My Job

still-life-with-book-papers-and-inkwell-francois-bonvin.jpg(Still Life with Book, Papers and Inkwell, Francois Bonvin, 1876)

My Job

I have to say I am blessed with a few people who have truly pushed me to write. They believe in me and for that I am grateful. This writing industry is hard….no brutally hard! You write, and write, and write only to be mostly turned down, ignored, rejected, critiqued and flat out told you suck! (Not me personally, but others have stated as much.)

Wow, why do we do this?

You try to stay motivated. You read other blogs that inspire you to continue. You copy quotes about believing in yourself. You try to surround yourself with other writers struggling through (albeit in the surreal world of the internet) like yourself to know you are not swimming alone.

The truth is, you can believe all your want that you are good, but if you do not have validation it is hard to maintain that “self awareness.” Where does one get the strength to continue to write in spite of it all?

Writing a whole novel is a long process. Then there is the editing, reader critiques, query letters, synopsis, summaries, tag lines, not to add the research and networking on social media. It’s a never-ending process. No one is giving you a pay check, a promotion, a better office with a window, a bonus. It is just you writing. It is very isolated. No one else can do it for you and there is very little to show for it.

My husband asks, “What did you accomplish today?”

“I wrote 3000 words,” I reply.

I might as well have said, “I accomplished nothing.”

My friends who “work” ask, “What did you do all day?”

I answer, “I wrote.”

Their mind swirls with images of me sitting on a couch in pajamas with my laptop, watching games shows, and eating potato chips.

My friends wish they could sit home and daydream like me. My husband thinks I am fooling around with a hobby.  To them trying to become a writer….isn’t a job. It is equal to laying on your bed in a princess dress, indulging in fantasy. You have nothing to show for it…other than your words, thoughts, and imagination written down on a screen.

But the thing is…I am doing my ‘job.’ The job that I was meant to do! I am a writer. I AM A WRITER! I don’t want to become a writer….I don’t aspire to be one ….I am one. It isn’t a fantasy or long, far away dream. It is who I am. And thus, I write. I write late at night. I write in between picking up the kids. I write when I should be cleaning the house, or billing a client. I write! It may seem frivolous to most and a luxury to others. But to me it is my career identity. I am ‘working’ all the time!

I know, I know. It doesn’t bring home a paycheck. So, it’s not a real job. But that is just it…you can’t bring home a paycheck, until you write. Writing takes time, effort, work…..did I say time? It has so many roads to travel and hills to climb before the validation comes….in terms of money and notoriety…if it comes at all.

And thus, this leads me to appreciate that few, the very few, who support me along the way. I need you! I appreciate you! For it is like being a mother. You do a damn lot, for a long, long time and you may never see the fruits of your labor until your deathbed…hopefully sooner.

What can I say to the non-believers, the non supporters?

Nothing. I can only speak to my support team who continual read my blog, comment on my FB, scroll through my tweets, and who ask me about my work. Thank you for believing that what I do matters.

I may not make millions, be on the cover of a magazine, or even have a paycheck for my writing. Do you need those things to be validated????? I cannot lie. I would love that. But in quiet times in the morning when I start to doubt myself, a person has commented on FB about my latest poem or I have a new follower on Twitter.  It makes my day and I realize I have accomplishment my goal: Someone has read my words! Because the truth is, to be an accomplished writer is for someone to read your work, and eventually want to read more of your work. That is the measure of success for a writer. If publishing, money, speaking gigs, blogging invitations come, then it is all icing on the cake. But for now, I write, you read. Job accomplished!

