Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Snippet

I started playing with a new story this week that's actually coming to me in FIRST PERSON PRESENT. I've never written in first! With my first MS, I tried first for about ten pages before I started going crazy. All the YA books I'd read recently were in first, so I wanted to try. That story was so much about atmosphere and scope. It didn't work in first.

But this story kind of seems to be working. I'm not really trying to finish it, just kind of poking at it as things come. It's a YA mystery with a small supernatural element. The main character, Addy, knows when someone is going to die but can't do anything to prevent it. This is a rough, unfinished scene between her and her best guy friend, Josiah (Josie). Shawn is her ex. I think that's all you need to know. Enjoy!


Josie looks at me and it’s the look I always wanted from Shawn. It’s a gaze that sees me, drinks me in like I am the only water he’ll ever need. Like I’m a treasure.
His thumb sweeps across my bottom lip on it’s way to my cheek. The fire and ice it leaves in its wake scares me, but not nearly as much as whatever in boiling inside me.
“I don’t understand,” is all I can get out.
A smile creeps across his lips and I can’t look away. I can’t tear my eyes away from his mouth.
“Don’t you?” His long fingers work their way through my hair, coming to rest at the back of my Neck. He tips my head back to face him.
I do understand. “How long...?”
He bends until his forehead grazes mine. “I don’t know.”
“How can you not know? This is huge and life changing and...” I’m panicking because if he doesn’t kiss me, I’ll die,  and if he does kiss me, I’m ruining that special thing I’ve only ever had with Josie and why does he smell so freaking good?
He moves to speak into my ear. Not a whisper, but a hushed, reverent church voice. “I don't think you wake up one day in love,” he saysI think you wake up and realize that thing you've felt for a long time is called love.”
The panic burst into a zillion butterflies, all scrambling to escape my stomach and soar, taking my heart with them.
Because now I know.
I press up on my toes, gathering Josie’s shirt into my fists.
I sigh the moment our lips meet. This is what a kiss is, this feeling of our lips and tongues and bodies anticipating and dancing and leading and following.It’s a fencing bout, a waltz, a synchronized swim. For every movement, ever subtle shift I make, he matches with his own.
I’m lost.
His hand slip from my hair, down my back, pressing me against him. As if I could be any closer. As if he could press us together and we’d never have to inhabit our own, solitary bodies again.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Importance of Fairytales

Never do I feel as impotent as I do on days like today, when tragedy erupted in Boston. I'm not a doctor or a nurse or a bomb technician. I can't even give blood. Instead, I write pretty words. It feels foolish, frivolous, irreverent. How, in a world where people deliberately inflict pain on each other, can I justify devoting my time, creativity and energy to making up stories? How unimportant my work feels some days. But -




Art might not save lives in the way surgery does, but it does indeed save life. Wrapping our souls and hearts and minds in beauty binds broken spirits like casts bind broken bones. Music and paintings and stories tell us we are not alone, that we matter. They tell us there is evil and darkness and hatred in this world, that at times the darkness win. But they also tell us life and light and love can defeat evil.

Hope rises from beauty, beauty from hope. My creative souls, what you do is vitally important. It matters. You matter. When evil destroys, don't allow it to keep you from creating, from reflecting the light of a loving Creator back into a dark and lonely world.

It is right and it is good to grieve. We, as humans, fail to live up to the bright promise of our potential. Violence and cruelty are all too real. But we cannot allow them to keep us from the work laid out before us, be it to run into fires to extinguish flames or to arrange 12 simple notes into endless, breathtaking arrangements.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Instead of retreating today, create something beautiful and share it. Take care of the people around you, even the ones you might not like. Let your life be a force for creation and not destruction. That is how evil is defeated.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Am Not What I Do

I've lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade. It's a city of jaded optimists, of waiters so run down by failed auditions they almost don't care about the script in their back pocket. Almost. It's a city of broken dreams, overnight successes and an ever-present feeling of if I just tried a little harder, a little longer.

It's exhausting. 

In ten years, my husband rose from lowly errand boy to editor in a career path he never really wanted. He got married, earned a degree, bought a home, had kids. Always, through everything else, he's pursued his real passions on weekends and after long days at his job. Almost everyone I know in Los Angeles is the same way - day shift, night shift. Pursue your dreams amid real life.

Last week, after a 14 hour day on set, he came home from his first big break. He'd left the house before the kids woke up and come home after they'd finally fell asleep. After pursuing this dream for so long, he questioned if the cost was worth it. Then he said:

I am not what I do

My husband is a lot wiser than me. I don't know why I'm shocked by his ability to stop me in my tracks with a single sentence. But that simple phrase rocked me. 

I am not what I do

A query rejection is not a rejection of me.

I am not what I do

Shelving a manuscript does not make me a failure.

I am not what I do

When I'm covered in spit up and toddler crafts, I still more than Mom.

I am not what I do

Who I am is comprised of so much more than the activities that fill my day and the passions I pursue by night. I am more  than my job and my relationships. What I do to pay bills or to relieve stress or to entertain my kids are not all there is to me. 

It's so hard to separate the things I do, especially creatively, from the person I know I am. It's so easy to lose my identity in the struggle for success. In a place where stars are made and destroyed overnight, it's almost impossible to know get caught up in the race for recognition.

But at the end of the day, what I do is just that. I am still me.