Saturday, November 5, 2011

Green Monkey

I consider myself an excellent storyteller. I know this because I can hold your attention when I talk. I am not certain if I can hold your attention when I write. I am particularly sensitive to this because seldom can another persons written words captivate me. And therefore, I don’t read books. Wait, that’s not right. I don’t finish books. I start lots of books, but almost always I lose interest. It must be some sort of undocumented learning disability. I used to think I was stupid but I’ve decided you have to be smart to be entertaining - unless, people are laughing at you, which happens to me more often then most. 
For years I convinced myself that because I don’t read books or because I don’t take direction well, or study well, or retain information well – that I cannot write a book.  All this is changing…today. 
Today I started my book. I started about four hours ago. My goal is to keep it honest and simple.
To convince myself that this is a book and not just me journaling, I googled the proper format for a novel and applied it to a new word document titled (you guessed it)...
I don’t want to stop blogging. I don’t want to lose YOU because you feed me creatively and emotionally. So I’m going to take you with me. 
I’ll warn you when I’m doing it. This way, if you don’t want to follow along, you can close your eyes or look the other way. I won't post EVERYTHING, just excerpts that I hope will hold your attention. I’ll still post the quirky things that happen to me, my mental clutter, and my lucid dreams.
I have no idea how to write fiction. I admire those of you that do. I’m convinced a lot of the things that happen to me happen so that I have something to write about. But I also know that in order for me to honor my talent (wow, I'm calling it a talent - thats a BIG step for me) and my journey here, I must write about my loss and what it has taught me.
This I’M WRITNG A FUCKING BOOK mode is fueled by an agreement I made with myself to participate in National Novel Writing Month. In doing so, I am committing to writing 50,000 words in one month. The month began November 1st. I’m already 5 days late but it’s okay, I’m not panicking. I am cutting and pasting past projects into my word document (sounds perfectly logical to me). At the end of this month, my 50,000 or more words will magically turn into a book. 
I’m also giving up wine vodka during this writing challenge. Sounds crazy, don’t you think!    
I have always known that my story starts small. My story begins with Kerry’s wallet. I zero in on this immediately following his death. I have written this before. I go back to that, expand on it (just a bit) and lay it out there for you to see.  In doing so, you can feel my pain, my longing to understand, to stay connected to him, and to heal. And then I tell you something I have never admitted to anyone before. Not even to myself.  

 I keep Kerry’s wallet in a ziplock bag. Seven years later, it still smells of worn leather and stale Marlboro Reds. I can’t remember where it turned up or how I got it, but I have it. I think he left it in his unlocked car along with a duffel bag filled with notebooks, newspapers and dirty clothes.           
The first time I opened his billfold, he had $137.00 dollar tucked neatly inside. A one hundred dollar bill, one ten, two fives, and the rest singles. Days later, the hundred dollar bill was gone. I don’t know why someone took it.  Maybe Kerry owed them money. Maybe they needed it more than Kerry. It bothered me a lot back then. I’m sort of numb to it now.
Along side his cash, are four photos of his year-old son Jackson, dressed in red.  In three of the photo’s Jackson is smiling, a big, toothless grin.  In the other, he is peaking out from under a blanket - his eyes full of wonderment and awe.
Kerry saved his ATM receipts.  His last withdrawal of $20.00, posted on May 24th, left him a balance of $87.81.  Two, double folded metro north train receipts show he and a guest rode from Greenwich to Grand Central - one way, off peak.
He kept evidence of pensive purchases made in the weeks leading up to his death.  Cashier Marnie noted that it was “A pleasure to serve him” and that cash refunds were with receipt only.
In the center of his top-grain, cowhide wallet, directly behind his drivers license, he kept a Detectives Endowment Association Card issued by the City of New York’s Police Department, Zig-Zag papers, a Blockbuster rewards card, three bank cards, and a Chinese, “good luck” red envelope with his name written on it.
To the side he tucked a few business cards from notable people or places he had been, along with an original copy of his fiancée’s, second trimester sonogram; a first glimpse at his son, in utero, sucking his thumb. 
A drug store receipt proves his intent to obtain over the counter sleeping pills.  On May 27th, 2002 - less than two hours before his recorded time of death, he spent $31.77 on two, 32-capsule packages of rapid release Unisom, and one, 72-capsule package of quick release Nytol.  
On March 26, two months before his death, Connecticut held a classic lotto drawing worth 6 million dollars.  Kerry purchased two, $5.00 quick picks - which tells me that, on this day, he had hope.

