Monthly Archives: March 2015

Motherpluckers

“Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”
– Alice Walker

This post is a short ode to the motherpluckers of the world.

I salute you.

photo You know who I’m talking about, right?  Motherpluckers.

The women (particularly moms) who still find the time to pluck their eyebrows and stuff like that during their uber-busy lives. (Wait…what did you think I was saying?  That’s the name for them, right? Motherpluckers?  Well, sheesh, what do you call them?  Anyway….)

Let me just say that you chicks amaze me. I don’t even have small children anymore, but Richard and I have three teenagers and one pre-teen between us and let me tell you – getting myself ready to go anywhere falls LAST on the priority list. By the time everyone is up, fed, bathed, and clothed, I’m usually standing in a towel with dripping hair while the rest of the family is wondering why I’m not ready to leave.

If I manage to get out of the house with pants on, I’m doing good.

How do you ladies do it?  How do you have the manicures and the highlighted hair and the perfect makeup?  TEACH ME, OH WISE ONES!

Eh, I guess I’ve made it this far with my bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair, so I suppose I’ll be alright. But still – it’s hard not to look at you guys with the adoration that my teenage daughter reserves for boy bands. I’m in awe. Mesmerized. Obsessed.

Jealous.

But, I’m guessing those same women may look at me and wonder how I find the time to run, don’t they? I’m sure they wonder how I squeeze that into the day – and sometimes I wonder that myself.

busy_moms_prayer_postcard-r4f6031192de84898be9b22dcb21a3867_vgbaq_8byvr_500I guess all of we moms wish we had more time for the things we can’t seem to fit into our busy lives, don’t we?  I suppose I should just look at it like this: If we’re all finding time to do at least something just for us – whether it be running, plucking, reading, or whatever else makes us feel better about ourselves – then I’d say we’re probably doing alright.

“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” as my buddy Stephen King says. As long as we’re living, we’re not dead. If I manage to leave my house with two daughters with French-braided hair and two sons with their bellies full, then I guess my bushy eyebrows are a small price to pay.

Hey, at least I’m wearing pants.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do… 😉

***

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.” – Jessica Lange

Tales of a First-Time Novelist

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

I am awake at 3:00 a.m. to write this blog post. Why? Well…see the quote above. It’s my “human condition.” I can’t help it. I have something I want to share.

As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing my first novel. The idea first popped into my mind over a year ago, and it has taken me this long to crank out the first nine chapters. Why? Heck, I don’t know. I’m a writer. Writing is my thing. It’s what I do. But writing fiction?  Whoa. As they say in Oz, that’s a horse of a different color! 7dbbefcc1a588d2c161143a661a1019d

Fiction is hard for me. It engages imagination. And that’s something that I think I might still be somewhat lacking in. Now, seeing and capturing reality on the other hand?  Oh yeah, I got that one down pat.  There are so many real things out there that we walk past every day that beg for their stories to be told. These are the things that capture me and won’t let go until I obey their commands and immortalize them onto a computer screen. Thus, this blog you’re reading. (My first published work, Lessons Abound is exactly that as well – a collection of essays that stem from everyday life events.)

But fiction?  Well, fiction doesn’t quite work that way, as I’m learning. There are no reminders. No smorgasbord of random, everyday events. Nope. You have to choose one story line and stick to it. And where does that storyline have to come from?

Sigh.

Me.

That’s it. Just little ole me.

I have to pull all of this stuff out of my head. And this is quite new for me. While I definitely still draw inspiration from the life around me, most of what I’m writing in my fiction novel has to be drawn from the recesses of my own mind. I’ve recently shared the first nine chapters of my novel with a few willing, and extremely helpful readers. While I’m waiting on feedback, some of the early thoughts that have trickled in have had this somewhat common theme to them:

“Is your story autobiographical?”

Ha. Oops.

So, no. The story is not autobiographical. But I’m a nonfiction writer, man. This fiction stuff is hard. While I’m playing around with my imagination for the first time, I’m having a teensy bit of trouble letting go of reality in order to do so. So I had to find a compromise. I’m making these characters into people I know by making them all pieces of me.  Does that make sense? In order to write a story that people are going to believe, as the author I need to know these characters. I need to know their surroundings, their upbringing, their hopes, their dreams, their fears. I need to know what makes them tick. And right now, while I’m still trying out my fiction sea legs, I’m going to keep one tiny little foot anchored on the shore of reality. I’m giving these characters lives and personalities that I know and understand. Heck, even the “bad” guys in the story are going to possess some of my not-so-endearing qualities. They almost have to. They come from me, right? You-only-learn-to-beIs this what all authors do?

I don’t know. But I’d be willing to bet maybe so. Especially in the beginning. Maybe as fiction becomes more second nature to me, I’ll learn to loosen that grip on a reality just a bit more and let my imagination take over the reigns. For now, though, yes; you’re going to see pieces of me in this writing. Some of them may be things you already know. Some of them may surprise you. But trust me – while you may see me in this story, the events are still 100% made up.

Clear as mud? Well, good. Glad we got that settled.

I’m so grateful for the brave souls who have dedicated their time and energy to reading the first draft of my first nine chapters. Writing is a very lonely process.  I sit at a computer screen night after night and do this alone. Some nights a few pages will flow out. Some nights I add a comma in a sentence somewhere and then go to bed. I never know if my muse is going to show up or not, but I keep trying. And sometimes I feel like I’m doing this for nothing. I’m a writer. I write so it can be read. And if I’m the only one reading it, what’s the point?  So, thank you, early readers. I hope you know how much this means to me. Truly. The readers are just as important as the writer in bringing a story to life. More so even. I couldn’t do this without you.

And now that I’ve gotten these characters’ personalities set up in a way that I know and understand, let’s start getting that imagination cranking and make them do some crazy stuff.  Shall we? 😉

***

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
-E. L. Doctorow

Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

liz

Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

mePatty

Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

meLenny

This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

meLenny3

Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

meLenny2

Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage