How do I know I’ve chosen the Right Career? E5

In this episode, I briefly discuss a quote that I found relevant to the field. Here is the link: https://authorreneemiller.com/2017/03/13/how-to-be-a-writer-not-a-tool/

I also do not have a book review for this episode because I SUCK. But, I’m working on reading through a book for next week’s episode, and I’ve gotten more writing done in the last couple weeks than probably in the last year combined. So, I slacked on the READING part of Read to Write and excelled at the Writing part. You win some, you lose some 🙂

Lastly, I discuss how I came to the conclusion that I made the right choice of being a writer, some insights on how to know whether you are cut out for writing professionally, and how to know when a work is publishable (which isn’t really advice, but pointing you all to a direction where you can find assistance.)

Thank you!


Humbled by Shadow

Today, I am in awe, and the teleological majesty of our Universe strikes me with wonder.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch our moon eclipse the sun in-person, but I was witness to several renderings on television that still brought tears to my eyes.

My husband, who I shook out of bed and forced to come downstairs and watch, was also in awe, but he wondered aloud what it was that got people so riled up. On camera, thousands of people at each sighting were screaming and cheering, some in absolute stunned silence. I was sitting on the couch with a coffee in my hands and was dissolving in a puddle of tears of joy and wonderment.

What is it? This thing that fills us up and compels us to scream and shout to the heavens, what substance filters through the air to our brains and makes us jump on our feet? It can’t be articulated very easily with science, I don’t think. Sure, a scientist could tell you what joy is and why we experience it, but why did thousands of people come to one place and lose themselves as the moon perfectly aligned with our star and left us in twilight?

I think, as my husband later described, something as impossibly precise and perfect and stunning as an eclipse is a big ol’ “I love you.” I have a hard time conceiving how we could live in a Universe so precise and breathtaking that manifested on its own. Imagine, the Earth is spinning at thousands of miles per hour on its own axis, its poles drawing ellipses in space as it wobbles, and the moon does its own rotation around the Earth and revolves on its own axis. Even greater than this, both us and our moon circle the sun at thousands of miles an hour, still, on a gigantic ellipse, sometimes near and sometimes far from this compact ball of heat and radiation. Better yet, if we’re really lucky, we get to witness a point in which we are so perfectly in line with the celestial entities which regulate the natural processes of our Earth that one completely covers the other and a ring of fire at thousands of degrees encircles our moon and blinks its very precise cast of shadow.

It’s beyond my imagination and ability to understand, frankly. I took an Earth science class in which, I’m not ashamed to admit, I cried in class more than once just learning about this place that sustains and amazes us. I know not everyone has the love affair with the Earth and Nature that I do, but today, hundreds of thousands of people and maybe millions of people stared at the same stretch of sky and screamed for joy at the majesty of creation.

It can’t be explained or quantified or discounted. Something so incredible and bigger than us made us feel about the size of a pin-prick in the backdrop of our Universe, and we LOVED IT.

Today for a couple of hours, all of our petty, (and sometimes not-so-petty) issues didn’t matter. Today, we were all under the same sky, subject to the same laws of Nature, and wondering at how lucky we are to be alive. Perhaps that’s part of it, too. We were one, and we felt unified again. It is rare to feel at one with the rest of humanity, but today, we were in awe together, and we felt grateful to be here.

I agree. Today was a great big “I love you,” and I felt a touch of timeless divinity. I imagine that whatever Creator put things into motion must love us because an ambivalent God wouldn’t put such care into the mechanics of our lives. If not, then my puny human brain can’t help but love It, this God, for the purity of a spirit that can put things like a first-person witness to the workings of astronomy into motion.


Dinner For Two

“Jerry, when are we going to get to meet your wife? You say such lovely things about her.” Samantha stapled papers without looking and maintained eye contact with Jerry.

“I’d love for you to meet her, but as a matter of fact, she just called me this morning to tell me that she missed her train.”

“Oh no! From where?”

“London.” Jerry fished around in his pockets for his phone and then placed his delicate wire glasses on the tip of his nose. “Yep! Seems my wife keeps hittin’ a streak of bad luck. Her ticket got stolen with her wallet. She needed me to send her more money to buy another ticket.”

Samantha stopped stapling to stare in disbelief at Jerry. “That seems a little far-fetched. How many times is this, now, that she hasn’t been able to make it back because of some sort of ‘bad luck’?”

“Oh, hush, Sammie.” Jerry put his glasses back in his front pocket. “She’s a busy lady. Now, what else do I need to sign?”

Samantha pushed some papers forward which Jerry signed, barely bending at the waste before groaning in discomfort. He finished his signature with a shaking flourish before he wished all of the office a good day.

Samantha waited until Jerry had closed the door before she said, “His wife’s got a boyfriend, there’s no doubt about it.”

The other women murmured an agreement before returning to their work.

Jerry was not deterred by thoughts of pessimism, though. He couldn’t wait to see his wife after her two year adventure in Europe and have her all to himself. He stopped by QuickMart on his short drive home and purchased some aftershave and a new razor. He also bought Martha’s favorite candy: cherry Twizzlers.

He hummed as he left the store, tipping his hat to the cashier. After one more block of walking, he arrived at his front porch.

Opening the door sent a wave of bleach smell into his nose, he sniffed appreciatively, knowing his wife would want a clean house. He hung his cane on a knob by the door and brought his treasures to the kitchen.

“Enchiladas with sour cream sauce, dear. Your favorite!” He chuckled to himself, loading the counter with ingredients, hearing the “tick, tick, tick” of the gas stove as he lit it under a pot of water. “The perfect night with my honey.”

The aroma of onions and boiled chicken soon overwhelmed the stinking cloud of bleach. It took an hour and some hobbling around the kitchen, but he managed to put a decent meal together and he couldn’t wait to enjoy it in the presence of his wife. “I’ll show that Sammie. My wife loves chicken enchiladas. She wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

As the final timer went off, he prepared a plate of enchiladas and poured himself a tall glass of ice tea. He brought it to the table in the dining room with the Twizzlers he bought and began to eat.

“Oh, dear me!” he said as he got up from the table. “How thoughtless of me!”

He approached the linen closet and threw the doors open. “I didn’t consider that you might like to see me, too!” He picked up the Twizzlers off the table and placed them on the unmoving bosom of Martha. He wiped a stray hair out of her glazed eyes and kissed her sallow cheek.

“It’s so good to have you home for dinner.”


Losing Sight of the Point in Charlottesville

I recall a Parks and Recreation episode when Leslie was trying to help Ben run for office as his helpful, strong-willed, outspoken wife who had political experience. As was typical for the show, there was a surreal moment when an anti-feminist group came to this pie-baking contest that was traditional for the wives of running officials to participate in. Instead of making Leslie, the forward-thinking, 21st century minded female do it, Ben took over the task.

However, present at the contest was this group, this anti-feminist group that was shouting things about how women need to stop oppressing their husbands and Leslie was actually forcing Ben to do things he didn’t want to do.

While you watch this and think, “That’s ridiculous, no one is actually like that,” while at the same time taking into mind that they’re tackling a real life problem, you have events that break the News such as our most recent Nazi breakout into the streets of Virginia.

Here’s a bit of a brain twister for you. My husband is a recovering conspiracy theorist addict. It’s one of his most beloved quirks, and at the same time, not a quirk at all because some of the most relevant concerns he brings to me about our democracy aren’t so far-fetched at all and have had a lasting impact on the way I think about things.

While I’m somewhat of a progressive liberal, my husband leans conservative. Where I tend to wish that Hillary Clinton had been elected, even for the sake of saying that an intelligent female had beaten out a mysoginistic business man for the most important office in our country, he would say that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. I don’t know if that’s true, but anymore, WHAT THE HECK IS ACTUALLY TRUE?!

