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Dear Writers,

I’m in deep.

Can’t sleep, can’t eat… as much, can’t focus on anything else. I’m going to bed well after midnight and waking up by 4:30am raring to go, excited to get back to my hard uncomfortable computer seat and write and edit, hone and cut and fix.

My butt is numb half the time but I barely notice. I’m writing and I’m in love… with my characters, with the process, with creating something outside of myself.

I’m so tired, but like my character who has started a passionate affair that is as good for her as it is bad, neither of us can stop. We are addicted.

It has always been this way for me; whether writing bad teenage poetry, heartfelt essays, journals on my children’s journey to life or longer works of fiction, when I’m in, I’m in. I love that moment when you realize something great is happening, your story is evolving and you’re into the action. You may be writing it, but you can’t wait to find out what happens next.

It’s a genuine gift to enjoy the process of writing; the agony, the thrill, the total obsessive consumption that has you by the balls and keeps squeezing no matter how many gives you say.

Yet it’s totally reclusive and really the height of narcissism. Apparently, I prefer to just hang out with the thoughts in my head, the stories and people of my own creation than do anything else. What is more alienating and totally self-absorbed than that?

But there’s always a rub. You’d like to hope that if you spend so much time writing, you would actually do it well. But there’s no guarantee of that at all. To enjoy the process is gift enough but to actually expect to be talented? To have enough writing chops to rise above? Well, that’s just arrogance, stupidity, and a necessary aspiration.

Because tangled in all the insecurity and dedication, the loving and the hating is the hope that one day you just might hit on something good enough to rate. Something that will give others a moment of enjoyment or a secret thrill; will keep them on their toes, at the edge of their seats, reaching for tissues or whatever emotion you’re trying to convey.

Because a writer wants readers, needs them, and we also want our work to be recognized. You can’t sit for that many hours, days, weeks, months by yourself and then not crave worldwide domination, I mean some peer recognition. Not just your mother or your friends nodding and clapping – although where would we be without those claps and nods? – but the writing community; which if you’re relatively unpublished translates to an editor or an agent, and of course worldwide domination.

But no matter about that. It’s the carrot on the stick before us, a hope, a pipe dream, but onward we charge because we need to write. There is no other choice.

We are in deep.

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My grandma may be dead but she’s still inspiring

I’m sitting here waiting for inspiration to hit me. I’m ready inspiration, come and get me. But no, the only thing here with me is my cat, rubbing his head annoyingly against the top of the screen. I give him a little shove, but clearly, he doesn’t get it and pads even closer to me, intent on laying his body across my keyboard. As if I didn’t have enough obstacles.

Uh, move it buddy.

Seriously?

I’m struggling to come up with meaningful thoughts to put out there; a moment that resonates, that tugs at the heart stings with a twang, a story with a moral that makes you really think about life, or the real coup, being able to give you a good laugh, the kind that can change your mood for just a second.

Instead I just sit here, staring at the screen until I’m almost looking through it, waiting for one of those cool 3-D images to pop out at me. START TYPING. THINK, DAMN IT. YOU CAN DO IT.

I’ve been feeling so numb lately, and not just because of the Raynaud’s that turns my feet and  fingers white and cold as a cup of milk. Could it be winter blues? Or, is this the next stage of my mid-life crisis? I went from feeling a little sexy to a little bit conflicted, and now feeling a little dead? It happened so fast I didn’t even find an appropriate outfit to wear to the funeral. But I guess the old gym pants will do. It’s how I lived, and I’m nothing if not consistent.

But now I’m just being dramatic. And I can tell already, my mother is hating this essay. Don’t worry, mom, it’s just a moment. This too shall pass, as my dead grandmother used to say. She’s looking at me now from a picture across the room; her head thrown back in joy, even with the shower cap on her head which she must have forgotten she was wearing when my husband snapped the picture, because there is no way she would be caught dead in a picture with a shower cap. Ah, the irony.

Gone two years now, she looks radiant, even in the cap, with me by her side and my three boys lined up like beautiful, dutiful progeny; the future, captured in the present which is now the past.

I miss her. I do. Even thinking it now brings that drippy sentimentality to my eyes making them leak at the edges. Looking around, I see some of her treasures glittering: a ceramic dog that was her mother’s, an ugly turn-of-the-century figurine couple mid step, pretty, useless little tea cups on display. There are other things, but that’s all they are. Things. And who needs them really, except that they were hers.

The real gift she left me was living long enough to have a real presence in my life. To make a difference in who I was and am. To have a voice so strong, I can still hear her throaty rasp so clearly…

“Get your head out of your arse and stop this nonsense!”

I smile. Already I feel warmer.

She’s got me thinking.

Going with the glamour hat over the shower cap. You're welcome, Grandma.

Going with the glamour hat over the shower cap. You’re welcome, Grandma.