Tag Archives: challenge

To Capture A Mockingbird…

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

 

I’m not sure how it works with other writers but I want to preface the story I’m about to tell by letting you know upfront that when I’m writing a character (or characters) I tend to take on a part of that persons persona for a bit. Take it with a grain of salt.

These days I happen to be writing a character who is completely and utterly NUTS. And it’s funny how my mind sometimes confuses my thoughts with the ways the various characters in the story think and that  can feel rather shocking when it catches me off guard and/or comes out of the blue.

Which is exactly what happened this morning on my run as I was running down the list of all the things I have to do today…

One of those things being helping my six-year-old print out pictures of Mockingbirds for her Texas project that is due at school tomorrow.

And then it happens…I actually see one. I know it’s a Mockingbird because now that I’ve assisted with the plethora of research a six-year-old must to do in order to give a five-minute presentation on said research, I’m well versed in Mockingbirds as of late. 

Anyway, so I see the Mockingbird and I think wait a minute… Hey! A) Who needs pictures when one could have the real thing? B) I pause and consider how crazy that sounds and C) I ponder just how much time and tears (hers, or mine I can’t be sure) it would save this evening.

And for a quick minute I stand there and seriously contemplate what it would take to capture the thing and haul it into their class all triumphant like … and all of a sudden there’s a movie running in my head (Christmas Story style) and I picture the kids faces, but mostly their teachers. ;)

I imagine myself looking at her, shaking my head, shrugging, and announcing, “This is what happens when you assign projects like these. It should be known that they induce unnecessary craziness upon parents forced to undergo the painstakingly slow torture of understanding how little the term research means to a six year old. I JUST WANTED TO MAKE IT FUN. SEE!”

But, no, I realize that sounds crazy and I snap out of it and consider that perhaps I’m standing in the street pondering what the best way to actually capture a bird would be because I’m writing a character who is crazy and tends to take things one step too far…and I think sure, that could be it…

OR it could be because I’ve considered all of the times in the future my daughter will try and one up me by telling me that so and so’s mom got them this and so and so’s mom got them that— and I know in that moment that so much of my work in the future could be satisfied now

For I would forever more be able to look her in the eye and say “Yeah, but did so and so’s mom ever get them a Mockingbird?!?”

And suddenly it doesn’t seem that crazy at all. ;)

After Winter, Spring.

“I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees.” ― Pablo Neruda

 

I’m not going to say that a lot of the bad poetry I’ve been sharing here is going to end up in a certain book…

But I’m not going to say it isn’t either. ;)

Below, the latest…

 

After Winter, Spring. 

 

We’re opening the windows,

And the doors of our lives again.

Too long closed—

To keep out the cold.

We shake the dust off and out,

Erase what winter left behind.

Finally, the sun is shining.

And the birds sing once more.

A time for renewal—

I’m certain this is what happiness feels like.

How much better can it get? 

I don’t know…

But lest not forget—

Summer is headed our way, too.

Maybe, it is as they say…

The best is yet to come.

And I wonder…

How ever did we get so lucky?

Not just to have found each other—

But to have survived another winter,

together.

Nineteen. Ready or not.

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”  Debra Ginsberg

 

I know it isn’t “fashionable” to profess your love for your (now) adult children.

 

And if this is true, it’s probably definitely off limits to write about it publicly.

 

But, I also know that people we love die. They die at random ages like 29 and 82, before then, and after too. I know that there’s a finality in death— only truly understandable when it happens to someone you love.

 

Mostly, I know there will be a million things that you will have wish you’d had the time and the forethought to say. Words that could sustain a couple of lifetimes. And that sometimes these things haunt you more than you’d like.

 

Which is why I guess I gave up being fashionable a long time ago. :)

 

 

Nineteen. Ready or not.

 

I swear it was just last month that you were born and we were there in the hospital figuring each other out. Six weeks early— and a lifetime too soon.

 

You were teaching me how to be a mother…

 

At fourteen, a baby myself— I remember being equal parts proud and terrified.

 

Ready or not…

 

We were growing up together.

 

I’m almost certain it was just last week that I watched you take your first steps.

 

I was learning to let go, too

 

Ready or not. 

 

And wasn’t it just yesterday you started kindergarten and then moved on to first grade—where your teacher informed me it was time to let you walk into the school by yourself?

 

But it was so big and you seemed so small.

 

She said I needed to learn to let go.

 

You were ready. I was not. 

 

We were growing up together…

 

In reality, though, I know these things didn’t happen last month, last week—and they definitely weren’t yesterday, no matter how fast it all seems to have gone by.

 

That’s the funny thing about time. It’s difficult to measure against love.

 

Somehow, it was almost a year ago now that you walked the stage and straight into the life of an adult.

 

You were ready. I’m pretty sure I was not. 

