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original artwork by victoria hardy

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kicked By The Goat Shidu

 Kicked By The Goat Shidu

I went to a local farm yesterday in Trenton, SC, investigating intentional communities.  We paid for a brief tour and enjoyed it tremendously.  I’ve always wanted a farm, and have had a small one in the past when I was home schooling my son.  On the small farm I had we raised chickens, goats, ducks, with a half an acre vegetable garden where I grew corn, squash, tomatoes, and beans, and there was also a large pond for fishing.

Looking back on our lives, as we are prone to do, that time on the farm was in many ways idyllic.  I was with my son all day, every day, and it was a time that was the inspiration behind the book Kicking The Goat Silly and if you read the book you know there were some dark times, but overall I miss the farm and I really miss my son.

Yesterday, part of our tour included feeding the animals on the farm.  The horses were beautiful, but since they are bigger than me I didn’t step into their pasture, the sheep were sweet, and of course, I loved the ducks and chickens, but the goats got to me.  I learned how to milk a goat, which is something I was happy and grateful to experience, but the large male goat, with the huge horns, awoke something inside of me.  I’ve heard the term olfactory memory since my friend, a psychology major, introduced me to it about thirty years ago, and I’ve experienced many over the years, scents reminding of elementary school or my grandparents kitchen, but that damned goat opened a door of memories that left me crying for hours.

I suppose I haven’t really smelled a goat or a true barnyard since our lives changes and my son and I moved off the farm.  He was ripe into adolescence and the often-accompanying rebellion when we moved, and I suppose that time on the farm was the last calm place before he died a few years later. 

When I saw the goat, a large Nubian-mix goat, very reminiscent of my own goat, Silly, I wanted to go to the pen immediately.  The lady giving the tour took me through the maze of gates and into the pen.  As I scratched between his horns, smelling the musky odor, I was transported to a different time.  I remembered trying to wash the musky scent out of my son’s clothes as he often played with and wrestled with our goats, growing stronger after many brain surgeries and infections, and I could never quite get the smell out of his clothes, or the cloth-covered chairs where he’d sit to play video games.  The musky smelling furniture, the clothes, and my son are all long gone, but for just a moment, with the scent, it was as though time had reversed and I was there again. 

I didn’t wash my hands for a long time, and I am an avid hand washer, because I didn’t want to lose the scent, the transformation through time, but life moves forward and those days are gone, and are never to be returned to unless I can find someone with a time machine.  Who knew a goat could trip your world up so desperately?  I should have known, but I was caught unaware as the scent on my clothes and hands kept reminding me of days long gone.

I lamented the fact that my son was dead, I cried over the fact that I tried to be smart and didn’t have more babies, I snuffled over the fact that I will never have grandchildren, and am soon looking into my fifties.  I worried over being alone with no kids stopping by and checking in or just calling to chat.  I wrapped myself in a quilt and cried like a baby.  I should have known the power of a goat, having written Kicking The Goat Silly, but I was caught helplessly unaware as I imagine a deer feels when the headlight shine on him.

Shidu is the word for the childless parent; thanks to a very good friend I now know this word, and I am totally grateful for discovering there are other folks struggling under the weight of being childless.  We are not like others who have never had a child, we had a child, but for one reason or another, we are now childless.  I miss my son, and wonder how he would be as a man as his 31st birthday approaches. 

My brothers have children and grandchildren now, and I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different if my son had lived.  I was smart about the bearing children thing, I didn’t have another because I knew the weight of that rest solely on my shoulders, but now, looking back, I declare myself a fool.  I listened to the world and decided pets were a cautious attempt at living, and bearing more children made me weak.  Now, as I view my life going into my fifties with no children, and although I have some awesome nieces and nephews, I know I made a grave mistake.  I tried to be wise, and smart, and took my birth control pills, but life has shown me that I should have procreated. 

