COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!

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Taking pictures of the sunsets

 

 

 

 

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and chickens.

 

 

 

 

House heating systems. House additions. Little houses. Greenhouses. These are the current projects with which Carl and I are distracting ourselves.

P1040392And Big Red’s comb. Every time he crows–which is often; Big Red feels challenged by the wind, which is averaging over thirty m.p.h. today, and has to strut his stuff–I am reminded of his frostbitten comb and feel terribly guilty. I’ve attempted to slather it with Neosporin, a protective measure suggested on chicken websites and by our vet, and it seems only to have made it worse. Never mind the fact, Big Red must then endure the humiliation of having sticks of hay and dust stuck to his comb by the goo.

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We remove the waterer from the coop at night to be rid of the humidity. And still the temperatures hover at 8 degrees at night, the wind blows, and more of his crown turns black and slightly swollen.

A heart-wrenching diversion from the two perfectly formed books that percolate in my brain.

But, diversions notwithstanding, every morning, I settle down to write out the sh*ty first drafts, assaulted though I am by judgement. This is a stupid idea. Give it up and do something with your life. These words on paper are never, ever going to articulate what you wish them to.

At which point, Big Red crows, reminding me, again, to turn down the blare of my monkey chatter brain. Take a deep breath and attempt to focus again. Every day, every minute, I have to tell myself this is worthwhile. I am going to write this book, against all odds and half my personalities. 

Yes, there are many voices in my mind, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose the definition between them. Go over that edge. Believe those voices.

Granted, sometimes I do believe them. Too often, I allow the negative to have merit. That is what Bittersweet Manor is, in part, about: Emma stopped believing in herself. For various reasons, she gave up what she most loved to do. We might all, at some time, have done that. Given up something we cared about. A shifting of priorities because we thought the other person was right. The money. The job. And then we look back in wonder. What have we done?

For example, I just stepped off the board of an organization I have been a Governing Board member of for well over ten years. It was, in large part, how I presented myself when meeting new people. I was proud to be involved and helping. It gave me a societal significance that being an unpublished writer did not. It had meaning.

Thus, my resignation was the longest in history. In no small part because of my deep ambivalence. The organization had changed my life for the good. And then the organization changed. My life changed. I didn’t like aspects of either change. If I accepted the changes, life would be unalterably changed . . ..

Change. A scary word. A challenging word. A healthy word.

One reason I left that organization was that it took up time that I could have been doing the business of writing, namely getting published; it is no coincidence that I am publishing for the first time at around the same time that I am giving up my responsibilities to that organization.

Trying to reach one’s purpose and goal is, at times, a Sisyphean task. Imagine working very hard for very long, and finally reaching that goal only to screw it up. I have been writing for over thirty years. Four novels, three long stories/novellas, and a variety of short stories, all people my Sighing Closet. Now that one of them has broken free, I must be very careful not to sabotage it.

Which I caught myself doing two days ago. I realized that I was not doing what needed to be done to develop an author platform. I whined and complained: I don’t know how to do it. I can’t figure out MailChimp. I don’t want to stalk or be stalked, tweeting. Nobody discusses at Disqus, why should I bother to learn it?

I was avoiding reality: without an author platform, my book might as well join the others in the Sighing Closet. And so, in the last two days, I set about focusing like our robo-vacuum Felix. I sent out an email to everyone I thought might be interested in the book, and took the responses I got and put them into MailChimp. Ba-da-bing! A mailing list!

Now, I have to take the next and harder step: I must stretch far beyond my comfort level and ask friends, relations, and acquaintances to give me a part of their mortality. Because to ask someone to buy a book, never mind read it, is asking them to spend some of their mortality. And will Bittersweet Manor be worthy of that ephemeral thing we call life? Will readers gain something from it?

COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!

I just heard that I am to have an interview. And a Book Launch Reading. Bittersweet Manor will be available to buy as of May 6, and the book launch party will be Friday, May 9th at Books on the Square in Providence, RI, and what if I get a brain block in the middle of answering a question, which I do so often? And then there are the words I make up without realizing they don’t exist. And the scramble of ideas that tumble out in no sense-icle order, though they make entirely good sense if I could just explain but by then I have already sunk into a mortified silence.

Bittersweet Manor ends well, if not cheerfully. I hope that someday I will be able to say the same for my next two books. All three are quixotic attempts to express the loves and losses of life. And then the shoe drops. Big Red crows. I go off in an entirely other direction.

I will end lamely with this note: it is so much easier to push seeds into dirt, plan a tiny house so that we might have a caretaker of the chickens, thus enabling us to go to Providence more often, than to consider one’s choices, past and present, right and wrong.

The frame of our house. Overbuilt? In this wind? There is no such thing as overbuilt. Good choice.
The frame of our house. Overbuilt? In this wind? There is no such thing as overbuilt. Good choice.

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