books, writing

A Personal #Writing Milestone

b&nsara

I would say more, but I am speechless.

Seeing my story officially for pre-sale (with the correct cover image this time!) at Barnes and Noble is beyond anything I imagined.

I have no words…

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sara-when-she-chooses-cat-jenkins/1127073094?ean=9781945805653

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books, writing

A New Chapter

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I signed the contract.

My book, “Sara When She Chooses,” will be published.

The process begins and I’m a sponge eager to absorb every step, because this! this! is what I’ve been hoping, dreaming, working toward.

It’s a strange sensation; a combination panic and anticipation. I really want to work. My literary energy is foaming and fomenting. At the same time, I want the luxury of staring at each step and memorizing it, wallowing in it. I’ve had years of rejections and have learned to appreciate them as sometimes inspirational, sometimes instructional, but mostly as proof to myself that I don’t give up. I’m proud of my incessant head-banging on publishers’ doors.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that sometimes the work is rejected because it’s not done. Revisit. Revise. Don’t be afraid to cut and abandon. You created this thing. It lives inside you. Nothing you do to it on paper will destroy the source from which it came.

You’ve got more in you.

In my own journey, I’ve been asked to submit a brief bio and photo…(visions arise of the nod to the writer contained on the back flap of most dust covers, or the last page of most paperbacks).

I’ve been asked to think about what I’d like to see in the way of cover art. This engendered an internet foray, shamelessly pirating images to try and convey my ideas to the publisher’s illustrator.

I realize I’m about words, but not pictures.

Then came the marketing questionnaire. A weighty list of queries delving into hitherto unexplored areas. What bookstores and radio and TV stations are in my locale? What questions would a reading group enjoy exploring in relation to my book? How would I describe my work to someone interested in buying it?

I realize I’m about words, but not salesmanship.

I begin to realize how much I need the expertise embodied in the publishers, Bedazzled Ink and its subsidiaries.

For a moment, my brain…shifts. This is real.

My life is in the hands of my publishers and then, if all goes well, in the minds of my readers.

It’s a feeling unlike any other. I won’t be the same person at the end of this process. I’m kind of scared.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Just bitchin'

Faithless

Been bumping heads with so many Christians lately.

I find this odd, because I consider myself a Christian, and, even if Man invented religion and splintered it into so many sects that it bears no resemblance to its first and oldest emergence, the basic tenets should remain as touchstones for all.

In the trauma that is the Trump administration and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, however, a different kind of light is beginning to shine on my personal beliefs. This is of no interest to anyone other than myself. Still, I feel compelled to write it out.

Because that’s what I do when I feel the need for comfort or clarity or a clarion call.

So…

There is a sense of entitlement that pervades all major religions; a conviction that yours is the best of all possible paths to reach the highest spiritual destiny. It takes a certain amount of enlightenment to acknowledge that your private path is really only ‘right’ for you. It takes a certain amount of tolerance to understand that all the divergent paths that bolster millions of people and are dissimilar to yours, are still and always viable, valuable means of spiritual direction.

Many intellectually grasp this. Few practice it.

For most, the strictures of their religion are the guiding principles by which they try to live. No one succeeds completely, but, when faced with conflict or a major juncture of your life, you try to apply these principles. They form the part of you where honor and dignity and compassion intersect. How much effort you put into living according to these precepts when the chips are down is a defining aspect of your character.

There’s a lot of bad out there. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to know there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s hard to know that the only recourse you have is to set an example by holding yourself to your personal standards. It’s hard to realize you’re not the best example. All you can do is try.

The catch is, the people you see as reprehensible think they’re doing exactly what you are: setting an example of how they wish others would live.

I’ve been angry and confused and upset about the things people have said to me and posted on social media to me. These are people who think they represent the highest and best that faith has to offer: God’s law. They blast me with their Christianity and make it clear how sad they are that I don’t fall in line behind them and support their beliefs so they can be that much surer of those beliefs themselves.

It took a headline from the Associated Press in the wake of a hurricane to break through and shed a little light on my troubled musings. The oversized type caught my eye.

Black, white, rich, poor: Storm Harvey didn’t discriminate

And I understood.

I wish for a society that would treat people the way Nature does. Indiscriminate. Colorless. Shorn of faith and creeds. Equal. In a way that says all the outer trappings…the accents, manners, ethnicity, positions and possessions are ultimately unimportant.

