Click her to receive blog updates via email

Friday, September 23, 2011

Puppies and Unconditional, Inexplicable Love

A little over 13 years ago, a colleague told me about a puppy he'd seen in a shady pet store. He knew I had a Jack Russell puppy and, working long days as an attorney, that puppy needed a constant companion. When I went to the "store," I was appalled. This sweet, young puppy tried to stand in a cage that was too small. She couldn't stand, and had to eat, drink, and eliminate in this tiny area. I begged the "owner" to let me take her then, but she refused. She promised that if I came back tomorrow, I could take her home. So I returned the next day and paid a ransom to this "owner" and took my sweet Taylor home. It wasn't the Humane League, the Pound, or a typical rescue, but this "shop" was closing and this sweet girl needed saving.

She was a mess. After being confined to a cage that she couldn't even stand in, much less move around in, Taylor was afraid to be in an open space. She would hide under pillows, beds, behind toilets. Everything frightened her. Except me, my boyfriend (now hubby) and Paisley, my Jack Russell. She realized she was safe and began to trust us. She curled up with her "brother" and became my shadow. I haven't been to the bathroom alone in 13 years. And I love her as ferociously as she loves me.

My friends tease me that she has a water bowl beside my bed. And my mother-in-law desperately wishes to be reincarnated as Taylor. But the bottom line is that despite all her crazy, annoying, ridiculous faults, this cranky 13-year-old dog embodies loyalty, unconditional love, and acceptance.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone. Embrace the unusual and sometimes unlovable, and hope for all the pee spots you clean up and the bizarre and cranky behavior, that you find something that gives you deep and unending joy. Such is the journey of writing and trying to get published. There's a lot of poo and pee, but in the face of it all, you remember why you write in the first place. Because of the inexplicable and immeasurable love.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Auburn football and trying to escape shadows

One year ago, a relatively unknown football player named Cam Newton hit the plains in Auburn. By the end of the first game, it was obvious to all that the kid was gifted. His golden arm, his speed, his electricity. Not only could he throw and run and read plays like he was reading minds, he was a leader. Of course scandal ensued. Many of my Bama friends taunted, "Yeah, best money can buy." His talent and passion became marred by external factors. But the fact remained that Cam Newton dominated college football last year, even winning the Heisman Trophy--the holy grail.

When the season began this year, with Cam now in North Carolina, we Auburn fans watched the first game with excitement, anxiety, and breath held. Young Trotter didn't disappoint. Despite being in the backseat, he's stepped up to his role leading the Auburn Tigers. He's shown character, intuition, and talent. Yet we've struggled as a team, and even lost last weekend to Clemson, as our defense struggles to find itself after the loss of Nick Fairley.

The commentators, either during the game or on ESPN during updates, all discuss the Tigers in terms of Cam Newton and the wake of his exit. Regardless of Trotter's talent, the focus remains on a ghost who's moved on.

I feel for Barrett Trotter. As a writer, I understand that we can't all be Hemingway, Dickens, Stephen King, or Dan Brown--successes in publishing that become the benchmark for every other writer. Regardless of our heart, talent, and uniqueness, every query letter sent to an agent is compared to one of the "biggies." It isn't enough to simply be good or even a great writer. You must be Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and--yes--Cam Newton. Almost super-human. Able to produce sales and publicity and branding. It's no longer about the beauty of words. Their poetry. Their ability to encapsulate, ignite, uplift, wrench. Case in point: Snooki has a book. The Situation has a book. Chelsea Handler has lots of books. Because they sell. It saddens me that one of the things I love the most--the written word--has sacrificed itself. I understand that publishers can't exist without money and, unfortunately, these books sell. But there is talent out there. It just needs a chance to throw the ball outside of a shadow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Floods and Periphery

Tonight, as I tucked my seven-year-old son in, his fan caught my eye. It's not a particularly interesting fan. In fact, it's the fan that was here when we moved in years ago. From the 1980's. Brass. Ugly. But it works. And as it spun on medium-high, I stared at it. Its blades blurred into a smear of cool air. Then I looked up, into the bottom of the top bunk of my son's bunk beds as I lay with him as he dozed off. I noticed that the fan--in my peripheral vision--became more defined. The blades no longer spun in a blur, but were individual. My eyes shot to the fan, then to the bunk above me. An experiment of sorts that continued to validate itself.

As I lay there, visions of recent events fell into this perspective. Just today, I worked along side a dozen high school and middle schoolers as they helped two "older" couples expel inches of water from their basements. The collective was a blur of buckets, water being tossed, furniture moved, mission accomplished. But as I observed each one of the kids, I noticed their smiles. Their enthsiasum despite spending an unexpected day off of school by helping their neighbors dump water methodically, tediously, one bucket at a time. Instead of seeing the haze of a downpour, I noticed the individual drops of rain splattering my windshield. How they are individual and only one. But together, they flood basements. And highways. And fields. And move concrete, and mounds of earth, and change landscapes.

In the chaos and wreckage, I was inspired.