It’s all Greek to me…
Odysseus and his men drive a burning stake into the eye of the giant Cyclops.
I’ve been doing an online course on the Ancient Greeks, my wheel house. I find when I start to learn ‘new things’, I don’t stray far from my field of interest. My degree is in History. Antiquities, think Romans and Greeks. An email popped up from Coursera asking if I would be interested in an Ancient Greek History course. Um, yeah-sure-you-bettcha I was interested. I was looking for something to side track a bit of my time as it was, I’m so recently immersed in my frantic world of writing.
You see, the kid is back to school. The triple digit (and 90 degree) weather has broken, and it has been lovely outdoor living. Windows open and a cool morning breeze rustling through the house…that sort of lovely. I have some big plans for my career within the next year. Just got a short story accepted for publication in a literary journal. (It’s slated to be published in February of 2020.) I’ve got a few tweaks coming to the old blog here and my ‘social network’. That one makes me uncomfortable and agitated, but we’ll deal with that later.
Needless to say, I’m back to spending uninterrupted hours a day in my head. Whether writing my new book, editing two old ones, submitting my work to the usual suspects, reading books on Italian literature and listening to Russell Brand’s podcast Under the Skin…my thoughts rush around, bouncing and snapping my synapses.
Like the old days…
I was thinking about the way I used to do things.
Truth be told, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my life used to be. In my younger years. When I was more outgoing. Not as worried and scared as I have become of late.
It’s a strange thing, there has been a noticeable timidness that’s crept into my once outgoing nature as I’ve gotten older. Yet, strangely enough, my self-confidence has been on the rise. I like to attribute the rise in self-confidence to exhaustion. I kind of don’t have time for the bullshit anymore. By Bullshit I mean worrying about what others think about my shorts in the summer, my unkempt hair, my submission to their magazines, my letting go of things that don’t serve me and never did. The other part probably has to do with my therapist and yoga practice.
(Oh god, there I’ve gone and done it. Made myself human to my three fans. Yes, I have been doing yoga on a daily basis for the past two years and yes, I have silently become that person who, upon hearing of someone’s woes, thinks to myself, “there’s a yoga pose for that.” Stupid yoga.
AND, yes, I’ve got a therapist. Sooo in touch with my feelings…(insert choking cough here.) But isn’t it interesting, the fear we have of showing our human-ness to the outside world. When my mom used to have parties at our house –and my mom was the original Martha Stewart; people came to her house and stayed long past the agreed upon conclusion time of said party -but I digress, when helping my mom to clean for those parties, she had us hiding all sorts of things. Put the toothbrushes under the sink, put the extra desk from the dining room in the garage; all clutter cleaned up and put in a closed closet. My sister and I would joke, as we helped that we needed to “hurry up and hide the human side”. I still do this, when people are coming over to my home I hide my ‘human’. I don’t let people upstairs to see the mess that didn’t get cleaned up. I hide the toothbrushes and vitamins under the sink. Little by little, I’ve been letting this practice go. I like to see other’s human side, why shouldn’t they be allowed to see mine? It’s a strange thing, allowing someone in that deeply. Past the superficial. And yet, that level of vulnerability is what draws us closer together. Isn’t this the stuff Brene Brown is always talking about?)
I love John Cougar Mellencamp. I saw him in concert two years ago and I’m still not ready to talk about it. Seeing him in concert was intense bucket list stuff for me. I hold The Cougar in a private sort of way. I don’t hold him out in the open for all to see. His influence and presence in my life: I’ve always felt I needed to hold him close to the bone.
John Cougar Mellencamp, this man who stood for himself and did things his own way, regardless of what the world was doing…well, I was inspired, impressed, and wholeheartedly related to his message. As a sixth grade girl whose friends were evenly divided between Duran Duran or Michael Jackson (those were the times my friends, MJ hadn’t gone all creepy in ‘85. Not that we knew about anyway.) But those were the two camps available to me at that point in my life, and I decided to stand alone in camp with The Cougar.
He gave me a voice when I felt voiceless. He was a friend I rocked out to in my room, my small tape player turned up as far as it would go, distorting the sound of the music from a full rift of a guitar to a high pitched twangy strain of technology. He was honest and heartfelt and didn’t care what others thought about him, and that’s what I was desperately trying to be; but a girl in 6th grade in ’85 wasn’t really encouraged to stand out from the crowd. And still that was the beginning of a twinkle, when I began to think I wanted to do things differently than all the other around me. That was the beginning of my iconoclastic ways.
A woman writes in 1901
This is not the rejection you thought it was, it’s a different rejection of rejection. I’m pretty sure Yoda said that at one point.
So, this morning, I’m sitting in my haven of a backyard, the weather is nice and cool, cloud cover with active squirrels whooping it up, rummaging through the trees along my fence line.
