Monday, September 27, 2010

Sand Castles

Sand castles, that's what I'll be building. Sand castles with arches, moats, funky-shaped doors, dragons, a prince and princess, and those fun-to-make drippy castle spires.

And, yes, I'll be building them on the beach. What am I doing and how long will I be gone? I'm going on vacation to Mexico for a week with my family!

During that time, I'll be completely "off the grid," which I've NEVER done before. No blog*, twitter, email, or cell phone. I have to admit, I'm more than a little worried. What if I come back and no one remembers me? I'll yell, "Hello, out there!" into the dark recesses of the internet, and hear nothing more than my own annoying voice echoing back.

"See, I told you so?" the WWW will reply, "You snooze, you lose!"

I"ll exist in an infinite state of washed-up oblivion, and for what? Because I needed a change of scenery? Because I've been yearning for a People magazine in a chaise lounge with extra pillows by the pool? Because I've been dreaming of swimming up to a bar and ordering a margarita from a handsome tanned guy with big muscles? Are these things so very wrong?

Ah, seven days and seven nights of glorious memory-making - laughing and watching sunsets with my sisters and brothers-in-law, basking in the wisdom and beauty of my parents, and building sand castles on the beach with my one-year old niece. (Yes, this is actually where we're staying - our own private villa with our own private pool. UN-BE-FREAKING-LIEVABLE!!!)

As much fun as it will be, I'm looking forward to returning refreshed, repaired, raring to go, and better able to fulfill the roles and responsibilities I've chosen for myself. My goal is to continue to move forward and fully "be" here for the incredible people in my life. And I'm excited to finish revisions on Draft 6 and send them to AA.

So, what about you? Have you ever taken a "time out" from social media for more than a day or two? If so, how did it go? Did people remember you when you returned? Also - and far more importantly - who is your favorite person to build sand castles with?

*RE: My blog - I like to write about things currently on my mind, so I won't be writing posts ahead of time and posting them. That's just how I roll. ;-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Start of the Fall

"I went to sleep, 'twas summer
Awoke, to find it fall."
JCK, 9.23.10

In the fall of my senior year of high school, my best friend and my boyfriend hooked up. I was devastated, not because I'd lost my boyfriend (he was SO not the one!), but because my very best friend in the whole world betrayed me. (Yes, history sometimes repeats itself.) I wrote a song at the tender age of 16 called, "The Start of the Fall." It was sad and filled with proper teenage angst. I liked the fact that "fall" meant both autumn, and an emotional fall:

The leaves were falling all around
My head was tripping on the ground
I closed my eyes, but no one saw

Just how I felt at the start of the fall

The leaves were falling on the ground
My world was spinning 'round and 'round
I closed my eyes, I called and called

But n
o one heard at the start of the fall

That was then, and this is now. This fall is not sad. It is happy and beautiful, joyous and free.

I took these pics in my backyard yesterday afternoon. The first hints of bright reds and playful yellows are peaking through, hinting at a world of unimagined possibilities. Fall is like spring; a time of new beginnings - a time to contemplate, create, rejuvenate, and discover.

What's happy, beautiful, joyous, and free about this fall, besides the brilliant colors and inevitable/unfathomable phases of nature, you ask? Well, I'm nearly halfway through my edits on Draft #6 (Did I mention I've got an Awesome Agent? No? Huh. Wonder how I missed that...), I bought a new bicycle (teal blue Trek!) for the first time since I was 13 (it's true what they say about never forgetting how to ride, thank goodness - I'll post pics soon), I'm enjoying lots of inspiring newly-released music (Arcade Fire, Robert Plant, Mumford and Sons), I'm getting back into my own music as well, and - most importantly - my life is filled with the most amazing family, friends, and feline captors who are all happy and healthy. My blessings can not be counted in only one lifetime.

I'm approaching this fall differently than I have in many years - with a renewed love of my precious life and a vengeance for making my dreams come true. I'm learning that when you experience a great loss, on the other side of that deep, paralyzing sadness is a heightened appreciation for everything in life.

Like Ingrid Betancourt - a French-Columbian politician who was kidnapped and held captive for over six years in the jungles of Columbia - said on Oprah*, "It's not until you realize how fragile you are, that you understand your strengths."

