Double Wide – Yet another relationship story

I thought I was done with my relationship stories, yet I have found another one. Names and minor details have been changed to protect identity. This is a first draft. I don’t know if I will continue with this one, but I thought I’d post it, as a friend once requested I write it.

“Double-Wide”

Lisa is straddled over me on the couch hiking up her blue-cotton sun dress and kissing me nonstop, deeply and passionately, as if we have fallen in love all of a sudden, like an unexpected downpour in summer. I don’t like her much, but I guess she’s my new girlfriend. The entire time she has me pinned to the couch, I worry my mother will come downstairs and see this girly-girl swarming me and coming on like torrential rain. An apt image, given how wet she tells me she is, when she stops kissing me for a second.  Okay, we’re not teenagers. I’m a grown-up woman and so is she, but I’m worried about my mother seeing this spectacle, not because we are lesbians, or in her case, acting the part of a lesbian, but because this is embarrassing — this femme has her sundress hiked up and she has me clamped to the couch. I have muscles in my arms and a lot of upper body strength, but I can’t get up.

“I’m so wet,” she says again. Oh, Mom, do not come down those stairs. I cannot toss her off of me. So we kiss. It’s a little like drowning.  I don’t want to drown, but I allow myself to drown. Why? God, it’s complicated. Isn’t everything?

My mother called me at work at 4 p.m. on Friday, one of hottest days of the summer in July of 2011.

“The air conditioning isn’t working,” she said. “The house is very warm.”

“How long has it been out?”

“I don’t know, since one o’clock.”

I didn’t ask her, because I was afraid I’d scream, but why did she wait until near the end of the work day Friday to call and tell me the air conditioning was out? The temperature was close to 100 degrees. It was easily the hottest day of the year, and now I would need to leave work early to see if anyone could come out to the house to fix the a/c.

I called Lisa. I was attempting to keep her at bay, and to find a diplomatic way out of this friendship about to turn dating. I’d asked her to do meet me for an ice cream, a completely unromantic activity.

“Lisa, the air conditioning went out at my house,” I said, about to cancel our ice cream meeting. But before I could get the next sentence out, she said, “I’ll be right over.”

“Okay,” I said, when I really meant “no,” but she’d already hung up the phone, anyway, and presumably dashed to her car to come to my rescue.

Lisa and I pulled into my driveway at about the same time. She exited her vehicle wearing her blue sun dress, and I exited mine wearing blue jeans. She smiled wide, as we entered my house. It felt like a thousand sweaty degrees in there. My mother was in the kitchen. She was 81 that summer.

“Mom, this is Lisa, a friend of mine.” After the introductions, Lisa got down to work.

“We’d better get the bunny out of the hutch and onto the floor,” she said. She was right. A rabbit can die from heat stroke, and the stone floor in the kitchen stayed quite cool. So, as the rabbit rested on the floor dropping shit pellets and pee, and Lisa stood centimeters from me with her face stuck right next to my own, I frantically looked through the local shopping guide to see who could come over on a Friday evening and fix the a/c.

It took three tries, but I got someone to answer on the third phone call. He sounded drunk.

“Yeah, I can fix your a/c, but I’m eating dinner,” he said. “I can come over after dinner, around 6:30.” What he said made sense but the way he said it – with slurry speech – made me very nervous.

I sat on the floor with the bunny. Lisa sat next to me. She made small talk with my mother. I was angry at my mother for not having called earlier so I said nothing.

At precisely 6:30 p.m., the doorbell rang, and I was afraid to let in this man I’d called. He hulky, with a red scraggly beard, and his eyes didn’t look right, drunk or nuts or something. He had spaghetti sauce in his beard and on his shirt. Somehow, that made him seem somewhat less threatening, although not anymore inviting.

“I’m John,” he said. “Can I come in?”

