April showers

 a gauze of memory  wraps my day in a warm cocoon

when it gets too shitty outside to keep putting up with shit

I remember how the sun coming through the oak leaves made bright splashes

on the grass and how they would disappear like magic when clouds floated by

I remember the oozing mud at the bottom of the fill dirt backyard and the oily

sheen that seemed to be liquid rainbows at low tide

I wanted to build a little raft and float down the marsh to unknown parts

explore like DeSoto did, see things for the first time before people were around

That wanderlust grew into an unbearable sense of desperation to escape, to run,

to be in a place where nobody knew me and I could be who I was

Then I turned 9 and real life smacked me right between the eyes but the desperation

just buried itself in my intuitive sense of powerlessness to do anything just yet

New book draft 2

The sound woke me.  Cracks and booms echoed through my bedroom.  I bolted upright, my heart pounding.  I slowly became aware of another presence and that panicked me.

I turned on the light and noticed a body standing at the foot of my bed.

“Behold.  Your creation.”

I rubbed my eyes.  Damnit there was another person in my room.  A naked, wet person.  A naked, wet, unformed female person.  I mean, she had a body with boobs, sort of, and the water dripping down her body was real enough.  She shivered, her arms crossed in a V across her chest.  Her legs ended at her torso, but she didn’t exactly look right, and her voice was flat.  I shook my head. The hair was wrong, the . . . everything was wrong.

“You formed me.”  Her voice was flat.  Creation?  Really?

I sat up and drained the last of my blue.  Thus refreshed, I looked again.  It was a female body.  Everything wasn’t exactly there.

“I formed you?  What do you mean?”

“You write.  I appear.”

I laughed.  No cowboys or rich guys had ever appeared in my bedroom.  She wasn’t real, obviously.

“Nah, characters don’t just appear.  You’re my imagination.” I lay back down and pulled up the covers.  Thunder rumbled close by.  I closed my eyes again.

“I’m your creation.”  Again that flat voice.  I sat up and looked fully at the creature.  She sure as hell looked real.  But what was wrong?  I got up and went to my desk, giving her a wide berth.

I switched on the lamp and looked over my notes.  OK, let’s see.  The main character is a lesbian, yes, tall, yes.  I looked back at the apparition.  Tall.  The notes didn’t say much more than that.  I picked up my pen and wrote down:  she is witty, acerbic, lightly muscular.  I looked back at her.  her body was smooth and looked strong.

“Ah, much better.”  Her voice was still flat.  I wrote. she sounds like Jodie Foster in bed.

“Do you really want to finish me out like that?” Her lip curled in an unholy sexy smile.  I looked back at the outline and started working like crazy.

New book draft

‘She is a lesbian.’  I put down my pen and leaned back.  Time for a drink. The curtains waved with a vengeance.  Smoky, moist, pluff mud breezes had been blowing all evening. From the street below, a tinkle of glass and laughter wafted up to the window.  The outline was finished and that glass of Johnny blue wasn’t going to drink itself.  I stretched and sipped and let the fire untwist my belly.  Stress over a book wasn’t my forte.  My forte was zipping through a couple of cowboy romances every few years, going on tours, signing books for housewives, doing the odd interview for a small town newspaper.  It paid well.  It was relatively easy to do the same formula.  I loved my characters.  They performed well on the written stage.  This book was different and way out of my comfort zone, but dammit my agent was too persuasive.

“Lesbians are hot this year, Carol.  Do your thing and your exposure will explode.”

“For God’s sake, Althea!  I don’t know anything about lesbians!”

“Carol, just do some research, already.  Surely you know someone you can ask for information.  Your last book only sold fifty thousand copies.  We need a new shtick and gay fiction is hot, although I don’t think you’d want to try your hand at gay men, would you? ”

I admitted this was not really something I wanted to get into on a book level.  I enjoyed my cowboys and millionaires on the page, but maybe I could try my hand at gay boys.  They liked cowboys and millionaires, too, right?  Nah, not my thing.  Maybe girls, then.  Surely they liked cowgirls and millionaires.  I’ll try my hand at it, find a new niche, come back to the romances I know.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll find a new market.  I don’t need the money.  I need to write.  That’s it.

The night sorted itself out into a fierce storm that blew in around midnight.  Lowcountry storms were noisy and fierce and rarely so bad the sirens went off.  Lower Broad got lots of visitors and few memories.

