Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When everything happens at once

There is a feast or famine aspect of life as a writer. In drafting a new novel, an important part of the process is letting the story 'marinate' in the subconscious. To the non-writer, this can look a lot like daydreaming or being lazy. I can assure you, when a writer is in her native habitat, looking to all outside appearances as if she is not writing, there is story happening.

Tigger and Dustin only look like they're completely at rest.
If I said the word 'w.a.l.k.' or picked up a tennis ball, they'd
be up in a flash.

And when you are a writer/artist/musician/etc, it feels as if your life consists of long stretches of nothing happening, punctuated by intense times where everything seems to crash down on you at the same time.

This is where I am now.

I am not complaining; this is the life I chose after my very predictable career as a physical therapist. I love what I do and feel inordinately grateful that I have the ability to pursue a creative life.

This past weekend, I was immersed in geek/fan/writing culture at Arisia. I have been to other SF&F cons before, but this was my first Arisia. It was a riot of color and sound, of incredible cosplay, and wonderful conversations and connections with both creators and fans.  

It was incredible to spend time with my fellow members of Broad Universe, an organization dedicated to promoting women writing in speculative fiction. And I participated in the art show, displaying my ceramics for the first time.

One of the struggles of so many creative folk - myself included - is that we can tend to be introverts. I am what I call a 'social introvert', in that I am very outgoing and not at all shy. However, I need my quiet/alone time to recharge, especially after the immersion of interactions that is a con.

If I had my 'druthers, I'd spend the next week in deep silence. Unfortunately, I am running up against some hard deadlines, that are adding to my overall stress level. Again, they are for really great and exciting things; they are just happening all at once.

TIME AND TITHE, the sequel to THE BETWEEN, will be released the second Monday in February. And between now and then, there are an overwhelming number of details to be managed. Publishing one novel is work enough; I am rebranding THE BETWEEN with a new cover to match the art for TIME AND TITHE, so some of the work has doubled.

Jules Valera's new cover art for THE BETWEEN
And the cover for TIME AND TITHE is not quite done yet. I know it will be soon, and it will be fabulous when it's finished. I'm just feeling the crunch of time.

Because all of this work has to be completed by January 31st. When I travel to Iceland.

Again - not complaining! This is a trip that was an unexpected and unplanned adventure, and one that I am extremely excited about.

And when I return from the trip, the book releases and Boskone begins 5 days later.

:takes big, deep breath:

I can do this.

I know I can.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Trying to find center

Centering the clay, photo by BLW photography, used with permission, CC by 2.0

We are only nine days into the new year, and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Although I'm not sure why I continue to believe that my life starts on a blank slate every January 1st. I am starting to realize there are not really endings and beginnings, only continuations, as one day blends into the next, one year into the next. It puts the concept of New Year's resolutions into a different kind of perspective for me.

What it means is that at any moment, we can choose to take a new course; that paradoxically, every moment is a chance for something to begin or something to end.

Anyway, enough philosophizing.

Even centering - the title of today's blogpost and the photo used above - is not entirely a metaphor. In ceramics, if the clay is not centered, you cannot throw. That's what happened to me last Friday. I wedged up a half-dozen balls of clay, planning to throw medium and large serving bowls.

What I accomplished instead was an afternoon of mud pies.

Nothing would center. Frustrated, I tried to open the clay and pull up the walls anyway. For my pains, I got what potters affectionately term 'the death wobble.' That's where the opening is not centered (natch - because the clay on the wheel is not centered) and one side of the wall is thick, the other thin. When the wheel spins, the clay wobbles and torques or collapses.

In movement, too, we need to be grounded in our physical center - the center of gravity - in order to function. Otherwise, we fall.

So yes, centering is a very real, physical phenomena.

And it's also a metaphor.

Right now, I'm feeling out of center. There's a lot going on in the next several weeks - much of it wonderful - but still, I'm having trouble staying in balance.

Between now and the middle of February, I will be attending Arisia and participating in the art show, readying TIME AND TITHE for publication, traveling to Iceland for a week (Yikes! But cool!), launching TIME AND TITHE, and attending Boskone, where I'm both in the art show and on panels.

:Takes big, deep breath:

My job in the next few weeks is to look for centering. That means not rushing the process on the wheel at the ceramics studio. That means not rushing about mindlessly (which I was doing yesterday and which meant that I started the day dropping and smashing a wrapped ceramic cup meant for a friend because I didn't take the time to be present.) That means taking the time to breathe, to do yoga, to shut down distractions when it's time to write.

May you be centered in your day and find the balance you need.

Friday, January 02, 2015


One of the lovely people I hang out with on Google plus posted a link to an article about this wonderful alternative to making New Year's resolutions, called "Rememberlutions."

I've never really been a fan of resolutions. They are too liable to make me feel like a failure, and, honestly, life is too short to spend it battling the inner demons whose voice are already strong enough. I don't need to give them even more ammunition.

So instead of resolutions, I will keep this jar and when the spirit moves me, I'll add a little note to it with an accomplishment (big or small) or memory. When I need a boost, I'll pick one out and read it.

The little blue slip in the jar is from yesterday. It reads:

Jan 1, 2015
A cold, crisp, hard sunshine day. N and I walked the dogs around Fresh Pond, then took them to the dog wash. We didn't do anything special, but simply waking together and enjoying the light became special. 
May 2015 be filled with many moments of joy, large moments and small, quiet ones.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Game Theory (A poem)

Game Theory

This is not war. I am not
a grieving mother. There is nothing
for me to reconcile. The history
I learned is an unbroken narrative
of hope, not a story told in bloody pictographs,
the graffiti of despair. Tell me about progress
and I will show you how simple it is
to turn aside, sated, our bellies bloated
by promises. Our gratitude is rancid
with guilt, and still we feast on the dead.
Loss is bleak anger in black faces, other
faces, other lives. It does not touch us. We
are immune. We deserve this fortunate
geography, zip codes like lucky lottery numbers.
How simple to cash in our winnings
and conveniently forget who owns the game.
I clutch my ticket in a death grip. There is nothing for me
to reconcile. I am not a grieving mother.
This is not war.

     --LJ Cohen, 12/24/14