I go through my normal morning moves: coffee, jazz, journal, and then check the email. I’ve subscribed to several informative ‘writer’ blogs and such over the years, and this morning as I read through one such one, an interesting article caught my eye, “Levels of rejection and what they mean.”
Of course, my gut reaction: What the fuck?! You mean there are different levels of rejection to feel bad about other than just the normal rejection that’s eating me up on the insides?!
A glutton; of course I read on.
Here’s a weird bit of information. When you publish short stories on your own personal website, it often voids the chances of said story to be published in a literary magazine, most of them require pieces that have never been published before. That rule includes one’s own blog.
That is one of the reasons I tend not to put any short stories on my blog.
But I love this one. I wrote it for a short story / essay contest held here in my little corner of the world where the theme was Fuel. Well, when I think of fuel, the one thing that always comes to my mind is my love for coffee. It truly fuels me!
Coffee Shops by Nicole Sharp Continue reading
A few years ago, maybe only two years ago, now that I think about it. Two years ago, I found Mary Beard. And since then, the more I find out about her, as she shows up in my peripheral, the more of a crush I develop on her.
Mary Beard has a laundry list of ‘things she is’ behind her name. In summation, she is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge. She is an English scholar and classicist, think study of ancient Romans and Greeks among others. She’s been made a Dame of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which puts the title Dame in front of her given name. There are more titles she touts as well; and she has a regular blog that appears in The Times Literary Supplement.
I first came to know of Mary’s in an article written in the New Yorker. I was fascinated with the easy going, long gray haired woman with no make-up that was practically glowing because as she sat comfortably on a velvet chase, she looked like she had the whole world figured out. The article was wonderful as well, and instilled the beginnings of my crush. Apparently, Mary’s not so polite trolls on social media are no match for her. She often engages them. So much so, that she engaged one such young man and they are now friends. She did indeed, if I am remembering correctly, garner an apology as well.
Happy New Year!
When it comes to New Year’s celebrations there are as many traditions as there are people. My family eats Steak and Lobster with champagne, the idea being that you eat the way you’d like to eat for the rest of the year. So we ate well, in the hopes the coffers would stay full enough for such extravagance.
There are other traditions (superstitions?) I am thinking of adding to my own personal repertoire. Sweep your house of dirt and mess before midnight to symbolize ridding yourself of the past year’s trash. I know those raised in the south eat black eyed peas in the New Year. The more you eat, the richer you’ll be in the coming year.
In South America, folks pack a suitcase and carry it around the block at midnight to symbolize travel in the New Year. It might be worth carting a bag through the snowy Idaho streets if it brings more travel into my life!
A few more interesting traditions: Wear red underwear, you’ll find love. Burn your Christmas tree outside to cleanse the past and make way for the future. Fireworks might be pretty and the big boom fun, but the original use of fire and loud noises outside at midnight was to chase away any evil attempting come into your life.
The writer and historian in me loves these traditional ideas, but I’ve got my own tradition that has taken precedence the past few years.
Art for the sake of art. In Latin it’s: Ars Gratia Artis. That’s the motto of MGM, if you look at their logo of the roaring tiger, above his head is a ribbon with those words written across it.
I’ve always loved that idea. Art for the sake of art.
As a writer, my art, the moment I know I’m creating art, is when the world falls away. Once that happens, when I’m in the thick of a story, skies open up, the sun twists and turns; I own the light and the stars and the shadows. I allow the elements to frame what I’m doing in just the right way. That’s when my art comes alive for me. That’s when I’m writing for the sake of writing.
Art however…oh art for the sake of art. Not for the almighty dollar, not for the fame, the notoriety, but to make tangible the way an artist sees the world. I love that.
I recently read the essay “One Hundred False Starts” by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was published in The Saturday Evening Post on March 4, 1933. It is an interesting insight to his process. The false starts are snippets he’d written down on pieces of paper that floated around him, on his desk, in his pockets. Bits of paper with bits of a story line written on them. Most of the ideas, he claims, he’ll never run down and make anything out of.
Of course, that had me thinking about my own process. There are big ideas, bull-ish ideas that won’t let go until they are satisfied their story has been properly writ. However, when I need a break from the books, I write short stories. Some ideas come to me quickly, but sometimes I skim through my archive of ideas to find inspiration. And my archive of work, it’s pretty large. I have a whole file on my computer dedicated to documents named “just an idea” “idea22” “Idea on a Sunday evening” “Idea 543”. The file folder is bulging with my random thoughts, my angst, and sometimes it seems just writing for the sake of putting words on paper. I also have note books called “works in progress”, the tactile version of my own one hundred false starts. Bits and pieces of paper with ideas jotted down. Ideas that seemed interesting at the time, that seemed like something worth following through with. Like something worth holding onto. Continue reading