Ernest James

Sinks like White Elephants

“Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything.”
“Yesterday you said no. You said it was ‘kitsch’.”
“I know. But in the night, I imagined it and now I want it.”
“We should see first, how it will look.”
“Yes.” She went out to the other room and returned with a piece of plastic, laminate flooring, pale maple-look-alike.
“Is there enough?”
“Yes. There is always enough. And when there isn’t enough, we can get more.”
“More, then.”
“Yes.”
“Is there more Gatorade? I put one in the freezer for later.”
“I will look. Yes, your Gatorade is here.”
“Bring it to me.”
She got the Gatorade.
“Just set it on the counter. I will drink it later. It needs to thaw.”
“Yes. It is a Gatoradesicle.”
“Did you say something?”
“No. I never say anything.”

——————

Dusty Miller

At the little town of Cuyamaca, in California, there is a particularly comfortable restaurant beside a store and bait shop. There are, indeed, few houses, for the conflagration of the forest some years earlier destroyed much of the town and the restaurant’s only competition. The restaurant and the small town around it are, as many Saturday Harley Bikers will remember, seated upon the top of a small beautiful mountain valley beside a blue lake—a lake that it behooves every local trout fisherman to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of fishermen and of this order, every category, from Opie in jeans and a shirt, standing beside his dad to the passionate afishionado in hip waders of the newest fashion, with his chalk-white zinc-oxide covered nose, a hundred hand tied flies decorating his faded olive-green hat, and a dozen rods in an open case beside him, to the old fisherman of an earlier day, with his simple rod and coffee can of worms faded-looking yellow lettering upon the red can tilted awkwardly to keep the bait in shade. One of the fishermen at Lake Cuyamaca, however, is famous, even historical, being distinguished from many of his companions by an air both of confidence and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, San Diego fishermen are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Lake Cuyamaca assumes at this period some of the characteristics of a tourist destination. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Yellowstone and Yosemite. There is a flitting hither and thither of screaming children, a rustling of brand-new tents and water-proof jackets, a rattle of coolers and beer cans, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent deck of the Cuyamaca Lodge and are transported in fancy to the shores of Colorado’s Grand Lake. But at  Cuyamaca Lodge, it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: surf-jam wearing geriatric former frat boys and their bleached-blonde over-weight and under-dressed tube-topped girlfriends, who look like any of Fellini’s cynical, tired whores; gray haired and balding Corvette drivers, their middle-age crises embodied by their red Corvettes and pre-pubescent girlfriends; little Mexican boys and girls, walking about held by the hand, with their moms and dads; a view of the sunny crest of Cuyamaca Peak and the picturesque burned towers of ancient pines.

——————

I like Hemingway, but he’s an easy parody. I dislike James, but he’s also an easy parody. This was fun!
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/forms-of-flattery/

Not Quite Synonyms…

Synonyms. What if Hemingway’s book were For Whom the Bell Chimes? It wouldn’t be the same book. It would be about a happy love in village in northern Italy where the local church awakens the shepherds in the morning to take their sheep out into the hills and the nuns for early prayers. The chime of the bell follows the people throughout the day, giving structure to their lives, then sends them to bed at night.

A bell that chimes is a happy thing. The lovers (the local school teacher and a young man who’s returned from an education abroad) in the story would marry. As they walk out of the church, the bell would chime, and people will throw rice and the beaming bride will pretend to duck, and the groom will look proud. They’d live happily ever after, too. There’d be no crushing problems, no infidelity, no ill-starred anything.

I don’t think Hemingway could even write that story.

The chiming bell is impossible for John Donne’s meditation, too.

John Donne
Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions

“No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee….” 

Hmmm… I’ll give this a shot.

“No person is an island. We all need each other… Uh…

Can’t do it. There’s no need to meditate on a chiming bell. A happy sound doesn’t demand that kind of revery or admonishment. All it’s going to inspire is, “Isn’t that lovely? I love to hear the church bells chime across the countryside.” I know they drive some people crazy, but I always like hearing them when I’m in Europe.