My point in offering that information is to pose something that my husband has brought to me before. First, that we are all participating in this crazy game where elected officials are playing a role, and the script is written by the highest bidder. The second would be that, and this isn’t actually all that conspiracy-like, there are parts of the opposing political parties that actually stir up strife just to divide the country.

These thoughts make it very difficult for me to articulate blame because I’m ever conscious of how I’m being manipulated to think certain things.

Just a year ago, I was in an office with some conservative women. There was a particular person who was against the BLM marches on overpasses. I love these women, so I won’t say too much about it except that I disagreed that there was anything wrong with it. Our very own MLK Jr. had taken to busy streets to peacefully protest the wrongs and injustices our country was committing.

It was in times like these that one of the women would bring up news articles about how the BLM protesters had gotten violent, or that far left protesters were burning down businesses, and all the while I’m thinking, “I didn’t hear that! How could I not have heard that?”

Well, while that’s a whole different can of worms, my point here isn’t that news media is all bent to suck your brain into its manipulative portal and bend you against your loved ones who think differently than you, it’s that we need to be conscious of the fact that we’re being manipulated. We need to stand on the side of the victims and of justice, and we need to condemn evil, no matter from which political standpoint it comes.

I read two articles just this morning, one about the hit-and-run driver from Charlottesville during the alt-right rally who killed one person and injured 19 others. One article said, “They’ve arrested the driver from Charlottesville, and it’s not who you think!” and the article went on to explain that the driver was a left-leaning democrat who was trying to stir up more hatred against the right by posing as an alt-right angry person. The next article I read was three stories down and it was about the identity of the driver as a military personnel, radical republican.

What’s wrong with this picture, I ask you?

First of all, why are media outlets unveiling the identity of the supposed murderer before the trial and conviction? Second of all, how is it possible that I don’t actually know what’s true because people can publish whatever they choose to manipulate the masses? Third of all, how is it possible that I haven’t seen one article on the identity of the person that was MURDERED?

This isn’t about the driver. It is not about him. This is about the victims of a hit-and-run. This is about the students at UVA who stood up in front of grown men to fight racial intolerance. And you know what, I can’t actually imagine how scared they were. I can’t imagine!

This is about inequity, inequality, oppression, and silence.

You know what else? Don’t detract from the issue by blaming our (admittedly incompetent) POTUS. It’s not about him, either. Because, you know what? I don’t think he cares enough to try and stop this at the source, and I don’t think he understands that at least part of what he stands for or says is being written down in the textbooks of alt-right crazy people who bring guns to a college campus.

This is about us. It’s about sane-minded people looking through the crud. I will not be manipulated. I will not give murderers their day of fame. I will not detract from the purpose of these learning moments by casting out blame for a group of people. I will target this issue at its source.

Systematic Racism. Anti-Semitism. Hatred. Intolerance.

I beg of you to ask questions about what you read. Ask questions about who should be the focus of our news outlets. We need to take back our brains and think for ourselves, throw out our political thinking boxes, and demand that justice is seen from all sides. Stop telling your internet browsers to give you spoon-fed political sow feed. Seek out answers! Seek out answers!

Change starts with you. Change starts with me. Look your black friends in the eyes, look your Muslim community members in the face, look your Jewish, Christian, Republican, Democrat, Hispanic, Latino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, South African, Ugandan, Puerto Rican friends straight in the eyeballs and understand. Understand.

We are all humans and we have to share this Earth. So let’s figure out how to do it sooner rather than later.


Basics of Novel Writing E4

In this episode, I skip the quotes and book review and introduce myself more fully.

I discuss my writing history and get into a process that has worked for me to write novels. If you’re interested in writing a novel for the first time, give my introduction to novel writing a listen!

