Periodically! #9: The Lost Seasons Edition

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Well, well, well. I’ll bet my followers thought I must have fallen off the edge of the world. (Pretty damned close.) The last Periodically! was released in February. Friends, that was a good five months ago. Let’s just refer to this black hole of nothingness as the Lost Season (as in Lost Weekend…only much, much longer).

In the blur that was the Spring (that wasn’t – we here in Michigan were hosed again with cold and snow until the end of May), several things happened: people died, people sickened, people were institutionalized, people adopted a homeless Detroit chihuahua, people bought a second home (heretofore renamed Money Pit), people bought another home (heretofore renamed Minor Money Pit), people dumped tons of money into the Pits and their adult children, people sprint-planted a vegetable garden, people applied to an art contest, and people readied to enter the Ann Arbor Art Fair while working a full time job (business is b-o-o-m-i-n-g!). Some people actually wrote for a hot minute.

Now this Person will take a break and fly to San Francisco for a long weekend and eat decadent food and search for sea glass. It’s not running away from home, but it’s the next best thing.

Outdoor Updates: The Guerrilla Urban Garden

The wacky spring wreaked havoc on my fruit trees. They blossomed, then we had a frost. This means NO cherries and precious few pears, so if you were expecting a hand-crafted cherry tart or pear preserves, not this year.

The potatoes, on the other hand, are none the worse for wear, but they are underground for the most part, so they managed to survive the snow. My first planting is nearly ready to harvest (that’s what four weeks of hot weather will do for you).

We’ve eaten our first peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, and blueberries. The backyard is a jungle of edibles.

What I most enjoy from vegetable gardening (besides the eats!) is that working the soil bonds you to Nature. There are many analogies to the writing perspective as well. Gardeners take seed; add water, light, and fertilizer; tend by weeding and warding off pests; and finally reap the reward at the end of the season. Writers take a small idea; expound it by adding characters and plot; work the literary landscape until it makes sense; and finally reap the reward at the end of the story.

On Writing

Ever hunker down on your Twitter feed looking for inspiration? Ever buy all the writing reference books Amazon offers during that dry spell when you can’t seem to scratch out your grocery list? Yes, I’ve been there, mining golden nuggets, for inspiration and education. But here is a very good article on looking for and perhaps not taking advice. There is such a thing. It’s called a grain of salt. (I know. Funny coming from me, who is always looking for writing references online. See more below.)

Your brain is a muscle, and if you don’t exercise it, it will get flabby. So in the spirit of mental gymnastics, Book Baby’s article on using your TV and movie time as devices in your own writing make a lot of sense. My husband and I actually did this a lot with our kids, in pointing out the “bad” guy, the struggles of the “good” guy, and what the projected ending might be. (Now that our kids are grown, he just likes to guess the ending sometime within the first ten minutes. He’s usually right, dammit!)

Is it really stylish when YOU do it? Probably not. That’s why reading this (gently) ass-kicking blog post on the rules of writing (which can be broken – sometimes) can serve as a wake-up call for those of us writers that might be a tad full of ourselves.

Read Lately

One thing I do is write scenes in a real notebook. (By hand. In pencil.) I’ve taken classes with Christina Katz and this is a very easy way to commit to prompts on a daily basis. The summer I started doing these prompts, I would write different scenes with the same characters. I’m putting these together in a novel about random strangers who meet in San Francisco in 1978.

I started the sequence of scenes during modern times, but I liked the idea of a lack of modern conveniences like cell phones and online banking for this story. My characters weren’t easily traced, meaning they had time before they could be found out (and therefore, time for the story to be told). In some ways, 1978 wasn’t that long ago, but in others it’s light years in the past. Placing the setting of a story four decades ago makes for some interesting challenges. Most of my reading time in the last few months has been devoted to research, which might sound dry, but is actually quite compelling.