Against my better judgment I let him in. He had no internal filter, he made that clear. He leered at Lisa in her little blue sun dress and said, “Damn, you are looking mighty fine, lady.” I tapped John on the back, more than once, with my knuckles, until he finally turned around, and I said, “Hey, Mr., I’m the one who owns the house. I’m the one who is going to pay you.”

“Oh, yeah, yeah,” he answered, “She’s looking great. So, tell me what the problem is.”

I explained to him that all the equipment in the house turned on but the unit outside didn’t.

“Ha,” he said, an out of place chuckle. “Yeah, yeah, I can fix that.”

I seriously doubted he could fix anything. I had one hand on my cell phone ready to call the police. He was still lewdly staring at Lisa whenever he could turn his head away from my (apparently annoying) voice.

“I’ll follow you outside,” he said finally. So we went out the door and around to the side of the house where the a/c unit was. He lifted the top of the unit and giggled, scaring me further because what was so fucking funny? I could see Lisa staring out the window at us, also scaring me, two strange people surrounding me, filling my space on this sweltering day. How does one so quickly become surrounded by strange human beings, spaghetti man and come-on girl?

“Oh yeah, yeah, I can fix that, I just gotta get a part from my van.”

John went to his van and came back with a small tubular item. I have no mechanical abilities and I couldn’t fathom how that little tubular thing could fix my big a/c unit.

Lisa continued to stare at us through the window. I was sweating.

John pulled the old part out of the a/c unit and pushed the new one into it. He shut the lid. It took him 3 minutes. (The bill was $290.)

“That’s it,” he said.

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s it. These things last about 10 years. This will be good for 10 years. Go turn on the a/c.”

We both went back inside and I turned on the a/c. Son of a bitch, it worked! The guy with spaghetti sauce in his beard and on his shirt, the lewdly staring creep who had come to my door, fixed the a/c.

“I can fix all appliances,” he said. “Everything. Whatever you need!”

“Fabulous,” I said, as he handed me his card, as I directed him toward the door, “I’m sure I will need that.”

“Bye, honey,” he said to Lisa.

When he left, my mother went upstairs as the house began to cool. I put the rabbit back in his hutch. Lisa and I fell to the floor laughing over the absurdity of the situation.

“The slob was a mechanical genius.”

We cracked up again, rolling on the floor. Laughing like that with someone is such an intimate act. I wasn’t thinking of it in those terms, but looking back now, I see this was the beginning of my mistake with her, which would arrive within the hour.

I had met Lisa at my personal trainer’s. She had recently joined the workout group with a friend of hers. I didn’t notice her, at least not in any kind of love-interest way. I did notice that she was very verbal, very intelligent, and extremely intense. I didn’t think she had noticed me at all. I didn’t care.

I can’t recall exactly when the transition happened, and Lisa started to notice me and I noticed her attention. I had purchased a bike and wanted to go bike riding over the weekend. Nothing too strenuous, just a few laps around the local park under the trees, by the pond, safe, easy, a way to get outside and exercise.

“I love to bike ride,” Lisa said at one of our workout sessions. “I’ll come.”

I thought: great, seriously, this is great, someone local can meet me at the park, and I don’t have to do this alone. I was so used to doing everything alone.

“We can go out for coffee after, Lisa.” I said.

Her smile was wide and a little over the top. I put it down to her intense way of expressing herself in any situation.

That Sunday, she showed up at the park with an ancient bike, all black, a man’s bike, probably from someone’s basement, probably it had been abandoned there for decades, but Lisa had dug it out for this occasion. Obviously, she hadn’t ridden a bike for years. I pulled it in from the back of my head, her statement, “I love to go for bike rides.” Maybe when she was five?

Why was she here?

We made it around the park once, 3.9 miles. I wanted to go around two or three times. You don’t burn any calories on a bike till you go at least 10 miles.

“Let’s go for coffee now,” she said. And I said “okay” because that’s what I always say.

