Sunday Confessional: sometimes I want to head for shore

It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.

I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.

Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear.  An urge to run for shore.

While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this:  7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft

All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?

Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.

The desire to do it again.

In which I conquer my fear

I’m afraid of heights and frequently have dreams in which I’m waaay too far from the ground. My fear is a known quantity in my household. So when I announced before leaving for Crested Butte a couple weeks ago that I was going to ride the ski-lift, Zebu’s response was a skeptical/worried “Really?”

Yes, really.

Then I arrived and watched the lift from our rental balcony. My heart picked up the pace and my chest got tight. Zippy suggested we check it out and then I could decide, assuring me it was okay to back out. We walked to the lift-line filled with people in helmets, body armor, and mountain bikes. Turns out Wednesday evenings allow unlimited lifts up the mountain for bikers wanting to ride the trails to the bottom. I was in line next to little girls not only brave enough to ride the chair lift but to bomb down the mountain on bikes! Those two young sisters listened politely as their dad reassured this grown-ass woman I’d be fine on the lift.

And I was.

On the ride down the mountain (which was much easier and more relaxing for me, to the extent I released my death grips on the lap bar and Zippy’s shirt), we passed the biker girls and their dad riding up the mountain again. We all waved and one of the girls shouted, “Enjoy your ride!”

I did.

Thanks in no small part to their example. Girl power!

 

I get to hug my son

Zebu in summer of 1998

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I’m feeling especially grateful. He (and our other son) spent their entire childhoods with Zippy and me and while those years certainly held challenges, we remained intact as a family. The four of us were never forced to seek asylum, we were never denied refuge, and our children weren’t ripped from their parents’ arms. That kind of unspeakable trauma was never part of our lives. Not because we’re exceptional or more deserving, but because we were fortunate enough to be born in the United States. That’s it. Sheer luck.

Today is Zebu’s birthday and I get to hug my son. I’m weeping for those who can’t.

Burning down the house

I’ve gone back to a project I haven’t looked at in 18 months, a project that hasn’t been shopped at all so should still have a brand-new shiny feel. Instead, this project that’s given me fits over the years continues to make me nervous. I think the nerves are a result of the MANY hours I’ve put into this book without an end in sight. I read it through in one sitting yesterday and while I admired much about the manuscript, I’m still not confident the story structure is correct.

You know what that means . . .

Choose your adventure: Dentist or Duck

Last week I found out I have a tiny cavity. I suffer enormous dental anxiety and so it was with a pounding heart that I scheduled an appointment for May 21st. The office manager called this morning to offer me a cancellation slot this afternoon, saying she thought I might appreciate getting the work done sooner. She was correct. I took today’s appointment.

I decided to document my act of bravery here, on what is essentially my online diary, and went to Pixabay for an appropriate dentist image. There, in a sea of dental images including masked professionals, sharp implements, and reclining chairs, I found a picture of a duck.

image by katja

I realize it’s counter-intuitive, but I’d be much less frightened if my dentist looked like this.

Thinking globally while head explodes locally

Zippy and I just returned from a city council candidates’ forum. We heard from the three candidates running for one of the two seats in our ward. It was my first time attending a ward function.

Ugh. Our neighborhood ward is essentially run by a cabal of older, reactionary people.

Know what? After fifteen minutes trying to arrange my thoughts in a coherent manner for this post, I give up. I can’t bring myself to rehash their disrespectful, clique-ish behavior or the dog whistle language they use to work everyone into a fear-based lather. It pissses me off too much.

Instead, I’m going to escape into my fiction. Some of the characters in my novel are also horrible people, but I ultimately have power over their lives. If I want to load them all on a bus and drive them over a cliff, I can do that. In real life, not so much.

This random image feels very apropos for today

I woke this morning to a long to-do list. The bad news is that I haven’t checked everything off the list. Not even close. (I ran, I walked Emma, I figured out some characterization and plotting stuff for my work-in-progress while walking with my dog, I vacuumed one room, I scrapbooked a whole bunch of photos and then cleared off the dining room table that’s been covered with photos and scrapbooking materials for the past couple months, I took advantage of our recent rainstorms and weeded for 30 minutes, and I put out clean towels for Wildebeest who will be back home tonight. YES, IT’S HUGELY GRATIFYING TO LIST THE CHECKED-OFF ITEMS HERE!) So, while I didn’t accomplish all I’d hoped to accomplish, I kept very busy today.

