A State of Gratitude

“Gratitude is a powerful emotion to use for manifesting because normally we feel gratitude after we receive something. So the emotional signature of gratitude means it has already happened.”

Dr. Joe Dispenza

And maintaining a state of gratitude creates an environment conducive to receiving what you want, because energy takes the path of least resistance. It’s science (😏).

I am grateful.

I am grateful for the warmth of my children in my arms, dense with blood and breath and bone–solid, squeezable, kissable. I am grateful for their cough and my gritty eyes from being kept awake by their cold, because it means their bodies are strong enough to fight to keep them healthy. I am grateful for soft and swelling music and lyrics that bring tears to my eyes. I am grateful for the turn of summer to fall at night and the wind whispering through the trees. I am grateful for the cold sip of a beer, the hot sip of black coffee, and the cool sip of clean water. I am grateful for the look of understanding–almost telepathic in nature–shared with my partner over the heads of our children. I am grateful for light falling through the shades, striated and languid–the sun has yet to die; we get to have another day. I am grateful for snuggly cats seeking me out in quiet moments (it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you have cats and lay down with a book, a cat will manifest on your chest). I am grateful for the soreness of muscles that have worked hard and dry, worn hands–a working creator’s hands.

I am grateful for the books I can get cozy with and lost in (The Heart’s Invisible Furies and The Darkness Outside Us right now). I’m grateful for the movies and shows that fill up my well, for the memories of my father that come to me when I watch Star Trek: Next Generation–he was a sci-fi and fantasy geek like I am now, and I never realized that before. I am grateful to keep finding books and film and art and music to enjoy because it means the hunger inside of me is infinite. And it means the hunger inside others is infinite. And it means that I will never run out of experiences that let me feel connected to other human beings and their voices and stories.

I am grateful for the people giving me the opportunity to work with them and the venues who have published and will publish my own attempts to connect with other humans. The Grey Rooms Podcast accepted my first short story (twenty drafts later, mind you), and I will get to hear that story being given life.

I am grateful for the girl who used to come home from working two and three jobs while going to school full time to burn the midnight oil writing crappy stories. For the woman who continues writing with a demanding day job and two 5-year-olds. The stories are still crappy sometimes, but I am grateful for them, grateful for the passion and my patience to continue working with them, to mold each story into its final form.

I am grateful for the story I am molding right now.

It’s Okay to Say No

“Today is the first day of November and, so, today, someone will die. –The Scorpio Races, Maggie Stiefvater

Not to be dramatic, but I always feel a side of fear with my excitement on
November 1st. Yes, you’ve guessed it. This is yet another post about NaNoWriMo, where writers world-wide converge into one collective unconscious creation amoeba and delve into a 50,000 word-writing sprint over the course of November’s 30 fall-flavored days.

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Since I started doing NaNoWriMo in 2013, this will be the first time I will not be participating[1]. Learning to manage expectations is just as much a part of a writer’s growth as learning the mechanics of writing. As I sit beside my writing and critique partner, whom I am also fortunate to have as a best friend, and she clacks away at her brand spanking new novel, I realize, for once, I do not feel envious of her ability to jump into new worlds with such ease. This is how she writes. She enjoys world-building, the excitement and possibility of beginnings, while I fear beginnings and yearn, from the outset, for the delicious center, where all the secrets begin to surface like bodies rising in the Dead Marshes. I’ve also been fortunate enough to view Maggie
Stiefvater’s seminar on writing
(which she’s offering for half off today!), and it has reinforced my instinct to hold off on putting this project down into words; the seminar teaches temperance as I hold my novel baby in the realm of perfect forms in the furnace of my brain and continue weaving it like candy floss in this space, safely hidden away from the imperfect translation of thought-to-word.

