Friday, July 20, 2012

Positively Realistic: Mining the Dark Side

I believe in living life to the fullest and in looking for the bright side of life, but the truth is that in order for me to be--and become--a strong writer with a story to tell, I must mine the dark side of life. I must look into dark corners. I must acknowledge the dark secrets all human beings carry in the depths of their souls. Only by paying homage to the dark side of life will I bring true depth to my stories.

Negativity ignored doesn't mean negativity doesn't exist. It does. In every person's heart and soul, regardless of the image cast upon the viewing world, there exists fears, doubts, concerns, secrets, dark memories. Even one of the most spiritual women I have admired throughout the years once confessed that in the still of the night she questioned the very existence of God. But then, in the morning, when she arose to do her charity work amongst the orphaned and diseased and deserted in India, she presented a positive and caring and devoted face.

This positivity thing is a choice. And I applaud all who choose it. I try to be that person as well, but I cannot ignore the negativity of life nor can I avoid discussing it with other people--usually writers or at times in this blog--because this darkness is what must be revealed if my readers are going to truly empathize with my characters.

I hope that in some way that by revealing my own doubt and despair throughout this journey through life that I am connecting with my readers in ways that will give them the strength to face their own dark secrets and overcome them.

Because after acknowledging the dark, we can then look for the light and be warmed by the hope it gives to all of us. It's there in every world religion, in every culture, in every human's heart. All people, all over the world, know universal truths that span the boundaries of distance and time. We are all connected by this global knowledge.

Pain, suffering, fears, doubts, pasts, secrets, love lost, love won, and the reality of death are not exclusive conditions. I cannot pretend they don't exist when I am mining my heart and soul as I build my characters and tell their stories.

And then when my characters overcome the dark chains of their pasts, when they reveal their innermost vulnerable selves to one another, when they grow to accept who they are and each other unconditionally, they receive the greatest reward. They receive the happily-ever-after they deserve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

YOLO: You Only Live Once

The Teen has a phrase: YOLO. It stands for You Only Live Once. She uses it quite a bit. It's a fun phrase to her and she lives life fairly happily. She's off to college in less than a month and I know she's ready.

I'll miss her, but I believe this will be an exciting transition for the entire family.

As part of my YOLO attitude, I've decided to feel the fear and go for it anyway. Yes, I've been afraid of failing at this writing gig more times than I can count: especially this year. I've wanted to quit numerous times. You can read about all my angst in my January blogs. I was very full of doubt and despair, but I pushed through it with the help of my critique partners and writing friends.

There is NO other option.

So my YOLO mantra will be about taking more chances as a writer. Trusting my heart and my instincts about the story and the characters. Believing that if another writer can get published by my dream line, than I can, too.

It will happen.

There is NO other option.

So You Only Live Once. This year while my darling Teen heads to college to embrace her new adventure, I want to embrace mine. I'm a writer. Whether I get the call this year or next year, I am a writer. Whether I never get the call at all, I'm still a writer.

I do have control over many aspects of this career. I have a plan. The plan is in place. I am executing the plan at my pace and toward my goal. Other people might achieve their goals faster, or take shortcuts, but I am taking the road less traveled and sticking to my guns.

I want it all. That's it.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

War Eagle Launch

I am regrouping after a busy week with the Teen and the Physicist. We've been getting oriented to the Auburn University experience as parents and as an incoming freshman. Last week we drove 3.5 hours to Auburn, Alabama for the Camp War Eagle college orientation. Darling Teen had her own orientation which included an overnight stay in the dorms--that didn't go too well as she had no roommates and was freaked out. The Physicist and I had a Parent Camp orientation which basically meant two days of lectures and talks about the billing, the medical clinic, the move in process, and so on. It was incredibly intense and overwhelming. In addition to that we could break out into small groups and go on tours and attend a mini pep rally. We chose to opt out of the tours as we'd already done two at Auburn. We also skipped the small groups because we wanted to enjoy some down time and decompress a bit. And we skipped one dinner because we wanted to go to a nicer restaurant and eat really yummy food whilst drinking fine wine. So we were definitely slackers in that department.

We took two cars down so Darling Teen could practice the drive with the Physicist riding in the passenger seat. Let me tell you that it is really scary to drive through Birmingham and worry about your daughter making the exits properly and praying you haven't led her astray or into trouble. I had a death grip on the steering wheel. But all went well.

I thought I'd write when I was there. I didn't. I couldn't. There wasn't time! OMG, this college launch is draining. And that's where I am mentally. Drained. Of course, no excuses but there's no point in writing drek only to erase it. And the family needed my total concentration on this event.

The ride home was super awful. We had to stay at Camp War Eagle and on campus till well after 4PM. Then the Physicist drove Darling Teen's car home because she had only gotten two hours of sleep due to freaking out about being totally alone (they were supposed to meet other people in the dorms but she just met the Drain Pipe Ghost) with no electronics. Good thing he drove because we had torrential rains and lightening storms all the way from Cullman to Madison, Alabama. At one point I was unable to see the road in front of me. It was very frightening. Had I not known we were only half an hour from the house, I'd have pulled over and waited it out. The idea of my Darling Teen making this kind of drive with her lack of experience freaks me out. But I have to trust that she'll do okay, right?

And what happened next? Did I get up the next day and write? Nope. I had to go through reams and reams of information that we'd gathered at CWE which was then processed into a binder and a Priority List. There's still lots of shopping and preparations before we send our Teen to college. And here's the worst part: no Physicist to help us. So me and my Teen will do the entire Move In Mania on our own. She'll drive her car behind mine and we'll get it done, but I bet I have white knuckles all the way to Auburn.

Best advice I got? Make multiple copies of the Teen's health insurance card and keep in multiple places because she will lose hers. And she'll need it.

So now the rest of the summer begins. I have major revisions to complete and I'm behind. The Teen is in Washington, D.C. for a week which helps both the Physicist and I prepare for the official launch as well as catch up on our personal/professional duties. Then after she comes home, he goes away for 20 days for work. So it is up to me to handle everything that isn't completed by that time.

Feeling pressure? Yup. I am. I think launching a War Eagle freshman is more painful than giving birth. Seriously. I'd rather have an elephant--triplet elephants--than go through this, but I have to do it.

And then I will be alone. Alone and not ready to go home to face an empty house with no Teen and no Physicist. I'm making plans to make that first few days fun. But only if I can finish these revisions!!

And that's life at the Glover household. Have you ever sent a child to college? What was the experience like? Were you afraid for the child? Lonely afterward? How did you handle all the pressure?