Tag Archives: sharing

Untold Tales

“There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.”
– Lee Smith

Lee Smith, a local North Carolina author, visited our little mountain town a few months ago for a literary festival. Although I missed getting to see her and  hear her speak, there were some bookmarks left behind in her wake. When I saw them at our local arts council, I immediately grabbed one and have been using it as my bookmark ever since. On it was the above quote – “There’s tales I’ll tell and tales I won’t.” There was just something about that simple little quote that spoke to me. I thought it was because I’m a writer myself and I understand the decision process that goes into what you’re going to put on paper and what you’re not. But lately I’ve been thinking it hit a little close to home for a different reason.

I too have tales I won’t tell.

Yes, even me. The girl who vomits her life out onto a blog or status message each chance she gets. Even a big mouth like me has untold tales.

You know how people portray themselves in the best light on social media? Ever find yourself looking at other people’s lives or relationships and comparing them to your own?  Wondering why you don’t quite “stack up?”

Well, guess what? I’m one of those happy posters.

Guilty as charged.

But here is my confession: life isn’t always great.

I wouldn’t call myself a “liar” per se. The things I post are true. Good things do happen to me. They happen to all of us. I do have great kids and a marriage that has its great moments. And I have amazing friends. When good moments happen, I post them. I’m happy to share them because it makes me proud and I want to look back and remember this some day.

But sometimes there are things that happen in between those moments that just aren’t Facebook or Instagram worthy. You know?

Facebook is kind of our modern-day photo album. Think about it – if you go visit granny and look through her old albums, what are you going to see? You’re going to see the happy times. You’re going to see smiling faces looking at the camera. You’re going to see family with their arms around each other.  You’re going to see happy wedding photos.  You’re going to see laughing kids with ice cream and church Easter egg hunts.

Now, how do you think granny would feel if you said, “Hey – wait. Where’s the picture of that time you had me go outside and get a switch so you could beat my a**?” Or, “Hey, Granny, I’ve looked all through this thing and I can’t find a picture of the night Uncle Bob spent locked up in the local jail for that DUI…”

Um, yeah. That’s not gonna happen.

There are some memories that you just don’t want to preserve for posterity.

And is that granny’s fault?  I mean, are we seriously going to fault granny for not snapping photos during those moments? Of course not. Granny wants to forget that blot in Uncle Bob’s life. She’s not going to brag about it. She’s not gonna frame it and set it on the mantle.

So many times, we fault people for “pretending” their life is great on social media. But that’s not fair. They’re not pretending. Those things are true.

At the moment.

I think if there’s any blame to be placed, it should be on the perceiver. That’s us. We’re the ones looking at that life and thinking it’s perfect. We’re the ones looking at their happy moments and comparing them to ours. We’re the ones thinking that only bad things happen to us and they never happen to those perfect lives we see on Facebook. But that’s not their fault.

It’s ours.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I guess I’m just going through a down time and I want to talk about it. But then again, I don’t really. I don’t want to take a picture of what’s wrong right now and put it on Facebook. I just don’t. And I’m not gonna. Uncle Bob’s night in jail is just gonna have to stay in the family this time, you know what I mean?  But I also don’t want you to look at my happy pictures and think my life is perfect and yours should be too.

It’s not.

But those happy times? They’re real. I’m not pretending. Most people aren’t. We’re just choosing what we want to remember.

But this down time? I’m just hoping this one will fade into the recesses of my mind and never be brought up again.

Give each other a break, ok? Share in the happy times and be glad they exist for one another.

Okay, that’s all the rambling I have for today. This tale is as told as it’s gonna get.

***

“Sometimes you go through things that seem huge at the time, like a mysterious glowing cloud devouring your entire community. While they’re happening, they feel like the only thing that matters and you can hardly imagine that there’s a world out there that might have anything else going on. And then the glow cloud moves on. And you move on. And the event is behind you. And you may find, as time passes, that you remember it less and less. Or absolutely not at all…”
– Cecil Baldwin

 

 

 

 

That Time I Shut Up

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s ok. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
– Rebecca Campbell, from her book, Light is the New Black

Make sure you read that quote up there. Read it very carefully.

Did you read it?  Good. Now, go back and read it again. I’ll wait. Really, go on.

There.

[See? Still here. Told you I’d wait.]

