writers

This is what happens when 9 women can get their shit together and meet

Online friendships can be pretty intense, but nothing compares to finally hugging someone you’ve known only online for years. You get to learn how they sigh after they laugh, how their nose crinkles when they smile, how their voice sounds, and how they walk. It’s kind of magical, really.

The SisterWives are a force to be reckoned with over the wires, but when we actually got together In Real….HO. LEE. SHIT.

It was electric and thrilling and perfect.

I was very nervous meeting eight of them at once. I’m pretty sure I was quiet and wore a huge, creepy grin for a full 24 hours. But then I realized that I already knew these people. They are family. And I can fart if I want to.

Just kidding…I didn’t do that. (that anyone’s aware of)

A handful of our tribe couldn’t make it this time, but that’s okay….there will be another SisterWives gathering in the near future. And another….and another…..

To enjoy a hilarious recap and see photos of our meet up, go HERE.

 

No Rhyme Or Reason

When I was a baby blog (let’s face it, I’m still a baby blog) with a measly four or five posts under my belt, two women took notice, scooped me up, and showed me what this blogging thing was all about. They gave me confidence and sisterhood. The dynamic duo I speak of is none other than the incredible mother/daughter writing team, Inion N. Mathair.

Inion N. Mathair is Irish Gaelic for daughter and mother, and is their pseudonym. Together they’ve written two fiction novels, a short story compilation, and now a poetry book is available for purchase, No Rhyme Or Reason.

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Blogging Takes Big Hairy Balls

I know what you’re thinking. Why does blogging take balls? I’ll tell you why. Because you’re putting yourself out there. Big time. You’re holding a neon sign and saying, “Hey world, here I am and all the crazy shit that goes on in my head! Do you like me? Press that thumbs-up button!”

Some days your post may be funny, other days it may be more thought provoking. You never know which your followers will respond to. It’s all a big risk, but you can’t write for some supposed, abstract expectation. So you write what’s in your head and in your heart. You squeeze your eyes and say a little prayer that someone out there in the blogosphere gets you, and you hit that publish button.

To some people this may be a risk free endeavor. People who are comfortable being in the spot light. “Here I am, take it or leave it” type people. They put it all out there, lay it all on the line to be judged or loved. Easy peasy. I admire the shit out of those people.

But that’s not me. Not by a long shot.

I’m more of a “waves from afar, hope you like me but if you don’t then I probably need to apologize at this point” type. Have you ever played that game – that what Friends character are you most like game? You probably have. So keep in mind who you think you’re most like, but then ask someone else who knows you well which character they think you’re most like. The answers won’t always match. My friends all said I was definitely Phoebe. I’m assuming because we’re both blonde and dingy; good natured and a little eccentric. Know who I always related to? Chandler. I never related to any of the girls – they were way too together for me. I related to the shy guy who never knew where he fit in. The sometimes awkward one who used humor to get himself through life, or to cover up when things got too real.

I’m fiercely private by nature, but trying very hard to learn to be more open. It takes tremendous effort to quiet the negative voices in my head and gather the cajones to write. I’ve found this is infinitely easier to do with strangers, however, so blogging is good practice for me. There is a comfortable buffer in sending your words to people you never (or rarely) see. Conversely, handing my novel over to beta readers, whom I know personally, almost made me physically ill. I would have rather paraded naked in front of them. I did it, though. I gave them my novel because I want it to succeed that bad. I’ll do whatever it takes.

So why the hell bother with a blog, Beth? Because I need to, desperately. It’s strangely cathartic. It fulfills some sort of innate writer’s need to share what’s in my head. If I don’t satisfy this call to action, I’m going to end up that crazy lady under the highway that talks to invisible people and shows her boobs to strangers eats paper. And you know, you know, I’ll have like a hundred cats. So I’ll continue to use this awesome, crazy, strange venue to purge what my muse wants to create, and with shaky, tentative hands I’ll offer it to you.

This is what was in my head today. I’m scooping my big, hairy balls over to the side so I can reach the publish button. If you enjoyed it, hit that damn like button and let me feel the love. Even better, comment and tell me which Friends character you think you’re most like. Did it match what others thought? Are you a blogger? Let me know if it takes big hairy balls for you to blog too. You can use a different analogy if you want. Jes sayin’. If you’re not appreciating the testes visual. If you are, you’re welcome.

You see tomato, I see dead guy telling girl to dig up tomato

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Ah writers. We’re an odd breed. Quirky. Eccentric, yes perhaps. I was reminded of this recently when shopping with a friend. We perused the aisles of a local antique mercantile when my eyes landed on a lavishly embellished elephant. I stopped, mesmerized. His colors and design suggested an origin of India or maybe even Nepal. I’m a sucker for that. In a *that must be mine* hypnotic trance, I walked over to it.

It got even better.

The body of the elephant was actually a box that opened to reveal another, smaller, silver elephant. WHAT.

My friend was tickled with how enamored I was with it. She encouraged me to purchase it. My initial hesitation was its price ($40), and oh, WTF did I actually intend to do with yet another knickknack? I LOVE elephants, but did I need another one, really?

