Monday, January 24, 2011

Back in the World

I left the magic of the Duckdog cottage on Cape Hatteras Friday evening to connect with Carol at her sister's home in Chapel Hill for our trek around the southland over the next few weeks.  Our first stop on the trip being Patterson, Louisiana, a two-day drive from Chapel Hill, we wanted to lop off a good part of that distance on Saturday.  Our tentative target for day one was Montgomery, Alabama.  We arrived at the Hampton Inn just south of Montgomery at seven eastern time.   The up side, we exceeded expectations by stopping about ten miles past our target; the down side, there was no restaurant in sight.  The night clerk said we'd have to go back to Montgomery to eat.

Carol asked out GPS, Sadie, where we could find an Olive Garden.  She sent us back to Montgomery along a very busy thoroughfare, past several serviceable restaurants (we didn't ask her for just any restaurant) to the requested place.  We were told there would be a twenty minute wait for a table.  Being both tired and hungry, we opted for some as yet undetermined alternative.

Okay, confession time.  Since it was close, not as busy, and we'd never been to one, Carol and I went across the highway - to HOOTERS!  I have to admit that the staff and clientele reacted quite well to the appearance of two senior citizens.  We didn't get many stares from the twenty - thirty-five year old diners/drinkers in the place, and the staff was attentive without being patronizing.   Our "Hooters Girl" - her term not mine, became a bit flummoxed when we asked her what red wine she had.  She hied to the bar to find out, returning with our choices, cabernet and merlot.  We both selected the cabernet.  A different HG showed up with two airline bottles of Sutter Home, unscrewed the top and poured them into our wine glasses.  I tasted mine and opted for beer.  Carol was content with hers and mine.  I asked our HG what kind of beer was available and, after hearing a litany of every possible variety of Budweiser, I noticed a LandShark Lager sign on the wall and asked for that.  She returned with the news that they were out of it.  I asked if they had  Red Stripe; she was about to go find out when I remembered hearing Yuengling somewhere in the list of beers on tap that she included with the bottled stuff.  Verifying what I thought I heard, I order a pint.   Carol order Chicken Quesadia, I a dinner salad with grilled chicken, both of which we shared.  The meals were okay, and I enjoyed watching the HG's at work.

Sunday morning we left the Inn around eight, arriving at Kelly and Kelli's home around two pm where we'll  visit for a few days.  Here's a photo I took from the Back of their house.
Bye for now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

If it's Thursday

When I'm here on the beach writing, I often lose track of the day.

Each new one is like the one before in that we wake in some order: Ed or I first followed by the other, then Julie, Steve, and finally Joanna.  Breakfast happens, during which we discuss whatever reading we were assigned the night before, then we take our familiar places - mine is the love seat on the east wall of the living room - and pick up our work where we left it the previous afternoon.

We write fairly steadily from 9:00am to 3:30pm, with a short lunch break.  Around 3:30 we either drive somewhere: bird sanctuary north, or lighthouse south perhaps, or just walk on the beach for a while.  After dinner we read.


Snow Geese at the Pea Island Sanctuary


The only change is the weather.

This morning the sunrise was visible for the first time all week.  No morning fog or rain.  The January chill augmented by the ocean wind doesn't invite relaxing on the deck to watch it so some of us bundled up to walk the beach.  Others opened  computers to check in with the outside world before breakfast - as I am doing now.

This remarkable island encourages its visitors to forget the label given to any particular day and instead to simply accept the day as the gift it is, use it to further their happiness, then leave it behind as a memory.

I hear breakfast happening.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My writing home-catching up with my muse

Yesterday at around seven-thirty in the evening, I arrived at the door of my muse.  She is a thirty-year-old beach cottage in Rodanthe, North Carolina.  Her name is Duckdog.  Hauling my gear up the stairs to the refurbished deck of this relic on stilts, is my Hajj.  I make this pilgrimage at least once every year to spend six days writing.  My favorite time is January because there are so few distractions.  All tourist attractions are closed for the season; the beach is empty, nobody is surfing, swimming, walking, or searching out that perfect shell.  The only open restaurant in Rodanthe is Hot Tuna, a retro-bar/eatery with lots of fried food and several good varieties of beer.  The other writers and I ate there last night.

We are five this time: Steve, Joanna, Julie, Ed, and me.  This has become the core January group, sometimes augmented, rarely diminished.  Ed is tightening up the memoir he wrote, Julie is doing the same;  Joanna is breaking new creative ground; Steve is well along on the novel he began last year, and I am in the middle of my second work of fiction.

It is easy to write here, easy to read to these people, whose constructive criticism I look forward to and whose honest praise I gratefully accept.  On the whole of course, the criticism is far more valuable than the strokes to my ego.

It is this place, this aging cottage, that invites, that promotes, the craft of writing.  The sound of the Atlantic surf augmented by the constant wind is our background, setting the mood for us.  It is the rhythm of our creative process, our metronome.

It's late, and another writing day will begin in about eight hours, so goodnight for now.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No New Year Resolutions

I resolved some years ago not to make any new year resolutions, at least not out loud.  Face it folks, whether we like it or not, come December 31 our brains are tuned to them.  Just thinking we're not going to make any is a resolution, so we can't get away from it.  I had even resolved not to post anything here on 1/1/11 lest someone think that I made a resolution to blog every day.

I did resolve that I would have the final edit on my first novel, Second Cutting, completed before the new year, and at 7:45pm on the 31st, I completed the last change, saved and backed up the file, and declared myself finished.  That was kind of an 'end of the old year' resolution.  Carol read it during the next couple of days and found seventeen typos.  (Sigh!) They are all fixed and I am done.  I have crafted a query letter for publishers and agents and will be sending it out by the end of the week.

Wish me luck.