The Elusive Feels

Right up front I’m going to say that every writer hopes to write stories, poems, novels, scripts, or non-fiction that emotionally engages their readers. It would be ridiculously disingenuous to suggest otherwise. I personally hope that whatever I write resonates with at least someone out there and hits some shared chord of truth.

If you’re a writer, you’re a reader first. As a reader the quickest way to eject me out of your work and abandon it is to make me aware that you’re trying to manipulate my emotions. To make me conscious of your words purposely attempting to steer my feelings and thoughts.

When I was ten years old I watched “Somewhere in Time” and was so moved I wrote a bunch of superiorly inferior tortured emotional poems inspired by the way that movie made me feel. I had the feels so bad I could have led a flotilla with my imaginary tears. I worked that lofty emotion to the bone with bad poems. That was the moment I first realized that writing could engage you so deeply that it could make you feel things for imaginary characters you’d never even felt in real life. Which, come on, is serious black magic!

Let’s take a moment to thank me for not subjecting any of you to my lofty early attempts to make people’s hearts heave with the sweeping love that only fiction knows. Because I still have that diary, my friends, I could accost you with ten year old endless love. But I’m kinder than that.

That sense of power that makes a person want to write is natural to feel in the early stages of writing. You want to make people bleed inside – scream – sigh – become better – believe that love is worth dying for – devolve into spiritless pools of darkness when the candy’s gone. Reading powerful poems, novels, stories, and non-fiction can change your perspective, your direction, your life.

But this is just the larval stage of writing. You realize the power of writing and are drunk with the possibilities. At some point you have to evolve into the next instar stage which is forgetting all about the potential readers in order to serve the narrative for the narrative’s sake. You have to dedicate yourself to developing the skill to tell a story with nuance, in layers. You have to be willing to shove ice-picks into the marrow of truth to see what emerges under the microscope of human experience.

In a totally unrelated analogy, readers are witnesses to a story and whether you’re the prosecuter or defender of the story – resist the temptation to lead the witness. Just tell the story.

A writer’s best asset is to be in touch with the magic of a life of reading. To remember all the ways my favorite books have made me think, grow, dream, escape, and sometimes make me exquisitely uncomfortable.  The best books didn’t bludgeon me with words that indicated I should be sad or mad or angry or happy. The stories unfolded and I was free to experience them organically, not always as others (and authors) might have expected.

Readers can tell when you’re trying too hard or when you haven’t tried hard enough. They can tell when you didn’t bother researching things and when you’ve become pedantic about details to a smackable degree. They know when you’re trying to lead them and know when you’re too lost to lead the narrative down a wide open street.

Mind your words. Mine your words.

You’ll never make me cry for trying, but if you care more about what your characters are experiencing than what I’m experiencing as a reader – I just might forget you’re there at all. That’s your truest mission (and mine) as a writer.

Whether you’re writing literature, fantasy, fiction, humor, non-fiction, horror, romance, or mystery – make your work truthful and authentic. Everything else will follow.

 

Writing Crap to Get to the Good Stuff

morning with Sarah

(Coffee in my friend Sarah’s dining room, taken on our trip to Portland in June 2016)

Our vacation seems like it happened so long ago now. I just went through all my photos from it and processed them.

I’m trying to write and I’ve got two kittens who are continually disrupting me by walking across my keyboard and getting in my lap. This isn’t a complaint, by the way, just something that’s keeping me from finding a flow. It doesn’t help that I’ve been writing so little lately that I feel rusty even writing a post. I mean, it’s easy enough when I’m full of beer and it’s midnight, but those posts usually must be eradicated later anyway. While those posts are extremely emotive, they basically just say the same thing over and over and over again and don’t constitute good writing. Once in a while something good comes of that, but not often.

This is why so many well-known working authors say you have to write every single day. Even if it’s total crap. Just write. Keep the gears oiled and turning. When the inspiration isn’t there you still need to be keeping your writing mind flexed and ready for when inspiration does come. You need to be ready to take it on.

So this is me writing crap. Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap. Writing crap is how you uncover the good stuff.

We have no bread this morning and only three eggs. I think it’s going to be a potato morning.

