I’m putting the final touches on the book, “The Edges of the Rain.” This has been a tough one. I’ll expand upon that when it’s time, suffice it to say I’m very glad to be wrapping it up. Here is where I’m going to take a moment to say that the sequel to the vampire novel, “Silhouettes of Night”, is now, once again, kaput. I have over two hundred pages of various starts of it. I get so far with it and then…same thing keeps happening, one way or another, whether I get busy and lose my momentum with it and have no enthusiasm at all for picking it up, or, it just falls apart, has no heart… it keeps not happening. I think, I had a good idea, made a cool cover for it, and it doesn’t matter because my heart isn’t in it. I’ve put it away. I also may have talked it to death. Really important to know when to keep at something, and when to cut bait. It’s likely past the time to cut bait on the vampire novel sequel.
Every now and then here on the interwebs there are cool things to be found. There’s this tumblr page of some pretty cool Earth-sparkly-glittering-motion graphics. And there are these two, well-edited, mashup videos that are very cool, made me smile, the first is of one of my favorite films “The Maltese Falcon”, the next is a wonderful mix of dance numbers from old movies set to “Uptown Funk.”
As for what is next, after the book that I haven’t quite got all the way out the door yet, couldn’t tell you. I can tell you that I think that Ginger Rogers had some of the best movie dresses of all time.
It’s another hot summer in the valley. Loving it. Will talk about summer reading perhaps another time. Have days, and nights, as wonderful as you can.
Within the drops of rain,
a broken diamond chain,
comes a flood of memories,
currents strong, the deepest seas,
of people I have been,
and lives I have lived in,
it doesn’t matter how,
for I am only here, and now.
Between the sun bright rays,
where darkness fills the days,
there is a secret dawn,
to help me carry on,
when never being sure,
just why I did endure,
only to find I hold the key,
to all eternity.
Upon the wings of night,
In misty candlelight,
While hearing silent screams,
I know are not just dreams,
the wisdom comes to me,
and in my visions I can see,
my heart and soul are gold,
I am forever old.
About being an “old soul,” and immortality.
Late last night I finished work on another collection of poems, “Thelxiepeia.” This group of poems started out with a different title. When I began editing I knew that many of the poems would not make the final cut. They seemed parts of two books jammed together in a way that didn’t fit and so I opted for a cohesive finished selection and a new title. Thelxiepeia, in Greek mythology, is one of the Sirens, creatures whose seductive songs and music lured sailors to crash their ships. Sirens were often represented as being part woman and part bird. How I happened upon this story of Thelxiepeia was that I was watching an old movie called “Xanadu”, in which a muse, Kira, whose real name is Terpsichore, the muse of the dance, emerges from a mural, and falls in love with a mortal. There are fantastic musical numbers, Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, with music by Cliff Richard, The Tubes, and ELO. I’ve mentioned this movie before as it has most everything in it that an adolescent girl in 1981, one seeking some escape from excruciating pain, could require of a movie. I still think it’s a beautiful film, though from a completely different point of view this many years gone now. In watching it again I thought to look up the names of the Nine Muses of Olympus, one of whom is portrayed, though it isn’t a speaking part, by Sandahl Bergman, who is better known for her roles in “Conan the Barbarian”, “All That Jazz”, and “Red Sonja.” This led to looking up the names of the Sirens, and the writing of the poem, “Thelxiepeia.” Thematically overall, the collection has to do with the subject of muses and myths, with the stories we tell ourselves so that we can find a way to tell our stories, and those things that help us along the way in that.
