Looking for a New Love

Hey there, Tuesday! How you doin’?

I’m a bit on the sleepy side; I finally got a good night’s sleep for the first time in a few days, and as such I’m still  a big groggy and loopy this morning. Yesterday was an oddly out of sorts kind of day, during which I didn’t get a lot done but did manage to get some work done on the short story I have due by the end of the month. Kickstarting my writing really needs to become a priority as we wind up this seemingly endless volunteer project–but the end is so nigh it’s almost palpable, as thought I can actually taste the end as it draws near. I feel like this project has sort of sucked the life out of me and the marrow out of my bones, but it’s almost finished and perhaps now everything can sort of go back to some semblance of normalcy around here.

Like that ever happens.

We got caught up on The Righteous Gemstones last night, and I have to say, this show–which is also kind of weird and almost creepy in many ways–is quite enjoyable to watch. I’m not really sure where it’s going, which makes it even more fun, but it’s funny and sad and crazy all at the same time. John Goodman as the family patriarch and head preacher Eli Gemstone is perfect in the role, and pretty much everyone else in the cast is also perfect for their role. I am a little surprised there hasn’t been any nastiness from the evangelical community, but then again, how many  of them watch HBO?

I think tonight we’re going to start Succession, which comes highly recommended by any number of our friends, and one of the previews I saw last night made it look fantastic.

Heavy heaving sigh.

I continue to read Lords of Misrule, and the dark bloody history of this city continues to amaze and enthrall me. I’m shaking my head at myself–my ignorance of New Orleans history certainly gives the lie to the oft-stated notion that I am some sort of expert on New Orleans; I am anything but an expert on this city, particularly of its history. But I am learning, and studying, and I have to tell you, the more I read of New Orleans history the more inspired I am to write about the city.

I will say that I have been invited to contribute a story to an anthology, being done by a publisher in a foreign (yet English speaking) country. I am always excited to be invited to write for an anthology, and usually I see these tasks as challenges–there’s simply nothing more guaranteed to stretch and push your writing as writing to a theme. This one in particular is a strange one for me; it’s a collection of pastiches, where one is to take a particularly famous fictional character and make him a native of another place. You can make any changes to the character–gender, sexuality, age, time period, etc.–as long as, in this case, he isn’t British and the story isn’t set there. I have chosen to make him a New Orleanian during the time around World War I, and the crime he’s to become involved in solving has to do with the secrets of Storyville. I never considered myself to be anything more than a casual fan of this character, and had never considered doing pastiches about him, despite their increasing popularity. SO, I have the idea and I’ve already written the opening paragraph, and I am really looking forward to this challenge.

And I am very well aware that the Short Story Project has primarily taken a backseat to the Diversity Project, which I am taking a respite from in order to read Rob Hart’s novel, before getting back to it.

I do really want to get these other two short story collections finished at some point. But I also need to get some work done on the Kansas book; September is slipping through my fingers and there’s another all consuming project lying in wait for me for October and November–which means December will be spent on the Kansas book, with a goal to turning it into my publisher on January 1.

But we’ll see how that goes, won’t we?

And now back to the spice mines.


Breakin’ (Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us)

I slept extremely well last night; my sleep has been better lately. It also rained last night, which didn’t hurt. Our bipolar weather is humid and in the sixties this week, heavy sigh, but it’s going to get cold again this weekend, of course. I have a three day holiday this weekend, so I am hoping to get a lot accomplished. Saturday is errands and cleaning and reading and some editing; Sunday and Monday will be primarily devoted to writing. I am sooooo behind, Constant Reader, sooooo behind–but I am not allowing it to cause me the stress it usually does. Instead, I am going to not worry about it, make to-do lists, and go from there, which only makes sense. If I focus on getting things done and ticking them off on the list, they’ll get done, right? And then I will feel accomplished.

Huzzah! Always try to find a positive way to look at things; that way you won’t get overwhelmed.

The Short Story Project continues, with yet another story from Troubled Daughters Twisted Wives, edited by Sarah Weinman. Next up in the book–which I can’t seem to either put down or step away from–is “Louisa, Please Come Home” by Shirley Jackson.

“Louisa,” my mothers voice came over the radio; it frightened me badly for a minute. “Louisa,” she said, “please come home. It’s been three long years since we saw you last; Louisa, I promise you that everything will be all right. We all miss you so. We want you back again. Louisa, please come home.”

Once a year. On the anniversary of the day I ran away. Each time I heard it I was frightened again, because between one year and the next I would forget what my mother’s voice sounded like, so soft and yet so strange with that pleading note. I listened every year. I read the stories in the newspapers–“Louisa Tether vanished one year ago”–or two years ago, or three; I used to wait for the twentieth of June as though it were my birthday. I kept all the clippings at first, but secretly; with my picture on all the front pages I would have looked kind of  strange if anyone had seen me cutting it out. Chandler, where I was hiding, was close enough to my old home so that the papers made a big fuss about all of it, but of course the reason I picked Chandler in the first place was because it was a big enough city for me to hide in.

Shirley Jackson is one of my favorite writers, as Constant Reader is undoubtedly–or should–be aware of by now. This story, which I’ve not read before, is strange, as all her stories are strange; interesting and unusual and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Louisa tells the story of how she ran away; how she planned it carefully, and how she actually accomplished it, and did it all on the day before her sister’s wedding. Jackson lets us know what Louisa is like by showing us; that Louisa is painstaking and careful, and she also leaves parts of Louisa mysterious. We never know why Louisa decided to run away from her family and disappear; only that she did and how she did it, and how she very carefully created an entirely new life for herself in another city. She doesn’t miss her family, has no desire to go back, has no interest in how her disappearance may have impacted them. She is a method actress, in a way; the most interesting thing about Louisa is that when decides on a part to play, as she does every step of the way as she disappears, she becomes an entirely different person, to the point where her appearance even changes slightly. Someone from her old life eventually catches up to her, and this is where the Jackson macabre touch with a twist comes into play; the ending of this story is so real yet so bizarre and unforeseen that it stands as yet another example of Jackson’s genius.

And now, back to the spice mines. Here’s a hunk for you: