Recently in Writing Category

June 25, 2009


Well, hi there. I hope I haven't kept you waiting long? Pull up a chair, let me get you a beverage and we'll chat.

Sorry, I totally didn't realize how quiet it had gotten here. The last time my writing went quiet for a while I mentioned it to Tim, as I saw it as a problem and wasn't sure why I "couldn't" write anymore. After thinking about it, I realized that I wasn't writing as much because I no longer had a surplus of words and emotions trying to pour themselves off the ends of my fingers. Tim, my wonderful, supportive boyfriend of 5 years, actually allows me to speak my mind, even when I'm upset or frustrated. My kids, too, are older and we are able to communicate on levels that we couldn't before. I find I no longer have to rely on my writing for release and that is a wonderful, and terrifying, feeling.

Can I still write? I don't know. Should I still call myself a writer? Hmm, another good question. Is an artist that doesn't paint still an artist? Looks like I might have to change my profile in a few places if not. I do know that I have the heart/soul/mind of an artist, even though I haven't picked up a brush in 7 years. I still see the emotions in colors, feel the resistance of the brush in every stroke, follow lines hoping to find the destination the artist wanted me to. So, yeah, I guess I'm still an artist if paintings speak to me. Am I still a writer though?

Yes, I suppose I am. I've just been spreading myself out a bit too much. Between Twitter and Facebook and here and my kids and my work and Tim, I only have so many words that I can put together before I start repeating myself and start feeling like I need to stop.  Because, frankly, what really goes through my mind every time I start to write is "NOBODY CARES!" - amazingly echoed by one of my favorite crazy paralegals just today in a post that really touched home.  It's almost as if I was being reminded to write, whether anyone else cares or not, becuase sometimes these things have to be said. 

The thing about being an artist/writer/crazy person is that you see things a little differently than most people do - let's call them the "normals".  When I'm with a group of normals, I have a hard time focusing on the conversation because, for most of the time, my senses are overloaded with the sounds, smells, emotions that are happening, crashing, clashing at any given second. I am constantly overwhelmed by the desire to capture every moment, whether in words, in a photograph, in a sketch or a painting ... and because of that, I am sure I appear distant or aloof from people and situations. What is happening, though, is I HAVE to emotionally take a step back or I will surely get lost.

So what's with that, hunh? Artistic Autism? Anything I can do for that? I'm thinking the super power Invisibility would help me a lot. It would make socializing so much less stressful.


In the NEWS ...

Since school has ended, I am in FULL VACATION MODE. Almost. Kinda. Ok, I only check my work email ONCE a day and I've only been out to the school ... ummm ... twice? I KNOW!!! I know. Stay away. *sigh*

I'm heading to Virginia tomorrow to see the IRL race with Tim on Saturday. Will miss his dad at the race, though. It'll be just us kids. OH, how I love Love LOVE this weekend.  

Uncle Ritchie is on his way down from Massachusetts. Last I heard he was in St. Louis, playing poker with friends. He'll be traveling through to Texas and then coming back up the East Coast on his way home.  I love Love LOVE Uncle Ritchie.

We are planning to paint a mural in Jasmyn's room this summer. We'll be painting her favorite painting on one whole wall ...

and the rest of her room will be painted a deep purple/blue.  As you read above, I have not picked up a paintbrush in a long time so this should be interesting. We're in the planning phase, my favorite phase. It's not until the actual execution phase that I start having doubts. Oh, how I love Love LOVE the planning phase.

ANYWHOOOO ... I know there was more news but now that I've absorbed the fact that both Farrah Fawcett AND Michael Jackson died today and I've watched the Real Housewives of New JErsey Reunion AND So You Think You Can Dance, my brain has turned to mush. I'm going back to my tweeting and IMing and packing while my laundry tumbles and the butterflies gather in my belly about making a 300 mile drive alone tomorrow. I know I'll be fine its just a long trip and I need Need NEED to see Tim now Now NOW. Unfortunately, there's a little matter of that 300 miles between us. *sigh*

I'm scheduled to come back Sunday and I'm sure I'll have more news to share with you then. We'll see.

