Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

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The Reader: Final Thought on Journal of a Novel

the reader
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

I was going to wax poetic about how wonderfully magical Journal of a Novel was, but the last page summed up the whole book.

“The Reader – Well, by God, Pat, he’s just like me, no stranger at all. He’ll take from my book what he can bring to it. The dull witted will get dullness and the brilliant may find things in my book I didn’t know where there.

And just as he is like me, I hope my book is enough like him so that he may find in it interest and recognition and some beauty as one finds in a friend.”

That’s exactly what happened when I read East of Eden. It’s what happens each time I read any book. That’s what is supposed to happen. A book, especially a novel, isn’t a lesson or a lecture, it’s a version of events. We each bring to the story our own being and when we read it, something magical happens. There’s an interaction, almost a chemical reaction of sorts. Something new is created in us.

And when we share those interpretations with others, combine them with the world we know and the impressions others had while reading those same stories, something even bigger comes of it all. The author’s struggles and efforts to put words together turns out to be more than what he had thought to create.

Life can be lived in much the same way if we allow ourselves to be honest. When we come together to share our stories, we create new ones, if we can keep an open mind and respect the being of those around us.

Hmm… I’m still reading Reflections on a Mountain Lake each morning before my meditation time, and just this morning she was mentioning something similar. Each time I meet a new person, read a new book, or experience some new something, I grow a little bit if I allow myself to be open to the experience and not try to control it, let it be there as it is instead of trying to force it onto a frame of my own construction.

I’m so glad I found this book. It was a beautiful follow-up to East of Eden. As a writer, it gave me so much to relate to. I feel like a part of a community. I’m not alone or completely nuts. I was never a fan of John Steinbeck’s books, but now I feel like we’re friends.

Journal of a Novel: New Read

I almost didn’t write today. I let the world get in and started to sink again. Again, I’ve realized something important, something we all probably see and advise ourselves about over and over again. Do the hard thing first. I need to write first, then go about the rest of my day.

It’s 10:50am. This morning started with great intentions. I read, felt like I had a lot to say but wanted to get my exercise out of the way. That done, I did my morning meditation, journaled, and then thought…I’m too hungry to write now.

During breakfast, I ignored the teaching in my meditation and instead of doing one thing (eat my breakfast) I decided to mulitask and answer a few texts. I got another cup of coffee and thought…I’ll read some of that other book and then write. Sapiens…ugg… I’m giving up on it. Life is too short to be depressed by a human hating history that reads like a textbook of doom. Another DNF on the list and I’ll write more about that later.

NOW I’ll write. I get my laptop from my desk and sit down to tap out words. What was I going to write about? Oh yeah, that other glorious book I started over the weekend. What a beautiful weekend that was! Rain and thunder, the windows all open, nothing to do but read and work on a quilt. But I’ll do that right after I check my email. Nothing there. I’ll check Facebook. There was a quote I wanted to share.

Then a “friend” messaged me. That didn’t go well. I guess I’m not acting like the person he would prefer me to be. I’m good at losing so-called “friends.”

Watch a funny video, click on an ad for stickers, find a cool one with an Oscar Wilde quote.

‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’ and then find an article about the quote. I’ll read that later.

Maybe I’ll just give up today and head to the grocery store.

And then…hold on. This is ridiculous. What would Steinbeck do?

journal of a novel

That’s actually what I thought. I started reading Journal of a Novel by John Steinbeck over the weekend and it’s filled with some wonderful insight from the man, about his life, his time, and about East of Eden. I’m already halfway through it this morning. And THAT’S what I wanted to write to you about.

I mentioned it when I started reading East of Eden and thought I’d read it while I was reading the novel, as he wrote it. But I couldn’t. I was already trying to finish The Portable Atheist and Reflections on a Mountain Lake. A person can only have so much input at once. I saved it and was soon as I finished the novel, I jumped on that journal like a cat on a laser beam spot.

I’m not regretting it. Reading a highly regarded author’s private thoughts is enlightening in so many ways. And even though I don’t consider myself an author, I do write, and I consider myself a “creative” of sorts. His words are soothing to my soul.

“Perhaps that knowledge is saved for maturity and very few people ever mature. It is enough if they flower and reseed. That is all that nature requires of them. But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place – not very often and always inexplainable. There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness. The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness. In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable. And sometimes if he is very fortunate and the time is right, a very little of what he is trying to do trickles through – not ever much.”

I should not be so hard on myself. This is no easy task and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. What is it that I am trying to express? I may simply be trying to express who I am from my own point of view, from inside. Each day I read and think. I journal thoughts. I find the courage and discipline to open the laptop and fill a blank screen. Some days I find the courage to share it. But where is it going?

Nowhere in particular, just like Mr. Toad. And he’s certainly happy, as long as he doesn’t forget his friends.

Tomorrow I’ll be pulling a few more quotes to share with you. If you’re a writer, you might really like Journal of a Novel. He wasn’t writing to share his process or teach anything. They are just letters he wrote to his agent each morning before he got to working on the novel. A sort of “warm-up” exercise. He didn’t write them to publish, but he knew at least a few people would read them. It’s a raw glimpse into the author.

The Reader: Final Thought on Journal of a Novel

Fiction Can Transport You: East of Eden #2

East of Eden. Sometimes fiction can transport you to whole other world. It may surprise you, but I’m not usually one to read the same book non-stop for hours. I typically read for about thirty minutes, go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee, read another thirty minutes, get some exercise, write some, read another thirty minutes… It goes on all day. About an hour is the most I can read in a single sitting, even when the book is thrilling and I’m getting a lot out of it. My mind wanders.

But this… It’s just different.

fiction can transport

I didn’t sleep well again last night. I’m a light sleeper anyway, always have a hard time staying asleep, but summers are worse. It’s hot and uncomfortable, at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’m on day three of eating less, one cup of coffee in the morning, no candy, and no alcohol. It’s an attempt to see what it is that is keeping me up. I’ve tried just about everything.

…sigh…

I skipped our morning walk today. I woke up at 4:45 and just didn’t have the energy to put on shoes right away. I dove into East of Eden while my husband got ready for work. Before I knew it, the sun was up, the livingroom was flooded with light, and it was two hours later.

What happened?

Reading East of Eden is like being there or watching an amazing movie that you can’t take your eyes off. It isn’t a complicated read. The words flow and the scenes pull you in. The story is simple, yet so deep. It’s one of those books that you talk out loud to while you read. “No!” “You can’t!” “Why?” can be heard from the livingroom couch as I roll through each chapter.

Hopefully, as I write about what piques my interest in this book, I won’t give away any big spoilers. If you’re sensitive to that, maybe skip this next part if you haven’t read the book yet.

“When a child first catches adults out – when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgements are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just – his world falls into panic and desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.”

Do you remember realizing this? I wonder if it’s different for different kinds of people. Some people are far more sensitive, maybe they build others up to impossible standards in their minds, and when they fail to meet those standards, the repairs are complicated. Adam learned and accepted that his father wasn’t a god early in his life. Charles learned later. Neither of them is a well-adjusted and heathy adult. But then, good stories aren’t told about well-adjusted and healthy people. It would be boring. But we find little bits of ourselves in these stories. It makes us feel better about ourselves and others.

“As with many people, Charles, who could not talk, wrote with fullness. He set down his loneliness and his perplexities, and he put on paper many things he did not know about himself.”

I identified with this piece. I do talk, a lot, but it’s generally not about much. When I write, I feel like it’s easier to put my thoughts in order, but then I wonder how much of it is truly understood. Like Charles, I get little written response. It doesn’t detract from the value of writing though. I’m not writing too anyone specifically, as he was.

“…maybe love makes you suspicious and doubting. Is it true that when you love a woman you are never sure – never sure of her because you aren’t sure of yourself?”

That’s not love, my friend. It’s ego and possession. He’s right. To be that suspicious and doubting doesn’t say anything about who or what you love. It speaks about your love of yourself. You can love anyone, with all their flaws and mistakes, if you love and respect yourself. That’s something I only recently discovered and have begun to practice.

“I think the difference between a lie and a story is that a story utilizes the trappings and appearance of the truth for the interest of the listener as well as of the teller. A story has in it neither gain nor loss. But a lie is a device for profit or escape. I suppose if that definition is strictly held to, then a writer of stories is a liar – of he is financially fortunate.”

