Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Novel Slop Buckets and something akin to happiness

The Cheshire Rabbit
(by me)

Novel Slop Buckets and something akin to happiness 

            I am working on a novel.  I am always working on a novel.  I completed the first rough draft of my first novel manuscript more than 30 years ago.  Since then, I have completed a few other first rough drafts and started more than 25 novels, most of which are unfinished for a variety of reasons.  None of them are published, though I have published poetry and short stories in literary journals.  No “real” books. 
            Since I am now sixty-nine years old, headed toward the big seven-OH, there's a good chance I will die without ever publishing any of my novels.  So, why do I keep writing?  Why don't I just "relax and enjoy life?" 
            Because, for one things, I enjoy writing.
            For another, if I am truthful, I always harbor the perennial hope of getting published, slim though it may be. 
            The novel I am currently working on is called Discovery at Little Hog Island.  Dana, a fifty-five year old Kindergarten teacher, takes a biology class that requires a summer project.  She arrives in Maine only to stumble onto a suspicious death that occurred 35 years ago.  Curiosity gets the better of her, and she becomes embroiled in a story that begins to threaten her life and stir up unpleasant memories from her own past. 
            I posted parts of this novel on one of my blogs, but discovered that it is difficult for people to follow a novel in blog installments. My readers kept dwindling. Or maybe it was just a terrible novel.  But I like it.
            In addition to Little Hog Island, my primary novel, I am also working on several others that I keep bubbling on the back burners.  The work stove I keep them on is large and has lots of back burners, some further back than others.  Each is a bucket, a slop bucket into which I keep throwing ideas, characters, scenes, conflicts.  Am I organized about it?  Not hardly.  I can’t even aim for the rights buckets, sometimes, or there may be several buckets for the same novel.
            For example, Rema and Romula.  They are twin girls who were raised by wolves.  They'll probably never found a city.  And the book may not be named after them.  I often work on Rema and Romula while I am walking.  It is difficult to work on a novel while walking, because it is large and unwieldy.  I can't see much of it at once, to review it and edit it, so unless I can give myself some small assignment, I have to work on something new.  Thus, Rema and Romula.  I am gathering ideas, accruing inspiration, creating characters, imagining scenarios. 
            I love writing.  I become quite pleased with myself when I write something I like, whether it's interesting (to me), funny (to me), smart (to me), or pleases me in some other way, it makes me happy.  (The first person I intend to please and entertain is myself!)
            I become despondent when I can't write, or when I decide something I've written is bad or hopelessly flawed.  Sometimes, writing can be a roller coaster.  The smallest thing can please me or knock me down. 
            One of the things I collect in my novel slop buckets are names and nicknames.  Finding the right name for a character is crucial (to me), so when I succeed, it can send me into fits of smiling.  And I know not everyone would agree with my choices.  Some of them would seem downright odd.
            For example, in Rema and Romula, two teachers play primary roles in the as of yet unwritten novel (I've written maybe four or five chapters, some or all of which may need to be rewritten or jettisoned.)  One of the two important teachers is Mr. Alan Mallain.  He is black, in his thirties, large, muscular, handsome, and wears long braids tied back in a pony.  He's married, heterosexual. 
            The kids, in the habit of nicknaming all their teachers with fairly negative nicknames, call him Malign.  They also call him Bo-bo because of his "repeating" name.  Then one of the girls starts calling him Malificent.  The others object.  He's not female, he's not little, and he’s not a fairy (at which the boys all laugh).  It’s too long; it’s cumbersome.  Someone even says, "He's not bad".  But Argiki says, "He bad" and when Argiki says "bad," he means really, really good.  Keisha points out that Mr. Mallain is magnificent.  And everyone agrees.  Malificent sticks.  It's somehow a perfect nickname for the kids to call him.
            And I feel something so akin to happiness, I could readily label it "joy."  Such fun. 

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Messenger



I lifted weights while my boyfriend looked on from the comfort of an overstuffed chair. While I counted reps, and he said, “14, 52, 37, 25, 103!” to confuse my count. I started laughing and the weights crashed down, pinning one of my hands between them. I yelped in surprise and pain.

