Friday, July 30, 2010

Clueless Advertising, Forehead Butt, and Me

Angie and her hubby are still here, and we're having a great time! Went to Asheville yesterday. More later, but for now, I'll leave you with a re-print of a YOG (Year of Gratitude) post I did a couple years ago. YOG was a joint blog a few R&Ters did for a year back in 2 ought something I forget cause my brain is turning into mush . . . that said . . . see you all later!

I was watching television (a completely mindless but necessary to my sanity condition I allow myself only on certain times of the evening) when I suddenly felt Not Young. For example, the twenty-something woman as representative for a wrinkle cream; I mean really! Wait until she has my forehead butt and then she can tout the “erase the hands of time” lotions (more like claws of time, or shovels of time...). And if you are wondering what a forehead butt is, just take a gander at the photo. There, right between my eyes: Forehead Butt! You can thank my brother Johnny for naming my deep worry wrinkle set there by time and circumstance and deep deep thoughts, like this deep thought post I’m writing (ahem).

Then there’s the feminine product commercials. I never thought I’d be wistful about those ugly little tubes full of cotton attached to cotton string, when upon “wearing” said contraption, one feels like some strange "pull the string" talking doll, complete with Three Delightful Sayings: “Leave! Me! Alone!” “GO AWAY!” and the one that makes the doll's brows meet in the middle and the mouth straighten into a thin dangerous line, “What do you mean is it my time of the month?” Yet, I want to shout to the screen, “Enjoy it while you got it, sister!” But then again, it’s really nice not to have to worry about PMS: Pissed Manic Screamer, and etcetera.

Even the “older people” on television commercials aren’t allowed to get old. There’s things to inflate you, things to unwrinkle you, things to make you soft, things to make you hard, things to give you hair and things to take away hair, there’s vitamins and tonics and lotions and pills and needles full of stuff that used to be bad for you but somehow makes your face immovable and, um, "perfect"—so you don’t get the forehead butt, *sigh*

Despite Clueless Advertising, I feel incredibly grateful for my health and well-being. I’m even grateful for television—how else would I sit drooling on my couch with glazed-over eyes, stuffing microwave popcorn down my gullet, waiting for the next image to entertain me? Now, if I could just get rid of this forehead butt . . . I wonder if eating lots of chocolate and drinking vodka tonics will do the job? I'm going to go find out; later y'all!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Mountain Soothes . . . Two Friends on a Porch

Angie recently lost her mother. The last two years, she has juggled writing, editing demands at Rose & Thorn, her family--including teenagers--and along with her sister, taking care of her dying mother.

Last night was the first time I've seen Angie really Let Go. Just have a big fat huge belly laugh and throw her laugh out to the mountains in such abandon and joy and release.  The mountain cove does that. The creek surging, the birds flying from feeder to feeder and then from tree to tree, the calm and serenity and quiet - the very Ancient of it all. The ghosts and spirits in this cove hovered round us, laughing their specter laughs. I love it here, and to share it with a best friend and colleague brings joy.

These mountains are a balm. Magic. They encircle and embrace and surround. They protect. They give. They take away nothing.

The mists have come the last few mornings, blanketing the valley below, covering the people who live down there. I wonder if they could hear our laughter echoing last night?

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Angie Gumbo Writer is here and we're on the porch . . .

Angie is here and we're settin' on the porch with our laptops, on a cool smoky mountain morning. Last night we ate and had wine and GMR prepared a pineapple upside down cake that Angie snapped a photo of and placed on her blog.

In the meantime, I'll just leave you with a post from the R&T YOG blog from a couple years ago. Have a great day!

I remember days when I felt I had no voice. When what I thought and what I did could be separate entities, because they had to be. I could write a very long blog about the instances where I felt I had no power, but I will not bore you with the details. Most all of us at one time or another has felt powerless against some force that has pushed its will upon us. I also know there were times I felt powerless when I really was not. I either was too afraid, or too naïve, or so used to how things were rather than how they could be that I did not make a change; I did not find my Voice, or my Power.

The other day, I had a conversation with someone, and without giving away details or places or events, this person said, “I really want to say something, but I’m afraid of the consequences.” I looked at her: this woman who is smart, capable, beautiful, and I wanted to tell her, “You have more power than you think.” But, what if I convinced her to speak up and the consequences she was afraid of happened? What good would her power be to her then? Of course, if the situation she is in warrants such care, such fear of reprisal, wouldn’t she be better off out of the situation?