Incursion

2148.jpg

(Lying naked On A Red Cushion, Pablo Picasso, 1932)

 

INCURSION

Darkness, blanketing the light

You take your position, there upon the pillow

As if waiting for the executioner

The mind weary, vulnerable

Worry, regret, contemplation of failures descend

Like an unheeded lover’s desire

Wanting, waiting, restless

Ready to pounce; ready to seize

For no one can stop the inevitable

Death, taxes, and sleep

Smiling Inside

bou_past.jpgPastorale, François Boucher, 1761

 

Smiling Inside

We talk

Not often, nor enough

But the moment your voice reaches my ear

My body responds as if cold water has trickled down my back; I shiver

Tiny threads of excitement spread across my skin, prickling

Does breath suspend?

For mine does in that moment…that moment of recognition that it is you

Your voice humming my soul

sharing your thoughts, your day

sharing a piece of you, with me.

Lucky am I,

the girl with no entitlement, no claim

to bask…no, revel in your being,

your attention to just me

talking…just talking

Little do you know,

the kindness you give,

the pure joy that lights me up inside

and I am happy

.

 

Slow Dancing (Guest Post)

It is with great pleasure I introduce to you D.B. Colson. A fellow poet with whom I am have fallen madly in love with his beautiful poetry. He is a man of great talent and with honor, he has allowed me to share it with you.

8140ac8bc37903d9743e85b0d910d568.jpg(Dancing Couple, Jack Vettriano, 1991)

 

Slow Dancing

In one another’s embrace

moving with each other

to the rhythm of

Fitzgerald and Bennett

 

Absorbed in sensation,

discovery and arousal,

neither future or past,

An exquisite memory

 

With many years since

and some idealization,

Something lost, grieved,

but not surrendered.

 

Yes, and most precarious

you remember me.

Own Your Truth

4-Still-Life-Writing-Table-Irish-painter-William-Harnett.jpg

(Still life of Writing, William Harnett, 1877)

Happy New Year! Or so you hope. But let’s face it. A New Year holds a lot of expectations that none of us will ever see fulfilled. New Year’s Day is just another day. Just another morning sunrise. Just another day to get out of bed. Just another cup of coffee. You aren’t any different than you were on December 31st.

But what does that mean? Are you not important? That you shouldn’t set goals to be better? No, but what should your real expectations be?

Own your truth.

Owning your truth means to take pride in who you are and what you do with no excuses or placed expectation of failure. I do that. I do that a lot. I need to stop.

I have written three novels, a collection of poems, have an ongoing blog, became an reoccurring editor for WFWA Industry News, had a poem and a review published, queried hundreds of agents and publishers, attended courses and seminars, joined writing groups, and become a full fledged writer in a matter of years. I am a writer! But I always, yes ALWAYS, say it with a disclaimer, “But my books aren’t published yet.” I invariably disclaim that I am a writer. I am not owning it. And when I don’t own it, my writing becomes insignificant. I devalue myself. My work. My sweat, blood, effort, and talent. But that isn’t the truth. And thus, I need to own the truth. I need to own up, claim my value, and stand proud…I am a writer!!!

To own it means I don’t have to make excuses for writing. I don’t have to fit it in my already busy schedule, or claim that I have “done nothing” all day when in truth I sat for hours with my fingers on the keys and my mind churning. To own my truth, as a writer, means what I do holds value.

When something holds value, you make time for it. (Tweet this)

I don’t need to set goals to write 10 minutes a day, finish my novel, or get published. Those are just things on a to-do list. But they aren’t real life changing resolutions. The bigger pictures is to claim my truth and see my life for what it is…valuable. To own my truth gives me the goal of living an extraordinary life. And that is a resolution that I can’t fail!

What is your truth?

It is a new year and there isn’t a place you can’t read about setting goals and grabbing what you really want out of life. Resolutions are terrific in theory, but they will most likely fade. They invariably always do. Setting goals is noble. But it also sets you up for failure, even limits the possibilities. You cannot set one goal or have any expectations of yourself if you don’t look yourself in the mirror and own the truth of who you are and the extraordinary life you really do have. Make each day fulfilling that goal.

Own it. Do it. Be it. 

Happy New Year and thank you for your support and reading my blog! I look forward to creating more writing that inspires you.