I try not to jealous of families, but I have to admit it hurts, the stupid goat reminded me of how it hurts, and I was pleased to see that people like me have a name, if not much recognition on Mother’s and Father’s Day.  A noble laureate, Mo Yan, has spoken out for a need to support Shidu parents, and coming from China, with their one child law it makes sense that there is a need for support.  I am just grateful that there is a name, because I have long lamented the rules in the Bible that widows and orphans should be taken care of, but we who tried, loved, and lost have no mention.

So here’s to the nameless goat I met yesterday, I thank him for reminding me, and I thank him for his gentle way and the musk on my skin.  Although olfactory memories can leave you crying like a baby, I am grateful for the heartbreaking memories, tears, and snuffling like a little kid, at least it’s a reminder that I’m still alive and that is a good thing.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Screaming In The Wind

 Screaming in the Wind

 I was having dinner on an outside patio at a restaurant yesterday as I was going over the new book with my editor, and as smokers are prone to do, I lighted a cigarette.  I wasn’t the only one on the patio smoking, but immediately the table next to us got up and moved seats, giving the harsh looks that non-smokers love to give those who are still smoking.  I noticed, as they settled at a table across the way, a long discussion with the server and a couple pointed fingers in my direction. 

The patio on which we were seated had a nice breeze coming through and was filled with shrubs, trees, and birds looking for scraps.  It was also only about a hundred feet away from the road with much idling traffic stopped by a red light as people were trying to get home as weekend was beginning.  Those people, though, weren’t concerned about the fumes from cars filling their lungs and nostrils, no, they were only worried about a little pipe tobacco stuffed into a paper tube. 

I don’t buy or smoke store bought cigarettes filled with chemicals and carpet glue that are now called “fire safe”.  I buy loose tobacco and roll my own, but even if I did buy prepackaged cigarettes, I feel sure that my little bit of smoke is not as harmful as fumes coming from hundreds of cars idling at a red light.  I am also sure a whiff of my smoke is not as harmful as allowing children to drink artificially flavored sodas and all the preservatives that go into restaurant food.  The only difference is how the media has declared smoking to be the most harmful thing, while ignoring that the caramel coloring and other additives in a soda are cancer causing. 

A recent article has declared that over 500,000 people a year die from psychiatric drugs, and in a day when one in five children are on such drugs, whyare we still worried that a little smoke from a cigarette will send them to their deathbeds?  Maybe it’s because the media and the news channels aren’t pushing the message day after day, and there are no PSAs declaring how dangerous those drugs are, and the reason there are not is because the pharmaceutical companies run the world.  Just watch your evening news, every commercial is about a new drug or at least that was the case when I last watched TV.

As much as the world declares that smoking is harmful, many, many studies show that it is not as harmful as the media wants you to believe.  Did you know that smokers rarely get Parkinson’s disease and they are less likely to get Alzheimer’s?  Did you know that irritable bowl, ulcerative colon, and even high blood pressure are less in those who smoke? 

In a world that doesn’t tell you the things in the vaccines, like mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, animal cells, and aborted fetus cells, yet insists you put them in your blood stream; in a world that puts more chemicals than food in the things you put on your dinner table, and pays millions to advertise how healthy they are; in a world where arsenic is found in our chicken meat and water, but is declared healthy; in a world where pharmaceuticals and doctors kill more than guns and car wrecks per year - one must sit back and question. 

Did you know those who smoke have less breast cancer?  And have you noticed that as American’s quit smoking in the last decades the incidents of lung cancer have increased?  Did you know that in the countries with the highest numbers of smokers, like Greece and Japan, they have lowest rates of lung cancer?  I’m sure you haven’t noticed because your news channels haven’t told you.  Pancreatic cancer has increased with sales and advertising of diet sodas, and colon cancer has increased with most eating at fast food restaurants because they are too busy to cook natural foods at home.  

And being as cancer is the biggest money maker in this country, when the ACS pulls in billions, yes billions of dollars a year, and when doctors are being tried all over the country for treating people for cancer when there was no cancer, we have to sit back and question.  Can you imagine a cure for cancer?  Not in this world, because there are billions of dollars and this world is money hungry, not cure hungry.

Did you know asthma has increased since smoking has decreased?  Did you know they used to tell asthmatics to smoke?  Do you know many food flavorings can increase attacks? 

