Category: writing

Long time gone…

Wow, has it really been nearly three months since my last post? Really? Sheesh, I have been completely lax.
Just to catch up everything in a nutshell (so I can spend future posts on more interesting topics), here’s a brief, uninteresting report of what this Rambler has been up to in her long absence (yes, I apologize, I spoke in the third person… I admit I am a dork. Deal with it.):

In my long absence, I can report that I am 20 weeks along with lil’ Critter #2, which two year-old Critter #1 is not too happy about. Critter #1 has taken to ignoring all references to Mommy’s growing belly, and has instead decided the whole world is hers. The chant around my house has become a variant of “My phone! My crayon! My computer! Mine mine mine mine!” I’ll admit, I have a really hard time suppressing laughter at her vehemence over her possession of things. For instance, there’s the teepee she got for Christmas – she keeps trying to push our large mastiff/lab mix out of it, while screaming “My teepee! My teepee! Out, Bash, out!” Vash (not “Bash” as my daughter likes to call him, is named after the Humanoid Typhoon from Trigun), of course, just sits there, not budging, while my two-year-old becomes very miffed. I don’t know if it’s just lack of sleep, but these scenes cheer my up and warm the cockles of my heart.

Also, my hyperemisis gravidarum has wrapped itself up nicely (thank freakin’ God). I no longer wretch when I brush my teeth, accuse people of “smelling like death” if they brew or drink coffee.

Not too much has happened in the writing world for this one. I should have a poem nearing completion sometime in the next week or so, I am still brainstorming/early writing my next project “Shieldmaiden”, and I sent a solicitation to a second agent for Waking Dreams, which was promptly rejected. That means of the nine agents I researched as being vaguely open to not only my genre, subject, accepting new writers, etc, I only have seven more agents to query. Yay? After that, there are four publishing houses I can query. Then, the final resort… SELF-PUBLISHING. And of course, edit, edit, edit. Seems like a bit of a scary, exciting world. But I am game! If the traditional course fails, which I imagine it will. I’m a first time author in a competitive world, with a very tough break-in genre, and, well, in spite of my wishes and hopes that Waking Dreams is an absolute stellar, perfect little diamond in the rough, chances are it’s a rough little piece of coal that could use some pressure to become the gem it could be.

Aside from that, like all of you, I weathered the holidays (only a little worse for wear), and am feeling the holiday “Why the f*&k did I eat all that?” blues.

So, that’s sort of my last three months in a nutshell. I hope everyone out there has been kind to themselves and their loved ones and are gearing up for the New Year!

Love and Peace to you in the New Year! (sorry, channeling a little bit of Vash the Stampede there).

Silence

Finding my voice has been an odd kind of journey. Taking criticism is hard, but it’s an absolute must for any writer or artist, because it helps you grow and learn what kind of criticism is constructive and will help you grow, and what you can leave at the door for what it is.

I am not a perfect writer. I am not a great poet. But do I like writing? Hell, yes. Am I going to continue writing? Hell, yes, again! And, if one other person enjoys the ride, then I feel like it’s worth it. So I can say I don’t find it funny when I read diatribes directed at bloggers and Facebookers, the ones that pose as witty critiques but are really directed critiques of people struggling to find a way to express themselves through social media.

Communication is difficult. People use words and images in different ways. Will our language skills grow and evolve as we age and truly find not only ourselves, but our voices? Definitely. But haranguing, ridiculing (however subtly) or otherwise making people afraid to speak is not the way to do it. The only thing that promoting silence and staunching self-expression does is staunch creativity and fan the fires of fear and self-reproach.

We can’t become better writers, better artists, hell, better human beings if we do not hone our modes of self-expression.

So, with all this in mind, I wrote another poem this week. I hope you enjoy it!

   This photo is copyrighted by Cole Thompson. Permission to use the photo was granted by the artist – please visit Cole Thompson Photography and Cole Thompson Photography Blog to learn and see more of his creative work.  

Peace and a day with courage and love to you all.

-The Rambler

Musings on Expectations

I once was (and, in all honesty, still am to some degree) a creature of expectation. Perhaps it was part of being a dreamer – I spent so much of my time with my head in the clouds or in a wistful  future, I wove intricate little plans for myself of what may be, would be, and could be. I hoped and dreamed up a world of wonders for myself and my family, a world away from the hurt I had grown accustomed to, and I wove into that world a certain degree of expectations about who I am.

