Archive for October 2015

Northeast Writer's Conference 2015

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Next Friday and Saturday I am attending my first writers conference. This is exciting. This is scary.

It's local for me and not a huge chunk of money, plus I was able to tweak my schedule to get two days in a row off of work, so I figured, why not? All giddy with hope and possibility, I registered. And then immediately some sort of gut-rooted terror set in.

As I tried to explain my anticipation to my husband his response was "Why? Because you will finally have to identify yourself as a writer?" I think that may be just it.

Being a wife and a waitress who happens to write in her spare time feels safer than being A WRITER. Somehow making that part of my self-definition feels dangerous. I will have to introduce myself to other writers. To people who will want to know what I write. What I have written. What I will write. This scares me, apparently.

I am not entirely sure what I will get out of this conference (two days of seminars, networking and resources!), but I am hoping to come out more a writer than when I went in. However,
that all falls on me. No amount of seminars and books can make me a writer. It is entirely up to me to take words out of my own head and put them out somewhere for the public to see.

Here's to hoping some divine inspiration and self-motivation meet me there next weekend, and that I will want to write like never before. And here's to putting the knowledge that I am going out there for you so you will hopefully hold me to it with some expectancy of literary marvels to follow...

Flashback Friday: The Day the Sky Fell (previously published)

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This story is one that I am most proud of. It started as a final project for a college creative writing class, sparked by an attempt to view the tragic brokenness of divorce through the eyes of a child. A semester later it was picked as a favorite of the English department faculty and was published in the college's literary magazine. It's a tad long, but worth posting to remind myself that I've written before and can write again.


The Day the Sky Fell

You know the story, the one about the chicken who thinks that the sky fell on his head. He runs around yelling, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” I’ve heard that story; but I’m here to tell you that it’s nothing like the real thing, because I was there the day that the sky fell down, and it’s nothing like the story.

The day before had been a typical day in the summer of 19--. A light breeze blew and the sun tickled your cheeks. It was one of those days that called you out-of-doors and held you captive in the magnificent sunlight. A perfect day for a boy of my size to start making his fortune, so I, along with my neighbor Frankie, started up a lemonade stand. By noon we had made one dollar off our product- which sold at twenty cents a cup. By suppertime we had a whole dollar and twenty cents.
The two of us went home that night: Frankie with forty cents in his pocket and the rest jingling in mine, being as they were my lemons that we squeezed the juice out of. The next day we were going to do it again; we figured if we kept it up, by the end of the summer, we’d have enough money to buy a boat for sailing out on the lake. We had it all planned; our futures were upon us and we were ready.
But I didn’t account for what would happen next. There was no way I could have, really. Stuff just isn’t supposed to happen like it did.
The next day, I went to set up our stand once more, eager to further my fortune. My pocket was full of yesterday’s profit and my arms were full of that day’s bag of lemons.
I walked out the door to my front lawn, but the lawn wasn’t there. Well… I suppose it was; only I couldn’t see any of it. The lawn was covered with a flakey, blue mess that looked like someone had thrown sheets of colored construction paper all over the lawn and the sidewalks. The road looked the same, all covered in flakes of blue. The picket fence outlining our front yard had pieces of the stuff skewered on each of the white points. In fact, everything in sight was covered with blue sheets.
When I had gone to bed the night before, all was normal outside. Nothing unusual was on our grass. I couldn’t remember any unusual looking cloud, or cracks in the sky warning us the day before of what we would face that day. It was as if someone had come in the night and created this flakey disaster I was now staring at.
I looked up at the clouds to check and see what the weather was looking like…only there were no clouds. There was no weather. There was nothing.
The sky was...gone.
Now, it’s hard to explain what nothing looks like, but I tell you, I saw what wasn’t there. The blue expanse that had been dotted with clouds and warm rays of light the day before was now nothing but emptiness. Above my head was an eerie vacancy that shouldn’t have been. Instead of sky there was... sort of a hum, more a sound than a sight, something you felt but couldn’t touch. It was like there was a wild wind, but with no movement. It was like the sun’s glow on a blistering day, only without the light warming your skin.
I looked up again, and realized with horror that it was the sky that was scattered on my front lawn. I leapt backwards onto the safety of my doorstep. The sky was on my front lawn, and in its place was nothing.
Somehow, the sky had fallen.

I screamed for my mother like I did whenever I had a nightmare. I needed her to come and tell me everything was all right. But the sound hissed out of my mouth, fell from my lips, and filled the bareness around me, my voice blending with the hum. Nightmares are always worse when you have to face them alone.
I looked for my neighbors. Their houses were all there. Their mailboxes, their cars, everything was there, just like it should have been! Only, everyone had pieces of the heavens strewn across their grass, caught in their trees, and stuck on their fences.
But no one seemed to be around. Didn’t they care? I briefly thought about calling the police or the fire department. But what did they know about fallen skies? For as long as I could remember, this had never happened.  How was I supposed to know how to handle it?
I was alone and desperate, so I did what any boy of my size would have done if given a situation such as mine. Carefully, I snapped a branch off the little piney shrub next to our doorstep. I poked the ground, or the sky, I guess it was, with the branch. Nothing happened. No sound. No feeling. No sudden explosions. I edged one toe off the step and gingerly stood on what was once the sky. Again, nothing happened. Emboldened, I bent and picked up a piece of it; it was flimsy like a sheet of the daily newspaper that my father hid behind each morning at breakfast, but soft like the pairs of flannel pajamas that my grandma gave me on Christmas every year. It was thin like paper, but when I shook it, it didn’t crinkle, it didn’t rip. Next, I threw it as high as I could. It didn’t suspend itself back where it belonged. Instead, it floated noiselessly back onto the lawn, covering up the patch of green that I had exposed. It was like the sky didn’t want to be fixed.
I ran inside, slammed the door, and leaned my back against it. After counting to ten with my eyes squeezed tight, I opened the door again, popped my head out, and sure as anything the sky was still there, right where it didn’t belong, scattered on the ground like confetti left over from a surprise party we hadn’t had.
I bounded up the stairs, screaming for my dad. He was a smart guy, and I thought maybe he could fix the problem. Dads generally know a lot about problems, and sometime they even know enough to be able to fix them.
“The sky! It fell. The sky is on the front lawn, Dad. I tried to put it back but….”
“What?” my father asked, as he rolled over to face me. The space next to him on the bed was empty; the sheets were neat and tucked in. Mom was sleeping on the couch, again.
“The sky. It’s on the lawn. It’s all blue and everywhere and it feels like my PJ’s from Grandma and it won’t go back up where it needs to!”
He rolled the other way to look out the window, but the faded, floral curtains were drawn shut. “Prob’ly just fog, son. It’ll pass. Go on downstairs; turn on the coffee pot. I’ll be down in a bit.”
I kicked the side of his bed with my slippered foot. “The sky fell down, Dad, and coffee isn’t gonna fix it!”
 My father sat up. “Yes, yes, I understand,” he said, as he tied his robe on and then rubbed his temples with the heels of his hands.
I stomped down the stairs, scared and infuriated, and peeked out the window. Sure enough, just as I had said, there was no sky in the sky. I opened up the front door and jumped on the mess that had found its way onto my lawn. I stomped around. I jumped on what was supposed to be the sky, angry that it wasn’t being the way it should.
I heard my dad’s footsteps on the stairs; I flung open the door for him and cried, “Look!”
He did. He blinked a couple of times and ran his left hand through his hair, like he did after having a fight with my mother. Then he chewed on his lip.
“That’s the sky, Dad! All over our grass, just like I told you. That’s a whole bunch of sky!” My voice sounded hollow, like I was in a cave, only with no echo.
My dad said nothing. He stood there, blinking his eyes, chewing his lip, and rubbing his gray-streaked hair.
I rushed back into the house, hoping my mother would prove more helpful than my father. I began to bound up the staircase towards my parent’s room but turned and headed for the living room instead.
“Mom? I need you to wake up! The sky fell onto the front lawn. Please get up.”
She rolled on the couch to turn and face me.
“What, sweetheart?”
“The sky, Mom. Please get up and see it. Dad’s outside looking at it. It’s messy.”
My mother pushed her disheveled hair out of her swollen eyes. She sat up and slid her feet into her slippers and stood, putting her hand on my shoulder.
 “Okay, okay. Let’s go see it,” she said, as if she was just playing along with a game.
She shuffled toward the open front door with me. As soon as she got a look at the situation outside, she stopped. She made a little sucking noise as she drew air quickly into her lungs. Her mouth quivering, she walked out onto the step and stood next to my father. Her eyes just kept getting wider or maybe her face was just getting smaller.
“I told you…it’s…the sky…” I tried to explain, hoping they would somehow, in their parental understanding, be able to make it right again.
But neither said anything.
“Why is it on the grass, and what are we gonna do? Someone has to do something!” I yelled at my mute parents, aggravated that I was the only one feeling the need to take some sort of action. I was the kid! What was I supposed to do about it? Stuff like this wasn’t supposed to happen. The sky should always be the sky. Some things are just supposed to stay normal, everyday of your life. But that day, on the front lawn of our home, the sky had decided it wasn’t the sky anymore. Someone had to fix it, but my parents just stood gaping, waiting for it to right itself, like somehow it could.
My dad shook his head and stared at the sky-covered lawn. My mother stood beside him, refusing to talk or perhaps too afraid to. She pulled her robe tighter.
Again my father rubbed his hand through his hair. “Sometimes things are just out of our control, son.”
“Everything will work out for the best, sweetie,” my mother finally said, again placing her hand on my shoulder.
I pulled away and turned to stare at the two of them while they stared at the lack of lawn. “No! No it won’t work out, Mom! What don’t you understand? When the sky falls down, someone has to do something to fix it. I know it! Please, we’ve gotta do something!”
But, despite my pleading, neither of them did anything to make things right again.

