Day 2 of Winter Sabbatical

Today I wrestled long and hard with a rough story (that has racked up its share of rejections in the past) and renamed it “Welcome Home Daddy Mc and Glo-Glo.” It had been called “Waiting for the Bears to Come,” which is also a good title, but the story was weighty and buried deep in boring back-story.

So I basically, I went through it and said, “Backstory, my name is Inigo Montoya – prepare to die.”

So I killed it.

The seed for this story happened in 1989. It was planted when I lost a dear friend’s child at the Los Angeles Zoo. Her daughter was 15 months and my son was seven months old. My friend went to the bathroom, and I took my eye off her toddler talking to another mom and the child wandered off to the bathroom to find her mother. The mother (my friend) found her before I even knew she was lost, which was awful, but BY FAR the lesser of two evils – and my friend, the child’s mother, knew I’d lost her and I felt HORRIBLE and froze up in shame, considering all the what-ifs. It was bad. I even went to a dinner party once a few years after the incident and heard the story being repeated by a mutual friend, (who didn’t know it was me who’d lost the kid – he was just telling a parental horror story) so I didn’t imagine how bad it was – losing a kid.

Anyway, I didn’t even know I hadn’t forgiven myself until I had dinner in New York a few years ago with my old friend and her beautiful grownup daughter that I’d misplaced  – and I saw her daughter sitting there, 25, and radiant and lovely and I thought – I lost you once – holy shit, my God, thank God, you’re here.

Anyway, its fiction sister is a dark Shirley Jackson-esque kind of story that isn’t working very well and it’s set in Knoxville, which is my go-to city in stories.

But it’s okay – the first day back in the saddle is always rough. So tonight we’re going to eat homemade soup, drink wine, and watch RIVER. I love being home more than I ever knew. It’s also the first time I’ve had anytime alone with Kiffen in years. His mother, Mama Frances, just called to see how we’re braving El Nino. I love it. It’s wonderful to have it feel like England in Los Angeles, pouring rain and not having to go anywhere.

So hopefully tomorrow, I’ll revise and then move onto the novels that are also asking – well? Well?

Well what?

Here are some pictures that capture the story today.

appalachian doll.jpg

Doll at Appalachian Historical Exhibit at the Knoxville Museum called “Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children Literature.” (My Maggie Valley novels for children, Gentle’s Holler, Louisiana’s Song, and Jessie’s Mountain were included in the exhibit.)

sunsphere.jpg The Sunsphere on the World’s Fair Site

carousel.jpgA Carousel in Dundee, Scotland

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