What I took away from Kiini Ibura Salaam’s Tiptree award speech

Finding my own story embedded within someone else’s…

“…I spent most of the last decade creatively paralyzed and emotionally disconnected from my writing self..  After being unable to generate new work, successfully editing my short story collection generated the confidence, focus, and strategy I needed to complete three new stories. Taking the small step to do what I could, loosened the constrictions of failure I had wrapped tightly around myself… I didn’t have more time or less children, but my mental state had shifted… Doing what I could turned out to be a gargantuan gift to myself. It has revealed that I can write a novel, I just needed some strategies to do it with the life I have now.”

Hoping to own this book of hers someday, autographed.

And finish my own.

(speech here)

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Snippet

The “Don’t Apologize” advice (see previous posts) seemed to pop a cork; for the first time, ever, I started and had an ENDING for a story within the span of a single weekend.

Snippet time:-

The Ace of Knives is about to kill someone. She is certain of this.
She is in the hallway before his door. Unpainted, varnished wood, a brass knocker. Nothing else besides the obligatory peephole.
Ringed fingers, rings that her parents wore, grip a knife. It ends here, is her thought.
Memories of humiliation flood The Ace of Knives’ mind; of being isolated, people not wanting, not caring, to understand her.
A stroke of the finger; the surface of the knife is rough. Filings clump to her skin.
Memories of cops being too rough, of curls of the lip and the holding of noses.
A stroke of the finger; the surface becomes smooth.
Memories come of her parents’ faces, of their warnings, of being hit, of doctors not caring enough.
Her finger strokes the surface. It becomes fine. Sharp.
One hand knocks on the door. No one answers The Ace of Knives’s call.
“Where is he?” she hisses under her breath. A trilling from the surface of the knife on her fingertip. “Is he inside?” she asks it. It warms to her touch. She inserts it into the lock.

“Open the door.” The knife moves quickly, surely, the lock clicks. A well placed punch to the door and it flies open, slamming against the inner wall, rattling on its hinges.
And he is there. Seated upon a fancy rattan chair. Waiting. Holding a painting of the circlet with a heart on it, as a pendant, that she now sported as a nose ring.
The Ace of Knives doesn’t know what to make of this. The fire inside sputters, endangered by a strong wind.

On The Way Home…

I’m sleepy as all get-out. Stumbling on two feet.

Next to me on the bus on the last leg home: conservative-looking face, not-quite-conservative wear, blonde hair, dressed for the chill in the air. Her legs, crossed. Her manner, sedate.

Out comes the most outrageous sneeze. “w-AAAA  CHOOO-CHOO-CHOO!”

She goes right back back to being staid. Looks off into the distance, in my direction.

I’m grinning my ass off, but she doesn’t see me.

It didn’t wake me up any more, though.

Still, entertaining.

Think I figured something out…

The back of my mind’s scrubbed raw from my illness flaring, nightmares, etc. Yet…

Something’s… there…

I think I know how I hafta get stories started now. A seed has to be there… that makes my mind scrabble for purchase on a concept.

…and then it gets… percolating…

until, tentatively, like leaves branching out to the wind (be the winds gentle or harsh), words start to form one on top of another…

… and I think, maybe, here, I have something. Something concrete.

But. A germ, a seed, there must be. I can’t cobble together words , catches of phrase together, with no flat inspiration, life to them.

At least, that’s how through *my* waters I must navigate.

Or, it simply may be these words, uttered to me earlier:- “My advice to you is don’t apologize for  what you have to write. Ever… Because that’s the only way you will get to write what you need to write. Don’t censor yourself. Don’t apologize. Ever.” 

What do you think is the reason? One, the other? Both? One more than the other?

 

 

 

Early May weather, people watching…

The sun is out; nary a cloud in the sky.

But I am not. Am I bad?

Feeling up, doing some new music hunting…

Oh and a couple cousins taking phone pics of each other as I was heading to my apartment building. I asked their backgrounds. Mixed but they come across as fair-skinned persons of African descent. And 5th gen. canucks. Very sweet twosome.

3rd day wearing shorts this year so far.