My Books, Publish, Reflections, Social Media, Writing

My salad days, when I was green in judgment . . .

Research the origin of the phrase “salad days” and you’ll discover, especially in the U.S., it’s currently used to mean being at the peak of one’s abilities. That’s not how I’m using it. I use it as did William Shakespeare when he coined it in 1606. “My salad days, When I was green in judgment …” is from Anthony and Cleopatra: Act I, Scene 5 and Cleopatra speaks of her youthful naivete.

salad_mI’m a long way from my youth in life, but not in novel writing. In the fall of 2008, I was in the midst of writing the first draft of my novel The Brevity of Roses. Concerning the publishing business, I was not only hopeful that I’d be a success, I was confident. Ah, yes. I was “green in judgment.” I was naive. But I felt alive.

When I finished writing that novel, I queried it to the big name agents, none of whom broke the sound barrier in their haste to send me a contract. I revised my query letter and sent it to other agents. I received some, but not a lot of response. My confidence took a big hit. My hope waned.

Then, a major change in my life circumstances made the idea of self-publishing attractive. In hindsight, I see how “green in judgment” I remained. I am not naturally suited to indie publishing by personality. But I was even less suited to it after  the agent querying process eroded my confidence. Since publication, some lovely positive reviews have helped restore a bit of that, but I fear I’ll never regain it completely.

I know I can’t fully return to those salad days. It’s unrealistic to think I can retain naivete and gain experience at the same time. But my Muse, jaded by reality, misses the exuberance of her “youth.” I’m having a devil of a time shutting off that publishing/marketing voice that questions every aspect of what I’m trying to write now.

To say I’m stressed is putting it mildly—and stress, for me, always takes a physical toll. Before I published my first novel, I was a few pounds overweight, but otherwise mostly healthy. Now, I’m more pounds overweight than I can bear to say, and I’m beaten down with health problems. In some sense, I have to find a way back to those “salad days” of writing.

I really don’t want to make the decision not to publish anything more, but I do want to write without distraction from publishing/marketing concerns. I need to recapture some of the innocence that made my fingers fly over the keyboard, thrilled at the story unfolding before me. I need to throw off these chains of stress and depression by believing once again that the story I’m writing is wonderful and the words flowing from my imagination will speak to readers in the way I’ve always dreamed.

So, I rescind my statement in a previous post that I hoped to have two books ready for publishing by the end of 2014. I don’t know if I’ll have even one ready. Right now, publishing is off my radar. I want to write. Further marketing of what I’ve already written is not something I can deal with, either. I want to interact in social media simply for the fun of it, like I did in my salad days … but maybe with a little less greeness.

It’s time to quit frowning and start smiling again. It’s time to feel alive again.


Dream, Fiction, Novel, Words, Writing

Sweet Dreams

If you’ve been around this blog awhile, you know I write a lot about dreams. In a sense, my dreams are my purest writing, straight from the subconscious, uncensored. I pay particular attention to mine in times of stress. Sometimes I don’t recognize I am stressed until I see a pattern in my dreams. Like now.

Lately, I’ve had a series of dreams where I’m in one of two situations. I either see words on the paper, but can’t read them or someone is speaking to me solemnly, but I can’t hear them. Last night it was Locke—or was it Smokey—talking to me. (Why yes, that is another LOST reference. :-)) I felt I was in danger and tried hard to make out what he said. I could hear his voice faintly, but not understand a single word. The frustration woke me. So, this morning, being the ever inquisitive me, I said, “What the heck does this mean?”

Well … duh. Didn’t I read my last blog post? Not only am I momentarily blinded to this novel, I am also deaf to it. I have a great deal of anxiety about it. I am stressed. So, I’m stepping back from it for a little while—are you listening subconscious? I’m not going to wonder how I could have written it better, or what revisions might lie in its future. I’m focusing elsewhere for as long as it takes for me to get centered again.

I might focus on reading, since I’ve started six books in the last month, but not finished any … and not because they aren’t worthy. I might finish a portrait I started a few weeks ago. I might dope myself with allergy meds and see what I can salvage in my flower garden. If words that need to be written come to me, I will write, but I’m not going to force them. I need peaceful dreams for a change.

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Fun Fridays, Humor, Writing

And still, you can write?!

Some of you reading this are those strange creatures I call “people persons.” By that, I mean you actually derive energy from contact with other humans. I think of you as vampires. I would be your victim. Yesterday, I was forced out of my comfort zone to spend nearly eight hours among you in donor mode.

My state yesterday morning.

It starts pleasantly enough with a trip to the library and then to have lunch with a writer friend. (I’m still not sure we figured that check right, Tricia 🙂 ) But then I begin a quest for some Christmas gifts. First, a stop at a fabric/craft store for three little items—the checkout line is thirty or so deep with no “10 items or less” option. Sigh.

Next stop, a trendy teen shop in search of a cool shirt for a twelve-year-old. Lo and behold, I find a parking space after only three tours of the roundabouts this upscale mall seems so fond of.  I stop inside the front doors and scan to see what looks popular. Seems to be plaid. So I squeeze my way through the maze of displays—my fashionably huge purse threatening to topple everything I pass—and sort through the racks of plaid shirts for her size. Nearly every rack has a “two-fer” sale sign, but if you’re only buying one can you get it for half that sale price—don’t be silly! So, I find a decent plaid in her size and check the price tag. What! You want me to pay $34.95 for this paper thin flannel import that will surely be a rag the first time it’s washed because who will remember to “wash in cold water, hang to dry”??? I leave the store empty-handed.

Now, back to Target for the second day in a row to get the “Ultra” formula skin lotion—the one that promises to keep my skin from looking like a mummy’s during this furnace-heated season. Did I remember to bring the bottle of “Deep” formula I bought the day before and set by my purse to return? What a silly question. Okay, just grab the lotion … oh, and those gift boxes … and yeah, those chips … wait, isn’t there something else I need? Hmmm. Maybe if I walk through the store I’ll remember. Forty minutes later, I’m in the checkout line with those first three items.

All right, off to the bead store. I need one simple thing: a two-strand silver-plated clasp to repair a necklace my mother broke while here on a visit. She left it with me two months ago and I promised to repair it “right away” and mail it to her. Ahem. So, I find such a clasp in copper, brass, and even gun metal … in silver, no. I reluctantly move over to the sterling clasps where I find only one that my mother could easily manage with her arthritic hands … at four times the cost of a plated clasp. Ah well, it’s my mother.

My state yesterday evening!

Three stops later, I’m back on the freeway headed home, my eyes are locked straight ahead because my brain cannot process another single bit of extraneous input. In between the time I get home and have to leave again to pick my husband up at work, I plan to do some editing. I sit down at my editing table and find I can’t even read, let alone edit. Instead, I sit in front of the TV, a human vegetable watching music videos and whatever else said twelve-year-old tunes in. Oh, and I watch her increase the wear to my Turkish carpet trying to learn a dance step called The Jerk.

So, I salute all of you who spend most of your days like this—out of the house—and then come home and write. I think you deserve a publishing contract just for managing to complete a somewhat coherent novel or a short story or poem collection. I’d award you a Ghiradelli’s chocolate square, but that’s the item I forgot to buy at Target.

[This post has been edited from the original by the author, appalled at her inconsistent verb tenses.]