We can have different levels of perceived power. If I speak up, and the consequences happen, I can shrug it off, go on my way, and be just as happy, if not happier. But for this woman, she cannot perceive her power in that way. She will see the outcome as disastrous. I recognize my power in situations much more now than I ever did in my early adulthood. One learns that there is always something else. There is always another. There is always the next thing. There are some situations that are just not worth the anxiety, or the discomfort, or the sad, or the anger, or the fear, or the stress. I want to pass my power on to this woman, to tell her to stand up for herself, to give her the eyes to see inward the power she possesses, but I cannot. She must find it for herself.

(Though I didn't write this original post about my writing life, I find this applies in so many instances!)

Where do you find your power? How will you gain back what power, or voice, you've lost?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What if publishing your book was like accepting and working for any other job?

If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, as a Job, we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then sit by the phone and wait for it to ring, sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job. That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! You put on your work clothes and—

My advance will be six figures—I’m in the money!

You accept the job and they offer you some “upfront” money to come work with them. That upfront money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us, you are a bit more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive small advances on my books and they are manageable enough to pay back quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities.

I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy.

Better check your salary again! Whether big business or small, the money earned has to go many different places. Imagine Bill’s Tools & Supplies. Bill the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money, he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bill with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.

So, your book is published (and I’m talking print here, not e-book). Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalties are anywhere from 6 to 15 percent—the low end for paperback and higher end for hardcover. So, let’s suppose you get 10% royalty on each book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00 (and SELLS for that, not is priced at that; there is a difference. After any discounts are taken, the final price is what your royalties are based on).

Ten percent of $15.00 = $1.50 per book. (If you have an agent, take 15% from that $1.50 and you get less than that).

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it? Imagine working for $1.50 an hour—can you make a living on $1.50 an hour? Not likely. And it’s unlikely you are selling a book an hour every day for 8 hours a day, five days a week, but, even if you sell twice that seven days a week, that’s still not enough to go yacht shopping by any stretch.

(E-books do offer better royalties, simply because there is less overhead.)

Be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one month and not so good another month. You have to factor in expenses, too. Again, dream big, but temper it with the realities of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.

My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, Publishers Weekly, et cetera.

You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked. You’ve gone to meetings. You’ve put out good work. You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by supporters or agents who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he did.

There’s a lot of competition for space out there. And many times, the Big 6 published authors garner the most attention. Next are authors who’ve already had best sellers, or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera. It’s a saturated business. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to get to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely your work is.

My book will be in many bookstores across the land.

Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if you could get even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but, you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more. You are so happy! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. So you make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.

Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but, nowhere near what you thought.

The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.

Sadly but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to get your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget and sentimentality usually goes one way: The author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.

Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Day! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not.

With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.

This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.

How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE get paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?

You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.

 I want this job—do you?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Memory Surges: What words may come - Guest on My Own Velvet Room

I'm a guest today over at My Own Velvet Room  - writing on Memory Surges and how this can effect/affect our writing. Hope you will stop by and say hello.

(Flowers at Lake Junaluska)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Barry Fraser: A beautiful lovely man - We will miss him so very much

*a kiss farewell*
My friends, for any of you who knew and loved Barry Fraser - he has passed away. I just can't find words to express my grief over a man I never met face-to-face, but one for whom I had the greatest respect and love. I don't know what else to say. I'd written a dedication to him and  hoped that  dedication was one of hope and life and our Barry would write more about his walks with his best canine friend Lindsay. I feel honored to have known him. And now . . . he has left and I just feel so damned sad and crying for someone I wish I HAD met face to face, but it is as if I had, that's how strong a personality he was, is?. He is truly a dear and special man who touched so many lives. .

I hate cancer.

His wife Linda posted on his site - if you want to say a word.

Pardon While Under Construction!

I'm fiddling with my blog - so it will change back and forth a little bit over the day as I have time to fiddle with it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stop: Take a moment to appreciate . . .

I must tell you that last night, I went outside, and I looked up, and there was a single firefly, or lightening bug as we called them as kids. I had just had that memory surface like an old song, and there one was, come winking to me as if it wanted to say, "We are still here, same as you." I watched it fly off and I smiled. More came, but I remembered the first most acutely.

Then I searched for Old Moon, and there, between the trees, Moon played hide and seek. I laughed, because it is hard for Moon to hide its ethereal charms. I howled at it, very low and soft, just to let it know I appreciated, that I Noticed it; that I Saw it; that I Knew it.

