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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kindred Spirit

It isn't very often that we meet/see someone who possesses the same mindset as ourselves. Cynics don't disagree about the same plights, optimists are hopeful about varying degrees of issues, but every once in a while, we might a kindred spirit. Okay, so I didn't meet mine, but I saw her in concert on Sunday night. Martina McBride...though I'm not a huge country music fan (I'm a Kid Rock/Nickelback/Beatles/Melissa Etheridge sorta girl)...but her song "Do It Anyway" has been my anthem since it came out. I always told my students, "I'm not just a glass-half-full person...I'm just happy to have a glass." The theory there is I could have a paper cup or nothing at all, and I'm grateful for the little things. That song summed up a lot about me.

After seeing Martina McBride in concert, I realize that's really who she is. Down-to-earth, grateful for the small things, and seizing life by the moment. She even used a key phrase I say often, "I'm lucky to be living my dream."

So hopefully I can find more of us out there...and we can spread optimism the way many spread their cynicism. Why not? It's not like we have anything to lose...

Monday, February 18, 2008

One Degree of Separation

If I were Kevin Bacon, I’d now only have one degree of separation from one of my all-time idols – Stephen King. Or Steve, as Ridley Pearson refers to him. After spending the weekend at the Write to Learn conference in Osage Beach, I got to introduce an author I’ve admired for over a decade. If that wasn’t enough, hearing Ridley talk about playing in his band, The Rock Bottom Remainders, I had a serious case of author envy. Ridley’s current YA book (he has published mostly thrillers until he and Dave Barry decided to answer the questions never explained in Peter Pan) spent 47 weeks on the NY Times Bestseller List. When I intro’d him, I suggested he loan me a week. I’d even do a minute or two, though that might not be long enough to call my mom and my friends…

What I learned this weekend is that as long as authors stay “real,” fans will always stay loyal. It makes you wonder what Britney, Paris, and Lindsay are thinking. What Ridley proved is that great success happens to normal, nice, and inherently good people. Movies, TV shows, Bestseller lists…it took him nearly a decade to achieve it, so with all the success I’ve enjoyed so far, I think I’ve been lucky…plus, I have six years to go to start fretting over the movie and TV thing.

Hmmmm, in 8 Days, I’ll have Brad Pitt play Jake, Al Pacino would be a perfect Tony Andrews, Matthew McConaughey could be Dusty…as for Slipping, Ed Norton is my only choice for Seth, Mark Wahlberg is Mikie, and Danna Scanlon? That’s easy…Jodi Foster needs to reverse age. And in Dregs, let’s see…

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Sign of the Chinese Zodiac

Being a dragon has a mystique about it…I have visions of Wesley Snipes’ movies and New Years celebrations with dragon tails slinking and rising behind the beastly head. It says I’m eccentric, complex, and passionate. This couldn’t describe me better, though at first I balked at the description of being eccentric. Then I looked it up, the literal meaning, and realized I am eccentric.

“Unconventional and strange”…yes, that’s me. To fit nicely into a little hole would be boring and limiting. Instead, I do push convention, I do feel the need to erase the lines of the box, not just step outside it. Life wasn’t meant to be lived inside a box. We’re pioneers, in every since of the word. We’ve discovered most corners of the known world, so we’ve ventured into outer space and now find ourselves exploring inner space – cyber space.

As a dragon, I want to lead the charge in finding new and more interesting ways to live outside our conventions, our boxes, the limitations we place on ourselves and each other. What a boring life it would be if we all paid attention to rules and abided by its confines. Not me, I want to rename roads, reroute pathways, and reorganize the way people think about things. Living my life won’t do it, but writing about other lives might… To create worlds is the ultimate satisfaction – it has no bounds.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Sometimes the idea of freewriting overwhelms because there are so many things I want to write, need to write. My brain jams with all the possibilities…do I write something new? Work on something I have a deadline for? Compose a new blog? Actually finish a project I've stuffed in a drawer waiting for a time when I can write anything I absolutely want to?

And then the parameter of turning it in…it changes my mindset. To meander thoughtfully on a page like walking a path in the woods. Turn left, no look at that tree straight ahead, but what about way over there, isn't that a fence? Oooh, I have to cross the fence, go where I probably shouldn't, because that's how my brain works. And then to consider all the things to touch, to look at, to explore deeper. If I stay on the more worn path, I'm left with a Frost-like philosophy, What if I missed something I could show to the world, a new idea, a new plot, a new concept no one has ever thought of before? The writer-envy wants a Walden experience in an urban world. Can I have that? Live in the big-middle of the world and find a utopian spot where only I can see all the intricacies of a story no one has yet told? The idea gives me chills. To discover, to explore, to generate thoughts that might open eyes to something brand new or a new twist on something age-old. isn't that what every writer dreams of? It’s a quandary for me to think I might not come up with anything special: Conroy's Beach Music, Capote's In Cold Blood, Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath…the books that need no summary, need no introduction, that a first line whispered is often enough to evoke the memory of having read it. With the things I've written, I haven't achieved that. I yearn for it, ache to create that Oprah-admired instant classic that people will oooh and ahhh over and say, "Wow, I knew she had it in her, but I never dreamed it would be this wonderful."

God, a girl can dream…