On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hey, I’m a writer. I’m used to rejection and abuse, right? Last night one of my stories was savaged by class and teacher, yet I’m still walking upright. Maybe it’s self-flagellation, my punishment for thinking I can communicate my feelings and thoughts—and that anyone else really gives a fig for either.

Which brings me to my narcissistic nature. Why do I feel I must share my life with others? Walter Wellesley Smith said that being a writer is easy: "You just sit down and open a vein." But what makes me think anyone is interested in the color of my blood? Everything I write has a grain of me in it, every character contains elements in myself that I find either admirable or repulsive. So how can someone else critique those qualities? How can they critique me?

The answer, of course, is that as a writer, I must write not boring realities but the universal truth that is somewhere within those realities. And, one may argue, it’s not what is told, but how it is presented. Therein lies the secret to good writing: does it touch the reader, strike a chord, make him or her say, “Say, I’ve been there” or, more often, “Geez, I’ve never been there, but I’m glad I had a glimpse of it!”

And so the learning process continues . . .

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I’ve always felt that life is ruled by the simple rule of balance. Plus and minus. Filling spaces. The great Mandala. Lately, I’ve really been experiencing that up and down fortune. A month ago I was at a really low point. My dad had died, and I had recently been “downsized” from my job. I was at odds with one of my kids. Some major bills were pressing, with no writing work in sight. I was frightened and disoriented, immersed in the anathema of depression and daytime television.

That lasted about a week. Bored by my self-pity, I began concentrating on my true love: writing. I wrote some short stories, cleaned up some poems, wrote essays, revamped my Web site.

Feeling better, My mind de-fuzzed, I started sending out stuff—including notes to editors that I was ready for more work, please. I signed up for substitute teaching, stopped panicking, and started enjoying my free time, reading, playing with my dog, mowing the lawn, walking. And you know what? Time passed, and things got better.

In September I started my second grad school term, got called for a long-term sub (more on that another time!), received three assignments from one editor and some freelance work for my old company. My son and I talked everything out, I paid the bills. Suddenly, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done!

How did I do it? I waited. Life continues, the wheel turns. No one dies without some sort of karmic balance—debts paid, love accepted. I do believe that.

But even more than waiting, I worked. Hard. I kept in contact with friends and family who love and support me no matter what stage I am at. And I didn’t give up. I didn’t lie down and wallow in self-pity, but kept going, convinced that things would get better if I worked to make them better.

Yes, life has a balance, and while we will always have lows, we will also always have highs. What some people don’t understand is that sometimes the highs need help. The Wheel of Life does turn, but the ups come easier if we give it a little push by having friends, faith, and, most important, the willingness to work.