In honor of the human spirit and our miraculous ability to persevere, I intend to keep gratitude, joy, and humility in the forefront every day. I will build a mental temple to worship these ideals. Sometimes I'll fail, but this will remain my daily goal.

Fall can be bleak, depressing, and draining, or it can be bright, uplifting, and filled with passionate energy. As with most things in life, it's a choice. (Pain is inevitable, suffering optional.)

What does autumn represent to you, and what are some of your goals as you head into this precious new season?

*I tried my best to remember, but these may not be her exact words. The sentiment, however, is clear.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Journaling or Dear Diary...

I've been advised by many folks over the past few months that I should start a journal.

"Writing is good for the soul," they say. "It'll help you get over your anger and frustration." Yada yada yada.

"I'm already writing," I answer. "I don't need more writing responsibilities."

The truth of the matter is, I wasn't ready. Now, I am. Journaling reminds me of the diaries I wrote when I was in grade school and middle school:

Dear Catherine,
(I always named my diaries "Catherine
Today was
n't a great day. Had a math test and got in a fight with Kathleen. Had another cigarette and nearly choked my lungs out. I'll NEVER do that again!** Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day. Oh, and I got a new pair of bitchin' jeans!

**Of course, the next day I tried another cigarette and HATED IT!!! And the next day, and the day after that. Ten years later I finally quit smoking.

I had a few journals as an adult, but this one is different. I'm doing it for a cause, a purpose - to help me get past a difficult time in my life - and I'm writing on the computer rather than by hand in a pretty book with kittens or flowers on the cover. And, trust me, my current entries aren't nearly so benign as they were in grade school. I'm using my words as swords to tear into the hearts and souls of the people who have turned my life upside down. Writing is a powerful and legal tool. Someday I hope to act more grown up, but until then... #*$#*#$&#%*^#$ RULES!!!

We'll see if this additional form of "written therapy" reaps any bananas or preferably a big-ass hot fudge sundae with extra fudge and whipped cream, or if it will be a colossal waste of time. Since writing has always been my salvation, I'm banking on the sundae. It seems like a just reward for putting down on paper the pain and anguish of ending a LTR. Plus, lyrics, songs, stories, letters, articles, cards, etc have always been the way I best express myself. So, what the heck - why not give it a go? Who knows, maybe I'll create a blockbuster non-fiction best-seller from it? (The perfect way to get even!) Then I could eat a sundae every night for dinner if I wanted to, so there!

What about you? Do you journal? Have you in the past? Has it helped? What are your overall thoughts on journal writing?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Words = Power

Words are powerful, which is a big part of the reason we writers write. Someone posted the following line on Twitter yesterday, and I have declared it my new personal mantra:

Pain is inevitable, suffering optional.

This got me thinking about what phrases are most powerful to me - which ones do I "reach for" in order to help me through life or just to make me smile. Here are a few of my personal favorites:

  • You're a slave to money and then you die. (Verve - Bittersweet Symphony)
  • What goes around, comes around.
  • When you're going through hell, keep going. (Winston Churchill)
  • It's all a bunch of bullshit. (My friend and I made this up while working together as interior designers!)
  • Tomorrow's another day.
  • Living well is the best revenge.
  • Choose your battles wisely.
  • Everything happens for the best. (My nana used to always say this.)
  • Follow your passion, follow your heart.
These are a few of my personal favorites. I'd love to hear some of yours!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Namaste, Y'all - You Rock My World

I wrote a song once with someone called, "We Are One." It was true for many years, but sadly, not anymore.

But this is not a sad post, in fact, it's an extremely uplifting one. It's a post about the people in my life who I am beyond blessed to know.

Sometimes special people come into your life when you least expect and - if you're anything like me - you never feel worthy of such amazing blessings. (Cue Wayne and Garth to Madonna, "We're not worthy, we're not worthy!")

As you know, this is has been a rough time in my life, but what you don't know is how truly blessed I am.

My blessings have come mainly in the form of incredible people, some of whom I've known for years, and some who've recently and unexpectedly found their way into my world and into my heart.

The people I'm surrounded by in person, on the phone, via text, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and email, have nothing but good wishes for me, and I find this truly amazing. They're rooting for my happiness, my health, my writing success, my "recovery," and all things positive in my future.

What did I do to deserve such great support? I honestly have no idea. But I do know this: I'm deeply, deeply grateful.