At Panera, as we were sipping coffee, she stared at me as I spoke. I hadn’t told her I was gay, but I figured now was as good a time as any. Why? I didn’t know what else to talk about. When I told her, she said, “I know,” because that’s what everyone says when I tell them.

“I’m looking for someone,” she said.

“A man?” I asked. She didn’t say anything. The last I’d heard from her at the gym was about a breakup with a guy. I wanted us to be clear.

“A man?” I repeated.

“I don’t know what I’m looking for.” She stared right into my yes.

“Fair enough,” I said, thinking this isn’t at all fair.

I still didn’t understand the series of mistakes about to happen, that would lead to her pinning me to the couch in her blue dress.

I was working out on the elliptical at the gym on an early Tuesday evening in June, when Lisa arrived, strode right up to me. Her smile was wider than any smile I’d ever seen, but rather than find it beautiful, I found it disconcerting. Her smile felt aimed at me, like a pistol, and I didn’t get it, what was about to transpire.

“This has been the best Tuesday ever!” she said as I did rotations on the machine. “Ever.”  And then she stared right into my eyes and said, “This is the best part.”

Was she in love with me? Why was she smiling at me like that, as if she’d just discovered the love of her life sweating on an elliptical machine?

What did I say back to her? Something like, “I’m glad you’re having such a good day.”

Yes, I said something lame like that. But I didn’t know exactly what she was getting at, since every word she spoke held innuendo and therefore was not straightforward. I could only read her face, which was brighter than the June sun at noon, and that smile, wide as a ruler. Okay, wider. She had shoulder length light brown hair. In a way she was pretty. It was hard to see her as pretty because her personality was so overwhelming. Overwhelming on her was like a facial feature, like a too-big nose on a small head, although in reality, her nose was quite small.

“Yes, the best Tuesday ever,” she repeated, and I became even more uncomfortable.

There was a point, between June and July, when she made it clear she wanted to date me. I tried to warn her off. I brought up our age difference.

“You’re 32 and I’m 49,” I said. “I’m an old woman to you.”

“I loooooovvvvvvveeee older women.” Okay.

“I hardly know you. We barely know each other.” Another good argument, I thought.

“That’s what dating is for!”

I had spoken to my trainer about Lisa. At the time she said she liked Lisa. She was intelligent and pretty and fun. I couldn’t argue with that. Lisa worked at MIT, had a sharp mind, and as I said, if you could look past her overbearing personality, she was fairly pretty.

So I set up the ice cream date out of fear. Fear of what? Fear of hurting her feelings or fear of having an adult date with this young woman. I set up what amounted to a play-date for grown-ups, meeting at Big Daddy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Stoughton, where we could sit outside and watch the traffic go by. Great ambiance for a five year old. But we never made it there, to our non-date, because the a/c broke and because we fell to the floor laughing over the lewd spaghetti repair man, and became intimate through shared laughter. I became vulnerable: Lisa and I had shared a moment of mutual support.

“Do you want to go out to dinner?” I asked after we’d stopped laughing. “Out to dinner” sounded much more like a real date, but I couldn’t see going for an ice cream now that she’d gone through this air conditioning debacle with me.

“YES!!!!!”  Well, you can imagine.

And then, as if she’s already become a high maintenance girlfriend, she said, “Why don’t you go to your car and turn on the a/c? Last time, it took a while to cool down.” I think that statement unnerved me as much as any; she sounded like a wife.

Okay, I said, with a nervous pit rolling in my stomach.

I took her down the road to Rick’s, a family restaurant, where I sometimes bring lesbian dates. A few years back I’d had another woman falling all over me at the piano bar in the middle of the floor, as we requested Beatles’ songs from the piano man, and while we provided the heterosexual nuclear families an education in “gay.” Across the street was The Randolph Country Club, an actual gay bar. That night my date and I went straight from terrifying the straight patrons at Rick’s to a party across the street complete with cross dressers, beautiful gay men, and an assortment, let’s say, of gay women. The spectacle, then the spectrum.

