Writing

Gifts

I sent a story out on submission this week that I’ve been working on for awhile. A story I wonder if I’m qualified to write, in ways, and, in other ways, know without a doubt I’m as qualified as they come. A story that made me read and reach and learn, until my brain hurt. A story that flowed like water, like air, like life, until my heart sang. A story who’s spark came out of a blackness so dark I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. A story that reminds us starlight is everywhere, the darkness just makes it easier to see.

Happy Earth Day, my loves. You are, each and every one of you, a gift to me.

Peace and love,

Chris

 

Pacific City Writing Retreat

I gave myself a treat last month and went to the coast all by myself with the goal of writing until I felt like stopping, instead of stopping when I got interrupted. It was glorious. I took a walk down the beach first thing.

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I wonder how many haystack rocks there are in the world?

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And then I got down to writing.

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The view was inspirational.

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And this got me off the couch and out onto my balcony.

The next day I climbed the dune. I wasn’t at all sure I could make it to the top. It’s been awhile since I tried. However, I discovered there are many, many different angles to take photos from. I took advantage of all of them. Long advantages. With lots of deep breathing. And luckily no puking.

And, one step at a time,20170125_10321420170125_10333720170125_10354020170125_104112 I made it to the top.

Instead of the traditional giant leaping run back down the same side, I took a slower, gentler route down the backside and around.

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The sand reminded me of wood grain.

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And the combination of textures was lovely.

Back to writing. All day.

I’m working on a novel about loss and darkness, rediscovery and light. It’s not easy to write and my hope was that by getting away from home and all its distractions and interruptions I would be able to focus and get some words on the page. It worked. I did. Seven new chapters.

I ended my mini retreat by treating myself to a salmon dinner at the Pelican Pub.

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I think I might have to make a habit of this.

Peace,

Chris

Resolution Revolution

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2016.unnamed

  1. Telling people I am a writer and believing it myself.
  2. Finding an awesome critique partner.
  3. Being told I give good critiques.
  4. Participating in the 12X12 Craft Book discussions.
  5. Finally finding a way to write a picture book about loss.
  6. Getting a spark for a story while on vacation.
  7. Getting a request for a Revise and Resubmit from an agent for that story.
  8. Finding a much better balance in my writing life.
  9. Writing a story with a door as a main character who has a great personality.
  10. Started using a treadmill desk.
  11. Passed the 150 rejection mark. (But no word on the R&R yet.)
  12. Used the emotions from the election to spark a girl power story.

Peace and Love and Writing!

Chris

You Had Me at Light

I’ve been working on a story about loss. The story is going well, I think I’m getting good words on the page. But in order to find the words I want, I’m going back into memories that bring up a lot of sadness.

Yesterday, I finished a really good revision. The story is close. Very close. And writing it brought me close to tears. So I did what I always do when I need to remind myself that life is also a part of death. I took a walk.

“C’mon, world. Make me feel better. Make me remember joy,” I said.

The day was grey, but not so wet I needed to wear rain gear. Cola, as always, was thrilled to go and immediately found a stick, found a puddle, found a gopher hole. A dog is a good companion when you are looking for joy.

As I walked, the sun began to peek below the clouds. The tops of the bare trees became gold. Light seeped around the edges.

“Nice, world,” I said. “Thanks.”

And then I turned the corner.

And cried. And laughed. And cried some more.

Because I asked for a reminder that life is good and I get this. The most amazing fucking light show I could imagine, complete with a sprinkle of rain on my upturned face like tears from heaven.

I always feel better when I get off my butt and take a walk. But this? This was ridiculously healing.

Peace and love,

Chris

Shine

It’s been four years today since my Daddy left me. Has it gotten easier, missing him? No. But it hasn’t gotten harder, either. The dark hole of sadness hasn’t gotten any deeper. The black emptiness of pain hasn’t gotten any darker. And the gasping, breath stealing anguish sneaks up and ambushes me less and less often.
I knew I’d be thinking about him a lot today, and I had wondered what thoughts would float through my mind. This morning, when I set off to get parts, I sat back, turned on the cruise control, turned off the mental to-do list, and waited to see what bubbled to the surface.
It was this: Sitting with my hand on his arm after his spirit had left his body. The feel of his arm with no life left in it, but still warm. The memory of not wanting to let go because I knew this would be the last time I held my Dad’s hand.
As this memory floated through my mind I found myself wishing I could ask Dad a question. Wondering what he would answer. How he would phrase that answer. And so I asked.
“Dad, do you think I should keep writing? I’m struggling with feeling like I’m not good enough at it to keep going.”
And Dad’s face came to me as clearly as I’ve seen him since he died. He put a hand on each side of my face and looked into my eyes. He leaned in and kissed me, soft lips in bristly whiskers. And all the times he ever told me I was enough came flooding through my brain. Every time he told me he loved me. Every time he told me he was proud of me. Every time he made me feel perfect because of who I was.
In the physical world I was driving through the Silverton hills, past farms and through oak groves, marveling at what a beautiful place I live in. Warm in the sun. Happy with my car. Sipping good coffee.
But in my memories I was being reassured by my father that he had never doubted my ability to do anything I set my mind to.
And I realized I’d always had Dad’s answers and I already knew how he would phrase those answers. He’s already answered my questions. Over and over and over. All my life.
By holding my face in his hands, looking into my eyes, and loving me while he was alive, he gave me a memory that will never leave me and an answer for every time I doubt myself.
Whether there is a heaven or not, Dad let his light shine down on me today. He gave me a sign, a word, and told me what I would find.
Of course this song was playing on the radio. Why am I surprised?
SHINE
by Collective Soul
Give me a word,
Give me a sign.
Show me where to look,
Tell me what will I find?
What will I find?

Lay me on the ground,
Or fly me in the sky.
Show me where to look,
Tell me what will I find?
What will I find?
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down

Love is in the water,
Love is in the air.
Show me where to look,
Tell me will love be there?
Will love be there?

Teach me how to speak,
Teach me how to share.
Teach me where to go,
Tell me will love be there?
Love be there?
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down

Give me a word,
Give me a sign.
Show me where to look,
Tell me what will I find?
What will I find?

Lay me on the ground,
Or fly me in the sky.
Show me where to look,
Tell me what will I find?
What will I find?
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down
Whoa, heaven let your light shine down

I’m gonna let it shine
I’m gonna let it shine
Heaven, let your light
Shine on me

Oh, yeah,
Yeah
Heaven, let your light
Shine on me

Shine on me, yeah
C’mon and shine