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Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Yin-Yang Concept

“When you were born you were crying and everyone else was smiling. Live your life so at the end, your're the one who is smiling and everyone else is crying.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my eternal search for balance I've always been interested with the concept of the Yin-Yang, or as some refer to it as Ying-Yang.  Looking upon the symbol most would assume it simply represents opposites (this is the extent to the explanation to my children before that bored expression creeps in their eyes as they twist their hair) but it's more than that.  It's male and female; light and dark; good and evil, all that can not exist without the other therefore you can not fully understand them fully individually.

It's a wonderful tool to use in your writing as well.  Go ahead and insert it into your characters-do they continuously transform one another?  Can one exist without the other?  Now move on to your internal vs. external conflict, are they connected and ascend together?

Shih-tou's poem "The Identity Of Relative And Absolute":

Within light there is darkness,
but do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
but do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Each thing has its own intrinsic value
and is related to everything else in function and position.
Ordinary life fits the absolute as a box and its lid.
The absolute works together with the relative,
like two arrows meeting in mid-air.

Do you believe harmony has a place in your writing?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy (distracting) Holidays!

It was a fight-a constant struggle and the holidays won.  Even though I continue to set my alarm for 5am to work on my book(my 3rd major revision), it takes me 30-45 minutes to respond to the annoying noise.  At 6am with my cooling coffee next to me and the blinking cursor on the screen-what am I thinking?  Certainly not about my character's next words, no, but  rather did I pick up everything from the grocery store?  Or, should I pick up one more thing for so-and-so.  Don't forget to add vanilla to that-wait-the expensive vanilla not the imitation stuff...

Okay, I've lost my way and now I'm finding it very very difficult to pick up where I left off.  Wouldn't it be easier to just drop the whole thing?  I've already received a rejection to my agent query so shouldn't I quit there?  Everything inside of me screams (NO!) but I'm so tired and my family complains that I work too much.   Where can I sign up for a workshop on balancing one's life?

So calm down, I'm not quitting but instead I'm trying to take it one day at a time.  The inspirational quotes have become my bible of sorts and I try my best not to push too hard right now.  I need to ease my way back into my regimen and drink lots of vodka (just joking).

How do you cope with situations such as these?

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. 
Thomas Merton 

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.
Barbara de Angelis 

I don't think balance is something you get from someone else; it's something women have to find from within. For me, finding balance is still a work in progress.
Rachel Weisz 


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ode to Stephen King....

       Thanks to Stephen King I have a phobia of clowns and balloons as well as obscure cemeteries, oh and lets not forget little blonde-headed girls who look at me the wrong way.  I never knew much about him other than he lives in Maine so I decided to research him after watching The Shining for the hundredth time.
        Born on September 21, 1947 in Portland, Maine.  His Father left the family two years later, leaving King's Mother to raise him and his older adopted brother on her own.  As a child he witnessed a friend killed by a train-hmmm....Stand By Me?  I always wondered the origins of that story.  Apparently, he never remembered the details of the incident.
       In 1970 he graduated from  the University of Maine with a BA in English and in the same year his daughter was born.  With selling a few short stories and working odd jobs he struggled financially.  He decided to get his teaching certificate and shortly after was hired at Hampden Academy.  Subsequently his alcohol abuse began and continued on for ten years.
       Carrie was published in 1973 and I recall watching the movie as a child even though I wasn't allowed.  Salem's Lot (I still get the chills recalling the tv miniseries with David Soul) was published in 1975 and shortly after moved his family to Boulder, CO where he birthed the idea for The Shining.  Needless to say his career took off from there.
        His talents don't stop at horror, but he also dabbles in poetry, songwriting as well as comics. Here are some of my favourite quotes of his....

"Get busy living, or get busy dying."

"Fiction is the truth inside the lie."

"I guess when you turn off the main road, you have to be prepared to see some funny houses."

"A lot of us grow up and we grow out of the literal interpretation that we get when we're children, but we bear the scars all our life. Whether they're scars of beauty or scars of ugliness, it's pretty much in the eye of the beholder." 

Thank you Stephen King for being who you are.  