 

 

Twitter is a psycho girlfriend; Facebook is the spouse in a dead marriage

I like both platforms.  Really, I do.  Facebook was fun when I first joined.  It was exciting to be able to reconnect with old friends and stay in touch with family.  I could have long chats for hours, catching up with everyone, liking their posts, feeling as if I am a part of their lives.  It is comforting on a certain level to be able to let someone know I am thinking of them, and when they read it, I know they are thinking of me, at least for that moment.  I could invite people in to see my pets, my dinners, my collection of craft brews.  I felt comfortable sharing my activities, my whiny days, my job.  The boundary lines are roomy, up to a point.  After a while, the honeymoon was over.  People can only take so much complaining before they start giving advice.  The advice phase lasts about as long as the falling out of love phase in a marriage.  Then, people either start really jumping into one’s shit, or they just go away–ghost the whole thing.  After a few years, though, strong friendships can be formed and family bonds severed.  It happens.  That’s where people start getting choosy about what they post and they continue to grow.  Whether they grow together or grow apart depends on what they are willing to do to keep the relationship alive.  It’s a familiar place, as broken in as a favorite pair of shoes or faded polo.  I look at them and hang on to them because they still serve a purpose, albeit much narrower than in the beginning.

Twitter is the opposite.  It’s like 50 first dates every stinking day.  It’s exciting, addictive, soul-sucking.  It’s as demanding as a mistress and as flighty as a girlfriend.  Every day there’s something new.  Every day, all day long, breaking news, twitter wars, trolling, and somewhere under the noise is a steady hum of news, research, articles, exposure to new cultures, diverse opinions, creators, artists, teachers, journalists, politicians, leaders, celebrities, lawyers . . . and they are all accessible.  Unbelievably so.  I can send a tweet to Chely Wright and she just might respond.  I can make a pithy comment on a Julian Castro tweet, and he might even answer with a pithy comment of his own.  There are few boundaries between people and stars.  There’s a level of trust and an element of danger, just like a psycho girlfriend.  The sheer volume of information can become crazy-making.  Woe to the neophyte who wanders into a timeline that is already rolling along and try to be clever.  It’s like trying to jump on a moving train while wearing a gunny sack.  Pragmatic elitism exists as a desperate filter to at least move the noise to an acceptable level.  There are bad neighborhoods and good neighborhoods, just like every city in real life.  It takes a certain level of street smarts to navigate unscathed through them.

We need these platforms–to inform us, to make us think if we want to.  They can become echo chambers of confirmation bias, and they can impel us to educate ourselves and find out the truth of what is out there.  I don’t know anything about reddit or 4chan or instagram because I waste enough time already with these two sites.  Being curious can lead me all around the world and back home again.  I become a little wiser and more willing to explore, as long as I understand on a visceral level that these two platforms are for me to use, not for them to use me.

New Book Published!

Today, I put my second baby on Kindle.  “21 Ways to Improve Your Life” .

It is a quick read that comes straight from me, no chaser, no footnotes, no quotes.  I have a sometimes rude sense of humor and that shines through.  I’ve decided that from now on, I am going to be intentional about writing and crafting.  It’s what I love.  I will never get rich or maybe not even support myself, but I will have fun doing it.

 

I don’t write about politics because it pisses me off so much. I want to keep the peace in my own head as much as possible.  I may joke about generic political topics, but nah, nothing that would piss off anyone.  I save that for Twitter.

Monday randomness

I heard from someone on facebook the other day that referenced my high school years and expressed admiration for my confidence as an out lesbian at that time.  I was grateful for the interaction and quite taken aback that my abject misery during those years went hidden from everyone.  At 17, I felt like one big blob of hurt and anger and depression and hopelessness.  I’ve done my best to forget those heartbreaking years.  When I start remembering even a little bit of that time, anger starts flowing into the mental cracks and colors everything a lovely shade of black.  I go back to practicing self-care as quickly as possible and eventually, the anger subsides.  Perhaps the anger is a defense against a whole shitload of other emotions that lie underneath.  Perhaps all the pain is stuffed in a mental garbage disposal that can only be cleaned out by turning it on and churning that shit right down the drain.  And perhaps . . . Perhaps all those rotten things can be used as compost for growth.  One day soon, I will look in there and start the process of turning all of it into a useful tool.  Today, it’s enough to know that I control the process and random blasts from the past are more than welcome.  Indeed, my gratitude for the woman who contacted me is immense.  She helps me tease out good memories from the detritus, whether she knows it or not.  Thank you, southern lady.