Jul 2 2014

A few steps to the left…

 

"Genial"

“Genial”

 

“The enemy is a very good teacher.”  -the Dalai Lama

The above short video has sat in my head for a couple of days now. It does what only art  seems to be able to do–a visual representation of the deep dark places. An angle of light. A splash of red. A key that somehow unlocks places unknown.

The first time I watched this pile of junk transform, I was struck by the technique. How often did the artist have to step back and gain perspective? How often had the artist walked around the pile, moving the guitar or the wheelbarrow a few centimeters at a time?

Sure, one could watch this and think it an odd stroke of luck, but as I mentioned above, this struck a chord. A familiar but seldom heard note resonated in my being as I followed the camera from used and discarded items into the face of what looks to be a Civil War soldier. A vastly different perspective.

A friend recently sent a book home with me, “The War of Art.” It has nothing to do with Nicholas Cage, for the record. Instead, it is an artist’s brilliant description of that thing that keeps us from taking those few steps to the left. In his book, Steven Pressfield gives the force a name, “Resistance.”

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. Resistance arises from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.”

Resistance keeps you from changing your perspective. Resistance says a few steps to the left won’t change anything. Resistance says it’s just junk. Resistance is the enemy. But unwillingly, the enemy teaches us something.

In everyone’s life, there are moments when the heap of junk is all that is visible. In those places, there is tremendous pressure to surrender to the chaos. After all, it’s just worthless clutter. Resistance keeps you from changing your perspective. Resistance says a few steps to the left won’t change anything. Resistance says it’s just junk. Resistance is the enemy. But unwillingly, the enemy teaches us something.

It only takes a few steps to the left. Eyes don’t move away from the colossal load of litter. It demands attention. But in only three steps, the picture changes. The senseless moments, the random incidents no longer sit idle. They move and morph into profound meaning. The pile of junk takes shape.

The arbitrary uncovers the articulate, and all those seemingly erratic occurrences have done nothing less than define and give dimension to a work of art.

A few steps turns drivel into definition and Resistance loses.

I followed the camera and realized I am like that soldier. The haphazard has shaped me. What might start as a pile of rubbish becomes a portrait. And all it takes is a few steps to the left.

 


Dec 13 2013

The here and why

*** It’s here!!! ***

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A month ago, I wrote a blog post that detailed my reason for writing. Why do I write?

But why did I write this story?

First, I have to say, it is a novel. It is a work of fiction. And yet, it was birthed out of a period of time in our lives. Painful experiences worth sharing.

When I married my husband, I had no idea what it meant to become a part of the “law enforcement family.” I was aware that there would be holiday craziness on those days he had to work, but beyond that? I didn’t get it.

We got married. I changed my name. But so much more changed. And of course, marriage is an adjustment. And without trying to sound over the top, marriage in the world of first responders is an even bigger adjustment.

There is a reason they call themselves a family. They get each other. They understand the stress and the expectations. They rely upon each other day in and day out, for camaraderie and for safety. They will always have each other’s backs. Like family.

It’s difficult to describe or explain a dynamic like that. They are knit together by a thin, often blue, line. A line invisible to those who don’t walk it everyday. A line that becomes increasingly recognizable in the course of every day life with a first responder.

Case in point, there have been nights, dinner is minutes away from ready, the kids have worn mommy’s patience down to a mere nub and the phone would ring. Don’t wait to have dinner because of…an accident, a fatal, a shooting, a car chase, or at the hospital with another officer.

You answer the phone and hold your breath until you hear their voice. And then you hold your breath again until you can determine that they are okay. It isn’t the phone calls that are difficult. It’s the stress they create. And stress like that is next to impossible to translate. But it is nothing compared to the stress of death and destruction bombarding every one of your five senses. It’s one thing to see death on TV or in movies. It’s an entirely different thing to see it, smell it, hear it, feel it and even taste it.

After phone calls like that, I would serve dinner and get the kids into the bath. I would pray for David’s safety and my sanity. But all the while, something had been set in motion that I didn’t recognize. An invisible force that had far more power in my home than I could ever have imagined. The past.

Memories are tremendous. They connect us to happier moments and remind us of people and events. They link us to those we love. But their power doesn’t end there. They also hold the potential to forever tie you to tragedy and trauma. To haunt and torment and link you to a past event that is nothing short of horrific.

