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Emmie’s Everest

This post will deal a lot with my writing career, so I reckon I’ll esplain right off the bat why I’m putting it here instead of over at my um…writing blog.

The first reason is because that there blog is for writing about urban fantasy and the business side of my career. Though I might make the occasional foray into the personal there when the occasion demands, this little leafy blog is where my personal meanderings (hence the name) occur. The second is because I got homework today, and I decided to share the concrete bits with whoever feels like reading them.

Without further ado, I give you………*drumroll*………..Emmie’s Not-Top-Secret Goals for Her Writing Career in 2012 and Beyond!

That title needs some work. Cut me some slack.

My assignment was to assess my personal goals for my writing career. Who do I want to be? Where do I want to be in five years? Ten? Three? What do I want out of my writing? Who do I want to reach? What is my definition of success for my career, and how on earth will I know when I get there? What kind of income do I want to get from it? What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Let’s start with the introspection.

Who do I want to be as a writer? As Forrest Gump might say, “Aren’t I going  to be me?” Well, yes. Essentially, I’m not aiming to be the next Stephen King or Jo Rowling or Stephenie Meyer or “the next” anyone. I want to pave my own way and establish my own niche in my market.

I know that’s a cop-out answer. I hope this one is a little better: I want to be a best-selling urban fantasy author who turns out new books, each better than the ones that came before them. I want a writing career where I am always striving to be better, bolder, and unique.

Who do I want to reach? I want to reach the lovers of magic and the supernatural. People who love vampires and shapeshifters and twists on our world. People who love human stories in the midst of all that. My ideal audience is people who love the grittiness of Buffy — or Twilight fans after some of the glitter has worn off the vampires. People who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and like their sweet with a touch of bitter.

What is my definition of success? I will consider myself successful when I can amply provide for myself and my family by the sole means of my writing. When I can quit my day job and still have wiggle room after the squeak of the bills grinds to a halt, I’ll know I got there.

Where do I want to be in three years? In three years, I want to have a book somewhere on the New York Times or Amazon.com bestseller lists. I want to be planning a migration to Scotland and maybe thinking of building our home. Maybe even thinking of spawning some little Emmies.

Where do I want to be in five years? In five years, I would like my family to be ensconced in our home in Scotland with a charming husky and a fluffy orange cat that meows a lot. I want to spend my days writing in my library and continuing to hone my craft. I’d like to have filled another passport up with stamps from all over the world.

I’d also like to have met an elephant by then.

In TEN YEARS?! Ten years from now, I’d like to be done popping out kids so I can make my husband get a vasectomy and stop having to deal with foreign hormones clogging up my body. I want to write every day. I want to teach my children to love books and that they can be whoever they want to be. I want to show them the world. I want to share what I have with others and give back as much as possible. Some dreams I have in that sense are to make hefty donations to cancer research (I’ve lost several loved ones to that cursed disease), to Eve Ensler‘s heroic work for V-Day to stop violence against women, and to find some little girls that remind me of myself and make some of their dreams come true.

What kind of income do I want to make? I would love to have enough to build our dream home (which, by the way, is NOT 10,000 square feet, nor does it have a pool or any columns or more than 5 bedrooms or any other such nonsense), pay off all my debt (including the debt of my immediate family, of which there is quite a lot), and make the aforementioned hefty donations as possible. I don’t care about millions per year. One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of never having enough of it is that money does not buy “happiness,” but it can alleviate a great deal of stress and improve quality of life. I want my children to have more than I did, but still to know the value of their own work and to take joy in earning something for themselves. I don’t have a specific number of how much money I want to make, just that I want to be able to pay for the things I value: family, books (ha), travel, and causes that matter to me.

That is my Everest. Right now I’m at base camp, starting the trek. Took a long time to get prepared for even this leg of the journey, now I’m about to begin my ascent.

And oh, yeah…

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? This depends on whether it is an African swallow, or a European swallow. It’s unlikely that either variety of swallow would be capable of carrying a large burden, such as a coconut, over any distance, but perhaps if the swallow were being chased by a large horde of zombie swallows it might have enough adrenaline to do so. Though why it would want to is a question for a greater mind than mine. Perhaps for one known as…Tim?