I had no intention of making this dinner with Lisa into a “date.” I just wanted to thank her for hanging in with me during the air conditioning crisis at home. Still, I squirmed in my seat as they served us the warm bread and butter, as her smile was so wide — double-wide — it was if she were opening her legs for me to enter. I found something unnervingly sexual in that unabashed smile.

I don’t remember a word we said to one another. I imagined we joked again about Mr. Spaghetti man. I do, however, remember leaving the restaurant with her because this where the real escalation into “dating” began.

She kept bumping into me as we walked through the parking lot. I didn’t know what to do, what to say. She was bumping into me on purpose, and smiling, of course.

Do you know what I did?

I took her into my arms and kissed her.

Have you fallen off of your chair? Even looking back, I am ready to fall off of mine. Why did I kiss her? I can’t count the number of times I have misled women, as well as myself, confused them (and myself) by acting in ways nearly opposite from my words. “I love being with you,” and then I go home, for example. Or, “I don’t want to date you,” but I kiss you deep and long in a public parking lot.

I don’t get it either and I believe this is what therapy is for. I imagine now I kissed her because she wanted that from me, and I wanted to make her happy. She’d made it clear that she wanted to date and who was I to say no to her? Why say no to a bright, relatively attractive young woman who appears to be crazy about me?

Bra shopping finally did us in. During that hot summer, it became apparent that I was in dire need of new bras. I’m small-breasted so bras are never top in my priorities, as I can get away for years on the same couple of bras or can get through a day or two in a sports bra. But this was the year of the bra. Lisa wanted to go bra shopping with me. As we seemed to be dating, I said, “Sure, why not.”

I don’t recall what store we were in. It might have been Sears, but it was a department store with many dressing rooms.

“Can I come in?” Lisa asked. I hesitated. Her question felt at once like an invasion of privacy and at the same time, harmless. We hadn’t slept together. She would be seeing a good portion of my body. I didn’t want her to come in.
“Okay,” I said, “Come on in.”

So, there she stood, with the double-wide grin that made me feel swallowed or fucked or something smothering due to its inability to reign itself into any semblance of controlled emotion.

“Turn around, please” I said. I needed to try on another bra, and I was shy about having her see my naked breasts. Lisa moved to the corner and turned her back. Before I had the bra in place, however, I felt her body against my back. She used her hands to squeeze my stomach and held on tight from behind. I could feel her nether regions pushing into my ass. Oy.

“Does this bother you?” she asked when I failed to respond to her overture.

“Yes, it does.”

Oh my god, I actually told the truth.

She was upset. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” It’s okay, it’s okay, I assured her but it wasn’t. I knew that statement “Yes, it does,” perhaps my first statement of truth, was the end for us.

I am not a liar. I don’t blatantly lie to women I date or to anyone. But what I am is self-delusional, hoping always that I can overlook issues in a girlfriend that in the end I cannot overlook. I try to convince myself that I need time, need to get to know her better, need to lighten up what my usual type is – relatively feminine, usually pretty, much girlier than I am. Of course, Lisa was girly enough, it was the force of her personality that was so hard for me to take. In any case, the self-delusion always breaks at some point, and I am left with no choice but to face the truth and the speak it.

After the bra incident, Lisa and I ate lunch at Panera and I had very little to say to her. She called me from home that evening to continue apologizing. I said to her something along the lines of, “What you did wasn’t wrong or bad, Lisa, it just made me uncomfortable. I think we should not date. This isn’t the right relationship for me.”

The honesty was just gushing out of me at this point.

She called again the next day, or rather, she texted. I had a trip planned to Colorado in a few weeks and before I told Lisa I didn’t care to date, she had (over eagerly) agreed to take care of my pet rabbit while I was away for 12 days. My mother was not up to caring for such a creature, which requires particular feedings and tray cleanings frequently.

