Tag Archives: fiction

look who’s writing a novel. (that’ll be me)

12 Nov

You read that right. I’m actually writing a novel. We’re a little over 1,200 words in. The goal is to have 50,000 words by the end of November, as part of the challenge from NaNoWriMo. Beyond the challenge, but I have no delusions of grandeur, y’all. I won’t finish. But I’m headed in that direction. All those italics mean 1) I love italics; 2) I’m super excited; and 3) finishing by the end of November isn’t necessarily the goal.

More on Point 3. I’ve had the desire to write a novel since I was 13 years old, when, during one summer vacation, I began a novel about three girls who go on a road trip. I’ve had the desire to write a novel since I was 16 years old, when I began a novel fictionalizing the antics of two pretty memorable boys that were in a few of my classes in high school. I’ve had three solid novel ideas roaming around my head for a million years. You get my drift. The novel has always been the thing. But the novel always ended up on the back burner. Too busy, too in love with writing my short stories, too this and too that. In fact, it was almost like the novel was the pinnacle of my life as a writer, and I wasn’t quite ready to go there yet. Nevertheless, that was the past. We writin’ a novel!

Plot? Theme? What’s it all about, Alfie? I will remain quiet on all that. But I may post some chapters on here as I go. We’ll see. I will say that the whole “write what you know” adage is quite a concept when you actually do it. Sure, aspects of my life and my experience permeate my fiction (it’s all me, really, in some way), but this particular experience is different somehow. It’s almost more authentic, if that makes any sense.

Which one of you have written a novel? Tell me about the experience, please and thank you!


31 Aug


daydreaming and i’m thinking of…

5 Aug

Trip the light fanstastic with me for a while, will you? Let’s be silly and daydream.

Picture It, Some Time from Now, Somewhere: yours truly’s first novel and memoirs have simultaneously landed on the New York Times Bestsellers List, Fiction and Nonfiction, respectively, and have landed quite well. What will happen next? Cue dream music…

He will conduct my first interview.

He will conduct my first interview.

I will wear this.

I will wear this.

He will want the rights to the novel.

He will want the rights to the novel.

He will want the rights to the novel.

He will want the rights to the novel.

He will want the rights to the novel.

He will want the rights to the novel.

Dinner with her twice a week.

Dinner with her twice a week.

I'll live here.

I’ll live here.

And here.

And here.

That marvelous lady on the left, she who birthed me and stopped herself from leaving me somewhere when I was a teenager, will finally get her HGTV home.

That marvelous lady on the left, she who birthed me and stopped herself from leaving me somewhere when I was a teenager, will finally get her HGTV home.

Day Thirty.

29 Apr


what is a poem but a plan?

i, your brownie,
will be in like and in like and
turn the pages of time and
fly to the heights of the sky
with you.

we don’t need a home in
Emerald City, love,
for it will be right here, in our
simple home with our unencumbered

for 1 + 1 equals me and you,
and we will always be the answer—
dancing and tumbling because
we want to, and saying it all the while
aloud, no mind reading.

it will always be autumn for us:
living in the centers of both our worlds,
hardly relegated to corners or the
uncertainty of infatuation,
you, my little bee.

no paper doll here, but the real thing:
a real, beating heart,
real gratitude for you,
the real me for real you,
no archetypes necessary.

i will accept the company
of you, and i will always choose you,
because you’re the prettiest apple
of the eye a woman could ask for
and not defer.

from Emerald City to Damascus to Emmaus,
every step and place brimming with clarity—
our L-O-V-E,
electric in its glee and maturity,
unshackled and free.

you are the ink in my pen,
and I’ll rhyme for you, just say when,
the moon in your sky,
ready to shout and reply
that our love will never burn.

But here it is:
whether rain or shine,
whether push or pull,
you will always be the “you”
in verse, fiction, or haiku.

yes, what is a poem but a plan?

