Art is subjective. However, in order to create it the artist must dig deep, crack themselves open and be raw. Being exposed emotionally and sharing it is never easy. Here’s to the artists of the world, the painters, sculptors, writers and the like who dare to do the work.
I am going to be 61 years old in 48 hours. Wow. I thought i was only forty-seven, but looking over the paperwork, I see that I was born in 1954. My inside self does not have an age, although can’t help mentioning as an aside that it might have been useful had I not followed the Skin Care rules of the sixties, ie to get as much sun as possible, while slathered in baby oil. (My sober friend Paul O said, at eighty, that he felt like a young man who had something wrong with him.). Anyway, I thought I might take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today.
1. All truth is a paradox. Life is a precious unfathomably beautiful gift; and it is impossible here, on the incarnational side of things. It has been a very bad match for those of us who were born extremely sensitive. It is so hard and weird that we wonder if we are being punked. And it filled with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.
2. Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
3. There is almost nothing outside of you that will help in any kind of last way, unless you are waiting for an organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date it. This is the most horrible truth.
4. Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together. They are much more like you than you would believe. So try not to compare your insides to their outsides. Also, you can’t save, fix or rescue any of them, or get any of them sober. But radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air. It is a huge gift to the world. When people respond by saying, “Well, isn’t she full of herself,” smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.
5. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
6. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born
7. Publication and temporary creative successes are something you have to recover from. They kill as many people as not. They will hurt, damage and change you in ways you cannot imagine. The most degraded and sometimes nearly-evil men I have known were all writers who’d had bestsellers. Yet, it is also a miracle to get your work published (see #1.). Just try to bust yourself gently of the fantasy that publication will heal you, will fill the Swiss cheesey holes. It won’t, it can’t. But writing can. So can singing.
8. Families; hard, hard, hard, no matter how cherished and astonishing they may also be. (See #1 again.) At family gatherings where you suddenly feel homicidal or suicidal, remember that in half of all cases, it’s a miracle that this annoying person even lived. Earth is Forgiveness School. You might as well start at the dinner table. That way, you can do this work in comfortable pants. When Blake said that we are here to learn to endure the beams of love, he knew that your family would be an intimate part of this, even as you want to run screaming for your cute little life. But that you are up to it. You can do it, Cinderellie. You will be amazed.
9. Food; try to do a little better.
10. Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Dick Cheney and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost; but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it.
11. God; Goodnesss, Love energy, the Divine, a loving animating intelligence, the Cosmic Muffin. You will worship and serve something, so like St. Bob said, you gotta choose. You can play on our side, or Bill Maher’s and Franklin Graham’s. Emerson said that the happiest person on earth is the one who learns from nature the lessons of worship. So go outside a lot, and look up. My pastor says you can trap bees on the floor of a Mason jar without a lid, because they don’t look up. If they did, they could fly to freedom.
11. Faith: Paul Tillich said the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. If I could say one thing to our little Tea Party friends, it would be this. Fundamentalism, in all its forms, is 90% of the reason the world is so terrifying. 3% is the existence of snakes. The love of our incredible dogs and cats is the closest most of us will come, on this side of eternity, to knowing the direct love of God; although cats can be so bitter, which is not the god part: the crazy Love is. Also, “Figure it out” is not a good slogan.
12. Jesus; Jesus would have even loved horrible, mealy-mouth self-obsessed you, as if you were the only person on earth. But He would hope that you would perhaps pull yourself together just the tiniest, tiniest bit–maybe have a little something to eat, and a nap.
13. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don’t go by what I say.
14. Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. The first thing God says to Moses is, “Take off your shoes.” We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know.
I think that’s it, everything I know. I wish I had shoe-horned in what E.L. Doctorow said about writing: “It’s like driving at night with the headlights on. You can only see a little aways ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way.” I love that, because it’s teue about everything we tey. I wish I had slipped in what Ram Das said, that when all is said and done, we’re just all walking each other home. Oh, well, another time. God bless you all good.
Hi friends, students and blog hoppers. I’m flattered that Carol Baldwin chose my writing tip from the many she received and you followed it here.
I have another import tidbit of wisdom to share. I keep this gem posted on the board in front of me.
TRUST THE TIMING OF YOUR LIFE.
It goes hand in hand with Don’t compare yourself to others.
What’s the most frustrating thing about your process?
If I had my drothers my process would be much faster. But you know what, it isn’t. And I’m proud of the essays, magazine articles and short stories that are published, but I can’t wait to announce my YA books to the world. It’s as if I’m writer not an author until I do.
So I work hard every day to finish my currant WIP. Keep an eye out for me in 2017. I’m working hard to make it the timing of my life.
Good luck to you on your writing journey.
2015 FREE EXPRESSIONS STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP
This year’s Student Scholarship can be applied to any week-long program offered by Free Expressions in 2015.
Awarded to both new and returning students, the Free Expressions Student Scholarship is presented to a writer, working in any genre of fiction or creative nonfiction, who has already developed significantly in his or her craft and who demonstrates a clear need for financial assistance. Both published and pre-published writers are invited to apply.
The scholarship, valued at approximately $2095, covers the cost of a student’s tuition, workshop materials, lodging, and meals at any week-long program offered in 2015 by Free Expressions. Transportation and incidental expenses are the responsibility of the student.
In 2015, we will again offer one PARTIAL scholarship of $500 toward any program or toward editorial services.
Applications must be RECEIVED BY January 30, 2015.Scholarship recipient will be notified by February 13, 2015.
Click here for application materials.
FROM SOME OF OUR PREVIOUS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS:
BONI was a game-changer for me. The critical feedback, the top-notch instruction, and the overall experience gave me the confidence and discipline I needed to think of myself as a writer, which was an important step in helping me find an agent and a publisher. I highly recommend this workshop.”
— Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl and Call Me Zelda
BONI, what can I say? There aren’t enough words, there really aren’t. But if I were forced to sum it up in just a few, I’d have to say — game changing event. The advice, guidance and encouragement I received from the staff at BONI, along with Don’s incredibly wise and gifted teachings, lead to the completion of my current novel, Lumière, and the courage to self-publish it. With an excerpt from Lumière, I won the 2012 BONI intensive scholarship, without which I would not have been able to attend. As I said before, there aren’t enough words. BONI is a game changing event.
— Jacqueline Garlick, Lumière – Book I of the Illumination Paradox Series
Finally, I get to pick my WIP back up. I missed it. I’m excited to dive back into work with my inner editor turned on. First task- read my book from cover to cover printed out. I’m not allowed to jump on my computer and make any revisions until I’m done. Multi-colored highlighters and sticky notes are my friends- keep me honest friends, this will be a challenge.
I did it! I wrote and hit print on the last pages of my WIP Dear Dead Drunk Girl. It’s amazing. I can’t really believe I did it. This draft was a challenge let me share why:
It’s foolish to celebrate without taking a moment to recognize the work this draft required of me:
1- got help for my depression and broke free from its funk
2- changed fonts (Emma D. Dryden it’s amazing how doing changing fonts altered my perception of what was on the pages! Helvetica is my new best friend.)
3- changed the tense of the narration
4- rearranged the order of my book moved whole chapters, deleted others, cut one form 25 pages to 7, cut all the “working my way into the chapter” pages
5-revised/rewrote 3/4 of the book- added tension took Doanld Maass‘ advice “Don’t spoon feed emotion to the reader- provoke it”
6-Thank you Nicole Garcia for holding my hand and walking me through many issues (xxoo)
7-thank you talented and insightful critique partners for being honest and telling me when it needed more work
8-added an emotional layer
9-made a character interesting and possibly dangerous
10-fell more in love with MC Mary
11- added emotional sub-plot
12- gave a side character new meaning
13 deleted 1000s of “thats” and “justs” –
OMG I did more than I realized. I’m so going shopping!
Now I must take the required space and time away from my WIP and let things breathe and settle. I’m excited to get into revision 4, I’ll get to do some of the fun stuff- massaging words, smoothing kinks and adding even more emotion.
In February I’ll be attending the Story Masters workshop.
And after I’m done with all that it’s going to be passed out to beta readers. Who’s interested?
Be a part of Beth Revis biggest giveaway ever!
Go to her blog to get all the details.
Welcome to my biggest giveaway EVER!!!
I’m taking a moment to celebrate where I am in the process. I finished chapter 24 in the 3rd draft of Dear Dead Drunk Girl. I’ve got 10 more chapters to revise before the draft is complete and I can break out into my I FINISHED THE DRAFT HAPPY DANCE.
Here’s a little of what didn’t make it into the draft:
I’m not heartless. I know what it feels like to be obsessed with a guy, to think about his every quirk and mannerism trying to decipher what each one means. To watch him so closely I can imitate his walk and how his face looks when he bites into a sour apple. The wondering if there are hidden messages behind his smiles, his almost touches and text messages.
Despite the fact this is abslutley written in MC Mary’s voice, it’s telling – she’s not living it. My job is to make her live through the trails of her life and death. #amwriting
I’ve been in a troubling mood for a few days, and this moring I realied why.
Nothing hurts like mining old wounds, shame and embarassment so I can authentically demonstrate the suffering of MC and the stages she goes through to forgive her trusted friend for betraying her. And then I dig deeper so she can forgive herself for the bad decisions she made and the pain they cause her grieving little sister. #amwriting#amcrying #thisshitisreal
You say you have nothing to do next week? Come to an amazing event: 7 authors- one location. Book Launch AND BELLY DANCING!
11/4/14: Charlotte, NC — FLASH FICTION EVENT and DOUBLE Book Launch Celebration!!!
4:30 PM, ImaginOn Library (with Park Road Books)
300 East Seventh St., Charlotte, NC 28202
Have you closed the pages on a favorite novel or watched a blockbuster movie like ‘Divergent’ or ‘The Hunger Games’ and wondered, “How did the author come up with THAT!?” Well, these seven authors of hot young adult trilogies have the secrets, and they’ll offer up a show and tell as they help guide the audience through an interactive session that builds a story a sentence at a time to develop character, setting, mood, theme, and a plot with unexpected — and often shocking or hysterical — twists. Plus, because it’s the official launch night for both Forbidden and A Thousand Pieces of You, there will be belly-dancing lessons, fun games, and delicious treats. Come and party with us!
Martina Boone (Compulsion – Simon Pulse)
Kimberley Griffiths Little (Forbidden – Harpercollins)
Claudia Gray (A Thousand Pieces of You and NYT bestselling Evernight and Spellcaster series — Harpercollins)
S.E. Green (Killer Instinct – Simon Pulse)
Beth Revis (The Body Electric; and the New York Times bestselling Across the Universe trilogy — Razorbill)
Meagan Spooner (The Skylark trilogy — Carolrhoda; and the Starbound trilogy — Disney/Hyperion)
Megan Shepherd (The Madman’s Daughter Series — Balzer & Bray)