Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autumn Pause

I apologize to "all two" of my followers for the long delay between posts lately, and I 'm glad you're still with me. I haven't any excuses to make about it except to say that life happens. I intend to try and post here more frequently soon, but I have a big event to negotiate in the next few days. Until then I won't have the time to devote to it.

Like the seasons, my writing life is somewhat cyclical. I have these great bursts of creative summer energy in which I get a lot accomplished easily. Then I have these pauses, like autumn, where I have to pull back and ponder things before I can write easily again.

People come along and challenge me about things I thought I knew, make me shed my dried-up leaves. Sometimes life just gets too fast and frantic, or I just move too old and slow, to keep up. Sometimes all of these happen at once.

Anyway, when I do get going again, I expect my writing to be better than it was before I got sidetracked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

When to Quit

Years ago, in yet another life, working as an appliance "salesperson," I knew I needed to quit my job. I hated it, and I had two pre-teen daughters who just nearly hated me. I was so stressed out that I couldn't do my MAIN job, which was motherhood. My whole family was unhappy because of me.

I thought about this today because I looked at a picture on the wall. It is something my father gave to me before he died. It's a matted and framed photograph of Paul "Bear" Bryant in a crimson jacket and tie, with a quote from the Birmingham Post Herald of December 15, 1982:

"There comes a time when you need to hang it up, and that time has come for me as head football coach at the University of Alabama."

Well, hey. If Bear Bryant had to hang it up, surely there would be no shame in me doing the same, would there? And so I quit the most lucrative job I could ever have hoped to land. For my children. For my husband. For my sanity. I went from having plenty of money and no time to having plenty of time but no money.

And I can testify that time is NOT money. Benjamin Franklin was mistaken. Anyone who tries to tell you it is, is either a knave or a fool. Time is worth infinitely more than money! In today's economy, it's about the only thing besides love itself that is truly priceless.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

As Old as Methusaleh, As Wise as Solomon

At one time in the history of the West, virtually everybody knew the Bible. The similes in the title of this post were so widely used and understood that they have come down to us as cliches.

Similes and metaphors are vital to humans. We understand a new thing only by comparing or contrasting it to some already known thing. Yet we come into the world from darkness, with vague sensations of a world wider than the womb. That there is light must be the original knowledge. Even this, we could not grasp unless we had known the gestational darkness.

Before creating the sun in Genesis 1, God spoke light into existence. It is the light of wisdom by which we see everything else.

Be sure the similes and metaphors in your writing are as crisp as an October morning. Give your reader just enough sun in the beginning to keep him reading even after the sun sets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love at First Sight

My middle daughter’s ultrasound and the first images of my new granddaughter brought me to my knees and tears to my eyes. How remarkable, marvelous, miraculous it is--to go from loving the idea of a child forming in the womb to true and actual love for this baby girl whose features aren’t fully formed and who doesn’t yet have a name.

It truly was love at first sight; now I know what that means.

Psalm 139:13-16
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One on Voice Mail & One on Hold

With his mother's help, my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson called me the other day on my cell phone. I had just parked in the garage and opened my car door when I got his voice mail, "Hi, Mimi." It was the first time he'd ever left me a voice mail and the first time he'd called me by my "name." I was so surprised I nearly fell out of the car.

Now that he's broken the ice, he calls me a lot. Before he hangs up he says, "I love you, Mimi. Bye-bye."

Having children in your life--your own, your friend's, or your grandchildren--is a big plus in many ways. If you intend to write fiction and/or nonfiction for children, they can help you create believable characters or inform you as to what subjects interest children of a certain age. Some published authors say that you can get by on your own childhood memories, but I'm not so sure.

Btw, my middle daughter finds out in three days whether she's having a girl or a boy!

Blog Hijacked By Alien Clone?

Okay, okay. I know that last post wasn't anything like what I normally write. I took a walk yesterday and the endorphins kicked in, and afterward that's what bubbled up to the surface when I sat down to write. I thought it sounded poetic and decided to post it. Prose doesn't have to be prosaic.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lost & Searching

How many ways to be lost?

It's that tug of longing after the rain, and the inhalation of tall trees. They draw you into the secret recesses of childhood, the shadows of hedges, the mazes between the negative spaces of things. They call to you as they did in childhood: "Look here, in the shadow realm, because the things you seek aren't out in the clear light."

Immersed in childhood's idyllic light-womb, we all are lost. We wait for the change to come, anxious for things to change--as if all change is progress and nothing present, no present reality, has any value whatsoever. Precisely because the present reality is so good, so comfortable, so unchangeable, it gives rise to that future-longing.

The light is so bright we long for the relief of shadow, of relaxed dimness, and a motion toward sleep.

We lose ourselves eating. Eat rather to stay alive. Eat consciously. Use writing as your spice. Use adjectives as condiment, specific verbs as sauce. Slim down on your diet. Eat voraciously in your writing life.

Walk heady into the horizon, as if you weren't lost. The "eureka" moment is illusive because momentary. The search is the thing. Paradoxically, in searching you are found, located as surely as if tracked by GPS. The plumb line of heaven drops when men stop seeking staircases to God and learn about the divine that inheres in what fascinates them.

The fountain recirculates, the artesian well brings back to the surface the hidden secrets of the deep. The standing rain carries our prayers with it, seeping slowly into the water table, mingling in the moist eye of God. He weeps for our frailties, our blindness, and sends a spring up through the parched ground. The mountain receives the blessing coming up from below and coming down from above. Men, therefore, climb and don't know why.

They think they have met God on the mountain as Moses did. They are most gravely lost, even as God leads them gently, like lambs, down the rocky path to pasture.

He can be known, but in this life, He has so many impostors.