It sounds like there’s a cicada outside. But I’m pretty sure we don’t have them here. I would love to hear that all day long. I’d feel like I was in the south of France. I’d have the urge to go and find some wild thyme and a game bird to roa- wait – what?! I want to make ratatouille today. Again. I can’t get enough of it. I need to make enough to freeze it. I could eat ratatouille every day for a year.

I think I’ll go do Imwalle Gardens and get the supplies.

I’ve got so much blackberry jam/sauce* that I think it’s safe to move on to some other food preserving projects. I’d love to make some peach jam before it’s too late. Tons of ratatouille to freeze.

I’m feeling so soul satisfied having finally, after years of not doing it, found the good blackberry picking in time and made jam. I think I need to make bread today. I haven’t made bread in a million years. That’s definitely something I miss doing.

Philip was laid off on Thursday. I’m not panicking yet. I start my new part time job at the art store tomorrow. It’s a really nice art store and being a cashier is nothing new for me, but still, I’m nervous about settling into a new place with new coworkers.

This is definitely the start of a whole new chapter. I just hope it’s a really good one.

*Some have set perfectly, but the batches I made on Friday have not. They’re more like a thick sauce. Who cares? I’ll pour that shit on toast and LOVE it.

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Jaded Drunk at a Dry Wedding

when no one's coming

I’ve been a bruised piece of shit for the last few days. Vulnerable like a snail chained to a trail of salt. Part of me sits back and watches the Angelina show like a jaded drunk at a dry wedding, while part of me brings my own salt shaker to the party.

There is deep shame in this whole experience. I spend all my up time shouting to outsiders to fuck off with their shaming tactics, to fuck off with all their bullshit put-downs and their sly references to our lifetime ticket to the short bus, and I spend all my low time proving that I’ll never quite get up off the floor of my shredded naugahyde seat on the post-apocalyptic bus to hell.

I keep trying to write what it’s like to be mentally ill for people who aren’t and I’m a broken record that never reaches the chorus, that never manages to wheeze out the punchline. It’s impossible, this thing I carry in my head, in my body, in my spirit. It’s got the cumbersome painful body of John Merrick and the beautiful poetry of shut-in Emily Dickinson.

Whatever I am, the truth of it is always convoluted and polluted by how much I try to hide, by how much I reveal at my most vulnerable moments. I’m all contrasts. Truth delivered in brutal late-night beer-brave bullet-points only to be rescinded 12 hours later by the harsh remembrance of my place in the hierarchy of humans and their inability to digest the deeply bitter spiritual revelations that constitute the air I breathe.

Suicide for Beginners Survey Update

calling yesterdayIt’s July 1st and I’m still not finished logging the Suicide for Beginners survey responses. Why is it taking so long? I had originally planned to be done with this part of the project by the end of April. So what the fuck happened?

I have Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety and mild OCD.

How the fuck is that an answer or excuse? Ahhhh – most of the people who took my survey KNOW why that’s a profoundly important answer.

As a person who has Major Depressive Disorder, I have very low energy at the best of times. Not everyone who has this disorder is always low energy. Some people with it are only low energy during a depressive down-cycle. Some don’t experience low energy as a symptom at all (I didn’t for the first half of my life of living with depression). But the majority of us find having depression emotionally exhausting and physically draining. I have a day job, a kid, a mom who depends on me to run her errands as she is physically unable to do so herself, I have pets, and all of this would reasonably make anyone a bit tired at the end of the day. But put depression on the heap and I’m done for.

I have tried getting some surveys logged in the mornings before work when I have the most energy. But most mornings I have enough trouble getting myself into the proper mind-frame to face a day of customer service.

There’s a whole other factor at play here as well. I’ve got no filter for other people’s emotional baggage. I’m also excessively empathetic. Reading long surveys in which I ask people to talk to me about the darkest and most vulnerable part of their lives is truly hard. For one thing, people with mental illness disproportionately experience abuse over people who aren’t mentally ill, particularly in childhood. So these surveys are filled not only with the pain of having mental illness, but the pain of abuse, disregard, bullying, disrespect, and marginalization.

These people are my community. They are my tribe. They matter to me almost more than any other people on earth. So it’s really fucking hard to sit down and hear all their pain and just fly through survey after survey – boom! Boom! Done. I FEEL their pain in no small part because I have experienced all of it for myself. It’s overwhelming.