I grow tired of writing these types articles as everyone wants links so they can decry that the info provided isn’t “acceptable” information because it’s not coming from the forces that are hurting us and making the decisions for profit, and not health.  Truth is truth, though, and truth is hard found down here, and you’re not a popular person for declaring such hidden truths.  I suppose there are popular truths, which aren’t actually truths, and then there are the unpopular ones, which no one discusses for fear of offending someone, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t rooted in reality.

A recent study has declared that our attention spans, as humans, are now less than a goldfish.  With the introduction of our “smart” phones, our attention levels are less than a fish in a small bowl.  Now the studies all over the world telling how these phones cause brain cancer are ignored, mainly because our news media aren’t pounding them into our heads hourly, between the drug commercials, and with the PSAs of people suffering brain cancer. 

No, what we get pounded into our heads is that smoking kills, even though humans have been smoking and living next to fire since their beginning.  These food additives, gasoline powered motors, vaccines, and phones are new to us, but smoking we have done forever.  It simply doesn’t matter if I provide links, or the testimonies, I know I will change no one’s belief, so I will just leave a statement from one of my favorite fictional characters, Roland Deschain, from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series …

“Smoking keeps the bugs away.”

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Childless Mothers on Mother's Day

Childless Mothers on Mother's Day

I wish a happy Mother’s Day to every mother.  I wish a happy Mother’s Day to those who have lost their mothers.  I wish a happy Mother’s Day to those who never knew their mothers. 

And most especially, I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to those who no longer have children to celebrate their motherhood. 

In the last few days I’ve been trying to write this article, this statement, this thing without a proper name that lurks inside me. 

There is a name for a woman or man without a spouse, they are called widows, which is a strange name, but yeah, that is what they are called.  There is a name for children without parents – those folks are orphans, and God be with the orphans of this world. 

What is the word for childless parents?  We once had children, but now we are a bit lost and we struggle.  In this world that has been at war since I was born, shouldn’t there be a name for us?

I am not the only childless mother on Mother’s Day.  What is the word for that?  Am I missing something? 

I lost my son in an accident, others lost their sons and daughters in wars or car wrecks or fires or sickness or disease or murder or addiction or any number of ways our children can die. 

What is our label?  We are not widows or orphans, which Jesus made clear we should pray for and help and I firmly believe we should, but now we are simply childless and there is no name for us.

Childless parents are a reality for many people on this brutal earth, wars have been raging since I first became aware of the television during the Vietnam War, then there was the Gulf War, and other wars, and I read 1984, and we’ve always been at war.

I am a childless mother on Mother’s Day, and I know I am not the only one. 

I am not asking for special favors, but studying history, and reading the Bible, and checking my etymology dictionary as often as I can, I can’t find our word and I’m pretty sure history dictates that we should have one – look in any cemetery, we’re not that rare.

I do feel sorrow over the people without their mothers, I am blessed to still have my own.  I also ache over those who never knew their birthplace or their roots; I can’t imagine the difficulty of attempting to find your place. 

I especially feel for mothers out there who are not going to get a phone call or flower or gift or dinner with their child on Mother’s Day, but may visit a cemetery. 

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Crabs in a Bucket

 Crabs in a Bucket

I read something on the Internet the other day, it was a psychological study that mentioned many dos and many don’ts, and the thing that stood out to me is “never mention your goals”.  It seems by mentioning your goals aloud or by posting them in any number of social media or simply discussing your dreams at dinner with friends, it lessens the likelihood of your desires even seeing fruition.  I’ve known this about dieting since I was young; I never spoke of going on a diet.  Most of my secretive diets were successful, but once I told someone they would encourage me to cheat.  What is it about humankind that encourages someone to cheat?

A crab in the bucket is all I can say.  I remember my father talking about the phenomenon from when I was a child when we spent lots of time at the beach.  A crab will pull down any crab it sees escaping, and I suppose if I had lots of education I could clarify it in big words, but simply - no one wants to see the other escaping the bucket.  Any intuitive person can experience this simple part of humanity when viewing the educational system or the riots that are happening in the United States these days or a quick view of social media.