That’s not necessarily the way God does things, nor Jesus. Not if you listen to the Christians who’ve been haranguing me. To them, there is…and SHOULD be…preferential treatment for those gathered around the cross at church every Sunday.

So maybe I’m not a Christian after all. Maybe I’m merely a person of conscience and spirit.

I hope so.

I think I like that better.

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writing

Show Me

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I’ve been obsessed lately with the difference between telling a story, and showing it. So…some vagrant thoughts on a dull and dreary day:

 

Tell: A melancholy day

Show: Silver laces the canopy of green. Rain shoots down the leaves like tiny prison bars. This maple tree, ancient and immense, is no match for the vast, heavy lead of the sky.

Tell: She is a writer

Show: A single tear leaks from one corner of one eye. Cradled within it are the words that will never coalesce; words whose pressure builds to a vacant explosion. Stories everywhere. But she cannot tell them all.

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Tell: Her words hurt him.

Show: When she had finished her tirade, he felt slow awareness of a spot of damp on his chest. His fingers quivered a path upward, but stopped short; afraid of dipping into his own hearts-blood.

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Tell: My cat has me trained.

Show: Evil, yellow slits track my progress. Or maybe they are counting the welter of red scratches on my ankles. Feline amusement. Also, a warning. I change direction and head for the kitchen where kibble and cans await. She is hungry, and I am running out of bandaids.

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Just bitchin'

The Nature of Expansion

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“Your problems are so big compared to mine.”

Not really.

The thing about problems is their intense individuality.

There is no large.

There is no small.

The thing about problems is their ability to expand, to reach into every corner of your life.

Your intellect tells you that losing a loved one is so much more devastating than losing a job. But the heart engages on a different level. Both misfortunes expand, consume, fill. The sufferer’s life is colored; time divided into a Before and an After.

Lost loved one.

Lost job.

Lost pet.

Lost reputation.

Lost limb.

Lost opportunity.

Lost love.

Illness.

Pain.

Misunderstanding.

Unfulfilled desire.

There is no large and there is no small.

There is full, and there is free.

Use this knowledge of volume for compassion.

And for hope.

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Just bitchin'

Weaving Ugly Cloth

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It’s all coming together.

The disparate threads are entwining, interlocking, forming a pattern.

The first thread grew out of the internet.

Social media had the potential to unite; to form global communities. It could bond, and reach out, and relieve loneliness, and provide information, and ease troubled souls. But, as sure as human nature, the flip side raised its head: trolls. The veil of anonymity and distance enabled anyone and everyone who felt a dark impulse or a sudden spike of anger or hate to express themselves with consequence-free impunity. So easy to lash out and then ignore your victims. So easy to turn off your device with the smug knowledge that you ‘got away with it.’

The second thread came from reality TV.

In order to pull in viewers, behavior that would never have been tolerated previously was encouraged. When it didn’t materialize fast enough, it was engineered. Situations were fostered that would push participants’ buttons. Bullies and boors were granted pop-culture stardom. Fame and wealth were doled out in exchange for abusive behavior. The loud, the stupid, the obnoxious garnered more attention, more rewards, than the quiet, the thoughtful, the kind.

The trolls from thread #1 watched the activities of thread #2. They were lured by the accolades. They felt empowered. A culture of rudeness and cruelty for entertainment’s sake asked…no…DEMANDED…that extremes be exhibited, loudly and often. But, poor trolls, most of them had no outlet that would showcase their newfound aggression, until…

…the third thread, it could be argued, was a matter of time, circumstance, and culture intersecting.

The United States Presidential election.

A segment of the population watched in horror as the troll culture emerged into full visibility. Ugliness was condoned, substantiated, lauded, applauded.

News media reports that, no matter who wins, this troll-fest will have presaged the least popular President in history.

It’s unsettling how many Americans look traumatized, shocked…are shaking their heads and asking ‘How did this happen? How did we get here?’

It’s as if a puppet master holding the strings of a nation has gone mad. Yet the puppet master remains hidden. All any of us average citizens know is that next week the threads come together, and the highest office in our country will be draped in bunting of ugly cloth, the weaving of which we don’t understand.

It will look like the shroud a troll should wear…

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Image: ‘Trolls’ by Brian Froud

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