writing

On Swimming. And Writing. And Love Affairs With Story.

It’s consuming in a way. No, in all ways. Like a love affair. Or a roller coaster. Or a horror movie. It overshadows everything else in your world. It IS your world, Right Now In This Moment, permeating into every pore, every cell. This thing called creation. This growth of a story. This incubation period. Gestation. Evolution.

This immersion.

When you step away for a break or because other commitments make it necessary, it’s almost scary to return. You dip your toes in the water and think, am I ready for this? Am I ready to give myself over? To lose myself? To have this otherness responsible for whether I float or drown? To become dependent on it? To have it swallow me whole? To submerge? Am I ready to immerse?

Am I ready?

I will have to put everything else on the back burner, as they say. Bottom of the totem pole. Lowest priority. Things I’ve enjoyed being wholly present for while not consumed with Story. Things I love. Things I don’t necessarily want to have fade into the background. But it’s the price, isn’t it? The creative muse is selfish that way. “All or nothing,” it tells me. “I want you all for myself,” it purrs.

“You leave me,” my husband once said of my affairs with Story. Not literally, of course. I’m here. But I’m not. My body is here, but my mind is in bed with Story.

“MOM,” my son yells, because he’s had to say it four times before snapping me out of my reverie. “Mom, did you even hear me?”

No, I tell him. Because I’m not here. I’m not this mom you speak of. Not at this moment. I’m a character. In her skin. Or his. I’m seeing through other eyes. I’m reacting to other stimuli. “I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I was in my story.”

IN. As if I’m in another dimension. Inside. Part of.

Not merely treading water, or my senses would still be open to receive. Vulnerable to distraction. No. I’m under the water. Submerged. Baptized. Sound and light muted. Buffered. Protected. Shrouded from anything other than Story.

Like a siren, Story calls for me from its watery depths, luring me, pleading. My characters grow impatient. Pacing, checking their watches. “What’s taking you so long?” they say in unison, their features rippling just under the water’s surface. “Come back to us.”

“I’m coming,” I assure them, kicking the water with my toes, leaning ever so slightly over the edge of the dock, but even as the words come out of my mouth, butterflies swirl in my stomach. The thought of giving myself over so completely is both tantalizing and earth-shaking. Tempting and timorous. Irresistible and…..

Irresistible.

Irresistible. 

To be incapable of resisting. How totally and tragically accurate.

With a quick glance back at my life, at my family, at my friends, at my house, at my pets…my eyes say it all: Forgive me. I’m sorry. Be patient with me.

And then I slide into the water. Down. Further. Into the waiting arms of Story.

Immersed.

 

The 5 W’s and a Pile-o-Poo

I thought this might be a timely post with the recent end of Nanowrimo and all its stress-induced writer’s doubt. I know quite a few talented writers who aspire to publish (you know who you are!) but they haven’t started yet because it’s scary as hell. Fear of not being perfect freezes them. They choke at their keyboards, unable to let the ideas sprinkle through their fingertips.

I know exactly what the voices in their heads are saying: What if I fail?

I know because I thought those same things. So I ask you, what is your definition of failure? And regardless of your definition, wouldn’t you automatically fail if you never tried? (more…)

The Secret

“It will crawl under your skin and consume you. Let it. This is the kind of possession you want.”

The SisterWives

I said I was going to reveal something huge this week. Something saturated in my blood, sweat, and tears. Something I held secret for a long time. Too long. Something that exposes me and makes me more vulnerable than I’ve ever been.

And I will.

But first, I need you to go on a little ride with me. From the neurons firing in your brain to the marrow in your bones, I need you to comprehend the gravity of what I’m about to tell you.

Imagine yourself as eighteen again. No, really. Think about that time in your life. All the uncertainties. The feelings of trepidation and excitement mixed with insecurity and fear. The angst. Hormones charging through your veins like bulls, twisting and turning your emotions on a dime. The yearning to find yourself and understand who you are.

What if on top of all that you also had…

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Innards, the other white meat. That makes no sense. Just roll with it.

In response to several people reaching out to me for writing advice, I thought I’d put together this list. Each of these require deliberate intent and aren’t always easy or comfortable, but I hope something here helps you avoid learning the hard way, like I tend to do.

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Take a ride on my crazy train

THREE MOST MIND-BLOGGING THINGS ABOUT 2014:

My post about mental illness was Freshly Pressed. Me. Freshly Pressed. That’s INSANEAMAZINGCRAZYBEAUTIFUL. I’m very proud of that post, not only because it spread awareness about mental illness from a unique perspective, but I met (and hopefully helped in some way) so many incredible people who either suffer with mental illness themselves, or have a family member or friend who does. It opened a dialogue I didn’t know I needed.

