Monday, May 27, 2013

Inspiration Monday: Making it Official

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a wedding. This couple has been together since the night they met eight and a half years ago. All that time, they never once broke up or thought they were going to. As soon as they locked eyes on one another, it was a done deal--and yet it took them the better part of a decade to "make it legal." There's nothing wrong with that. That's how their journey played out and I'm sure they wouldn't have traded a day of their time to have it any other way. They ended up where they needed to end up and they did it in their own time.

The few, the proud, the unfinished. Well, some of them.
It just got me thinking about how this very same concept affects my writing. There is something about putting down some words and calling them "final" that terrifies the pants off me. As I think I have mentioned before, I am notoriously finish-phobic. I have more work that is half-written and collecting dust than I have dinner plates or pairs of shoes.

I'm not exactly proud of this. I mean, does a body of work count as a body of work if none of the work has a whole body?

Once, when I was a bookseller, I got to hang out for an afternoon with Tom Piazza. He's such a cool, friendly guy, and he has a good eye--or good ears. We were chatting while he was signing his books and he looked up to me and said, "You're a writer, aren't you?"

"Well, sort of," I said. "I don't know if I'm a writer, but I write."

He nodded. "I could tell by the way you talk."

I wasn't quite sure what he meant by that, but it made me even more self-conscious than I already was--which is saying a lot. (I am more notoriously self-conscious than I am notoriously finish-phobic.)

He went on to ask me about my work. I described a couple of pieces to him and he seemed interested. "You should get them published. Are you going to try?" he asked.

Hello, ground. I'll get down there eventually. Somehow.
I squirmed and toed the carpet with my shoe. "Well, someday," I said and fought not to scrunch up my nose like a frustrated rabbit. "They're not exactly done."

He nodded again and gave me a little grin. "Ah, I know your type. You're afraid. You're afraid to finish."

I didn't deny it. I wanted to, but he was right. "Do you know the cure?" I asked.

"I've been there," he said and shook his head. "There's only one thing to do. You've got to land the plane. It doesn't matter if you crash it or ease it down, but you've got to get it on the ground somehow. You can worry about how you got there later. All that matters is that you finally write 'The End'."

Since that day, I've thought a lot about what he said. The plane analogy made a lot of sense to me. I am afraid of crashing the plane. If I get to the end of a work and it doesn't feel like I thought it would (and it rarely does, even by midway), am I missing out on something else? Did I make a wrong turn? Did I take something pristine with real potential out of its wrapper and squish it up with my dirty hands and destroy it?

Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that I didn't have the right to manipulate my own ideas. Some of them are good ideas, and if I put my grubby little hands on them too much, I'll mess them up and there won't be anything good left of them. If only these ideas had been born to someone who already knew how to fly, someone who could get them on the ground safely and with a dash of style.

But they're mine. I am the only one who sees them whole. I'm the only chance they have of existing as they came to me and if I turn them down, they will fade away unknown and unloved. I owe them more than that. I have to try. Besides, if I can't crash my own planes in my own runway, how can I ever hope to learn to land properly?

So, I'm trying. I'm trying and trying. When I start to catch myself burning out on one project, I pull out another one and tack a few more words on that one. I'm making my way toward the finish line inch by inch. It may take me eight and a half years to make it down the aisle, but I'm going to get there with every one of these projects and we're going to make it official.

Someone beat us to it.
If you're like me and you're just a little afraid of ruining your own work, I challenge you to jump in face first and mess it up a little, just to see that it doesn't hurt and there's nothing you can do to it that you can't undo. It can actually be kind of fun, like the time my friend Laura and I turned all our main characters into (Zombies are so overdone. Xombies are the future.)

Do whatever you need to do to get there. Take all the time you need, but don't ever forget that every plane has to land one way or another. Give yourself a chance to land it right before you run out of gas and fall out of the sky. Your work is your work and nobody can do it better than you. Write it the way it was meant to be written--in the way that only you can write it. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Book Review: Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Red Rain by R.L. Stine

Brief Synopsis: Red Rain is a rare attempt by R.L Stine at writing for an adult audience. Travel writer Lea Sutter visits a remote island off the coast of South Carolina known as Cape Le Chat Noir when a hurricane hits, devastating the island and all its inhabitants. She finds two young twin boys who state that they lost everything in the hurricane, and she quickly adopts them and brings them back to her home in Long Island. Soon after, the sweet, grateful boys appear to be more than meets the eye and the Sutters' lives begin to fall apart.