Shut off the lights when you're done, would you? That's a dear reader.

February 11, 2009

OH, and in case you need inspiration...

This was the photo I used last night for inspiration. We did "flood writing". Writing for 10 minutes nonstop, using this as inspiration. You can find the full sized wallpaper under Feb. 2008 section here.



Have pride in how far you have come, have faith in how far you can go!

Had an epiphany of sorts last night. Was giving a presentation about journaling to my Delta Xi chapter and was talking about how writing can be great therapy. I had been thinking about how I actually got started writing, why I wrote, from a technical, professional point of view that I  totally forgot the pure anguish some of those sleepless nights, weeks, months were.

When I was talking last night, I remembered the rush of actually letting it out and looking at the paper and being horrified that I had finally said out loud what was happening to me. I remember the day I went to my shrink and handed her a piece of paper and showed her something I wrote about a panic attack and she finally GOT it. I had been seeing her for a year and I hadn't been able to put into words how I was feeling but that day, she changed my medication. Why couldn 't I say it? I'll never figure that out.

I truly thought I could make a difference in someone else's life when I started all this. I was going to write a book about theraputic writing and tell my story, and give people that tools they need to work through painful memories safely by writing. It was my calling, my destiny ... I was sure I would finally realize my dream.

And then I went back to grad school. I had to support my kids. I had to work full time but I was sure I would keep writing. How could I not?

And then I realized what being a teacher meant, how all consuming it was, how I would be filling up my spare time with details and reading and preparing and learning and workshops and SIT meetings and committees and oh my god I haven't written anything substantial for ages.

How did this happen? When did I put my dreams on the back burner for my career? How did I go from the free-spirited artist that I used to be to the over-worked, under-paid overachiever? 

I was talking to my assistant this morning (can we just call her my Handler, really? Stacey does so much more than assist me in the library. She keeps me from screwing up constantly!) and I told her how the presentation went last night (good, I hope!) and how it made me realize how my ship might have sailed, how sad I was that I have put my dreams on hold.

"I really thought I could help people. I feel so ineffectual sometimes," I lamented.

"Sharon, you do help people. Every day, you make a difference in AT LEAST one person's life. Whether you help them with a computer problem or answer a question or find them a book or just show them you care. You make a difference to every person in this school."

(see how good she is?)

I could feel the tears coming, but I blinked them away. She's right. Every smile I give to a child changes their day, if only for a minute or two. Every hug, every laugh, every story, every word out of my mouth has the potential to change a life.

I got this job because I needed way to support myself and my children.

I've become a teacher because I realized that I have the power to change the world, one child at a time. 

I just needed to be reminded of that today.

In other news, my LSTA grant went into the FedEx truck tonight and will be in Raleigh tomorrow, almost a week before its actually due. I KNOW, but I wanted to give myself a cushion just in case something happened to it and I had to send in a new packet. It was a job but I'm almost sure I'll get it. *prays*

In OTHER other news, Tim comes tomorrow for Valentine's weekend. Can I just say "Squeeeeal!!!"

*ahem* yeah, I'm a little excited. :)

June 7, 2008

HA! Literary puns

December 11, 2007

Taking a break

Stretched too thin, lots on my mind but no time. Nerves are rubbed raw. Feeling the need to pull in and conserve.

I'll be back when I have something meaningful to share. 

November 30, 2007

Blew it

With all the excitement of the week, I blew it and missed a day. Oh well. I'm not a good "post a day" person anyway.

Better luck next year.

November 15, 2007

Pat Morita??

Meeting authors is one of the best things about conferences. We are meeting Pat Mora right now, a  Pura Belpré Honor Award Winner. I'm in awe and am looking forward to listening to her. She is a petite, warm lady and our speaker tomorrow during lunch. One of my partners in crime (Katie) here thought, for some reason, that she was a man.

HER: Is Pat Mora a man or a woman?

ME: You are thinking of Pat Morita.

HER: No, I was picturing a fat Hawaiian man.

