Thursday, April 30, 2009

Looking Forward To May

April is nearly over. Time for warmer weather, the yard is in full bloom, and my optimism is soaring. Hope is a good thing, especially in times like these - despite the constant doom and gloom conversations enjoyed by the "I'm-more-righteous-than-you" folks.

Last evening my husband and I had dinner at Paneras. Across from me, two men and one woman were engaged in conversation that made my ears bleed. You would think the world was about to explode according to these folks. The economy, the "blunders" of our current President, and lots of speculation as to where "we" as a nation were headed - it filled their mouths like a plate full of liver and onions. The "righteous-folks" love to promote wrath-of-God stuff. They talk loud so everyone can hear their opinions - thinking if they broadcast it, they'll escape it.

Now I believe there will come a time when God will be the final authority and that He is soverign. I believe He will judge the earth. I believe only He knows when the "end of days" will begin. But I also believe His love is beyond our mortal comprehension. We may be headed toward tougher economical times, yet isn't God is a God of peace, and hope, and optimism?

He has given us a brain. We can't change the world, but we can use a little faith, wisdom, and common sense to ignore those who spread fear like a bad case of the flu. In the end, doesn't scripture tell us that God enjoys the prosperity of His people?

I doubt the doom and gloom spread by "righteous do-gooders" is a sweet sound to His ears.

Have a happy May. Enjoy your life, no matter what.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle, The Definition Of Inspiration

April holds a time-honored tradition for writers. Especially poets. Though I've been told I often write "poetically," I'm not a poet. But in honor of National Poetry Month, I give you the words to one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

The lyrics to I Dreamed a Dream, is from Les Miserable. I saw the play on Broadway many years ago, and this particular song stung me with such a force of kindredship. Today, I viewed a performance on You Tube by what I consider the definition of inspiration. I'm not a You Tube fanatic, but this one will keep me coming back. Click here to view ...

Susan Boyle. Remember the name. She the real deal, folks. She rekindled the memory of this song for me. (Not sure who really wrote it.) But I once belonged to the words. It could've been written about me. But time has changed things for me. I have become ever grateful that this song no longer reflects my life. Now, I just enjoy listening to it. Especially to Susan Boyle sing it. I share it with you.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finding My Pretty

I find I'm preaching to myself a lot lately. It's working. The doors are cracking open and I like what I see. Opportunities. No time, but plenty of opportunities. I don't know how, but I get the feeling God is working out a deal with my future and the talent for which He has given me.

Lately, I felt like I lost my Pretty. You know what I mean? Not the outwardly flawless kind of pretty. But the Pretty that makes me smile inside. Giggle. Those shots of energy that colors my world happy and, well, Pretty. I need to write. Daily. I need to be in the midst of my craft on a continuing basis. I need to say, 'hey that's pretty darn good!'

It's been difficult this past year, squeezing in time when I have exhausted my mind and my body in full-time employment. But life took a detour. Now, the thought of finishing what I start excites me to no end. The very idea of losing my Pretty depressed me. I need my Pretty like I need my coffee every morning. A jolt of optimism, a hope realized, a constant source of inner encouragement that everything is going to be okay.

But there comes a time when women like me have to put the past in its place, and not let it infect our future. Move forward no matter the circumstances. I know I'm not broken. A little bruised maybe, a little worn around the edges, but certainly not broken. Every girl needs a little Pretty in her life. And every writer needs Pretty. Otherwise, we don't get very far past the first paragraph.

After I get through this, I'll find my Pretty again. A different kind of "pretty." Like an aged door. Somewhat cracked, the paint flaked off, and a bit squeaky, but a beautiful thing to look at that still works and functions and makes me smile inside just watching it swing open.

My door is open to every possibility God wants to throw my way. That makes me feel Pretty great.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Faith Or Risk?

Once or twice in your lifetime you take a plunge. Into an unknown abyss. A jumping off point suddenly appears in your path and it's all or nothing. You realize nobody is looking. Then again, not a soul cares if you win or lose, try and fail. Everyone around you is self-absorbed in their own life's battle, there is no time for yours. So, with nothing other than your own resolution, you risk it all and free-fall, hoping to land in a better spot than the last time you leaped.

Some of us are known to do this more than others. I feel a time approaching when I may have to jump off. My family members are anything but risk-takers, which makes it difficult for me. Most folks I know live their lives the same way, year after year. Passovists who are quite content to work the 9 to 5 shift, retiring with two or three weeks of vacation a year, a small savings, a simple life.

I can appreciate that. I too, long for a simple way of living. A simple, quiet life.

However, Michael and I have seemingly dedicated our lives to, "wonder what's around that corner?" Quite the uncoventionalists, we have taken risks most folks only gaze at from a distance. True, our stress levels are on constant roller-coaster rides, but often we have had little choice, or we've leaped way before we should have. And yet, knowing all this ... I don't think we'll change at this point.

Most of the time, we land on our feet, thank God.

We're so very grateful for our home, our family, our loved ones. So thankful for the many blessings we've encountered along the way. Despite the tree roots and snakes along our path, we have been blessed. SO, is it FAITH or is it RISK when you see the cliff's edge? Do you have faith that it's God's will ... to jump, or is it blind ambition or stupidity that causes you to cannonball off the cliff?

