Arts


Writing

A couple of wonderful women I know via my traveling Twitter are going through some tough times. They are both writers. One recently suffered a Lupus related TIA and the other has sadly suffered another setback with cancer. Despite the difficulties, they write on. The latter, a NASA physicist, has a book in progress. Her latest scans show more cancer. It’s in the bone now. I, unfortunately, know what that means for her, and she made the comment in her last blog entry that it was time for her to quit procrastinating and finish her book.

Procrastination and writing are almost synonyms. I know some folks who write to the exclusion of all but breathing, but I have never been blessed with such nose-grinding attributes. However, I have been thinking. A lot. About going back to book writing full-time.

With the yoga studio closing at the end of June and my growing disaffection for cause and current event blogging making it difficult for me to muster interest in my paying gig, thoughts turned back toward the memoir and writing “that book”. Or rather, finishing it.

I am still stymied by theme. You don’t just write a book about a section of your life for no reason even if it seems like that is precisely what memoirists do. As more than one literary agent, author and indie publisher has pointed out – an author should have a point.

What’s my point?

A happy ending is not good enough.

Well, okay, it’s pretty darn good from the personal perspective but why should anyone other than my children or Rob really care about what got he and I from A to B?

More than once, it’s been observed that ours is a compelling story and that I have, on occasion, represented it well in words.

That I can write isn’t at issue, nor is the fact that people love a good happily ever after love story. What I am still searching for is an angle. The hook. What’s my hook?

Widowers, let’s face it, are hot these days. Can’t throw a stone without hitting one in film, books, or television. There is something more compelling about a man who’s lost his spouse than there is about a woman in the same predicament. Probably because  a single woman/mom is considered so dime a dozen in North America that they practically wallpaper daily life.

And men make tragic figures whereas women are just victims. Who loves a victim?

No one.

But, getting back to my pondering. I have been. I even have the makings of a plan. The universe knows I have a book.

I don’t want to look back and wonder what it would have been like had I just gone ahead and done it. Published. I don’t want to regret it from a standpoint of having run out of time. The image of poor old Ulysses S. Grant banging out his memories in the last cancer ravaged months of his life to save his family from poverty has always struck me as the saddest way to leave life, desperate and down-trodden and in despair.

I’ve spent the last four years learning to write. Well. It’s time to do something with all the free words I’ve given away in the pursuit of my voice.


Puddle of Mud

Image by mollypop via Flickr

in Just-
spring       when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman 

whistles       far       and wee 

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring 

when the world is puddle-wonderful 

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far       and       wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing 

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and 

it’s
spring
and
the 

goat-footed 

balloonMan       whistles
far
and
wee 

e.e. cummings

 

Halloween costumer, New Orleans.

Image via Wikipedia

 

As theories go, this has more validity than most:

Most people dress up as themselves for Halloween.

And I can buy this. We tend to select costumes that are merely extensions of or amplifications of parts of who we are every day.  Or who we think we are.  After all, many of us haven’t the vaguest idea of who we grew up to be though most of us don’t spend as much time over-thinking it as I do.

But for something completely different this Halloween, the premise of really personifying one’s shadow self was recently put on my table.

What is a shadow self?

It is the “you” that cannot be allowed to be for reasons that only you would know but are probably too hesitant, outright fearful or have completely buried.

Shadow Self is potential you.

Carl Jung put it this way,

“in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity.”

Keeping in mind that “creativity” is a highly subjective term then, the shadow of who you could be is being held in reserve, or check, by you, the expectations – outside and self-imposed, denial and/or fear. And we haven’t even talked about simply being a clueless, completely indoctrinated lemming though I have to wonder what the shadow of a lemming might look like.

So while dressing up as a sexy witch or maid or princess or vampire is just an extension of sexy you that you very likely hint broadly at most of the time anyway, shadow you could be Thomas Edison. Unless someone is Mrs. Edison, Thomas is about as far from naughty librarian as it gets.

This is not to say that your shadow is devoid of characteristics you express strongly or vaguely on a daily basis.  Shadow you is someone who no one would expect to meet – ever – let alone on Halloween, locked and loaded.