Maybe I am an odd one in that I hope and pray people will do better, that they will get the golden ring, and that they will meet their goals, but according to the study, going back into the 1940s, I am the rare one.  I honestly pray that friends and family, and sometimes odd strangers who decide to talk to me, will find what they are looking to achieve.  I would like to think that those who know my goals are praying and cheering my attempts, but the studies going back nearly seventy years say that I am a hopeless optimist.

The term hopeless optimist has never been a description ascribed to me.  I am swampy, green, a little dark, and always below the surface.  I have lamented surface dwellers as something I don’t quite understand, but even knowing that I wish the best for everyone and wish for their dreams and visions to come true.  So in this day of social media where people post their deepest thoughts, and their dreams, it disturbs me that folks aren’t encouraging, and aren’t pushing their friends, their follow crabs, out of the bucket.

I have goals, a new novel coming out, my husband’s new CD released, and I would only want the encouragement and prayers that we succeed with our endeavors, but this study, perhaps older than time, tells me I am still a babe in the woods in understanding a fundamental part of humanity. 

We want to overcome, we all want to do better, but maybe, just maybe, many want that without putting in the effort.  I suppose most humans are focused on themselves, their pains, losses, and condemnations, but how are we to grow without giving something of ourselves?  Without joining together to push that crab away and then beginning the struggle that is totally personal, how do we expect another to succeed when we’re holding them down?  How do we expect to succeed when we’re not giving the push to get the other over the rim?

So as I go squirrel up my chickens, and cut the grass in the yard that is far too long, I’d like to ask that even if you don’t admire your “friends” on social media, even if you are pissed off about your brother or sister or cousin or high school friends, please encourage them to be the best they can be and pray for their dreams.  You never know when there may be a hand reaching over the rim of that bucket helping you along.

Keep seeking and believing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Day in the Ghetto

A Day in the Ghetto

Living in the ghetto can be inspirational, nerve racking, and at times, frightening.  This neighborhood wasn’t born to be a ghetto, at one time when the mills were in operation it was a beautiful area with corner markets, gorgeous churches, and downtown shopping a short ride or walk away.  The world changes, though, and as shopping moved from downtown, and awkward highways cut through and loomed overhead, the terrain and the livelihood changed.  Pulling into this area from any direction can be daunting as one simply can’t help but see homeless people, drug dealers, and prostitutes lingering on corners.  

My husband and I are not rich people, and the thing with artists is that we often find the act of creation far more important and satisfying than a new car, fancy house, nice clothes, or expensive vacations.  We live as inexpensively as we are able, and value time to create over money for extras.  My husband is a musician who has put out eight albums in nearly as many years, and as you know, I’m a writer, publishing my work as the muse allows.  We don’t have agents or record deals or publishers, we just feel the need to put out our work and leave our own legacy, whether or not the world cares.  Due to this internal drive we’ve made choices and try to live cheaply as we can.  Ours vehicles are old and long paid off, we plant gardens and keep chickens, when our hair gets cut we do it ourselves, we buy our clothes in thrift shops, and if a big purchase is made we do a lot of research before we commit.  It’s not bad for an artist’s life; we’re close to town where he can play gigs, and where I can sell homemade goods at the local market or go to a book signing at the local bookstore. 

I remember the first time Chris took me to Boston when we were dating.  “Don’t smile at strangers on the subway,” he warned, noticing that I often smile at people.  I listened to him and didn’t, as I was in an unfamiliar place, and he reminded me of that today when I found myself in an uncomfortable situation. 

A man cutting my neighbor’s grass offered to cut ours and I accepted.  Now usually I love cutting grass, but I have found in this neighborhood it’s not always the best thing to be on the street.  It only took me a few offers from men for a date when I was raking or out with the lawnmower to make me shy away from the front of the house. 

Before the man started on the yard he asked me for a sandwich, I looked at the rope holding up his pants, and said, “I have peanut butter.” 