English: Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler is my hero for too many reasons to name here, but to give you two: she is a champion for women around the world, and she kicked cancer's ass. Image via Wikipedia

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Just Before Dawn

Oh, hello there. It’s been a while. Do forgive me. I’m afraid I’ve been pursuing hours in the day that do not exist for some time now, and it’s left me a wee bit…absent.

I’ve spent the last two months with my face buried in paper, up to my neck in ink, and just generally writing until my fingers fall off more days than not. This is a good thing, but it has left my other past times by the wayside. You know. By that side waaaaay over there. It’s just a little speck to me right now. Wave at them.

Words have ever been a giant central gear that my life revolves around. They propel me, fill me, spill out of me. They suck me into other worlds where planets spin through shining colorful galaxies filled with ultraviolet sparkles and dark grimy alleys where something really does want to eat you. They do it, and they do it often. I’ve occupied my imagination so fully lately that I haven’t had the chance to turn it to other things.

I want to sit under an oak tree and feel it live against my back. I want to watch the turning of fiery leaves and run my hands across velvet grass. I want to lay on my back and watch planets and stars appear in a cerulean sky. I want to look into the eyes of an elephant and have her reach out her trunk toward me. I want to soar above oceans again and smell peat and loam and heather. I want to climb up into the branches of a tree and read a book.

It is so easy to get caught up in things. I’m newly married. We both work and have passions and try to eat normal food at our abnormal times. We still haven’t gotten our thank you notes out.

As the world darkens and the sun stretches farther away for the winter months, I feel the return of a new year. I always sort of celebrate the Celtic new year, Samhain. It’s a day of the dead, yes, but it also marks rebirth. It marks the time of year when the earth slows to sleep, where all becomes still, and where hibernation occurs awaiting the return of the light and the burgeoning buds and blossoms. I can’t help but feel like something is…gestating in my life, for lack of a better word. Not in my body; no, there’s no life inside me forming. What I feel is that I’m frantically growing something. That these words I nurture every day are multiplying into something big, something that will soon be born to the world.

The leaves turn and fall to the ground, and the earth slumbers until spring. I will continue to create, to harbor the life of these words until they are ready to be shared. And I believe they will be shared. My husband believes in me. He brings me bright fall roses and dahlias and daisies to add cheer to our home and to comfort me while my body responds to the changing of the seasons. For every winter, there is a spring. So I will keep working, keep writing, keep hoping all through this long night of the earth.

I will write through the darkest hour.

Bad News Bear

It has been a week of it. I got back from my bridal shower (which was lovely, by the way) to find out that my move-out situation from my old house has hit yet more financial snags, my mother is in the hospital again, and someone close to me is getting a divorce. I guess bad news really does travel in threes. Ugh.

In spite of all of that, I have endeavored to get into my writing some more, and I have succeeded in getting a solid twenty pages of revision done this evening. For more information on that, I suggest you check out my writing blog.

The reason for the late night is an ill-timed three hour nap I took with my fiance. In spite of the poor timing, it ended up working out in my favor. I have been needing and itching to get work done for a while.

Speaking of my fiance, he hunted around to find me some useful Gaelic learning material and downloaded it for me. I get warm fuzzies thinking about it. He also asked me about my desire to learn the language and listened when I prattled on about it for some time. I can’t wait to start working on it more.

The wedding is six weeks away. I cannot believe it is so close now. What a trip. Married. Me. John’s parents are coming into town next weekend to go over some more wedding stuff with us. We’re getting into crunch time now. I’m starting to get the calls about flight times and questions about sleeping arrangements and all of that. John and I definitely need to book some of our tickets for the honeymoon and secure our rental car. So much to do, and an ever-decreasing amount of time to do it in.

Phew.

Okay. I think I am going to see if I can get a few hours of sleep before my double tomorrow. I still have a bit of a long weekend ahead of me.

It’s 3 a.m.; I must be lonely

Well, the former part is true, at least.  Am I lonely?  Not…lonely persay.  Pensive?  A little.  Riddled with self-contemplation?  Somewhat.  Ever-so-slightly shocked at myself?  Yes.  Yes, I am.

I’m having a girlie moment.

Gasp.  Crash.  Hiccup.

