- Michelle, Megyn, Kellyann, and Hillary for your grace under pressure. You didn’t get where you are today because you were shrinking violets. Smart, strong, fearless women.
- Melania who was born a creative, who worked to succeed in her chosen field of modeling and found herself in a world I’m not sure she wanted. She is apolitical, a devoted mother, and does what she wants on her terms.
- Ana Navarro, another strong woman who represents Republicans with a centered voice.
- My neighbor who is raising a thriving, happy, little boy in the face of “mommy shaming.”
- Me for getting involved in a domestic dispute because it’s not okay to look the other way
- My son for taking steps to get healthy and feel better
- My husband (who I left) for being there when I need to vent, and for being a steadfast father to my son.
- Bookstore gift cards so I can get immersed in positive things like Trevor Noah, inspirational poetry by Mary Oliver, and (finally) an in-depth history of Mermaids.
- The universe, that consciousness, that awesome opposite of everything. I am reminded and humbled to know that it’s not my place to throw a tantrum, trying to fix everything and make it “right” in my own eyes. Nothing is fixed. We are all passengers, and we shall all pass. How we treat each other, and help each other into the next flight is what matters.
It’s all so complicated, but we make it so. Perhaps writers and artists, creatives of any kind, will recognize the idea that they can’t (won’t) get started until everything is just right. Just the right tools at hand, the right weather, the right amount of background noise (or none at all.) We somehow get it in our minds that we can’t create until everything is juuuust right. Thanks a lot, Goldilocks. I blame it squarely on her, Ms. Folktale, taking away our ability to sit in a chair too hard, sleep in a bed too soft, or eat foods that are too cold. Everything has to be just right, we heard in childhood. Seemed to make sense. Life is all about comfort, innit?
So, not writing is so much easier when I have Goldilocks to blame for my problems. Or the fact that my office is too cold, or there’s too many people in the house, or I haven’t had enough beer yet to be in that comfort zone, that sweet spot that opens and words pour through.
So, to quote a friend, “Bullshit.” The sweet spot don’t exist, it’s a myth. Successful people, not just writers, but creatives, executives, cubicle creatures, scientists, students, it all applies to them: They succeed because they worked for it instead of standing around waiting for their coffee to be the perfect temperature, their mood just right, the stars aligned, who the hell knows what the sign is that tells them it’s time to begin. Successful people just keep at it. They want to, have to, and the truly lucky ones are doing it because they are in love with it. Perhaps a degree is helpful, but how much does it mean if you never use your gift (after polishing the hell out of it since forever.)
I read an article online recently that darkened a shadow that’s lurked behind me for some time. I allowed the idea to take roost in my head that the best way for my work to be taken seriously when submitting to a poetry contest is to have MFA nestled somewhere in the bio. I looked back at previous winners and felt my sweet spot go right sour. Oh god, there’s no hope for me–or any fledgling writer–how can there be, when the “literary elites” are the ones who dictate what’s great–and publishable. I shared my ongoing fear with authors and editors whom I respect, trust, and look up to. The responses were passionate, as expected. One was particularly thrilling for the beautiful language he chose to assuage my concern. Their responses shared the same message: Don’t worry about “literary elites.” Just keep working. Great writing will always find its way to the top, no degree required. I do believe they blew my MFA shadow away into grains of sand in the wind.
But. There’s always a but. All this writing talk leads me to yet another article found on Literary Hub, shared here for your perusal. The perfect room. Another myth. What kind of moment it was when I discovered the perfect room to write in is the one I am in right now. Last week it was the library. Two days ago it was in a spiral notebook with my feet in the cold sand, sun warm on my arms, waves wandering in, not especially concerned with fledgling words. The perfect manuscript does not exist. There will always be room for one more nip, one more tuck. Sure, a really great cup ‘o joe and the worlds most comfortable pen (or laptop with silent keys) can make the writing experience easier, more pleasurable. But none of it matters if there’s no thinking, dreaming, or writing going on. I’m not known for being disciplined. I don’t think Goldilocks was, either, but one of us is going to sit in chair too hard, burn her mouth on something spicy, and put some words together that someday, somebody will really want to read. I am the perfect room.
My debt to society was paid the moment my eyes fluttered open, took a deep breath, stretched, and said “I am forgiven.” I arise leave the warm bed behind and the sins and stains of a lifetime there. I shower, scrub the hours of hate and jealousy from the body as she is, watch a lifetime run down the drain and the best part? I’m keeping the best parts, right here, with me.
I forgive myself for being imperfect. I will always be imperfect, and I do not forsee myself becoming a beacon of greatness for all to follow. I do forsee that I will keep breathing. And walking. And reading. Listening. Writing. And today I forgive myself for not doing all of the above hard enough, long enough, with enough truth, trust, and passion.
The world is not black and white, and I can’t always get what I want: a quiet space to think, to listen, to read, and write. Sometimes I have to surrender my time and space to the needs of the outer world. And there’s no halfway for this anymore. All in, baby girl, otherwise, I’m missing out on the things I need to fill in the words.
Arise Awake Be Grateful Go Create
There have been many dreams lately and some of them horrific. Shocking. Ones I felt I needed to apologize for. But then, would I only be apologizing to myself for letting out what needs to be seen, heard, and felt? So no apologies.
