Ghost Kittens

In the process of trying to get this writing thing down the most annoying aspect of it all is how honest I have to be with myself about the things I write. Otherwise, the stories and poems would just fall flat and sound false, or forced or faked or any other F-word you want to apply. I'm talking about the messy uncontrollable emotional demons that grab onto you and remind you of every failure or missed opportunity like a badly captured movie montage. You know, all those things that wake you at 2AM. I hate these little flashes because they are, well, emotionally messy.

I don't like confronting anything on an emotional level because I can't logically think through it. Everything becomes circular and confusing and I can't even move on from them because they have become both a source for my writing and also part of a coping mechanism that has sustained me for years. So, like any writer worth their salt, I spend a lot of time shutting out and ignoring everything I can't control.  But eventually all the parallels catch up with me and collide into each other and crash and burn while I binge watch TV trying to ignore the flames at my feet and the calories I might be over-consuming.

Because of the themes and topics I write about, even when I escape into sci-fi I find these very themes rise to the surface and pull me back to my childhood, which is bad enough, but because I am trying to craft good, strong, fallible characters, it also brings me to my mistakes and failures as an adult.

Write what you know,  right?

But what do you do when you are sick of writing what you know? What if you would like to know a different story? A different beginning? A better world to come from in order to make a better future in order to write a better story? Is such a thing even possible?

I know we all have that idea or fantasy about what we would change if we could go back. And I realized a long time ago that even if I could go back that all of those other people and relationships would still be what they were and I would still not be able to change any of them. And in many ways the knowledge of where we would all end up would be even worse. At least then I had hope...

So how do you go back and drill your life for material then come back to the present without being completely mired in the past?  Honestly, I have no friggin idea. I wallow in the past so much that I blur the line between now an then, between fiction, fantasy and reality and all of the shadowy areas in between. I say I'm doing it all for the story---but---am I really?

I think the one sustaining and constant in my life has always been the writing.  It's there when I pick it up. It's waiting for me when I put it down and it reveals who I am and sometimes, if I am really lucky, it reveals the better side of who I can be, which is something I don't often allow myself to see.

So I guess I'll just have to keep going, keep writing and keep fighting the ghosts as they arise. After all, they are my ghosts. I have created them on my own and enabled them to trail me like abandoned kittens. I knowingly leave a trail of kibble for them so they can find me and remind me of who I really am. I feed them because I know, on some level, that I would be lonely without them tangled around my stumbling feet...

Coming Up For Air

I am finally coming up for air after an extremely over-scheduled semester and am finding a million notes and ideas that I have been jotting down since last summer. I managed to put together a full-length poetry collection that I am getting out to a few contests and publishers, which feels really good. It's a project I have been wanting to do for a really long time.

I've also spent a great deal of time locked away editing (and re-editing and reorganizing and rewriting) the Sci-fi novel "Are You Still My Girl?" that it feels like I've been living in a cave with these characters. So as I near the end of editing that novel (yeah right!) I have decided to move on to book two as I send out queries and letters and samples and synopses on Book one.

I am in the process of pulling on the new story strands left dangling at the end of book one. I really love these characters and this story. It's a story I would want to read, and I guess that is a good thing. I have left them all pretty shattered at the end of book one and I can't wait to see where they go and how they respond to their new adventures. Sometime it's as much fun for me as a writer to see what will happen when I throw these characters into new and dangerous situations.

But I am also thinking a lot lately about this path I have chosen. There is little guarantee with a lot of work that has to be done before I can even have the possibility of anything happening.  When I try to explain this to people they just look at me like I am crazy, What? spend four years working on something that might not even sell, are you crazy? Maybe I am. I'm not so sure anymore...

But I always seem to hold out the idea of the possibility that maybe it's not all for nothing. And honestly, I just really love it.  I always have; this process of writing. I fall in love (and conversely hate) my characters. They become a very large part of my life and at times it feels as if I know and understand them more than the people around me. I can make my characters respond in ways that make sense to me, which, of course, real life does not, in any way, emulate. And then there are days when I think that this is such a strange way to live having these characters that only exist because I put them on paper fill my thoughts and consciousness in this odd life I have chosen.

Where will all this work end up? I honestly have no idea. But wherever it goes, I will follow it and keep writing and creating and living in this world of poetry and stories and strange characters that come to life off of the page for me because this is where I seem to find my contentment. This is when I have those rare moments of quiet that soothe me and make me feel as if I am finally where I belong.