I appreciated the night. I appreciated the firefly coming to me. I appreciated the moon playing hide and seek. I appreciated the silence and the wind in the leaves. I appreciated GMR, my friends, my life, my family, and my son and his family. The wind and the rain. The red and the purple. The black and the white. The rough and the smooth. The sleep and the waking. The different and the same. The cool and the warm. You and me. Us and them. We and they. I appreciate.

Sometimes what may seem ulgy and rough and old and lacking in beautiful color or softness or smooth is really the most beautiful of things.

Its light is there, you've only to look.
I am awed and amazed and thankful as I appreciate.

And you?

(Photos taken by Kat at Lake Junaluska)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Scene from a Marriage: A Fairly Fair Fairy Story by Queen Kat Magendie

Once upon a time, in a land up high, there lived a Queen. This Queen’s King was on a trip to a mysteriously eerie swamp-land of his birth called South Louisiana (pronounced: "South Loose-ee-an-uh).

Well, whilst the King was away, the High-Hillbilly-born Queen danced and sang, for there were no King's cooking fingerprints upon the appliances, no dribbles upon the counters and cabinets, and to booty-boot, the ennnnnn-tire bedchamber was Queens and Queens alone, whereupon she could flop and toss about to without obstruction from the Wall of King taking up near the whole bedchamber. *Waltz waltz; waltz waltz*

Then (*Thunderous Music!*) came the morning when the Queen looked upon her larder in the Frigidaire, and noticed there were no more greens!, there was no more grapefruit juice!, and on the royal counter, there were no more apples!, and in the most high royal pantry, there were no more Special Granola! and Cocoa Pebbles (pronounced Ka-Koah Pebblees)! and Dark chocolate with Almonds! The Queen, in a panic, summoned her minions, "Minions, ho!," but realized she had no minions to ho, just two near-to-chubby lazy dogs who, by the way, were almost out of their royal pain dog food!

Oh, but the Queen fretted and moaned and gnashed her teeth. Where did these wondrous and nutritional items come from if not from minions?, she pouted. Surely they did not just appear out of the misty mountain air?, she poodled. The Queen then flopped her quite-shapely-for-her-age-if-she-says-so-herself-and-she-does rump upon her stately throne and thought and thought, and the thoughts became more thoughts, and those thoughts went off into tangents of thoughts until her brain squeezed and she had to blink and give her head a shake and pronounce, “Where were art I?”

She recollected her mind, and sighed, “Oh but yes, my larder is bar-ed. I have none of the precious foodstuffs that I daily enjoy.” Then with a start, a horrified, “Augh!” The Queen also realized there was soon to be no more Charmin (pronounced Shar-meen) to be had in the Land of Mountains for her humble Toiletateree

“Oh, Oh, whatever will I do?” The Queen sobb-ed. The Queen pondered and pontificated and gasped and ballyhooed. She paced the little log royal castle, wringing her royal hands. Then! (*Hopeful Rising Music!*) it came to her, how these things suddenly appeared to the royal homestead. The King! Yes! The King went to the village and pillaged the Ingles Supermarket and brought forth his bounty for the Queen’s enjoyment so the Queen never had to leave her mountaintop.

And when the King returned from his quest from the wet mooshy land of yore, she ran to him and rained upon his face kisses, or at least one kiss that reached almost to his lips, and said, “My King! My King! Get thee to Ingles quickly, for my cupboard (Pronounced "Cub-ard") is bare-ed!” And the King set off without complaint, off to the village to pummel and plunder for his Queen. And his Queen was ever so ever grateful, even if she sometimes doesn’t show the King thusly so.

The End.

(a version of this was in our YOG blog originally)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rose & Thorn summer issue is Live . . .

Rose & Thorn Journal summer issue is now live! Stop by and read the eclectic offerings in prose and poetry, and as well, our guest cover artist.

If you haven't signed up for the newsletter, we hope you will.

Send the writers/poets a line and tell them what you think; they'd love to hear from you - as would we at R&T.

We are on Facebook and twitter - we'd love to have you "like" us and follow us.

Also, R&T has an "interview with the R&T editors" on Duotrope's Digest.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scenes from a Marriage: Morning

Eyes open. Heave out of bed. Feet in slippers. Coffee pot turned on to grind beans and start brewing process. Me makes up bed while GMR puts seed out for birds/squirrels. Wash face . . . etc.