My father was sitting in the living room, with the television on. In one hand he held his morning coffee and in the other he grasped the remote, holding on to it like it was the only thing he still had control over. Maria McCarthy from the news channel was talking about the weather like she did every morning. Only, that morning the weather forecast involved the sky having collapsed onto the earth.
I could see she was trying to be calm, just like my parents. Everyone was pretending that somehow tomorrow we’d all wake up and everything would be normal again. As if the next day she’d be saying the forecast would be back to sunny with a high of 85 and summer would be restored to its full glory. Maria, the weather woman, smiled. Footage of other neighborhoods with fallen sky strewed on the ground played across the screen.
It was then that I knew everything was not okay at all.
“Sweetheart, come eat some breakfast,” my mother called from the kitchen. I heard her set a bowl down onto the table and pour juice into a glass. I didn’t want to take my eyes off the news report. I wanted to wait for her to announce that someone very smart had come up with a way to fix this situation. But I knew they hadn’t.
I went and sat at the table, quietly taking turns gazing at my steaming bowl of oatmeal and out the window at the chaos outside.
“It will be all right, don’t worry, sweetie,” said my mother, though I hadn’t said anything to her. She stood behind me, also looking out the window, running her finger through my messy hair. “It’ll get fixed. It will all be okay soon.”
I knew things probably weren’t going to be all right. I had heard that lie too many times before from my parents. Some things, once they are broken, can’t be fixed, no matter how hard you try. I knew that adults liked to act like they knew everything. That they somehow saw that it would be okay. At least that is what they tried to tell me. But it wouldn’t. The sky had relocated to the front lawn. The world might as well be ending. At the time, I thought maybe it was. When things go that wrong you know that they just don’t find ways of becoming right again.
When I finished my breakfast, my mother said, “Sweetie, why don’t you go find Frankie and see if he wants to sell lemonade with you, like you did yesterday. That was fun, right?”
I gave her a look of nothing can be like it was yesterday.
She gave me back a look of everything is just fine.
We both knew she was lying.
She pulled out my chair and gave me a gentle nudge to get up. “Go on. Go get dressed and go see if Frankie is up.”
On my way back upstairs I heard my father on the phone in the living room. He was still watching the news.
“Are things all right where you are, Robbie?” he asked.
Robbie was my older brother who was away at college. I ran upstairs before hearing any response. I knew things were a mess everywhere.