I know.  I knooooooooooooow. I’m seldom outright girlie.  The pensive self-contemplation stems primarily from that blatant fact.  In many ways, I defy mainstream, pop-culture girl-dom.  I hate pink.  (Okay, maybe not hate, but I feel it ought to be used in very, very sparing quantities.)  Chick flicks are enormously depressing for me.  I don’t want to be a princess, unless it’s the warrior kind and I get to rampage about killing monsters and saving the world.  Diamonds bore me at best, and I loathe diamond solitaires (this time my adjective is not overstated).  I would be mortally offended if my boyfriend spent two months of income on an engagement ring, and only slightly less so if he spent more than a week’s.  (He knows these things already.)

My momentary bout of girliness is coming from the mere fact that my relationship is progressing.  And it’s filling my head with all sorts of fuzzy shiny happy thoughts.  It makes my tummy feel warm and glowy (and NOT in that pregnant way, so don’t even ask).  I may have even sighed and made goo-goo eyes at Edward the Elephant in my boyfriend’s absence.  *ahem.*

On a more serious note, this feeling is entirely new.  Without going into too much detail, no one has ever been committed to me before.  Me.  I’ve never felt anything like this — the sense that someone truly wants to journey through this life at my side and wants me there at his.

And so I’m being girlie.  I’m looking at pretty colors and imagining future moments.  I’m listening to the conversations we had over and over in my head and reveling in it.

I feel like I got a belated birthday present/early Christmas present.  Because as I’ve tried to wrack my brain for gift ideas for myself (always a precipitous sort of task), I’ve returned only to the simple (if gushy and cliche) sentiment that all I want for Christmas is….well, him.

Before I turn completely into a porcelain dolly with ringlets and ribbons, let me remind you once more:

Warrior.  Swords.  Zombie-slaying, kicker of dragon asses, vampire-loving, princess of general awesomeness — that’s who you’re listening to here.  And don’t you forget it.

Working Out

Turns out, it’s actually a bit of a workout.  Go figure.

After literally six weeks of laying around on my arse, I decided it was about time to get off it and try to lose some of the weight that made itself known to me as I attempted to pour it into a pair of shorts yesterday.  This pair of shorts was a size bigger than what I wore last summer.  Needless to say, the swells of flesh that so stubbornly prohibited my arse from fitting into the denim made their point.  They’ve made themselves at home, and I think I need to evict them.

Hence the workout.

I have been a bit scarce for the last few days.  At least I think I have.  Time has gone all wonky.  I really think there is some sort of rift in the space-time continuum, but that’s neither here nor there.  It is Memorial Day weekend, I suppose, which may excuse any of my scarcity (but would not excuse a rift in the space-time continuum).

I’ma go to the beach!  It’s for a whole two days, but still.  Beach.  Me.  Go.  Picture me, the whitest white girl in white-onia, slathered in SPF 100 so as to look even whiter, lounging in an olive green bikini, feeling self-conscious whilst squishing my toes in very hot sand and trying to think of ways to get my boyfriend to make out with me under the boardwalk.  Yep.  That’ll be me tomorrow.  And I’m serious about that boardwalk thing.  I’ve wanted to do that ever since I heard Bette Midler pound out that song in Beaches. My boyfriend’s plans consist of eating lots of pizza and…sandwiches.  (If you are a How I Met Your Mother fan, you will know precisely to what I am referring by the latter.)  I have only a few things on my agenda:

1.  Play a round of mini-golf.
2.  Eat some Dippin’ Dots and see if they are as good as I always hoped they would be as a child — I was never allowed to get them.
3.  Make out under the boardwalk.
4.  Walk.  A lot.  Preferably on the beach.  This is part of my whole fat eviction scheme.

As you can see, Item 1 has suffered a setback.  The setback is that I am broke, and mini-golf is seldom cheap, particularly in a high-frequency, high-tourist area such as Bethany Beach.  (Why, yes, gentle viewers!  You now know where I will be this weekend.)

I don’t think I will have the money to eat, which is okay because of that whole fat eviction thing.  It’s only two days, anyway.

Also, I think I have found a new Emmie home!  I hope.  Here’s the ad I think it placed looking for renters:

Quirky five bedroom full of awesome seeks young tenants for lounging patio barbecues, sprawling living, and unique closet arrangement.  Stuffy and pretentious dwellers caught up in matching color schemes need not apply.