The Final Leap: Suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge is one such book. Since the Golden Gate Bridge and suicidal souls figure prominently in my story, I thought this should be a fine reference, and it is. Besides providing a wealth of statistical data, John Bateson also interviewed survivors including family members and those who lived.

No foray into Bridge jumpers would be complete without diving (sorry, pun not intended) into Cracked Not Broken: Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt, by Kevin Hines. He miraculously survived his drop from the Golden Gate too.

Ten Years that Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978 by Chris Carlsson helped me to define the mood and tone of City. However, I happened upon the biggest bonanza of paraphernalia through my Twitter feed, when SF Gate posted this breathtaking photo essay.

Movies

I don’t go to them anymore (too expensive, too crowded, I’d rather be comfortable in my own house, thank you), but I do have a Netflix account. Here are a few movies I found to be entertaining. Keep in mind that my mentions might have sustained some terrible reviews along the way, which is why I don’t read reviews until after I’ve seen the movie/read the book/dined at the restaurant/etc.

The Fundamentals of Caring: it’s a Netflix original movie. Honestly, I’m starting to like Netflix originals. They did a kick-ass job with House of Cards, right?

Life is about a Life magazine photojournalist who finagles a way to cover James Dean just before Dean scored his role in East of Eden. Overlook Robert Pattinson as the journalist, because he still looks like a Twilight vampire to me, but Dane Dehaan as James Dean…WOW.

The Do-Over, (another Netflix original) but I’m a sucker for Adam Sandler. Yes, even his terrible movies hold an appeal to me.

Question of the Issue

What is your preferred method of reading? Are you digital only? Or do you like the smell and heft of a bound edition? Mix and match?

I personally love a nice hard-cover, particularly if it’s signed by the author – and if signed by one of my favorites, I’m in heaven – but I admit to reading books on my iPhone. I haven’t picked up a magazine in a doctor’s office in years. For traveling, it’s paperbacks all the way (same entertainment, slightly less poundage), and I’ll leave them in airport waiting areas or at friend’s houses just to share the love.

Quote of the Issue

The idea is to write it so that people hear it & it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. ~Maya Angelou

Here’s the real action: check it out.

Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.

I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)

Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.

I do have an Instagram. I’ve had it for a long time. Be forewarned, I take a lot of photos of food, either what I’ve made or my restaurant choices. My Instagram is also littered with photos of dogs and cats.

I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.

With any luck, I will see you next month.


Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068

 

 

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Periodically! #8 – Too Cold to Snow? and In Memoriam

cropped-periodically3.jpgBack when I lived in Minnesota, where one must be brave or crazy to live in the winter, there was a saying there that it if the temperature reached a certain level of cold (like 10 degrees and below), it was too cold to snow. Such bromides must only occur in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Either that, or this saying doesn’t work in Michigan. For I can tell you, after a fairly mild winter (where I admit, I was spoiled with temperate weather and rain instead of buckets of snow), when the polar express heads to Hockeytown, it doesn’t matter how cold it is – it’s going to snow.

I’m reporting this from San Francisco, where the area is experiencing a strange heat wave. *ducking stones*

The last few weeks have been sad ones. We’ve lost great musicians (David Bowie and Glenn Frye – my city, where he grew up, is naming a street near the high school where he graduated after him), great actors (Alan Rickman), and now, a great friend of mine.

Known online as The Little Fluffy Cat, I met Lydia Ondrusek online over ten years in a now defunct website called gather.com. Gather was an up-and-coming social network, which was launched as an outlet for writers and artists. Well, it became much more than that. Unsupervised for the most part, the site was like an unruly high school classroom full of bullies, geeks, and the popular cliques. Despite some troubling aspects to the site, the upside is (besides the fact that I got paid, and handsomely at the end) that I met an incredible group of writers. When the End loomed, we all jumped off the Gather ship and Lydia found a private place (Glitches) for us on Ning.

Then came Facebook (which I was already on) and the rest is history. I met Lydia in person (along with some of the other Glitchers) in Ohio a few years ago. As I find when I meet all my online friends, they are just as wonderful in person as they are online. Instant connection. Like we knew each other for years and years In Real Life.

Lydia was a writer, so adept at flash fiction, which I admired. I have a problem writing, in that I tend to go on and on (and on). Some of her short stories bordered on the supernatural, the out of the ordinary. She also wrote touching poetry, and her haikus were beautiful, concise and full of imagery in so few words.

Lydia was a great cheerleader (and occasional cattle prodder) to a wannabe writer like me. I hated to bother her, but I trusted her instincts, and she would never blow me off, even though I knew she was busy, with writing and with her family. I would send her short stories, most of which were flawed, and she let me know right away what the problems were. She pointed me to resources like books and classes, and urged me to find a writers conference. After she’d cheered me on for the two years I’d been working on my first novel, Finding Cadence, I sent her the first chapter for an edit, as that week I was going to attend my first San Francisco Writers Conference. (She lived in Texas, so almost all our communication was done by email.) She returned it less than five minutes later, full of red lines. I wasn’t finished yet, not by a long shot.

I was full of fear before that conference, especially after the red lines, but Lydia encouraged me.

lydiaThis is Lydia.

She was really into the Internet, and encouraged me to join Twitter. (Actually, she also invited me into WordPress, which lead to six months of headaches for me, but that’s another story. You can scroll backward to the beginning, to see where I started in 2009.) I couldn’t get Twitter for the longest time. I’m still not adept at it, but the great thing about it is that even though I might not add anything to the conversation, I can eavesdrop and gain so much information.

dedicationLydia was the last person I acknowledged in Finding Cadence, along with Sandy, my other online mentor.

Lydia once sent me a draft of a manuscript she’d been working on that I found intriguing. Except for a few chapters in the middle, it was almost finished, and I wondered why she hadn’t finished it. Like all her work, it was good, really good. (I hope she got the chance to finish it. This is my greatest fear, leaving work undone.) Later, I found she had attended HER first writers conference, and was amazed that she had never attended one before.

Lydia also knit (or crocheted) all sorts of wonderful things. I have one of her hats somewhere. In return, I sent her some of my (first attempts at) jewelry. The last thing she sent me was an assortment of amber. I’m going to have to think of something very special to wire it into.

Lydia lost her battle with bad health a few weeks ago. Our online community has been totally crushed with the news. But I will carry on, in her giving spirit, and remember what a beautiful, talented woman she was, and strive to help others in the same way.

lfcRest in Peace, Little Fluffy Cat. We’re going to miss you.

You can learn more about Lydia here.

Write News

Follow this blog! I discovered a ‘new’ writers resource from the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. If you write, you must follow.

As followers know, I sometimes suffer from writer’s block. Or other excuses. Here’s a post on how to keep going, even the writing isn’t linear in nature. Just write!

I found a very interesting blog called Writing Sideways. Many good links. A writer cannot have too many resources.

This is an EXCELLENT post regarding your characters’ personality traits. Your characters can’t be all good or all evil. Even the evil ones have to have a redeeming quality and even good people have a dark side. Now to get that into the writing…

Interesting Articles

Is it live? Or is it Memorex? Chuck Wendig discusses depression versus writer’s block in this compelling post.

Here’s some good information on marketing for writers. If you read all the way through, there is a link with free PDF on how to build an email list. (I obviously need all of this help, as I am clueless. And slow.)

Totally unrelated to writing, but rather interesting to fierce women, is this article about wearing black.

Reading This Month

On my iPhone, I’m reading Today a Better Way, a self-help book put out by Families Anonymous. Every day, there is a brief passage to read. While intended for friends and family of substance abusers, these short readings are helpful for anyone feeling stress and hopelessness.

This month, on my way to San Francisco, I read two of my dear Internet friend Arthur Wooten’s novels. On Picking Fruit is a bittersweet but humorous journey of one man’s journey to find his perfect soul mate. And Birthday Pie is an equally entertaining look at a man’s (reluctant) return to his Southern hometown to say goodbye to his ailing father. Both novels (well, all of Arthur’s novels) are populated with the most unusual, likable and oddly flawed characters you could ever imagine.