The Bloggess commented on my post about G-Spot shots. That’s right. I talked vaginas…and THE MUTHERF#$@ING BLOGGESS CAME TO MAH PARTY. I should change my tagline to “Jenny Lawson Was Here” because that’s all you need to know anymore.

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Zombie rot and little victories

For all of the amazing peeps who cheered for me and wished me good luck, THANK YOU. I did actually get my rewrites finished in time for the contest. *throws confetti* Two days prior to the deadline, I read the “submission guidelines” and learned that they wanted a query first.

A Query. Shudder.

As many of you are aware, queries are basically a summary of your entire novel in just a couple hundred words, and are rampant with strict rules and expectations making them horrifying and extremely difficult. For instance, when researching them I read this: “You should spend as much time on your query as you did on your novel. It’s that important.”

WHAT?

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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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Disorderly Conduct in Portland

Secret Subject Swap.

This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Secret Subject Swap

My subject is: pick an entry from the police beat section of a newspaper (print or online) and write the backstory leading up to the actual event. This prompt was submitted to me by Alicia of Moms Don’t Say That. Thanks for the great prompt, girl!

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12/4 at 4 p.m. John Chukoda, 32, was arrested on Riverside Street by Officer Charlie Ried on a charge of disorderly conduct.

It’s an arrest that happens thousands of times a day all over the country. But not like this. Because on this day John Chukoda was arrested in Portland, Oregon. This is how it went down:

2:29 p.m. Officer Charlie receives stress call that a male customer in GRASS restaurant on Riverside Street is causing a disturbance. The officer begins to pedal his bike to the scene.

2:34 p.m. Officer Charlie stops to let chickens cross the road. To get to the other side.

2:43 p.m. Officer Charlie arrives at the scene and speaks to the manager of GRASS. Manager explains the suspect has upset his waitperson and surrounding customers by getting increasingly belligerent about the menu options. The suspect seemed distracted by the androgyny of his waitperson, and his/her many tattoos and piercings.

2:50 p.m. Officer Charlie speaks to the man in question. Suspect’s appearance:  bewildered, no visible body adornment, wearing restrictive clothing, clean shaven, clean-cut short hair, and not wearing ear phones with constant stream of Indie music. Obviously a foreigner. The following conversation takes place:

Officer: Not from around here, are you?

John: No, I flew in from Dallas this morning. Sir, can ask why I seem to be in trouble?

Officer: You’ve apparently offended some people with your unruly behavior.

John: Unruly behavior? All I did was ask about the menu! I mean, I understand the sustainable/grain-fed/organic meat, but how is vegan beef even possible?!

Officer:  ****

John:   *****

Officer:  ****

John: EXACTLY!

Officer: There’s no need to shout. Shouting kills birds.

John: And what’s up with the water? Can’t a guy just get a glass of water? Why do I have to get spring-fed-by-lesbian-water-nymphs-oxygenated-vitamin-fortified water? I JUST WANTED WATER!

Officer: Sir, it’s yoga hour. I warned you about shouting. Step outside, please.

John: What? Are you serious? *grabs briefcase* *follows officer outside*

Officer: What’s that awful smell *sniffs air* Is that….is that leather?

John: *holds up briefcase* Of course.

Officer: ACK! *covers nose* *recoils in disgust*

John: Where am I? *gets keys out of pocket* I’m leaving! *points keys at SUV to remotely unlock*

Officer: I suppose that Earth murderer is your rental?

John: *shakes arms in anger* (briefcase pops open, books and a granola bar spill out)

Officer: OH MY BUDDAH.

John: What?!

Officer: Those aren’t even used books. And that granola bar has high fructose corn syrup. That’s IT. You’re under arrest. Come with me to the station, please.

John: For what? I can’t belie –

Officer: Your conduct is unacceptable. Please sit on the back of the bike. Mind your pants don’t get caught in the gears. *GASP* Those pants aren’t even organic cotton, I can smell the pesticide. And they’re…new!?!?

John: Whaaa? Wait…you’re taking me in…on your bike?

Officer: Of course. Will you hold my mandolin? Oh, and on the way we have to stop at the park. My sister’s in an art show benefitting animals without education…..

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DO NOT forget to visit the other awesome bloggers and see what they did with their secret subjects!

 Baking In A Tornado

Home on Deranged

Evil Joy Speaks

Writer B is Me

Discovering Me

Confessions of a part-time working mom

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Moms Don’t Say That

Spinster Snacks

Black Sheep Mom

Spatulas on Parade

Just A Little Nutty

Secret Subject Swap

That’s What She Said Last Night

HAPPY 25th ANNIVERSARY TToT!

I’m pretty sure Lizzi hinted something to the effect of naked people and a cake?! Well, that’s what I heard so that’s what I’m goin’ with. I had better see some nudity, preferably in the form of a hot man. I call licking the spoon!