It’s pretty much perfect.  Right down to the varying color schemes and oddly placed closets (some aren’t even in the bedrooms).  Wish me success!

On that note, I am off to be a nerd and play Fable 2 whilst pondering my story and waiting for the boyo to get off work.

Epiphany With a Side of Joy

I’ll have two, please.  Thx.

Today I finished reading the first draft of a book that a woman from my writing group sent me.  It left me with a couple of epiphanies, one that left an ironic aftertaste and another that made me smile.

The first was that throughout the book, the characters made these decisions based on what they thought would protect the people they loved from their own actions, when in reality, it simply continued to raise the stakes.  People do that a lot.  I was exposed to a real life example this week — and the sad reality is that this happens way too often.  I mean, let’s face it:  only the world’s token sadists actually like hurting people.  The rest of us try not to do it, because it makes us feel bad.  The trick is to know when you’re only choosing between the lesser of two evils.  In the book, the main character had a decade-long affair.  She could have left a loveless marriage much earlier…but she didn’t.  You can imagine how it turned out.  I’ve never cheated on a boyfriend.  I know people who I consider generally good people who have, but I honestly do not understand cheating.  One common thread is that usually those who do it think that telling their partner would hurt too much, so they let it go on and try to bury it deep so the partner never finds out.  But that’s like letting a wound fester.  Eventually the pus is going to break the surface, and by then, you might have to have something amputated.  Which is something easily avoidable if you had just gotten it fixed first.

Seriously, once you cheat, you forfeit the right to decide what happens to the relationship.  Once you’ve broken that trust, which to me is one of the deepest betrayals one can experience on this earth, it’s your partner’s choice what happens.  By not coming clean from the get-go, you add robbery to the list of errors and you actively conspire to make someone else a fool.

It doesn’t just happen with cheating — I mean, parents don’t tell their kids about divorces.  People put off talking about bad news.  I knew someone once who didn’t find out their grandma had died for months because the parents hadn’t wanted to ruin something happy.  People didn’t tell me about a friend who had passed for weeks after it happened.  When I found out, the grief of her loss was compounded by guilt of not sending her cards or letters during her months of illness (it was cancer), anger at those who knew me and didn’t let me know, and helplessness.  There are some things people have a right to know.

All of that was wound up into the little ball of epiphany that just says:  if you think you have to protect someone from information, you’re just propping up a falling bridge with an umbrella.  Leaves an ironic tinge in my mouth just thinking about it.

The next one was just about the things people do because of insecurities.  I wrote a bit on my other blog about this that I’ll repeat here.  There’s that old saying:  you can’t see the forest through the trees.  People are like that with their insecurities.  Some of our issues are rooted deeply in fear and pain and a welter of other emotions.  Trauma.  Those trees are like old growths.  They are there, immutable.  You can’t just cut them down and get rid of them.  And sometimes it can be hard to see the beauty of the forest around us when we trip over the roots of one of those giant trees.  Sometimes we stumble into it, and it’s all we can see.  Our pain.  Past betrayals and hurts.  When that happens, some people throw their arms around this tree as though it’s the only safe place, simply because it’s familiar.  We’d rather stay there where it’s easy than have to grapple with it in context of the newer trees, the ones we’re afraid won’t hold our weight if we try to climb them.  We forget that like any old growth, it’s old.  We have to stand up, back up, and look around at the other trees around us to get the sense of the whole forest.

So my last epiphany was this:  instead of getting bogged down in the old growth and tripping over its fallen branches and roots the size of trunks, I’m going to climb up into the newer trees and trust that their branches will hold me.  I’m going to let their boughs embrace me and look out over the beauty of the forest, because true beauty comes from seeing the whole picture, not just the good or the bad that exists.  And in knowing that, there’s joy.

The Loved, the Lorn, and the Puffy Chairs

Today I watched a movie.  My boyfriend and I actually started it last night, but we were both sleepy and — let’s face it — a wee bit drunk, so we stopped.  I finished it tonight, and I’m going to attempt to review it here, with some interspersed reflections based on the novel I’m reading by someone in one of my writing groups which has a similar theme.

