The End was penned a couple of months ago, but those two words only signaled the beginning. After 14 months of writing, the words that had been pouring out of my imagination had finally solidified into the 70,000+ manuscript that is now going through the fluff and fold and nip and tuck process.
For me, editing this YA Paranormal has been all-consuming, taking up enough space in my brain to push a few things out. As input from my betas keep coming in, my mind is continuously working out the possibilities and changes my novel could take. I’ve forgotten to pay bills on time, left the market with only half of what I’ve gone in for, and lost a lot of time from work because I’m running through scenes in my head instead of typing medical reports. I get through my days only half there and it’s a struggle to bring myself to the moment and focus on the task at hand.
I’ve got the attention span of blade of grass and if a point is not made within five seconds from the beginning of a conversation or whatever it is that I’m reading, you can be pretty sure I’ve checked out and moved on to something else. Oftentimes I wake up that way, breathing in the adrenaline of the home stretch.
With my tattoo artist now sketching out the cover of the novel – which, by the way, will be one of the next images of art to be inked on my body – the actual completion of my second novel is quickly becoming a reality…and I can’t wait!
So forgive me as I deviate from my usual blog path, because quite honestly, I can’t think of much else. You may not see me much in the blogosphere or in Twitterverse in the next few weeks, but I’ll be around – sort of.
What does it sound like when a spirit breaks?
Is it similar to a snap, a rip, or is it like an explosion? Maybe it is better described as the imploding of self.
It’s indescribable, actually, but it is instantaneous. One minute we’re fine, the next minute we’re not.
I push myself hard in all areas of my life. There are only two speeds – fast and faster. I choose to pile my life’s plate until it spills over. It works for me. It is physically, mentally, and spiritually impossible for me to slow down.
And that’s why I run. It helps to consume that extra energy that tends to shoot out like missiles in all directions. Ironically, running is the only way I can get myself to tone the energy down somewhat before it builds back up again.
To top it all off, I tend to soak up the energy around me – positive and negative – and when I am already on the verge of erupting, this can lead to some serious danger levels. You know, kind of like that contraption that the Ghostbusters used to catch the ghosts?
One day, after a particularly challenging day of listening to my sons fight, their words bouncing off the walls of my small office, I felt the shift. Something was horribly wrong. Only once before did this happen, but it was so long ago, I didn’t recognize the signs.
I knew enough to cut the day short, but instead of heading to the sanctuary of my home and seeking refuge there, I instead headed to the lake where I met with a friend of mine. I knew my walls were cracking and this was probably not a good idea, but I went anyway.
We talked quite a bit about life, relationships, people, our past, and before I knew it, I told my friend things that I didn’t dare reveal to myself. Things that scared me, things that hurt. I unloaded it all, grateful that my friend didn’t turn away. After that there was nothing left for me to purge.
I went home feeling empty and beat up, so I crawled into bed and curled up under the covers for two hours. My son checked on my every 15 minutes, truly worried for me. Never had he seen me like this. Hell, even when I had pneumonia a few years back, I don’t even think the family knew I was sick. But this…this was more intense, more debilitating. I had broken. I had split open my tightly sealed lock box that had been fused shut with the heat from my pace.
My mind and body had told me all that I needed to know. I need to slow down and let go of some of the pressure.
Will I heed that advice? Probably not. I’ll take it into consideration, though. These things take time. But at least I know that, though I’m not fragile, I can break.
With all we have going on as writers, bloggers, mothers, fathers, day job workers, etc., how do we know when to draw the line? Do you take time to decompress before or after the meltdown? I’d love to hear from you! I think we all could use a little advice!
Body art is not for everyone. Many people tsk-tsk the symbols and flashy colors on every conceivable area of the body, shaking their head in wonderment at those of us who adorn our body with varying levels of self expression. Perhaps it’s the perceived defacing of the clean slate of our skin that shocks them. Perhaps it’s the fear of committing to something as permanent as ink nestled underneath the top layer of the skin. Perhaps they feel it somehow diminishes a person’s worthiness. I don’t know, and I don’t think they do either. Whenever I ask the reason behind their reluctance to embrace the art of tattooing, the answer is usually “I just don’t like it.”
But every tattoo has a story. Wherever a person was in their life, they had chosen a symbol to reflect that particular moment. It was the missing piece of the puzzle that fit perfectly into their soul at that moment in time. Tangible documentation – something a person can point to, touch, and remember it by. And I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who told me that they regretted their choice.
Jill, an incredible woman, very close to my heart, has allowed me to share the story of her tattoos with you:
A good friend of my oldest son, got his first tattoo when he turned 17 – a tradition amongst the males in his family. They’ve had the family crest inked onto their chest, reflecting the pride in their clan.
As for me, my first tattoo was about 11 years ago. I had always wanted to get a one because I recognized I was reaching a point in my life when I was feeling a little bit bolder, a little bit rebellious, but was yet unable to make a stand. An armband with the yin-yang symbol represented my emerging side, but the names of my sons and then-husband reminded me of the commitments I had made.
My second was about a year and a half ago, when I released my first novel, Again. I had integrated the triskele into my story, and since the entire writing process was such a huge part of my life, I wanted to honor my efforts by having the same symbol inked on my right shoulder.
My third was actually yesterday. The decision to get another tattoo came right out of the blue. I was doing the day job thing, wishing that I wasn’t, sneaking peeks at Twitter and blogs, writing and reading comments – basically getting all wrapped up in the writing experience – and I was happy. Really, really happy. Not that I’m not normally happy. I mean, I have two incredible boys and a steady paycheck. I live in a nice community with incredible friends and beautiful surroundings. So, yeah. I’m good. But immersing myself in the world of writers and other artsy-type people just puts me in my really happy place and resonates deep within. Like I was born to do this. By diving into this world of writers, by writing my novel, I am one of them.
I wanted to stamp that on my hand, across my forehead, to remind myself of who I am,and to put it out to the universe and anyone else who will listen (anyone, that is, not already within my own circle of supportive, awesome, incredible brothers and sisters of Twitterville, Facebookland, and Blogopia). Mostly, though, it was for me. It was something I needed to do. So I did it. Thank you Crystalyn!
I share with you now my journey of yesterday. Photos, courtesy of my writing partner, Kathleen Mulroy. Ink job courtesy of Crystalyn.
So stay tuned for my next story. I’m in the process of designing my next tattoo, a symbol that is coming right out from my next novel. I just need to figure out where I’m going to put it…
So, tell me…do you like body art? Do you have many friends who have at least one? Would you ever consider getting one yourself (if you don’t already have one). I’d love to know!
During one of my rare moments of attempted meditation, my mind was wandering to stuff like…I need to finish the day job so I can get back to editing the WIP, read and comment on blogs, cruise Facebook friends, blah, blah, blah…oh, and infuse extra caffeine tomorrow so I can double the workload so I can take the weekend off to write…
And in the midst of the chatter, a very nondescript face emerged in my mind and my brain chatter came to a screeching halt.
All this person said was, “Are you ready for this? Are you really ready?”
I stared at the empty face. Blink. Blink.
“Because it will all change. Are you ready to let things go?”
I knew he was referring to my intended writing success. And my answer? Hell yeah, I’m ready! It’s what I’ve been working towards with this WIP for the last year, isn’t it? But damn, if it isn’t taking forever! There are so many things that are holding me up!
Let me back up here and give you an explanation. I work about 70 hours a week typing medical reports, raise two boys, a dog, and a hamster. I exercise, socialize a little, and write. I’m disciplined and have my orderly (sort of) way of structuring my days so I can get it all in. Most of the time my days go sideways, throwing off my already loosely organized schedule, or I become bored out of my mind with the day job and start cleaning out the refrigerator or hanging out on Amazon, looking through the vast selection of ebooks. By the time 10:00 p.m. rolls around, I’m more tempted to lay down for just a wee bit, than I am to edit.
But I’d push myself and muddle through a handful of pages, call it a night, and promise myself and my dog to do better tomorrow. Guess what? Yeah, same deal for the rest of the week.
Some days are better than others WIP-wise, but certainly not where I want to be. I really want this routine to change. There’s never enough time! I whine really, really loud.
