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A Poem: “Shame”

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SHAME 

News reports that I’m trafficked,
my heart denotes that it’s racketed.

Street owns me, prostrates.
Bends me to knees,
for money that touches my hand
but never reaches my pocket.

Fettered and tethered in invisible chains,
puts me on display. Never to be seen.
That’s shame.

Wanted to be a teacher,
daydreamed my nights in books.
Now waits for a sandwich from the preacher,
while reading street signs
and the promise on cig’ packs.

Mom hooked on crack and reefer
allowed uncle to become my creeper.
In a haze, turned her gaze.

Easy prey, that’s what I was. Home?
Not enough love to lift me above,
the grip of a pimp.
That’s shame.

Need to escape.
Shooting up liquid heaven,
can’t make the evade.
Arms marked in lines;
My scars of dying to live.

I’m a commodity—an item. A purchase.
Change it! No demand, no supply needed.
But, the Johns drive by.

Buy my time and my pain is your crime.
That’s shame.

 

 

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Today I can have a pumpkin latte . . .

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It’s officially fall. We all know this, except for those that profit from the gratuitous, pre-extension of holidays. For many weeks, commercially, Halloween, fall, and even Christmas, have been pre-emptively pushed down my throat. Stressed by the never-ending list of back-to-school requirements and requests, my mind has mutated this pre-mature “let’s get ready for the holidays” mindset into a beast that waits, ready to insert itself into my busy back-to-school month.

So, I vented my indignation against this unwanted pressure in the only way I could think of: boycotting. Did Starbucks notice that I had sworn off anything pumpkin flavored until true fall? No. And the local department store did not take down their Christmas decorations because I openly gawked in dismay. (It was very early September and I was shopping for back-to-school socks!) And yeah, just days ago, that was me shaking my head, entering the grocery store. Its doors flanked with pumpkins on one side and watermelons on the other. I bought the watermelon out of rebellion. After all, I was still wearing summer flip-flops. My right to enjoy a season or holiday in its proper time frame is being taken away.

Sometimes it feels like I’m running a race and just as I near the end banner, it’s being taken down and replaced for the next race. One that has already started without me. The week before school, and for a couple weeks after, days are packed with deadlines, never-ending packets of paperwork, new schedules/commitments, and a myriad of other changes that need tending to ASAP. I need to be present and focused for that onslaught, not distracted by the next busy race. I mean really, pumpkin spice is in everything food now, starting as early as July.

You might be asking, “What the heck does any of this have to do with a writing blog?”

Because I have been struggling, that’s why. I’m diverting my frustrations toward the poor pumpkins that represent so much hurry. And, I have not worked on my current novel in over a month. There, I said it. I feel a mix of shame and regret to admit that, but it’s true nonetheless. I could produce a long list of things I did complete, or have almost completed, but won’t. Perhaps venting against the commercial industry is merely a self-soothing way to lessen my guilt while allowing my writing to fall victim to a busy month. Eh, but still.

IMG_8282So now, it is officially fall. I can sense a return to “normalcy” in the household (if that even exists). My kids’ schedules & my volunteering days are plotted. Their afterschool events are aligned, the long back-to-school nights have come and gone, and the avalanche of back-to-school paperwork has been completed and returned. Now, I can return to writing. But first, I must tackle the laundry (this is what just a few days of falling behind looks like)!!! Oh, and my writing space—that is another blog posting all together though! IMG_8612

 

 

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My first interview (kinda) . . .

Well, I was interviewed once by a very rural newspaper. I’d won first place in a national recipe contest. That was a cool experience, but my author Q & A interview with WOW! was surprisingly awesome. Feel free to check it out! There are some writing tips included, and perhaps more personal insights than I should’ve divulged. Here!

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The above books I ordered with some of the prize money!

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The naming game . . .

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My writing has hit a wall! One made out of colorful Post-its, carefully pinned to the corkboard above my desk. I’m at that point in the story where it doesn’t feel right to continue calling the characters by generic names. That worked in the beginning for practicality and momentum. Not now.

This became painfully obvious when I introduced my lead character’s sidekick. Dialogue was stifled and lacking. Liveliness missing. He needed to be named, like all things created.

