Yesterday I took the day off to grade papers. It's a sad state of affairs to have to take time off from your job to do your job, but that is almost a side story. What is really important is that I was not aware that we were going to do a "stay in place" drill.
On most occasions, this is simply an easy drill. Something odd has been observed on campus, so kids are supposed to stay in their classrooms until it has been identified and managed. Usually, this means that a teacher has a Christmas present behind their desk that they were unaware of. But who knows, it could be a bomb.
Anyway, I digress. These days, it could be anything. And more importantly, after the shooting in Florida last week, or gosh, the week before, tensions have been high. And worse? I promised my kids that I would stand between them and anything that might come. And instead, the day that mettle was put to the test, I was at home, grading essays that were a month old, because no matter how I tried, I could not get them done in my day.
I was devastated when I read the email that it was about to commence. I wasn't there. I couldn't reassure my kids, or look them in the eye, or take care of them. And even a rational mind knows that the drill was, in any instance, simply a drill, and it wasn't even a serious concern, since all students could continue about their business (minus the bathroom...sorry Jared), and so they were safe, but fuck. I wasn't there. And last week, when we talked about what we need to do in the event of...I promised them I would be there.
So today, I proudly took my graded papers to them, and I hugged one or two of them because I was so fucking glad to see them, and then I got through my day until our PD meeting, where we talked about "in the event of." And I'm so fucking sick of thinking about "what we should do in the event of." I want to just love them and teach them and fight with them and get them through it, and I HATE it that evil destroys all of us. There isn't enough wine in the world to make me feel better.
So when people talk about how this is the way, or that is the way, or we need to make our teachers work harder, or carry guns, or love more or love less or that parents need to take more of a role, I say Fuck All Of You.
Look at yourself and do something yourself. QUIT passing it on, and know that each of us has to do something. And I don't know what it means for you, but for me, it means I will put myself in the way of someone who wants to hurt my kids. I've lived 43 amazing fucking years, and Emile Sande can't say it any better. MY heart beats for you.
God, I'm a fucking mess. Forgive me. Or forgive yourself, but make something change. Each of us MUST.
Presidents' Day. A day for "reflection." Which I never do. I mean, on Presidents. I'm constantly reflecting.
Today, I set up my list of "to-do's" and I haven't done much of any of them. I sure took a couple of incredible naps, though.
The wind blew through, and blew my mind. I wish it wasn't so windy in my world. And I didn't write a single thing. I simply worked, watched some television and puttered around. I am a master at puttering around.
If I want to be successful at writing, I should have been writing. All day long. Wind, rain, sun, or any other weather situation. I mean, I AM indoors. So how much do I really want to be successful?
I have a solid four or five hours left in this day. I better get cracking. I've beaten myself up enough today for not writing. Now I need to settle on an idea and get after it.
Titles are hard. Just like some emotions.
I’m a pretty optimistic person, I think. Most of the time, at any rate. Sure, sometimes I think life has just kicked me in the ass, and I’d love to make more money and be closer to my next goal, and maybe feel a little more excited about getting up for work each morning, but I can’t really complain. There are only about three people in my life who would listen, anyway. But sometimes, people can sure bring me down.
I was watching a Ted Talk about the new philosophy that people are embracing--that they are maybe “sorry” for feeling sad, mad, discordant, etc. I don’t really feel sorry for feeling those things when I feel them, although sometimes I may apologize for having expressed them. I am certainly a reactive person, but I’m definitely also a reflective person, and after my little eruption, I can pretty easily move to the next stage of processing. But I’m a little concerned that this idea of hiding emotion, or worse, denying emotion, is a trend. If anything, we are human, and humans emote. But better than that? Humans are resilient.
So, I think the key is to figure out how to best handle that in your life. I’m not offering advice, because I’m definitely trying to sort it out for myself, but I do think we each have to do our own thing. And I’m past the point in my life where I’m looking for someone to understand me. I think what’s most important at this point, is figuring out how to understand myself. I’ve finally realized that in the game, that’s what I’ve been trying to do all along.
What I learned at Owl Creek Bridge
Tonight in class I was happy to be teaching "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." What a fun story to tear apart. It messes with the reader, and one has to ask, does the gimmick work? There isn't really that much to the story after all, but oh, what twists and turns it takes. Poor Peyton Farquhar. Or is he?
I assigned this story, thinking it would be a nice change of pace. It is not difficult, and it does some really interesting things with detail and sensory articulation. It's fun to break apart.
One of my students insisted that she hated the story. Another said he'd read it a time and a half, because he read it as a kid. And both of them had completely incorrect "takes" on it. That's what happens when you don't read it for reading's sake.
The girl insisted it was about suicide. Hmm. No.
The boy was blown away by the details that he'd overlooked. When he was 13. I'm telling you, folks, teaching young people is occasionally a challenge. He is now 20 and still taking shortcuts.
The idea of suicide evidently came from a mistaken HS analysis. She insisted her teacher presented it that way.
Now, I'm the first to know that students don't always report teacher commentary faithfully, so I take that with a grain of salt, but if that teacher IS teaching this story as a suicide story, I weep.
But most importantly, what I thought about after class tonight, was that I am expected to do my job, and that is to present, enlighten, articulate, draw out and help students polish their own ideas about literature. And TRULY, you CAN have original ideas about literature. But sometimes, you can also just be flat out WRONG. So, when your instructor assigns a reading that perhaps you have read before, you might want to re-read it anyway--even if you have it memorized. Trust me on this. And that is the student's job. Do the work you are paying to do. Your instructor truly is not there to torture you, but is, hopefully, there to help you become a little more thoughtful.
I've learned so much in the last two weeks about writing, publishing, cover art (and the lack of it), and myself.
