Birth of an Idea

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lightning strikes. In a flurry of activity you quickly jot down every piece of information that has come to mind. Afraid to let even one tiny bit get away.

Having given birth to an idea you slump back, drained. Your eyes are now a combination of dry and itchy and glazed. Reality seems hazy. You look at your creation and beam.

In that instant you know you would do it again. 

Having had three children I very much can attest to the similarities of giving birth and coming up with an idea. The lightning strike is the day of birth. The many years of watching your baby grow are the months of shaping your story into something you will maybe someday publish.

The birth of the creative work – bringing a book into reality for someone else to read – no longer just hidden deep in the imagination.

The wonder held at that initial inception of idea is not the final payoff. Instead you look forward to the months (or in some cases, years) of writing after that inspiration has struck as the first few years of life. Your idea is rolling over for the first time, taking its first steps, speaking its first words. It’s the beginning of many sleepless nights as you run into the other room to check on it.

You have read all the books that are supposed to guide you on the journey.

Every.

      Last.

            One. 

And still, you worry about whether you are doing everything right.

None of the rules, guides, advice from others will matter as much as making sure you are following what feels right in your heart.

After all is said and done you have to care enough to be honest. With yourself. With your story. With your readers.

Then you have to let it go out and find its own way.

Or, to quote Semisonic –

“Closing time –

Time to open all of the doors and let you out into the world”

 

I Stand For Those That Can’t

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Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske, pexels.com

As so many writers before me (and much better ones, at that), I stepped up to the mantle of writer because I felt I had things to say. Things that would make the world a better place. Things that would lift others up, or to take a stand.

Normally I restrict my Sunday night posts to uplifting notes to take into the beginning of the week. Tonight I don’t feel I can do that. Not with current events.

I can’t go into tomorrow with a positive thought if I don’t say what’s on my mind. The world is pretty messed up right now.

People are protesting wearing masks because it violates their rights, or they find it uncomfortable to breathe through, or they just don’t want to – all of these reasons I’ve heard as well as some others (conspiracies and tin foil hats have been running amok). I have to say that I’d rather wear my mask – which yes, it is hard to breathe in, it is very uncomfortable, I definitely do NOT like it … buuuut, here’s a big hairy but coming up – but I would much rather not take chances with not wearing it and bringing the virus home to my family, or unwittingly spreading the virus to someone that doesn’t have the immune system or health insurance (or the list goes on), and then someone else getting it because I just couldn’t grow up enough to do the right thing instead of the selfish thing.

Next, the things I am hearing from people from all sides about the police brutality against Black people. I’m going to start with the one that a lot of people are guilty of saying when they genuinely are just too ignorant to know better (and once upon a time I was as ignorant, and it’s just important to get this straightened out right away). “All Lives Matter”. Well yes, ALL lives matter. No one is discounting this. The confusion comes because people don’t understand what Black Lives Matter means. So I’m going to help out here. When one says Black Lives Matter it means they are willing to stand against police brutality against this marginalized group of people because until Black Lives Matter we should know that NO Lives Matter. My life is no more important than a Black person – my privilege as a White person has enabled me to not truly understand the fear that this group of people go through every day.

Not every Black person will be brutalized by the police. But every Black person has felt some level of racism in their lives. Can all White people say the same? If I were pulled over for speeding I would not be afraid. If I walked to the store after dark I am only afraid because I am a woman – and even then my fear is minimal in comparison because the people I have to fear are not in a uniform, are not above the law, are not supposed to be trusted.

I have seen so many news stories about Black people who were attacked by the police – jogging, driving, walking home, in their own homes – and it sickens me that we can sit here and look down our very safe noses at the anger and outrage among a group of people who have been beaten down time and time again. There is looting going on. SO what? Can you sit there and honestly say that if your community was brutalized, beaten, murdered, shamed, spit on, looked down at, marginalized, and so many other horrific things we more privileged people can’t even list, can you honestly say you wouldn’t lash out? Would you really want to sit peacefully and just keep taking it until someone maybe decided they should stop?

People have pointed to Martin Luther King, JR and the fact that he did not need riots or looting or violence to change the world. And maybe that is true. But there was violence, and riots, and looting going on while Dr. King marched for peace. And he was murdered for it. And very little has changed.

