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Archive for the ‘writers’ Category

A dozen interesting tiddlybits to make you go, “Huhn. Well now I know! Thanks Kat! You’re Special!”

  1. 0841. Our interstates have a “system” to them. Odd numbers are north to south with the lowest numbers in the west. Even numbers are east to west with the lowest numbers in the south. Exits are assigned numbers to let you know the distance to the next exit—mile-markers aren’t always exits but they tell you distance “in between.” The interstate system is about 46,300 miles, and of those 46,300 miles, it is a known fact that 40.4858788584857% of the time, a bathroom will be ten to fifty miles from where you really have To Go Bad. And 50.4848482975875% of the time, a Left-Laner will hold up traffic for 20.225 miles, plus three, and then flip you off in indignation when you finally zoom by in frustration.
  1. Supposed to work - let's hope you never have to find out!

    Supposed to work – let’s hope you never have to find out!

    A skunk can spray up to ten feet away. The spray is a yellow oily substance—and guess what? Oil and water don’t mix; so if your dog is sprayed and you wet the dog, it’s going to stink worse—delightful, right? The spray contains as many as seven kinds of nasty “ingredients” that can easily be conglomerated by the skunk into a gas that explodes from the ass(it rhymed!)—that’s what makes it stanky; no, stanky isn’t strong enough a word—putridly pungent. A skunk stinks, yeah, but  in a sobering addition to this light-hearted skunkfomercial: did you also know that skunk spray can cause severe anemia and death in dogs? Okay, only very rarely but worth a note if your dog loves chasing Pepe LePew.

  1. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? According to science: 1,000. According to Kat: about 30 before she bites into it with glee.
  1. When you google “Will I ever use Algebra in real life?” This is the kind of answer you find, which is an evasive non-answer in my Algebra experience: “This is a difficult question, but the simplest answer is that Algebra is the beginning of a journey that gives you the skills to solve more complex problems.” Uh huh. Nice try.
  1. 007It’s a myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Where did that saying come from? Actually, it’s from the 1800s or some other time when people made up stuff out of boredom and other bored people readily believed it because there wasn’t Google, or Bing if you are a Binger, to debunk it (only 6.777558475% of people like Internet Explorer; poor thangs)—of course, ironically, the internet is full of BS that bored people make up and equally bored people believe. Anyway, lightning not striking twice meant: misfortune won’t happen twice in the same way to the same person. *fake-coughs out a barely perceptible bullshit*
  1. Women’s colons are longer than men’s colons (so who is more full of sh with a side of it, you may ask? Answer with care, my male friends, answer with care). And our female colons are more twisted up. We’re all discombobulated in there. Why? Whyyyyy? They—the infamous “They People” (who I believe are Aliens! No, really!)—say it’s because we give birth. Oh. Okay. So, we have more colon so we can squeeze out a human? Uh huh. They—the Aliens—are tricksters. Just tricksters.
  1. Conversely, a man’s brain is about 10% larger than a woman’s brain. Now, before you men’s heads swell up even more, no it doesn’t mean you
    This is your brain; this is your brain on gender

    This is your brain; this is your brain on gender

    are more intelligent, or any less intelligent. It does mean you process differently. But brain size is not a correlation to intelligence. The brain is larger to accommodate the extra body mass and muscle. Is to! Is TO!

  1. Speaking of brains. Artists have different brains. According to a scientific study (by “They”), researchers found sort ofishy scientifically that artist’s brains are structurally different from non-artists. I suppose that includes us writers, right? I need an excuse for my discombobulated hootnannies. Scans (by They/Aliens!) show that artists have more grey matter in an area of the brain that matters to scientists because scientists are awesome. That area of the 1291293eef10a1b7765ddd172deed303brain could possibly (why aren’t “They” ever sure?) be linked to that “inner eye” that gives visual creativity/clarity.
  1. While goofing off on Google, you find things that you think are jokes, then realize some people really do believe in these Thangs. Like, the im-not-saying-its-cats-but-its-cats-thumbf96496501b29ea59d0cd2f06ad7bba09“theory” that cats are aliens. Uh huh now; I see. Well, there is discussion of it Here and Here. Enjoy!  The first one actually is called “catalienconspiracy.com.”

10. The Perfect Every Time Boiled Eggs. Really! I swear! Put eggs in a saucepan and cover the eggs with water–I just added “the eggs” while re-reading this; didn’t want you to think I meant cover the pan with water -haha! Bring water to a boil and soon as it reaches that “roiling bubbling toil and troubling boil” turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let the eggs sit in the water for 14 minutes—no more! Some say 12 minutes; some say 13 minutes (what do “they” say?). I’ve had success with 14 minutes. Soon as the timer goes off—and if you don’t use a timer, you will forget and your eggs will suck–no one likes sucky eggs or to suck an egg; eww. No, you will forget–use a timer. I mean it; you will. Anyway, pour off the hot water, add cold water on top of the eggs in the pan, and add some ice to stop the cooking process. Perfect boiled egg.

  1. Most writers make crap for money. If writers are in it for the money, nowadays especially, then those writers may surely be sorely disappointed in the results of their dreams of Lotso Casholo. No, seriously! You wouldn’t believe the people who think I’m rolling in it because I have 5-6 books and some stories out there. When they see me pull up in my 17 year old Subaru decked out in clothes from the clearance rack, an old Dell laptop, a broken-shattered iPhone that I refuse to replace until my iPad’s paid for, they think I’m being ironic, or eclectic, or
    What you talkin' bout Willis?