I completed an exercise from Stiefvater’s seminar to explore the mood and test which point of view this novel might work best in. As I wrote, I was freshly astounded at how stories are woven: an image that creates a story in your head and takes off on its own if you’re lucky or practiced. It seems like a random image that ignites a random movie that plays on your brain screen. However, both that seed of a story and the resulting array of Power Point slides stem from an infinite combination of stimuli and memories that make your unique map of synapses and the sparks traded between them like paper
fortune-teller predictions in grade school. So don’t discount the experience of just writing to write, without feeling like it has to fit in anywhere or be applied to any tangible Work or Project. Even if it never finds permanence in your body of work, it has done important work in your brain and exercised that story-telling instinct with which humans, in all of our pattern-seeking wiring, are born.

I used to think of myself as a procrastinator, when actually I am afraid to commit something to paper before I have an idea of what I’m setting out to do. Not necessarily an entire outline, but as Stiefvater beautifully puts it in her seminar, it is integral to the writing process to know what kind of book I want to hold in my hands at the end of it all, what kind of emotions I want the reader to feel during and days after reading it, and what I want them to remember, years later, about how they felt when they see it on their shelves. We are, after all, conductors eliciting a mood in our readers; we need to know the mood before we can adequately translate it. This has given me the peace to refrain from writing while I fill out its form in my head, letting the rain build before ripping the cloud apart. This takes less time for some people, like my writing partner who asked me to assign her a genre[2] and had a solid idea, characters, and pages of plot and dialogue in 24 hours. For me, it takes more.

I thought this would be a pep talk so that I didn’t feel some type of way about skipping NaNoWriMo, but it’s more of an affirmation that this is the right decision. And if this speaks to anyone else, then welcome to my kumbaya circle. I’m not a particular fan of Kenny Rogers, but I find myself returning to and adhering to the advice of “The Gambler” again and again. The chorus is as follows:

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

All this just to say ‘intuition’ in a quirky, entertaining manner. Intuition isn’t some mystical otherworldly place you can only touch with meditation and burning sage (but our kumbaya circle does meet on Tuesdays to do this). Sometimes it takes practice, like anything else, to listen for its voice and know when to follow it. This little seed of a novel isn’t done germinating, so I do not yet know the shape of this very emotional, personal project. Therefore, I will continue slowly curating my playlist and Pinterest board–which has been overrun with wolves somehow–and cheering you all from the sidelines, whether you’re endeavoring to write 50,000 words this month or saying no to NaNoWriMo.

1Not including 2015, when my twins were 2 months old, but I wasn’t even human then, let alone a writer, so it doesn’t count.

2After reading through this for coherency, aforementioned writing partner/best friend wanted me to mention that I also gave her the idea for her main character and his goal, so as not to downplay my part in her NaNoWriMo project. *smirk*

Reaffirmation

With the newest publication of a beloved author on the horizon, she’s been live-tweeting as she reads one of my favorite works of hers. Naturally, I am comparing myself to her and finding myself lacking. Yes, folks, you can make negative, unhealthy comparisons to someone for which you hold pure admiration.

As I sit here making my mental comparisons, I  wonder why I even bother. What do I even have to say that’s worthy of anyone’s time? Does my work have any Meaning? (I promise the tone of this post turns around).  But as I cuddle my sick toddler, I open one of my poems on a whim, Nest.

That poem still makes me so proud. My epiphany, however, was noticing the poetic devices I employed, some intentionally like the image of home, but more importantly, some unintentional, like my partial rhymes. And then the end of it, how everything just came together and…happened. How I had written no less than 10 poems before this poem, trying to capture my emotions about being a new mother and having lost my father, and that final stanza expressed everything I felt more clearly than all of those attempts combined.

I think that, that final marriage of meaning, form, feeling, and rightness is a key to this whole “what do I even have to offer anyone” question. That poem almost created itself, using me as a vessel; I didn’t have the option to not create it. Is that enough to give work meaning? To say, I HAVE to write, therefore it has meaning. I don’t think so. What I have to offer is how much I enjoyed creating it, and THAT gives it meaning, because if you did it right, others can feel that coming through.

Time Consuming

Clock

I’ve been watching YouTube videos reading about manifestation through parallel realities, how envisioning what you want as reality can manifest it. Well, at the risk of sounding like someone who just joined a cult, it worked. Liquid Imagination published my poem, Time Consuming, today! I love this poem and the little monster inside me that whispered these words. You can read it AND listen to it for free (shout out to my husband for all of his EQ-ing and recording program wizardry)! I feel like this poem and the beast at the heart of it exquisitely translates to audio. This publication is extra exciting, because I’ve always wanted to be a voice actor or audiobook narrator. Don’t worry. I’m not one of those weirdos who is immune to hearing my voice on a recording. See tweet below for evidence.

