A Taurus Fable

For those of you with birthdays in May, we bulls must moo together.  To that end – I give you this contribution.


In the land of Knoll Idg, in the home of Fender Blowhard there was a gathering.  Hurry Feathers was telling stories about some of Worm Wood’s family and having a grand time of it.  His claim that Bugs Fudd was actually the illegitimate child of Wiley Coyote had a small group in the company furious beyond words.

Since Fender had served his finest fermented carrot wine, and most had partaken, he feared something might get broken in the thick silence that subverted all further conversation.  So it was that he invited them to step outside and admire his gardens.

He toured them around the terrace, pointing out this botanical and that.  He lined them up and trailed them through his greenhouse; so proud of his green vegetables was he.  The sun shone down and the air was an agent of deep breaths and calm hearts.  Certainly Hurry Feathers would have apologized to Worm Wood, if not completely retracted his fuss, if not for one Peter Cottontail caught drunk in the carrot patch.

White rabbit puppyIt was no real surprise.  The Cottontail family had been long overdue for an intervention and Peter was the most degenerate of the herd.  His belligerence made him heavier than his lithe frame indicated, and it took nearly all of them to subdue and drag him to the nearest shed where he could be detained until help arrived.  Fender was dismayed at the trampled magnolia and torn cherry blossom limbs that resulted from this fracas , but nonetheless carefully locked a now snoring Peter Cottontail in the tool closet.

Magistrate Bullock Henry soon arrived, having solicited the assistance of the town counselor, Okrah Windfall.  He had dealt with several generations of Cottontail troubles and felt it best to have all angles covered.  Bullock determined to arrest the boy and asked Fender where he could apprehend the trespassing hare.   When Fender hesitated, he asked, “Come now, Mr. Blowhard, do you not want this criminal removed?”

“Pardon me, Sir,” fumbled Fender as he reached for words of diplomacy, “it’s just that you’ve brought Ms. Windfall with you, and the boy is barely more than a bunny.  Perhaps you might send her to speak words of encouragement and comfort so that the young miscreant comes to his senses and vacates of his own free will.”  Fender congratulated himself silently, for in truth, he was more worried about the further damage magistrate Henry, a rather large Angus, would do if sent to make an arrest.

The judge obliged and nodded to the counselor.  “Where then, might I find him, Mr. Blowhard?” she asked.

“He’s locked in the tool closet in my Chinese garden,” said Fender, handing her the key and pointing to the east corner.

Espousing the benefits of sobriety and encouraging a new leaf, Okrah knocked and knocked.  But alas, her words fell on deaf ears as she opened the door and found young Mr. Cottontail unresponsive on the floor.  She only turned her back for a second to beckon for help, but it was all the time Peter needed to make his escape.  A flash of white bounded through the door and into the underbrush that separated the roses from the berry bushes a few yards over.  A now agitated magistrate pawed the ground and ordered the gardens secured so Cottontail could be found.  He organized a patrol-line from among those guests that remained.  They searched the entire garden, high and low, but found no sign of the rabbit.

His garden ruined, and the inebriated thief still at-large, Blowhard sent the party home and thanked the magistrate and counselor for their efforts.  To this day, berries go missing and carrot-wine disappears, and Fender Blowhard constantly searches for the little bunny that never quits.

There are two morals in this story, girls and boys.  Can you guess what they are?

First, gossip has no substance; it’s as weighty as a feather, and almost always leads to wormwood.  Second, (and my personal favorite) – a bull in the China closet is better than beating around the bushes for the rest of your days.

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Writer’s Day in the Life …

Writer – Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It’s been 26 days since I last wrote.

Priest – Have you read anything, my child?

Writer – Yes Father.  About eight books since then.

Priest – Hmm.  That’s not many.  That’s about how many I’d expect if you had been writing.

Writer – _____

Priest – Tell me what you’ve read.

Writer – I read two Stephen Kings, one of them a short story collection, the other a car thing—

Priest – Oh dear – not Christine, I hope.

Writer – No Father, much worse.  The newer one.  From a Buick 8.

Priest – Okay then.  We can actually count that one twice since it takes a real effort to keep reading it.

Writer – Thank you Father.  I also read another short story collection called Dangerous Women.

Priest – Have you gotten into the erotica reading?  What is this book?

