My new doctor interrupted me just as tears began gathering in my eyes.
“Good timing,” I told her, stifling sniffles. “I was just about to get to a really sad part of this book, The End of Your Life Book Club.” I gave her a brief synopsis of the non-fiction book, in which a son writes about the informal book club he and his mom shared during the last two years of her life.
“Hmm,” she replied, before asking how I was doing.
Twenty minutes later, I thanked her profusely. “I just can’t tell you how thankful I am for you. I mean, where would I start?”
She smiled. “I’m in this line of work because I want to help heal people.”
I thought of our meeting as I trekked out to my car, but I was too ravenous to think very clearly. I downed some much needed protein and iron in a Del Taco parking lot before beginning my forty-minute drive back home. I flipped on the radio and was immediately catapulted back in time by the opening notes of a beloved song. Read more…
For months, I told myself I’d start editing the second book in the Glass Ball trilogy (begun by The Monster’s Daughter) just as soon as I finished drafting Elelu. You know, that book I joyfully proclaimed drafted, oh, five weeks ago?
I figured I’d take a week or two to celebrate having hit a milestone. Except, whoops! “A week or two” turned into chillaxin’ until the end of September.
We’re now five days into October. I’ve diligently set aside a portion of each morning for editing.
So far, editing is going swimmingly! I’ve created some graphics reflective of my October morning editing so far to help you feel like you, too, are a part of my editing experience.
As you can see, I mean that in only the most literal of ways.
Ba.D. is unceasingly impressed by my editing skills. I’ve created a graphic representation of this for you, too:
(c) 2011 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.
Reneé (Lessons from Teachers and Twits) writes such lighthearted, fun entries, it’s startling the first couple of times you read her comments and realize her entries reflect but a small portion of an enormously complex, enormously beautiful soul. A teacher to the core, in almost all her words can be found a lesson.
One of the lessons contained in this entry is perhaps the most powerful to carry through rough times: the hardest lessons learned are also the ones that most illuminate the joy of what follows.
Recommended post: Lessons from Eight Junes
Annual Kite Flying Day
One August, a man that I loved tried to kill me.
Only he didn’t kill me.
Earlier that day, we had gone kite flying.
I stood quietly by his side watching the blue of the kite blend with the blue of the sky, watching him control the kite, make it do what he wanted it to do.
Later that night, he took my body and showed me that his was stronger.
That he was in control.
His leg weighed tons, and I couldn’t wiggle out from underneath him. At first, I thought he was just fooling around but he wasn’t laughing and he didn’t get off of me even when I told him I couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t scream, but I should have.
Afterwards, he took my head and tried to make me believe that he wasn’t a monster.
But he was.
Even though he sent me long, love letters filled with apologies.
Even though he put a heart-shaped rock on the windshield of my car.
Even though he tried to make me remember sweet, summer peaches.
I could only picture them bruised and split down the middle.
I remembered how he pushed me under water and tried to drown me.
How it almost worked.
Except it didn’t.
Every August, for over twenty years, I find myself remembering this man.
And, strangely, I feel an odd sense of gratitude.
Because that night, in a stranger’s room, in a borrowed bed, I learned that I could
But I also learned that I could put myself back together again.
And somehow, it is August again and I find myself in a park wrestling with a kite.
It is windier than usual and tough to fit the cross spars in their slots because the kite fights me impatiently.
I think it knows what I have planned.
Finally, I stand up. The tails snap, wanting.
I run backwards, feeling the pull.
I run, turning my back to the wind.
With the front of the kite facing me, I release it into a gust and pay out line and pull back to increase the lift.
In thirty seconds the kite is far out over the lake, pulling hard.
I run around the muddy field, making the kite dip and soar, dive and swirl.
From the ground, I control that rainbow diamond in the sky – make it answer my commands.
I remember how he hated things that refused to be controlled and so it is with great swelling pleasure that I release a new kite each year.
I like to imagine him chasing after the dropped driftwood reel, his hands outstretched, the Screaming Eagle kite a quarter of a mile up, blazing.
Reminder: Don’t forget to enter my two-book giveaway before Friday!
