Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Finding Where You Belong

There it sits afar off, like a lighthouse beckoning a lonely sailor. It shines and sings and as soon as you see it you know you're there.

Home.

What a powerful word! We all relate to it. We all have someplace we call "home". But what or rather where is home? Is it where we come from? Where we are? Or could it be someplace we've been? Somewhere we're going?

I have a feeling it's all of these.

My husband and I longed for a home by the sea for ten years before we were able to make that dream come true. We traveled to Savannah every year for a weekend get away. The first year we were ever able to take a week long vacation - a REAL vacation - we heeded the siren's call and we back to the city we loved. That was three years ago. I got a job while on vacation, found a house two weeks later, moved two weeks after that. Ten years, four months and a week or two and BAM! There we were. Where our hearts were. Where they are. Home.

I'm from metro-Atlanta and every time I go back to visit my mother, I go back home. She lives in the same house I grew up in. The first and only house she and my father bought together. It's filled with the ghosts of laughter and memory. The garden overflows with decades of tending. Muscadine vines clamber through pine trees and rain down fruit in the midst of storms.

Sixteen years ago I flew to Ireland. I'd longed for that far, green country since I was a little girl. The sky was overcast but as the plane cracked the clouds I saw a patchwork quilt of green. It was a very visceral response. I felt it in my gut. As soon as I stepped out of the airport and breathed in the air I knew I'd come home.



A longed for harbor.
My childhood.
A country I'd never been too.

All of these places are home to me. It has to be in our DNA. How can you walk into a city and immediately feel at home? How can a location tug at your heartstrings and beckon you in your dreams? How can you set foot on foreign soil and feel a stirring in your soul and know - just know - that you have finally found your way back home?

It would take a lot more room than I have for this post to postulate the genetics of place. It's a concept I've long contemplated and I'm sure I'll return to it again and again. Do we carry places in our genes? Do our cells quiver with the ancient lands of our ancestors? Was it my great-great-great-great-grandparents' essence that whispered to me as I felt the soft, Irish rain: "Welcome back?" If you're willing to delve into the esoteric and wonder at the mystic, I'm sure you could argue along with me that our bodies are far wiser than we are. If we only we'd listen deeper. If only we'd let our blood and our bones carry us home.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Things We Carry : Hurricane Irma Edition

Our things are in the spare room, cluttering the floor, spreading out like water burbling from the center of the floor. I gather my thoughts and meditate - really meditate - on why I brought what I brought. Evacuating from ones home isn't easy. It's not something you want to do. You struggle, you fret; your heart is a constant tug-of-war with your head: should I stay or should I go?

Things take on a new weight. Items that were once so necessary are left on the shelf; things tossed in in bins, shoved to the back of cabinets become priority. Bits of fabric from grandmothers get gently folded and tucked onto a basket. The tea you just blended, the coffee mugs you toast Sunday mornings with, a stack of old herbals originally from your mothers shelves all get carefully packed and lovingly loaded.

The drive is long but beautiful - this time we took back roads - and our destination eases into view a bit before seven in the evening.

Those canvas bags, those reusable grocery sacks get lined up, an army of memories, dreams and goals.

I stayed up past midnight wondering of their significance and what each paper, each book, each scrap of fabric wants from me. Why did I bring them? Why do they call to me and what jobs do do I need to do to encapsulate those erratic dreams into solid, achievable reality?

We're back home and all is well. Nothing was lost or damaged; we never even lost power. The wondering, however, is still here. With every folder unpacked, every book reshelved, I've asked myself again and again, "What do you want from me? Why did you have to go too?"

It's exciting, really, the digging. In reality, I do know the reasons. The verdict has always been with me, as long as these slips of paper and half tried recipes. But it's in the gathering that thoughts are solidified and I'm enjoying taking it slow, revisiting every idea and letting them whisper again their stories and remind me just why these things are so important that I'd carry them for thirty-plus years and 300 miles.

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Forgive the lateness of this post; we just got back into town after our second hurricane evacuation on three years. We have power but our Internet is down and I typed this up on my phone. Thankfully, our city was spared. My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the Caribbean and Florida who took the brunt of Hurricane Irma.
~ xxoo

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group September 2017 Edition

Good morning!

It's SEPTEMBER and I have to tell you, I'm happy to see it. Welcome to the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's the day we writers get together, post about our insecurities or send out a little inspiration into the Internet with the hopes of helping others. This group is the beautiful brain-child of Alex Cavanaugh. The marvelous co-hosts for September are: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant and Beverly Stowe McClure. Make sure you stop by their blogs to say hello and THANK YOU for their hard work and dedication.

Stop by the IWSG website and see what fun our fearless leaders have planned. Our new ANTHOLOGY contest kicks off TODAY and next month is the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity contest.
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SEPTEMBER'S QUESTION: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

The simple answer to this is, YES! Over the years, I was a confirmed fantasy author. I have a box in an attic in Atlanta that holds over 3,000 pages of a fantasy trilogy to prove it! Over and over again I tried to write about other worlds and magical creatures but nothing stuck. I love fantasy, I argued. I've always wanted my own dragon! I believe in fairies! Still, no good. The writing came across as stale, the plots regurgitated from Tolkien.

Then I took a little walk in the woods and found an overgrown path. I wandered down it and discovered that what I really loved were ghost stories, scary stories. Things that go bump in the night and follow you through the trees stories. So I dabbled in horror. Something clicked and I spat out three short stories and novellas. But...well, they still didn't quite feel right. What could I be missing?

One day I sat down to edit one of those novellas and gave my character a very, VERY Southern voice. Not accent, mind you; dialect is difficult to write in and almost always degrading. No, I had her use slang, idioms and colloquiums I was familiar with, illustrations that anyone from any other region may not be familiar with but would know were distinctly Southern. I put words together in a way that swayed with the pine trees and dredged up red clay.

And suddenly, like those little blocks in a game of Tetris, everything made sense. I realized I'd been fighting my voice for years, for fear of being seen as ignorant or fake or too "down home" and innocent for anyone to take me seriously as a writer. Truth is, I was ashamed of my Southern heritage which was to say I was ashamed of myself. It wasn't until I made peace with that and accepted myself that I was able to weave words together in a way that not only made sense but rang true. And that's when my words leaped off the page and surprised me.

What about you? What have your words done that surprised you? Have you ever had to face yourself in the mirror of your stories in order to make peace with something that was holding you back?

Summer may have fled in terms of calendar but here in the South it's still hot as blazes! Still, I'm back from my blog sabbatical and ready to work. I finished a novel in June and finished editing the first draft in August. I've started rewrites and hope to have a shiny first draft by the end of this month. After that? Well, that's the scary part.

Summer Reading Review

Confession time : Back in January, I made a glorious list of books to read. The list consisted of fiction I'd never read before and re-reading books on the writing craft. Some of the latter I've read before, others I hadn't. I was doing really well. Until Summer.

The reading list got tossed to the breeze while I did a bit of novel writing, editing, and some good, old fashioned summer-ing. We didn't go anywhere. We just spent our weekends about town and at the beach. It's been wonderful. When I have picked up books, they've been of the cozy mystery type (my guilty pleasure). And I've been enjoying every minute of it! Hopefully I can pick the list back up in the next few months, maybe even play catch up, but here's the thing I learned: don't be afraid to let life get in the way. There too many wonderful experiences to enjoy out there that may be lost to lists and plans. Don't give up on dreams, mind you; just be open enough to let life in the door from time to time. Most to-do lists will wait a little bit while you run wild and free!

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I want to apologize for not responding to the comments on my past three posts. My only excuse is that I was swallowed up in Summer and simply let life get in the way. Still, it was rude of me and I hope none of you took the lack of response personally.

That being said, I'm currently taking a class on Wednesday mornings and won't be near my computer until after 1pm. I'll be returning visits and responding to comments after that! Thank you for understanding.

Here's to Autumn, a respite from the heat, new writing adventures and forward motion!