Archive for June, 2010

Just another small-scale nervous breakdown

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

I’m taking a break from finalizing my agent list – about twenty individuals and from what I can gather, the best of the best that are willing to look at new authors – and freaking the fuck out.

I am.

I’m so emotional I’m almost in tears.

Is it me or does this guy look a little bit like James Woods?

I think it’s in part that I want this so badly – it’s soooo important to me – that it’s overwhelming.

Actually, to be completely honest, the overwhelming part is fear and self-doubt of the generic “Am I good enough? Am I as good as these other people they represent?” variety.

Objectively, I think my story is amazing and I think it is well-executed…but the evil little voice likes to undermine with whispers and concerns of the million-dollar freak out question: “is the writing good enough?”

I suppose this is the crisis point for all of us at some point, be it personally, professionally, romantically, spiritually, or you name it. We all eventually run into a wall where we doubt our worth, and yet the polar opposite (an all-encompassing sense of entitlement) is even more unfathomable (not to mention distasteful).

I have to imagine even people who ‘make it’ or ‘have it all’ or just get damned lucky are plagued with the flip side of this equation: “Why me? What makes me worthy? Do I deserve this?” Isn’t that the whole nature of survivor’s guilt? Being plunged ad hoc into existential crisis and attempting to rationalize or understand why you lived and others died (and a subsequent self-imposed pressure to justify or substantiate your continued existence)?

As if life were rational…

(At the same time, did I survive something and forget about it, because I kind of feel like I’m suffering from a mean case of survivor’s guilt?)

Oh, to be a dog, where the philosophical self-loathing of worth, value, merit, and entitlement are non-existent.

My dog assumes you are as happy to see him as he is you and acts accordingly. And other times he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the person baby-talking or trying to engage him, and charges off toward the next smelly spot on the path without so much as an upward glance; it’s all zen to him. He isn’t the least bit concerned about how that might look or be perceived. (Unlike his apologetic owner who finds herself making half-assed explanations about his single-mindedness or interest in peeing on everything in a six-mile radius or otherwise feeling the need to explain why a dog has just done whatever he has incomprehensibly done.)

And the cat? The cat would laugh in your face if you asked him to justify his sense of self-entitlement. He exists. He purrs. He is beautiful. Isn’t that enough?

So that’s it.

And I feel a little better having talked about it.

I will return to completing the list and the letter will be tweaked and polished and sweated over and cried on and torn to pieces and carefully taped back together and hopefully arrive in some simplistic, beautiful, compelling state that I’m okay with enough to send out tomorrow as planned.

And we’ll go from there.

Marching ever forward and ignoring the little voices that undermine and hesitate, because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

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Life has a way of interfering with this blog

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

That, and the guilt doesn’t nag me like it used to.

I’m not saying I’m no longer in love, just that the thrill is gone. Or maybe that’s the same as falling out of love?

Red hair bangs

New NEW hair. Same cut, even more red.

No, no. Don’t be upset.

Don’t cry.

Pathetic isn’t a good look, and groveling kind of makes me want to kick you.

Besides, I like still like you. I care. There are real feelings here: affection; camaraderie; history. That counts for…something.

All the same and in the interest of full disclosure, it used to really gnaw at me if I missed two or three days of blogging. Now it’s not unusual to realize “Holy shit. I haven’t posted anything in over a week,” and then shrug and let another five days pass.

Mea culpa.

And – this lazy and not terribly endearing confession aside – thanks for hanging around despite my unpredictability and, well, let’s call it like it is: complete and total lack of new content.

Maybe if something consistently exciting starts happening, I’ll have more to say?

Hells Angels vintage

It's weird, because I know someone who has this poster, and I've often wondered who these people were. Apparently they're Hells' Angels. Go figure.

Perhaps I should join the Hell’s Angels or run away with the circus? And there’s always the siren song of riding the rails like the hobos of yore…

As it stands, and as I think I have already told you, I’ve been running myself ragged at the business of (what some days feels like) total futility. As part of my threefold plan for world literary domination (The Three Cs – Conferences/Contests/Chance poured liberally over The Four Cs – Ceaseless, Constant, Continual Creating. Or would it be easier if I just called that the Seven Cs? Oooh! That’s kind of cutesy. Like The Seven Seas. And if you use it, I expect credit…and a piece of the pie, whatever that may be. A piece of pie is fine too. I prefer pumpkin.) So anyway, in an effort to get on the literary radar of those with the power to publish my books, I’ve been trying my hand at a different genre (short stories) and entering them into contests.

I’ve also been entertaining the idea of starting yet another novel in the next few weeks. This new one is going to be YA – look out Stephanie Meyer – and the plot is actually based on a dream I had about my dad while in Paris last year. Paris has nothing to do with it (or maybe it will? I haven’t really worked out the details yet), just that I happened to be there when I dreamed it, and I apparently mentioned that minutiae in order to confuse the matter.

I have a tendency to do that.

Say too much and point out finite and unnecessary details and lose people along the way.

But I digress…

Zion. The book.

Here it is. In all its edited glory.