Writer – No Father.  It’s a collection of almost “noir” stories with the character type in them.

Priest – Very literary then.  That sounds good.

Writer – Unfortunately it’s also full of mysogeny.

Priest – I’ve heard this word.  How is it defined?

Writer – It’s when there’s dislike or contempt, usually because of an assumed prejudice of women.  Lots of objectification—

Priest – I see.  So this book involved … a great deal of sex?

Writer – No.  But there was a heavy leaning on the assumption women exist for man’s sexual gratification.

Priest – ______

Writer – Anyway, I also read another Asimov “Foundation” novel, and three indie published books.

Priest – Let’s get back to the, how did you pronounce it? “MY – SOJ – IN- EE?”  Explain it so I understand.

Writer – It’s a big topic, Father.  What would you like to know?

Priest – Well, the last part about sex; it’s my duty to remind you it sounds scripturally sound, dear.

Writer – Wait – you mean about man’s gratification?

Priest – Yes.  Paul writes—

Writer – I know what Paul writes, Father.  But it goes both ways about suffering a spouse.

Priest – Have you had marital problems, my child?

Writer – No.  I’m just saying, there’s a more enlightened understanding about “suffering a husband.”

Priest – I see.

Writer – Besides, mysogeny is more than just viewing women as sex objects.  It involves seeing them as—

Priest – Careful dear – remember the Lord created woman as a “help mate” for Adam.

Writer – Help is not a footstool.

Priest – Footstools can help reach books on higher shelves.  Yes.  And don’t forget the Marys – at Jesus feet.

Writer – I know the stations of the cross Father.

Priest – Would you look at the time.  Tell me about these “indie” novels you read.

Writer – One was a horrible fantasy story set in Irish folklore that obviously mirrored Harry Potter.

Priest – Sounds delightful, you must share your copy with me.

Writer – The other two were great – a spy thriller and a great speculative fiction called Chimpanzee.

Priest –  Uh, the premise of Chimpanzee?

Writer – A futuristic society where you have to get your brain wiped of your education if you can’t pay your student loans.

Priest – I see.

Writer – This guy’s wife has a job but he doesn’t so he has to serve on the conservation corps and get his multiple degrees wiped while his wife supports them and they buy a new house.

Priest – Oh dear.  I’m not sure that’s appropriate.

Writer – Appropriate for what?

Priest – It’s just that, well it appears you are struggling with your writing because of these confusing ideas you’ve encountered.  I can only imagine the toll this is taking on your marriage, child.  You should consider this before choosing your next book.

Writer – ___

Priest – Child?

Writer – You know, I’ve also been reading a lot of Moses lately.  I’m thinking about changing my pen name to Terzah.

Priest – Who?

Writer – Excuse me Father, I feel a story coming on.

Priest – But your penance, dear.  I haven’t blessed you yet.

Writer – I’m a grown woman, Father.  Not a “dear.”  I need to go.  I think if I wait around to be blessed by you I could die a very old and disappointed lady.  Gotta’ go write.

Cow Tipping and Goal Setting

The cow got tipped.  Anxiety and the fear of becoming invisible (in a bad way) kept the aspiring writer from full-heartedly pursuing the end-all-be-all business plan.  Finding and fulfilling new roles (when the career that was your mission and purpose for so long has been set aside) is enough of a challenge.  I let myself off the hook and took up gardening as I eased into the daily writing routines.  You – who chase dreams outright or in your head and heart – please excuse the the lengthy absence as the cow picks itself up, dusts itself off, and begins striving once again to interrupt a mere fraction of your day to enlighten, entertain, or poke at status quo.

The Writer’s Business Plan.

Nixed except for some basic goals for the first year.  Outlining methods, to include a marketing plan and platform will be renewed when there’s something of substance to get pushy about.  Suffice to say there was a wealth of information on the basic “how to” provided online.  My favorites are listed here for those that would like to begin work on their own.

There were a plethora of books, too many to list.  Check into it for yourself if you’re on a mission.

The Writer’s Goals.

Keep in mind that a goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream.  Here are the modified goals (having tried on several for size and pitched them when they became stifling or a source of negative self talk) for this baby-writer.

1. I will write every day in my Scrivener created Writer’s Journal, using it as a taskmaster and single place to ensure this happens.  Each entry will follow no particular rules as to genre (creative writing, journaling, observations, thought, ideas) but will be purposed toward a single mission – to find a voice that best suites my writing.

2. I will read no less than 80 books in 2015, with a near even mix of non-fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional Indie or unconventional read.

3. I will explore memberships in professional writer associations (SFWA, PNWA, etc) in addition to SCBWI membership and develop a plan for membership into those organizations which best suit me by the end of 2015.

4. Based on finding my voice, and landing on a few projects that I can stay committed to, I will develop project goals and plans for submission and publication no later than June 2015.

That’s it.  Enough said.  Now we can commence with the grazing of new books, writing resources and practices, the romance of writing, and the overall beauty of the pastures.

Countdown Over

Today marks the first day of unemployment that I can’t claim as a weekend or holiday.  I’m pleased to say I worked today.  I’ll post a helpful progress report on my business plan research tomorrow.  Meanwhile, this came to me today and, since as a writer I’m sworn to honesty as one helpful author/mentor wrote, I’ll share it with all you hopeful writers who read me.

Fear of Nothing

The clock on the wall keeps time
as step-ball-change tugs me loose,
and with clickity speed
I must speedily read,
and wealth of good writing produce –
lest my taskmaster soul bells chime.

No orientation exists –
just on the job training and fear.
The list of whatevers
and jaunty endeavors
make lists upon deadlines appear –
and procrastination persists.

Oh this …

fear of failing,
critics wailing.
What if it sucks,
and my rows of ducks
go waddling through
mediocre blue
and black guffaws,
full of flaws,
to find at the end
a wordful blend

of nothing
that makes a difference?

Sighting

They were shapely when they first appeared,
spry and plump with meaning, swift in flow,
sniffing at my eyelids, primed to go.
I stopped moving, still, as each one neared.
Hoped to lure their wild before they feared.
Flanking them in ink, but moving slow,
freshly fallen idea flakes of snow
sprinkled me with shivers as I peered.
Witness to a miracle each time
words caress my head and spring my thought.
Bounding lines, the speeding of my heart,
playing into pens of perfect rhyme.
Form and verse exploring, nearly caught,
out of nowhere, prancing herd of art.

Cold Damn House

The electric box of inefficient warm is set high,
but the fan pushing the orange hot cools it on impact.
You’d think the oil heater on the other side
would play its part, spew some warm.
Instead it pretends all is well.
The glass patio door makes sure of that.
Heat rises, so the ice air bites at my ankles.
I can’t feel my feet.
I think of the hot summers from years long gone –
the hot pavement shimmering in the radiant day,
but the tile floor and the glass door are still.
Tonight they stare, catatonic, heartless –
relentless refrigerators of my nibbled spirit.
So I put on a housecoat over my jeans and layers,
a tortoise shell against the frigid room,
drink my tea, dance my blood, and wait
for summer or pneumonia
whichever comes first.

this is how it happened

Working on my business plan (I will soon post some resources I’ve found for those of you interested), still not at the end of my commitment here in Idaho, and this morning as I’m preparing to leave for work when the following poem flooded my brain.  I couldn’t walk out the door without first racing to my mac and getting it down before I lost it.  This is the madness of how my procrastination (in going to work) happens.  Still, I’m just so thankful for this gift.  Needs some work, but thought I’d share.  Reminds me of how Spiderman was made.

this is how it happened

as I lay beneath a cloud,
a rainy mist that formed a shroud
descended to my haptic loud.
engulfed me whole;
swallowed my protected soul
and spit me out
(not feeling thirsty in a drought),
but left me changed,
not quite deranged,
painted gifts that left me strange.
made my thinking twisted round –
blocky reason had no sound.
made me swim in music sheets –
crisp and moving rhythmic beats.
and all at once I touched a blank
and flooded word trains like a tank
invading fields of poppies bright.
a lyric frenzy made me write
poetic verse all through the night,
and in the morning when I woke
my veins were smoke –
as if a stranger took a poke
into the rivers
(my flowing rhyme-laced honey givers).

The Business of a Mission

A writer who wants to be published needs a business plan.  I’ve been pondering “next steps” as I work to wrap up my 18 year career in the next two weeks and transition to the next career of full-time writing.  That’s actually a sentence laced with hefty meaning and depth, because my career thus far has not been the average eight or ten hour-a-day J-O-B.  It’s been a mission.  A rewarding CAUSE – with the added benefit of a paycheck.

I’m not leaving my job because I dislike it.  I’m not leaving my job because writing is more important.  On the contrary – writing books is absolutely overshadowed by the importance and impact of my current position.  So, why am I leaving my job to write?

A more apropos question is: “Why are you leaving your job and becoming a writer?”  I’m leaving my job for the following reasons.

  1. It’s emotionally and mentally fatiguing and I’m losing stamina.  In many careers that wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Experience trumps speed in many cases because it often results in a more accurate and quality product or outcome.  So even the most energetic and speedy folks need experienced co-workers or leaders they can seek with questions, advice, or to study the differences between “shiny” and “speedy.”  Youthwork, however, requires energy that lasts.
  2. I have reached a peak.  I feel like my contributions thus far have made a difference, will continue to make a difference, and any more I have to give would perhaps feel like punching the clock rather than changing the world.
  3. I’m away from my partner – my “One,” and although the plan to work this far away for a time was a mutual decision, the time has come and we want to be HOME.
  4. God has put me in a position (with laser accuracy as usual) where I have a supportive spouse, am relatively debt free, and we can financially meet our needs while living in a community that fosters writing and the arts.  It’s like He’s offering me that trip to Disneyland and all I have to do is put on my Mickey ears.
  5. Finally, I have confidence that others will be able, not only to carry my piece of the mission forward as well or better than I , and moreover they will carry it further, at this point, than I could manage.  That gives me cause for celebration.

I’m becoming a writer because I can finally enter into this new endeavor without the pressure of wanting to “leave my mark.”  I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to meaningful ventures.  Now, just knowing that I’ve been blessed to be able to make a difference thus far, I’m off the hook.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to write meaningful things, but if I’m not the best at it for a very long time, I’ll be happy and content to just work on my craft daily, and strengthen my skills.

What does all this have to do with a business plan?  As I pondered my motives for writing in the coming years, I still waver between refining my craft and breaking all kinds of records for how quickly I can get published (traditionally) and start selling books.  It’s habit.  I regress to what I’ve always known – if you don’t know what to do next, just pick what needs done AND DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE.  I’m not a competitor at the expense of others.  But I’ve always relied on that edge to feel good at the end of the day/week/month about what I’ve accomplished.

Writing is going to be another thing entirely, and if I’m going to accomplish anything (refining or otherwise) I need to keep my head in the right place.  So I need a business plan, a set of goals, to stay focused on what it is I’m doing while “successfully unemployed” during the next two years.  So if you, like me, are a newly reborn writer and want to expand or clarify what it is you’re actually moving toward … if you ever ask yourself, “what the heck am I doing?” … stick around as I explore how to form a business plan when your first, most immediate goal isn’t profit.

On a Wing and a Prayer

The countdown to becoming a successfully unemployed writer continues with only 16 days 6 hours and 55 minutes remaining at the time of this post.  Yesterday I took an important step (not the MOST important step, but a good one) in the journey.  I entered a contest.  I don’t know why, but it leaves that old song “On a Wing and a Prayer,” in my head.  That’s certainly how it feels.  Even if I don’t win, I think these butterflies aren’t going to wear off until after the first year of submissions.

I’ll be returning to my home in the Pacific Northwest (I’m not sure if Idaho counts toward the PacNW but it doesn’t feel like it right now in the midst of snowshoe weather).  While home on vacation, M made me aware of the ARS POETICA contest on Bainbridge Island for writers in something like a three or four county adjoining region.  What better way to start 2015 – my writing year – than to enter a contest in my hometown area?  Then I read the criteria:

  • No more than 30 lines.
  • That includes the spaces between stanzas.
  • We mean it.

Okay, they didn’t actually say the last one.  Still, most of my poems (blank lines included) are just over the 30 mark.  Let me rephrase – some of my BEST poems are just over the 30 lines criteria.  UGH!  The entry fee covered up to 30 entries so I did the Walmart thing and made sure I got the most bang for my buck.  Not knowing if there was a theme or how the contest originated, I did a miniscule amount of research (“miniscule research” – not a recommended strategy).

Turns out there are several poems by that name but the one that seemed most famous or historically significant was by Horace in ancient times.  In summary – he wrote it about writing poetry and drama.  So I thought I’d stick to similar themes.