Published: 2012

Format read: eBook, read alternately on my Kindle Paperwhite, my iPad, and my iPhone

Comparison: It is like a grown-up version of the Fear Street books by the same author. Those books were written for a teen audience and have none of the sex or profanity found in Red Rain, but the bones are similar. It is natural to compare almost any modern, mainstream horror work to that of Stephen King, and I think that holds up here. The style is different, but there were moments when I was reminded of some of King's work, especially when he went for the gross-out instead of the scare.

Review: I have a sudden urge to go out and buy an Ace of Base cassette and watch a few episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon while I write this review in my hot-pink and purple Trapper Keeper. Why? Because it is somewhere around 1994 in my mind.

This happens whenever I think of R.L. Stine.

Like everyone my age, I grew up in the nineties, and like everyone my age, that meant my bookshelf was full of R.L. Stine's Fear Street and Goosebumps books. I ordered my first Goosebumps book, Say Cheese and Die, from a Scholastic book order at the ripe old age of eleven and quickly graduated to the Fear Street series as well.

They were okay, I guess.

I may or may not have been a member of the official Fear Street Fan Club, which meant that I got two brand new Fear Street books in the mail every month along with some other little macabre trinket.

I may or may not have obsessively checked the mail so often that I practically wore the hinges off my mailbox.

I may or may not still have a little glow-in-the-dark skeleton key ring I got in one of those packages.

I may or may not still have a handful of Fear Street books camping out on my shelf along with some dusty Christopher Pikes and Caroline B. Cooneys.

May or may not.

So, let us just say that I am well-versed in writings for young people by Mr. Stine, though I am old and rusty and mortgage-paying at this point in my life. Even so, I decided to reread one of the Fear Street books just for the sake of comparison to Red Rain. Not for fun, you understand. Never for that.

Boo does not like for me to have fun.

What I found was this: Some things never change, and some writing techniques, weak as they are, work on adults as well as teenagers.

Some things in common:
1) There is a town in which strange, supernatural things happen and nobody seems to question what the heck is going on.

The Fear Street books are all set in Shadyside (your first clue) and the protagonists all live on Fear Street (duh) and attend Shadyside High. There are murders, ghosts, ancient burial grounds, hidden identities--you name it--going on in this town, and the National Guard never comes and shuts them down. Not one single time. 

In Red Rain, the story begins on island Cape Le Chat Noir about which Lea Sutter quickly tells the reader no one visits because it is "totally creepy." It turns out that Cape Le Chat Noir was host to a devastating Labor Day hurricane in 1935 and there's another one heading right for it. Oh, and they have some ritual called "Revenir" that brings people back to life. No big deal. Of course, when the hurricane hits at Cape Le Chat Noir, the National Guard does come. They don't do anything about the apparent zombies, but they come. At least there's that.

2) Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger. This is something that R.L. Stine is notorious for, from the very simplest of his books for kids all the way up to his small handful of adult works. Cliffhangers and twist endings are his bread and butter, and Red Rain is no different. Most of the cliffhangers, at least in the first act, end up having "false bottoms" that are quickly dispelled in the first lines of the subsequent chapter. In the Fear Street comparison sample I read, Sunburn, this was almost laughable at times. It is still effective; you want to see what happens next even if it is just to see how he worms out of the obvious.

I've drawn out the general shape of the narrative (written sloppily on the back of an index card because that's how I roll):

Index Card Analysis, patent pending
Again, this is not to say that this pattern isn't effective. It gets the job done--you want to keep turning the pages and you end up devouring the book in half the time you expected. That works for him because he writes probably three or four books a day between breakfast and lunch and he wants you to run out and buy them all. I imagine that the above structure is also how he is able to write so much so quickly--he has the One Outline to Rule Them All.

3) R.L. Stine is not exactly what I would call a master of physical description. In Red Rain and in every Fear Street book I can recall, he "cheats" on describing his characters by likening them to celebrities. Red Rain's Mark Sutter is frequently referred to as "Gyllenhaal" and referenced as "looking like that guy from Brokeback Mountain." This kind of thing gets under my skin as a writer because it's such a blatant cop out. If he looks like Jake Gyllenhaal, use your chops to write a description of Jake Gyllenhaal that the reader can see. Does it really matter that he looks like Jake Gyllenhaal? What if the reader abhors Jake Gyllenhaal? Give us the building blocks and we readers can bring our imagination to the table to build our own version of Mark Sutter, which may or may not look like Jake Gyllenhaal, but who will be handsome, have dark hair, and look younger than he is.