From this fantasy story’s conception, he’s been called simply, “Red Man.” It’s a literal observation. Similarly, other characters had/have temporary names, e.g. Yoda-like dude (short, wise, and speaks his mind). So, I pulled out the baby-naming books and my overflowing “naming” file—full of scraps scribbled with cool-ish names that I’ve come across. I find them everywhere: books, magazines, movies, the shoe boxes at Kohl’s, name tags of service workers, and even the yearly unclaimed money/property register. I do, however, draw the line at searching the obituaries. (That’s actually a story idea in the making, hmmm . . .)

But nada. Again, I’m at a standstill. I need the perfect name and it eludes me. A solid and strong name, perhaps one from long ago that can be resurrected and recycled.

I’d love to hear from other writers! What is your character-naming process? I’m especially curious how fantasy and/or other uncommon world genre writers come up with character names.

 

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Difference Between a Hobby and a Calling

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For the longest time, my husband has considered my writing a hobby, and often refers to his enjoyment of fishing as a comparison. This infuriates me, because writing, to me, is so much more. I believe it to be my calling. Something I don’t necessarily want to do, but rather its nagging and berating calls me to respond. To act, to write.

Anyway, after considering the matter, I’ve realized that perhaps I was not fully understanding the comparison. Indignation aside, I had quite the epiphany. What if I was only applying my own assumptions/perceptions of what fishing meant to me? I failed to understand what fishing meant to hubby. So, I thought about it . . .

He loves throwing a line into stilled water, watching the undulating ripples, anxiously awaiting that pull from the other end. He calls this time his peace. Mind roaming, relaxed, and embracing nature. So, I get that now. Maybe that was the intended comparison. I was simply hung up on the word “hobby.” Maybe I expected a more elegant lexicon to acknowledge my efforts.

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I mean, writing is a very internal process, requiring lots of snapping synapses to flick just right. It is hard, frustrating sometimes, conjuring up new worlds, or characters that actually think and feel and act in all sorts of crazy, human-ish ways. It can be exhausting. Whereas, fishing is an external interaction in the living, tangible environment—outside of self. Yet, in the end, both can provide the same result: a feeling of unawareness to the walls of everyday life that otherwise enclose us.

Sometimes, I think we all get hung up on the precise meaning of words, adding in our own (mis)perceptions too. We don’t stop to realize that not everyone shares the same experiences and interpretations.

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung
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So, I won my first writing contest…

Contest Winners

Well, I won second place. However, it feels like I won it all, because, the true competition was within myself. See, I’ve been dabbling in writing for the last year and half, or so, unsure and uncertain—basically fearful of immerging myself completely. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I was wasting time that could be more productively spent elsewhere? Thankfully, the biggest “what if” unwavered: What if I don’t try?

This spring, after months of abandoning my writing, and then mentally beating myself up for not writing, I had an honest discussion between my heart and head. It boiled down to one statement: Either commit yourself to writing, or quit. I could not accept the latter. I just couldn’t let it go (I’m a bit stubborn). I’d heard the promised whisper of what should be, coming to me when I needed it most. Writing helped me through a very difficult time. And there I was, neglecting it and its purpose—and ultimately, myself. That had to change. I needed to banish the doubtful, self-contrived comments to the farthest reaches of my comprehension.

I also made the decision to re-start one of my several stories (all in various stages of development) and stick with it until the very end. No more daydreaming between various characters and worlds (unless something just happens to pop in my head). I’d be resolute, dedicated. I have to say, this obvious method is working, much to my chagrin.

Anyway, late one evening, while goofing off, I googled “writing contest.” I just happened to stumble upon Women On Writing! (WOW!) and saw that they had a quarterly flash fiction contest ending soon. From nowhere, a vision played out, a flash. Immediately, I wrote it down.

My inspiration: “The fair nymphs of this isle are in wonderful tribulation…” ~Francis, Lord Rawdon. I had recently heard/read of that famous British Army quote, from the Revolutionary War. It bothered me, or more precisely the story behind the quote’s meaning did. It angered me. Not because atrocities of that nature didn’t happen, or still don’t, but because it had occurred so freely on American soil. So, I envisioned being a mother with a young daughter to protect, and from that place of desperation, “Revolution” was born. And, in fact, it may become a full novel someday. 😉 Revolution
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Human Trafficking

A few months back, my book club’s theme for the month was Human Trafficking. I’d been hearing more of trafficking in the news lately, as most people have. It’s the latest crusade among many celebrities. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the depths of those words, “human trafficking,” and what it could mean on a microscopic level, until I read several books on the topic. I’m bereft at what I’ve come to know.

