Fall

Hello, again, Fall. My absolutely favorite time of the year.

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Writing the Book Part II

As I journey with this book, Things You Forget, in person and sometimes on this blog, I want to remember this particular incident because it encourages me, and we all need a little encouragement, don’t we? It happened a while back, April 2017, to be exact.

I submitted to a first page critique by literary agent Holly McGhee at Pippin Properties on Kathy Temean’s wonderful Writing and Illustrating blog. I sent on a whim, not expecting any results. And then I forgot about it. When I finally remembered to check the status of my entry, I learned my first page had been selected.

The April 2017 results are here. My specific results are below. I know I’m going to come back to this moment as I try to stay centered and finish this book.

THINGS YOU FORGET by S. K. Van Zandt Young Adult

It’s late November and lousy cold. Wind mixed with sleet gusts across the parking lot. Jordan Rutherford crosses to his truck, yanks the door hard against the freezing blasts, and climbs in. Engines start around him. Headlights blink on. Cars pull slowly away from the church for the long drive to the cemetery. Jordan looks toward the front of the line at the white limo, a foggy stream of air pouring from its exhaust. His mother wants him to ride with her and his grandmother, but forget that. He wants to be alone.

He pulls in somewhere near the end of the line of cars, and they drive onto the main road. People steer their cars onto the crusty edge of the pavement to let them pass. Some stop completely. A little kid leans out the window of a parked car and smiles and waves, like he’s watching a parade or something. Jordan wants this to be over.

When he finally gets to Woodland Memorial Cemetery, a crowd has already gathered, huddled beneath a dark green funeral tent that bends with every burst of wind. Several friends from school hang at the edge of the crowd, including Jordan’s best friend, T. J. Bradley.

Jordan stands on a nearby hill, apart from everyone. He looks past the crowd, at the rows and rows of graves dotting the icy ground, then back to the funeral tent and the waiting grave beneath. If he narrows his eyes just right, everything blurs. As the pastor begins talking, Jordan walks back to his truck, climbs in, and drives away without looking back.

HERE’S HOLLY:

THINGS YOU FORGET–S.K. Van Zandt

I was really moved by this one; it grabbed my attention and I wanted to know more about these characters and what Jordan’s role in the death was. I felt genuine emotion coming through the words. I think this is a strong first page. My only comment is to choose every word carefully, and where there is an opportunity for an appropriate extra detail, grab it. (I’m thinking of the line with the little kid leaning out the window, that seemed like a chance to add a telling detail and use fewer words as well.)

 

Time, You Know…

Wow. It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. Longer than I realized. But I’ve been busy. Life stuff. Family stuff. Finding my way through it all. Finding me, in a way. And I’ve been writing, too. Skimmering around a bit from one project to the next. But writing. Sketching. Picking at my old guitar. So I’ve settled on one project in particular. Well, two really. Working on projects simultaneously is nice. When one project hangs up or begins to smell, and not in a good way, one can always turn to the other. But really, the process of writing for me has gone from a frenetic thing, a high energy thing, an I HAVE TO DO THIS AND I HAVE TO DO IT SO WELL thing, to hello, old friend. Let me sit a while with you. Let me be real. Let me listen.

It’s a process, right? Life’s a process. And time is a slippery beast.

Seasons

 

Picture from fccshelbyville.org

Turning the Corner

Fall

Fall Song by Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – – -roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – – – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

A Funny Thing Happened…

Laughing babies: the ancient practice of forcing strangers to look at pictures of your children basi

I’ve been thinking about laughter lately, and not just in regard to my reading and writing. I’ve been noticing how moments of genuine laughter make me feel warm and happy and exhausted in a good way.

So, what is it about laughter?

Here’s a little bit of randomness I discovered:

Laughter is a contagious, involuntary response. Ever had the giggle snorts during an important meeting, and the person sitting next to you begins to do the same thing, even though they don’t have a clue why you’re doing it? Ever watched a newscast when one reporter starts laughing and the others follow? Yep, contagious and involuntary.

Snoopy he he he

Laughter releases endorphins, which can produce all sorts of wacky but beneficial biochemical changes in the body. These include increased blood flow, relieved pain, and an improved immune system.

Laughter can also burns calories.

Most daily laughter occurs during everyday social situations, not as a result of things like jokes or funny movies.

The study of laughter is called gelotology. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

Some experts believe that we laughed more in the past than today  – 20 minutes daily back in the 1950s compared to 6 minutes today. (Okay, I don’t know how they got these stats, but it’s still a curious thing to me.)

The first Sunday of May every year is known as World Laughter Day.

new-smiley-face-on-beach

This year, I want to pay attention and laugh more. Every day. I think Dr. Seuss said it best:

From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.

When was the last time you really laughed?

Smiling Ostrich

 

Laughing baby photo by Constance Bannister. Snoopy from socialtimes.com. Smiley face from smscs.com. Smiling Ostrich by Jamie Hanson.