Every story is just a grand lie, right? We know that and accept it as listeners/watchers/readers. The teller isn’t trying to sell us false goods. But a liar…that’s different. We know it instinctually, but it’s fascinating putting it this way.

As you can probably see, I’m returning to my old way (way back to the beginning of this year) of writing a little about each day’s reading as I go. It seems the best way to tease out what I’m thinking and makes my little heart happiest. I hope it works for you too.

The Classics Club: My TBR List

I’m so excited! Why? Two big reasons of which I shall now elucidate!

First of all, thanks to Laurie at Relevant Obscurity, I have discovered The Classics Club! What?! A blog that links together other classic readers?! Yes, please! I know, I get excited about the strangest things, but it’s not often that I find other people that are reading the same kind of books that I read.

the classics club
The first NINE books from the list!

As per their rules for membership, this post is a declaration of sorts. I’m listing fifty classic books that I promise to read between now and August 29, 2027. Five years to read fifty assigned books is perfect for me because it let’s me read many of the other glorious books that come across my path at the same time. But what to choose?!

The first thing I did was print their list and find the books I had already read. That was a little disappointing. It turns out I KNOW more of the titles on the list than I have actually read, but I’ve read quite a few, so I’m not unhappy, I’m inspired.

The second thing was to look on my TBR shelf for any books from the list that I have already bought. I found ten, so that takes me well into the first year of the challenge. And it gave me the nice picture for this post!

The last thing to do was put a mark next to any book on the list that I had heard of and was planning on reading already.

And now I have my list! Are you ready?

Flatland by Edwin Abbott
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? By Edward Albee
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Plague by Albert Camus
Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Middlemarch by George Eliot

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
Faust by Johann Goethe
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammett
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

The Iliad by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
The Alchemist by Ben Jonson
The Dubliners by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
The Man Who Would be King by Rudyard Kipling
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
The Misanthrope by Moliere
The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Red and the Black by Stendhal
Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard
Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson
Candide by Voltaire
The Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

A formidable list to be sure, but at less than one book a month, it is doable even when the book gets hard or I have other books I MUST read or else perish. Yeah, feeling a tad dramatic. I’ll be coming back and linking any post that I write about these books as I read them, so stay tuned.

But Michelle! You said there were TWO reasons you were excited. What is the other reason?

Oh, yeah! Well, it pertains to this list, the blog, and spending countless hours reading and writing in general. You’ve probably read something from me along the lines of angst and broodiness since my sons have deserted me…I mean grown up like they were supposed to and struck out on their own. I’ve been a housewife and mom for over twenty years now. What am I supposed to do with all my time now that I’m not raising other humans?

I thought about getting a job to fill the time. Didn’t sound very exciting, and amazingly it’s not as easy as it sounds, even in today’s economy (at least the one reported on the news). It seems that the old story (which I do not understand) is true, businesses aren’t keen on hiring people that haven’t worked in years. Maybe they’re jealous, I can’t say. But I’ve put out ten applications in my town and only one called me back, but still no work. I decided to take it as a sign that I was needed elsewhere.

I love reading and writing about things, but it doesn’t pay at all. I’m not published, and this blog isn’t all the popular. I get discouraged. What’s the point of spending all this time?! And then it dawned on me.

I’m happy and content with my life. Why do I feel like I need to be paid to be making a difference in the world?! And I do make a difference here, in small ways. So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been reading more blogs like mine, branching out, talking to people, and then this classics club shows up in my feed and I’m off to the races!

My husband laughed at me as I sat at one of my bookshelves with a printed list of books.

“What are you doing? You look like you’re on a mission.”
Glasses on, pencil in hand, on the floor running my finger across the spines. “I joined and book club of sorts and I’m finding books to add to my list and write about. They read books like I do!”
“That’s what I love about you. You get so excited about things.”

I can’t wait to get reading! I finished The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this morning, so I’ll be picking my next book from the list this afternoon.

Bringing the Mental Noise Level Down

This is going to sound strange because I have been posting more the past few weeks, trying to rebuild my habit of a daily post, but I just can’t seem to write anything…good lately. Not “good” as in something everyone wants to read or changes the world, but “good” as in significant to me. There have been a few fits and starts, but I feel distracted and a little bit lost and I’m starting to think part of my problem is “noise.”

If you saw how I live, you’d instantly raise your hand and ask, “What noise are you talking about, woman? The wind? An occasional truck? A loud scrub jay?”

No, not that kind of noise. The mental noise level. Thoughts and distractions. This might sound nuts, completely out of character, but I instantly bought a book called “Chatter – The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It” by Ethan Kross. That podcast interview I heard with the author last week, I couldn’t help but yell to the car, “THAT’S IT!” Charlie Brown style. It’s sitting here on my TBR shelf, on top, next up, right after I finish Joseph Conrad.

The other distraction is my phone. It sits next to me while I drink my coffee and read in the morning. I’ll admit that I have a phone problem. It’s always in my hand. Always. I don’t have social media on my phone, and I get no notifications other than direct texts. What if one of the kids needs me? What if my mom calls? What if ANYONE texts me? All great, right? But…it’s distracting at the worst moments, like right in the stream of consciousness moment. No bueno. I turn off the ringer, but then I find myself glancing over to see if the light is flashing.

Why is it that I am so hyper-focused on not missing a message? I can’t imagine a text that couldn’t wait an hour or so. If it were truly and emergency, they would call. Right?

Something similar happens when I have my laptop out to write. The blank page stares waiting for me, but it’s just too easy to open up Facebook, or check my email, or even open up WordPress and read another blog. And then my own thoughts are gone, buried way back in my mind at the very least.

This morning I wrote the first draft of this in my journal thinking this way I would have no way of being distracted. If the words slowed down, all I would be able to do is stare at the wall or out the window for a moment. It worked nicely, until my phone beeped a message to me.

I know! It’s crazy! Right?

After breakfast, I opened up Instagram for a look around and found this post from @cbmeditates and it started the wheels turning.

mental noise level
“3 things to focus on in August?” @cbmeditates

I sat with my journal a bit longer, thinking about what three things I could focus on this month that might lower my mental noise level. Here’s what I came up with.

Focus #1 – Uninterrupted Morning Hours

From now on, I keep my phone on my desk back in my office until 9am. I’ll go get it to use my yoga app and then put it right back afterwards. Out of sight, out of mind. There’s nothing going on in the world that can’t wait an hour or two.

Focus #2 – Write by Hand

My morning writing time can be done by hand in my journal. That way there are no distractions. No, “I’ll just get that link.” Or “What was that quote exactly?” When that happens, I chase rabbit-holes and end up being bombarded with other people’s thinking. An hour of sitting with a pen and a journal will help me get my own thoughts on paper first. Then later I’ll transcribe what I wrote into my laptop, adding in details and links, and looking up references as I go.

Focus #3 – Less Daily Sugar

This one isn’t a writing focus. I need less sugar in my daily diet, and that includes alcohol. I’m not a heavy drinker and I’m not a dessert fiend, but throughout the day I feel like I’m always grabbing a piece of chocolate, a coke, or a handful of something sweet. I’ve done well this week, so I want to keep going. It makes my joints less achy, and I sleep better if I stay on the low sugar side of life. I’m sweet enough, right? And I don’t need alcohol to lower my inhibitions. I do that just fine right here on paper.

Keeping my mornings low tech and free from message interruptions is going to be the hard part. There’s something weird going on there. I get the feeling I’m letting everyone down if I don’t answer my text messages almost immediately, but you know, no one else I know does that. The best my circle can do is within the hour, and that’s great. I swear it’s like a security blanket for me, but it’s not helping me right now, so it’s time to change!

I’ve put my focus goals on my calendar and at the end of the month, I’ll check in and see if I’ve had any success lowering my mental noise level.

And now I’ll Start My Day?!

There’s something I often say that suddenly got on my nerves and I had to correct myself. I stopped in my tracks and took notice after writing it in a Facebook post and then saying out loud to my husband as I got ready to take a shower. What was it?

“And NOW I’ll start my day…”

Seems innocuous, doesn’t it? But it is self-defeating and ridiculous. Here’s why.

It’s not the words I’m saying that are crazy talk, it’s WHEN I’m saying it. It usually comes to me when I am going through my husband’s office, gathering my stuff, and heading to the shower. Yesterday I realized why I say it.

I’m making excuses for why it looks like I’m only now getting off the couch and moving around the house, six hours after I woke up. But what have I been doing those last six hours?