Something was wrong. My boyfriend took me to the hospital. The crashing iron weights had smashed a bone in my hand. They fixed me up and put my hand in a cast.

Going to the bathroom was difficult, especially refastening my pants. Cooking was difficult. Writing was difficult. Everything seemed difficult. I felt sorry for myself.

I walked from work to the nearby glassed-in mall to have lunch at the food court since I could not prepare my own lunch. While I stood in line grousing to myself about my misfortune, a woman came to stand directly behind me in line.  She was smiling.  She had no hand.

She was cheerful.

I felt terrible.

I knew immediately she was an angel, a messenger from the universe. My hand would heal. Hers never would. If she could be cheerful, surely I could.  I smiled and felt better.  My hand healed.  But my heart healed first.

(If I posted this before, I apologize.  I couldn't find it, so here it is.)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Rabbits

A friend of a friend is collecting rabbit art on Facebook.  I have sent some art to her.  Here is a second one:

The Cheshire Rabbit
or
White Rabbit through Prism glasses
by me
digitally altered photograph
(Digital painting)

Hobbitses Eating all Dick's Grass

Hobbitses Eating All Dick's Grass
Digital art by me
for Rabbit Art  (drawing) Challenge
submission #1

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hypnogogics: The Puppet man, blood on the cinch and other images of insomnia

Puppet man, Scary evil man with sharp teeth
hypnogogic image from last night
watercolor
Blood on the cinch
Hypnogogic image from last night
watercolor
Avocado, watch, toll money, jelly jar
oil pastels on textured paper in handmade sketchbook
Insomnia painting/sketch for me
by Heidi Chester
watercolor, oil pastels, colored pencils.
Click any image to view larger.
(Click the back button to return to story)
Heidi's bouquet
watercolor, by me
Last night, I suffered from insomnia.  This is, unfortunately, fairly common for me, though I've discovered that if I avoid certain foods, I sleep much better.  Last night, I did not sleep well at all, and as often happens, I had weird and scary hypnogogic images so bright as to be almost hallucinatory.  Those are the first two images.  The third I drew ("painted") with oil pastels at the motel when I was awake at night.  The fourth image my friend Heidi drew for me in my handmade sketchbook when I was visiting her, and the lsat I painted of her bouquet right before bed.  A delayed bedtime, due to doing art.

In the blood on the cinch painting, I was rubbing blood on a beautiful highly decorative cinch on my horse.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Elephant Envelope for Mike

elephant envelope front
Mary Stebbins Taitt
to Mike Kline
acrylic on padded envelope
addresses cloned out
elephant envelope back
Mary Stebbins Taitt
to Mike Kline
acrylic on padded envelope
I have painted an envelope to send my Mole back to Mike who has offered to finish his work directly in the Moleskine.  YAY

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Last Gasp in Mike's Moleskine

Everyone cheered to watch racers run
"final?"
by me, Mary Stebbins Taitt
I am finally finished with Mike's Moleskine, and will mail it ASAP on hopefully Monday or Tuesday.
*The paper is getting progressively thicker!  Below is the prior version.  Since then I have repaired the head of the last wolf, opened Frankie's eyes, changed the color of the grass and added detail.  This was the hold-up. I kept fiddling with it, trying to get it right.


"Had Races and Won"
Acrylic on thin Moleskine paper*
4th coat
Because I had it so long, I did some additional pieces:

Biker Buddy
by Mary Taitt
At the end of a long day
By Mary Taitt
The Nature Conservancy wants to publish 20,000 elephant pictures, so I am trying to help them out.

Old Bull
collab for Mike

And a new pocket item--with elephants:

Dusk
card by Mary Taitt for Mike's pocket

Friday, May 29, 2015

Working on Moleskine Exchange




I still have Mike's Mole.  I have painted an envelope for it and am including 2 of my first-ever woodblock prints as "pocket items."  Sorry these are kind of crappy cell phone pix--may later post scans.   Also, I will have to send my own Mole back to Mike to finish up.

Click images to view larger.  Also, note that my gmail account is all full and I cannot send or receive messages!  :(