‘Cause you’re cool like that, right?
I’ve sat and stared at a blank word document for about 10 minutes. Wondering what to write for a blog. Thinking, “what did I used to write about?” and pulling up archives. Life, travel, books and fiction are among the majority of posts. And it’s hard for me to conjure up a new post. Because life these days revolves around a newborn.
Breastfeeding, changing diapers and chasing sleep make up the majority of physical activity. Real riveting stuff. So what do I write about? That’s the question lingering in my mind, so I suppose there’s no better place to spill guts than this blog.
A conundrum that’s bothered me throughout pregnancy and for the last couple of months. Writer vs. Mommy. For so long that’s been my identity – a writer – and now I’m a mama and I’m just not sure if the twain should meet. How to keep the writer side separate from the mama side. Or better yet, how to keep the writer side alive. Because I know once a woman has had a child, to many people her own self ceases to exist and she’s just a “mother.” Believe me, I’ve had this experience already while pregnant, so I can claim it to be true. And while yes, I am a mother and it is part of me, it’s not all of me. I look at it as a challenge to not be put in that box. How I can incorporate my new experiences into my fiction and into my blog. How I can still make time to write and be a writer while being a mother. A shit ton of people do it, I’m not reinventing the wheel or anything, but as a newbie it’s daunting to think about. Stealing moments when you can, logging notes away for later, and biding time for that perfect sit-down-at-the-computer-moment. It’s a new groove to find, but find it I will.
Obviously this space won’t become a mommy-blog with Pinterest bullshit factoids (Make a fur swaddle out of a skunk, mommies!) nor will every post be about my daughter. But I’m sure baby smatterings will find their way into my writing here and there.
Like – did you know the thing that has most made me feel like a mom is picking boogers out of my newborn’s nose?
Like – did you know watching a 90 minute movie takes six hours when you have a newborn?
Like – did you know I sure am glad this baby is out of me because my wine hand has been empty for far too long?
Stuff like that.
A good groove, don’tcha think?
Pleased to say I have a new fiction piece up at the uber-awesome Wyvern Lit. They publish flash fiction, fiction and poetry and have a knack for picking damn good stories that hook you right away. Every piece I’ve read there has had me seriously impressed.
If you have five minutes, please go give “Runs in the Skin” a read. The story was inspired by Morgellons disease a strange condition I once read about and ever since I’ve been fascinated with for a long time, for some odd reason (DON’T JUDGE ME, OK?).
She used to think she shit glitter and now she’s home.
There’s something in my skin, Jess says, digging in with a safety pin. She scrapes the outside of her ivory arm; head bowed in earnest contemplation as flesh rips.
No, don’t, I say, taking the instrument away from her. Drop it in the sink, beads of red peeling down the drain.
What she sees has gotta be a mindfuck of epic proportions.
Take your meds, Jess. I shake the bottle.
Read the rest of it here and then run to go scrub yourself raw with a Brillo pad.
Special thanks to Founder/Editor-in-Chief Brent Rydin and the rest of the Wyvern Lit team for publishing my strange little story.
Facing a fear is a big deal. Like wearing pleated pants or forcing yourself to re-watch that X-Files episode of “Home” one more time.
Facing a phobia? Now that’s some pants-shitting terror. As silly or as severe as that phobia may be, that fear’s in your brain, ingrained like a parasite.
It takes some people years to get over it, to work through their issues.
Take me for example. I’ve been avoiding getting my blood drawn for probably the last 30 years.
My phobia has always been a fear of needles. Needles in veins, specifically. I can watch all the slasher flicks in the world, watch entrails spill out of stomachs and necks get slit and gunshot wounds explode body parts into mutilated pulp, but show me a needle in a vein and I’m a quivering, queasy mess.
There’s no valid reason for it. I’ve never had my blood drawn, so my fear has no basis except mental. No nurse has scrambled my veins or horror stories fed to me about how awful it is. It’s just something that’s always been in my head. Would have me avoiding medical treatment if necessary.
Only now, pregnant, I couldn’t weasel out of a blood test for long.
Though I did try and succeed for a while. I was determined to beat the system with finger pokes brought to me by the amazing new lab testing Theranos (more on that soon). And that worked. Kinda. Until I had to go through with the venous blood draw for the required Syphilis test (Goddammit, Arizona, you’re embarrassing yourself).
I went in twice to my local Walgreens to do it and chickened out both times. My brain frantically trying to come up with soap opera scenarios on how I could get out of it:
But finally, time was up. I had to do it.
Accompanied by my best friend along and armed with my headphones, I sat in a chair and covered my eyes and blubbered and listened to Shakey Graves sexily croon and—
Hey, it was over. HOLY DICKS WHAT?
It was like the revelation to rock my world. All the horrific (and ridiculous) scenarios I had envisioned – me passing out, blood spurting everywhere as they removed the needle, the phlebotomist accidentally nicking the wrong vein and paralyzing me in the process—never came to pass.
And it didn’t hurt – it felt more like a bee sting. The reassuring phlebotomist, Jamie, was like your high school boyfriend, in and out in less than 20 seconds, and my best friend patiently talked me down from the ledge by being armed with books and tissues.
Because a best friend just knows when to bring books to a traumatic life event.
Thank you to Theranos for making a better, less painful way to draw blood. And thanks to the now-30-year old Elizabeth Holmes who launched Theranos at the age of 19. Hell, Ms. Holmes, you may be richer and smarter than I, but goddamn, you’re gonna change the world. You made my life easier and gave me such an amazing and positive experience that I’ve devoted an entire blog post to the subject.
If this sounds like the Oscar thank-you speech of bloodletting, that’s because it is. I’m proud of myself for conquering my phobia and grateful to those who helped me and this is my shout from the rooftops.
Now about my fear of clowns…
This week a little ditty of mine called “Record Store Sid & Nancy” is at Digging Through the Fat lit mag. It’s an honor to be the first selection of 2015. Thanks to Gessy Alvarez for giving it a very lovely home to live.
I tell my best friend I wanna be like Nancy and she yells at me in front of a record store. “DO NOT BE LIKE NANCY. SID KILLED NANCY. I HOPE TO CHRIST YOU DO NOT END UP LIKE HER.”
She has good hands too.
She’s a seamstress.
You can read the rest of it here.
Patience is a virtue I’m not incredibly good at. Whether it’s waiting for water to boil or a delicious pizza to bake, I’m hovering, pacing, probably swearing up a goddamn storm for something I have no control over.
Which brings me to another something that pairs awkwardly with patience. The wait after you submit your novel and query letter to an agent and/or publishers. LORD AWMIGHTY THE WAIT. A torturous stagnation, your book’s fate in limbo, while you check your inbox more times a day than you’d like to admit.
But luckily, there are ways to cope. Ways I’ve passed the time and (am currently) managing my patience while my book or query letter is subjected to scrutiny. Ways to occupy your mind while you wait on others to dash your hopes and dreams and pummel your budding little author’s heart.
Fortunately, only a few require wearing pants.
The best way to get away from your inbox? Take a vacation. Roadtrip it. Tiny weekend trips, day getaways, anything to get out of town and get your mind off of that precious manuscript burning holes in agents’ inboxes.
And write something different. Something new. Find a story that’s been shelved or pick up one in-progress. Fall in love with new characters, say goodbye to the old ones (for now) and you’ll forget about the query. Well, maybe just for a little bit but a new story is satisfying enough that you won’t check your email every day.
Hey, you know those people you ignored while you were toiling away at your desk, muttering and cursing at word docs? Call them up and make some dates. Apologize for your hermit-ness, lament your query waiting, and then have a goddamn cocktail and catch up.
Maybe you live in the Money Pit or the Last House on the Left, either way I’m guessing there’s some big, bad project around the house waiting for you to get on it, son. That stack of magazines the neighbor’s now buried under? Yeah, clean that shit up. Or bury the body.
And I don’t mean the Terri Schiavo kind either. I mean plant yourself on the couch and veg the fuck out in front of your favorite TV. TV was a rarity for me after I got sucked into writing my book, so enjoy a little time to just beach yourself and have an X-Files marathon for a few days…or weeks.
I don’t expect these solutions to miraculously solve all your (or my) patience problems or get quicker submission responses. Obviously, I’m not a wizard. I mean, shit, until you get a “yes, no, maybe so” nothing will satiate you. It’s the bane of being a needy writer, and the potential excitement that maybe, just maybe, your hard work will have paid off and your little darling baby of a book will be shoved into the world.
It’s a good impatience worth having. So sit tight and buckle in.
And so, as 2014 shows itself the door, it’s time again to recap the number of reads I’ve conquered this year.
Last year’s grand total: 16
This year’s grand total: 17
Shit, I barely scraped by. I ain’t proud, kids, but I can at least comfort myself that I have a hefty amount of unread books waiting for me to crack in 2015. Alas, the book breakdown abounds…
My vote for the best book I’ve read this year?
I gotta say, demented as it is, and despite the number of gems I’ve read this year, that the winning book of 2014 has been Helter Skelter. Despite it being a massive 700 pages, I ate this book up. It’s true crime at its best (worst?) and bloodiest.
Now what about you? How’d you do this year? Do tell, so I have a reason to buy more — what’s been your favorite book of 2014?