You don’t want a little old lady in tennis shoes running naked down the street !

Notes from Alexis: Worried about the “thinking brain cells” drying up, and writing like a crazy woman.

11-5-84

Dearest Lex,

I was so glad to get your letter, and also glad to hear the house is progressing so well. You won’t know what to do with yourself when all you have to worry about is the daily routine.

J. and P. went back to her folks in Utah for a week, and I kept their dog, Lady. She is a sweetheart but she never took her eyes off me the whole week. It finally got so funny we just laughed. Mercy what do you suppose dogs see when they look at me? Then she was so bored – no cats, no kid, no TV and nobody doing nothing. The last day before they came back she just gave up and sort of despaired of them ever coming home, and it was pitiful. I have never seen a happier dog in my life than Lady when I took her home.

Well, sign language is progressing like mad and I can now do humpty-dumpty. You aren’t impressed? I have such a hard time impressing anyone. This class has turned out to be a weird one. I am the only one who has been to every class, and I’m the only one who works at it, and therefore I’m the only one who has learned.

It always amazes me that grown up people are surprised that they have to work to learn. Everyone wants the easy out, and they complain and they moan. I saw it with my students and you with yours. How in the world teachers teach anyone anything against such a log jam of resistance is beyond me. I am a learn-aholic as we both know, so it is outside my ken, but one does ponder.

Well, I’ve started another book. I haven’t stopped Webs, I am working on both at the same time. One of the real advantages of not being published (and I’m sincere) is that I am free to write whatever I want. No one is saying, write this or don’t write that, or that it isn’t sale-able, etc.

I can see now that I write strangely. Well what would you expect from someone as strange as I?

Here is my newest thing, the “Book Report.” I get a chance to write witty, creative things about other peoples’ books. I have three or four other books in mind to review, but they may all be old, or horrendous, or something, and all out of print. I chortled when I got the idea of reviewing, and have been snickering to myself ever since.

Here is my first “Book Report.” I found a dear little book called “Courts and Criminals” written in 1912 and suddenly there was my new book to review.

I have read so many dear and peculiar, weird and wonderful books, so I decided to write book reports about them, not so much with an eye to having them read as much as to hang a story on, don’t you know?

“Phase I” of writing is still just so much damn hard work: wedge, wedge, wedge. I like it, but it tires me out, and there is nothing creative about it at all. I am kept towing the line by the pictures hanging there before me (in my mind) and my great desire to get it all down.

I have been living in Benton, Texas for the last month (again in my mind) and I can see everything, every bush, every grain of sand, and every building, so I am haunted, anxious to get it all down. But it tires me and I need something creative to keep me from running amok. You don’t want a little old lady in tennis shoes running naked down the street (as in me), not a pretty sight.

Dad, of course, is non-plussed. The idea of three books on the shelf and two in the hopper, boggles his mind. Once again my modus operandi overwhelms him. It seems a pathetic output for 51 years to me, and I’m not impressed with the fact that it all has come together since April. (It’s the 51 years that stick in my craw).

I have a terrible feeling of urgency: a certain knowledge that I have to get all the mind parts down now, while I am still functioning. Later, after all the thinking cells have dried up I can sit around and needlepoint, I suppose. I think that is why I am not uptight about Frameworks (the needlepoint project). Time enough for that later.

You may have to insulate your pottery studio with my unpublished manuscripts. I cannot explain why I haven’t any urgency to publish, and God knows if I don’t, then who? It will probably all work out some way, somewhere, but I can’t divide my mind at this point and worry about it.

I go again tonight to the doctor seminars, and if I tell you they are beginning to pall, will you be surprised? I have enjoyed them and I’ve learned a lot, so how come I’m not thrilled? There is something there that worries at the back of my mind.

The funny part is that I met H. J. who is putting them on, and now for some reason I feel committed, as if I would be letting down the team if I didn’t go. How I ever get myself into these mind sets is a puzzler. Nobody gives a damn, and it is all in my own mind, but what else is there?

This last week I have eaten so much junk food and haven’t walked, plus went to town three times, and I feel like a true sinner – like a drunk who has fallen off the wagon, and it isn’t wonderful. I don’t like it at all! The straight and narrow, food-wise, suits me better.

