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IMG_2758I’ve been busy recently re-vamping my writers website at www.djbrasket.com, as well as creating a Facebook Author page, and setting up a Twitter account. All part of the writer’s life these days, if you want to be professional and impress agents and publishers, as well as sell books.

I did all this while still in the midst of writing my novel—well, actually I’ve got two in progress. That doesn’t include the short stories I’ve pulled out of the drawer and dusted off and the new ones I’ve been coming up with as well, all which like good little piggies are trying to find their way to a market.

But back to my website. I created it a couple of years ago as a kind of writing dump. Yes, dump. I’ve been writing all my life and some of it has been published and a lot of it hasn’t, and most of it I never even really tried to publish, unless you call sending a few stories and poems out to a dozen literary journals over a ten-year period as “trying”. Probably not.

IMG_3983So yes, dump. My mother had just died, you see, and I realized that the dream I had always had of being a writer “someday” might never happen. And the writing I had done was scattered all over the place. I wanted a legacy. Whether I ever published another thing or not, I wanted what I had written to be gathered into a single place for all posterity to view and, if so inclined, to actually read. The plan was to include excerpts of everything I had ever written that I truly liked and links to pdf files so people could read the complete work if so desired. I was going to give away everything to the public for free.

Public! Here it is. Have at it! Or not. You decide.  That was the plan.

It wasn’t that I had given up on the desire to write and publish. I’d been waiting to do this for a very long time. I was waiting until I “retired.” Well, here I was, having happily taken an early “retirement” when my husband retired early and we moved too far from my work to commute. Here was my big chance. I was already, after all, actively pursuing my art, even while I had worked, which included writing as well. In my off-hours two drafts of one novel was completed, and another novel that would just not wait its turn was half-drafted as well.

But I also was very much aware that I might not live so long to complete either. Not because I was sick or anything, but because, well, things happen. Things happened to my mother, and they happened very quickly. In three months she had gone from well to buried.

Photo DJBrasket IMG_2748So this website was my legacy in a way. An archive of all my work. Prettier ways to put it, I suppose, than “dump.” But basically that’s what it was. And it was a labor of love.

I took my time and I had a lot of fun creating the site. It didn’t look at all like what other writers, mostly published, were doing on their sites. But that was okay because this was for me. And besides, I wasn’t selling anything. I was giving it all away!

Fortunately I came to my senses. I realized I couldn’t give away stories I still hoped to publish. So I skipped the pdf part and just left the excerpts up. And as one or two or three stories “sold” (yes, I still think of it that way, no money exchanged, not even complimentary copies, but still “sold”), I was able to include links to those works.

But lately, as I’ve been getting more serious about the business of writing, creating my “platform” and all that, I looked again at my writing website and realized that it just wouldn’t do. I was going to have to completely revamp it.

First to go would have to be its name: Writing from the Underbelly. No author site I had seen had anything so silly or pretentious. Gotta go.

And all those quotations about art and writing? Out the window.

And the page called “essays” (who says that anymore?) with excerpts from some of the weekly columns I used to write, or the book reviews I’d written when I managed a book store, or the academic papers!? Give me a break! I was marching them all into the trash bin.

But I couldn’t do it. I looked at it all again and decided, “I like this!”

Sure, it was silly, it was homespun, it was pretentious. It was not professional, compared to what REAL writers sites looked like. But it was me. And I liked it.

That “Writing from the Underbelly”? That was me all over. That’s how I write, from that soft underbelly of thought, that place of vulnerability where you feel things before you see and know them and put them into words. So I kept it and added this:

“When thought reaches deep below the surface of things encountering the half-forgotten memories, dreams, and fantasies that please or surprise, haunt or terrorize–that’s where writing emerges. You have to dig deep below conscious thought, like tree roots pushing down into the earth, breaking up the soil, wrapping around rocks, sucking up subterranean waters, before your branches can take shape and reach up to fill the sky.”

IMG_3825And that “root” and “stone” and “branch” metaphor? That inspired just what was needed for a background cover photo of, guess what? Roots and stones and branches.

I ended up changing very little.

Even the discomfiting essays—the excerpts of “social commentary” and book reviews and academic paper. Not only did I keep them-I added a new one! Yikes! What was I thinking?

But yes, they stayed. They stayed because they said something important about me and my writing and even why I write.

One paper was on Wallace Stevens, Lacan, and quantum physics. It was all about the slipperiness of language and the capacity for play. I wrote:

[M]eaning could be said to be slippery at best, relative more than relevant, dependent upon a complexity of interrelationships between opposing agents–imagination and reality, signifier and signified, observer and observed; or, in broader and more flexible terms, subject and object, I and Other.

My God! Have you read any of the blogs? That’s what I write about all the time.

The essay I added was called Faulker’s “The Bear”: A Feminine Mystique. I wrote:

“It is the unspoken mystery of the wilderness, fertile and profuse, that, permeating Faulkner’s text, is the source of this strong feminine odor. It is the wilderness, this strangely feminine presence, ‘Which breathing and biding and immobile, watched {Ike} from beyond every twig and leaf . . .’ It is this same wilderness, this uncanny, myriad, feminine presence, ‘breathing and biding and immobile,’ which seems to peer silently at the reader from beyond every word of the text.”

Photo by PhotoCosmaThat’s what this blog is all about! “Living on the Edge of the Wild” is about exploring that mysterious, feminine ground of being at the edge of consciousness that somehow permeates everything. Everything I write, to some extent, touches upon that.

So it stayed too. Nearly all of it stayed. Why? Because I like it.

And as Harper Lee once wrote: “Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless.” Thank you, Harper! Would you like to spend time with the other quotations on my pages?

If you want to check out my website for yourself, here it is: www.djbrasket.com