So if you believe that ALL LIVES MATTER please take a stand to make sure that they all do by standing up for those who have been told over and over again that their lives don’t matter.

Please take this time to educate yourself.

#BlackLivesMatter

A Kind of Holiday Weekend Status Update

It is hard to believe that it’s Memorial Day weekend already. Seems like just yesterday I was trying to figure out how to explain virtual schooling for the kids as they were returning from spring break, and now it’s summer break. I was wondering just where all the days have gone and realize that it’s been well spent.

I have had the privilege of spending extra time with my family, getting extra household projects done, I’m able to put extra focus into some business ideas. I have also managed to learn some new skills and even avoid other projects like pulling weeds (which the neighbors would probably like me to remember still needs done – they’re being sweet and not saying a thing … or maybe they are just avoiding any close conversations … I like to think they are just being nice 😉 only a matter of choosing the right perspective to make it true).

This week has been a whirlwind of homey activity – baking, thinking about writing, picking up the kid’s things from the school, and lots of reading. I have a mountain of cardboard in the corner of my dining room from things we have ordered – but I am pleased to say that the cardboard is going to get put to good use with a home project that I am very excited about. Temporary walls for our loft – here’s hoping it goes well, it would be nice to see the space get put to good use and maybe it will help provide some ideas for other spaces in the house that feel under utilized.

Next week the husband and I have made a pact – 2 hours per day on artistic endeavors and 2 hours per day on putting our online business together and hopefully have that unveiled come August 1st, wish us luck!

Also I bought a planner to fill with all of these activities and help me feel more organized and less overwhelmed – which I’m hoping means will get me back on track with all the posts, stories I want to write, and where the time needs to be spent.

In the meantime we have lots to keep us busy. Have a fantastic Memorial Day weekend with your loved ones.

 

 

 

Remember When(sdays) – Dystopian Edition Continues

About a month ago I shared my list of top dystopian fiction that had been both a book and a movie. In the last couple of weeks in between helping with home school needs for the kiddos and regular day to day requirements I found myself diving into a video game that I haven’t played in ages (ages = almost 2 decades in this case … craziness!) – Deus Ex: The Conspiracy.

This game was so popular that it got ported to the Playstation 2 only 2 years after it was released on PC and that’s how I found my way to it. In the last couple of decades it’s had sequels, books, graphic novels, and prequels to expand the lore of the futuristic universe.

This week I want to take a walk down memory lane on the original that hits a lot of familiar chords on what we’re going through right now – maybe we don’t have augmented humans yet (do we?), and sure COVID-19 wasn’t created by a multi-billion dollar corporation (right?), but there was panic in the streets as people were dying of “the gray death”, an illness that resulted in dry coughs that nothing could cure. And any possibility of vaccines were a myth at best – no chance anyone was going to feel better any time soon.

Sure, our real world is different because there isn’t actually conspiracy – although the rich and powerful do seem to have an agenda that doesn’t exactly bode well for all people. Returning things back to normal too soon to save an economy … bad advice for treatments coming from the mouths of officials who we won’t name … but when I played this game and now am working my way through the more recent prequels it makes me realize that no matter where we look we will see things that scare us. And that emotional pull makes for good stories.

Consider 1984 or Brave New World that have been heralded as near prophetic fiction – it’s eerie to consider that there are minds that can tap into story ideas that might just be our future. Heck, even Back to the Future Part II has been seen as capable of divining the future with the prediction about the World Series. Sometimes there’s a Nostradamus, and sometimes it’s pure freak luck.

So, while it’s downright spooky to be playing a game that feels a little too close to reality, I remind myself that’s exactly what makes it a good story, and I keep going.

What kind of dystopian (or otherwise) types of stories have you found eerily recounting events you wouldn’t expect the author to be aware of during the time they created it?

I’m Not Done Growing

It has been just over a month since my last post – 5 weeks to be exact. I wish I had a good reason why I haven’t been posting, but all I can say is that it’s been a difficult time and while I feel regret that I haven’t followed through on my self mandated schedule, I do know that being able to just shut off the things I do have control over is important.

