This passage from Celeste Ng’s novel, Little Fires Everywhere, captures so perfectly the feeling of wanting what I know I can’t have.
“After Pearl had begun to snore softly, Mia kept her hand in place, as if she were a sculptor shaping Pearl’s shoulder blades. She could feel Pearl’s heart, ever so faintly, beating under her palm. It has been a long time since her daughter had let her be so close. Parents, she thought, learned to survive touching their children less and less. As a baby Pearl had clung to her; she’d worn Pearl in a sling because whenever she set her down, Pearl would cry. There’d scarcely been a moment in the day when they had not been pressed together. As she got older, Pearl would still cling to her mother’s leg, then her waist, then her hand, as if there were something in her mother she needed to absorb through the skin. Even when she had her own bed, she would often crawl into Mia’s in the middle of the night and burrow under the old patchwork quilt, and in the morning they would wake up tangled, Mia’s arm pinned beneath Pearl’s head, or Pearl’s legs thrown across Mia’s belly. Now, as a teenager, Pearl’s caresses had become rare—a peck on the cheek, a one-armed, half-hearted hug—and all the more precious because of that. It was the way of things, Mia thought to herself, but how hard it was. The occasional embrace, a head leaned for just a moment on your shoulder, when what you really wanted more than anything was to press them to you and hold them so tight you fused together and could never be taken apart. It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all.”
—Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere (p. 248)
(Learning “to live on the smell of an apple alone” seems like the work of my current stage of motherhood.)
My novel, The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival, is forthcoming from What Books Press!
I’m overjoyed and gobsmacked to announce that The Eight Mile Suspended Carnival is forthcoming (October 2021) from What Books Press. I’m so grateful to Rod Val Moore and Kate Haake and Gronk all who are working to make What Books Press such a fabulous collective. I’ll share more news when I can. For now, please mark your calendars for October, and get ready to enjoy the show!
p.s. No animals were harmed in the writing of this post, or the writing of this novel.
Because the first sold out so quickly, Egaeus Press is offering a second printing of the haunted house anthology, CROOKED HOUSES. The anthology contains my story, “Your House, Any House. That House.” You can find out more here!
Happy new year! May 2021 be gentle and kind to you, as it wipes the mess of 2020 from its shoes.
Reading my novel-in-progress, I found this bit, and I like it so thought I’d share. Completely torn from context but so what.
“In the silence, there are actually heaps to hear. Train your ears. Slow your breath until you glean what’s left. What’s been missing. The exhalation. Feel your shoulders drop. Everything you’ve been ignoring during The Disaster hasn’t disappeared. Even if it’s in the river and snagged on a rock, been taken captive, or submerged in mud, it’s still there, still out there somewhere. Maybe sleeping, maybe waiting. Maybe it’s only the bones. Maybe the next thing that happens is: whatever’s waiting wakes up.”
It’s fascinating to read through the pages of a novel I began writing in 2004 (that’s not a typo)…fascinating seeing how the “now” me filters through and makes sense of it…very strange. Like when Owl meets himself on the stairs in Arnold Lobel’s excellent book,Owl At Home. (“There must be a way,” said Owl, “to be upstairs and to be downstairs at the same time.”) I hope my next novel will take a shorter span of years, which may yield a psychically simpler writing process, I think? But this bit is new-er and informed by my fascination with embodiment, trauma, resilience, holding many things at once…etc.
(STAY TUNED because I will have some good news to share in the not too too distant future…)
(May you be free from suffering and the root of all suffering. May you enjoy happiness and the root of all happiness.)
In the flurry of last year, I neglected to announce that THE BOOK OF FLOWERING from Egaeus Press is officially available to buy, here. My apologies for the delay! It’s a beautiful book, inside and out. My story “The Only Flower That Mattered” is included between these covers, and if you have the means, I hope you will consider supporting this lovely small press.
Below, you can read the first page of my story. I know you’ll want to read more!
(Serious word nerds, keep reading. The rest of you, go do something productive or take a nap.)