It was difficult but I selected the following:

  1. Take Me With You

  2. one writer morning, and

  3. Mine.

What do you think?  They’re short (it’s the rules) so you can read ’em quick.  Tell me honestly if you think I have a shot.  Honest and productive criticism is also much appreciated.

 

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Cloudy with a Chance of Change – Conclusion

Gusts and lightning, hurricanes
Tornadoes, floods, torrential rains
The Captain lashes to the wheel –
Character – an even keel.

Speaking of the weather,
Let not these words dismay –
Change may be a feather
That falls on who it may,

But each is her own Captain,
Her well marked maps abound.
No feather tells a Captain
Which depths that she must sound.

 

Cloudy with a Chance of Change

Speaking of the weather,
I think it’s safe to say,
Change is like a feather
That falls on who it may.

It flits, it floats, it falling, flies,
Emits a casual lift of ties,
But not for easy, not for cheap.
Its shoulder queasy wants to keep

The ties that bind, the merry smiles
The hearty find, the traveled miles.
The bearer, weighted down with change,
Does find the passage dim and strange.

And wanting still to hold that place –
The people, friendships, love, and grace –
Doth reach both ways but stands so still,
The future frays the battled will.

And so she knows the change must win,
And freeing courage deep within,
Releases anchors founded here.
Tucks safe the memories held so dear,

And lets the winds of fortune wail,
The goals she’s set – the billowed sail.
So waving, frantic that they’ll see
She cuts the mooring, cruises free.

The sunset forward, history aft,
Heartaches cried and funnies laughed,
A ballast full of lessons learned,
Friendships forged, demons burned –

The Captain sets a course for Then,
Embraces now, begins again.
So Change unfettered, rides the clock
And elsewhere seeks another dock.


 

Tune in for the conclusion of this self-fulfilling prophecy on December 20th.

Take Me With You

A genius raised, a shroud of mist –
A muse amazed, a writer kissed –
From blue veined structures, lyrics flow.
Into a bloodlet cistern go
The drippings of a mind possessed –
Such humors best to have confessed
Onto the page where readers drink
Transfusions of vampiric ink.
They get their fill; they breath the words,
And bits of meaning flit like birds.
Into their daily highs and lows
A writer’s rhythmic weather goes.

Personification Loosed

The onion’s protest registered in the air throughout the house.  Its flesh sizzled as it hit the pan and, soon after, it began basking in the sheen of butter.  The metamorphosis began.  Two eggs balked at the corner of the counter before they cracked and were beaten in rapid swirls.  The Organic dill made its appearance from the cabinet above as a new aroma rose from the pan.  The onions were caramelizing.  The egg and spice joined them as the coffee maker hissed its message, “Mission complete.

The tomatoes would probably swamp up the whole thing and the writer doubted they would add much flavor, but she cut one up and threw it in anyway.  They’d go bad in a day or two.  She stirred and sifted the hotbed of shapes and textures and lifted out sections to the waiting plate.  After a sprinkle of parmesan on the concoction, she slid the rest from the pan to cover the cheese.  Her coffee and creamer poured, she carried the muddy mug to the table and downed her morning vitamins.  Rinsing the fork she’d used to beat the eggs, she tasted breakfast and deemed it serviceable.

What to write about, she wondered, as she opened a web browser and began her morning rituals.  The screen stared back at her, still groggy from the operating system update the day before.  She adjusted the brightness and checked her glasses for streaks.  All systems go.  Must have sleep in her eyes.  The fork finally rested on the empty plate, and she moved it out of her reach, purchasing better access to the keyboard.  Her neck pulled at her head and coaxed her to tilt back and stretch before leaning forward once again.  Her fingers reported to their assigned positions but remained poised and still.  What to write, what to write …

Nearly two years of blogging and she’d learned a very important lesson – find your niche and stick to it.  Her’s was “writing.”  Essays, memoir entries, poetry – the style made no difference as long as it had to do with the artistry, romance, challenges, and techniques regarding the craft of writing.  IMG_0175The blog readers had spoken.  So this morning she pondered what sparkling, mystical pool of the art she would dive into.  Candle flames danced. The floor heater whispered a smooth unending exhale.  An unfinished book taunted her from across the room, and still she focused on the blank screen, its face devoid of expression – as clueless as she about what would adorn its space.

