Excuses, excuses.

Well, let’s just say it: I suck at blogging lately. Oh, I’m writing alright – but that’s over on my private blog space where I manage all the pieces for Cormorant Line. But I figured I’d go ahead and try to get back to some pattern of updating this thing here and there if for no other reason than to let you all (all 17 of you that actually read this thing – God love you) know how it’s coming along and how everything else is coming along. I promise I have not been thrown into a black hole somewhere.

I’m pretty much sure at this point that I cannot be political and creative at the same time. It is stifling. I have nothing more to say about this election. I’m pretty sure (I say that, but watch them prove me wrong) that there is nothing either party can do or say at this point to surprise, shock, or upset me. The bottom line? People are insane. When I am proving to be one of the more level heads in a political spitting match, I don’t really know what to say. Well, other than “Sweet Jesus, help us all.”

In the quest to make Cormorant Line into something that doesn’t entirely suck, I have been talking to a few really awesome people to collect inspiration along the way. Jonathan has, obviously, been a constant source of support. He knows I have more moments of doubting myself than I do of feeling like something is really good, so it goes without saying that he’s been my brainstorming buddy for the whole thing. I might as well plan on giving him editorial credit, that is IF this thing ever is finished.

We’re pretty much decided at this point that this meta-fictional tale is based upon one major conflict (with a couple other minor ones thrown in there): This is a story, half-truth and half-creation, about trying to weed out the truth and the embellishment from other stories. Does that make sense? No? I don’t think so either. But that’s it. It’s shaping up, that’s all I can tell you – a real work-in-progress (or, as one former coworker used to say “A W.I.P,” which makes no sense since the abbreviating acronym actually has more syllables than if you just say it in full – but I digress).

I have to write this thing with family names intact, but I’m toying with names to change them all to. It’s been fun, too, trying to find old family names that I like, that represent something and carry a certain deeply southern, twangy weight to them. I want old names. And this won’t be like a Taylor Swift song. Nobody from my past or present will have to call me up and ask “Which one am I?” You’ll know. One thing that’s shaping up to be challenging is writing some chapters from the perspective of a younger me vs. from the perspective of an older me. Apparently there is a five year old somewhere in there still, because that has been one of my favorite chapters so far. It’s not as easy to taper back the dialogue and strip it down to simple, child-like terms as you would think. But still, a lot of fun. For a short time, it’s like I get to go back and be a kid again, and it has been pretty incredible to enjoy those images, those songs, those sounds and smells all over again. You don’t realize how much recall your brain has the power for until you really get into that head space where you’re simply reliving things in sensory terms and putting them down on paper (or ya know…blog – whatever). That has been very emotional and I’ve gotten teary a few times. Truly, I had a blessed and wonderful childhood. My parents made sure I was always loved. They weren’t perfect, and neither am I – but Lord, I couldn’t have asked for more. Their characters have been a joy to write.

One thing I’m finding is that music really helps me zone in on the feeling I want for a given story. Because these aren’t really chapters at this point, but more like short stories that can stand alone, but that still link together the way a traditional novel would.

“Hysteric (acoustic),” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Ansel & Emily Desader,” Blitzen Trapper (err…well…pretty much everything Blitzen Trapper will work)
“Operator,” Jim Croche
“River Man,” Nick Drake

You’d think I was writing a eulogy with such an uplifting list as that, but I promise in the context of what I’m doing, these are a few that really make the goosebumps come up. You know that moment? When you’re tapping into a really good memory and the music is just right and the words are flowing? Goosebumps in that moment. I live for that. I have this whole page attached to the Cormorant Line blog where it’s just sensory triggers. Playlists embedded, photos of people and places, images that evoke some good old nostalgia, etc. It helps get me centered quickly, since about the only time I have to write are the brief waking hours when Russ is napping or has gone to bed for the night. I am so happy I’m married to a man who can sit beside me on the couch, we can both be writing, and it’s okay that we’re not always talking. There’s a love in that silence that is indeed hard to find, and I am blessed beyond measure.

But probably the thing I am both most excited and most terrified about at the moment is this guy named Fred. He’s an older man at our church who was in World War II and arrived at Utah Beach around the same time my grandfather was landing on Omaha Beach. That is incredible to me – that this human struggle, which remains so mysterious to most of us, is a shared vein between these two people. We often forget this, but most of the men from that generation have gone on – we don’t have many of them left. It is vital to our society to get these stories down now, while we still have these great men amongst us. They saw things and experienced things that we simply cannot recreate in our own minds – not accurately, anyway. My grandfather, as I’ve mentioned, died well over a decade before I was born. But I needed this aspect of Cormorant Line to be authentic, and I understand my limitations on the subject. So Fred has agreed to essentially stand in for him, tell me his story, and share any items or pictures he has from that time with me.

I am so nervous about this, I can’t really begin to tell you. We can take interest all day, we can study it as long as we want, but ultimately there is something that happens when a person goes into battle – particularly one of such a dramatic and momentous nature as the Normandy Invasion – that we civilians will never, ever understand. Ever. There’s just a wall there that we can never scale if we haven’t been there in it ourselves. I respect that fact enough to know that I could fully make a fool of myself in this process if I don’t go about it the right way. Which is why I need Fred’s testimony, and why I need as many facts about my grandfather’s experience there as I can get. It’s going to be a real process, that’s for sure. Fred has to bear with me a lot because I get super emotional (like a big idiot, really) about this stuff and often have to take breaks. It’s just overwhelming to think about some of it. These guys really are super heroes. To me, anyway.

So that’s what’s going on! I am really, REALLY going to try to update Angel in the House at least a few times a week from here on out. Really. Until then, y’all have a great week and Happy Mother’s Day!

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