The movie is called The Puffy Chair. My first assessment?  It was remarkably painful to watch.  First of all, the female lead’s name is Emily, and she proved in the first 15 minutes that she was exactly the kind of girlfriend I don’t want to be.  Next, her boyfriend Josh proved to be the kind of boyfriend I don’t want.  And Rhett, the other main character, proved to be the only redeeming person for me, even though in one particular scene (actually two) I sort of wanted to aim an Uzi at his head.

I think the film had several good qualities.  It portrayed a somewhat believable relationship between an insecure woman who was looking for a commitment and a self-absorbed, passive-aggressive man who really wasn’t.  Neither of them were able to successfully communicate anything without it turning into a snit or an argument, which I’ve seen in many relationships, so that part was believable.  I couldn’t figure out if Emily was just really, really fed up with Josh’s indifference or if she was just really high-maintenance and moody, as one reviewer described her.  Either way, I was ashamed when I saw myself reflected in her at all, which I’ll admit happened a couple of times, and I really never want to turn into what I saw there.

To her defense, Josh was entirely incapable of discussing anything serious with anyone, let alone his girlfriend, who he calls “dude” throughout the entire movie — a not so subtle insight into the depth of his emotion.  When she asks why he loves her, he can’t think of a single reason outside of her sexy bits (literally — he changes the subject by grabbing her hoohah).  Granted, her reaction to his silence is a bit melodramatic, but even so, it shows the dysfunction there.  Later on when his brother Rhett calls him out on a pretty despicable action he took, he again gets defensive and nasty.

All in all, I found it really hard to sympathize with any of the characters.  They were all completely wrapped up in themselves.  They wanted what they wanted when they said they wanted it, and if they didn’t get it, the world ended.  I’d give it a C.  Maybe even a C-.

I don’t really like dwelling on dysfunctional relationships, but I volunteered to read a book penned by a fellow writer in which the protagonist is an adulterer, and I just read the first six chapters of her rationalizing her affair, which depressed me.  Especially after watching that movie.

After watching the movie and reading that book, I got the overwhelming urge to be the best girlfriend ever.  I also reflected on my own relationship and came to the conclusion that I am intensely fortunate to have found someone like John, and that despite the similarities between our names and that movie’s characters’ names, we are so not them.

I am so happy with him that it sometimes makes me bubble right off the ground.  Which is glorious.  So in regards to the title of this blog?  I’m that first one.  I’m not lorn — love, for, or otherwise — and I’m decidedly not a puffy chair.  I’m loved by an extraordinary man.

Take that, cynical world.

Write Until You Can’t See Land

Yes, I’m lazy.  Yes, I am copying this title directly from my other blog.  Am I okay with it?  Yes, yes I am.

I’m okay with it because I have just spent literally ten hours doing virtually nothing but writing.  I have written about 20 pages and well over 11,000 words in one sitting, and so I think that allows me to justify using the same title for two blogs.  So there.

I’m feeling the fire, feeding the desire.  To write, to create, to pursue this dream and follow my bliss.

And after this long night, as the sky brightens and I finish the last seventeen minutes before getting up to go to work on this Friday morning, that’s all I have to say about that.

You Say Financially Questionable, I Say Necessary

Just a quick update to say that I am going to Scotland this summer! It was kind of a snap decision on account of me finding a good fare a solid $400 cheaper than anything else I had found, getting to see Julia, and taking a solid retreat into my favorite place in the world.

I cannot wait.  It’s been three and a half years since I was last there, at Christmas 2006.  So much has changed since then, but one thing’s for certain:  this is exactly what I need.

light and shadow

I don’t have anything extraordinarily witty to say tonight, nor do I really have any particular direction in which to write.  But my goal is to try to write a thousand words per day, and though I have been on facebook and the like, I don’t really think that counts.  So here I am.

Today hasn’t been the best day.  At best, I feel directionless…much like this blog.  Or rather, I know where I want to go, but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to get there.  At worst, I feel jangled and emotional, and I want to cry.  A lot.  I feel guilty for being home for the past three and a half weeks with my injury.  I’ve missed a lot of work, and I’m catching some flak for it.  I understand why; I mean, three weeks is a lot.  I also am feeling super weak and lame.  In the traditional sense of the word.  Lame as in debilitated.  I can barely stand for an hour without severe pain.  Driving is just as bad.  I’ve been pretty much alone in my room for the past three weeks, which has made me lonely and helpless, and although I don’t really want to throw a pity party, I just want to feel like a human being again.

