Here’s an Excerpt from My Seasonally-Appropriate Short Story…

Here’s an excerpt from my seasonally-appropriate short story, Beyond the Boneyard Gate. It is featured in the October issue of The Paperbook Collective.

“I open them on the inhale. Smoke laps against my prickly face. A bright orange dot glows from the statue like a pulsating beacon, growing and then receding with each pull of breath. His  breath. Moonlight glances off of a face whose features are re-forming before me, as stone becomes flesh and sinew. I pant, voiceless, and do not scream again.”

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[My Writing Life] I Have a Short Story in The Paperbook Collective’s October Issue

The newest issue ofThe Paperbook Collective came out yesterday. It is a wonderful on-line magazine/hard copy ‘zine out of Australia. My short story Beyond the Boneyard Gate is featured on pages forty-one and forty-two. I hope you can take a few minutes to check it, and the rest of the contents, out. It’s well worth your time, I promise!

FUN FACT: I was moved to write this story after seeing, and being thoroughly disturbed by, one of my blogging friend Jennifer’s photos. Her blog of fabulous photography is here.

Inspiration Board for the [Untitled] Short Story I am Writing

In my world, complex stories call for physical inspiration boards. The five-part short story I am writing has been in the planning stages for 3 years. In fact, the first part was written in January 2010. I’m finally ready to move ahead with the rest of the project (more details on that later). After completing it, I plan on adapting it into a play. Ambitious, much? Always! Before starting on the second segment, I decided it would be wise to pull together the disjointed bits of inspiration that have been living in my head for so many months. This collective of images lives on one of the glass blocks that divide my studio from the bedroom I share with The Chef. One glance to the left from where I type this, and ta-da!

I fancied up the photos so that you have a better idea of how things look inside my head!

Inspiration Board for Untitled Short Story

Inspiration Board for Untitled Short Story

Yes, it is set in the 1920s. Why do you ask?

Inspiration Board, alternate treatment

Inspiration Board, alternate treatment

I will add images to the board as needed.

 

Of Katherine Mansfield and Raindrops on My Window Pane: or, Why I Write* (Part I)

Part I-1919

It is autumn and a wan and anxious woman is staring out the parlor window of her rented flat. There are three drafty rooms, each with a fireplace and sated with a hodgepodge of meaningless stuff. The furniture came with the place, even the old iron bedspread with its lumpy mattress and slightly faded linen. Only the pillow sham in the middle of the bed stands out with its crisp mauve stripes and jauntily placed monogram, ‘KM’. It is easy to pick out with a quick scan of the eye those little personal things that belong to the current tenant. They stand out with a bohemian flair and all have been given pride of place by a chic and flawless hand. The framed photos, brightly coloured perfume bottles, and passel of worn-in books that are strewn about combat the inherently dingy look that the unimaginative landlady and another cold London season have brought to the surroundings.

Only upon the closest of inspections is it apparent that a man shares the space with the worn out woman. He is neat and keeps his possessions placed carefully behind wardrobe doors and in locked chests. His shaving brush sits out on the small table that is across from the bed; his slippers hide underneath its rumpled skirt. Some of the books are his and bear the name John Middleton Murry on the spines or inside covers.

It is her fourth bad day in a row, four days that she has not written a single word that is worth keeping. When an occasional ache passes over her eyes, she is beyond concentration. All she can do then is look out the window or at the picture on the wall opposite, beyond seeing. Katherine is draped in mauve; it is her favourite colour and it saturates small surfaces throughout the flat. She is stylish and thin, and as self-consciously proud of her angularity as she is of that challenging gleam in her eyes. It is that gleam, and the pride and surety of talent that lives behind it, that cowed Virginia Woolf at their last encounter. Remembering it brings a small smile to her lips.

It is raining with a soft persistence that acts as a counterpoint to the scratching background music on the gramophone that has been shoved into the corner. The window pane is becoming clouded, obscuring the few straggling passers-by on the street. They are sodden and rain-puckered but she is the one that shivers. The fire is pathetic, sputtering intermittently in its neglected state. The shadows it casts in the afternoon light are weak and hapless. Katherine starts to rise but, her body thinking better of it, she sinks back down into her seat.

John is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he has gone to the grocer’s or the tailor’s. Now that they are safely married, it matters less than before. He could be off gallivanting with a whore, or one of those sweet, young barnacles that attach themselves to well-known men of letters. She simply needs him to revive the fire, although perhaps need is a strange word to use these days. Now she’ll be forced to wait until the landlady, Mrs. Crabtree, brings in tea. That is more than a quarter of an hour to sit and freeze.

Sickness has made the days seem longer than when she was young. Young, indeed! 31 is not so old, yet on all but her best days-which she swears have started creeping away in disgust-she feels shriveled, ancient, used-up. She laughs at her momentary absurdity but stops abruptly as it mingles with a cough. Everything seems twinned these days-hope with sorrow, fame with incapacitation, illness with creativity.

