Not Out of the Woods Yet

This past weekend, while it seemed just about everyone was taking their final vacations and hosting Labor Day cookouts and getting their kids ready to go back to school, I was hunched up in my house, struggling with the first major revision of my work in progress. The first revision seems to be the hardest for me — not because of all the changes and cuts that need to be made. It’s because of all the text I have to add. I’m pretty good at cutting away and rearranging; I’m not so eager to tease out new scenes. And this time, I needed to add four new chapters, most of which were filled with a lot of action. Sporty action. Gaah.

So I did it, slowly and painfully, and emailed it and printed it out for my Trusted Readers. You’d think I’d feel a sense of exhilaration and relief at this point, but no. Because this is just the beginning. I’ve reinforced the major, structural stuff, but I know I still have plenty of dangling threads. Wait, is that a mixed metaphor? I think I’m too tired to care.

On the upside, my family in CT got their power back late last week, so the cheese and chicken are no longer in danger. My grandmother is now gearing up for her trip to Florida, where she will stay until May, and where she can keep her food cold and the rest of her house un-airconditioned, the way she likes it. FYI, Cousin Joyce will be staying in CT, though I’m not sure anyone has broken the news to her yet. If she had a face, I’m sure it would register disappointment.

I’m gearing up for the Providence Arts Festival this Saturday, where I’ll be participating in a storytelling session at the ROOTS Cafe from 12-5 (my slot is at 3:20pm) and selling and signing my books. I’m looking forward to focusing on stories that are finished and published and out in the world, for a change. Will I see you there?

Photo by “dan.”

Cousin Joyce

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending an annual creative retreat hosted by my agent. Some other writers and I stayed up one night telling stories. This was mine…

WARNING: The faint of heart should read on at their own risk.

My grandmother lives in Florida for most of the year, and comes home to us in New England for a few months each summer. When she arrived in May about a year or so ago, she brought with her a doll.

The fact that my nonagenarian grandmother has recently developed a penchant for dolls and resin ballerina figurines and stuffed animals is another story for another time. This story is about this particular doll, and the fact that it possesses the following attributes of increasing creepiness (photos supplied for non-believers):

1. Not satisfied with the doll’s original wardrobe, my grandmother went out and bought it actual toddler clothes and shoes. To wit, a pastel windsuit and dirty white sneakers.

2. Not satisfied with the doll’s original pigtailed hairstyle, my grandmother took it to a friend of hers in Florida who worked as a hairdresser. The doll now sports a layered ‘do, and a big pink bow in its hair.

3. The doll is posed with its arms up, elbows bent, and it’s meant to be leaned against a wall with its back to the viewer, as if it’s counting down for a game of Hide and Seek. Or serving a harsh sentence of Time Out.

4. And, most important, and disturbing…

…the doll has no face. And has white stumps for hands.

(I’ll pause here while you all go and change your underwear.)

While the rest of us were disturbed by this new addition to our family, and its position in the front room of my grandmother’s house (so it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door), my grandmother could not be prouder. She named the doll “Joyce,” because, as she says, “She brings me so much joy.” As a coping mechanism, my sister and I jokingly refer to the doll as “Cousin Joyce.”

And when we stay at my grandmother’s house, we sleep with the lights on.

Photo credit: Jenna LaReau (who took one for the team in getting this close)