She Had Given Him Her Entire Life In Those Final Moments…

(Snippet Of My Novel- A Work In Progress)

The game was running into overtime as his mind wandered. There were moments that seemed to blur. His thoughts, reality and not, all jumbled into one very real alternate universe. It was sometimes difficult to discern time.

“Look there, my son” he thought.

Seeing him now, a young man of fifteen. Fifteen? Juan shook his head as if to rewind back time. It was impossible to escape the ever lingering sensation he felt when looking at his son. It was the sense of accomplishment and one of awe. His son on the soccer field was the same 7 pound 5 ounce baby that once entered the world from his wife’s body to then be placed into his arms—both warm and small.

And now here was, his son gliding across the vast expanse of the green field and blue sky, confident and strong. Juan reminds himself how fortunate he is. He had finally brought something good into this world, uncorrupted and untainted.

Robbie had been born during a time when fathers had just been allowed into the delivery rooms. He could recall the mosaic of sounds that beeped from the many machines monitoring her and the baby’s heartbeat. The piercing smell of bleach and blood that seemed to linger in the air fueling the thought of life and death. Giving and taking, both intermingled together in one place.

It was their third try. It hadn’t been easy. She didn’t want this. He knew it. But he pushed just like he always did. They both believed they needed this to mend a marriage; to consummate something beautiful and permanent despite the obvious seams that had been fraying at the edges.

In some ways he knew it was over. The last battle for their love was won and lost by his wife Rosaline. Juan felt the moment during his son’s birth when she broke away from him. She was there, she was smiling, she was holding his son, but she had already left him.

She had given him her entire life in those final moments; each year passing with every push.

As she grasped his hand to bear down for the final time, out came the last string of love that lied between them both, now beating in the soul of his son.

Robbie was the last gift of her youth, her independence and her innocence, all given to him. Just as he had always received everything he had asked for, whether given freely or taken by demand.

Now, looking at the face of his son as he kicked the black and white paneled ball in mid-air, it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t mean anything but what was in front of him in these moments.

Killing Off My Main Character…..

I guess this is a spoiler alert.  However, by the time I edit this crazy draft, find & get an agent, then  with some luck have it published you would have forgotten any of this. Why? Because I’m very sure it will be many years from now that any of this will happen  LOL!!!

During a recent NaNoWriMo write-in I met a fellow writer who asked me why was I going to kill my main character. In so many words she asked  if I was killing him because he was a ‘bad’ person.

I smiled inside because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  He is a ‘good’ person, a man deserving love and a happy life, but in this case not an ending one would expect or want in a story for their main character.  Sometimes things are too broken to be fixed.

Life and the choices we make as individuals often leads us down a path to the inevitable, in this case death.  My character’s hurt has corrupted their ability make the change needed to do more than survive—to truly live. Allowing the pain to be the only thing that defines them. It may sound harsh, perhaps it is, but it is the one truth I know in the story’s outcome I created.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life meeting all types of people from all walks- off the beaten path so to say.  As a psych major, I choose a field of study that would help give me the tools needed to empower individuals enough to help them make the choices that would improve their own lives. This lead to a 12 year chosen career path as a counselor to teens, parents, alcoholics, heroin addicts, and HIV/AIDS patients. In that time, even as I looked at my own life, I began to understand there comes a point in a person’s life where the window for change becomes narrower and narrower.

Once a person passes that “Fork in the Road” and neglected to make the proverbial correct turn,

  • not taking that Leap of Faith and trusting even when others had shown them otherwise,
  • not embracing the love they found in a place they weren’t expecting,
  • not leaving the job that has caused them more misery than the security it provided,
  • not leaving that relationship,
  • saying No instead of Yes,
  • saying Yes instead of always No.

If we didn’t step into the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, it can become too late, as in the instance of my character’s story arc.

We are creatures of habit and within that there is a layer of fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.  I believe this fear leaves us in the soppy mess that we often find ourselves in. A dirty, unhappy but very comfortable place. Why?  Because this is what we know, what we are familiar with—it therefore becomes the only truth we believe in, because anything else, anything better, is not possible or to be lived by others.

By no means am I trying to simplify our lives and say that we are filled with a multitude of  choices by which we always turn a blind eye to.  What I do believe is that there is always a moment in our lives, however small or large that we do have an opportunity to choose; a decision that can either let the door crack open just enough to let the breeze in or simply see and experience something different.

I am not an blind optimist but I am always hopeful. Innately, I have always been a person that listened and cared when others don’t. I’ve often been let down or consumed with the pain of others—of individuals when they themselves don’t seem to be aware of or want to think about what they actually might be facing. Even with this, I remain ever hopeful.

Within the story I’ve created, it is my hope through witnessing my protagonist’s death the ones closest to him will value life and learn the lessons that needed to be learned. I see the main character of my story as the visionary—the poet and the one that needs to die.

I think it was said best by Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours-

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast”  – Virgina Wolf

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I Wonder What People Think About When They Write

44,683  Words Left

Watching the tweets come in one after another.
600 words,10,000 and even 20 thousand words!
I check on my NaNoWriMo buddies ….the same.

