Journals

Do you keep a journal?

At one time I kept a journal that I wrote all my feelings in, dreams, strange ideas, thoughts, opened myself up and let it all flow…

…then someone I trusted read it…and got very angry with me because of the words I had written. So I deleted everything from my computer, I burned the notebook, and I made a resolution:  NEVER KEEP A JOURNAL AGAIN!

But,

over the years, the need to get some fuzzy stuff down, to jot story ideas, excerpts of fiction or poetry that feed my soul, notes on what I saw that day, or people I witnessed being people, human’s who carried a story around with them, one I could imagine if I took the time and let my mind run, run, run….so journaling has become part of my life again for the past few years. I do not use it to express inner feelings, disenchantments with every-day life or any of the like, except if it has to do with writing my novel or my short stories.

The journal has become more of an expression that keeps the momentum of writing going, no matter what my frame of mind might be. I hate my story, I love my story, it doesn’t matter, this will help me get by. For a few weeks I’ve let it slip by, not adding to the blank pages anything but my hollow stares. And my novel writing had slowed down to a decrepit pace, of like zero to none words a day with only one or two passing thoughts added. But I picked it up this weekend with new resolve. It feels heavy and real, the journal itself, which makes me feel like the words I’ve hand-written within have some weight that will make a difference somewhere…or maybe none at all. And it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes I let some personal stuff slip in, the stuff I know no one will hate me for after I’ve gone and they take this black book out and decide to look into me. Like this morning’s entry which went something like this:

July 18.2012

Could not sleep during the night, partly because of the heat (even though the air was on) and partly because I just wasn’t tired. My mind wasn’t racing, my legs felt fine (sometimes they itch or twitch) so I’m not sure what it was, but I got up around 1 am or so and came downstairs and read and wrote into my novel manuscript. I feel I may have focus now. My daughter, words of wisdom from a 16-year-old, said to me last night, “Why don’t you finish that story? Don’t give up on it, it’s really good.” (She’d read my first draft in progress a few months ago). “Even if you get another job, you could do both.”

And so I can.

Feel a bit more inspired to dig into blogs again too, especially Disenchanted Twilight, which I sometimes feel I should rename, though disenchantment is part of me, so perhaps it is fine.

~End of entry

If you keep a journal, what do you put into it? Feel free to share.

image: Disenchanted Twilight

Beautiful words by Lisa Chapman…

Just Under the Surface

The hour is late between us

Darkness intrudes

Our light obscured by our own shadows

Flashes of memory crave the light

Restore! Restore!

We swim for shoreline

Only to be shoved further out to sea

We made our start amongst the brilliance of stars

Believing our love built on solid ground.

Only to discover it was upon sinking sand.

~Lisa Chapman 2012

Inspired by: Disenchanted Twilight post
Photograph: Flickr/Symmetry Mind

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Ghost Story

It is a whip-o-will that awakes me at 4:45 or so. This bird chants for fifteen minutes before giving up for the day. It’s like his declaration, his minute convergence from the whole of himself, or herself. How does one tell the sex of a bird. It is one thing that I wished I’d learned. In any case, this bird, I have no way of knowing is it’s the same one each day, but something in my oblivious awareness tell me that it is, has been chanting for weeks now outside my asylum window. It started one Saturday morning. This is fact, not fiction, because it was the day that the dead girl, Julia, started to visit me.

(What is a dead girl but a shadowy ghost…Or a dead man’s voice but a distant and vain affirmation…Like dream words most. ~Archibald MacLeish)

She was once so beautiful, still is in many uncharted ways, but the bump and grind of being dead is taking a toll on her. She miss-spells words, when she even tries to spell, and miss-pronounces my name which isn’t hard pronounce, and of late she is looking more and more…worn…haggard…dark. It’s hard to describe. She still wears her golden hoop earrings. She still wears the dark flowered dress with the plunging neckline, even though she was buried in a pure white sheath of satin, a virgin’s dress. Julia was far from that.

So this is what happens after you die. You haunt your last haunt, you live out your dead life in the last shit hole that you graced, the last place you breathed the air on this side. How unfortunate for Julia. She didn’t know. Had she known I think she would have waited, waited to off herself in the more opportune place, on some excursion we’re permitted to go on – the mall, the amusement park, at some museum, even at the damn Baskin Robbins. Better to haunt a bin of cookies and cream than here. Better anywhere than here.