15 cures for writer’s block. (because i’m such an expert on these things.)

28 Feb

writers-block21Not really. And I have about 5, maybe 6 “cures” to share. All about the misleading titles, don’t you know? Anyway, as I sat on the metro this morning, being shuttled towards the OK Corral, it dawned on me that I should never complain about writer’s block. Not with the plethora of possible stories all around me provided by the various walks of life on the metro. One afternoon some months ago, for example, I watched two women chat with one another across from me and was immediately fascinated with them. I don’t know what it was; they just seemed full of energy and verve and were extremely entertaining to watch. Enter the trusty smartphone, which I used to viciously take notes about them, then enter the short story I began to write based on those two interesting ladies. See? Writer’s what? Nevertheless, there are times when yes, ideas and inspiration are everywhere, but the creative brain still doesn’t seem to connect from idea to story. Well, fellow creative writers and other such artists, here are a few things that seem to help me, not that you asked or anything:

Music. Put on your headphones. Lean back. Close your eyes. Regardless of whatever you’re listening to, whether Rachmaninoff or Backstreet Boys, I guarantee that the pen will start moving, the fingers will start tapping on the keyboard–there will be writing. It never fails for me. Not quite sure what it is about music and the written word for me, but the two seem to go hand in hand. And forget it if I’m listening to any songs by this guy. He makes me crazy. I want to write and paint and traverse rivers. Goodness. In fact…

I think this song embodies everything about the struggle of making art. Apparently, the song itself came from a place of frustration and writing the final track for the Born in the USA album. It’s pure beauty.

Keep your eyes open. I won’t rehash it more than I already have, but there are trillions of people all around us, full of intrigue. Stare at them. (Carefully. A newspaper or book helps if you need to look away quickly.) Watch them. Imagine. Write.

Read. Good writers being good readers aside, I think it’s important to also surround yourself with everything from newspapers to small ads in the back of magazines. You never know when a story will jump out at you.

Know the Difference…between laziness and being blocked. Because I gets lazy. The work is there, the ideas are there, but there’s a Golden Girls marathon on, and I don’t feel like writing…you get my drift. The marked difference, I think, is how you feel. I’ve been in a place where I could not write. Nothing helped; creativity was next to gone; I even shed tears about it. It was weird, crippling, and utterly frustrating, being that for most of my life, writing is all I’ve done.. Conversely, I once peered through some of the pieces I was working on and bypassed all of that for a nap on the couch and some channel surfing. Yep. Major difference.

Art. You see them when you visit the museum or art galleries. They sit on benches facing paintings/sculptures/etc., staring intently at the works of art as they write/sketch/doodle into notebooks and tablets. In my mind, some of them have come to get the creative juices flowing. And I’d like to think that art inspiring art is the way to do it.

Those Pesky Delusions of Grandeur. Ok. Perhaps like me, you think every piece of fiction you create should be the next winner of the O. Henry Award for Fiction? So you’re waiting for an elevated, complex plot that trumps the so-called simple idea you have in your head about a dog who finds a pot of gold in the backyward? Yes? I once had a college pal and fellow writer (amazing, that guy) tell me, after I complained about writer’s block, “I don’t believe you. The ideas are there. You just don’t like them.” At the time, I wanted to kick him in the toes. Deep down, perhaps he was right. Well, not perhaps; he was correct, being that I had just mentioned a few ideas playing around in my head. The point is–and I constantly deal with this–work with what you have. An idea is an idea. It may not be the next piece shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (oh, I know ALL the awards for fiction, believe me), but it’s all yours. Work with it.

Six ideas, not 15, but I think you get where I’m going with this. It’s really advice to myself: just try to keep writing.

Anyone out there have tips to combat writer’s block?

got a cloud sleeping on my tongue.

26 Feb

Oh, life.