There is a dance and rhythm to the morning.
Me and GMR want to get to that pot of coffee as soon as it finishes brewing, pour a cup (black for me; cream and sugar for GMR).

Me trudge trudges to coffee pot; hair askew, face dragging the ground.

Chipper Dipper GMR is between coffee and Me.

Me: “Urghhhherrrghhhhhh . . .” *Imagine Frankenstein asking for coffee*

GMR: “What?”

Me: “Ugrreehhrhhrhrhrgrhhhhhgrrrr . . .” points to coffee cup. *translation: Me want coffee now, move outta way. Me want coffee NOW!”

GMR: “Well, Good Morning to you, too!” (said a bit snippity high horse if Me asks me). Pours Me a cup and hands it over.

Me: “Ugrhh . . .” then, “I couldn’t sleep . . . I’m discombobulated. Coffee. Need.”

GMR: Said uber concerninglingly and innocentinglyly: “Did your back pain keep you up, hmmmmmmmm?”

Me: Gives him That Look. “Um, noooo. Your noises kept me up.” *AGAIN is implied here*

GMR: “Noises? I made noises?”

Me: My inside voice: *OMG! How many times do we have to go through this? How many times I have to tell him?* “Yes, your noises.”

GMR: “Me or the (cpap) machine?”

Me: *how . . . many . . . times . . . must . . . we . . . go . . . et cetera . . . * “Both! I was awakened about fifty-galleven million times …ughrhhhgrrrr.” (Just want coffee).

GMR: “I made noise?”

Me: Gives That Look again. “I can’t remember when I’ve had a full good night’s sleep. I mean . . . it’s like this:” *Me mimics the sound of gale force wind gusting through a narrow lead pipe.*

GMR: Says nothing. But his inside voice is saying, *Boy is she cranky! Oh well, doop doop, beep beep blorp blick flickering inner television screen..... She'll get over it. Do do do do do la la la..images from Law & Order, Food Network, Jeopardy ... blip blorp... ....Well, I’ll just be the best ole husband I can be the rest of the day and she’ll forget about all this can’t sleep because of some noise that’s probably nothing at all and she’s making a big deal of out of what’s nothing at all business. *** white noise white noise white noise white noise****

Me: Takes coffee and sludgers away to her laptop. *I swear! I can't sleep! I'm sooooo tired! I'm soooo sick of whooooosh whoooooosh WOOOO WOWOO WOOOOOwhooooshhh, and another thing, while I'm at it . . . hey, SHINY THING SHINY THING SHIINNNNNYYY THINNNNNGGGG IS DISTRACTING ME -- and . . . that . . .who what where when how why . . . did I do those edits? Hey, here's some email, oh wait, there's a facebook message, oh, twitter . . . ***music music earworm music ....* and boy he makes me mad when . . . where did I put my . . . I'm hungry** *

GMR: GMR has his cup and goes to his computer. **white noise white noise white noise white noise white noise . . . online crossword puzzle white noise puzzle white noise**

How it Could Go, and Perhaps A Version of How It Has Gone:

Me: “Good Morning! That coffee sure smells good!”

GMR: “Well, here’s a nice fresh cup!”

Me: “Thank you! *sip* hmmm doggies! That’s some good coffee!” Big Fat Morning Smile.

GMR: “Uh huh.” Fiddle dee dee with his cream and sugar.

Me: *takes a sip of good ole coffee* "Hey, by the waysies, GMR ole buddy, ole pal: I had a hard time sleeping last night. Maybe it’s time to have that ole zippity do dah day cpap machine fixed, or something, tootle lee doo? Might be a good idea to look into it!” *Big Arse Happy Go Lucky Ain't Life Grand Smile*

GMR: “Huhn . . .uh huh. Maybe so. I'll look into it. Yessirree indeedy do!” GMR's inside voice says, *I don’t want to deal with that; so I’ll just be the best ole husband I can be the rest of the day and she’ll just forget about all this can’t sleep stuff, fix the whatever ***Flickering TV Screen, crossword puzzle, blip blorp . . . White noise white noise white noise white noise*** . . .

