Sunday, August 26, 2007
It is time for a sabbatical. I have chosen the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, since it has been so inspiring to other writers. I will set up camp in the thin, icy air surrounded by open blue skies. I will be alone. I will wait to be inspired. I will work on finishing my novel, and so I will bring a sacrificial alter to kill my darlings.
Speaking of darlings..ahem...
I, of course, cannot afford to take this trip anywhere but in my mind. I will be away for awhile, though. Mostly because my "free time" has suddenly been cut in half with the dissolution of nap #2. That's right, the day has come...the boys have decided and it is so. I have under two hours a day to get in all the
"can only do when children are sleeping" things like showering and writing.
Also, there are major life changes on the horizon. The opportunity to move back to Florida has come up and it is both a dream and a nightmare, as life changes often are...that yin/yang ebb and flow ever present, inescapable.
So, please bear with me as I wiggle and squirm in my new boundaries, and try to find space for writing within ever-closing walls. Focus is what I am hoping to find.
Unless we take the challenge of packing up and relocating camp.
Then, I will find myself happily and frantically moving mountains.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I believe in serendipity. I believe in doors opening at the right time, people coming into your life when there is something to be gained or lost, lessons given freely if we would only sit still and open our eyes and our minds. This is the faith by which I write.
If I am stuck, If I am drowning, if I am in need of a direction, I sit still, I wait, I watch...I hover. Always, without fail, I am eventually shown something, taught something, given something that is exactly what I need. Maybe this is true in every aspect of life. I have experienced this only with my writing, but who knows...
Anyway, the scene I was stalled at was one where my main character has to let go of a girl that has become like a daughter to her. My problem here was goodbye has never been hard for me. I don't look back, I don't mourn the past...in fact I thrive on change. Or so, I thought. One thing about children is they will show you exactly how wrong you are about yourself.
This is the lesson I learned today, this is the lesson that has given me the exact emotional response I need to go forward with my next scene. Today I went with my daughter to our first college tour. Not exactly a lesson in letting go, right? That's what I thought.
The tour was great--beautiful campus, exciting prospect. The future was wide open, bright and smiling on us. When the tour was over, she went to eat lunch with a friend instead of riding home with me. Here's the serendipity part.
I'm sitting at the traffic light to go straight and her and her friend pass me and make a left at the light. Before they make the turn, her arm emerges from the passenger window and she waves. A small gesture. A familiar arm, a hand I have bathed, and held and watched grow into a younger version of my own. But it wasn't just a "see you later" wave. It was a moment in slow motion, a glimpse at the reality of letting go. It was a message as clear as if she had whispered it in my ear.
"Yes, Mom, I am a separate person. I am my own being, with my own destiny which will be different from yours, but in my grace I am acknowledging you and the fact that I am leaving you behind."
So, in that one surreal, stripped down moment, I have been given my emotional response. I have experienced the pain and beauty which exists in the moment of a child's goodbye.
I have found the broken heart and hope from which my main character will now experience the next part of her journey.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
You're The Giver!
by Lois Lowry
While you grew up with a sheltered childhood, you're pretty sure
everyone around you is even more sheltered. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you were
tapped on the shoulder and transported to the real world. This made you horrified by
your prior upbringing and now you're tormented by how to reconcile these two lives.
Ultimately, the struggle comes down to that old free will issue. Choose
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
What book are you?
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
David Duchovny! A story about a writer! In California???? It's being touted as a male "Sex in the City". Just plain mean and unfair. MEAN, Showtime. I have just barely gotten over my X-Files addiction and I mean, Dexter is bad enough. A serial killer working in forensics...brilliant. The books are great, full of humor and death. I resisted your 89 godzillion dollar a month plan, though. BUT now...David a writer! You've gone too far and...
I think I'll be knocking on my neigbors door on Monday night...say around 10:30???
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Let me just say that when you bring children into this world, something has to give. You have to give up part of yourself or something in your life. I know we would all like to think we can have it all and do it all but--if we're honest with ourselves--there is just not enough time. Unless, of course, you can afford a nanny, and you don't care if your kids call her mommy.