Every morning I get up at 4am. My husband’s office is our bedroom. He works at 6am. I can’t sleep while he’s on the phone talking to co-workers and clients. Besides that, I know it sounds nuts, but I like to keep the same schedule as my husband so that we can actually LIVE together.

It’s 4am. Now what? I get a cup of coffee, my book, and my journal and I sit on my end of the couch and read. At 5am, he gets in the shower and then we go for a walk at 5:30. At 6, I do my yoga and meditate, maybe read a bit more. Between 7 and 8am, I make some breakfast and journal. After that, I sit to check my social media, post something to share with my friends and family, and then I write my blog post and edit and share the one I wrote the day before.

Now, it’s around 10am, maybe even as late as 11am. I get up, get in the shower, make my bed, start some laundry, do a couple chores, and have lunch.

“And NOW I’ll start my day?” Yeah, right! My day started hours ago, no wonder I’m exhausted by 3 or 4pm and just want dinner and some time to watch my favorite TV shows with my love most days!

I sat wondering. Why do I do that? Because my superpower is overthinking! Where would I be without it? Certainly not here on my computer tapping out words for several hours a day.

Somewhere along the line, I got it into my head that being me isn’t part of my actual workday. I haven’t had a job outside my home in twenty years. I raised our kids, homeschooled, and supported my husband while he supported us. Teamwork! And now I’m retired from that career, mostly. I mean, I’m still a housewife, but that isn’t nearly as much work as it used to be, so I have time to look around for another one.

Reading and writing here is my work. No, it doesn’t make me any money, but it does make me happy and fulfilled in the same way being a housewife does.

Some people might think I’m simply taking up space in this world. I say that’s what a human’s job is, to take up space. I’m just trying to do it in the happiest way possible without putting too much of a load on anyone else.

I refuse to say, “Now I’ll start my day” ever again. My day starts when I wake up in the morning and everything I do, from reading my book to watch tv, is a legitimate part of my day. I’m happy this way.

Childhood Games

Welcome to another post inspired by The Plottery and their fun July writing prompts that they posted on their Instagram account, @the.plottery! This prompt reminded me of childhood games.

“Write a short story where the characters don’t come of the couch the whole time.”

Sounds like my mornings. I get up at 4, grab a cup of coffee, my book, and my journals, and plant myself on the west end of the couch until 9am.

That’s not technically true. I get up for more coffee, to use the bathroom, do my yoga, and close the curtain when the sun comes streaming in to blind me, but essentially, I am planted. This is my spot. The cushions have become formed to the curve of butt and the arm has an indent where my elbow rests.

But my short story…more of a creative memory. It happened. I have pictures. But maybe it didn’t go exactly this way. Where shall it begin? On the couch, the same place it will end up.

childhood games
Proof the Crime

The floor is lava! The couch has always been a place of refuge and entertainment. There were four of us, my brother and I and two of our younger cousins, spread across the giant, L-shaped sectional in the living room of our grandparent’s house. We’d been swimming at the community pool all morning. Grandma made us sandwiches and we ate them with tropical punch Kool-Aid and potato ships at the kitchen dinette counter, where spills and crumbs were easy to clean up. Grandpa turned on the big console tv in the living room and instructed us all to relax a while.

As an adult, I can see exactly what this was now. Two older adults, four young and wild children. THEY needed to rest, not us. The hope (the same hope I have held on to with my own children) was that they had worn us out in the pool and fed us. Now, in the name of all things holy, maybe we’d settle into the couch and be quiet a while.

My grandma said that she needed to “rest her eyes” a bit. “Watch your shows. No horseplay. And stay on the couch.” And then she and grandpa headed off to their bedroom for a nap.

The peace lasted at least a few minutes, maybe even past the first commercial break, but then we got antsy.

My youngest cousin was the first to move towards the edge of the couch, but my brother stopped her. “Grandma said stay on the couch!” She shot a look, that look, right into his eyes and lowered her foot. “Don’t even!” Her brother grabbed her arm, and she began to tear up. The wail was coming. It would be loud…grandma would hear for sure…not acceptable.

My brother, ever ingenious, lifted the cushion next to him and threw it to the ground beneath her feet. Her brother released his grip and she landed on it. They all looked at me and grinned.

