Art, artistic collaboration, fiction, Michael Haykin, novel, writing

Wanda Does What She Likes

“Tattooed Daughter” by Michael Haykin from his 2023 exhibition entitled “Proof of The Soul”

She came to me as muses do, whispering a challenge, implying a promise. And when I spotted “Tattooed Daughter” by Michael Haykin, I was certain he created it for my cover, although he might not know it. Please enable full-screen mode and turn up your volume on the link above to fully appreciate his exhibition “Proof Of The Soul”

Wanda read my addled subconscious, eavesdropped on my excellent writer friends who couldn’t risk offending family members or friends by publishing their beautifully written memoirs.

You’d have to be masochistic to write a memoir. Right? No one agrees on the present, let alone the past. We all assign different values to past events. Besides, there are so many crappy biographies out there. Some are revenge screes, others are so shy of making a statement, they tell us nothing; not a single insight. Many siphon personality traits or events from public record, tacitly endorsing a point of view without owning up to the thin layer of knowledge used. Others offer anecdote after pointless anecdote before we care about the subject(s) of the memoir. Anyone who reads memoir looks for a second story in the white spaces between the lines, and wonders if the mom was really that bad, maybe the narrator was stingy or worse, too generous. And the best writers allow for those questions.

I’d never get caught in that trap, I said. I felt so strongly about it, Wanda & Me opens with a discussion about Gordon Lish, Raymond Carver’s editor, who often changed Carver’s endings. Whose story is it, I’ve always wondered, along with everyone who knows about this literary pairing. The weirder question is, whose ending is better? Because Lish is no lightweight. I love a piece he wrote entitled “The Merry Chase,” consisting entirely of cliches strung together to form a completely original work. That man knew all about subverting form and I think he must have loved Raymond Carver’s work because he did it justice. So there’s that. . . But still. Here’s a good brief article about Lish

The great surprise is that Wanda is coming naturally to me. What should be a tortuous excavation is proving to be run by a dancing muse and I am doing something I have done with little of what I previously wrote. I am having fun, even laughing at times. I haven’t yet chosen a form for the work and don’t know what I have on my hands; it seems to change shape as I write, going out into nether zones, and so I float along with it, enjoying the ride. Now someone else (an older woman) has seen Wanda, my imaginary friend, and I have no idea what that means.

Wanda is unpredictable.

Wanda & Me spans Me’s birth to age 19 and ends with a single cataclysmic event.

If you want a sample chapter, sign up for my newsletter, and I’ll happily dispatch it to you.

5 thoughts on “Wanda Does What She Likes”

  1. Rusty Hodgdon says:

    I like the cover. Maybe make her eyes hazel – more mysterious? Would need to see the lettering in the title – very important. I think your blurb would make an excellent introduction to the book.

    1. jessica says:

      I can’t improve on a perfect image, however, the lettering will be a challenge! Hmmm, interesting thought about the blurb….

  2. Anonymous says:

    Go Wanda Go!

  3. Joanna Gray says:

    Love this image! The more you look, the more you see.

  4. Differing ‘skins’ on the same face draw the observer in to a slow-the-moment down “what’s it all about” contemplation. Just like faster paced Wanda and Me which also invites behind-the-face reflection.
    Great job, Jessica!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *