Made in L.A. – Chasing the Elusive Dream

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Cover design by Allison Rose

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while now but it’s time to share. I have a short story coming out in the soon to be released anthology, ‘Made in L.A.: Chasing the Elusive Dream.’

It’s a collection of stories written by thirteen local Los Angelenos and I’m honored to be sharing the pages of this anthology with them and will post more about them, the anthology, the L.A. Times Festival of Books (where the book will be launching from), and how you can buy a copy soon!

For more in depth information right this second go here and check out the Made in L.A. official website.

xxoo – A

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Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

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Once upon a time, there was a woman, and she had dreams…

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

She loved to soak herself in them like the warmest, most perfect bath, ever drawn.

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

Wisps of them–the dreams–wafted off her much like morning dew on a warm summers morning. She loved every second of them. Every single moment of those dreams. They were her happiness.

Then, one day, she realized the world was changing around her. A society that once felt forever stagnate and motionless spun and turn like a possessed top. While she was still tethered to her dreams (dreams. dreams. dreams.) Their tails wrapped around the ball of life, a long, twisted bit of twine created a tangled ring of all her moments in time.

Of all those dreams…

Until she felt stuck.

The dreams that once felt as silky as honeysuckles on a humid night’s breeze transformed. Sweetness went sour. Silk became burlap.

You may think the spinning whipped and turned her around. The tether lassoed to her ankle, wrist, heart–pulled her from her origins, thrusting her into the world. They didn’t. She was a damsel tied to the railroad tracks–a locomotive barreling down on her.

She knew it was wrong. All of it, but she’d become too obsessed, confused, disoriented to begin to understand what was happening. Especially, now… without her:

Dreams.

Dreams.

Dreams.

But one day, a notion dawned upon her. A perfect ‘a-ha’ moment pushed her through the clouds of her mind. What she figured out was none of it is real.

The tether.

The spinning globe.

The disorientation.

They were all illusions conjured by the most wicked evil maker of them all–herself.

…dreams…dreams…dreams…

She’d become so concerned with the outside perception of her she’d neglected her truth. That neglect led to her forgetting who she was and accidentally distanced herself from those                                            dreams.

The moment expanded, growing like a bubble stuck to the tip of a child’s plastic wand. Rainbows and stripes of swirling color encased her. She was the nucleus. She was the yoke floating in the center of it all. And just outside the thin veil separating her from those awful thoughts and her truth–were those dreams.

(dreams. dreams. dreams.)

She knew, while she stared through the stained glass coloring her vision, life was what she decided it to be. She was the creator of her illusion and understood what she stared at the longest became her truth.

Her fingers uncoiled and the tethers released–completely.                                                      Her dreams. All of those…             Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

Caught in an upward current, floating high above.                                                                                                    Each dream holding every desire she’d ever harbored–bobbing reminders of who, and what, she was.

She was herself. Perfect and true.

She was the right amount of everything because she could never be her or her or even him. And her dreams… all of those dreams! (dreams. dreams. dreams.) kept her afloat and moving forward–high above everything trying to hold her back. High above herself.

The End

 

What, you may ask, is the moral of the story? Simple. You are never too old to dream. Your dreams are valid. Just because someone else doesn’t understand your dreams will never and can never diminish your dreams. And even if your first had your dream many years ago doesn’t mean it’s not the right dream because dreams don’t have expiration dates–they only fade if we give up on them.

You are perfect just as you are.

Life in General

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painting by Alyssa Monks

Inspiration. When I first started writing I looked for it everywhere. Sometimes, I still set out on a quest, searching. The problem is I never know what I’m searching for. Not until I find it.

The older I get, the less I rely on inspiration. I put all my energy on hard work.

Maybe when you’re younger you can’t hear how it’s really hard work that makes the difference. Maybe you’re not ready to hear it. Or maybe you already feel you’re doing all the hard work–with little to no reward.

Maybe I’m talking about myself.

That’s more than likely.

Yet here I am.

The interweaving roads I walk in this life can feel too great to accomplish at times, yet when I stare back, my footprints have been left on all of them.

