Lately (as in, for the last several years) I’ve become gradually aware that I am slowly running out of time.
Don’t worry, I’m not terminally ill or suicidal. But I am a realist.
When I was twenty, I believed that I had “world enough, and time,” as the poet once said. But as I close in on the middle of my sixth decade, I realize that though death is (hopefully) not imminent, neither is it getting any farther away. So I tend to think about life a bit differently, and my priorities are being adjusted accordingly.
I’ve started thinking more about a thing’s importance than its urgency. Watching TV has dropped way down on my “to do” list, while writing has leapt into the top five. I’ve pretty much eliminated computer and online games in favor of reading. I’ve added a number of non-fiction titles to my TBR list, most of them dealing with publishing in some manner. I’ve dropped my attendance at conferences quite a bit, but plan to pick that up again next year.
Spending time with my husband and family was always in the top five, but even there, I’ve done some rearranging, moving it higher on the list. And playing with the GBs? Even writing plays second fiddle to those little bits of starshine.
As far as I know, I’ve plenty of years on my ticket yet. This is simply my way of not riding “gentle into that good night.” Don’t know about you, but I plan on raging until it is full dark.
And then I’m going to light a lamp. There is too much joy and beauty in this world to do anything else.
How about you? Are your priorities lined up the way you want them? What is at the top?
As an angsty teen (weren’t we all?) I used poetry as a way to work through and express the confusion, sorrow, and joy that flowed through my adolescent years.
In my twenties, I used writing to find my way out of the forest of grief that the loss of my first husband landed me in.
These days, all the ebb and flow of life finds its way into my writing. Poetry is still my go-to for personal emotion, but I’ve turned to novels and short stories for the majority of my art and self-expression.
Whether the emotion is sorrow or anger, love or sheer joy, it comes out in my writing. Often it is a process, where the emotion is transformed into a character’s reaction to a situation that is nothing like the one I experienced in real life. Whatever the situation, the feelings it engenders tend to be universal.
Everyone experiences loss, betrayal, ambition, in some form. Everyone needs love, security, happiness, in some measure. Tapping into these experiences and desires creates a universal language everyone can relate to and understand.
The need to communicate those needs is just as universal. For me, writing is the form that communication takes, and emotion is the fuel.
I recently went to see Captain Marvel™ at my local movie theater and was favorably inclined. The acting was good, the action swift and I thought the plot-line held together well while answering a few questions for me. (Most notably, where was Carol Danvers during the whole Thanos debacle in Infinity War?)
Others were not as happy with any of the above.
The objections come in multiple flavors from arguably valid down to outright misogynistic. I’m going to pass on answering the misogyny in this post because others have already taken care of it quite well. But there were a couple of objections in a particular post I read that I’d like to discuss.
One: They replaced an awesome, powerful character with a weak Kree scientist.
I’ll grant you that Captain Mar-Vell was originally envisioned as a nega band wielding male character, and certainly engaged in more physical battles than than the current incarnation. But beyond that there are number of similarities.
Most notably: both the original character and the new movie’s character adopt the persona of a scientist. And neither is weak.
The main complication for both of them is comprised of the realization that the society they serve is unethical. To do the honorable thing, both must turn against a corrupted governmental structure. The original character does so with fists and brawn on behalf of humans, while the new iteration uses science and innovation on behalf of the embattled Skrull.
Both take the incredibly difficult path of fighting against ingrained loyalties against their own interests in order to do what is right. That takes immense strength no matter how you do it, the coolness of nega bands notwithstanding.
Two: The new iteration disrespects the lore.
Plots are twisted all the time, and the movie certainly takes some major departures from the original comic, from the gender of Mar-Vell to the true nature of the combatants in the Kree-Skrull war. The point is, none of this is a new phenomenon.
Look at Spiderman.
Peter Parker has at least two origin stories, one that includes Mary Jane and another that ropes in Tony Stark. And I have no idea how Into the Spiderverse fits in. (Haven’t seen it yet.)
Now maybe the changes were made a while back or maybe it was done more recently to accommodate additional movie plot twists. I’ll leave that to actual aficionados of the genre to determine.
All I’m saying is, the new Captain Marvel isn’t the first time Marvel themselves have tweaked a storyline to suit later innovations, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
And I don’t mind.
Art, including literature, is a reflection of the society in which it is produced. The original Captain Marvel comics were written and illustrated in the late 1960s, some say as a commentary on the activities of HUAC and Senator McCarthy. At the time, freedom of speech was in jeopardy. Some would say this hasn’t changed. Added to that are the recently revivified issues of feminism and social justice.