Once upon a time, which for the more literal-minded among you might look like March 7, 2011, yours truly reported she’d be releasing the second book in The Glass Ball trilogy (begun by The Monster’s Daughter) in September 2011. The third book in the trilogy would follow by roughly six months.
Oh, March 7 Deb, you’re so cute!
When I posted these deadlines, I encouraged y’all to “Remind me I am merely editing already written books, for which six months apiece was probably a lot on the excessive side.” I didn’t (a) bother mentioning that I’d begun writing another book or (b) anticipate I’d finish my first edit of TMD 2 and realize I really didn’t want to wield my pen like a pitchfork just because I could.
I took the month of June off writing. I was driving myself crazy with blogging-related endeavors, so that I felt I needed a total reset before diving into non-blogging projects with energy and a fresh perspective. I considered my works in progress occasionally during that month, deciding I’d nose-down and plow my way through:
- Editing TMD 2 and release it to beta readers, then editors
- Editing TMD 3 while waiting for feedback from 1 above
- Finishing the first draft of Elelu (which has massively benefited from my experiences editing TMD)*
I greeted July determined to follow this path. My intentions are always as good, after all, as they are misguided! The problem was that I set out to write a couple hundred words in Elelu one day, only to find a veritable flood of words pouring forth. Thus it is that one-third of the way through July I find myself going, “Welp, dammit, looks like #3 is becoming #1!”
Seriously, though. One deadline I’m absolutely going to meet? Finishing the first draft of Elelu within a month.
Really. It’s gonna happen. All my other deadlines? Those were different.
This one’s the real deal.
* As I described it in the entry Villains & pedicures, “Every several sentences, I ask myself, ‘Will editing the last few sentences make me want to jump off a roof?’ So far, I haven’t answered ‘yes’ even once, but it’s good to keep checking. This diligence now is an investment in a happier, saner future me.”
10/30/08, a few hours into being 30
As I start to type this, my 20s are 38 minutes departed.
Now, for the first time, I say:
I’ve looked forward to this birthday for years. Striving for Gandalf-like wisdom and awesomeness, I have dismayed in my youngness and lack of gray hairs.
To answer your questions before you ask them, no. No, I do not possess a magical staff the likes of which to defeat mad, powerful, and mad powerful wizards with. No, I have never defeated a balrog. And finally, yes, 30′s a far cry from 400…
…but it’s a step in the right direction!
I no longer wish to actually be Gandalf, but I remain excited by this birthday. I’m excited to know not only that I made it this far, which given my childhood was not a certainty, but that I made it.
I haven’t just lived to 30, which alone would have stunned me half my life ago to foresee. I’ve lived.
5/24/11, about halfway between 32 and 33
Yesterday, author Rusty Fischer gave my novel The Monster’s Daughter a five-star review, the title of which I’ve borrowed for this entry.
Even if I’d navigated away after taking in the stars and the title, I would have been exuberant.
I absolutely did not stop with the title. That’s a good thing, too, because the review itself was even better. See, for example:
Often funny, majorly sad, equally scary and powerfully poignant, Ginny is such a great character; one of the most realistic I’ve read in YA fiction — and I’m not just talking YA vamp fiction, either! It struck me as I read The Monster’s Daughter how without the vampire parts it would still be a riveting, dark and lyrical tale of one dysfunctional family; almost any dysfunctional family.
To me, this said: Your book accomplished exactly what you hoped it would. That’s exhilarating stuff.
As I drove home twenty minutes later, I reflected on that review. I thought of how, because of my childhood, my hopes have always exceeded my expectations for my life.
Every time something wonderful happens, I recall my birthday letters to my friends. In those letters, I’ve thanked my friends for helping my life become more full of wonder by far than I ever allowed myself to believe it might. What could be a better time to reflect on the came-before and the yet-to-come than a birthday, after all?
My next birthday email will include a few new bullets. As I type out those bullets one October to come, I’ll be thinking of where I came from. Where I’m going. All the people whose actions and words have helped get me there. And I’ll be thankful, as always, for people taking time out to lend a hand or share a kind word. It’s those graces that get me through the hard times . . . and make the already good ones, those such as I am blessed to live right now, a millionfold brighter.
