Validation Drug Trip

I’d love to say that I need no outside validation for my writing…but then I’d be lying. However, validation seems like a drug. Every time you need a little bit more than last time to get that lift.

Fairly soon I’m going to have to resort to a cheap compliment fishing expedition to get the validation I crave, even though that kind of validation is never as good as a pure freely-given compliment.

HOw much do you rely on others to tell you your writing is any good?

Inundated, overwhelmed, and out of my mind. You?

My son's "Are you crazy?!" look.

I’ve got a stack of novels and short stories I’ve written and a folder stuffed with rejections. I think I fumbled (to put it politely) my last effort at getting an agent. But self-publishing doesn’t appeal to me either.

You know those hoarding shows where you can see people surrounded, no, overwhelmed by the dross and remains of their lives? I feel like that except instead of pizza boxes and newspapers and cats, it written words and all the talismans that cling to them. I don’t even know where to begin.

Some days I think I can do anything I put my to. Other days…I wonder much I could carry to the dumpster before my mind clears.

Ever think of just throwing all those words away?

The Most Expensive Dog Toothpaste Ever

Sadie ripped Porter’s ear with her teeth. Earlier, my son reached for something to shove under the bathroom door as a joke, and he knocked the doggie toothpaste to the floor. He didn’t notice it.

Porter and Sadie

Sadie loves dog toothpaste. You can’t actually brush her teeth because she struggles too much to eat the paste.

I was washing dishes when Sadie found the toothpaste on the floor. She was chewing away on the tube when Porter came over to investigate. The attack ensued.

My son screamed and the dogs tried to kill each other.

I dumped a pot of soapy water on them. They separated, but one of them lunged again. I grabbed the dogs’ water bowls and threw them. Water soaked the dogs, the sofa, the carpet, and the shelves. Everyone was breathing hard.

Blood from Porter’s ear spotted a cabinet door.

At the edge of the splash zone were our two laptops. A few drops of water streaked the tops of them, but they were closed, and I thought–no harm done there.

I took care of the dogs, my son, and the dishes. I sat down with my laptop and used it a while. When the power got down to below 40%, I decided to charge it.

It wouldn’t charge. After trying various things, I had to take the MacBook in to be repaired, pay more money than I had to spare, and live for days, DAYS, without my Mac.

Years of my life were happy without computers and the Internet in them. Well, such is life today. Some people lived happy lives before TV and independence from England. You can’t go back.

So now that I have my portal into cyberspace back, what do I do? I’m feeling more and more pressure to go ahead and opt for the e-publishing path…

But I can barely get people who know me to read my work…

My laptop holds most all of my writing. Most of them are backed up one way or another, but if I’d lost the Mac, I’d have lost a lot. But it made me wonder what I’d do without all my stories. What would you do if you lost everything you’d written?

We All Were Children After All

Orangeberry Books

I’ve never understood people who say they don’t like kids. They were once kids after all. Did they like being so easily dismissed by grown ups?

Not to mention I thought we were raised to avoid gross generalizations. There aren’t that many groups left you can publicly and happily state you don’t like. And what is to be gained from dismissing an entire group? You miss out on some interesting individuals that way.

Anyway, recently I met–in a cyberspace sort of way–a woman working on an anthology of stories from childhood. Dr. Niamh Clune is part of a new publishing venture that this week is coming out with their first book: Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence.

The proceeds will go to Child Helpline International, an organization that works to establish global helplines for children.

Perhaps you’d be interested in the book or at least passing this news on. You could friend Orangeberry on Facebook if you like, tweet, or participate in their Light-a-Candle campaign.

Somewhere between the time I was three and a stranger shot our family dog and ten years later when a strange man appeared at my bedroom window, I learned the world isn’t a safe place. We can’t protect children from every heartbreak in life–and if we did how would they learn empathy and develop as full human beings? But too many things children don’t need to experience, and I wish all us grown ups would give more thought to that.

My Miss Havisham

I met Miss Havisham late at night when I was 14 and alone in the house. I lived with my father, and he, as he was wont to do, was out for the night. Perhaps he’d be home at 3am or Sunday afternoon. He never promised any particular time.

from Great Expectations

We lived far from everything, fields around most of the house, a lake in front of the house, a highway in the distance. An only child, I had to find my own way to forget that the neighbors might not actually be close enough to hear screaming.

I’d curl up on the sofa and watch television. We got 5 channels, but two of them required going outside into the dark to turn the antennae, so after a certain hour, we really only had 3 channels.

On one of the channels I met Miss Havisham and fell in love with Charles Dickens. Perhaps you know his 200th birthday was the other day?

I watched the movie Great Expectations, and afterwards couldn’t stop thinking about Miss Havisham and Estella. They seemed to confirm my 14 year old perspective on love, and while I felt I was supposed to feel bad that Estella was being raised impervious to love, I also suspected this was not all together a bad thing. I rather wished I was Estella.

