Ambrosia for Horses

On the way home from an appointment in Cordova yesterday, I drove past the back paddocks of Shelby Park Farms. They were filled with the most beautiful horses. It was a real community of horses with family groups and ponies—not the usual clutch of shell-shocked animals standing alone with only flies for company.  The color spectrum was fantastic: black walnut, roasted chestnut, fudge brownie, sweet caramel, buttercream, and champagne. Some were solid shades others had swirls, patches, spots, and dappling.

The ponies and adolescents nipped and played with each other in the recent patches of mud, splashing each other in the aftermath of the spontaneous spring storm. The light breeze danced in their hair as they trotted passed small groups of adults nibbling on sweet grasses.

I haven’t seen so many horses in one place in more than ten years.  I pulled into the park with the zeal only nature stirs in me.  I got out of the car with a bag of the Ambrosia apples, my absolute favorite apple.

The Ambrosia is a natural hybrid born in an orchard in British Columbia.

They were on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I bought four. But I couldn’t keep them to myself.  I put them on the ground and sliced them into chunks with the windshield scraper in my car.

Standing at the barbed-wire fence feeding the horses all my cares fell away: the headaches, financial pressures, writing insecurities, all of it.  Gone. Some of them ate more than others. There was plenty of nipping and horsey side-eye. Horses aren’t very big on sharing—or waiting.

It reminded me of grocery shopping when my family lived in Midland, Texas.  Back then, I’d go to the store and return about three hours later. I would legit spend two hours in the grocery store, but that last hour I’d spend at the fences feeding the neighbors horses the carrots or apples I’d bought just for them. My family could never understand what took me so long. Not sure if I ever told them, but I was feeding the horses. I only managed a few shots. The last one is my favorite.  Pictures!

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be free

Eryka

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MidSouthCon 2017

Went to MidSouthCon yesterday for the writing panels and to meet some of the Sci-Fi writers. It was my first time going to a Science Fiction convention, so I was a bit unprepared for the cosplayers commitment to their characters. But boy was it fun!

The panelists provided a wealth of information on the business of writing, the art of the short story, effective self-editing and many other topics. However, the networking was amazing.  Looking forward to next year!

Pictures!!

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The Gollum Life – I

I went to the opening of Fiber| A Tribute to Black Femininity at the Orange Mound Gallery last night. It was a fantastic event and a great opportunity to see familiar faces again. It has been a while since I have done anything truly social–excluding the dating auction and we are definitely excluding the dating auction. Everyone asked what I’d been up to and all I could say was: “Writing. Working and writing.”

I’ve submitted a few poems for publication, but most of my writing is still in here with me—in my apartment.  Chillin’ in journals and skipping around my laptop. My mom says they might as well still be in my head. That is a hard truth to accept, but she is right. Such effort and energy and it never goes anywhere.

Confused Gollum

Put on big girl panties? Share my Precious or watch it die?

 

At this point, I feel like Gollum roaming about my cave cradling my Precious. I write it. Rewrite it. Polish it. And hide it, protecting my precious words from exposure and criticism. Hissing at anyone who comes near.

But the irony is my writing will never improve until I do expose it the type of informed criticism that will hone and refine it.

 

So that is what I’m doing now, crawling out of my cave with my Precious in-hand. Squinting at the light.

be free

E.

 

 

Lessons from the Bloodchild

I just finished reading Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild and Other Stories.” I’ve read “Bloodchild” several times as I work on my own short stories.  But there is something special about reading the collection. Butler, a confessed novelist, but her short stories are masterfully clear, engaging, concise and impactful. She relays the most graphic and disturbing content as if they were announcements in a pew bulletin.

Butler also wrote with freedom. She wasn’t bound by tropes, rigid structure or “approved” content. She wrote HER stories her way and waited for others to experience the brilliance.

Upon reflection, I can see the cowardice in my own writing. I write in anticipation of readers’ questions or desires. I spend a tremendous amount of time on description, backstory, and minutia that really don’t approach let alone advance the plot.

It’s like making pasta sauce, but letting your dinner guest pick the ingredients, proportions, and timing, whether they can cook or not.  I can’t even imagine it!  I don’t even let people IN my kitchen when I’m cooking, so I do I let strangers all up in my stories when I write?

In short, I’m not telling MY stories. I’m trying to get readers to affirm that I am a good writer –this is artistic cowardice at its finest.

Good writing is about the work, not the writer.

I regret not reading Octavia Butler earlier in life. But I am grateful for the opportunity to feast on the results of her talent, hard work, and the ZERO fucks she gave when they tried to tell her what should be in her sauce.

be free.

Eryka

 

2017 by the Book

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

“Grab the nearest book. Flip to page 117. The second sentence.  This is your life in 2017.”  41sthyumvkl-_sl250_

The first book I grabbed was Shrunk & White’s Elements of Style, which is only 85 pages, so I looked to the right and pulled Dorothea Brande’s Becoming a Writer from under a stack of papers.

My passage read: All such easy and minor exercises are excellent for you if you really want to write.

Can it really be as simple as doing the exercises?  Not just any exercise, but the easy and minor exercises.  So this will be my year.

Doing the exercises. Doing the work of the writer.  I can live with that.

And I can think of no better place to start than revisiting Dorothea’s timeless classic.

If you haven’t read it, I invite you to read-a-long with me.

Eryka