This morning’s dream ended with words from the muse. How often are we directly addressed by the one who sits with us when we write, the one we set aside while we grieve, or work our non-writing jobs, how patiently she waits for us while we’re “busy” doing other stuff. This morning’s dream ended with her telling me that writers (the ones I look up to) are not authors living half lives. They live their creativity one hundred percent. They don’t give half their day to selling auto parts and the other half to writing, trying to catch their breath and keep up with the mundane parts of life in between. No. Those writers (and one entrepreneur) are living it every day. When I realized this, now wide awake, it was enough to drive me out of bed before dawn. I left the bed where I think too much, read junk food novels to salve me, and waste so much time thinking “might have been,” went outside and smelled a woodsmoke morning. Birds making ribbons in the air, adorning trees, the cold on my face, me hating that but realizing there is no perfect summer moonrise over the ocean without the chill air of November morning.
I journaled. Answered the question Katie asked me to meditate upon and I think I’ve found sufficient answer. Got inspired to re-do my business cards, turned around and discovered I gave myself the morning I wanted and needed. It feels good. I hope to carry that with me as I navigate the rest of the day, meeting other people’s needs as decently as possible.
It’s too soon to think about tomorrow, an early morning that will belong to my job instead of one for me. My candle tells me it will be here for me tomorrow night. And now? To look for beauty where it might lie in a kitchen sink, a laundry basket, or a sales floor full of needy people.
Somehow, I can manage to think now. I can look for truth, allow it in. Somehow, now, I can look forward and know it’s ok to be afraid. And today I wrote. I finished the story of Bonewitch and I am very happy with the way it came out. Tonight I discovered that every thing I write won’t be the last thing I write. There’s more, there will be plenty more to come if I keep at it. If I can open my heart/mind/soul and let beauty, peace, and joy come in.
This morning I had the idea that I will do something I fear because I am ready for it now. Well, I am open to the idea of it, and ready to consider the fear and what it means to me. I am ready to leave sight of land. I want to sail East, away from here, instead of South alongside land.
Today I decided not to wait for someone to ask me things. I will be the hunter instead, and perhaps I will fail. I’ll get a negatory and will have to move on, and that is just fine with me. It’s better than waiting and not knowing. I’m tired of waiting and not knowing.
The mappa says “Here there be dragons.” This morning I recognized I am afraid to swim with them because they will eat me, but now I am ready to consider that fear and write about them. How else can I join them in their weightless wonder?
I think I slept for three hours. Got up, did some “stuff” and then got down to some writing. There are 150 other things I could and should be doing around this house, but I opted to plant my ass and type. Something. Anything! I did not write in my personal journal this morning, that came later, actually.
What I discovered today is this: I don’t have to write it all at once. The story (or poem) doesn’t have to make sense on the first take. I can write small words and replace them with a better, more descriptive noun or adjective LATER. I wrote three pages (stopped in the middle to get some thoughts out of the way) and then returned to the blinking cursor. This is what writing should feel like, and it feels better knowing it will be there when I get back. I can’t write a good, interesting, read-worthy piece in one sitting. I can’t stay up all night and pretend the midnight oil (and beer) will somehow light the way. It surely doesn’t. A happy, rested body and mind finds the right words to read for inspiration and then compose. I am learning to trust that I will come back and not leave ragged bits to flag in the wind.
Another thing I discovered is that there are very few poems coming to my Inbox by way of Poetry.org that resemble romantic love poetry. You can’t write “good” until you’ve seen “good.” I compare them to some of the stuff I’ve written these last few years I think “Oh god, really? Where have I been?” I’m seeing it every day, plastering pieces of it upon myself to carry around with me through the work day, and it’s sticking.
But the time marches by. The kitchen is trashed but at least the laundry is washed (but not folded yet.) Time to put away the words for now. I won’t feel so distracted by them while running around slinging auto parts because I know they will be there when I get back. It seems I’ve learned how to keep covenant with the promise of words.
Today I experienced privileged conversation. We are not a secret enclave set out to dominate and rule the world. Writers have better things to do, but don’t forget, we are an insular breed. Still, we find a way to open doors and windows so we can inspire and be inspired, impossibly. Creatives of similar minds gravitate to this place. Privileged because we “get it” and we probably live in a world where our spouses and children, our family tree, our bosses and everyone in between just totally does not get it.
When the internet was new to me, I explored everything I had a passion for–things that swept me away, things that elevated and saved me. I only knew what my soul stood up and responded to, what my writers mind reacted to and appreciated, recognized lines I wish I had written in the books written by Michael Moorcock, for one. He and Stephen King (and Iron Maiden) had the earliest impact on my writers mind.
By fate I came to a place that challenged me to write in the format of six sentences–flash fiction. I come from a background of cathartic writing, often from the hood of a Ford Bronco beneath a moon and alongside the Hudson river. Looking back I can see how far I’ve come, which doesn’t mean “I OWN.” It simply means I see the growth and want it to continue. By chance, fate, fortune, by the Universe’s manipulations, call it what you will, I landed on a page where my primordial, cathartic words were seen and I was asked to come, to be, to participate in a House of Writers. True to form, I gave a thousand and one excuses why I could not come. I was summoned, and despite myself, I went to meet strangers at a secluded chalet in the shaded woods of North Carolina. It was the best thing I ever did for my writing life and for my spirit. I wish grateful thoughts were dollars so my writing friends could be millionaires because they deserve it. Later, we came together by the ocean, and I was reacquainted with myself and this Writing Thing that demands my care and attention. My love for words and for those writing friends only grows.
Today I focus on the words “privileged conversation” because sharing the foundations of writing is important to me. I was privileged to listen to authors sharing their origins, their interests, and what our future writings will be. What I focus on is not so much the authors that inspired them. Instead I focus on what their passions are driving them towards today. Meeting with these authors and creatives raises the bar. It causes me to examine my work microscopically and challenges me in so many other ways. So. Your hand holds a lantern which lights my way. In my hand holds all soul and passion and destiny. It is my realistic hope that wonderful things are on the way. By my hand, holding yours.