If anyone is planning to attend my reading at the Austin-Irving library on Monday (Columbus Day), here are some deets: My reading will start around 5:30pm, and I expect it to last about 15 minutes. If anyone has questions afterwards, I will entertain them, but if not, we will proceed directly the the audience participation part of evening. Not planning on doing The Time Warp, but I imagine that we could work it in if majority vote rules! If you would like to be extra-prepared for the workshop, bring a photograph — from your own photo album, someone else’s photo album, a magazine, etc. –and from it, this will be your chance to tell the invisible story (perhaps a story that no one sees but you??) in it. Hermetically-sealed refreshments will be served to assist your energy as needed. Then, folks can read what they’ve written! I hope to see some of you this coming Monday!!

Two of my written pieces alongside my sister's photograph of my mother.

Two of my written pieces alongside my sister’s photograph of my mother.

Part of my struggle in telling Hadley’s story is the genre in which her tale resides. Last month, I read a foreword by Judy Blume to an anthology Places I Never Meant To Be: Original Stories By Censored Writers. Within the foreword, she made the observation that when she was a kid, there was no defined “Young Adult” genre; all young adult stories were grouped into the “Adult” category. Even though Judy Blume is several generations ahead of me, I feel that I can relate to that instance. I myself was raised in a largely rural community, and my public library was the closest I got to taste the cosmopolitan life, through books. I recently re-read a teenage favorite: Love Is One Of The Choices by Norma Klein. The main characters of that story were seventeen-year-old young women, Maggie and Caroline. They lived in affluent New York City neighborhoods and attended a progressive, liberal high school. At this high school, the students addressed their teachers by first names and there were no letter grades, only lengthy psychological commentary penned at the ends of their assignments. At the opening of the novel, Maggie and Caroline were taking school papers to the apartment of their chemistry teacher –Justin– because he was suffering from mononucleosis and had been out of school for three weeks. Maggie is a gifted student in science and regularly participates on the debate, arguing all kinds of contentious social topics from abortion to pornography. Maggie is unapologetically opinionated and does not hesitate to voice them at any opportunity. Caroline is an opposite to Maggie in sensibilities: she is quiet and dreamy, content with getting lost in her drawing, at which she is extraordinarily adroit. Caroline does not put herself into the social foray willingly. During her high school career, she has never participated in after school activities, attended a school dance, or had boyfriends… until she starts baby-sitting Noah, the son of her chemistry teacher Justin. It is a fateful day, the day that she and Maggie deliver school assignments to Justin, for as they are leaving, Justin casually asks if either of them is available to baby-sit that very evening, as his wife has concert tickets and he himself will be sleeping due to his mono. Caroline, who is an only child and lives with her mother, yearns to see how other people live and, more importantly, has the nascence of a crush on Justin, is happy to baby-sit. And so the stage is set for an eventual affair, but I’ll stop here in the interest of brevity and just in case you’d like to read the novel yourself.

Back to my quandary of genre… As a daughter from a farming family, I, much like Caroline, was thirsty to learn about other people’s lives, as the environs of my own seemed entirely unexciting and definitely not “hip” or “cool.” I was reading Judy Blume’s Forever, Wifey and Smart Women from junior high, and during high school, my friend Kelly Longhurst gave me Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room. I suppose that there’s a difference between young adult content couched in the pages of an ostensible adult novel and being a precocious reader, as I definitely was. Love spectacularly straddled young adult and adult, as the protagonists were teenagers and one of them is having an affair with an adult. I wonder how the book would have been marketed had it been written today.

Monday, October 12, 2015, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Irving-Austin Chicago Public Library

6100 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60634

As part of Chicago Artists MonthCyd Peak will read from her current writing project. The reading will be followed by a workshop encouraging participants to share their own invisible stories.

This reading is in conjunction with the sisters’ collaborative exhibition “Scenes From An Invisible Life” featuring the photography of Sara Peak Convery and Cyd’s writing in response to the images.

Do you ever look picture and wonder what else is going on in the scene? You'll get a chance to explore that and more at Sara and Cyd's workshop in October! Stay tuned for details!

Do you ever look at a picture and wonder what else is going on in the scene? You’ll get a chance to explore that and more at Sara and Cyd’s workshop in October! Check back here often for details as they come available!

Hello from Hadley! She wants you to know that her author Cyd is having a reading soon! It will be held in conjunction with the artist and filmmaker Sara Peak Convery, who will show stunning photographs from her award-winning documentary “I Never Said I Wasn’t Happy.” Stay tuned for upcoming details and hints of what Hadley will reveal in the reading…

Branding For My Protagonist!

My sister got this off a pair of pants that she recently bought.

New Character

February 12, 2012

image

“Do you think he meant to do it, Dad?” she asked him at dinner one night.

“Well, his wife claims that he was only cleaning the rifle,” Daddy reasoned. “They have to take her word for it, she was the only one home.”

“But she was SLEEPING, Dad!” Dahlia protested. “How could she know?”

“But there was no suicide note,” Daddy reasoned again. “There was no other indication that he wanted to end his life.”

 “But even his wife said that he’d been down in the dumps for a while, “ insisted Dahlia. “Just because he was a writer, doesn’t mean that he’d necessarily write a suicide note.”“And a very good point was just made!” Mom ended the topic with a stern look to both of them. “ How about some conversation that the rest of us can participate in??”

No one said anything the rest of dinner. The topic was such a downer that no one felt like talking the rest of the meal. All that was heard was the clink of tableware and the gentle thud of glasses being set down on the formica kitchen table.

“Why were you so obsessed with Ernest Hemingway’s death at dinner tonight?” I went to Dahlia’s bedroom door. She was looking at an art encyclopedia that Grampa Ted had given her last Christmas.

“What’s wrong with a little curiosity?” Dahlia was defensive, even while she kept her eyes glued on the massive book in front of her on her twin bed. “You could ask a few more questions yourself!”

“Well, I don’t care if Hemingway OR his dad committed suicide! Can I be curious about something else?” I was defensive right back.

“Well, then, why aren’t you?” Dahlia finally looked up. “What’s wrong with trying to make the conversation a bit more interesting, for a change?”

“What’s wrong with it to begin with?” I was confused.

“Well, if you have to ask…” Dahlia breathed out harshly and clapped her encyclopedia shut.

“Yeah, I do!” I tore over to the bed and grabbed her encyclopedia up from the bed. “What’s wrong with the dinner conversation?”

Dahlia didn’t look at me for a minute. She kept her head down and sighed hard again. Then she looked up with an angry but sad look. “Do you really want to have only Dad’s boring farm talk to be the ONLY topic of conversation at EVERY meal? Well, I don’t, and the only way that’s going to happen is if we bring up other topics. It’s not going to happen all on its own!”

Hamm’s Honda

November 23, 2011

Okay, I’m happy that I am past the halfway mark of the halfway mark of the month. This has been a much more difficult NaNo experience. I think that that is I’m having breakthroughs with so many of my characters. The inception of this novel started in November of 2009, and it’s only been here in this NaNo session that my characters are taking on a life of their own. They’re doing and thinking things that I have not pre-conceived in my original vision. Or else, I just wasn’t able to see them as separate from myself until now.