“Even though we aren’t dating, I still plan to take care of your rabbit,” she texted.

“Really? I don’t think that’s a great idea.” That’s all I needed, to leave this woman with a key to my house.

“Yes,” she texted, “Even if I killed you, I would still take care of your rabbit.”

Oh, my, right? “Even if I killed you…”

“Don’t bother, Lisa.” For the next few weeks, I was looking over my shoulder for this woman. I expected her to come at me, with that smile a mile-wide grimace, screaming crazily as she stabbed me in the back, right through to the chest. At least, I expected to come home from work one day and find my rabbit being boiled in a pot, like the crazy shit that happened in movies.

But nothing happened.

It would be fabulous if I could say that after being mauled on my couch by this femme woman in a blue sun dress on that very hot July night, and realizing she wasn’t right for me after she mauled me again in a dressing room while I was bra shopping, I moved forward in my life never making the same mistake again. The truth is, the self-delusion I experience continues to be a fault of mine, no matter how much I work at it in therapy, and no matter how old I get. In different shapes, ways, forms, and experiences, there is conflict inside myself – give the relationship a fair chance, convince myself that it can work and realize in a nanosecond that it’s not what I want.  I end up hurting the other person, at least superficially, sometimes more deeply.

This is my bane, my fault, and my folly.

Posted in Flirtation, Freaked out, Humor, lesbianism, Rabbits, Sex, Women, Writing, Writing Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This week’s Post: A few notes about trying to write about my dad

I am thinking of writing an essay about my dad that digs deep into my memory of what was good about him, in addition to the usual stories I tell about what was not so great about him. Below are just a few rough draft paragraphs that may not end up in the essay. But this is how the process begins: with exploration.

The memory involves sunshine and youth, and when you say those two words together, sunshine and youth, you might think I’m getting at something glorious and happy. That wouldn’t be true. It’s the song and the sunshine, the way the sunshine slants at the intersection of Pleasant and Central Streets, just at the moment Rod Stewart sings through the car radio, “Maggie, I think I got something to say to you…” that I see him: my father.

This is all kind of fucked up because I don’t think my father spent any time at the intersection of Pleasant and Central, which isn’t the nicest part of town so he would have had no interest. Yet I see him. He’s walking down the street in the 4 p.m. sun, not at its height and not yet set. Once he existed in such a space, perhaps at a different intersection, perhaps in a different town, but he walked in a 4 o’clock sun.

My father has been dead for eight and a half years.

Posted in Aging, Caring for parents, Parents, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

‘Cross Dresser’ by Cindy Zelman

Originally posted on Steam Ticket:

Halloween, 1987, his 75th birthday, and John Jacobs reeled in a fuzzy notion that had been hovering in his brain for decades, and so indeed, he dressed as a woman for the first time. He gazed at his reflection in the glass of the Day Glow Motel entrance. Damn pretty, he thought. He held one hand on a hip and twisted at his waist to view his backside, encouraged by the sexy “v” of the neckline halfway down his back. Damn effing pretty. He entered the motel.

He sunk his plump old ass on a stool at the bar. Black fishnet stockings hugged his fat thighs, and black garters pressed hollows on his calves. He had shaven his legs, and he was grateful; the nylon hugging his skin felt sensual. His crepe evening dress clung also, an inviting dusty rose number he’d found at a flea market. The quality of…

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The weekly post I promised

I have not finished this piece. It is a short scene from February 2014. I am hoping to turn this into something more, but if not, at least it’s here, a record of a moment.

This is what it looks like: My mother is lying on a gurney for the second time in two months, the first time to remove an enormous tumor that was pushing through her breast, stage 4 breast cancer.

This time we are at the hospital for a needle biopsy of her lung. There is a chance her lung could collapse during the procedure. She says she’s more worried about peeing in the bed.

I said, “That’s a good thing to be worried about, I mean, it’s better than worrying about the spot on your lung, whether it’s lung cancer or breast cancer.” (Did I really say all that? I must have thought it.)

I had to ask four questions to get the oncologist to explain to me why the lung biopsy would be beneficial, given his stage 4 “incurable” diagnosis.

“We need to know whether the spot is breast cancer or lung cancer,” he said.

Imagine a six-foot three tall, skinny man with dark hair and a wan complexion. He looks like he should be a funeral director. I guess as an oncologist, he nearly is one.

“Why,” I ask, “do you need to know which cancer it is, since you’ve already diagnosed her as incurable?”

“Because it could be lung cancer.”

This guy could have played Lurch in The Addam’s Family show.

“And if it’s lung cancer?”

“We would want to remove it.”

And once again, given that he has diagnosed her with incurable stage 4 breast cancer, I ask, “Why?”

“Because lung cancer could spread faster than breast cancer.” Couldn’t he have just said that first?

It was the only sentence that answered my question. Will it make a significant difference, – say add a year to her life as opposed to two months? I don’t ask because I don’t know how many questions it will take to get to that answer, or even if there is an answer, or if I want to know it. I cannot process any more information coming from this ghoulish man.

Posted in Aging, Memoirs, memories, Mothers, Parents, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

I want to make a comeback

Blog

Oh right I have a blog!

When I started The Early Draft in 2010, the point was to free myself to write whatever I wanted. It was an exercise in not worrying that the writing was perfect or publication-ready. I wanted to blog because I don’t journal. I always write because I want readers. For a few years, I went great guns with this effort and started to build a following. I developed many mini-essays here, that with a little work, actually became publication-ready. Some of the early draft work that began here ended up in my chapbook, What’s in a Butch’s Purse and Other Humorous Essays. Some of it ended up as posts for lesbian.com. Some of it ended up published on other websites.  My blogging took off, and for several months, I had blogs featured on The Huffington Post, particularly in the Gay Voices Section, but also in their over 50 page and their Impact page.

And then it all stopped. Not just the blogging stopped, but for the most part, the writing stopped. You’re wondering why, I suppose. I’m not sure exactly, but I have a few ideas. I had commentators on The Huffington Post rip me a new asshole for an unpopular view about smoking marijuana at outdoor concerts. I didn’t realize my writing could engender so much hatred. The reaction freaked me out. Another paradox: not only was the marijuana blog my most read post (with more than 250 comments, most of them hateful), but it was linked to a national pro-marijuana website and exposed in state after state after state. The article probably got more exposure than anything I have ever written. I became known as the woman with a stick up her ass who didn’t want to inhale someone else’s pot smoke at a concert. Yes, the anti-party chick. That’s me. The buzzkill. The one who would vote against legalization — although that’s not true — I do vote for legalization, just not smoking in public where it travels up my nose. The Huffington audience didn’t catch that part. So, I had my first brush with audience hatred. Ouch.

People hate me because I don't like to smell their marijuana smoke. I'm a relic.

People hate me because I don’t like to smell their marijuana smoke. I’m a relic.

Nearly a year later, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, incurable, and the morbid oncologist made it sound as if her death was imminent. This also dampened my spirit when it came to writing. My mother is still here, and overall, doing well, but the shock of the diagnosis threw me into a state of “Who the fuck cares about writing, death is the BIG thing…”

One cannot live in a state of morbidity or cowering from the angry mob forever. One must try again to get the writing energy going. This is what writers do. This is what human beings do under many circumstances. We fall, we fail, we try again.

The paradox of my writer’s block being that since 2013, I have had more work published than I ever thought possible (work I wrote prior to the block, of course.) I am not rock star of the literary world, but since 1991, when my first, well, creative-nonfiction-piece-disguised-as-fiction was published in the journal Feminist Studies, and decades went by and nothing was published, and I thought I was a one hit wonder, I now have a relatively (everything is relative) long list of publications. If you would like to see them and maybe read some of the pieces published online, please refer to my publications page on this blog site.

