Wednesday, January 16, 2013
My Stories: Part Two
Back to the story of my stories.
(You just have to chuckle, don't you?)
The dream of going on to graduate school to get my Masters in Creative Writing also went up in smoke. At Concordia I had professors who were convinced I could get into the University of Iowa's writer's program and were willing to help me apply. Their idea. I was too poor to move in the first place and my health was already enough of an issue that I knew I couldn't also be a teaching assistant to help me with finances--but it was mind-boggling encouragement, right?
Of the stories on my other blog, I wrote seven of them in college that are considered polished up and finished.
At Concordia: Mommy and That Baby (won freshman writing award-$25), Moxi Java Sunday, God On the Bus (published in Afterworks-Concordia student lit magazine), and Soft Breaths (won Concordia writing award-$60, published in three literary magazines: Inkwell-NY, Troubadours Lantern-IL, and later in MSUM's Red Weather-MN). Note--Flower Child was written for a class on writing about place, but I don't consider it finished.
At MSUM in a poetry class (had to see if I could still write poetry, right?): The Corner Cubby, I Mourn My Body Past (first place in the Fargo Forum's over 50 writing contest-local newspaper), and Baby Girl (more on that one later). The rest of the entries are from my blog chatting when I got to explaining things people asked about or reminded of something that happened. This series will be entered over there when I'm done, too.
Okay. After I landed on my feet here in Fargo (almost homeless again), it took me over a year--maybe even closer to two--for me to reach the fine physical condition I am in today--LOL! As you know, I am extremely grateful to be here, to have retained my independence, and to have accidentally ended up where I was allowed to have a cat. :) I count my blessings every day.
I have also felt guilty. (Hey! I'm Scandinavian.) All that "promise" people talked about. Seeing a secret fantasy come true--being published. And then I haven't written-written (polished and publishable) anything since I left college in 2004.
Well, several reasons. First of all I only have those few hours dibbied out over the day. The manner in which I have always written is diametrically opposed to being cut off in an hour and having to wait 1-3 hours before I can go back and then limiting myself to maybe 3 sessions a day max because I can't use up all my good hours in a single activity where I am in the same position all day, either. It's a physical feat issue.
When I wrote those stories--well, I go back there. I wrote in the first person present tense--and I went back there. Hard to explain, but it took me sometimes an hour or two just to be there with some stories. And this was every time I sat down to write. I don't know how many times I tried to write the rape story--but I never could. I couldn't go back there and re-experience it. I tried. But I have blocked out things and details are fuzzed over. And it's not because of time, it happened right afterwards. Kind of like childbirth. You remember what happened, but the go-back-there-physical-memory details get fuzzy right away. You can't help it. It's a survival thing, I think.
I couldn't spend the hours I needed to immerse myself (tried to learn to be faster, but to no avail) and reliving many of my stories is stressful. My body is literally a stress barometer these days. And I didn't need or want to add any more pain to my days.
Plus, I didn't know what to write about. Which stories should I tell with my limited writing time? And if I am talking about other people and going back in time--well, I didn't want anyone reading to have bad feelings about them, you know? I have forgiven everybody. Sure, maybe not totally, totally in every molecule of my being--but I have released the vast majority of negative feelings about other people in my life. Even the rapists. I don't want to hurt people. People can judge me, but I don't want other people being upset with me telling about things that they did or said, you know? And I could remember some details wrongly, of course. I can only tell my life as I remember it to the best of my ability, right?
So--how do I write differently? How do I incorporate what I know now with a first person narrative memory and going back there? How do I change the way I write and learn how to write in short bursts? And--am I willing to pretty much give up everything else I love to write? I have been wondering about this for eight years.
Those of you who have been following me for some time know that back in 2009 a lady I had met online when I was in college but hadn't heard from in years contacted me out of the blue. She remembered my poem Baby Girl and thought I should enter it in this online writing contest--the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Contest. I didn't have the money and she even offered to pay the entry fee herself because she had never forgotten the poem.
And Baby Girl won! $2,000.00! Which I basically used to buy my MacBookPro--thinking that if I could learn how to use a laptop that maybe I could figure out how to get some writing-writing hours into my days.
Never happened. But I probably get an additional hour online. I used to get maybe two hours and now I can get about three without pushing myself over that physical brink. Not enough of a change. But it added to that not writing guilt, of course. Not that I haven't been blogging since 2006, writing letters, and journaling, of course. Not everything on my stories blog is even polished or finished properly...and that has always kind of bothered me, too.
Okay, I have always gotten information as I am waking up. In the middle of December, out of the blue (hadn't even been thinking about writing lately), I got--they do not have to be polished short stories--you have never written to be published. (It was a GA thing for those of you who are familiar with my guardian angel.)