Giving up writing, for me was completely off the table, non-negotiable and necessary for my mental health. That's how I find the time. I just do it. It's a priority. Actually it's a sickness. Trying to find time to balance the rest of my life between these two priorities--kids and writing--is the real problem, but life is all about balance. About not getting out of balance. There are other important things: friends, other family members, your physical health, food, down time...sleep. All of these things must be squeezed into a measly 24 hours, only to begin again the next day. This repetition of needs is both necessary and corroding. My coping mechanism: a schedule. If I have to squeeze something else in and things get jostled around a bit, that's fine. I do this so I don't have to think, because I have a tendency to think too much. If I start thinking about how I'm going to get two toddlers to the gym with all their labeled sippy cups, snacks, diapers, extra clothes, etc or if I start thinking about how I'm going to finish this monster of a novel I have bitten off...I start to panic. I freeze.
I was thinking (see what I mean?) about this while dying on the back half of my first real workout this morning. Why do I do this to myself? Is it worth it? I don't know, really but I know it's necessary. It's for balance. It's for the completed circle: Mental, Emotional and Physical health.
So, what did I give up?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
What my subconscious is apparently working on behind my back: poetry
Last night I got up in the middle of the night and wrote this one down:
Sex and Evolution
Dawn flicked out his tongue
And licked night away.
Stars crackled and died--
Once again in his glory--
Leaving nothing alive but today.
His light melted galaxies
And rose to be our god,
Nothing exists beyond light or love
Except perhaps another day.
I really have no idea what I was thinking...or my mind was thinking without me. Ahhh, the mystery of where words come from...and why they wake us up like a freakin' four alarm fire drill at three in the morning.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
"Hi Shannon, thanks for the story. I have to be honest, nothing about it felt real to me... that a professional psychiatrist would be unnerved by a patient asking if they ever think about dying didnt sound authentic to me. And why would the psychiatrist have a gun in her desk? Are they in prison? Does this patient have a violent history? How did this patient have access to the desk to find the gun? Also I wasn't clear on the ending.. you say the psychiatrist unlocks the drawer to get the gun... and you say the "I" character lets her "feel the metal" and then leaps up. I wasn't sure if you meant the psychiatrist reached in and felt the metal of her gun... or if you meant the "I" character grabbed the gun and held it to the psychiatrist's head... if I were you I would go over this story again and resolve some of these issues... pondering what is human is a very interesting concept, but I don't think this story did it justice."
Again, I'm very very grateful that he even took the time to send a personal note. This does make me feel like I'm at least in the game.
Okay, now I'll share the quick fiction story since I'll have to rework it to the point of being a different story anyway:
The psychiatrist’s office is chilly today. I caress the cool skin of my cheek, this mask that shields what is underneath. Pressing harder, I feel the bone, the skull, the eye sockets, the teeth. I think this is all that will be left of me one day. A skull like those in the science books and museums which have been excavated and displayed for the purpose of teaching, of learning. Of learning that time marches on. That we exist in a blink of an eye. That one day, we will be stripped of our masks and bleached white by the sun. I imagine when this happens, my soul will be freed and wonder where it will float off to. I know there is such a thing as a soul. I know because I can feel mine trying to scratch and claw its way free from the confines of my body, its prison. I know it is a thing separate from my mind, because my mind is its tormenter. I wonder if this is what it is to be crazy? I know this is what it is to be human.
A harsh noise pulls me from my thoughts. She has cleared her throat loudly. This is her signal that I should open up to her, that I should tell her what I’m thinking. I make eye contact. This is what I’m supposed to do and she rewards me with her most encouraging smile.
“Do you ever think about dying?” I say.
I see her trying to hold her encouraging smile, but I’ve said something wrong. I feel myself shrinking, sucked inward by the vortex of disappointment.
“Do you think you could hurt yourself?” she asks, her voice even and professional; her eyes a separate betrayal. “Or someone else?” Too casual. She is afraid of me.
I want to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry that my curiosity and my tiny silver lock pick have already discovered her revolver in the third desk drawer on her right. The one she is now casually unlocking. I look away and pretend not to notice the shadow of her foot begin to wiggle nervously beneath the desk.
Intuition. That’s what humans have.
“Yes,” I sigh.
I give her time to feel the cold metal but not enough time to think it through. I have had too much time to think it through myself. I jump up. I see the flash of light but I feel nothing. Maybe I am not human after all.
I lunge into the unknown.
So that's it. The funny thing is I was picturing the patient in a prison setting with a dangerous background. So, the editor got it--even if he didn't know he got it.
I'm beginning to wonder if I just don't spell things out enough? I want to give the reader credit, give them pieces and feel confident that they can put together the puzzle. I want to give them a bit of mystery, of challenge. I guess this isn't the best way to go about a short story.
Learning as I go.