This insidious beast, some call it slavery, snatches up the youth, either in a literal kidnapping or beguiling its victims into servitude. The use of humans for the benefit of others is not a new concept. Perhaps, I’m overwhelmed that we as a society, have yet to evolve enough as beings to recognize the audacity in allowing slavery, in any form, to continue. Without a doubt, this will not be an easy battle. However, awareness is the beginning, and that is happening!

I wrote a poem, “Shame.” It represents only one facet of trafficking; for it hides many faces. In my poem/story, I wanted to show that what appears to be a choice, could actually be the tragedy of circumstance, and ironically—lack of choices. And, ultimately, the message is: without the malicious need for bodies, there would not be profiting made from the supply of human beings. The shame is in the circumstances, the failure of protection, and the eye of society that looks the other way when culpable “Johns” purchase a young soul.

“And thereon every child I met, who has been violated and abused I made sure the child understood that he/she is the one who is wronged and being a victim is not something one should be ashamed of.”
~Sunitha Krishnan http://sunithakrishnan.blogspot.com/

Below are the three books discussed during book club that month. If pressed to choose one of the three to read, I’d recommend A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison. It is fiction, threaded into a compelling, quick read that pulls you into the story and keeps you there, while exposing the various heartbreaking, real-life scenarios and aspects of trafficking. Please learn more, and be aware!

walksunRAgirlsold

https://www.dhs.gov/topic/human-trafficking

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/human-trafficking/

https://polarisproject.org/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/taking-a-photo-of-your-hotel-room-could-help-save-a-trafficking-victims-life_us_57714091e4b0f168323a1ed7

 

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Falling off the Wagon

Yes, I have fallen from that bumpy, rickety novel-writing wagon! It’s not such a far fall, really. It’s quite easy to accomplish when you’re not holding on. Just a small bump in the road or a tree blocking the way, that’ll do it. I could list a zillion real-life reasons: kids, my first dental crown (ugh!), keeping up with cooking, cleaning, and household duties, this blog/social media, kids, and kids. However, the reasons are but glorified excuses. I should’ve been holding on, keeping at least a pencil in my hand or a finger on the keyboard.

So, for ten days or more, absolutely nothing has progressed in my current novel. My characters are frozen in time, trapped, awaiting the keystroked words to come save them, carry them forward. Thankfully, I’ve developed the awesome habit of outlining, and with the help of many, many Post-it notes, their story is safe and ready for the telling.

I felt a pang of guilt last night when unwrapping my nightly morsel of Dove dark chocolate. It revealed the following message: “Keep the promises you make to yourself.” Yeah, I had promised to write every single day. But then, I have to allow myself some softness. Because looking at the myriad of excuses, I did accomplish a lot of somethings—just not writing. Although, I did write a little poem. In the end, I suppose we all have to decide what to do with the time we are given. (I think I just re-worded my favorite Gandalf quote!) 😉

Today is a new day, and I will begin again!

“Man starts over again every day, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows.” ― Emil Cioran

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Know Them as They Grow

To Know Them as They Grow

Wow, what a beautiful message! I think everyone struggles with being present in the moment. But think about how especially vulnerable the moment is when a child’s heart is involved. ❤

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Add words into your child’s daily life . . .

A couple of years back, I decided to add a “word board” to our already cluttered kitchen wall. A nice visual to gaze upon over a bowl of morning cereal, reminding the kids of school. Although, I still read aloud nightly to my children, it’s not enough to combat the increasing infiltration of electronics insidiously creeping into our home—and the school as well. So, with a discarded, glass-less frame and some purchased dry-erase backing, I made the board you see here for less than five bucks.

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I began by adding, or updating, two or three words weekly. It wasn’t long before I was scribbling meaningful quotes, mantras, or scripture as well. I want to foster kindness, empathy and other attributes amongst my children, and I believe words have the power to do that. (For a short time, I added a Spanish word-of-the-week, but this didn’t go over so well.) While the weekly “word board” talk about philosophical meaning and/or the definition discussion isn’t mind-blowing, it is often engaging and usually near the mark. Regardless, they are thinking!

Honestly, my kids now seem acceptingly indifferent to the board, and have come to expect it to be updated regularly. Of course, they don’t recall the meaning of every word that’s been presented, but many words, especially those that we’ve made everyday connections to, have become part of their vocabulary. And that, makes it so worth it!

What’s their all-time favorite word? Insolent: it is heard quite often here 😉