Anxiety, My Old Friend

Studio

I had no idea that releasing my novel would set off so many emotions. Relief, satisfaction, joy, excitement and anxiety. Anxiety? How can that be?

Anxiety. I began to feel it as it spilled into other areas of my life. The edges of me began to fray. The gutter replacement bid came back high. The routine oil change took longer and my car needed maintenance I wasn’t prepared for. I couldn’t remember my user name for an online account. I was melting, and I wasn’t even wearing my shiny red shoes!

So I sat with my anxiety for awhile and stroked it. Acknowledged its flavor, examined its texture. Felt it, accepted it, and treated it with respect. Anxiety was not a bad visitor, it simply dropped in unanounced.

Soon I became bored with it. I found my user name and took care of business. My Subaru is safer now due to the more vigilant maintenance, and I enjoyed the warm complementary salty popcorn and ice cold water in the cool waiting room where I enjoyed watching other people–also free.

So now I am back into watching the stats on my new novel, Please Understand.’ The first review was posted today, and Anxiety was free to wander away.

My debut novel, ‘Please Understand,’ is available through MLR Press and Amazon. Please take a look at it, and read the review!

Celebrate!

 

Please Understand cover

Last night we went out for margaritas to celebrate the release of my debut novel, Please Understand. My characters are safe within their electronic covers; all decisions have been made about their journey through the plot I set for them. Now my readers will add their own imagination to my words on their Kindles.

It is hard to leave my characters there. We learned so much together from the eighteen months we shared in my mind.

I’ve been asked a few questions about this project. I will focus on answering these questions in my next few posts. Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments section below!

“What’s with the title, ‘Please Understand?’”

I used this phrase several times in the book. The central theme is stated by my character, Tommie: “Please understand. I’m still the same person.”

People who knew me before I “came out” grappled with viewing me as the same person they had always known, loved and trusted. For some, it was too much of an obstacle for the relationship to continue. I miss them.

Everyone has layers of complexity. No one is truly transparent and it takes time to begin to comprehend another person’s history. To understand why they do what they do. This has always fascinated me, and is a concept that is close to my heart. Hence the title, Please Understand.

My novel is available electronically through MLR Press (www.mlrbooks.com) and Amazon. Cover art by Melody Pond, MLR Press

On a Sunny Porch

Porch

 

Spiders, webs, insects. YUK! I’ve been cleaning out a space on my front wrap-around porch, complete with chair and small round table. Moxie is not used to being out here, and is making faces and strange noises to all who pass on our busy street. I am in full sun and I know I will have to drag myself to the shade soon. But I am pretending I am on a deck on Daytona Beach and I expect a pelican to fly by any minute now. Not likely in this small town in Washington State, thirty miles north of Seattle. I know. So far, only pigeons.

Moxie and I went to a garage sale this morning. Why do other people’s stuff seem so captivating while I am trying to whittle down the tons of stuff I already own and seldom use? Just one more dish, just one more book. All stuffed into a home built in an era where collecting stuff wasn’t a priority. The old house simply doesn’t have storage space. Simplify.

I walked away from the garage sale with no purchases. The lady shouted out as I left, “We’re open for four days. New stuff everyday!” The sale, with all its tempting loaded tables is two blocks away. Maybe if I took a load of my stuff to the thrift store?

 

Anticipation

The day before NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. I signed up to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Ambitious, exciting, foolhardy. I remember feeling this last year. At odds about what I was planning to do. Too early to begin, yet not enough time to finish anything else up.

One manuscript is off in two directions. With a Beta reader, and being considered by a publishing house. Tonight I heard from the Beta. She loved it. I hope the publishing house falls in love with it as well. But they will hold it for 90 days. In the meantime, I will go bat-shit crazy waiting for a response.

Another manuscript is screaming at me for a rewrite of the first 30,000 words. My mind, in its continual state of OCD grinds over and over the endless possibilities of new beginnings. But, 30,000 words cannot be written in a night, and this challenge must wait until December.

The third lies dormant on my computer, leaving my main character alone in the outback of Australia for yet another thirty days. I hope his supply of food lasts. I hope the dingoes don’t eat the cows he’s been sent there to care for.

But tonight, I feel restless, anxious and adrift. I’m concerned that tomorrow my allotted 1,500 words for the day won’t come. What if I spend the entire month rewriting the first 75 words? Worse yet, what if my new manuscript consists only of one word, typed over 50,000 times. ‘HELP!’ Yes, that could be the title too!

But then, Halloween is meant to be scary. It’s a good night for it.

 

 

 

Creative Obsession

Studio

I have been asked how the creative process works with me. Where my ideas come from, when and where do I write, and the most basic question of all: why?