As a country, we have come a long way in understanding and treating PTSD as it relates to our military. But it would appear to me that we are decades behind in our treatment and recognition of PTSD in our first responders.

So why did I write Distressed?

Two reasons. 1. To authentically show the world of the first responder and those closest to him and 2. To bring awareness to the realities of PTSD as it pertains to first responders.

It is our story in part. But it had to be more than just our story. It has to be bigger than that. Because I know, there are a number of other first responders and their families who are currently suffering in silence.

It has to be about them too.

 


Nov 9 2013

Why do I write?

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To paint a picture. A picture that gives real perspective. A perspective that goes beyond our Sunday best and drives us into the heart of others.

For the last several years, since I started taking this writing journey seriously, I’ve asked myself this question often.Whatever you may think the writing life looks like, you’re probably wrong. No disrespect. Just saying.

Writers stare at the screen and wrestle. We wrestle with words. With plots and characters. And we wrestle with self-doubt. Which is perhaps the greatest understatement of the century. Self-doubt sounds like something you find in a Disney movie. But what I’m talking about is the kind of crippling uncertainty that renders a person slightly unstable.

So why do it?

I’ve heard responses that are close to the mark. “I’m ruined to do anything else.” “I love to write so much I can’t not write.”

But I stumbled today on my reason. An epiphany of sorts. I’ve danced around the idea for a couple years but it hit me square between the eyes today.

David and I finished watching a movie this morning. End of Watch. I still have tears streaming down my face. A movie about two LAPD officers who are ambushed. One of the partners is killed. We watched the graphic portrayal of his end of watch. The scenes are heart wrenching and the cop sitting next to me kept saying, “That’s so real.”

You can take the man out of the uniform but you can’t take the uniform out of the man. We sat and watched pieces of our reality play out on screen. It was more than a movie. It was a realistic portrayal of the life of a cop.

So why do I write?

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My first novel, “Distressed” which releases soon, is a story about what a cop life can do to a marriage. To a family.

More than anything, I want the world to see. To see and smell and feel what it might be like to walk in another person’s reality. We have all been taught to walk a mile in another person’s shoes but how often do we actually take the time to do that?

What if you could read a book that put you in another person’s shoes? What if you could read a story and really see and feel the life of someone else? The characters and plot may not be reality but the emotion is. And it’s universal.

So why do I write?

I write to move people from their comfortable into the hurting world. Anyone can sympathize, or imagine what someone else might be feeling. But the well of humanity is much deeper than that.

Sympathy wipes a tear, but empathy embraces.

I write because I want to feel what others are feeling. And I write because I hope others want the same thing.

 


Feb 1 2013

Life is Full of Misconceptions

the yellow brick road

the yellow brick road

Misconception #1: My parents are perfect and life is fair.

Misconception #2: My parents don’t know anything and life is way unfair.

Misconception #3: I will be a perfect parent.

Misconception #4: (After having a child) Misconception #2 was way off. Life is indeed unfair but perhaps my parents knew a great deal more than I was willing to give them credit for during the throws of teenage hormonal imbalance.

Misconception #5: Having a literary agent guarantees publication.

I have taken a sort of unannounced sabbatical from blogging over the past few weeks. Granted, there has been a great deal of change in our lives recently but the lack of posts has had more to do with my confrontation of misconception #5.

Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit such ignorance. But seeing as this isn’t the worst of my naiveté, it seems safe to share. Deep down inside, I honestly believed that once I secured an agent, I would become a published author. And I thought I was being reasonable. I waited for months. It seems to me that if another human can take shape and form in the void in ten months, an editor can pick my book for publication in less time.

Oh wait, I think I just discovered Misconception #6: The editing process is timely.

Anyway, I received another rejection yesterday. “We like your writing, blah, blah, blah, but the story is too dark.” The story happens to be about PTSD. And yes, it’s dark. I lived it. I remember.

In the face of yet another rejection I had to finally confront misconception #5. And let me just say that this blog is in no way a slight against my agent. She didn’t write the dark story that no one wants. She’s just doing her job. (nothing but love, K)

So my first book may not make it down the golden road of publication. (Misconception #7: The road to publication is paved in gold.) But maybe there’s another story in me.

I wonder if I have confused my misconceptions as failure. If I believed that I would be published and then I wasn’t, isn’t that a reflection of my ability? Yeah, it has felt like failure. They don’t like my story, they don’t like me, I’m not really a writer…spiral, spiral, spiral.

“Pilot to co-pilot, I smell smoke.”