I went back-and-forth, but of course I bought it. I would have paid $100 because what I didn’t tell my friend is that as soon as held it in my hands and opened its secret box…a scene began to unfold in my mind. A scene where a young woman is digging in the dirt near the Indian reservation where she lives. She’s been digging for hours, fingers bleeding, sweat dripping from her nose, arms aching with exhaustion as she tosses handful after handful of dirt over her shoulder, desperate to find the wooden elephant she knows is there. Why? Because it is time. Her Grandfather told her so. Her Grandfather who’s been dead since she was six.

This is the part of being a writer that’s hard to explain to *others*. My friend saw a unique elephant. I saw a girl digging in the dirt cuz her Grandfather’s spirit told her to. Kinda the same not the same at all. How do you tell that to someone without sounding like a loon bird? You don’t. You just say what I did: “I dunno. There’s just something special about this elephant. I think I have to have it.”

I once was inspired by a peridot necklace that came as a freebie in an ebay order. I don’t know why. I can’t explain these things. I put it on and happened to write great that day. No, I WROTE LIKE A FUCKING ROCKSTAR THAT DAY, and for days and weeks to follow. I became convinced the peridot’s energy had something to do with it.

I wore it for close to a year.

It wasn’t even on a real chain, it hung from a red thread. It’s a miracle it didn’t break, but I was genuinely afraid to take it off for fear the magic spell would end. But wait my lovely friends, it doesn’t end there. I shared the crazy love: it’s in my novel. My main character wears it, because she’s awesome, but also because I wanted the mojo to spill over into my book. (It’s not weird. Don’t make it weird.)

I also have a collection of small, vintage suitcases. Everyone thinks I just like them. That’s true, but it’s not the whole story. I also buy them because they belong to someone else. A character, one that has been sitting in my *character waiting room* (where there’s always killer music and awesome magazines) while she fully forms. She needs these little suitcases, because her trips are brief and she only travels by train. But don’t bother asking her name…she will just lie to you.

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Sometimes I feel like that little girl in the movie Signs who keeps filling the glasses of water. No one knows why, not even her, until they do.

If you are a writer reading this, you are nodding your head. You are thinking of your own amulets, totems, and fetishes…and I know you have them. They drive us, inspire us, and maybe, just maybe, even sprinkle magic fairy dust on our muses. So now it’s your turn, writer friend-o-mine. I showed you mine. Quid pro quo. What are some of your good luck charms, inspirations, or things you think are too weird to tell you non-writer friends?

My writing totem can’t wait to hear from you…
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Hold My Hand Until I Can Fake It, Please.

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There was a time in my not-so-long-ago past when I wept without shame on an airplane, terrified to the point that a stranger (bless her heart, I’m so grateful to her to this day!) held my hand across the aisle to comfort me until we began to descend and I calmed down. Was this a horrifically turbulent flight across the Atlantic? Hardly. It was 45 minutes from Austin to Dallas. No bumps. It might have been cloudy, which probably hurled me into the panic attack in the first place. And I was on Xanax, people.

I’ve come a long way. If that same woman saw me now, she would beam with pride. Hey, I’ve flown to Hawaii since then – sans Xanax! Yes, I was nervous, but I acted like I wasn’t. That’s the key. You just have to fake yourself out – tell yourself you are a pro. Put your head up and walk right in there like you’ve done it a million times. Eliminate any doubts that pop up immediately – SQAUSH! Because you don’t have doubts, you’re a PRO. Stewardess, can I have a pillow? Me sleepy – YAWN.

My point is, sometimes I require hand holding.

Which brings me to the now. I have a finished novel. For two years it’s been my WIP, and now WTF? I’ll tell you WTF. An OCEAN of information. An ocean in which I am a drop of water. The good news? I have found writers to be the most generous and supportive people on the planet, and I’m not just sayin’ that. I have connected with dozens of dynamic, talented, brave, amazing writers who are now my lighthouses. And they just keep comin’. I’m beyond grateful.

After two years of researching the subject, I’ve decided to self-publish. It’s A LOT of work (no matter which publishing route you take) but I’m determined to put the best possible product out there. I want it to be a labor of love, a collaborative effort with a team of people to help me with the stuff I can’t do (professionally edit, cover design, etc.) and I have a lot to learn along the way. But I have a plan…

BABY STEPS.

If I look at the big picture I’ll end up on the floor in the fetal position hyperventilating in a puddle of my own drool. So I’ll take one step at a time. Right now I’m revising and shopping editors. That’s IT. I’m not allowed to think about anything beyond that. I can read about the beyond all I want; I can flag links about formatting, or cover design, or whatever… but I can’t DO. I won’t dilute the quality of what I’m doing now with stress about the future.

I’m going to stick my head up and walk right into this process, baby step by baby step, and if I get confused or overwhelmed – and I will – I know I have an incredible community around me to light the way, or maybe even hold my hand for a little while.