A Mercy

I began reading A Mercy, by Toni Morrison. I carried it around with me for weeks, and it also took me a couple weeks of seeing it at the grocery store to buy it. I saw Beloved, which was horrid in what was once so common. I generally don’t read anything detailing slavery. I know what happened, and know we need to remember, but I really, really don’t want the brutality taking root in my head where I can’t shake images or invisible people and their absolute helplessness and agony out.

A Mercy was pinned as a mother daughter thing, stemming from a horrible sacrifice the mother had to do. I can’t imagine motherhood, of all things, being stripped from you without a care. To have no control over the fate and welfare of your children, and know without any doubt whatsoever before they’re even born, that their life will be beyond nightmarish.

But the book goes deeper than just slavery, which is what drew me in completely. The sheer hypocrisy of humanity, of religion, of relationships between men and women- it was against the law to beat your wife after 9pm, unless you did it without anger and had good cause? If she’s not your wife, well, sucks for her. How devout Christians were only those who were greedy with lust over any torture, dismemberment, and execution, and only godless heathens had the audacity to bathe every day. How did we ever survive, and wipe out so many better civilizations? How did women ever survive? I remember staring in shock at the nuns all through grade school, feeling betrayed by them that they would preach how women are the root of evil because some unknown man wrote a book (the bible), and said Eve was humanity’s destruction, and poor stupid Adam was a victim.  Religion is a touchy thing, so I’ll leave off on that subject.

Toni Morrison’s manner of writing (for the main character) took a while to get into the flow of, but once I did, it was so exceptionally poetic. There’s barely any speaking, it’s all the internal dialogues of several key characters. As she’s won the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes, it gives me a little more hope for my own style, that my stories will find people who will flow directly into them. Especially as my underlying current is the same as hers: mothers and daughters, women and men and the disturbing back lashes that occur when the balance between those goes awry.

I am relieved that I don’t live in that period of time, but I’m not always sure we’ve advanced very far.

Crap

I took a walk today. Went to My Lake (if I like something, it becomes Mine, with a capital M). OK, I know it doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to the city, but oh well. It’s a pretty little place hidden behind the library, that’s become a sort of bird sanctuary. Lots of herons, geese, a variety of ducks I can’t name, my favorite red-winged black birds (we had them at the trailer). Boys and I found a snake once, and there’s a small area where the turtles come out to bask. Think we’re the only ones who know about it. They’re right there by the trail but no one ever pays attention when they’re walking. So sad. Why walk, if you’re not going to look? They’ve apparently reproduced since the last time I’ve come. Instead of one, then two turtles, there were seven today. Yellow-bellieds, like mine (Edgar).

I didn’t sleep well, and the first thought on my mind this morning was making a disclaimer on Authonomy. I know there’s tense shifts in my first chapter.  Because there ARE tense shifts.  She’s only intermittently interacting with the present. Otherwise, she’s drifting through her thoughts. Anyway, I didn’t. That would make me abrasive.  I’ll just sit here and growl and wait for someone who reads just to read, not because they want to rack up their points and get to the Editor’s Desk.

Maybe cutting my book was more traumatic than I’d thought. I woke just antsy this morning. I sat by a little pond set behind My Lake for awhile. Got off the bench, took off my shoes, crossed the trail and sat in the reeds by the bank. I crossed my legs and closed my eyes, and listened. Noone ever does that, either. I listened to the wind in the trees, how the leaves flapped against each other. I love that sound, but how do you describe it? I struggle with that. There were three tones of insects. I almost didn’t catch the third. I could hear the wind pushing at the water, and the ducks diving with their butts in the air as they hunted for whatever it is they eat.

I did the same by the turtles. Went off the trail and into the trees, sitting on the sloping dirt right in front of them. They kinda looked at me like What the hell? This mallard came inches from my feet, sifting through the shore, way too intent on eating to care about my purpose. Couldn’t relax, there. I’d passed a goose with an obviously broken wing, and it was really bothering me that there was no way I could help it. What if it needs to be amputated? What the hell happened to him? Winter’s coming, what will he do? He was isolated from the rest of the flock. What will happen to him?

I left after awhile, deciding I wasn’t isolated enough. I really need to get up higher and into the mountains before winter comes. Take a drive up to Estes, or more preferably Grand Lake. I miss that the most- the time to just get in the car and drive somewhere. Pack the kids, pack some food, and go. I’m planning my next run-away road trip already. Driving to Chicago was so perfect. I think there’s some gypsy blood in me somewhere. I just want to go.

Ready Set Go?

Dare I say it? I think I’ve gotten my query down perfectly. I searched through the internet trying to find some local critique groups. Authonomy.com isn’t what I’d hoped it’d be. I’m pretty dissappointed. But, I can’t join any critiques due to work and lack of a babysitter.

The quest was not completely in vain, as I discovered an article on the proper word count for each genre. As I had suspected, 145,000 words is way too long. It makes you look unrefined and slobbering with words. I’ve been debating cutting the book again, but just really didn’t want to. I love that part! I want it read now, not in book two. Same issue as when I cut it the first time.  However, making it seperate will allow me to elaborate on things I couldn’t, (due to my extensive word count). Stop using your words! my co-worker would tell me.  She wasn’t happy with Stephanie Meyer.

But that was apparently the key. I cut out a third, and the paragraph for the query fell into place. I feel much better about the whole trauma.

As I’ve let them sit an appropriate amount of time, I also went over my entries for Writer’s Digests’ short story competition. I am so happy with both. It feels as though it’s- my writing’s- coming together now. I’ll check the deadlines tomorrow and get them submitted. I’m hopeful. We’ll see.

Here I go, I’m starting a blog!

This all began with an email, of course. Writer’s Digest will be having their Intensive Editor’s conference in a couple weeks, in Cincinatti, Ohio. There’s just no way I can go, and believe me, as always, I struggled through many dead-end thoughts on where I’d find the money, as though I could open an invisible, yet magical door, where the necessary funds would be put into my outstretched hand. Wouldn’t that be great?

I did read through the description of the course, and one of the topics was going to be about the necessity of a blog for soon-to-be published authors, to promote a good online following and show how intent and serious you are about begining your writing career. Was also going to detail how to start one.

Well, I’m nothing if not self-taught. So here I am, right as I’m about to embark on my second round of querries.

Sorry.

I’m about to embark on my second round of querries! Yay! Excitement is balanced out by anxiety. I can write a story of 144,000 words, with three more follow-ups, but writing a one page letter with a one paragraph description of my story is harder than pulling teeth (which I know how to do, so I can adequately make that comparison. It’s not all that easy!).  And I’m horrible at first impressions, especially in the realm of interviews. Or possibly that’s all the same difference.

But I’m excited. A blog, and this morning I also joined a forum hosted by Harper Collins, Authonomy.com, used to promote the new voices of the writing world. I posted the first 15 chapters of my book, The Daughter of Elaar, and hold my breath with every new backer and comment. But, so far so good. Anyway, a blog and my book on the internet, and I feel like I’m finally, finally moving forward, finally making progress and am just a little bit closer to being published, which truly is first, with a million dollar deal second on my list of importance

Writing this book has taught me so much about myself. It took off into something I never anticipated when the idea first came. As my character went through a journey of self-discovery, she forced me to acknowledge and debate topics I may not have otherwise given voice to.  Family, religion, love- the fundamentals of life. It’s drastically changed and improved who I’ve become, even sparking me to change my name to an otherwise lost family name after my divorce.

The story first sparked sitting in the Auditorium one afternoon in high school. I knew right then it was something way more than a 16 year old could handle, so I decided to set it to the back of my mind and try to concentrate on things like college and work on the life experiences needed to write Daughter.

I honestly don’t know how I made it through Bel-Rea. Lira’s story would not stay hidden, which is the under theme of the whole series. I was always completely set on listening to my lectures and doing the required work, but when you have these vibrant scenes and lives and stories screaming at you to write it down, you have to obey. With all the current syndromes people seem so quick to be diagnosing in others today, I am completely shocked no one has come up with Writer’s Schizophrenia, with a temporary occurance of Writer’s Split Personality Syndrome. There’s days when you are just miserable and ansty all through work until you can run home and write your character out of their current emotional trouble, thereby releasing yourself from the emotional overhaul of their emotions. But I wouldn’t ever want that to stop.

L. Nahay's Blog

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