So I’ve had to take it slow and take long breaks because it’s fucking heartbreaking to actually hear so many people’s stories about living with depression. Lordy, and this survey doesn’t even cover any of the co-morbid diagnosis’ most of us live with.

There’s another factor that’s made it hard too – those survey respondents who spewed mean shit at ME. But I’m saving that for the next installment of:

WHY IT’S JULY AND ANGELINA ISN’T DONE WRITING SUICIDE FOR BEGINNERS YET.

I’m just about to read survey #530 out of #584 total “completed”*.

*Survey Monkey’s idea of what constitutes a “completed” survey is pretty remarkable. There are some surveys they counted as “completed” in which the respondent answered exactly 5 out of 25 questions. Translate that into orgasm talk and you’ll have a riot on your fucking hands.

My original plan was to be finishing my first draft of the book by now. Shit.

But this is the very THING I’m trying to shed light on, isn’t it? That living with depression means adjusting your expectations and your goals because if you don’t do that you will hate yourself more than your brain already tells you to and you’ll struggle even harder. One of the most important things you can do for yourself as a person suffering life-long chronic depression is to accept that it will limit you a lot of ways, some of them obvious, many of them not.

I have 54 more survey responses to log. It doesn’t sound like much, but I logged in about 15 of them last night and felt so drained from it that I’m still feeling it this morning.

Once I’m done logging the responses I will be sorting my spreadsheets to reflect the numerical order of the answers which also means I have to clean up the notes and crap I scattered all over them that will get in the way of ranking them. Once I get everything ranked and cleaned up I will take each individual spreadsheet and evaluate my findings and take notes on what I think they mean. Then I can begin to actually WRITE THE DAMN BOOK.

I had originally planned to be done with my second draft by the end of the summer so I could start sharing with beta readers and writing query letters to agents. With non-ficiton you don’t actually have to wait to finish your book before querying agents (whereas they will not even consider your novel if you query them before it’s finished) you just need chapter outlines and a synopsis, but I know I have to write this book no matter what and I need to have written it to properly query it. It must take shape first before I present it because I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to arrange the book and prioritize the chapters until I’m writing it.

Will it even be done by 2018? I don’t know. I do feel a sense of urgency as mental illness is being offered up more and more as an explanation and the core issue behind mass murders, homophobia, racism, and pretty much all crime. Which is excessively wrong – people don’t understand mental illness who don’t have it and they also don’t understand how a human can kill another human so obviously mental illness is linked to violence in their minds. This must stop! Obviously, my book may not help stop people from being ignorant and keeping all of us mentally ill people chained up in humanity’s claustrophobic closet of horrors, but I can’t give up just because my project might not achieve what I hope it will help achieve.

First I have to write the post about the people in my community who are making things worse for the rest of us, but especially ME as they tell me to fuck off. Then I’ll get as many more survey responses logged as I can today.

 

Authenticity in Writing and Other Stuff

grooming is good

(You’ll have to scroll down for the thoughts on writing because first there’s other stuff)

I’m super excited about the family vacation we’re going to take on June 14th. It’s pretty much all I’m thinking about. Except that I really want to get my Suicide for Beginners survey responses all logged before I go on vacation so I’m thinking about that too. About how I keep missing opportunities to plow through them after work. I faff around making food for my kid, doing dishes, and then I’m exhausted and sit around thinking about all the things I should be doing before vacation and do nothing else.

This is the main thing that sucks about having depression. The lows come and go for me and they can be super bad, but I don’t really have highs. I just have no energy. Even when medicated, which has certainly helped.

I need to sew some stuff for my trip. Well, just for in general, because hot weather is mostly here and I’ve been very uncomfortable. I need some culottes so I can ride my bicycle without knotting my pant cuffs and so I don’t die of heat exhaustion related to wearing long pants all day at work where it’s so hot I break a sweat just from fetching a cup of water from the water cooler.

Now I need to make myself a new bag too because yesterday I pretty  much destroyed my main one by spilling coffee inside of it. A lot of coffee.

I think I just have to lock myself in my office tonight without any booze and work on the survey results. And again tomorrow night. And again on Friday night.  Then I can sew this weekend.

