Tomato cages and The Unwanted Child

This morning, I took advantage of the rare cool morning and busied myself building higher tomato trellises. (Y’all. These maters have NO chill this year.) The whole time, I was thinking, thinking. Mostly about old stories. And I started crying on the tomato vines, after a bit.

The story trope of the Unwanted Child (I’ll capitalize for emphasis) has been so globally pervasive, throughout history. Something about that narrative sticks so hard, no doubt because there’s a lasting wisdom to it that speaks to and empowers undernourished hearts.

Aschenputtel, whose beauty inspired her stepmother to treat her as slave.

Rhodopis, the Greek-Egyptian Cinderella treated badly by other servants because she looked different.

Mary Belle and the Mermaid, whose cruel father shot the gentle mermaid who provided Mary Belle with the only kindness in her life.

The Juniper Tree, in which a beautiful boy is decapitated and cooked by the stepmother who hates him for existing.

Joseph and his coat, whose brothers sold him after he shared his gift of prophecy.

Vasilisa the Fair, whose jealous step sisters give her the impossible task of collecting fire from the witch Baba Yaga.

Father Frost, in which a girl is banished into the snow by a stepparent who despises her loving nature.

Harry Potter, whose adopted family despised his gift of magic.

Even Ratatouille, in which Remmy the rat is shunned by his family for his passion for cooking.

Instead of being valued and nourished, these children are feared for the goodness they bring to the world. I imagine the “step” parent theme speaks less to actual family arrangement and more to a sort of parabolic biological imperative of the mind and heart. Some homes are not safe. Some communities recognize that another person’s “DNA” is different, and, instead of holding and cherishing that community-balancing difference, they succumb to the urge to snuff it out.

The fruit these children bore out of their own beauty and goodness became a liability within their unsupported environment. They were exactly like tomato vines, producing goodness from the sacred blueprint of their bodies, but their homes were flimsy cages that failed to bolster them up. Their life-force broke under the weight of their own beauty. No one lifted them up and made them strong.

I’m rambling. My point is, to myself, to you, precious reader, is that sometimes escape is okay. Engaging your culture is important, generally speaking, but not to the point of death. And not from a position of tentative survival and desolate exposure; that kind of engagement is best done from a position with deep roots in a scaffolding of love. This is an old, old wisdom that’s fought hard to find its way to you over thousands of years.

Don’t introduce your mermaids to assholes. Don’t tell your dreams to mouth breathers. Don’t slave over creme brulee for those who dine on garbage. Let the witch in the woods teach you the hard earned skills you need to survive without the haters. Your apparent idiosyncrasy is someone person’s “most beautiful in all of Eygpt”. And maybe that some person is *you*. That’s good, too.

It’s okay to get away sometimes. Sometimes, the simple act of surviving is the best kindness you can provide to the world. Because, in that story, you LIVE. You get away. And the world needs you.

The Blogger Recognition Award

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The charming Laura Noakes tagged me in this blog challenge, and she’s so damned fun and adorable, my doesn’t-do-mornings self was sucked right into the spirit of things. Plus, who doesn’t love answering fun questions? The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them & provide the link to the post you created.

 

The story of how I started my blog: 

Can I tell you how I wish it began?

One day, while I was busily plugging away at my seamstress job in a boutique raincoat shop, full of ennui (because I’m really not much of a seamstress and kept sewing the sleeves shut), I found a slip of paper in the pocket of a particularly discouraging puce-and-beige duck print coat. When I unfolded it, the following message was addressed to me in a feathery hand: Fulfill your destiny. Below this, the handwritten url with my name in it.

I went home that very night and typed in the url with a fluttering pulse, and found a blog depicting yours truly as a writer. Over a hot cup of tea, I personalized and scrolled and clicked my way into a heroic new future. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve never discovered the identity of the person who gave me that initial nudge, but if I could, I’d take them out for drinks and a long night walk around the city. We’d become bosom friends. Or they’ll give me a thousand dollars.

(***But really, I think it’s because I entered PitchWars a couple of years ago, and needed a blog address for registration) 

 

Advice for newbie bloggers.

Write more often than I do. {dons cone of shame}

And while you’re writing that often, don’t be afraid to be the most honest version of yourself. Let that real self evolve, every day. People seem to be drawn to unadulterated versions of others, so even if you’re not someone’s cup of tea, you might be someone else’s PERFECT cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream, cayenne pepper sprinkles, and fruit loops. You do you! The world needs you.

Don’t be afraid to take risks. While I’m not an avid blogger, I can certainly say that the writer blogs I enjoy reader are the honest ones that pursue unique content and put their own fabulous spin on things. If you show up with an authentic attitude and an honest/brave approach to a topic, be still my beating heart! I’m in love.