And so I stopped writing. Or blogging. (Which is kind of like fast food writing.)

But just as I learned to overcome the misconceptions I had regarding parenting, maybe it’s time I grew up in the writing world too. Having an agent doesn’t mean I’m necessarily closer to publication. I think maybe it means that God knows I wouldn’t or couldn’t do this without a cheerleader. Which annihilates another misconception.

Misconception # who’s keeping track: I am super woman and can do anything and I don’t need anyone’s help.

How about you? Do you suffer under the delusions of misconceptions?


May 15 2012

The Ultimate Fiction Writer: Part 2

 

Regardless of where you live or how old you are, your life has a cast of characters. They go by different names. Friends. Family. Co-workers. People whose lives intersect your own. People with pain and hurt. Joy and sadness. People who love you and people you struggle to love.

The Ultimate Fiction Writer is at work again. An array of characters have been specifically chosen to intersect your life. Is there that character enlisted to be the voice of encouragement? Who is the character with the sarcastic wit? Do you find yourself hoping that one of the characters of your life gets inadvertently hit by a bus?

My guess is you have a character or two or three who have been cast as the villains. The troublemakers. The thorns in your side. (See bus comment above.) How often do you think that life would be so much better without them?

But would it? Would life be better without them? OK. Yes! Emphatic yes! But would you be better without them? What kind of person would you become if you had no one to point out the areas in your life that needed work?

There is no story without conflict and there is no change without struggle. So the question isn’t, “When do the troublemakers get taken out?” The question is, “When does the main character change because of the struggle?”

As you live out the epic saga of your life, take note of the characters that have been written into your story. They have been hand picked to share your stage. And when you face conflict today with someone from your cast, resist the urge to envision the bus. Maybe their part is to help you find areas of improvement. It isn’t their fault. Their just playing their part.


May 11 2012

The Ultimate Fiction Writer, part I

“All the world is a stage…”                 (As You Like It, Shakespeare)

Perhaps James Cameron or Steven Spielberg would disagree. They might say the world is a movie.  Every day of your life is the onscreen version of a scene from an epic novel. You may not meet your Avatar today or meet the love of your life on a disastrous sea journey, but what if today is full of scenes that make up the story of your life? Comedy. Tragedy. Love story.

But whose writing this story? Who picks the ending?

Spoiler alert. It’s not you. You may choose your breakfast and determine what you will wear but the writer? Nope. The director? Not you either.

This came to me recently as I was working on a current story. I get to chose what happens to the characters. But strange things occur as I get to know the characters. They begin to voice their opinions. (That is an admission to hearing voices.) My characters want a say. They don’t want to suffer. They want a happy ending. They question where the story is going and the competency of the author. They want to join the circus.

As I was trying to ignore the request to join the circus I had a moment of realization. I am just like my characters. I want to control my story. Including the circus part. There are days.

You may not be the author of your “live” and reality based epic movie, but you still play a part. You have a voice. You have an unique voice, in fact, because you are the character actor in the story of your life. And your story has the potential to remain relevant and riveting for generations to come.

How often I forget that although I construct stories, I am not the author of my own. Even harder still isthe recognition that I am not the author of the story of those around me. I am the main character in the story that is my life. My responsibility is to play my part to the best of my ability and to submit my strengths and weaknesses to the Ultimate Fiction Writer. There is an Author penning my story through the events and circumstances of my life. He even promises to work it all out in the end to those who let Him do the writing.

What scenes does the Ultimate Fiction Writer have planned for you today? Would you remove some of the struggles and challenges present in your story? Would you like to join the circus with me?

Or will you let Him write your story? 


May 1 2012

The first…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Look. I’m blogging! I’m a blogger!”

My first blog on my new website. I feel like I should have something profound to share. A pearl of wisdom or wit that may change the course of your day.

Instead, I struggle to come up with the perfect words to commemorate this endeavor. And maybe it’s better that way. This way you see the real me from the start. Wisdom and wit may find it’s way into this blog, God willing. But the truth of the matter is I’m just a mom, struggling to be a writer. And some days, I feel like a writer struggling to be a mom. And some days, I’m just struggling.

I guess that leaves me with baby steps as a valid option. I’ll start here, with this first step and keep taking baby steps. Funny though. I keep thinking that I’m in charge of where I end up. Come to find out, right now, I’m only responsible for the first step.

So here it is. My first…baby step.