Published

My new novel became available today as an ebook at Smashwords.com and Barnes and Noble.

In celebration of that, I am starting a new blog, http://www.kathywagenknecht.com , for my writing about writing.  Please follow my exploits through the self-publishing world there.

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Every Word Count

I flipped the cover of my Red n’ Black spiral notebook closed.  It was 2:14 a.m.  I had just written the final words of my novel.

Stunned, I looked around the empty room.  Whom could I tell?  The dogs were asleep in their crates.  Pat was out of town.  My friends in Asia would be awake, but I doubted if any of them would care.

Maybe I’d wait until it was typed before I said anything.  Then I’d know word count.  Then I could casually drop it into conversation:  “You know, I just finished my 47,000-word piece….”

The next day I spent hours keying and, yes, editing my handwritten and often indecipherable text into Word.  I really wanted to know the final word count – 46,607 – almost as much as I wanted to finish the process.  “Back when I wrote my first novel…” has a nice ring to it.

By the following day I wandered around not knowing what to do.  I had promised not to edit my manuscript for at least a month, preferably two.  Maybe I could print a clean copy.  But all my printers had run out of ink printing the draft copies I had been producing daily for the past couple of months.

I dithered.  I dilly-dallied.  I practiced piddling.  I picked up several of the books I’d set aside to read after I finished writing.  Every line I read reminded me of the utterly pedestrian prose I’d just written.  All 46,607 words of it.

(What an odd scorecard anyway.  Does a painter count brushstrokes?  Did Monet ever say, “Look at that top right corner.  It took me 364 strokes to get that color and texture.”?  Did Mozart count notes?  OK, OK.  I do tend to run away with myself when I’m searching.)

After fiddling with my mp3 player I did laundry.  I ate frozen pears.  I surfed the Overstock.com pages for something I couldn’t live without.  I ordered the Waterman pen I promised myself as a reward for finishing the novel.

Then I picked up my Black n’ Red notebook and my Pilot V-Ball pen.  I’m already up to 352 words.

Midnight Farewell

Today our Midnight left us.  We had her only a short time, but she brought us much joy and many mice, lizards, baby bunnies and snakes.

Happy hunting, Middie!

Blanket Toss

When I went outside this morning, there were ten women waiting for me.  I said good morning to each in proper order.  Grandmother first, then her three sisters.  My mamma’s oldest sister next, then Mamma and her two younger sisters, followed by Mamma’s oldest sister’s two daughters.  All the women in my family were gathered.  Waiting for me.

Today I was ten years old.

My grandmother touched my head, “Today we teach you something very important.  Today we teach you to fly.”

The two youngest women went to the truck and brought back a bundle of skins that had been sewn together.  As they waited, each of the others pulled her hood over her ears and pushed her hands further into her mittens.  A strong wind had come up.

Walking together to the center of the street, my women family unfolded the skins into a large circle and stood around it while my aunts threaded curved poles into sleeves sewn around the outside edge of the circle, making a frame for it.

“Walk to the center, Natasha, ” my oldest aunt told me.  As I did, each woman bent  and picked up the portion of skin and frame in front of her.  At a signal from Grandmother, each stepped backward, pulling the skin taut.

“Jump, Natasha,” Grandmother yelled.  I jumped as the women raised the circle of skins.  As I landed, they bounced the skin down then up. “Jump!”  I jumped.  Down, bounce, “Jump!”   Down, bounce, “Jump!”

Each jump took me higher than before.  I was flying, shaking with excitement.  Then the women slowed and my jumps became shorter until I stopped.

Grandmother looked at me and smiled.  “Now you know, Natasha, a very important thing.  In order to fly, you need the help of your women family.  But even more, you need their help to land.”

The Write Tools

The postal elves left a box at my office door sometime this morning.  What a treat!  I hurried inside to open it, eager as a child on Christmas morning.  And it was exactly what I wanted — new Black n’ Red notebooks and Pilot V-Ball pens.

This must be the way Pat feels when she gets a new shipment of paints, bushes & canvases.  Oh! the possibilities!

So, although I’m not using my new notebooks yet — the one I got in Manchester, England isn’t yet full — I did break out the new Pilot V-Ball with recycled content.

I’m writing green! Well, figuratively.  The ink is black.

Now what shall I write that’s fit to be writ with these new tools?  A novel of epic proportions?  A poem to make you weep?  A non-fiction piece that will influence the outcome of the Mid-East peace talks?

What power!  What pressure!  What stress! How did I move from joy to guilt in three paragraphs?

Maybe I’ll be satisfied today to simply put ink on paper in the form of English words, hopefully hooked together in a way to please writer and reader — that potential reader who might one day pick up these Black n’ Red notebooks to see what the famous KW was capable of producing.

Maybe I will be KW.  HD did it.  (I’d rather have Monda Fason’s initials though.) KW is good.  Kenworth trucks come to mind.   Still, not as strong as HD.  But then Kathy Wagenknecht isn’t as strong as Hilda Doolittle:

Do you ask for a scroll,
parchment, oracle, prophecy, precedent;
do you ask for tablets marked with thought
or words cut deep on the marble surface,
do you seek measured utterance or the mystic trance?   ( H. D. “Demeter”)

Nevertheless….

Why does dripping an ellipsis off a  “nevertheless”  remind me of an old aunt of my grandmother?  Was she that vague?  My other memories of her are hazy.  I cannot call up an image of her face.  I can’t see her clothing or stance or stride or gesture.  I can only hear that dripping “nevertheless” and catch a glimpse of her moving slowly away.


Familarity Breeds Content — Benton Dog Show

Dawn on Halloween comes late.  We were already headed south down I-30 before the sun came up.  Our dogs showed at 9:00 and 10:00, so we were among the first to arrive at the Saline County Fairgrounds. I missed yesterday when it was colder, but the forty-degree morning in an open air arena with dirt floors was austere enough for me.

Betty Ann was going to show her cardigan corgis first then my border collie, Molly.  She began grooming the cardis while I stomped around trying to stay warm.  Then Molly got on the table, needing little attention beyond red-clay dust removal from her feet.

Betty Ann was golden with the cardis — winners dog, winners bitch, best of breed.  She went to get pictures taken with her new favorite judge, and I got Molly out and asked a friend to take her to the ring while I disappeared.  Molly sometimes pays more attention to me than her handler, so I stay out of sight when she’s in the ring.

Katie walked Molly ringside.  Molly looked frantically around for someone she knew.  Then she spotted Betty Ann.  The ears went up; the tail wagged.  She had found salvation.

In the ring, she was wonderful.  Moved well, stacked beautifully, pricked her ears.  She won winners bitch and best of opposite sex.

Finding a familiar face was all Molly needed.  I know the feeling.

Midnight Provider

Midnight wandered in this morning and made herself known with a little “mwa” sound.  Not a complaint, merely an announcement of her presence.  She bumped her head under my crossed-leg’s heel, then jumped on my desk and curled up in the In-Basket.

I must be eating better.  She hasn’t been bringing me supplemental protein.  Maybe my skin still carries the scent of last night’s chicken.

This summer during the daily vegetable harvest, I ate almost nothing but the garden’s bounty.  It worried Midnight.  She would jump on my lap and sniff my mouth then deliver to me the next morning her offering of mouse, vole, bird, or baby bunny.  I got used to looking down as I stumbled out of the bedroom, fearful of  my toes touching fur again.

If I had recognized the pattern sooner, I could have saved myself from the daily disposal ritual by simply smearing my mouth with chicken skin.  I hear it’s good for chapped lips.