So Julia once again sits on my bed and folds her long legs in lotus position. I see the bare bottoms of her dirty feet, chocolate colored nail polish on her toes. The flowered dress flows around her, a puddle of chiffon. The blood stains in her lap have sort of dried. At least they’re not glistening anymore. It was hard to look at her ghost at first. How she got the mirror is the immaculate mystery, and how she got it into her vagina and moved it around so well is the other. She told me she had to see the things crawling around inside her, the things they’d implanted in her. She told me she was part of some nameless government experiment, years ago, that it took a few eloquent years to grow. So she said. It was our secret. I kept her secret. Hell, I didn’t want her to think I was one of them. I loved her. I think.

Her eyes look very dark today, but the rings bring out clear blueness of them. She’s an artist. Was an artist. We were allowed to view her art online when we found out that she was slightly famous. A series of self-portraits that hedged out the art world. She titled them Re-numeration, Bone, Time Culminating, Drinking Poison, Dying in Disguise, Wisps of Wind, Edges, Fairies and Faultlines, and Julia Apparently Dead. The images were full of color, illumination, and desolation. I thought they were weird and seductive.

James always came to see her. The boyfriend. This is part of Julia’s problem now. Since she died he doesn’t come anymore. She doesn’t get it. She suffers from rejection even in death.

Have you seen him? I was napping. I may have missed him.

No, he wasn’t here, Julia. He doesn’t come anymore, remember?

Oh, yeah….Why?

Well, you know…You’re sort of dead.

She stares at me. She seems to be forgetting what I tell her. I fear I’ve said the wrong thing. Am I too blunt?  The truth, you know? It’s confusing to some of us.

We have a lot of work to do. I’m so behind. I have to have my collection ready by…

I sit down next to Julia. For a ghost, a wisp of a girl’s shadow, she smells pretty good. Like peonies from my grandmother’s garden, an earthy smell, pink, green, and mossy. The colors of her dress. There’s a lead smell there too. The blood. I try not to look at the dried puddle in her lap, at the stains on her fingers.

It could be paint, not blood.

____________

Writing Prompt

Often an image tells a story, contains a story, lives and breathes with story. I am ever enchanted with finding a gem that can be used as a great writing prompt. This one is no exception. See what you come up with, a flash piece, a sentence or two, a piece of dialogue.
I welcome responses to this piece. If you are inspired, leave a link to your writing in comments. I’ll post my own short in a few days.
Image Credit: Yanidel Street Photography

Flash Fiction: “It takes a long time to become young again.”

She finishes the phone call and lights a cigarette. He waits for the coffee to cool, pulls the sheer curtains aside to view St. Mark’s square beyond the canal. They’ve been in Venice for three days. They’ll go out later, get something to eat, drink wine, bring up some day that they both thought they’d forgotten. She’ll smoke more and he’ll pretend not to mind.

“So, how is he?” he asks.

She exhales loudly. “Fine…I guess.”

“Do you want to leave?”

She drags on the cigarette again, chews her thumb nail. They had waited for, talked about, planned for months this trip. This was the trip to make everything right, to get the cells enlivened, to save what was left of their life together.

He stirs his coffee and sits down in the brown leather chair. It squeaks subtly and she looks at him, not for the first time, nor the last, in his rumpled gray suit. He should get a new one while he’s here. And shoes. He crosses his legs and sips the coffee.

It takes a long time to become young again – a quote from Picasso she’s read somewhere. Where? She can’t remember now. She pushed the spent cigarette into the lid of her soda can where it makes a small “shush” sound as it extinguishes. She looks out the window.

“I’m not leaving,” she says.

The Grande Malade

by Djuna Barnes

“And there we were, my sister Moydia and I, Madame.  Moydia was fifteen and I was seventeen and we were young all over. Moydia has a thin thin skin, so that I sit and look at her and wonder how she has opinions.  She is all white except the cheekbones, then rosy red; her teeth are milk-teeth and she has a small figure, very pretty and droll.  She wanted to become ‘tragique‘ and ‘triste‘ and ‘tremendous’ all at once, like the great period French-women, only fiercer and perhaps less pure, and yet to die and give up the heart like a virgin. It was a noble, an impossible ambition, n’est-ce pas, Madame?  But that was the way it was with Moydia. We used to sit in the sun when we were in Norway and read Goethe and did not agree with him at all. ‘The man is pompeaux and too assure,’ she would say, shutting her teeth, ‘and very much too facile.’ But then, people say we do not know.

 

~excerpt from The Grande Malade, a short story by Djuna Barnes

I love the words “we were young all over” in the second sentence.

top image: je suis malade by aglayan-agac