Once I stepped out my door I tried to walk carefully. If by some miracle someone smarter than any of us did find a way to fix the sky, I didn’t want to be responsible for doing any damage to it in the meantime. I walked down the road, to the left, passed three houses with sky-speckled lawns, to Frankie’s.
I wrapped on the door and he answered, as if he had been waiting for me to come. “Mom and Dad said I can’t come out today.”
“Oh,” I said, disappointed. My parents had sent me outside but his were keeping him safely in.
“Did you see what it is like out there? Does it all look like this?”
“All of it. The sky is everywhere.”
“I knew it!”
“My mom wanted us to sell more lemonade.”
“I’m not supposed to go any farther than this doorstep.”
“I don’t think it’s dangerous or anything. I jumped on it a little. Wanna come over and sell lemonade?”
“Okay, I guess.” He quietly shut the door behind him and made his escape.
We walked back to my house and made a game of trying to step only on patches of cement or on tufts of green grass peeking out from beneath the fallen sky. We had played games like this before, pretending we were jumping from rock to rock, like adventurers crossing a rushing river, or carefully avoiding hot lava as we escaped an erupting volcano. Only this wasn’t a game. This was real. It turned out that the games had been a lot more fun.
We set out our stand right on top of the sky and mixed up our fresh lemonade. Both of us sat there all morning. We didn’t have any customers that day.
The following day the sky was still on the lawn. I think we had all hoped if we just waited it out long enough that we’d wake up one morning and it would be back to normal. But my father gave up hope a little faster than the rest of us. He was tired of being cooped up in the house watching the news and he used the fact that we were out of milk as an excuse to leave.
I tried to talk him out of it. I was worried that if he drove on the sky it would damage it even further and our hope of thing going back to normal would be even smaller.
“Dad! You can’t just go out and drive over the sky,” I warned him, as I spread my arms across the door to the garage. “It’s fragile!”
“We need milk”
“We need the sky to be okay, Dad!”
“There isn’t anything anyone can do and we can’t just sit here waiting for it to work itself out. We need to go on living.”
“What if you make it worse?”
“We need milk.” He picked me up under the arms and lifted me out of his way.
 I watched out the window as he backed up the car and left the driveway. The sky was getting caught up in his tires and was making a sound like my bike did when I put playing cards in the wheel spokes. I watched him disappear down the road, rearranging the sky as he went. I chewed on my fingers as hope left my heart.
After the sky fell down, nothing was ever really right again. Everyone gave up trying to fix it. We just had to accept that things weren’t going to be the same anymore. I was as though everyone learned to live with the fallen sky, just like it was normal. But some days I would remember what it used to be like. But that was all it was: a memory. Any hope of things going back to the way they were before had long faded.
            My history class textbook included pictures of what the sky used to look like before it relocated to the ground. Reading about what had happened was strange. We were all there. No one could forget.
Now I spent weekdays with my mom and every other weekend with my dad. My older brother had graduated and gotten married. Sometimes I saw him on holidays. Frankie’s family had moved away; we never did get rich off of lemonade.

Things were different. The sky was broken, so were we, and it’s never going to be the same again.

Some dance to forget (Part 2)

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Hotel California lyrics: here
Part 1: Here

Part two of a short story drawing inspiration from the lyrics of  the classic Eagles song:

I turned the key in the door of room 6. The nauseating carpet print continued into my chambers, where it met tired walls. I had expected mirrored ceilings and tacky decor, but was pleasantly surprised. A simple and typical set up; double bed adorned in less than promising bedding, uncluttered desk, bedside table and lamp, an outdated television, floor to ceiling blackout curtains across the one window and a small bathroom. All the necessities and nothing fancy.  I lay my duffle down and fell onto the bed; it creaked and I sighed. My coworkers were out forgetting their troubles and I was trapped in this room alone with only my troubles to think about.