Seeing as my life pretty much revolves around writing and trying to get this pipe dream to convert into reality , I am happy to report that Zion (the book written in Mexico) came back today fully edited!!! Yay! Five minutes of elation immediately crashing into the brick wall of  the reality of my new hobby.  Although I’d much prefer playing the guitar or cooking or even macrame,  in all actuality I’ve been spending extreme amounts of time researching and trying to find agents to pitch my book to.

A dozen agents. That’s all I want.

A dozen, viable agents open to unsolicited manuscripts from unpublished writers. And then making sure they’re not scam artists or about to go out of business. And then there’s confirming that they’re alive. Seriously. In my copious research, I ran across an allegation that Jonathan Franzen or Dave Eggers or one of those guys sent two query letters to agents that were dead.

And rarely are the deceased able to hustle and get the kind of deals one would want…

Horrifying rope bridge

This is one of those horrifying bridges that you use only if the other option is being shot in the head.

So once we deal with those things – legit, breathing, and open to nobodies – then we come to the final footbridge. And it’s not just a bridge: it’s one of those scary rope bridges over an abyss that wobbles back and forth and could possibly flip all the way over if you move too quickly or someone on the other side decides to f*ck with you. Because, as it turns out, if getting an agent to sign you ain’t hard enough, here’s the real rub: Getting an agent is not all there is to it.

In fact, rumor has it many people become agents because they can’t make it as editors.

Ouch.

Kind of like “Those who can’t, teach” except “Those who can’t edit, agent.”

I’ve found more than one harrowing tale from now-successful writers who went through one or two or even SIX agents before finding someone they liked and who was able to get them a decent deal. ***shoot me now***

african sunset

Ooh. Where is this? Africa? Mucho gusto.

In other other news, it’s finally summer! It’s now literally summer (June 24), but it also – thank freaking god – finally feels like summer. For a while there, it was a total un-summer here in Washington. It wasn’t just unsummery, it was goddamned cold and winterish and depressing.

So now that it is summery, I suppose it doesn’t really change anything either way as most of my time is spent with my ass glued to the couch where I work and mostly it just ensures that my workouts are extra sweaty, but there’s still some mystical thing where I get super happy at the sight of an early sunrise and warm air.

You know what’s the best?
A day that’s so warm that when you go out at night, you don’t even need a sweater.

I freaking love that.

Death row inmate

He looks harmless enough...

So, despite my general largesse and occasional sense of futility, life is – as always – pretty good, and I’ve got no real complaints.  And, similarly, no real blog content.

But I’ll see what I can do. Like maybe start penpal-ing with someone in prison or something for your reading enjoyment. It might provide some interesting content, right? And I could specify death row only. They’re not getting out on parole any time soon…or ever.

So what’s the worst that could happen?

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1057 words and then some

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Is this the greatest picture ever or what?

It’s worth more than 1000 words. It’s worth 10,000 words. 100,000 words. Infinity and beyond!

Alaskan Malamute and Himalayan cat

I think what I love the most is how Fu’s body language wordlessly summarizes everything about this relationship: he’s simultaneously pissed and freaked out, but holding his ground.

Ah, animals. Without them life would be so futile…

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I write a blog. Sometimes it’s funny.

Friday, June 11th, 2010

This is what I tell people when the blog comes up.

Lots of people blog, and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. But somehow it isn’t cool, either. It’s not Dungeon and Dragons uncool, but it isn’t “my band’s new album is on vinyl” cool. You know it isn’t.

Pink wig

I want this. I do.

But that’s okay.

You’re reading this, so you’re probably not that cool either.

And I suppose I’m just going to have to come to terms with the fact that I’m not that cool. I can deal with it. I can. I’ll adjust, lower my expectations, modify my wardrobe…

Or maybe not.

Maybe the wacky lady that writes the blog can be compartmentalized away from the part of me that’s cool? And the cool part can carry on undeniably cool?

It may be possible.

With some slight outward modifications.

Enter my newest obsession: Wigs.

I don’t know why, but I am all about wigs the last few weeks. I think it’s in part the realization that no matter what color my hair is dyed, it somehow always morphs back to the same ashy blondish brown. Always. There’s no outsmarting it. It’s like a chameleon. Wait. It’s like the opposite of a chameleon. It gets colored something new and fabulous and mysteriously returns itself to the tried and true.

Amy Winehouse hair

Right? Right???

It’d be freaky if I weren’t used to it by now.

So that being what it is, I kind of want it other ways and other styles and other colors. And sometimes I want it colors that I would not want it to be permanently.

Or cuts that would take years to grow out.

And then other days I want to look like Amy Winehouse. Or at least the hair part. I’ll take a pass on the strung out junkie bit.

Or Ronald McDonald.

I do.

I don’t know why, but this amuses me.

And true, it probably will work out about as well as the sequin shorts I bought (and the friend who was with me at the time questioned not once, but TWICE, “Where are you going to wear those?” I was warned. I did not listen.), but I’m going to pull the trigger anyway. The red wig at least. For sure. A must. And it claims to be of some better quality than the usual fake hair sh*t.