Just "angst" period.

Just “angst” period.

 

So, I’ve been sending all this stuff out in the last few years, and mostly what I get back are the typical rejections, but beyond those, are the acceptances, even minor recognition: I’ve won three honorable mentions in the last year from New Millennium Magazine (and how I’d love to crack 1st or 2nd or 3rd Prize) and one honorable mention from The Writer’s Workshop of Ashville. I’ve been flattered to have one of my essays chosen to be in the top 10 of the year (a few years back) from Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, and more recently, to have a short story (I started nearly 20 years ago) published in Volume 17 of the print journal, Steam Ticket: A Third Coast Review, which also has been chosen as a piece to republish online to represent the “Best Of…” Steam Ticket.

Why am I doing all of this humble bragging on myself. I’m sure it’s a form of compensation. I’m trying to tell you (and me) how great I’ve been doing as a writer when truly, in the last year, I’ve written nothing at all. I hope to rectify the situation. I love to write. Sometimes I write (not quite) great things. I do have an audience who enjoys my prose. I am not a brilliant writer, but I’m good, when I’m good, when I actually write something. I am trying to remind myself by all the self-congratulatory crapola expressed above.

It’s been an interesting year too, of seeing friends from the Solstice MFA program also publish books. My good friend, Faye Rapoport DesPres, has published Message From a Blue Jay: Love, Loss, and One Writer’s Journey Home, in 2014, which is a beautifully written, yet very accessible read, about the narrator’s search for an authentic life. If you’d like to read more about it before buying, I wrote a review of it on Connotation Press. However, I would just skip the review and buy the book! It’s fabulous. Faye has also published her essays in numerous literary journals. See her blog at http://www.fayrapoportdespres.com.

Another Solstice friend of mine, and one of my favorite guys in the world, Mike Miner, has published All She Knows, an amazingly beautiful and dark novella in stories that you don’t want to miss and you won’t be able to put down. I have also  ordered his newest book, The Immortal Game. I can’t wait to read it. See his author page on Amazon.

Faye and Mike are major talents. You don’t want to miss their stuff.

There are so many books coming from Solstice alumni and students that they are too numerous to mention in a short blog post; however, I want to reassure you this is a talented group of writers. If you have an interest in the program, here is there website: http://www.pmc.edu/mfa-news

While this attempt to get back to The Early Draft turned out to be more about my trying to pat myself on the back for successes in the midst of writer’s block, my on-going goal is to post a blog here once a week, even if it’s just a paragraph, and hopefully, one that is not about writing but that is writing.

You see,  I want to make a comeback.

 

Posted in Book publishing, Book Reviews, Creative Nonfiction, Creative writing, Essays, Memoirs, MFA Programs, publishing, Solstice MFA Pine Manor College, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Author Mariam Kobras on the great mystery of being a writer

1376084_10201438612779684_1304077167_nThis week, Mariam Kobras, awarding winning author of The Stone Trilogy romance novel series, contemplates the mysteries of being a writer, as her next book, Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story, has just been released.

Being a writer…one of the great mysteries of life.
by Mariam Kobras, guest blogger

It’s right up there with: why do we dream, why do foods that aren’t good for you taste so good, why are some feelings good, and some bad, why do we make wishes, and where does that deep, almost painful yearning for something that we don’t even know come from? Why does it grip us in unexpected moments, like when we’re standing on the beach and breathing in the tangy sea wind, or when we’re at the opera, and Cecilia Bartoli sings Casta Diva?

Why do we feel that something big, some big, colossal, and yet unfathomable force is moving around us, unseen, unheard, and yet we can sense it, knowing in some mysterious way that it’s there.

Isn’t that how writing works too? Isn’t writing the attempt to catch moods, feelings and the elusive memory of something that never even happened?