ME: Definitely not Pat Morita. He's dead. And Japanese.

Turns out Pat is a very nice, not fat, not Hawaiian LADY. :)

They sat behind a caped crusader this morning and she has a lot of aggression..... she just sat down in front of us!! EEP!!! She is offended by my laptop!! I just got a look! There is no way this lady is a librarian ... she is so very imposing.

Front row on the right, first seat ... man or woman??  It's Pat!!

Whew, I'm punchy. The cookie pushed me over the edge. I need coffee.

Why write picture books?? To reach children when you can still influence them.  I MUST read Dona Flor and her new haiku poetry book.

Lee & Lo Books??

Contact ESL program and talk to them about Dia.

" I can not imagine my life without books and how bereft I would feel."

November 11, 2007

Deeply felt

One of my heroes, Norman Mailer, has passed.

An amazingly intuitive writer, brazen, brash and bold, he was honest in a way that made him enormously unpopular and revered at the same time, often by the same people. I only wish I could someday possess a glimmer of the genius that possessed him until the day he died.

As the article says, beautifully:  "We have only started to miss him."

November 4, 2007

Torn between two worlds...

I have just finished an extraordinary book and I had to share it with you. As a children's librarian, naturally, I am exposed to more childen's lit than anything else so I spend most o my time reading that. There is more to my attachment, however.

When I was a child, I was alone quite a bit. My brothers and my sister were much older than I was and they had their own, teenage lives to lead. They had friends houses to escape to when the fighting between our parents got too tumultuous. Indeed, it only seemed that on weekends, when my brothers and sister were off with their friends, that my parents would get into the worst of their rows, having come home more than a little tipsy from the bar or one of our neighbors houses.

My mother was always ready for an argument, sensitive and passionate, insecure and always jealous of the attention my handsome father would get.  My father, ever the narcissistic cruel jokester, would goad her on, detailing what this lady or that lady had whispered to him behind my mothers back, amused by her increasing rage. Eventually the slamming doors turned into broken glass and, mercifully, someone would call the police to calm them down.

I would lie in bed alone listening to the escalation, waiting for it to end, grateful for the intervention when it finally came and dreading the day it didn't. In those days, I had a hard time differentiating between shouts and laughter ... to me, the harsh volume of it all sounded threatening.  I would burrow under my covers, clutching the book I had fallen asleep with as protection, as if it were a doorway to another world that I could easily escape to, if only I wished hard enough.

While the storm calmed below, I was left awake. I would turn on the light on my nightstand, open my book, and begin reading. I had several books that I read and reread, touchstones that would ease my mind when I was distressed. The Hundred Dresses by Estes, Tico and the Golden Wings by Lionni, The Little Mermaid by Anderson and, my favorite of all, a collection of Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm. These stories told of a little one, a weak one, an outcast, an outsider, apart from their family, without friends, who imagines great things for themselves in the face of the ugliness of greed and sheer human stupidity.  Through all of these stories, a great love is what sustains them.  Their connection to the earth and their cunning and will to stay alive sets them even further apart from the flawed humans around them yet, they still give int he hopes that these humans will learn from their sacrifice.

To say that I identified with the heroes and heroines of these stories is a massive understatement.

As I grew, I never forgot these stories and, even now, as a teacher, I read them to my students, teaching them that fables and fairy tales have large life lessons for us all to learn. The question that I was always left with, however, is what becomes of the characters in those stories I loved. Do they live happily ever after? How could they, damaged as they were by the horrors they had seen as children. How on earth could Hansel and Gretel grow up to be well adjusted adults, marrying and having children, without being overprotective to the point of smothering, convinced that some nameless threat would come along to lure their children away and devour them?  How did Little Red Riding Hood not grow up to be paranoid, agoraphobic, paralyzed with fear, trapped by the certain knowledge that every creature she met from the moment she escaped the wolf on that she was being lied to and deceived?

Yet every story ends with "...and the evil was banished and they lived on happily ever after."  In my house, I had to believe that was true. I had to have hope to get out.