Ten Things of Thankful

Uhhh, I see cupcakes, but no hottie. WTF? I guess I have to take matters into my own hands, AS USUAL. Please take the time to peruse the at least 15 extra special cakey new additions to my *special* Pinterest board. It was tough research, but I think you’ll appreciate the outcome. Enjoy. I know Lizzi will.

ANYway, I have plenty to be thankful for, but am also a bit panicked because as I’m typing it’ll be just *looks at watch* four hours before my two boys will be home from school for the next nine days. NINE DAYS. This is something to be grateful for. Probably. And I am. A little. But part of me is also squinching (that’s a word, autocorrect!) because of all the writing still on my plate that I’m clearly not going to finish this month as I’d hoped. I sort of forgot about that whole nine days I’m home with the kids right after five days with my family. So I’m taking the pressure off myself *lifts off and throws*. I’ll finish when I finish. *sticks tongue out at no one in particular*

Now on to some fun stuff, you know, since I have no more pressure on me. Yippeeee!

I’m thankful the pressure to finish all my editing this month is gone. Thank you, Beth! Oh, no problem! You’re so welcome! You’re the best! No, you are. No YOU are. Stop! You stop!

I’m thankful for birthdays, namely my good friend, Kathy’s, because she always chooses our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Queen of Sheba, to have her birthday meal, and it’s always the best day ever. The aromas…the tastes….the whole experience is transcendent. Happy Birthday, Kathy! I had SO much fun. See you in a few weeks for mine. Guess where we’re goin? My mouth is watering already. yebeg

I’m thankful that my almost-fiancé-sextape-partner Adam Levine was chosen sexiest man alive by People magazine! Wooop! Good job, sugar-buns! Way to work it!

adam levine photo: adam-levine- adam-levine--1.jpg

….and thankful/tickled that people went out of their way to text and call me, alerting me of the above news. The fact that others associate me with him is the most fun thing EVAH. My work is done. Now if I can just get him to do it….*taps finger on chin deviously*

I’m am infinitely thankful for maid services. I don’t use them on a regular basis, but every so often I have a full cleaning done…and ermergahrd…I have two boys who keep me picking up after them constantly….to come home to this e-n-t-I-r-e house immaculate….all at once…I have three words for you: better than sex.

I’m so very grateful for Movember, because beards. BEARDS. Facial hair is sexy as hell. Doesn’t have to be full beards, in fact, I prefer goatees, scruff, shadows…ohemgee…hot. This is my favorite time of year. The hubs is looking scrumptious.

I’m grateful for the weather, and this will count for two thankfuls:

a) for bringing cold weather so I can live in beanie hats for the next three months.

b) for bringing “fronts” and “pressure systems” and “drama weather” so I can finally win the weatherman argument with my husband! Our one biggest, never ending disagreement is over meteorology. He thinks weatherman are as full of shit as palm readers (hey – I love me a palm reader!) and I happen to respect the profession. I mean, it’s based on science, people. SCIENCE. I digress…

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Watching the weather at our house is down right comical because I staunchly defend them while he’s busting out an exaggerated forecaster impersonation, which is actually funny so I try desperately not to laugh. Jim knows, he KNOWS, they are right more often than not, he just won’t admit it. This Winter I’m making a graph…I’ll show him….muwahahah. Last night they predicted a strong front bringing cold and rain. IT HAPPENED.

Weatherman – 1, Jim – bigfatzero.   SUCKIT

I’m thankful for last minute babysitters! We’re going to the movies – WOOP! I think we’re seeing…..oh, who am I kidding. I don’t even know. I’m in it for the popcorn….

pop

Yes. That’s a stein of wine.

(We saw “The Armstrong Lie”. It was pretty interesting. But I drank a freakin’ gallon of wine. The Smurfs would’ve been interesting.)

And that’s ten! No no no, don’t go back and count….it’s ten. Shhh. shhhh *pets your hair* Now go on to comments and tell me what you’re thankful for, or join up with the TToT group yourself! Do you trust weatherman? Come on, pick a side! Are you on Team Beth or Team Loser Jim? I heart your comments BIG!

Katie, Bar The Door!

I’ve been off the grid for four days with NO Wifi or TV!

DA FUH? Who does that? Thank Jesus and all things holy for 4g or I would have gone rat shit crazy on some people. I was able to do some things with my iphone, but was way more disconnected than I’m comfortable with – in other words – I missed you!

Now I’m back and BUSTING. I’m about to unleash everything that’s been pent up in my head for the past five days, hence the title of this post. Enjoy.

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Literally while on the road I find out via twitter that Inion N. Mathair are spotlighting me on their blog this week! I was gobsmacked (been waiting to use that word)! They are an infinitely talented mother/daughter writing duo who’ve been a HUGE support to me since the very beginning, and who’ve taught me what it means to be a supportive blogger. Please do yourself a favor and explore their wonderful blog, and even better, their books! Nightwalkers: The Secret of Jessup.
From the Dark and Twisted Mind of Inion N. Mathair.
The Perfect 7.

