Tag Archives: self-reliance

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.

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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….

This writing life is more full of life than writing.

The last few days have been mostly dramatic. Parenting is not for the meek and weak. Parenting teens requires only the bravest of soldiers. And when a crisis rises to the surface, every other corner of life is placed in the holding pattern.

So I did not write Friday or Saturday or Sunday.

Not writing feels like not breathing for me.

But there was only so much room in which to operate my life. So here I am. First thing Monday and almost wearing an oxygen mask to get to my manuscript and, yes…finally write.

Best lines  this morning: “She pulls on her sports bra, mashing her breasts against her chest, a reminder that Zach is feeding with a tube instead of through her. She pulls on a sweatshirt two sizes too big and leaves the leftover make up in tact. Her skin around her belly is loose and hangs over the band of her pants. Normally, this would bother her, but she doesn’t have time to worry about feeling fat right now.”

Water = nil.

Core strength = a bit.

Sleep = a pinch.

Family Adventures = pends on how I define “adventures” this week.

Writing on!


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.

 


She Rises

The wobbly first step appears to be the most difficult, but becomes the most exhilarating.  Something unknown, yet the toddler fills with life.  Her curiosity erases her fear.

She launches.

The awkward first blast from the sprinter’s starting blocks looks embarrassing, but is alive with excitement and anticipation.  Blinded with wind in her eyes, yet the young athlete pushes forward, overflowing with determination.  She shows no shame.

She blasts.

The clumsy first dance on the eve of a social gathering seems humiliating.  Experiencing young love, the girl sees only the eyes of her date; the one she hopes will be her first real kiss–the kiss that counts.  She is complete in her thoughts and her dreams.  She understands no judgment.

She floats.

The unstable brave step out of an abuser’s prison proves a shattering event, but grows into a move based on faith.  Horrified that she has found herself in this place, she slowly allows self-forgiveness.  She realizes she can move on and heal.  She knows no limits.

She rises.


Her Garden

Her garden.  This was the place she returned when there were in-between moments that needed to be filled.  And the place she grew into a habit, something she could count on.  It gave her a sense of letting go and controlling within the same breath. 

When she left her marriage—suddenly, abruptly, unexpectedly—she took her sons and their medicine and left her life behind. 

Over a year had passed before she realized she missed mostly her garden.  As she brushed ashes off herself, blinking away sweat and fear, she began to rebuild a life, rebuild a home and rebuild a garden. 

It was only recently that she finally saw the dirt.  She dug until it hurt beneath her nails, nearly drawing blood.  The earth was hard, clay-like, not a good foundation to nurture anything tender, such as a seedling.

Weeds choked out beauty and flowers clumped together as though they had support within a multitude.  Tree branches hung low, blocking out the sun and creating a mowing hazard.  Areas in the lawn were barren, cracked wide as though the bowels of the earth yearned for something from above.

The square foam would protect her knees from the hard ground.  She tossed it down, knelt and began.  Her hair drawn away from her face with a scarf made her look older than her youthful mid-forties.  She smoothed back the wet strands stuck to her forehead, smearing dirt on her skin. 

Dig the hole.  Fill with water.  Gentle settle in the roots.  Add some food.  Add fresh soil.  Begin again.

One plant at a time, she built out of nothing.  Early next spring, when it came time to till, she would fill the plot with water and encourage her children to take mud baths before the homemade compost was added.  She promised this more to herself than her children.

For now, she had already mixed the compost and began mixing it into the soil, breaking clumps of root into sand and setting rocks gently into an empty terra-cotta pot.  The belly of the earth was white ashes and she had to dig through this and replace the cinder with rich, black dirt.  Somewhere inside she knew that gardening was more about growing good soil than bearing fruit.  This was true of her life as well.

Weeks passed before she could finally run her hand over top the lavender, sprinkling the scent into the air.  The cracks in her hands now stung, deep and dark from dryness.  She took the soft earth into her hands and rubbed, polishing away dead cells.  Then she pinched Rosemary, Sweet Basil and Lemon Thyme off the plants and rubbed the herbs into her palms, creating a mulch balm of her own.

The leaves on the pumpkin plant resembled elephant ears and they divided her perennials from her vegetables.  Only one pumpkin sprouted to life this time.  After another year, the garden would almost maintain itself, growing into something more than she imagined at the start.  It would have its own life and plants would regrow on their own terms, in their own way.

The start of weeds and tiny grass blades poked along the edge and beckoned her attention. 

Each morning before her children woke, she sat with coffee and tended her garden.  This morning was no different.  A small basket at her feet filled with onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes.  She only took from the herbs as needed for cooking, but usually brought a pinch of Stevia inside for her afternoon tea.

She squeezed her eyes and tasted the saltiness of her tears, unaware that she was crying.  Her skin stretched tight from a sun burn, her scalp was tender to the morning rays.  She heard her youngest wake, felt a foreign smile touch her lips and walked towards her home, towards her life.


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