Tell Me

Of course, Mr. Wilder, I know you’re being facetious right now . . . or rather, your Wonkalicious suave and scary self is being facetious. But if you really want to know how original and creative I am, I’ll do my best to tell it to you straight.

(See, when Gene Wilder talks, I listen. As amazing as his Wonka persona was, it didn’t hold a candle to the man. Talk about original and creative…)

I used to think originality and creativity were my two strong suits, especially where writing is concerned. Of late, though, no so much. Case in point? This blog, which–barring a few sporadic posts–has been ‘on hold’ for more than a few months now. I could chalk that up to a lot of things, not the least of which is Donald J., who may be dragging us into a war with North Korea even as we speak. There have also been some issues closer to home which aren’t going away; then again, that’s life in the big city, and I’m certainly not the only one “dealing with stuff.”

There is also the tiny, lasting niggle relative to parting company with my agent, which transpired over a year ago and which–one would think–I’d have “gotten over” long before now. Apparently, not so much. Apparently, that Little Blip on the Radar Screen of Life affected me a tad more than I care to admit.

Regardless of the reason, I’m in what you might call a “funk”. And no matter how many times I’ve dragged myself out of whatever this funk is, I find myself slipping right back into it.  And every time I do, I lose a little bit more of myself.  As a writer, I mean. Which is more than a tad troublesome, considering the fact that I think of myself as a writer, and if I’m not, you know, writing. . .

Which brings me, round-aboutly, back to originality and creativity or rather, my apparent lack thereof. Sliding into a funk is hardly an original past-time, and lamenting a loss of creativity whilst doing squat to change things is not only counterproductive to the cause, but offensive . . . to any writer dealing with anything more challenging than what I’m dealing with. Believe me, there are a lot worse things a writer can be facing than the piddly-ass stuff I’m facing right now.

Speaking of offensive behavior, Miss Manners had something to say about that:

Offensive behavior is an ineffective way to make one’s own case.

Of course, some people make their cases by doing just that. 45 unfortunately comes to mind. On the lighter side, Zero Mostel. Groucho Marx. Gene Wilder? He was playing the part, “like an accident waiting to happen,” which is exactly the way he planned to play it, and which he executed brilliantly and to our utter delight, time and time again. Mr. Wilder’s creativity and originality made him who he was, and neither time, nor the unfortunate circumstances of his last years, diminished his magnificence, nor our admiration for it.

And yet, how much of that originality and creativity did he cultivate, and how much was inherent to him? I have to believe he was born that way, as we all are to some extent. Each of us has our share of the universe’s creative juices flowing through our veins. Each of us harbors at least one or two original thoughts. We all have our dreams, as well as trials and tribulations. Sometimes we find ourselves so caught up in the latter that we forget the former, stray off course, lose our way . . . which is where I am now, I think. And I’ve been here too long.

Gene Wilder once said, Time is a precious thing. Never waste it. Truth time, Mr. Wilder: that’s what I’ve been doing.

 

 

 

 

 

Words Matter

Words are powerful things. They hold sway, they have consequences and hence, it would behoove us, the American people, to choose our words wisely.

Alas, the American people don’t appear to be too keen on thoughtful rumination of late. Present company included. Whatever this writer was doing for the last two months, it sure as hell wasn’t that. After Trump took office, this writer found herself mired in political muck, and soon actual writing gave way to hastily composed, emotionally-wrought tweets, which–in theory, anyway–should have reduced her burgeoning angst by giving voice to it.

[Sidebar: Maybe that’s what Trump–]  

Nah.

Long story short, that didn’t happen. At best, the bovine-esque chewing and rechewing of unsavory cud was a mindless endeavor yeilding little nutritional value. At worse, the glowing ball of angst in the pit of my stomach resulted in belched vitriol that left a particularly nasty taste in my mouth.

Fast forward two months. I am happy to report that I’ve managed to remove myself (somewhat) from that perpetual unpleasantness. I couldn’t have done it without help from some very honest and forthright writing buddies, who basically told me it was high time I pulled my thumb out of my ass and get back to the business of querying/writing.

Querying first. Two weeks ago, I reworked my EFFIN’ ALBERT query, finally coming up with a version I actually liked; a version significantly different from my last (which had garnered me exactly one full request, summarily rejected). I’ve sent my new version to maybe ten agents thus far, garnering five quick rejections. Five more to go, and it only takes one page request to make this camper happy.

As an added bonus, while researching agents for ALBERT, I stumbled upon a smattering of agents/indie publishers who seemed like a good fit for CHERRY. We’ll see what happens there.

As for writing, my WIP remains in a holding pattern of 53,000 words, but the time will come . . . and when it does, SOULLESS will be waiting.

Before I close, a final word about tweets. A few months ago, I came across a Twitter feed called  #1linewed, a once-a-week sounding board for writers. #1linewed is a chance for writers to put snippets of their stuff ‘out there’ for others to read and enjoy.  For me, #1linewed is both inspirational and validating, especially when I find myself struggling to find the words. . .

. . .which brings this post full circle. Words matter, folks. Now, more than ever, we need to remember that.

Somebody Give Me a Cheeseburger

praying skeleton

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: thank you. ~ Donald Trump, January 20, 2017

We didn’t vote for you. ~ 53% of the voting citizens of this country, January 20, 2017

And so it begins.

To tamp my burgeoning angst, I prepared to jump feet first into the fray. Step one: dissect Trump’s inaugural address (e.g. summarily rip it a new one), but NPR beat me to it  http://www.npr.org/2017/01/20/510629447/watch-live-president-trumps-inauguration-ceremony  with far more eloquence, insight, and restraint than I would have ever been able to muster.

So instead, I searched online for a quote that might offer me a smidgen of hope, or inner fortitude. Resolve. Faith. Something. . .

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. ~ Abraham Lincoln, date unknown

Thank you, Mr. Lincoln. Your words hold sway all these years later and I shall endeavor to do that, but I hope you don’t mind if I chill out just a bit first.  It’s been one hell of an emotional roller-coaster.

And this is just Day One.

Ready . . . Set . . .

redux

Ready?

You’d best be, because it’s coming, no shit, so you’d better prepare yourselves. Do what you can, shimmy if you must, but batten down those hatches, get your shit together. In five short days, this country is going where no man has gone before.

In other words. . .

Pretty sure you catch my drift. This is going to be quite the trip, y’all. Not sure how many of you are rejoicing right now and how many are ripping your hair out (fwiw, I ascribe to the latter category); regardless, one thing is certain: This country is officially on shaky ground and what happens next to it, happens to us all. Whether you look forward to the next four years or dread the prospect, it’s coming. It’s happening. . .

Set.

. . .and it’s on my mind, for sure. Case in point: My dream last night. Short version: I lived with others on an island. We learned via radio that a tremendous tidal wave was heading right for us. There was nowhere to go. I sat on my haunches on the beach at sunset, looking out at the ocean.’Home Sweet Home’ was carved in the wet sand at my feet; words soon to be obliterated, as were we all.

So yeah, I’m concerned. A lot of folks are right now. But even though the Trump administration is barreling down, we have choices. We can rejoice or lament, bury our heads in the sand or resolve to meet this thing head on. No matter where we stand politically, it would behoove us to remain vigilant of the next administration. Our country is only as good as the rights and freedoms, safety and security of its citizens, so we need to keep our representatives on their toes and demand our voices are heard. We can get active. Become pro-active. Pick our battles wisely. Accept what we can’t change and have the courage to change what we can. . .

Go.

Future (im)Perfect

 

emilysquotes-com-handle-challenges-life-define-motivational-consequences-attitude-billy-cox-1024x834

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump becomes president. Amazingly, that’s the least of my worries right now.

I have worries. Join the club, right? Based on what happened last year, this year is going to be fraught with challenges, not only for my 85-year-old mom, but for me and my sisters, and for my husband’s family and his sweet sister, and for our dear friend fighting cancer, and for our newly-widowed neighbor. . .

We aren’t the only ones who woke this morning  under a shadow of uncertainty. Like I said, Join the club.

This new year, like every new year,  blossoms with a host of possibilities and promise. For that, I’m grateful. But for some, the days ahead are filled with uncertainty, and some will find themselves walking a rocky road this year.

Ahh, but life is like that: good and bad and everything in between. So we deal with it. We cherish the bright days and weather the stormy ones; try to keep our focus on the former and not the latter.

I could use this first blog post of the new year to catalog my own personal sorrows and fears. I could write a litany of my continued struggles relative to writing and querying, but I won’t do that. That’s not how I want this year to start; not for me, and certainly not for you.

Instead, I offer this, for all of us:

wall-quotes-abraham-lincoln-the-best-thing-about-the-future-is-that-it-comes-one-day-at-a-time

Happy New Year, everybody.

Reality Bites

The_Idiot_-_John_Kendrick_Bangs_-_cover_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_18881

Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division …

Congratulations, President-Elect. You opened those wounds,  just as you closed the book on morality and decency.

For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there are a few people. . .

(LAUGHTER)

. . .I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so we can work together and unify our great country.

