Monday, September 10, 2018

Sometimes you just need a rainbow

Originally published February, 1997, in Connections Magazine. Revised 2018.

Sometimes you just need a rainbow.

Let's just say it was one of those weeks--the kind of week that comes with taut and pinched neck muscles. Mine had hardened and squeezed until the tendons running up and down were painfully brittle, producing the sensation that every ounce of blood trying to reach my brain must be blocked, because I'm living in a constant state of pain and pressure, feeling like I am about to explode from lack of oxygen to a major organ. Kind of like this:

Know that feeling?

This was the kind of week where everything I encountered seemed to take one more whack at my tension headache.

Suddenly, my thirteen-year-old daughter is the adult and I'm stupid. "Mom. All of my friends have two holes in their ears and get their nails done."

"Do all of your friends play basketball?"

"No. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Well, ever jam a finger on a basketball? Or have your earring tugged out in a game?"

Eye roll. "No."

"Well you will. You don't need to complicate things with acrylic nails and extra holes in your ears. Besides, I'm not paying for it."

Thirteen-year-old eye cock. You know the one. "You are so stupid."

"Yes. It's surprising I've lived this long."

"Well, duh." Off she goes in a huff.

We had meatloaf for dinner that night. Not a popular choice but hey, I buy the groceries. This time, my son voices his needs. "Meatloaf? Mom, you never cook anything good!"

He gets the look. "So what's good?" I felt brave.

"You know. McDonald's."

I was about to break into a nutrition speech and then backed off. Besides, the pounding in my neck was migrating to my head now and I wasn't sure the lecture was in me. "McDonalds," I echo. "Great." So remembering this the next night when I'm working late, I call home. Maybe I'll score a few points with the kids. "I'm picking up supper," I tell the kids' father. "What do you want?"

"Anything but McDonald's."

I rub my temple. Go figure.

I head out of town for the day job. A couple of days later, I discover that my family does quite nicely without me while I'm gone. Somehow the cat litter got scooped. The dishes were washed. Laundry was done and wet towels were hung up.

I grinned. Had I finally trained them?

Then just as my four-day headache started to dissipate, it all fell apart.

Suddenly no one knows how to hang up a towel, dip the cat box, take out the garbage.... No. Mom's home. Remember? Somewhere along the line, I had failed. I had trained them all right. Trained them that Mom will always be there to pick up after them. Ugh.

Then my daughter informed me she liked the way her father handled things while I was gone. In fact, she was just going to go to her dad from now about "stuff."

The storm clouds of my life appear to be gathering steam.

"What kind of stuff?"

"You know, things like fingernails and the double-ear piercings."

Inside I'm thinking, Good luck with that. My verbal scoff, however, wasn't very pretty. You don't want to know the rest.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

What I’m Learning from Rewriting Older Books

About 18 months ago I did something rather dramatic—I took almost 20 novellas/novels out of the marketplace and decided to revise and rebrand them. Why I did that is another blog post but suffice to say my reasons were valid—even though my sales suffered somewhat during the process.

I am much happier with the finished products. I’ve met all of my re-release deadlines and by the end of 2018, all of the books will be back in the marketplace. Eighteen months is a long time to stall a career but I do not regret taking the action.

I have learned a few things along the way, though, rewriting these books. Here is my short list:

  • Everything can be edited and made better. 
  • Time makes you look at your writing objectively. 
  • Stories often need more time to be told—don’t rush the process. 
  • Several passes through the same story add depth and layers—even though you think a story may be finished, it’s probably not. 
  • Editing is never really finished—although at some point you do need to say “It’s done.” 
  • A fresh eye is always good for the story. 
  • Stories I loved before, I love even more now. With tweaks. 
  • Ten years ago, I was not the writer I thought I was. 
  • The magic comes with time and revisions--be patient.

That last one makes me wonder--in ten years will I look back on the current writing and say the same? I hope so! Writing is growth. Growth is writing.

Have a beautiful Sunday.