The speed of which everyone is writing….so fast. From afar it seems like each 1,000 word threshold is  filled with a secure plot and eloquent language to follow.  Watching the counts come in, I’m not wondering what the story is about but what is going through the mind of the author as he/she types.  Besides the obvious… your story. What are you thinking about as you go through your process of writing?

For me it is a combination  of a few things:

Self doubt like: “Boy that was a bad sentance….What am I six years old?”  to  “He would never say that, its not part of his character”

But mostly its a stream of consciousness, one of thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions.  All in the mind of my character, my main character- the hero embarking on his journey.  I feel like I’m just along for the ride.

Now I have to pull back from the police station he works in, stop thinking about the weight of his vest on his chest as he sits waiting for role call.  I stop listening to the jokes he cracks with his fellow Police Officers.

I stop to look at the word count below my screen.  1,800 down another 44,683 to go…assuming that’s where my story ends.

I’m beyond new at writing …creative writing that is.  I’ve written for years as a grant writer but this is very different. As a first time writer with no real “Schooling” I know the 1800 words I just spewed out …..you know, the same ones that are now staring blankly at me, lifeless- SUCK…..bad.

I joined National Novel Writing Month to help me get through a first full draft of my novel.  Knowing the daily word count goal would force me to stop going back and correcting and rewording my sentences. Stop me from picking up thesaurus to find a better word for ‘stubborn’.  Frankly I did it so I wouldn’t  re-read my paragraphs 10 times and more fixing and mending my language.

Well it’s helping, but it is also creating a new  level of stress for me. It is leaving me to wonder what my ‘final’ page will look like. Gibberish perhaps? Will I have to rewrite it again? Most likely.

In the end I don’t care. I care more about my story, the lives I’m watching within the novel. I have to care more about the prospect that I just may have a few sentences out of many that maybe good enough to stay…..

                      Here’s to a Shitty First Draft!  Rock on NaNoWriMo!!

Why I Write….

Because as I see and feel both pain & love, I want and need my experiences to become words that exemplify the beauty in both - 

- Natasha Guadalupe

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart…

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart clicked clacked down the cobbled stone streets of Casica Blvd. They chimed the ugly truth that began to penetrate his mind.

It seeped through his skin like the cherry stained lips of school children licking the shaved mountains of ice. Each sparkling flake of snow flying out into the same sun that pressed upon his exposed face- blinding him from focusing on anything other than the past.’
--Sitting in a restaurant on Ashford Avenue, Condado Puerto Rico. I took this picture while writing this passage from my novel. It felt good.

Grants & Money for Writers/Artists

As much as I would like to say that I am full-time published writer, traveling from one city to the next on book tours, negotiating with producers for movie right deals….Alas no,  this is not the case.

I actually work full-time at a university as a grants (federal and private  foundation) administrator.  I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life cultivating private donors, researching and writing many grant proposals; each in an effort to obtain funds for many great non-profit programs I believe in, many of which work with the communities  that mean the most to me… Youth & Teens, HIV/AIDS programs and of course for Artists.

YES, I’ve been able to secure large amounts of funds (yup, a lot of $$) for non-profit organizations and groups over the years.. However, now that I am finally doing what I want to do most I’ve been trying to translate this skill  to help myself as a new writer.

Well, it’ has not been easy to say the least. Competition is high and resources are always limited. So in my research and learning this ‘new’ craft of trying to find funding I thought I share some of the things I have found…maybe something that may not work for me may work for you…..

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Leave a comment or send email,  I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

WHAT WILL BE LISTED HERE? 

  • Info on Fellowships
  • Info on Grants
  • Helpful Links
  • Info on Proposal Writing Tips
  • Info on Free Writing or Artist Contests

STAY TUNED AN UPDATE WILL BE POSTED SOON on the top Home Page!!

My story takes place in the state of Washington

My story takes place in the state of Washington.  More specifically Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.  I wanted and needed a place that could be detached from the world, both with its physical isolation but also carry a sense of beauty.

Each of these things needed to be overshadowed by a big city in its direct view (Seattle).

Having never visited Washington I needed to familiarize myself with the area. I Googled and printed information on the local high school, where the police station was located and visited numerous realtor web sites and identified my main character’s apartment and layout.

After downloading numerous maps of streets and neighborhoods I said to myself….

1) I need to get my butt over there soon and

2) I need more information.

With that, I made up in my mind that this coming year I will fly out to WA for a few days and two, I decided to pick up the phone and call the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.

I explained who I was and what I was doing (writing a novel that takes place in your neighborhood) and how I needed some information. The friendly voice on the other line replied “Sure! That sounds exciting, I think I can help”.  With that she sent mountains of maps, demographic information, newsletters and special events calendars.  I was so excited to open my mail each day until it arrived.  A little shy and nervous to call…but I’m very glad I did.

Thank you Bremerton Chambers of Commerce!!

