Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Monday, December 24, 2012

This is me at 8 months. I've come a long way from tearing books off shelves, and reading in my birthday suit---okay, maybe not.
My mother would line my crib with these cardboard picture books that would fold up like an accordion. She would buy them for a quarter at the thrift store, and I would coo over the images of the sneaky mouse hiding in the boot, in the roll of toilet paper, or behind a stack of blocks. "Where is mouse?" she would say. I couldn't speak yet, but perhaps I was already imagining the trials and tribulations of that mischievous, little creature with beady eyes and mohawked fur. Or maybe I was mouse; uncouth in getting caught.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Good Men Project

I've been following these guys for a couple of years now and the uplifting articles they write about men being upstanding, honorable men. I am happy to share today that they have picked up one of my personal essays:

Monday, December 10, 2012

for my eyes only.

At the beginning of winter, around the time people start thinking about the colder season coming and the indoor hobbies they'll be taking up, someone started a converstaion with me about keeping a journal. They expressed to me how they were often discouraged by the subject matter or voice in which they wrote, and how they felt as if they didn't have much to say. Or if it so happened that they were to leave behind their journals, to be read one day by others, they were worried that no one would find them interesting.

"Have you ever gone back and read something you've written, and been tempted to change it?" They asked me.

My response was: "I've ripped out pages, but I've never actually altered my words or thoughts in any way. I'm recording my personal history, and just because I change or grow as a person, doesn't mean my earlier thinking was wrong; it's just the way I saw the world at that time. I like to see my progression. I still go back to my older journals every now and then and borrow ideas. I take good notes."

"Well, then how do I journal better?"

look into my eyes, tell me what you see
This question stumped me for a minute, because I never really thought much about how to craft a journal entry before. I'd always seen it as an informal, free-flowing exercise for the mind. A scared place where I could dump out my ideas, thoughts, and feelings, and not be judged. It wasn't supposed to require drafting, or even a heavy focus on grammar. It was for my eyes only, and an outlet for me to express my true-self. I'd been doing it regularly since I was twelve.

So, to consider that others may eventually read my journals and be uninterested by them, felt strange, because I was never attempting to write for an audience in the first place. This sounded downright invasive, or voyeuristic, and I didn't want to have to consider this hypothetical situation of protecting my secrets from future public analysis.

The only advice I could give this person, was to think about journaling as if you were writing a letter to yourself twenty years from now. What would you want to remember? What details of the day stood out most to you? How did an event or an experience make you feel? How did it change you? What new knowledge did you gain? Is there something specific you're trying to work through? What does it mean to you to love life? Why another person would want to read my deepest, darkest ponderings, could only be to get to the root of my psychology. And frankly, god help them if that's what they want to read into or remember me by.

But I know I have come across a few epistolary collections over the years, and have flipped through the pages of Anais Nin's diaries, wishing I was as eloquent in my solitude. Recently too, I have found that I am not keeping up with the daily accounts like I used to, since I have discovered how much more rewarding it feels to put everything into the construction of fiction. I started another novel last month and get anxious as my days wind down, just so I can back to the latest scene I've been working on.

I guess if people had a choice between understanding me through my journals or through the writing that is meant to be out there, I would like to think they would learn more through the latter. One's capability and intellect, of course is derived from the flawed version first and foremost, but don't we all want to be remembered for the best representation we can put out there into the world? I know I do. And why do we applaud those who tell-all, when all it does is lessen or weaken the imagination?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Right before Thanksgiving I took a nice, nine-hour trip to the emergency room, after having prolonged going to the hospital over the weekend, and losing many hours of sleep in the process. However, by Monday morning I knew I hadn’t any choice but to go.

I don’t know if you have ever experienced an E.R. on a day close to a holiday, but I can say from experience that it is a mad house. The elderly with no next of kin, are dumped on the drop-off curb alone by inconvenienced neighbors; young men, beaten and banged up, argue with their parole officers over who is to blame for getting dragged out in the middle of the night; and then there are the real emergencies like heart attacks and gunshot wounds. It’s depressing to say the least, and you can understand my reasoning for not jumping up to check myself in.  
My problem was only slightly severe compared to the man in the next room, who seemed to have the understaffed orderlies running around like chickens with their heads cut off. He was from the Congo, understood minimal English, and he needed a blood transfusion quickly despite the road block of him having AIDs. I could hear the RNs on the phone all day, trying to get translators to come in and explain to the man the procedures they needed to perform. Of course everyone was on vacation already, and no one could be bothered for an immigrant.
I could hear his breathing machine and heart rate beeping like sonar through the thin, sheet rock wall between us, and in the longer stretches of silence I held my breath, hoping it wasn’t his last. I felt bad asking for anything that took away from the attention of his care. My white blood cell count was unusually high, due to a sharp stabbing pain in my lower abdomen, and I was being sent from one radiology room to the next with little to no explanation.
And in the midst of all this, all I wanted to do is get back home and work on a deadline. I was in the process of applying for a writing fellowship, and the due date was sneaking up on me. My health was just being a nuisance.
At one point I even said to the doctor, “I don’t want any pain killers in my system, because later I need to write with a clear head.” While I’m there writhing in discomfort on the examination table.
Of course she gave me a look, like I was the crazy one. But the message was passed from one shift change to the next: No drugs for the girl in RM 101. Just figure out what is wrong, and get her the hell out of here.
By the third attendant change, I had two (dare I say this? hunky) medical students giving me an ultrasound, and one of them started up conversation as the other rolled the instrument covered in jelly across my belly. I tried not to wince too much.

“So, I hear you write.”

I nod. “I’m in grad school.”

“What do you write?”

“I’m studying fiction, but I write other things too. Poetry. Essays—Ow, ow, ow!”

“That hurt?” The one with the machine asks me.

I fight back the tears.

“What do you suppose that is?” He asks his partner.

His partner shrugs, and they continue.

“Have you published anything?”

“Some, but I’m hoping to get a book out there soon.”

“Have you thought about self-publishing? I had this friend—”

I wanted to tell him I didn’t give a damn about what his friend has done, but I bit my tongue.

Instead I played the political angle: “I like the rejection.”

“Really?” He seemed a tad confused.

“In fact, I thrive on it. It’s just part of getting good.”

“Looks like a gall stone, but I could be wrong,” says the guy with the screen.

“We’ll write you a prescription for the pain, until it passes,” says Mr. Chatty. Then, “Good luck,” when he turns to leave.
Needless to say, I left the script and my Johnny behind on the gurney, as I made my way out of that terrible, sterile place. What a waste of time I thought, as I stopped by the Walgreen’s near my house for a higher dose of ibuprofen.
I made the deadline in the end, post mark and all, but what really surprised me was how comical the whole experience was. Not because I was subjected to the poking and prodding of undertrained personnel, but because there always seems to be someone who “has a friend” who’s self-published.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for self-starters in publishing, and that it’s an amazing day and age we live in where this is now an option in the industry. However, why I would never take this route is as personal for me, as the subject matter I choose to write about.

But the main reasons, which I would like to share here, are these:

1)      I like Rejection: I believe in it. It exists for me with the same weight as acceptance. Just like we shouldn’t give all the kids on a team trophies for participating in sports, a hierarchy built on success is completely necessary in the development of character. Hard work and skill (not just talent), should be recognized. There is a ladder to climb for a purpose. How far we choose to push ourselves is a statement of how driven we are. I want to feel like I’ve worked toward something real with a level of self-worth involved. And just because someone says, “You’re great, but I want to help you become better,” that isn’t the end all, be all—it’s another part of the whole big-picture experience of being the best artist and person one can be.

2)      If it’s that easy, I don’t want to: Is it really true that people want what they can’t have? Do we ever truly outgrow our self-serving tendencies? I kind of look at self-publishing the same way: as the easy way out. To me, it’s like saying, “If no one wants to represent me, then I’m going to put myself out there on my own, regardless of what others think of my work.” That’s all well and dandy, but those who opt to take this avenue, sometimes forget what this decision entails, which is largely a whole lotta self-representation. Because without a agent or publishing house backing you and providing you with professional marketing and publicity, the ball is in your hands, and getting your name out there rests almost entirely on your shoulders. Don’t forget it takes time to create anything worthwhile. Now double that time or triple that time, because that is how much more time you will be spending running the business of “You”. Not to say self-promotion isn't important, but I would rather spend 90 percent of my time honing my craft, than worrying about if my writing is going to sell.

3)      Let me tell you how good I am: Society doesn’t take well to braggers. It puts people off and leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Running your own business is about telling people how they should choose you over the other competition. On the other side of the coin, if you were to become represented by a publisher, their advertising and brand would be telling the public on your behalf how great you are.

Personally, I am a consumer who doesn’t want to be sold on anything. I don’t care if they are a big business or small, don’t tell me what I need. I’d rather stumble upon new interests on my own accord. For me it’s usually the book I pick up off a shelf of a used book store, it’s a suggestion from a friend, or it’s borrowing from the library after reading over the “staff picks”. I typically avoid reviews from critics. I don’t want to be told what’s “hot” or “trending”. My taste is subjective, everyone’s is. So, when you think about how you want to be “packaged” keep this in mind.

Like I said, how I approach the writing process is individual to who I am and my voice as a writer. I don’t believe there is a right way or wrong way to the acts of crafting or expressing, but in a world filled with so many options, choosing the best one suited for you, is possibly one of the most important pieces in representing your art to others.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

"So we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past."
-The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald