Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guest Writer - Sarah Hina

Our first of three guest writers to show us how it is done is Sarah Hina.

Sarah is a First Place and Readers' Choice Award winner of Clarity contests. She is the debut author of Plum Blossoms in Paris. As Publishers Weekly astutely recognizes (as if there were any question), Sarah's style weaves "a fantastical quality to the dreamer's idyll of a romantic tryst with an artistic Frenchman in Paris." If you haven't read it, do it. I gave you the link and everything.

So I now give Sarah the floor. She wanted to share some thoughts on what kind of people writers are and why opportunities like this one to come together and challenge ourselves are important.


Writers show up.

Quietly and faithfully, without bellyaching or grandstanding, they grab a pen or a laptop, and invite doubt and vulnerability into their lives. Day after day, with an obstinacy that defies financial reward or mercurial praise. And over the years, what begins as a bit of a gamble is honed into nothing less than the assertion of a human will and soul.

So that maybe, on the fortune-kissed days, the words grow so pliant that they follow us into our dreams at night, only to fall like rain from our fingertips at dawn.

These happen to be the days in which I feel the most alive.

Jason Evans makes people want to show up. A Clarity of Night contest is both the wind in a beginner’s sails and a proving ground for veterans. I started blogging because of these contests. They coax art and economy from every writer, and they have had a lasting impact on my writing.

I know “Elemental” will do the same for many of you.

Thank you for being here and for all your incredible stories. And thank you to our talented host for working so hard to make this a trusted, supportive venue.


The Prime Mover
by Sarah Hina

To the fetus, the heartbeat was time, a lullaby, the low and high tides. A nuclear furnace, the lungs of the stars.

“She likes chocolate best. Starts squirming like a fish if I so much as look at it.”

Suspended in her soup, the words didn’t catch. But she knew the voice, disguised as waves, and the voice was God’s.

“So Mama would call you ‘Snickers.’ And my vote’s for ‘Alice.’ What say you, Pumpkin?”

This voice belonged to the Other; it tickled to the bone.

“We ain’t exactly Wonderland, Jimmy.”

“She kicked! Did you feel that, Gracie? She knows her daddy already!”

Her cheek turned toward the warmth. The heartbeat flared.

“All right. You got what you wanted. Now off to work with you.”

“This shift’ll be the death of me.”

“Yeah? Try pregnancy sometime."

An elbow jerked at the door’s hard close.

“Hush, you.”

The heartbeat was a piston, churning with acid. She stuck out her tongue, lapping up the last of the sweetness.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Pick. Up. Please, God. Pick up.”

Like a fist around a shell, the walls squeezed down again. Fewer heartbeats separated this cycle from the last.

“Clay. You there? I don't know what to—she’s coming, you hear? He thinks I’m only eight months, but it’s well past nine and—nine, Clay. Do you hear what I’m telling you?”

The eyes opened.

The heartbeat grew faint under the bowel’s whale song.

At the surface, a scar of light glimmered. The child blinked.


Aimee Laine said...

“This shift’ll be the death of me.”
“Yeah? Try pregnancy sometime."

Exactly! :)

This was great. At first I went ... who's Clay? So I did a re-read of those 'well past nine' words and oopsie. ;) :)

jrthumbprints said...

Wow! Such clarity! You never lost me for not one moment. I absolutely love the simplicity of the last line: The child blinked. Again, WOW!

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah,

Love the way you chose the unborn baby's VP. Tricky, but masterfully done. As soon as the F-word was introduced, I sensed things weren't what they seemed. And, to boot, a 'kick in the nuts' ending (for Jimmy!).

Classy writing.


Stephen Parrish said...

This is brilliant. I too had to read it twice before I understood who Clay was, and the relevance of Jimmy's (night) shift. Then I read it again just to enjoy it without analyzing. Then I read it again . . .

Michael Morse said...

Another great story to add to the those here. I loved it, great work, clear, concise and powerful. Thank you, and especially for the encouraging words before the story.

Wendy said...

Oh, Sarah, Sarah. Tremendous and beautiful and startling.

Sarah Hina said...

Aimee: oopsie, indeed. ;) Thank you for reading!

J.R.: I had something different as the last line, but like I said above, these contests make me better. And most of the time, simple is better.

Thanks so much for your kind words.

Col Bury: Poor Jimmy! And he's such a good daddy, too.

I wanted the challenge of a difficult POV. And I love to explore the dichotomy between the ideal and the...less than ideal. Original sin takes on a whole new context here. Thanks.

Steve: Smanks. "Brilliant," from you, brings a smile to my face. I'm looking forward to your sure-to-be brillianter piece.

Michael: It was my pleasure. It's been awhile since I participated, and I'm truly grateful for the opportunity. It's always a delight to read so many powerful, poignant pieces.

Sarah Hina said...

Wendy! Thank you, my friend. I'm touched.

Anonymous said...

Delicious, delicious twist! So perfectly scripted, so brilliantly telegraphed. You led us to the cliff while we were just enjoying the view and then pushed us off without so much as a hint of ceremony. It is in the economy of it that the brilliance lies.

You know how I feel about your writing. ;) But this, this I wish were mine:

"A nuclear furnace, the lungs of the stars."

God. Damn.


Loren Eaton said...

Very nicely done, Sarah. And I'm not just saying that because my second one is on his/her way.

Wendy said...

Oh, and JASON... thank you for having guest writers!!!

Charles Gramlich said...

Sara has the touch

Aniket Thakkar said...

Charles says it all in just four words!
She sure has the touch. :)

Sarah, its been looong time that we've been travelling on the bridge of my admiration towards you and your generosity towards me. And I've not yet found a good enough way to express how your work makes me feel. If I have to put it in a word, I'll pick its - honest.
Its fiction but from a deep and honest place. And thats special.

Thank you for another wonderful read. It wont keep me satisfied till your second book though. ;)

You keep writing, we'll keep reading. That's the way the world is supposed to work. Don't ask me, how I know it.

SzélsőFa said...

you twist the reader from a seemingly happy couple with an elbow's jerk :) only much more in a flawless way... to a totally different world. great piece.

strugglingwriter said...

Yeah, poor Jimmy.

Great work here Sarah. Showin' us how it's done.


Sarah Hina said...

JA: I've become more and more brain dead as the day wears on, so all I'll say is....YAY. I made you curse! ;)

Thank you. I'm always stupidly pleased to read your comments. Today is no exception.

Loren: Aww...I wish him/her well. Parenthood keeps us humble, I think. Thanks.

Wendy: WELL SAID. :)

Charles: I missed your voice in this contest. Thank you, my friend.

Aniket: Writing this piece was a welcome break from that book! Which, let's be honest, has been gestating for entirely TOO LONG. ;)

I'm always overwhelmed by your comments and friendship. "Honest" means a lot to me. Hugs and thanks, my TARDIS-flying companion. :))

SzelsoFa: You've always been a big part of these contests, and it's good to see you here again. Thank you for your warm words.

Paul: I still think comedy's harder. ;) But thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, ha! You and the webinar.

Precie said...

Re: writers...well, some of us are guilty of bellyaching... :)

Re: your story...I love how vividly you craft these characters...and I feel sympathy for the unborn child who is about to enter a rocky world. Wonderfully done. It's always a treat to see you work.

Anonymous said...

I think poetry is such a wonderful tool of expression. It doesn't deserve to be relegated just to poems! You always demonstrate how much more impact and art we can squeeze out of prose by painting with a touch of poetry.

Thanks for guest writing, Sarah!

Sandra Cormier said...

Omigosh; poor Jimmy!

What an exquisite use of dialogue, Sarah. It was a pleasure reading it.

Sarah Hina said...

JA: Grr...don't get me started! ;)

Precie: I actually chopped the word "much" before "bellyaching." We wouldn't be writers if we didn't whine...a little. ;)

Thank you for everything you said here.

Jason: Thanks for having me! It's a real treat to be given this opportunity.

I think, over the years, the poetry has lessened in my prose, and for the better. But still, nothing thrills me more as a writer than to indulge that side of myself. I'm glad that's appreciated. :)

Sandra: I love writing dialogue! Thanks for remarking on that aspect. :)

Unknown said...

OMG...I'm reading along and I get to the end, and I a minute... and I go back and read it again. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks...Clay isn't the guy who walked out the door, the one who's working the late shift. matter how long you hold your legs together, when that baby's ready to come, it's just going happen. She has some explaining to do...

Loved it!!

Dottie :)

Joni said...

Breathtaking, Sarah. You've got a such a stunning and distinctive voice.

I've missed you.
I finished PBinP ages ago. I'm ready for you WIP to be just a W. :)

Erratic Thoughts said...

I can so sense the child's blinking...this is just beautiful...
"and the voice was God’s" can't beat that...just superb...:)

Margaret said...

Sarah, you gripped me right from the start with that opening.

I love the way your writing is so true to life. Aniket used the word 'honest' and he was dead on! (As he always is!)

This is something that just has to be read again and again to savour every single word.

susan ellis said...

This is what I saw when I first looked at the photo but was unable to put into words what you did so well. Fantastic!

Sarah Hina said...

Dottie: nothing like waiting until the last minute! Thanks for your kind words. :)

Joni: It's getting closer. I finally hit my stride with it, after too many wrong turns. Thanks for this--and I'm so gratified you read Plum.

Erratic Thoughts: I'm touched by your words. I could really see that part, too. Thank you!

Margaret: That's very sweet. Thank you, my friend.

And yes, Aniket is ALWAYS right! Well, except for that part about liking Steve's piece more. That won't do at all. ;)

Susan: I noticed some other people had the same interpretation. That's one of the things I love best about these contests--how the same inspiration can assume so many different shapes!

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The last lines, for me, create in words the searing contrast in the prompt. The child IS, and Clay or Jimmy or whatshername can avoid that reality. Their petty selfish actions and naïve hopes pale when the child IS. This is terrific, and the more I think about it, the more I think of it as art for real.

Catherine Vibert said...

It's the way you weave the words together that makes it so masterful. Your poetic phrasing combined with the point of view combine to take this piece from a big oops story to a tapestry of consequence. It is SO good to see you HERE.

Michele Zugnoni said...

I read this piece three times. There's something intimately poetic in your words: a lyrical pulse beating behind the page, bringing your characters and their world to life. I felt their emotions, I saw their struggle. Excellent work.

Thank you for your inspirational words, and for sharing your gift.

Sarah Hina said...

Anonymous: Wow, thank you. I do believe writing can rise to art, and I'm deeply gratified you found that here.

Cat: "Tapestry of consequence" is awesome. :) Thank you, my friend. It's always so good to see you, too.

Mikki: and thank you for your incredibly complimentary words. I loved them all.

Old Kitty said...

Goodness! The baby about to be born is just scary! "the child blinked"! Yikes! Oh wow - poor mum! I wanted the story to continue!!Take care

Richard Levangie said...

Sarah: A delightful composition brimming with stylish, confident prose. I didn't have to read it twice to follow, but I read it twice anyway.

Sarah Hina said...

Old Kitty: Thank you!

Richard: That's very kind of you. I felt lucky to take part in this contest. Thanks, my friend.

Unknown said...

I've read quite a few birthing/ pregnancy stories in this contest, but I liked this one hands down the best....lovely.