In writing these poems, in watching “Xanadu” whenever it was, these poems were written several years ago, and remembering again that time of my life, I understood again how it is that I became a poetess, a writer, and how much of that, for me, relates to, or has or is entrenched in, films and music in someway. In 1981 I turned thirteen years old. Over the course of exactly one months time, I went from being a normal, healthy kid, to being emaciated and barely able to get out of bed. Five foot eight, at that time, my weight dropped to ninety-six pounds at one point. I couldn’t go to school, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t not sleep, and after months of weeks of grueling visits to doctors, specialists, hospitals, they couldn’t find anything specifically wrong with me that they could diagnose as anything other than Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, since re-diagnosed as an adult as Still’s Disease, which is similar to Lupus. That’s back story, it took a year to recover enough, to be well enough again, to really return to school. Point being that I really couldn’t do much of anything other than watch television during most of that time. I didn’t have the ability to concentrate or focus enough to read books during that time as I was in too much pain, though I’d been an avid reader up to then. Being as I couldn’t really do much of anything else during that time other than watch television, many of the usual restrictions on what I was allowed to watch, were lifted. Nineteen-eighty and eighty-one weren’t bad years for film, though my viewing was limited to whatever cable movie channel it was that we had or whatever was making its “Network Television Premier” and that was usually about a year behind whatever was in the theaters. I’ve spoken before about watching the film “Altered States” and feeling a strange understanding of the transformation of the main character while wondering why in the world anyone would willing put themselves through what he does. ( It’s like “Jaws” in that you find yourself just wanting him to get out of the water.) Along those lines I also watched the other werewolf movies of the day, “An American Werewolf in London” and “Wolfen” and the like. The feeling that I had sometimes was very much that I didn’t want to be that, and that I was nonetheless turning into some inexplicable creature and the world was turning into a strange place that didn’t understand me, anymore than I could understand it.
Most of the time, I couldn’t hold a pen or a pencil, couldn’t do schoolwork, wore Ace bandages and wrist braces and homemade splints. I was in so much pain so constantly, the world slips away when it’s like that, for anyone experiencing anything like that I would guess. The way that everyone else keeps time is meaningless and useless and of no importance. On the better days, I’d wish I was at school, I’d think about all I was missing out on, dances, friends, boyfriends, classes I liked. I couldn’t ride my bicycle or play sports anymore and I’d always been the kid that was outside from sunup until dark, though really it was beyond wallowing. Whatever the future was going to hold for me was forever changed. My mother said, “You know, you could still write. You could try writing poems again.” I’d written poems in grade school, and for school, though I hadn’t considered “writer” or “poetess” as a job option outside of possibly being a journalist, a newswoman. And I thought, “I can’t even hold a pencil.” But she got a couple of small notebooks for me and I remember writing what I still consider to be my first serious poem, titled simply, “Alone”, while I was sitting in bed watching the film, “Private Benjamin.” That movie is a comedy, containing one of my all time favorite movie line exchanges.
“Aunt Kissy: I hope my coat’s gonna be good enough. I had no idea it was gonna be so chilly.
Harriet Benjamin: It’s November here, Kissy.
Teddy Benjamin: It’s November everywhere, genius.”
But the film is ultimately about Judy Benjamin finding her sense of self, and the strength to be her own person, there was something in that that spoke to me beyond the ribald, raunchy, comedy, because in that place, the funniest thing in the world, isn’t quite so funny. In that place of so much pain, the funniest thing in the world seems illogical, senseless, and idiotic, I guess one way to put it would be like how the food fight in the film “Animal House” (1978), might not make you laugh if you’re not from a first world country where even waste is taken for granted, and what I was looking for were things that were hopeful in some way, or strong, resilient. It also may be that it was during that time that any remaining sense of humor I had, took a sardonic, somewhat self-deprecating, turn. I looked at the poem that I’d scribbled in the little notebook and that was the beginning, and I hope I never forget that moment. Additionally, it’s become evident to me that my brain might be hardwired for rhyme to some degree, and some of that comes from listening to music and song lyrics all my life. ( My father was a musician, both my parents could sing, there was live music in the house for much of my youth.) Eventually I was allowed to use my mother’s electric typewriter sometimes, when my hands were very swollen, as I could often still move my fingers on the keys for a while even if I couldn’t move my wrists or my hands, however much it hurt. I was a writer before that, but after that, I knew that I was, whether I’d claimed it or it had claimed me, and that was that. I’ve since tried not to be a writer a couple of times and that doesn’t ever work out. I used to say that my writing was my “human’s compensation,” like … yeah there’s all of whatever else there is, but then there’s my writing. God willing I’ll be able to keep writing and writing and writing. Human beings are resilient, and strong, courageous.
