You Can’t Unbreak An Egg

18057045_1360092054083191_7716455132572231782_n

There are some opportunities in life that only come along once, some things that you only get one shot at. You can’t unbreak an egg.

For the most part, I’m one to be philosophical about such things. My go to example is one morning many years ago when I was running incredibly late for work, and I’m not a person who is generally or habitually late, especially if being late is going to keep other people waiting because that’s incredibly inconsiderate and it devalues both your time and theirs, so I had that going on where I was thinking “I’m going to be late. I am never late.” My alarm didn’t go off, I couldn’t find one of my work shoes, eventually I got out the door. If I’d been on time that day, I probably would have been involved in a multiple vehicle collision that resulted in four fatalities and sent three other people to the hospital.

By the time I got to work, I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t work, thinking how angry I’d been that I was late, and that being late had probably saved my life, in that instance. Ever since then, I figure there’s a reason when things seem like they aren’t going “right,” or going the way that I want them to, or think that I want them to. Really, there have been countless times when things seemingly haven’t worked out and later on, I’ve realized that it saved me from something, one way or another, even though it really was a drag or completely broke my heart at the time.

There were a lot of things that I really wanted for myself when it came to my writing, in fact, there are a lot of things that I still want, but, the reality level of my expectations has changed considerably. That’s been a tough thing, but it’s okay somehow, perhaps it is even a good thing.

As a writer, I started out ( we’re talking decades ago), dreaming of winning a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, then I thought I’d write something epic like, “The Stand”, and then I’d write crime fiction, at some point, I learned about The Bram Stoker Awards and thought, wouldn’t it be cool to win a Stoker? Never mind even thinking about the “Big Book Deal” that would catapult me to never-ending financial success. That was before I ever really understood anything about being a writer. I’m kind of proud of myself for thinking so highly of myself that I’ve dared to have such lofty daydreams, I mean, if you’re going to dream, then dream big. Talent, however, isn’t everything. ( is it the only thing? probably not.) I’ve had some challenges along the way, not to mention having previously admitted that I knew nothing about the modern publishing world going into this, but I didn’t let that even slow me down, I mean, there was no time to waste.

giphy

The truth is that you get to certain places in your life and there is a narrowing of certain possibilities. I mean, yeah, okay, anything is possible, but at some point, it’s kind of about probability as well. I still have really amazingly large dreams, and wonderful hopes. I also have a pretty good reality where having let go of a lot unrealistic, if not immature, expectations, I can just write again, and have it be about the writing. That is an incredible relief. You know, I figure, one way or another, things are happening the way that they’re supposed to. So it goes, keep moving forward. I probably won’t ever win a Bram Stoker Award. I might hold out some hope for that Pulitzer but, even at that, it is more important to me to be doing work that I think is good work, work that I want to be doing.

e238f03df0064c79054536ecfb96d2d7
There’s not a little truth to this.

Writing that I want to be writing, for whatever reason it interests me.

To that end, I had about seven different beginnings written for the sequel to the vampire novel, a completed outline, and it just wasn’t working. I was staring into space, a lot.  I was getting discouraged, I was getting depressed. I realized that my heart really wasn’t in it. There are a lot of jobs that you can do and do well if your heart really isn’t in it, writing a full length novel isn’t one of them, at least, it isn’t for me. I rationalized myself into that being the first book I was working on this year because it’s the one that would take the longest for me to write, etc. I thought, Why am I doing this to myself? I don’t want to write this, I didn’t want to write about vampires to begin with. I gave myself permission to not write the sequel to the vampire novel. I am not going to force myself to write something that my heart isn’t in, that would make for a lousy book and be a waste of my time as writer. It’s really important to know when to cut bait.

When I did that, I gave myself permission not to write a bunch of other things that I don’t want to write or re-write either. I’ll never re-write “Souvenirs, The Rain” that was my first novel, a psychological thriller, the one that I just about sold, and I’ll call it a learning experience, but that’s still my work so I may use some parts from it, or not, and writers do that quite often, cannibalize their own work, however, I am never re-writing that book as that book. ( Never is a long time.) I will tell you that the opening paragraph is one of the best things that I have ever written. I just read it again and it flat-out flys and sings, but it wasn’t meant to be, or it would have been. I’m likely done with my Sci-fi/Western as it is too, it has recyclable parts as well. “Westworld” kind of kicked everything’s butt on the western front for a while, I think. I wrote both of those books in 2012, and they both broke my heart in different ways, for different reasons, I’ll salvage what I can, but it’s time to cut loose of them. I learned a lot from writing those books, but it is time to move on. That’s kind of freed up my writing schedule ever so slightly. There’s always poetry, a couple of collections that need serious editing for the sake of well-being and continuity. I can also tell you that the original draft of the “Loralee” novella was not quite twenty-six thousand words. (Sometimes it just isn’t the time for something. Things change. Who knows.)

