Category Archives: Writing

A New Toni Morrison Story…

Is on the horizon and I’m besides myself with anticipation. I love Ms. Morrison, she uses fiction to explore truth in a way no one else does. Her perspectives are always insightful, peerless and masterpieces that excavate and explore the human heart in all it’s complexity. No mean feat.

Here’s an excerpt from her upcoming book, God Help The Child, courtesy of the New Yorker:

It’s not my fault. So you can’t blame me. I didn’t do it and have no idea how it happened. It didn’t take more than an hour after they pulled her out from between my legs for me to realize something was wrong. Really wrong. She was so black she scared me. Midnight black, Sudanese black. I’m light-skinned, with good hair, what we call high yellow, and so is Lula Ann’s father. Ain’t nobody in my family anywhere near that color. Tar is the closest I can think of, yet her hair don’t go with the skin. It’s different—straight but curly, like the hair on those naked tribes in Australia. You might think she’s a throwback, but a throwback to what? You should’ve seen my grandmother; she passed for white, married a white man, and never said another word to any one of her children. Any letter she got from my mother or my aunts she sent right back, unopened. Finally they got the message of no message and let her be. Almost all mulatto types and quadroons did that back in the day—if they had the right kind of hair, that is. Can you imagine how many white folks have Negro blood hiding in their veins? Guess. Twenty per cent, I heard. My own mother, Lula Mae, could have passed easy, but she chose not to. She told me the price she paid for that decision. When she and my father went to the courthouse to get married, there were two Bibles, and they had to put their hands on the one reserved for Negroes. The other one was for white people’s hands. The Bible! Can you beat it? My mother was a housekeeper for a rich white couple. They ate every meal she cooked and insisted she scrub their backs while they sat in the tub, and God knows what other intimate things they made her do, but no touching of the same Bible.

For full text click here. You’re Welcome.

Great precursor to my upcoming piece on Colorism….

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Bon Anniversaire – One Year And Counting

Well, I am two days late but better late than never. Happy Blog Anniversary to Moi. I started this blog last year on 11/28 and it’s been quite a journey. I’m happy about the many folks that I’ve met in the Blogosphere and for all the joy, angst, freedom and fun that has spilled from my fingers as a result.

Looking back over my posts, I can see how my writing has grown and it has served as a wonderful springboard for my other writing endeavors. Some days, subjects have flown from my pen with fluidity and others I have cursed the blank page as I wrack my brain looking for subject. Ah, but the reward for my diligence and persistence has been finer than I knew lol. I’m still shaking my head and looking at Nanowrimo with trepidation but only the strong survive.

I will steal one of Stephen King’s lines when I say, “Thank you, Constant Readers”. Many of you, have shared in this journey with me and I hope that I have provided you with a sometimes much needed respite from reality, an emotional a-ha moment, or inspired and informed you in some way. If not, holla, and I’ll work a little harder :).

Peace, Love & Productivity,

C.

Eviscerated Dreams – A Short

Love lie lorn on a floor that was once solid. I felt the warm, impenetrable face of the wood beneath my cheek. I breathed in dust, vapors du wax and the spent dreams of the faceless which lie forgotten around me. I could not move. I could not move. The weight of an unfathomable sadness bore down on my being. My eyes were shut, squinched tight, as if shutting out reality could help me find the truth which had evaded me. Truth had departed. 

Why when we seek happiness do we so often find in its place a collapsing emptiness that folds in on itself?

They say to live is to dream, take chances, swallow the brew of life whole… They said. They never said how it feels when terra firma disappears and dreams are eviscerated by disappointment.

In my dreams, Vivienne is flying northwards, a pinpoint on the horizon that winks like diamonds. The sound of her beating wings are tinkling chimes that beckon me to follow, or be left in their wake. I run to keep up but am kept from my goal by the weight of memories.

