Friday, October 21, 2016

Good and Nasty

Why be good when you can be... NASTY?

I don't know about you, but I absolutely can. Not. Wait. To see Kate McKinnon play Nasty Woman on Saturday Night Live tomorrow.

One of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese," begins, "You do not have to be good." Decades after publication, it's still such a powerful statement by and for women.

Girls just wanna have basic human rights and freedoms.

I do want to be good--my kind of good. I'm not interested in some gross old dude's definition of "good." Or "bigly" or anything else.

I want to be a good novelist of literature for Nasty Women, just like Jennifer Weiner of Good in Bed fame.

I want to be good at moving my body like this sick contortionist bellydancer I just found on the internet. (Goals!)

But OK, that's a total fantasy--like my manuscript, The Grove of Thorismud, which is ALMOST FINISHED and has grown to nearly the same size as its previous manifestation five months ago--117,000 good and nasty words.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Every Pigasus Needs a Window

Oh hi there, you must not be on an internet break like everyone else! Thank you for stopping by the Magic Nutshell. I was tempted to succumb to the political climate and write a post on trumpkins and evil clowns, but I will not.

Because fall is my favorite season, and this is the year I vowed that the pigasus would take flight. At the beginning of 2016, I had a finished manuscript called Briars and Black Hellebore. By spring, a big league literary agent had requested the full. Some weeks later, my Pigasister Christina (of my writing group, The Pigasus Pen) convinced me that my book would be so much better if I lopped off half the material from the beginning and added in all the exciting conflict I had planned to use in a sequel. So I wrote to the agent who had requested Briars and let her know that I had given myself a rewrite assignment. She invited me to resubmit as soon as it's finished. Again.


Meanwhile, there have been massive disturbances in the Force... of artistic creativity everywhere. The world feels ugly right now, and many people are hunkering down in various coping mechanisms.

Pigasister Victoria is making cloud art that looks like a window to somewhere we can all breathe.

Meanwhile, Pigasister Meika is in Florence getting a tattoo of one of Victoria's cloud sketches. I pigshit you not! Girl is on a solo break from AMERICA right now, and I am so happy she is filling the interwebs with little window-glimpses of her travels.

And me? I'm doubling down on completing the major rewrite of my novel, now called The Grove of Thorismud. I've been working on it for nearly five months now, and I've just begun the chapter that starts on the final day of the story, when the whole world ends and everyone eats each other. (Spoiler!)

When there are real, serious problems in the world around me, I feel that it's more important than ever to open a window to an alternate world, where cannibals battle witches and everyone is super sexy, even the ugly people. (How you doin'?)

This is not to deny the horrors of the world but to show that they are not inevitable. Whatever sick crap is on the news, I can think of something worse. And better yet, I can think of something much, much better. Writing and reading are the spiritual practices that ground me in my inner strength, and now is the most important time for me to engage in them and share them with others.

So here I am, all set up at my desk with my childhood copy of Perfect the Pig signed by LeVar Burton himself, from my favorite show, Reading Rainbow.

The title page says, "Jean in the light. LeVar Burton."

I just took a peek through LeVar's Facebook window to see what he's up to these days, and it appears that he is lounging in a rainforest in Panama and making rainbows for the No H8 Campaign.

I LOVE YOU, LEVAR! How can anyone give up hope in a world that sustains the life of this man?

I can't. And so I persist in writing my dark fantasy alt-history unconventional adult romance.

May you always find a window... or the power to create your own. Ad astra per alas porci!

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Seasonal Change of Perspectacles

It's the season for gratitude! This is the time of year when I revisit the article by Glennon Doyle Melton that coined the silly word "perspectacles."

I've had a frustrating week as I've rushed to finish The Grove (108K words and not quite done... still... but it's turning out so good, like if Game of Thrones were a Spanish soap opera. Everyone should read it, someday, when I finally get to type 'The End'). When I'm impatient about one big thing, I notice that the feeling bleeds out into other areas of my life and makes it worse. I've been "too busy" to exercise for weeks, which my body doesn't really show on the outside, but on the inside, I feel like I'm going mushy from my lungs out. Ugh! That can't be good for my brain, right?

All of this heightens my sensitivity to my surroundings as well. While I'm loving the autumn colors and mists and architectural storm clouds outside, I just had a relapse of irritation that I can't yet afford to remodel my worn-out 1980s-style kitchen. But I went ahead and re-read Glennon's article about her own shabby 1980s kitchen and got inspired.

Here's how I fixed it:

I started by changing my perspectacles. I baked some cookies with children, transforming the "outdated" into the "nostalgic" as I focused on reliving some of my favorite childhood memories with my daughter and a couple of neighborhood kids.

I transformed the "shabby" into the "fun" by taping my daughter's preschool and kindergarten crafts all over the walls and commissioning a mural for the stained and scuffed kitchen island. I handed my daughter a mega-pack of colored Sharpies and asked her to go wild.

She is still working on the piece. I hope it turns out something like her multi-wall, fairy-tale-themed bedroom wall illustrations depicting nature scenes (such as "bees drinking nectar just before the rain") and some characters from Rapunzel. (Below is the part I always end up staring at as I cuddle her to sleep--"a magic toad chasing Mother Gothel."

As I make time to mow the lawn with an old-fashioned, self-powered mower and watch my daughter draw an apartment building with 57 windows, my patience is restored.

And as my daughter suddenly acquires neighborhood and bus friends who come exploding through our door on a regular basis, I realize I could still use a few more years of letting joyful children run wild in my house without having to worry that they will scratch or chip something.

I remember that I have many decades of life ahead of me to paint walls that might not end up with muddy footprints and pencil marks on them. So here's to fresh perspectacles! (Which, incidentally, are also essential to editing one's own manuscript.)

And also thanks to my dear husband for hanging a gigantic retro mirror to enhance the "nostalgia" of our kitchen and dining area and double the autumn light that comes in through the lilacs.

We had friends over for dinner last night, and I wasn't embarrassed about my house or anxious about my manuscript at all. And now, after a good night's sleep, I might just reach 'The End' before my Pigasus Pen pal Meika finishes her solo tour of Europe--which I am so inspired by following with the virtual perspectacles she's lending us through social media!

...and also living vicariously through another single lady friend, Esperanzita, who has taken up a mission of becoming the Midwest's greatest groupie for Ghost. It's all good for my book, I swear.