The Dim Light of Understanding

Waking up by 6 a.m., tending to the dogs, making certain the bills get paid and I brush my teeth regularly would be responsibilities even if I didn’t have a day job. The following is a repeat of a pep talk I have given myself before. Maybe you need it, too.

I long to work for myself, from home. Many times during a single day I fantasize about possessing the funds to stay in the house and write.  Many times during a single week I suffer bouts of bitterness as I drive through traffic toward the lowly day job. And only once or twice in a single year will the dim light of understanding settle on me: I need this right now.

I need the structure of it, the added responsibility, the accountability, the socialization. I need to be needed as a problem solver, a friendly face, a voice of reason. Imagine that. And yes, I need group health insurance, a tiny tiny 401(K), and a dental plan. I need to continue learning, absorbing productive structure, creating inter-office administrative organization that is efficient and pleasing to the eye. All of this will prepare me for the future in which there is no boss to answer to other than myself.

Daily reminders to be grateful for what I have need to be a thing today, tomorrow, and ten years from now regardless of whether my paycheck comes from the corporate beehive or a publishing house.

Get up, Kathy. Write in the early hours, feed your dogs and let them run in the backyard while you shower and prepare for that drive in rush hour. Go be a grateful person.

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One Of Those Days

Today is one of those days full of enough sun to fool you into thinking winter has given up its labor. So desperate for mornings free of gray cold rains spent warming the car and trying to untangle another cardigan from dog hair, you squint into those golden stripes of warmless sun and decide not to mind the wind threatening to chase it off.

You decide to ignore the fact that the patches of green burrowing out of dormant lawns are weeds, not real grass. You decide to sidestep shadows clinging to corners in spite of all that bright light at their edges. You’d freeze to death in those narrow swaths of darkness, promise.

Hopes surge strong as another day of almost is promised on the heels of the first. Color is suddenly craved with a strength equal to that of your winter coffee cravings. Once your cardigan, the only one akin to a pastel left over from a clearance sale two years ago, is free of stray blond canine locks, optimism gets the better of you. It’s decided: sandals are the only suitable choice of footwear.

This means, of course, you have to tend to frightful seen-nothing-but-fuzzy-socks-for-months-feet. This task will spend a high percentage of your faux spring energy boost. More coffee won’t hurt anything. Sip a mug full of sweetened caffeine while soaking those poor feet, you’ll be fine.

Lavender toes, almost-lavender cardigan, strappy black sandals, a pasty lick of ankle and neck showing, you go out the door looking forward already to a lunch break drive under yellow skies. Delicious, frothy yellow-gold skies. Not a drop of warm in all that froth.

Memory Fades

There is a fifth season. Autumn has its golden light and breezes that sift away bright leaves. Winter has its dreary skies, slick roads and frozen windshields. Spring births greenery and multicolored blooms, brand new allergies. Then there is Summer’s damp blanket heat and late concerts of insects wanting more.

Weather forecasters don’t mention the fifth season much, because it is an anomole that can bring itself forth betwixt any of the big four. In the past Mudhole Days have swallowed up entire Tennessee Springs and Summers. Confused Autumn and Winter so badly one year the harvest moon showed up in a three hour long hard freeze and mosquitos swarmed on Christmas Day.

The Mudhole Days have no celebrations, only the solemn rituals of floor mopping and staring at bad hair. Some parents warn their children that this is a time of dreadful suffering, so eat your vegetables or else.

The old folks say that back before the internet happened, one fifth season lasted an entire year. But the weather channel claims not to have any record of such a thing.

Quiet Mornings

A slow waking backyard, a city street abandoned before dawn of all its revelers, laborers, and commuters — the emptiness is motivational, inspiring, refreshing as baptismal waters. I covet the hope of such stillness returning to me daily.

True creativity was a mystery to me until the opportunity arose to sit in utter silence. A Saturday moments after sunrise, surrounded by lush new greenery I’d come to tame but something deep in my writer’s soul stirred. So, I abandoned yard tools for a pen and paper and lay down in the overgrown grass until the quiet gave me words.

That day when early errands pressured me into the car while sleep still lay warm on my back. Returning home, a traffic light caught me without companion or neighboring errand runner, or passersby. I had the wherewithal to capture the moment, the gloomy clouds gliding over without a sound. A breeze never stirred. I turned off the car and found a scrap of paper to write: Remember this.

Remember this in the drum beat of rush hour traffic. In the midst of clutching pain while the ambulance screams. In the shadows of a bad dream where too many voices clamor and the walls can’t stop creaking. Remember the sensation of quiet sinking into the skin, slowing the heartbeat, stopping the questions.

Remember the quiet mornings. More will come.

 

Reading, Writing, Listening

I’ve often mentioned my fondness for nonfiction audio books read by their authors—still loving to indulge in authors’ voices at every opportunity. This week I have Charles Krauthammer’s Things That Matter to finish. Throughout the introduction I might have shouted WOW three or more times. Krauthammer was a journalist, psychiatrist, “non conservative commentator”, proponent of conservation, conversation, and oftentimes the one talking head glad to choose thoughtfulness over bullshit while his peers and coworkers went on bouncing in the muck.

On Kindle I’ve got two digital library books underway and a Prime Read standing by. Tana French’s In the Woods was mentioned by a lecturer I listened to a few weeks ago (on video that can be found in the really fun For Writers archives over at thecenterforfiction.org.).It’s crime/mystery novel set in Ireland and I adore the first person narrator.

The second library book is Charles Bukowski On Writing , a collection of Bukowski’s bitchy whining tirades about writing composed, submitted, rejected and published. It is raw and punchy and so very Bukowski, thus far. I’m only half way through.