Unrational fears are the first thing I create. I dismiss my factual proof and cling to reactions. Overreaction. Fear. All the different shades of the unwarranted emotion that clings to me like frizz to my hair on a humid day.

I’m knee deep in denial there is only one real path.

I’m really not in denial. I know there is only way path. It’s through. One foot in front of the other, never give up, ignore all the name calling and bullshit, on the path that leads to my goals.

Goals.

Do you have some? Any? None.

I have too many.

That’s a lie. I have one. People think I have many. People tell me what I should do with my life all the time. I listen. In one ear and out the other. I’m not lost. I’m quiet. I’m busy. Always plotting. Maybe it looks like I’m being lazy.

You can call me a lot of things. I’m not lazy.

Never been.

I should be lazier. It would be good for me. Not doing anything would be good for me. Not. Doing.

Stop.

In the darkness, there is a solace. In the silence, there are the loudest shouts ever heard. I hear it ALL DAY LONG. I hear it now. In the words, music, streets, in the people around me. They all say the same. They have a story.

I have a story.

We all are stories. One billion of them. No, more than a billion. A trillion. A quadrillion. Stories everywhere. Whispers on silent lips.

It’s hard work to hear them. To shuffling through. To find the right ones. They must fit better than custom-made kid gloves. Perfection in every fold.

And it circles around. It always circles around.

Pay attention.

Quitting is failure. Hard work is the key. There is one path, it’s lined with words, stories–quintillion stories–waiting for you to gently brush your fingers over, breath in, hold.

This is my life, in general. This is me.

I’m not lost. I’m dancing. I’ve always known the way. Just wait, you’ll see.

 

 

 

[this post brought to you by the inspiration from Alt-J’s album, “This is all Yours.”]

 

Zen in the Art of Writing

513bmaahpkl-_ac_ul320_sr210320_Can’t say I go out of my way to look for books on writing, these days at least, but this one sort of fell into my lap.

The other night, after finishing Jeff Smith’s, BONE, which I was reading for a elementary school Graphic Novel Book Club I’m leading, I began to swipe through the catalog available on Hoopla. (LA County Library grants access to Hoopla with your library card. Bonus books!)

It was late, and I needed to sleep–but wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. Actually, it was one of those night when I didn’t want to sleep, because I didn’t want it to be tomorrow. Has that ever happened to you? Anyway, I laying on the sofa, swiping through Hoopla’s ebook selection, and find… “Zen in the Art of Writing,” by the late, great Ray Bradbury.

At this moment, I’m about 1/2 way through. Yes, I should wait until I’m completely done to form a full opinion–but there was this one scene in there… this one moment that has stuck with me.

Bradbury is discussing how he enjoying keeping lists of nouns. These list have lead to titles like, “Something Wicked this way Comes,” or his short story, “The Dwarf.” He was remembering years ago, living in his parents house in Illinois, where the bathroom was on the second floor. Every night he would wake up from the need to use the bathroom, but to get there–he would have to climb the dark stairs up a level  in order to turn on the light to get to the bathroom in the first place.

Ray Bradbury hated it. On his list he added “The Thing,” because to him, something wicked lived at the top of those stairs and it was going to kill him.

Each night he’s lay in bed contemplating how long he could hold it. The he’d pull himself out of bed, climbs the stairs, only to fall back down–waking his parents in the process. His father would ignore him, and his mother would help him up, turn on the light, and kiss him on the head every night.

This only brought him more inspiration.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where ideas come from. Maybe you find them in a book you’re reading, or a show you’ve seen. Maybe it’s from a list, like Bradbury, or something you read in an old journal–something you forgotten.

As I said above, I never intended to read another book on writing–not right now. A ‘how-to’ to get my juices flowing–yet here I am. Pretty much the same way I found out where Ray Bradbury is buried–I didn’t go in search of him. His name wasn’t even mentioned when I was asked to take visiting family to see “where Marilyn’s grave is,” but there I was–standing over a plot so fresh there wasn’t a tombstone and the sod was still waiting to take hold.

“That’s Ray Bradbury’s grave,” a random person said, leaving me to stare at the earth.