He acted as though I insulted him and commented that all folks in our community had money, and peanut butter made him itch. 

“We’re just poor folks here, artists and musicians,” I said stupidly.

“You’re musicians?” His eyes sparked.

“No, our landlord is a musician,” I dodged.  “We’re just poor people and all I have is peanut butter.” 

He looked me up and down, making me uncomfortable, and then shook his head, walking over to his lawnmower.  He took his time, stopping for many rests for such a small yard, and most of his breaks were spent talking to the ladies passing the house or yelling at cars driving by or answering his cell phone.  Finally, I stepped across the street to speak to my neighbor, Kathy. 

I don’t know much about Kathy except that her family has lived in this neighborhood for more than sixty years and she knows everyone on the street, she loves animals, and her yard is always pristine.  I asked if she knew the guy cutting my grass as I’ve seen many different people working in her yard.  She said she didn’t know him and that he had asked her for a sandwich and a belt and had mentioned he’d just gotten out of jail.

“Well, that makes me a little nervous,” I said.

She looked over my shoulder, at him looking at me, and nodded her head.

“Chris has a gig in just a bit.” 

“You have my number?” she said, watching him.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You call if you need me and I or my husband or my son or someone will be there,” she said, watching him. 

I thanked her and stepped back across the street, paying the man, but he didn’t leave.  He was waiting for my neighbor to come home to pay him and he was in the street, stopping cars, I suppose of the people he recognized, and talking to the ladies. 

Funny thing happened then… now I long for a place in the country, where I can stand in the yard and not see another house or hear another human voice, and I often lament of living so close to people, but then I saw my neighbors suddenly find a reason to be outside.  I saw two neighbors playing basketball with one of those portable nets that can be set on the street, big guys I’ve literally never seen before, and Kathy’s son decided to blow her lawn with his American bulldog barking inside the fence.  Another group of neighbors come out and sat on their porch talking and laughing, but I felt keeping their eye out.

My neighbor returned, loading the man and his lawnmower in his truck and taking him away, and as they drove off I watched my other neighbors slowly finish their outdoor business and step back in their houses.  I think I was both awed and humbled at the same time.  I barely know these people, keeping inside the fence with my chickens and cats, trying to be a nice person, and only really getting involved when there is an accident at the crossroad outside my door.  To see so many people suddenly appear on what I felt was my behalf was a humbling message for me. 

Sometimes I grow impatient with the world and circumstances, sometimes I don’t always realize that I am where I am until God decides the next path, sometimes I just want to push forward to what I see is the next place, without appreciating where I am.  I’m a big believer in self-motivation, changing the future, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but I am also humbly realizing that there is a plan for each of us that we don’t always control. 

Patience has never been a virtue of mine, I have my gifts, but patience is simply not one of them.  Sometimes I want what I want when I want it, and most times it’s not as simple as a new pair of shoes or an outfit.  I have lamented over living in the ghetto, the fear of stepping out of the front of the house lest some fool stops and asks me for a date, I have bemoaned the noise, but I am beginning to understand I haven’t been taking in the blessing. 

No, I don’t actually know my neighbors, but I do know I’ve helped a couple of their kids hit in the street.  No, I don’t always like their noise, but they don’t complain when the band comes over to practice.  No, I don’t appreciate their family get-togethers that can last long into the night, but I certainly appreciate when those same families come out to keep an eye on me. 

So here I sit, humbled and feeling safe. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Father's War on Sound

 My Father's War on Sound

I grew up in a home that didn’t encourage the noise of children, it seems my father’s hearing was damaged during World War II and sound could be either muffled or painfully amplified.  My father was also a writer and a researcher so I imagine he prized the quiet time that is not always provided with children in the home.  Games with bouncing balls were forbidden, the television volume was kept so low we children would lay directly in front of the box, straining to listen, it was not uncommon to hear phrases like “go outside if you’re going to laugh”, and stereos always came with a set of headphones. 