Things have been interesting lately. Recall that I said I would visit my Kitten Heel Home every once in a while? Well, here I am, to update you on things in my little world. And really, I could never seriously leave my Kitten Heel Marvel. Not in a million years. She’s just become the slightly red-headed (maybe brunette) stepchild to my Tumblr.

Anyway, back to life, back to reality. Yeah, things have been interesting. For one thing, I’ve been writing like crazy. Seriously, perhaps the permanent vacation I thought my Muse was on is finally over. Inspiration has been seeping from the walls, the ceilings, everywhere. And–drumrolls, if you please–I just completed my latest short story. What? Yes! Amid the ten stories I’m currently and crazily writing at the same time, I actually sat on the couch last month and wrote this particular story longhand (haven’t done since antiquity) and finished it in one day. I have no idea what was going on. It was either a psychotic break or my Muse took some uppers and danced around in my head. Nevertheless, I am so proud of this stinkin’ story. It’s untimately a complex but feel good yarn about the responsibilities of family, love, and spider webs. Curious?

What else else? I’m working. This is a good thing. The few pesos they bequeath upon me allow for the payment of bills and the purchase of extra coins for the online Family Feud game that I’m currently obsessed with enjoying. I will say, however, that it’s time for a change. The job hunt must commence. There are a few goals I have in mind, i.e., a new apartment, traveling, that will require a little more in the salary department. I don’t need Trump figures, but an improvement would be nice. Add to the fact that being an Admin has so run its course for me, it’s time for a change.

What else else else? Oh. I have this crush.


I’ll try to explain.

Have you heard *Cloud on my Tongue by my truest love, Tori Amos?

Tori. Sigh.

Tori. Sigh.

(Are you, dear reader, a Tori fan? Please become one. Listen to her songs and weep and get lost in lyrics that will stupefy and confuse and thrill you. I’ve been musically stalking her since I was 15 years old.) In this song, one of my absolute favorites by Ms. Amos, she refers to said cloud, how “it goes”, and “he goes”, and “you’re already in there, I’ll be wearing your tattoo…” For me, the entire thing just signifies the entering and staying of someone who blankets your senses, your cells, your everything. (And this is my interpretation of it; another listener will interpret it differently, because that’s the essence of Tori’s songwriting abilities; it means something different to each listener.) Since I relate music to all of life, this song reminds me of how I’m feeling these days with this crush of mine. But only in certain ways. It’s atypical, this crush. (Kindly refresh your memory on what crushes usually are for me.) For one thing, yes, “he’s in there”, as Tori sings, and I’m going in a few “circles”, but I’m not really losing it. This is the quietest I’ve ever been about someone. I don’t even want to call it a crush. It’s a cloud. Light but heavy, in my head but above my head. You know? For another thing, precisely two people know his identity. Notable because my usual modus operandi is to inform you, your mother, and your grandmother about the latest superficial stealing of my heart, but not so, this time. This time, it’s…I don’t know. It’s different. Again, quiet. I thought I was “over the bridge now”, in the sense of being done with these things, but I’m not really even complaining about this one. I just like him. I just do. End scene. We’ll talk about that later. Was this a flimsy excuse to quote lines from one of my favorite songs by Tori Amos? Maybe. But the song seems viable now, for a few reasons. Ok, finit, for now.


Someone’s knockin on my kitchen door
Leave the wood outside
What all the girls here are freezing cold
Leave me with your Borneo
I don’t need much to keep me warm

Don’t stop now what you’re doin
What you’re goin my ugly one
Bring them all here
Hard to hid a hundred girls in your hair
It won’t be fair if I hate her
If I ate her you can go now

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tatoo
You’re already in there

Got a cloud sleeping on my tongue
He goes then it goes and kiss the violets
As they’re waking up

Leave me with your Borneo
Leave me the way I was before

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tatoo
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again
The girl’s in

Someone’s knockin on my kitchen door
Leave the wood outside
What all the girls here are freezing cold

You can go now

You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing you tatoo
You’re already in there
Thought I was over the bridge now
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again
The girl’s in
Circles and circles
Got to stop spinning
Circles and circles and circles again
Thought I was over the bridge now

meet me at the crossroads of ordinary and extraordinary.