I set my keys, wallet, and phone in the draw of the bedside table. Between them and the customary hotel bible, which was still wrapped in the plastic it had been purchased in, I set my wedding ring. I thought of Miriam and tried to remember if I still loved her. I had left for the conference mid fight, but it didn’t feel bad. Most times were “mid-fight” now. Just the way things were.

From the drawer I drew the TV remote. On/off and channel or volume up/down were my only options. With a press of the red button the TV hummed to life. No guide button, no channel map. The default channel was all static so I clicked to the next. I didn’t recognize the show but I couldn’t help but notice the kitchen being portrayed in black and white looked very much like that of the house I had grown up in, and that the woman in front of the stove with her back to the camera looked very much like that of my mother. My own mother had passed away from cancer when I was still in grade school. Not wanting to spend an already depressing night being reminded of old sorrows, I flipped to the next channel. Looked like some kids sports movie; a bunch of little boys on a softball field. The less-than-encouraging shouts of an angry father could be heard from the bleachers as a young man went up to bat. Again, next channel; I didn’t want to think of fathers either. Were there no news or sports channels out here? A woman in a hospital room, some maternity show. A doctor shaking his head in the foreground. The woman on the hospital bed was out of focus, but crying. Her frame looked like that of my Miriam. Like strikingly so. Eerily so. Quickly, next channel. A couple fighting, shouting, glass bottle breaking on the floor, a door slamming. Too close to home, next channel. A soap opera-y set with an alluring blonde speaking, presumably to some lover. The camera panned out to show the back the man. He had my build, my hair line. Suddenly that channel too went to fuzz. I flipped backward and forward; where the other shows had been there was now nothing but hissing black and white specks. I threw the remote to the floor, in both anger and fear. Nothing good on anyway.

I picked up the phone and dialed the front desk. “Tiffany? It’s room 6, the TV’s broken. I’ve been traveling all day and I just want to watch the news. Can anyone reset the thing and get it to work? I’m paying for the room and you gave me a crap TV.”

“So sorry, sir. I’ll send our maintenance man right over.  We’ll fix it so you can enjoy your stay."

"Thank you."

"Tonight’s band arrives shortly if you want to spend some time in the courtyard while we get your television working again for you. Perhaps you can come down to the bar, have a drink on us in the meantime?

I hung up. No further persuasion needed. A drink of any kind or cost was not something I would ever pass up, particularly not after a too long day such as the one I was having.

I settled in on the seat of a worn red bar stool and ordered a Jack and Coke. The wordless bartender slid it my way. Soon a second followed. No one else was at the bar, but I was comfortable solo.

Outside through french doors I could see that the band had arrived as was setting up in a gazebo beside the pool’s patio. In the room’s corner a few guests had gathered around a card table. They looked up at me for a moment, their eyes saying they didn’t care if I joined them and didn’t care if I didn’t. I went over to inquire as to what was being played.

A man with an unkempt beard that looked older than he was set a well-polished .44 special on the table. “Roulette.”

Apparently, the Russian variety. Alarmed, I looked to the bartender who looked back blank-faced as if to say “Relax. Let them.”

Disturbed, I got the impression that that sort of thing had gone on there before and that no one was worried about it, but my long day hadn’t yet been long enough and my drinks had been too few for me to dance with my own destiny at a card table with strangers in the desert.  I left before they could begin their game against fate.

A familiar tune played out in the courtyard.  People were appearing out of the desolate night and swaying to the rhythm. The last thing I remember, third drink in my hand, I wandered out onto the tiled patio to join them.  

