September 21, 2012 § 11 Comments
Here is the plan.
Tomorrow I will wake and dress and pack a bag of clean clothes for the day.
Before heading to yoga I will grab the computer and some lunch for later and hit the road on four wheels not to return until closer to dinner.
I will vinyasa until I’m sweaty and then drive my hot reddened self to Peachie’s house where I will shower and set up shop for some serious writer’s work of the non writing variety.
You see, I need a job and so am committing my entire Saturday to the submission of my work. I have contacts for Blogher and Babble and am hoping to unearth a few more blog friendly companies who pay their writers in currency of the greenish kind.
I have got to get this ball rolling as time is limited before I must find a real job with a real paycheck that can pay my very (necessary) and real health insurance. I could go back to teaching (I do miss it sometimes). I could find work in retail (Brian will have the girls on weekends anyway). Wouldn’t it be perfect, though, if I could make a living doing what I really love?
Blogher and Babble require links to previous posts for them to review. Clearly, I’ve got to pick the best ones, which is terribly hard when you are the kind of me that I am; never completely satisfied with my own work/harder on myself than others. It’s a curse.
My husband is not happy about my exodus, but it is essential. Work submission cannot happen with any distractions. I need complete focus. Aerobella the papillon will serve as my warm and fuzzy thinking companion. Rubbing doggy ears between thumb and forefinger is a very good deep thinking strategy.
Will keep you posted.
Any posts of mine that are favorites…that maybe resonated and live somewhere in your memory?
What are your plans for the weekend?
September 20, 2012 § 3 Comments
Having just this morning received my very first “writing job” rejection letter, one might think I’d be feeling blue.
But as any successful writer knows, rejection is a part of the game.
So is perseverance and of that I have an abundance.
It got me wondering, though, what is it about being rejected that usually hurts so much and why aren’t I all that bothered that this one didn’t work out?
Obviously being rejected means that something about you isn’t good enough, not right, not what they were looking for.
The comment on my canned rejection letter said this,
“We base our criteria for acceptance on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, quality of writing and knowledge of topic.”
Well, well. Quality and knowledge.
Back to perseverance.
Off to write something real.
Have you been rejected from writing jobs? How did you go about creating a career in writing? If perseverance is necessary, is a full-time job with insurance also equally important?
September 16, 2012 § 7 Comments
I hate to be a snoot, I just really like proper grammar.
More specifically, I have trouble with the improper use of the pronouns me versus I.
There’s something about the nature of this one that gets my grammar panties in a bunch. It is a lazy error made much too often.
Apparently, Ms. Gillian Flynn (author of the novel Gone Girl) also has a problem with the misunderstood grammatical rule as her character (Amy) makes reference to it many times in the book. If you’ve read the book, let’s just assume it’s the only characteristic Amy and I share…not Amy and me share… Amy and I.
Here’s an example of proper usage:
Gillian and I like grammar.
Yes. Leave out Gillian, and I like grammar.
Gillian Flynn and me believe in proper usage.
Forget that it bugs Ms. Flynn. Me believe in proper usage? Well, yes, but no. No. No. No.
It’s so easy and trust me, people will want to hug you if you get stuck mid sentence and need a chance to work it out.
Better to do it right than have grammaristas all over the world fussing with their bunched up underpants, or worse, close out your blog post without making it to the end.
May 3, 2012 § 11 Comments
Considering how much I despised the first five chapters of 50 Shades of Grey, it’s surprising (especially to me) how enraptured I became with the story.
It would be easy to assume that the highly sexual story line is what reeled me in and in all honesty it did add an element that kept me interested, noticeable by my sizeable smile and simultaneous open jaw sitting on the floor.
I knew my view had turned when I went from solely listening in my Yurbuds while heading out to run, to carrying my phone in my bra so that I could push play every time the kids left the room. I became hooked. Desperate to know what was next. Eager for the ride and excited for the journey.
In any language and on any continent this kind of reaction is motivation for a writer. Being so beguiling that the reader can’t put you down is the essence of the job; the goal. No one wants to write a snore.
When I was teaching fourth grade writing, we often spoke about the difference between telling the story and showing the story; the goal was always the showing.
In 50 Shades, so much was told using the same words et nausea that the writing appear labored and simple, even when the words themselves were sophisticated (thesaurus usage can be deadly).
How many times was she going to say his mouth fell in a hard line? How often did we need to be told that she had an inner goddess who hid behind chairs and sofas and under blankets? Yes, I understand he looked at her speculatively and with grey eyes. Biting her bottom lip? Got it. The symbol for the power struggle
But it may have been E.L. James’ master plan. Her brilliance as a writer being kept secret until she was ready to share.
The choice to make Anastasia’s voice so repetitive was in direct opposition to the voice that was exposed when her innocence was being challenged.
