Sunday, November 22, 2015

La Vie en Rose

I have been trying, this past week, to be thoughtful, not reactionary.

I have been trying to sort what I know to be true from what I've heard to be true.

I have been trying to move closer to love.

I have remembered that the opposite of love is not hate, not indifference, but fear. I don't want to fear. I don't want to hate. Most of all, I don't want to feel indifferent. I want to love.

Whenever I fear, I dissect that mother like a beast. What am I afraid of? Why am I afraid of that? It usually turns out to be something so silly and so trite that it makes me feel like a little girl clutching my blankie, convinced there are monsters under the bed. That's what most of our fears turn out to be anyway--monsters under the bed.

Both of my cars were broken into recently. In my driveway on a rainy night. I live in a safe neighborhood, but there have been a rash of petty burglaries lately, and by lately I mean for as long as I've lived here. I try to keep the cars locked, but possessions aren't terribly important to me and I usually forget.

After initially feeling violated, I steered clear of hate and fear and found so much compassion for the thieves who had emptied out the glove boxes in my filthy cars, sorted through tampons and lip gloss and old receipts looking for cash that wasn't there. They did steal a bluetooth speaker and Husband's backpack, but only after taking everything out of it first, and most strangely, Daughter's newly purchased pink puffy paint. The puffy paint did it for me. How can I feel anything but compassion for a thief who finds himself in need of pink puffy paint?

In my mind's eye, I see him waking up the next morning and presenting the puffy paint to his daughter. "Do you want to do crafts today?" How can I hate that man? How can I fear him? I have no choice. Love is all that's left.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Snail

This morning, behind my house, I found a smushed snail, the opalescent shell fragmented into the messy guts of the body. Surely the work of one of the neighborhood kids. I've had the desire to smush them myself from time to time, just to hear the crack of the shell, like the crunch of a fall leaf. Just because sometimes I have the urge to destroy beautiful things.

Nature's critters were busy and by this afternoon nothing remained but pieces of the shell, still catching the light just right in a way that was maybe more beautiful than before. Maybe more tragic. If the death of a snail can even be deemed tragic.

I walked past the pieces and down the muddy hill in my backyard. Trying to find my balance in a slippery place, trying to make it all the way to the bottom of the hill without holding on and without falling.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And Then Today

And then today, at the store, I spied a small family. The dad turned his head and kissed the mom. Distracted, she tried to kiss him back and got nothing but air. He bent over the child, nestled his nose in her hair then jogged the other way, off on some man errand.

And I felt blessed to finally notice things again.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Piano Keys and Circumstance

Image result for ether

Only forty pages into my work in progress and I already lost a chunk of it due to a computer glitch. Gone. Into the ether. Back where it came from, I suppose. But this stuff happens. It has happened on every novel I ever wrote.

It happens, but that doesn't make it any easier.

I was writing, last night, with the weight of a difficult day on my shoulders. A tragedy occurred on a tangent in my life and I had the taste of music in my mouth. I was swallowed up by a bubble of piano keys and circumstance. I will never recreate that day, that taste in my mouth, that I put into words to the best of my limited ability.

And it's gone.

I tried to rewrite the scene, but came away with cardboard figures, shuffling their feet and scratching their heads while telling a maudlin story that no one cared about.

It happens.

As a writer, I am tasked with shaking my weary head and waving my weary fist up to heaven and then...getting back to work again, thankful for the experience of writing something that made a difficult day a little easier.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ninjas and Violent Femmes

There are many stages to writing a novel. Like...a bunch...take my word for it. Right now, I'm in my least favorite stage--the rejection stage.

Ideas--I have a million. Starting an idea--got it. Finishing an idea--all over it. Asking for feedback and cowering in the corner while I get criticized--been there, done that, been back, cried a little. Editing--cried a lot, did it, did it again, did it again, and again and again. Sending my work out and getting rejected--well...I usually start out strong and then sputter and die a rather unremarkable, unnoticed death and then...start the whole idea process over again.

But I've vowed that will not happen with this novel. This is the one I believe in. The one I wanted to write five novels ago but didn't know how to approach. This is the one I refuse to give up on.

It's been tough.

I was at a point, not too terribly long ago, where I hated opening Gmail. I couldn't stand to see that grainy wood background that I chose because it looked oh-so-sophisticate. I couldn't stand to see the highlighted new messages that started: Dear Author, Thank you for sending me your work, but... I was mad at Gmail. It almost felt like all the rejection was Gmail's fault. Screw you Gmail! I could feel myself sputtering, choking, ready to die.

So...I had no choice. I had to jump-start my battery. When you're a writer, you have to jump-start your own battery. Have to hook the wires to your own positive and negative terminals. Have to ground one of the wires yourself. There's no donor. There's no one else on the planet with enough energy to jump-start your battery for you. Only you possess the required amount of energy.

