I Believe I Can Fly – Just Not Today

I was power-walking again for exercise a couple of days ago when I decided to exercise my imagination for inspiration. 

Bundled in a red ski coat, sweat pants and tennis shoes I walked through our neighborhood where Cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom even as some trees remain naked. Purple, pink, and yellow flowers in my neighbors’ front yards already are promising spring. I noticed birds flying high or perched on trees.

“Self?” I said in my mind. “The next bird you see is you. Watch its patterns.  Note what it does. Imagine the bird is a reflection of you. The very next bird that catches your attention.”

“O.k.,” I agreed.

“You can’t look for a bird. The trick is the bird has to catch your attention.”

“Ok!” I said, emphatically.

It seemed odd that I was noticing birds until I started the internal conversation. Now I was only hearing them, none were flying in my view.

“O.k. I hear them. I don’t see them, but I know they’re all around me because I hear them,” I said to myself.

“Then just listen and realize the birds are singing even on this cold and dreary day. They’re not waiting for spring to break. Can you sing in the rain like Gene Kelly suggested?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I absolutely can. Is this little exercise over? I was just supposed to be reminded to sing in the rain?”

“No. Keep your eyes open. The next bird you see is a reflection of you.”

I noticed a tiny bird bouncing around on the ground. It was a red-breasted bird.

“Oh no!” I thought. “Get up from there! Get up! You’ve got wings. You can fly!”

The bird bounced around on the evergreen grass in an opening beyond a clump of trees.

“Fly birdie! Fly!” I thought, standing still to observe.

“There’s your bird. Now what do you think?” my invisible friend asked.

“Well, even though it is small and on the ground instead of in the air, it caught my attention. Maybe I will catch the attention of somebody – a manager  who will hire me or a publisher who will sign my book for publication and a movie.”  

A chilly wind whipped at my legs. I noticed a large bird flying above my little bird, but I remained focused on the small bird, since this was my assignment.

“O.k., So once I get their attention, I’ll keep it even though they may have bigger birds in sight. They may have high-profile authors on board, but I will keep their attention.”

Just then a flock of birds swooped down near my little bird, but quickly took flight again.

“Oh, those are all the self-published authors, touching ground (working their day jobs), but immediately taking flight again (going home to work on their dream job of self-publishing books).” They will not keep the people assigned to work with me from focusing on me and our project.”

Streaks of sunlight broke through the clouds. A smile rose from my heart.

“Little birdie, fly. Are you content to stay on the ground? You can’t be. We were made to fly,” I thought, hoping the bird could hear my thoughts.

I was reminded of a time when I was about 14-years-old and one of my favorite uncles, my greatest inspiration at the time, handed me a copy of the then-popular book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”  It was a very small hard-cover book, only 150 pages or so. I accepted the book as if he was handing me money.

“You are Jonathan,” he said. “We both are. This is our story.”

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“Don’t ask me. Read it for yourself,” he said. 

I read it quickly. It was the story of a bird that dared to leave the flock of birds pecking around on the sea shores for leftover scraps of food. The bird, named Jonathan, decided that since he had wings he must have been made to fly, not waddle around on the sand for crumbs. He decided he would fly simply for the joy of flying. He would fly simply because he could.

The other birds, of course, laughed at him and swore he would starve if he did not work as they did. But Jonathan’s hunger was more than belly-deep. He hungered to do what he felt he was designed to do.

Jonathan flew high until he met other birds of like-mind. They taught him new flying skills and encouraged him to fly even higher. He did, and at each new level, he met other teachers who taught him the miraculous things they could do with their wings.

This story came back to me as I watched my little bird bouncing around on the ground. I also remembered a conversation I had with my recently departed aunt, who also had been my best friend.

“Stop worrying about some little job,” she would say. “You’re an eagle. God made you to fly high above the rest of us. Stop pecking around here like some little chicken!”

She had good-gubment job security, so she wasn’t exactly in the position to convince me I did not need the same. But her encouragement came back to me as I watched my little bird a couple of days ago.

“Fly little bird. Fly,” I mentally projected as I watched her from a distance.

I decided to stand there and watch to see how long it would take her to get off the ground, but I became impatient, and went home. Later that day I considered the bird may have been telling me it is ok to be content on the ground for a while. Even birds must rest, right?

The 23rd Psalm came to mind. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me to the paths of righteousness for His namesake.”

I considered that my little bird had been simply lying down in green pastures for a moment.  Of course she took flight again at some point. Birds fly because they can and they must. They know they can fly.  I know I can, too – when the time comes. Until then, I am becoming more grounded in many ways. Grounded, as in: being in touch with reality; gaining a secure feeling  my personal feelings.

Yes, I can, and will, fly again. Just not right this very moment – and that’s o.k.

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The Difference Between a Writer and Author

What’s the difference between a writer and an author? 

I was delighted to consider myself a writer, having published hundreds of newspaper articles and two books with major publishers. Then I heard Zane’s opinion that the difference between a writer and an author is the personality quotient. An author has to have a marketable personality, she says. Now, coming from a woman who publishes books and has sold her own books to the tune of NY Times best seller status, that struck me as instructive.

There is a reason why so many great, well-researched, well-written books never even get published. A reason why many great books never make best seller lists. Half of the job is selling the book and, yes, it takes personality, charm, and a whole lot of other things to sell the book. I have picked up books from bargain bins, books I never saw reviewed, books I had not heard of on the internet, books that were great because they offered some novel perspective I had not considered, offered something that solved an internal conflict for me. 

Now I’m inclined to get a good old fashioned dictionary and compare the definitions of writer and author. Thinking of the definitions, I am considering that a writer is one who writes and an author is one who has gained a level of authority on a subject or an experience. In fact, speaking of authority, just this morning I was thinking about how important it is for me as a writer to seek more authority of my characters and their internal conflicts and high hopes. That would mean more research and interviews.

It occurred to me this morning that in my first memoir, when I wrote about losing my beloved granddad, and the impact that had on me, I had not explored the emotional impact it had on my grandmother, who had lost her husband of 20-plus years. That came to mind this morning as I considered how my current experience of loss and grief will help inform my writing in the future. As a writer, I wrote the basic details of the experience: who died, when, why, how it made me feel. As an author I can establish more authority of that experience by exploring – and sharing – the emotional and psychological ramifications of the experience. 

What do you think? 

Some oldies but goodies!

 

___________________________________


 
TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!     
                                
  Three sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house together.  One night 
  the 96-year-old draws a bath.  She puts her foot in and pauses.  She    
  yells to the other sisters, ‘Was I getting in or out of the bath?’      
                                                                          
  The 94-year-old yells back, ‘I don’t know.  I’ll come up and see.’  She 
  starts up the stairs and pauses, ‘Was I  going up the stairs or down?    
                                                                          
  The 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to 
  her sisters, she shakes her head and says, ‘I sure hope I never get that
  forgetful, knock on wood.’  She then yells, ‘I’ll come up and help both 
  of you as soon as I see who’s at the  door’                              
                                                                          
     TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!                                    
                                                                          
     Three retirees, each with a hearing loss, were playing golf one fine 
     March day.  One remarked to the other, “Windy, isn’t it?”            
                                                                          
     “No,” the second man replied, “it’s Thursday.”                       
                                                                          
     And the third man chimed in, “So am I.  Let’s have a beer.”          
                                                                          
     TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!                                    
                                                                          
     A little old lady was going up and down the halls in a nursing home. 
     As she walked, she would flip up the hem of her nightgown and say “  
      Supersex.”                                                           
                                                                                                                                                
     She walked up to an elderly man in a wheelchair.  Flipping her  gown at
     him, she said, “Supersex.”                                           
                                                                          
     He sat silently for a moment or two and finally answered, “I’ll take 
     the  soup.”                                                           
                                                                          
     TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!                                    
                                                                          
     Now this one is just too Precious…LOL!                             
                                                                          
     Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades.  Over the years,
     they had shared all kinds of activities and adventures.  Lately, their
     activities had been limited to meeting a few times a week to play    
      cards.                                                               
                                                                          
     One day, they were playing cards when one looked at the other and    
     said, “Now don’t get mad at me.  I know we’ve been friends for a long
     time, but I just can’t think of your name!  I’ve thought and thought,
     but I can’t remember it.  Please tell me what your name is.”         
                                                                          
     Her friend glared at her for at least three minutes; she just stared 
     and glared at her.   Finally she said, “How soon do you need to know?”
                                                                          
     TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!                                    
                                                                          
     As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car phone rang.
                                                                          
      Answering, he heard his wife’s voice urgently warning him,“Herman, I
     just heard on the news that there’s a car going the wrong way on     
     Interstate 77.   Please be careful!”                                 
                                                                          
     “Heck,” said Herman, “It’s not just one car.  It’s hundreds of them!”
                                                                          
     TELL ME THIS WON’T HAPPEN TO US!!!                                    
                                                                          
     Two elderly women were out driving in a large car–both could barely 
     see over the dashboard.  As they were cruising along, they came to an
     intersection. The stoplight was red, but they just went on through.  
                                                                          
     The woman in the passenger seat thought to herself ‘I must be losing 
     it.  I could have sworn we just went through a red light.’  After a  
     few more minutes, they came to another intersection and the light was
     red.  Again, they went right through.  The woman in the passenger seat
     was almost sure that the light had been red but was really  concerned 
     that she was losing it.  She was getting nervous.                    
     At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red and they went
     on through.  So, she turned to the other woman and said,“Mildred, did
     you know that we just ran through three red lights in a row?  You    
     could have killed us both!”
                                         
     Mildred turned to her and said, “Oh, crap, am I driving?”  

The Transformative Powers of the Pen

We discussed social media best practices for authors during a conference call yesterday. It was one of the weekly calls Strebor authors have where we exchange information, encourage each others, and get a chance to ask the publisher and our publicist questions as a group. Something said during the conversation resonated long after I hung up. The publicist talked about the necessity for authors to self-promote. No, this was not news to me. I knew it. I tried it. I concluded after more than ten years that I simply was not good at it. Since this is what it takes to succeed as an author, I considered, I may as well die.

I write because I must. Writing for me is like breathing, like thinking. It has been a saving grace since I was eight-years-old writing plays where characters said and did all the things my religion deprived me of enjoying. Writing, as a young woman, saved my sanity.

All my life, all I’ve wanted to be was a writer. I’ve wanted to share my passion for literature, share my observations and analysis of common experiences, and share my unique experiences, but if self-promoting is essential to this, forget it.

I mulled this over as I went out for an afternoon power-walk. I was walking home from the bank when it suddenly occurred to me that the God had sent me to train with a master self-promoter. My last supervisor was a pain in the ass because she insisted on writing her own press releases while I insisted on doing the work I was allegedly paid to do. She knew what she wanted to say and found it quicker to write her promotions her way than to answer my questions and wait for me to pen a press release. I hated this. I had, after all, by then published hundreds of newspaper articles and two books. As much as possible I tried to beat her to the punch, anticipating news and drafting press releases before she could get started, but we often ended up with her doing her own thing.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that it was training for work I would need to do for myself until I can afford to hire a p.r. expert.

Penning my own press releases may even force me to break a life-long habit of self-deprecation. It will train my brain on what is best about me and the literary gifts I pen.

I recently completed my first novel, and felt transformed from bitter to neutral to soon-to-be-all-out-grateful for what had felt like two years of hell. Writing about the experience helped me detach and see incidents as just that – incidents. It helped me put the incidences in context. It helped me see the “enemy” as just a character, an antagonist. It helped me see myself as just a character, a protagonist, who had to mature by the end of the experience.

Figuring out how to promote this story promises to be rewarding, as well. Already market research has showed me my experiences, as challenging and tragic as they felt, are much more common that I knew. I am looking forward to the other many rewards from this process.