joni abilene

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Month: June, 2012


My mother always said I had the best posture. I remember sitting at my Catholic Confirmation in a beautiful pink dress and she whispered in my ear, “Joni, you sit straighter than all the other girls.” Sometimes when I feel myself slouching forward I’ll hear her words, so delighted, so proud, and I will pull my spine up like a telephone pole. So many times I’ve bent over just to fit in; I’ve curled and curled, shoulders rounded, stomach tripling over itself so my belly button is lost, and then wake from the lazy habit; I feel her hand tickling up my vertebrae with such love, and I forgo wanting to disappear into smallness and normalcy. Funny how someone’s words, such little forgettable words, can filter into your mind so deeply. My mother’s words, playing in my heart past all the bitter rejections of her other words. Past the lost embraces and denials. Her words, like a breath. Like an apology.


Live and Let Live

I’ve seen it too many times. One thing sacrificed for the other. The other is usually sports based, and the thing has roots in the humanities, thus making it questionable; liberal; expendable; I can picture the two as objects fighting it out, with the liberal artistic thingy falling to the ground after a big, sweaty punch. You can always do arts at home. Keep it secret, kept it safe. Keep it.

Publishing is not a DIY project. A writer needs mentors, editors, copy editors, acquisition editors, and a college writing program needs to get its feet wet by participating in each of these fields. Anyway, someone’s got to write those sports programs.

If there is any money to be cut, cut it equally among all the programs, and not just one. Were talking academics here. Reading, writing, contemplating, philosophizing, rational thought, the encapsulation of life. Life. All of this, I would think, would be essential in any college. If you cut the University of Missouri Press, you cut the core of academics. The real meaning to teach, and to learn.

My grandfather had used to repeat an old quote and I’ve never forgotten, “He who destroys a good book kills reason itself.”

Do not kill the University of Missouri Press. Find a way to keep it around. There are books—the real bread of life—waiting to be born. Society depends upon it, now more than ever.

Longhand, Steinbeck, Men

I’ve noticed that my published stories have all been written in notebooks as opposed to a computer. I wonder why that is? I feel messy and out of sorts when I use a notebook and it takes me longer to actually sit down and start up, but there must be something to the ultimate freedom of not being stuck in front of a word program that allows me more creativity–the kind that editors love. But yeah, I am very reluctant to do the notebook thing. I’m afraid of all those empty pages with their sharp blue lines and messy margins (I doodle a lot). I’m worried I will close the notebook and forget it, lose it, accidentally drop it in a toilet, spill coffee on it. All those wasted words. But I think I will devote a little time this week getting back to longhand. We’ll see what happens.

I’m currently reading The Grapes of Wrath. Another reluctance, but I actually do love the book. Steinbeck was shoved down my throat in high school a few too many times, but I can see his mastery. He’s brilliant, and I am in awe. The voice, my God! The car sales chapter blew my socks off–I ain’t kidding. Geez, I want to dig up his grave and give him a huge smooch on the mouth. Sorry. Gross.

I had a good interaction with a publisher out of Oklahoma, Old American Publishing. They liked my Gerald & Izzy series in Woodsocket ’79, but are not ready for a full-length book yet. I was invited to submit something more in the novelette range when I’m ready. At first I was bummed out, but remembered the piece I’ve been hawking on about the Cimarron trailer. Betas really seemed to like the voice, and reading over it again I can see something really nice there. Plus it’s another male protagonist. I really love writing men, and I don’t know where that comes from because sometimes I hate the fuckers to death, but I sure do love writing about them.

And that’s about it. Take care out there.