 

 

 

Lost Lifetime, Reunited

As promised, I have been honing my skills. I just completed a course at the University of Iowa called, How Writers Write Fiction, Storied Women. I would like to present one of the short stories I wrote for my class; a lesson on fragmentation. It was a challenge to introduce a stream of thought within the context of the story. Nothing happens in a linear way, and this piece is introducing past and present simultaneously. I hope you enjoy my story about a woman dealing with her mother’s death and her coming to terms with the remnants of their relationships.

Lost Lifetime, Reunited

Grace was tired of looking at death. Her mother’s fragile body lying listlessly under the once bleached white sheets. They were grey now, dingy and faded from too much wear, like her mother’s face. Grace kissed her mother’s forehead and left the room.

“How is she doing?” Aunt Louise asked, seeing Grace out of the corner of her eye not without losing her concentration of her crochet loop.

“The same…lingering,” Grace replied. “I’m going to run out and get some air.”

“Do that. You look tired. Some fresh air might be good. Did you get any rest last night?”

“Rest?” Grace gave a guttural laugh. “There is no rest with mother, now that she is dying. Or ever, really.” She didn’t continue her thoughts. Her aunt knew what she meant. Her mother never let Grace rest.

Grace slept. She slept a lot. Long hours, days, months, even years had gone by sleeping. Trying to pass her life of loneliness. But rest was not a part of the equation. There was too much to think about. Too much to accomplish. Too much to live up to.

“Grace, life is so full of things to do. Don’t waste your time on dreaming. You need to finish college, get a good job.” Mama preached. “Women can do anything in America. And my baby girl will do it. You will make me proud, won’t you?” 

“Yes, Mama,” Grace assured her mother. She meant it. She would never let her down.

“Why does it have to be so cold?” Grace murmured as she  looked out the window at the grey sky and leafless trees.

“Go on,” her Aunt ordered. “It won’t get any warmer looking at it.”

Grace grabbed her coat, put on the multicolored hand-crocheted scarf made with left over yarn her mother gave her last Christmas, and slipped her feet in her mother’s boots. There was no need to bring her own from California. Her mother and she were the same size; they were the same shape really. When she looked in the mirror it was even her mother’s face that stared back. She was her mother’s twin now that she was a full-grown adult. Who was she kidding? She was not just a grown adult, but a single, middle-aged woman now. Any youth she had left had passed her by ten years ago. She thanked the heavenly gods for her mother’s supple skin and pretty eyes even though age had set in. White hair surfaced every four weeks to remind her of the fact. But even as her mother lay in bed dying, she was still beautiful.

“You’re always beautiful to me,” Grace whispered to no one; to herself.

There was no one prettier to Grace. Mama never went out of the house without her chestnut hair pulled back in a chignon, bright red lipstick, and an ironed dress. It didn’t matter where she was going. To the grocery store or the movie theatre. Mama said a woman should always look her best. She always did. 

Men would flirt with Mama. Even before Papa died. She would politely accept the compliments but would never take them up on their offers for dinner or a cup of coffee. Grace always wondered if she was lonely without a man to spend the rest of her life. 

Grace was.

She had asked once. “Mama, don’t you want to love another man?”

“I had all the love I needed from your father. He gave me my hearts fill with you and your brothers. I don’t need any more than I’ve got.”

Grace understood…to love someone so much no one else would do. But it was lonely all the same.

The weather had turned as soon as October ended and winter was now in full swing. It hadn’t snowed, but the temperature dropped twenty degrees, forcing Grace to drag her long wool coat out of the closet and transport it across the country to Connecticut. Back home. Back where her mother was dying.

Grace closed the door and inhaled deeply, shocking her lungs with the frigid air. She wrapped the scarf around her head to cover her ears and made a loop around her neck. Pulling up the collar of her coat, she pushed her body forward into the emptied streets ahead. The wind snapped at her body as if taunting her to retreat for cover from the chill. Grace plunged her hands into her pockets in defiance. She didn’t want to go back inside. Not yet. She wasn’t ready to return to death.