I read that quote yesterday for the first time and it really got to me. And I mean really. I went back and read it again. And then again. And then one more time for good measure. Seeing those words, and then committing them to my heart and mind, reminded me of something that I don’t talk about very  much.

And today, I’m going to change that.

I want to tell you about the time I shut up.

I know, I know. Sounds like fiction, right? Me? Shutting up? But nope – this story I’m going to tell you is all true. Every last word of it.

Unfortunately.

Most of you who read this blog either don’t know me at all, or know me through the wonderful world of social media. With that being said, you know the “me” who is a talker. The me who posts a Facebook status or a blog post every time a thought enters my mind. The me who is a performer, a writer, an extrovert in every sense of the word.

But there was a time before all of this. A time before Facebook. A time before the writing and the sharing and the openness.

A time between performances. An intermission, so to speak.

I was involved in a bad relationship. Now, don’t take that as my saying I was in a relationship with a bad man. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I was in a bad relationship. A really bad one. And what made it so bad was this: I was with someone who didn’t like me.

It’s true. I spent almost five years involved with a man who didn’t like me. Oh, he loved me, I suppose. But he didn’t like me. There’s a difference, ya know. He didn’t like who I was.

For example, he didn’t like when I told people things. Anything. Because, of course, I could have been telling them our problems and those things needed to remain private. So, I stopped telling people anything, good or bad, in person or on social media. I just stopped reaching out; kept to myself.

He didn’t like my writing because I might make him the subject of it and, again, that needed to remain private. My views were so outlandish anyway, no one would ever possibly identify with anything I had to say. I should just be quiet and save myself the embarrassment.

So I stopped writing.

intermissionHe didn’t like my acting. After being involved with community theatres for as long as I could remember, I let the curtain fall on those aspirations. Theatre took time and time was something I didn’t have. I needed to be with him, not out doing God knows what with God knows who for all of those hours. A woman belonged with her family, not on a stage. What was wrong with me?

So I stopped acting.

For someone as bold and blunt and hardheaded as I am, I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe this when I tell you. How could this have happened? How could someone like me become someone like that? But folks, I’m here to tell you – it happened. I wore my hair the way he required. (He once refused to look at me for an entire day because I straightened it and he wanted the natural curls.) I dressed the way he required. I obeyed the way he required.  (Until the time I didn’t – but that’s a story for another day.)

I became so entranced with trying to please him and be what he wanted that I lost me. I had no idea who I was anymore. I became depressed. I slept for hours at a time. I gained weight. In short, I was miserable.

Why does this matter now? Why am I writing about it all these years later?

A few reasons.

First, I posted a blog earlier this week that wasn’t popular with a few people. (Okay, a lot of people.) My viewpoint didn’t jive with some others…including that of my own brother. I don’t like disagreeing with people I love, and for a moment, I did what I used to do. I stopped talking. I got off of the internet for a few hours and didn’t say a word. I didn’t stand my ground, I didn’t argue my point. I ran.

In other words, I shut up.

But then a few hours later, with a sudden jolt, I immediately realized what I was doing. I was once again allowing the sound of me to disappear because someone didn’t like what they heard.

Second reason I’m telling this story: I saw something a week or so ago that I can’t seem to shake from my mind. There was a news story going around about a woman whose husband was being prosecuted because of forcing her to have sex with many men over a period of years. While the story itself was atrocious, the comments that followed the posting of the story were almost worse. I saw so many people saying, “she obviously wanted it or she wouldn’t have participated” and “why doesn’t she go to jail too? She is the one who did it.” Etc. etc. I saw the woman called every unsavory name under the sun, followed ironically by the question of, “Why didn’t she leave?”

Ah, yes. The “why didn’t she leave?” stance. My favorite.

Sigh. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with people today? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we know everything? Why do we feel like we know the true story of something that happens behind closed doors that we’ve never even peeked around? Why do we feel that we know the obvious answer when this poor victim didn’t? Do we think we are that much better than her? That much smarter? That much wiser?

I don’t know, guys. I really don’t know.

But I do know this.

I am now someone who tries to recognize the ones who are between performances. I know too well what that feels like. I try hard not to judge. I try hard to remember that I don’t know what happened that put them where they are today. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know how easy it is to slip down that slippery slope of people pleasing. You want so badly to be loved…to be liked…that you find the pieces of you that they don’t like slipping away a little at a time until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know. But trust me, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in fits and starts and the further you go down the rabbit hole, the harder it is to turn around and crawl your way out.