Here’s the thing. I’m an introvert. And an empath. One might be a symptom of the other, but either way they inform a large part of how I respond to things. Things like the current state of the world. This sounds like an excuse and in a way it is. I could just as easily have made my posts – I started them each week, and left them sitting in my drafts folder, unedited. But in all actuality, anything I was writing did not have my heart in it. And in the way that I have represented myself in this blog it seemed like the wrong way to go forward if I wasn’t going to be capable of being present.

If I haven’t been writing what have I been doing? A lot of wallowing for a bit – which surprised me because my first two weeks after transitioning from being employed full time to being self-employed included a lot of that. I thought I was done. I thought I’d slept out the grief, and was finally refreshed and ready to take on all of these new challenges. It seems, however, that I missed something, because there certainly was a need to pull the covers back over my head and shut things out for a bit longer.

So I took a break from blogging. I have read a few books. Played a few video games. Researched gardening herbs. Dug into what it takes to make homemade cards and running an online bookstore. I have baked. A LOT of baking. Cookies, bread, cakes. It turns out I’m actually pretty good at the whole baking thing. I’ve also been working on my home office, straightening, organizing, making it somewhere I could safely tuck away and work in.

And in the last few days I have been pulling out old manuscripts and starting to hand jam them into the computer. This has helped me get back into the groove of writing. I’ve realized that what I thought was excellent had needed some work. I needed to mature, as a person, as a writer. I needed to gain new perspectives. New skills. I have come back to old stories with a different understanding of what I bring to the table, and I think it’s helped me see what else I have in my wheel house.

This time away has helped me to see that I am not done growing. I never will be. And now that I see that clearly I am able to welcome new skills. Maybe I’ll take up candle making next.

“I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day”

-Johnny Nash (“I Can See Clearly Now”)

 

 

Expressing Ourselves in a New Way

Repost – the original post was written May 20, 2018 as When You Just Can’t Figure Out How to Express Yourself

Finding a way to express ourselves can sometimes be incredibly difficult. Verbal, nonverbal, written – all the ways we have to communicate seem somehow limiting when we find ourselves unable to string together the thoughts that maybe even we are missing. My son put it succinctly when he said it’s like trying to explain what color is to someone. Color is, well, color.

Words are amazing, they are this fantastic way to remove confusion in our communication, but if you don’t know what you want to say they can’t help bridge that gap. Even this blog, when I don’t plan each week’s posts out in advance, can be incredibly difficult. And let’s be clear, planning my blog posts is not something I have mastered, or even find myself wanting to completely master. With regards to my blog I like to fly by the seat of my pants from week to week, and while this usually works for me it’s sometimes added stress because I am sitting here on Sunday evenings wondering why I didn’t just plan this out sooner. I know, once it’s all said and done and I’ve published my blog for the week, that the reason I don’t plan them out completely is because I like to look back on the past week and use some of the biggest inputs from the week to inform my post.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to understand we all find moments where expressing ourselves becomes difficult. We may find our minds wandering, or our fingers creating a meandering path across the keyboard that maybe makes a little less sense when translated to the page, but that doesn’t mean that after walking away and coming back with a fresh perspective we can’t find our way back to the original path, and sometimes even finding that the new path we have set ourselves on is better than the one we started on.

Maybe the way to think about expression is that your words are your moment to define what color means to you – after all, is it pink or fuchsia? Different perspectives see things differently, and I, for one, am always open to a new perspective.

April, the Month to Let Your Heart Sing

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Photo by Elias Tigiser on Pexels.com

Welcome to April!

It’s been a crazy year already, only 3 months in. Spring is here, and it’s been beautiful outside, though I have to admit I don’t go out much. Not even into my own back yard. Not really sure why, my porch is more than 6 feet away from my neighbors (much more).

Maybe I’m worried if I go out it will be so much harder to come back in.

Instead I am like a cat, laying in sunbeams by the door, watching the motion of birds flying by or the shift of the bushes outside the window. If I had a tail it would be twitching in excitement at what I cannot see.

Speaking of April. Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

I don’t write a lot of poetry … well, not consistently anyway. I might write a series of poetry in a day and then not consider writing another poem for months. It is the one area of writing that I allow to be driven by the muse. It is emotionally driven for me, entirely free verse, and not marching to the beat of any form, rule, or reason.