 


 

PlayPlay

You Don’t Need Angst to Be a Good Writer E3

EPISODE THREE: You Don’t Need Angst to Be a Writer

In this episode, I talk about suffering and creativity, I review Brunonia Barry’s The Lace Reader and take some lessons about writing from it, and I talk about the best way to enhance your writing. (Hint, the best way to enhance your writing is NOT to be an intrinsically sad person.)



 


Grammar as Part of the Art Form E2

EPISODE TWO: Grammar as Part of the Art Form

In this episode, I discuss the trend of writers refusing to learn or use proper grammar or techniques because they are able to pay editors to fix the issues with their work.

I also include some learning points from a book review on Asimov’s Foundation, and I include a couple helpful quotes on creativity and writer focus.



 


Imposter Syndrome E1

EPISODE ONE: Imposter Syndrome

For all my fellow writers and artists, here’s a podcast that tackles the disease called “Imposter Syndrome.” If you’ve ever doubted yourself, hated yourself, told yourself that you’d never be good enough to see or deserve success, then this podcast is for you. I include an extremely inadequate book reference and some other rambling.

 

Enjoy.




The Lonely and the UnQuiet Minds

Some of the times that I’m most convinced there is a God, there is no powerful glimpse, no experience of torrential downpour with the echo chamber of thunder to scream to me “Here I am.”  Sometimes, there is that quiet whisper and in nothing you were expecting, but in the trembling fulfillment of a promise that you have awaited for so long.

I see God powerfully and yet underwhelmingly in humans, more specifically, my humans.

Today, my husband finally came through on his promise to make me a CD of his music. HIS music that he wrote, that he mastered, that he brought from the recesses of his brilliant mind into fruition through technology. I had been nagging him to make me one, and he came through with two.

To test out the music, we hopped into my old car whose speakers deliver music more exceptionally than any newfangled add-in could, and we drove through the rural night to experience his compositions.

I’m not ashamed to say that I experienced a transcendence through time, space, and matter to reach God in these moments. Sounds idiotic, probably, but I don’t know any other way to say it.

I was an extremely lonely child, one with nightmares that regularly shook me out of peacefulness, one with visions of dead loved ones and panicked premonitions of my own death to take the joy out of childhood. I was strange and not accepted, and I was dying for God to give me someone.

I remember begging God for a new brain when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I would scream for relief inside my own head so the images would stop, so I could just live and be at peace.

Little did I know that the turmoil inside my own safe place, the lockbox of my consciousness, was churning into something that would form Taylor. It would form the individual, and the result would be something that I’m proud to be. It’s not fun to live in a brain that experiences everything vividly, sometimes horrifyingly, and it’s extremely lonely to live in such a headspace because it’s difficult to connect with other people when you genuinely believe that there’s no one in this world that could quite get what and who you are.

I am an artist. God knew that when he molded me from stardust and breathed into me to form my writhing, unsatisfied, searching soul. He knew that my journey would be lonely, but he told me in small ways “Your time will come.”

I think God knows what it’s like to be lonely. I don’t think that I would want to worship a God who was so far distanced from creation that he couldn’t understand the most painful parts of the existence he designed. He knows. And he was there with me all the times I begged for that person who would be what I desired in a life-friend.

So, as I drove with my husband down the winding roads, often wooded, at some points shrouded in salmon light from the clouded sunset that draped over us, I touched God and I finally was able to wrap his fulfilled promise around my throat like a wool scarf at the end of a very long, frigid winter day.

I found him.

Listening to Parker’s music was like tapping into the frequency of his soul, and I, at times, felt so overwhelmed with the beauty of it that I wanted to disappear and lay on my back in it. I wanted to wade in the existence of a soul like his that I was sure, in the peaks of my loneliness, didn’t exist.