Aurora, CO


Friday July 20, 2012 7:32am

After my daughter wakes up from her bed, she passes me on the couch as I watch the news.  She notices my tears but doesn't comment.  I murmur a 'Good morning' and my voice cracks.  I sob.  More tears. I need to be strong. She looks at me again, I feel her hesitation before she asks, "What's the matter, Mom?"

Can't she see the images on the tv? The police cars flashing, the dropped popcorn on the side of the road, the blood trail along the sidewalk?  She's ten I remind myself.  I shut the tv off and try to speak, my throat filled with disbelief.  Finally I say, "A man hurt a lot of people last night during the premier of Batman."

"Oh."  She says looking at the ground. "So why are you crying?"

Another sob. Because we planned to see the movie on Saturday in a different theatre in Aurora.  Because I thought about taking you to the midnight showing.  Because so many people will never be the same.  Because of the mom of that six-year old girl.  Because of the man holding up the picture of his son, desperate for any information. Because our worst fears came true this morning.

Instead, I say, "I'm afraid."  It's like 9/11 when I was pregnant with her.  "I'm afraid because there are people out there that want to hurt other people and I can't stop it."

She replies, "I get it."

I shut off the tv and wish I could shut off the images in my head just as easily.  "What do you want for breakfast?"

"Waffles."  She answers with a smile.  "With chocolate chips."

"Okay."  I go into the kitchen to prepare her waffles and hide my tears.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ode to my soul sister....

My washing machine and I are soul sisters. We both cycle, her more than I-thank goodness but we both take the soiled and spit out the orderly, again, she tips the scale with that one and well eventually, we 
will both burn out.  Never have I given her the respect she deserves.  Oh, great white metal box who I have taken for granted my whole life, would you partake in a martini while we spin our thoughts together?  You know what I cherish the most about you? You are always there, no matter what and I love how you don't care if I show up in pajamas at noon with you still holding wet, clean clothes that are beginning to smell musty.  You really know how to keep a secret, sister.

Whether her name is Maytag, Kenmore, Samsung, Whirlpool, I know them all.  I can safely say I have measured my life out with loads of dirty laundry.  Either whites with bleach or at other times, darks in cold water with straight detergent-your nectar of the gods you bring me back to reality.  No matter what I do with my life you will always be there to remind me I am a woman.  Thank you my dearest sister!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

drink this...

Now what?

This thing I once craved
I begged
I hoped
I wished and dreamed

The sunrise, every morning at 6:30am
Like a cup of adrenaline
Pure and concentrated

Do I ball it up, placing it in my pocket?
Shall I turn away?
Or is it possible, could it just be…

This thing I once craved
I begged
I hoped
I wished and dreamed

A rounded expression upon my face
It is unrecognizable
Unintentional and disturbing
I am naked in the deep woods-
Searching for a rock to sit upon
And ponder how the fuck I got here.

Why don’t the blue birds sing to me-
And where are the butterflies?
The dark, anomalous shadows
And the sound of footsteps surround me
My compass lost in between milk and vodka-
It’s time to close my eyes
And feel the cold water fill my lungs

This thing,
You know, this thing I once craved
I begged
I hoped
I wished and dreamed…

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

10 things NOT to do when writing.

Top ten list of no-no's for a writer...

We learn from our mistakes, otherwise we have suffered unnecessarily.   I tell my children every day it's okay to make mistakes-no one is perfect because to err is human and what we do next separates us as individuals.

The writing journey I've followed these past three years taught and reminded me of some no-no's as a writer and I would like to share them with you.

1.)   Don't ever write when cooking, talking on the phone, wiping your kid's butt, or eating crackers (it's impossible to get those crumbs out of the keyboard and every time you hit the spacebar hearing that crunch! you'll be reminded of your stupidity).  Focus!

2.)  You are the most important tool in your writing so just as you recharge your laptop  you must fuel your body. So when hunger causes you to stop, practice proper nutrition.  I'm not your Mom nor am I a nutritionist-you know what's best and it doesn't include potato chips and coke.  I think it's safe to include exercise here as well.  Strap on your iPod and go for a walk to enjoy nature-it will also help to clear your head and possibly generate new ideas.   Please be careful and don't reach for the 100lb dusty weights sitting in your basement.  Work up to it.