Me: Walks away with coffee. Inside voice: *I am SOOOOO tired. Unghhhh. I'm so . . .. SHINY THING SHINY THING . . . *


Monday, July 12, 2010

We have Comp'ny --

Hello and Happy Monday! GMR and I have "houseguests" and I am in the midst of going through line edits for "Petey" - what or who is a "Petey?" you may ask, or you may not *laugh* - but Petey is the novella I had to write and re-write and edit to completion in 30 days, for Bellebooks. From what I understand, it will be published along with another author's novella-length work. Don't know all the details yet, but when I do, I'll pass them on.

Meanwhile, I sent Sweetie on to BB so the line edits can be done. I just realized, Sweetie/Petey - sounds so much alike - I must like "etie" sounds *laugh*

GMR's son, daughter in law, and grandson are here. Nick is precious. These photos are not his photos, but I don't want to upload photos of Nick without asking them first. So, I leave you with photos of little Boop, Norah Kathryn . . .
And, I'll see you all again soon. I'll also be working on the next issue of the Rose & Thorn Journal . . . it goes live July 15, so hope you'll come see us then. The announcement newsletter goes out as well, and if you've not signed up, I hope you will. Our writers, artist, and poets would love to hear from you - go by and take a look at the spring issue before it goes into archives.

Have a wonderful day - will see y'all later!

Friday, July 9, 2010

In the Car: Scene from a Marriage

Me: OMG! Watch out! You’ll hit that squirrel!

GMR: It’ll move out of the way.

Me: but what if it doesn’t? You didn’t even slow down! What if it isn’t paying attention and you run it over . . .

GMR: It didn’t; look, it’s running off.

Me: But you COULD have run over it is what I’m saying. You didn’t even slow down is what I’m saying. It could have happened because you don’t slow down but instead just barrell on ahead, oblivious to things in your way.

GMR: *his inside head: - but it didn’t happen, so there!* His outside mouth saying: *sigghhhhhh*


Me: OMG! You hit that bird. Omg omg! Poor little bird! You didn’t slow down and see see seeeee! You hit it! I TOLD you this would happen.

GMR: I hit it? Did I? Are you sure?

Me: Yes! I saw it… oh oh ugh – ohhh, poor little bird. I told you and told you to slow down when you see critters! *unnghhh unngghhh* poor bird. I can't stand it.

GMR: I’m sorry! *said in a not really THAT sorry voice; the bird shouldn't have been that stupid, and in fact it wasn't, for that bird got out of the way, so there*

Me: When we drive back this way, I hope I don’t see that bird with its guts hanging out. Ohhh ughhnnnnn.


No dead bird is seen.

GMR: *doesn’t say anything on the outside, but on the inside is going nya nya nya – no bird with guts hanging out – so it flew off nya nya*

Me: I bet it dragged its little self off in the grass somewhere. I bet it’s cheeping out its last breaths out of its bloody beak as I speak. Ugnnggghhh. Poor little bird. I told you to slow down!

GMR: sighhhhhhh.


Me: Why do you always back into the parking spaces?

GMR: because it’s faster when I pull out.

Me: But, it takes longer to back in, so doesn’t that make it a wash? I mean, if you spend extra time backing in, it nullifies the pulling out quickly, doesn’t it?

GMR: Sighhhhhhhhhhh. Okay, I won't back in next time.

Me: No, don't just agree with me. I'm asking because I am curious. What I'm saying is: I'm asking you: Is it really faster? I'm curious. If you back in to get out faster, is it really faster in the Long Run . . . you know, if the time is added up ToGether. Not just pulling out, but the action of backing in AND the action of pulling out added together. Is that faster or is that a wash, thereby nullifying your theory of it being faster?

GMR: Huhn?


Me: OMG! You almost killed us! You need to pay attention! That truck is three times our size! SPLAT KABLAM, we could be dead right now! I haven't finished the edits on my novel - I'll be dead and with an unfinished work - oh no! Unngghhhhh. I wonder if my friends or family will know to look in my hard drive . . . If we'd burst into flames, that saves my cremation cost, right? Oh, but maybe not... OH! I don't want to think about that! Gross! Stop my brain from thinking about it! This is what happens when you almost get hit by a big truck thrice your size! Be careful, okay? That's all I'm saying, just be careful. We could be dead Right Now!

GMR: But I didn’t kill us. Um . . .

Me: But you COULD have!

GMR: sighhhhhh.


GMR: #*#*$& MOVE!!! #*#@*$#! *races up to the bumper of other car, angrily flicks his blinker, careens around it, then as he passes, he gives them the look, aggressively unflicks his blinker, and then races in front of them to haul ass away with a “that’ll show em attitude"*

Me: OMG! Are we running a race? I mean really? Are we? Running a race? this is a small town; we don't have to go ninety to nothing down Highway 19, okay?

GMR: They were (out of towners from a certain state that NCers have a rivalry with) and they pulled right out in front of me and then go slow and it drives me crazy! I hate that—they could have more courtesy; they don’t own the roads here! – actually GMR doesn’t SAY all this aloud, actually, he just gets THAT LOOK and says, "O'KAY, All RIGHT..." *sighhhhhhhhhhh*

Me: Still. Huhn.


Me: OMG! Do you have to race up then slow down, race up then slow down, race up then slow down? Drives me insane!

GMR: I’m not doing that.

Me: Yes you are, too! Stop it . . . drives me in-SANE.

GMR: okay okay *inside voice says I am SO not doing that* sighhhh.

Me: Well, I dreamed we got into an accident so you have to be more careful.

GMR: *inside voice: not those dreams again . . . * outside voice, “Okay.”

Me: You SAY okay, but are you really listening?

GMR: I’m listening. I said okay.

Me: But I mean LISTENING. Not just hearing words come out my mouth and hearing those words, but actually HEARING them and then PROCESSING them so that you UNDERSTAND them!

GMR: uh huh

Me: Sigghhhhhhh.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Discipline . . .

Get into the car, drive down into Waynesville, go inside, up the stairs, and to the treadmill—each action, separate yet one, propels me to the start of my goal. The goal being: to jog/run five miles. I know once I’m on the treadmill, I still have to reach a certain point before I know I’ll make it. Two and a half to three miles into it, I’m pretty set, in the zone so to speak, and will continue on to that five mile mark, sometimes with the feeling I could keep going (and I probably will when time allows).

Even as short a time ago as April of this year, I never thought I’d run five minutes (seriously), much less five miles. Used to be, only walking on the treadmill for a little while drove me up the wall. B O R I N G. I wanted to be doing something else. And to run or jog? Bleah!

But, I made up my mind I wanted to start running. I wanted to see what I could do if I just disciplined myself to it. So, I jumped on the treadmill and hit “quick start” and then began. I first ran as long as I was able without letting myself think on goals of how long or how fast. I just jogged along until I thought I’d had enough, and without berating myself at all (no berating!), I’d step off. Then the next time, I went at least as long as that, or maybe a little longer. Once I felt comfortable with the action, I began to set small goals, and built on them.

In my getting on the treadmill and keeping my eyes forward and my feet moving, it wasn’t long before five miles “just happened.” I added some music, and that helped the time move forward, for I had something to focus on besides my breathing and the sounds of my feet. I also found the pace at which I can go where reaching that five miles is attainable.

All of this takes Discipline. Without discipline, I’d never have reached, or even known I could reach, those five miles and the promise of going more if I choose.

Do I sometimes get a little restless? Yes. Do I sometimes have back pain? Yes. Do I sometimes want to Not Go and do something else. Yes. But I do it anyway. Some days/nights my back complains loudly, but I ignore it because this is something I want to do—the running. Some days I think I won’t make the five miles, so I tell myself to just get on and see what happens, and then I keep going past that point where I’m almost ready to give up.

Discipline. It’s the same concept with writing. Sit in your chair, open the word document, put your fingers on the keys, begin, and then when you think you want to stop, keep going, find that second wind, and every so often, push yourself just a little more. Perhaps you’ll surprise yourself with how far you can go. Perhaps you’ll lose yourself in the words and language and before you know it, you’ve written more words than you’ve ever written.

Without discipline, it’s difficult to be a writer. Even with deadlines, so much of what we do is self-motivated, and beyond that, we are never certain of a final outcome. If we do not jump onto that treadmill and put one foot in front of the other, over and over and over, then the work will not be done. Without discipline, the work is not done. Simple as that.

Are you ready to discipline yourself?


PS - My youngest brother Tommy (some of you have "met" him here before - and he's the one who is in the shadow pictures below) is in the hospital - keep your thoughts positive for him, will you? We think it's something minor, but anytime someone has to go to hospital . . .

Monday, July 5, 2010

Are You Listening? Scene from a marriage

GMR: “Mbekr ls jasr seu sejiej;sd sljfrojeue rfjsjre jrjr?”

Me: silence

GMR: “Se l alr jelrj ase msksjf;sjf sleij ajfsejp sflsejsem.”