So, to all of you who have made a supreme difference in my life in the last five months and beyond, I thank you. Truly and honestly from the bottom of my heart, and "in honor of the place in you in which the entire universe dwells," I thank you. My greatest hope is that I may someday in some small way, return the blessings you've seen fit to bestow upon me.

Namaste, y'all. You rock my world.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Buried Alive

During these past few months, all of me, including my creative side, has felt "buried alive." By that I mean, I knew technically what I needed to do to get back down to the business of writing (open a notebook or my laptop and get to it), but practically, I was totally unable to access my creativity.

My friends and family told me I was going through a deep period of grief over the loss of a lifelong relationship that was - by no choice of my own - no longer lifelong. I knew this was true, and that at some point I'd open the lid on my self-made coffin (eerie, right?), but part of me worried I'd never see the creative light of day again.

It was suggested to me that I journal during this difficult time, but I would have rather jumped off a very tall cliff than write about the experience. I had no desire to journal or work on my book or even get out of bed in the morning. I tweeted a bit, putzed around on FB, and did my best to continue writing blog posts. I even wrote a song or two, and a set of lyrics (see last post). However, that was all the writing I could muster. I couldn't begin to get back on track with my precious YA novel I've been working so hard on since late last September.

BUT... In the last two days, I've edited the first three chapters of my book! I'm a bit wobbly, but I'm starting to get my creative sea legs back, and it feels great to be standing on sane, dry land. (Plus, you gotta love those crazy teens I write about!)

Thanks to all of you who have stood by me, encouraged me, cried with me, loved me, and had faith that I would eventually get through this most difficult time in my life. It is because of you that I am able to see the slim rays of light again; because of you that I will make a full recovery and kick that stupid coffin to the curb.

What do you do when you get into a creative funk? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Lesson in Lyric Writing

As many of you know, I've been writing songs since I was a little kid, and have considered myself a serious songwriter since I was 17. I've been thinking about the similarities and differences between novel writing and song/lyric writing, and thought I'd share my thoughts.

The biggest similarity is simply a love of words - playing with them and working on them until they fall perfectly into place. The biggest difference? Time.

When I write a song, it usually comes quickly. I pick up the guitar, and often within a half hour, I've got an entire song written including music, melody, and lyrics. I spend a few hours tweaking the lyrics until I've got them just how I want them, but the basic structure is there within minutes.

When writing a book, this is obviously not the case. Even when the first draft comes quickly (I wrote the first draft of my current novel in six weeks, which is relatively fast), there is so much time spent editing that the "final product" may take up to a year or more to complete.

What's fun about writing lyrics is that you can write about one particular subject or experience, or many at a time, or even use imagery and symbolism to write about "grand" topics, like the frailty of life, gratitude, romantic love, etc.

The following are examples of some of my lyrics from a few songs I wrote a long time ago, and the last one is a set of lyrics I wrote this weekend. In it, I rip myself off by using bits and pieces of my previous songs. See if you can spot the lines I "re-use" in my latest song.

This first song is like four separate books. Each verse is a story in and of itself. Also, in an unusual twist, there is no chorus, just an "ahh" melody line in between each verse.

The plane takes off and steals my mind
And leads it towards the sun
That certain sound still sends me back in time when I was young
When innocence surrounded me and laughter was the key
And solitude, profound indeed, would lead me toward the sea...


The throne which you may rest upon can not be called divine
Unless its born straight from the heart and nursed on song and wine
So little is the crown you wear when all it does is shine
To make it glow you have to know the reason for the rhyme...


My thoughts take off and race through time, landing on the hills
Where memories have gathered high and pictures dance with words
Why did I let him hold me there regressing all the time?
Can I go back and take along the wisdom that is mine?


The legend that I know is truth combines all life and mind
That ever-present Law of All describes all space and time
To slip inside the sacred walls that guard the ancient rhyme
One must control the present plane and want to learn to fly...


This next song I wrote shortly after moving from Colorado to California to pursue my musical dreams. My parents sent me a diamond necklace for my 21st birthday, and I was feeling homesick. This song is a love song to my family.

I'm wondering, do you still need me in your lives?
And if you ever see me on your minds?
And I'm hoping it won't, won't be long, 'til the time
That I'll see you once again
That I may be with you again

And, I love you
You know I care for
And, I miss you
You know I really (really, really) care for you...