3.)   Sleep, rest, or nap whatever you can manage when you're not thinking of what your main character will say next.  You need to get those creative juices flowing and there's nothing like giving your brain some recess time.

4.)  Alcohol.  Oh boy.  Look, I'm all for a drink or two for relaxation but don't fool yourself, writing is like driving and you can't drink and drive!  So don't do it or you'll find pure dead-end crap on your screen the next day.

5.)  Drugs.  Come on, really?

6.)  Sex.  Do you recall the Seinfeld episode when the group abstains from sex?  George becomes a scholar and Elaine turns into an airhead.  There's nothing like a good mind-blowing 'O', but be careful, too much will begin to creep into your novel....look at E.L. James-she claims to have gone through a mid-life crisis while writing the fifty shades series!

7.) Music.  Knock yourself out-whatever it takes.  A Baptist choir to death metal-again, whatever it takes.  Just to warn you though, YOUR MUSIC WILL INFLUENCE WHAT YOU WRITE, so be cautious.  Especially when writing children's literature you might not want to listen to Megadeath.

8.)  If you have children, please don't forget them.  They need you more than you need to steal a few moments on your laptop.  Set aside time first thing in the morning or at night to write.

9.)  Caffeine.  Yes!  It's like a defibrillator to the right side of your brain.  Try to limit the quantity, of course, or it will have adverse effects or even stop your heart.  Oh! And try not to add too much sugar or you'll end up a diabetic.

10.)  Your significant other.  Well, they are adults and can take care of themselves but try your best to spend some time with them instead of wondering how you're revising those first three chapters of crap your built your book upon.

Have I forgotten anything?  Please add in the comment section.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Revisions and decisions...

        Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement....
              -Ronald Reagan

It's final-I absolutely detest revising.  I find myself cleaning the toilets or organizing dresser drawers instead.  Why?  Grandiose notions of birthing a flawless novel?  Hardly!  It's like driving down an unfamiliar road with thousands of exits that might take you somewhere interesting or a dead end.   Then of course there are all those places to pullover to admire or hate the view, or even to relieve one's bladder. It's so damn easy to become distracted, especially on those particularly sunny, breezy days.

            I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.
                    -Douglas Adams

Then you have that little person (Sd-I call him he doesn't deserve a vowel) living in the back of your head telling you Why bother, it's not like you'll ever be published! Writing is so much fun, right?

Tell me, how do you remain focused while revising?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hunter S. Thompson revisited.....

Just wanted to share an eclectic icon who wasn't recognized enough-although I suspect he preferred it that way.  If you've never heard of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or Rum Diaries you know a little about the man.  But have you heard the term, Gonzo Journalism?  His name is synonymous with the term because he told the truth when he wrote through humor and sarcasm.

I've included a link to a video of Thompson's ashes shooting out of a canon which is the way he wanted to go.  So much for 'not with a bang but a whimper', huh?

I encourage you to look up some google images of him as well.  Meanwhile, here are some quotes:

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

 "If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up.”

“Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why.”

“As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I'm not sure that I'm going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says 'you are nothing', I will be a writer.”

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937-February 20, 2005)

I'm back....

     Time to pull out the sandpaper and remove the accumulated rust (yes, rust not dust-I'm allergic) off this account.  The past months have been filled with revising my book and I'm hoping this is my final one with only 300 pages to go.  Does anyone else find it to be a very slow process?  Oh, and I did the unthinkable-I've begun querying.  I know I'm supposed to wait until the book is 100% complete but couldn't resist beginning the process.  Talk about a humbling experience and I haven't even received my rejection letter (if I actually get a response back at all).  It's been two weeks and I can't stop myself from looking at my emails every 15 minutes.  Pathetic?  Yes, thank you.

      So, I'm 2,000 words over as well as 2.5 weeks past my personal deadline oh and I'm still up at 5:30 every morning writing, or purging.  I have to keep in mind that no matter what I've been reunited with a passion forgone along with the degree I shake my fist at every time I look at my bank account.  Right?  Yeah-whatever I don't keep pom-pom's in my closet but clothes from a few sizes down?  Sure because you just never know....