The bigger problem with this is that it seriously dates the work and irrevocably connects the character to the celebrity mentioned, for good or ill. One of the Fear Street books likens a teenage character meant to be a stunning, youthful beauty with silky black hair and strong cheekbones to looking like Cher.

Yeah...Cher don't look like that no more.

I have to say that there were some moments in Red Rain in which I was pleasantly surprised by a string of pretty words. This is not Stine's forte, and it doesn't need to be for him to accomplish his aims. Still, I'm a lit-fic writer and reader, and pretty words matter to me enough that finding a few in the prose makes me cock my head and say, "Aww," while growing in affection for the book. Then someone would lose a limb or something and I'd forget what the pretty words said, but not that they were there.

Red Rain itself:  
On the whole, Red Rain is not a work of high literature, but it is not meant to be. R.L. Stine mentioned in an interview that he wrote this book for people like me, kids who grew up with his work and are now in their twenties and thirties and still looking for a few chills and thrills from their old pal Bob Stine.

In that respect, I liked the book. It felt comfortable and familiar, and I got a little taste of the buzz I used to get when I would crack open a brand new Fear Street. The story was predictable, the characters more caricatures, and the supernatural elements strained the limits of my ability to suspend disbelief (and I have a capacity for suspension of disbelief that could overflow an ocean. I'm a very forgiving reader). The book wasn't so much scary as it was gross. Stephen King once said, "I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I'll go for the gross-out. I'm not proud."

I would say that he would have given R.L. Stine a high-five on some of the gross-outs in this book.

I would recommend reading this book at a fast pace. Some books are made to be savored, but the longer you take with books like this one, the longer you have to think about it and it just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Swallow it fast and let it burn your throat on the way down, that's the way it was meant to be consumed.

After reading through Red Rain and Sunburn, I got the itch to take some of what I learned back to my own writing. My work is in no way similar to these kinds of books, but there is always something to be learned from someone who has been at the craft a long time. R.L. Stine does not get stuck. If someone needs to kiss someone, they kiss them and they get it over with and they don't sit and ruminate over it. If someone needs to stab someone in the face, same thing. I tend to get stuck in transition a lot, and he just simply does not have that problem. If he needs to get someone across town to murder someone, he doesn't worry about where they sat in the car, if they had to stop for gas, or if there even was a car. Most of the time this works out for him, sometimes it creates a plot hole, but if you're reading this stuff the way he intended, you're swallowing it whole and not looking too closely to spoil the ride.

This is work meant for a dark room, so why bother flipping on the lights and ruining your own good time?

That is what it is in the end. It's just meant to be a good time that you don't have to think too hard about to enjoy (or to be grossed-out). If you're a child of the nineties like me, just pretend it says Fear Street at the top and dive on in.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tools of the Trade: Ink Review - Pelikan Edelstein Amber

A few weeks ago, Husband ordered a little surprise for me, which made me happy. It was a bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Amber ink, the 2013 Ink of the Year.

I love this ink. I love the color. I love the feel. I love that it has the same name as me. (Amber is my first name. No, I didn't pick to go by my middle name, I answered to what my parents called me.) I also love it because it is almost the same honey-hazel color as my husband's eyes, which are so very pretty (even though it annoys every alpha-male bone in his body to hear me say so). 

I have used this ink in several of my pens and have had no problems with it in any of them. It cleans easily, flows extremely well, and looks really cool on the page. It is light, but not too light to be able to read it. All in all, it's a fun, interesting ink that has a lot of uses. I'm already kicking around some ideas to use it as a wash in some art pieces I'm planning and I think it will really light up the third dimension in a few upcoming novel scenes.

The bottle is purty, too.

Without further ado, my review of Pelikan Edelstein Amber (and a plug for Jurassic Park): 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Inspiration Monday: The Bumps and the Bruises

I've never met a bruise that didn't earn its keep.

Well, they don't feel that way at the time, but most medicines need time to work and most lessons have to swish around in our heads for a while before we will relent to learn them.

I am a clumsy person. I know, hard to believe, but it is so, so true. I trip over shadows, and even a deep thought is heavy enough to tip me off my balance. I run into tables so often that I'm looking into purchasing inflatable furniture. It is fair to say that I have earned more than my fair share of bumps and bruises throughout my life, and yet I have appreciation for every one of them.

What can we learn from a bruise?

I learned that I should not pick up boxes bigger than me.
First, we learn that coming into contact with a thing  suddenly and with force hurts and leaves a mark that hurts long after you've walked away.