An angry truck roared past outside.  huffing as it came to a stop at the sign, and mumbling something about gravel and ice before rounding the corner and grumbling off into the distance.  The coffee pot ticked and popped on its hotplate, reminding her it was there if she needed help.  She went for a refill as the empty breakfast plate caught her eye.  It joined it’s family in the dishwasher.  The icy floor tiles were not interested in her morning routine except to demand that she remove the stray onion skin that had interrupted its stubborn compulsion at order.

A second cup of energy sparked her neurons into more intense action.  “Action,” she said aloud, and the house responded with awkward silence.  She could write about creating action in a story, or inciting forward momentum in pumping out a daily word count.  “Fat chance at that,” the house seemed to insert, and she had to agree – faced with the still blank page.  Yesterday’s post pulled her to her blog page, and reminded her that decades of writing teachers would surely provide material for her to expound.  “But that feels like cheating,” she replied, “unless I put some kind of spin on it.”

The chair squealed as she twisted in it, staring at the patio-door window to think.  The blinds it wore were those cheap, plastic hanging strips that twisted to open, and shuffled along the track it hung on to open wider or close.  Some of the strips were warped and hung crooked, exposing a striped portrait of the neighborhood.  She let the spaces paint lines of light on her brain as she dissected the art of writing for a specimen that could hold her spellbound long enough to make her fingers twitch on the keys.

Alliteration, hyperbole, metaphors – she stretched her memory for other literary devices.  Imagery, simile, irony – she loved them all and they had always been faithful, except for “hyperbole,” she recalled, that one time in college.  Such friends could make or break a piece, she started to write about it, simultaneously questioning each as to their whereabouts earlier that morning.  She broke their resistance, they started talking; she was making great progress. Some were even pointing their fingers, and just when several had named the culprit (“Personification,” whom she’d forgotten to put into the lineup – the space heater began an annoying incessant beeping.

Death found an author writing his life.. (3517039221)

Death found an author writing his life.. Designed & done on stone by E. Hull. Printed by C. Hullmandel. London, Dec. 1827.

The fuse breaker’s lack of cooperation had incited a strike.  She moved from her seat and headed over to begin negotiations.  The phone rang.  Work was calling.  She would have to finish the article another day.  It was times like these that she was grateful for the MacBook’s battery.  The laptop would protect the morning’s work, safeguarding it until her return.  She had a lead now, she thought.  It was only a matter of time before she could round up “Personification,” and expose its habit of transforming objects,  animals, and even concepts like “death,” into humans.

By Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A Writer – After-the-Fact

I am a writer after-the-fact.  My favorite class in middle school was a literature class where our teacher (oh, how I wish I could remember that heroine’s name) encouraged some of the best poetry I’ve ever written, and taught us how to write persuasively through the most horrible song ever made up.  Seriously – it “REECed.”  Specifically – it was a labored rhythmic chant to the acronym she created – “ASPIREEREEREEC,” and if you write persuasive anythings, I’m sure you can fill in the words.  My favorite high school class was Mrs. Amy Leeson’s Literature class where we combined neuvo-geek with drama-chic with half the academic bowl team that she ran also active members of the school’s drama club (Ms. Leeson directing).  I still have the T-shirts – one with a puffy brain on it and the other with a shield that warned our opponents we were either coming home, “With our shields or on them!”  I can still sing all the lyrics to “Guys and Dolls,” and I still remember my first awareness of a transgender person in the form of 20th century artist, Wendy Walter.  Enlightenment.  That’s what the written word meant in my formative years.

But Dollar_sign_(reflective_metallic)only dreamers, those who are impractical from their youth with no good parenting or influence to set them right about financial security, responsibility, and avoidance of embarrassment, only those people would ever pursue a writing career out of high school.  Duh.  So I joined the Army Reserve, went to college for nearly eleven years before settling on a major and finishing it, and had two successful careers into my nearly middle age.  As a woman who observed typical corporate gender roles without question in my twenties, and later became a member of executive leadership in a tax-funded organization, I saw why feminism is still so relevant today.  I experienced proof, in my own journey, that the “American Dream” where your hard work and perseverance leads to success. can be true.  True, that is, if you are okay with the concept that success means upper-middle class but probably not Mercedes or Rolls Royce type of success.

