A New Class

In Mid-August, I was lucky enough to be in Berlin at the Bahnhof Hamburger Museum where I saw an exhibit of Jack Whitten’s work. It was mostly his mosaic works and, to be honest, they captivated me. This is a piece called Flying High: Betty Carter.

From a distance, it looked like a wonderful homage to this jazz singer. But as I stepped closer and closer, I said, “This is how I write. Bits. Intricate bits. Stuck together. To tell a bigger story.” That when I conceived of this new class: Writing In Mosaic

Each week, I will give the class an overarching, big picture word or phrase or theme (e.g. The First Kiss). We will write for a short time about that big thing, exploring it, turning it over, examining it. The idea is to warm to the big piece and find your proximity to it. Then in a series of five, ten, fifteen minutes prompts over our time together, I will lead you inside the pieces that make up the whole. Each smaller piece will be more intimate, more focused but they will shed light on the bigger subject from a different angle or perspective. In a way, we will be like archeologists exploring a site, going in close, dusting off an artifact then stepping back and exploring another section, another bit of the civilization within the world of the word, phrase or theme.

My thought is to sharpen our craft muscles by looking and looking again, using all our senses to shape a different kind of whole.

Will we read aloud? Yes. Although not every time and not all the time.

Do you have to share? No but yes. Hearing your work out loud is beautiful.

Will I have all the classes planned? I will certainly have the first two planned with an eye on the rest of them BUT I like hearing back from you about what’s working. If there is a word, phrase or theme that you want me to shape a class around, I would love to hear it.

Why writing in mosaic? Hmmm…I believe that readers and viewers are more sophisticated than ever today so I think that stripping away the connective tissue between moments is dynamic and exciting. That is mosaic. It doesn’t mean we don’t explore a quotidian habit or moment, but we don’t necessarily need to explore the trek downstairs to get to the kitchen table. Our readers will take the leap with us.

My first novel Evidence of Things Not Seen was written in mosaic. I am in the middle of revising a middle grade novel. Though it is a more traditional structure, my guiding principle (in the form of a post-it on my computer) during the first draft was: write the scene you know you need. That draft was a series of juicy, detailed scenes with bits of connective tissue. It gave me lots of details and insight into the characters. My second draft was going through and anchoring in the motivations of the main character. Now I am working on deepening the logic and consequence of each thread through the book. All of which is to say, every thing we create demands its own process but the ability to write sharp clear and detailed moments whether you are writing novels, poems, short story or memoirs, will be a well-used tool in your craft tool box.

The class begins on Tuesday, September 24 and will meet every other week from 6-8:30 until December 3. The class will be held at 2004 Goodrich Avenue. Cost $240 There are only two spots left.

Join us. I’ll leave you with one more close up of Jack Whitten’s work.

Bittersweet

I was in NewOrleans during Tropical Storm Barry, pressing my little nose against shuttered shops and restaurants all weekend when the prompt “bittersweet” popped into my mailbox. I noodled with ideas and images of being stuck inside a storm and outside taped and sandbagged stores. Nothing worked. Then this morning, I learned a dear friend’s mom is crossing over and this poem came…

BITTERSWEET

When you call hospice for me
When the care becomes less urgent
When we are waiting instead of hoping
Pull up a chair
Lots of chairs
Bring the loved ones round
All of them
And talk, let the words drift over me
Let them settle on my hair
And in my nose
Offer me a sip of ginger ale
Every now and again
With chipped ice floating in it
But please keep talking
Don’t leave the room
Not even for chores
Bring the laundry straight from the dryer
Fold it on top of me
And keep talking
I want the sound of your voice to be the last thing I let go of

Lindsey Lane,
July 17, 2019

BestPartBestPartBestPart….

What is the Best Part?
Something unanticipated?
Something discovered?
Something long awaited?

Many years ago, my friend Anjani whispered to a friend that she longed to eat the entire inner seedless core of a watermelon. On her birthday, she woke to find a freshly picked watermelon at the foot of her bed. She cut the melon into four long quarters and then ate the inner core one bite at a time. In a way, she was thrilled to have accomplished her longing. She never wanted to do it again but every time she ate the tiny seedless triangles from a slice, she remembered the gorging event and told the story. I always wondered which was the best part: the little bits that create the longing or the goal achieved?

On this Tuesday night, July 9, at 8pm at Home Slice Pizza on South Congress Avenue, Austin Bat Cave is hosting its monthly storytelling event. The theme is The Best Part. Entrance is $10. I will tell a story and emcee the event. Gulp.

RIP KIKI

KIKI

It’s hard to Rest In Peace about your seventeen-year-old cat going missing one night. It’s hard not to bury a body. It’s hard not to know for sure they are dead.

Of course, the other side of it is hard: Watching them decline and agonizing over when or if is time to help them.

Either way, you feel like a crappy guardian of your beloved creatures. If I decide to help them die, I feel like I gave up. If I lose them, I feel irresponsible.

Here are the facts. Kiki came to us at one day old. We bottle-fed him. From the very beginning, he loved to be outdoors. (My cats have always had a designated window to go in and out.) And from the very beginning, he loved hunting. He brought me more birds, lizards, squirrels, mice and rats than any other other cat I’ve known. It was his jam.

In the winter, he would spend all his time indoors curled up in a warm place. Come spring, the birds screeched and the squirrels chattered when he reappeared. In the summer, he loved staying out all night.  I’d find him in the morning, on the screened porch sleeping off his stalking and ready for breakfast. Canned salmon, please.

Yes, he was slowing down. Yes, he seemed to have a little dementia. But he was still healthy. And he still loved to spend the night outside.

When I came home from the prison last Thursday night, he’d been indoors all day. I opened the porch door and he slipped out. That was the last I saw him. He didn’t come home for breakfast or dinner or breakfast or dinner…

I think a larger critter got him. I’ve seen a fox running across my yard. People have said they have seen coyotes. There was a report of a bobcat on the neighborhood listserv, but I seriously doubt it. Kiki did not hunt beyond the perimeter of our yard. He was wary of cars. No, I think a bigger animal came into our yard made him his prey. I like to think he wasn’t afraid. I like to think he knew what was happening when the claws and the teeth were upon him. I like to think he went willingly into the cycle of life, the way so many animals had succumbed to him.

I miss him. The way he’d lick the algae on the outdoor fountain for water. The way he would wake me up when it was time for breakfast. The way he would purr. The way he would claim a seat for weeks on end and then suddenly change it. The way he was a presence in our lives for seventeen years.

My darling Kiki…Rest in Peace.

Storms

Every Friday I receive a prompt to write a poem. This week’s was to write about a storm. After the prompt came in, I went to a dinner where someone said, “She was my sky.” It seemed like a good place to find a storm. (Ten mins or so)

She Was My Sky

I watched her from my crib or
a blanket on the floor or
my highchair perch or
best of all, from her lap.
The closer to her, the warmer I was.
Except when her hazel green eyes turned brown and dull and
her dry heavy sighs meant a storm was rolling in.
Then I scurried and hid in my closet
listening for silence,
waiting for the skies to clear and the wind to move the scuds away
I read every barometric pressure change in her skin
I followed her, the last of her four children,
toddling after my north star,
chanting like a drunken pirate
up, up, up pick me up.
-L2