This is a True Thing (and True Things are rarely only literal).

How many times in your life did something come along and get in your way at the exactly wrong time? Maybe you didn't even see it before you slammed into it, and it was not so much the pain that shook you all over like a plucked string, but more the shock of it. Maybe it made you angry. It makes me angry. I don't like those kind of surprises. Maybe you belt out a few words too salty for church. Maybe you do what I do and scrunch up your nose and bite your lip to keep them inside where you can repeat them over and over without drawing attention to yourself.

Second, we learn that there is a weird, sick allure to poking a bruise every so often, just to see if it still hurts. It always does, but after a while, we check it out again, just to see. Just to see.

It is a weird facet of human behavior that we abhor pain, and yet we are drawn to it in its various forms just to make sure that we can still feel it. Sometimes I really like it when I'm numb. Things that usually get me unraveled roll off my back like candle wax. Then, after a while, I start to wonder why. I start to miss feeling things and that's when I start looking for the emotional bruise. It is there, every single time. I poke it and prod it a bit and get it good and sore. It is how I know there is damage there and that I have to work around it. It is unpleasant, but sometimes it takes a drop of pain to remind me that being alive and living are two different things, and living is always far superior.

Third, bruises heal. Sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes there are even scars, but eventually you will look down and that sore spot will only be the memory of a sore spot. Sometimes, even that memory will fade itself away, too.

I have a bruise on my shin right now that I earned back in December of last year. I took a tumble down a flight of stairs trying to get some distance between myself and a grabby fellow in a bad neighborhood when I was assisting a client with a move. I sprained my ankle as well, but it healed fairly quickly compared to this darn bruise. It has been sitting there in all its green-purple smugness for almost half a year, but it is fading slowly. Too slowly to suit me, but it is doing what it is supposed to do and healing itself even though I can't see the progress it has made from day to day. Eventually, I will look down and it will be gone.

I'm not saying I'll remember this bruise forever, and its healing isn't going to change my life--well, it will be a lot easier to shave my legs, but still. It was a part of my person for a long time, long enough that if you were to meet me for the first time, I could legitimately introduce myself thusly: "Hi, I'm Marisa and I have an ugly bruise on my leg that won't go away."

Eventually, it will be, "Hi, I'm Marisa and I used to have an ugly bruise on my leg that wouldn't go away. Well, it wouldn't until it did, but still, it was weird. I promise! It was thiiiiiiiis big!"

Given enough time, I'll get tired of people crooking their eyebrows at me when I try to tell them about my stupid everlasting bruise, and I'll stop telling it. Then I'll forget about it altogether.

What I won't forget is what I learned that night. There is a special kind of panic when you are in a neighborhood at night where you know aren't welcome and there is a person touching your body who should not be and you are two flights of stairs from your car--and then you go down with your ankle twisted behind you and your leg slams against the chewed-up concrete and steel. You aren't sure if you are going to be able to walk when you get up, but you know that you are going walk anyway and nobody is going to stop you. That is exactly what I did. I hopped up and hoofed it to my car like nothing had happened and I drove a good ten miles on that sprained ankle before I stopped to lick my wounds.

I don't need the bruise to remind me anymore. I don't need the pain to keep me taught. I got the message, and I still have the message. The pain goes away, the message stays. That bruise paid for itself up front and in full.

Are there bruises in your own life that taught you something you needed to learn? Did they heal fast or slow? How about your characters? Give them a few bumps and bruises. It will make them human like the rest of us. Give them something to take home with them after the action and it is guaranteed that they will be changed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In Which I Have the Stupidest Kind of Amnesia

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I love to read. 

And I do. I really, really do.

I imagine that somewhere in my mind there is a little hole where important information like this tends to leak out when I'm not looking. I think it happens when work gets more than its fair share of me, and this is an easy thing to happen. It is even easier because I fiercely love my work.

But still, y'all.

I forgot.

I have been reading as long as I can remember, and I mean that sincerely. I do not remember learning to read. I just knew how as long as my brain had all its parts that make memories of things. I do remember still having my fat little toddler legs when my mom would trot me through the living room when we had company and whip out one of her tabloid rags. "Do it," she'd say with a big grin and I would read whatever headline she pointed at. To prove it wasn't a trick, the guest got to pick out words for me to read next. I like to think they only chose the good items from the National Enquierer, ones about Patrick Swayze being a nice guy or that up-and-comer Tom Cruise being good to animals.