    What you talkin’ bout Willis?

    that I left my sports car at home with my Louboutin’s. Seriously, though, folks. There is about 0.555785959992445566999999% of the population of authors/novelists who can do this “for a really good living without having another income” and 0.2455668855599999494994949 of those 0.555785959992445566999999% spend a lot of their time writing inspirational platitudes and giving writers advice about how we should be doing this and not doing that and all this blah blah blahdidly blah that they half-believe themselves but they’ve paid their dues, by golly gee, and can tell all us other writers how it is done and if we can’t do it that way, well no wonder we don’t sell books! The rest of us are varying degrees of starving, doing okay, doing pretty well, and pretending we are doing very well by posting upbeat Facebook and Twitter updates about how awesome we are doing and how we aren’t drowning our sorrows in wine and chocolate and sex—la tee dah, y’all! Haw!

  1. And speaking of Louboutin’s—while looking up how to spell it (I can spell Ked’s – wait, is that Keds or Ked’s – dang), a glance at a site that sells downloadthem yields this: “cheapest” (relative term): $525 for some kind of oogly-arse boat shoe looking thangs, to the more expensive sparkled heel at $4,225—my entire wardrobe does not come anywhere near that much—shoes included.

Now, aren’t you glad you know all that? I know I am!

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393520_294411430580586_999236092_nTouty Plug of the Day: I love this Facebook Page – easy, simple, uplifting, fun: Things I Like –About: “feel free to add your likes (3 per post)–just keep it clean–keep it positive. drop by or join our “365 day like-a-thon.” by posting here, we have your permission to include our favorites in the future, THINGS I LIKE ©”

There comes a time in an author’s life when she considers whether she wants to do this anymore

writer's blodkaAt some strangeling point in an author’s career, she begins to be weary of her thoughts, and of the worries and stresses, and of the fears.  Of the whole self-indulgence of it all. The whining and boohoo’ing and self-doubting. The loneliness and sacrifice. The highs and lows and the lows-highs-lows-lower lows-high-low and the roller coaster that was once so much fun begins to jerk you around and toss you into the air and pulls your stomach out through your mouth—Blorf.

The author begins to avoid the writing. Sneakily so. She’s crafty. Cunning. There is no lacking of excuses. Why, that’s the easiest thing in the universe, an excuse. You breathe explanations into your nose and down your throat and then vomit them back up—they don’t taste so bad once you get used to the sweet rotten of them.

People say to you, “I hear you’re working on a new book!” And they are so sincerely excited that you say (and you mean it at the time; you do!), “Yes! I’m working on something new.” And you are—sort of kind of. You are sort of kind of going into the word document and sort of kind of pulling it up and sort of kind of staring at it and then sort of kind of pecking away at it and sort of kind of considering how you just don’t want to do this anymore.

Maybe there will be a free-fall feeling. You’ll stand on the precipice, open out your arms, and just Let Go. The air will rush against your face. You won’t notice how the ground is growing larger and more menacing—the air feels so good! The freedom! The exhilaration that you’ve jumped right off the cliff and left everything behind you.  “I was pushed!” you say, when people look at you strange—why, there you are flat and bloody where you and the ground met most undeliciously.

028You stare at the bookcase, and there they are! Your books. You wrote them. They were published, and people read them—still do. They aren’t mocking you there but you turn your head away. Because it hurts to look at them, as if your published books are the morning sun and you are still sleepy and in the dark.

“Sometimes it just hurts too much,” a well-known author you admire once said to you. You didn’t understand that at all. You said, “Oh. Well.” And then you went back to work, smug with smugnitude. You think to contact that author and say, “Hey, remember that time you said that? Guess what! Me, too!” But you do not.

Why, it’s all about letting everyone think you are writing fully and happily, and the money is pouring in, and you are on the verge of greatness and successfulness and awesomeness and authorial queendomness! It’s about big smiles and posting pictures on Facebook with zippity do dah day quotes on them about writing. You are living the dream! You author you! You chuck yourself on the chin—aw now you!

You once looked forward to your royalty checks. How fat they seemed to you! How healthy and plump! You signed the back of them and skipped off to the bank, pride and love and luck filling your marrow. As time went on, you began to cringe, just a little, when you’d see the envelope from your publishers in the mailbox. You tell yourself that some authors would give up the fifth toenail on their left foot and then offer up the toe as well just to make any money at all. Still, you can’t stop the flutters in your stomach when you know the check will be arriving any day.

DSC09985“Money doesn’t measure our worth as a writer,” you say, and you mean it. You really do. Still. You begin to worry about money. Who doesn’t? But somehow money received for writing books becomes entangled in how you feel about yourself and your talent and gifts and love of this profession. It makes the love tainted. You hate that. A lot.

All you wanted to do was to write. That’s all. All you wanted to do is to write. And write. And write and write and write write write write. “Please let me write,” you say to the only one stopping you—well, you, of course.

You don’t want to, but you wonder how much money other authors are making. You wonder how they feel when their royalty checks come to the mailbox. You wonder if one day yours won’t come anymore at all and you can’t breathe for ten whole seconds, plus five. It’s madness.

So, one fine day that has really been about three hundred and two fine days, you consider giving it all up. You will always have your books that were published. You don’t have anything to prove at all. You can pretend for as long as you can, and then one day no one will ask anymore. No one will think about you and your books. You will be forgotten by most. Your books will end up at garage sales, dusty with faded covers and torn pages. Or deep inside e-readers in a file marked “Old shit from authors no one remembers” that is rarely opened.

