My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here as well.
People fly all over the world to see ancient ruins, to stand in the midst of partial walls and leftover temples. There is no judgment about what's not there. There is respect for the beauty that remains.
I am fascinated, too, with ruined things, abandoned things. Just the other day I ran across a picture online of photographs Romain Veillon shot of abandoned places. One, in particular, caught my eye, the photo I've used in this post. The picture captures the teacup ride, inoperable at a now defunct Disney park in Japan. As I looked at the photo, I thought of the first time I rode the teacup ride when I lived in southern California as a young writer. My job was located just down the expressway from Anaheim. I'd drive for an hour and a half and be at Disneyland, that enchanted kingdom I'd dreamed about since girlhood. I loved the teacup ride, the way I could twist the wheel in the middle and twirl and twirl, my hair blown back, laughing. Pleasure.
The manuscript languishes. I have not touched it in three months. I wrote 25,000 words on my latest book and then got stuck. In the last ninety days a close colleague passed away, my boss of ten years moved on, and I escaped Hurricane Matthew. Over these last few months I've felt as if I'm swimming in the ocean at night. There is no sunlight penetrating the depths; there is moonlight, pale and smoldering in the darkness. I hear my breath as I turn my face to the side, taste salt on my lips. My feet make subtle splashes as my body undulates across the murky waves. My arms keep moving; I try not to think about the creatures beneath me. Sharks. I force my mind to think about the shoreline in the distance. I know it's there. I'm convinced I'm swimming in the right direction, paddling under the specter moon, my sole companions the constellations overhead--the grace of God my buoyancy.
There is a hint of autumn about. I took advantage of the subtle change and headed out for a walk, the sun warm on my back, like a lover's gentle touch. How good it felt to be moving, lifting my face to the sky, inhaling the freshness of the day. One more day. New mercies.
Fisherman dotted the tidal creek where I typically walk. I longed for solitude so headed another direction--to a piece of property in my neighborhood that sits back on a wooded lot. The house that once stood is gone. A vine-covered foundation is the only remaining visage of the long-ago home. I'm drawn to this property again and again. Sometimes I perform stretching exercises on the cement foundation. A stage.
He is mean--a short man with a pot belly. He dons pinstripe suits and green plaid bow ties. He wears a sour expression, his lips pursed in perpetual derision. He is the penultimate critic. He scolds. His mantras include a plethora of reproof: "Why did you do it that way? This way is much more efficient." "Who told you that was a good idea?" "I've never seen the likes of that." "You missed a spot." "You'll never go anywhere doing things like that. What are you? Crazy?" Well, perhaps so--when I listen to Professor Zizzle's harsh litany of personal censorship. I named this character after he showed up in my dreams several times over. His pinched up face, bald pate and tufts of gray, wiry hair ringing his head make him recognizable. In the last dream, he brags that he can fly by psyching himself up and imagining that he is aloft. And in the dream I watch as Professor Z zips around a few feet above ground, cackling with glee that he is oh so much better than I or anyone else.
I knew she'd been the homecoming queen at her high school some years ago. I could believe it. She had impossibly blue eyes and I think what must have naturally been a golden brown halo of hair curling around her smooth, fair face. Now her eyes blazed just as blue, yet filled with anger, her now dyed red hair thin and lank. Her skin, though, still dewy and youthful. She hated me.
I went mute. Her outburst moved in on me like silent fog. I hadn't expected such vehemence. I could feel anxiety manifesting physically--the pink flush rushing up my neck and face, the prickly onset of perspiration on my upper lip. I actually didn't want to fight back, defend myself. I wanted to run--flee from the rasping, toxic voice. Be done with her.
But I couldn't be "done with her." She was a patient at the clinic where I work. She wasn't following the rules. In many ways, I could understand how she felt. To her I was like a cop, zeroing in on how she'd broken the law. In her tirade, she'd shouted, "Don't you know how hard I'm trying?" Then answered the question herself. "Of course you don't. You could never understand me."
I would have liked to say, "If only you knew that we're so much more alike than we are different. Human beings all have some form or other of pain and misery that we're attempting to move through. And we all have guidelines that we must navigate in this life. We all have failed at one time or another." But she couldn't hear. She was too mad. Too ashamed, I think, down deep to become vulnerable. She was in protection mode. I understood. How many times have I, too, been in protection mode? Rejecting help. Refusing to engage with people who've wanted to help me. Pushing God away.