Tag Archives: overcoming

This Writing Life…

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou.

I was surprised with the recent publication of my essay, “Harnessed”. It wasn’t only the fact that I finally felt a writer, meeting the literary criteria of a journal. It wasn’t simply because this was a fresh piece of prose, put to the page late July in Benjamin Busch’s class at Sierra Nevada’s MFA program. There were painstaking hours spent with this work, in my early journals while in the Air Force, and later, marinading in my heart to brave up and pen it to paper. Once written, Busch asked us to surgically hone our narratives to less than half, to something so concise that only the essential story would remain.

This was tough work. But the edit did not surprise me.

What caught me off guard was the response once the piece published. The out-pour of support through texts and emails. Messages from those who knew bits of my story and secretly rooted me on from afar. Those I grew up with and those only recently met. There were also those who were concerned.

“I didn’t know you still carried so much anger, so much hatred,” someone told me.

I didn’t expect the conversation to open this way, but I realized there is a grand misunderstanding about how someone might process their own life. For me, I no longer held rage and the fact that I could write or talk about aspects of my life was proof that I was healing.

No, I haven’t written everything down about my journey. No, I don’t know that I will be able to share portions of myself, submit them for publication, even if I do draft them into an essay. No, I may never be able to open up, even to myself, and ink out the darkest times. I’m okay with all of it.

But that conversation prompted me to reach out to my family and close friends and tell them to not worry about me, that finally speaking out and breaking my own silence was a good thing, not a sign of my past wounding. The funny thing was that in the dialogues that followed, we finally cut through the quiet and talked about something that had remained unspoken. Most of them shared how they worried for me over the years and how they prayed for me and wished, somehow, they could’ve stepped in and intervened in my suffering. It was the type of talk that helped us all.

I’m thankful “Harnessed” made its mark in Gravel and out into the world. I’m full of more gratitude that in doing so, it changed and encouraged those close to me to know that I am doing all right. My hope is that it will reach those I may never cross paths, those who may have faced or are enduring similar circumstances and that, in reading this short piece, they will know that they are no longer alone. They will, I pray, have a glimpse of hope.

https://www.gravelmag.com/rebecca-evans.html

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This Writing Life…

Three chapters revised. Twenty-nine to go. Though at this juncture, there are two chapters that I think will be entirely cut as they really do not contribute to this story. The thing that I’m loving about this process is the time that has passed since I wrote the early draft. I’m far enough removed from the material to truly rewrite and revise.

Favorite line in the last week: “She presses Zach to her chest. His heart against her. She slows her own breathing and tries to feel, maybe even hear, the little extra click in his heart.”

For other writers reading this blog, feel free to offer your input. The one aspect that I’m most struggling is the POV. I’ve gone back and forth between first and third person (limited). It is nonfiction, and I know that traditionally, nonfiction work is in first person. But I like the feel of the “hero” being un-named and in third person for numerous reasons and creative ideas.

For the remaining goals in the last week or so:

  1. I’m counting anything fluid that I consume as “water” from here on out.
  2. I’ve done either core strength, stretching or meditation daily.
  3. My weekly family excursion was to Hagerman. This was extremely exciting for my youngest son who wants to be a Paleontologist. He loved the fossils, the teeth of ancient beasts and their eating habits. We ate at the Snake River Cafe and had a picnic along the river on our return home.

The backyard “oasis” is complete! Writing and creative space near a few chimneys and firepits along with my garden and flowers. The chickens are happy. The pugs are happy. The Chiweenie and Bearded Dragon seem to be living a life of bliss.

I need to carve four hours a day to writing. This is my goal. I know, realistically, I cannot write four hours in a row…but the sprinkle of time throughout my day is what I know I need to get the job done.

Wish me luck. Offer help. Keep on writing.


This Writing Life…

Twenty-eight pages. That is a good day of revision. One of my goals with this long narrative is that each chapter can be published as a stand-alone. Today, I feel that this chapter is complete and could carry the weight of story all on its own.

Best writing for today:  “I didn’t know I had so much blood inside of me. Feeling dizzy, I tenderly lowered myself onto the glass, lying on my back as if I were used to a bed such as this. I stared at the ceiling while waiting for Mrs. Heights to come help. The ceiling was the same gray cement color as the floor. There were thick cobwebs in the corners, and the ceiling seemed lower than I remembered. I watched as a spider dropped and trembled on a thread above my face. I was afraid of spiders. I tasted bile and my body began to shake.”

I know every writer has their own system, their method to “warm up” to write. I have a beautiful fountain pen with deep purple ink and I love both the sound of it scratching on paper and the way it feels as I write in my journals. It isn’t writing in a creative manner, I’m actually copying poems from my past journals into one place. This process connects my mind to my heart, my heart to my hand, my hand to pen and finally, pen to page. It is a quiet process. And slow. I have a permanent purple ink stain on my finger where the pen rests that looks like a deep bruise. This is one of those warm ups into writing.

Family Adventure = Bowling at Big Al’s. My gutter ball was so slow that it stalled in the gutter and I had to flag down a staff member to walk onto the lane and retrieve it for me. My youngest son beat us all in the first game. My disabled son won the second. I lost every time. I consider myself the entertainment factor for bowling as I roll it down the lane carefully so I don’t hurt my neck.

Water = forget it.

Core Strength = I held in my stomach most of today.

Guitar = it hurts to play. I can strum, but not pick and am only decent at three cords to date.

New Dish = Chicken Tortellini – Kosher, of course. Coated in salt, cracked pepper, olive oil, rosemary and a titch of lemon juice.

New Discovery = I enjoy my mid-life hot flashes. My feet are always cold and having this new internal heating pad doesn’t seem such a bad deal. At least for me.

Staying Bright.

 

 


This Writing Life…

Yesterday was a nonproductive writing day. I “warmed up” my pen, read for inspiration, rewrote bad poetry and opened the “working copy” of my manuscript four times. Nothing would come through. I worked on one sentence for 30 minutes and still could not get it right. I gardened, played a board game with my son, and then organized my desk. Then re-organized it two more times.

Some days, the line is meant to marinade while you live your life. I used to tell myself that my full life, single-handedly raising three boys (one who is disabled) offered me rich perspective and material in which I could draw from as a writer.

But yesterday did not feel much like a writing life. Instead, it felt like an avoid-the-writing life.

Today, I woke starving to write.

Best lines: “Even the original pediatrician, the one she painstakingly reviewed and researched for months, has a substitute because he is now unreachable, on vacation. Realistically, Zach wasn’t due for another seven weeks. Yet here the two of them are, her and Zach, mostly alone.”

These lines were almost two paragraphs, mostly nonsense detail that added nothing to the story. Cutting sucks.

Water intake = zero.

Rest = three hours in a row. Miraculous for me.

Core strength = 30 minutes with my disabled son yesterday.

Guitar = painful 15 minutes yesterday and today.

New dishes = zero. I’m on motherly strike this week in an effort to help my sons appreciate all that is done on a daily (and hourly) basis for them, so they are “cooking” meals this week.

My progress through two chapters a week = I’m only halfway through one chapter at this juncture. The progress to rework old prose is daunting. My hope is to complete this chapter by tomorrow and begin on the second (randomly selected) chapter by Friday.

Submissions = submitted two short stories yesterday to a few more literary journals.

Cheer me on please.


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


Seeing with My Heart

My oldest son was virtually blind his first year. He had bilateral, centralized cataracts in both eyes, so his world was, at best, a gray, hazy landscape of unfamiliar shapes. I walked him through his world with sensory input in mind. We would pause beneath a tree along our path and I would rub his hand against the bark.

“Bark,” I would say. “Tree, I mean.” No, no, no. “Rough.” There that was a better description.

The same would happen at bath time as I would splay his fingers across a towel.

“Soft,” I whispered. He would smile. “Towel,” I spoke. He shook his head.

By the time he was 18 months, he had his first of many surgeries on his eyes. This one in particular made an impact. The doctor placed in his eye an innocular lens, a fake camera to the world so his brain could understand these messages I had been trying to offer him. After two weeks with a steel patch, he was able to open the one eye and see color. See me.

I always thought he understood my presence. Even without vision. While “blind”, he smiled and wildly waved his hands when I entered a room. I thought he always knew when I was there. More important, I thought he knew when I was not.

That first night with his new vision was traumatic. For me and for him. I placed him in his crib at 7 p.m. as usual, after stories and songs and rocking. I turned out his lights and started to exit and he screamed. I patted his back to calm him. He kept screaming.

He did not know darkness.

He did not know my absence.

This was a new journey of security and trust.

Six weeks later, his vision was restored in his other eye. It took a year for him to adapt to darkness, to sight, to distance and space.   Thirteen years later and I doubt that he has ever adapted to absence from me. OK, that is most likely the ego-need of a mom speaking.

The amazing thing that I have found about my son is his intuitive nature. He knows things. I can’t explain it. I think part of this is because he developed his other senses far beyond the scope most of us utilize. He had to do this in an effort to navigate his world. In his limited/disabled youth, he is wise. I always tell people that I am far more disabled than he.

I think that vision is a gift. I also think that the lack of it can be a gift as well. As long as we can “see”, whether that is with our ears or our eyes, it matters not.

We mostly need to learn to read this world and “see” it with our hearts. This is the journey that I am on, nearing my half century of life.Zach


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