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.

problem2

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Just bitchin'

Diane’s Light

blogdiane1

She showed up on my doorstep with a shoebox.

Shielding it from the harsh beams of the summer sun, I could tell by her mischievous smile that she was bringing me treasure. Once inside, in the cool interior of my house, she set the box before me, revealing…

…six, tiny, perfect, baby bunnies.

Their mother had abandoned them.

For the next few months, she learned the art of caring for baby bunnies. But she already had the skills that mattered.

A heart filled with love.

A willingness to fight whatever unfair odds would condemn the small and helpless.

And more courage than anyone I’ve ever known.

When I wrote a story for inclusion in an anthology to benefit the American Cancer Society, I thought of her. I spoke of her when interviewed about my small contribution…of her courageous heart.

Today, she lost her battle.

But cancer didn’t win. It did not erase her memory. It did not destroy her spirit. It did not dim her light.

So I say again, there is light after death.

And hers shines on.

blogdiane2

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writing

The Relative Levels of Rejection, Part III

rejectstamp

We all know the form rejection is a necessary evil.

It’s impossible for an agent or editor who fields submissions numbering in the hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands, to give each one a thoughtful, individual response. Hence, the form.

But the form is a widely varied species that includes some real standouts. One is the It’s-Not-You-It’s-Me rejection. It’s the equivalent of your date saying he had an ‘interesting’ evening. Not a good-night kiss. Rather, the kiss of death. You feel as though you’re being dumped at the front door after a disastrous outing. You appreciate the intention to let you down easy, but the grain of truth that wants to irritate itself into a lump, like sand in an oyster, tells you it’s NOT them. It’s definitely you.

“You create wonderful worlds. Your writing is very atmospheric. But we’re not sure how to market you…”

Yeah, well…I’m pretty sure if the work was really outstanding, they’d find a way to market it. The truth is, it’s not a matter of how to market; it’s a matter of no market. Time to step back and consider some major rewrites.

Still, there are some very nice variations on the It’s-Not-You-It’s-Me that, in my opinion, make them the Miss Popularities of the reject pageant.

“This doesn’t quite fit with us, but you show great potential.”

In other words…back to the drawing board. If this particular submission had real potential, you’d have been asked to rewrite and resubmit. But it’s a nice rejection, and, depending on your frame of mind, you can actually savor it a little, telling yourself you’re an undiscovered talent. You just need some more time to grow.

But my absolute, hands-down, scream-from-the-rooftops fave rejection of all time is the short, sweet “This isn’t right for us, but we’d be interested to see anything else you have.”

That makes it all worthwhile. It’s not acceptance. It’s still a rejection. But it offers that one ingredient without which a writer cannot continue to shout his words into the void in solitary defiance of the odds. It dangles that little thing that has the power to change your view of the world and your place in it. It can make you forge ahead with renewed vigor and determination.

It’s hope.

And it’s beautiful.

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writing

A View From My Window

A View From My Window

On many levels, this is the writing process to me.
It’s bending over a keyboard, lost in your own little world, only to raise your head and see the marvelous things you’re missing.
It’s knowing you’d still choose to return to the places of your imagination even when confronted with such stormy beauty.
It’s a choice, every one of which carries its own rewards and regrets.
It’s knowing there’s an end to every struggle; a light at the end of every tunnel.
Unless it dead ends.
In which case, it wasn’t a tunnel at all. It was a cave.
So you find the safety of concealment, rather than light.
It’s all in how you look at it…

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