Her stride increased. She knew where she would find some reprieve. The place she always escaped since she was a little girl.

She made the sign of the cross with the holy water and genuflected at the fifth pew from the back. How many times has she sat there praying? Hoping. Dreaming most of the time. Today she would pray. Pray for the angels to come and take her mama.

It’s time for me to go,” her mother’s voice creaked. 

“Don’t say that,” Grace argued. “I will miss you too much.”

“And I will miss you,” she replied, trying hard to make her face muscles move into a smile. Even that took too much energy and her cheeks dropped never completing her attempt.

“Your father is waiting for me.” She paused for a moment and her eyelids fell shut. “I can hear his voice. It’s as if he’s standing besides me whispering in my ear.”

“What is he saying?” Grace asked, holding her breath for the answer.

“You will be okay.”

Grace wondered who the answer was for. She laid her head on her Mama’s belly like she used to as a little girl. Mama lifted her trembling hand and ran her hand down Grace’s hair.

“There, there, my little girl,” she cooed. “You have so much to do. So much still yet to accomplish. Make me proud.”

Mama always pushed. Even upon her death bed Grace had expectations to fulfill. She would never let her mama down. Becoming a successful administrator for a large California School District was no small achievement. She was now working on her doctorate in education. She wasn’t sure what more she could achieve for her mother. But whatever it was, she deserved that and more. She was good mother; a supportive mother. Grace would never have succeeded if it weren’t for her support and expectation that she could accomplish all that she wanted. Her mother was her rock and most avid cheerleader when it came to a successful career. But success didn’t include love. No, that was one area her mother had never supported her. And thus, Grace was alone.

Alone, facing her mother’s death, with no one to console her. No one to know how much this woman meant to her. No one to hold her and tell her that she will be okay.

Grace stared at the crucifix. Jesus looked emptied. Defeated. That is how she felt.

“Take good care of her,” Grace whispered, as she made the sign of the cross.

The crisp air slapped Grace across the face as she pushed the heavy doors open from the church. She squinted her eyes having been dilated from the dark confines of the old church. She blinked a few times to adjust to the brightness and started to descend the stairs. The temperature had dropped again and she brought her hands to her face to blow her hot breath to warm them. Grace felt renewed. Prayer always made her feel that way. She looked out at the street ahead of her. So many memories of the tiny town she grew up. Mr. Smiley’s son took over the meat shop. The sign now read, Smiley’s and Son. The ice cream store was still on the corner, but not as busy as it was in the summer. A grandmother holding her grandson’s hand opened the door and entered. The baby-clothing store had closed and it was now a candle shop.

How can people make money selling just candles? Grace pondered as she descended the steps of the church.

“Take these,” a man’s voice interrupted Grace’s observation. He held out his hand with a pair of black leather gloves.

Grace turned and blinked twice to make sure she was recognizing the salt and peppered haired man standing before her.

“Bobby?” she questioned, her voice surging in octave.

He smiled. The same smile she had remembered from her youth. The same smile that melted her heart so many times. The same smile she fell asleep to every night since her childhood.

“Grace.”

Set Before You

the-lovers-by-william-powell-frith-18551.jpg(The Lovers, William Powell Frith, 1855)

 

Set Before You

How many times do you look

but don’t see

Sentiments flowing like water

Expressing all that clutters my mind; my heart

but don’t hear

Written in solidness, ink dried, no denial or obfuscating

but don’t understand

It is put out there, no, thrown out there

As if it has a mind of its own; no willpower to be elusive

Nothing lies within the shadows

All truths set forth

Like sunlight so bright

It blinds; blurring what is right before you

Quiet in my reverie, but not illusive

Grasp, take what has always been yours

Through the veil of propriety

Not given by man, but deemed by our souls

I shall not deny you