I'm tired, that's why. Tired of categorizing myself in ways that make me acceptable to different groups of people. Tired of placing my passions in neatly divided compartments, labeled so that I can easily impress the person sitting in front of me. The world today expects a professional to be a perfect specialist. One who cares only for their narrow field, who operates solely in the world structured for that single path. For someone who is truly meant for the Liberal Art's such notions are devastating and destructive. Those rules make me feel bound and contained, constantly censored and judged for living the organic life of an artist.
For example, I have a large obsession with Tarot. I think beyond their use as a method of divination and magic, they are a wealth of information into behaviorism, archetypal journeys, and Jungian psychology. They speak to not only the inner priestess in me but the artist, the anthropologist and the psychoanalyst. However, writing books on tarot cards or for that matter making my own deck is a notion that frightens me. Despite the fact that it's been a century or more since someone (in America at least) was burned alive for indulging in occultism, part of me shrinks at the idea of being rejected by an audience who will no longer take me seriously as an academic, as an author or as a mother.
Tarot cards are not the only eccentricity in my life. In fact I am a walking oxymoron. It is a side effect of living a life walking down the middle road, trying to stay out of the illusions of dualism that causes the world so much pain. Unfortunately, choosing such a road can also be painful because of the isolation caused by never quite fitting in. I sit on the edge, content with observing rather than fully experiencing the lives of others. Also, I have a Faustian obsession with knowledge and seeking the truth. In an age where information is ubiquitous it can make for an addiction more difficult to break than heroin. I find myself constantly searching Google for answers to the myriad of questions slewing around in my chaotic brain. More often than not, I run around a hamster wheel and realize after a few hours of research that I'm not going to arrive at a destination. The chase of discovery is usually far more satisfying than the obtainment of it, which causes me to push myself forward in the world of ideas, often at the neglect of the material plane. It took me a long time to realize, that gaining wisdom without implementation makes the whole process pointless. That is why I have to be a writer, there is no other way.
My first dive into novel writing occurred as a child sick with an acute case of Mononucleosis, with a liver and spleen swollen four times it's normal size. There were no other children around me during those long nine months, and I could only watch so many I Love Lucy episodes before the boredom nearly turned to delirium. So, I gathered some printer paper (the kind that's perforated with holes on both sides) and got to work on my first literary masterpiece. It was a story about a teenage girl in the civil war whose father was sick and dying. The Yankee forces were closing in on her family's plantation and refused to risk losing her land to the destructive fires of Sherman. She cut her hair short, taped her breasts down and wore the clothes of her brother whose life had already been claimed by tragedy. She freed her father's slaves on account that they help her fight to keep the land free as well, and in the style of Shakespeare who I was fond of at the time, they all died. I don't remember how many pages it was, short enough that I could bind them together with thread. I knew those words were going to make me famous and rich. Once I got better I would find a publisher and be a child prodigy who would win her first Pulitzer at the ripe age of ten. I did get better and began the fifth grade. Soon after, the movie Mulan came out and I was devastated. No, I was enraged. How dare Disney steal my idea! The words sat folded in a box, and may still exist somewhere.
It wasn't the last time either. I wrote a short story for a Thanksgiving assignment where Turkeys discovered they were slaughtered by their deceiving farm family and planned a revolt. Then I saw Chicken Run. I wrote an illustrated children's book about a professor who had a dog that traveled through time and saved the world from various super villains. My Dad told me it sounded an awful lot like Dr. Who. At the time, I had no idea what he meant, however now that I have Netflix I can see that he was correct. I gave up being a child novelist, but never quit writing entirely. I spent my teenage years writing bad poetry and filling notebooks with grandiose entries much like this one. I won a few essay writing contests in UIL and had a brief job in my early twenties as a journalist for a small town newspaper. Upon seeing the corruption involved with such publications, I resolved to start my own. It was a disaster. No one wants to give money to a twenty year old with no credentials. I fell in love, moved away to East Texas and decided that experiencing life was more exciting than writing about it. Then my sister died of a drug overdose a few months after her 18th birthday and I realized that experiencing wasn't that great after all. I stopped writing for a long time, anything at all.
Then my husband convinced me on the eve of my twenty fourth birthday that if you haven't followed your dream by the age of 23 then you never will. I didn't want to test the theory, I was too afraid he might be right. So I wrote my first novel. It's not the best I can do, but it's the best I could do at the time. It felt like a right of passage, something I had to do before I got pregnant. And, as if to confirm my understanding, the same week I finished the novel I conceived my son.
It's been a wild ride ever since, and life has just now reached a stillness that allows me to think clearly again. I feel like I have an opportunity that only comes once or twice in life. I stay at home thanks to student loan debt, which gives me the chance to do my homework while spending all the time in the world with my little boy and my husband, who is also a full time student. We've done things a little backwards, but it seems so perfect that if done any other way would have lost it's magic. However, I've noticed when the sea is tumultuous, priorities are easily decided. It's when happiness rears it's monstrous head that lofty dreams poke their way through the surface. The kind of inspiration that moves mountains drifts in my mind while washing dishes, playing legos and cooking dinner. Then I remember all my failures. Every time I have started walking towards the shore of manifesting dreams into reality, some violent wave crashes on top of me and I get pulled right back out into the storm.
Today however, something happened entirely by chance that caught my attention. It's Serendipity in it's most awesome and simple form. I borrowed a book yesterday from the library. “13 Ways of Looking at the Novel” by Jane Smiley. I recognized it's cover and thought I might have already read it, but it was one of the few good books on novel writing available at my towns little library so I got it anyways. On Page 27, there was a homemade bookmark. The kind where someone quickly grabs the closest piece of scrap paper available. Tingles sprang up all over when I realized the bookmark was placed there by me, four years ago. Considering it's still perfect placement in the pages, it was obvious no one else had borrowed it since. Which made me a little sad for the book, but really sad for myself. It was my schedule when I worked as a Starbucks barista, when my son was barely squirming in my belly, when I was listening to my husband record his album and I was trying to get someone, anyone interested in reading my novel. This book by Jane Smiley sat on the shelf for four years, making itself invisible to all other inspiring writers, waiting for me to pick it back up and fulfill my destiny. My last novel, like all the others, sits in a box on a closet shelf. I worked on my novel for two years, gave up my entire life outside of making lattes for months in order to finish it. Regardless, not one person bought my book. I had a Kickstarter campaign where one stranger on the other side of America gave me a pledge of $50. I think I convinced one or two people to take a digital copy of it for free. But, I have yet to receive a single word of praise or criticism. My guess is because no one except for myself and my husband has ever read it. It didn't hurt on the surface as much as I thought it would. After all, the complexity of life swept me away soon after anyways. It has only been recently (in the month of NANOWRIMO) that I had the guts to even think about writing fiction again.
And then there it was. A sign from the heavens, a slap in the face, a call to action. So here I am, typing on the internet and publicly saying to hell with it. What do I have to lose but everything (and at this conjecture I am really good at losing everything). I'm going to make my first novel available again, despite it's sometimes cliché storylines and characters, because it was a huge part of my development and it deserved to be seen by someone. I'm going to write this blog, imagining someone might actually care to read it, because my voice deserves to be heard. And I'm going to keep writing because I deserve to not go mad from inaction. And there you have it. If any of you want to come along for the ride, I will be more grateful than you could know for the simple fact that you might actually like me, or at least respect me, for who I am and not for who I should be.