Jul. 15th, 2017

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I think the deal for me is that if I don’t write in my diary every day, I literally forget how to write because I have such a short concentration span. These pointless musings play a very important role in my personal cosmology: They warm up the mental muscles. ‘Cause it’s always very, very easy to write about me-e-e-e-e-e, what I think, what I do -- even if what I do is very, very little.

I don’t like the Dreamwidth interface at all.

Plus I miss my little cadre of LJ palZ. Most of the LJ writers whose lives I’d been following for years and years and years don’t write anymore. I miss them. And there’s no kind of accountability on the Internet. It’s like some kind of Easter Island mystery: One day, they got up and walked away.

The Internet is filled with such Easter Island mysteries.

Whatever happened to that feral LDS girl living in the wilds of Alberta whose husband refused to have sex with her but on the rare occasions when he did have sex with her invariably knocked her up so that she had this gaggle of incredibly photogenic but neurologically disturbed offspring? She wrote and wrote and ranted and ranted, and then one day – bam. She stopped.

The incredibly well read lawyer with the wasting disease who lived in the flyover didn’t stop all of a sudden; she kind of petered out.

And then there was the lovely young theater major in Michigan who could have been a heroine in a YA story so plucky and positive and nice was she. She married a man who was much older than she was, who psychologically abused her and – bam: She stopped writing.

I suppose relationships like these are very much like the relationships one forms with characters on one’s favorite TV shows with one big difference: I can’t leave cautionary comments for my favorite TV characters: You know, Cosima, you really should ditch Delphine! Hello, Theresa – James is much, much hotter than Guerro.

Is it a type of voyeurism?


I luv, luv, luv other people’s stories.


Getting back to my own story (which strives to fuse the styles of Edith Wharton, the highly under-rated Walter de la Mare, and T.C. Boyle):

(i) Alice looks out the window of her Washington mansion, sees the black car with the flower vase and the white votive candles in place of headlights gliding silently by. Knows at once that Nell is dead. Somewhat sadistically, decides to tell the story of her feud with Nell to a reporter.

(ii) Begin flashback. Alice’s stepmother informs Alice that she is to be sent to spend the remainder of the summer at Oak Terrace in punishment for her wild ways.

(iii) Info dump: Nell comes to visit the Roosevelts one Christmas to spend some supervised time with her dipsomaniac father who is also named Nell. Yada yada yada – poor little Nell, crazy father.

Alice and her brothers play a cruel trick on Nell. Alice then walks in on the two Nells: Paternal Nell is painting little girl Nell’s toenails with a weird expression on his face.

Somewhere in this section, Auntie Bye tells Bunker Hill Teddy the story of how on the sole visit to Oak Terrace that Mrs. Ludlow Hall allowed, paternal Nell took his long black car to Tivoli with his dogs and little Nell. Paternal Nell then proceeded to go into a tavern and get stinking drunk while little Nell waited shivering outside. Eventually, a kindly coachman fetched Little Nell back to Oak Terrace.

Paternal Nell, we learn, died soon after this visit: He leaped from an NYC window while high on morphine. Oh, and there has to be something distinctive about the way paternal Nell walks, moves, bounces.

(iv) Alice arrives at Oak Terrace. Afore-mentioned coachman fetches her from the Hyde Park train station.

Daily life at Oak Terrace. The strange Mrs. Ludlow Hall. The spinsterish aunts who float around the sitting room, vaporish, gaunt and silent. Uncle Valentine who sits at his bedroom window with a rifle so he can shoot any strangers who come up the path. (Fortunately, there are none.) Nell sits passively reading all day, but disappears every afternoon around 4pm.

(v) Alice follows Nell one day when she disappears. Nell goes out into the woods and plays a complicated game with sticks and leaves that she gives names to and pretends are families. The coachman appears, but day-em – he moves differently, doesn’t he? Where has Alice seen those movements before? There is something… unwholesome in the true Turn of the Screw sense about the way Nell and the coachman lean their heads towards one another.

(vi) More daily life at Oak Terrace. Alice confronts Nell with what she’s seen. Nell says, It’s just a game, and invites Alice to come and play, too. Disturbing incident in the woods involving Alice, Nell and the coachman, but of course, it must be cloaked in neo-Victorian propriety: No jacking off in the bushes please.

(vii) Alice confronts Mrs. Ludlow Hall. Unpleasant interview during which Mrs. Ludlow’s Livingston ancestry and intense dislike of the Roosevelt upstarts – whom she calls “the van Roosevelts – is referenced. Alice understands that she must save Nell on her own.

(viii) Paternal Nell’s black car is still in the Oak Terrace carriage house. Alice follows Nell and the coachman there. Get into the-e-e-e-e car! the coachman hisses, and Nell does. OhmiGawd, thinks Alice. He looks like paternal Nell! Even though he doesn’t look like paternal Nell! The black car begins to glide down the overgrown pathway. The steering wheel is on the right side; Alice views Nell’s feverishly excited face. It’s the Peter Quint, you devil! moment. Alice hurls herself in front of the car.

(ix) Alice is not hurt. In the confusion that follows, Alice’s stepmother makes a trip to Oak Terrace and demands that Nell be sent off to boarding school in England. She is. The two girls grow up to be very famous: Alice, of course, is the originator of the phrase, If you don’t have anything nice to say, come here and sit next to me! Nell marries Franklin Delano Roosevelt and invents modern progressivism.

(x) The car that Alice sees creeping down Massachusetts Avenue that morning is not the car in the Oak Terrace carriage house, but has the same detailing as the car in the Oak Terrace Carriage House – candles instead of headlights, a flower vase. (Will need some more weird car design features.) And in the passenger seat, Alice had espied not the adult Eleanor Roosevelt but the girl Nell with her eager, hopeful face.

Story still doesn’t have a name. And though I’d been hoping to keep it to 5,000 words in length – ‘cause let’s face it: Nobody wants to read more than 5,000 words – it’s now up to 8,000.


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