The Independent Writer: My Two Faces

I’ll state the obvious.  This is one creepy mash-up but an artist I’m not. It was just the best way to visually depict how I’ve often felt.

I’ve been torn. Split. Divided. Conflicted and unsure of how to promote myself.  My first choice has been not to but that would be counterproductive and silly because I have to admit that I actually want people to read my stuff.  If I didn’t, I’d write about my tortured soul…by candlelight… in a tattered journal I keep hidden under a mattress; a sad testament to my lonely existence.  Um…wait…that isn’t what I do. Really! I swear it!

Never mind all that, okay?

As an independent writer, or, to use the dreaded SP phrase “self-published,” I come with a built-in sense of un-worthiness.  Like I’m just a hack that no publishing house wants to take on. On one hand, I would love to be a published writer, supported by a proper publishing house with cool editors cocooned in the glass and steel of a New York skyscraper.  But alas, I’m not.  To achieve that would take an act of Congress and I don’t even know what good they are any more so pardon the misguided analogy.

The truth is, I’ve gotten over the blubbering boo-fucking-hoo of all those pie in the sky notions and jumped on the indie content bandwagon.  After all, self-publishers are widely accepted at on-line stores worldwide.  Just like American Express.  All you have to do is put it out there.

But back to my original conflict:  I’m an independent writer of children’s books and screenplays in more than one genre:  comedy and drama.  Also, dramedy which is a mash-up not dissimilar to my creepy, homemade photo art.  That means, I write in cute, kid-friendly rhyming verse on the one hand and then use shits and fucks and explore more adult themes in my screenwriting.  To me, it often feels like reading porn in church, for lack of a better comparison.

To be clear, as far as you know, I don’t write porn scripts because they don’t actually have words…just sounds.  That porn-in-church thing was just another euphemistic cliché like the act of Congress.  And I don’t even know if  “euphemistic cliché” is an oxymoron or just my own bastardization of a phrase.

But who cares?  I’m an independent writer.  I can do whatever I damn well please. I can make of words and phrases at will and generally no one objects. After all, texting has created it’s very own vernacular so WTF?  To be clear…again…I really hate text acronyms. I still write out all my words and try to use proper grammar when I text.  This dates me in a big way when texting someone under the age of 30 but I refuse to drink that Kool-Aid.

And that’s okay.

Therein lies the beauty of it all.  I can drink the Kool-Aid or not drink it. I can keep one foot in the analog world if I want; a mash-up of both that’s totally acceptable.  Independent creators can do as they damn well please, any day of the week, any month of the year within any format or platform they choose, forever and ever into oblivion.  In this beautiful, frustrating, illuminating, scary, exhilarating world of the indie artist, there are no limitations for those brave souls who have chosen to create their own paths.

It took me quite a while to feel brave but I’ve been inspired by those who have come before me.

Specifically, two authors who have been particularly influential having navigated both the children’s literature space and adult-themed content are Shel Silverstein and Tomi Ungerer.  Both have created a stunning body of work and both have straddled the fence of wholesome and edgy to varying degrees of acceptance.  Especially in the case of Tomi Ungerer.

If you’re curious about this French provocateur, check out this documentary:  Far Out Isn’t Far Enough:  The Tomi Ungerer Story.

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go put lipstick on both sides of my mouth so I look balanced when I sing the praises of independent artists everywhere!

 

 

A Tragic Twist of Comedic Fate

I struggle with trying to break into a business that thrives on Hey, look at me! It flies in the face of my typical tendency to stay out of the spotlight.  Yet, I can’t stop.  I create stories that I hope will someday come to life and be seen by other humans and not just characters rattling around in my head threatening to take over my already fragile psyche and thrust me into a Sybil-like multiple personality hell.

But sometimes, it feels kinda cool getting some recognition.  It keeps the faith alive.  Makes me feel valid as a writer.

Until…..

one small flip of a vowel can me feel like a total jackass.