Me: “Uh huh.”

GMR: “Slei slje kare lseusie etc etc etc.”

Me: “Hmmmm . . .”


GMR: “What time do you want to go?” (or: "Are you almost ready?")

Me: “Huhn?”

GMR: “What time do you want to go?”

Me: “Go where?”

GMR: Looks at me with that look

Me: Looks at him with that look then asks, “What’re you talking about? I don’t know about that.”

GMR: “I just told you the other day (or ten minutes ago).”

Me: “Huhn? What the other day(or ten min ago)? You didn't, either. I'd have remembered that.”

GMR: *sighhhhhhhhhhhh*
Me: "When? When did you tell me!"

GMR: "I told you e8rk eakrs uarhees . . ." *electrified hum in air . . . other voices chime in . . . Me loses clarity for a moment as Me is trying to think when he said it and where and how . . . *

Me: “Huhn? Oh, um . . . ha ha . . . I wasn't list--um . . ., er . . . um . . . ha ha . . .well . . . huhn . . . what did you say? ”

GMR: Big arse Siggghhhhh but it's an INSIDE sigh since he doesn't want to show he's sighing but Me knows he's sighing . . . can FEEL his inside sigh

Me: "I'll be ready in twenty minutes."

Folks. If you live with someone who works from home. If you life with someone who you know is concentrating so hard on what they are doing that they probably aren’t paying attention to what you are saying even though they are pretending to pay attention to what you are saying, they probably aren’t. Clues that they are NOT paying attention to what you are saying: “Silence. Uh huh. Hmmmmmmm.” Clues they ARE paying attention: “That sounds good. I like so and so. What time do we need to be there?”

I’m pretty sure it’s not only writers who have this scenario in their homes. Am I right? Are you listening? Are are you going “Uh huh . . . hmmmmmm. . .” Sighhhhhhh.

So . . . how goes it in YOUR house . . . ?

(shadow photo taken by me at Oregon Beach)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Running round & round & round that circle

I do a lot of listening to (or reading about) writers—both published writers and as yet unpublished writers.

And what I hear is a lot of “what if” and “if only” and “If I could just” and “So and So is doing this and that’s what I want” and “Why can’t I?,” and Et Cetera. I’m not immune to it, but I am growing ever more Aware of it. Circuitous thinking, round and round it goes, endless. Our desires are always a step farther than our needs, just round that curved corner we can’t see from where we are.

Funny thing is, we don’t remember when we were wishing for that something because when we reached that goal, we were already circling to find the next thing, and that for which we wished for prior has already been left behind.

Don’t get me wrong, having goals and wanting success is not a bad thing. What I am talking about is our discontent or dissatisfaction with what is happening right now; you know, that thing we had wanted to achieve so very much, before we actually achieved it.

So, round and round we go, stepping over successes, great and small, along the way. Oops! I just stepped over the goal of starting my project/finishing my project! Oops! I just stepped over my goal of finding an agent/having my work published/getting paid for writing/querying agents-small presses-lit mags/having someone I respect love my work or encourage me. Oops! I just stepped over my goal of my work being published. Oops, I just stepped over my goal of (fill in blanks). And as you circle, you pass people who are running to catch up and pass you as you run to catch up and pass someone else.

A writer, Michael M. Hughes, is a guest at helluo librorum, and after reading his experiences, this one sentence bolded in my head: “If you have even halting, tentative success, realize how lucky you are.”

So, this holiday fourth of July weekend, or whatever the case may be where you are, take a moment to NOTICE just where you are Right Now, and then, take just a glance backwards to remember how excited you were when This Thing Happened—that first glow, that first happy realization that you met your goal before you left it behind and began the round and round and round.

Each success should be savored. Roll that thing in your mouth like a big piece of sweet hard candy –the good kind not the kind nobody likes –and instead of crunching through it and swallowing it, let it slowly melt before you reach for the next piece.

And remember how there is always going to be someone behind you and someone in front of you and someone running over you or pushing you out of the way, someone who sets up circle-roadblocks in front of you—but if you stop the mad dash round and round and appreciate each experience, you will find some peace.

I know every one of us will forget this advice and/or ignore it repeatedly, but for right now, we have right now.
So, tell me Right Now: what goal have you reached that you feel excited over? What are you proud of, happy about, feeling GOOD about yourself about--before you thought, "But . . . " get rid of the BUT just for today and tell me your news!