All posts by Ric d. Stark

New to a post-retirement commitment to literary non-fiction, Ric d. Stark will focus memories on gay life, Hawaiʻi life and Hawaiian quilting.

Budding Author—All In

Emotions of Writing

Contemplating posting some of my micro memoirs here on my website.. Nervous—scared. Public scrutiny.

Getting close to finishing manuscript for my first book. Today, Revision #12. Excited—eager. The beginning of the end—first time.

Final meeting with my writing “coach” in ten days. Nervous—eager. Asked that we focus on one of my micros for submission to Brevity + a couple gay literary journals (I havenʻt chosen them yet.)

I knew this writing stuff would propel me into deep dive. It has done that—and some. Upcoming project—my tell-all version of “Daddy Dearest.” Excited—scared. Deep diving ahead—without scuba gear.

When Revising My Writing Becomes Impossible

Tuesday I learned that my beloved manuscript for my first memoir (working title, “Hawaiʻi Calling”) may be 1-1/2 times longer than allowed by the Haliʻa Aloha hybrid publishing program in which I am participating. Talk about murdering “our darlings”? (article in The Cut, July,22, 2020.)

K-l-l-lam-m-mp! The lid slams. In a coffin. I can’t see. I can’t move. I can’t turn. Claustrophobia descends. Panic. Not enough room. Not enough air. Not enough time. Not enough life.
Overwhelmed, I drift. I pass out.

I awaken. Panic renewed. “I’ll never get out. I’ll die here.”
I spin. I fall. I pass out.

I awaken. Panic still grips. “I can’t do…”
I fade. I pass out.


I am awakened
By a light. A window.
I sit.  I stand.
I reach for the latch on

the window opens
Unto a new world
of blossoms and songbirds and butterflies and sweet gardenia and the sound of the harp and the waft of a gentle breeze

Upon my now-rosy cheeks.
I step out 
I reach
for Hope. 
It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day.
I see the way…

Full Moon Writings

No wonder Heno and I can’t sleep tonight. Full moon. The nights of fanged vampires, furry-skinned werewolves, and itchy penned writers with their canine friends.

Having missed my commitment to a Saturday posting, I can publish this blog entry by 5:00 a.m. Hawaii readers will think I posted late last night? 

I spent Friday-Saturday on a marathon revision act– scouring my manuscript with Pinesol and 3M scratchpad. (The pun between scouring sponge and note pad was unintentional, but I’m keeping it as is.) A workbook exercise had suggested reading all the first paragraphs– checking for dramatic beginnings. Having copied and pasted all 61 micros, I read them with horror. (Drama queen comments okay– it’s a full moon!) Three were set to go; 10-12 were almost within grasp of the high bar; the remainder… “Oh, God of Creativity, please pay us a visit!”

My beginnings read like condensed versions of Charles Dicken’s openings. As Harper commented to their grandmother Nikki, “Bor-r-ring…”

So Revision #7 was all about “starting with action.”

And so it goes. My coach Darien chuckled when she commented that her novels typically involve some 20 revisions. On that comment a month ago, I choked. Today, I’m wondering how many revisions past 2-0. Will I finally arrive at “Done?” Or will I inevitably surrender with The Stones to “I can’t get no– satisfaction?”

Revision– Search for Poetic Prose

My second one-hour Zoom meeting with my cohort instructor, Darien Gee. Monday, two days ago.

I unmuted myself– bid aloha– giddy, gleeful. I had revised the three micros, which Darien had reviewed and commented upon. I’d nailed ‘em. Chest all puffed. Ready for praises.

We spent most of the hour, revising one piece. Of the 257 words I had submitted, Darien (and I?) slashed, changed, deleted, added, rearranged at least 211 words.

Ten minutes before meeting’s end, Darien paused, “Ric, you look downcast, troubled.”

I paused, inhaled, searching for the word, found it, “I’m overwhelmed, Darien.”

***

An hour after our meeting, I received a note of encouragement from Darien, “I want you to know how much I enjoy working with you, speaking with you, and reading your work. I have every confidence in you as a person and as a writer, and I want you to know that.”

I replied, “Dammit, I want to be good. I wanted to be great— right out of the gate. (Don’t we all?) Bottom line truth— I wanted to have a short path to retirement income, so I can quit the job and do what I am loving— quilting and writing.