Back to that quote at the beginning.

Are you someone who’s between performances? Is it intermission time in your life? I’m here to tell you that I understand. I truly do. But I also want to tell you that I finally…finally…also understand what it feels like on the other side.

“Talk to the people who can hear you.”

Find your song again, friends. Find it and sing it loud. Sing your heart out. For the ones who like you, your song will be music to their ears. Your song will be the best one they’ve ever heard. To them, all other music stops when you start singing. Your voice is beautiful.

And for the ones who don’t like you? They won’t be able to hear you at all. They just won’t. And you can’t make them. It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but it is a necessary one.

Never, ever, let yourself believe what I did. Never tell yourself that the answer is to stop singing. Believe me, dear ones. There is a place for your song. A place that would be empty without it.

Find it. Okay? Promise me. Find it.

And don’t let anyone, or anything, ever shut you up again.

Intermission is over, my friends. It’s time for the second act.

BR9KJP Empty movie theater

***

This is Today: Life Lessons from a Sullen Teenager

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago, I had a really bad day.

Now that some time has passed, I honestly can’t remember what seemed so bad that day (do we ever, really?) but I know it must have been super bad because I was majorly grumpy. It was just one of those days where I was stressed to the limit and if things could go wrong, they did. You know those days…we all have them.

Somehow, though, I managed to survive said Day O’Crap. I went to bed fully expecting all to be well when I woke up.

But nope.

Morning arrived and I was still grumpy. Usually that doesn’t happen – usually a good night’s sleep tends to solve every problem I have ever had. But for some reason, it didn’t work this time.

I grudgingly got up and stumbled my way to the kitchen.

I grudgingly fed the cats (stupid needy cats…), I grabbed a Coke from the fridge (stupid Coke addiction…I’m a fat slob), I slammed the fridge door shut (stupid dirty fridge…someone needs to clean that thing. And by someone, I mean me because who else is going to do anything around here??), and turned around to see my non-morning-person teenage daughter standing there watching me.

“Why are you so grumpy?” she asked.

Oh, boy. Here we go. A typical morning fight with my ever-sullen teenage daughter, just what I need to pep up the ole spirit.

“Because yesterday sucked, that’s why.” (That was my mature parent answer….like it?)

And then, as is often the case these days, that redheaded daughter of mine surprised me.  In her typical, no-nonsense manner, she replied, “Well, mom, that was yesterday. This is today.”

This is today.

Her words stopped me in my tracks. Such a simple statement, yet such a powerful punch that little booger packed.

She was absolutely right. What was my problem?

All of that crap (whatever it was) was yesterday. Did it really matter today?  Was it really going to follow me into the future and change the course of history as I know it?

(Uh, no.  Obviously not. I don’t even remember now what all the fuss was about.)

I composed myself, put that calorie-bearing Coke back into the fridge [That’s a total lie, I didn’t do that. I drank it. Every poison-filled drop.], took a deep breath and headed to the stairs to send up an apology to that precious cherub who had retreated to her room.

“Sorry I was being so grumpy!”

My tear-filled, heartfelt apology was met with a muffled “whatever” from behind her closed door.

Ah. She of all the hidden earthly wisdom had returned to her natural state.

Regardless, that momentary display of wisdom that broke through the teenage veneer of disgust with all things non-boy band managed to resonate with me. And I’ve thought of it many times since.

Crap is gonna happen, man. It just is. So, do we dwell in it? Or do we just move on and let it go? I think maybe I should start going with the sullen teenager philosophy.

That was yesterday.

This is today.

Just thought I’d send this wisdom out into the interweb world as a short little reminder in case you may have needed it like I did.

Teenagers, man. Give them a chance to survive their teenage years and they may just end up surprising you.

***

kellyparents

Wordkeepers: An Ode to my Writing Group

“If a story is in you, it has got to come out.”
– William Faulkner

artscenterTake a trip with me. Come along as we make our way to a tiny stone building that sits on a street corner in a small town in the mountains. In this tiny building, there lies one little room. At first glance, there is nothing special about this room—nothing magical. A few pictures on the wall, a podium, some fold-out chairs. A few windows that allow the last slants of evening light to dance across the hardwood floor.