The world is undergoing an enormous plot twist. Is it such a surprise to see art undergo a corresponding change?
I’ve been having a little trouble recently in the “why the H*** am I in this business anyway, department. And then the guest post that was supposed to go up was unavoidably detained at the blogger station. So that left me with the following questions, considering my recent bouts of existential angst:
What have I got to say? Is it important? Does it matter?
Some days I don’t know the answer to any of those questions and yet, I keep talking,ermm, writing.
Expectation is a strange and ugly beast. Most of the fights and nearly all of the heartache in this world can be boiled down to unmet expectations. It’s easy to forget that the world owes us nothing, and if it did, it would never acknowledge the debt. So many of us have difficulty with the painful lesson that the world does not love us.
Neither does it hate us.
It simply lacks the capacity to care. We say, The World, or The Universe, in proper noun capitalization, as if either were an entity with a mind and a heart that is conscious of us. It isn’t.
Even society, made up of billions of minds, isn’t a
conscious being. It is a hive without a mind. In fact, it’s rather like an
amoral version of Dr. Dolittle’s Pushmepullyou; a dithering head at either end
with a voracious belly in between. Try to ride it and it’s likely to devour
you, two tidy bites at a time.
It isn’t surprising that we often expect the world, or at least society, to care for us. All the time we are growing up (assuming that we have good parents who love us) we are given ideas about what we have a right to expect from the world. Things like fairness, kindness, compassion. Not getting them comes under the heading of radically unfair.
Then we get a zapped at some point in our young adulthood with the discovery that the world had no knowledge of these expectations and further, has no plans to meet them. If expectations, or even needs, are to be met we’re going to have to do it ourselves. The disappointment can be crushing.
The only way to deal with that blow is to realize that the world can do nothing for us, and it isn’t going to try. But we can, and should, do what we can for the world. And by that, I mean each other. We need to lift up our fellow humans with the kindness and compassion that we’d like to see extended to ourselves.
Because what the world lacks as a whole, individuals often possess in abundance.
Our best shot is to put aside the childish notion that the world is bound to give to us and realize the beautiful truth that we are, instead, created to give back to the world.
Do that, and you might just make an impact that The World will notice.
I was sixteen the first time I saw a deck of Tarot cards. I
had heard of them, and been intrigued by the concept. But my knowledge of the
spiritual realm was strictly superstitious. I’d been taught that Tarot belonged
in the occult category: highly suspect and deliciously naughty, but not
something to be taken seriously.
No one taught me the history of Tarot, or worked with me to
gain an understanding of the cards. My first deck was gifted to me with little
instruction. I tried to learn them for a while, but over time, put them aside,
then finally gave them away when the culture I lived in deemed them dangerous.
Fast forward twenty-five years to the recent past. Various
circumstances led me to view the world with different eyes. As a human, I
became more open to ways of understanding the world that weren’t easily reconciled
with Evangelical beliefs. As a writer of fantasy and science fiction, I began
to research mythologies and magic.
Then one day, over lunch with friends, I heard about a place
called Cassadaga, billed as the psychic capital of Florida. Not only does it
sit on a ley line, but it was founded by people specifically intent on
connecting with the spiritual realm. I was intrigued.
Not surprisingly, my next fantasy story was set in
Cassadaga, giving me the perfect excuse for a research trip to the little town.
Since one of the scenes in the story includes a Tarot reading, of course I had
to have my cards read.
By the end of the trip, I was more than intrigued. A new
Tarot deck, along with a book on how to read the cards, sat in the passenger
seat, and I spent the ride home with the psychic’s words revolving in my brain.
Several of her predictions and comments turned out to be correct. Others
remained unprovable or ephemeral, but the positive experience led me to explore
the cards for myself.
As I researched the history and nature of Tarot, I found
that most of what I had been taught was skewed by a world view whose agenda I
was only beginning to apprehend. The cards aren’t powered by evil. Nor are
they, as it is commonly understood, a method of fortune telling. Instead, they
are a medium for conversing with the Divine. That conversation can lead the
seeker to making better decisions, and therefore building a better future. But
mostly, the cards offer a path to understanding, both of the Divine and of
Tarot has not been the only change in my belief system.
There are questions and objections to the beliefs of Evangelical Christianity
surfacing now that I buried for decades. Tarot has simply been one way of
seeing that has recently opened up to me, helping provide a path to change that
I didn’t know existed.