Mapping out the Road they meet on…

Writing By Hand

I didn’t have my computer at the cafe last night, so I wrote…..by hand, with my best pen in my worn spiral notebook….

It felt good.

FYI excluding a few cross-outs its a really good way to not self edit (which I suffer from…badly) You can’t really go back and erase…you’ve got to keep moving.

Hardcore baby…. Laundromat and STILL typing! Ha!

‘The warmth of the water….

‘The warmth of the water caused the wet cedar planks to slowly perfume the air with the sweetness of flowing sap. Looking above the clearing of the cabin, the tangled branches seemed to reach up to the distant stars creating a jagged picture- framing both the night sky and crescent moon.

The late hour was made darker by the dense canopy of trees and brush painted deep shades of blue and gray.

Despite the soft illumination of her silhouette he was still able to take in the strength of her quite presence.

Through her shadowed face he knew she was looking at him, just as she always did. What was she thinking? She seemed to gaze at him with both sadness and clear desire.  How can both feelings and thoughts inhabit the same space and time yet separately carry through the minds of both Juan and Adriana.’

………AND SO THE EDITING AND WRITING CONTINUES.

Marine Rites

I’m supposed to be doing freelance now so I can go out to the movies later….So of course what am I doing???? Looking up Marine rite of passages and hair cut regulations for my main character.

How I’m spending my Saturday night …and LOVING IT!!!

Some Of The Tools I Use

Tools of the trade.. Books I’m reading to inspire and help structure my story (Oh yeah-that’s my bike helmet and doggie biscuits in the background..the essentials)

BOOKS TO INSPIRE

  • ‘Tinkers’ -  Fiction Novel By Paul Harding
  • ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Short Story By Annie Proulx. My absolute favorite short story.  But I mostly have it near me to remind me that I need to make every word count- short or long story writing.

BOOKS TO HELP WITH MY WRITING & STORY STRUCTURE

  • ‘Stephen King on Writing’ - By Mr. King himself. Not only helping with my writing but a small look at the man behind his most famous novels. Surprising and VERY interesting.
  • ‘The Writers Journey 3rd Edition’- By Christopher Vogler. The last thing I want is for my story to be too formulaic but since I’m new at this I need help with structure and for me this book has been AWESOME to read.  I’m also a big movie/ film buff. This book uses both mediums to help you identify story structure and character rolls. Thank you Mr. Vogler and of course Joseph Campbell!!!
  • ‘The First Five Pages’- By Noah Lukeman  Although this is more for once I finish or as I edit my novel, its still a great read as you prepare.

RESEARCH… Visiting the Bronx VA Hospital

Marines…….

Marines…….

OK, for research I’ve been interviewing a Marine (friend of a co-worker) and he’s been great, and very patient with all my dumb questions. Outside of his Boot Camp experience and our conversations about living life as a Marine one of the many things that stood to me during our talks was what or how to call a Marine.

He said NEVER identify a man or woman as an Ex-Marine and DON’T EVER ever call a Marine a Solider….why?

  • The Army has soldiers,
  • The Navy has sailors,
  • The Air Force has airmen.
  • BUT Marines are Marines!

ITS WILD…It actually brings me back to a time when I was in college and was visiting friends at Albany State. While hanging out at the dorms I met an Alpha  (Alpha Phi Alpha)  from the African American Greek Fraternity. We were talking about Greek life….etc…. so I asked him how was pledging for him?

” I DIDN’T PLEDGE!!! ALPHA’S GO THROUGH A PROCESS!”
Wow!!  Boy, I enjoy researching

Story boarding isn’t just for the movies….

 

Now the question is can I read my handwriting…hummm?

SEX LOVE AND WRITING

…..OK, so I want to incorporate a love scene into my story….Not wanting to use the language of smutty romantic novels and sugar sweetness of Twilight’s pillow biting scene, I’m doing a bit of research. Just how did the great novelists of our world go about adding sex and love into a story? Well here is an example how Gustave Flaubert who wrote Madame Bovary created a huge scandal in his scene. In the scene the clerk has convinced Madame Bovary to join him in a horse-driven cab with the blinds down. Now the moment of truth has arrived and she goes along with it because she doesn’t know what else to do. The cab driver is instructed to drive anywhere he chooses………………………………….(He was arrested shortly after writing this) I don’t think I want to be this subtle.

Here is a great site that provides you with tips in this area  http://rebeccalacko.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/feel-the-heat-sex-and-fiction-8-tips-for-building-tension/

Madame Bovary

Butler Library

The Grand Central of study halls.. Butler Library… 24hours of straight writing!!! 

‘Trying to focus on the sleepy warmth of his son’s body…..


‘Trying to focus on the sleepy warmth of his son’s body and the steady pace of his breathing, Juan wished for more time and more moments such as this.  Instead, his thoughts drifted to the beginning when the decision was first made, when the decision to be alone would affect both his and his son’s life…..’

1,154 words down 48,846 left!!!! Hoorah to NANO!” – (First try at last year’s National Novel Writing Month)