In the world of blogging, there’s an enormous difference between a “ton” of people who read your blog (an awesome and rewarding place to be if you’re the ton-ee) and “tens” of people who read your blog which is, I’m afraid, my station in the blogosphere.  I don’t mind, really.  I use this space to sort of mind dump when my I’m paralyzed by the daunting first page of a newly formed screenplay idea. Goddamn that page is so….so…so… fucking white!  Jesus!  It’s like staring into an endless, Siberian abyss!  For the love of Dog, am I being exiled or trying to write a goddamn story?

But I digress.

For the “tens” of you who are kind enough to visit here, I am painfully aware that one recently transposed vowel in an otherwise ego-boosting and quite possibly undeserved article has left me feeling like a poser.  An imposter making outrageous claims of a readership that does not exist outside of my own delusions. I mean, not only my own delusions could come up with that one.  The most creative delusion I’ve been able to come up with is convincing myself I actually like kale!

I really did write “tens” and not “tons”. After all, it’s the truth and it’s funny.  At least I thought so.  But maybe the editor didn’t share my sense of humor or just thought poor thing needs a new prescription.

[big sigh]

Be that as it may, I swear on my 25th Anniversary copy of Silverstein’s Different Dances that I did indeed write the letter “e” between the “t” and the “n” and NOT an “o”.

You gotta believe me! You just gotta!

Dumb Bunny and The Big, Big Void

Today, I am Dumb Bunny.  Which is better than yesterday when I was Angry Bunny…probably because I slathered on my hormone cream later than usual. Bad idea.

I know I’m going to get a lesson (again) on how to successfully upload an image to my blog page that also posts to my Facebook grrr I hate you Facebook  page. I vowed to always have a featured image for some insane I-think-people-might-be-entertained-by-it reason. I have no idea idea if anyone is entertained or not. It’s just a thing I do. Like drinking milk directly from the carton.  (note to visitors who aren’t lactose intolerant and may choose to pour themselves a tall one from my ‘fridge)

I know there’s something I have to push or click or activate while standing on my head reciting The Declaration of Independence, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what in the Sam Hill it is.  This is not surprising. I haven’t actually visited my own blog since before the name Trump was seared into our nation’s collective psyche with a red hot poker. That’s a long, long time ago so it’s no wonder I don’t recognize the place.

But it IS my place for crying’ out loud and things should not change.  Ever.  I don’t need no stinkin’ upgrades!  No cockamamie optimization bells and whistles!  Just give me a stone table and a fucking chisel and I’ll be right as rain!

Why do I suddenly feel an affinity to whoever wrote Who Moved My Cheese?

So, to the 10s of people who read my blog, I will say I’m sorry….my bad….lo siento…as you come face to face with….nothing. [big sigh]

Yet another cruel testament to my digital inadequacy.

[In an uncharacteristic burst of misguided enthusiasm, writer becomes determined to find the best goddamn cat video ever created and….wait for it!!!  PASTE it into her next blog post as a featured video!! If there is such a thing as a featured video.]

Meow

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Heart Fortune Cookies

I wonder if the fortune cookie factories have someone dedicated solely to writing fortunes? Or maybe they just farm it out to work-from-home parents so they don’t have to pay benefits or worry about workmen’s comp and 401Ks.  Personally, I think this would be a pretty cool job.  If I were a fortune cookie writer, I would probably lean toward the one shown here….about the end of the world being “all your fault”?  Not because I’m a jerk [at least not today] but because it’s just plain funny and fun and the world needs more funny and fun, if you ask me.

The other day, I was having lunch at a Chinese restaurant with a friend and he got a fortune that said something like:  “You will experience a medical situation soon”.   This is neither funny nor encouraging which I think is a total rip-off.  Maybe the real fortune cookie writer was off that day or all the work-from-home-fortune-cookie-writers had collective writer’s block and the cookie company was forced to pull in someone from Human Resources.  Whatever the sitch, that fortune should have never made it past QC.