A woman sipping pink champagne grabbed my hand “Dance with me…”

And the rest I forget…

Some Dance to Forget (Part 1)

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I've been skimming through online writing prompts and browsing amazon for books which will make me want to write books, but thus far nothing has really sparked any creativity in me. So currently I am instead writing about whatever random thing that gives me that nudge to put words on paper. Sometimes someone else's already well-crafted words grip me in a way that I want to write more about them. Most often, for me, this happens with song lyrics. And for whatever reason the most "further-writing-inspiring"  song has always been the same. Hotel California, by the Eagles. Every time I hear the iconic rock song, warning again a seemingly luxurious life of easy money, easy women and an excess of drugs and alcohol, something about the fantastical lyrics and carefully-worded descriptions (view full lyrics here) have always made me think "that would make for a great story..."

So here goes. A short story, in parts, inspired by just that:

I looked up at the map glowing off the GPS mounted to the window of my rental car. There weren’t a lot of landmarks, or really anything at all for that matter, showing up on the screen. My search for nearby lodging had retrieved one lone result, so I was headed down the dark desert highway in its direction.

I rubbed my dimming eyes; the day had been seemingly extra in length and monotonously boring. Initially, I had welcomed the idea of going to the conference, located in a place with a fantastical name like Truth or Consequences- it befuddled me that anyone had ever been granted to power to actually name a town something like that- thinking it would be refreshing to get away from the norm for a few days. Everyone else had booked lodging in the resort town near the conference center and were probably then at the bar having the refreshing time I had hoped for.  But unlike them, I had forgotten to make a reservation in advance, and after several failed attempts at finding an empty room I ventured to the outskirts of the city to find a stop for the night, quite unrefreshed.

I looked at the map again; 0.3 miles to my destination. Up ahead in the distance a lone neon sign shimmered on the backdrop of night. Hotel California. Peculiar name for a hotel in the middle-of –nowhere New Mexico, I thought. The “o” and the “t” in the sign were burnt out, and what remained was flickering with threat of being the same. The building was large, stucco- faced in the typical mission style, but poorly-maintained. My hotel definitely looked more fitting of a motel status title, but I was done giving any preference regarding where I would be laying my head for the weekend.

I pulled into the poorly lit, near-empty parking lot and took my duffle from the trunk. I entered the lobby, and followed the slightly hypnotic rug to the front desk. A young receptionist with dark hair and excessive eyeliner looked up from the magazine she was thumbing through. Tiffany, her name tag read.

“Reservation, sir?”

“No, but it looks like you probably have some rooms available? Please say you do.”

“Oh plenty of room” she said. “I’ll put you in room 6, on the first floor.”

Behind her eyeliner were bright eyes which felt too large for her petite face. I caught myself staring, tried to think of Miriam instead, and failed. What she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her. My wedding ring, which had been stashed in my pocket for the day, felt suddenly heavy.

“Breakfast is served between 7 and 9, but the bar is open from 10 am on. All the dining and recreational facilities are down that hall there.” She gestured with a hand tipped in red lacquer. “We have a game room where we hold card games, and there is also billiards if you like. The pool is out back. In the evenings we host local musicians and a lot of the town comes out to dance and be entertained. There is little else around, as you might have noticed.”

I nodded. She rambled on about laundry, TV channels, and room policies, but I failed to absorb any sound as I watched her mouth move. I was brought back to attention as she slid an antiquated-looking key over the counter to me.

 “…you can check out any time you’d like.”

Again, I gave a nod. She pointed down the corridor to the left, “Welcome to the Hotel California. Please enjoy your stay.”

To write or to have written: that is the question

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A very wise former English teach and family friend of mine once asked told a question which one of her professors had placed before many years prior.  The question had helped to form the course of her life; it took her from wanting to be a writer, to wanting to teach middle school English instead. She shared this memory with me knowing that I too had hopes of being a writer. She wished to challenge me in the same way her professor has challenged her.


This professor of hers had claimed at all that all aspiring authors, those with a love of  English and literature, with a desire to create art with words could be broken into two categories: those who write and those who want to have written. In some way, that question also became critical in my own life. At the time, I immediately answered "I want to write." It was one of those "moments" that shapes you and you find out who you are. I was one who wanted to write, for the love of writing. Because I had to write. 

That question lodged itself deep in my mind and I think on it often. Do I want to write- for the love of writing, for the sake of the craft, because I must and have to? Or do I want to have written- be published, be read, be labeled "author," but not necessary enjoy the ride to that point. Do I write because I am a writer or am I a writer because I write. The distinguishing factors between the two may be subtle, but they do make all the difference in definition. 

Most often (and currently), I feel like I fall somewhere in a valley between a writer and a have written. I know I love to write for writing's sake. I've adapted my habits from hand written scrawl to typed text for the sake of modernity, but I know I love to write words. To play with phrases. To paint pictures with a pen. The very craft excites me. But the process of what to do after one has written something does not.

This valley- this rut- has been dug by the fraction of me that is reigned by self-doubt and perfectionism. Fear of judgement. Fear of my words not being liked, not being good enough. The hopes of "have written" frighten me, which causes me to want to write, but only in secret, unread, unseen, unnoticed. Unjudged.

To be a writer, one just has to write. But to be an author, one has to be READ. And to be read is to be judged, either as good or bad or some form of mediocre. Truth be told, that terrifies me. (Now as to why it matters what a publisher or reader may think of me, I have no idea. It shouldn't. But it does. Another problem for another day...)

To be an author, they say, requires thick skin, much like that of a rough and tough rhinoceros. Unfortunately, at this stage I feel more like a new born, fresh to the world, and well-lotioned baby Rhino...who writes. My skin isn't as tough as it needs to be and every opinion cuts deep. So instead of picking up a pen and sending work out into the world to be evaluated and judged by whomever, I plop down on my rhino rump and I hide. Whenever I do write anything, it gets jammed into a filing cabinet and left to collect dust. 

Sure, I can write. I could write thousands upon thousands of words and piles of novels, but if they never leave my hard drive, what exactly is the point? I can claim that it is for my own joy, my own betterment, my own sanity that I write, but something in me knows that that isn't the whole truth. In order to change the world, my words have to leave my house. Art, of any kind, should be enjoyed. Perhaps not everyone will like it, but if it elicits a response, any response at all, it is, by definition art. 

To be an author, I must be read. That is scary. That is thrilling. I want to write to the point of having written. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. It is time to open up the filing cabinet and harass some publishing houses with persistence. It is time to write and write and write until something good happens. It is time to be a big girl rhino with her name on the front of a cover. It is time that I, Isabella Kiss, stop writing in hiding and get myself read. I need to write, so on my last day I can say "I have written." Ready, set, go. 

So, here we are again...


I have a serious case of writers block; it's going on something like 5 years. As you may see in my profile, I claim to have the ability change the world with merely a stroke of my pen, but in honesty, all I do with a pen these days is jot down lunch orders and scribble grill slips.
Allow me to backtrack. I'm Isabella Kiss. Twenty something, joyously married, cat-mama, crafter of cuteness, cooker deliciousness, fitness fanatic, and part time waitress. I am, however, not a writer.

I once claimed that I was a writer- that I was born to write. That my existence on this planet hinged on the very purpose of penning words. I would write, and you would read what I had had written; of that there was no doubt in my mind.

Growing up, I wrote a lot. Something about blank paper had always drawn me. For as long as I can remember there have been stories in my head. Characters and scenes have ever played themselves out in my mind. It would seem that the Good Lord granted me some sort of excess in the department of imagination.

One fateful day in high school, for a reason I cannot recall, I picked up a pencil and began writing a story. About two days in I decided I needed to be an author and the story evolved into a book. By the end of my junior year, I had written a 350 page fantasy novel. My dream was that it, and many novels to follow, would see publication.That story was professionally edited and I began the process of seeking an agent or publisher who would take interest in my work. I had unrelenting passion. Perhaps overconfident, but I was doubtless, fearless and determined. I WAS MADE TO BE AN AUTHOR. I went into every major library and bookstore in my area and took a photo of the exact spot on the shelves where books penned under Isabella Kiss would one day sit. I was a dreamer with drive. I WAS GOING TO BE A WRITER.

