John Clark, sitting in the most cluttered writing space in Maine. We’ve lived in this house for 12 years. When we first looked at it, Beth and I were excited because we saw personal space possibilities that had been unavailable in our previous home. I chose the room across the hall from our bedroom that looks out over where the town pool used to be. In fact, the remains complete with stagnant water, were still extant that first summer and we were serenaded every night by enough frogs to make one think they were in Africa.
The room remains essentially unchanged to this day. There’s a newer computer desk that’s already begging to retire, four computers and a ton of peripheral storage drives. It has a neat window seat thingy with storage space under it, but there’s so much clutter on top that I don’t think I’ve looked to see what I’ve stashed there in a couple years. Most of the remaining floor space is covered with piles of books, DVDs and music CDs. Some are waiting to be cataloged, but more are waiting to be read or listened to. There’s a subtle delight in the insanity of anticipation. Last time I checked, I had 80 gigabytes of music, all legally copied from my CDs or purchased online. If I started listening now, I’d be dead before I finished, but I still trade CDs online at swapacd.com, a sister site of paperbackswap.com where I’ve traded several thousand books and audio books. These two have another allied site, swapadvd.com where I trade duplicate DVDs for the library. Lately, I’ve been accumulating horror movies that no other library in Maine has because my patrons are really into that genre. See how easy it is to digress. Anyhow, there must be at least a hundred books in my TBR piles, but that doesn’t stop me from adding more.
You might think with traffic going by constantly, the subtle lure of a book begging to be read, etc. that writing in this mancave of clutter would be difficult. Oddly enough, it’s not, mainly because between the internet and the stuff lying around, I can find the information or the spark I need to move forward. Here’s an example. I had this great scene in my head for the current book where Skye and her new friend, Tina who also is a really good basketball player, but has almost no money, decide to go on a girls day out shopping spree to a number of thrift stores, starting in Ellsworth. It took a bit of convincing for Skye to get Tina to agree to being treated to whatever the heck caught her fancy, but once that happens, they start in Ellsworth and then go up Rt. 1A to Bangor. On the way back coming over the Airline, they’re chased by a couple really evil bikers and what happens is pretty dramatic, requiring cops and an ambulance. I needed to be sure that the place where it happened was across the line into Washington County so the right sheriff’s department would show up. That’s why I have my DeLorme Atlas sitting on top of the box of books next to my desk. The scene came out perfectly after I moved it about five miles east of where I’d planned to have it happen.
On to the light portion of this blog entry. March third was my granddaughter Piper’s first birthday, but Sara and Russ decided they wanted a big celebration, not only because there were a lot of cousins who hadn’t met Piper yet, but also as a celebration of Sara coming back from a pretty severe case of postpartum depression. They rented the community building in North Belgrade and it was a great time. Lots of laughter, games, eats and cake. Since there were younger cousins from both sides of the family, it was great fun to watch them look at each other, grin and start playing like they’d known each other for years. Too bad that wonderful trait seems to evaporate by the time we become adults. One of the things Sara put together for Piper is a time capsule in the form of a chest for her to open on her eighteenth birthday. Anyone at the party who wanted to, was encouraged to write a memory or a wish for her and these were all sealed in envelopes. It will be interesting to see how she reacts when it gets opened.
She sure is an outgoing and happy kid. We’ve gotten in the habit of saving a bit of our supper so Beth, who takes care of her during the week, can feed it to her the next day. Thus far, we have yet to find a fruit or vegetable that she hasn’t liked. She also loves to blow kisses to anyone who’s leaving. I’m excited for the time when she’s learned to speak and I can help her develop a vocabulary second to none to go with the sense of humor I just know she’ll have.
The first story I ever had published was called In Your Dreams and appeared in one of the earlier Level Best anthologies. It was actually written as self-therapy because I kept having a recurring dream about killing a woman back when I was still drinking and getting away with it. It was a very dark story. Oddly enough, as soon as I wrote it, I stopped having the dream. I pretty much got away from really dark stories after a while, but this year, when it came time for submissions to both Level Best and the Al Blanchard contest, I got back to my dark roots and sent in two that had fermented in my head very nicely. They’re both fairly short. The shorter of the two took 45 minutes to write and came out much better than the original muddy version in my brain. I’m hoping one of them makes it into the anthology. Over the past ten years, I’ve accumulated a number of short stories I’ve liked, but weren’t selected. Perhaps they’ll end up in an ebook called Somerset County Rejects.
Next time I post, I’ll be introducing you to my replacement at the Hartland Public Library. The search took an unexpected turn, but one that I think is going to work out very nicely and be well received by the library patrons.