I like Peaky Blinders FAR too much, and will watch and rewatch the seasons in a bingeworthy fashion far too many times, because most of Netflix is boring.
But mostly, what I've learned is that I can still surprise myself.
Writing is easy enough--until I determine a goal and then realize that I've set a difficult bar. My most frustrating moments in the last few weeks were when I realized I could not achieve what I had set out to do--at least not in the time I had allotted myself. That was hard to recognize, come to terms with, and move past.
So, I've done some hard work this last couple of weeks.
I have achieved more goals in this year than I give myself credit for, but not as many as I'd hoped. That's what 2018 is for, I think.
But, to organize...
Self-publishing as a business decision for myself was the right thing to do. But I made a lot of mistakes. I've had to backtrack and fix some of them, and I've had to take a little more time to move to the next platform--Kindle. Finding an agent for the longer, more substantial books is really rather intimidating, but I'm looking forward to the process. The self-publishing route is preparing me to write to these people to try and sell those books. On that note, taking that time has also made me aware of how many problems there are in my novels. I've got a lot of work to do there too.
In my relaxed moments, I believe I could write all day long. Then I sit down to do it...and I realize I was wrong. Writing is hard work. Creating a beautiful cover is easy enough, but not at first. My learning curve has been long.
At any rate, lessons were learned. I know much more about me, and I'm glad of it. 2018 is going to be beautiful for so many reasons, not the least of which will be my decisions about realizing my author potential.
I hope you look forward to these words and to 2018 as much as I do.
My friend called me at 7:52 this morning...and she never calls. But I didn't answer it because I was snoozing. So then, I check my messages when I get up and all I hear are thunks and static for 30 straight seconds!
I call back and no answer.
So, I do what any other person would do, and I text her.
"You're not kidnapped, are you?"
About thirty minutes later, she sent a note that her phone was in her back pocket and she butt-dialed me.
"What a relief!"
Wait...prove it! What if the kidnapper texted that!
I definitely have a plot twist.
Back to Chattering Swallow. Notes to People will hopefully be up today. I'll keep you posted!
It is Christmas Eve! And, it is A Beautiful Life, after all. I've worked at publishing Notes to People all day, and I'm just waiting on approval from Nook...maybe it will be up in a few days! I'm so excited.
Now it is time for Christmas movies and for working on my draft of my next book--Empty Nest. That and Chattering Swallow, which is still in progress. It's a bit of a dark story to be writing on this holiday, but it will be done soon, because I am determined.
In other news, Little Black Dog sleeps all day, and then grumbles when I make him go outside. Clover is completely content to take up whatever warm space the house offers. And Precious, well, she just ignores me.
Have a wonderful holiday, and share your love with those you love. I wish you all glad tidings and happy moments.
I just learned that several students look for my blog and I disappoint them when I don't post!
I've been so incredibly busy the last few weeks trying to wrap things up and my motivation to write has been dampened by the obligations of work and life...and well, of course...softball. But I'm back! (I am pretty sure I said that just a few weeks ago) But really, I'm back. I'm back to think and write and laugh and chat and share and be invested. And to report back on my murder mystery, Chattering Swallow, which I firmly intend to finish writing by the end of this month. Goals, people!
Goals for 2017 to still complete:
Query Fires at Christmas
Publish Notes to People (I'm almost there!!)
Finish drafting Chattering Swallow.
Christmas break begins in about 24 hours, and my goal achieving begins roughly around that time too. I mean, give me a minute to drink a glass of wine, if you would.
So thanks, kids, for the best surprise in the form of affirmation ever: I will keep writing. I appreciate all of you. Thanks for showing me you appreciate me.
So I've jumped in with both cold feet. I have announced to my social media peeps, my son, and just about everybody I know, that I am self-publishing my first book this weekend. Aaagh!
Nook and Kindle have a great platform space (for now...until Net Neutrality...) where I can publish my work on my own. I have my text, though it keeps going through revision and addition, over and over and over, and I have my cover art, but not my cover print just yet. Notes to People will be out by next week. Consider it my Christmas gift to myself, and perhaps, to you as well. It will be available as soon as the platforms post the text, which should be Monday or Tuesday.
Notes to People is just that: Notes. I see someone, or something and I make an observation, and even though I may not say the words at the time, I say them in this text. You might find something you meant to say one time. I'll keep you posted!
I'm so excited, and so nervous! But I've made it so I can't sit back on my heels. They are both fully submerged in this bathtub of goal setting. I can't wait until you read it.
Peace out, homie.
We always want the pleasure piece that most often, we cannot have.
Like tonight, I went to bed exhausted, which always means I'm going to bed with cold feet. I mean, the house was cold, to be sure. So, I did what any normal person would do and layered my blankets fuzzy, down, fuzzy. I was cozied up. And then I woke up hot. So, I'm awake, blogging. Because humans are fickle.
I found that after I kicked the blankets around for about 13 minutes and 24 seconds that if I took off the top blanket, kicked my leg out and wrapped the (cold) down blanket around the warm fuzzy one, placing the cool blanket against my legs and the hot blanket trapped somewhere in the down, that I was suddenly...just right. Exactly the opposite of where I had been two hours before.
That's why I like writing. I can change my mind 18 different times, draft it out, erase it, rewrite it, and then draft it out again, only to cut that scene and write something completely different, and the shade of truth becomes a different shade of reality.
Maybe I'm just delirious.
It is 2 am, after all.
When I wake up again, I have to get back to ripping off the veneer and finding out what's been crawling under the surface in order to get at what matters.
In writing, it all matters.
Wanted: a good set of sentences to grab you from the depths of the internet. I keep trying to catch your eye.