We are now in mourning.

But the blame for this mess lies as much at our feet as yours. Too many of us swallowed your messages of fear, hate, selfishness, and greed, and we’re about to learn the consequences of that.

Worst case scenario: the ugly fallout will be far-reaching and long lasting. The strides we’ve made, or may have made–in gender equality, human rights, gun control, environmental protections, affordable health care, inclusion, leading by example–will be obliterated in your wake. Your policies will set us back decades, if not centuries. You’re leadership will take us down the road to ruin.

Tremendous potential. I’ve gotten to know our country so well — tremendous potential. It’s going to be a beautiful thing. Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Did you think we’d forget?

Say what you will about togetherness, Donald Trump. Your actions were unconscionable. Unforgiveable.

But as I’ve said, we did this to ourselves. It’s a shame, it really is. A travesty. A bitter commentary on what this country has allowed itself to become.

Deep breath. . .

Like thousands of others yesterday, I slid in and out of mourning; my anguish peppered with bouts of nausea, gut-wrenching fear, utter hopelessness. What an awful, awful day it was.

My husband and I talked about that. We mourn, yes, and we’ll will allow ourselves to mourn. But we can’t allow ourselves to sink into a deep and long-lasting depression that will only serve to hurt us, and accomplish nothing. The truth is, That man is going to be our president. What’s done is done. Nothing is going to change it.

But we do have options.

Last night, mr kk suggested ways we might temper our despair: think good thoughts, read the Serenity Prayer, list things we’re grateful for, relive happy memories–in other words, count our blessings.

I need to do that and I will–likely, many times–today, and in the days to come. But first, I need to make a declaration to this country’s president-elect: Your values aren’t my values, Donald Trump. Your empty platitudes don’t speak for me. I will never forget the things you’ve said, the damage you’ve done.

That person will never be my president.

THE THROAT: Damn Fine Writing

the-throat-straub

Those of you who’ve popped by here every now and again know how I feel about Absolute Write (absolutewrite.com). As a writer, I’ve learned so much from Aye-Dub, not to mention the support and friendships which have sprung up from my time there, enriching my otherwise lowly existence…

🙂

The other day, I noticed a thread on one of the forums : a fellow writer wondered about something he/she had read in King’s ON WRITING. Basically, King posits that, while competent writers can become good writers, poor writers can never become competent, and good writers can never become great writers.

That thread sparked a thought: What makes great writing great? which lead me to think of great writing I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Peter Straub’s THE THROAT–which I’m reading right now–is right up there.

How do I know? Because I’ve found myself wanting to find out what happens next, how the hell all those dots are going to connect. Reading this novel makes me want to find and read the first two books in Straub’s Blue Rose series. That’s a testament to his mastery of the genre: a mystery, no shit.

But for me, what makes THE THROAT so great is the writing. The story is intriguing, but the  writing is the thing. I’ve dog-eared pages to mark passages Straub has  written. Not flowery writing. Not necessarily profound. Mostly, they’re simple lines, perfectly suited to the character and scene, that have a certain something

Here’s what I mean:

He could not remember her name, but he knew he had stuck her right in the chest, and then stuck her a couple more times while she was still getting used to the idea.

Isn’t that perfect? It’s unexpected and kind of funny in a morbid sort of way. Not profound, but without a great writer writing that, I would’ve never had the pleasure of reading such a quirky, perfectly-constructed line.

Here’s another example, for a different reason:

We had at least two hours of Just Call Me Joyce, which demonstrated once again that when endured long enough, even the really horrible can become boring.

I actually stopped after reading that and thought about it, rolled it around in my little brain, wondering if it were really true. And I kept thinking about it. Such a simple declaration, but one with profound ramifications.

His hoarse, bludgeoning voice slammed each of his short sentences to the ground before picking up the next.

What I found so great about the line above is Straub’s mastery of well-chosen words. What an amazing line, I could SEE it, I could HEAR it. I FELT the reverberation of those slammed sentences, the meatiness of the man speaking: his exhaustion, his passion

Finally (because if I don’t stop at some point, this ode to Peter Straub will go on and on and on), there’s a part of the novel in which the narrator–a writer, no less–details just how he figured out his novel from beginning to end. It’s a blueprint of how a writer’s mind works, how he gets from A to B to Z, what his thought-processes are, how he cherry-picks from his own life experiences, the feeling that comes from finally, finally, figuring it all out…it’s an incredible insight into how the real-life writer Peter Straub, fiction writer extraordinaire, does what he does so well. And he allows us to be privy to that process? I mean, how lucky are we, his readers?

That’s great writing, folks.