Daydream, Fantasy, Alligator, Mermaid

I notice a white cement alligator in a wood chip garden path in midwest Ohio.

I confess. The alligator is in my backyard. I didn’t buy it, but I didn’t talk the buyer out of purchasing it either. So there it lurks between the black-eyed susans and the honeysuckle, scaring no one. But it serves a purpose. It represents someone’s fantasy or daydream.

Not mine. But I can relate.

You know when you daydream while listening to a lecture? or staring out the window of a car? or after reading a good passage from a book? They are fantasies.

When I was a kid, I daydreamed about being a horse or an eagle like a lot of children. As I grew up, the horse and eagle fantasies passed on but not the mermaid. She aged with me from young adult to adult. She didn’t occur too often, but when she did, it was usually before falling asleep.

My first desire in producing fiction was to capture my mermaid daydream. I honed my writing skills by creating a variety of short stories. After eight months, I was ready to pen my fantasy.

The story took maybe three hundred words on less than two pages. That was it. The fantasy, which had been with me for almost my whole lifetime, contained one scene: a mermaid swimming to shore and a man finding her.

Three years later, the narration fills more than 200 pages and over 60,000 words.

That’s quite a daydream for a writer from Ohio about a mermaid from the Caribbean.

On Grandma’s Kitchen Table

I notice my grandparents’ 1930s red-topped kitchen table. The top of it is somewhat organized with a copier, laptop, lamp, pencils and notebooks as it lives its second life as my desk in my writing room.

Stephen King describes his writing space where he penned his first books Carrie and Salem’s Lot in his Memoir on the Craft: On Writing. It wasn’t pretty–an old kid’s desk sort of thing squashed in an area next to the washer and dryer of a double-wide trailer.

Today, his desk is a lot bigger and more fitting a professional writer, but his point on writing surfaces isn’t on the furniture; it’s on the writing.

King says, “The space can be humble…, it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut.”

But it’s so easy to slip into focusing on the organization of a writing space and procrastinate on the writing.

I’ve imagined my DESK. It’s wide-topped, cherry wood, drawers down one side, narrow drawer just under the topside, maybe a shelving attachment for laptop and printer. Or not. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned, just mahogany and drawers type like the guys on the TV show Mad Men use in their offices.

Oh, the glorious tales I could create if I had one of those.

In reality, my grandparents’ table has a small, segmented drawer in the front made for silverware. It’s where my grandmother stored her butcher knives. It has two hinged leaves on either side to extend the surface space as desired. Thick stainless steel legs with rotting rubber tips hold it up.

My grandmother was the best cook and kindest soul. I’d see her every Sunday along with fifteen or more other relatives. We’d eat oven-baked, breaded chicken and chicken soup. In the evening, before we’d all head home, we’d make ice cream sodas. All homemade. All delicious. All eaten at the red kitchen table.

To date, I’ve written this blog, several short stories, two biographies, a fantasy novel and more using her table.

My desk isn’t going anywhere. It’s energy is too good.

The Antsy-ness of Lazy

I notice the hot embers of the last log burning out in the fire pit. Like a reptile, its skin of cornered segments pulsates degrees of redness in between the cracks.

I took the day off from writing. My immediate deadlines were met. Why not celebrate with guilt-free laziness? I sat on the back porch, water fountain bubbling nearby, huge old maple tree shading my head. I alternated between reading a fantasy about shape shifters of the animal variety and staring through the weaving of branches and leaves above me. I’d finally Imagefinish this book in a few hours.

But I was antsy. I moved over to the sunnier porch. I watered flowers. Even tried a nap. Then back to the book until it was done.

Near dark the fire was fresh and full of blue yellow flames of burning sticks and tree trimmings. I roasted a few marshmallows and sat staring in the night, fireflies rising from the ground, muffled traffic sounds in the distance.

The last flicker of blue died. The lazy day was finally done.

I curl up in my easy chair in my writing room, reading a Writer’s Digest magazine and taking notes before I fall asleep.

Of Birds and Book Business

I notice warm, moist air blowing in through the window at my back.

The breeze is not hot enough to kick on the air conditioning unit. I listen to the birds and their variety of staccato chirping a while longer.

I identify a few bird songs but not many. The amount of study needed to recognize more is intensive.

Navigating the publishing business is as intensive and its rules as unique as bird calls. It’s unlike many fields where showing up and doing the work begins the familiarity.  In professional writing, I sit here, at my desk, and hope that someone out there will take on my work and make it public. My familiarity comes from attending workshops, making connections and reading books and websites. And even then I am sure I have so much more to learn.

A baby grackle squawks for food or mother or both.

Artificially cooled air flows over the room from a ceiling register. I slam shut the window.

The only sound is the clacking of my computer keys.