Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Then, and Almost Now

In a recent comment, Mermaid got me thinking about the journey of writing: where we started, where we were, where we are now, and where we're going. I thought it might be fun to share another retro poem, then pair it with a similar scene from a novel written a year ago. The short story "Caroline" is a good example of where I am today, but these two pieces offer a glimpse into my own process of growth and learning.

The Attic (February 19, 1988)
alone in deep forest
barely seen through sentinel trees
from my bedroom window
when I curl up in soft covers
and let the night
sing me to sleep.
Midnight hours
where wind whistles on eaves,
a light moves between the panes--
a figure
a shadow;
the old wood makes it feel at home.
Seventeen years in this room;
no one has lived over there.
I've seen the woman.
She only wants to watch the moon
slowly drift across of the sky.

Excerpt from THE HICKORY BARRENS (May 2005)

Behind him, a glow suddenly shimmered to life, and a long shadow formed his own silhouette. In the cold illumination, Michael could see thin shapes crossing and waving in an invisible breeze.

The full moon, he thought. It's shining though the window.

He turned around, and a cry was punched from his stomach.

Curled on the window ledge, bathed in the cold light as she stared out to the sleeping world, the figure of Miranda sat. He blinked and blinked, but she still was there. Her dress blended with the pallor of the light as if her entire figure was poured from the moon. Michael's heart bled at the sight of her against the black sky.

Slowly, her cheek turned in his direction. A sense of presence flooded the room, and wispy threads of perfume materialized. Without surprise or hesitation, her eyes connected with him.

The light faltered as an unseen cloud rolled past the face of the moon, and her intensity dwindled. Her expression never changed even as that cloud thickened and pitched the room back into near darkness. In that half light, Michael saw the curves of her face and a glint of reassurance in her eyes.

When the light returned, however, she had vanished.


Kelly Parra said...

Jason, wow, I enjoyed that excerpt a lot. Very powerful and the writing tight. The poem is great too. You can definitely see the growth of your writing. =D

Melissa Marsh said...

This was an amazing passage, Jason. The imagery was wonderful!

I love to read about other writers' journeys. For me, it's been nearly a lifelong thing.

beadinggalinMS said...

Great excerpt Jason! :)

Bernita said...

Don't see it so much as growth as a different approach.
Those are lovely bones, Jason, that poem.
And Mom says take out "suddenly."

Terri said...

What can I say? You did what you set out to do here. Love the excerpt, you weave beautiful imagary.

Erik Ivan James said...

Thanks for sharing Jason. I'm pleased that I started to visit here.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, thanks. :) I mentioned on Bernita's blog that I'll be "mining" last year's novel at some point in the future. I think its core is a charming plot, but I need to execute it differently. Funny how after only one year, you can look back and not be happy with the writing.

Melissa, I know what you mean about lifelong! I wrote my first stories at 7, my first "novel" at 15, and got my first short story published at 19. Then, college, law school, and starting a career put writing on ice. I regret that lost time. Around six years ago, I started writing again regularly. It's taken me that long to finally get it remotely right. The journey is unending, though, so I'm just going to keep on walking....

BeadinggalinMS, thanks! And thanks again for the plug on your blog!

Bernita (mom), you should've seen my cringing--just dying to revise both of those tidbits! I used to LOVE "suddenly." No more. I've seen the light. Consider it struck.

Terri, glad you like the excerpt. THE HICKORY BARRENS is a fun story. In one time frame, a girl falls in love with a ghost. In the main time frame (modern), the roles are reversed. The two are trying to reunited in the midst of the forces which got them killed in the first place.

Erik, and I'm very glad to have you here! Thanks for the link on your site. I've added a link back.

mermaid said...

I certainly see a command of words and phrases between the first and second. The second is more descriptive, but the first has the whisper and awe of youth that reminds us of why we are where we are.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Jason, I used to mourn the years I lost 'not writing'... but you know, I'm glad now because those 'lost years' gave me something to write about.

Glad to have met you - love your posts!

Shesawriter said...

You have a definite gift for evocative writing and description, Jason.


Shannon said...

Hi!! Beading send me over here.. sorry it's so late.. just wanted to say hello to a fellow PA person!! Great Blog!! See ya around =)

Shannon said...

sent* even lol

Anonymous said...

Mermaid, as I look through my teenage writing, it is filled with that wonder of seeing and feeling deeply for the first time. You're right, it's only the technical skill which has improved, the outlook I have now began then.

Dana, so true! When I was in college (and earlier) I used to get so irritated when I was told that I was too young to have something to say. While not literally true (great YA writing, middle grade, etc. is done by young folks), there IS something important gained by more life experience. BTW--I'm glad to have met you also.

Tanya, thank you! You've helped me focus on my strengths.

Shannon, always great to see a new commenter!! And another Pennsylvanian no less. Very cool! I hope you have a chance to browse around.

Jeff said...

I definitely see the progression in your work. Very nice, jason. :)

Robin Caroll said...

Isn't it almost a relief to look back and see your progress? How far we come along, what we learn in our crafts? I love doing that.

Sandra Ruttan said...

shesawriter stole what I was going to say.

You use words beautifully.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, the poetry isn't too awful. But you should see my novel from that time. Oh. My. God.

Robin, yes, it does give you a sense of accomplishment. And also hope. Effort does get results. I look forward to new goals and new lessons.

Sandra, thank you for the kind words!

Jess Riley said...

I don't think people would stop laughing / gagging if I posted some of my old poetry.

Have a great weekend!

R.J. Baker said...

Jason, I'm not sure it's so much writing differently than being in a different place, mentally, to write from - perception changes as we age, mature, and have varied experiences.

Bernita beat me to the suddenly thing.

It is a lifelong journey.

Anonymous said...

Jess, oh, don't worry. I have plenty that would be handy for poison control. Forget the Ipecac.

R.J., suddenly I see it's not a helpful word. ;)