WRITERS: BE AUTHENTIC…

Random writer thought – I truly despise it when book promos promise to make a reader cry. My goal in reading a book is never to be made to cry. Ever. I hate crying and worse than that I hate knowing that an author relishes the idea of manipulating their readers into feeling sad or so happy (??) they break down crying. Claiming that your book is so emotional your readers are going to ball their eyes out strongly suggests that you measure your success as a writer by how much you can manipulate the emotions of your readers rather than by how much they enjoyed your story-telling. It suggests to me that you’re in it for the satisfaction of moving people to some strong emotion and not to write great stories. It tells me your focus is off and that it’s kind of creepy.

If a book promo suggests that a story is going to be tragic – I feel like I’ve already been betrayed as a reader. I will not read the story. But if I did read it, I would not allow myself to be drawn in emotionally because I’m already prepared to be betrayed.

I see this a lot on Twitter. You have very little words with which to hook a potential reader. Don’t waste them promising to wreck a reader emotionally. Say something about the actual story. I say this as a person who’s total crap at writing promos, so I get it, writing promos is hell. But at least try.

Writers who live to manipulate the emotions of readers are just as unpalatable to me as writers who live to moralize. Emotional manipulation and moralizing are terrible reasons to write and having either of those as your core goal and your starting point with any story will permeate your whole story with a stench that most readers can smell a mile away and will resent you for.

Please, fellow writers, be in it to tell amazing stories about interesting people and places and events. Please be in this writing gig to share your authentic imagination with the rest of us. If you’re authentic in all your writing then you’ll move readers naturally.

Time to go wash my hair before work.

 

Letting the Words go Fallow

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I used to sit down to my blog every day with something to say. At some point everything I had to say became so difficult to discuss in a blog post that I couldn’t face the effort of diving in and dissecting a subject like I used to. Blogs have changed, social media has changed the nature of blog writing. At first blogging felt like a can opener that could rip the world wide open and let light into all the dark corners. Blogging created a geek paradise for those of us who have had a hard time finding our tribe in our own cities. But at some point the blog world started feeling like a cross between high school and a tacky advertising firm.

Writers sometimes have to stop writing in order to breathe, in order to live outside their own heads, in order to refresh and find the new page. I suppose I’ve been going through a lot of that in the past two years. I finally found the personal struggle I don’t feel comfortable sharing a lot of with the world.

And considering I’ve been open about my struggles with suicidal ideation, that’s saying a lot.

In spite of all of this, the urge to sit down here in my small corner of the public universe and talk about everything I’m thinking about, hearing, seeing, and worrying about is super strong. I’ve sat down to write something a million times and tried to unburden my mind only to find that no matter how loud the detritus in my head rattles I can’t shake any of it loose. Over the last ten years I have driven myself to produce ever better content, to become a better editor, a better photographer, to make stronger arguments, and to give something worth stopping for to those who stumble into my universe. Writing here has absolutely made me a much stronger writer, has made me accountable to an audience, has made me see my writing outside of myself.

But I forgot how to simply let myself spill like I used to. I’ve forgotten how to sit down without a specific agenda and let everything tumble out naturally and wildly. I’ve forgotten how to let a subject unwrap itself in a stream of consciousness flood. It’s the difference between only planting things in your garden that you buy at the nursery or seeded yourself on purpose and letting a forest of volunteers burst up out of your soil that you have to cultivate and watch until you discover whether or not you want them to take up permanent residence in your garden. I’m a big fan of volunteer gardening because it’s the only kind of surprise in life that doesn’t fill me with dread.

The most gorgeous pink hollyhock I’ve ever seen sprouted up in my McMinnville garden as a ghost of a previous garden. I’ve never successfully grown a hollyhock on purpose. This one sprouted and I was curious to see what it would become, I had no idea what it was when it first popped up. I let this mysterious thing grow up behind my blueberry bed and I kept waiting to see what it would become, withholding judgment until buds swelled on its stem and I knew it was going to be marvelous. It wasn’t until the buds fully opened that I discovered its true identity.

Sometimes good ideas must germinate in untended fields where they are free to develop un-selfconsciously. I believe great writing happens in this narrow place where wild ideas are allowed to rise from craggy soil but are then pruned and cultivated with great care.