Think about it.  Wouldn’t you rather open a silly little blurb like “Your friends all agree those jeans really do make your ass look big” rather than “You will tumble down a flight of stairs and shred your rotator cuff today”?   After a healthy appetizer of deep-fried spring rolls followed by an oversized plate of sesame chicken, a good laugh could help burn off a few calories until you’re ready to eat again in an hour, right?

That’s my theory, anyway.

Just remember what Confucius said:  “The superior man is modest in his speech..unless he writes a fucking hilarious fortune cookie fortune and then he’s totally buck!”

 

Are You Out There Muse? It’s Me….Jules…

I’m reading a book called Write Away by Elizabeth George.  It’s assigned reading for a novel-writing class I’m taking.  No, not a unique or unusual class on writing but rather a class on how to write a novel with the words “planning” and “chaos” in its title which scares me a little.

I came upon this little snippet that summed up the day I’m having….we are at the mercy of a Muse who may turn fickle at the very moment we’re desperately depending upon her fidelity…

Fidelity, huh?  This is obviously some kind of karmic payback.  I’m certain of it.

“There Is Hope For You!”

That was the subject of an e-mail I received from InkTip the other day.

I love Inktip.  They do a great job hosting the work of writers. I’ve gotten quite a few reads from industry pros being a part of this well-run, professional web-site.

Have to say I did a double-take on that subject line, though.  That’s probably the point, right?  I mean, they wanted me to read the e-mail and of course I did.

My thought process went a little something like this:

Thought #1: Thank God!

Thought #2:  Holy shit!  Just how hopeless am I, anyway? I must read on and find out … just in case I’m the last to know and this is some kind of gentle intervention.

The details of the e-mail are irrelevant beyond the super good part.  They say there is hope for me.  And gosh darn it!  I believe them because I fail to see a downside except, perhaps, living in complete and total denial that breaking into the writing business is a simple matter of being able to string a sentence together when the fact is it’s way harder than, say…..becoming a brain surgeon. Okay…so there’s that one tiny downside but whatever.  Let’s not get too bogged down with details, k?  I’m on a high here.

Why?

Not because of the e-mail.

Because of The Orchid.

It’s from my kitchen.  It is on its second blooming. It is a miracle. It deserves to be referred to in capital letters.

I say this because nothing green grows in my care.  N.o.t.h.i.n.g.

Until The Orchid.

It holds a shrine-line position in my kitchen window.  It is fed every six days with ice-blue holy water…..three teaspoons exactly.

Yes, indeed.  There is hope for me.

My Little Black Book

I wish I could say it had a history of phone numbers of hot guys…maybe with a few “notes” in the margins [wink,wink] but alas, it is just a boring little notebook full of crazy notes.  I carry it so I can jot down things I find funny.  It’s beaten to hell.  That’s because it was the victim of a harrowing attack on my messenger bag by a crazy guy in LA who threw it into the street where it was run over by a Lexus SUV.  My iPad was destroyed but the Little Black Book survived with only minor injuries.  I just write over the tire marks now.

Unfortunately, I have horrifyingly bad penmanship and most of the time I can’t read what I wrote.  I should probably graduate to audio notes that can be spoken directly into my iPhone but I can’t stand to hear the sound of my own voice.

Manual writing it is, then.

But, I have this terribly annoying habit when I’m writing something with a pen.  You know…a pen?  It’s a long thin tool with a tube filled with colorful liquid that always manages to stain the leather of your favorite purse?   It’s an ancient device but beats the chisel and hammer from which I recently graduated.  And, jeez…those stone tablets were just so bloody heavy!

Anyway, I start out writing really nicely. The first few words generally legible but then something happens and suddenly my nicey-nice words become scrawl.  Like some kind of circus act where a chicken is given a pen and it scratches out something akin to letters with its gnarled claw.  It’s a real bummer when searching through my black book for screenplay scene ideas and blog material.

This is what I’ve come up with today.  I’m hoping I can make something of it eventually:

Cowboy Bob, masturbation, thrift shop volunteer  (this one scares me a little)

Midget elephant trainer  (not sure if the trainer is a little person or the elephant is of a miniature variety)

Ask questions, prayer, glass 1/2 full, hair tired w/right past inside glass (whaaaa???)