Being the oldest sucks. I’m supposed to be in charge, keep things as the adults want them to be. But how is that fair? I sat there silently with my arms crossed. This is not what she meant.

Another cushion flopped to the ground beside the first and in moments a lily pad arrangement took shape across the living room floor. They were hopping from one to the next, running across the bare couch, and back onto the floor again. Giggling quietly all the while.

At first, this only began while commercials were running. Once a cartoon came back on, everyone fell silent, like a game of red light/green light. At the next commercial break, they were at it again. Temptation to play along overwhelmed me and I joined in.

Every once in a while, someone would land a little too roughly. It was trick to silence our running and falling feet in a mobile home. The floor and foundation aren’t that solid like a foundation house would be and the walls are thin to save space and weight. Each mildly loud giggle or tumble would cause us all to freeze in place and wait for the “all-clear,” no sounds of movement from the other room.

I’m not sure how long we went on like this, but at one point, while we were all happily skipping around the room from one couch cushion to the next, one of my cousins froze mid-step and we all piled up behind him, pushing him forward and landing in pile…at our grandpa’s feet.

There he was looking down on us, hands clenched in fists at his hips, those few wisps of hair standing up on the top of his balding head. He didn’t say a word. My grandma came in the room seconds later. “Oh, heavens, you kids.”

That’s when my grandpa said, “You told them not to leave the couch and they didn’t.” and we all started laughing.

We spent the next hour piling up cushions and seeing if we could stand on them, spreading them out for leapfrog, or blocking them all together to make a large tumbling mat for living room gymnastics. Grandpa would stand beside the pile and hold out a steady hand, ready to stop us from falling over into the tv or cracking our heads open on the coffee table.

Exhausted from play, we settled down into watching cartoons and most of us took a long nap there before dinner. But we never left the couch!

Inspired to Tell Stories

The following attempt at short story writing was inspired by The Plottery and their fun July writing prompts that they posted on their Instagram account, @the.plottery! A big ol’ THANK YOU to them for putting the jumper cables on the old imagination engine.

I actually do enjoy writing my own stories. I haven’t had much practice, and I’m not all that confident about it, but I still LOVE writing them. But sharing them? That’s so scary, so I do it even less often than I write them!

Today I feel brave. Not really, but I feel good about this little story. I made me smile and laugh writing it. I hope you enjoy it!


Michael had always wanted to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s Independence Day and that’s what he wanted, independence. From what? Family, of course. Who doesn’t complain about restrictions put on them by well-meaning family members, the keepers of tradition and order?

He respected them, but he was different. He wanted to try new things, experience new places and meet new people. He wasn’t interested in the same old family games and annual gatherings.

Summer is complicated for a vampire. The nights are so short, you know. It makes the evening hunt feel rushed and mechanical. Before the sun hits the horizon, the whole family starts to anxiously stir in their secluded coffins. Even with the new air conditioning pumped up into their belfry, the summer’s heat is only partially abated. Those satin lined coffins are stifling, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and stretch their limbs in the cooler night air.

How they know the sun has completely set and those burning rays can’t reach them, has always been beyond him. The best he can do is say that he “feels” it in his dry bones, and when he does, he can’t help by start to yawn and stretch to wake himself and push against his coffin lid in the hopes that he’s the first to emerge.

Why the first? Because being alone in such a small space with such a big family is a luxury. Sometimes he lives dangerously and peeks out at the room before the sun has dropped its upper edge below the horizon. He can see it streaming through the room and hitting the ceiling at high angle, but if he’s careful, he can sneak out underneath it and gaze upon the land from out the window before anyone else. Sometimes his sister beats him to it, and he finds her draped in a large hood and cape, her eyes shaded by dark glasses, every inch of her pale body covered, sitting on the windowsill staring.

She never acknowledges his presence when he joins her. She just sits there, staring straight ahead. Maybe she longs for independence, too? He’ll never know because she never speaks. He doesn’t take it personally. She speaks to no one. Never has. He’s sure it has something to do with how she came to this family, who brought her in and that she’s no longer with us. But that’s her story to tell, and she won’t.

As soon as darkness covers the land below, without a word she makes a scooting move with her butt and drops into the space below them. To anyone below, she would look like a larger bat dropping from the roofline. She won’t be back until morning. She never joins in family meals or games.