Finishing this collection of poems, and it isn’t quite as long as some of the others at only fifty-four pages, I could go right into editing another collection of poems but I found that I didn’t want to, I found myself wanting to work on some kind of story again, some fiction. Though really I am taking some time to organize and edit and clear the decks for the end of the year, hopefully do some fun things, spend some time with family. 2017 has gone quickly, hasn’t it? The last several years for me, I’ve realized, have been about finding myself as a writer again, finding my groove with it all, finding balance and self acceptance, allowing myself to be this and to honor it and the gift of it, to appreciate, and accept, and let be, my own muses. “Thelxiepeia”, I think, speaks very much to all of that. I hope to release it sometime next year, in early spring. I’m so grateful for this gift of being able to write, and I do consider it to be a gift. We all find inspiration or ideas in a lot of different things, people, places, it’s important to honor your muse(s), one of mine led me to Thelxiepeia. I’m uncertain in this moment if these poems were a farewell to the girl that I was or an homage, I feel like I can write about her, but I can’t ever again be her. I’m not sad about that, only grateful for having had the chance to be that girl, and to be looking now to the future as this woman. Becoming is ever ongoing.
great song from the film “Xanadu.”
I’ve worked hard the last couple of years to get some books published, I’m thinking of them as there were “the first five,” and now there is “the magnificent seven.” I also have stories in three print anthologies, and I’m going to get those linked up with cover pictures, as well as having been published thirteen times various places online during the last six years. In the spring of 2018, I hope to release another collection of poetry, tentatively titled “Thelxiepeia”. After that, well I wouldn’t say what was next even if I had figured that out. I am a prolific writer, and that has always been the case. Even when I think I’m not really writing much, I’m always really writing something. I had a tremendous back catalogue of manuscripts, books, to publish. “Thelxiepeia” is work that was composed from 2011 to 2012 or thereabouts, so I’m getting closer to being caught up.
The books I’ve released in the last week, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”, both came out of a nervous breakdown that began in 2008. Fact is, I’ve gotten a lot of writing, stories, out of that breakdown though I’d just as soon not got through anything like that again. “Gold Mine” is really, I think, something that was written, compiled, jammed together, like a panic attack during a panic attack in 2009. That book was very much the moment at the beginning of an avalanche. The title “Gold Mine” came out of some remembered fragment that life experiences are a writer’s gold mine, to which I thought “go mine your own business,” and then thinking that I might have thrown a gold mine worth of writing into a fire. “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” was written during the first months of 2014, when I was recovering from the worst of it all and really at the beginning of sorting things out. Most people cannot put their house back in order in the middle of the storm. I’ve said before that much of my work is catharsis in that it is something of a coping mechanism, as much as it is a way to dream, it is also a way to understand things, to reason things out in some way, and sometimes, it’s very much a way to get rid of the poison. I’ve written some horror stories that aren’t anything I want to read, writing horror was way outside of my comfort zone as a writer, so if someone tells me they don’t like horror, I can respond honestly that I understand that completely. I’ve also used the “input/output” analogy on that one, the world isn’t always a nice place, all my experiences in this life haven’t been good, sometimes the writing is way to git rid of bad emotions or baggage, we’ve all got stuff. I’ve written some super hopeful, sappy, in love and in love with life stuff too. We learn to appreciate the balance between the “good” and the “bad,” to understand that sometimes those things change, and to sift the wheat from the chaff.
“Maybelline Raven and The Wolf” began as I started to sort out my own ancestry, to research my own family tree. One of the biggest lessons to come out of that has been not to jump the gun. I started out with family stories, finally got to the 100% bottom of some things, researched the actual genealogy and family tree, did a DNA test only to then further read that such a test might not tell you what you want to know or even reveal the truth of your lineage because with each generation the bloodline thins, so to speak, and people migrated and mixed and so on. I learned that the descendants a person can verify and trace are generally the best indicator. I am of English, Irish, and Cherokee descent. It was ultimately easier for me than some as my parents are no mystery to me and I did grow up with a grandparents who were interested in the family history though there were discrepancies and oddities to be sorted out. For example, I grew up with a story that we were related to George Washington, as well as to an “Indian Princess,” to which my grandfather would say, “She wasn’t a princess. That wasn’t her real name.” When you hear stories like that as a kid, it’s ridiculous. Yeah right, sure. In researching the family tree, I found a George Washington, not thee George Washington, but a George Washington. From there I thought, “Okay, what other of these stories are true, and what have I had wrong?”