From then on, I was hooked. My mom, from whom I inherited my literary gene, read me Charlotte's Web over and over so many times that we started taking turns--she would read it to me, then the next night I would read it to her. We went to yard-sales and bought up stacks of Reader's Digest condensed books which had fat, gilded spines that called to me like sirens and I got my first taste of Ring of Bright Water and Old Yeller. I read everything I could get my hands on, and faster than anyone could keep up with, so I developed a penchant early on for being a notorious re-reader. It has never phased me a bit to pick up a copy of something I've read six times and drink it down a seventh.

It was only natural that someone who loved words that much would turn to writing her own. When I was really young, used to steal all the good pens in the house and write what clumsy words I knew on the blank pages in the front of all my picture books. My earliest notable work came during summer camp when I was still young enough that I was not allowed to staple the pages together myself. It was a harrowing tale with hand-drawn illustrations known as The Adventures of Katy the Kitten. 

It was about a kitten. Named Katy. I think stuff happened to her. I only had about half a frontal lobe at the time, so I'm not really sure.

Either way, my dad caught on to what kind of daughter he had on his hands--he bought me a grown-up desk and a Brother electric typewriter for Christmas when I was just seven years old.

When I wasn't at my little typewriter, I had my Mead spiral notebooks and Lisa Frank pen collection. I will never forget that giddy blank-page hopefulness that would come when I would flip over to a fresh sheet of paper and think up a character and an opening sentence to write neatly on the top line in hot-pink ink.

Yes. I had hot-pink ink, and yes, I liked it.

I read and wrote my way through childhood so thoroughly that in the seventh grade, my teacher realized that I had already read all the books on the literature curriculum and she had nothing else for me to do during in-class reading time, so she loaned me her own paperback copy of The Client by John Grisham. (I still really like that book, by the way. Early Grisham may not be high-literature, but there's some good meat there! Besides, it's fun.)

In high school, like any red-blooded American teenager, the rebellious part of me kept me from reading the assigned books for my honors English classes, but it didn't stop me from reading other books I found on the classics shelf next to the ones I was supposed to read. To this day, I have still never finished Moby Dick or The Scarlet Letter, but I discovered Flowers for Algernon (which may have subconsciously awakened my intense fascination with psychology) and The Catcher in the Rye. The exceptions to my rebellion included To Kill a Mockingbird, Fahrenheit 451, and Cold Sassy Tree, all of which changed my life in one way or another. (Read the books they tell you, kids. These teachers might know a thing or two...)

In college, I read my way through most of the complete works of C.S. Lewis and discovered that not all non-fiction is horrible, dry stuff that drags trenches in my brain. I read Night by Elie Wiesel alone in my dorm room and cried so much I had to skip class. A fierce passion for social justice took up residence deep inside my bones and started rattling around. I devoured Dead Man Walking and Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and built myself some soapboxes. I was a hungry, zealous psych major and I read Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung as readily as my friends were reading Harry Potter. Then I read Harry Potter.

Then I graduated and went to work at a bookstore. 'Nuff said.

I still read, but I forgot that I like it. For the last six years or so, I have kept a notebook with a list of every book that I read. I have made myself a rule for every one of those years that I would read at least two books every single month. I have still managed to do this without fail, but somewhere when my work started getting hard and the writing guilt-monkeys took over my brain, it became a chore. I chose books for their spine size instead of the mood I was in or what they were trying to say to me. I got in those two books, but it might have been on the last day of the month and they might have been plays because they are short but are bound with pages and they count as books.

I am reading three books right now, and all for fun. Some are better written than others and they are all of totally different genres, but they are FUN. They are fun because I wanted to read them, so I picked them up and started reading them. That was all there was to it.

It has been too long since I've done that.

Today, I remember. I LOVE READING. Writing is my passion, but that passion came from READING OTHER PEOPLE'S GOOD WRITING. How can a passion born of another passion thrive if not fed? Reading and writing go hand in hand--no, they go heart in chest--and I can't excel at one unless I slow down and put in the work with the other. Reading makes you think, and who wants to read something written by a person who doesn't know how to think?

Plus, you know, I like it.

I forgot to take care of a large part of how I came to be the person I am, and that really is the stupidest kind of amnesia.

Maybe it's time to re-read Charlotte's Web and the National Enquirer, where all good things begin.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Inspiration Monday: Ambiance

You know the feeling. You get into a place where there is just enough buzz--conversations, colors, lights, smells, art waiting to happen--that you just can't help yourself. You have to grab a coffee (extra points if you are a latte-drinker and your barista knows how to pour a perfect fern) and a table by the wall, whip out whatever writing implements you have on you (this is where napkins and pens from the register often come in handy), and you create something.