What a relief! Then my more casual blog tellings are okay--even on the stories blog. I didn't have to worry about "writing-writing" anymore! Was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
A couple mornings later I got a scattering of story-telling memories--me telling this person and then that person, one-on-one...the rape story...Dagan's story...conversations over coffee...soul connections. Now, GA has done the memory-flashing thing numerous times over my lifetime to make a point. I wasn't quite sure what this point was, but I know those soul-touching moments. When you share what you have been through to help lift another through a hard time. We are all in this together. It is hard for everybody, you know? There's nothing more precious to me than when someone has come to me in tears and has left smiling, even laughing, with that growing confidence that they will be okay.
Geez! Now I am crying over here just talking about it.
I've always said--it is the food for my soul.
I was puzzling over that--and a couple days later I went to read Teresa's blog and saw that she had an audio embedded in her post--something that she had written and recorded herself! (Beautiful, BTW!)
Well, the light bulb went off. Talking! I could "tell" my stories! (Got zapped to beat the band!) I used to do "talking letters" to people on cassettes back in the days before cell phones when I moved to Green Bay and couldn't afford long distance calls. I did get more used to it as I did it...
So, I checked out the place Teresa used, but to have unlimited time (which, face it, I would absolutely need) it was $59 a month! Ouch! So I started investigating online about making audio recordings. You'd need a host (which costs money as far as I could find) so that your audios would be stored there in cyberspace. Then you could copy and embed them into your blog. Kind of the same thing as YouTube, I thought to myself---and another light bulb went off! (Got violently zapped!)
I already know how to use youtube...(well, the basics, anyways)...and it's free. I did get comfortable with talking and showing my hands for crafting videos...but I haven't even done those for a long time. I do not know how to edit. I just turn the camera on and off...
But--maybe I actually could just tell the stories...like I would over coffee at my craft table...pretend I was talking privately to just one person. ??
NOTE: Remember this is a huge panicky fear of mine--even had somebody else read Soft Breaths for me when I was asked to read it at the Red Weather annual public gathering. I just couldn't do it myself because of fear of public speaking in the first place and plus I can get all choked up and teary, to boot, when it is something close to my heart. So be prepared. It happens to me one-on-one, too, the closer I let the story in.
That is what I was asking about with the cards on New Year's Eve. Is this YouTube thing what I am supposed to be doing? And I got that I am definitely on the right path...that it will unfold as it is meant to.
First, I can get back into the swing of things by doing a few hand-demo type videos I have been meaning to do. And then I can practice on the story-telling videos. Honestly, I "got" that I am supposed to show myself talking and that gives me fits of anxiety--but I can practice until I get more comfortable. I do have three questions that I got from readers quite a while back but have not forgotten. I can never tell the short version, right? So, I can begin by answering those questions I already have. It really helps me to have questions to answer. I think probably every one of the additional stories I have written--even the series pieces--have been to answer an inquiry by a reader. Except this one, of course--LOL! Nobody asked for this. ;)
Anyways, that is the goal for 2013. To make talking videos. (Do they call them Vlogs?) I'm not sure if I will just post them on the stories blog or on both blogs, but I promise the first one, should there be one, will definitely be on both blogs and I would let you know. Honestly, I'm not sure if you'll see it sooner or much later in the year--or if I will totally fail and you won't ever see one. I can only promise that I will give it my very best effort and that I won't trust my own opinion (which tends to be negative and I would probably delete everything). I'll have my closest people give me their honest opinions first. Whew! I think I'm having a panic attack!
Maybe I could start out by showing out the window or Karma sleeping...? Or Leah suggested maybe I could be doing something else at the same time to make me feel more comfortable?
Regardless, this would be quite the answer to me telling my stories. They wouldn't be in writing, but doing it this way wouldn't interfere as much with my "good" hours! Not as physically taxing, you know? I wouldn't have to give up or cut back severely with my card making, zendalas, art journaling, letter writing, bookbinding, blogging, the new wall art...all the variety of things I love. :):) I may have to cut back someplace--probably will--but I won't have to give it all up, you know?
I put in 3 1/2 hours total yesterday and 4 hours today writing these blog entries. Now I am 4 or 5 days behind on blogs but am too sore to comment (type) even if I manage to read some or to answer emails or to do any art or letter writing...see why I don't want to dedicate my whole life to writing? ROFL!
But GA is right. I have never written to be published. And, in my 61 years, 90% of my storytelling has been in those personal, one-on-one conversations. He says it's the sharing that is the important thing, not the method.
Thanks so much for letting me share with you all these years. Keep smiling and see you Friday! :):)