On my mother’s side of the family, I am able to trace back to the 1500’s in England, to Scotland and to 1800’s Ireland and a young man named Joseph Creighton, aged thirteen years, traveling alone, who arrived in New Orleans in 1847 aboard The Berlin, to Reverend David Caldwell and the Revolutionary War, and to Civil War soldiers who fought on both sides of the conflict. On my father’s side of the family, I am able to trace my ancestry to 1500’s England to Sir Robert Bell, Speaker of the House of Commons, to 1600’s Colonial England to Thomas Burgess whose affair with Lydia Gaunt led to the first ever divorce in Plymouth and to Cherokee Chief Doublehead ( a sixth great-grand-father), whose daughter, Cornblossum (Princess) Doublehead married Big Jake Troxell and their daughter, Margaret Troxell married James Bell in 1809, whose great-grandson, William, a great-grandfather, who married Lena Burgess, one of my great-grandmothers, and the sixth great-grandaughter of Thomas Burgess and Lydia Gaunt. There were also family stories of a relation to The Younger Brothers, of the James- Younger Gang by the marriage of a cousin, connected through the Carson family, though I was unable to verify those stories.
I went on my first cross-country trip to Mississippi and Louisiana before I was quite two years old, and I remember the highlights, including getting bit by a dog. These stories were swimming around in my head as I wrote the story of Maybelline. Maybelline Raven is a woman who has witnessed and experienced something horrific. As a result, her mind has found a way to compartmentalize and deal with the trauma as she remains terrified and trying to protect her children. Set in 1762 in a fictional village along the banks of the Mississippi River, this story was an important turning point for me, it is a story about courage, about strength, about the incredible power of the mind and the heart to heal, it is a story about resilience, survival, and love. Maybelline Raven is also a story that I believed in so much that I was will to roll the dice on publishing my own books, though it wasn’t the first book that I published. Creating “Maybelline” helped me understand my own processes of coping and healing.
I’m going to be taking a bit of a rest ( I already am, caught a bug, needed to sleep, etc.) and hopefully enjoying the holidays, sober,while trying to avoid eating too many delicious baked goods. I’ll probably be working on something. I’ll probably post again before the year is out, or not. Until then, “Gold Mine” and “Maybelline Raven and The Wolf”are available on Amazon. The paperback of Maybelline should be available any day now.
from ‘Gold Mine’
_____this true heart______________
I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, forget you never, know that I have not let go of this true heart. Forgiving you and him and them and everyone, everything, sing ever louder, stronger, taking claim of every wind and every rain, rising up out of every flame until my name escapes your lips in your sleep. And you know that I loved you and I loved him and them and everyone I could and everyone who would take it from me and I have no regrets about that. I have no shame. I am seeds in clouds and dreams about to be born again and I am wishes in the fountain and I am the highest mountain and I am Winter sleeping, teardrops weeping for every soul who never knows what I am talking about. Saints and Sinners, fabulous beginners, I am the echoed call to everyone who has ever fallen, praying, saying, in the deepest dark, get up, get up, get up.
Love is not a withered vine, love is not petals fallen, and longing unfulfilled, and love is not what men have willed, love is everlasting understanding divine and mine, oh mine, love is mine, to keep. Rainbows, unicorns, candy cane and fairy tales, artifice too soon to fail. They tell you that you have to sacrifice all to scale the castle wall and I say to you that all you have to do is be true, be true. Let go of all the hatred in your heart, let go of all ill wishes, let go of vengeance, you cannot kill Angels with it. Gossamer is fireproof and Angels own the ceiling that is the sky and everything beyond the dawn and everything you wonder on and everything you think is gone they carry with them in the folds of feathers blue and they do remember you, they do.
I will write your name on every page and wash away your hurt and rage and wash away your ache and heal the scars on your heart you thought were permanent and the ones even you had forgotten in the burden of flesh, until you believe again, in everything you let go of to leave me.