"The road less traveled," I've been told that is my path. We shall see.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Back Then

Back then I was hopeful, if nothing else. My dream of becoming a famous writer began at the tender age of 12. I may have touched on this subject before, but today I've got a new prospective. From the time I wrote the first draft of that sixth-grade story ... nothing thrilled me more than to put pencil to paper and scribble my fantasies into complete gut and heart-wrenching fiction. Fiction I just knew, without a doubt, would make any stone-cold heart bawl his or her eyes right out of his or her head.

Back then, I wrote a story the day before my Senior Prom. About a girl who gets trapped inside a cave with her boyfriend on the night of her what else? Senior Prom. Silly. But I was a romantic. Even back then. I wrote about life and love and meany teachers and giggly girlfriends. It was all I knew. Back then.

Back then I wanted to be a young Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell. I just knew I had it in me. Then the Vietnam War changed my prose and the Women's Movement did strange things to my protagonists. I wrote about anger and injustice. I wrote stories about Southerners who were cruel or drunk or stupid, and about Northerners who were arrogant or pushy or boastful. Stereotypes. For the most part, they were just stories to entertain nobody but me, as it seemed nobody else cared to read them.

Back then, I began to take heart and believe I just might be good enough to publish something. So I told my (at that time) young husband about a novel I wanted to write. About a white girl who grows up in Cleveland during the 60s and travels to Mississippi to march with her black pen-pal girlfriend she has never met. He laughed at me. But I ignored his discouraging remarks and enrolled in my first formal creative writing classes. It was the pre-computer 1980s. I typed and typed and typed some more on a noisy IBM Selectric, tucking pillows around it at night so not to wake my kids who were just in grade school.

But back then, each and every story I finished got shoved into a box. Or burned. Or lost in a move to a new apartment or another rented house.

I'm not pitying myself, I'm looking for a reason to keep going. I'm searching my pantries for writing fuel to nourish my nearly-starved published self.

Anyway, back then, I began to see the fruit of my labors come together. It was the 90s and after years and years of night classes, a doctor (a Urologist, to be exact) with whom I worked read one of my stories. A published author of some hot Vampire novels, this man took time out of his busy schedule to mentor, critique, and encourage. Something I desperately needed and until that day, had never received. It caused me to dig my heels into the dirt and write like a woman not quite wrapped right. A woman gone mad.

You see, back then, I was the victim of a broken home, a broken heart, a broken life. I had collected lots and lots to write about.

Not so far back I published my first book. I thought, yeah baby ... this is it, the beginning of a spectacular writing career. My precious and supportive new husband and I traveled hundreds of miles pushing, promoting, and marketing my hot-off-the-press book. Shoot, we plum wore out two cars. Back then.

As I spoke to groups and sold my collection of short stories, we were warmly received. In churches, at book fairs, civic organizations, and country clubs, everywhere we traveled, appearing at one sort of meeting or another, I was honored with several standing ovations and consistently invited back. Folks clamored for the next book, even followed us out to the car just to talk about my stories. It was just a glimpse into the world of being that famous author. Anyway, that first book did very well, thank you, and is still selling copies. But not like back then.

But then I began to pull together the pieces of a novel I'd been writing for fifteen years. A novel I believed would rival any masterpiece ever penned. As I ended a two-year book tour for my first book, I trusted I had built the platform for this new novel. Believed it so much that I would've staked my life on it. I worked non-stop. Literally. Spent two more years stapled to my chair and glued to my computer for 12-hour days, pouring over edits and chapters, words, paragraphs, scenes ... making it as perfect as I could. I lost my health over this book. Unfortunately.

Back then I was sure I'd receive at least a few rejections from my first query letters. Eventually, I thought, some lucky agent will fall in love with my manuscript after they've asked to read it in its entirety. They'll insist on representing it and sell my greatest-story-ever-told to the highest bidder so the world will have another Gone With The Wind. But alas, that dream is just about gone. With the wind.

Never give up, they say. Never give in. It's been drilled and screwed into me like toggle bolts on a washing machine. I can't say I'm even able to give up. But I'm sick of the publishing world and who and what they represent. I'm sick of their A lists and B lists. I despise the few who frighten and inject ridiculous statements into so many writers, making them think they should never, God forbid, self publish. I'm fried with writing groups and writing classes and writing conferences and know-it-all agents who pretend they can make or break you. I'm sick to death of blogs, Face Book pages, web site after web site that bores me to bloody tears. In fact, if there is one thing I've completely given up on, it's wasting my time on know-it-all agents/editors/writers/publishers and their smell-me web sites.

We know the publishing industry is in the toilet, along with the economy. We know that. We hear it over and over on the news. We know the big publishers are not interested in taking risks with new authors. But the toilet has not been flushed. The big dogs in New York need to find a way to pull themselves out of the porcelain tank and update the whole process of finding new authors. The hoops we writers have to jump through will probably never go away. But do the publishers need to set the hoops on fire? If so, writers are going to find other ways to publish. I'm sick of worrying about it. Frankly, once again, I as well as many of my colleagues, are sick to death of it.

All I want to do is to return to ... back then. And just write.

And never give a damn if anybody ever reads it. I'm a writer. Nothing this side of Heaven or Hell can ever, ever change that.

Blessings to you and yours.