I’ve been writing poetry since I was ten years old – which means I’ve been doing it for about eighteen years now.
It’s not just something I do from time to time. It’s more than a habit. It’s a passion. It’s my first writing love. Before I began writing stories, I wrote poems. I told tales that way. A few of them graced the pages of various literary magazines.
Without further ado (because I’m grinning like a jackal), here is my first volume of poetry, Lines from an Old Love. Right now, it’s available through amazon.com, which makes me exceedingly happy. Eventually, it will be available as a digital copy.
As always, if there are any errors, they are mine. I could blame the Writing Gremlins, but I won’t. I hope that you all enjoy the book. I am so proud of it.
It occurs to me that I’ve yet to tell you this tale. It should also come with a small bit of hilarious background. My best friend (henceforth known as BF) is getting married in…about two weeks. (Pause. Panic. Regain calmness.) The last time she and I dealt with anything wedding related was when her sister got married a few years back. I lived out of state then (not now, thank java), and I was in town for the wedding. I went with BF to pick up her bridesmaid dress. We took it home, and she tried it on.
Then we discovered that she was STUCK in it. You see, when they altered the dress, they didn’t install the zipper correctly, and it would only go down halfway. We promptly exclaimed, “Oh, SHIT” and called my mother, who was met with a rush of babbling and vowels, as I squeaked out, “STUCK [jibberish] in [more jibberish] bridesmaid dress [incomprehensible nonsense].” My mother, who probably should’ve been sainted at that point, called our old tailor who happens to be a five minute drive from BF’s house and talked her into a) getting BF out of the Attack Dress and b) fixing it in a DAY, because her sister’s wedding was in two days.
Sure, we laugh about it now – her in a sparkly dress, wearing sneakers, half-zipped up – as we drove down the road, repeatedly exclaiming, “I can’t believe this happened.” Only it did. Because it’s us. This stuff occurs on any day that ends in Y, when she and I are together. (This just means that combined we are T-R-O-U-B-L-E – or some completely silly version of the Wonder Twins.)
So, fast forward to now. BF is getting married. I am the Maid of Honor. (Holy crap. I still need to write my toast. ) She and I ordered the dresses for the bridal party on November 17th. Plenty of time, since her wedding’s in June. It seemed ideal. The lady who does the ordering at the store told us (TWICE) that they’d be ready in six weeks. Hooray! Large cheer! Thunderous applause!
Except they weren’t ready in six weeks. In fact, eight weeks went by and NONE of the bridal party had heard a peep from The Bridal Thieves. (Clearly, I’ve cleverly disguised their real name. OR DID I?) I began to get a little bit nervous. The bridesmaids were asking me what was going on. I said I had no idea, but that I’d call.
I called – many times. The first time I called, I was told that Satan (the woman who did the ordering) wasn’t in – but here, call her at her other number. (Her other number? I started to wonder if we had ordered our dresses from a drug dealer. If it was a beeper, I would’ve been certain.) I called, and Satan answered the phone…in Spanish. Now, I speak Spanish, but I wasn’t even going to try. I explained to her who I was and why I was calling. I was just calling to check on the order. I was completely and utterly polite. She asked if she could call me back the next day. I said, sure, and she took down my number (which is also on my order receipt).
She did not call back. I waited the whole day. By then, it was the weekend, so I waited until Monday, and I called back. Satan picked up the phone, and I (again, politely) explained why I was calling. She did not sound pleased that I hadn’t (miraculously) forgotten about this over the weekend. The weekend is not the river on Lethe, of course.
Again, Satan asked, “Oh, let me call you back in a few minutes. I’m with a customer.” Foolishly, I agreed.
She did not call back. I called the next day (all during business hours), but no one picked up the phone. I called the next day, and I finally got someone on the phone. It was not Satan, but one of her minions. Calmly, I explained to Minion my concerns – that the dresses were supposed to ready by a certain date, and that date was long passed. I was concerned about the order. She took my name and number and assured me that Satan would call me back that day.
Impatiently, I waited for Satan to call me back. She did, and it should come as no surprise that was just a little bit evil. She informed that she NEVER would’ve said the dresses would be done in six weeks (never mind that there were FOUR witnesses to that). In a very sweet sounding bout of condescension, she also asked if I would like their business hours, since I am absolutely free to call with any questions – but only when they are open. I told her, just as sweetly, that I had already written the hours down and always called during them.
She then dropped the bomb that the dresses wouldn’t be in for another six weeks. Yes, in plenty of time for the wedding, but not what was promised. The dresses did not come in until April 20th. The kicker? The BRIDE’s dress was ready in the beginning of April, weeks ahead of schedule.
In the end, things worked out quite well. The dresses are being tailored (somewhere else, thank you very much) – but the same woman who removed BF from her Attack Bridesmaid dress, actually.
And in a few weeks, my BF will marry the man that she loves. I will, of course, be there for her every step of the way. Especially now that I know I won’t have to show up at her wedding in my underwear.
I forget, sometimes, how much perspective matters. Our experiences, good or bad, help to shape who we are — and how we see the world. It’s not the only factor, but it’s a large one. Each year that passes, each thing that happens, makes a little dent or impression on us. Some events help us to change for the better. Others, leave us a little bit on the limping, gun-shy side. There are a dozen things of grey in between.
We are made up of the shadows of our past, but that’s not all we are. We’re also our beliefs, our thoughts, our passions. We are, at our very best, defined by our openness. At least I think so. I think that those who are closed to a large number of things (change, trying new things, different opinions and views) are stalled. I think that it’s important to be able to look at life without failing to really see it. As opposed to simply seeing what we WANT to see and bending the world to fit our views.
I think our capacity to love defines us. To love honestly, and not just with the pretty rose colored vision. To really see what’s there and love that person anyway. Because we’re all imperfect, sometimes totally ridiculous, human beings. We have flaws. Flaws are good. It means we’ve still got bits of ourselves to work on.
Yesterday, I realized how much perspective matters. No matter how much we may try, we all see things differently. Someone said, with complete conviction, “So and so is such a joke.” And without thinking, I replied, “To you.”
And it’s true on both accounts. Neither opinion is invalid. I can see why that person might seem like a joke (and a jerk), but my knee-jerk reaction is not that thought. Life would be a lot simpler if opinions didn’t vary quite so much. If perspectives didn’t shrink and grow in proportion to one’s experiences and emotions.
There are times where I wish I didn’t see (or feel) things the way I do. But then I wouldn’t be who I am. I wonder, though, how difficult it is for others to see who we are. Or to look at things as we might. I remember a few years back, having a conversation with a college friend, who exclaimed with certainty, “Oh, but you’d NEVER do that.” (What it was doesn’t matter.) When, in fact, I had. She didn’t know that, of course. But it didn’t even register on her radar, and it was then that I realized she didn’t really see me. If she had, she probably would’ve noticed the darker bits and a few things she wouldn’t like.
Me? I’d rather grip the rose — to hell with the thorns. I’d rather see all the shades of uncomfortable grey. I’d rather acknowledge them. Otherwise, what you’re seeing isn’t truth. It’s part of it. It’s an echo of reality, not reality itself. Then again, that’s me. And everything is relative.
Being a writer is hard. There are days where I pause in a fit of frustration and consider pulling a Plath: taking everything out onto the lawn (laptop included!) and burning it. Of course, I’d never really do that. But the temptation is there.
When the Internet and all its wiles is not busy distracting me, it is a wondrous place. Before it, you wrote completely alone. In a room, as Stephen King said, with the door shut. For me, the Internet’s not a door; it’s a window I can pop open. When I’m freaking out about something, I can ask a question (thank you Gayle, for entertaining my panicky “What am I DOING?” moments). I get to read Deanna Raybourn‘s fantastic blog (her Lady Julia Grey series is one of my favorites). I can offer Barry Eisler advice about traveling to India. And I can admire Kat Howard‘s writing process (you, Kat, have a gift). If I’m reading over something I’ve written, and it came out sounding a little dirtier than I intended, Victoria Dahl‘s going to hear about it. And if there’s a Princess Bride joke to be had, I’ll send it off to Sean Ferrell.
Most of the time, I’m sitting in my PJs when I do this. (KIDDING.) Although, I currently am. It’s Saturday. It should be called Pajama Day, since I don’t plan on changing. Also, if the world ends, I’d really like to be comfortable.
What was my point? (No, it was not obligatory name-dropping.) It’s that these things make me a better writer. There is nothing more reassuring than finding out someone shares your crazy writer quirks. Or that other people get just as excited about research books. Or that there’s someone around to laugh when you find a flagrant grammatical error (repeatedly) in one of those books. (Imbodiement? NOT A WORD.)
A lot of my every day friends aren’t writers. So, if I say something like, “That character just did something so strange…” I often get The Look. The one that says, “I think it might be time to take you to the nuthouse.” Or if I say, “I was up all last night reading about Norse mythology,” there’s a raised eyebrow and a sneer that shouts: BO-RING. (I will admit it. I was up doing that — and I might’ve used a flashlight just for nostalgia’s sake).
I have a tendency to gripe about life being crazy. This isn’t a gripe post. This is a thank you post for those writers who have been kind enough to answer questions, share funny jokes, or just make the day a bit brighter. Because we don’t often stop and say thank you as much as we should. You all definitely rock. 🙂
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pot of coffee with my name on it. *hides permanent marker behind back* I have some editing to do.
Today has been a weird day. It’s raining. My dog is laying on his back, with all four legs in the air. I’m drinking Tazo‘s Passion tea. Like I said, it’s been a weird day.
After a series of events and oddities, I started thinking about my life. Specifically, I’ve been considering the decisions I’ve made and how I’ve made them.
The last bit’s important. I realized that I cannot do something if my heart’s not in it. I cannot say yes if I mean no. So much boils down to knowing myself, I suppose. Knowing my heart and my limits. Knowing when something feels right — or when it doesn’t.
It’s taken me a long time to uderstand that little voice that squeaks, NO! or YES! That’s what I follow. Sometimes, it’s difficult to explain why something isn’t right. Or why it is, even when it sounds crazy. To borrow from Playing by Heart, it’s like dancing about architecture. That isn’t going to stop me from trying.
This morning, I passed on an opportunity. My heart wasn’t in it. It wasn’t something I could get behind. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. To a lot of people, it might appear to be a chump move. It might seem stupid. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt it was wrong. So, to me and for me, it was.
Then again, other things in my life that seem wrong…aren’t. What’s right for me isn’t what’s right for you. There’s no one size fits all approach to existing in this world. That would be, among other things, boring. So, I do things a little bit sideways. I’m okay with that. It’s part of what makes me ME.
Every thing I’ve ever done, my heart’s been in it. Work, friends, relationships, writing. All there. All heart. The thing is, I don’t think I realized that until just now.
I dive in. Sometimes, it’s like jumping into a volcano with my eyes closed. Sometimes, it’s one of those bouncy castles. (Why don’t they make those for adults!??!) You don’t know, until you do.
I’ve seen so many people get into situations (bad ones) because they felt it was something they HAD to do. Now, I’m not talking about the everyday stuff — like taking out the garbage or doing the dishes. Or cleaning the bathroom. I mean marriages, career choices, and friendships.
Too many people settle — and then settle in. Sometimes, I think it’s routine that kills us. The inability to fight for something more, the tendency to just accept things as they are. I’m not speaking as a writer (although, that’s applicable, too); I’m speaking as a person. You know the people who are most apt to succeed? Those who don’t give up. Who fall off the bucking bronco, break a rib or two, and try it again.
Sure, broken ribs (metaphorical and real) hurt like a bitch. There’s only so much you can do to help them heal, too. A little tape. Some tequila. And…time. That’s it. But time’s the easy part. The hard part’s not letting the fear eat you alive. It’s not letting the memory of what happened get the best of you. It’s not giving up.
I’m stubborn. It’s genetic. Really. My family (on both sides) boasts a lot of stubborn. Especially the women. For good or ill, I’m also all heart. I think that there are worse things for a person to be.
Putting a book together, to self-publish, is hard. Understanably so. However, I was a little unprepared for what I’d find. BEHOLD:
- It involves math. At least if you’re doing a print copy. In order to format the cover properly, I needed accurate dimensions. There was an equation involved. Words like “trim size” and “bleed” were thrown around. My brain, miraculously, did not explode. (I’m an English major. Math is not my favorite thing.)
- Designing the cover is hard work. I’m pretty good with graphic design. HOWEVER, yesterday morning, I found myself having difficulty importing a picture, wondering which color the background should be (I had six different versions), and trying to decide why all the fonts on earth suddenly looked stupid. It was not my finest five hour span. I may have needed an unusually large excess of coffee.
- I used a template for the inside. The only trouble was that it was formatted for a novel, not poetry. I had to do some tweaking, which was fine. Except for the table of contents, which might’ve been my Sisyphean boulder. Also, the header was slightly evil, since it was alterating by odd and evil page. I suspect it was possessed.
- I’m completely neurotic. If there is a grammatical error, typo, or missing word — I may cry. I edited the manuscript several different ways — on the computer screen, printed out (three times), read out loud, read from the last page first, and finally gave it to my mother to take a crack at. If there is an error, it is not mine. The Crazy Word Faeries simply played a mean trick. Really. I promise. *crosses fingers behind my back*
- I’m still a bit weebly on how to price the collection of poetry. Somewhere between five dollars and a lifetime supply of coffee seems appropriate. I’m thinking around 12 for a print copy. I haven’t gotten around doing an ebook, yet.
There are more things, but I am in dire need of more java. Seriously. If I don’t get more, the world will end. Or I’ll just be grumpy.
It’s been a crazy week. Between Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday, making my very first strawberry shortcake (!), and various other happenings, I’m beat. But that’s life.
I’ve been working on my poetry book, which has proven to be a huge learning experience. For one thing, I’m completely paranoid that I’m going to commit some sort of grevious grammatical error — and thus feel ashamed for the rest of my natural born life. I also had to tackle several formatting challenges, which required multiple fixes, and more patience than I thought I possessed. I *think* that the inside is 100% finished and polished. Right now, I’m working on the product description — and then on to the cover.
CreateSpace has this CoverCreator tool. I’m going to attempt to use that. Send wine. And chocolate. I have a feeling I’ll be pulling out my hair shortly.
So, enough about that. It’s really boring and self-indulgent. I promise you a real post tomorrow. One that’s much wittier than this. Or, failing that, mildly amusing.