The cacti are feeling sexy and are all a-bloom. I haven’t figured out their timetable or cycle or whatever, but I enjoy them when they are amorous.

Well a bit of soap opera. M. across street finally told R.(her son) that his girlfriend wasn’t allowed over there, so now he hangs at her house all day, which seems only fair. L, M’s father, has split with his wife of less than a year, and is now in his trailer tootling around the country. It would take more time and energy and interest than I have to write all the gory details, but will fill you in if you are interested when you come down.

I will try to locate the controls that switch off ‘writing’ and turn on ‘cooking’. Oh, I can see you snort, but when I get deep within a book I need a map to get out. I’ve always needed a ‘keeper’ of my life anyway, and when I’m writing it’s even worse.

It’s been weather, weather, weather, until I am wearied with it all. Hope you laughed. Private jokes are such fun.

My washing machine call-eth me, so better quit and get some work done around here. Weekends are enforced leisure time, and they are killing me. I’m just too hyper for Dad and he pouts if I don’t do normal things like, talk and visit and watch TV. I am beginning to see why people go places on weekends. It is just too difficult to reverse the gears and stop working all at once.

Well write when you have time and energy, and will see you Turkey Day.

Love,

Mom

“Phase 1” of writing – “Being All Knowing”

Notes from Alexis: She is enjoying ‘signing’ class, and feeling the ‘grind’ of ‘Phase I’ of writing a book.

10-5-84

Dearest Lex,

So glad to hear you are coming down. I intend to talk your ears off and send you home so exhausted that work will be a relief.

This is the day after the second ‘signing’ class and I feel like my brain has fused – been blasted into a molten mass. I tell you we move fast and it is so much fun and so exciting. I practice like mad in front of the mirror but everyone else said they didn’t practice, and I thought they were actually better. B. has hands so big that he is easy to read, but he is so serious. T. brought his braille book and sat quietly through the class (nothing like last time). R. didn’t show but M. came wearing tight, tight pants (Ah to be young!). A new lady, Mi. came, she was sick last week, she is probably older than me. She doesn’t look it but her hands give her away.

Everybody got a kick out of me taking the class because I got a book at half price and couldn’t pass up a bargain.

It is fun to watch Little J. I sign to him and his little fingers move, too. Signing must be a very old, very deep way of communicating. I suppose all the hand motions ‘talking with my hands’ that I have always done, was from this deep well. My hands have always known things I don’t know, and now maybe they will get a chance to talk too.

Weather has been lovely. The first day of October the trees started turning and the wild plum at the bottom of the place is beautiful.

I have come to the conclusion that the part I like least is ‘Phase I’ of writing. Say for a novel; I have to invent everything, be all knowing, all wise about all the facets of the book and it is just grind, grind, grind. Hardly anything creative. Like wedging clay for a potter, I suppose. Necessary, of course, even vital, but hard work and not creative.

I changed the male hero in Webs, or rather he changed himself, so I had to go back and ‘Phase I’ a lot of changes about him. I am trying to eliminate so many of the same plot devices so EAB and Webs are not alike. I have done it pretty well and it is coming around to being an exciting story I think, but talk about wedging, I mean we are talking tons of clay here.

I have become dissatisfied with the name Webs and am casting about for another name. My high production time of 80,000 words in two months is over, sadly enough. I may never reach such heights again. What a trip!

Well, I meant it when I said I was brain—fused. I can’t think of anything much. I may just sit around in a stupor until you come down.

Love,

Mom

Fond of So-So Writing!

Notes from Alexis: The woman is full of “doing.” I find it fascinating how full of life she was at this time in her life.

9-28-84

Dearest Lex,

Well you are lucky to get a letter at all this week I have been so busy. I’ll start today and work backwards on the events.

I went to my first sign language class last night and loved it! Our teacher is a young woman, and she is smart and good at signing. She has been signing for 12 years and is a really good at teaching too (not all people can teach). There are eight students ranging from a eleven year old K., to T. who is blind. You read it right – blind. His wife is also a student and he came with her.

T. interrupts the class by talking all the time. When we get quiet and are practicing our signing, it bothers him. He has some college education and he keeps trying to be smart and witty. As a student, it irritates me. As a writer, I love it. His wife is an Indian, Klamath probably, and they are both young. She seems sweet and smart and shy.