This was where the real beauty of the writing came alive and convinced me of Ms. James’ true talent in the authoring department.
Granted, the scenes in the red room of pain, the bondage, the frightened girl who became totally immersed and connected in the moments of her fear revealed deep emotion mixed with gut wrenching descriptiveness highlighting some really glorious writing.
It was enough to make me forgive those wasted first chapters. Maybe they weren’t wasted after all.
Last night I started to read The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.
Four pages in, I have a picture of Aibileen. Through the story showing and Aibileen’s dialogue (shortened sentence structure, double negatives and misplaced use of words) I have an idea of who she is. I like her immediately. Read the first four pages and you’ll like her, too. Kathryn Stockett created a new and interesting character with a voice I want to hear.
I should probably apologize to Ms. James for my initial incertitude toward to her book. I still wish she hadn’t used the C word so much and feel like s.h.i.t would have been just as appropriate. It would have saved me from my personal challenge to count the word in question, pulling me out of the story thirty two times, give or take a few.
I went to be last night working out the first lines (of one of my books) that will be written in it’s own time.
It will go something like this…
I was handed to my mother three days after I was born. Wrapped in a pink blanket she carefully pulled me from the hands of the lawyer, anxious to leave before Loretta had a chance to change her mind. I was bald and pretty, despite the ears that were far too big for my head. My brown eyes looked up at my new mother, whose own brown eyes matched mine exactly.
I couldn’t have known then what I learned all those years later. That my beginning was a gift and that I was saved.
I couldn’t have known the truth. I wouldn’t have believed it had come written in ink and pinned to my clothes.
I was the lucky one.
My older sisters, just two and three, waited in a run down house halfway across town as I was being given away. They knew nothing of me. They knew not of their mothers’ illness. They didn’t have a chance. Weren’t granted even a molecule of a future.
April 18, 2012 § 7 Comments
*Please be advised that as soon as I hit the publish button I will race straight to Gravatar and change my rating to a PG-13. If you like my blog, but don’t like naughty words, just go ahead and skip this post. I would hate to offend anyone, but sometimes certain things must be said!
I wasn’t going to run this morning until I remembered that I used a credit on audible.com and had downloaded 50 Shades of Grey.
There’s been a lot of controversy about the book for it’s saucy portrayal of an innocent and her seducer and has apparently been making wives blush from sea to shining sea.
I haven’t begun blushing.
Instead, I spent my six and a half mile run totally distracted, counting the number of times the word “crap” had been used.
Let me preface this by saying that it’s my mother’s fault for my utter distain with the word. She loathes it more than I. It’s ugliness and overuse has caused her eyes to roll back in her head for long as I can remember. Sometimes if it’s not one thing it’s your mother, but in this case I have to agree with her.
Why is that word used so freely when other words with the same meaning are not deemed appropriate for daytime television?
Why is it any better than the litany of other swear words that mean the same thing?
Was there not another word E.L. James could come up with?
Don’t think I am a prude. Those who know me will agree that I have a very trained potty mouth. I am a big fan of that word that starts with F. I don’t have a single problem with the B one and even anal doesn’t make me cringe.
I particularly like them strung together as in “Fucking anal bitch!”
See. Words have power.
Are we devolving as a society by not objecting when this word is used so commonly that newscasters throw it around, too? Kids in school think it’s okay. Afternoon Disney programming uses is often.
By the middle of chapter three hated word number one was said ten times.
It’s my hope that when I finish the book it remains in my memory for its much talked about story line and not the for the number of times an ugly word was used to portray oomph.
Oh, I do hope so. It would be such a shame otherwise!
January 1, 2012 § 8 Comments
Upon my return from a relatively slow and only mildly painful 14.2, I found my kids playing on the back porch in the warm sunshine and fresh air. It felt more like Spring yesterday, the last day of 2011, rather than a late December Winter day. Perfect conditions for running and for kids in need of time outside of the house.
After a quick shower, where I washed off the salt and loudly exhaled the tension that had gathered in my body, the girls and I settled on my King sized bed with the flowered sheet covering us up. Grace sat on my left with pink eye and a cough; Sophie on my right with her ducky mask fully flowing, Albuterol and Pulmacort on high. Another pediatric virus has come for a visit. I flipped open my laptop in an effort to write, but my brain cells like my energy were running low. The girls watched t.v. and I soon dozed off between their two warm bodies.
My biggest fear about my first fourteen miler was the boredom that seemed to be creeping in as my running time got longer. In an effort to thwart such boredom, I requested book suggestions in my last post, but hemmed and hawed about which to choose.
In the end, I picked a book called The Lovers by my childhood friend Vendela Vida.
When I was in the sixth grade my family and I moved from Miami to San Francisco where I started at a new school. Burke’s was (and still is) private and all girls, with uniforms of navy pleated skirts and white middy’s appliqued with navy blue stripes.