Ruthless memories, which play unceasingly across my inner eye, the one I cannot shut. I feel her hand, lovingly graze my cheek on our first date. I smell the bewitching scent that is her pheromone signature wafting upwards to tease my nose just like she used to, leaning in at any given moment, to whisper in my ear. I see her smile, brilliant like gold in undiscovered mines, flash at me as we drove across the stark, arid beauty of the moon drenched Sahara. I hear her deliciously infectious laugh, infused with child like wonder, as we soared on swings, or spent a day careening skywards, then earthward and hit repeat, on stomach dropping rides at Great Adventure.

I see us, Vivienne and me, drunk on an art filled day at the Metropolitan lying in the sun. We stared up at the great blank windows on the East side of the museum, drinking wine and nibbling gourmet treats. I remember the way the grass cradled our forms and how with each turn her cotton dress caressed her thighs and ass until I was jealous and bloated with a passion that begged release. A release that I would take anywhere she would give it to me.

We were a living, breathing sculpture of skin, teeth, sinew, bone, tongue and liquid fluidity. Our mingled breaths a gale that swept through deserted offices, sumptuous hotel rooms, public bathrooms, or wide open spaces where nature was our happy voyeur. The consummation of our desires reaching a crescendo when she emitted long, slow, piercing, jazzy moans. My deeper pitch adding the bottom required to make an unforgettable trio whose alchemy was forever imprinted upon my inner ear.

She said it was the same for her… That way madness lay. To think of all the things she said and their truth, or untruth, would surely drive me careening over some interior edge. Ah, but I was already there.

My instinct was to run from the pain but a final, unwelcome memory waited it’s turn in the line-up. This time, she was quietly vivid. Her wild spirit tamped down, hair slicked back, in an emerald velvet dress drinking Veuve, and making her rounds at my gallery opening. I smiled to see the mask of adultness and not the wandering, bewitching, adventurous, girl child whom became my lover, that lived within. She was all grown up – the day before she left me. My mind stalled on this memory and my eye went dark.

A brief respite, only to be followed by tears which came, one by one by one, to fill the saucer of my lids begging release. Sweet surcease, as I gave in and opened my eyes to a watery world. It was here that she had left me with the memory of her kisses beginning and dying on my lips. I knew her body now as well as I knew my own, the mole behind her ear, the imperfect beauty of a cloud shaped birth mark that adorned her lower back, I knew the honey-tan-chocolate landscape that was her breasts, the valley in between and the whorl of her fingertips that memory had engraved upon the skin of my lips.

The world felt wrong, I was wronged, bereft, lonely, and empty like a husk with all the tears that had spewed forth in the time since she left. She left me for greater things, a better job, a richer lover, another continent and I could not compete.

And so I lie upon the floor for untold hours listening to our favorite CD’s on repeat. The phone rang, the neighbors banged till they grew tired, the alarm went off and I registered it all from a great distance. Myself shut down until all I became was distilled to a curled up embryo left behind on someone’s floor, plagued by memories, tears and loss.

Who would save me from me?

I was not up to the task of rediscovery as my splintered selves, the one whom had left with her, and the wretched soul that she had left behind, struggled to merge. A whole day passed before I could move to the sheltering arms of our bed. There I slept and woke consumed by dreams of running on an endless empty beach. I woke only to eat, call in sick and fall in bed again. The dreams returned. No matter where I ran I ended up in the same beautiful, pain filled place.

It was Giselle that woke me. Three days of uncharacteristic silence bought her to my door with flowers, chicken soup and books by Nin, Morrison and Maya in tow. She opened the door with her key, held me in her arms, and listened to the disjointed ramblings of how my fairytale ended. There was relief in that to expel the nightmare in my head to another human being. There was relief in finding compassionate solitude in the arms of my friend. She dried my tears, fed me, read me books, washed my hair and held me as I cried myself to sleep. She took off work and stayed with me for four days until I was a former semblance of myself, divided but standing, once again.

Life would not stop. A week passed and I found myself on the sidewalk, blinking in the sunlight. I had emerged. Changed, missing a piece, haunted, more somber, less trusting and more cynical but at least I was out of the apartment. I learned to live with the most silent and pervasive of enemies, grief.

Time taught me a new trick, it divided. Internally, I now measured my life in segments, the time before and after Vivienne…

INSPIRED BY WASTED TIME by Me’Shell Ndegeocello

Submitted…A Milestone

So, it’s been at least 10 years since I submitted any of my work for publication. I can’t believe that’s really true but there it is. I never stopped writing but I told myself that there were so many things going on in my life that I simply didn’t have time to work on sharing my words as well.  

I told myself that I needed a degree in Fine Arts and no one would take me seriously. I told myself that there are thousands of writers and what made me think that I was unique, talented or lucky enough to be successful? It’s kind of like self-hypnosis. Now, if only I could go the opposite route and convince myself of my inherit greatness. Working on it :).

The worst lies are those we tell ourselves.

In my newfound honesty, I can admit that the looming spectre of rejection shackled my brain just as surely as if I were chained. It was only that which stood in my way. Everything else was just noise. Fear really is our very worst enemy. It will shut you down before you can begin and steal the light from your world. Before you know it, you’re just drifting along content with the gloom and not asking anything of life. What a waste of life. I am still pissed off that it was ME standing in my own way.

I am not a TV hound but I do have a few favorites and American Idol is one of them. God given talent is a beautiful thing to see. I love watching people reaching for their dreams. I am right there with them, crying, cursing and cheering them on. Yeah, that was me you heard screaming last week when Naima Adedapo, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk and Karen Rodriguez made it into the Top 24. Actualization. Epiphany. Triumph. Elation. Just a few of my favorite words.   

But I digress, although I didn’t share my words I did continue recording them. They are like old friends who showcase different sides of me, my thoughts and experiences. I can see evolution in their pages, the writer in me continued to grow in depth and scope.   

Confidence. Focus. Courage. Moxy. Discipline. Hope. Possibility. Drive and Ambition. It’s my new mantra :).   

Getting to this place required me to see the need for change. Losing my job in 2008 forced on me the most uncomfortable of states – self-reflection. It sounds preachy but it is one of life’s truisms. When things outside go awry, we have no choice but to turn inwards for sustenance. What you find there is the barometer of whether or not you have been on a starvation diet or are healthy and thriving. I discovered that my ship was listing and even worse, I was off course. 

I have put my ear to the ground and made a concerted effort to listen to the small, questing voice of self. When I found her, I nurtured her :).

Saturday, I submitted one of my Erotica pieces for inlcusion in an Erotic Anthology. I am very proud that I took the step. It would be great for the exposure if my work is chosen but the feeling of empowerment I got from completing the task is the most important thing. It is a milestone that speaks of my belief in self and a renewed committment to becoming a published author. Yeah, I said that…

Are you on course?? Keep checking and make course corrections as necessary.

Chocolate & Cocoa

The sun turns the water a molten silver,

a riotous body suffused with power.

I contemplate it tirelessly,

for hours.

I am awake

to its vastness,

its many moods

and the effect of sun and moon…

 I want you to make love to me in the indefinable way that I’ve missed. I miss the unexpected. I miss your kiss and the soft sharp roughness that is your lips. Washing through me – over me – under me. Insidious… I miss your tongue drumming upon the roof of my mouth. Lapping at me. Sucking at me. Nibbling. Moaning. Biting. Just like a playful Lion. Big strong hands, Holding me still. Moving me beyond madness to gladness. I miss the completely animal way that you sweat. Hot, stinging salty drops mingling with my muskiness. I miss the thoroughness with which you plumb my depths. Wet, oh so wet. Warm, seeking only to climb higher and higher in your arms. Encircled by the unyielding steel and strength of you. Cocoa muscles. My Chocolate sin. I miss your feet like plows, firm and steady steps smacking my earth, making it yield to your every wish. I miss watching the expressions on your face as  you fill me. Fill me. The utterly sweet way that I make you groan. Do you remember? What splendor. The lushness… It’s not rushed, or hurried ever, this pace. In this place – where you and I are one – your armor is dropped, and you succumb to all the feelings I arouse in you. Incite you to. You talk to me. Whisper in my ear and at the pinnacle shout with me. Deeply. You are – oh – so – freaky. I am at odds to maintain any semblance of rationality. I give in to these feelings. I lose my masks. Give up all my bows and become The Quiver. Shivering and taut and wide open. Shoot me…. I miss our special song that is made up of sighs, groans, exultations and the sweet slapping sound of flesh upon flesh. Bodies melting. Minds melded. Chocolate and Cocoa  flowing down a mountainside.……..

***For ALC

 © Coco Rivers 2000

Dreaming in words…

If reading was my first love, writing is my second. I have been writing since I was a teenager. Writing, undoubtedly, came as a result of my love of words but not everyone can write, right? I have always known that I could write. Just like I have always known that I suck at math. As far back as I can recall, I was an A+ English student. It was effortless, like breathing and throughly enjoyable. It has been, in turns for me, biographical and cathartic. I have used my pen to capture moments in my life and to expel and explain feelings that I can not explain to others.

I began with diaries, pouring my passion into them. They are prolific and torturous, if sporadic. I have dozens of books, you know the lined kind with funky covers, that have been around the world with me, recording my emotions, adventures and wayward thoughts. Yet, I can not say that I have ever written regularly. I have always been the kind of writer who writes in what I call a “white heat”. If I am moved, then I write. Everything else to me is drivel and forced. If its forced, it’s not pure, right? Wrong. It took a considerable amount of time to learn how to tap into the well of my creativity and thereby “force” myself to write.

In my teens, I became convinced that I was a left-brain thinker, intuitive, emotional, articulate, visual, linguistic and verbal. I embraced this side of myself as it felt natural to me. Math, natural? I think not. So entrenched in this definition of self was I that I reviled subjects like Science and ran from them like the plague lol. It took a long time to “think” myself out of this mind-set which I realized with time was very self-limiting.

In time,  I discovered the poet who lived inside me and pretty much abandoned regular diary writing for the poetic. Even now, I can pick up a poem and recall who or what inspired the idea and emotion. So, my poetry is a freeze-frame of where I was at a particular moment in time and what moved me. I agonized over the fact that I was born in the wrong time. I wanted to be in France, on the left bank, sitting in a cafe, high on the artistry of like-minded folks to whom art was everything. I wanted to be a starving artist and live for my work but I was hijacked by technology, bills and the basic necessities. 

Even so, a true love can not be quenched and in my twenties a shift occurred and writing became necessary to me. If I went anywhere without a pen and pad I felt naked. My thoughts became “fluid”. I mean this to say that phrases, sentences, lines of prose and alliteration would shoot through my brain at odd moments. I was captivated by my ability to create and a deluge came pouring out which I am in awe of to this day. Any person, passionate about their art, will relate to this.

Yet, I shared my writing with very few people because in it, I am naked. My nakedness, or self-consciousness, was reserved for the select. I was not open to exposure or criticism. My reserve, if I am honest, was also caused by lack of confidence. I can write but could I write?  That is, do it professionally, for a living? I was lucky enough to have friends who were also of the artistic bent so they encouraged me.  I overcame my reserve enough to stick my toe in the water and cast a few poems out in the world. One piece, Iridescent Memories, was published. Yet another, Drawn, was accepted by an editor who liked the concept but chastised me for “over-used” phrases and requested that I edit it. I was horrified lol. I thought editing would ruin its authenticity and that once I had written something the original feeling could never be recaptured so it was a pointless exercise. Hmmmph. It’s silly, I know, but I didn’t know better and more importantly, I lacked that skill.

The rejection, or so I felt, was like a Stop sign. So, I allowed myself to be silenced. I blamed the editor, you see. I now know that it was not her, but I, who was guilty of silencing my dream. Interestingly enough, I credit her criticism as the impetus for me to do more than record feelings but to refine and examine them. Her criticism improved my work although it took a long time to see it. 

Although I withdrew, I did not quit. Silently, I moved onto short stories and Erotica. Silently, I began the art of examination and analysis of other works which is, I feel, necessary to master your art. I have vacillated constantly, wondering what to write. Romance? Erotica? Fiction? Should I only write about what I know in order to give the work authenticity? Could I be one of those prodigious writers like Anne Rice who does considerable research which she incorporates into her work? Where to begin? I have rejected a multitude of ideas because they are not new. I was consumed wondering what I could contribute that others have not written about. All of this delayed me.

It took a considerable amount of analysis to realize that there really are very few new ideas under the sun. Listening to artists, reading prologues and epilogues, watching movies, interviews with cinematographers, screen writers and devouring articles about writing I discerned a pattern. There is nothing new under the sun. Most ideas, at their base, are common and it is only the individual perspective which the artist brings that differentiates the expression and form. More so, ideas, spawn other ideas and so on. I finally resolved that it was only necessary to start. It is important to me that whatever I write touches the hearts and souls of others. To convey relatable, resonating stories which inform or inspires others is a worthy goal. Or, merely expose that which has not been exposed in print which is definitely a more lofty goal. Ha! So, I guess the right side of my brain works after all lol.

It is only this year, through constant practice, that I have finally found my Voice. It was elusive and I chased it but now it is so loud that it can not be silenced. 🙂 So, now I have the confidence required to share my work with others and have begun working on my first novel. It is a metamorphosis thirty years in the making but what can I say?  When you are ready, you are ready.

One of the main reasons that I love my blog is that it incites me to write everyday and forces me to delve into my well of memory, impressions, life lessons and creativity. This is my dream and I will not be silenced…

Thirsty for the Marvelous…

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” Anais Nin. February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

What’s up with the name of my blog? Well, unless you are a fan of Anais Nin you will not get it. So, I thought I would shed some light on my strange title – just for the record.

I discovered the writings of Anais Nin at twenty something and instantly fell in love with her. Her writings, albeit brief, with the exception of her diaries touched and move me. Her writing is lyrical, incredibly descriptive and emotionally captivating. She continues to inspire women and artists to this day because of her uniqueness and fearlessness. In true survivor spirit she triumphed over her struggles. That she was a forerunner of feminism, a passionate, struggling artist and a legendary seductress who lived life with pure hedonistic abandon was fascinating and inspirational to me. Her appetite for life without boundaries was huge and her childhood was a dark, shadowy place that she sought relief from through her writing. That makes perfect sense to me.

I, too, am thirsty for the marvelous. My spirit yearns for escape from the mundane and finds refuge in the artistic light of creation. I love art, written, verbal, visual and auditory. Through art, I feel connected to the collective consciousness of the human condition which regardless of time, geography, status, culture or religion is at its foundation incredibly similar. I wish to live a life filled with experiences that transcend the ordinary and hopefully glean wisdom, grow in breadth of spirit and intellect as a result. I resolved long ago not to shy away from experience but to attempt to delve in headfirst for the sheer joy of what could be learned. This has resulted in heart breaks, unseen scars and unexpected joys which I will carry with me always. At the very least, it has minimized my regrets and that, I find, is worth everything. 

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin.

Go to http://web.mac.com/retrofocus/art/anaisnin.html to learn more about her.

Welcome to the Blogosphere

Last night, I dreamed of a world gone silver and white. It was a futuristic time in which humans had lost variations of skin color and entered the next phase, opacity. It was oddly beautiful to see the blood rushing through the flesh, veins thrumming in transport and the organs going about their work. My dreaming self was thankful once again for clothes, what they hide and what they serve to emphasize. In my newfound world only the “connected” had color. Connected to what? The Net, of course.

Odd as that may seem it was indicative of what blogging has become to me. I diddled and dawdled for at least a year, trying to decide if I should have a blog. In that state of indecision, I saw an episode of House in which the patient was obsessed with the world that she had created with her blog. Obsessed, with her fans and argued ardently with her boyfriend that her blog was ” her truth”. She had no compunction about revealing every aspect of her (aka their) personal lives in her blog. How else could she tell the truth? Privacy,  a thing of the past. Needless, to say I thought she was daft but oddly on point. Privacy IS fast becoming a thing of the past. Who wants nameless strangers to know their every thought, examine their pains and steps of their journey? No sir, not me. At best, it was an edited universe and it confirmed for me what I thought about blogs. 

Then, I saw Julia and Julia and I was touched, inspired and humbled. Some journeys are worth sharing and I realized I was wrong. I ramped up my courage and incited by my friends dived in. So, here I am, new to the world of blogging, excited and happy that I have taken the step to become a part of so many unfolding stories. I believe this will be a love of long duration (the best kind) and am amazed to find:

1. That my blog has become a living entity. It is an outlet that allows for pure expression.

2. It satisfies the voyeur and student in me. Allowing me to peep into the minds and stories of others while teaching me new or forgotten lessons.

3. It enables connection transcending geographic, societal and economic boundaries.

4. It inspires me, as a writer, to hone my craft and release my fears.

5. It provokes me to delve into subjects, events, ideas that I would otherwise gloss over or miss.

LONG LIVE THE BLOGOSPHERE!!! 

A lifelong love affair…

I have been an avid book reader since I was a child. I remember books the way I remember people. Their texture, the fonts, pages and book covers. If I am really jazzed, I incorporate the idioms learned into my lexicon as well. I return to certain books time and time again with no cessation of interest. In fact, I have found that multiple readings over the course of time uncover things I failed to notice or comprehend upon first reading. I suppose that says a lot about what the Reader brings to the page, a silent interaction between the tale and your life view which changes perspective over time, thus enabling a more complex comprehension and enriched experience.

As a child, I loved Dr. Seuss. Alliteration was oh so cool and it tickled my imagination deliciously. I recall being obsessed with Little Women and thought Judy Blume was God. I devoured the Iliad and The Odyssey and am positive that they are the foundation of my enduring love of epic tales. English was always my best and favorite subject and I eagerly added the classics to my repertoire. I have never forgotten The Scarlet Letter, One Thousand and One Nights, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – The Unbeliever, The Black Stallion, Animal Farm and The Hobbit to name a few.

At 14, I wrote my first short story, Goldessa & The Prince for a school assignment. Romantic adolescent hogwash but promising nonetheless. My savvy and very cool English teacher, Ms. Donowitz, encouraged me and with that small nudge an authoress was born. From that day to this, I write, therefore I am.

In my teens, I moved on to romance. Yes, it’s true I was a Harlequin junkie lol. Ah, but I also loved Barbara Cartland and so discovered historical romance. I fell in love with the English and the Monarchy. It was one of my life’s greatest pleasure to visit The Tower of London where I ruminated upon the many famous people whose steps had preceded me. The Tudors, need I say more?

In my 20’s, I finally turned with gravity to African-American literature. Their stories, my story, my history, was enraging, informative, riveting, heart wrenching, soulful and sobering. Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, W.E.B DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston and so many others. The breadth and scope of expression staggered me and still does. If I could, I would be Scheherazade. 🙂

As an adult, I have come to understand that the act of reading was, and always will be, my chosen form of  escape from reality. In books, I find heroes, heroines and an exploration of human motivations that never fail to interest me. My mind is adept at teleportation as books enable me to visit faraway places.  Books opened the world to me, creating a hunger to learn more about the world, people and culture. They served as guardians against the strife of my childhood and I could sit for hours divorced from my surroundings the way some kids fall into TV or games. I do this still and spend many long hours engrossed in a book needing nothing but the intimacy of the experience and the joy of absorption. Damn is it daylight already? My eyes are burning but my mind is whirring in delight :).

As a passionate creature, I naturally became a student of Erotic Literature. I inhaled the works of Anais Nin, Anne Rice, Henry Miller, Proust, The Story of O, 120 Days of Sodom and many other titillating and shocking tales. They inflamed me as all good erotic literature does and my writing changed as a result.  I became obsessed with poetry and erotica and they are my preferred modes of writing.

Each book I read is a microcosm in which I happily engross myself. An excellent tale captivates me in its articulation, informs me with its vision, teaches me something new, reminds me of things forgotten and allows me to teleport, if only for a short while. My lifelong love affair continues….