You can take up art or cooking. You can pick up your camera and see where its lens takes you.

There comes a time in every writer’s life when she will consider giving up the writing.

What magic sprung from the works of those before us, and how can we create our own magic? How can we cast a spell upon our readers?

A day will pass. Two. Fifty. One-hundred. Three hundred twenty days will pass. It feels as if a ghost is following you, but when you turn around, it disappears behind a dreamlike tree that only you can climb, only you can see. The apparition follows you every second, every minute, every hour, every day, week, month.

It winks at you—it knows the joke is all on you. It knows you better than you know you.

It knows. When you are ready again.

You will write again.

When you are ready again. You will write again.

When you are ready again; you will write again.

You will write again.

Galaxy of Disappointed Disillusionment: you were in love with the writing once . . . .

galaxy nexus wallpaper-WmOIYou were in love with the writing once. A kind of love that churns the belly. The kind of love that wraps around you warm and alive and pulsing. Trusting kind of love. And you think that love will never leave you, nor would you ever leave it.  You think it will be as strong and lively as it is in the beginning of all that began all the way to the what should never ever end because it’s too beautiful to die. Too perfect.

But things begin to change. Subtly at first. Insidiously. Oh, it’s little things here and there that don’t mean much—at least that’s what you tell yourself. But all those tiny things begin to pack together, sticky and mean, tightly, balling up hard and fast, until there before you is what you tell yourself is only a sweet marble you think isn’t so bad—it’ll still fit into your pocket! You can carry it around and won’t feel the weight of it at all. But it grows. And you can’t carry it around anymore. It first settles in the room you always wrote in, but it soon pushes out into the hallway, and into the bedroom, and the kitchen, and the living room, and the entire house becomes filled with it—it pushes against you, insistent to be noticed. It is a Moon,  a Neptune, an entire galaxy right outside your mind’s window. It groans with its own weight.

DSC09985Still, you think you can live with it. You think you can soldier on. You think that everything will be okay if only This Thing would happen, or That Thing will occur. “If Only” becomes raggedy with your use of it, what with your rolling the If Onlies around in your head until they are barely recognizable. Still. You loved! It all had meaning! Didn’t you? Didn’t it? Doubt sets in. Were you loved back? Maybe it was only an altered state of being that led you down into the most pleasurable of senses. Why, before the Galaxy of Disappointed Disillusionment, you’d even allowed yourself to become a little arrogant. Held your head a little higher—after all, you were in The Club. That Club with those heavy heavy gates—the ones that swing open randomly and without sentimentality. You often imagined the gates closing behind you, yet this time you are pushed back to the outside.

You want out anyway, you say. You want out and you don’t know when, or if, you’ll return. You want your space. You want time to think. You want to do other things. Find yourself, you say, wincing at the cliche. You’ll do: Fun things. Other necessary things. Things that don’t require pushing through that galaxy of hard knotted failings and failures and fails.

You soon forget (you say emphatically) what drew you to that love. You don’t remember (you think most apparently) the feeling of joy you had just by opening your laptop and your mind—flutter flutter went the beautiful creation butterflies—how lovely they were! Oh how you hate them now! Hate them!

The heart of you is crushing under the weight of the groaning Galaxy.

Who cares?, you say. I don’t!, you say. And you trippity trip about, laughing gaily on the outside, while on the inside you are slowly terribly dying. The Galaxy suffocates.

imagesOne day, you are alone. Perhaps walking in the woods, or down an aisle at the grocery store, or driving your car aimlessly, or most obviously of course staring at the darkened night ceiling. And a blinding light explodes while millions of hard knotted disappointments and disillusions Supernova. You are blinded for seventy-two hours; burned down to the bone for seventy-two more.

Then the quiet talks to you. You rise, walk through the house, glowing embers dying and ashes flying. Something gives way. A loosening.

You run then, opening windows and doors until every window and every door is wide, and out and out and out on a brilliant wind goes the ashes, and all that is left is You and You.

Something stirs. Something old and ancient. Something you recognize.

Fingers to keys. A letter appears. Another. Another. A word. A sentence. A paragraph. A page. Five pages, sixty pages, one hundred pages plus three.

Love.

Sometimes, you say, all else must be burned away so your new skin can feel anew.

Screen+Shot+2014-02-25+at+12.17.37+PMYour fingertips are alive. Push push push on the keys. It is like music.

You recognize, you say, that you never loved fully before but only with conditions. Love must Be, you say. It is its own and no other.

You say: each hard knot of disappointment must be kneaded and chewed and swallowed and digested and then shat out and flushed away.

A grand love. A passionate love. A true and honest love.

It finds you, grabs you by the beating heart and squeezes the life into you.

Fingers on the keys. Push. Push. Letter by word by paragraph by page.  Five, six, seven, eight, open up the heavy gates.

(. . . and still, as you push the keys, the if onlies and the what ifs and the why can’ts ind the little nooks and crannies of you and settle in. You push the keys and try not to notice the hard knot you couldn’t swallow as it falls to the ground and quivers.)

The phrase “I will never . . . .” is a coiled snake ready to bite us on our asses

Snake_strike_coiled_HIHow many times have you used that phrase only to have it come back later and bite the shit out of your ass? Now, that doesn’t mean the biting isn’t going to be a good thing—maybe you needed to be bit on your ass to propel you in to some kind of motion. Maybe you’ve been stagnant, bored but not recognizing that, or meandering around aimlessly, or unhappy with a situation but in denial.