Being busy kept me offline. That’s really good news. Because the one time I took a breather and checked Twitter, I discovered that Agent Orange has been swinging his tiny manhood at North Korea.

Who cares about an unfinished to-do list when a psychopath is threatening nuclear war??

No longer worrying my pretty little head

Just brought in today’s mail that included this:
cover

What the what?! A paperback in my mailbox? A book without author or ISBN? A book seemingly focused on end times?

I searched the rest of the mail and found this:postcard

Oh, cool. God’s got my back. What a relief to find out I no longer need to worry about Agent Orange & The Billionaire’s Club!

Whew.

 

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A hit of Molly

So keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds,
but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it.
Lord, let your laughter ring forth.
Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats,
rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce.

~  Molly Ivins (1944 – 2007)

360_molly_ivins

Just really missing ol’ Molly today. She’d show us the way through all the dumb and ugly raining down on us. She knew the cost of fear.

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Weebles wobble

If you presume to love something,
you must love the process of it much more than you love the finished product.
 ~  John Irving

Right now I’m not entirely sure I love the fiction-writing process. As I revise this young adult novel, I’m starting to question whether I have any business trying to get published. I received some feedback on another manuscript that has me questioning my talent, and today I’m more wobbly than I’ve been in some time.

So. The bad news is I’m scared and exhausted and wishing someone could cut out this obsessive writer part of me so I’d never have to feel this way again.

The good news? My experience tells me that this ugly fog will eventually lift and then fade to a very faint memory. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I might not always love the process, but I trust it.

a copy

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Note to self

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

~  Joseph Chilton Pearce

scream-cartoon-painting

Anyway, “wrong” is a subjective term except for when I’m doing math.
Which I most definitely am not.
So it’s all good.
(Okay, not “all” good. But mostly!)

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Free to be me

I dislike having my picture taken.
I dislike seeing photographs of myself.

I would much rather I didn’t care one way or the other.

I just used my old phone to take a few pics of myself
and I’m posting them here.

Call it photographic immersion therapy.

20160802_171851 20160802_171954

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20160802_172036 20160802_171928

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A photographic portrait is a picture of someone who knows he is being photographed, and what he does with this knowledge is as much a part of the photograph as what he’s wearing or how he looks.
~  Richard Avedon

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Still no words

I posted the following (I Can’t Breathe) on December 4, 2014:

I’m a writer and I’m supposed to be able to express myself.

But for the past two days I’ve struggled to put down words about the stark contrast between my experience as a white female in this society and all the black women who can never, ever take for granted that any of the males in their lives–sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, nephews–will walk back through the door at the end of the day.

I’m heartbroken. For all of us.

Nineteen months and a whole bunch more dead black men later, and I still don’t know how to write about what’s happening in this country. It’s seriously fucked up what’s going on here. I’m sad and angry and exhausted by the seemingly never-ending supply of fear and ignorance behind all this police brutality. It must end.

My heart goes out to those who, every single day, worry whether their boys and men will make it home.

Public domain image.

Public domain image.

EQUAL RIGHTS by Peter Tosh

Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice
Everyone is crying out for peace, yes
None is crying out for justice

I don’t want no peace
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
I need equal rights and justice
Got to get it, equal rights and justice

Maurice Sendak on Melville and Diving

  

Herman Melville was always using the image of the artist as diver. 
He loved that word. Having to dive from some height, meaning, of
course, taking a serious risk. Because if you dive and you're lucky,
you'll come up with gold from the bottom of yourself. You dive deep
into the self. But you can also drown, you can smash your head upon
the rocks — there are terrible risks in diving from a great height. But
if you didn't dive, then you were not an artist in his terms. Without
risk you were just a middle-of-the-road type guy. 
               
                  ~ Maurice Sendak from Writers Dreaming by Naomi Epel

I'm afraid of heights
and sometimes I'm afraid to dive deep into myself.
However, I never want to be a middle-of-the-road type guy.

Inviting all my creative friends to join me in taking the plunge 
today and every day.