Michael enjoys watching the night spread out over the land. It hits the valley first, spreading out to the foothills and then climbs steadily up to the mountain tops and finally the land succumbs to darkness, stillness, and quiet.

He hears his family stirring in their coffins, the creak and hard thump of lids being pushed open and dropped to the side, the rustle of black capes and the murmur of hungry voices. Their excited chatter annoys him. In moments, they are off into the night to hunt without a word to him, kindly or otherwise.

Do they even notice the world around them? Do they ever pause to think about their existence? Or is it all animal instinct? And why is he so different?

He sighs into the night as he watches them float on the evening breezes in a wide swath of bat like wings. Death on the move.

He’s hungry too, and he realizes his time is shorter in the summer months, but there is more to life that feeding. Isn’t there?

One of those fine evenings, where the angst was sweetest, a piece of paper floated on the breeze beneath his tower. At first, he believed it was a small white bird returning late to its evening roost. Poor thing. He dropped off the ledge and dove toward it. Once he had it in his hands though, he realized he was mistaken.

He turned the paper over in his hand. “Don’t miss the 4th of July Fireworks, after sunset in the park!” it read. Ever since then he’d wanted to see these “fireworks.” He brought the idea up to his family as they each returned just before dawn. They came in the window in groups of three and four, chattering on about the evening’s hunt. He hated hearing their callous remarks about the lives they’d taken that night.

When he tried to show them the flyer, they scoffed. Human celebrations were not for them, especially when the short summer nights compelled them to hunt so swiftly. That’s when his father came in with, “Wait a minute. I think Michael is on to something.”

It didn’t take them long to forge a plan to turn a pyrotechnic spectacle watching event into a bloodbath. He was so disappointed. He tried to explain to them why he wanted to go, that watching those fireworks in the park, set to music, with the people singing and dancing below, the smell of BBQ and popcorn wafting up to them would be so beautiful.

“And just think! We could fly above and around them, a view from a new angle with every burst!”

They barely heard him. Plans were being laid.

All throughout June, Michael thought about his family ruining his Independence Day celebration, and then one night something came to him. He brought it up the next evening, before they headed out into the night.

“Has anyone thought that maybe swooping down into crowd of revelers might be a bad idea? There would be no mistake about what had attacked them. There would be survivors, and they’d be angry. It wouldn’t take them long to find their lair and destroy them all, especially with such long summer days.”

That got them thinking in a different direction. A feast would be a spectacular thing, but the results would be a bummer. They went to considering their options. Maybe pick off a few as they wandered into the less crowded areas of the park. A lost child. A pair of lovers. And old lady that had fallen behind.

Ugg…why aren’t they interested in the fireworks?

Considering…

I’ve been gone a whole month and I have no idea how that happened. I swear that we skipped June. Over the last week I’ve had a thought or two I wanted to share, and now I’m considering a comeback.

But what to post? And how often? I’m not sure just yet.

I think…starting tomorrow…I’ll start small. A post shared from my phone, a quote from the book I’m reading and maybe a sentence or two about why I’m sharing it.

In June, I stopped writing all together, but by the first of July, I was sweating, and not just because summer has arrived in the desert in all its glory. I miss writing. So I started up again, added it back into my morning routine in a new way.

And it all started when I found this in my Instagram feed:

Thanks to her, I’ve been having a blast writing in directions I never knew I could! I’ll be sharing some of my favorite pieces next month as I edit and polish them up for you…I know! Me! Editing and polishing, not just barfing up whatever comes to mind and hitting “publish!”

I hope you are having an “bitchin’ summer” so far. Have you read anything awesome? Added to your TBR pile? Gone on any grand adventures? I’ll be scouring the blog feeds like mad to catch up!

Much Needed Spiritual Maintenance

Just in case anyone is wondering…

spiritual maintenance

Maybe you have been following my posts, or maybe you just wandered in, and you’re wondering… Has she given up? Will she be posting again? Is she dead somewhere?

I’m not dead, maybe just badly injured (added for dramatic effect).

Instead of making myself crazy, I’m taking a break and focusing elsewhere for awhile. I’m not posting to Instagram either, but I am continuing to share things publicly to Facebook, so you’re welcome to follow me there.

I’m not sure when I’ll start writing and sharing posts here again. We’ll see which way the wind blows. Thanks for reading!

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