The sound of “toll” — even to the silence of our inner ear — tells us that a tolling bell is not  a happy bell while the sound of “chime” is no more painful that hitting the little bell to tell the dry cleaner you’re there to pick up your winter coat.

***

 

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/11/05/rdp-monday-chime/

The Schnee(belis) of Kilimanjaro

I got “The Schneebelis Go to America” back yesterday from my editor, Beth Bruno. I must be getting a little better because she didn’t send a truck-load of proofing corrections!

It’s funny how we are. I don’t know if I’m confident in my writing or not, but I’m not confident in my proofreading, so in her comments — email and comment tracking on my manuscript — that’s what I looked for. I fixed some sentences that didn’t make sense to her (that thing of writing for people inside your mind again…) and heard her remarks about a shift in pacing that, ultimately, hadn’t bothered her and even made sense.

I didn’t see the overall remarks about my writing and the story. The good stuff. I think this is because — in my mind — the book is a project I’m refining and trying to get right. It’s not finished.

To my editor, the manuscript came through as a finished story. I woke up this morning understanding what ELSE she’d said and I am very happy.

She asked what my plans are for the book. I told her I planned to give it a shot at conventional publication, and I was grateful for any advice she had. She had some advice, “I just think with the level of sophistication and specialty of your writing, you’d be best served by someone with solid experience in publishing.” Something I never thought of.

This time last year I picked up the manuscript again, my Aunt Dickie’s words calling out to me from a letter I have taped to the wall in my studio, “Please continue writing the story of my mother’s family.” I didn’t like this book at the time. It was hard going and the characters didn’t speak to me, but I loved my Aunt Dickie and that she loved my novels. I had hoped at that moment last fall to finish before Christmas last year so I could, at least, send her a manuscript to read. I was in a lot of pain from my hip at the time, and writing has always been, for me, a good ladder out of a hole. My Aunt Dickie was 93, and that number has a very clear meaning even though she was still independent and fit, walking a mile a day with her dog, driving herself to church and fully involved in life. She died last November, pretty suddenly, from a very aggressive cancer. All I can do is dedicate the book to her — which I have done/will do.

All of this brought home the message of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” We’re never ready to write the story but write it anyway.

He had never written any of that because, at first, he never wanted to hurt any one and then it seemed as though there was enough to write without it. But he had always thought that he would write it finally. There was so much to write. He had seen the world change; not just the events; although he had seen many of them and had watched the people, but he had seen the subtler change and he could remember how the people were at different times. He had been in it and he had watched it and it was his duty to write of it; but now he never would. Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

So, I will take another break from my blog to work on the novel some more and figure out how my writing is “sophisticated.”

Addendum: I “Googled” “sophisticated writing” and what it means is that the writer does some stuff like avoids the passive voice, uses a varied vocabulary, allows the characters to carry the story. That’s cool. I’m honored if that’s the case. I worked hard for that, and I owe a lot to Truman Capote.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/rdp-friday-truck/

Freedom in Obscurity

I woke up this morning dreaming of taking some Tylenol and thinking about the Novel-that-I-do-not-write; “working” title, The Schneebelis Go to America. I thought of all the writers who stopped writing after one book. Those who died with a work in progress. All of them. I enjoyed Hemingway’s “posthumous” novel, Islands in the Streamvery much. It was published in 1970. Hemingway worked on it in 1950/1951. He killed himself in 1961.

Capote’s story is similar. After In Cold Blood, he basically never got his shit together adequately to finish Answered Prayers (which I also liked). In fact, he lost his shit big time.

As did Hemingway.

I’m sure not Hemingway or Capote, but right now, I feel sorry for those two guys. Their lives (and livelihood!) depended on writing bestsellers. I wonder if — when they began their lives as writers — they felt like I did when I began Martin of Gfenn. Enraptured, intoxicated, carried away on the sweet river of inspiration. I think they did. I’ve read pretty much everything they’ve written — fiction and nonfiction, including interviews where they talked about writing. Both of them were in love with it. Looking at their lives post-success, the love faded into desperation. Everything depended on something beyond them, other people, the sea of eyes and pocketbooks called “the public.”