Katherine turns her head back to the window. She begins to trace a trajectory on the pane with a slender finger as drops beget droplets. Soon she offers up the other fingers of her right hand, and then those of the left as the multiplying drops scatter into radii. As she quits the game, outnumbered, she absentmindedly reaches for her shawl.

As an offering to the muses she picks up the pencil that has been left idle on the ledge, moving it restlessly between her fingers, temporarily warming them with the slight friction. She selects a sheet of unwrinkled paper from the middle of the pile that is resting on the arm of the chair. As she bows her head, her fringe of bangs strays into one eye.

*

 The door is opened slowly, by a deliberate hand. It creaks as it swings on its hinges, scraping the wall in greeting. The footfall is heavy and steady as it advances into the parlor. The apron-clad figure of the landlady clutching a laden tea-tray appears at Katherine’s elbow. The latter’s head is cocked and she bites her lips so hard in concentration that they are faintly spotted crimson.

 “Your tea, missus.” Katherine remains silent, unhearing. Mrs. Crabtree continues her low, companionable chatter as she puts the tray down on the footstool, empty because of Katherine’s curled up legs. “It’ll go cold again, ma’am, then Mr. Murry will come after me like he did last time and shout at me for being remiss in my duty.” “It comes with the rent, you know.” She rubs her hands on her dampish apron, wiping away the dribbles of tea that sloshed out of the pot during her walk from the kitchen.

 She plods to the fireplace and stokes it back to life. “I don’t know how you get on sitting in a cold parlor like this for the good Lord knows how long, refusing to take your tea. You’ll waste away. And for what? Those stories of yours? What good will they do you if you kill yourself in the writing of them?”

*This first appeared in the September 2005 edition of The Atomic Tomorrow and was featured in Sticky Kitchen: A Literary Journal in 2007. I have retained the copyright.

[Mae’s Writing Days]-Faithless is what I am

I’ve nearly forgotten that I’m a fiction writer. Oh, don’t misunderstand me: I’m as faithless as they come. I could never hold steady or true to that vocation, even though I get so taken up with a story that the world without disappears. I still stray. Every single time, satisfaction be damned. Continue reading

Untitled:Foreword

The following is the first installment of a fiction serial that I started writing for one of my other sites, 1000 Follies. I decided that it is a more natural fit here. After running the first III Parts, I will start adding to the story little-by-little. Please come back for Part II.
FOREWORD
It is with honest pleasure that I introduce this collection of columns by Margaret Millet. I do so as her friend as well as her Publisher. I worked with Margaret for approximately eight months, during the period that she wrote for my newspaper, The Estimator. It was in that publication that all of the pieces in this compilation first appeared, from September 2006 until March 18, 2007.
I met Margaret about 3 weeks before sending her on her stint to Canada. She impressed me immediately, and with great clarity, as a woman and writer of depth, talent, intelligence and vision. I felt, at the time, that The Estimator had fallen too far away from my initial goals: it had become stale, boring, and perilously close to extinction. In an effort to shake new life into its tired bones, I mass hired an interesting bunch of characters from all sorts of small publications. The Indie Artists, as they liked to call themselves, succeeded in infusing vigorous blood and energy into The Estimator.
Margaret came to me from a tiny magazine that folded a few months later. The job did not pay her bills, something that bothered her to practically no degree at all. She was a woman in love with words. She thought it privilege enough just to be allowed to set her thoughts to paper. Readership was not really something she thought about. I changed that when I sent her to Montreal. Instantly, she had 300,000 people reading her columns: it rather quickly became their privilege. I can think of no one else that I would have even considered sending to another country, with no guidelines or subject matter. All that she had to do was write, steadily and well, to the tune of 3 columns a week. She managed this with beauty, expertise, and an entirely unique voice. Margaret wrote incessantly while up North. I am not sure that she did anything else, apart from the charming perambulations mentioned in her columns.
Although our relations were always warm, considerate, and full of humour, i never got to know Margaret in any intimate capacity. It is my belief that she had given up on the notion of a one-on-one connection with others. She channeled that loss into her writing and, so doing, intimately connected with her readers in a way that would probably not have been possible otherwise.
Margaret Millet, by the way, was not her real name. She chose it for its alliterative quality. Even after I hired her, and gave her that wide readership on a silver platter, she declined to use her given name, which was perfectly lovely. It is not my place to divulge her true identity, so we will continue to call her Margaret Millet, a name that gave her real pleasure.
I sincerely hope that you enjoy the works contained within these covers. I was proud to print them a few years ago, and I remain so. If anything, my enjoyment has increased over time. I hope that you take away something of the intelligence, artistry, and whimsy with which Margaret endowed her writing and her person.
GIBSON OLIPHANT
NEW YORK CITY
July 19, 2009