I wonder then about my shadow. Because if shadows are not extensions, she is not a writer or teacher. Perhaps I embraced her on the yoga mat? But that seems like an extension of known aspirations and qualities to me.

‘Tis a puzzlement. And an exercise of interest, but perhaps not one that needs to be indulged in for such a frivolous occasion.


Tea Party Witch Sign

Really, Christine O’Donnell? JUST like me? Or rather just like all the other folks in Delaware that once grabbed viciously at fringe fame via MTV and Bill Maher?

Poor Chrissy has been hiding out and ducking the media in the wake of Bill Maher’s rather vicious and blatantly self-serving release of a clip from his old show, Politically Incorrect, where she claimed to have “dabbled in witch craft“.

I’ve seen the clip and she is obviously spouting nonsense in an attempt to “hang” with the “cool” people on the panel. She’s that girl you knew in high school who always had a story to match whatever story you just told.

What’s sadder than Maher’s trying to establish relevance on her ditsy persona is the fact that this “controversy” is just one of many red herrings driving the political discourse down south.

In a very Palinesque move, she’s released the following ad:

I will agree with one thing. We probably don’t know her at all – which is actually the better reason to not send her to the Senate.


Cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...

Cover via Amazon

I was about 15ish when I discovered The Beatles.  Ironically, it was that horrid BeeGee/Peter Frampton movie based on the Sergeant Pepper LP that led me to the original album by the band. In typical teen fashion, I read every book and bought every album . I even haunted the indie music shop on Main Street, a place called The Asteroid, to find their UK releases to add to my collection.

The “Paul is Dead” thing was something I found silly, which is odd because I love a good conspiracy theory. Although the fact that this isn’t one of them probably has something to do with it.

Regardless, I’ve always thought it would make a great fiction story or movie.


A black and white photograph of the Scottish t...

Image via Wikipedia

My four year old loves to write. She will sit with a notebook and pen quietly scratching away in a language that is half letters/half symbols, and I wonder if she is mimicking me through example or DNA. When I was her age my stories were more of the performance art variety, told to invisible audiences via dolls or dance. Although I loved books, it hadn’t occurred to me that my stories could be written down for others to read.

 

I know I have written about this before, but my first written story was about pirates. Sister Rita, a tiny prune-faced thing who was barely taller than the shortest fourth grader and painted her meticulously filed nails bright colors that I am sure the Pope would have disapproved of, took the red pen that all teachers must have been issued with their licenses back then and buried my artistic endeavor under editing marks she never taught us the meaning of. If I had not been born a writer that might have been the end of my authoring days but for the fact that Sister aside, people liked to read what I wrote.

 

I began to write obsessively in the fifth grade.  Writing filled up the days while I was waiting for the other kids to “get it” so we could move on and was a way for me to look productive while I hid from the subjects that bored or perplexed me.

 

By high school, when the education process had progressed from the merely tedious to a test of my endurance, the idea that I could build a life and even make a living from writing was starting to take hold and was probably one of the bigger reasons I ended up in college. I thought, incorrectly as it turned out, that I could learn how to be a writer there.

 

University is a piss poor place to learn about writing much less become an author. Long story short, I became an English teacher instead. An English teacher who knew less than zero about grammar and couldn’t spell.

 

It was teaching grammar to thirteen year olds (who had no idea I was a mere chapter ahead of them every day) that taught me to love the language as much as I loved to see myself think on paper. But I still wasn’t a writer.

 

Ironically, it was graduate school that made me  focus on my writing  again. By treating it as a craft, I had many opportunities to test my abilities in an impartial setting . That and watching someone I loved beyond logic die right in front of me for months and years finally tipped the scales. I guess that is why the Palahnuik quote jumped off the page at me. I became a teacher only partly because I loved it. The other reason had to do with losing my confidence in myself and my gift and succumbing to the idea that one’s life work is about security not passion.

 

I began to blog about six months or so after my husband, Will, died. It was much the same as the writing that I had done as a teenager. Just thinking on “paper” but now I was very conscious of the process and the  idea of writing as a life began to flicker.

 

It was Rob who fanned the flames again and continues to do so. I think he will understand the quote, and the photo as well.

 

I envy those who can do what they love from the beginning.