Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Guarding Our Time

Time. It is the most elusive thing. It is a luxury of which some of us are willing to beg, borrow, and steal for. People wish for more of it, convinced if they had just a few minutes more the results could be life-changing.

It's true. We are busy people. Our schedules leave us exhausted, delirious, overwhelmed. To survive, we are constantly juggling, balancing, shifting, always dangling just above the edge of a looming deadline.

I lose count of how many times I hear the words, "There's just not enough time in the day to get everything done." It pains me most when it's my voice saying them.

We are a breed of our own: the busy.

To achieve this livable state of sleep deprivation, we make caffeine our favorite food group, existing in a jittery existence of the fear and consequences of nodding off. We are masters of the to-do list, the weekly calendar, the span of 24-hours.

This constant battle against the clock must be universal. Surely, others feel the tremble of the ticking constantly beating beneath every step they take through their mine field of a day. We constantly avert any possible social scenario that can pose a threat to our down-to-the-second agenda, knowing if we stop long enough to smell those ridiculous flowers the less-busy always talk about, we're doomed.

They say the early bird catches the worm, time waits for no one, time is money, and there's no time like the present. We are constantly bombarded by the insistence to do more, be more, live more. This is our fuel.

And then there's writing.

I recently had an online discussion with two fellow writers in which time was our topic, specifically how to find more of it. As creative people with unconventional lives and schedules, we are often time-shamed. Example A: "When you're done with your little writing thing, do you think you can actually spend time with your friends and family? We miss you."

To ask someone who is not a writer to understand how we work and why time is everything to us is asking for the impossible. Non-writers can view our desire for writing time as selfish; our writing – and the time we need for it – can inconvenience many people. We are expected to keep a more world-friendly schedule by only tapping into and channeling our creativity during business hours - and never on weekends.

Finding the time to write can become the most challenging aspect of a writer's life. It certainly is for mine. We can tape as many Do Not Disturb signs on our home office doors we want, but that tiny flicker of guilt still remains each time we sit down at our laptops and the world continues to happen without us, hopefully missing us. It is indeed a high price to pay.

Yet, the results can be life-changing - or, more specifically, career-changing. Many of us dream of one day writing for a living, of reaching a point in which our talent and creativity sustains us. But we cannot get there without time.

The discussion with my writer friends ended with the conclusion that each of us need to be more protective of our schedules, that we collectively have to guard our writing time. We are soldiers, protecting our own very precious turf. Because every second really does count, as much as every word we write.

The struggle against the clock, our own lives, and the demands we must meet can be a difficult one to endure. Yet, in the end, those few moments in which the world around us slips away and nothing else matters but the words on the page - they make the pace worth it. It's usually then we feel like we won.

And, as they say, even the smallest victory counts.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Scary Easter Bunny Circa 1974

I was 4 years old and I was terrified.

Poem Featured in Sonic Boom

I'm proud and honored to have my poem 'Mirror Ball' featured in the new issue of the literary journal Sonic Boom (published in India). Many thanks to the editors Shloka Shankar and Shobhana Kumar.

Read the issue of Sonic Boom here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Limited Autographed Copies of Fifty Yards and Holding

For a limited time only, readers can order an autographed copy of my new young adult novel Fifty Yards and Holding. There are only 25 copies available - and they will go fast. Order yours today. Free shipping is included. All orders will ship on March 3rd.

Thank you for your support!

About the Book: Victor Alvarez is in serious trouble. Now seventeen and flunking out of high school, he’s been chosen as the leader of the violent street gang he’s been a member of since he was thirteen. Riley Brewer has just broken a state record as the star of their high school baseball team. When Riley and Victor meet by chance, a connection begins to grow. When friendship turns to love, both young men realize their reputations contradict who they really are. Once their secret relationship is discovered, Victor realizes their lives are at risk. Refusing to hide in order to survive, Riley vows that only death can keep him apart from Victor.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saying Good Bye to Granny

In my Granny's arms when I was just three days old.
Earlier this week, I lost my last living grandparent. My sweet grandmother, Tina, has passed away. One of the hardest working women I've ever known, Granny filled many of my young summers with music, card games, fried chicken, bowling, and laughter. She was a survivor in every sense of the word. She will be deeply missed.

Granny with my great-aunt Sandie in Alabama.
Strong Southern women is where I come from.
She Remembers Love 

They say her mind has started to slip,
she’s let herself go. She’s old now,
in her seventies. Hair has grayed,
photographs have yellowed. Son
and daughters have moved to places
like Hayward, Honolulu, Vegas. She stays
in the South but they say she’s too much
to handle. Gave up her crocheting,
crosswords puzzles and cups of
sugary coffee. Each bittersweet day after
day after day, she stares at the screen,
comforted by murder mysteries
and memories of men she once
loved and loved her back. Her stories
are compilations of many, a blurred
mixture of truth and dreams, the dead
relatives. Orphanages in Louisiana.
Bad marriages in California.
True love in Tellico Plains.
Over a clumsy game of solitaire,
she shuffles the cards and recalls
a day trip to Knoxville when she knew
her second husband had fallen
in love with her for the first time. His left
hand on the steering wheel. His right,
careening around the edges of her
Southern heart. As they cross a bridge,
the swaying hips of the Tennessee River,
reminds him of their first kiss. Words tumble
from his mouth and she drinks them up,
allows them to melt inside of her, cooling
the simmering regrets that have begun
to plague her like the sorrow she felt
in her Cherokee blood on The Cherohala
Skyway, when he took her to Stratton
Meadows and she feared the ghosts. Their trail
of tears haunt her, later, in his hospital
room when his heart gives way and she
suddenly becomes a widow, a nuisance,
a door that won’t shut all the way. She lays
down the king of hearts, winning
the game. She doesn’t always remember
his name. But the bridge, the river, the allure
of the city, strike a familiar chord
in the nostalgic belfry of her beautiful heart.

Me. Granny. Bunnies.
The Departure

My parents lied to the airline, said I was five. Rules
were made to be broken when convenient, when
getting rid of me, when I needed to be old enough
to fly alone. The stewardess gave me wings. The pilot
showed me the cockpit, my first view of cerulean sky.

I was four. I flew south. For the summer, I was sent
to Carson, California where I ate cinnamon
toast, drank chocolate milkshakes for breakfast made
each morning by my stoned and seventeen Aunt Lawana,
who embodied the fearlessness I would always crave.

First rule: Granny refused to let Jolene be played
in her house. Said it was about a cheatin’ woman
and no good would ever come of that filthy song.
One night, after a bucket of fried chicken, I caught
her singing a verse or two. Bad memories got stuck

down deep in her throat, ‘til she nearly choked
to death and Pa had to save her. He gave her
a can of Fresca, bought her endless bags of yarn
to knit dresses for her toilet paper dolls, living
like banished woman in the bathroom, breathing.

Granny rubbed tobacco into my skin so I would know
how to always soothe a sting. Pa filled the Doughboy
pool so I could float on my back beneath the pomegranate
trees. So I could throw my dreams up to the sun, hoping
in September the truthful sky would carry me home.

In loving memory of Tina Elsie Axley (née Womack).

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