I started by changing my Gmail background. Instead of the sophisticate wood grain, I opted for cartoon ninjas. Next, I dug out my favorite break-up song by the Violent Femmes, Kiss Off and played it on repeat. And I really started to feel better: a rejection ninja who forgot what eight was for.

I sent off a whole new crop of queries ready to be rejected, or even worse, greeted with non-replies, which feels a little bit like telling someone you love them only to sit by awkwardly while they bathe you in their silence.

Hopefully this will get me through June. I don't exactly know what will happen in June, maybe a reassessment, maybe a rewrite, maybe a whole new thing entirely, something I haven't even thought of yet. I don't know why June. Just feels like a good time to take another look. And if I sputter and die on the way, I only pray I can find the jumper cables again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Difficulty of Shallow Roots

And then today, while hiking, I learned that plants with shallow roots are bad for erosion and can cause mud slides. The earth needs deep roots to hold it in place.

It reminded me of my own shallow roots, my willingness to up and move at a moment's notice. The excitement of moving, the thought: I can be whomever I want to now. I can dress all in black, line my eyes in kohl, get something pierced, and go to open mic nights at coffee shops. I can buy ten different types of moisture wicking bras, drink protein shakes, and sign up for a marathon. I can wear my hair in pigtail braids, slouch around in plaid, and go on hikes where I learn about root systems of invasive plants. I can be all these people, but I always wind up just being me with my shallow roots and terrible diet and wardrobe chock full of solid print tees.

Maybe this is because I am not there yet, I am still becoming. I feel like I'll be becoming for the rest of my life. And I'm okay with that.

I learned about balance. It isn't something that you have, it's something that you learn. Like all things, you learn it by doing--patience and practice. I learned about speed. How it's not important to me, but I feel like it should be, because it seems so important to everyone else. I learned that tiny steps will get you where you need to be just as surely as big ones.  

Husband hiked behind me and said, "Maybe it'll help if you get in a better rhythm." I think he's probably right.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fail Again

There’s a philosophy that I used to gravitate towards: If I don’t try, I can’t fail. Failure is such a dirty word in our culture. As embarrassing as adult acne, second-hand clothes, and purple El Caminos.

We need a new outlook on failure.

Spring feels like a good time to try something new. It feels like the right time to fail at something. Better than New Years in my humble opinion (Yeah, like I’ve ever had one of those!). Spring is a re-birth, a re-imagining, a re-mover if it has to be.

Dust off the cobwebs from winter. Wash everything clean. Look at your life in a new light. You don’t have to be the same person you were. The person who was too scared to try new things. You don’t have to be that. You, too, could be a failure.

For spring, go try something new and fail at it. Fail miserably, but keep at it. Fail so bad that people (those people who never try new things) talk about you behind your back. And then, fail some more. Fail until you don’t care that you’re failing. And eventually, you’ll get it.

Or maybe you won’t.

And is that really such a terrible thing? To not be able to do something? To try and not succeed.

I’m a writer, therefore, a professional failure. I’m an expert at failure and, trust me, the more you do it, the less scary it is. Now, I’ve even branched out. Instead of just failing at writing, I’ve failed at a whole host of other things (running, ukulele, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, parenting, the list goes on and on). There’s no limit to the things that you can fail at if you really put your mind to it.

Failure has become comfortable to me, like that feeling of pulling up to my house on a dark night and seeing the lights are on, signs of life. I can sit in my car and imagine inside: my children’s laughter, the smell of supper cooking on the stove, the chaos of the day strewn about. Failure is as much a part of the fabric of my life as all of that. I say it every day: I can’t do it…yet.

It’s my passion, it's my goal. Fail at as many things as I possibly can. The sky's the limit.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Pretty (?) in Pink

Husband and I watched Pretty in Pink last night, because movies made in this decade have disappointed us too much and we're not ready to forgive them yet. Some of our reactions:

What is she wearing?

What's up with that hair?

It's not Matthew Broderick, it's Jon Cryer.

Who is that? I know that guy. What's he in?

What is he wearing?

What ever happened to her?

Oh my God, they're doing all this weird 80's stuff, only they're not being ironic about it.

Andrew Dice Clay is in this?!

I love this song!

It's not Matthew Broderick. It's Jon Cryer.

Stop poking each other in the face when you kiss!

I used to have the biggest crush on him.

It's Jon Cryer!

Look, the guy from Three and a Half Men and the guy from Blacklist are fighting. That's funny.

Yeah. It's totally not Matthew Broderick.

I still hate that guy's face.

How do you possibly take two ugly dresses, put them together and wind up with something even uglier?

Man, they wrapped up those plot points pretty nicely. Proof that all you need to get along in this world is a "can-do" attitude, Molly Ringwald's face, and some good tunes.