So there I sat, after being mentally slapped upside the head by some guy whose face I can’t even see, asking me a very real, very serious question. I had to think about that one for a minute (that minute actually lasted all day).
Was I really ready? I mean, I can see how things in my life would change when my novel starts selling. I can see how my tidy little routine will need to be overhauled and restructured. I can see how certain people would have to take a back seat due to time constraints or obligations. I can even see a change in scenery would be possible. Can I do that? Can I put people and places on hold if the success of my novel demanded it? My ego screams YES! Hey, Subconscious! Whaddya say?
No answer…or maybe its voice is too quiet for me to hear.
Was this my block? I began to wonder if my explanation was my excuse for not moving forward faster. On some deeper level am I uncomfortable with success? Am I sabotaging my efforts because subconsciously I have an issue with stepping out of my comfort zone?
Though I talk out loud about my plans for success, the energy I’m putting out there may not hold that same intensity. So I imagined success and what it meant for me. I envisioned finishing my novel. I visualized it being well-received. And then there was that familiar feeling – the one that would ball up in my throat when, as a teenager, I’d sit at the top of the roller coaster tracks, just before the cars would take the big plunge.
Anticipation? Excitement? Fear? Wishing all of a sudden I wasn’t sitting so high up? Is that where my head has been at? Am I going through the motions of writing when my intention was never to take the plunge?
Am I using the very same situation that I so desperately want to change as my excuse for not reaching the success I crave?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell which camp we’re in when insecurities/uncertainties run deep or are camouflaged as another emotion. I could definitely see how my teeny quirk of being a control freak would lead me to hang on to my tried and true routine, instead of free falling into uncharted waters. It’s safe in my little world, and though I claim to be a brave, strong person, there’s a new neighborhood I have yet to explore, one whose fence has been too high to look over, but one that I’ve managed a glimpse of through the knot holes. Perhaps on some level I am unsure of myself.
Well, if that’s the case, I’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m not talking typing medical reports. Well, that too, but I’m talking about this major block. If this is what is holding me up, and I’ve got a strong suspicion that it is, I’ve got me a sledge hammer and some determination, and I’m going to bust it to pieces. Starting now.
ROW80, here I come.
How about you? Do you think you have any blocks in any area of your life? What do you do to overcome them? I’d love to hear from you!
In the June 2005 edition of Writer’s Digest Personal Writing, my 100-word response to a question they had posed was published, along with many other writers who had similar experiences. The question?
Has anyone ever read your journal without permission? And, if so, what happened?
Like many other journal keepers, I had been faithfully making entries in my journal since my mother had given me a leather-bound book, complete with a little key. I had a special pen – a pretty pink pen – to scribble in whatever thoughts popped into my head at the time. It was great! Kind of a clothing-optional beach for my mind. Some days the entries consisted of how I hated my brothers teasing me or the fact that I had major crushes on their friends (Russ, you were always my favorite!). As I got older, the entries grew with me. My first hit of a cigarette, my first kiss, how I hated my mother and her stupid rules, cutting classes and drinking beer. I filled hundreds of pages with words I was afraid to say out loud – to anyone. I included poems and songs that were both dark and light. I ranted and praised. I laughed and cried. I created a world where only I existed; standing on the edge of a well where I dumped out my heart and mind into a place I thought was safe.
I’m not really certain what led up to that day that changed the dynamics of my life, but I do remember coming home from school one day and finding my journals lying on my bed, all of them opened and apparently read by the one person I thought I could trust. I would have expected this invasion of privacy from my brothers, but definitely not my mother.
Yeah. I was busted on so many levels and I was surely going to burn in hell. I back-peddled, I lied. I had to explain myself, explain my motives – as if anyone should have to defend their heart.
On that day my secrets became hers. But that wasn’t enough. Apparently she was so horrified with the workings of my mind, she offered up my journals to my high school counselor for inspection, obviously convinced I was on my way to juvenile hall.
I’m not sure what was worse – knowing I was about to face purgatory or the humiliation I suffered every time I caught my counselor watching me as I walked past his office. He never said a word to me, but he didn’t have to. His eyes said it all. My secrets were his, as well.
So I had been burned torched, but I healed. And I continued to write – still unguarded – only I wrote with the knowledge that others would read my words. And although I didn’t recognize it as such, that was the day I became a writer. After all, isn’t that what being a writer really is? Writing exposes us. It doesn’t matter how carefully worded the sentences are or how well our own personalities are disguised as our characters. Our stories put our fears and insecurities out for public scrutiny. We lay out the loose ends of our souls, hoping that someone won’t start picking away at the threads and unravel what we have so carefully woven, but whether or not they do, we continue to write.
Before my mother died, I shamelessly pressed her for the answer to a question that I dared not ask for 13 years. Whatever became of my journals? She gave me a combination, but to what she didn’t tell me. To this day, I still don’t know.
So if you happen across a few wayward journals with entries written in pink, with mention of a boy named Troy, feel free to thumb through it. My life is an open book and I’m certain the makings of a great story are in there somewhere.
So I ask you the same question that Writer’s Digest asked of me: Has anyone ever read your journal without permission? And, if so, what happened? I’d love to hear from you!
“What?” His eyebrows shot up as he leaned toward me just a little. “Twenty years?”
He blinked once. Then twice.
My jaw went slack, realizing what I had just revealed.
Then he sat back hard in his chair, shaking his head. “You need to be kissed. You need to be kissed.”
I noticed he wasn’t offering his services to remedy the situation. He merely stared, digesting my confession.
Two decades is a long time to go without being kissed. I mean, really kissed. I was embarrassed, wondering if I was even capable of kissing that way again. I swiped at a tear that started to form, hoping he didn’t notice.
So this was it. This is what I had become. A closed-off, passionless excuse of a woman. How could I have let it get to this point? For that matter, at exactly what point did it get to this point? Did my softer edges sharpen during those first years of raising my children when laundry, cleaning, and cooking, had to fit somewhere between the hours of my day job? Maybe it was during the years after that when I took on the additional roles of taxi driver, gardener, and all around super mom.
Sexy lingerie was shoved aside to make room for baggy t-shirts and sweat pants. Practical shoes took the place of fun, strappy sandals. No one knew how long my hair really was since it spent most days tucked up underneath a baseball cap, mainly to hide the fact that I hadn’t had a chance to touch up the roots.
Somewhere between the “I do” and the “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I had lost myself. I lost the ability to tilt my face to the sun and soak in all of its goodness. I lost my creativity and the ability to laugh. Not that I didn’t have the opportunities – I just didn’t have the energy for it.
Worst of all, I had forgotten to write, something I had done since I was a little girl. My dream journal was buried under stacks of paper and magazines, never experiencing the touch of a pen to its pages – because I had forgotten to dream.
And like anything in this world, if it is neglected, it will die.
And die I did. A thousand times.
On the outside I was Wonder Woman and Martha Stewart rolled into one. I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be the perfect wife and mother. I tried. I tried really hard. Books on how to knit and sew and quilt and make candles for Christmas lined the shelves. Cookbooks for pasta, vegetables, barbecuing, and even sushi were lined up neatly in the kitchen. Playing at the park or going to the beach were regular activities.
I deceived them, all of them. “How do you do it?” I was often asked. I would just shrug and smile. If I were to answer them, I would have said, “Miserably.” But I never said a word.
I may have fooled them, but I didn’t fool me. I knew that by not being who I really was, by not being filled with my own joy, I had nothing to offer. I might as well have been a bot.
When I finally hit the tipping point, I prioritized. I wanted me back. I threw out the how-to books, the knitting needles, and found a nice home for the upright piano that mocked me every time I would pass it.
And then I looked for me. I wasn’t hard to find, for as I was looking in, the woman I searched for was looking out, and when we met after so many years, it was magic.
After that, I wrote. And I wrote. And I tipped my face towards the sun and soaked up all the goodness that its warmth offered.
And still…I write…I have found my muse.
How about you? Is it easy for you to lose yourself to others? Is it difficult to put your needs first? How do you find that balance in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!