And for $36.99 on sale?
It better be.

Red hair wig

This is a done deal. A must-have. So in love.

That’s spendy for my non-income generating ass.

Speaking of which, I’m going to be entering a slew (sp?) of short story and poetry contests in the next month. None of you are judges, are you? And if you are, can you do me a solid? I could really use some prize money. And the accolades and public acknowledgement and – why not? It’s my dream. May as well dream big – offers from fancy agents usually too important to accept unsolicited manuscripts or talk to anyone that hasn’t already written a bestselling book.

And considering I’m generating these short stories and poems as we speak and some of them are due on Monday, I’m not sure I’m sitting on winners.

There’s no time to tell.

I need original content. I need it now. So create it on the fly, I must.

I suppose if nothing else, I could put them together as a collection and sell them to you as an online book?
You digging that?

Yeah?

You $9.99 digging that?

Well, get ready to put your money where your mouth is, and we’ll find out.

No?
What if I threw in a picture of me in the red wig?

Maybe?

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Welcome to the terrible twos

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Two years ago, I started this blog.

You may have been there and remember the tough early months: the sleepless nights, the colicky fits, the hysterical crying. Make no mistake: quitting your fancy career to live life on your own terms is not easy.

When this blog was just a newborn, it did a lot of whimpering and whining and complaining. Simply put, it was a real cry baby. Back then, the blog was learning to recognize familiar faces and fascinated with mobiles and other moving objects. Oh, how quickly they grow up…

Then it turned a corner: it got into a regular rhythm of travel and exploring and bitching and adventuring and writing and sleeping in uncomfortable bunk beds in rooms filled with snoring strangers. The blog had fresh content every day and began eating cereals and soft fruits. It began to understand simple cause and effect actions and sat up for the very first time. In many ways, these days were the high point of the blog’s babyhood.

Random two-year old. The happy kind.

Along comes eight months, and things abruptly changed. The travel is over and the confusion full-force. No longer is there a clear direction and content becomes scarce. There are experiments with humor writing and being a one-woman Onion. It’s way too much work. The blog could now walk, but preferred to crawl. It developed an increasingly long memory.

Then the first birthday rolls around…without mention. Nope. Nada. Nothing. A year old: not even marked. What a bad mother! There were no baby books, no snippets of first hair cuts, and no face in the chocolate icing – not even so much as a single candle in a lousy cupcake. Shameful, really.

Where was I last June 6th? In Pennsylvania, I think. With my dad. Let’s blame him, shall we?

Yikes. I thought this was just a picture of a two-year old, but apparently it's a two-year old CHAINED TO A POLE WHILE HIS FATHER WORKS. !!?? WTF?

Works for me.

So anyway, ages 12 to 18 months were a time of growth. The blog learned to wave bye-bye and clap its hands, and many a happy afternoon was passed playing peek-a-boo. There was more travel and (hopefully always) humor and probably some general bitching. Near as I can recall, life was mostly sweet. True, things turned dark at month sixteen, but most of you didn’t know about that at first, so we won’t mention it just yet.

18 months to today have, well, kind of sucked.

Okay, that’s not completely fair. I did finish my first novel (second book) and write and edit the third in record time. I sat in the sun by oceans and ate yummy things. I had my friends and my health.

I also cried a bucket of tears.

Makes 3,575 buckets of tears – assuming each bucket holds about two gallons’ worth.

The blog itself suffered. Neglected and alone, it had difficulty sharing toys and started yelling “No!” in response to simple requests, but at least would say please and thank you when prompted. It could eat with a spoon and drink with a straw, as did my friend right before she passed (ouch. That probably was not necessary, but I’m leaving it anyway.)

Random two-year old. The unhappy kind.

You see, months eighteen to twenty-four were dark days. So dark that the blogger herself has been a little off-kilter ever since. So dark that I’m only now realizing how dark and just now sorting it out. It’s true. Didn’t you read the post a couple days ago? I’ve gone all bleak and stuff. Super bleak. Like “life has no meaning and some days I kind of remind myself of those people in ads for Cymbalta” bleak.

But no worries.

We have hit a new stage.

And I have a powerful hypnotherapist in my entourage.

Things are about to get better than ever.

Yes.

You heard me.

It’s one thing to feel like shit. And it’s another thing to feel so like shit to the degree that you don’t even realize you feel like shit. But when you realize you feel like shit and want to change it?

Well, babies, that’s when the magic happens.

I am a true believer in the bottom. Get there and ask for help. As Emerson once put it, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

So here we sit under starry skies at the start of age two.

Two is fun age.

Two is when the real personality comes out.

It’s the time of independence and a real sense of self.

The blog has almost a full set of teeth and knows how to use them.

It still frustrates easily, but that’s understandable. Life is freaking frustrating.

However, it is also grand and wondrous and all we’ve got.

If my recent flirtations with pointlessness have taught me one thing, it’s that we have to go for it. If this is truly all there is, why on earth are you just sitting there?

Figure out what you want.

Dream big.

And then chart a course to your destiny.

What is there to lose?

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