Memory is malleable.
In my short story The Broken Bottle, I refer to Akira Kurosawa’s seminal movie Rashomon, in which each witness to a murder tells a different story of the crime – including the ghost of the victim. While Rashomon paints a scenario in which individuals may or may not be lying to us about their memory, I propose that our own memories lie to us. Often they tell us the stories we want to hear about ourselves. And what we want to hear changes as we move further and further away from the truth of the event. (Of course, “want” may be debatable. But I’ll leave that psychological discussion to another time.)
Johanna, the protagonist of The Broken Bottle says, “It’s as though the young woman I was back on that wet July night stands in the middle of a polygonal mirrored room. Though she is surrounded by the facts of the moment, all she can see are the distorted reflections, refracting through time.”
When I look back on my childhood, which I shared with my sister and my parents and an assortment of friends, family and pets, it’s an ethereal landscape. Sometimes shrouded in dense fog. Periodically illuminated, so that specific places or people stand out so clearly that I can taste the air, smell their perfume, feel the emotions in the pit of my stomach – especially the shock of embarrassment or great hurt or ecstasy. But mostly, everything and everyone in my past are Read More
This week, I was invited by Chrissy at Every Free Chance to recount how Daniel and I create and work in our shared fantasy world of Black Bear, Pennsylvania, where we both are setting novels and stories.
“Welcome to Black Bear, Pennsylvania. Similar to so many small towns you’ve known, driven through or possibly even lived in, Black Bear has a Main Street dotted with local businesses (active and defunct). Marge at Good Taste whips up the best hot fudge sundae you’ll ever have. Buck’s has been spruced up and modernized in recent years, and is now a franchised supermarket (though not as super as those you’d find in big city or suburban shopping centers). Grampa Schmoyer’s drugstore was driven out of business by the Rite-Aid that opened up in nearby Hamlin, about fifteen years ago. It’s now a charity consignment shop, run by the two local churches and the tiny new synagogue. And the old elementary school, where “everyone’s” grandparents went, is a boarded up derelict building where kids are warned not to venture. Schoolchildren are now bussed out of town….”
To read the rest of this essay about Daniel’s and my creative relationship and our personal writing processes, click here: The Grottas’ Literary Folie aux Deux .
“Welcome home, my dear friends. Please sit. Let’s catch up on what’s happened since you were last with me. Rishana and Judith , I’m sure you have a lot to share with each other, but please, not behind my back. Johanna , I suggest that you have a chat with Savah, she might be able to help you. Ryl and Joe, you know where the scones are; please bring them from the kitchen, while we await the others. Now, where were we?”
About a week ago, I was sitting in the glow of the Lag B’Omer bonfire, when Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum asked me what I was doing these days. A loaded question, to be sure, what with Read More
A bit over a month ago, I was just finishing up what I thought was the last edit of my novel Jo Joe. All my years of writing, rewriting, submitting for critiques, responding to muy editors’ edits/suggestions/critiques, followed by still more rewrites were finally coming to their logical conclusion. My baby would soon go off into the “real” world on her own, to sink or swim, depending on the currents: i.e. publishing vicissitudes and reader responses. The next step would be bound galleys (and ePub galleys) for reviewers. Yes, I would have a chance to make changes after that, but only small, critical ones.
In other words, it was nearly that time when I would have to let go. Parents who send their children off to college probably experience the same mix of dread and elation that an author has when sending their novel off to be published. While I found find it difficult to no longer eat, drink, sleep and dream Jo Joe, I was looking forward to closing the book (literally) and moving on. I have other projects waiting in the wings – another novel plus my ongoing American Hands narrative portrait project. And after all the wonderful feedback we’ve gotten from my editor and Beta Readers, I was very much looking forward to finding out how reviewers and readers would react to Jo Joe. (Hope springs eternal in an author’s breast.)
On the morning of the day that I fully believed I would be saying “so long,” to Jo Joe, not expecting to see her again until I receive my copies of the printed bound galley, Daniel made an apparent off-the-cuff comment over the breakfast table. “I wonder what it would be like if Jo Joe were in present tense.”Read More
When I was fresh out of college, the only thing I wanted to do was sing. I knew that eventually I would want to write my stories, but first I ached to sing them. After several years of struggling in the New York scene, and singing only occasionally in various clubs, I came to realize that creating music meant that there had to be ears to hear it. Otherwise, my songs were nothing more than abstractions created in isolation, floating in the air with no place to land, to be made real.
I left New York, and in a round-about way (too complex to go into here), I finally ended up creating my stories in words and in pictures. But, like my music, my stories need Read More