Monday, June 15, 2009

Life Rears Its Ugly Head

A little less than two weeks ago, I received that phone call, the one you never want to receive. My eighty-two-year-old mother had fallen from her front porch and broken her back. Not just her back, but both bones in her left arm and her left thumb. Needless to say, I dropped everything and went to her side.

It's funny how things work out. We become so involved in our own lives that we often forget how many lives are entwined with ours. Our parents. Our children. Our friends. We laugh and say we don't like people. We chuckle at the 'idiots' on the road, but we forget that we're on the road and we are people, too. John Donne once proclaimed that "no man is an island." I've never been more certain that Donne is correct.

Before I knew God had ordained that I be a writer, I knew I was a daughter. I looked into my mother's hazel eyes, asking for comfort or guidance. Now, I'm her comfort. Life is truly a circle.

As Justice of the Peace, I've performed thousands of wedding ceremonies. In each ceremony, I raise the wedding rings and note that they are in the form of a circle with no ending and no beginning. I smile and say, "This circle, the symbol of commitment, stands as a reminder that love has no end." That's the way it is with a parent. They shed their love like nourishing rain, hoping to water the healthy emotional growth of a child. Now, it's my turn, I suppose. Now, I can return the favor of love my mother granted me over the years.

As she lays trapped inside the back and neck brace, I can show her what I have become. Although I wish it had happened in a less painful way, I have the opportunity to let her see what that nourishing flood of love she offered during my life has sparked. I have the opportunity to be kind and loving, to be supportive and encouraging. I hope I'm woman enough to catch hold of the opportunity.

Mother's recovery will be long and painful, but in the end, the doctors say she will recover but not without scars. The active life she once enjoyed will be hindered by chronic back pain. Her garden and yard work, the things she most enjoys during warm weather, are completely gone from this summer and possibly from the few summers she has left on this earth. I ask my readers for their prayers and, for those who do not pray to send good thoughts our way.

My life is temporarily on hold. I have little time to write, but in not writing, I have ample time to think about what family relationships should be: the continuation of emotional nourishment. My mother's fall is a learning experience, and I pray that I can take advantage of this new opportunity for education.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Once more into the Breach

Okay. The new WIP is not working for me. I write. I delete. I write, and then I delete what I've written. I just can't seem to get where I want to go from where I am. What does that mean?

It could mean that I'm too close, that I've included too much of me and not enough of my characters. I'm not letting them live, letting them become their own creatures. It could mean that I'm completely off track, that the world I've created isn't capable of carrying the storyline. It could mean that I'm writing crap and don't realize it. Anything's possible.

Solution? Oh, yeah. There's always a solution. Trunk it. Wait a few weeks and go at it once again. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. What will I do in between, you ask. Well...since I had to open the trunk, I noticed a fully formed being lying right there in the bottom. The first book. The one that prompted an agent to suggest some changes. What changes? (my secret.)

What I'm going to do is start from scratch, change the POV, pump up the back story and make the plot a true tale of discovery. Vague, you say? Yes, maybe, but I can't stop writing. The creative muscle atrophies if you don't exercise it, just like any other muscle in the body. The more you exercise that creativity, the stronger it becomes. That's just how it works.

I'm not a quitter. Never have been. I've fought my way through three marriages: a philanderer, a batterer, and a psychologist (my best move. I got better at picking partners as time went on.) I've fought through the death of my youngest child. I fought to finish my education even when I became what the university calls a "non-traditional" student, and now, I teach at that same university. I fought to become a poet, and I've become a pretty damn good poet, if I do say so myself. (Read some of my stuff on Raphael's Village, then you decide.)

I won't quit, even though the current WIP has beaten me for the moment. When I finish my rewrite of the first book, whether it sparks a flame in an agent's eye or not, I'll open my trunk again. That's the way it works. I'll keep flexing my creative muscle until it's strong enough to lift that soon-to-become-my agent right out of his/her socks! (I also keep believing. Faith takes you a long way.)