The Prime Read is A Merciful Death, by Kendra Eliot. The title and description grabbed me, we’ll see how it goes.  Meanwhile, all my traipses through available audio treasures have yielded a find: The Writerly Podcast, with Danielle Trussoni and Walter Kirn. Go have a listen, you won’t regret it.

(Yeah, I’m reading a mean old poet, lots of crime fiction and listening to writers talk about writing, art, and politics. Bet you can’t guess what I’m writing.)

 

The Road of Learning. And Learning.

In the way way back, back when LiveJournal was my schnizzel, there was a game that came around every year … June 2oth, I think. It went something like this: A commotion outside wakes you, so you take a peek out the window. It’s the Zombie Apocalypse! Oh no! Your mission is to journal throughout the entire day about what you see, what you do, how do you handle this dire set of circumstances OMG WHO IS GOING TO DIE NEXT.

Of course, I find out about this FUN game that first time a an hour before it ends because I was out all day running relatives to the airport, etc. That’s okay though because the game I totally missed gave me a great idea:

My name is Holly and I have a bizarre story to tell …

I diddled with the story here and there, then put it away because it needed to be a novel and I kept shouting at it you’re a short story, and it would say no, novel, and so on. Took it out of the drawer in 2015 thinking maybe I could actually write the novel, but I sucked at writing novels so back it went. Last month I decided to stop sucking at writing novels. Novels are now going to be my schnizzel.

And since the decision has been made, I downloaded Scrivener once Word began to drive me to murder, now Scrivener has me scared to death I’m going to click the wrong clicky, and if I dare veer off to write by hand I doze off.

Uh …

Tonight no dishes will get done, not one floor will get swept, not one plant watered, or hubby conversed with because I’ve got to go show Scrivener who’s boss.

Expert Advice Aside, Maybe I Should Just Go Take A Nap Soon

Time and I haven’t been on friendly terms for a while now. I yell a lot, but I don’t think it matters. May 2018 snuck up on me, now it’s whizzing by. Pollen is clogging up this town. I’m very sleepy.

Since January I have indulged in audio books on writing by writers. Now I’m on to interviews of authors, podcasts by authors, and I have to say, these have been incredibly inspiring. Natalie Goldberg, Ann Lamott, Stephen King, to name a few, have been in my ear since the mid-December ’17, explaining to me how I can’t continue to call myself a writer if I’m not actually writing. Being a writer requires a few late nights.

So, I’ve been writing because I just don’t want to let these folks down. Is that it?

James Scott Bell convinced me e-book publishing is a thing that is happening (I think he tried to nudge me a couple of years ago, too, but the memory is foggy). Joanna Penn convinced me I should make more writing friends and lay off the coffee (I haven’t made great strides in doing either, yet), and all those poems stacked in my desk drawer made me promise to let them out.

The poems are out. So far the coolest results after deciding on Kindle Direct Publishing are: dear old friends now have my poems on their Kindle devices, and my name is searchable in the Amazon browser bar!

I’m so excited for the day that I’ll get notification that a review has posted! (Yes, I’m dealing with that.)

Since the poems have been loosed from my desk drawer, I have been racking up some fiction word count (not fictional … ). As usual I’m also racking up household chores, nightly meals, yard work, day job, and puppy training hours. It’s a good thing they don’t have more comfortable chairs at the day job. These allergies make me snore something fierce.

At home, I’ve got to stay awake, because I’m halfway finished with this novel I’ve been wanting to write since 2009. Will I put exclusively in e-book format? Haven’t decided yet.

Writing friends, are you there? Just click the follow button. Okay? I’ll eventually get this blogging thing going on. Maybe. Meanwhile, do you have any experience writing e-book reviews?

Ramshackle Houses & Southern Parables, and No Voice of Her Own Available on Kindle

I Don’t Know What To Call This

Obsessing over weather is beyond ridiculous when you think about it. Yet, here I am. In the past week we’ve traveled through a finicky springtime at breakneck speed to land in some weird version of summertime. Prehistoric moths are fluttering around the swamp that’s supposed to be a backyard, and the backdoor has swollen so badly there’s no shutting it. But the afternoon light is pretty.

Meanwhile, I’ve put together the cover art for a short story that will be uploaded to Kindle this weekend. As for categorizing it, I’ll have to go with speculative fiction. Hopefully people will read and the reading will get them excited about my debut novel, that should be available in June—it also might fall under the spec umbrella.

For the big debut, I’m hoping to convince some very talented friends of mine to let me hire them to dress it up pretty and profesh. The poetry collections and the short story cover art were easy, because it all comes from my own photographs and doodles. The novel will be a bit trickier.

That’s all for updates at the moment. If you find yourself in need of some poetry this weekend, don’t forget I’ve got a free download available thru 5/7, as well as my autobiographical debut poetry collection for a very modest price! Just go here.

May the 4th be with you!

Kindle Book is Live

Ramshackle Houses & Southern Parables is available today! After reading about an author who said she loved publishing on Kindle first because friends would give tons of feedback which she would then use for the relaunch, I thought … that’s totally doable! If I would have known this service was so accessible, I would have jumped in ages ago.

I really thought formatting would be easier. (Waits for everyone to laugh.) Thankfully, I learned a lot in this process, and can’t wait to add No Voice of Her Own and few short stories later this week. Note to Self: Do a better job with the sample preview!

The cover art is from a photograph by yours truly—which, by the way, makes the cover creation process so much easier.

Have some poems, y’all. Leave reviews. Your time and your words are much appreciated!