Just last night, chatting with my publisher, something she said made me pause and ponder this. We were talking about the impostor syndrome, and why so many writers encounter it at some point in their career. That’s when I paused. We’re celebrating the release of my fourth book, Waiting for a Song, with this blog hop. The launch of the fifth is within sight, and the sixth is written and waiting its turn.

I said, “I have no idea what to write for Cindy’s blog. I’m no academic. I’m just a writer.”
And my publisher said, “And you know a lot more about the writing process by now. So write about that.”

But do I?
When do we turn from hopeful amateur into author, into someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Is it when an agent or publisher accepts our first book?
I think not. Writing one book is easy. Most of us have a story to tell, even if it’s only one. Only when you’ve submitted it, and a publisher has accepted it, everything changes. Publishers don’t want a book. They want an author. They want a person who—sooner rather than later—will turn into their own brand.

Following up on that first book isn’t quite as easy. Expectations and hopes are looking over your shoulder, and their shadows can be mighty daunting. Writing my second book, Under the Same Sun, was pretty daunting. I never knew I could do it until it was finished, and printed.

Did I feel like an author? No way. I felt like a bumbling amateur, again
Book Three, Song of the Storm, was a bit easier. I knew by then that I could please my publisher. She wasn’t thrilled that I wanted to write about 9/11. I understood her hesitation. It’s a difficult subject, but it was something that I had to do. My heart was demanding for it to be written.

But did it make me feel like an author? Not at all.

Strangely enough, it was only after the Stone Trilogy was finished and I’d recovered from the emotional turmoil of leading my characters through that blackest of days, after I’d seen all three books together and held them in my hands, that I could let go. It felt as if I’d done the task that I’d been set, and done it well, and now I could do whatever I wanted.

Writing Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story and the other prequel, The Rosewood Guitar, Jon’s Story, felt like being on vacation, like walking along that shore that Naomi and Jon walk on nearly every morning. The words bubbled from my imagination right into the keyboard. They danced onto the screen of my faithful little MacBook in no time at all.

So do I feel like an author now?
The truth is, I’m still not sure. It’s good enough for me that my publisher is sure. I’ll just keep on writing and pour out the stories, and let others judge if they’re good enough to be read or not. And anyway, does it matter whether I feel like an author or not?

Stone-Series-WEB

I’m in a happy place.
That’s really all that matters in life. That’s the real mystery, happiness.

Thank you so much for hosting me today, Cindy!

Photo on 5-2-14 at 4.37 PM #3This was the ninth stop in Mariam’s Book Launch Blog hop & Giveaway to celebrate the release of Waiting for a Song, Naomi’s Story. Don’t miss the next stop on June 19th on Nita Beshear’s blog where Nita will review Mariam’s new book!

GIVEAWAY: ONE LUCKY WINNER will receive a red leather journal with cream pages and a ribbon marker—like the one Naomi used when she wrote the lyrics that won Jon’s heart. To enter, just leave a comment below (US and Canada only please). Prize courtesy of Buddhapuss Ink LLC.

For more chances to win, please visit the Buddhapuss Ink or Mariam’s author page on Facebook and click on the Giveaway Tab!

Rafflecopter giveaway – a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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In the quest to free my Persecuted Ugandan friends — SUCCESS — and more…

We are getting there!

We are getting there!

As it turns out, Bryan, one of two gay Ugandan men I have raised money for (with the help of very generous friends) is leaving with another friend for South Africa THIS WEEK! I am very excited for him. Harold’s passport is being held up. Practically, this means I could use another $500 for Harold, who will need to make the trip at a later date. The campaign is still on until June 25th, so if you could make small (or large) contributions until then, anything would help. That will be three people saved. I will get Harold out on my own if I must. I’m so excited for Bryan!!! He is leaving this coming week. Thank you, everyone.

For more on this story, please go to the campaign to read all about it: We have met the goal but need another $500!

Or, see my post on Lesbian.com about the situation in Uganda where an entire population of people are being persecuted.

Thank you, everyone.
Cindy

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