June 22, 1999
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch...
Writing exercise. I always picture that as taking a broom and stirring up the dust and cobwebs in an attic. The dust doesn't necessarily GO anywhere, although I think the idea is to sweep it away. I'd rather not, though. Sometimes with dust you have to sweep it all together into a pile and start sifting through it. Sometimes you can find some valuable things down there. I love Stephen King's explanation for why he writes the things he does. He describes a writer's subconscious mind as a series of filters. Everybody's got filters, to get rid of the junk and keep what's worth keeping. Each writer's filters catch different things. There are as many types of filters as there are genres and subgenres and... well, you get the idea. He further says that a writer's job is to learn to go through those subconscious filters, and bring what he or she finds back to the light.
I feel like that's where I am, right now. Learning where and what my filters are, and poking through the sludge that's down there. For me, that's the toughest part. That's where ideas come from, after all, and I've always had a hard time coming up with ideas. Or so I think. Maybe I just need to learn to recognize different kinds of ideas. Another writer friend of mine (amazing how many friends I have that are writers!) was talking to me about getting ideas. I told her I was having a tough time coming up with anything, but that I just had a few vague ideas running around my head. Her response (via ICQ): "So lay a trap for them. I grab one word at a time and nail it down. Once you grab one word, the other words want to help it get free and they rush forward. The problem is making sense of those words."
Words as herd animals. Protective herd animals even. I like this visual image.
I think a lot in visual images, especially when learning. I found that out back when I was still taking voice lessons regularly, in college. Hope would explain and explain and explain that I needed to lift my upper palate when I sang, but it wasn't until she gave me the 'biting an apple' visual that I actually got it. Anything physical, get me to the point where I feel what the 'right thing' is supposed to feel like, even once, and I can usually duplicate it.
I find myself wondering if mental processes are the same way. Come to think of it, I think they are. A lot of therapy to beat depression lies in learning to feel happy. Learning what happiness feels like, what feeling good feels like, so you can duplicate it yourself. This is not about faking feelings, it's about recognizing what feels right, even in the faintest amounts, and encouraging that.
Right. So. I learn to pay attention to what getting an idea feels like. That makes sense to me. And I learn to act as a ranch hand to my subconscious. Yippie-ki-yi-ay.
Metaphor of the day. I was describing my long-time therapist, a wonderful person. I said, "She's very Ann Arbor, but practical. Her feet are on the ground, but those feet are in Birkenstocks."
June 17, 1999
And How Was YOUR Morning?
She sat behind the gray wheel of the small black Escort, body tight and tense. Eyes flickered from the Indian Trails bus blocking the left lane in front of her to the clock set in the console. 10:58, and still two miles from her exit. Move, goddamn it. Get out of my way. As if the rest of the world was obligated to help keep her on time. The speedometer hovered at just below the speed limit, just below 70 MPH. For her to be on time, she'd have needed to go at least 80, all the way down the highway. But the left lane was full of good law-abiding citizens today, all determined to keep her law-abiding as well.
It was all her fault, of course. The alarm went off at 9:15, fifteen minutes earlier than it always did. She got up, wandered around a bit, then went back to bed. Never mind that the orders for the day were to 'spruce up' for the open house at work. Feh. 250 customers roaming around the company. Her eyes opened again at 10:00. Still time to get all cleaned up, if she got out of bed. Then again at 10:15. Okay, really have to get up now. Still nothing. Her eyes opened for the final time at 10:35, and with a muttered curse, she leapt out of bed. She should be leaving right now. Clothes were scrounged and thrown on. Hair was brushed back into a slicked-back looking ponytail. Seven minutes after leaping out of bed, she was in her car and on the road.
For all the good it did. No way was she going to be sitting at her desk at 11:00. Finally the expletive-deleted bus moved over to the right lane and she zipped past it, cranking the Ford's little motor all the way up to 90, peering into the rearview mirror to make sure there was no one behind her determined to keep her law-abiding as well. All clear. She turned up the stereo a little and sang along with the Misty Lackey tape at the top of her lungs; Heather Alexander singing about some unknown sci-fi heroine. She followed her brave spacer captain (whose eyes were fire and ice) all the way off the highway, down Baker Road and into the drive that led up to the office. There they parted ways, agreeing to meet later, in about nine hours.
With another muttered imprecation, she found an out of the way parking space and started the quick walk to her desk. Before she even sat down, her eyes went to the phone and the clock on the display.
11:03. Not bad. Not bad at all.
June 15, 1999
Today, today is a red letter day for yours truly. Today feels like Christmas and my birthday and a bunch of other cliched holidays all rolled into one.
I now count myself as a 'real' writer.
Not that I've actually sold anything, not yet, but... I submitted my first work today. Just got back from the post office, as a matter of fact. I sent off a short story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine. The story is called "At the Ocean's Edge", and I'm extremely proud of it. Kinda scared though, too, wondering if I'll ever write anything I'm as proud of again. Oh, I'm sure I will, but there's still that fear, you know? I've been so hyper all day, I'm surprised anyone can put up with me.
Everything feels like it has gone right today. Seriously. All the doubt and insecurity I was feeling before about who I am and what I 'do' is starting to dissolve. To quote a wise man I know, I'm learning to "separate my work from my real life". Writing feels like a very good 'real life' right now. It feels like something I can concentrate my heart and soul on, while I work to do what it takes to pay the bills. Who knows? Maybe someday I can concentrate on it full time, and I'll find that I can make a living off my writing. But for now, I don't want that. I want to focus on becoming the best writer I can, rather than on becoming the most marketable writer I can. One thing I've learned over the past few weeks is that the two are NOT interchangable.
I'm flying. I know it might not last... but I'm flying, and I love it.