The eleven year old K. came wearing her best red dress and knee socks and backless clogs with her hair all done up pretty. I fell in love with her. She is a super nice girl and never said a word but watched like a hawk.

B. is probably an OIT student with beard. Poor boy he was born too late to be a hippie. Very sweet, very shy and laughs at himself which is fun.

R. is OIT, very college, blonde, wore tight, tight Levi’s. She is bright, cheerful and outgoing. Planning a trip to England next summer and told us about three of her boyfriends, you got to love it.

Ko. is Greek or Spanish I would guess, and about 25. She spoke up when she couldn’t hear. I don’t think you can hold Ko. down. She had lost one contact so she couldn’t focus and see our signs. We gave her a bad time and told her to get glasses, as she said she is always losing one contact. She hardly moves her fingers and it is hard to read her. Like someone who writes tiny, tiny.

M. is the unknown quantity – 22 probably and quiet. Friend of Ko. but not whatever Ko. is – she’s pale and says nothing, but signs big and alive.

It was so much fun and I was totally worn cut by the time I got home. Night school is so much fun because everybody gets to know everybody.

Enclosed is a clipping from the newspaper. I couldn’t believe my eyes and had to go to it. The first night was not about a doctor but H. J. an engineer. I have all these prejudices, and one of them is that I never met an engineer I didn’t like. H. is an engineer and was a teacher at OIT for 18 years and I learned three things from him. He said if you learn one thing from a person or a book, that is good, so H. is three times good.

First, I learned to brush my teeth with soda and rinse after with peroxide. You thought I knew that and I did, but I forgot. He said after he did, he didn’t have plaque. The second was to exhale, then inhale as many little breaths as possible and hold as long as possible. That may be the greatest thing I ever learned, it made me feel like a new woman. The third thing was to get a stick about 24”-36” long, whatever feels right, and position your hands comfortably and exercise around your body with it – around your head and back. Then one hand pushes, the other pulls. Bones were cracking all over my back. Just Lovely!

Can’t wait to hear what those doctors will say. These sessions are every other week. I am going to study the species – “doctor” for my books. I wonder why the rest are going?

Then on top of all that, two elements of my book “Webs” finally resolved themselves and the story is unrolling in front of me like a carpet, writing, writing, writing – all the time writing. Have two more short pieces. One is good and the other so – so. I have become very fond of so-so writing. I mean, for God’s sake, you can’t write great all the time. Sometimes you just want to write mediocre. Not every thought is world shaking, right?

I have started chopping weeds out of garden with pickax to get my gut down. Tell me, doctor, why I would do that when I won’t exercise. One clue is I don’t like to get down on the floor. Have you noticed how so many exercises are on the floor? Now I don’t like anything on the floor from dance to sex. Exercise – forget it! I may be forced to invent exercises for people who won’t get down on the floor.

You may find this hard to believe but I only skim the surface when I write. What you get is the cream, but the milk is something, too.

I have hours of talk, but when I sit down to write I abstract it down to sensible, sense- making stuff. I long to over-talk, elaborate, sign and mime. I might even listen. We will have to get together one of these days. I am so desperate for conversation I might even come up if you can’t get down, or what? I always feel I am imposing if I come up but I don’t feel you are imposing when you come down, so what have we got here, some kind of identity crisis?

Got to run mail this so will write later.

Love,

Mom

How to Get an Agents Attention

Notes from Alexis: Looking for and trying to find a literary Agent, in a small town in the days before the internet really took over.

 9-19-84

Dearest Lex,

Hope this finds you all a ‘dither and agog’ and if not, start taking Vit B-1 (100 mg every other day) as it is a pepper upper, and the one that tastes and smells like nasty vitamins. If you take 100 mg a day you will work yourself to death.

Settle yourself with coffee because I have a long story to tell – Chapter One in ‘How to Get an Agent.’

Last night I turned to a program that I never watch called “Now in Paperback.” The reason I don’t watch is not out of snobbery or disinterest, as much as the time slot. It usually comes on when a movie I want to see comes on. Well, last night there were two movies and they were both unbearable, unwatchable and totally ‘Un,’ so in desperation I turned to the arts stations.