I am a writer after-the-fact, because after a winding path to a place where I recognize the importance of balance, the ability to pay bills and have a roof over my head and still be home spending quality time with loved ones, still reaching out to friends from time to time and enjoying a latte, or hilarious conversation with wit flying at breakneck speeds – after coming to that conclusion, I am taking advantage of a tiny crack in reality that has opened up.  I am walking away from an 18 year career that I love, a great paycheck too, and returning to the land of “hand to mouth,” in order to write.  I find it fascinating that it took me 22 years to lift myself up by my bootstraps from poverty to the “upper-middle class” I mentioned, yet in just 42 days I will be immediately demoted to a level just slightly above that $17,000 annual salary I made in 1997.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy writing about that one day.

For now, suffice to say that my wife will be paying our bills and bringing home the bacon (in the form of the healthiest food we can afford for meals).  Instead of the “shotgun-style” three room house (in “Crackville”) I rented back then, we’ll be comfortable and happy in our lovely home with a gorgeous view of the Olympic mountains.  Granted – we’ll be paying on two mortgages: this one and the one we rent (thankfully) to a dutiful family in the South.  Granted – we’ll be biting our nails, hoping the skylights in the roof don’t spring a leak in one of the rainiest areas of the U.S., or the septic tank holds up, or the already warping wooden deck in the back doesn’t fall apart.  But we’ll have each other, and friends, and I’ll be writing anywhere from 3000 – 6000 words a day, and isn’t that what dreams are all about?

Amazing too, that it only took 22 years to ponder how it might have been if I’d ignored the corporate plantation owners’ offers to rack up credit card debt, the government subsidized bank offers to accumulate massive student loans and spend the next years of my life in servitude to those debts.  To consider the possibility of being happy with what can come from me instead of how hard I need to work to get things to come to me.  Perhaps the real lesson to be explored is how much I would even be able to write effectively if not for the trip down Al-Anon pain, debt-stress, heartaches, and coming out among the hundreds of other ingredients into the who I have become.  But again, that’s for another day.
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If I had it all to do over, I’d take more classes on writing.  And literature.  I remember thinking how I could cut down on my amount of required reading in college by limiting the Lit classes I took.  Messed up thinking.  At 41 years old, I find myself doing nerdy things like picking up a college literature text for a bargain at a Salvation Army Store and drooling over its variety of content once home.  I pour over the tiny text (and cringing, I admit to keeping a magnifying glass handy whilst reading it) and recall why I fell in love with Twain, Woolf, Poe, and others.

I am a writer after-the-fact, but I do wonder what I might have been if I’d been one of the irresponsible dreamers and become a writer before it all.  Would my children be those books I blush at, and shake my head about the travesty that anyone could make a killing off such base and carnal fruits – so simple and formulaic they don’t require a spellchecker or a care for unique plot design?  Was that a low blow?  The difference is: I don’t care at 41 years of triumph.  Have I read them?  Would I be able to speak with such clarity as to their contents if I hadn’t?  But I wouldn’t pay my hard earned money for them.  I know, I know.  I digress.

Ernest_Hemingway_at_the_Finca_Vigia,_Cuba_1946_-_NARA_-_192660     Would I be a writer of clarity and intelligence, or a rambling idiot who thinks twerking is something worth writing about?  Would I seek to write something with literary value, or be forced to the debt plantations anyway, striving toward a publishing contract that would pay my growing bills?  I will never know.
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I used to detest the upper classes.  I used to writhe in hatred for the entitled oblivious, the self-interested pundits, and shake my fist at the unfairness of it all.  I looked at writers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and all the others and thought, “Of course she/he can write something deep and meaningful – they can sit around in their ‘writing bungalow’ comforted by their inherited money and just spill words of virtue whenever the mood strikes them, no fiscal or leadership care in the world.”  I connected with the Kafka’s and those others who wrote from poverty or while struggling with the realities of 99 percent of humanity.  Yet, here I am.  In just 42 days I will be able to say – I am a writer, after-the-fact, who can write with limited care, surrounded by friends and family who don’t need me to supervise anything or make any crucial decisions.  I am a writer with stories and time.


 

Featured Image by Jeff Kubina from Columbia, Maryland (Typewriter) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons