Making a little photographic inspirational art for book two. Wander is my muse.
There is a lot of hubbub right now about the publishing of Go Set a Watchman. I honestly didn’t know too much about Go Set, it seemed to be spun as a follow up of the first book but after reading some articles I feel doubtful about that. And as reviews came trickling in it became clear that our beloved Atticus is now a racists and Scout is a bitter woman telling the story, something many of us don’t want to see.
A friend sent me an article to read that cleared up some questions for me. I was fully unaware that Go Set was actually a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. The author of the article uses what Harper Lee did (the rewriting of her fully finished novel into a wholly different story) as a lesson to authors about checking your ego at the door and trusting your editor/readers.
It is no joke when we write, we are opening our veins and bleeding out onto paper (or laptops). We LOVE our book, we adore our characters and we desperately want everyone to feel the same we do. So when constructive criticism or a less than favorable review comes, we clutch our hearts and stagger to the ground in a weeping mass or we brandish our swords and spar back. I’ve seen authors responding to Goodreads reviews, angry and insulting and quite frankly, looking like total idiots.
Will I read Watchman? No. It doesn’t seem to be the story the author intended. But have I learned something from this? Yes! I need to work at opening myself up to critique and make sure I don’t fly to defend the stories I write. By doing so I may miss important feedback that could rework the story into something magnificent. Harper Lee’s book was rejected at first, with her editor’s direction she wrote a beloved American classic. Will my books become classics, doubtful. But will having an open mind and taking to heart the feedback of readers and editors make my book a better book? Absolutely.
Dear Friend, I didn’t mean to go away. At the time of my whirlwind of self-involved disappointment, I missed seeing that this would be your last year. When I finally woke up from my frazzle tizzy rat-race life, I was weeks too late. You were already on your way out, one foot out the door. I would never see you again. I didn’t get to say goodbye.
When you told me of your diagnosis my heart wanted to be with you till the very end. But instead I became absent, tied too tightly to a job that demanded too much and gave so little. I let it get in the way of everything, in the way of you. And I’m so sorry.
So I talk to you in my head and I tell you I love you and say I’m sorry over and over. And I try not to be bitter or angry with myself. You were one of the best people I ever knew and I know you would never judge me. But I can’t help but wonder if you noticed my abandonment. If it hurt you. Even though I was assured by your family, I still worry that you never knew how much I loved you.
So I love you. And I will think of you in those times when I wonder about being the best mother to my children and of following my dreams. When trying to be the kindest and most affirming person I can. And, of course, while eating oatmeal.
I was cruising around Pinterest today and came across this quote, “There are people who would love to have your bad days.”
Very true, I thought. People out there would love to have what I consider a bad day. It would be a pain free day, or a day without abuse, a day without fear, a day with loud but living children-a better day than they are capable of having. Then I felt a little bad about all the times I was frustrated with my day and promised myself I would be more patient and easy going.
But then I thought about the quote just a little further. I think sentiments like this can cause problems. See, I think it is important not to invalidate our own troubles because someone out there has it worse. Why can’t we can have perspective that others have it much worse than we do while still having sympathy for our own troubles?
Nothing makes me more irritated than when someone would take my half muttered complaint about being a temporary single parent and compare me to the life of military families. Yeah, they have it a ton worse, but knowing that doesn’t make it easier for me. It will just make me feel guilty for feeling bad about my current struggle (btw, just an example, though that was something that was said when my husband was gone for 6 weeks while I was working full time and taking care of three small children).
I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. I recall a podcast I listened to by the Mighty Mur Lafferty where she talked about depression. At one point she said something like “Your amputated leg doesn’t make the knife in my arm hurt any less.” and I wanted to applaud. And it shouldn’t make us feel better. Someone having more misery than we do shouldn’t give us comfort, how f-ed up would that be if it did?
It seems like we hear of someone’s troubles and we either have to discount them or compete with them or solve them (I tend to be a solver, I think it irks some of my friends. But I digress). We can be so full of judgements and well meaning advice givers that we don’t realize our attempts to give what we consider much needed perspective, just makes the recipient feel all the worse. I think women sort of feel like shit all the time on our own, we don’t need your two cents to make us feel worse. We do it well all by ourselves.
So what is the point of this post? I guess I’m saying – stop judging everyone, stop judging yourself, find some perspective, have sympathy for others and yourself and then go drink some wine and eat chocolate.
Bad day solved.
(disclaimer. I didn’t have a bad day myself. I had a tired exhausting day that was irritating at times and great at times. I’m just ranting about the quote.)
Feeling sadness for my friend who left our world this yesterday. I’ve been mourning her for two weeks, since I got the call that she was transitioning. Transitioning. How I love her and how sad I am for how much time I missed with her this last year. I thought I’d have more time. How did I manage to miss it all?
Perspective is so important. Our life takes over and smothers us under huge blankets of responsibility and obligations. We occasionally lift a corner to press our lips to the fresh air and draw it in deeply before the too thick blanket of all the things that don’t really matter comes falling back over our face. Don’t let your life smother you and snuff out all the little joys you used to have time for. We sacrifice our happiness to all those distractions because, frankly, disappointing ourselves is the least of all evils. Disappointing others is much more painful. So we hunker down under that blanket that was once made of tasks and activities but is now knitted pieces of regret and resentment, and we try to remember to breathe and try to forget what it was like not to live under the blanket.
Cast off the blanket! Because no matter what that blanket is made of, if you miss out on one single important moment, it is never going to be worth it. And if you don’t believe me, take it from the lips of those who are at the end of their life. This article lists the top regrets of the dying and none of them are about having a bigger house, making more money or disappointing a boss.
I will try to honor my friend by having the best life I can and to remember to enjoy the moments, because, you have only that. Just moments. Life is short, live it the best you can. No regrets.
(When I found out my friend had passed, after a tough two weeks for everyone who loved her, I went to the beach and made a little memorial of stacked stones for her. It seemed the thing to do. The photo is found below along with the lyrics of one of Amanda Palmer’s songs Lost. When I learned my friend had days left to live I naturally fell into music. Music is my way to cope. Amanda’s music has helped me through tough times before so I went to Twitter and asked her followers tell me which song was the right song for grieving. Lost was the answer. Lost is the right answer. Because, truly, no one is lost forever. I love you Marcia. Forever.)
This is a photo from our recent family vacation. It was dusk and the kids were wild so we took them out to the beach to run. The boys headed into the water to play while my daughter dashed back and forth trying to dodge the crashing waves.
She is a little handful. She is smart, sassy and regardless of how pretty she is, she gives the best stink-eye ever. This girl loves to play with her friends and when her friends are not around, she will make friends. She is not picky. It can be an old lady, the check-out person at the store or a gaggle of first grade boys. But more than making friends, I think she is looking for an audience. Those weeks when she continually gets on the color red, or has the “sad crayon” note come home from school, her teacher shakes her head and with a resigned look she says, “She’s just going to grow up to be on television, I’m convinced.” she smiles.
The one thing I worry about her is that she is a bit of a chameleon. If her friend is afraid of water, she will pretend to be afraid of water (if that friend is older or has a bigger personality). She goes along, picks up on irritating habits from the boys and is all around impressionable. But she is five. I guess all kids are impressionable.
I’ve been talking to her about being her own person and I hope that she’ll listen. Clearly she is a bit too young to really understand, but so long as we keep talking about it, I hope she will take my lesson to heart. Especially since I’m a self proclaimed “non-conformist” and have been forever, I hoping my daughter will grow to be the same. It kept me away from drugs, alcohol and most negative influences. I want her to grow into an independent, smart girl who thinks for herself.
She is my wild crazy fierce little girl and I love her. I only hope she doesn’t age me too quickly.