You can’t unbreak an egg. I was putting the eggs away when I dropped one the counter and it’s like another secret of the universe revealed itself to me. I cleaned it up. Then I cleaned my house, and I did some serious thinking. I thought about quitting. I thought about it all day, because if I’m not making the beaucoup dolores or winning awards, becoming exceedingly popular, etc., ( could all still happen) then what’s the point?

Every writer’s first audience is themselves.

Long before anyone ever knew that I was a writer, a real and true honest to goodness dyed in the wool writer, I wrote for me. All day, all night, whenever, on and on, I wrote because I love to do this. I love to write. So, having thought about it, I don’t really see the point in quitting. I have, however, adjusted my thinking about it all, to accommodate happiness.

TS

Here’s a link to an article, The Truth About Publishing, it’s from 2005, but it might be helpful to those who don’t quite grasp how tough this business is.

The Origins and Mythology of Red Line Wine, Some Relics and Memorabilia

I’m not particularly fond of sharing too much in the way of personal anecdotes with regard to story origins, idea origins, inspirations. I think that there was, or is, a certain age where there’s kind of a momentary reveling in the adventures or exploits of one’s youth as such, where we tell those stories, and then, I think, in some regard, we outgrow telling them. For me, I know, that as I’ve matured well out of my twenties, certainly my perspective has changed with regard to the past, and no doubt, it will again before this life is over. I also think that it can sometimes take away from the work for the reader. That said, we can also hang onto some things a little too long, and I did say that I would talk about this particular book of poems and prose a little bit more.

There is a theme that carries throughout these poems, and really, through much of my other work as well, the roses. The first poem that I ever wrote was titled simply, “Flower.” I couldn’t think of anything else to write about, flowers seemed poetic, and since, at nine years old, I thought that all poems were depressing, or had to be, I wrote about a dying flower. The first “Knights of Stolen Roses” poem, happened somewhat unintentionally, in 1985. When I was sixteen, walking home at night, across the wrong side of the tracks, but not the really, really, wrong side of the tracks, perspective, I would walk by two houses that sat across the street from one another, both yards were enclosed by wrought iron fences and gates, and both yards were overflowing with roses in every color that roses come in. The scent was intoxicating. My home life wasn’t a cheerful one, my secret thing to do on those walks home, was to reach through the fences, into the roses, and break one off to take home with me. I’d let the thorns dig right into my hand. I’d put the rose in a bud vase next to my bed so that I could wake up to a rose there every morning. When the rose would die, I would steal another one. These became my nights of stolen roses, there was always at least that one thing to look forward to in the morning.

So, that summer, I’d gone out one night, with the young man who is now my husband, whom I’ve written a lot of things for and about over the years, and at some point not long after, I was writing a poem about the day turning into night, the evening time. What often happens, still, when I write a poem, is that I’ll get the first line of it all at once and it goes from there. I wrote,

“Color the days in a fuchsia haze,

And the nights of stolen roses.

Color the sky in a midnight dye, …”   

I looked at it. When I read it out loud, nights, became Knights, and The Knights of Stolen Roses were written into existence. From there, for me, this theme became the personal mythology of my youth, being a teenager in a small town, “Tinker Town,” because being a teenager in a small town all there is to do is tinker around, and The Knights of Stolen Roses, well, what a wonderful idea. I’ve not ever counted how many such poems there are now, that the “Knights” are mentioned in, all these years later, though this theme carries through nearly all of my writing in some way. Though it isn’t a place in time that I would ever want to revisit, it has added to the richness, to the depth, of my life in ways that I’m still understanding, and certainly it has contributed to shaping me as a writer, and a person.