What I’ve been calling writer’s block is nothing more than letting my writing go fallow.

I’m just beginning to understand that during this fallow period I need to let my writing go wild. I need to let it wander, explore, and try new things. I must remove the editorial restrictions necessary for great writing and let it develop awkwardly and gorgeously by turns without imposing my cerebral ideas of what it SHOULD BE. I need to let it be ugly, gnarled, convoluted, and strangled at times. I need to let it go to seed and get weedy.  I need to let it be silly, stupid, shallow, heavy, thick, short, curt, and raw when it wants to be.

It’s in my nature to want to control everything. I have learned to let my garden and my quilting be free from restriction and perfection so that they can instead be meditations of discovery. There are precious few areas in my life where I indulge my childish side and allow curiosity and a sense of adventure lead me forward. Where I allow myself to be unapologetically imperfect and rough.

So many times in my life I’ve written words on paper even when I had absolutely nothing to say because forming letters on a page with a pen was so soul satisfying and necessary to my sense of well-being that it really wasn’t about having something to say. The ink had to always be flowing so that it would be ready when I had something important to say. I kept myself oiled and in practice with a whole lot of stupid nonsense and I never felt shame that I wrote notes like “I’m just writing this because I love to form the letter “a” with my pen on this particular paper”. It was all part and parcel of a much bigger whole. Somewhere along the way I started thinking I could only write when I had something to SAY.

I like to sign my name to things. Not because I really love my name. I’ve had so many last names that my identity isn’t wrapped up in them at all. I like signing my name because when I was a lot younger I worked hard to develop a signature that would be satisfying to scrawl, that would be visually pretty and distinctive and that I would enjoy writing. I get compliments on my signature all the time. People think I’m fancy. The truth is that I waste no opportunity to lushly enjoy forming letters with a pen because I’m in love with my alphabet and my language. That isn’t fancy, that’s geek-love.

There is so much fomenting just under the surface. I’ve had more than one epiphany recently about the projects I’ve been working on that have been unclear and difficult, yet felt too important to ignore. It’s been a little fraught all up in this brain of mine. Now that I’m beginning to understand how important it is for my brain to go fallow I’m relaxing the vigilant anxiety that I’m not moving fast enough, working hard enough, and that I’ll never get to the finish line. At least a little bit.

There’s a big corner I’m approaching. I can feel it. If I think about how big it is I’ll lose my nerve and retreat deep into my sleeping life. I’m trying not to look it in the eye or say it out loud but I know I’ll have to to make it real, to make it rise from its shallow grave where I buried it in a fit of vile fear.

I could die tomorrow.

If I die tomorrow instead of living, I would like to have let my writing, my mind, my childhood, my loves, my thoughts, and my spirit graze freely in a field of wildflowers where weeds are beloved and everything exists on the same level of marvelous. If I die tomorrow instead of living, I’d like to know that my last blog entry wasn’t trying to be more than it is, more than it should be, a pompous studied mess of attempted perfection. If I die tomorrow instead of living, I would like everyone to know that my last thoughts were curious free thoughts without boundaries or fake polish.

If I die tomorrow, I’d like my last words to include a heinous typo that will haunt editorial perfectionists for the rest of time.

I’m not a nice person.

Rise From Cheap Caskets

night light

I feel a compulsion to write at the end of the year. The last few days are, for me, a time of reflection and accounting. It’s the thing I do. It’s annoying when this time comes around and I’m struggling with something unsayable. Because all I ever want to do is say the unspeakable to take its power for harm away.

The bottle of beer I’m drinking right now has a skunky character I don’t appreciate in beer half as much as I appreciate it in actual skunks.

If I could gather all the words of the world up right now in a loving embrace, that’s what I would do. They are ungatherable as much as some of them are unsayable.

My thoughts tonight are murder on spell-check.

I want to sum up this whole year succinctly and poetically but I find I’m not up to the task.

I cut the corner of my mouth with sharp toast tonight. That’s probably why I’m not up to the task. That’s proof of my general ineptitude.

Mandrake takes a year to germinate. That’s proof that I know interesting but useless things.

I think us humans forget how to access our power and that’s when we feel old and used up. Mortality is an incontrovertible fact of life, but I think we feel old long before we need to because we let go of the things that powered us when we were young and on fire. The people you meet who are full of passion and fight in their middle age haven’t let go of the string that ties them to the lava roiling in the center of their universe.