Blogging is a great way to interact with other writers and explore your own communication identity. Invite people to guest post. The worst can happen is that they say no. And when they say yes, you’ve made a connection! Have fun with it.

One important guideline: try and be flawlessly respectful to others. Read up on important topics (like sensitivity readers, representation, and social media etiquette). And do it with an earnest heart, not because it’s the current trend. Soul-search. Heal, if you need to. Again with the theme of authenticity! People notice when your motives are good, and it’s a lovely thing.

My nominations for this fab tag:

YOU. Especially if you’ve just started out and are in the process of building your reader list. giphy (6)

Then, leave me a comment, so I can come admire your handiwork!

 

 

 

 

 

On the subject of my current favorite T.V. show

Watching British Baking Show, it occurs to me that most people have no idea that they’re disqualifying themselves from the running by committing some grave error because they’re unaware they’ve made an error. It’s a blind spot—you can’t know what you don’t know. Mostly, they’re shocked, if not totally horrified. Only a couple of times do you see anyone say, “Screw it; I’ll be lazy/stupid here.”

It also occurs to me that writing is very, very similar. No one *knows* how they’re screwing up until they’ve already done it, and somebody points it out. Then, forever and ever, the mistake is emblazoned in your brain.

Life’s the same. All of it. You have to try over and over to make enough mistakes to be excellent. Go make mistakes.

Creating in Chaos (Supporting #OwnVoices writers): Interview with Laura Noakes!

laura-noakes-author-photoIt is my deep pleasure and privilege to introduce the brilliant MG writer, Laura Noakes! Besides writing sparkly, magical stories, she’s also an excellent critique partner (whom I love to minuscule bits). Welcome, Laura! 🙂

Tell us a little bit about your writing!

I write middle grade fiction, and I’ve written MS’s that are fantasy, sci-fi, historical and
magical realism! Basically, I write everything, although all my MS’s generally feature a touch of magic and a lot of quirk! All my main characters so far have been girls—I LOVE girl MC’s. I also have a penchant for writing characters who love science (my dad is a science teacher, that might be where that comes from), and girls who are kind of scrappy and tomboy-ish (Lyra from His Dark Materials is one of my absolute favourite female characters). My current WIP is probably my most personal work so far. It’s about a girl with hypermobility, a disability that I also have, who is a complete superhero nerd!
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Creating in Chaos Series-Interview with Daniel Tidwell!

On this cool and overcast Thursday, I have the honor of introducing one of my favorite people in the ENTIRE WORLD to you. And this is not just because I used to annoy him ruthlessly in the back seat on long road trips (and still have a vague sense of lingering guilt about it). Mostly it’s because he’s something of a creative midwife and an exceptionally gifted communicator. Welcome, Daniel Tidwell!

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Image of Daniel taking selfie while his sister uses her cell phone in the background.

Tell us a little about what you do: 

Well . . . To pay my bills, I work in higher education. I design co-curricular programming for graduate students who are going into helping professions. The focus is helping people steward their own vocational development and sustainability. Basically, I help people practice checking-in with themselves and making sure they know how to get what they need in order to thrive and not burn out in fields of work designed for burn-out.

In addition to that, I work as a Spiritual Director–in my context, that means accompanying artists and LGBTIQA folks pursuing spirituality, especially when they don’t find a good fit in organized religion. I offer group classes geared toward the writing arts on understanding your own creative practice.

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Strategies For Creating in Chaos: an Interview with Author Robert Duff

Today, I’d like to welcome psychologist and self-help author Robert Duff for a chat about self-management and stress. Hi Robert, and thanks for joining us here! 🙂

What role do you feel creative expression plays in fostering mental health? 

I think that it plays a very important role. I often see the world in a yin and yang sort of way – creation and destruction. Often when we are depressed or having other mental health issues, we have to go through a sort of grieving process and we have to allow the life we expected to have (free of these issues) to die. In my opinion, one of the most helpful things for overcoming a loss is to create something new. The definition of creative expression is pretty broad in my book. That could be creating physical art, writing something, or even just cultivating new friendships or hobbies. Continue reading

Maxing out Focus-Guest Post by Isobel DeBrujah

Let’s talk about maxing out focus. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life studying crime and psychology and the absolute best place to read about this phenomenon is the Persuasion Skills Blackbook: Practical NLP Language Patterns for Getting the Response You Want. Use your new found powers only for good.

Maxing out focus is a term used most often in descriptions of grifting and con artistry. Continue reading

Creativity Series: Finding Your Magic In The Chaos

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Unless you’re living on Mars, you’re probably aware that things are, in a word, shitty.

Our new “President” (he’s not mine, for the record) has a cabinet that closely resembles one from Borgin and Burkes; complete with tiny grabbing hands, nasty-ass masks to hide behind, and instruments of torture and bigotry. Things are crappy. And they’ll probably get worse. Continue reading