As I grew older, my need to believe that grew even more desperate, as my damaged childhood led me down a path of abuse and despair. My happily ever after had turned out to be yet another pipedream and I found myself alone in the wilderness, this time with two children to care for and protect. The stakes were higher, the reasons to fight more noble than just selfishness. I had a purpose and I began my long journey which would lead to my own happily ever after.

It's no wonder that when a book offers me the answers to the questions I was left with as a child, I would be drawn to it. Such was the case with Birdwing by Rafe Martin. I remember reading the story of the Six Swans and wondering what happened to the poor 6th son, the one that was never truly turned back to being himself. The description of Birdwing brought that story rushing back to me and immediately caught my imagination:

"Once upon a time,  a girl rescued her seven brothers from a spell that had turned them into swans.  But one boy,  Ardwin,  was left with the scar of the spell's last gasp: one arm remained a wing.  And while Ardwin yearned to find a place in his father's kingdom, the wing whispered to him of open sky and rushing wind.  Marked by difference,  Ardwin sets out to discover who he is:  bird or boy,  crippled or sound,  cursed or blessed.  But followed by the cold eye of a sorceress and with war rumbling at his kingdom's borders,  Ardwin's path may lead him not to enlightenment,  but into unimaginable danger."

I found this book to be a satisfying conclusion to the Six Swans.  The happily ever after aspects are neither trite not are the easily won. His battles are not only with the one that cursed him but the ones that try to love and heal him. Ardwin is an imperfect hero who, through intuition and sheer will, determines his own future. He takes full responsibility for every choice he makes along the way, even the ones that lead to disaster. When things do go terribly wrong (and they do several times), he is human enough to admit his mistakes and noble enough to try to make things right. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

Now if only someone would write conclusions to Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty that were more realistic, maybe I could begin to believe in happy endings again. Until then, I will continue to question conventions, challenge stereotypes and fight my own childhood dragons.

April 1, 2007

Hoping this makes sense ... almost certain it won't ...

Thinking about why I'm unable to write has had a peculiar effect on my writing ... it has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Gone are the days when I thought of myself as a good writer, when I would revel in the absolute abandonment of conventions, pouring words out on the page like so much water without a thought of how I would wrap it all up in one cohesive piece. Was I a good writer then? Probably not, but I was prolific and I enjoyed it.

The day I learned about form, about how to write well, was the day I stopped just writing and began to feel the self-induced pressure to produce polished pieces. The day I felt overwhelmed by that pressure was the day I lost my freedom to just write. Knowing I have a limited emotional wellspring from which to draw has made me stingy with my words. While writing was my emancipation years ago, expecting myself to be good at it has slapped on a new type of fetter, one whose key I have not yet found.

This is where I blame my OCD tendencies coupled with an insistence on perfection, my all-purpose excuse ... but I do feel that I have transferred them to my writing, where each word must be the perfect choice for the moment. Each word must be precise, not be repetitive, mundane, or, God forbid, average. If I'm not careful, I'll begin counting my words, sorting them into neat little piles of nouns, verbs and dangling participles and storing them in jars in my closet.

Beyond this increasingly disturbing resemblance to Melvin Udall, I've also found that the harder I strive to make my thoughts clear, to try to explain my thought process to others that don't know me, the harder it has become for me to actually make a point. Because I am so afraid that I will face scrutiny and be found lacking, I am not able to write anything indisputable enough.

Are these just old insecurities rearing their ugly heads (my personal emotional Chimaera) or have I, accustomed to being argued with and constantly frustrated by my own inadequacies, grown an entirely new, all-purpose one? Am I over-analyzing again or is this a necessary (read normal) thought process? Is it just the mechanical efficiency expert in me wishing I could parse my thought process down to a concrete algorithm, one that could be applied to anything I am trying to say? If only I could use it as a litmus test before even trying so that I don't feel like I have to try so damn hard to explain myself to people that will never get it and don't really give a rat's ass?

As usual, I end with more questions than I began with. All I really was trying to do was to explain myself and I end up creating a little job security for my inner shrink.

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