Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Sponsor of Compassion

An amazing and unexpected thing happened today. After church service, I walked out into the lobby and there was a Compassion Organization booth set up. I felt this overpowering draw to go check it out. The table was full of pictures of children who need sponsors. The first child I saw was of a little girl from Ecuador. Her name was Lady. My eyes were immediately blind to any other child. It was me and Lady and no one else. I picked up the package that has her picture and information in it, saw that her birthday is the same as my husband's and broke out into open tears. It was all I could do to wail quietly. Luckily, the lobby was full of people and loud chattering, so only a few noticed the state I was in. My husband didn't know what to do but rub my shoulders and look at me like I'd, well, lost it, which I had.

So we are now sponsors of a little girl named Lady who lives in Ecuador. We don't have kids of our own. I had always felt led to adopt from overseas or sponsor several children, but was leery of trusting any of these organizations. Well, today, I acted without thinking about any of that. To hell with fear of being robbed. We just went for it.

When we get the account stuff figured out, we'll receive a larger package about Lady. Then I'll start sending her letters. She's only three. She can't read or write yet, and I'm not sure that the little Spanish I know will even work, as she speaks an old Inca language. But I'm sure the translators know what they're doing. We'll be able to communicate a little bit, I'm sure. If not in words so much, then in pictures, in gifts like stickers to stick on the things she values, pages to color, postcards of the place where I live. I hope my refrigerator is soon covered in her "letters" and the pictures she draws for us. I hope that my hope will give her hope.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Is it burnout I've been suffering? Has anyone else suffered writer's burnout? I don't think it's writer's block. Maybe it is, since I've never seen an apt definition for it, how would I know? I guess the point is that I have yet to learn to maintain my own style of writing after having jumped into the critique gauntlet. That gauntlet can be so harsh and unfavorable toward a flamboyant writing style, b/c it doesn't appeal to more minimalist writers. So I've been minimalizing my writing style, trying to make it conform to writing "rules." And now I find myself in a fix. My brain is exhausted, my inner editor has grown into a monster, and I think I'm afraid of every word I put on the page -- or don't, in many cases.

The experts say, "Write everyday." So writing continually (I haven't been able to maintain a daily writing schedule in years. That's called obligations to someone besides myself), in addition to all the above, I believe, has led me to Writer's Burnout. In other words, I've really been contemplating what's been going on inside my head for a while now (obvious, given the ponderings below), and that is my conclusion.

Still working on the Falcon Novels. I can't believe how involved I am in a book I've revised multiple times. The work of my heart. Everything else is peripheral. I don't feel burned out when I'm working on the Falcons. I'm even dreaming about the characters again. Things are on the upswing. Surely. I hope. Yes!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


All this dependence on fallible things!!! Last week we suffered some very bad flooding not far from the town where I live. Nasty lightning too, so I figured when the phones and internet went out, the problem had something to do with the rain and lightning. The AT&T tech comes out two days later, "fixes" the issue. Two days later, the phones and internet go down again. The floods are dried up so that wasn't the issue in the first place. How am I supposed to take care of my online writing community when I can't get online!?! How can I call my dad on Father's Day if I haven't got phone service?!? (And before anyone says, "But...," not every American has a great cell phone. I live in a tree-covered valley; cell phones don't work here anyway) Aaaaahhh!!!! Then, to beat all, the satellite service goes out. Nope, no television either. How much per month am I paying for this??? You gotta be kidding me! *rrrrROAR***

I seem to have found a moment when the sparks are hitting the right wires b/c I've had service today. Long enough to check on LegendFire and post this rant. Will it last? Who the hell knows. C'mon AT&T, I gotta close a writing contest tomorrow. You might not care, but many people do. *fingers crossed* Hoping service continues.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Lady of Shalott

In one of my literature classes in college, we read Lord Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shalott," which I had loved from years before when I imagined I was the incarnation of Anne Shirley. The poem has since become a theme of my life. I have a copy of Waterhouse's painting of her hanging over my fireplace, central, unmissable.

The most important thing I recall about that particular literature lesson was the professor's discussion on the poem's deeper meaning. Yes, it's a tragically romantic tale of a girl in a tower who follows Sir Lancelot to Camelot and dies. But what woman really gives up the ghost because she follows a man from her sanctuary? Plenty of us. So the professor revealed to us enrapt, blissfully ignorant students that Lord Tennyson meant one particular character in the poem to symbolize the artist. "Now which character?" she asked. I was not one to shout answers in class, so I did the usual thing and let others have the glory. "Lancelot?" one student asked in return. I groaned inwardly and for the first time opened my mouth. "The Lady," I said. The professor went on to explain that the poem describes the artist's choice between her art and the world outside it. And should she ever choose the world, her art will die.

I kept waiting for this to happen, and sadly, I'm afraid it finally has. The forward momentum on my novel has come to a stuttering halt. I used to be able to immerse myself into the story and characters, seeing them so clearly, knowing them so well, that I became them (which made for some very strange mood changes, I must say, and led my husband to joke that I had multiple personalities). I used to write so hard that I would work up an actual sweat. That's when I knew things were flowing best of all. It's been a long, long time since I've worked up a sweat just sitting there writing.

Yesterday, I realized how bad things have gotten when I pulled out the novels I wrote several years ago. I can't write like that anymore. Yes, I've written a few stories that have found their way into magazines, but we're talking 550,000 words, all tallied, over the space of three epic novels. How in the hell was I once able to create that many characters that leap off the page, emotions so real that I have myself near tears, in laughter, tensely biting a nail? (And I even know what happens!!!) How in hell was I able to capture that attitude of voice and maintain it throughout the whole bloody thing? I thought I would read that old thing and start gagging and groaning because what I thought was good then was really terrible. Not the case. Not the case at all.

It's caused me to wonder what in the world has happened to my art. Then I recall The Lady. I have not only looked out the window, I have left the tower. The tapestries languish somewhere up there unfinished, while practical duties call me ever farther down the river. Wrangling pets, housework, family, husband, Bible study, a writing community that I love, obligations, obligations, obligations. Among my family, I am surrounded by competent functioning women, and I suppose I've felt the pressure to join them in being as competent in the work of reality as I can. I longed to stop forgetting appointments and outings scheduled. I longed to stop feeling horrible because I'd missed someone's birthday in April because I thought it was October. That's how immersed I was in my art. I suppose I needed to surface just a bit, but now I can barely even see the tower for all the trees. It's taken a decade. That's one hell of a long river. I just hope I wake up again. I hope this is just a needed rest and not the death of the artist.

I'm afraid I shall have to tell everyone I'm going back. The eccentric hermit that's learned to live in the world is going back to her hermitage and the door will be locked. I thought coming out would be research, fuel for inspiration -- and please everyone. Now I don't know what to do.

I suppose I shall sit in front of my novel and try to make a miracle.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

So Pleased ...

Hurray! My copies of Realms came in yesterday. They are more professional and attractive than I had hoped. A gorgeous format for any story.

I remember receiving a couple of magazines several years ago in which some of my poems appeared, and was gravely disappointed by the quality of the products. Regular paper, cheap inkjet covers, plastic spiral binding. They looked like a high school project. One of them even cost $15 !!! And that was nearly a decade ago. Needless to say, that particular magazine is no longer in existence.

Comparatively, Black Matrix Publishing, who puts out Realms and several other magazines devoted to other genres of spec fic, appears to have their stuff in order. Though they're relatively new, having only one or two issues of each magazine yet released, I hope that given time, they'll gain popularity and demand among readers and writers alike. Their product shows that they deserve it.

Now to dive into the reading. What company does my story keep among those pages, those portals to far-flung worlds?

Edit: Things change fast. It seems that from now on, all those other magazines Black Matrix puts out will now be absorbed into one large volume. Encounters seems to have won the popularity poll.