The Soul is Sold One Piece at a Time

Do you remember who you were so many years ago when you began this journey so full of dreams? MTV was novel and the world was wide open.

The first pinch might be the hardest. It’s such a small, small thing. A tiny piece of flesh in exchange for what seemed like so much.

What’s another pinch?

Because the world is so big.

The city is made of blocks and on those blocks are neighborhoods, and somewhere in those neighborhoods you stopped feeling the pain,

around the corner is where you began to buy in. You didn’t even realized you had wandered so far from the home of your soul.

The world is four walls with an internet connection. We travel so far without going anywhere at all. It’s safe and warm and full proof. The commercialism of promise. The bindings of success.

Within, that child waits for second life.

My mind is a dry, dry desert

The waters cease to flow and my mind becomes a dry desert, void of any green and brown or dreams. Words fail me. Dedication wanes. I posture in contention with an empty screen, my silence doing little to reach resolution.

The tea pot whistles, the phone pings, a dog barks in the distance and I remove myself to interject where wanted or needed. Anywhere but that blank screen and my vacuous mind which refuses to fill it.

The dry times are the hardest. I remind myself it’s temporary; I list the ways, committed to memory, of how to overcome, outdo, move forward. But I am uncooperative.

I need new stimuli, a piece of starlight dropped at my feet, the feather floating before my eyes, but it’s all just lies.

I blame the hostility of empty souls, the long blankness of lock down, the right light, the wrong pen, but it’s meaningless.

Streams create rivers which become lakes and flow into oceans. Water wedges into openings, fills spaces, creates movement.

Stay open. Always stay open.

It’s all over now

The long covid winter has has taken so much. Our days languish. Our nights persist.

And I have adopted men’s pajamas.

The need for attractive shoes disappeared within weeks of the lock-down; the stylish pants and dresses went soon after. By summer, we donned our yoga pants and tennies. When the first chill of autumn blew the leaves from the trees, we switched to sweats where we have lived quietly, but not quieted, through the holidays – unveiling pretty sweaters in our above the waist zoom camera-shots.

January sprung confidence in the new year. But February rolled in, hope stilled in the cold snow, and it happened. The wind chill dropped and the dryer broke. Sitting on the coffee table, a forgotten gift, still wrapped – I tugged the ribbon and unpacked the thermal flannels. I studied them begrudgingly for a single moment before I slipped them on.

Warmth.

The lust for spring freedom is shackled. It can waste away in dreams now.

I have donned men’s pajamas and may never leave my writing desk ever again.

Lay it down

I love when story, seemingly already written on an ephemeral cloud, comes to us. The words pour down and we lay them on the page. They are marshaled in divine design.

It feels like magic, like power. This is genius and, we, the mere conduits.

Then…

There are those stories that drag us pathetically across the calloused black top, burn our fingers and crook our spines, harboring a shadowed threat of what it might become – one day.

We are not magic or power or even conduit, we are witch and warlock and cursed all at once, damned to live an obscure existence sucking on green m-n-m’s and cold coffee.

One moment sailing the skies, the next scouring gutters for unredeemed inspiration.

It’s a writer’s life.

Not for the weakened soul.

Success Stories

I didn’t grow up with a lot of positive role models. There were not many (if any) people in our neighborhood who were looked up to as success stories.

I can see my neighbors, even now, from the concrete steps of our four unit blond brick building on S*** Avenue in Collinwood. Across the street, Francis. She had Lucille Ball red hair and sat on her porch from 9am to 9pm, beer in hand. Next door, a single mother who worked at a bar and brought work home with her – in all sorts of ways. Next to her, a retired old man who sat across from Francis with his own beer in hand. His wife, Goldie, was a sweet woman whose toes twisted around one another, feet mangled, she said from twenty years of high heeled waitressing. On the other side, a retired railroad worker, no patio, so he sat in his kitchen hand wrapped around a cold beer.

There were bars on every corner. T & M’s could be seen from the porch. Strangers and neighbors stumbling out with the music pouring onto the street.

The teenagers went to high school, married the boyfriends who beat them, and set up house on the next block. A few got away, I’m sure. But I can list many more who died young or ended up in prison. My teenage crushes are dead now. One was shot in the head, the other crushed under the wheels of a truck. I never got into drugs, thought those who smoked and drank acted silly, stupidly, dangerously. Girlfriends recall tales of waking up half naked, uncertain if anything happened. That wasn’t the memory – or lack of memory – I wanted.

Mostly, I felt limited. I felt outcast. I didn’t seem to belong with any particular crowd or group or gang. I wanted something more, something different, and I didn’t know where to turn. Getting out and getting away seemed the only answer for me. I didn’t know what might meet me beyond the borders of the familiar, but there was no safety and no options in the familiar.

Someone once said – it was very brave of you to travel across country on your own and start over alone. I hadn’t considered it was “brave.” I’d believed it was my only choice, my only chance. She offered, the world is a dangerous place for a young woman to do such a thing. Sometimes home is a dangerous place. Limiting yourself is dangerous. Not fulfilling your potential is dangerous. Living a life in which you’re completely unhappy is dangerous. Sometimes, saving yourself, however scary the unknown is, is your only choice.

 

I write to stop myself from punching people in the face…

pow.jpgMy next story will have violence.

Unless, of course, I’m in jail.

Nothing angers or offends me more than men telling me to offer myself. “Flirt,” they say, “for a discount,” “to get out of a ticket,” “to get a good deal,” etc and so on!

Someone said this, again, recently. He was drunk (not an acceptable excuse) and offering unsolicited advice. I sincerely wanted to kick him in the knee caps.

None of  my lady friends have EVER said suggested this, nor done it to the best of my knowledge.

NO, THANK YOU!

I’d rather PAY!

How many of you write about what angers you?

Would they tell their wives to flirt? Their sisters? Their mothers?

I AM NOT A COMMODITY!

prepare-to-die-t-shirt-teeturtle-1000x1000

I do not trade myself for anyone or anything.

I do, however, write books. They are a commodity that can be bought, sold, traded.

 

Prepare to die, asshole.

In my next story, that is.

Writer’s Fight Club

fight.jpgI’ve been worked over by a story all summer.  I feel like we’ve been beating each other up and down and neither of us is winning.

At this point, I hate this story. But, no, not true. I love it. I love the characters and want them to have a voice, a say in their life.

But, gosh darn it – speak!

Maybe I have not been giving the story it’s due, it’s time. The main character, Bella, came simply enough and her father did too. This is the primary relationship and the source of conflict in the story, but then there are a whole bunch of secrets. Aren’t there always?

I wrote the first draft and showed it to my writing partner who said the story had merit and I should keep at it. So, here I am, months later, keeping at it! Frustrated.

Writers understand this. Sometimes stories do this to us. The story wants/needs to be told, but it’s so hard in coming.

I need to do it. I need to force it. I need – I don’t know. Maybe it’s the story’s needs I should think about. It needs some time maybe, more thought; it needs to be brought to life for whatever reason it was given to me to write.

 

Monday Motivation

Sometimes, when I need some quick new ideas (my overstuffed file of ideas aside) I ask for a challenge. I ask people to give me two things, and they can be random. A pet bunny and a fear of heights. A bridge and a broken leg. They don’t even have to have anything to do with each other.

This is a challenge and a creative inspiration exercise – can I write short stories from these ideas?

Last time I asked for such a thing – I used all but one of the ideas and wrote five short stories in a month.

One of my writer friends said I can’t do that, I shouldn’t do that. She said that was false tantrumwriting or forced writing.

Okay, but…  Sometimes we need to force things out in order to get back into good habits, and, gosh, don’t tell me can’t. It just makes that two year old inside me want to do it even more.

I do understand what she’s saying – writing should be organic and natural to us. BUT – as I say, sometimes you gotta push it a little.

By the way – all those short stories were accepted and/or published within a few months.

So – anyway – I’m asking now. I need a little forcing. Give me two things. Random or not. Can be anything. Mayonnaise in a taco random or bunny on a beach cute. 

Go.

Thanks.

3 Things Writers Hate About You (jk)

You don’t have to be a psychic to know there are things writers have in common. Some love them, some hate them. But, if you’re a writer and they haven’t happened to you yet, they will!

  1. Every writer runs into multiple people who, upon find out they’re a writer, says, “I have this story I want to write…” the conversation then progresses in a few ways. The person will tell them they’re story, will ask them to write it for them (for free), or will suddenly be afraid their story will be stolen.
  2. Every writer has someone ask them for free copies. Writers get a limited number of copies, unless, of course, they are Stephen King or someone like that. And sometimes the copies aren’t exactly free.
  3. Almost every writer who has a social media account has had some amateur plug their own book on the writer’s page by dropping a link, comparing it, or other. This is rude, distasteful, and will not win the person friends. I’ve deleted and blocked people who’ve done that.

Now, given this is my page – I’ll plug my own book – released this week. Get it here!

psych cover for kdp

 

Publishing in Literary Journals

A number of literary journals have given up, so to speak; in other words, gone out of business. They are either publishing online only or not publishing at all. I’ve received a number of emails or notifications from literary journals and, in some cases, well known or otherwise recognized and considered successful literary journals like Tin House that they will no longer publish.

The main reason is the cost or publication vs sales. Many literary journals operate in the red, a few may break even. I don’t think any of them are rolling in the dough.

Even the writers they publish accept their free copies and don’t purchase other copies. I understand; how many subscriptions can one writer – being paid in free copies – have?

This leaves us writers with fewer places to submit.

There are a number of online journals looking for work, and more forming every day. Although some of them are quality, I personally want more information than just a description of a new and upcoming online journal accepting submissions.

Duotrope and Poets and Writers offer more information on many of them – that’s a good resource.

I, however, think I’ll donate my time to finishing novels and fewer short stories. The shorter fiction may or may not be submitted, may or may not find a home.