It makes me wonder, maybe Ray Bradbury is my spirit writing guide? Or maybe I’ve been lucky enough to have not one, but two serendipitous moments that forced me to question his art.

I suppose that is the beauty of art, how non-conformed or predictable it is. Inspiration lies in myriad places, waiting for you to swipe to find them, fall down the stairs into their arms, or walk directly into their arms.

And as I struggle forward, at least I am still moving forward. And while I didn’t set out to find a book on writing, at least one that resonates with me dropped in my path. Signs are funny things–they’re pretty much whatever you decided them to be. So, maybe it is serendipitous. Why? Because I need it to be.

 

Number 53

A common theme in blogs posts on my site is rejection. Like choosing a character’s name and plotting a general outline, rejection is another part of the path to becoming an author. It is also one of those bullet points that we, as writers, don’t really concentrate on–especially when you have just begun walking the writing path.

In the beginning, rejection letters are one of those things that happen to other people. You are not ‘other people,’ and know–for a fact–you’ll walk the path of JK Rowling and Dr. Seuss. After a small number of rejections (you know, from literary agents who didn’t know any better) you will find your agent. Then, of course, you will find your fame. (Or whatever it is you’re looking or at the end of that writing tunnel.)

Maybe fame isn’t your ultimate goal, but the one thing we all have in common is feeling we’re worthy of literary representation.

But then life happens. You pass the 12 rejections. You passed 27 of Dr. Seuss. And then what?

My last novel, and I’m not sure I should even call it that seeing it remains unpublished, is at 53 rejections. 53.

I read an article once claiming  you shouldn’t quit sending queries until 80, but let me tell you 53 stings in ways I never imagined. The longer I do this, write new stories and send them out to get rejected, the harder it becomes.

The small voice in the back of my head tells me to keep going, but heart isn’t so sure it’s worth the beating any more. I’d like to say, “you get used to it,” but I’m not sure that’s ever true. How can you ever get used to subtly being told you’re not good enough?

Maybe it’s time for a little break. I’m not sure… the only thing I can say is, if you’re a writer, thicken up your skin, and I really do hope you get the fastest acceptance ever.

happy writing–xxoo-a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Writer (excuses)

My name is Aryn, and I’m a writer. (even though I may not have a book deal–I AM a writer.) And this is my Friday rant:

The Lonely Writer:

Talk to any writer and they’ll tell you how lonely it is. This is a fact, not a lie. Writing is a desert island. Sometimes it has to do with your muse. The only way to isolate the perfect ideas is to to sequester yourself from outside influences. (And I don’t mean you stop reading other books, or participating in general every day life. That’s crazy.)

Then there is the actual work. You don’t need (or want) a buddy pushing the keyboard buttons for you. Thus, again, alone. Fingers tapping on keys. Tap-a-tap-a-tap. In solitude.

Then editing… (editing is like literary plastic surgery. It puts you elbow deep in syntax and metaphors. E’s everywhere! Cover your eyes…)

But let’s not forget the other factor. After a while, non-writers really get tired of hearing your ramblings about your next “big idea.” I don’t know why… I mean, seriously, it’s genius! My ideas are brilliant!

Ah! funny….

Anyway, I have been “on a break” this past week. Trust me when I say, it’s me–not my writing. My writing is beautiful and kind–but I’ve drifted from it’s side. Now I feel more like my writings friend than a lover, which is a BIG issue. Not insurmountable, but that feeling is what led to this weeks hiatus.

Luckily, it’s not the total white noise of writers block. There are still some plot lines trickling it, but they’re all unrelated to my current WiP.

This is the curse of being a writer–besides feeling alone there are all the fake people in your head demanding you tell their story–NOW!

And suddenly I realize that I’m writing this blog post to justify my week off. HA! I may be alone in this, or maybe you feel the same–but I don’t regret the break. I needed my brain clear. I needed to be able to see the trees from the forest. And I needed to clean my house. It’s kinda gross… I mean, if I HAD friends and they stopped over, I’d be super duper embarrassed..

In the end:

Life is what you make of it–so is writing. And that means some times you need to stop what you’re doing to regroup, allowing you to move forward with all those plans. (and stories)

I hope you’re all well and enjoying a fantastic day, where ever you are. But most of all, I hope you’re listening to good music, embracing the life you have. Even if today is the day you look to excuses, let tomorrow lead to your truth.