You can ask Becky. When I’m not working on a project, when my mind is not engaged in a story, I am impossible to live with. Yes, the nice little lady you know as Fai becomes a bundle of nerves seeking out problems to solve. Becky would much rather see me working out imaginary problems for imaginary people rather than inspecting our walls for cracks, timing the draining cycle of our washing machine, and counting our forks yet again.

But my mind is like that. It seeks things to solve and it ponders what could go wrong. I’m learning to train these obsessive thoughts (since I can’t seem to stop them) into turbines of creativity. I find when I’m working, I don’t obsess. My mind automatically works through my fictional characters’ drama step by step. It’s when I reach the end of the creative process and enter the editing and marketing phase that I drop off into the abyss. But that’s a challenge most creative people struggle with.

My ideas come to me when I’m busy doing something else. While I’m washing dishes, I watch Pepe outside stalking a squirrel. Absurd conversations and schemes of squirrel chaos pop into my head and soon I’m drying my hands and grabbing pen and paper to record their dangerous secret plans. Pepe of Noswad and his mission becomes real. Forget Me Not came to me as I was driving home after taking Becky to the airport. The point of inspiration: passing a hitchhiker. Beyond the Black Stump was inspired by cattle stations in the Outback, Australia. Please Understand grew out of a dream I had after I fell asleep listening to a song I liked in the 70’s.

I fall in love with the characters. I write their hopes, dreams, fears, lives onto the page. Words that are strong, words that are weak, words that describe the people and places that populate my mind are woven together. It’s a scary place, my mind. It makes me vulnerable to open it up to you. It’s a very humbling experience.

I’ve carved out a small space in a room that had once been a small attic storage room. I can stand in the center of the room. My table loaded down with computer and printer is under the sloping ceiling. The rain comforts me as it falls, as often happens in Washington State. The guest bed is in there, and sometimes Pepe curls up on the quilt to encourage me. Moxie guards me in the hallway outside the door. She reminds me when I need to eat or go for a walk to clear the emotion out of my heart. It’s good in my studio.

Oh. And the why question. The only answer I have is very simple. I simply must.

Fai’s Friday Rant

Cat rant

 

The Lowly Adverb

It is so sad, but the adverb, contrary to what I was led to believe as a child, is a thing of plague and ridicule. Notice the ‘so,’ in the sentence above. It tries, in a pathetic way, to explain just how sad it is. But look. It is not needed if I change ‘sad’ to ‘woeful.’ Very true. Beef up the verb and the lowly adverb can crawl away into the cave where it was meant to spend its life.

I am not mourning its going. I am merely irritated why we have these worthless things hanging around in our dictionaries, schools and books in the first place. Shouldn’t we have been slapped silly whenever we used them while we were learning the basics of writing? Shouldn’t they have been kept locked in a vault so we never would learn them in the first place? Shouldn’t they be listed as an illegal word?

Au contraire. We were given gold stars at a time in life when carving out these warts of the English language would have been easy. Now. Well. Let’s just say I have developed a fetish for them that is going to take more than 50 Shades to get rid of. Sigh. Please let me list a few, so I can see them on the printed page one last time. I’ll just choose one for each letter of the alphabet:

absolutely, blissfully, courageously, down, eagerly, fondly, greatly, how, intently, just, knowingly, less, madly, nevertheless, once, politely, quite, respectfully, somewhat, too, uselessly, very, warmly, (is there an adverb that starts with x?), yearly, zanily.

Most everything that has an ‘ly’ added to the end must go. Die. Be gone. Disappear. Why have them in the first place? Can’t we just rip them out of word lists so we are not tempted to try them on for size in our writing? Mark Twain insisted that they die. Steven King thinks the road to hell is paved with them. I’ve been down that road a few times.

If you look through this post, you will find them. I am trying to train myself to ignore their siren call. But it is so very impossibly hard. Oooops! It is extremely difficult. Ooooops! It is difficult to find just the verb to show you what I mean. It takes time to look something up in my worn Thesaurus to intensify the verb rather than allowing little adverbs to carry the sentence, like ants carrying away my piece of cake. In other words, I am lazy. And that makes my writing lazy.

I understand the concept, but I love words. Any words. I tend to take too many to tell a story. Give me a 500 word story, and I can tell it to you in 2,352 words. If you’re lucky. The idea that some words are not worth celebrating is a concept I’d rather not think about. But I must.

And so. Tonight, as I finish the rewrite and subsequent edit, I have made a list of all the unnecessary adverbs that have given their life for the project. They feel unappreciated, used and discarded. I will cry over their graves.