You think you want to hear my battle cry, that it will crack the Heavens, flash like lightning, pound like thunder, but I tell you that my battle cry sounds like children laughing and wedding vows, those kept, and those broken, and waterfalls, and crowds cheering at a home run, my battle cry is every Spring, every green thing that makes it through the snow, my battle cry is the song that makes you sing even though you don’t want to and the Hallmark commercial that makes you call your mother, my battle cry is the smell of roses on the breeze and fireflies in the night, racing to the stars, my battle cry is everything we are and trade for things that do not matter. My battle cry is restoration, resurrection and everlasting, surging out into the farthest reaches of the Universe, there is life here.
I will write your name on every breath from now until forever, because if all of this suffering was somehow right, to anyone, then there can be no end to the love that is needed to heal and it will start with me. And someday, maybe, we can talk about bravery and change and freedom. Freedom, that I’ve paid for in some way every time I’ve exercised it. I will love you in every word, every ache, in every break, in every breath and everything that I can, and hope and pray someday, you understand me, and you.
Lead us into hands
That will care for us and keep us safe
Onto paths that know the way,
When we are lost and cannot find it on our own,
Keep us in the light,
Or light the dark we wander in
Enough to see,
Save our souls from lingering
Too long in places where we shouldn’t be,
If it were possible to be such places,
bring us back
From edges we’ve been lured to
From lies we hoped too long were true,
Open up our eyes that we might see the beauty
Of the heart
Broken down the middle clean
Stripped of artifice, laid bare and lean,
Exposed in sentience for a world to better know
The soul that dwells within
Lend us the courage to grasp
Whatever threads are left to us,
Of gossamer, of silver fine, quick spun,
A life of shadow finally in the sun,
Each of us a part of One,
Returning to the source,
Let us hope and hope to find,
The bitter root can still be sweet,
In memories of better dreams to keep.
Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam
“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994
What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it. It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.
The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.
“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell
Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?
Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.
I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.
The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.
I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.
Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.
Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.
The Promise Lyrics
If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done
And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done
The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer
Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done
I like things with heart.
Up early this morning, though I don’t generally make it a habit to discuss my habits. There was, however, a great write up recently about how author Megan Abbott spends her Sundays.( You can read that here. ) What I loved about this piece is that as a writer it is sometimes helpful or comforting when other writers share such things because this tends to be a solitary gig that is comparable to precisely no other job on earth. Though I have considered the possibility that astronauts might have some idea what it’s like. Here is where I have to keep myself from going off on a tangent with regard to my imaginings about space travel and the like. So as a writer, to read about the day of another writer can feel like… I’m normal. Writers spend a lot of time very much in their own world, the world of stories. However, what you learn is that most folks, regardless of occupation, are constructing their own realities, it is how we all live in the larger world.
I’ve ordered my proofs, or advanced copies, ( also sometimes call ARCs) of the novel. I’m nervous, excited. I have a feeling of accomplishment that has brought to me the realization that I so needed it. I needed, and need, to feel like I am getting somewhere, like I am getting something done, accomplishing something, achieving something. I’ve realized that this was/is part of my difficulty with traditional publishing. Please don’t misunderstand me, in and of itself, traditional publishing is fine, I mean, I’m not opposed to it, that isn’t what I’m saying. Traditional publishing puts everything on their terms, they like your story, they don’t like your story, you could wait months to hear. I got a rejection notice this year after waiting a year, and that is pretty common depending on the market your submitting to. People outside this business hear things like that and it sounds unfathomable. I’ve already addressed a lot of those issues in previous posts. But what I’ve realized is that it left me feeling like I wasn’t getting anything done and like there wasn’t a lot of hope to get where I wanted to be, or to be doing what I want to be doing, and that is, having my work published on a regular basis.Going the route of traditional publishing, very honestly, often left me feeling like a groveling idiot, if not acting like a fool. It left me feeling like it was less about whether or not my work was any good, and more about whether or not I was likable and socially adept. I also felt like if I had walked into the proverbial room with a master’s degree in English from a respected college, I might have appeared to be more talented. Other times I felt like I was being relegated to being “fan girl” and again, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being fan girl, on some level, I most certainly am every bit the fan girl. But when you’ve written as much as I have written and are as serious about it as I am, have been writing for as long as I have been writing, being met with the attitude that you’ve just shown up to get autographs, kind of sucks. Worse though, perhaps, is feeling like you can’t say anything about it. In that though too, there have been people who have been incredibly supportive and those are the people who helped to keep me from quitting. I’m so thankful for those people.