Happy writing! xxoo-a

Plotting and planning

Welcome to another week in the life of, well, me… Yup! I’m sitting here doing what I do weekly, blogging while I think about what I need to get done.

This is a long list.

I’ve spent the last few weeks distracted and consumed by many other things, thus sucking up my writing time. Before the turn of the calendar, I had a plan. I had time mapped out. And I stuck to it.

There there is the secret of writing, my friends. Make a plan, and stick to it. Make time to plot your book, outline your book, write your first draft, and then make the most time for the edits you’ll be doing.

Because you’ll be doing freaking edits. I bring this up a lot. I’ll keep bringing it up a ton. Why? Because no book is written in one sitting. Maybe on a rare occasion–but for the most part it’s a succession of repetitive writing and editing.

This the week I get back to this routine I worked out months ago.

Also last week, but in my writing world, I mad two major (massive) changes to my WiP–this will create a time delay. But they changes are important. They elevate my idea, raising it to a level that it deserves to be in.

My hope is that this spot–this Monday post–will transform into my actually showing you portions of said WiP within the next month or so. Feedback is welcome. Feed back is–always–welcome. 🙂

So, to all you writers out there who stumbled upon this post–lets get to work. The world needs some words to read. And not just mine. You’re too.

Happy writing!! xxoo-A

Writers gotta write

I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but I’m making an exception this week.

Since this blog has my name on it, I feel it should contain posts that represent the true me. Most days, I stick with writing. But like the rest of you, there is more to me than on single facet. I am a mother, wife, artist, friend, sister, and even an Aunt. I love this world.

Most days I love this world.

Lately I’m not sure how I feel about this world.

It’s like there is this spinning Doctor Who-esk vortex churning up the sky–and our lives. But instead of sucking Daleks out of London, it’s spewing anger and hate into our universe.

As writers, we are meant to observe. Even if we’re sitting down to write fantasy, science fiction, or whatever your favorite genre based fiction is. We MUST observe.

The world around us is an endless source of story ideas, characters, setting, plot lines, and the very fabric we use to color our stories. It is the endless well that nourished our spirit. And now, our world is filled with so much “inspiration” it’s hard to look at or think of anything else.

But we must.

No, I’m not suggesting we turn away. We are the writers, the note-keepers, the narrators. It is our job to document life–even if it’s cleverly placed on a planet in another galaxy all together.

What I am saying is we need to absorb, process, and work. We need to write new blog posts, poems, short stories, novels–whatever we can that will help, encourage, fill in the many voids out there.

I want to write this special Tuesday Post to say, “Good Job!” and “Keep it up!” to every writer I know. To every writer who reads this.

To every artist who will be using their medium to show the world what it needs to see/hear/read.

Life is beauty. Beauty is art. Therefore, art is life and it’s beautiful. Sadly, we’ll be needing to dust off the beauty so we can all see it.

Have a beautiful Tuesday, readers. And go out and share your words, art, happiness with the world. It can use a lot of happy.

xxoo-A

drafts

Drafts.

I think if there was one thing I could go back and tell my younger self about writing, it would be, “write multiple drafts. Do it *before* you turn to beta readers. Trust your gut.”

This is a tough lesson. We live in a digital age where people can self publish in the wink of an eye. This can make you feel rushed. Like you should be “first draft ready.” But all that ever will do is hurt your work.

Currently, I’m writing the second draft of a novel. My biggest problem is impatience. I feel like I should have been done a month ago–but life has bulldozed me. In these moments I flinch. I think about how uncertain I can be.

I hate that feeling.

I want to chuck the other drafts–the drafts that will make my story stronger and better. SO I CAN’T CHUCK THEM! Oh, life. You are a wicked, wicked things.

And that, my lovely readers, is why I need to get off the internet and on Word. Sneak a moment here. Sneak a moment there. Suddenly they add up, and you have a finished manuscript.

Live long, and write often. We need to hear lots of great words these days. The more the better.

xxoo-a