“I was so excited, your dad had to buy me a muffin just to settle me down”  (not sure who made this quote but it’s a whole sentence I could read and it’s funny)

Remember wet t-shirt (uh…okay…but why?  doesn’t matter..I’ll make something up)

Not Until I Do Something Else

Writing is torture.

It also brings me great joy and satisfaction.

It’s kinda like having a root canal and an orgasm at the same time.  That’s the only way I can describe it and I’ve probably said that more than once in My Own Private Blogosphere….but that’s the way it is.

I have about four or five projects in various stages of completion right now but I seem fixated on laundry and painting my own toenails before I’ll allow myself to sit down and get serious.

It is fear?  Or do I just a chronically procrastinate?  I’m afraid it’s both which makes me one of those “dual diagnosis” writers.  I have fear of writing AND procrastination tendencies.

Is there a pill for that?

Probably.  (Note to self:  call a local pediatrician and ask since the best prescription drugs are reserved for school-aged children these days.)

I know one thing:  I’m obsessed with thesaurus.com.  I can’t live without it.  Like sugar.  I consume them both with equal enthusiasm and today I decided to torture myself with dozens of ways to use the word “procrastinate” without actually using it before I sat down to a healthy breakfast of Girl Scout cookies and a protein bar that advertises 18 grams of protein.  (That means it’s good for you, right?)

Bum around, dilly-dally, dawdle, fritter away, shilly-shally (huh??), drag one’s feet….to name just a few of the more sophisticated ways of saying the p-word. There was also this little jab to make sure I understood exactly who is responsible for aforementioned shilly-shallying:

“Various things may cause a delay , but a postponement  will result from the action of a person.”

Excellent food for thought.

After I frittered away about an hour, dawdled, lagged and got nowhere fast, I satisfied my morbid curiosity about why Ashley Judd’s face looked bloated on a Canadian talk show which was well worth my time, I have to say because….

Damn…where was I? I was all worked up about poor Ashley. I was about to talk about my daily horoscope which begins:

“We are masters of organization today, which can increase productivity.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

White The Tormentor

And I don’t mean of the pumps variety after Labor Day.

I’m talkin’ white space on a page.

It strikes fear in my heart.

I think it afflicts most writers from time to time.

Or anyone attempting to be a writer.

Or a poet.

Or me….attempting even the most menial writing task….like a grocery list.

My hand quivers, poised over the pristine ivory of a note pad. Even my favorite pen gives me no comfort during This Time Of Great Torment.

I am paralyzed.

ME

Oh, god….I don’t know.  I don’t know!!

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

Go ahead.  Try to write something, hack. Just try. You know you can’t do it.

I try to force my sweaty, pen gripping digits toward that terrifying abyss of whiteness.

ME

It’s too hard! I…I know Skippy is full of sugar but…that fresh ground peanut butter is so…so…I don’t know…oily!! 

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

Wimp.

I cry out in agony.

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

Yeah. Thought so.  Bitchin’ out like you always do.

ME

Stop it!  Why are you doing this to me? 

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

What are you scared of? They’re only…. wooooords. Muuuaahhhhhhaaahahaha

ME

Jesus help me.

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

Oh, please! Don’t embarrass yourself. Calling on The Almighty is the Last Chance Texaco of pathetics like you….oh….and the soon to be executed.

I take a few good cleansing breaths. Straight my slumping shoulders.  I can beat this. Yes, oh, yes, I can.

ME

Okay. Okay. I’m going with the natural P.B.

I slam my pen on to the paper and scribbe with determination. I must hurry before I lose my nerve.

Ah, there. I did it.

And I smile.

Confident.

WHITE THE TORMENTOR

What about bread?  Hmmmm?  What will people think if you don’t choose the gluten free? It’s so…”in” right now.

ME

I’m not gluten intolerant, asshole!  I’ve had enough of this crapola.

I snatch up the sheet that has but one word, crush it furiously between my fists and toss it in the recycle bin.

I was never any good with lists anyway.