It’s where I allow the chaos to reign. No sense of order gets to have a place in my poetry. If I were to try to describe my poetry I would say that it’s like the ocean, wild and tempestuous one moment, and calm and soothing the next.

That’s not to say my way is the only way, or even the “right” way. I believe poetry is right no matter what, not everyone has to read all poetry. I prefer poetry that doesn’t get too caught up in a rhyme scheme, but for some that’s exactly what draws them in.

What kind of poetry speaks to you? Do you have a favorite poet?

Each state has a Poet Laureate, my state (Colorado) selected the new person to hold this role for the next 4 years in July 2019 – Bobby LeFabre.

The new United States Poet Laureate was also selected in the summer of 2019 – Joy Harjo.

What I find so interesting about the fact that we continue to have Poet Laureates today is that it shows that poetry isn’t an outdated concept. It continues to be something we look to when we are down, when we need to express ourselves, or to be assured that we are not alone.

Whatever song your heart needs to sing, someone out there is beating the drum to keep the rhythm with you.

Remember When(sdays)

It’s been a little while since the last Remember When post, and this week I am not quite ready to dive back in for our next decade. Instead I wanted to take us off the path and highlight a list of dystopian and post-apocalyptic societies that were on the page as well as on the screen.

Note – (not really all that surprising) Phillip K. Dick (PKD from here on out) absolutely OWNS the dystopian future genre.

And with that here is my list of apocalypse fiction for your consideration:

“Blade Runner” (1982) is a cult classic. And it’s (loosely) adapted from PKD’s short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (1968). PKD got an early viewing of what Ridley Scott had for the film before he died and was very pleased that Scott captured his own vision of how the world should look. (And of course the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” is out there now – while it’s on my must watch list, I haven’t quite gotten there yet).

“1984” (1984) Released the same year as the title may have seemed like a clever idea, the events of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four occur the same year, reducing some of the concern, at least at that time. Now it’s heralded as a prophetic novel (although it’s often debated that A Brave New World is a little more on point with what the future actually turned into).

“The Running Man” (1987) – the movie based on Stephen King’s The Running Man (1982 as Richard Bachman) starred Arnold Schwarzenegger during his pumped up leading muscle man prime.

“Total Recall” (1990) The original with Arnold Scwarzenegger, not the remake in 2012 with Colin Farrell. Seems like the T-800 from “Terminator” landed comfortably into the dystopian future. PKD’s 1966 short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” inspired this one.

“A Brave New World” (1998) is the film adapted from Aldous Huxley’s 1931 novel, which is often mentioned in the same sentence (if not the same breath) as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

“Minority Report” (2002) – I did mention PKD is insanely all over the dystopian landscape, right? His 1956 short story was used for the basis of this Tom Cruise movie about thought police, strange times we live in where this idea seems more real than it did a couple of decades ago.

“A Scanner Darkly” (2006) brings Keanu Reeves back in a very life-like animated movie (the strange animation actually creates the sensation of questioning what is actually real, something I think PKD would strongly approve for his 1977 novel of the same name).

“I Am Omega” (1962) / “I am Omega” (2007) / “I am Legend” (2007) – all three of these movies are inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend about a plague that turns the infected into zombie or vampire-like creatures.

“Fahrenheit 451” (2018) for the writerly and readerly types is a true dystopian horror with outlawing and burning books adapted from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel. It’s eerie how much Bradbury predicts about how he saw future technology and society, luckily so far my books are safely on their shelves, not alight in the street.

And of course the honorable mentions – “Soylent Green” was a book first, Harry Harrison’s title wasn’t quite as catchy though, Make Room! Make Room!, Franz Kafka’s existential novel The Trial was on screen in 1962, “Planet of the Apes” was adapted from the french novel Le Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle, and of course it would be remiss of me to overlook “A Clockwork Orange”, the Divergent series, or Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series (which is very reminiscent of The Running Man, but if you haven’t read both please do and let me know what you think).

 

Finding Our Balance

I have to admit I’ve spent some time trying to get centered again. It’s been slow.

I slapped myself into gear today, made myself get dressed, and I tried a new recipe.

Then I jotted some notes on my outline and ignored the news. It’s amazing what not looking at the news can do for the soul.

The kiddos start online school this week so we’re getting them set up – as a result it’s getting me set up too.

I like to feel like I have a purpose. That there is a defined goal to accomplish. Funny thing is I let myself forget I have a defined goal right there in front of me. And it’s maybe a little harder to check off the to do list – but it still needs doing.

With the world off balance it’s been hard to remember that I still have to keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. Repeat.

So here’s to turning off the news and letting ourselves breathe a little easier for a moment or two.

I am still finding my exact balance, but in the meantime check out this flash fiction I submitted to a Writer’s Digest contest back in the fall.

Meet Necessity, the Mother of Invention

My mom used to call things interesting. Only interesting never meant interesting. It varied, but it was always a negative comment on whatever she called interesting.

For example, the salmon dish dad made was interesting (this one in particular was called salmon surprise, and all of the ingredients except for the salmon were always a surprise). She’d poke it around the plate with her fork, nibble on a couple bites, and if dad dared ask how it was she’d nail him with one of those looks and say “interesting”. Everyone’s mom had a look like that. The look that says it was stupid of you to ask, you know it was stupid to ask, yet you asked anyway, and I want to really let you have my opinion, but I’m saving that for later …

Well. 2020 has been an interesting year.

And it’s only just the beginning.

[Quick! Knock on wood, if you’re into that sort of thing.]

I planned this year to be the year I started to work for myself. I planned to step away from my career of the last 16 years and branch into something new. I had planned a rather large cushion into that. And I had figured I’d be taking the long and winding scenic route.

Then the world paused. And for the last week I paused with it.

It’s time to hit play on what we can control. One more week of spring break with the family. Then the world will start to thrum back to life, just a tiny bit.

I’m kicking my plans back into gear.

The kids will be doing the online school at home program – not because I am concerned about them losing the knowledge or being behind, but because that is what their school district is doing to keep the year going.

And because all of that makes life a little bit more normal.

Whatever the normal will be, we’ll take it one day at a time.

And probably come up with some really cool new ways of doing life.

Because necessity is the mother of invention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re Not Gonna Take It

It’s been a scary couple of weeks.

Not the kind of first line you’d expect from a self-proclaimed optimist’s usually sunny cram the positivity down your throat kind of blog.

But I do try to temper my sickly sweet optimism with a healthy dose of realism. And it has been scary. The kind of scary we usually turn to Hollywood for. And it’s been so easy to wallow in the scary. To let the fear slam against us like waves from the ocean when the tide is coming in.

I drove to work yesterday, one of my last two days before I become self-employed. I work again tomorrow. I would much prefer to be cooped up at home with my children, avoiding the outside world. Waiting for the shadow of what is happening to pass over us and hope we aren’t noticed. But that wasn’t in the cards. And on my way in I listened to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” because that always pumps me up. It didn’t succeed yesterday.

Yesterday I almost had to pull over because I was starting to sob. Because it’s so hard to fight what we can’t see, what we can’t touch, what we don’t understand.

And there it is. We always fear what we don’t understand. And at the very core of our nature as a species we panic when we become afraid. Like horses in a barn when it’s on fire. We don’t make the right choices.

We do silly things like buy all the toilet paper because we don’t know when we will be able to do that again. And it’s something we can control.

Some people use other people’s fears to profit. They buy all of the hand sanitizer and mark up the prices for those that didn’t think to buy it earlier.

But. Buuuuut. If we take a deep breath. And we look around us, we can see the beautiful resilience of our communities. The people who are reaching out to help. Those that put their own needs on hold and offer their homes as child care so that those who can’t take the time to be home can still work. The people that are offering to go to the store for the people who can’t afford to get sick.

The world isn’t ending. It might feel like it is, because it’s a little too close to something we might see on T.V. But it isn’t.

Take a deep breath.

Turn off the news. Stop scrolling through social media for the latest death tolls.

Don’t let the reports of what the grocery store has run out of make you fear that tomorrow won’t be okay.

We’re a resilient species when we turn the fear off. We support each other. We hold each other up.

Together we make a mighty roar.

So for now. While you’re home, letting this shadow pass, remember to wash your hands to the tune of “Never Gonna Give You Up” (yes, I Rick Rolled myself doing this already), read all the back log of to be read books you promised yourself you’d read if you ever found the time, and maybe binge watch really really bad old t.v. shows.

And remember to stay positive.