Question of the Month

Writers: This month I’m taking an online class with Michelle Richmond. I’m also attending the San Francisco Writers Conference. I do both to keep learning, to stay motivated, and to nurture my community. My question is, if you write, what do you do to improve your writing?

Readers: Any pet peeves in what you are finding on the shelves these days? Feel free to answer here, or email me.

Quote of the Month

The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they’re up there, throw rocks at them. ~Vladimir Nabokov


Here’s the real action: check it out.

Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.

I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)

Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.

I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.


Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068

 

Periodically #3 – The Thank Goodness It’s Nearly Over Edition

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It’s the final day of August, which means summer is one week away from being officially over! Now I love the sun, and especially love summer, but I think I would like it a lot better if I weren’t working 24/7 at my day job. With September comes cooler temperatures and the opportunity to take a deep breath. Plus, I will be able to devote more time to writing. Having my creative juices curtailed is much like having my arm cut off.

The Write Rite:

At last! An agent that gives permission to NOT beat yourself up, while encouraging control of your creative life. I can be done!

It’s Monday. Yes. It. Is. I know, blah-blah, hungover from the weekend, good Lord, I don’t want to go back to work Monday. However, there is one shimmering, shining Monday moment, called Monday Blogs. Follow Monday Blogs on Twitter (@MondayBlogs), and if your head doesn’t spin off from the sheer amount of good info – especially for those who write – you will absorb so many good articles on writing, publishing, querying, etc. You might find a few other interesting, non-writing blogs, too.

If you’re looking for classes, workshops, and/or general support, go over to Savvy Authors. I was given this excellent writers resource by a past president of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, and have taken several of the classes. ALL HELPFUL, and most are at a nominal fee so it won’t break the bank. With my schedule, I don’t have time to commit to classes in the flesh; web sites like Savvy Authors can fill in the gap. The instructors know what they are doing, and the people taking the classes are great.

While you’re honing your craft, don’t forget about connecting with readers. After all, we’re nothing without them.

A Little Music Doesn’t Hurt:

As I mentioned last month, my husband and I are re-watching The Wonder Years, and we are up to 1971. Great times, wonderful music. Most of our TV viewing (only DVDs, never live) has a strong musical component. Take Glee, for instance. I know, dorky, show choir singing Journey ballads that would cause a normal person to tear their eyeballs out. NOT REALLY! For the most part, the show does a wonderful job of weaving the music into the story line. Maybe I’m *ahem* old, but I find myself liking these shows more because of the music.

Art News:

I decided to apply for the Leon and Lulu Artist Market, and was accepted. It was a great opportunity. I love the store (very eclectic and fun), and they are so nice to the artists, feeding us, plying us with wine, ringing up our sales (and subsequently taking care of the taxes). I participated in the Books and Authors day last year, and will again this October. If you’re in the southeastern Michigan area, check the store out. In Clawson, not far from where I am sitting and typing. 🙂 And if you’re interested in shopping the artist market, the next one is scheduled for November.

Interesting Articles:

Here’s one that caught my eye. Supposedly, male writers who submit queries to agents are more likely to get a response than women writers who submit queries to agents. One of these days, I might make an experiment of my own work and try this myself.

I have decided to back Broke Ass Stuart for Mayor of San Francisco. Never mind that I’m not a resident of California, or of San Francisco; however, I love Broke Ass Stuart‘s wry humor. You must follow him! If anyone deserves to be mayor of the City by the Bay, it’s him. I’ve even sprung for an official campaign tee shirt, so you know I’m serious.

Read This Month:

Hum, by Michelle Richmond. A collection of sometimes deeply disturbing short stories. Good God, but I wish I could write like that!