But I do enjoy reading aloud. I’ve always been faster at understanding what I’m hearing than silent reading. I will say though, after twelve takes of this poem, I appreciate how much work goes into audiobooks.

In my last post, I suggested some different mediums to celebrate Women in Horror Month. For more ways to commemorate, check out Annie Neugebauer’s 9 Ways to Celebrate Women in Horror Month on Lit Reactor. In keeping with Annie’s third way to celebrate this month, I have to give a shout out to another woman in horror who gets me to my desk every Sunday morning to dabble in my dark proclivities: Carie Juettner. We met back in 2013, and our history just goes to show that online friendships can be just as strong. We’ve exchanged snail mail, attended a horror conference together, and traded our horror stories, novels, and poetry over these last six years. Check out her poem Night Walk in Dreams & Nightmares and her shudderingly good story Makeup, which you can listen to on Tales To Terrify. The narrator is fantastique!

To close out Women in Horror Month, I also want to share my first ever published work, The Insolubility of Nightmares, published by Hello Horror in 2013. Cutting a path for oneself in writing of any kind is an arduous, time-consuming process. Because of my publication today, three years since my horror flash, “The Wake“, and because I like circles, it seemed befitting to dedicate this post to the friendly person and fierce writer who inspired me to first submit my work, Annie Neugebauer.


If you checked out my first poem, The Insolubility of Nightmares, or read/listen to my new poem, Time Consuming, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Horizon of Possibility

stargazing stock photo
Photo credit: Greg Rakozy

God, it’s been a long time. I blame work mostly, but before that it was a general lack of inspiration. I was even flirting with the idea of just never updating this blog again, but for some reason, I couldn’t let it go. Now that I have actual thoughts to relay, I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t even know if anyone is still with me, here. Hello? Is thing on?

Anyway. Nanofreakinwrimo brings me out of my self-imposed hermitude. (I’ve dutifully transcribed my experience with this novel writing month here, here, and yes, here) Possibility is in the air. Do you feel it? Do you see how it breathes through the leaves on the shivering trees? Wait. Is it growling? Just me? Okay. So many ideas and current works-in-progress to dedicate myself to, and I just want to–do them ALL. My gothic work in progress, Wrathmoor, that I’ve been writing since 2011; my contemporary work in progress The Rosen Tales; and Other Points of Contention, which just makes me giddy and terrified every time I think about it; the short story I wrote for a contest that didn’t win, but that I love so hard I want it to have a face so I can pinch its cheeks; and the poem that is writing itself in my brain right now, revealing itself to me from the end going backwards, so yeah, that should be interesting.

This month makes me want that exhilaration of a cause and accomplishment and fighting tooth and nail to do the thing I love and what matters to me. I will never have an acceptable answer that “demonstrates critical thinking” or is particularly unique and especially meaningful for why I love writing and why writing these novels matters to me. Why does a child love painting and drawing? Why do we love to go to parties? Or, contrarily, why do we love to stay in and submerge ourselves in fanfiction? Just because I don’t have a textbook or Nobel worthy answer for why I love it, is it any less valuable?

No.

This life is too transient to get caught up in abstract, diaphanous terms like Meaning and Purpose in attempting to justify why we do the things we love. You get all tangled up in Plato’s Perfect Forms, and when you live in an imperfect world, it’s just not an ideal place to be, am I right? So, I say to you, my friends, on this day of new beginnings, of fresh, dewy eyed wonder, go. Find your horizon of possibility. Grasp its coat tails and let it carry you through the night.

Anyone else venturing into the great beyond with National Novel Writing Month? What will you be working on? Something new or something you’ve already started? I’m curious to hear how other people do NaNoWriMo: a little every day until you reach 50,000? Or just push yourself into the project with more gusto during this month of possibility?