Out of the Mouths of Babes and Breaking My Heart

So let’s imagine we’re all on a boat, sailing the ocean. I tend to tell my tales when the waters are calm and we can enjoy a glass of wine and relax against the cushion, letting the wind do the work and maybe just my foot on the tiller to keep us from going to far off course.

I used to sail with my Grandpa Smith and we didn’t swap tales when we were trying to keep from running aground as the barge went through taking all our water in the channel, giving us less than a foot of water between us as a boat and us as a tourist attraction. We didn’t swap tales as the wind carried us nearly aloft through Rio Vista, but the bridge tender didn’t hear our horn and raise the bridge so we had to come about and I didn’t have time to switch sides before we heeled severely and water poured in. My Grandpa hollered, “Are you okay?” And I hollered back, “Great. But my butt is getting wet!”

So, all of that is to tell you I am writing this while my butt is wet.

I have some guests visiting. Children. And the life these kids have had. The cards they were dealt, the way their cookies crumbled…

I do not even know what to say.

It makes me cussing mad. And under that, so hurt and heartbroken, I can actually feel the dagger making it hurt to breathe. And every second I am not fully occupied caring and adoring my guests and trying to make sure we have at least pathways through the overflowing of shoes and clothes and legos in the house, I am ready to break down sobbing.

And I swear, if I see one more meme about how we get what we deserve and our lives are all a matter of our own choices and the world owes us nothing…and other bullshit put up by people who have no f-ing clue how few of us get anything close to what we deserve and plenty of other people’s choices make others’ choices irrelevant. Or, worse, till there are no choices left. And call me a socialist, but I think the world does owe those who have been so deeply wronged by the world something.

The biggest problem with that kind of debt, there is nothing that could really make it better.

I did my best with beach days and movies and good food and hugs and kind words. But it’s like blowing on the gib when there is no wind. It doesn’t move the boat forward.

Posted in My Life, Prayers | Leave a comment

Signs of Sandals

I like signs. I like to believe things get put in our path by God to encourage, affirm, guide.

I don’t know why this is and it is not keeping with my usual  bent towards I-like-the-concrete-reject-all-things-made-of-fanciful-hooey.

A lot of my signs have come from movies. A therapist said this is because I am a people-watcher and movies give me a great opportunity since film captures behaviors and nuances so well. I don’t know, but I have gone to the movies and had them be about or highlight exactly what I was struggling with at the time. One time it was so intense, I asked the friends I was with if they saw it too. AND THEY DID.

So this is proof signs are real or I pick friends as weird as myself.

Let’s go with the former.

Earlier I said “my” signs. I do believe they need to be specific. I mean, it can’t be a stop sign at an intersection that just means Stop to everyone who comes upon it.

They also have to resonate. As another friend says, your inner ding has to go off.

So the internet is messing with my ding. The algorhythms for tailoring ads is throwing off my receptors.

For example, I read a blog post naming a brand of shoe. I had not heard of the brand and searched for it. And there I saw these sandals.

And I love them. Oh, I love them.

I want them in black. They may be a bit much for the grocery store/preschool run, but I would wear them. And I would love them.

And I now see them everywhere. But, sadly, it is not a sign. It is just good programming by the internet geniuses.

As if life is not complicated enough, I now have to figure out the difference between God and Google.



Posted in Laughter | 2 Comments

How to Write a Book

(I’m going to do some posts on writing. Something I never thought I would sincerely blog about because there are SO many blogs out there about writing. But I figure- what’s one more? And- I have zero intention of providing anything remotely instructive. I intend my writing posts to be confessional and supportive. So, if you learn anything, it will be only from my failures and by complete accident.)

I read a lot of writing books. Right now I am reading this gem of a book from the 1950s. One I have that I keep mostly for the title is “Alone With All That Could Happen”.

That is what a book inside you is like. You are alone with all that could happen.

By writing your book,you are not alone with it anymore. If nothing else, you have admitted to yourself, really truly acknowledged, you are a writer.

Because while the book remains only in your head–

you are not a writer.

At best, you are a creative and literate thinker.

I have participated in workshops where folks attend seeking the answer to my title’s question: How Do I Write a Book? I have this idea, but how do I…

I always cringe because I don’t want anyone to ever hear one thing  that would stop them from writing. Talk of schedules, exercises, reading lists, structure, grammar, editing…anything that will put you off sitting down and writing is not something you need to hear.

I think this is the single best thing I did. I had an idea and it wouldn’t go away and I started writing it. By the time I started seeking instruction and guidance, I had written that book and most of another. I was starting a third.

I have received writing instruction that stopped my writing. Any writer who talks about how easy it is…or tough love words like “you’re not really a writer if you’re not cranking out X words per day…”

That’s the stuff that hits me someplace too fragile to dismiss.

This past weekend, I went to a writing workshop led by Anne Lamott.  Or to me, Auntie Annie. She doesn’t know this, but it really communicates how much I adore her. And her workshop wasn’t so much a workshop or class, but a sermon.

Good sermons are the ones that you leave the pew and think

I Can Do This.

You feel better, inspired.

Inspired to carry on, inspired to change.

Auntie Annie’s workshop encouraged me because she said the hardest part of writing is getting to the desk. The f-ing desk (I didn’t say it was a G-rated sermon). She said it was like swimming through syrup to just. reach. the. desk.

This is so me. And it was encouraging to have someone else say IT IS HARD and WE DO IT ANYWAY.

I think it is hard for three reasons who- like the three Greek witches- whisper in my ear and stir the cauldron in a conspiracy against achieving words on the page:

The first is named Distraction. She has long curly hair that acts as ropes to tie my day up and pull me in too many directions. None of them near my  manuscript.

The second is named Gold. Because my writing has little payoff to anything but my soul, I find it way too easy to detour from the desk in efforts that feel more “productive”. And writing can cost money with classes, conferences, etc. Which makes her voice that much more grating.

Her voice is only drowned out by the third who is named Doubt. She is a ventriloquist and her voice can sound like my sixth grade teacher who only assigned creative writing as punishment or like my mother’s who found my reading and writing highly questionable and, at one point, forbid it. Or that one guy who laughed when I said I wanted to write a novel. Or sometimes her voice is disguised as Comparison when I think I will never be as good as <insert anyone here>.  Or the shrill voice of Pettiness when I think how did <insert anyone here> get a contract when I am so much better. Sometimes she sounds like my own voice convincing me I am over it and don’t event WANT to write anymore.

These days, distraction has me the most confounded with things real and imagined, but I have found some much louder voices in my DH and two dear friends who gently, persistently prod me towards progress.

So here is my answer to How to Write a Book:

Brave the syrupy swim to the desk and write it. Ignore the impulse to seek answers before you just get it down. Identify the obstacles and gird yourself against them.

The answer is in the question:

How to Write a Book

How to Write a Book

Write a Book


Posted in Writing | 2 Comments