Tuesday, October 30, 2012

For This Knowing and Flowing...

Sometimes you just know... And then it doesn't even seem scary. Just certain and joyful. Like a deep stream, flowing steady and strong, jumping and splashing and churning as it passes around and over the land in which it is grounded. And for this knowing, and flowing, I am grateful. ― Vashti Lsc

Enlightenment. That's what it's called. That moment when you just...know.
I had one of those moments this morning when I stumbled on the above quote on an online site.
Lately, to tread through my brain has been like Dorothy and the gang in The Wizard of Oz---scary, dark, doubtful, angry, confusing.
Insecure about my writing (what else is new?)---I can't write as fast as that person---I'm not well known---why can't I write as well that person?---oh, this book is so horrible, and I had loved it so when I started writing---these characters suck!---the plot? what plot? you know I can't plot! My story is boring!---I need more angst---but, wait, you can't do angst, remember, you suck at that, too! OMG, what CAN I do?---oh, why don't you just give up!---you just ain't got it.
Oh, dear, and then there's the daily swimming in the stream of the writing social world. I just can't fit in---do I NEED to fit in order to be a successful writer?---will I ever be as popular as THAT author?---hell, no, you won't be as popular!---that person doesn't like me!---what can I do to make them like me?---wait a minute, why don't they like me?.
Hell's bells, it almost makes me dizzy just thinking about it. All that doubt. Angst. Insecurity. Comparing myself to other authors. Stressing about my social status. Stressing about everything. Negativity.
All that energy spent on everything except...writing.
Something about the above quote hit me. An Ahhhhh moment. Something about this knowing, and flowing.
Knowing what? Knowing me. Not just looking AT me, but looking IN me. Just..knowing. Knowing is peace. Acceptance. A sigh. A smile. A heart about to explode because it suddenly just got it...I'm just fine, just like I am.
With the knowing DOES come the flowing. This beautiful, natural, just-as-it-is-meant-to-be flowing.
Suddenly, when allowing yourself to just BE, the freedom to write, to love YOUR writing, descends on you and your thoughts flow.
With all this enlightenment also comes a certain peace, making the need to fit in with the crowd seem unimportant. A wonderful calm, realizing I am fine just as I am, and those who want to know me will know me. Those who don't...won't. And I'll be fine with that.
That realization, too, somehow opens the floodgates of the creative process. Funny how worrying about belonging to this group or that group can impede one's artistic growth. But it does.
Oh, I'm not saying I don't want to socialize, that I don't want and need friends. Of course I do. But there's a beauty, a lovely freedom, in embracing yourself and allowing yourself some solitude. Like that flowing brook, all right and happy and serene.
Tomorrow, who knows? I may be back on the banks of Angst River. But for now, for this moment, I am swimming in that happy, restful stream.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I'll Take Life, Please...

Lane Goodwin

Life is a fight, but not everyone’s a fighter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species. ---  Andrew Vachss, Terminal

All day I've been frustrated, my internal pressure cooker building up steam by the hour because I felt helpless to let out that anger, could not express my feelings, had no outlet. 

Oddly enough, I read my horoscope just before settling in to write this blog, and it said, You need to defend your beliefs today---maybe quite a few times! It's not that hard, but it can get tiring, so make sure that you have resources you can draw on to recharge your energy.

I believe in signs, so I took that as a sign that I'd find that resource to face my feelings enough to speak of them. And I did.

What I want to talk about is BULLYING.

And today, of all days, as I wrestled with this need to say something about bullying, I came across an article about a thirteen-year old boy, Lane Goodwin, who lost his battle with cancer today. 

His photo ripped my heart. That smile. Who would guess the young fellow battled a vicious battle with a deadly disease? 


All I could think of was that this beautiful child was someone's son. All young lives who are lost are someone's child. God, how that hurts my heart, the losing of a child---from illness, accident or suicide, anything.

What does this have to do with bullying? 

Something so simple and pure and painful. This boy, this lovely young Lane, just wanted to live. He apparently made headlines with his brave battle with this monster called cancer, had over 300,000 Facebook followers, I believe he was known as the Thumbs Up Kid. 

He, like any other kid, just wanted to go to school, go shopping, play video games, hang out with his friends, play with his pet, love his mother and father, have Christmas, ride his bike. He just wanted to live.

Then this desire for life hit me in the gut, thinking about the young people who are bullied, who finally just give up and take their own lives. What the hell could possibly be so unbearable that they would just forfeit that very basic desire...the desire to live? 

These kids who turn in the towel of their lives and end it all aren't---this much I can say, without even having to have known them---exceptions to the rule of wanting to live. They wanted to live. All they wanted was just to BE.

But you know what? Someone out there, somebody or somebodies, didn't care about that and---by tormenting and terrifying relentlessly---the bullies' actions took away even the basic, desperate-for-most-of-us desire to just be in existence. 

That's all kids want to do. Live. Some have bigger dreams than others, some are sporty, some dreamy, some mischevious, some computer geeks, some rockers, some Goth, some like the opposite sex, some like the same sex, some are flirty, some are shy, some are small, some are big, some have jobs, some don't, some like school, some don't, some love homework, some loathe it...and so on and so on. 

Different and individual as the proverbial snowflake. All beautiful. But all alike in one way, one universal way. They just want to live. They just want to be here on this planet, just like the bullies do.

And to YOU, bullies---who gave you the right to decide if another kid could enjoy his/her life or not? Who the hell put you in charge of that? Nobody. What does it matter to you if another young person is fat, has pimples, is slow, is gay, is lesbian, is a different color than you, is a different religion? 

While you torment and humiliate those who are different, if you could only see yourselves. Because you want to know something funny? Hilarious? 

I bet every time you watch A Christmas Story, you laugh your guts out at how ridiculous Scut Farkas is. Well, guess what, you coward. That is YOU. Yes, you are that stupid. You are that disgusting. He's just a comic figure, you are the real sickening thing. And to the world, that is exactly how you look. You are not cool, you are sad and small and----just like pitiful Scut when he got the crap knocked out of him---you are, beneath that tough, cool exterior, a fraidy cat is too chicken to stand on your own two feet and NOT bully someone else. 

Bottom line, though, and back to my original thought. 

I, for one, am building steam in this Irish pressure cooker, getting angrier and angrier at the bullying situation.

The victims of bullying---ALL victims, whatever they're being targeted for---just want to live. That is all they ask. 

Lane Goodwin lost his fight with cancer. 

But this disease called bullying? It's not inoperable. It's in our power to do something about it, and it CAN be won. 

Every kid has the right to just...live. I, for one, want to see that isn't taken away from them.





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This Little Light of Mine...

Hide it under a bushel Oh no! I'm going to let it shine, let it Shine, all the time, let it shine, oh yeah! -- Harry Dixon Loes

Revelations. I love them. I had one this morning, thanks to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen...

Bruce Springsteen
Okay, so he's got nothing to do with this post, but I like him. So there.

On my way to work this morning, I got all caught up with Springsteen's Live From Dublin CD, particularly with his version of This Little Light of Mine. Yes, you know the song, the one you've known since you were a kid.

Well, this morning, the lyrics hit me. Restored me, if you will. This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine! And I decided. I AM going to let my little light shine. It's a good light, and I'm tired of hiding it under a bushel.

The light? My writing, my writing process, my speed of writing, my...well, everything.

All along I've kind of whined about feeling inadequate in the shadows of other authors who I feel are far superior to me. Over time, I've finally embraced the fact that they are not necessarily superior (okay, yes, some of them are), they are just different.

I strive to remain humble. And why shouldn't I? I've no reason, really, to be proud to the point of being arrogant. But, on the same token, I think an author SHOULD have a certain degree of pride in what they do. After all, Mark Twain said, There's a breed of humility which is itself a species of showing off. - "The Esquimau Maiden's Romance" Yes, there's a difference between a false modesty when you SHOULD indeed be proud and just...being proud of your work.

I'm learning to appreciate my talent. It IS a talent, a gift, and I suppose it would be ungrateful to dishonor it by not acknowledging it. I've a long way to go, but---hey---I'm not so bad.

One thing about me, though. Me, the author. I am slow. Slow, slow, slow. I'm a pair of legs trudging uphill against a mighty tide of mud. Slow. S-l-o-w. I don't apologize for that. It's just the way it is. It's not laziness, it's just hard for me to write when my mind is tired, when my word reserves are simply empty.

An author friend of mine, in her effort to urge me on, challenged me to try to write at least fifty words a day, no matter what. Just fifty.

I loved the freedom that gave me, to do something.  I found it usually turned into more words than the proposed fifty. I loved that. I even posted my progress---if I had any---every day on my Facebook. Sometimes it was just those fifty words, sometimes more. But, hell, I took great pride in even those few words. Because they came hard for me. Do NOT get me wrong. They may have squeezed through like the Goodyear Blimp pushing through the Holland Tunnel, but the were GOOD words. Quality words.

Well, someone teased me about my teeny goal. Mocked it, if you will. Insinuated, I think, it was a bit lazy of me.

I began to doubt myself. Okay, author lady, all these other people can write faster. So...could it just be that you ARE lazy? That you need to get off your writer ass and work harder? Words, words, more words!

I subconsciously begin to feel inadequate up next those who could write faster. Not better, but faster. I stressed. Big time. Here came those inadequate feelings again.

Somehow, I fell into an almost fatal trap: the trap of measuring my writing worth on how fast I could write, on wordage. I realized I was confusing the term wordage with WORDS.

And I saw that little light. It is...the words. Not how many, not how fast, not how few...but...simply...words. The right words, the words to tell my story. One word, two words, a billion words. As long as they tell my tale and tell it right and beautiful, there are enough of them and they are fast enough.

It's not the speed of my telling of the story that makes it or breaks it, it is nothing but the words themselves. No matter how they make it to the page.

So, to my friend who offered me the challenge, who KNEW this when I didn't know it, thank you for prompting me to those fifty precious words a day.

I feel all right now. I'll never, never, never complain again about how slow I am. I will never look at my poky, painful writing process as a fault. It is not. It's exactly as it should be. The product is what matters. And, by golly, I'm getting there as an author, I'm a little proud of what I've accomplished.

And I'm going to let my little light shine. Every day. Every damn day.

Oh, and, hey. You've just GOT to listen to The Boss' version of This Little Light of Mine. It'll make you feel awfully good.