Red Line Wine is a collection that I originally put together between 1994-1996, and it isn’t exactly the same collection that I’ve published now. It’s been twenty plus years since then, there are things that I don’t feel the same way about, there are things that I’ve wanted to preserve for the people they were written for, and, frankly, the first time I wrote it, I kind of kitchen-sinked it, meaning that I included every poem that I’d written up to that point, everything but the kitchen-sink. I am a better editor now.

So, now, I’m in a time where the entirety of my life has changed over the course of the last however many years, and I’m taking a moment to understand that, to be present with this transformation. I think that some of us shed our proverbial skins, or cocoon up and come out of it, many times in a lifetime. There’s a wonderful quote, or a quote that I think is wonderful right now, that applies to cutting lose of some things ~

“Process is nothing; erase your tracks. The path is not the work. I hope your tracks have grown over; I hope birds ate the crumbs; I hope you will toss it all and not look back.” – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Well, I’m not going to toss it all, but I am sifting through it. Going through my files I’ve found things that I was looking for in writing this and couldn’t find, at least one poem about a knight on a quest that should have gone into the book, and other assorted rarities, including some of the original longhand drafts that I thought I’d burned years ago. So, I’m going to share a few of those things here now, and welcome you into the mythology of The Knights of Stolen Roses, and some of the poetry of their time.

Being a writer isn’t only about the writing itself, granted you can’t really be a writer if you don’t do that part of it, and a lot of it, but being a writer is also very much in how one imagines oneself as such. Red Line Wine is a sentimental collection for me, it’s those old notebooks, and the scribbles that I cut my teeth on and have moved well beyond, but still learn from every day.

img_20170224_0005
Written when I was eighteen, beautiful penmanship, misspelled “lightning.”
img_20170224_0002
From 1994 or 95, some of the symbolism of the poems. I’m not an artist, made me smile to find this, or laugh out loud. It’s kind of cool though.
img_20170224_0008
I had many an unfinished novel to my credit at that point. I think that’s why there remains something pure about this work, I was writing it for all of the right reasons.

img_20170225_0001

The poem that I would have included had I been able to find it.

 

This poem was a deliberate attempt at writing a poem in keeping with the theme and I’ve never been sure about what I think of how it turned out, but it does tell a story, about conquering fears.

Standing in the Light, 2/26/91
The Virgin Queen takes sweet flight,
into the deep and changing night,
to find the soul prepared to fight,
and welcome standing in the light.

The hunchback troll begins his quest,
into a world that dare not rest,
in search of a warrior at his best,
to rise and face the darkest test.

While in the kingdom the priest does pray,
while the wizard’s magic seeks its own way,
and the peasants hide from the light of day,
to think the words they dare not say.

From the mountain he did ride,
the Gypsy King who would not hide,
across the land and rivers wide,
he didn’t make it, but he tried.

While the warrior on his way was lead,
to see the demon’s blood run red,
to separate it from it’s head,
the warrior came to kill it dead.

The demon knew he had to cheat,
and almost had the warrior beat,
but he would not accept defeat,
and drank the demon’s blood, so sweet.

He but had to take a bite,
of a demon’s soul on a moonlit night,
to find before him a beautiful sight,
and welcome standing in the light.

In the poem “The Knights of Stolen Roses,” the “fiery red” and “forever blue,” have been attributed to being Knight’s colors, and they are, but the true origin of that bit of business is that the color red is my favorite color, and I mistakenly, for many years, thought that my husband’s favorite color was blue, it isn’t. Sometimes it isn’t all that mysterious but if I were to go through every poem and tell you that I was looking for a word that rhymed here, or an adjective that could describe a color there, it might ruin some of it for you, the reader. I think that’s why poets tend to leave the deciphering to the scholars, while we just try to get the words down on paper in a way that seems right to us.

If you’d like to read the rest of the poems of Red Line Wine, it is available on Amazon.

If you’d like to read some of my other poems, there are a few here.

Sincerely,

T.S.

Red Line Wine, Available Now!

red-line-preview-4

Red Line Wine, Selected poetry and prose, 1977-1996. This is the lightning in a bottle of my youth. I hope that you enjoy these poems and pieces of prose. You may read a few of them here, listed below.  ~ Thank you for reading! ~ T.S.

The Cafe New Orleans
Endings
Black Boots
Believe
A Tangent to Hamlet
11-29-94 (Raven)
Human
Adam’s Rib
Waking… (Honeysuckle)
Dreaming
The Knights of Stolen Roses
Journey With My Heart

Available now, at Amazon.