Yesterday I had a really ambitious to-do list. I was going to make progress!

I began by working on a project that I had been avoiding (that fear thing again). Then I read the draft of my second project and planned to think about expanding it as I walked the mile to the dry cleaners. I did not. The neighborhood was all decked out for Halloween and families were putting their finishing touches on elaborate decorations. People were out walking in costume. And the wind was ferocious! In the spattering of rain, I dropped off the clothes, and stopped off at the store. More costumes! Loaded with two canvas bags of food–including the candy–I came home, put the groceries away.

Next, I put up the plastic skeleton that I found buried in the basement and the row of jack o’ lantern lights. I looked at the leaves clotting the lowest step, listened to the wind, and said Later.

Now it was time for lunch, and I heated up some leftover chicken, added garlic, spinach and blue cheese, and sat down to eat. Gilbert the cat jumped on the counter. I yelled. He did nothing. I got up to get him down. He tensed, ready to jump onto my shoulder, and in jumping managed to knock over a bottle of beer that my daughter’s BFF’s brother had made. As the cat reached my body, the bottle hit the floor and shattered into big scraps and tiny shards.

I locked the cat in the basement so that he wouldn’t cut himself on the glass, picked up the largest pieces, grabbed wads of paper towels to keep the beer from reaching the family room carpet, noticed that the beer smelled pretty good, some floral notes, and got most of it cleaned up. I finished my lunch while the rest of the beer was drying, vacuumed the floor to get any minute glass splinters up. By now, the kitchen smelled like a frat house on Sunday morning. I mopped the floor.

Time to write. I let the cat out of the basement and started on my next project. I needed to look up information on the Kindle, which was out of charge. While I was sitting on the floor next to the plug and researching, I heard the sounds that herald cat vomit. I tried to get the cat off the carpet, but my timing was terrible, and the result was a long trail of barf. Poor kitty! Back for more paper towels and cleaning.

Time to write–really, and then I heard the scritch of a neighbor’s rake and thought, yes. I grabbed my own rake from the shed and gathered up one big, heavy bag of leaves.

Back inside, rereading for my homework assignment, typing in the free write for the poem I’d started. Then it was time to feed the cat, and while washing off the lid before throwing it away, I managed to slice my thumb. I ran upstairs for a Band-Aid, ran back down, fed the cat, read a little more, and then remembered that I need to put flank steak into marinade. That’s when I realized my bandage had soaked through. I ran back upstairs, grabbed several Band-Aids (note that we used to keep a box in the kitchen), finished chopping the garlic and stripping the herbs from their stems, measured the rest of the ingredients into the plastic bags, wrestled the meat in, and now it was time to start the ratatouille for dinner, keeping one ear on the door for trick-or-treaters.

As writing days go, it was packed with a lot of not-writing, but I did get two projects to their next stage of completion and made progress on one more.

How do your writing days go?

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Yesterday, I posted a review of That Saturday at Mendorff’s, a novel that focuses on the survivors of a shooting.

This morning, the Seattle Times ran this front-page story about people using the Amazon review space to attack the mother of a Sandy Hook victim and the book that she wrote about healing.

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I posted the following review on Because this novel examines such an important topic, I’m posting it here, too.

What happens after a tragedy?

Too often we read of another mass shooting–whether it’s Roseburg or Charleston, Aurora, or Newtown, Tucson. Yet how often do we think of the survivors? How often do we follow them in their long physical and emotional recoveries? To say, “You lived” is not enough. In That Saturday at Mendorff’s, Lucy Ke follows the lives of the survivors–both the victims of a shooting at a fictional bookstore and the gunman’s family members (what do you do if your husband, your father, is a murderer–and what do others do to you?).  Mendorff’s is a bustling community hub where people of all ages come to shop for books, to hang out, to get a snack at the café, when Cy McNulty, angry about an earlier interaction with a clerk, walks in carrying three guns and starts to shoot. Ke skillfully weaves the novel between minutes after the massacre, years before, days before, and a long look back after 10 years, as journalist Mollie Dobbs is tasked with tracking down the people who are left for a follow-up story. Many find it difficult to discuss, and even the heroic officer who shoots McNulty and ends the bloodshed leads a life that, a decade later, is charmed only on the surface. Ke examines the survivors, their guilt and anguish, their isolation from the lives, and sometimes the people, they could not go back to, and their search for some way–and some reason–to go on, to find what peace they can. The devastating portraits include two women who lost children that day–one, a grandson; the other, a nephew–and survivor Jeb Creel, who envisions a radical path toward resolution. That Saturday at Mendorff’s offers a thought-provoking investigation of the aftermath, its own havoc, where the underlying question remains: What are we going to do about it?

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Here Is Your Winter

I’m happy and grateful that Front Porch Journal is featuring my poem Here Is Your Winter, with art!

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This morning, Poetry Daily’s weekly email included this poem by Dick Allen. Here’s to Monday, and doing the work that needs to be done:

Cloud No Bigger than a Man’s Hand

It approaches from the sea, too small
for thunder and lightning
but ominous as a closed fist
and what it will bring

nearing us, growing larger,
is completely unknown.
Beware the leaves blowing, beware
the spot on the sun.

All is turned toward it. It rides
the brow of the mind.
Soon, it will shadow one cliff
and a small lifeguard stand.

Beware the leaves blowing, beware
the spot on the sun.
Do your work well. Behold
the work yet to be done.

Dick Allen
This Shadowy Place
St. Augustine’s Press

Copyright ©2014 by Dick Allen
All rights reserved.

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