People begin to arrive and fill the chairs—a wide variety of ages and genders. (There are probably even bigger varieties in religion, profession, and political standings, but you do not know this, nor do you care.) You hear the shuffling of papers, the scraping of one of the chair’s legs across the floor as its occupant tries in vain to find a comfortable position. You hear a nervous cough or two. More paper shuffling.

Now, the silence will be broken as the first makes her way to the podium.

A throat clears. A nervous voice rings out. “I wrote this piece when I…”

Ah. This is where the magic begins.

You are in the storytellers’ room, my friend. The first storyteller has begun her journey and soon the others will follow suit, including you.

Welcome to the group.

This is where we meet to shed the life outside these stone walls and dive headfirst into the world within. This is where the stories are set free. All are true, even the fiction ones, for they come from within the mind and heart of the writer, and what could be more real than that?

Join us. Experience a new consciousness. That thing that has been sleeping inside you will gradually open one lazy, hesitant eye and take a quick peek. Once it sees that it is safe to awaken, both eyes will snap open and, with a yawn that stems from far too much time spent in hibernation, the sleeping creature will come to life.
Prepare yourself. For once it’s alive, there will be no stopping it. You will no longer remember the life you lived before this being inside of you was allowed to roam free. It will rule you. You will be at its mercy. You will not be able to rest until you obey its command to release your stories into the world. At first, it will scare you. But soon, you come to realize that it is not there to harm you, it is there to save you.

You are free. You are free from the chains of self-doubt that kept you prisoner. You are free from the fear of criticism and critique.

You are free from the fear of succeeding.

You walked into this room not knowing what might lie within. Now you walk away knowing that you will never be the same. You are one of us.

You are a storyteller.

Welcome home.

***

 “Writing is an extreme privilege, but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.”
– Amy Tan

What Lies in a Photo

 “I personally battled with my own body image for years. I used to tell myself, You can’t wear anything sleeveless or strapless. And all of a sudden I was like, What if I just didn’t send such negative messages to my brain and said, wear it and enjoy it? And now I’m more comfortable in clothes than ever.”
– Drew Barrymore
I posted this picture over the weekend on Facebook.

me

In a very rare moment of confidence in my appearance, I decided this picture didn’t exactly suck, so what the heck?

I had no idea what kind of response this photo would garner. As of right now, I have 113 “likes.” Whoa.

Now, I’ve posted pictures of myself before, mind you. Not very often, but still…there have been a few.  (Mostly, I make sure someone else is in them. See my Selfies blog for an explanation of that ‘sneaky selfie’ technique…you’ll thank me later.) So, given those previous selfie posts, what in the world made this particular photo get so much attention? Dang!

And not only did I get all those “likes,” I also got a few comments. Oh, look at me trying to be modest. A few? More like 18, thankyouverymuch! My favorite? “That’s my beautiful honey.” Awww. (That was my husband, in case you were wondering…) And there were a few “Beautiful!” and “Sexy!” comments – even one “You look like a movie star!”

Look out, big head coming through!

And then….

Then there were a few other comments. And these are the ones that cause me to write this blog. (I know, I know, you were thinking I was just bragging on myself. But hang on, there’s a method to the immodest madness.)

First up, a comment from a dear friend who, along with saying I looked great like the other commenters, added in one extra observation.

“I wish I could lose weight.”

*sigh*

There it is. The most truthful ‘woman comment’ of all.

Why do I say that? Oh, she just said out loud what I’d be willing to bet almost every woman has thought in their minds at some point. At some point? Oh hell, who am I kidding? We think it every single day! Probably about ten times a day. A hundred, even. We look at a picture of another woman and what do we do? We compare ourselves to her. It’s like we’re born with a gene somewhere that says “Look at her…oh how I wish I could look like her…” 

I’m not even for a second going to sit here and deny that I do that too. I’m definitely my own worst critic.

So, I decided I wanted to post this picture again, and add in a few extra details. You ready?

meedit

Alrighty, then. Let’s discuss.

Just in case you might have been wondering about those fancy duds I was wearing there, I thought I’d go ahead and let you know where I got them. Yup. Goodwill. This gal LOVES her some thrift shopping. So, back to comparisons. If you’re like my friend (and me) and you decided to compare, say, your clothes to my clothes…then there ya go. There’s no way I can afford a fancy, high-priced dress. I have four teenagers, three dogs, a cat, and a husband…are you kidding me?