007Maybe you said “never” with the fever and fervor of THIS WILL NEVER EVER CHANGE and have just been bitten on the ass and aren’t sure if that bite will propel you towards something better, or just as good, or towards—THE SCARYASS UNKNOWN! *cue dramatic thunderous slightly dark music*

Or perhaps, my friends, you told someone, “I will never,” and you didn’t really mean it. It isn’t that you lied, it’s just that you could not face up to the truth inside of you—buried there deep, where only the snake biting you on the ass could cause a draining away and revealing of your truths. You said the words because to admit the other words would cause pain and turmoil and disruption and feelings of failure and that SCARYASS UNKNOWN looming. You said them so the other would believe and not be hurt, yes, but also to force yourself to believe so you wouldn’t do the hurting.

We do have our “Nevers” that are iron-clad. For example, “I will never kill another human being,” but then, is that true? If someone were going to fatally harm me or mine, wouldn’t I kill the shit out of them? “I will never jump off the Empire State Building!” Okay, that seems pretty safe. But what if I’m up there and there’s a fire behind me and no escape—I  either have to jump or burn up. I’m jumping! Okay. Well. Huhn. “I will never stop loving my son and granddaughter!” There. That’s a never that holds forever true! But those iron-clad “nevers” are few, even when we think they are not.

2051_46867294175_1646_n

Then . . . .

15111_10152228089399176_116688420_n

Now . . . .

“I will never grow out my hair.” “I will never write erotica.” “I will never sit around crying like a big baby because I’m a tough-ass bitch.” “I will never leave *insert something or someone here*” “I will never give up/give in/give to/give back . . . .”

Oh, my friends. The phrase “I will never . . . .” is the universe’s big laugh at you; it’s the coiled snake ready to bite you on your ass; it’s the swallow those words you spoke because, guess what? Never became “oh shit, it’s happening/happened/going to happen.”

Maybe that snake did surprise you. Or, maybe you sat on that badass snake so it WOULD bite you! Maybe you pretended you didn’t see the snake and just stuck your bared ass right in its face and taunted it while pretending you were going about your business all la tee dah.

So. Little things are easy to talk about first. For instance, I remember clearly and distinctly standing at Hart Theater in Waynesville, North Carolina a couple years ago, talking to a theater friend who’d just cut her hair short, and I said (there’s a metaphor here, isn’t there?), “Yeah. I love mine short and will NEVER go back to longer hair. Ever.” Um. Yeah. Guess what? I not only grew it out, but longer than I ever thought I would have. But that night as I stood there smiling and confident, I really truly believed myself. I honestly thought the words “I will never  . . . .” were true and real and were never to be altered. I thought myself completely  happy with my shorty ole hair. I couldn’t see a day when I wouldn’t be satisfied with that look. Oh how we tempt the fates with our ultimatums and declarations!

SEDUCTION COVE CVR6_edited-1 for amazonOr, I remember standing by my mother, my face all sincere and true: “Nah. Not for me. I’m not going to write trashy erotica stuff! I will never do that. I will stick to what I write.” And then, three months later, on a night when I was full of vodka and bad intent and after I’d smashed a writer’s conference mug against the tree outside my little log house and yelled into the night, “I QUIT! I am NOT WRITING ANOTHER WORD! I AM PISSED OFF AT THE WHOLE BUSINESS! FUCK THIS SHIT!” (the snow hid my shame, until it melted – lawd), I preternaturally-calm opened my word document and wrote Seduction Cove and I laughed a vodka-infused laugh, and of course, I ain’t telling my mom. I also said, “I will NEVER tell anyone I wrote it–I’ll keep Tasha a secret.” Oops; didn’t happen that way. Mom, if you happen by here: I’m sorry. Dang. And now my writing world has altered. Where will I take it next?

011

I will never leave this beautiful place

So, my friends. There have been some changes in my life, and more are coming. I’ve spent the last six months or so (actually, the last two years after my father died—something about a parent dying sets a woman on quests and questionings and searchings)—wading through the molasses of change and discovery and heartache and decisions that changed my life and the life of others and etc etc etc – ET CET ER A!

I will begin a series of posts about my “nevers” and my “soon to comes” and my “already happeneds” – and I hope you’ll learn something from them, or be entertained, or nod or shake your head, or ignore it all—but I need to write it. That’s what I do. I am a writer. I write things out. And when I do not, I bother my friends with my whiny angst, or send texts that are full of self-indulgent whines that I later regret (that’s a post in itself). So write I will.

Some topics—and I will never stray from them (hahaha!) are:

  • What not to do when you are alone and vulnerable
  • When you are the one you says, “I want a separation”
  • When you have said you “never” have writer’s block and suddenly you cannot write
  • When you have to leave a place/an ideal/a way of life that you thought was “forever” because you said “never will I leave this place/ideal/way of life
  • When disappointment in people attacks—when you realize the people you thought would call never do, and the ones you never thought would reach out to you do.
  • When the word “lonely” expands beyond and above what you ever thought it could be
  • When you think you cannot, absolutely cannot, face something—but then you do
  • What happens next?
  • At my age! . . . the prospects of dating and all that jazz (and being called a cougar—? Um, what?)
  • Etc.

I’ll be back soon . . . .

The Work-Out Writer . . .

DSC_0015Work-out: In my personal trainer days, I used to tell clients to “listen to their bodies” to let them know how much they could do. I now recognize how this isn’t always the case. Sometimes our bodies/minds want to fool us, because it is Hard and we don’t always like Hard. If we give up because something is difficult, then nothing great is ever accomplished. Something pushing through the hard stuff rejuvenates, takes us places we never thought we’d go. We become stronger with every hurtle we sail over–even if we smash into a few hurtles along the way and break a leg–haw! Okay, maybe we don’t wanna do that, but I certainly have sported quite a danged few bruises–my badges of Badness, yeah!

On the flipside of that: if you are over-working hoping for an over-night miracle, stop the hell doing that. Along with our hard work comes a dose of reality: it takes time to develop a strong and healthy body, especially if we’ve been sitting on our asses waiting for it to magically happen for us. Lawd y’all, and please stop listening to those infomercials–they lie. I know! Hard to believe our faithful televisions sometimes spout lies! Whadya know . . . huhn.

Writers: Working hard and not expecting an “over-night success” applies to our writing lives, as well. Sure does, uh huh! You can talk about it, or whine about it, or hope about it, or you can sit your ass down and do it. Ain’t no magic.

dsc09606Work-out: Sometimes we want some chocolate(or pick your “poison”), dammit. Sometimes we wanna sit on our asses and do nothing but eat crap and feel depressed and not do a danged ole thing. Some days everything feels sucky. “I can’t run a maratttthooonnnn.” “I’m tired of not eating what I waaaant toooooo any time I want tooo.”  Well, y’allses, when we sit on our asses and gobble down an entire box of chocolates or ten ton plate of pasta or Big Mac and fries and shake and fried apple pie, feeling sorry for ourselves and the state of Everything, welp, what happens is we feel even worse than before—inside and out. Our bodies will be bloated and sick from Crap Overload.

Better to treat ourselves to just a few pieces of that chocolate(or whatever), savoring every bite and feeling happy. Better to eat 80-90 percent Well/Healthy, and 10-20 percent Crap. Yeah, that’s easier to swallow, right? If you know you can eat, say, 10% to 20% or so of crap, the rest of the 80% to 90% is not so hard to swallow, right? riiiggghht. Cause it’s going to take you to a better body and mind and heart and guts and veins and lungs and heretoforwith so let it be written so let it be done.

Writers: Received another rejection? Feeling like shit? Well, you gonna lie back and let that suck you into the dark abyss of depression/over-eating/over-drinking, or you gonna get back up and try again? Try 10-20% whining and crying and then get back to the 80-90% work.

Work-out: It’s fruitless and stupid to compare ourselves to Any One Out There: say that loud and say it again and again and again and ever more again: Don’t compare yourself to others. Carve your own path. And, geez, you don’t know who is comparing themselves to You and wishing they had what you had: just say’n’!

Writer: Above, redux. Yeah.

156Work-out: Getting in shape/staying in shape and eating healthfully isn’t always easy, but once there, the feeling is like no other. A strong healthy body will take you into the minutes, days, months, years of your lives, and not in some half-assed way, but in Kick Ass way! Don’t you want to be in this life for the long-haul, and not just “in” this life, but fully immersed?  Then do it. Excuses are just that, and they’re boring and fruitless, and get you No Where. You ain’t foolin’ no one but yourself—nuh uh. Find your truths and learn to ignore your sneaky excuses/justifications–and they can be sneaky.

Writer: This business isn’t always easy, but ask yourself: Is this what I really want to do? Am I ready to be in this for the long-haul? Do I love writing more than my right arm? Am I ready to sacrifice? Can I handle the rejection without breaking up and breaking down? Sometimes this is the easiest best job in the entire danged ole world, and other times it sucks like a big fat suckity sucky britches—but I for one know I love it more than my right arm and have, and will, sacrifice for it.

Work-out: At the end of a grueling work-out session, find time to stretch those muscles, and then just as important as the work-out and the stretch comes the quiet moment of reflection. Time and distance from wants and needs will lift us away as we respect our bodies, minds, hearts.

kat on pierWriter: When the writing day is done, find a moment to reflect on this writing life. Calm the voices, the rejections, the expectations, the harried hurry and the long-ass frustrating waits, and remember just why you love this life so much. The raw beginnings of it, when it was just you and a white space of whatever in the world you wanted to say to anyone who would listen, even if it was only your own ears. Find that joy in quiet reflection.

dsc09608Work-out: Night comes. Time to rest the body. Rest is as important as movement. A good night’s sleep prepares you for the next day’s challenge. Let go and sleep sleep. Be grateful for the body that carries you from day to day. Keep it healthy and strong and then give it rest.

Writer: Ditto!

Finally, give yourself a big ole break, okay? Really, there isn’t a one of us who can tell you how to do this work-out life or this writing life and why and how much and for how long—only you have that power within you. Relax. It’ll all be okay. Your journey will not be mine and mine will not be hers his yours. Calm. Calm.

Namaste.

(Portions of this post were posted in another post when I posted about a post about a post similar to this post when I posted while not feeling kickass because GMR gave me his germs and for once I didn’t fight then off, so this post is sorta like another post, which posted the post of posty posted post, most post-like. And do you know how hard it is for me to admit I caught some flu-like illness from GMR? Me? Mrs. McToughass Britches? Yeah, I’m pissed, and humbled, and all ARGHY, and achy! Even the kickass are knocked back sometimes. Post ya later!)

Is the Novelist Work Not Valued, or Under Valued?

it’s not magic . . .

How much do you pay for a haircut? Let’s say your stylist cuts your hair in about 30ish minutes, and you return to have it re-cut every 4-10 weeks depending on you.

