Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On the Craft

"You have to find a way, an angle on the characters, so that your emotions, your limits, concerns, needs and hopes can be expressed through those characters and through the vehicle of the made-up story. And then you shape the story as entertainment so other people can feel the same emotions." – Charles Johnson

Monday, February 21, 2011

Warm Up

I really do not know what to write
Outside the pastel-striped umbrella is soothing. It is there
Where it always is above the table
The table that waits patiently for the hosting of fun times
For a group to gather round it, sharing
Above the tree limbs branch against
The blue sky leaves flutter here and there like bits of old confetti
Drifting long after the party has ended
A memory of celebration clinging still against the winter bark
While spring begins to push anew the green buds of
The fresh cycle begun

Thursday, February 17, 2011


If I sit in the B & N Cafe while I work on it,
can I legitimately say that my book is
available at Barnes and Noble???

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Day of Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day, dear reader!

I'm torn here between a simple love-filled poem and a diatribe against the forced nature of Valentine sentiments. Isn't that what Valentine's Day invokes - a conflicted exploration of love and its consequences?

We went out with a close friend last night and she really brought me down about the whole holiday. My relentless celebratory bent annoyed her but eventually rubbed off so that today she's in a better mood, while her denunciations of all holidays made me feel frivolous, superficial and brainwashed.

I have a lot of good single friends, and I feel their pain. For most of them, Valentine's Day feels like yet another reminder of their biting loneliness. The inescapable red hearts, flowers, balloons, chocolates just rub their noses in the fact that somehow they have played the love game and lost. And I get that. I really do, more than most of them believe.

Even being happily married doesn't mean Valentine's is a romantic dream. For one thing, it's a lot of pressure to put on one small day. For another, there's a lot of internal competition to celebrate "big" and "fun". That's more of a recipe for petty bickering than whirling romance. I have lived through some abysmal Valentine's Days. And when you're married, it means that your partner for this coming holiday was the same one who went through that past fiasco alongside you. (Which in itself is kind of cool, but doesn't help get a good dinner reservation.)

Of course, I've enjoyed some super Valentine's Days as well. Incredible romantic dates in beautiful settings full of laughter and love. For me, that contrast is what this day comes down to. The open possibility. The chance for things to be better.

Valentine's Day is a lot less for me about the ultimate expression of romantic love with the One partner-for-life and a lot more about just Love itself.

In all its forms and glories. In its guise of forgiveness and of hope. I embrace the optimism of this day and the opportunity to connect with others. So, even though I pissed off my friend by sending her a card vaunting her specialness to me, there's no way I'm going to stop.

Because I believe in Love. And sharing it with others. And showing it to others. My partner. My children. My neighbors. My friends. That clerk in the grocery store, and that guy who wants to merge in front of me in traffic.

And all of the glittery red hearts, lace and other ridiculous things to purchase can serve as nice, tangible reminders of the Love that is all around us. Whether we have someone to hold hands with on a sunsetting beach or not.

So go ahead. Savor that chocolate. Light a candle. Slip into something silky. Pat someone's hand or give them a hug. Show yourself a little bit of love today, and then share it with the others in your life. That's what the love of Valentine's Day really means to me.

That's the love-filled greeting I want to send along to you, and to all of my single friends in particular. And accompanying that, one of my favorite poems about the incredibly enduring nature of Deep Love.

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That’s sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Robert Burns

Friday, February 11, 2011

Plunging Into Words

I'm a lucky, lucky girl, and I know it.

In spite of my fair share of obstacles, my day-to-day life is quite enjoyable. I'm able to care for my girls in their every need. I have a job that I enjoy, filled with freedom and the ability to drink warm beverages while working. Even the requisite stresses and hassles of life are just the flavoring of a full, rich existence. I've often been lonely, and often I still am. And yet, I am blessed now with such a vibrant circle of friends that I don't have enough time to socialize with them properly and write also.