What is it about certain places that make our brains tingle more than others? I wish I knew the secret. It would come in handy, let me tell you.

Lately, I've been in a serious writing funk. It's nothing unusual. On the contrary, it's part of the natural landscape of being a creative person. Sometimes it comes easy, and sometimes it doesn't. 

When it doesn't, it is my job as a "serious writer" (what does that mean???) to be "serious" about it and try to break open my funk and pick apart its shriveled up brains. I cannot let it beat me because it has beaten me before, friends, and it is not fun. 

It Is Not Fun.

I spent a year in a whirlwind of self-hatred, writing endlessly words and words and words, none of which satisfied me. They were fake words. Poser words that I knew good and well would not stick to anything, but I kept writing them anyway because I did not want to admit that I was beaten. 

What I forgot during those dried-up desert days was that writing words is only half the battle. It keeps the train on the tracks all right--you can't get by at ALL without writing the words--but the other half of the battle is being engaged with the words. 

This is the hard part, and the part that costs us something. Being emotionally engaged with a project, and in turn creating a project that will keep readers/consumers emotionally engaged, requires fuel. You have to pay in to get something out. 

Now, I'm not saying that we have to sit there and wait for inspiration to bite us in the rear before we can write anything that is actually worth anything. I've heard that excuse tooooooo many times (yesfrommyownmouthbutwhateverstopjudgingme). What I'm saying is that we need to pay attention to when things start to get hollow and pay something into the account. 

That's where ambiance comes in for me. 

Sometimes, it is as simple as finding a place where there is actual living being done by actual livers* of a life.  

Sometimes it means getting in a place where your brain can perk itself up and think, "Huh. I would never have thought of that on my own." 

It is absolutely about getting in a place where your brain can perk itself up and think. Period. 

For me, an independent coffee house that is a little battered around the edges and where one can find a perfectly poured latte is enough to wake up, as Hercule Poirot would say, "the little gray cells." There is something just writerly about these places, and whether there is something intrinsic in it or not, I am conditioned to know that in this setting my job is to slurp coffee and write things even though I am in the presence of other people (normally my kryptonite). Of course, it helps that most of these other people are also too caught up in slurping coffee to pay a single drop of attention to me. 
 This is the closest I can be to being a fly on the wall, and that is always a sure-fire way to get the creative juices flowing. 

Figure out what it takes for you to get your mind set for your own creative endeavors. Is it the lighting? The chair? The tools? The company? 

Maybe the beverage...

Set the stage and make some art!

*liver=person who lives, not disgusting meat-stuff that some people insist is food even though it is emphatically Not Food.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Brain Drain

I have a lot of good reasons why I don't write.

Most of the time, I say I'm tired. I'm drained. I have no energy. My gosh-darned eyelids won't stay open long enough for me to see the keyboard. Also, I'm sleepy and worn out and undone.

These things are true most of the time.

But it doesn't count.

I have too much on my mind. I don't have enough on my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I even have a mind anymore, or if my head is filled up with mushy, mealy oatmeal stuff that would stick to your fingers if you got your hands in there, falling, splatting, into gloppy blobs that don't mix well with the good firm creative brains that I started out with so many years ago.

Either way, it still doesn't count.

Lately, I stare down at my novel notes and their buzz is gone. I know that when I scribbled them down, there was some zing, some electricity that compelled me to put them there in the first place. That paper was sopping up something from me, something valuable that I didn't want to get away from me.

Somehow, it jumped the fence and ran off anyway.

Opining the one that got away is poetic and grandly sad, but it doesn't count. 

I have been neglecting the blog, telling myself that I will post tomorrow. "Tomorrow will be fine," I'd tell myself. "Tomorrow will be brighter, sweeter, and zestier than today. Tomorrow I will have the words. Tomorrow will be...not today."

Tomorrow always turns into today and another tomorrow always sprouts in its place.

Tomorrow doesn't count.

The fact is (don't you love it when people start sentences that way? Like their truth is Fact and regardless of what you think, it IS), I, like many, have grown too accustomed to being numb.

Writing, any real writing worth its ink and that is more ambitious than a grocery list, requires you to feel something. Sometimes, I am tired of feeling things. Feelings are never free. They charge admission and sometimes, I'm just flat broke and there's nothing I can (will) do about it.

But the feelings...they count.

They really, really count. 

It is worth it.