My father did enjoy music, though, in the era before basses and drums carried such a strong backbeat.  I still remember listening to Nat King Cole or Jackie Gleason albums, with strings and smooth vocals, and actually enjoying them despite my own record collection being filled with Black Sabbath, Heart, Pink Floyd, and The Kinks.  As a child my father’s idiosyncrasies about noise irritated me and I doubted his hearing issues and assumed, as most angst-filled teenagers do, that it was just another method of control.  Later in life when I married a bass player and picked up the drumsticks and played in a duo with my husband for seven years I joked about how I never could have learned drums while still living at home. 

I understand that many people like to have noise in the background while they perform the tasks of living, a TV or radio playing while they do laundry or work on a project, and even I enjoy a little distracting noise while I’m sewing.  The world has changed a lot since the simple times of the seventies when I was a child, and noise has grown along with the population growth spurt, and as much as we loathe, at times, comparing ourselves to our parents, I am finally beginning to understand my father’s war on sound. 

Sound is frequency, a physical wave that disrupts and vibrates, and sometimes violates, molecules.  We can see it easily when we put a glass of liquid on a speaker and watch the movement inside the container.  We can feel it when walking into a nightclub, the throbbing bass an actual physical experience. 

People are noisy, there’s no two ways about it, we talk, we sing, we yell, we laugh, we cry, and those sounds reach the air, disturbing it, and traveling.  Cars are noisy, not just the low or loud hum of motors, or wheels against concrete, but also elaborate sound systems that vibrate the windows in the houses they pass.  Our technology and modern conveniences - as just now I am listening to the refrigerator humming in perfect F#m7 chord, which has been hotly debated by every musician who has lived in this house before us - are noisy.  The wifi we seek on the streets and which I will use to post this article on my blog leaves a hum in its wake, a virtual wave on the water of sound.  The world’s governments and war machines use sound as a weapon, and it doesn’t take a long search to discover the tools that are used to disrupt protests or the stories of using heavy metal music to ward off sleep from prisoners under interrogation.

I write this now after having spent a month writing a new novel and fighting against the sounds around me.  I finally understand my father, which is a blessing for both of us, as I struggled under the weight of displaced molecules and tried to hear the small voice inside.  I grew angry, as my father before me, that the air could be so needlessly and uselessly corrupted.  There are sounds that are natural, water against rock, the wind rocking the branches above, birds cooing or calling or scratching in the leaves, and then there are the unnatural sounds that leave us unsettled. 

I may have not noticed this had I not felt the need to drive out of town, away from the city, and the hum that surrounds it.  It’s a strange thing to jump in the car near midnight with the intention to only drive and my husband and I made a game of it.  I remembered the nights in my youth when I’d sneak out of the house and walk, hearing the call of the lone bobwhite.  Sometimes I’d meet a boy innocently, where we’d sit in the local park in the quiet, unable to find any words, and leaving without even a kiss, and would simply listen to the night birds calling before we had to head home lest we be discovered. 

So Chris and I struck out, giggling as though we were children again, and finding a dark place to sit and listen to the night.  As soon as I stepped out of the car, far from where the lines hung above, I wanted to just collapse from the release I felt down in my deepest molecules, a stillness inside that is impossible to recreate through drugs or imagination or meditation.  A sigh came from deep inside, my knees felt weak, and I had to lean against the car for a couple moments before I gathered my druthers and we set out into the unknown. 

We walked in the dark through knee high, damp grass.  I told Chris we didn’t need the flashlight he’d brought because I had “cat eyes” as I had been told many times when I was young.  Chris pulled out the flashlight and I laughed, as we were in uncharted territory and we worked our way through the grass, leaving behind trails that were easier to follow up, than the path down to the water. 

The ground had changed since the last time I passed, twenty some odd years earlier, but we found a place and threw the quilt on top of the high grass, spotting little eyes staring at us from the woods.  The silence, or at least the lack of city sounds, was a drug all unto itself, heady and entwining, and we sat, just listening. 

