Friday, June 29, 2007

Are you ready...

...for the future because it is already here and for a mere $250,000 you can strap on a pack and be Rocketman or Rocketgal. Nothing like a few hundred thousand dollars stashed in petty cash in the bureau drawer, huh?

Russia has decided to put their mark on the landscape with a jeweled diamond tower that will reportedly dominate the landscape and use the sun's light to illuminate the structure with faceted panels. I have to say the artist's renderings are beautiful and I would not mind living near this solar tower. I also like the idea of using solar energy in a more innovative and useful way.

If only the short-sighted people who live in the plains states, and anywhere there is sufficient wind rippling vast fields of grain and grass, would reconsider their position on wind power. I agree that a field of beautiful wind turbines is vastly superior to the current method of generating electricity with smoke stacks belching black (or even white) clouds of smoke or the smell of a trash burning power plant like the fiscal disaster that dominated the south side of Columbus, Ohio. It was one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time but fell far short of everyone's expectations, especially those people down wind of it. The south side always had an interestingly fetid odor when the wind was just right and the sewer ripened to fetid perfection, but the power plant added something more--a stench thick enough to chew.

The future is indeed here and it's time to focus on making it sustainable for generations to come, even if you don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed to take your turn with a small rocket engine strapped to your back.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Breaking barriers

For months I have written and submitted essays to Common Ties. Today, I got my reward for all the hard work. They bought one of my essays.

Many of the essays and stories I have written and submitted to them have been the product of a lot of hard work and emotional mining. They ignored me. Since they receive so many submissions they don't have the time to respond to everyone. Being ignored is the equivalent of a form rejection. I've been having some difficulty coming up with something to write for their latest topic: weddings. I didn't have anything good to say about them, although I've been in several weddings, designed and made dresses and gowns for weddings, and even appeared in two and the deadline was looming fast. I didn't have anything to say. Imagine that (and no comments from the peanut gallery, please). Tuesday morning I still didn't have anything but I kept freewriting and thinking on paper about what I had to say about weddings. I find it difficult enough to pull out the sad emotions or even be inspirational on purpose, and I couldn't even rely on that. Then something hit me.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief. I finally had a hook, time to bait it. And so I wrote and wrote and wrote and edited and wrote. I was late starting work Tuesday morning but I felt what I was writing was more important than earning a paycheck and I could make up the time (and I did until 2 a.m.) I came up with The Five Stages of Wedding Grief. Common Ties bought the essay. Then came the fun part, and I don't mean contracts and details.

I have a small keepsake album that turned up in the things I brought back with me from Ohio in February when I went to visit my father. It holds pictures of my first wedding when I was young and innocent. For the first time since I bought it, I used the scanner on my HP 4-in-1 and scanned all the pictures in the album and a few more that I also found in the Ohio things. I won't post all the pictures of the wedding until Common Ties decides which picture they will use to illustrate the essay on Tuesday, July 3rd (did I mention that's the day my words and picture will hit the web?), but I thought you might enjoy seeing some other pictures I found, including one my mother sent me by Priority Mail a couple days ago that's part of a Xmas card I made when I was six years old and in the first grade. Yes, I actually wrote what's on the front of the card and, yes, I actually did know how to write in cursive in the first grade. I scanned a few other pictures and they are here.

At the ripe old age of five months, just two days after my husband was born.

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My parents and me when Dad was stationed at Fort Hayes and before we went to Germany

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My husband-to-be and me on New Year's Eve 1973

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My mother's brother, Bob, and his wife, Lois. I'll bet they don't remember being quite so young.

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Beanie and my groom's sister, Jenny. Beanie is eight years old and taking her duties very seriously

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My maid of honor and sister, Carol. I wanted my best friend, Connie, to be my maid of honor, but I lost

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The bride

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Bridesmaids and flower girls

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The grandparents

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The Hatfields & McCoys Cornwells & Woodards

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The getaway vehicle. It's not the car the wedding party and assorted pranksters decorated, just the one they nearly tipped over with us in it

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Yes, I'm excited, more so than you can imagine. Common Ties is a hard market to crack but I cracked it and I'm getting paid for my work. It was interesting calling my ex-husband. His wife was home, but he wasn't so I left a message. I need to get his permission to use his name or I have to use a pseudonym, something I don't want to do, even though I do have one (or two).

Sometimes it's a matter of hard work and editing and struggle to get published and sometimes, at the very last moment, something clicks and magic happens. The thing about magic is that it happens more often when hard work and editing and struggle come first. Writer's block happens, but there are ways to get past the block even if you have to tunnel around and through or just simply take another route. The trick is to keep writing even if it seems like pointless gibberish because out of the dross and dirt will shine diamonds and pearls that sparkle and gleam with magic. The words are there. All you have to do to break the barrier is never give up looking for them.

That is all. Disperse.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stop struggling

Every once in a while I get stumped for something to write. I've been stumped for a couple of weeks, but yesterday I had a break-through. I was reading The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock when it hit me that I didn't have struggle, just let it happen.

I felt stymied by the subjects. What did I have to write about weddings? I've been in a few weddings, helped out with several others, designed and made wedding gowns and bouquets, and I've been married twice, but I didn't have anything to say -- until this morning. My wedding, a shotgun affair that I pulled together in two weeks, despite wanting to run to Florida to be with someone I loved who had just lost his mother, was an exercise in frustration. Suddenly, I remembered Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief and I had my theme. Now that I've written the essay, I have other ideas popping around in my head like pumpkin seeds in a hot pan. I had forgotten (although how I don't know) about the night before my cousin Laura's wedding when I had five frilly, gathered, pinafores dumped in my lap to make. I still hate the sight of that particular material and I refuse to invoke its name for fear it will appear on my door step once again. If I can carve out another hour, I'll write about that fiasco, too. I'm sure I can talk my cousin into sending me a picture of the wedding party or at least the bouquet I was supposed to catch as payment for my all night sewing fest. Some athletic, half-grasshopper fiend in drag snatched it from the air before it got to me. And then there's the problem with pink.

I hate pink, insipid, fluffy, frilly, baby-talking pink. I'm supposed to write about it for Underwired Magazine. Considering my feelings about the color pink, what positive thing could I write? Maureen Murdock came to my rescue. I don't have to be positive. I can be negative and funny when I write about pink. And that's what happened. The editor rejected the last piece I sent her, but she said she'd like to see more. I'm grateful she's becoming a fan of my writing, but it's payment I want and thinking pink may just get me there. I'm ahead of deadline, too.

The creative process is sometimes difficult, but it's not limited to writing, as a close friend reminded me yesterday.

He emailed me with pictures of his new acquisition, a 1983 VW Rabbit GTI, which is about to undergo drastic metal surgery. It's being converted to an electric car. The car isn't very pretty and has been wrecked, but it runs and he's so excited about the project, as he always is whenever he starts something new. The simplest things give him that wild-eyed look that some people mistake for insanity. He got the look with book binding and building a trailer from a kit and he always gets it whenever electronics are involved. I'm excited for him because he's the most fascinating person I know.

While he doesn't write stories or articles (we won't discuss his bad jokes and evil puns), he is a very creative fellow. He's even figured out how to turn the project into a way to defray the yearly taxes he pays the state with his gas fuel to electric conversion. Like I said, he's creative. He's also pretty amazing. I wonder if he gets stalled when contemplating a new project. I'll have to ask.

The point is the creative process isn't all beer and skittles. Sometimes it's hard work and can tax the limits of creativity, but it's always worth it. Whether it's learning to sew to make your own backpack, battling colonies of deep rooted and tenacious thistle or writing an essay or story based on an editorial theme, the creative process can be a struggle. That's when it's time to stop struggling and find something else to do for a while because the answer will come to you, and when it comes it's bound to bring friends.

That is all. Disperse.