…Which means, it’s time to talk about NOT ALL MONSTERS, an anthology of horror by women writers compiled by the wonderful, Stoker Award-winning Sara Tantlinger (with cover and interior art by Don Noble). Every week in February, Sara’s hosting a round-table on her blog — asking the authors who have written for NOT ALL MONSTERS questions about their stories!
Everything sounds so rich, I’m excited to be in such good company. And as for me, well, “‘The Good Will’ envisions an after-life in which gods are dress-forms and the soul is a quilt…” Read the full inspiration for this and other stories here!
There were poinsettias everywhere, because the church was still decorated for Christmas, and my dad was in a box. We were singing “The Lord is My Shepherd” – my aunt, my uncles, my cousins, my husbands, and me – and my dad was in a box. I was kneeling with my head bowed while the rest all filed up to receive the Eucharist, because I am not Confirmed but – also – because my dad was in a box.
And by that I mean we all are!
I have never been good with my hands. It’s the cerebral palsy. There is no middle ground, for me, between the over-hard, stress-red clench of a pen and a tentative, trembling touch. So that I do not shake, I type too loud, and draw too dark. It’s why I never use pencil – because there’s no point even trying to erase my lines.
I need the force of purpose connecting me to pen and pen to paper – like a completed circuit through which lightning passes. Have you ever been electrocuted? I have. You get locked in by the current. I need to be steadied like that, at the writing desk.
This week, I shared a writing exercise with my writer’s group. It’s called “Starting from Solitude,” and it was developed by Richard Hoffman. It’s intended for memoir writing, and it’s unique in that it organically gets the writer back into her own head at a (probably rough) moment in her life. Working as a sort of guided writing meditation, it sneaks up on the writer, allowing her to wade into the past, rediscovering almost-forgotten details, piece by piece, until she finds she is submerged. She is there again, entirely.
(IMAGE CREDIT: Marco Michelini via FREEIMAGES.COM)
At a red light, once upon an icy evening, Mom and I watched as a woman on a motorcycle tipped over. The immediate fear, of course, was that she was hurt – if not from the bike falling on her leg, then from her head hitting the pavement.
“Call 9-1-1,” Mom said, throwing the car into park and handing me her cell phone, before running to help.
By Briana McGuckin
Divorce divided my childhood
Into two Christmases, two Easters, two birthdays and, later,
When I’d moved out of my mom’s, two phone calls
To catch both parents up on what my father termed
“what’s new, what’s hip, what’s happenin’” Read More
On Wednesday, I started reading The Fall by Diogo Mainardi, a memoir about fathering a boy who falls down a lot because he has cerebral palsy. I have cerebral palsy, too. That’s why it’s on my reading list.
On that same Wednesday, I fell. And I didn’t just fall – I fell with a glass Starbucks bottle in my hand. When it shattered, glass gouged an inch deep into my wrist. I would need six stitches there, and one more in my palm. I didn’t know that at the time.
I’m glad I read Before the Door Closes (by Judith Hall Simon) directly after Keeping My Balance. This, after that, reminds me that good writing is not so simple as replacing summary with scene, always; rather, good writing has both in moderation.
If writing were as simple as giving us scene after scene, Before the Door Closes would be beyond reproach. We are present for everything, from formative experiences between Simon and her father to hospital trips at the end of the father’s life. Our placement in a scene engages our feelings for daughter and dad, but there are so many different things going on from passage to passage that it’s hard to know where to spend our emotional energy.