Happy Merry New Year

2016 – In this year, I resolve to take my writing seriously even if no one else does. Still crouching cowardly behind a transparent shield of self-deprecation, I’ll find the courage and the confidence to keep going.

Keats — “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination”

Which brings us to WORDS (the world’s most holy natural resource).

As destructive as any weapon ever invented,

As dangerous as any venom ever injected,

As passionate as the most devoted lovers,

As lyrical as the rippling notes of an aria,

As graceful as the splash of the artist’s brush,

As slippery as the stones on the brook bottom,

As ominous as the storm’s first breath,

As cold and deadly as the ocean floor,

As claustrophobic as a deep and monstrous cave,

As empty as the air atop the highest mountain,

As huge as the orca,

As tiny as the sand flea,

As powerless as the civilized mind of the limp and useless poet,

As mesmerizing as the tales of a twisted storyteller,

As limitless as anything ever imagined by anyone,

And absolutely free.

– Alyson Larrabee

Knock on the Window of Opportunity. Break the glass if you feel like it.

Writing fiction is simply a matter of looking through windows. The writer stares out the window to observe setting, time, place, minutes, decades, centuries, seconds, streets, houses, ponds and gardens. Then peeps into windows whose owners forgot to pull the shades, so she can spy on the most private moments of their lives. A voyeur who sneaks peeks into her own mind and finds things she didn’t know were there, monsters and angels, children and octogenarians, large, sloppy dogs and small, timid ambitions, love and new life, illness and death, enthusiasm and ennui, violence and kindness sometimes delivered with one fell stroke from the same well-muscled arm. As in a dream, each character represents the writer (who suffers from multiple personality disorder and delights in it). (And who loves parentheses almost as much as she loves her hound dog with the droopy ears) She experiences the dilemmas of many genders and flies frequent miles, high miles and thousands of them, flapping someone else’s wings, except each set of sun stroked wax appendages truly belong to her. Their owners just have different names and ephemeral bodies. She loves and hates, lives and dies; all from the comfort of her tastefully cluttered home office and the rabbit holes, anthills and eagles’ aeries within her limitless brain. Welcome to her dark and twisted psyche, one of the strangest places on any planet. Enter if you dare. Venom and sticky, liquid honey spit and pour out of her inevitable pen, frigid and balmy, ecstatic and angry flood-waves of both, carrying off the lives of others, without conscience. If she doesn’t shake things up, nothing will come of it. If no one rocks the stormy seas with evil acts then how will she bathe the reader’s ship in the soothing joy of calm water without boring them to death or worse, fail to entice them into turning the page? (Coleridge used the still water to create a tsunami of suspense. Ah, genius.) There’s no intrigue and elegance in the status quo if disaster hasn’t preceded it and threatened to follow it as well. How to dive through the portholes with racing heart, leave the deck games and bingo nights behind and swim past the sharp coral reefs and abandoned treasures, wiggling someone else’s fins? Then resurface without getting the bends. Wait! No! The bends might make things even more fun. The anticipation of a sudden and painful death. The threat of agony for a character she lovingly created with her own morbid dreams!

I suppose I should start a new paragraph if I’m going to enjoy the view from my window in first person, then second, then back to first. No more third. You’re looking out a faraway window now. Past tense window or porthole, or narrow stone aperture in the thick castle wall. Gaze out and peek in. You must look both ways if you want to be a writer. We’re all merely peeping Toms, psychopaths with good grammar.IMG_0328

Interview

I really enjoyed answering these questions. But when I talk about books I tend to gush. As I read the interview, this became very apparent.  http://kaistrand.blogspot.com/2015/02/three-times-charm-with-alyson-larrabee.html

ENTER IF YOU DARE FINAL COVERHerEvilWays

What’s your worst supernatural fear?

Danielle with EIYD

It’s out!.

It’s out!

HerEvilWaysHannah Hayward the real woman with two graves

The sequel to Enter If You Dare: Ebook only, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Whiskey Creek Press. Print edition soon to follow. I’m loving the cover art and its uncanny resemblance to the real version of the setting for my second Annabelle Blake novel: Church Street Burial Ground in Easton, MA (photo above). There really is a woman with two headstones and she’s buried right here in Easton. Her name was Hannah Hayward and she has a Puritan style headstone and a reform style headstone because members of her family belonged to two different religions. However, Catherine Littlefield Hayward, the fictional character in my story, has two headstones because no one wanted her to be buried in their family plot. Her husband’s family refused to inter her remains on their side of the cemetery. They put up a marker for her, but there’s no body buried there. She had to be buried on the Littlefields’ side. Even then, they placed seven heavy stones over Catherine’s final resting place, to keep her evil spirit down where it belonged. But now someone has moved the stones and she’s free to wreak havoc once again.

Reflections on 2014: What Haunts Me

writer weirdness joke

What Haunts Me

By

Alyson Larrabee

  1. A furry, bark colored creature who beckons to me with one, long, dark leather-skinned finger. (a scene from my work in progress)
  2. People with beautiful souls who lead tragic lives.
  3. Children singing almost anything, especially in harmony.
  4. The poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, read aloud.
  5. Icicles hanging from the bare branches of a tree.
  6. The silence of snowfall.
  7. Kissing the cheek of a chubby baby.
  8. Whole-hearted, pee-your-pants laughter.
  9. Being left alone in the cold and the dark.
  10. The flame of a candle, blazing logs on a campfire, the glow from a lantern.
  11. The brave little heart of my three legged dog. R.I.P., Doc.
  12. The clean corners at the ceiling of a room.
  13. The smell of sawdust.
  14. Sitting like a giant limp tea bag in a tub of hot water.
  15. Anyone’s death. Thank you, John Donne.

One for every year of the 21st Century.

Fear and Confusion: My Two Best Friends

IMG_2050The title of filmmaker Werner Herzog’s book A Guide For the Perplexed could also be the title of my autobiography, except I’m not brilliant and often quoted by the literati. I do, however, reside in the state of Confusion (CI because CO was taken by the state of Colorado) where all of the citizens feel perplexed all of the time. E.B. White called it “chronic perplexity”. I love it here. We have both mountains of discombobulation and oceans of befuddlement. The view’s always spectacular although often foggy. And when you come out of a store, into the parking lot and you can’t find your car, no one else can either. Everyone’s holding out their key fobs, pointing them in random directions and clicking. We’re all smiling at each other’s forgetfulness. We’re not mad, only a little bit frustrated but we’ll get over it.

During life’s dynamic journey, you’ll be holding hands with a big, frightening giant called The Unknown. Make him your best friend. It’s all about failure and resilience. As you’re creating and experimenting, anxiety is your fiercest enemy, your most formidable barrier, your highest wall to climb over, the treacherous rapids, the deepest, darkest, coldest part of the ocean. Don’t let your worries win because then you’ve lost. Fall in love with fear.

Herzog calls his life and career “a never-ending educational experience, a way of discovering in which direction you need to take your own work and ideas”. Vygotsky called it “the zone of proximal development”. If your true state of mind is befuddlement, confusion and flabbergasted-ness, and you’re excited to be there, in that state, then you’ve achieved the status of STUDENT. (I like all caps almost as much as e. e. cummings liked all lower case.) (I also like parentheses.) The learner, the studier, the STUDENT is a seeker who pursues not only knowledge but also truth. They are definitely related, if not the same. This seeker, this student-person, constantly strives to become a better thinker, an improved citizen of our planet.

If you’re not confused, then you’re not learning anything new. You’re stagnating, merely showing off what you already know. Being the smartest person in the room is not only boring; it’s impossible. Each human in that room possesses insights you’ve never thought of before. Your job is to find those insights. Root them out. Ask questions. Listen to the answers. Don’t respond with a statement or a judgment. Respond with another question; a related question, one that proves you’ve been listening. Vygotsky believed that true learning was “socially co-constructed between people as they interact”. Listen to the person next to you, observe, remember what you see and hear, process it and make it your own.

Although it’s not a substitute for real-time real-life experience and face-to-face interaction, the internet is here to stay. Celebrate it and use it. Don’t let it use you. Google has taught us that we don’t know everything (And wouldn’t life be boring if we did? It wouldn’t be life at all; it would be death.), but all knowledge, all secrets, all esoteric facts and theories are accessible to us with the click of a mouse. Exciting but also frightening. If you’re not scared, you’re not living. You’re not learning anything. Your journey isn’t even a journey at all; it’s a nice comfortable rest someplace boring. Get up and get going. Free fall into a state of confusion. Climb your way out. And then dive into a mystified state of befogged-ness. You won’t be too scared if you’ve fallen in love with fear.