I’m Alive, I Swear

I know I haven’t written here in a while, but for once I will not be apologetic. Because while this blog has been sitting idle, I’ve been writing. With exhilaration, with abandon, and with unadulterated joy. For months now, my self-doubt plugged my writing, until my words were few and far between. I’d lost the tug in my gut, the pull to the page.

I am beyond thrilled to tell you all that’s change, and I’ve never felt more confident that this this THIS was what I was meant to be.

In a tell-all expose future-post, I promise I’ll devote more time to telling you what switch flipped, and why you should drop what you’re doing like a hot potato – even though right this second it’s likely reading my blog post – and go get started on dreaming.

But all that later. Back to the stories.

PS: Read American Gods to erase writer’s block. The energy pounded into that novel must be expelled somewhere, and it went straight to scratch my writer’s brain.

PPS: Yes, yes, it’s by Neil Gaiman. So sue me, it’s brilliant. David-Christopher Harris agrees!


Robin Williams as Mr. ‘O Captain My Captain’ Keating

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

A Dream Deferred

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
                                                                    – Langston Hughes
The constancy with which I must light a match to keep my candle-lit hopes burning is exhausting. It requires patience and self-soothing after the mental injuries I inflict upon myself for not fully devoting myself to my dream. It requires support, not just from within, but from others outside myself. It must fight not to wane in the face of friends and family, meaning well, but serving only as redundant doubt and unneeded worry. It requires tired eyes and aching hearts; it requires perseverance. And, like anything important in life, it takes sacrifice. I have to stop for a moment and tell myself to choose: write or talk on the phone? write or go out? write or eat out? write or TV? write or exercise? And maybe the answer isn’t always “write”, but it must mostly be, because I am a fledgling, still trying to stay spry on my feet, so that maybe one day I can fly.
But it takes many falls to learn how to fly.
Why do we fall? 
So we can learn to pick ourselves up,¹ so we know that when we rise it was because we had the strength to. Because to pick oneself up, no matter how much you tell yourself that you can’t do it, that you aren’t good enough, that you were a fool for ever thinking anything different, requires a bit of hope, no matter how infinitesimally tiny it is. Every time you stand up, you prove that there’s a corner of your heart, no matter how small, that believes. Every time you stand tall, no matter how tired you are of the effort, you show that you are tenacious in your dreaming, that you are steadfast, that you will not let the voices whispering in your ear get inside your head. So cry, weep, moan, groan, punch the pillows and clench your fists – as long as you do not fail to rise. It does not matter if there was never much hope²; even a fool’s hope can and will carry you to through to the end.  It does not matter whether it takes an hour, a day, a week, a year, a decade. It does not matter how far you fall, the depth you must crawl back up from.
All that matters is that you did.
A dream deferred is never lost, no matter the length of its stay in the shadows. A dream deferred is not deferred forever. A dream deferred pounds in your blood, demanding to be heard, reminding you that it is here and it is not leaving. A dream deferred only leaves when you can no longer see it, feel it – when you stop it like you would the beating of your heart – when the very thing that is you, leaves – until, yes, it explodes with the might that is a seed of hope, sewed diligently and innocently into you, refusing to let you let it go.
fdf d
Don’t think that there isn’t time. There is always time because time is what you make of it. You choose where and who to give it to. You are in control.
But, AND THIS IS A BIG BUT, if you do NOT take the time – forgive yourself. Light the candle, again.
fdf d
I refuse to wilt at the sign that I have a long, long trudge left to get to my mountain – and if even with every ounce of determination one or two petals fall off, I promise to that little dream that I will fight and stand, no matter how lengthy or difficult the struggle. I will keep that candle warm and burning long, because my star is brighter and bigger than the confined space I have lent it.
I have a story inside me demanding to let itself be heard, and the only way I know to combat that voice is to let it speak.
This dream will not be deferred – and if it is, it will not be for long.

1. Quoted from Batman Begins
2. The wonderful Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Don’t be Persnickety when Pursuing your Passions

Do what you love.

As those of you who’ve been here since the beginning know, I’ve contemplated that statement for months now, if not years. How do I know what I love? Is there a test I can take? Okay, how about one that doesn’t give me an answer I totally disagree with? And if the mantra is so simple, why is the actual ‘doing’ so hard?

Sure, anxiety’s part of that answer. Indiana Jones taught me the best metaphor for pursuing what you love – just jump off that cliff, I swear there’s a path to follow, you just got to have a little faith.  As my many gung-ho GO WRITERS GO posts can tell you, I’ve had plenty of stressed-out ismydreamaraisininthesun moments myself. The pursuit of my particular brand of happiness has been an anxious journey wrapped in self-doubt with a side of nauseous hesitation. At this particular point in that (often circular) journey, I’m stuck on  tormenting myself with the worth of what I’ve written. I never stop to congratulate myself on getting over the huge hurdle of actually getting myself to put words on paper. Instead, I dip straight into questioning whatever I’ve slapped onto paper.  Am I doing this whole “writing” thing right? Can writers write about [      ]? Is it okay if I try?

Is there anyone else out there whose asked themselves that question?  Raise your hands up in the air. Done? Okay, now swing that hand as far back as you can, and give yourself a nice, sharp, mark-inducing slap on the face. Because, YES, OF COURSE IT’S OKAY. Writers write. That’s about as strict the ‘rules’ in this particular career go. Even the most basic of them – that stories must have a middle, beginning, and an end – has been broken, and it’s still been successful; just pick up House of Leaves, and you’ll see what I mean.

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