 

As I watched you take those steps across that stage I realized I’d blinked —and in the meantime we’d both grown up.

 

Ready or not. 

 

Nineteen years…lots has changed—

 

But a few things remain the same…

 

I’m proud of us both.

 

We grew up together.

 

And, as you know, I’m still learning to let go.

 

Ready or not. 

Good to Great

“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” ― James C. Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Last week I wrote about my big little lesson in betrayal and after having some time to reflect upon not only how I allowed these things/people/situations into my life (businesses) but how tolerant I was in ignoring the warning bells going off inside my head at each step of the way, I realized it was paramount to take account of my own shortcomings in order to move forward.

A major one of those being that I’d spread myself too thin. Turns, out it’s fairly easy to be betrayed when your attention is all over the place. I mean, who knew? ;) But, deceit aside, what’s more relevant in the long run was that in an attempt to be good at a variety of things I’d actually failed to be great at the things that truly matter– at least to me.

In short, the greater lesson here was the realization that I don’t want to be a good writer…I want to be a great one. I don’t want to be a good wife (and mother) I want to be great at it. And I don’t want to be a good business owner I NEED to be a great one. And while I guess the definition for what makes one good versus great is rather personal and subjective, I do believe that deep down I knew the difference.

I knew that I was allowing my attention to be diverted away from what was important to me. I was an active participant in that– and it cost me.

I also knew that I had to leap off the hamster wheel, take back my attention, listen, and focus on what really matters.

And by “really matters,” I mean the stuff I want to be great at. Which as it turns out, sadly, pretty much can’t be all the things. ;)

Long story long, if the people you love, the work, and/or the journey of becoming, are at the mercy of anything, which matters less than those things, then trouble will no doubt ensue, as it did for me.

I know because prior to my big little lesson I was, for a while, at best, decent at prioritizing.

Good, maybe…sometimes.

Great, well…I’m working on it. :)

Because, it cost me, sure– but mostly because this is one lesson I REALLY don’t want to have learn over again. ;)

Short and Sweet.

“The things you own end up owning you.” — Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I’m going to keep this short and sweet as I’m on deadline and honestly I’m mostly only writing over here today so as to give in to the resistance (it’s so strong, you guys) and “cheat” on my daily word count goal. :) Also, it’s been a few weeks…

I’m not quite sure but it’s possible that I’m losing my mind. Obviously, I realize that I should probably watch what I say here, as one never knows what will be taken out of context. I’m not literally going crazy, just making a few necessary tweaks to my life. Crazy is subjective anyhow. And really, it’s all just semantics.

In my case, I blame this temporary insanity on the character I’m writing. Sometimes the lines do blur a little and I’m not certain my brain realizes when I’m on (working) or off. The full moon and mercury retrograde also provide relevant possibilities. Nonetheless, yesterday I found myself sitting across from my husband at brunch naming off all of the ideas I have for the future and a list of the things we need to get rid of, or cut out of our lives so we have less tying us down. Many, if not most of them, being not entirely rational choices. This obviously appears a little clearer this morning. ;)  But, you know what the amazing thing was… he not only listened intently (and I mean without batting a eye) but he told me he was completely on board.

God bless that man. :)

I think everyone deserves someone to embrace his or her level of crazy. I know this because I mentioned these same ideas to two of my best friends and they both told me I was indeed nuts. And, this my friends, is why I’m not married to them. ;)

That said, I actually have cut quite a few things, commitments etc. out of my life over the past few months (I feel like I write about this a lot here) and while I won’t bore you with the details I will say it has been incredibly freeing. And just when I didn’t think there was anything else left to cut….I cut a little more. There are two really great ways to know where cutting can occur and those are: take inventory of what’s on your calendar and watch where your money goes. It’s pretty simple from there.

Anyway, I’d better get back to the novel, which is tentatively scheduled for release on 12/2/14.

P.S. Love, love, love this episode of Shots of Awe. It totally explains my life. ;)

As for what I’m writing to these days… it’s mostly all about Paolo Nutini:

The acoustic versions are typically my favorites…

Guess what time it is??

“I went to my son’s graduation this weekend, and I heard a great quote I’ve never heard before from Albert Einstein. It was that the greatest danger to the world is not the bad people but it’s the good people who don’t speak out.”  –Hamilton Jordan

It’s commencement speech time, that’s what. My son is graduating next week, the son who I gave birth to at fourteen, and so it’s a tad bit emotional around here, these days. If you know me (and even if not I’ve blogged about them a ton) then you know I have a very deep affinity for commencement speeches. Partly because I’m a lover of words and partly because I didn’t graduate from higher education (which makes me appreciate them all the more) but also because it’s typically a certain type of person who gives them, and I swear I could watch for hours upon end.