What I wanted was for it to be about the work. From the beginning there was someone saying But who is she? I guess it would be kind of like if you were the new employee and didn’t put any family photos out on your desk. I was unprepared for that. I think that I knew how to be professional, or I knew how to be personal. Not knowing how to juggle that is certainly on me. It simply wasn’t an issue I’d expected to encounter. It’s a tough business, one that often isn’t structured very much like a business, or didn’t seem to be. It got to where it felt hopeless to me. I thought, I’m talented. I’ve got all of this great work, and no matter what I do or how I approach it, I’m spinning my wheels.
I don’t live my life competitively or by comparison. I’ve dealt with a chronic illness from a young age and what that taught me is an appreciation for individual ability and accomplishment, an appreciation for, What is the best that I can do today? So my sense of accomplishment has nothing to do with what anyone else has going on. I also have a keen sense of time. A year’s response time may be normal in some quarters, but that’s longer than I care to wait. ( There was a time when I was very quietly submitting work to some pretty large markets because why not? Those are some slow wheels.) I need to feel like I’m getting something done. Regardless of what any other person thinks of it, I’ve written an eighty-five thousand word novel, edited it, designed and formatted the interiors, designed the cover, formatted it for publication, it is four hundred and sixty-six pages total, by myself. That is an accomplishment. It’s something that I can be proud of having accomplished. It has helped to restore my sense of confidence, something that had been completely destroyed over the last however many years. Does it matter to me that this isn’t a big traditional publishing book deal? Not one whit. I love this. I love being able to do this myself. Whether or not others recognize the accomplishment or take me seriously as a result of it, again, that’s their prerogative. I don’t feel like a groveling fool waiting to see if someone likes me enough, or who I’m “friends” with, ( which can work for or against you, depending), or whether or not I’m cool enough or popular enough, marketable enough, to publish my story. Whether or not that that’s the reality of it, that is the truth of how it felt to me. For all of my life, I have known that I am a writer, and I never felt like less of one than I did at so many moments in the last five years. Traditional publishing often made me feel like, You’re a writer when we say that you’re a writer. And that’s bullshit. There was a tremendous loss of my sense of self-respect in that, one that I didn’t realize that I had acquiesced to, until I put this book together myself. I’ve been through one of those tremendous phases or personal growth and learning. I really cannot wait to write and publish more books.
Obviously I read a lot of traditionally published material, and enjoy it. I’m simply speaking to my own experience as a writer trying to get published, be paid for my work, and get something accomplished. I’ll still buy a copy of The Paris Review. What I’m saying though, is that for me, this was the better option. I also really believe in the independent publishers and small presses that are out there getting it done.
So, I’m waiting for my proofs! Yeah! Hoping to have The Slick Furies available for purchase prior by Halloween.
I’ve also been working on a collection of poems, on breaks from getting the novel ready, that I should be able to published and have available before the end of the year. They are thirty-nine pieces of poetry and prose that I wrote from 2005 to 2008, while recovering from a bought with physical illness, mourning the deaths of my beloved grandparents, and leading up to a very real,completely devastating, nervous breakdown around the time of my fortieth birthday. The selection of poems, and prose, is titled WINSOME VEIN. The poems are darker than anything that I had written up to that point, some of them have appeared here on my webpage, and what I had said about them early on was that if I had to describe them, it would be like if Anne Sexton and Edgar Allan Poe had a baby, and that baby was slightly more ethereal or given to romantic ideas occasionally, along the lines of Sara Teasdale. The title, “Winsome Vein”, came out of a quote about writing, to paraphrase, that there’s nothing to it, that all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Some version of which was said by Ernest Hemingway, and also by a sports writer named Red Smith. So that’s fun!
What works for one person, isn’t necessarily the way for another person to go. This is what is working for me right now. This is what I know that I need to be doing right now. I’m excited about writing again, about making books, about life. What’s more though, I’m hopeful.
12 September, 2016