I don’t want to be a negative person.  I know that negativity is far from attractive.  So I think perhaps I will use this entry as a chance to force myself to try an exercise my mom has pointed me at several times in the past.  So here it is — a list of the things I like about myself.

I’m compassionate.  I’m able to put myself in other people’s shoes pretty easily and try to get inside their heads to try and understand where they are coming from.  I’m also fairly empathic, and I tend to be very sensitive to others’ pain.

I am loyal.  If I care about someone, I will stick with them.  I’m also very tenacious and rarely give up on anything I’ve set my mind to.  I’m patient.  I’m creative — I like to make art.  My kind of art just happens to be with words, and I try to do it as best as I can.

I’m a daydreamer and I have a good imagination.  While it can get me into trouble on occasion, I like seeing the world through my own lens.  I think if I were less shy, I would have been a good actress.  I can read expressively and with emotion.

I’m good with languages, both my own and otherwise.  I’ve always been able to pick up new languages easily, which is cool because I really enjoy them.  On a purely superficial note, I like my eyes.

I’m only about halfway to a thousand words, and I have to apologize for the quality of this blog.  I have a bad headache that came on sort of suddenly, and I am a bit out of it.

I really want to travel more.  I am going to try and go back to Scotland this summer if I can find a cheapish fare.  I’m hoping to fly out of Toronto so I can see Julia.  I haven’t seen her for almost a year and a half, and I miss her terribly.  It’s funny how you can meet someone so briefly and form such a lasting relationship — that’s been oddly true about the most important relationships in my life.  I met Julia when we both lived at the Inverness Tourist Hostel, and we became best friends after only a few short weeks.  That was in 2005, and nothing has changed.  She is still one of the only non-blood related people I count among family.

I miss Scotland, as well.  A strange peace comes over me when I’m there, ever since the first time my feet touched the rather unromantic tarmac at the Prestwick Airport an hour south of Glasgow.  It’s a place I’ve returned to so many times (Scotland, not Prestwick) and just felt like I was home.  I don’t think I have ever seen a parallel to the beauty that exists in Scotland.  I remember driving through Stirling on Megabus and looking out the window as the sun slanted through the clouds and lit up the earth as though it had flipped a switch within.  I remember the golden sheen of the mist on the hills, the Wallace Monument rising like…well, to be honest, rising like a giant, spiky phallus.  Perhaps that just ruined the romance of the shot.  Ha.

I remember Dollar Glen and Loch Ness and the way the ocean at John O’Groats is such a deep navy blue and contrasts with the shining white sand.  The earthy scent of soil, dust, and rock that makes up the interior of the Maes Howe, the rough-hewn slats of standing stones.  The smell of peat and the warm amber brown it turns the Ness River.  The Sisters of Kintail and Glen Coe.  The lone tree on Rannoch Moor near the cone-shaped Buachaille.  I have a hundred thousand memories of Scotland, each one stored away like delicate treasures within my mind.  I know I will return someday — it’s only a matter of time.  I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.  And I long to share it with my boyfriend.

If I can get there this summer, I know it will be a short visit, probably no more than a week or two at the most, but it will be a time of renewal as well.  A time to refresh my memories, see some dear friends, and rest my weary soul.

In the film What Dreams May Come, they espouse the philosophy that we choose our own heaven, or at least that we create it from our minds.  If that turns out to be at all true, I know where mine would be.  It would be a land of drums, of silver-smooth lochs, of smoky scotch and the scents of the earth.  There would be stone circles and sapphire seas laced with white sand beaches and forests with floors of soft moss where the rowans turn the circle of the seasons as their branches burst into bloom, the blooms turn to snowy berries that ripen into deep red before the leaves fall once more.  An eternity there would be an eternity of bliss.

I don’t plan on dying any time soon, so for now, I’ll look forward to the time when I can jet my earthly body there.

Well, what do you know?  Over 1,000 words.