She was not afraid of boys.

But I feared I had far more in common with Miss Havisham–unstable and most likely to be left at the altar. Years later on my wedding day, when I was 27, I walked to the church in my wedding dress, my father at my side, with the slight nagging notion that my soon-to-be husband was going to change his mind.

I didn’t tell anyone Miss Havisham was at my wedding, but she was, quietly sitting in the corner of my mind, rather disappointed I wouldn’t be joining her.

Still, back when I was 14, having watched the movie, I went and read the book. The book was even better, and so I fell for Mr. Dickens.

Yes, he was flawed–seriously so–and not everything he wrote was perfect by any means, but how perfect does a writer need to be?

What if I could write one character that could stay with someone all of her life?

Is there any character like that for you?

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens. Glad you’re still with us. You know, in the way great story-tellers always are.

And the American family is?

my kiddo skates fast

My students–who come from all over the world–were asking me about American families. Why do we make our kids leave home at 18? Well, I don’t think we make them leave, but we do seem to have a different attitude about children leaving home. I had a hard time answering their questions though. My own experience growing up and leaving home wasn’t typical (what is typical?) and I can’t represent every population and all the views…

I have to remind my students that Americans aren’t all like me. So often I ask them, “What comes to mind when you think of an American?” “Blond.” Sigh.

But that is something else all together. The last few days they’ve wanted to ask about families. One student believes that American parents are fine with their kids getting hotel rooms and that kids take drugs because their parents do.

It was a long conversation and I know I failed to explain the half of it. How on earth do you explain the American family?

Oh, movies…

My grandmother used the word pictures to talk about movies. She would offer to take me to a picture show. She took me to see On Golden Pond. I might’ve been in the 7th grade. She really wasn’t interested in most pictures.

I like movies, but I don’t really mind that I hardly ever watch any these days. The movie has to be something special to me if I’m going to take that much time from my life. One thing I’ve never understood is watching a movie just because “it was something to see.”

Anyway, a friend posted a movie meme on his blog, and I thought I’d use it to make a post. Leave your own answers in the comments if you like (or write your own post and let me know).

1. Movie you love with a passion.

The Wizard of Oz And as with any passion, you either understand or you don’t.

2. Movie you vow never to watch.

Used to be Titanic. Still haven’t seen the entire movie, but I did get stuck watching the last hour a few months ago. Now I vow never to watch the entire thing. And most any horror flick. I’ve made a few exceptions, but usually regret it. Oh. And Batman. Don’t care what anyone says. Or any of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. Or Twilight. Or Anonymous.

3. Movie that left you literally speechless.

Dead Man Walking. Well, I managed to say one thing when the movie was over. My friend asked if I wanted a drink and I said yes.

4. Movie you always recommend.

I hate recommending movies. I don’t want you coming back annoyed at having wasted your time and money. Read reviews. Watch trailers. Take your own risks.

5. Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

For a long time that was Harrison Ford, but I haven’t seen any of his films from the last ten years. Can’t think of anyone else. Probably Judi Dench. Though just this evening I was thinking of seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s new film The Woman in Black even though he isn’t my favorite actor and I vowed never to watch horror films. Mostly I sympathize with his efforts to transition from boy wizard and would like to show him my support.

6. Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal of.

Tom Cruise. Adam Sandler. And I haven’t seen enough new movies to know who the hot young things are, so can’t speak to anyone else.

7. Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Humphrey Bogart. Helen Mirren.

8. Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen.

Ah, well. I can go for the obvious. Johnny Depp. (When he’s not hanging out on a Tim Burton movie set.)

9. Dream cast.

Hard to say, but it would have to involve Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, and Dame Maggie Smith. Maybe with David Tennant and John Cusack tossed in.

10. Favorite actor pairing.

Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Molly Ringwald and Ducky (yeah, you heard me).

11. Favorite decade for movies.

Don’t have one. Although I am usually reluctant to watch any film from the ’60s and ’70s.

12. Chick flick or action movie?

Neither. Don’t get me wrong. I loved When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard, but I don’t rush out to see the next incarnation of the genres.

13. Favorite movie setting.

London.

14. Hero, villain, or anti-hero?

I don’t know. Well, not the villain.

15. Black and white or color?

Don’t care.

Now, this one wasn’t in the meme on JES’s blog, but I think there should be this:

16. Movie you regret seeing.

I don’t know the name of this film, but I was in a hotel bar and they were showing this horrifying, misogynistic sci-fi flick on their TV. After watching three barely dressed women killed in sci-fi dystopian ways, I very much wanted to have my brain bleached.

My son and I did recently go see Hugo. That was a lovely film, and my 8 year old liked it.

And films you’d like to mention are?