 

 


the 4th of July

I laid in bed, my husband’s arm hugged to my chest as fireworks popped off outside our window, and I felt a vivid realization of time as fluid. Centuries past seemed to collide on me as I imagined the millions of others who had laid in bed listening to fireworks as July the 4th burned into July the 5th. I don’t consider myself a patriotic person, and I’ve tried to call myself a-political, but it seems I can’t lack an opinion no matter how hard I try. Still, the bursts of colored fire, tightly packaged in these combustible popsicle wrappers, the booming echo of their explosions radiating across the sky…there’s nothing in me that can fight the bits of poesy in the starbursts.

As I sat on the porch, my love in front of me, mosquitos biting my wrists and ankles, we could barely see these cannon-fire magic shows above the tops of neighboring trees. Faintly, lightning crackled its superiority in the clouds surrounding us. The stars were covered by weary storm fodder; the gray skies had been present all day for their heavy rains. But, it was clear now, and all the darker was the sheet of sky for the fireworks to balance themselves against.

In between bursts of expensive, gunpowder parades we watched the empty space and our eyes caught a single floating flame. My heart, my heart…a paper lantern. Dear me, do I love paper lanterns. If I can see poesy in the ostentatious shows of colored explosions, then how much more so can I see it in the small glinting flame, puffing up the balloon which carried across the sky and into the distance. It was alone, there. And as it carried itself gently, never drooping, never showing signs of weakness, the fireworks did not go off. All eyes were on this tiny balloon, a humble “Here I am.”

Parker said, as the popping off continued, “I don’t think many people think about fireworks like they’re meant to. It’s supposed to represent cannons and gunshots. It’s supposed to represent war.”

I thought on that for a little while afterwards. In fact, I never had realized that. Of course, I knew it was supposed to represent many other concepts like freedom, victory, and independence. I knew that it was supposed to blaze in colors of red, white, and blue as if we were branding a giant American flag on the stars. Yet, I don’t think I had ever quite seen them with so complicated a lens. The red, rivers of blood from desperate men, jamming their own rifles so they wouldn’t have to shoot. Rivers of blood from men who were screaming out their last, heavy groaning calls of identity.

War is not beautiful, no matter what many people think. Perhaps, if I try, I can see that valor, patriotism, and sacrifice are some of the most beautiful things in the world, but I can hardly see blood, broken families, and murdered surrogates in the face of mixed up ideals as beautiful. But, here I am writing about the poesy of colored explosions.

I used to be enamored by military, and in many ways, I still am. I am enamored with military persons and the bravery that they have that I simply don’t. I am enamored with their minds and bodies, honed for protecting strangers here, and strangers abroad. I am enamored with women fighting alongside men, proving that every kind of heart and every kind of face seeks justice. But, I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the glimpses of dying fathers, brothers, and uncles, mothers, sisters, and aunts, sacrificed for a disagreement that apparently couldn’t have been solved by communion, by peaceful negotiation. I suppose what I’m saying is that I wish mankind were different than they are. In some ways, at least.

This is why I sometimes feel like politics are a game. For me, life itself is precious. Not each breath that I take, though I do honor and gladly receive those, life in the utter implausible existence of beings that go about their existences with a purpose. I wonder what our purpose is.

It’s impossible to sit at a fireworks show and not think back on every other fireworks show that you’ve visited. For me, sometimes these flashes of time gone by only come back to visit with a surge of tears and heartache. Fields, itchy grass and picnic blankets, cokes and lawn chairs, pomegranate chocolate in the cool air of the elevated city of Denver, photo shutters clicking and shlacking, cousins and grandparents. My fourth of July of the past was never really thinking about war or fireworks, not about being grateful, or about creating a ruckus, because none of those things were a part of it. Our chaste celebrations of the past didn’t mean much to me at the time, but each passing year further glues them, further jams them deeper into my mind because my 4ths were about family.

Family has come to mean a great deal to me. And of course, fireworks, war, and family…these are all matters of great poesy.

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=160978&picture=4th-of-july-fireworks