Most times the only thing that has gotten me through the “struggle”and over the hump (that’s what growth is, right?) has been learning from others who’ve survived struggles of their own. And, really, who hasn’t? Whenever I’m having a particularly tough time and it feels as though I’ll never “get where I’m going” I hit up Youtube and watch commencement speeches, because not only do I know that will they lift me up, but there’s a lot wisdom to be garnered within them. Below are two of my favorites this year. I love what William McCraven, U.S Navy admiral, says here on the top 10 lessons he learned from basic seal training–from making your bed– to standing your ground with sharks. I also loved what Sandra Bullock says about dance parties– dancing before you leave the house, that it changes how you walk out in the world. All true stuff, and it’s good to be reminded of all that we’re capable of, from time to time. It’s easy to forget that we have power, and to take that power back–to remind ourselves that the choice is ours, to choose how we react in any given situation. Oftentimes, it feels better (and safer) to play victim. I’ve certainly been guilty of it, but let’s not do that, ok.  :)

Lastly, a few weeks ago I blogged about a story I told  my husband about  how making your bed leads to overall greater happiness, and while at the time I said it (though I understood it to be true) I was mostly joking. Later that day he asked me if I noticed that he’d made the bed. He said he’d considered that I was right about people who make their beds being more successful. Funny, I had actually used the word “happier” but he’d heard successful. Anyhow, he told me he wanted to put my theory to test (he’s the last one out of bed, to be fair) and let’s just say ever since that things have been even happier than they were before. ;) That said, when this commencement speech crossed my desk, it made me smile. I always say: thoughts are things–and what we put out, shows up in return. And just like is said below, about changing the world, perhaps I won’t get around to that (today)—but maybe, just maybe, someone out there needs to hear this as much as I did. And who knows? Maybe watching it will change their day. If I know anything, I know that by changing one persons day, you create a ripple effect, which has the power to effect a lot of people’s day. And hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? As it turns out, making the bed, just so happens to be not a bad place to do it. :)

 

 

The Creative Process.

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.” ― Alice MunroSelected Stories, 1968-1994

The creative process has always been something that amazes me. It’s just so interesting how something comes from “nothing.” I want take it apart and dissect it, understand the who, why, what , where and when of it, as is my nature, but the truth is that one really can’t. The interesting thing I find, also, is that in most of my “negative” book reviews the issue the person has is over a decision a character did or didn’t make. At first I took personally as until one really “understands” the writing process it’s difficult to explain that the things the characters might’ve done (or might not have) is not a reflection of myself. Part of what is fascinating and albeit at times extremely maddening about the process, is that the characters have a life and a voice of their own. I relate it to parenting a bit, because like children, characters may be “of you” but they are not you, so to speak. They come with a mind, and habits, and a voice–all their own. And just like in parenting as writer I think the real trouble comes when one isn’t able to make that distinction. Some say being a writer is like having multiple personality disorder but (most of the time) I don’t see it that way. I think it’s more like seeing life in 3D verses two dimensional. In Technicolor versus black and white. It’s like the way the Buddhists describe enlightenment in many ways.

Starting/writing a new book for me is always a thrilling and yet terrifying time which I akin to dating someone new. Or falling in love. It’s terrifying to think that you’re starting over, from scratch. And thrilling for that very reason, all the same. You’re getting to know your characters in a very raw, real, and interesting way, but first you have to sift through “all the stuff.” It’s like a Tootsie Pop, I guess. It takes a while to get there…but the good stuff is underneath.  :) I think the key is enjoying the entire process, the getting there, and recognizing it for what it is.

Right now, I’m exploring a new protagonist and sifting through my own “stuff” in order to find her voice. At first, it typically starts as a little whisper, something that makes you go “hmmm” and then as the process continues it grows louder and louder, until you can’t ignore it, where it’s almost a part of you–and yet it isn’t. This morning I watched my half-sleeping husband laying in our bed the I turned and called over my shoulder : “Hey when you get up, make the bed. I read somewhere that people who make their beds are 62% happier, than those that don’t.” I said it in an extremely annoyed and “over it” tone, which surprisingly couldn’t have been any more different from what I was actually feeling in the moment.  I then left the house to deposit my multitude of children at their various schools and as I was driving I wondered just when and how I became a person dreadful enough to make that kind of statement, specifically in the kind of tone I used–and then I realized that it wasn’t me at all. I was partly living someone else’s world, where she thinks and speaks in that way. When I arrived back home, my thoughts now on other things, I walked into my bedroom and noticed the bed was made. I paused and thought to myself: so this is what it’s like to be her. Then I smiled because I realized I am at that point in the process where I know it’s working. It’s just starting to take shape from “nothing” into something a little more recognizable. And it’s a damn good feeling, I must say. After all, as the saying goes: “variety is the spice of life.” Truth is, it certainly doesn’t hurt ones marriage either. ;)

P.S. This is what I’m running and writing to this week: http://youtu.be/sE5WscjdNZs
 

 

 

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