ETA: I’ve added a few date references to clarify it’s not actually my birthday today, though this entry refers to a personal birthday tradition. I’m loving the preview of the warm wishes I can expect for my 33rd birthday!
I was in the middle of walking my dog and reading Bumped by Megan McCafferty when my phone beeped. I glanced at it to make sure it wasn’t a “HALP PLS!” message from my S.O., Ba.D., who was back at our apartment with our sick toddler, Li’l D.
I tucked my book under my elbow and checked my phone. Nope, no text message–just a WordPress new comment notification on my Reading While Walking post. I returned my phone to my purse and prepared to read again.
“Morning!” Two men sitting and smoking on their apartment’s steps called as I neared them.
“Hey, how’s it going?” I asked.
“Pretty well,” the skinnier of the two said with a smile. “We are having the weirdest conversation! How about you?”
“Doing pretty well. My toddler’s sick, so these are my few minutes of peace today.”
“Aw,” the skinny one said sympathetically. “I hope he feels better soon!”
“Thanks!” I said as I moseyed past them. “I hope your conversation gets, um, less weird? Or is at least pleasing if it stays weird!”
Both men laughed. I, too, was smiling as my phone beeped yet again. I extracted it from my purse and saw it was another new comment notification from a stranger. I tried to recall what comments I’d posted on blog buddies’ journals recently to lead these folks to me but drew a blank. I returned my phone to my purse and tried focusing on my book for the ninety seconds remaining on my walk.
My phone beeped again twice in that short window back to the apartment. “What the?” I wondered, my book forgotten.
Back in the apartment, I went straight to Sancho the Second, my trusty iMac. I checked my blog’s site stats page. “How the heck do I have 87 hits already?” I mused. “Wait . . . could it be . . . ?!”
“Hellz yes!” I shouted. I ran back to the bedroom, where Ba.D. was reading to Li’l D.
“Can I get a high five?! No, wait! I need a high ten!”
Ba.D. assented, then gave me another high ten when one proved unsatisfactory. “What the heck am I giving you ten for?”
I wasn’t ready to answer yet. I ran around the bedroom whooping and hollering, which led even my feverish son to giggle and shriek with delight.
After I’d mostly gotten it out of my system, I went back to the living room, calling back to Ba.D. an explanation of what it meant to be Freshly Pressed. “Congrats!” he hollered at me while our son continued to giggle at his crazy mom’s antics.
I refreshed the page and oohed to see 87 hits had turned into 150, just that quickly. My son ran up to me, still giggling at all the excitement, and threw open his arms for me to pick him up.
It was a little while longer before I’d calmed down from the high of realizing I’d been Freshly Pressed. After I had mellowed, I reflected aloud to Ba.D., “You know what’s funny? That was a ‘filler’ post. I didn’t want to have two totally serious posts back to back, so I typed that one up in twenty minutes, all the while planning my Very Serious Post about the importance of kind words . . . and apologies.” Since I posted my humorous reflections on road rage alternatives (Road rage takes a spill! (or: “How parenting is making me a better driver”), I’d meant to follow it up with a more contemplative second part. On Monday morning, I’d finally found my path to those words, but I wanted to delay them a little lest folks mistake me for the 100% cactus* I used to be.
Perhaps the lesson in all this is that a little levity pays. Sure, it’s good to be thoughtful and to practice shaping the world into a better place with kind, gentle words. Occasionally, though? It’s good to say something silly, and rejoice in all the interesting people you might never have encountered but for that silliness!
* Back in college, I was very briefly a Tri-Delt. In one evening of “fun and” games, I was unanimously and probably not wrongly voted the sister most like a cactus. I’ve gotten a lot less prickly since.
Since then, they’ve become even more willful. Despite the fact my outline contained exactly no references to a lad named Jacob, one of my story’s protagonist’s has an entire Gchat conversation with him on page 11:
Abigail: yo, u there?
Jacob: I’m here. If I weren’t, my status would show it. UNLIKE YOU.
