Friday, February 17, 2012


Something has to go "click" in my head.

I stumbled on a blog. The guy's name was Ray I think. I usually remember the name Ray. He was a writer. Some of you will stumble across it if you don't already know who I mean. He can write.

Lately, I think of everything in terms of long drawn out analogies. I think it is a way I explain things to myself. I did that long drawn out blog about the end product I come up with. For which I feel no shame. There is a place for that product and I think I handle it just fine. And it is what I want to do. Writing wouldn't do what it needs to do to the inside of my head if I had to keep a bunch of note cards and characters and plot lines sorted out. As it is, I have to search before I publish to make sure I didn't change someone's name along the way. So story one is the way I write. Story two is the way Ray writes. Process, not story or style.

Story One: I have a really pretty house. It is just a box. It is a pretty color. It has nice trees. It has a great yard. It has good proportions. It is large. It is a nice house. I change the wreathes on the front door for the season. I go to Michael's. I buy a wreath form. Sometimes I use last seasons. I strip it and start anew. I buy some fake flowers that make me think of something nice I remember, some color that makes me feel good. I buy some leaves that are the right proportion and color. I buy fake polystyrene berries. I am crazy about those berries. They have to be on every wreath. The size and the color have to be just right. Sometimes I use last seasons. If the white plastic is showing through, I color it in with a marker. I assemble the ingredients in a pleasing pattern. I put a little glitter on some of the leaves cuz my front door gets muy sun. Some times my daughter is supervising or assisting. "You should put a little more glitter here." "There are too many berries there." I have to make two because the front entry is double doors. They have to match but not identically. They have to harmonize. I make frequent trips to the edge of the yard to look back and see if the scale is pleasing.

One day a neighbor and her friend and their daughters knock to sell girl scout cookies. One of the first things the women says is, "I LOVE your entryway. I want to go home and copy it." My heart soars with the eagles. This is the end of story one.

Story two: A young man is walking along a stony beach on an island in the Outer Hebrides. It is chilly but there is a spring smell in the air. The beach is cross hatched with an occasional scarp. Farther down the scarp meets the water and the young man will not be able to walk further on the waterfront. But before he reaches the end of the beach, right around the place he first intended to turn and head back, he spots a very white baby lamb half way up the scarp. It is bawling piteously and very white but smudged with dirt and a little redness. It is in distress. The man, wearing a perfectly aged pair of Vasques, and happening to have an old thin pair of leather driving gloves in the pocket of his oiled cotton Barbour Mac, climbs somewhat carelessly, but with years of experience to support his efforts and grabs the baby lamb. He continues to the top of the scarp from which the lamb has fallen, carrying it over his shoulder and trying to hold its two back legs when he doesn't need both hands to keep his purchase on the craggy rock.

After he reaches the top and begins to walk over the barely perceptible path leading to his ancient but picturesque cottage, he examines the lamb and sees it is fine except for a few abrasions on its haunch from falling against the stone. He puts the lamb in the yard with the other few sheep he owns, some who have recently lambed. None of the ewes will let the baby nurse so the young man drives his little red car to town and buys special formula for abandoned lambs. He loves the lamb. The lamb loves him. The lamb thrives under his care and is always a bit brighter, a bit bouncier, a bit larger than the other lambs.Sometimes the other lambs, now young sheep, gang up to tease him, but they know he is the leader and usually they let him lead. He is a good leader anyway, they know. The next spring, when it is time to shear the sheep, the young man notices his favored lamb has a more lustrous, healthier looking crop of fleece than the others, so as he shears away, he keeps the wool from the special lamb separate. The wool goes to market as is usual. Walking around money. But the special wool he takes to his aunt's house who lives the other side of the tiny village. "This is wondrous wool," she says. "I will make a special sweater." And she does. Then the young man goes out in the world wearing the special sweater. As he progresses through the world many people say, "Hey, cool sweater." "Oh, what a lovely sweater." "Is that wool bleached? It is so very white."

Then one day the young man is on his way back home. He never stays away for long. He is on a pedway in an airport. Approaching on the opposite pedway is a lovely young girl. The pedway is very crowded but she looks up intently at the oncoming traffic as she notices a certain evocative scent of aftershave that gets her attention, and she spots the young man. "If I didn't have to run for this stupid plane, I would vault over this wall and make a move on that guy," she thinks, and gives him a delicious smile which he hungrily tastes as he moves past, returning a glimpse of self satisfaction over what might have been, as they both well know. As she moves on, the young girl, too busy to feel regret, thinks only, "God, that sweater he had on was gorgeous." The end of the second story.


  1. Interesting analogies. I think the bottom line is that there's no one "right" way to do the writing process. Different things work for different people.

    Me, I'm a planner. It helps me to know where I'm going and how I'm going to get there. Letting the story evolve as I write is a scary process to me. I'm always afraid it will suck mightily if I don't put the proper planning into it.

  2. You usually remember the name Ray?

    Well, as it happens, his name is Ray, and you're very kind to him, I must say.

    You're also exactly right that (for better or worse) he's methodical in virtually every single way -- but with literature most especially.

    I so enjoyed your two stories -- I truly did -- and read them with maximum absorption. I can't help but wonder, though, if you don't actually write Ray better than Ray writes Ray.

    How, if I may, did you stumble upon Ray?

  3. Betsy Lerner I think. I'll read your stuff to see how Ray writes Ray. I was impressed with your web site and your abs.

    I don't know if the Ray story can go this public.

    I only write fluffy stuff. It is kind of a shame, but I have problems in the head that precludes anything too complex. Thank you for visiting and your attention. My email is

  4. First: Ginny, you are so freaking guileless, or at least give a good impression of being so. Actually, I meant to say you are so freaking weird, but in the nicest possible way. It is so rare that I find myself surprised by someone's writing, and you are a master.

    Second: I want the link to Ray's blog. Please? If you think he's cool, he must be.


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