Currently reading The Big Bounce by Elmore Leonard. Can you believe I’ve lived in Detroit since 1986 and have never read Elmore Leonard? I know! Blasphemy. This one was highly recommended, so I thought I’d start my Elmore Leonard library with the Bounce.

Quote of the Month:

A single best-seller can ruin a writer forever. ~John Steinbeck

Not sure I’ll ever find that out for myself, but I’ll keep trying!

Have a great month!


Here’s the real action: check it out.

Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.

I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)

Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.

I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.


Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068

And Now a Few Words That Have Nothing to Do With Writing

I am currently armpit deep into a MS with a beginning and a middle but no end, and waiting on my Editor for Life to provide feedback for another finished novel. My head is full of [too many] words. So I guess I’ll just unleash a rant on a completely unrelated subject.

Equality and the Fairness Issue

For some reason, there’s been a lot of emphasis put on the “virtues” of being “equal” or “fair.” I really don’t get it.

I know. I’m old. I’m a freaking dinosaur. I’m definitely not hip. I’m so opinionated that I’m politically incorrect. I’m also busy with my own pursuits; I don’t have time to luxuriate in new (maybe imagined?) slights.

There seems to be some consensus that if only the playing field were level, people would be happy. If only minorities could get a special dispensation for being minorities, they could get into college. Or if only the Evil Rich One Percent would give away all their money, the poor wouldn’t be poor. Even our President and our Pope says we have to do something about income inequality.

If only we could get special consideration for our shortcomings, no matter what they are.

If only, if only.

(Let me say right here, right now, that I’m several shades of minority, I’m a woman, and I’ve been on the dole – for three months, the worst three months of my life. So I’m not an over-privileged white person who has never had to struggle.)

It’s not fair! *stomps foot* Remind you of something? Like a headstrong toddler who wants candy NOW or a defiant teen who wants a later curfew? As if demanding “fairness” will make the world right.

The world isn’t right; it was never right. It’s not going to be right, ever.

Life is not fair, so what?

I might be in the minority, but the purpose of life is not to get everything you want. The purpose of life is to work for everything you want. It’s to take your struggles, puzzle out a solution, and come out on the other side a better person.

The past might be a bad thing, full of heartbreak and injustices. So what?

At what point do you drop the past and journey into the present (and the future) on your own two feet?

One should build (positively) on the mistakes of others, instead of falling back on the negatives of the past.

And here, for my own personal rant of things that aren’t fair:

1. It’s not fair that my ancestors were Native American. It’s not fair that my great-grandfather had to take my grandmother (when she was a toddler) and hide her in the northern bogs of Minnesota to escape the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their plan to put them on a reservation. It’s not fair that for much of her life my grandma couldn’t vote, hold property, or drink alcohol because she was 1/2 Chippewa.

2. It’s not fair that the male members of my Greek grandfather’s family were killed by the Turks, and that he had to travel across the ocean all by himself to start a new life in America.

3. It’s not fair that my father had to join the Army to escape poverty. It’s not fair that after he married my mother, she had to wait in the immigration line for two years and accumulate 4 inches of paperwork to come here and become a citizen.

4. It’s not fair that I had to quit college before finishing my degree. It’s not fair that eating and putting a roof over my head became more important than my education.

5. It’s not fair that my health insurance is so high (even though for an old lady, I’m in fairly good shape) that I’ll probably have to work the rest of my life just to be able to afford it.

6. Speaking of that, it’s not fair that I’ve worked since 16 (actually 13, if you count the time spent working for my father in his gas station) and that I’ll NEVER be able to retire.

7. It’s not fair that I have to pay taxes. It wasn’t fair that my tax dollars couldn’t fund a decent school system and we had to pay out of pocket of our kids’ education, or that our tax dollars aren’t enough to repair the city-owned sidewalk in front of our house and we’ll have to pay for that ourselves. Or that we pay exorbitant fuel taxes to keep the roads up, but they’re still like driving on the moon. (I wouldn’t mind taxes, if I could see a return on investment that wasn’t lining some millionaire politician’s pocket with retirement possibilities.)

