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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…

Don’t ruminate…just write.

Ruminating will make me fat. Wait. I’ve gotten a bit pudgy these final semesters, finishing my undergrad degree in Creative Writing and Psychology. It’s like I’ve woken to dinner-roll-belly and marshmallow-stuffed thighs and now I’m wondering how long I’ve walked around looking like this.

And then I wonder where the heck my friends are…the ones who would tell me that I’ve got more than a pinch in the middle…NOT the ones who hug me and say that I finally look “healthy” as if my perfect size 4 body wasn’t healthy. But here I am ruminating.

Busy in academics and parenting forced me into a laser-focused life. The kind of life that I spent a ton of time saying “no”. No to phone calls, dates, movie nights and excursions. I needed to say “yes” to my children and rebooting my career path as a writer and the field of poetic therapy. I’m only now resurfacing for a breath of air and I find that many things have changed.

The coffee shop that I once took my favorite pen and notebook every morning closed four years ago and the other one that I set up meetings with my friends moved to a new location two years ago. There are new apps on the phone to accomplish tasks that I learned painstakingly through technical challenges on my computer…uhm…a few years ago.

This is my new chapter. To write. To write things that matter and to gather with my like-minded and creative tribe. To raise children who are kind and responsible citizens. And on some level, to keep saying “no” so that I don’t become busy with all the fantastic opportunities, but not always the best use of my time.

I’m revising a manuscript.

The goal? Two chapters week with a finished, revised manuscript by July 31st. My manuscript is currently 392 pages.

The side goals?

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get better rest
  3. Learn to play guitar
  4. Publish a book for each of my sons by summer’s end
  5. Core strength
  6. Cook a new dish weekly
  7. Wine, Whine and Creative Minds meetings once a month.
  8. Weekly family excursions

Today, I can honestly report that I slept only three hours, have not consumed an ounce of water, ate leftovers for lunch and need to still practice the guitar. I’m not sure which chapters I’ll begin to self-workshop, but I’m certain I will not start at the beginning because the start of my book is now undecided.

Wish me luck…I’m going in deep.


When All Else Fails

bigstockphoto_Give_A_Hand_12227 - June - Rebecca's Story

When all else fails
Turn within.

You will find a hand,
Outstretched,
Open palm

It is worn with wisdom,
Cracked from pain

It holds knowledge
Of the journey you must travel

Now that you have opened your eyes
Accept this hand,
Offering warmth,
Inviting you to open your heart.

Dear Pilgrim,
The answer existed before the question surfaced.
The cure prevailed before the disease.
Healing breathed life prior to suffering
And your destination was decided before your arrival.

Trust.
Seize this hand,
For it has been holding you all along.

 


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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