What about going out to dinner? Or to lunch? Or a Supreme Latte with extra supreme? Keeping in mind that once you eat/drink, it’s gone, and to have that experience again, you must buy more food/drink by opening up your wallet again and again and again.

Do you like manicures/pedicures? Do you like massages? Do you have a personal trainer? Is there something you collect?

And of all those things, and the et ceteras not mentioned, that you purchase and enjoy, do you ever expect to get them for free, or for the Service Provider to do their work for deep discounts because, just because?

Of course you don’t.

So why is it when authors talk about money they feel uncomfortable, as if they are embarrassed to even consider the idea of making money from Their Craft?

Is a writer’s work not considered Work?

A stylist cuts our hair and we shell out the money knowing that we’ll have to return to have it cut again and again and again for the same results we hope, but do we ask the stylist to give us a cut rate? Do we ask the stylist to cut our hair for free? We’d not dream of doing that—because we Value the Service.

Somehow being a novelist isn’t Valued as a Service. You can buy a book from Amazon, or your favorite bookseller, or an e-reader, (and many times at discounts), and you can enjoy that book and the feeling it gives you as many times as you want. You can lend your book (and one day, or now, e-reader books if I understand right) to a friend or relative and the author receives no royalty on that. You can sell your book to someone and the author receives no royalty on that. The author receives his/her one-time royalty when a book is purchased and that one-time royalty is a very small percentage of what the book sells for. Very small. On e-readers, authors make a bit more percentage because over-head costs aren’t as great.

But what if in some alternate universe an author made most every dime of their book’s cost, which they never would by the way, are they somehow unworthy of it?

An author takes months (some longer) writing their book, then they must rewrite and rewrite, then they may go through rejection and uncertainty, then when they have that contract, their work is not done—more editing, more waiting, more stress. When the book is published, their work begins again: marketing, promotion, personal events, etc etc etc—and many things the author pays for out of their own pockets. Then they must then create more work, and the cycle begins again.

Through all of this, the author does not know if his/her book will be loved or hated or ignored or somewhere in between; he she does not know if it will sell well or will not sell well.

It won’t matter how hard the author worked, how much money he/she spent, he/she never knows what his/her paycheck will be. And, all the while, he/she must cringe in a corner while people tell him/her that they don’t want to spend money on books, or they want to spend very little money on books, and why should they have to spend money on books?

Anyone who goes into the Novelist business to make money should not go into the novelist business. There are simply too many unknowns. There is a lot of work, a lot of stress, a lot of rejection, and there’s a lot of feeling that your work is Not Of Value—imagine going to work every day and doing the best danged job you can and your boss quibbles with you over your salary and makes you feel as if you should be giving your work away for free or whatever he decides that day to pay you based on whatever he’s feeling that day about you compared to some other worker, because your work is Not Valued.

In matters of art and the heart, it’s hard to place monetary values, but frankly, we have to. Novelists have to make a living, too, and for the Novelist to feel guilty for hoping his/her works sells so that he/she can pay the bills or contribute to the household makes this business seem as if it’s more a Hobby than Real Live Work.

Is it because unlike the stylist or the restaurant worker or the oil tycoon or the actor/actress or the football player or the ice cream man we can do our work in our pajamas tucked in our little houses? You can’t see us working? It looks like lots-o-fun? It’s “easy” or “anyone can do it” – well, even the person who digs a hole gets a paycheck, and just about all of us can dig a hole, right?

What is it that separates the Novelist’s work from everyone else’s work? What is it about matters of art and the heart that makes the Work not valued?

Or is it because the writer, the novelist, does not teach people to value his/her work? Did we start it all by being apologetic about what we do or for wanting our work to Sell like a Product. Do we not value our own work?  Is it because many times we readily admit we’d do it all for free because we love it so much? It’s all we ever wanted to do? We are begging someone anyone to just read our work and love us, please please please just love us?

What do you think?

Allowing the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success . . .

It started out as an experiment. I wanted to jog, just a little. Part of me was afraid, because I had just a tiny glitch in my heart valve, or something or other, that my heart rate would race up very quickly and I’d be dizzy and nauseated. It’s a scary thing, glitches of the heart are. For one wonders if suddenly the heart will race out of control and then freeze up and the keeling over dead would occur and that would suck—my doc reassured me I wouldn’t die, but could pass out. Okay, I thought, I can deal with passing out as long as I won’t die. Good. Yeah. Okay.

But, the idea of running any distance or at any but a slow plodding pace seemed far-fetched for me. Still. I wanted to try it. I’d watch others at the gym or at Lake Junaluska jogging/running and they looked so . . . I don’t know . . . intense but satisfied? Happy? Healthy? Successful in their goals? Wait, I know: as if they belonged to a special club. I wanted to be in the club.

In April of this year, I began. It started at Lake J, where I’d go in one direction and GMR in another and we’d meet in the middle. Little Maggie Lou and I would jog a little, walk a little, jog, walk, jog-walk. My feet barely left the pavement. Even so, when I’d pass another runner, I’d feel a little thrill as I waved at them. They’d sprint past, but I’d not let myself feel as if I were somehow “not enough.” No. I’d keep running my little pace, plod plod plod.

Even still, it seemed my heart and lungs weren’t going to be cooperative. I’d meet GMR and have to walk until the weird light-headed feeling faded. The first time I was able to jog without walking most all the way to meet GMR halfway, I was euphoric! I did it! But, I told myself, that’s only maybe a mile. And I was going pretty slowly. And . . . well . . .I wanted to see what else I was capable of. I could feel tiny changes inside of me, like knitting.