I stopped doing laundry after Kerry died.  I stopped going to the grocery store. I stopped wearing my contacts.  I didn’t want to focus on anything other than my pain.  I held his wallet at the center of my chest – rocked, moaned, screamed, and cried. How could I live without my son? There are no words to express my sorrow. This is MY son. Seven years later and still so many tears.  It is difficult for me to think or write about his death. So I will go back. Back to a time when life was simple and sweet.
But life has never been simple and seldom sweet.  So I will begin by telling you about my father.  Because I blame him, still.  

11/5/2011 WORD COUNT for GREEN MONKEY the novel:   3,167


  1. A journey anywhere in Life starts with the first steps taken... you have done this.

    Best wishes for the journey ahead...


  2. Oh, Shannon, this gave me chills! I think that opening the story with the description of his wallet is brilliant. We ALL have wallets, and their contents reveal so much. More, more!!!

  3. Good luck, it's do able if you put your mind to it.

  4. oh Katie..... you must know how much your comment means to me. I have no idea what I'm doing but I'm going to slice it, and write it, and as long as I can complete the 50,000 words then to me... I DID IT. I don't know how to write a novel but I know I can write 50,000 words....

    Pat, you are really special (and not in a "mentally challenged" sort of way). We are 2 quirks in a pod! and you're right, of course, mind comes first!

  5. That's a great start, really an intriguing beginning. I've found the best way to write is not to think about it, just let it happen. You're giving up wine? Here's what I do, everything I write, I write stone cold sober, only Hunter Thompson wrote better loaded and even he couldn't do it after a while. But I write and then reward myself with beer after I'm done. But to each their own, can't wait to read more! Keep writing!

  6. Ooo Monkey, this is going to be a heart breaking/warming/lifting story.

    Love you,


  7. What an incredible way to start. I never thought about how much my purse could tell someone.


    What does the chewed up piece of gum in the recipt say about me?

    Maybe I don't really want to know.

  8. Love you too Monkey Girl!!!! thank you for all your support. you give me so much. xoxo

    Julianna, the gum in the receipt is (hate to say it... wait for it) common. thanks for the encouragement - it means a lot.

  9. Good luck on your novel, it has some power to it already.

    Also, I tend to lose interest in books as well :/ Very few can hold me to the end, but those that do stand out. I think your novel will hold me to the end.

  10. This beginning really moved me. I can't wait to read more. You can definitely hold my attention :-)

  11. Shannon, despite the encouraging words shared above, I don't believe anyone's comments have suitably given you enough credit for your first 500+ words (Chapter 1). This introduction to your book/heart/life is insanely powerful, emotionally gut wrenching, and breathtakingly captivating. Of all your writing, this is the best I've seen yet and I can't wait to read more. Charge ahead, (rhino) monkey. I remain your biggest fan.


  12. ...the writing of a novel takes inspiration, dedication, and an ultimate desire to succeed. It's been quite possibly the most monumental achievement I've ever managed to fulfill. I wish you the very best of luck!


  13. Good solid start shannon..keep hitting those keys!

  14. Thank you Sarah, Jay, Susan and Elliot, means a lot when writers praise and give encouragement!

  15. GM, your opening is amazing, totally brilliant. I loved how you wove in emotions around the wallet. You've got a writer's soul - let it soar!

    From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for your support. As I burned the midnight oil getting the finishing touches on "Remy Broussard's Christmas", I remembered what you had commented, how I inspired you. I'm a sensitive person and felt your emotion. I wanted to visit earlier and comment but didn't how how to put my sensitivity into words. Now I do, before I hit the final Send, I said Thank you, Green Monkey. (I hope I don't let you down!)

  16. Your opening is brilliant and I stayed with you till the end and I do want more. I don't finish books either in the past 3 and a half years when I never not have a book before that. Now I feel like I know more than any author can tell me. Your writing is excellent and promising Shannon. But please write only what can make you better.

  17. Congratulations on getting started! The wallet is a very interesting way to get it all started. But, we're going to have to discuss this wine ban thing. ;-).....Sam the Mooser

  18. Oh, MG, this is beautiful and heart-wrenching. This opened me, it was powerful and vulnerable and, well, it's even difficult to come up with descriptors for it.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  19. I just found I had over looked this post and now I find I'm very glad and yet sad I did. Your writing moves mt emotions and I so agree with Katie, the wallet is excellent.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison