Communiqué

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We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and we walk these final miles with tired backs,

towards a paper-plated Friday night.

You search your purse for your keys while I

watch a slim parchment of moon

dissolve across the snow.

There are clues here, I think, to everything.

The accumulation of our wet breaths etches

a communiqué across the front door window,

but you erase it

with the heel of your glove before

it can be jotted down on one of our sagging calendars.

We wear the same boots we wore six years ago,

the same scarves,

through the same tired hallway,

you first,

and I close the door behind us and

the snow melt is already turning brown.

You glance

at the litter of words I scribbled this morning

on the old motel stationery beside the phone.

I forgot what I wrote,

maybe a dentist appointment, maybe a confession,

maybe a dream I wanted to tell you about

before I forgot.

Here in the darkness, we compare our days

with clumsy smiles and cold hands.

We come from solid work stock, you and I,

and the miles have fallen behind us.

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Thank you

 

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To all who follow this blog, a sincere and humble thank you. May this be a time of blessings and joy, now and into the new year.

I recently suffered a heart attack, but now I’m home, resting with my wife Angela.

Thank you again for all your concerns and well wishes, they are very much appreciated. — Steve

Rest, reset

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2016: what can I say? It’s been a long year, personally and professionally. Struggling with physical pain, difficult work deadlines, and creative inertia. Overworked and under-cooked. So it’s time for a rest. I haven’t abandoned writing. Discouraged and disappointed. A little poetry here, some flash there,clawing away at a novel. I haven’t lost the love of writing, but lately — to quote Springsteen — I’m just tired and bored with myself. My head’s not there. I’m not in the game. It’s time for a reset. And this seems like a good time. Rest, reset, renew.

So I’m taking some time off from blogging, to reassess and reaffirm what I’m doing, if the writing is still there, if it can be as good as I need it to be. No self-pity, no whining. Rest and resume.

To everyone who follows my little blog: thank you. You’ve been been incredibly supportive and kind and your comments have been so generous that I’m often overwhelmed. Thank you! I’ll be back after awhile, hopefully with more vigor. And more stories. Have a wonderful holiday season.

***

Ordinary Handsome and A Very Tall Summer are still available here.

An invitation

A couple of days ago, I was sent an invitation by MyTrendingStories.com to become a regular contributor to their website. I was a little suspicious. Over the years I’ve been the beneficiary of several people who wanted to give me millions of their dollars, but I still haven’t seen dime one. My little blog has been noticed? Apparently so.

This is a terrific opportunity to expand my audience and hopefully sell a few books. If nothing else, it will encourage me to become a better writer… a little more focused, a little more disciplined.

And no, I’m not giving up this blog. This is my home, and I’ve met and become friends with so many gifted, funny, unique and wonderful people. My contributions to My Trending Stories will be similar to what I do here: fiction, some poetry, observational pieces, whatever strikes my imagination… but in a larger playhouse. (The original email stated they were aiming to become one of the five biggest blog sites on the internet.)

I’m excited/nervous, but I hope to start soon. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of projects simmering on the stove, so more details to follow.

– Steve

 

A leg up

I know I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time and thought on the past, and aging, how then brings more clarity to now… it seems to be a consistent theme in a lot of my writing. And I’ve been thinking about the aches and pains of growing older, because I’ve been experiencing them first hand.

I’m not a complainer by nature. Stuff happens, the body wearies more easily, the thought process becomes a little more slippery. I worry about my memory, but not obsessively. I forget names, forget where I set my coffee cup… small lapses, really. But otherwise, okay. My body aches more, particularly the left leg. Some days it feels like bone has been replaced by a splintered plywood plank. An old injury, never fully healed, it’s been aching for a few weeks now. Some days it’s difficult to write, or rest because of the ache. And, recently, an infected elbow. All clear now (well, mostly clear), with only a bit of “cellular debris” remaining (my doctor’s term. He also called it “squishy gunk”: the technical term).

But today is a good day. I’ve been mowing the lawn, stretching the leg, enjoying the sun and mountain breeze. But not overdoing it. Perhaps there’ll be more substantial writing later. That’s been the most frustrating part. Wanting to, but unable to fully focus. The novel is complete, other than the minor detail of writing it down! That part aches too, because I can’t write fast enough. I don’t think I’ve ever had a story so fully formed in my head before, and I’m so damned slow making sure I get it right. Yes, an obsession. Writers know what I mean. It’s a good obsession, I think. Much better than obsessing about growing old, and hurting along the way.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.

Back on track

Finally.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written anything that feels propulsive or has captured  my attention. I do tend to meander after finishing a novel… picking up ideas, examining, discarding. As Springsteen said, I’m just tired and bored with myself. That’s just the way it works. Novels are exhausting and consuming. So it’s difficult and stressful to start the process again. But when the right idea shows up, it’s worth it.

I never know where the ideas come from, but I’m grateful for them. They’re never the shiny things. They’re more like half-buried pennies that I keep stepping over in search of something more dazzling. Discovering a character’s  voice that infiltrates my thoughts, an image that won’t go away.

Yep. There it is.

And so I’ve been writing. And now it’s rolling downhill. With Ordinary Handsome, the image was a boy travelling down a dark road. With A Very Tall Summer, it was a woman in an isolated cornfield. With this new one (currently untitled, but I’m thinking “Elani”), the image is a brother and sister beside a muddy stream. And that’s all I can say about that. I dream about it, it’s become that clear. And it feels like I’ll be working on it for quite a while… it feels really big. I won’t jinx it by saying more.

A big ‘thank you’ to those who follow my little blog. Most of my posts lately have been working on my voice… challenging myself to write with a little more depth, and the feedback has been wonderful. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Back to work. The kids are calling on me to keep going. Cheers, and have a great week!

The crayonist’s lament

Bruised

crayon colors smudged, 

grudgingly upon the page, carousel thumbprints blurred,

swirled hocus pocus, unfocused,

honey locust picked and faded and shaded nonsense,

within these blessed messes and indiscretions. Lurid

colors smudged like neon bulbs upon a pencil world.