The next time I was at the gym, I stepped onto the treadmill, punched in 3.5 and did this little light jog where my feet came up about a milli-meter from the treadmill. I set a goal of twenty minutes of straight jogging. The next time I pushed it up to 3.8 and tried to go longer. Soon the dizzy weird light-head feeling came and I had to slow up, then walk. Twice a week, I went to that treadmill and set tiny little goals: I’ll go a mile without stopping. I’ll speed up for a minute and then I’ll slow down. I’ll go a little longer. I’ll go a little faster. One mile turned to two. 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8. Two miles turned to two and a half, then three, then four, then five. Two days a week turned to three days a week and 3.8 turned into 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 . . . then I tried sprints—5.5, 5.6, even yesterday 6.0 (though I couldn’t sustain that for long—yet).

Sometimes my back pain hits me hard. Sometimes I push myself too much and the old light-headed weird feeling comes on. Sometimes I’m tired and can’t do as much as I’d like. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing all this when I could be working, or goofing off. Sometimes I look at other runners and wish I were doing what they were. Sometimes I wish I’d have started this a long time ago. Sometimes I think for all the hard work I’m doing my body should respond in ways it may not respond because I am a 53 year old woman and not a 33 year old woman.

But, I am seeing many changes in my mind and body. Progress.

I keep running. One step, two, three, four. From April until now I’ve learned things about my body and myself. I’ve grown as a runner. I’ve learned to focus on what I’m doing and to enjoy the process instead of letting my mind wander all over creation or looking way ahead to where I could be or maybe be or if I was here there or yonder or etc etc etc. I’ve learned what my weaknesses are and my strengths and what weaknesses I can make stonger or what I have to accept, and what strengths I can rely on and experiment with. I’ve learned what to accept as “it’s just how it is so get over it,” and what I can change–or at the very least that trying is better than sitting around wishing. No one gets anywhere by sitting around WISHING . . . you eventually just have to take a step, then the next, then . . . the rest.

If in April anyone would have told me that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I’d have said: “Me? I can’t do that! My heart won’t let me. I have this problem, you see, where my heart rate rushes too high and I could pass out. Nope, not me. I wish, but, nah, not going to happen. Oh well. Dang. Guess I’ll just WISH.”

If I had not tried. If I had not just Done It. If I had not pushed myself just a little and a lot. If I had not practiced practiced practiced. If I had not allowed myself the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success. Then I would never know how great it feels to run. How my body has responded. How I feel as if I am a member of some club I never had access to before.

Now—take everything I just wrote about running and apply that to writing.

Enjoy your weekend!

(PS – for some reason I can’t upload photos any longer in blogger – bummer! – I haven’t said “bummer” in years – huhn, wonder were that came from *laugh* anyone else having that problem with photos?)

Does the marriage between writer-character & reader-writer come between a real-life marriage?

Only in books can you be married to them all.” –James Salter

At a party, a woman tells me how she has decided my husband is a saint, and I’d better never ever complain about him. I say, “Huh? What do you mean by that?”

“He puts up with your craziness; he cooks you dinner.” She sniffs. “And, you said he even does his own laundry. You can sit there and write all the live-long day and never have to worry about your husband yelling for his dinner and a clean pair of underdrawers.” She glares at me, dares me to deny.

I’ve heard this before. It doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes. “Well, you live with him and then see if you still think he’s a saint. No one is a saint. Maybe I have my good points, too . . . huhn.” I sniff, just a little. “Maybe he thinks I’m . . . I’m . . . all that and then some.” I take a hah-uuuge bite of cheesecake, to stop any other words from spilling out. I know it’s true; GMR cooks, he does his own laundry, and he is self-sufficient in a way some spouses are
not, if what I hear about some spouses is true. I know he puts up with my . . . ways.

Besides, harumph, I can cook; I just choose not to. Truth is: I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore food at times becomes only something to sustain me so I will not shrivel up from hunger. And, okay, I admit it: I am ashamed to say, I sometimes treat marriage the way I treat food: I can relate conversation; I just choose not to. I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore GMR at times becomes someone to sustain me so I will not be unloved.

And, GMR has competition for my affections: All the stuff in my pea-head. He competes with the crowd of “people” swirling around me like worrisome, but invisible (to him), gnats. It’s not just my characters I can look inward to, but all of You out there.

I can ignore the real world around me for long enough almost to lose who is important to me—my family, my friends, my town. Yet, even as I write that, I know how I need all of You to be important to me. But even more, I want to Me to be important to You. A long-term relationship. A marriage bond between writer and reader, between editor and writer. A contract. An understanding. A promise.

We need each other, don’t we? We are important to each other, aren’t we? We can’t live without each other, can we? Tell me you love Me and I will show you I love You by offering you what I offer best: My words, the love between the covers of my books, my care in reading your stories you submit to Rose & Thorn Journal. It is a marriage weaved together with words and promises of more words. We stand before the alter of Language and Literature, and we brace ourselves against the years, and we give and give and take and take, give and take. A love that never dies, even in the lean and hard and mean years. Not even until death do us part—for written words never die.

[And even as I post this here, I know I will be ‘leaving’ again- ‘leaving’ GMR, but even ‘leaving’ all of You for a while, for the latest manuscript calls for my attention. Play time is over. Deadlines are deadlines. My editor can see me here and lift an eyebrow, “Kathryn IS writing isn’t she? hmmmmm. . .” I have to kick out some of the crowd in my head and leave only the world of Virginia Kate.]