Final combing through of my novel, in hopes it will emerge between portable covers sooner than later.
Meanwhile, there’s a file on my computer called “overused words checklist.” It includes words I use too frequently, & passive or lazy phrases to comb for, such as “very” or “and then.” I consult this oracle when I’m nearing the end of the process. Search/replace/omit (or keep, if they seem to need to be there).
Selected statistics that impress at least me:
Just 1 occurrence of the word “tendril.” Because that word is at the top of my list—I used to use is excessively in a previous novel—and it’s apparently my thumbprint.
“Very”: Pared down from 30 to 6 “very”s, all of them falling within characters’ dialogue, sounding better left there.
“Thought”: pared down from 48 to 19. And zero “thought about”s. !!
“Felt”: down from 38 to 8. (And some signify the fabric.)
“Little”: Oy vey! From 64 down to 41. (In case you ever read this novel: I’m sorry. I did what I could do.)
“Seem” (and its variants): 54, down to 14! Some of which are parts of other words.
“Sigh”/ed: Bonus points for only having 8 occurrences to start with! Hell, I could leave them all in there. But why not pare down. Except I had to add 2 more. Still, 10 of 79,000 words is not that bad. (She sighed.)
Inner Critic Workshop
Monday, October 22, 2018 (6:30PM – 8:00PM)
Yellow Springs Community Library
415 Xenia Avenue, Yellow Springs, Ohio
Virginia Hamilton Meeting Room
Rebecca Kuder is offering this engaging workshop that will allow people to rediscover and liberate a sense of play; unleash the creative spark; and demystify & disarm the inner critical voice that’s holding us back! Please wear comfortable clothing (always!). Please bring pen and paper. This is NOT just for writers! This is for anyone who wants to tone down self-doubt and find more joy in life.
Creative Writing for Adults
Monday, October 29, 2018 (6:30PM – 7:30PM)
Beavercreek Community Library
3618 Dayton Xenia Rd, Beavercreek, OH 45432
Large Meeting Room
National November Novel Writing Month is right around the corner! Novelist Rebecca Kuder leads you in several creative writing exercises to help inspire your inner author. Please bring a pen and notebook.
Revision and Editing of Creative Writing
Monday, December 3, 2018 (6:30PM – 7:30PM)
Beavercreek Community Library
3618 Dayton Xenia Rd, Beavercreek, OH 45432
Large Meeting Room
Learn methods for revision and editing of creative work, and find out what steps you need to take to get published. Rebecca Kuder returns to answer your questions. Please bring a pen and notebook, though we will have some supplies on hand. Registration required. To register: https://preview.tinyurl.com/ycqwlkj9
Rebecca Kuder’s short story, “Curb Day,” was chosen for reprint in Year’s Best Weird Fiction vol. 5. Her essays and stories have appeared in Tiferet Journal, Shadows and Tall Trees, Jaded Ibis Press, Lunch Ticket, and The Rumpus. In addition to leading community workshops, Rebecca taught creative writing at Antioch University Midwest, Antioch College, and The Modern School of Design. Currently she teaches at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton. She served on the board of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, and lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband, the writer Robert Freeman Wexler, and their daughter. Rebecca holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, is a recipient of an individual excellence award from the Ohio Arts Council, and blogs at www.rebeccakuder.com.
Exciting news—Year’s Best Weird Fiction, vol. 5 (in which you can find my story, “Curb Day”) is available for pre-order. This is the final installment of YBWF from Undertow. (You will not want to miss it, because soon, you’ll really miss it.)
I’m exceedingly grateful to Robert Shearman and Michael Kelly for their support of my work, and for curating this anthology of endearing weirdness.
Please support this wonderful small press!
You can order the hardcover here, or the trade paperback here.
Congratulations to Michael Kelly at Undertow Press! His anthology, Shadows and Tall Trees 7, won the 2017 Shirley Jackson award. I’m so thrilled to be part of the weird things they’re doing at Undertow. (This volume contains my story “Curb Day” which was also selected for Year’s Best Weird Fiction vol. 5.) You can find the anthology here.