Beginning At The End

Sometimes I have a hard time trusting happiness. Like it’s going to pull some cosmic rug out from under me just when I think I’ve got it all.  My  negative inner-voice battles my positive inner voice constantly.  My psyche is perpetually exhausted.

God, that’s so Woody Allen.

I have that feeling right now after the Austin success. Probably brought on by the weird flight home.

Delayed…..some sort of “computer glitch” we were told. Uh huh.

[I can still make it!  I’m sure the next flight is delayed, also!]

We take off finally.

But not until after an irritating display of technological idiocy from the woman squeezed into the seat next to me.

[Stop that!]

She keeeps punching at the personal video screen in the seat back in front of her. She made me and my techno-pea-brain look like Stephen Hawking.

How many punches does it take to figure out the fucking thing is NOT a touch screen?

[Doesn’t she know that the poor dude sitting in that seat can FEEL that?]

We finally take off but we’ve  eaten through quite a bit of the 37 minute Houston to San Jose layover.

[Don’t worry.  It’ll be fine.  I’ll make it.]

Damn.

We climb a little.

But not very much.

I’m still seeing freeways….and  cars moving on said freeways.

Hmmmm.  Shouldn’t we be seeing that quilt-like display of farmland and funky looking crop circles thingies you see out the window….when you head OUT of one city and on to the next??

Okay….Im having a flashback to that time in the Philippines when the single engine plane I was in had to land in a goat pasture. Same feeling of why the hell isn’t this thing getting any higher?

[Oh, this is just great!  I finally make something of myself after fifty long years and fate snatches it from me on the way home??]

My heart starts to pound.

I feel faint.

Clammy.

A little queasy.

I think about grabbing the vomit bag.  On Continental, they double as an I’ll-be-right-back seat saver.  They are a lovely shade of blue.  The ones on United are white and remind you NOT to put them back in the seat pocket after use.  Good to know.

Techo-dummy leans across me to look out the window.

[Please return to your own space!]

She smells like lavender and fast food. Two smells that really should not end up in the same place.

For a second I think she may have the same thought. About the lack of altitude, I mean. Not the lovely-flowering-plant-meets-Big-Mac thing.

Then I had only one thought and that’s how annoying people with no concept of personal space are.

[Okay, This is good…a thought other than…the end is near.]

She leans back.

[Thank you.]

Starts punching that damn screen again.

[That’s funny.  She LOOKS normal. Perhaps it’s some kind of….disorder.  Just ignore it.]

But…damn.

We are still flying a little low but we’re still airborne so I’m starting to feel a wee bit better.

We take two sharp banking turns.

One hard left and then a few minutes later a hard right. I’m talking hard. Like some people were actually making that silly “I’m a soaring airplane” sound we made as kids, our skinny little arms stretched out like wings. Something like this: reeeoooowwww. You know the sound.  You’ve made it.  It’s just a little hard to spell.

[Stop doing that!  I’m getting scared all over again!]

Anyhoo, I don’t know geography that well, but I think Houston is a pretty straight shot from Austin as the crow flies so the only thing I can think is that they’re slowing us waaaaay down so we don’t get to Houston too early.

More munching on that layover niblet.

We arrive.

2 minutes to get to the gate that is 6 1/2 miles away.

I run.

And I am not a runner.

But today?  I was O.J-fucking-Simpson…pre-indictment.

My knees ache.

My lunges feel like they’re exploding.

[I thought I was in better shape.]

There is no one at the gate counter.

I beat on the glass door.

Hello?  Somebody? Anybody?

I run up to a guy at a little booth.

Can you help me?

Sorry, I don’t work here.

[Then why the hell are you standing in that booth?  At the airport?  Don’t answer that.]

I can see the plane…it hasn’t left!

A guy from Continental finally appears.

No…I cannot get on.  They have closed the doors.

But…but….

No.

Six hours in Houston….

I called my entire family, watched a couple of movies, missed my husband like an amputated arm.

But I made it home.

And I am happy.

Say….does lung tissue regenerate?