As I listened to the water flowing over sand and rocks, trickling gently, it was as though years washed away.  I wasn’t reliving times past, as much as reviving the simple quiet part of myself.  Owls were calling, a whippoorwill was trilling, and something heavy hit the water, swimming with a noisy purpose, which was different than the noises I was escaping.  At first we were startled by the heavy presence in the water, was it a gator?  Should we be afraid?  But then the bullfrogs started calling all around us.  I lay back on the quilt, feeling a heavy, heavy weight lift as my water-based body remembered its essence.  Another creature splashed into the water and began swimming and I wasn’t startled, and just listened. 

We heard the owls calling here and there, and sometimes I was sure they were twenty miles away making the lonely call and waiting for an answer, and then the answers erupted around us.  Chris saw a couple owls falling and then finding their wind power and darting, but I had my eyes closed, just listening, and breathing, and feeling a calm that made me want to stay forever.  

I suppose all this is my way of saying I wish we were a quieter species.  Humans really seem to like noise - high-powered cars, guns, stereos, TVs, and emotions, blocking out the soothing sounds of nature.  One sound tells us it’s all going to be okay, while the other laments with the complications.  One sound calls us back to our elemental beginnings, while the other insists there is no hope and we must stay busy to push back the eventual end.  One soothes us to a gentle relaxing sleep, while the other keeps us awake and anxious and alert.

So here’s to my father’s war on sound, I finally understand.    

Monday, April 13, 2015

Cats Cat and Writers Write

Cats Cat and Writers Write

Another novel is done, at least done enough for me to sit back and not obsess over it every moment.  As I wrote “The Thing Inside Lucy Doyle” I found myself writing and editing in my sleep, terrified that I would lose an important point or the entire plot.  I have a strange relationship with writing and the flow is not always there and when it comes it feels like a storm in the desert and I must put out every pot I own to collect the water lest I lose a single drop.

I found myself growing fiercely protective over this one, not just the words on the screen and in my mind, but with the ritual of sitting down in the quiet and letting myself see the story as it unfolded, and unlike other novels I have written, I felt like I was fighting forces outside of me attempting to hinder my progress.  Taken alone the small things that interrupted me: the broken keyboard; the replacement keyboard with the space bar that had its own ideas of how words should be formatted; the broken water heater; the social obligations and phone calls; the noisy neighborhood and the neighbors suddenly remembering my existence and knocking at the door, would not have bothered me, but during this one as the characters in the book fought spiritual battles, I felt I was too.

I am not the type of writer who can take six months or a year writing a book, when it comes it comes with all the urgency of a speeding truck or train and all I can do is hold on until it is done.  Everything I have written over the years has been completed in hours or days or weeks with barely the time given for food or sleep, much less social interaction or relaxation.  Urgent is the word and the feeling and when it is completed I am left exhausted and a bit depressed as I send my characters on to their happy lives or doomed futures and then I try to find my place in life again after having been swept away.

As much as I love riding the wave to its end it’s not very conducive to maintaining relationships outside of the pages of the book, and those around me suffer from my inattentiveness, single-minded focus, blank stares during conversation, unanswered phone calls, and cancelled appointments.  I imagine that is the curse of being a writer, or perhaps with loving a writer, so now it is time to issue apologies, finish projects promised before it all began, and dust off the social side of myself with a smile.  I also have to face the massive pile of dirty clothes, the balls of cat hair in the corners threatening to become a whole new animal, the kitchen floor that hasn’t seen a mop in far too long, the counters with the coffee stains, and the bathroom that needs a good scrubbing.

I also want to take the time to thank those who loved me before the tsunami swept me away, and who still love me as I find myself back on land, confused, hungry, and out of sorts.  Writers write, much like cats cat, and sometimes we disappear for a while, returning wild-eyed, exhausted, and hungry for a good scratch and joyful welcome.  

But mainly I’m writing this blog post because I checked in this morning and saw I had over a hundred unique views in a night, on a blog I hadn’t even looked at in a long time, and I thought, as I am prone to do, how odd.  How odd that folks still come here, how odd is it that they check in, how wonderfully odd is it that folks from all over the world sometimes drop by, and my next thought was, ain’t life grand!  So to you folks who stop in every now and again to read my words, and those who buy my books, thank you and thanks for visiting.