Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The In-Betweens

I was sorely tempted to post another 'gone writing' banner and beg off of blogging today, but then I remembered, "oh right - twins!" and thought I'd better blog while I still can.

My wife and I are astonished floored delighted weary so happy that those babies are still in utero, given twins' propensity to arrive rather early. We're at the point when they could arrive anywhere from today (no joke) to two weeks from now, and we've been at that point for a good solid two weeks - most twins arrive as early as 28 weeks and as late as 39, with more than half being born by 35 weeks - and while I'm psyched for the extra time to get my to-do lists from miles-long to just feet, this is a very weird way to live.

"Do you want to have dinner on Saturday?" friends ask.

"Um, maybe?" we reply.

"Let's schedule an appointment for the week after next," my acupuncturist says.

"Right, and what was your cancellation policy again?" I ask.

I book clients at my day job, and wonder if I'll actually be there for our appointments. I look forward to settling down with my library book (The Empathy Exams, currently) and then wonder if I'll have a chance to finish it before it's due - and how much I'll end up owing if I don't have time to return it.

All because, you know, babies.

I'm not complaining, really - I just wish I knew when, so I could settle down and live and get things done. But since the Fates laugh at even the idea of me knowing, I have to stay in this weird in-between place. Not yet a parent, but not not a parent. Working and planning and crossing items off of lists, and trying not to hold my breath every time my wife so much as frowns.

This, of course, is all incidental when compared to the Real Anxiety: that my life is about to change so utterly and wholly that I may not recognize it anymore; that I myself am about to change, too; that my family is about to double in size; and, most of all, that I cannot fathom what any of this is going to look like. 

I can imagine. I can extrapolate. I can guess. But I won't know until they're here. I am stuck, between parenting and not, between one stage of life and another. I am in the in-betweens. We both are.

So, we wait. And we plan, and hope, and complete tasks. And we wait.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Random Writer Thoughts

In honor of summer brain (which in my case involves lots of daydreaming, little writing, and a giant waterspout of weird thoughts,) here are some totally bizarre, utterly non-linear, sometimes senseless, rarely useful, and always random thoughts today:

1. What is the opposite of a pet peeve? You know, a little thing you especially like? Don't say 'favorite,' because that's different.

2. I really, really, really love semi-colons (My CPs will attest to this. They may also swear and complain about it.) They're just so useful. They're like the Swiss Army Knife of writing.

3. My pet peeve on romance stories (see #1 above), by which I mean any genre that contains a romance plot, be it sci-fi, literary fiction, horror, whatever: sex scenes that do nothing to further the plot. Don't get me wrong; gratuitous sex is fine - if you're writing erotica. In that case, sex it up. But if it's a romance plot, please, make the sex plot-worthy. Let something happen - character progression, relationship progression, etc. - during it. I am not talking about books that actually are in the romance genre, because I am not the expert on how to write those. I'll let the actual experts speak on that count.

4. I want a literary tattoo. I've wanted one for years. The problem is that I can't decide on which quote to get. Should I go classical, and choose some snippet of Sonnet 65? Should I go modern/fantasy/political, and have some wise nugget of Ursula Le Guin's inked on me? Or should I do poetry, in which case Mary Oliver or Adrienne Rich feel like my favorite options? I have no idea. It's impossible to decide. Which is why I don't have one yet.

5. My favorite smells in the whole world: wood smoke. Old books. Leaves in autumn. The sea. Honeysuckle.

6. This poem. (see #4 above)

7. Is there anything better than settling down with a book you've been looking forward to reading, with uninterrupted hours stretching in front of you? I think not.

8. Bless the public libraries. Many times in my life, when I was too poor to buy all the books I wanted to read, libraries gave me a way to still have #7 (above.) Since I can, I now buy books more often and support authors and indie bookstores, but I continue to use, and appreciate, the library.

Thanks for staying with me to the end, my dears. What random thoughts are you having these days? Do you know the answer to #1, or have a vote on #4? Any input on #3?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Insecure Writers: Getting Over Submission Phobia

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

As I mentioned last month, I am successfully avoiding insecurity because I am so damn excited about my writing group. We meet once a month, and apparently we share a similar schedule to the IWSG, because once again we just recently met, right before the first Wednesday of the month.

BUT, that's not what I'm writing about today. Well, sort of. Peripherally. It's related. Relatedly.


I want to write about just doing it.

Not Nike, no.


Yes. Submitting your work. Querying agents. Sending stories/essays/poems to magazines or publishers or literary journals or (paying) blogs.

Here's what I've realized, first-hand, in only two months of meetings with my group: some of the most talented writers never get published, because they never submit. I realize this isn't exactly earth-shattering news - I've read about this phenomenon myself - but now that I'm seeing it happen right in front of me, it's throwing me for a loop. These writers I'm meeting with are so damn talented, but some of them aren't published, because they're not submitting.

You know when you open a journal/magazine/website/anthology, and read a piece, and think, 'well, that's OK, but I know I can write something better.' Well, you know why that piece is published? Because the author submitted it. Shocking, I know. Most likely, that author submitted to a ton of places. Most likely, he or she fielded 10, 20, 50, 100 rejections in the process. Most likely, he or she drank too much/cried too much/swore to give up, too, and then kept going.

And got published.

So please, IWSG-ers, don't be Those Writers, the ones who pen gloriously and submit never-ly. Please get your stuff out there. Rejection will come, and you'll survive it - and then you'll be published.

I challenge you to pick a piece you've been sitting on, that you know is finished, that you know, is good, and submit it. Right now.

Just do it.

Do you submit, or are you submission-phobic? What piece are you holding onto? Where are you going to submit, right now?