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Both boys were late to school a week or so ago because my 6yo had a last minute outfit dilemma (HAD to wear his red converse which had no laces). Each day when they get home I have to sign their binders which have detailed entries from their school day. That afternoon, this is what I found in my 9yo’s binder when I went to sign it:

tarty dangit

makin’ the family proud

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Remember two weeks ago when I went to the art reception and the hubs got me the awesome necklace, but it had to be shipped to me? Here it is. I love its simplicity. It’s a greyish green. Falls just under my collarbone.

birthday necklace

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MY TRIP!

Okay, so this was the annual girls trip I do with my mom and three aunts. Last year was in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This year we stayed somewhat local and visited Ingram, Texas (just outside of Fredericksburg for those of you familiar with the area). The leaves are just starting to change here so it was beautiful. I always forget how pretty the Hill Country is with all the picturesque small towns, dreamy rivers, and enormous trees that stop me in my tracks and take my breath away. And you know, you KNOW, there were so many laughs. It got down-right crazy more than a few times. There are only three of us who drink, and managed to cash five bottles of wine over the weekend.

*A selection of photos for your viewing pleasure*

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Replica of Stonehenge

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My climbing tree

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In the branches

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view from up here

SO, I got talked into (bullied) being the test kayak to go down a very narrow (choked with roots and branches) neck of the lake (stagnant water shit hole) to see if it connected to an adjacent fishing pond. It didn’t. On the way to discovering the dead end, I managed to knock the low lying, dead branches onto myself and my kayak, along with about five hundred (okay a dozen) spiders. The area was so narrow I couldn’t turn my kayak around so I had to stand up and turn around to row the other way back out, subsequently knocking more branches – and spiders – onto my kayak, my shirt, and my hair. During this, two of my aunts were hanging back in another boat saying things like, “You’re doing great!” and “You’re so good at this!”

Whatever.

I wasn’t freaking out about the spiders. Much. I mean, I was squealing and stuff, but that’s all. UNTIL….I glanced over and there’s this freakin’ huge one right next to me coming straight for my shirt – then I just knew they were all over me and I did some sort of Bugs Bunny – Cirque de Solei freak out that I’ll never be able to repeat or explain, and like a cat I flew straight outta my seat and ended up on the end of the kayak balancing on my fingers and toes, but somehow, someway, stayed in the boat. My aunts rowed over and started killing spiders until I felt sure there were none left. I then collected my oar that I’d hurled into the water during my  acrobatic maneuver, brushed myself off, and gracefully rowed back to shore as if nothing happened. I’m resilient like that, however, I’ve officially retired as guinea pig.

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pre-spider invasion

MY amazing family managed to organize and cook the most incredible Thanksgiving meal in our condo. We celebrated early so we wouldn’t have to all travel twice this month to be together. As usual, they give me jobs like: bring wine. This is wise because I clearly don’t have the skills to pull off what they did. In case you’re wondering, the effins were perfect.

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WE went to Fredericksburg’s trade days on Saturday, and while very eclectic and fun, my favorite find was a particular booth that gave me an endless source of amusement while terrorizing friends via text and twitter:

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Does my hair look okay?

IF you’ve ever read my comment section after a post about my family, you’ve seen what’s lacking (comments from them!) and put it together that they don’t read my blog. That’s because they don’t know about it. I’ve often been tempted to tell them. I think they’d be mildly horrified, but mostly tickled and proud. I’ll share an enormous secret with you: They don’t even know I write.

Oh, they know I do Nanowrimo, but that’s because it was introduced to me by one of my cousins, so we talk about it amongst family. But they don’t know I belong to writing groups, or have a blog, or have written a novel for Pete’s sake! I’m one of those people who’s pretty private (I know, seems ironic given the blog) and am more comfortable doing something behind the scenes (in case I fail) and then announcing it when I’ve succeeded.

I need autonomy first.

I’m the only granddaughter/niece in the family, so I look to them, study them as women, and often wonder who I take after most. Each of them artistic, strong, giving, talented, smart, organized, unorganized, funny as shit, dynamic, amazing women. This weekend I realized for the first time something that made me very proud. I’m not like one of them. I’m like all of them.

But there’s this one facet of my being that’s unique to me. This enormous, yet fragile writer part. I envision publishing one day and surprising them, letting them into this sliver of my world. Someday it will make sense to them why I’m always staring off into space. Or why I’m so busy doing….what? What the hell does she do in her free time?

Someday they’ll know I’m a writer.

And then I’ll know it too.

Do you keep your blog secret from anyone? Do you think you’re most like one person in particular in your family, or a mixture? I love your comments!