I guess I could throw a couple more trivial unfairness issues on that shit pile, ones that have to do with writing. It’s not fair that I don’t have unlimited time to write, or that I don’t have a wonderful agent, or that I’m not traditionally published, or that I’m not sitting on a pile of writing-related money.

*********This part of unfairness rant over. It didn’t feel good, so it was likely not worth it.************

My husband (who is very wise) says that for some the whole “fairness” issue is not one of leveling the field, but rather it’s borne out of jealousy. Whipping out fairness (or unfairness) is the easy fall-back explanation for everything not right in your world. It’s a way of blaming everyone else for your woes, instead of working toward fixing the problem on your own. You can give people whatever they want, but you can’t give them happiness, or equality. These things come from within.

As for me, I’m going back to doing what I do best: making my own world better, despite my shortcomings, my history, and my circumstances.

And I’ll be happy no matter how unfair life is.

 

 

 

 

I’m SO Ready for San Francisco!

This will be a short post, because I have a thousand things to do before I leave Thursday (way early) morning.

SFWC Sign up Now

1. I am so ready for San Francisco! I’m always ready for the City by the Bay, but right now I am craving some interaction with creative types, authors, editors, movers, shakers. The San Francisco Writers Conference couldn’t come at a better time. Besides, it’s so cold and snowy here, I need a mini-escape LIKE RIGHT NOW.

2. After the last year, I’m finally feeling like a real writer! That’s because I’ve been writing or editing or outlining almost every day. It’s been tough to get on a schedule, and believe me, you would know. I’ve been bitching about my Real Life problems for years now. However, I’m getting better at carving out a space for me and my writing time. It’s true, if you write, you will write more.

3. I’m planning another book, this one YA. Like I don’t have enough to do? This one will have death as a theme, and I haven’t decided whether I should put my story in Michigan, Minnesota, or California. Hopefully, it’ll be funny. Maybe not.

4. I’ve started editing Virtually Yours Forever (for those of you who were wondering what happened to my Beanie Moms), and I hope to self-publish the sequel by the end of the year. I already have a eCover design, it’s just a matter of getting the story to the point where it makes sense. There’s a lot going on with my moms!

5. I’ve undertaken another launch, but since it’s in the gestational stage, I’m not going to talk about it. Don’t want to jinx it.

I know it’s only Monday, but I’m already packing. I’ll be gone for longer than usual (ten days) so I’ve been plotting and planning my Real Life so there won’t be any Real Life disasters while I’m gone.

Finally, I’m praying that Mother Nature will cut me a break this week. Please don’t send any monster blizzards my way on Wednesday or Thursday, PLEASE. I want all airlines to be running on time, without delay. If I miss one second of this conference, I’m going to be super PO’ed.

What a Writer Needs

I’m in Las Vegas.

Before you think, “Oh, she’s there for gambling and debauchery,” think again. I’m not all that fond of Sin City. It’s the desert, a way too hot desert. There are lots of things to see and do, restaurants serving food to kill for and shopping the likes of which I’d never see in Detroit, because really, even though there are rich people in Detroit (one or two), there’s not enough to sustain the uber-fantastical, over the top, Michael Jackson-esque offerings here. I’m not fond of crowds, and especially not fond of sightseeing foreigners (nothing personal, I just grew up in a tourist area that lead to a general disdain of tourists – especially the bad ones). I don’t gamble. I’d rather spend my money in a manner that guarantees a small measure of return. Plus, Las Vegas is massive. There are just TOO MANY people. My agoraphobia flares just thinking about it.

No, I’m here for a wedding.

Until the big to-doo on Saturday, I plan on holing up in my nicely air-conditioned room (overlooking the parking lot roof) and writing like a fiend.

At home, I do not have the luxury of hours of time to concentrate on writing. I’m lucky if I have an hour or two every couple of days to crack open the laptop. “Let’s see, where did I leave off…” My writing is like piecing together a crazy quilt. (I have a crazy quilt in progress, about one third of the way finished, that I started in 1985. Yes. I might finish it someday.)

This morning, I devoted three full, unadulterated hours to finishing up the edit of the first part of my manuscript. I discovered that I had somehow deleted an entire chapter. This caused a great deal of concern, and not because it was deleted for good (I have back ups of back ups). No, it’s because after (painstakingly) taking out 7K words, I ended up putting in 3K back.

Two steps forward, one step back.

What a writer needs is air conditioning, an expanse of silence, plenty of ice water, and time to muddle through the mistakes.

And a maid.

And a personal assistant.

Since I don’t have a maid or a personal assistant, I guess I will take advantage of what little AC filled silent time I have.

The (High) Price of Art

I spent Friday and Saturday in the Michigan Silversmith Guild booth at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, where I drank lots of water in stifling hot and humidity and hoped to sell a bunch of my creations.

(As luck would have it, my newly re-named “Merkabah” (in honor of my author-friend, LZ Marie) bracelets sold out by Thursday afternoon. Win for me.)

As with writing, I do a fairly decent job of making jewelry, but I’m not such the hot commodity that I can quit my day job. If only…

It’s hard to compete at the art fair. It’s the self-proclaimed largest one in the country, and that means creativity is oozing from every pore of every human being within five miles of the A-Squared. Plus, each Guild member is a great talent, and there are twelve of us sharing a booth. I have no idea yet how I did, as I haven’t picked my inventory up. Hopefully, it’s enough to cover the booth rent.

While my jewelry is cool, it’s also rather eclectic. Steam-punk-y. Left of center. Big! With lots of rocks and stones, and lots of twisted wire. It takes a certain type of person to wear one of my creations; my art is not meant for mass consumption, which is why I don’t mind that I’m not deluged with fans. I like the slow and easy pace of creating. I’m lazy! Well…lackadaisical. Art of any kind for me is about the journey, not about the cha-ching at the end of the road.

Which is why I price my stuff reasonably. I love the creative process, but I don’t ever want to see my work again. Let someone else love it.

At the end of the final day, a couple of older ladies stepped up to the booth. One was enamored of this:

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(It’s copper, with pyrite, agate, citrine, and peridot. And I made the chain and clasp.)

The other lady preferred my silver creations. It was late, nearly the end of the fair, but I pulled out piece after piece (after piece – I sometimes forget how many pieces I have!) and they both ooh-ed and ahh-ed.

The one woman, however, kept coming back to the copper pendant. She really loved it.

She asked me for a discount. I gave her a little bit of one, but she hesitated. She was a little older and lived on a fixed income, but her friend was encouraging. She eyed the piece, fingered it, kept bringing it to her neck and back again, looked at herself in the mirror. I explained the hours of work I’d invested in the piece, that making the chain itself was a pain in the behind, that the peridot alone was worth a lot of money. She said she understood.

They both spoke of losing family members in the last year. These were new friends, their bond made while in group grief counseling. Shopping the art fair wasn’t just retail therapy, it was a search for some sort of beauty in a tumultuous life, a life that wasn’t always fair.

Again they came back to the copper pendant. Lady’s Friend said, “You should get this. The way it’s designed, it really speaks to you.”

Lady: “Yes. It’s just like my life.”

What could I do? I discounted it more, and she walked away happy.

I’m happy too. Happy that she’s happy.

You might ask why I’m writing about this, when this blog is all about the writing experience from my perspective. Basically it’s this: sometimes writing, like art, isn’t about making money. Oh sure, money is nice, it’s real nice, especially if you have bills to pay.

A writer can get frustrated with creating, with the editing process, with querying, with rejection. You might want to skip over the journey to get to the pot of gold. If you feel that way, DON’T DO IT. It’s not about the money, and if it is for you, you’re in the wrong line of work. Sometimes you have to give joy to get joy.

Spread that mantra around to the rest of your life, and you’ll find contentment.