It is unsettling, and often painful, to find that so much of
what I believed for so long is less true than I had been taught. But it is also fascinating and wonderful that
a new connection to the Divine is possible.
So, here I go. Stepping out onto a new path, one card at a
One of the hardest things I do as a writer is balance my calendar.
Does that sound weird? It’s kind of like balancing a tire – putting all the weights in exactly the right places so that the tire doesn’t wobble, and possibly fall off while you’re driving.
In the case of my calendar, that means making sure no one month has too many events, because if it does, my writing (the tires of my career, you might say) will wobble…
and maybe fall off.
Which would be horrible, especially since the writing is my favorite part of this career.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the events too. Signings are great for meeting readers and I enjoy getting to know them. Conferences help me improve my writing and marketing skill sets. Speaking engagements are sort of like the sprinkles on top of the cupcake. Non-essential but colorful and SO fun. The opportunity to engage with new readers is the cake in that cup.
But any event I attend derails writing for a couple of days both before and after it. A three day event can take out an entire week’s worth of words. So, if I go to too many of them… Well, you see the problem.
My current writing calendar looks like this:
December is reserved for family and whatever writing I can fit in between times. It’s ambitious, so I know that if I pile in too many events on top of it, the writing won’t get done.
So, right now, I’m looking for balance. How about you?
I write sci-fi and fantasy. Sometimes the story has a romantic thread, but most of the time it is very, very thin, if it’s there at all.
Then, a few months ago, a friend invited me to join a collaboration of authors who were working on a contemporary romance collection of novellas. The stories could be any sub-genre, but it had to be a love story of some kind.
I almost said no.
But then, I thought, I should broaden my horizons. Romance was one of my favorite genres when I was a young adult – why not try my hand at writing one?
So, I said yes, and started writing The Worlds Between Us. And I’m really glad I did. Why? Because creativity, no matter the genre or type, begets creativity.
As I wrote, I fell in love with Jackson and Maeve, the main characters. Their path is a rocky one, but they over come the obstacles before them with strength and courage, two of my favorite things in a person. Not only that, but three of the minor characters sat me down and explained that they really needed their stories told. So, instead of one novella, I’m going to get at least three, possibly four.
And then, I discovered that the characters in Worlds link all of my other series. There are references to Gaia, and descendants of the protagonist in Worlds show up in Illusion. One of the Life-Trade naiads (Changelings) helps out, and there are a couple of subtle connections to the Outcast Angels series.
The funny thing about writing is that you never know where it’s going to take you, but the journey is always worth the ride.
No matter what your path in life, from where you are standing, you can look in either direction, but you can only move forward. Still, it helps sometimes, to stop and consider. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about past, present and future.
I started writing – seriously writing – about nine years ago now. My first book took me three years to write, and I thought about it for at least a year before I started putting anything on paper. Before that I wrote, and shelved, two other novels over the course of five years.
A lot of stuff changed during that time. I went from having two children at home through their teenage years. I went from Mom to Grandmom, stay-at-home to career woman, student to teacher. And we moved several times, a couple of them from one coast to the other. It was an eventful decade and a half.
There were some rough professional challenges that led me to take a hiatus between the second of those early works and Descent, the first novel I published. But other than the lessons I learned from the experience, I’m content to leave it in the past. Suffice it to say that those lessons made the leap to indie publishing easier than it might otherwise have been.
Today, a lot has changed, but the most important things remain.
My girls are grown and I am enjoying being a grandmother to six beautiful little ones. I left teaching, a career I thought would see me through to retirement. The reasons are myriad, and very few have anything to do with the actual art and science of teaching itself. Those reasons are best left to another rant post. In both sides of my life, personal and professional, the love remains, and that is a blessing all its own.
Some might say I’ve retired. I just call it switching careers.
I have eleven books published and I am proud of them. Each one has helped me expand my knowledge base and polish my skill set. I’ve learned that some things can be delegated, even in an owner/operator business like mine. I know enough, now, to be able to give back to the writing community that nurtures me, and that feels good.
Today, I’m staring at 2019 and wondering how to make the best use of the 356 days it has waiting for me. I know what I’d like to have happen. I’d like to find a good balance between the personal and the professional. (I’ve been seeking that one for a long time with varying degrees of success.)
I’d like to build a profitable writing career. I already love the art of writing. Now I need to master the science of marketing. After all, what good is a book if it doesn’t get read? Kind of circumvents the purpose.
I’d like to succeed in my plan to write seven new books this year, and have a special each month for my readers. I’m working on a plan to make those two things happen and I feel pretty good about it.
I know it will take discipline and perseverance to see the plan succeed, but I’m OK with that. After all, it’s mostly about the journey, and so far, my journey has been pretty awesome.
C.L. (aka Cheri) Roman, writes fantasy and sci-fi with a paranormal edge. You can find her here and with her Novel Bunch on Facebook. Cheri and her ever-patient husband live in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua, and Pye, the invisible cat.
This is an old blog post from 2012 when folks were freaking out about a prediction supposedly made by the Ancient Mayans that the world would end in a blazing conflagration on a certain date in 2012. Clearly, Earth is still circling the sun, so that didn’t happen, but I think the rest still applies. (Reblogged from The Brass Rag, and updated slightly.)
I read somewhere that the Mayan Calendar did NOT predict that the world would end in 2012. Since you are reading this, I’m pretty sure that what I read was correct. That and the fact that Australia was apparently still in existence as I wrote this on the evening of the 20th, and it was already the 21stover there.
Anyway, the article…it further stated that, rather than predicting Armageddon, the MC foretells a “great change.” I, for one, would love to see a number of things change, great and otherwise. Here is my list, not complete and with little hope, but hey, there’s no harm in trying, right?
School hours: High schoolers are physically incapable of being truly awake at seven a.m. It is a biological impossibility. I know this because of the glassy eyed stares I receive during first block every morning. Classes should never start before 9a.m. The fact that this would also allow me to sleep an extra hour is immaterial.
Tax rates: No, I am not naïve enough to think that we shouldn’t have to pay them. I like having protection from fires and criminals. I also like the calendars. Neither do I believe that rich people should pay higher taxes than anyone else. Mostly because if I were rich, I wouldn’t want to be penalized for my success either. What does burn my toast is that there are so many loopholes, which are only available if you already have enough money to pay tax attorneys to find them for you, that a lot of rich people end up paying far less than their share. Fair is fair and everyone should pay the same percentage of their income, be you rich, poor, businessman or Congresswoman. No shelters, upper limits or loopholes. If everyone paid the same percentage, the federal coffers would becloser to full. Better yet, fewer folks would have room to complain. I think wewould all enjoy the peace and quiet.
Free ChocolateFridays: This speaks for itself. Who wouldn’t like free chocolate? For the loonies who have the incredible bad taste to dislike, or even feel indifferent towards, chocolate; they can substitute the yummy goodness of their choice. If everyone were blissed out on chocolate one day a week, crime rates would decline because everyone would be less stressed out and cranky. We might need to open more weight loss centers but really, we probably need that anyway.
There are others, needless to say: idiot driver ejection buttons, instant shut up switches, the ever-full wallet, sober-up pills (I borrowed that one from Eve Dallas), the Everywhere Editor app (edits out the tweets and posts you will later find embarrassing or just stupid) the national legalization of, ummm, mellowness. These would all be good changes. What would you change, if you could?
I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen them. Those posts where people are trying to post about being thankful for at least one thing, every day, for the entire month of November? it isn’t so much the being thankful for thirty things that’s the issue. The being thankful part is easy. But I have to give props to people who can remember to post one every day for a month.
I suck at that.
This does not mean that I’m not grateful, or that I have forgotten how blessed I am. When you have a wonderful husband, six healthy grandchildren, great friends, and come from a family that remains supportive no matter how wildly unlikely your dreams may be, thankful should be the default setting on your brain.
And mine is set there most of the time. This is not to say that I don’t do my share of griping. But when I do, the thought occurs to me about mid-gripe, that I really have very little to complain about, and a mountain of wonder and joy to be thankful for.
The issue isn’t the thankfulness. The issue is remembering to post. I do it with other stuff too. You know those posts where you go to the seventh line of the seventh page in the book you’re reading/writing and post seven lines? And you’re supposed to do this every day for seven days? Yeah, I’ve been tagged in those.
It never ends well.
But here’s the thing. I know I’m not a great rememberer, so I’ve taken steps to remedy the situation. I make lists, put reminders on my phone, set alarms and keep a calendar. So I’ve gotten better. But I’m still not a stellar rememberer. Most of the time, I’m too submerged in whatever is going on in the RIGHT NOW to address all the fine details of the Not Yet and the Already Happened.
It could be worse. Getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future all the time would definitely be worse.
One of the best things that life has taught me is to notice, in the moment, all that I have to be thankful for. I try to take note when my husband does something sweet. To enjoy my grandson’s laughter for a breath longer. To watch that silly squirrel for a minute more, so that I can laugh a little longer. Because I am thankful. For all of it.