tore the top of the box and pulled the bottle out by the rubber dropper.  The others shifted, uncomfortable at her silence but unwilling to break it.

               She grasped the bottle with her left hand and turned the dropper lid with her right.  Not that old, then.  It opened easily.  She squeezed hard, forcefully, then closed her eyes and released.  The full dropper was pitch black, the liquid form of a vaporous emotion.  She cupped her left hand and let the drops of darkness fall into it, splashing, filling her palm, small spraying dots marking her white desk.

               The dropper went back into the bottle.  She put her hands together, floating the ink evenly across her palms, like she did with her moisturizer every morning while Adam was in the shower.  Adam would not be in the shower tomorrow.  She pressed her hands to her face and pulled the color of hollowness across both cheeks, her forehead, her eyelids, scrubbing it in.  The outside would reflect the inside.  This was right.  This was what she was supposed to do.

Disaggregation

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the neighbor lady
pressure washes her driveway
into losing weight

My neighbor is a frequent user of her very loud power washing device. Every imagined particle of dust must be blasted out of existence.

“But look at all the dirt that comes off!”

That’s your driveway.

My Fancy Color Didn’t Work Out

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Never ask a creative
What color you should paint.
The answer will always be
Some color that it ain’t.

You should ask a farm kid.
They’ll say, “Get the leftover stain.”
They’ll get a roller and use it up
And the rail looks nice again.

I’m working on getting that second-story deck rail finished, a year after I started it. I could blame it on the rain, but you’d probably cry fake–mostly the problem is that it’s way more work to “frame my vista in a buttery vanilla color” than it would have been to “slap some stain on the fence that keeps the kids from falling off the deck.” Regrets, I have them. I also have an ugly half-finished deck rail. Not what I had imagined.

I’m Bringing Pumpkin SpicyBack

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I have decided now it’s Fall.
I’m tired of this hot Summer.
What? Another month, you say?
You better check your number.

I dress us all in cardigans,
We sweat so much, we float.
If I don’t relent soon,
The kids will ruin their coats.

I’m making pumpkin pies,
Enough to feed a horde.
Never mind that no one here
Likes pies made out of gourd.

I took a heat gun to my trees.
The leaves have that autumny crunch.
Thankgiving is next weekend, folks.
We’re gonna thanks a bunch.

When September rolls around,
And the weather actually turns,
I’ll send the kids sledding down the hill!
No snow? Not my concern!

 

The Truth: I do wish it was Fall, because I love Fall. I do not love Pumpkin Spice, in fact, I hate it. The only redeeming thing about it is that it heralds cooler weather and all of the other delicious things about the holidays. I also think that song I referenced in the title is terrible. So, I used two things I dislike to name my own work. Bad.

Wrapping Up a Novel Is Like Urgent Macrame

I’m in the home stretch of rewriting The Tiny Giant. I am deleting whole paragraphs in favor of the better writing I’m capable of after 150,000 words of practice. I am crying, sometimes, when the clever bits turn out to be irrelevant, or a sweet moment slows down the action, and they have to go.  I am fist-pumping at the ceiling when the new section is funnier, more adventurous, or just actually makes sense.

In these last few chapters, the whole of the story has to come together in a way that is both interesting (complex) and organic (not distractingly complex).  It makes me tense.  I’m preoccupied with it.  A bit obsessed.  This is where I run into issues.

See…I’m at home all day with the Two Things.  My kids are 4 (almost 5) and 7 (almost 82, he’s wonderfully odd).  I get up and write for a couple of hours if I can manage it before they get up.  Once they stir, there is no more writing.  This doesn’t happen at a nice stopping point.  Right now, at the climax, I’m juggling all the cords of this macramé masterpiece, trying to get the knots connected so the plot doesn’t just crash to the floor.  When I “stop” for the day, I still have these mental threads precariously wound through my imaginary intellectual fingers.  All day.  All I can think about is NOT LOSING MY PLACE.

I take notes, and I leave markers for myself.  I know what’s going to happen (thanks, outline!), and I know what I need to do to get there.  It doesn’t stop me from worrying that somewhere along the way, I’m going to leave a cord out, or tie the wrong knot, and this big piece of mental macramé is going to end up looking like the actual macramé I made in the 7th grade.  I urgently need it not to be as amateurish as my 7th grade plant hanger.  I urgently need to be done.

I will not rush through this last bit just to be done.  There are still 7 chapters left, and they deserve the same attention as all the others, if not more.  I’ll spend the next two weeks tying knots and balancing strings and probably snapping at my family (sorry, family) to see it through to what I hope it can be.  If I seem a little preoccupied, well, it’s just that I’m trying to remember if the blue cord is an over or under cord…

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Now….what was I thinking with this one?

I Stopped Fooling Myself, Since I Wasn’t Fooling You

I updated my About page recently to include my name.  After three years, I was still reluctant to do that.  I realized a couple of things, though…

I’m going to need to connect with my real name in preparation for releasing a book, whether it’s traditionally published or self-published.  This means that any distance I thought I was keeping between myself and my online persona is probably counter-productive.

Also…there really isn’t any such thing as privacy when you decide to have a presence on the internet.

You Should Be Happy is now going to include the humor that I’ve been posting, and my author’s blog.  I won’t bore you to death with daily updates about The Tiny Giant, but I will be talking about the process and teasing some of what the book is about.

Major milestones, too.  I’m getting close to the end of the big heart-rending rewrite.  More to come on that soon.

So…hello.  My name is Rebecka Ratcliffe, and I’m a writer.  Nice to meet you.

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Rewritin’

Well, I spent a couple years,
Pilin’ up a mess of words,
But when I read ’em back,
I didn’t like what I heard.

Those words were too simple,
Those too flowery.
These sound like I made ’em up,
And those don’t sound like me.

I grabbed my inky editor
And marked them pages up.
I bled all over those suckers,
Man, I really changed some stuff.

I beavered away at the pages,
Started feelin’ like a pro,
Until I read the new version
And saw how far I had to go.

Well, I sucked it up, my friend.
I wrote the whole thing over.
I worried about the “central conflict”
And what “motivation” drove her.

At the end, I could see
My mess of words was clearer.
So, promise me, you’ll buy my book
When I finish it…late next year.

A Note From Me:  I know some of you have been through the process of writing and rewriting novels, and let me tell you, it’s quite a process.  The good news?  Two-ish years after I started using my 3 hours a week on The Tiny Giant, I finally know what the finished product looks and feels like.  This 4th Draft is the last draft before I edit and send the manuscript out.  It has come a LONG way in that time, and I have a mess of work left, but I can see and feel the main arc of the story, and I know the characters as well as I know anyone.  I’m excited to get there, and honestly a little tired of looking at it.  I’ll be happy to see it out the door, then turn to some stories aimed at adults while I wait for responses.

What do I expect?  Nothing.  Hope for everything.  The young adult fantasy market is more open than ever before, I think, and more crammed with competition as a result.  But…back to the work, which I need to get done before I do any dreaming…

(Bonus points to you if you heard Baxter Black in your mind as you read the poem.)