2 Aug

What do you write about?

It’s the standard question I get when people find out I’m a writer. I typically respond that I write about “relationships,” which is largely true. My fascination with how people truly relate to one another–mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, siblings, friends–and the psychology of it all has only grown with time and understanding. So, yeah, that’s me in the corner, watching, listening, analyzing. (Am I a voyeur? Absolutely. People, strangers, are infinitely inspiring and intriguing. And really, once we step outside our homes, everything you and I do is subject to observation. Sorry if you wanted that loud argument with your wife in the middle of a public aisle in the grocery store to be private.) In fact, before I went with the Plan A of majoring in English in college, I actually wanted to be a Psychology major, with the hope of someday becoming a therapist. Yes. It’s true. I even wanted to start my own practice, the ultimate chance to fulfill my people fascination with the belief that I could also help people sort out their lives. Anyway, when I told my beloved Dad heard that, he nearly fell out of his chair and forbade it immediately. Perhaps he had visions of me psychoanalyzing he and my mother’s disciplining methods? (“How do you really feel about grounding me?”)

I digress. But you’re used to that, aren’t you? Re-reading some of my older work this past week, I realized that the same theme revealed itself over and over again: ordinary people meeting with extraordinary events. It’s a bit cliched, but I was writing stories about run-of-the-mill people reacting to hardly run-of-the-mill situations. Even a few doses of whimsy here and there. Back then, I prided myself on coming up with ideas and plots that I knew were solely from the trenches of my imagination. And they were always stories that I, from the vantagepoint of just a reader, enjoyed reading.

What’s changed with my newer work, you ask, because you know that’s where I’m going? Several years ago, I felt that my writing needed to become “real”. Relatable. I wanted my readers to think while reading, “I get this. I’ve experienced this.” However, in comparing the old with the new, I noticed a few things. I’ve stripped the extraordinary. The new ones are…they just are. But I write fiction, folks! Yes, I write about relationships. Yes, I include psychobabble here and there. But I also write fiction. And fiction may be based in reality, experiences, relationships, and psychology, but at its core, it’s “something invented by the imagination or feigned.”   I want to go back to that! So it’s time to stop sacrificing the shiniest, giddiest parts of my imagination for relatibility. Instead, I’m going to experiment with blending the two. Truthfully, I’ve already started. I’ve restarted some of my older, unfinished works, which number in the hundreds, and we’re in the process of serious blending. So…

What do you write about?

The ordinary and the extraordinary.

And in the end:

that’s how much I feel.

14 Sep

Harper Lee made me fall in love with a book.

Alice Hoffman makes me want to sit outside and describe the world exactly the way it is: gorgeous and strange and utterly amazing.

Billy Collins writes poems that lift off the page and make a beeline toward the center of my heart.

Judy Blume helped me to figure out what I was feeling.

Lois Lowry turned me into a library stalker.

Alice Walker blew my mind.

Casey Flinn wrote stories and poems in college that wouldn’t leave me.

Jane Austen turned me into an eternal follower.

O. Henry thrilled me.

Flannery O’Connor sweetly shocked me.

Kathryn Stockett propelled me back to the days of sleeping with a book by my side.

Anne Sexton reminded me that poetry can sound like everyday life.

Jennifer Atkinson made me feel blissful to be a writer.

Sylvia Plath. Oh, Sylvia Plath.

Amy Bloom convinced me that a short story writer is still a novelist.

Jhumpa Lahiri knocked me off my feet.

Zadie Smith made me angry.

David Schickler hypnotized me.

Aesop and the Grimm Brothers started it.

My mother engendered the love.



Sincerely, Taj

Dear World, I have stuff to say, so get cozy. Here, I've got cupcakes.

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