I’ve written two blog posts in the two years that I’ve had this website. I’ve also let my domain mapping lapse for most of this year. For a while, I stopped checking in on Wattpad. My stories, and my book, have continued their residence there. Cherries is nearing half a million reads, although the overall statistics lead me to believe that the book has been read by roughly 7000 individuals. It’s a small number, right? But it’s also incredible. Seven THOUSAND people have read my book start to finish.
I’m so sorry about the typos, everyone. I tried.
Every once in a while, I think of coming back to this. Of dedicating myself. Back in February, I had the opportunity to go on a two week vacation. I woke up to the sound of the ocean, the weather was sunny and warm during the days and cooled pleasantly in the evenings. I had no Wifi or cell service and I read six books. I couldn’t check blogs and websites and the godforsaken Explore tab on Instagram every six minutes. It was refreshing and when I returned to my day-to-day I didn’t want to go back to old habits. They form with so little thought, but require so much effort to break.
I told you once – it isn’t hard to figure out when, go back through my mega blog archive – I told you once that I like quotes, I’m surrounded by postcards and magnets with positive thoughts. Often, they’re necessary. Once, they saved my life, giving me the courage to make it through months of my mind working against itself. In some ways I’m beyond that, but I’m also not. I need the reminders that surround me. To be kind to myself, and to forgive myself, and to start each day anew without guilt and baggage for the perceived failures of the last. And I don’t get this right! And I hold it against myself. And then I look at the words on the (often metaphorical, sometimes literal) wall, and try again.
So I haven’t become the person that part of me thinks I should be, but the person that I am gets to be forgiven for this, and although it’s hard, let’s say I accept myself right now. I spent too long on Instagram today, and yesterday, aaaand… all year. That happened and I can’t change it. Maybe I can change it for the rest of this afternoon. Maybe for tomorrow, and the next week.
I don’t know if I’ll be back in a week or a month or another year when I get a reminder that my domain mapping will expire. I can tell you (hypothetical, invisible reader, strange Bot from someone’s binary code) that I’d like to edit Cherries and put it out in the world as something a little bit different. A nice little (enormous) ebook. I’d like to write another book. Even blog consistently, if only to tell you about amazing books in the world that I didn’t write but had the privilege of reading.
It feels like I need to give something of myself, although let’s be honest: I have. This is giving. But if you want something else, I have something else.
I’ve just finished reading Dan Simmons’s Hyperion Cantos series. The breadth of knowledge and planning necessary to write a series such as this is astounding. Placed in a far technological future and spread out across the galaxy, the first book, Hyperion, follows six pilgrims and tells the stories of how they came to the same pilgrimage in the style of The Canterbury Tales. It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. When I finished it, I rushed to the internet with a burning question: is there more?
There is. A four book series, with the first two and second two books paired. Threads that Simmons introduced in Hyperion weave into the last pages of the fourth book, The Rise of Endymion. The books were not just entertaining sci-fi to me. The overall message, the relationships, the artistic care and knowledge and thought given to the philosophy espoused in its pages made me yearn for the realization of this fictional world on our small, precious one. There’s a lot of insecurity and pain in this world. Fiction such as Simmons’s, all fiction, all art, can help us empathize more with others, to understand, to bring more love, kindness and patience to those around us. And to ourselves.
So yeah, I haven’t blogged in a while. But for today, this is what I have to say. I’ll be your (and my, always my) positive-thought champion, unlikely reader. Don’t add to the pain in this world by inflicting it upon yourself. Yesterday happened and it’s over. We can’t control tomorrow. Today, you deserve love, understanding, patience, kindness. And you can give that to yourself.
I picked Mary Oliver’s book American Primitive off the shelf. A random flip and I had a poem to start this off with, maybe a quote. Writers and readers love that, right?
Maybe you’re above quotes. I have a collection of magnets, mugs and notebooks that prove I’m not.
The poem fate chose was Blossom.
In April / the ponds / open / like black blossoms,
It made me think of this time of year, when they close, ice spreading across the water like a living filigree. It made me think of spring thawing, when lake ice breaks into small slivers, none supporting the other, each scratching and hissing when it passes the rest. When the sound of spring is also the sound of collapse, of winter’s reluctant capitulation.
That seemed too much for inspiration. Modernity distracted me. I Instagrammed a hat I’m knitting.
Isn’t it pretty?
I returned to the book. Flipped through at random, chose a passage with my eyes shut.
The poem fate chose was still Blossom. The passage:
What / we know: that time / chops at us all like an iron / hoe, that death / is a state of paralysis.
Honestly, fate? Are you kidding me?
I can’t offer you any wisdom that compares to this. All I can offer is that you find the entirety of this poem, by one of my favorites, by one of the greats. Find anything by Mary Oliver. Read it. It is a balm for your soul, a salve for any of your ailments.
Not measuring up when the scale tops out with someone like Mary Oliver is quite all right by me.
They say a woman should reveal neither her age nor her weight. I don’t know who ‘they’ are. I hope I don’t hang out with them too often. They sound boring, honestly, and like they’re surrounded by boring people in turn.
My personal rule, age and weight be damned, is that you shouldn’t give out your Social Security number, or your phone number, if you can avoid it. You’ll end up with a terrible credit rating and constant calls that start with the sound of a ship’s horn blowing in the distance.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON A CRUISE! ACT NOW.
I know. Poor sucker that is me, I’ve never yet gone on any of those free cruises.
I started thinking about this—cruise ships and all—because I was thinking of Charlotte Church. Voice of an Angel, that kind of thing. I don’t know what she’s up to nowadays, but I could look it up.
I won’t. Neither Charlotte Church nor cruise ships are the point. They’re springboards. Or digressions. A butterfly that fluttered through my brain and turned out to be a candy-wrapper.
What I was saying is that Charlotte Church published an autobiography as a teenager. I remember reading about it in People magazine, and declaring myself a failure. We were close in age and here she was with a vibrant music career and an autobiography. What was I doing? Studying Algebra?
Why was Charlotte Church getting published? That was supposed to be me. That’s the first time I remember feeling that way, but like those loose-tooth dreams we all seem to get, it recurred. When Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie ended up on bookshelves. When Hilary Duff and Britney Spears got published. When the Jenner sisters released a book, dipping their pedicured toes into one more of ten thousand entrepreneurial ponds.
I suspect an extraordinary number of those books were remaindered. They weren’t critical successes. They were, in all probability, ghost-written. Not by me. I can’t decide if I’m sad to say that. I doubt people will remember these books, and none of these women, whatever talents they possess and careers they pursue, is likely to be remembered first and foremost as a writer.
Fifteen years ago, I saw Charlotte Church’s book review in People magazine and thought, That should be me.
I want that to be me.
A lot has changed in the publishing industry, and in my personal life, in that time. Ebooks and ereaders dominate the marketplace, and I am now able to legally drink and vote (although combining the two activities is frowned upon). Writers who got their start on fanfiction sites are now New York Times bestsellers, and I now know not to color-coordinate my outfits from head-to-toe. Big changes and small changes everywhere, and yet some things remain the same.
I still care about writing. I’m still telling stories, and I still, definitely, achingly, want it to be me in that magazine. I want you to care about my stories the way that I do.
It’s selfish and vulnerable and true. I have neither fame nor fortune to guide my way. I have more than two decades of reading and writing and wanting it driving me. I want to tell good stories. I want them to speak to you.
It may never be me. But I’m going to work for it. I’m going to try.
After all, enjoyable as it sounds, I can’t spend the rest of my life on free cruises.