My name means “lamb” and my mom often called me her little lamb. She thought I was innocent, sweet, and pure – and I think I tried to be all those things for her. And for me, because more than anything I wanted to be good. I wanted to be nice, to treat people kindly, and to be the best person I could be.  Hell, I still want these things!

But then there’s the other side of expectation – you build yourself into what you expect (or believe others expect) and if you fall short of what you envisioned you would be, well, your world comes crashing down around you. The same goes of expectations of others – if they fall short, or even do something other than what you had expected or dreamed they might do, in your fairy tale version of the world, you feel crushed. You taste and feel disappointment. And what maybe should have been sweet, is bitter simply because it was not what you had expected.
I spent a lot of my childhood waiting – waiting for the promised camping trip, fishing trip, swimming pool visit that never happened. It broke my Mom’s heart to see her kids waiting on the porch for a father who never showed. He forgot, things came up and he simply forgot to tell us he couldn’t come, or he thought it was the next weekend – he would make it up to us with an even better trip – a trip that usually didn’t happen.
The excitement turns to disappointment, which turns to a feeling of sadness, to self-doubt. If Dad doesn’t want to see me, what does that say about me?  I saw other dads pick their children up from school, and I felt envious, because I didn’t really know what it was like. You know, to have a dad pick me up and lift me into the air with that look of joy and pride I saw in those other dad’s faces. You know, the look I see in my husband’s eyes when he spins my daughter around in a circle and they fall into a heap giggling.

So my hopes became tinged with an expectation for disappointment and sadness. An expectation that I would always be Rachael the Unloved. That when someone forgot something trivial, perhaps it meant I was still the Unloved. The Unimportant. 

Now, I’m old enough to know it doesn’t mean anything. Children are precious and a gift, and that Dad didn’t make time for us, well, that was and is his own baggage. There were other things going on – of course – a child can’t even begin to understand the worlds and relationships of adults. But I don’t need to make excuses for him, or judge him, or even waste a moment caring. It was what it was.
But, all that being said, I want to leave my expectations behind me. It’s obviously an ongoing battle, that I believe I am winning (some days are better than others), but progress is progress!

So, here’s my final version of my poem on Expectations. You may have seen earlier drafts, but I decided they sucked – er, um, what I mean to say, is – I decided that they were a little too rough around the edges. So, I may be deleting them. If you read and preferred a previous draft, feel free to let me know and I can send it to you.

Otherwise, here it is:

Okay, I should say that one might get the impression that I am emo or depressed from this blog.  But I should state – writing is cathartic for me. If I feel a moment of disappointment, or a worry of expectation, than writing about that pain, fear, or guilt – well, the mere act of writing it down, getting it on the page and out of my head – that is as good as a sigh of relief. It gets out and lets me get on to thinking about better things.
Like, how nice it is sit in this moment, with a happy heart, listening to my daughter’s breathing over the monitor and the keys clacking as my husband works next to me. Thinking about the run we just finished, the life we are leading, and the places we are going.
And in this moment, this moment without expectations? All I can think is that I have a truly wonderful and blessed life.

Ten Years and some change

So my husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary. It was the most fun we’ve had in quite some time. We ate, we drank, we walked by the beach and marveled at how far we’ve come.

All in all, the last ten years have been nothing short of amazing. My love for my husband has grown over the years – I have seen him emerge from his teenage years into a responsible, caring, silly man. And now, seeing him with our daughter and pursuing his dream to be a doctor? Well, that love has become even more intense. He can still make me laugh, even as he drives me insane.

Still Guilty of PDAs after 10 Years

On a completely different note, my own life seems to have gotten a bit off track.

I am not really a medievalist anymore. I like to say I am, but I don’t live, breathe, and eat the medieval world and literature any more. I am not reciting Old English to begrudging college students like I once imagined I would be doing at this stage in my life. My dreams of being a writer are, well, active, sure, but I am not being paid to write (not yet, at least).

What happened? Where did that spark, the love of all things old and medieval go? Nowhere. It’s still here. It all comes down to money – I don’t have it!

Then, these last few weeks, well, I’ve just been feeling tired. Not a type of tired that sleeping will cure. It’s been a bone-tired, stretched-too-thin exhaustion, that has made me feel close to breaking. Is it pushing myself to read and write, being a mom, and working full time, and just feeling like I’m not quite doing anything justice? Is it fear of what may come, what might not come, and the failure that now is so much closer?

Perhaps. Or, maybe it’s that I feel like I’m spending a lot of time on things that don’t really matter. I’m watching my daughter grow up and I feel like I’m missing it. I get back from work and I am too wiped out to write, recently, or do much of anything.

Maybe it’s just that I truly needed this vacation. Vacations are good for the soul after all, and this one certainly has been. It’s let me get back in touch with me, not the tired, frazzled, cranky person I felt I’ve become become. I feel like I need to let myself become more grounded and centered again. I need to find that focus on the positive in life, rather than how short I am falling from where I want to be. Or stressed by those things outside of my control.

All in all, I’m feeling a lot more at peace, thanks to a vacation and visiting family. I have a lot of self-discovery and struggling to do, but that’s okay. I’ll figure it out. Or I won’t. And that’ll be okay, too.

Family 

Queries, Synopses, and other forms of masochism

Wow. So, I have been thinking about the querying process for quite some time. I did my research and narrowed my list down to only those agents I think would consider my novel and its genre. And that was disheartening. Not many agents are accepting horror novels from first time authors. But I did not let that dishearten me! I am the Rambler! I am ever optimistic.

So, I carefully made my list, gathered from the 2012 Writer’s Market book (a must have, really). I then took my little list from the book and researched each of the names on each agent/agency’s respective website, and watched as the list narrowed. Agents were no longer accepting submissions. Or, they were no longer accepting submissions in my genre. Or, they just weren’t taking any new clients. Completely understandable, really. And my list shrank even more.

That was five months ago. I looked at my list, and I wasn’t disheartened! I am the Rambler, after all, and cheerful optimism in the face of adversity is my thing! So, I decided to write my first synopsis of Waking Dreams, even as I stared at my itty, bitty list of prospective agents.

And about five months ago, I decided to go through and finish my third edit of Waking Dreams instead of finalizing my queries – which was a good call. It really needed it, and I think I smoothed out some relatively rough areas. Once I finished that third edit, I approached the synopsis and querying process with renewed vigor. After one week, I was still staring at an empty page. Okay, that’s not entirely true. It had the following written, in beautiful typeface, the font painstakingly chosen after the course of hours:

Synopsis of Waking Dreams
a novel by R.R. Wolfgang

It looks really, pretty, right? As pretty as simple words on a page can be, when you’re not trying to shock or awe someone with your graphic aptitude (of which I have none). But I was pretty pleased with myself.
Anyway, I spent a lot of time researching how to write a synopsis, how to write a query letter, and finally, I did what I really needed to do – I just started writing. Then I deleted everything I had just written, turned to my husband and said: “This sucks. This really really sucks. Why does this suck so much?” (Note: there may have been a few expletives in the above bit of dialogue. Maybe. Okay, there were a lot of expletives.) 
After about ten minutes of groaning at my keyboard, hitting my head against the keyboard (quite literally, I’m afraid), I finally decided to poke around my files. Lo! I found a file dated from January entitled “Synopsis”! I was thrilled. I opened it eagerly, thinking I would be able to escape the pit of self-loathing I had somehow crawled into… Only to discover yet another blank, empty page staring back at me. This page didn’t even have a title.
Sighing, I went back to my real synopsis, deleted the gibberish brought about by my head-banging frustration, and set down to it. It took a while, and I had several breaks to run out and get the “This sucks! My synopsis sucks sucks sucks! What does that say about my novel? Gah! This sucks!” – but, eventually, I finished the first draft. 
And, after another week, I am happy to say that I did submit my very first query yesterday. I am relatively pleased with it – I say “relatively” because right after I hit send, I decided I should have kept the paragraph in about the background to Waking Dreams, but, c’est la vie. It’s done, baby! I am not expecting anything of this very first query, but it feels pretty good to have submitted it!