And let’s look at those shoes. Yup. Goodwill again. $4, people. Know why I have these? One of our dogs chewed up my only other pair of brown sandals so I found these at Goodwill to replace them. Score! And you know what else? It has taken me years to learn to wear shoes that show my toes. (Many of you may remember the blog that discussed that. See it here if you didn’t.) I HATE my toes. So, if by some small miracle you were one of the comparison lookers that decided to wish you had my shoes?….Goodwill again! And I can guarantee you your feet are going to look better in them than mine do.

Continuing on. Sunglasses? Again, nothing fancy. Dollar General. Hair? Lord have mercy, that hair is au natural – crazy curly, frizzy, tangled, and dyed to cover the gray. So (and as much as I highly doubt this) if you were one of the ones comparing your hair to my hair? Trust me. Be happy with what you have. Especially if it’s straight. You, my friend, are the chosen one.

Now, let’s look at those other stats there. Yep, I just posted my weight for all the world to see. No, I didn’t lie and remove a pound so I could be in the 140s…I promise you that’s what the scale said this morning. 149. Now, let me show you something else.

WomenSee that chart there? Guess what I am? Overweight.

Yep. Overweight.

Now if I were considered a “large frame” person, then I might barely skate in there as a person of “normal” weight. But I’ve always been taught that the way to check your frame size is to look at the size of your wrist. And if that’s the case…oh dear. I’m an extra small frame. My wrists are smaller than some newborns’ wrists. Seriously. So, according to my underdeveloped wrists, I am at least 16 pounds overweight, and could stand to lose about 29 pounds and still be healthy.

Are you kidding me?  29 pounds?  Now, I’m just like most of us, I could stand to lose a pound or two, but 29 pounds? I can honestly tell you that my frame could not handle dropping 29 pounds. I’d look like a skeleton. But wait – the chart says so.

Good grief.

Do you get what I’m getting at here?  There are NO IDEALS. And if there are, they are lies. That chart is a bunch of baloney. In fact, here’s another one I found online.

weightTableBam!  Suddenly, just by scrolling over to a different “expert’s” page, I’m magically a healthy weight! Woohoo!

Geez.

Again, I’m preaching to the choir here, my friends. I’m just as guilty as the next gal of comparing myself to other women. Wishing I was more this, more that, less this…and on, and on. Aren’t we such silly little creatures?

Before I go, back to how I originally started this blog. I mentioned that there were two comments that caught my attention. The other one said this: If I looked that gorgeous, I’d pose for a me picture too.”

*Ahhem.*  Let me just tell you a bit about the person who posted that comment.

It is a woman. (Of course.) But this is not just any woman. This is a woman that I am beyond honored to know. This is a runner. This is a woman who finishes ultra marathons before I’m wiping the sleep out of my eyes in the morning and stumbling to the kitchen for a pop-tart. This is a woman who has graced the cover of running magazines, for Heaven’s sakes. (Yes, I know a celebrity. Now you can be jealous…) This is a woman who could have easily stood by and let the women of past centuries scrub their family’s dirty laundry across her stomach and have it come out sparkling. This is a woman that I can only dream of being…the kind of runner I want to be, the kind of motivator I want to be, the kind of woman I want to be. I wonder if she has any clue how much I admire her? And here she says she says that IF she looked as gorgeous as me…puh-lease!

Oh, women.  Women, women, women. What is wrong with us? We are BEAUTIFUL. Each and every one of us. What we wish we had when we see it in others, we already have ourselves! We just have no idea. What we are constantly looking for in other faces, other clothes, other body types? Those people are looking at us with the same admiration and longing. Isn’t that crazy!

Starting today – let’s all be proud of ourselves. Ok? Let’s post those pictures on Facebook that make us feel  pretty. Better yet, let’s comment on each other’s photos too. Let’s make each other feel as good as the comments on my picture made me feel. If you see one of your fellow gals out there with a new ‘do, tell her it looks great! Like her shoes? Say so! (Hey – she may have gotten them at Goodwill like I did, who knows!?)

The next time the word “comparison” pops into your head, replace it with “compassion.” Not only for yourself (you are perfect just the way you are!) but for that person you’re comparing yourself to as well. They are just as insecure as you are. Believe me. They are.

They really, really are.

Let’s change the way we see ourselves, shall we?

***

“Girls of all kinds can be beautiful — from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky, clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy, though, because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box.… Think outside of the box.… Pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”
– Tyra Banks

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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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?)

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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