Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Braiding stories

Spring is here. The wild winds have stirred pollens into the mix sending the message, "New birth, new birth, now." All that is wonderful and necessary but I have my challenges increase with the pollen season so it's a mixed bag spring is ... and so is life. Mixed. I'm spending time reviewing and making changes to two stories, and have created new birth to mark spring with a website-blog called Red Hibiscus and Dragon Wings. Grateful for these woods where we can plug into the 10cents-a-killowatt source of electricity while we manually wash our dirty clothes and wring them through with appliances it is a life of braiding; dexterity, practice and variable results all part of the process.

Years ago I began to use the imagery and the process of braiding to describe the nature of the writing I do. Braiding and writing are hand-work and in either work, thinking about it won't get it done. My own hair is now nearly to my waist and is threaded through with bands of white and silver along with the black. Sometimes it just falls, other times it tangles because I haven't washed it with filtered water and the mineral-hard Whidbey water loves to tangle. Other times, I will it into two long braids that hang behind my ears. And then there are days when I braid it into a single tail to dangle down my back.

When I was a younger woman a friend who had hair thick and black and long tried to teach me to French Braid my hair. Maybe most of you know that French Braiding happens when you don't simply braid the whole split into three hanks, but 'pick up hair as you go' to create a flatter braid. I have never gotten the hang of this braiding style. But, this morning when sorting through a subject to bring to the blog I found the YouTube included above and gleaned from it a bit of imagery that fits for what I am doing with my writing. [Check this: at 2:00 minutes into the video above the process of 'pick up hair as I go']

I am 'picking up hair as I go' with the fairy tale The Safety Pin Cafe and my novel-in-the-work Splinters. Each of these stories has been written on my blogs. I've laid hanks of the story in their first and unedited stages into blog posts, writing fluidly and automatically. Without much preparation or methodology, I braided simply with the Muse directing my hands and opening my heart for hearing the story. Weeks and months later (in the case of Splinters) I am loosening up those braids to rework them. Time and more life (more hair) open me to a new way of looking and hearing the story. A bit of hard water has been flushed through and I filter out some of the unnecessary and consider the editing advice once again. I pick up hair as I go.

In the case of my novel, the time traveling story that grew from my life of living in Hilo I am rewriting the opening chapter and think I have a way of tying things together at the end ... hopefully, braiding a better story. Here is a link and a bit from the original hank of the Introduction and opening chapter of Splinters


Time is maleable, my ancestors would probably agree that time is a membrane rather than a wall with access to wa i mua o i hope.  This is a story of time travelers and values that travel as surely as the moon, in cycles and variation you can count on regular surprises particularly if you are paying attention.  One family and their extended 'ohana experience time travel on the illumination of match sticks, splinters tipped with sulphur, and discover how ancient and contemporary truth adapt to survive.  This is a journey of visits with old heroines who remain as tangible as basil and tomato red sauce for supper.  Polynesian and ancient earth culture season "Splinters" with language and protocol of permissions to invite comfort in any reader with a longing to connect with the feeling of being at home.  If you will allow me, I will spin for you a tale kissed with tradewinds. 

Welina make yourself comfortable,

That Introduction feels like a solid hank to the braid of the story. What is changing is how I look more closely at the details of the scene which I wrote a year ago. There are errors that show themselves, or details that will need explanation to make the story 'true.' Like this:

"A vase of purple cornflowers sat in the middle of the oval table.  El fished into the clear glass fishbowl, pulled up a moon snail shell that was only half there.  She rubbed at the inner spiral of the shell."
When I began writing Splinters I wrote as if the characters were here ... Washington. "Purple cornflowers and moon snail shells" are not usual in Hilo. But, maybe the cornflowers were found in the market or florist. Maybe the moon snail shell was picked up and brought back from the Salish Sea while some of the characters was on holiday? Braiding stories does include the journeys I make or have made and when I write or tell them initially they flow without regard for details. The story engages me and the keyboard allows the first telling. Sometimes, that is just right. And other times, rewrites and dropping a hank might be necessary. I'll make room for rereading and consider the sort of braiding to do today. I am blessed with the handwork of writing, and treasure the chance to learn that I could French Braid if I practiced.

Do you braid?

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