Abigail: whatevs. i got bigger things to think about. UNLIKE YOU.
Jacob: My soul! You’ve crushed it!
Abigail: anyway i have a favor
Abigail: u free tom.?
Jacob: Tom? Who’s Tom?
Abigail: haha. u suck. but i need a fave, k?
Jacob: Your wish is my command, if it’s both reasonable and practical.
Abigail: can u take me to eugene tom.? and a friend?
Jacob: Take you to Eugene, then to a friend’s? Sure.
Abigail: omg. stfu noob. can u take me n a friend to eugene tom.? pretty pls?
Jacob: You make wanting to do you favors so enticing.
Abigail: are u freE? can u do it?
Jacob: sigh I’m free. As for whether I’ll do it . . .
Abigail: yes pls!?!?
Jacob: How serious are you?
Jacob: Serious enough that you’d have dinner with me Sunday evening?
Abigail: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew u did not just say that
Jacob: That answer makes me think I’m not especially interested in driving your sorry ass to Eugene tomorrow.
Abigail: siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh ok yes i’ll have dinner w u sunday
Jacob: What time shall I pick you up tomorrow, then?
Abigail: 9. gotta clear w mom tho
Abigail: will let u know if not 9 k?
Jacob: You’d better not. I’m counting on Sunday.
Abigail: l8r loser!
Jacob: Good night. Also, it’s a good thing you don’t talk like this in person.
Abigail: i shud. then u wouldn’t want to date me!
Jacob Miller did not receive your message.
I can protest all I want. I can throw a fit in the style of my son, who screams and thrashes when he’s denied power cord nomming privileges. Yet it’s pretty clear that Abigail is just going to keep on talking to Jacob throughout the novel, no matter what I say.
It’s looking more and more like writing is advanced training for having a teenager.
If you’re anything like me, you love reading a good internal monologue in the middle of an action sequence.
Wait. I don’t love that. At all. As far as I can recall, I didn’t love it six years ago, either. So why the heck did I write so much of it back then?
Ginny slammed the stake through his heart and cried, “See ya, sucka!” She then wondered sadly if it was right of her to celebrate the end of a life. But if he’d already died a long time ago, was this death really death? Or was she just freeing him, rather than killing him? He was a monster, after all, or she wouldn’t have been forced to toastify him in the first place. It was his fault she’d had to do it, for the good of humankind, even if he had a mother, and sisters and brothers and children before he’d been vampified. She considered these weighty matters mournfully for several pages.
Meanwhile, Mr. Toast’s companion got a pedicure and read some Jane Eyre while waiting for her to make peace with her inner monsters, which were at least as ghastly as said companion. When he wasn’t getting a pedicure.
That’s not an actual excerpt, mind you. It’s my 45-second approximation of such a scene. I’ve killed dozens of such scenes on sight the last few weeks.
I’m 80% of the way through my first edit of The Monster’s Daughter’s sequel. Each page I edit feels like a victory, since I frankly want to toss my computer out the window and wash my hands of the ordeal every 20 seconds. A little piece of me dies inside when I think that I have another sequel yet to first-edit. Since that sequel, the third of the Glass Ball trilogy, was written in the same month as its forebears, I feel like I can reasonably assume it shares their flaws.
@#)$@)#$*)!@#. (That’s me dying some more inside.)
The good news is that editing the trilogy is really benefitting my WIP. Every several sentences, I ask myself, “Will editing the last few sentences make me want to jump off a roof?” So far, I haven’t answered “yes” even once, but it’s good to keep checking. This diligence now is an investment in a happier, saner future me.
If my WIP’s Tuesday teasers are a little awkward, I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m trying something new and better. The work—and my writing!—will be spiffier for it in the end, but it’s bound to be a little rough at the start.
Speaking of “Tuesday teasers,” I’ll be blogging about writing Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other weekdays will be for personal reflections. You’ll get a blessed break from me on weekends, which I’ll spend tearing out my hair whilst editing.
As I do, I’ll most likely be muttering, “The next edit will be easier. The next edit will be easier. The next edit will be easier.”
I’d cross my fingers, but that probably wouldn’t help my editing.