I didn’t like the host or the editor or the critic, but the agent caught my attention so I watched. She handled herself very well with those men and that impressed me, so I bestirred myself and wrote down her name.

The host said, “What advice would you give an author in some small town outside New York area who wants to get published?” Now he had my full attention.

She replied, “Write me a fabulous letter and send the first page of the book.” I thought, “I can do that!” Don’t you love it?  I consider letter writing an art form, besides loving to write letters, I think I write good ones. All that and modesty too, it simply overwhelms one doesn’t it.

Now about a month ago I ordered a book “Inside Publishing” by Bill Adler and it came last week, but I hadn’t opened it because –  who knows why? He was co-author on “Who Killed the Robbins Family.”

I looked in his book and he listed her as a very successful agent who worked for William Morris Agency. Well that certainly demolished my “she has to need me as much as I need her” theory but I thought, “Hold the faith, baby.” So I plunged on, I wrote the letter and copied the first page and the ninth chapter (the diary) of EAB.

I found I had to go to the library to look up the address of the William Morris/Elaine Markson in the Literary Market Place and found her listed under her own agency.

I would say an agent out on her own would have a better chance of needing me. Don’t you agree? Well, you and I know ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ (a WWI song) but I have at least taken the first step. Making the decision to make a forward motion is sometimes the most difficult and the most important.

I still have six chapters to type but that’s all – if I should die tomorrow anyone could type them (as in you) for they are basically finished. Also my mind has turned back to the book ‘Webs.’ I woke at 2:30 and thought, “If I changed the male hero, the book would work fine.” So maybe it will go into Phase II.

Yes, Dad is back and no he didn’t get any big game or any little game either – zip game is what he got, but I guess he had a great time.

Have just finished Gloria Steinem’s Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions and I have fallen in love with her. She is such a sensitive person and a great writer, but I have to warn you that some of her bloodless essays are bloody, but you will love the ‘Playboy Bunny’ chapter.

Well, today is your brothers, M’s birthday, and it brings to mind a strange little story. J. and P. went to the fair this year and there was a snake show, with someone broadcasting over a loudspeaker, and J. was just positive it was M. I asked him why he didn’t go find out and he said he didn’t have any money. I asked why not just ask the people if it was M., and he shrugged. I said, “You were afraid it might be him weren’t you?” and he agreed. He is angry with him for not saying goodbye, or writing to let us know where they are or how they are doing. And M. wonders why people turn against him, and get mad.

Well, dear girl, I have much to do today as this is town day so will close and I’ll keep you posted on the agent search and any other facts or fictions that float by.

Love,

Mom

Fabulous February Free Book Promotion! “Disappearance of E.A.B.”

EAB cover I

Fabulous Fellow Bloggers:

We are offering to the first 20 people who email us – a free copy of “The Disappearance of E.A.B.”

We just have one request in return: kindly give us a review on Amazon at:http://amzn.com/B00IA8SMK4

Follow this fascinating tale of a desperate young woman searching for her true identity. Witness Anna’s struggle as she grapples with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, insanity and loyalty. Will Anna find the peace of mind she seeks or will she discover the root of madness within herself.
An intriguing novel about compelling love, questionable family ties, perseverance and the connections that bind us to others-whether we like it or not.

We think this book has a great story line and could become a wonderful movie someday.
What do you think?

Email us at:solopress2@charter.net and we will happily send out your free copy.

Thank you for joining us – Enjoy the book!
Alexis Campbell Jansky
Richard Jansky
Solo Press II

“The Disappearance of E.A.B”

Solo Press II is pleased to announce the publication of “The Disappearance of E.A.B” EAB cover I http://amzn.com/B00IA8SMK4

For all our readers of our blog, this is the book she has been writing about for the past year. So now your curiosity can be fulfilled with reading the book.

What if you discovered your whole world was an insane lie?

What if another’s single choice – changed everything for you?

Discovering her father’s diary along with thousands of copies of an out-of-town newspaper sends Anna Kinner on a life changing quest. She realizes that every choice has consequences and now she sees that her parents’ choices had profoundly changed her life. She faces her fears and travels to the place where it all began, struggling to unravel the reasons and choices others had made. Her search leads eventually to a man who changes the whole meaning of her life.

Follow this fascinating tale of a desperate young woman searching for her true identity. Witness Anna’s struggle as she grapples with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, insanity and loyalty. Will Anna find the peace of mind she seeks or will she discover the root of madness within herself.

An intriguing novel about compelling love, questionable family ties, perseverance and the connections that bind us to others-whether we like it or not.

Now available on Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00IA8SMK4

Published by Solo Press II Alexis Campbell Jansky and Richard Jansky Copyright © 2014

Life before “Hatching”

Notes from Alexis: Plan B (writing) has now officially hatched into life. Nothing will be the same again.

9/11/84

Dearest Lex,

It was so good to hear your voice and I thank you for calling. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t call you but I just never think of the telephone. Telephones are for business or emergency. I can’t get it through my head that they can be for pleasure, too.

Yes, I do believe I’ve gotten my second wind. I feel like my old self, a little, but mostly I feel like my new self. This past year has been a lot like a hatching. It isn’t so much like I’ve changed as that I’ve emerged.

Life B.H. (before hatching) and A.H. (after hatching) were just the same only different, but now there is a certain freedom not here before. All of my activities up until now have always been centered in the home and now they are in me. I suspect this was my moving into myself, that I told you, I felt was going to happen. It may, indeed, be a physical move but it may also have been a sure instinct of a sea change taking place inside. I have, for all practical purposes, hatched.

Now that I have started writing, my whole world has changed. Of course, it could be that my world changed and so now I can write. And I don’t overlook menopause as being the catalyst either. Remember Plan A was to be a mother. Perhaps I had to go through menopause to be completely through with Plan A so Plan B(be a writer) could go into effect.

I have simply undergone a complete mental and physical change. My clock hit fifty and rang. Biological clocks are very interesting and let me tell you about another one.

I was ‘wont’ to have a cocktail now and again when I was young and started dating, and going to nightclubs and dances. They bothered me a dab in the beginning but this bothering became severe by the age of 25 or 26, and as you know I had to give up alcohol in any form or fashion. Now J. tells Dad that beer and wine give him headaches. Thought provoking eh? It would appear that J. got the gene with a built in alarm. We will be watching him for his 50th ring won’t we?

I have been doing all the little piddly jobs that have to be done before winter, Painted wheelbarrow, and outside of outside refrigerator, shampooed all my rugs. Have to start winterizing the garden – prune raspberries, pull corn stalks etc. etc. The big one is I have to caulk around edges of roof to stop leaks and spray leak places with Purex in the house to get rid of stains. All these things are very blah, nothing at all creative or interesting but they take a load off my mind.

It was almost freezing last night and the air has a certain chill to it but the trees and things don’t believe it for a moment. Nothing has started to turn, so maybe it is just me.

At this time I can’t imagine that there is anyone in Klamath Falls left who doesn’t know I am writing a book. I have told one and all and this has been quite an education to me. For the vast majority of folks it is about as interesting as watching lettuce wilt. To me it is the most exciting thing in the world.

I may end up buying an Apple computer simply because the young man there was so thrilled with me writing- he said WOW! and even said he felt grateful – to meet me. He’ll go far.

Now for another book to read. Farley Mowat’s “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be.” This is an old book of his so likely to be in your library. It is a lovely book but it has moments like lightening. I’m afraid I’ll burst out laughing at odd and peculiar moments just because I happen to think of something from that book. Too funny, a must read!

Tomorrow I go in and Xerox off Part II—Bainbridge of EAB. Today I will begin typing Part III — Wellman. I still have two chapters to clean up a bit but it’s mostly just housekeeping things – nothing major.

We simply must get to work on the ‘agent’ problem but I just realized it has to be someone who needs me as bad as I need them. I tell you the truth, Alexis, I am no longer ‘hat in hand,’ I’m not interested in begging. Whoever gets me gets a money making machine because I’ve got books and books awaiting. I can feel them in a holding pattern waiting for landing position.

One thing that hasn’t changed with me is when I do something I go at it like killing snakes. All out, full bore! So I guess I didn’t hatch, so much as explode from my shell.

Got to run and mail this. You were worried about me missing Dad (while he is hunting) but I tell you I have been so busy I have just fallen into bed exhausted at night. I forced myself to stay up until 9:30 last night to watch ballet, I am a ballet freak but it was a struggle.

Love,
Mom