I’m going to have to fight this year on my own behalf. I’m going to have to work hard to hold onto myself, to unearth myself from the pile of safety I’ve built around my anxiety.

I’ve been standing on this diving board for a thousand years, paralyzed, trying to talk myself into diving into the tiny shallow pool of spittle below me. Keep thinking I’m gonna die here tonight, but keep waking up still on the diving board every morning. Starting to think I live up here where the air is thin.

Can’t cry myself to sleep if my body’s dry as bones cracking in the heat of the Mohave desert, but I can shed my parts like a broke-down lemon.

This is the time to build new bones, feed the spirit, and rise again from cheap caskets. Look how the light bends to my hope! It bends to all of us at the river’s edge.

 

 

Remembering What Kinds of Novels I Don’t Write

Golden Gate Bridge

I am full of anger today. But I don’t want to talk about it. I just want everyone in the world to know that I’m carrying a sword and it would be unwise to approach me without permission and plenty of warning.

I need to channel this energy into something useful. So far I’ve cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and scrubbed the fridge down to try to get rid of the rotting flesh smell some fish juice generated that now smashes me in the nose every time I open my fridge. Cleaning the fish juice up wasn’t enough. So I’ve scrubbed every single shelf (taken out and scrubbed in the sink). I can still smell the dead flesh but it’s weaker.

I want to write but if I try to write my feelings I’ll regret it right now. While I was cleaning I was thinking about how all my writing has continued to stall ever since publishing Cricket and Grey. Book two remains in a state of first draft purgatory. Lately I got a bit of a flow going with Suicide for Beginners but that’s stalled too. What the fuck is wrong? I went back to wondering if I only have one novel in me? I mean, I have 7 novels in the queue just waiting to be written but that won’t come to life the way Cricket and Grey did.

My writer friends are all holding their breath praying that this isn’t one of those big long “I give up on writing forever” jags where I’m impossible to talk to and kind of stress them out because they all go through this occasionally too and some of us definitely think the big-blue-ass-doubts are contagious.

I remembered this thing I keep on forgetting. I’m getting really fucking tired of forgetting this thing. The thing is that I don’t want to write dreadfully personal general fiction novels. I don’t want to write science fiction. I don’t want to write romance. I don’t want to write any novels that are vaguely autobiographical either.

I want to write suspense novels in the style of the 1940’s (through the 60’s) – specifically the suspense written by women authors. The only difference is that I want to write it darker and grittier.

I wrote Cricket and Grey after making this realization for the first time, after spending an intense 4 months writing Jane Doe and not being able to finish it or even figure out where to take it. I had my revelation and wrote Cricket and Grey with a great deal of energy and purpose. It still took me four years from start to finish but I knew where I was going with it the entire time.

Suicide for Beginners first came to me as a general fiction novel about a 35 year old failed suicide who befriends a teen who’s also struggled with suicidal ideation. But this is way too close to home the way I was writing it. Way too personal in a way that isn’t healthy for me. I don’t want to dig inside myself and smear my guts all over my novels. I want to use my experience and knowledge to inform my writing, to flesh out realistic characters, but I don’t want to expose myself.

That’s what my blog is for.

So I was remembering the first time I had this revelation and wondering if I’m going to forget about this between each novel and have to go through the painful process of getting off track and not realizing it? God help me, I’ve been flailing around for two years now not remembering this.

I write suspense novels.

Not who-dunnits, not crime novels, not spy thrillers, not science fiction*, not romances, not cozy books of any kind, not semi-autobiographical fiction, and not humor.

I really wish I wrote humor. I’m just not funny enough.

All this means is that I need to go back to the drawing board and rework my ideas. I’m not calling this a breakthrough because I’ll probably go right back to floundering. But I will call this a good realization that just might get my writing back on track.

I’m still angry and don’t want to talk about it. So perhaps I’ll go watch another classic suspense film for inspiration. I already watched Laura today (with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews). Maybe Netflix has Rebecca?