While querying and searching for publication, I drafted sections of other novels and wrote short stories. I journaled. I blogged. I was writing on close-to-daily basis. After graduating, I took a course in freelancing and became certified as a freelance writer. I attended a college (mostly on scholarships obtained by writing) and received an associates (Summa Cum Laude) in Liberal Arts, in hopes that I would one day go on to obtain a degree in Creative Writing and become an influential youth author. Every English professor I encountered in my studies reaffirmed the fact that at least had the ability to write. Short works I wrote were published here and there in college publications, but nothing grand like I had imagined my illustrious literary career to be seemed to be unfolding.

Somewhere in there I also met a dashing young man who shared my interest in writing. Long story short, Once Upon a Time I married him and began an adventure as a military wife. Then, instead of focusing on my alleged writing career I took up other hobbies, other part time jobs, and other wifely duties. After his military time of military service came to an end, and we established ourselves in civilian life; he in school pursuing his dreams of being a master of computers, and I at a restaurant job delivering world famous burgers with crisped cheese wings. Happily ever after...

Somewhere in that settling down I settled. I grew tired of looking for a publisher to take interest in my work (confession: the effort I had put in was far some my best, due to fear of rejection). I distracted myself. I convinced myself I was just too busy to write. My daily soul-felt need to write became a chore I pushed to the end of my to-do list so I would run out of hours in the day before I wrote a single word.

Somewhere in a pile of manuscripts and query letter my passion for the pen had been quenched. Somehow I had smothered a fiery passion with stacks of unpublished paper. The writing stopped. The stories in my head disappeared. Any interest or inspiration I had once had was replaced with frustration and the attitude of a quitter. Insecurity of my words not being good enough to be read and fear of people's opinions and judgments overtook me, and rather than changing the world, anything I had to say was shoved in a filing cabinet never to see the light of day. I, being a very "all or nothing" sort of person, decided that if I wasn't easily obtaining my goal of publication, then I just wouldn't write at all.

People who love me continued to remind me "hey...didn't you write?" That man I married encouraged- begged- me to just pick up a pen and write something, anything at all, but I allowed frustration and "writers block" to stop me every time. I used every excuse and cast blame in all directions. I did a fair amount of adult tantrum throwing and crying. But the fact is, I quit. And I, not the publishing houses, not the military, not my husband, not my job, not anything other than myself, am to blame for that.

I am not a least not currently. I am a lot of great and wonderful things, but a writer is not one of them. I do many things well, but I do not write well because, currently, I do not write at all.

While I love my life as a wife and waitress, I know (mainly because my excellent husband insists on reminding me; he refuses let me distract myself and quit, much to my frustration) that there is something deep in me that still wants to change the world by my written word. At this point, I don't know if that is young adult fantasy or something entirely different. I've dabbled in the idea of journalism. I've drafted a children's book. I've played around with short stories. I've wondered about pursuing nonfiction. (I have, with certainty, ruled out poetry though!) I know that I definitely have an ability- a gifting- to write. I just don't know to write WHAT at the moment.

In hopes of figuring that out, I just need to write something in the meantime. Anything. I know I have been selling myself short and that I am capable of more- and I hate knowing that. I think I've reached the point where I finally hate it enough to stop making excuses, shedding pointless tears and being frustrated and actually take some action. Hence this blog. I have no idea what I am going to write, or if it will cause any readership I may gain mental suffering in reading it. Perhaps I will just be venting my jumbled aspiring author brains out into cyberspace, but the hope is that just letting words out of my head and into the open world will somehow conquer this "block" I have placed myself under and perhaps beat my fear of my words being judged.

I intend to experiment with writing prompts, free writing, tweaking existing story lines and perhaps dabbling in something resembling journalist nonfiction. Really, anything. I'm hoping that the "responsibility" of a blog will somehow trap me into writing on a regular basis, and maybe somewhere in my entrapment inspiration will strike and my prior passion will return. Even lousy writing is better than no writing, and sometimes just getting things flowing can lead to something spectacular. Or so I hope.  Truth told, I really don't know what I am doing here. Truth told, you may want to stop reading now. All I really know is writers write, so that is what I must do.