“Thank you for your honesty. While I might wish to hear platitudes of hoorahs, I do welcome your voice of experience, wisdom and guidance.”

***

I passed the remainder of Monday, all of Tuesday, listening to sad songs on my Pandora station, cuddling with my doggy Heno and filling the room with diffused scent of frankincense. Tears have been elusive. Disappointments too deep for remedy of an easy cry.

***

This morning I revisited a different micro in my manuscript. Took 364 words. Sliced, diced, slashed, reworked, replaced, transformed.

When I began, it was readable. Maybe good? Now, it sings.

Hell, 3 more edits (or 13), it will be poetic prose. Imua. Forward.

Surprise! Editing Is Fun!

I thought I would hate editing. Creating– thatʻs my thing. Open the floodgate and let the good manaʻo (thought) flow. Editing? Shouldnʻt that be a job for a nerd behind a desk, crammed into the corner of some office somewhere– who knows where– who cares? Let someone else edit. I just want to write.

Turns out I was dead wrong. Editing is as much fun as writing– maybe more.

In editing I get to take this stream-of-consciousness, new-born thing and turn it into something poetic. Poetic prose– thatʻs what Iʻm calling my editing outcomes.

Surprise! Editing is fun!

Stretching me

The workbook assignment this morning– “Write about being really angry.”

Damn! I DO it so well. Why is it so difficult to write it?

This whole project with Haliʻa Aloha is stretching me. I feel like pizza dough– when you place it in the middle of the pan and try to spread it toward the edges. It keeps recoiling, wanting to remain a tight ball. It’s that elasticity you feel when you work the dough– the same elasticity I feel inside some days. I want to write the way I have always written. My “skilled pen” fights the command to stretch– to reach for he manaʻo (ideas with feeling) that are beyond my comfort zone.

This post is a detour– a diversion from the morning assignment. Now, I need to get back and “write about being really angry.” Thanks for giving me “time out”.

Write about Being Really Angry

Assignment from Writing the Hawaiʻi Memoir by Darien Gee.

Stomping up the backstairs to our sprawling lanai, I plump into a chair at the breakfast table. I sit, staring ahead at nothing. I do not pull my chair up close– an act of defiance.

B-n-b guests (two couples) are chattering with light-hearted laughter– which suddenly lulls. Head-turns morph from casual to stiff. Something amiss– they sense it.

A guest passes the bowl of freshly-cut, island fruits. “Ric, would you like some fruit?”

“I’m not eating. I’m here because I was ordered to join breakfast.” Conversation halts. The pleasant, morning breeze wafting across the lanai mutates. The air might burn, if someone touches it. The next sound could rupture eardrums.

I feel more inner tension with each passing second. I can’t believe I have just uttered such words of inhospitality to a guest. I am powerless to alter my course. I feel the throbbing of hot-red blood as it burns upward through my temples. 

Johnny is searing me with his eyes. I see him in my periphery– assaulting me with an anger to match my own.

I smell the delicious aroma of bacon blending with omelet blending with Kona coffee. It’s making me nauseous. I’m afraid I might vomit.

The guests eat. They begin hushed conversation. Nothing is relaxed or casual now. I sit and stare ahead into the blankness as I feel myself beginning to spin and descend into the black hole I have created.

So… dear reader. How did I do?– with the anger assignment?

I know, I know. You want to know what the h*** the argument was that provoked such angry response. I hate to disappoint you (Truth: No, I don’t.) but the answer will come with full drama in my second book. (That’s + one from the one we’re waiting for today!) I get it. Not fair. I’m just trying to build an audience here…

(“Watch this space.”)

A Calm Settling

The Emotional Feeling of Finishing a First Draft of my Memoir Manuscript.

A Calm Settling

A calm settling– the marathon over. At least for now. New race set to begin in two weeks, but for now– calm; rest; peace.

No, I havenʻt taken up running again– not with my body anyway. Last night I finished and printed out my complete manuscript– first draft revision. 111 pages; 25,291 words. 2,291 words too many– I will need to cut as I resume revision.

But this morning– a calm settling. Maikʻi, e Ric. (Good work, Ric.)