Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Failure

The writing theme for May at Write…Edit…Publish is failure. Stop by and read some of the other submissions or submit your own story. My short fiction is about 1000 words and open to critique.

* * *

John’s phone rings while the waiter is pouring the wine. Unlike the last man in my life, he snuffs out his phone and buries it in his pocket. How about that? His eyes are on me, only me. Kayla. I raise my wine glass and listen to the clink of glass on glass. “A votre santé,” he says. I am sitting across from this handsome man with big brown eyes that draw me in, capture my imagination. A comfortable smile plays across his lips and as the wine warms my throat I wonder if this is the beginning of yet another relationship that will end in failure, in the disappointment of discovering each other’s flaws. I don’t question why the toast is in French. I am not lucky in love in any language.

Burned too often, I no longer have patience with the rituals of courtship. I do not trust myself to make good choices. This is our first date since John and I met on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. On that flight, I was not worried about the potential of developing a relationship. After all, John was in L.A. for business. I assumed his stay would be short. We just fell headlong into a conversation that began on one coast and had to end on another. There were no expectations, but I loved the light-headed feeling of making what felt like a true connection. We disembarked and paused to say our goodbyes, like two strangers passing in the night, before he headed off to rent a car and my roommate picked me up in front of baggage claim. That was when he slipped me his business card and said I should call him. Me call him? I’m sure I looked a little startled.



“I know nothing about Los Angeles,” he said. “I was hoping you might provide a little orientation over dinner.”

I shrugged. “How long will you be in L.A.?”

It was his turn to shrug and smile sheepishly. “Long enough to need to know something about this city.”

“I avoid this crazy city,” I replied. “I probably won’t be able to help much with your orientation.”

His steady gaze was mesmerizing. “I would like to see you again.”

“Oh.” Now what, I thought. How do I wiggle out of this gracefully? I wanted no dead-end entanglements. I didn’t have the energy for this. He looked so good that I wanted to grab his hand and take him off to dinner right that minute, but I was so wary. I knew I needed to protect my fragile soul. Who would want to deal with crazy me? And most of all, I feared another romantic mismatch that would leave an even bigger hole in my heart.

“I’m staying at the Sofitel on Beverly Boulevard.”

“Oh,” I say again as I stare at his business card.

“What are you afraid of?”

His directness surprised me. “I’m at a point in my life where I’ve run out of patience with the dating game.” I tried to think where I would go with my answer, how I would explain myself.

He put his hand lightly on my shoulder. “I guess we could go straight to the engagement, but we’ll need to talk that over first.” He looked at the card in my hand. “You’ll definitely need to call me, if that’s the case.”

And so that is how I found myself sitting across a table from this man. He’s got me wondering about his game.

“Let’s lay it out straight,” he says. “Our complications, shortcomings, ambitions and hopes.”

I stare back at him. “Really? We’re going to be that honest from the get-go?”

“For someone who doesn’t have patience, you are demonstrating way too much hesitation.”

“Okay,” I reply. “What the hell. You might as well know I’m a nut case and every one of my relationships has ended in failure. I’m not a good candidate for a long-term relationship and I am not interested in a short-term relationship.”

“How do you feel about children?”

That was a curve ball right in my face. “I don’t know.”

“Well, I’ve got one, a son. My wife died a year ago of cancer.”

I’m stunned into silence. I should offer the usual sympathetic statements, but I’m tongue-tied.

“What kind of nut case are you? I need to know because I have a complication, a son.”

I’m a little annoyed with him now. “I have anxiety attacks. I have to take medication. I’m emotional--you know, the kind of thing that drives men crazy.” I’m tempted to stick out my tongue, toss down my napkin, and stomp off.

“My son is emotional too. He has temper tantrums. You should get along fine.” He laughs and grasps my hand. “Take it easy.”

“I’m trying to warn you.” The words sputter in my mouth.

“I’m trying to warn you,” he says. “I know relationships aren’t easy and they don’t endure if there is not love.”

“We don’t know each other well enough to love. Everyone starts out with what they think is love, but as soon as it gets tested, it starts to die.”

He cocks his head and stares into my eyes. “Let’s start out with the facts and see what happens. You don’t need to waste any energy on the illusions of love. No games.”



And that is how our never-ending conversation begins. Bluntly. No courting dance trying to impress one another. I begin to perceive that calm sureness he has about me—that passion he has for me. I begin to think that I may learn to love myself, trust my own instincts. I may fall in love for the first time with a real man who is not afraid to love.

8 comments:

  1. I loved this. A surprise approach; btw - I kept picturing the man as Omar Sharif. Must have been the warm brown eyes. A fun read and I liked how he kept thwarting her excuses.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi LInda. What a lovely man is John, so refreshing and wise it appears. I hope Kayla gives him a chance. What a new twist on the dating game. Maybe you could continue this delightful story for next months' prompt, ROMANCE. Even if you intend to change its tone.

    Thank you for posting for WEP. As always, a top flash fiction piece which will be thoroughly enjoyed by all.

    Denise

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so sweet and also unusual. I enjoyed the game they are playing and I must say, I think he's a keeper.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Linda, I enjoyed your take on the prompt. Liked John's directness and honesty, very rare. I hope Kayla will recognise that and find a fulfilling relationship with him.

    Nilanjana.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A great take on the prompt. I was a little surprised that it was only a year since his wife had died and he was already looking for another partner. I hope he is not on the rebound and will let Kayla down and prove her point in that she can't maintain a relationship.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ugh, who hasn't experienced relationship failure? Nicely written. The son would be a true complication for me; but for warm brown eyes and a direct nature I'd probably get used to him :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wouldn't it be great if all dates were this honest. then we wouldn't have to play games at all. great modern piece.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Glad you all enjoyed exploring relationship failure and the possibility of an honest romance.

    ReplyDelete