Sometimes I feel a shiver inside
And I want you to know,
Yes, I want you to know how much that I am trying
Could you ever, ever love me for me?
Only for me, oh, I'm asking of you
Just for, for me (for me), and love from you...

And I'm taking my mind to a simpler time and
I'm trying to find the love that I left far behind me
Running back home where the snow sometimes falls
Finding shelter in the arms of it all
Knowing our ties won't be severed with time
That's a wonder, I'll treasure it like a diamond in my mind
You are my diamonds, I find
So, hold me closer to you, closer all the time
Know I do love you, yes, I love you, well I love you all the time...

This next song is a song of hope for the times in life when things seem to be falling apart. I've related to it a lot over the past few months/years.

Time, time, reflects an illusion and signals the tables to turn
What was once is forever and never will it be the same

As the pieces fall around you
You must choose what is true
For you, and then your puzzle
Will start to take shape and your world will become...

Life is sometimes confusing and other times very clear
We see, we understand but we often don't hear what is real

As the pieces fall around you
You must choose what is true
For you, and then your puzzle
Will start to take shape and your world will become...

Dreams are all that we have and all that we ever could need
We must live for the moment and don't ever let it slip passed...

As the pieces fall around you
You must choose what is true
For you, and then your puzzle
Will start to take shape and your world will become...

As the pieces fall around you
You must choose what is true
For you, and then your puzzle
Will fall into place and your world will become...
We'll become one

I'm starting to see how my life could be / Yesterday's dreaming far inside of me*

*These two lines were sung in unison, one on top of the other

This is the set of lyrics I wrote this weekend. My guitar is at the guitar doctor, so I don't have music yet. See if you can find parts of the previous three songs woven into the story, which is a very personal statement to what I've been through lately.

DIAMONDS II (Random as the Rain)
The birds they circle overhead, a dance they cannot fight
Little children in the sandbox play with shear delight
A plane climbs high and steals my mind, leads it towards the sun
Who am I to claim to know the answers right or wrong?

You colored me a love note on a paper cloth of white
I laughed and loved the dreams you offered, held them to me tight
I wore your diamond on my hand forever and again
Now it's in a heart-shaped box on tears that never end

Each of us is like a diamond, glaring in the light
Yet, blindfolds of our own design keep us in the night
Each of us is like a diamond, tainted, rare, and true
Striving to express our inner souls, our inner truths

Life takes turns we'd not imagined, choices strange are made
A shell game full of love and traitors; painful, aching shame
Our paths, they crisscross on and on, an ancient dance unnamed
One is here and one is out there, random as the rain

Do you still need me in your life? Do you see me on your mind?
I'm hoping that it won't be very long until the time
When pieces that have fallen, tossed as stones upon the ground
Will gather back together and the key to life is found

Each of us is like a diamond, unique and free and strange
Grasping onto something or someone to ease the pain
Each of us is like a diamond on a heart-shaped chain
Searching for that brightest light to lead us home again

So, let me know what you think about the difference between lyric and novel writing. What is it you love most about writing?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

PARANORMALCY by the Mighty, Mighty Brilliant Kiersten White

Last night I did something I've planned on doing for a long time but couldn't. I went to my local Border's (where I spend WAY too much time and money!) and bought a copy of PARANORMALCY.

Why couldn't I do it sooner and what the heck is PARANORMALCY, you ask? Well, I couldn't do it sooner, because it was just released Tuesday, and "it" is a brilliant YA debut by the mighty funny, mighty brilliant, sweet, adorable, uber-awesome (and irritatingly young) Kiersten White.

Kiersten, along with her brilliant agent, Michelle Wolfson, have created a monster. It's a gorgeous, blonde-haired, paranormal monster named EVIE. Actually, Evie's not a monster at all, but she has monstrously awesome powers.

I'm proud to know Kiersten from the blogosphere and Twitter, and can now say, "I knew her when." As my friend, Julie Nelson said, "Kiersten's success is everyone's success," and for those of us who "know" Kiersten, that is true. We all feel a sense of pride in her well-deserved success.


Here I am at Border's joyfully locating and purchasing my very own copy of PARANORMALCY. See how easy it is? Anyone can do it, really. And, do you see how happy I look? You could be that happy, too.

So, join me in wishing Kiersten the best of luck with her debut novel, and do yourself a favor - go out and buy a copy of PARANORMALCY ASAP!

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