I wonder (I suspect, I believe) if they ever wanted just to go away somewhere and write without a public, without a publisher, without external demands, even those in their own minds.

But even for someone like me, not a famous writer with a public clamoring for more of The Sun Also Rises or more In Cold Blood, it’s hard to stay “in love” with writing a story, with a story. Ideas incubate. I thought that, too, as I woke up this morning. Maybe the story of the Schneebelis coming to America is incubating, but I don’t think so. Personally, I think it’s just boring to write. I know where it has to go, I know what needs to happen between the people, and it doesn’t interest me much. The question now is do I serve the story or not? It’s a compelling tale, but, at the moment, it involves two people who need to fall back in love, get married and raise a family.

Honestly, I could not care less about falling in love and raising a family, but I recognize the imperative. There’s always a moment when a writer has to step back and serve the story. Or not. Luckily, it doesn’t matter to me or anyone else if my characters manage to mend their ruptured love, procreate, and board the Francis and Elizabeth at the port city of Cowes and head into the sunset.

“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.” – Saint Teresa of Avila 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/incubate/

Ernest James

Sinks like White Elephants

“Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything.”
“Yesterday you said no. You said it was ‘kitsch’.”
“I know. But in the night, I imagined it and now I want it.”
“We should see first, how it will look.”
“Yes.” She went out to the other room and returned with a piece of plastic, laminate flooring, pale maple-look-alike.
“Is there enough?”
“Yes. There is always enough. And when there isn’t enough, we can get more.”
“More, then.”
“Yes.”
“Is there more Gatorade? I put one in the freezer for later.”
“I will look. Yes, your Gatorade is here.”
“Bring it to me.”
She got the Gatorade.
“Just set it on the counter. I will drink it later. It needs to thaw.”
“Yes. It is a Gatoradesicle.”
“Did you say something?”
“No. I never say anything.”

——————

Dusty Miller

At the little town of Cuyamaca, in California, there is a particularly comfortable restaurant beside a store and bait shop. There are, indeed, few houses, for the conflagration of the forest some years earlier destroyed much of the town and the restaurant’s only competition. The restaurant and the small town around it are, as many Saturday Harley Bikers will remember, seated upon the top of a small beautiful mountain valley beside a blue lake—a lake that it behooves every local trout fisherman to visit. The shore of the lake presents an unbroken array of fishermen and of this order, every category, from Opie in jeans and a shirt, standing beside his dad to the passionate afishionado in hip waders of the newest fashion, with his chalk-white zinc-oxide covered nose, a hundred hand tied flies decorating his faded olive-green hat, and a dozen rods in an open case beside him, to the old fisherman of an earlier day, with his simple rod and coffee can of worms faded-looking yellow lettering upon the red can tilted awkwardly to keep the bait in shade. One of the fishermen at Lake Cuyamaca, however, is famous, even historical, being distinguished from many of his companions by an air both of confidence and of maturity. In this region, in the month of June, San Diego fishermen are extremely numerous; it may be said, indeed, that Lake Cuyamaca assumes at this period some of the characteristics of a tourist destination. There are sights and sounds which evoke a vision, an echo, of Yellowstone and Yosemite. There is a flitting hither and thither of screaming children, a rustling of brand-new tents and water-proof jackets, a rattle of coolers and beer cans, a sound of high-pitched voices at all times. You receive an impression of these things at the excellent deck of the Cuyamaca Lodge and are transported in fancy to the shores of Colorado’s Grand Lake. But at  Cuyamaca Lodge, it must be added, there are other features that are much at variance with these suggestions: surf-jam wearing geriatric former frat boys and their bleached-blonde over-weight and under-dressed tube-topped girlfriends, who look like any of Fellini’s cynical, tired whores; gray haired and balding Corvette drivers, their middle-age crises embodied by their red Corvettes and pre-pubescent girlfriends; little Mexican boys and girls, walking about held by the hand, with their moms and dads; a view of the sunny crest of Cuyamaca Peak and the picturesque burned towers of ancient pines.

——————

I like Hemingway, but he’s an easy parody. I dislike James, but he’s also an easy parody. This was fun!
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/forms-of-flattery/