What about you? Is the Real World, the tangible one you can touch & see, at times less real than it maybe should be?

Bellebooks & Literary Fiction

Sometimes just taking a chance works. Sometimes luck is in your favor. Of course, I recognize that with “luck” there has to be other factors, like, writing a good book!, but, timing plays such a role in this novel to publishing business.

The evening I was sitting around wondering what I wanted to do with my manuscript, I fiddled with google, typed in “Southern Publishers” and that’s when Bellebooks “Southern Fried Publishers” popped up. I thought, “Hmmm . . .” I had queried a couple of agents, but I really didn’t know what I wanted or how my dreams would be realized, or where I’d go or do or be as regards to my work. In other words: I was pretty open to where the universe would lead me as an author whether that be by agent or by me finding an independent/small press. The only thing I didn’t want to do was self-publish—and not because I think self-published books are “bad,” but I, personally, just didn’t want to deal with all the ins and outs of publication—I wanted an advance, even if tiny or token, and I wanted at least industry standard royalties, and I wanted a traditional publisher.

I looked at Bellebooks’s submissions guidelines and thought, “I don’t think my book fits that.” But, since I was right on the edges of fitting; since there was a question of whether maybe perhaps I fit, and since they were looking for newer works on their imprint Bell Bridge Books, I thought, “What the heck; I’ll send a query.” I did; they responded and asked for the entire manuscript. I sent it; sat on pins and needles, and not long after that, I had a contract. Boom Bam! It happened fast. I was elated. I have a great respect for these women of Bellebooks – – strong southern women. My editor/publicist Deb Smith is a dream to work with, and the President, Deb Dixon, is as well. It’s truly been a positive and wonderful experience.

What I didn’t know was how I was kind of an experiment, or you may say “a big risk.” Up to that point, Bellebooks wasn’t publishing my kind of fiction—literary fiction, or “women’s literary” whatever title you want to place upon it (for men have loved TG, too!). But as over the last year and a half Tender Graces has shown strong, and continues to do well, and then the response to Secret Graces also has been strong, Bellebooks decided to open their doors to more literary fiction. (I wasn’t alone in this experiment—there were at least two other authors with literary fiction, or women’s lit, that Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books took on, and their books are doing well, too!)

Here’s the twitter feed from @bellebooks: Bellebooks Bell Bridge will accept proposals for literary fiction starting Nov. 1. See books of Kat Magendie for example http://www.bellbridgebooks.com/

I felt ‘proud’ to see my books as examples of what Bellebooks is looking for! *big arse grin*
So, beginning November 1, they will open their doors to literary fiction. I can tell you that they’ve been wonderful to work with. I feel incredibly lucky, and very happy that whatever Universe Hands pushed me that evening, they did so at the right time.

Spiffing up the blog/changing the name . . . Then Going to Work

I updated the photo above with the view from my porch as I (pretend to) relax. The previous photo of my feetsies was taken at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas, when my brother and I went there last summer. Boy, was that a strange and loud and colorful and exciting and “it’s too too much of everything” trip–that’s where some man mistook me for a . . . um . . . Call Girl! er . . . huhn, teehee. Lawd!

Wow. The evidence is shown in the pictures: I am a novelist. Definition of a novelist is “a person who writes novels” or “a writer of novels.” Come to think of it, the definition doesn’t read: “a person who writes novels and they are then published,” so those of you who have written or are writing novels and haven’t yet been published – what do you call yourself? And if you call yourself nothing, then why aren’t you calling yourself something? Writing takes discipline and work – the publishing part is a separate issue – so give yourself a break and call it like you work it.

Its too late to change the blog URL (as far as I know), however I did change the “Name” of my blog to Writing from my Mountain  . . . that’s certainly generic enough to encompass the whatevers of my writing and editing life.
Now, my friends, I have to glue my arse to the chair and become completely immersed in Virginia Kate. I have to have more time with this third Graces book than I did for the second Graces (Secret Graces) novel, for while writing SG there were family emergencies, illnesses of dear-ones, traveling to and fro, and my writing time was cut near-abouts in half! I made my deadline, but there are always worries the book suffers when you have to write your arse off in a smaller amount of time. This is how it is. This is what being a “novelist” means–sometimes stuff and life happens, but deadlines are deadlines. I understand this now, and, I am more inclined to give authors/novelists a break when I read their work.
I think there’s also a weird thing that happens with a trilogy, or a series. The first book is exciting and wonderful and full of golden; the third book in a trilogy takes things to some fruition, a silvery ending that wraps the new with the old and there is the poignancy of coming full circle. Alas and alack, that middle book in a “series” is somehow sort of wedged in there – feeling like a stepping stone between the two. I’ve seen this phenom with books and movies-the middle child is sometimes outshined or outshouted by the oldest and the youngest . . . oh dear.
So, my friends, social networking will slow, my connection to reality will be even more tenuous (laugh) and my poor GMR will surely feel neglected as I listen to Virginia Kate storytell through me as she storytells through Grandma Faith and all the rest.
misty view on Kat’s porch at Killian Knob
This writing of a new book, the creating of a new work large or small, is the most wonderful, exciting, fabulous, terrifying, hardest, beautiful thing I do . . . the only thing more important and more beautiful and wonderful that I’ve ever “created” is my son and from that comes his family -Sarah and my “Lil Boop” Norah Kathryn.
Now you all tell me: What are you up to with this winding down of summer? What projects or activities will fall bring?
Lil Norah Kathryn in the dress Granny Kat bought her

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