It can be worrying when I meet up with a friend to write and she wants to talk instead. I have to shelve my hope of getting a few more pages done, one more piece of work out to a client. But it is absolutely wonderful too! The amazing blessing of having companionship and conversation and laughter on the bleakest of days, well, I don't take it for granted, that's for sure.

I saw a license plate holder with an error on it. "Everyday is a gift from God," it read. And while I'm sure they meant "each day," I like it as I read it. For, the everyday, the ordinary, the stuff of life IS the ultimate gift from God. It's what we are.

Today has been extraordinary. I taught an amazing yoga class. I've been subbing all week, and I've recalled just how much I love teaching. The students start out dubious; I'm a stranger to them and don't look particularly yogic to their appraising eyes. By the end of class, a transformation has occured. The sense of relaxation is palpable; they thank me with smiles and hugs as they exit. I had so much fun today, I was high off the energy. I had forgotten just how much I adore yoga with a group. I had forgotten just how good it is possible to feel when your entire body is energetically alive.

From there, I helped a client organize and run a letter-mailing meeting. Two pleasant hours of work - another $100 of pay.

And, now, I'm here. Writing in the late afternoon sun. Surrounded by unique individuals - the dad with the worried brown hair and crinkled eyes reading his novel, the professor with the floppy hat and lap-based laptop whose neat bob is the exact soft grey of her scarf, the 8th graders giggling out an order while they tug at their tight shorts - the humanity that I so love. Hoping that the love that fills me brings me peace and moves from me out into the world, clearly into the world, physically, tangibly, helping and warming others in their own extraordinary, everyday lives.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Circling Around

Recurring themes. I find them in the works of most of my favorite writers. I'm in the book, I'm humming along with their words, enjoying the song they sing inside my head, when I come across that certain image. Or that idea that occurs over and over throughout the pages.

Writers cannot help but come back to the ideas that hold the most fascination to them. Whether an invocation of sexual heat in Gabaldon's Outlander Series or an exploration of place as identity in Susan Straight's work, writers circle around and around these nuggets that occupy their minds. Every writer I can think of has memes that crop up again and again, little hints at the person behind the words.

I wonder what my themes are. Sitting at my kitchen table, split between my laptop and piles of "necessary" paperwork, I consider writing a story to give myself a little break. But then again, I'm sick of my stories. I don't feel like creating a character, and then watching her (or him) wander in the world, searching for a place. Searching for meaning. Searching for love. Blah.

I am particularly tired today. The week has been hectic; the nights have been late. And it's only Tuesday. The nonstop effort of raising fabulous children continues to be both draining and exhausting. I encourage myself, and every other mother I know, all of whom are equally tired and some of whom are even more cranky and prone to sudden outbursts than I, with the reminder that it is all fleeting. The time has raced so far, and once it races a few more years into the future, this hands-on, daily grind will be done forever.

"Just eight more years," I point out. Six years for some moms, ten for others. But for none of them will it be the eternity it can sometimes feel like. The children will become adults. Their neediness will become independence, even distance. Lonely space may fill days that right now seem crammed so unbearably full.

"You can make it there," I counsel both them and myself with a smile. "And try to savor it right now, because the lovely parts of these times will be gone as well."

Looking at my environment, my theme just might be responsibilities. The bills I have to see paid, the shopping I must bring home. I push aside that little spark within me, that whispering possibility. I listen to its whispering and I bank its warmth for the future. For moments when I can sweep the table clear of the piles, when I can sit, only sit, at a small, cozy table and beckon my voice to come and speak with me.

But around those rare moments, I will keep doing what I do. The bills come first, the groceries, the car repairs, the laundry, the playdates, the homework. Because my theme is dependibility. My theme is caring. Again and again, I come back to the deep satisfaction of doing my best for all of those I love. And hoping that all of their lives, and mine as well, turn out to have that balance between duty and freedom, between self indulgence and giving.