*Cricket and Grey is dystopian only because it’s set in a dystopian future, but the story is really one of classic suspense in the sense that it’s almost incidental that it’s dystopian. The story isn’t really about the collapse of government or societal structure – it’s about Cricket uncovering the truth about her mother’s murder and the killer, now in danger of being revealed, begins to stalk her. The dystopian world she lives in is the set, not the story.

Grave Digger’s Shovel

Sonoma tree

Give over your tools of anger, there’s no room for them here in the banquet hall of the dead. Give over your strangling ropes and your braided whips of mean discipline, there’s no room for them here in the banquet hall of love. Give over your walls built of soot and silt that crash down on sleeping enemies in suffocating sludge tsunamis. You don’t need any of this artifice to express righteous anger. You don’t need any of this destruction to come right-side up in the morning. Slough off the language of hatred while you  bed deep in the bound hay of summer. Let it go down the devil’s road until it burns without your heart for fuel. Give over to love completely like you’ve got the wings of a thousand doves powering your blood through your arteries and your mind above the highest canopy of trees where you can chase the light and the wind that takes you far away from the gravedigger’s shovel.

Extra Luncheon Meats for ALL!

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You never know when you might need a lot of luncheon “meat”. Especially corned beef. One is always at risk of requiring a shit-ton of corned beef and then not being able to find any. AMIRIGHT?!

Happy Armistice Day

I’ve got a kitten lounging on my shoulder like a tiny leopard in a tree. I’ve got Scrivener open and 179 words laid down so far. No work today and this weekend I get to go pick up an O’Keefe and Merritt stove in working condition. The one we got for free is still not functioning and I realized that not everything needs to be a project in my life. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy something that doesn’t need immediate fixing. So we found my dream stove in good condition. It will probably need some finessing at some point, but what doesn’t?

The only blight on today was my mom bursting into my office to announce that she needs to go to the doctor ASAP because she has a weird skin thing that’s probably cancer. This is not an infrequent conclusion she comes to when anything mysterious is going on with her body. So far (knocking hard on wood here) it has never actually been cancer. Then there are all the times when something really is wrong  but she believes it’s nothing and won’t go to the doctor because it’s too much trouble or she’s convinced that though it’s probably cancer, it will magically resolve itself if she ignores it.

I can make fun of her all I want, but the truth is, I’m pretty much the same way.

Providing my mom doesn’t come home with an awful cancer announcement, life is still good. Remember when I posted a few days ago that it was good and you know how often I post how good things are going and then they all fall apart and the next time you hear from me I’m pretty much a mess of depression and crisis? Yeah, that’s often how it plays out.

I’m listening music all inspired by the Lux Aeterna mass. I’ve also just named the coffee shop/bookstore my fictional character works in “Lux Aeterna”. The person responsible for this inspiration is Thalassa Therese. Thank you! Your bower is ever littered with beautiful objects and music!

I also just had a revelation about my current wip: segments of it will be in letter form. I’m wary of using letters as a way of telling a story just for the novelty of it, it can be so hackneyed and irritating. I’ve always wanted to write a novel based on letters but no story (until now) naturally lent itself to the use of letters. It has to be organic to the story. I just realized that using letters in Suicide for Beginners might be the only way to tell this story naturally. Either that or it will have to be in first person for at least part or most of it.

I realize that those who have read Cricket and Grey would love for me to finish book 2. I believe only a couple of people who’ve read it have not said something about that. With a year and a half of writer’s block under my belt at this point I’m just working on whatever comes to me. Right now book 2 is not where the energy is. It might take another lifetime to get to the rest of the series, or maybe I’ll die before I ever do. OR maybe I’ll simply decide to leave it where it is. I can do that because I’m the decider of the books I write.

Maybe Suicide for Beginners is calling more loudly because it must be written before I die and my time is coming to a close. This is one of those things we can not know for sure. I DO know that if I don’t get another book written before I die I will probably end up sticking around as a disgruntled ghost and ride the minds of other writers spurring them desperately on to write through every night and day until their books are finished even if it ends up being the thing that kills them.

That was darker than I intended it to sound.

It’s time for me to shower and eat. There may be a haircut for me today as well because my hair is making me feeling mega-frumpy with its long straggliness.

I hope you all cease-fire today!

Update: My mom’s skin thingie is NOT cancerous. In case you’re all worried now. Doc says it’s just a thingie.