Folk Thursday: La Llorona

March 7, 2013

So a weird thing happened the other night. My mom had just finished reading my novel, and she had e-mailed me with her thoughts on the manuscript. In my response, I described how one of the book’s final scenes had drifted into my thought as I pulled into San Jon, N.M., late one night, too exhausted to drive another mile, and checked into a tired little motel a half-mile from the defunct business that had inspired much of the novel’s setting.

I’d gone to New Mexico in search of inspiration that weekend, and I found it in the surreal combination of cold and wind and darkness and desert. What I didn’t realize was precisely what I had found.

As I told Mom about that night and the way it had inspired my perception of one of the novel’s secondary characters — a kind, generous woman facing a terminal illness with grace and selflessness — a name popped into my head: La Llorona.

I had seen La Llorona mentioned once in a Tony Hillerman novel, and I was vaguely aware that she was a weeping spirit, but I knew absolutely nothing else about her.

I Googled her and was somewhat unnerved to discover a painting of La Llorona that bore a striking resemblance to the scene I’d imagined that night in San Jon, where I’d spent the evening curled up in a threadbare motel room, listening to the wind wail outside. Leave it to me to conjure up a 500-year-old infanticidal Southwestern banshee without even realizing it….

In the course of my online research, I made the delightful discovery that Joan Baez had recorded a song called “La Llorona” — so of course it had to be this week’s Folk Thursday offering. :)

Meanwhile, the benevolent character in my novel has taken on a slightly different persona. She’s still benevolent, and I still love her, but with La Llorona informing my perceptions, she has taken on a darker backstory, and her benevolence seems to be the product of a tormented soul in search of redemption.

This is what I love about writing fiction: Spend enough time with your characters, and they will eventually write much better stories than anything you could have come up with on your own.

Emily


Slacking

February 10, 2013

OK … I’ve been slacking this week. I had great intentions about blogging, but I was scrambling hell-for-leather to make a deadline at the office this week, and then I had a creative outburst that had to be indulged with canvas and acrylics Friday night, and Riggy had a vet appointment Saturday morning, and there were errands to run, and church this morning, and photos to shoot for work this afternoon, and a trip to the dog park, and in between, I’ve been playing and playing and playing and playing my guitar.

I’m still not very good, but I’m getting better, and I have finally almost gotten the hang of “Diamonds and Rust” and “Love Song to a Stranger.” Today I learned “One Tin Soldier,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “The Marvelous Toy,” and a new arrangement of “Deportee” that sounds better than the other one I’d been dinking around with. I’m also getting pretty good at “Helplessly Hoping.”

I didn’t realize how much I needed this. No wonder I’ve been so tense for so long: My church doesn’t have a choir, I haven’t done karaoke in years, and I gave away my piano before we moved, so I haven’t really had a musical outlet in ages.

Learning to play acoustic guitar is easily the best New Year’s resolution I’ve ever made. Even if I suck forever — which is unlikely given the speed at which I have been improving lately — it’s way cheaper than therapy.

Emily


Finished!

January 2, 2013

I have finally finished the novel. Every section of it that needed major additions/deletions/reworking is complete.¬†Sierra is on paper, and her father’s side of the story is on paper.

This evening, I expect to sleep more soundly than I’ve slept at any point since I was 15.

God bless all of you who were involved in any part of this process. Some of you know who you are. Some of you don’t. Whether you were aware of your involvement or not, I love you. Sierra loves you. Joey and Morgan and Miss Shirley and Grant and Harvey and Lil Miss and Skinny and Hank and Bill and Dr. Scherer and Nettie and Brother Jerry and Abuelito and the CSNY kittens and the entire population of the nonexistent town of Coldwater, N.M., love you.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts — real or fictional.

Now … I have a favor to ask of you: Please don’t ask me when the book will be available. Writing it was the easy part. It is likely to be years before you find yourself standing in line at some indie bookstore to get my autograph on a copy of Greetings from Coldwater —¬†if that ever happens at all. Once I’ve had a few days to rest on my laurels and recharge my batteries and reread the manuscript to make sure I’m comfortable enough with it to send it out into the world, I will begin exploring my options.

Right now, I believe my options are either decaf cappuccino from the Phoenix or a carton of Ben and Jerry’s from QuikTrip. Or maybe all of the above.

Emily


New Year’s Day

January 1, 2013

It’s a cold night. The new year started out gray and cold, with a few snow flurries. I hope that’s all we get.

I’ve spent most of the evening dinking around with this manuscript, trying to figure out how to rewrite and refine the sections I wrote last night.

When I get a hand free, I’ll post the photos I shot with my iPhone at the Rudolfo Anaya monument in Santa Rosa the other day. If you haven’t read Bless Me, Ultima, put that on your list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s terrific.

Emily


Starting the new year right

January 1, 2013

I got home from New Mexico at 4:30 p.m., went to dinner and picked up some groceries at 5, started working on the third draft of the novel at 9, and greeted the new year with a printout at 3 a.m.

Not bad. The last 20 pages or so will need some more tinkering, but considering how many changes and additions I’ve made since the first draft, I’m pleased.

Happy new year, kids. I’m going to bed for a couple of hours before I head to work.

Emily


Breathing for a minute

December 12, 2012

I am celebrating this evening. After nearly two years, I have finally finished the second draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2010. I wrapped up the first draft in February 2011, but before I could get much done in the way of revisions, the story took a wild left turn that struck me as such an improvement over its first incarnation that I just couldn’t turn it down. I’ve spent the past eight months ruminating on the changes, and the story was flowing smoothly until a couple of weeks ago, when a plot element created a lot of logistical issues that bogged down the whole thing, and I just wasn’t sure how to proceed.

The problem finally worked itself out tonight, and I finished the revision a lot faster than I expected. It’s still far from being a finished product — especially in light of the fact that large chunks of it are brand-new and haven’t been through any sort of revision yet — but at least I have a draft in hand, printed out and double-spaced and ready to mark up and sort out in a (hopefully) cohesive manner. It’s not bad, I think, although “good” would probably be a generous description for some of it. A lot of the new passages feel clumsy or a little hackneyed or just don’t flow into each other as smoothly as I’d like. That can all be addressed in the revision process, I think.

I wish I could take off tomorrow and spend the whole day curled up in a coffeehouse with the manuscript and a red pen. It’s hard for me to focus my attention on real people when I’ve got fictional characters waiting for me at home. :/

Emily


Fun with filters

August 24, 2012

So Ron and I went to the last regular-season fireworks night of the year tonight at OneOK Field. Drillers lost, but when the ushers handed out what they referred to as “3-D glasses” (which were more like taleidoscopes), inspiration struck. Prismatic film, as it turns out, makes a pretty sweet filter for an iPhone camera:

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Bonus: Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi were making rehab starts with the Drillers tonight, so we got to see a couple of big-leaguers play with our usual guys.

Hope your Friday was good, wherever you are.

Emily


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