Vendela was one of three girls with whom I walked to school. I haven’t seen or spoken to her since the eighth grade.
Aimee lived near the entrance to Baker Beach, the furthest walk from my house which sat a few in from 30th Avenue and California Street. She was the one I related to most and the one I’ve happily reconnected with on facebook. We were partners in crime and by the time we were in high school our names were synonymous; Aimee and Martha, Martha and Aimee.
Aimee would walk to Vendela’a house, which sat a top a hill overlooking the opposite end of Baker. I actually can’t remember if she walked to Vendela’s first or if she walked to Samantha’s and Vendela met her there (since I wasn’t along for the trek) but for the purpose of this post I suppose it doesn’t really matter.
What I clearly remember is Vendela’s mother and their kitchen. Once, when sucking on a piece of hard candy in that kitchen, I inhaled it into the back of my throat and started to choke. Vendela’s mother sprang into action, performing the Heimlich Maneuvre. It all happened so quickly; my desperation for air, that frightening moment of gasping breath to the freedom of deep inhalation. One never forgets their first Heimlich.
Samantha’s house was two block’s down from mine and the last pickup before they got to me. Samantha is an attorney now, but what I recall so clearly was her drawer full of alligator shirts and her brand new baby brother.
The three would meet me at my door and we’d walk the last couple of blocks together. The one time I recall a different arrangement was when we decided to cut through the Lonergan’s yard, only to wind up being flashed by some weirdo. Like the first Heimlich, one also never forgets their first penis.
When I found out about a year ago that Vendela was a successful novelist, whose screenplay with her husband was made into the movie Up and Away with Maya Rudolph, I had a rush of emotions over the news. I was thrilled to hear about her success. It seemed that all my friends from that time had experienced great successes. Like Samantha and Vendela, from what I googled, Aimee graduated Berkeley and has had a remarkable career herself.
There was something about the fact that Vendela made her way in the area of writing, though, that excited me, but also sent pangs of sadness through my own soul.
I remember listening to her work from the desks inside our classrooms. I remember thinking she was talented and always enjoyed what she wrote.
The sadness came from my own disappointment at the fact that even though I had always been praised for my own writing, I had done nothing with it. It was the one thing that consistently brought me joy, yet I ignored it in search of something else, something more. My life after my time at Burke’s (and my first two year’s of high school) had spiraled out of control, beginning with the death of my father.
When learning about Vendela’s success, I couldn’t help but face my own inadequacies; my own flailing through life, uncertain as to who I was, uncertain as to what I should do, disheartened by my incapability to finish many of the things that I started. I wondered for decades if my father had not died, would my life have been more predictable and easy? For too long it was a hard pill to swallow that I was not dealt those cards. Thankfully with age, a lot of yoga, and some mellowing, I’ve been able to better understand that life happens exactly as it should.
And also, maybe I wouldn’t have anything to write about today if things had continued as they had when I was fourteen; sheltered, a little spoiled, unaware that my own path has its own value despite the sadness and confusion that shaded the good stuff.
Fourteen. Interesting age and mileage.
As I stood in the middle of my street yesterday waiting for the Garmin to detect a signal, I paused to look at the book title The Lovers on my iPhone. There was her name below it. My pulse, detected by my watch, was elevated before I’d run a step.
I pressed play.
For the next three hours I listened to the story of Yvonne. I kept thinking how Vendela wrote the way a painter paints; her words like brush strokes of the most beautiful colors. It was amazing.
My legs turned over at a comfortable speed and I hardly noticed my miles; eight, nine, ten.
It’s usually about ten that I start to feel the pain of the run, but as I listened to the story I was more excited to see what would happen next than worry about my tired body.
Eleven, twelve, thirteen floated by. With one mile left I wanted the run to be over, but wished I could keep listening until the end of the book.
All day yesterday and into this first day of the new year I continue to feel like Yvonne is waiting for me. My plan was to save the final three-hour read for next Saturday’s fifteen miler, but like a kid who knows the Christmas presents are hiding in mom’s locked closet, I might have to peek.
As 2012 begins, I am still unsure about a lot.
I don’t know how many more viruses my girls will encounter this year or how many more mustard containers might be tossed through the air in a fit of rage. I can’t predict the future, though I’m not sure I really want to know all that it holds.
Despite life’s uncertainty, I feel clear about my own path and the decision to continue to write. There is something energizing and grounding about the knowing; about the certainty that what I am choosing for myself is what I am meant to do. It’s taken me longer than most to get to this place and it doesn’t even matter if I’m any good at it.
The action and acknowledgement that I am following my own dream is what makes it right.
Here’s to you finding and following your own dreams!
Happy New Year to you all!