In 2008 I printed, in duplicate, what I thought a finalized draft of my novel Crazy String, which I spent over a year writing. With all my naive surety I mailed my manuscript to the multitudes, and in what seemed like an instant dream-come-true signed an exclusive contract with a NYC Fifth Ave big-shot editor. In the spirit of holiday days, I will simply state, that 18 months later, we parted ways, headed out opposite doors. Me deflated, contract not renewed, sans publisher, but multiple drafts deeper into story through blood, sweat, and tears. Life lesson 101: dreams can be fleeting.
Without fail, on certain days, I find myself measuring myself against the giants, those who trod across uncertain landscapes firmly and with certainty, ease. I know I shouldn’t, but it has always been my cross, to want more. I’m not sure I can blame my parents for this one, maybe it was their post-depression dreams feed to me with all they believed possible, men reaching for the moon, a culture breaking sexual taboos and racial barriers, and seeing a world rebuild after war. Today I attempt to content myself by focusing on the little stuff. Finding the joy that nature brings. Taking a moment to look up at the blue or remembering to look down, to really see what’s here and now.
Chapter 3 you say? Wait, what? Thought I’d be weighing in on the Christine Blasey Ford allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, what she revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee and his indignant rage over even being asked or Trump’s claim that the whole story is invented by the con-artist Democrats? That circus? Nope. Couldn’t do it tonight.
Thought I’d return to a world I love, where complex characters are round and full, and I really care about their trials and joys. Don’t worry. I will not shy away from my civic responsibilities for long, I just need to dip into my own internal drama, and take a break from the one playing out in Washington. It’s not that I’m not sympathetic to Ms. Ford either. My heart breaks for all survivors. I just am also thinking about Dale’s mom tonight. Who’s Dale you ask? What’s happened to his mom? Chapter 3 starts to really heat up this story line. Wait, you haven’t read any of my novel yet?
Missed Chapter One which was posted on June 28th? Or Chapter Two posted on July 5th? Well, catch the wave of excitement for this yet-to-be-published novel of mine, Crazy String, and straight away read those chapters. The funny part is that if Crazy String had gotten published by that first editor who contracted the novel to her agency for a year, but then dropped me when the contract ended, I would never have crawled into a non-writing hole, and long desperate months later emerged as Nine Cent Girl. My blogger self would never have been born! And oh, I love her.
Chapter 3 is a tease, I mean really, this chapter sets up plenty of questions, but answers are miles ahead. Please let me know what you are dying to find out about. I promise to let you know when the entirety of Crazy String hits the shelves as I’m shopping the manuscript around once again.
I am aware that if you are a humanitarian and liberal thinker, you are crying over this week’s terrors, but if you’re a conservative and supporter of our current administration you may be feeling triumphant, but currently I am focusing on creativity and staying clear of politics, as hard as that is for me and yes, it is hard to ignore humans in cages. Instead, I am planning for my work with next year’s students while taking a week-long class with two terrific colleagues. During all this plotting I can’t help but remember my own artistry, which is, of course, writing. The place I go to whenever given a second, an empty space, where I fall so hard whenever I have the chance. So… tonight I thought, why not share bits of that imaginative place?
Interested in reading Chapter 1 of a yet to be published novel? I’d love to know if you are… indeed… interested… and what you think afterwards. Please let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add another chapter to the storyline next week if you’d like.
During this very first week of January, I hold off the temptation to look too far ahead, in order to pause in the threshold for a short moment and savor the past year. Looking back though my weekly blog posts, I am reminded of the small moments that make up one’s grand life: the way we keep ourselves present, fluid, and in touch with the important stuff. I offer the following tidbits, photos, and links from 2017, as a reminder to you of all we have been through, and just how resilient we all are despite the difficulties. 2018 may present challenges, but with the strength inherent in our past, what can we not overcome?
In no particular order, here are 5 posts I am glad I revisited. Hope you will be too.
After a blue sky day, when the sun drops behind the ridge and our mini-fire-pit reaches a heated pitch, we glimpse heaven on earth as snowy yard goes from blue to pink to purple. We stand witness and declare, weekends are the best! Afternoons outdoors, chatting about nothing, sitting silent for a few fleeting moments. Living beyond the work week is all we’re really after, right? Fire and sky, feet on the earth, with time on our side, now that’s a Saturday worth remembering.
4. Guiding Star
Find yours. Whatever it is. Your yoga practice or your rabbi’s words, your divining rod or your guardian angel, regardless, set a course toward your best self, and use your own spiritual beliefs to glimpse what that just might look like. Solo or with your congregation, catch a glimmer of those hopeful and healing and healthy and divine rays with regularity.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”– Harriet Tubman
These inspirational quips are easy to find as they roll along our feed like waves, but can easily hit the wall of our own stupid shit. I mean, do we honestly believe we can live out our dreams? Sure chosen folk like Oprah and Kobe seem to, and possibly my mother did, but what about you, or me? Can we push away doubt? Acquire a room of one’s own where we dare those dreams into action? I’ve known plenty of people with talent and possibility who crashed right into a waterfall of negative behaviors and let their own potential rush away. Maybe it’s the demons in their head, maybe it’s just their crap circumstances, regardless, they let their internal passions subside to a trickle. They put down the paint brush. They stop dancing. They quit imagining and believe something less about themselves, something more tragic. They’ve heard the sad tale so long they write one of their own.
What do you believe about yourself? Can you just pretend for one sunny moment that you are all that you envision you are? That the job you do is one that utilizes your full creative potential? That your future is in your own hands? Quite a mission if we feel tossed from day to day. But here’s the thing: why not choose to believe in the best outcome? I mean, seriously, what do you have to lose? Life is spinning by fast and then faster, so why not harness that rotation into your own glowing projection on this earth?
I know what you are up against. Whispers of “women can’t write, women can’t paint” have been heard even before Woolf penned those words in 1927. But even timid Lily defied that sentiment, right? Regardless of gender or age we can get trapped by societal misconceptions, from being the fat one or the stupid one or the talent-less one or just plain lazy and unlucky, we play out those limiting roles. Instead, how about we stand up to our own self-doubt as magnificently as Lily does in To the Lighthouse? “Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.”
Flying away from the City of Angels is never easy for me. My children live down there. And, besides the strings knotted between us, the city is built on dreams. Uber drivers write good screenplays. Waitresses are ready to hit the airwaves. Surfers design apps to cure loneliness. Seems everyone in Los Angeles is joined in believing in a vision beyond their current limitations. Over time, West Coast magic can break even hardened East Coast Northerns. Truly. Beyond Hollywood, there are garage bands making harmony and coffee shop plot lines and glittery dreams aplenty crisscrossing freeways. Even with Trump’s fatalistic fire and fury, one can reach for the stars here, believe in a better tomorrow, and let his improvisational rhetoric fall flat below. Maybe it’s the sunshine and palm trees, maybe it’s just a collective Los Angeles agreement that everyone should have the chance to change their world.
How about just for today you suspend your cynicism? The desperate voice in your chatter? Imagine something grander for your tomorrow. Be willing to turn off despair. Count your blessings. Start speaking out loud what you hold locked within. Believe we each have the ability to transform our dreams into reality if we follow our joy. Put that in your mind. Remember when all seems impossible. Joy. Latch onto that with me and together let’s dance right into a better world.