Monday, February 26, 2018

Theory of Convergence

Last week I encountered some of the most exciting moments of my writing career, and I also endured one of the hardest days as a parent I’ve ever lived through.

Remember the movie Say Anything with John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler? Boombox blaring “In Your Eyes” anyone? There’s a scene I’ll never forget from that movie when Lloyd’s love interest, Diane Court, says, “I have this theory of convergence that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don’t know why they have to happen at the same time.”

Yep. That was me last week.

Hitting monumental strides on the writing front. And nearly losing it as a parent.

I’ll get to the rough stuff first. On Thursday, a sixteen-year-old male student from my daughter’s high school was arrested and charged with one count of terroristic threats and acts. I understand, sadly, this type of thing has been happening all over the country. Makes me sick to my stomach to think this kid had a plan. As Thursday went on things grew even more terrifying though. What began as occasional texts from my daughter escalated into an entire day of confusion, intermingled with rumors, on social media and among the students, of a lockdown, “friends at the high school determined to finish the job,” helicopter surveillance, beefed-up police presence, a hallway off-limits, buried guns, teachers locking doors, and most of the student body picked up by parents mid-day due to an additional threat. This threat, via Twitter, ultimately culminated in another student’s arrest after school that same day.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more conflicted as a parent. And angry. And scared. No parent ever wants to coach their child what to do if someone is firing bullets at them. I’m extremely proud of how my daughter handled the events of that day. But that’s just it. She shouldn’t have had to deal with that! Something broke open inside me as I feared for her safety. This cannot continue—parents sending their kids to school wondering if they’ve made a mistake. Students fearing for their lives. It’s time to embrace change.

Now for the exciting news...

I’m now represented by Marlene Stringer with Stringer Literary Agency and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I loved my conversation with Marlene last week. She’s everything I’ve been looking for in an agent, plus she’s passionate about my novel. I could go on and on about what brought me to this point in my career, but those are stories for another post. I’m here now, represented by a stellar agent, hopeful about what the future holds.

Call it theory of convergence or life in general, I’m choosing to be grateful through all of it.

*I'll be back March 12th

Monday, February 19, 2018

Greatest Belonging

Finally, I got to go see The Greatest Showman yesterday in the theater and man, oh, man, I loved it! It reached me on so many levels. Throughout the movie I kept thinking how central to the human character it is for all of us to find some sense of belonging. I teared up during one scene when P.T. Barnum’s wife, Charity, says to him something like, “You don’t need everyone to love you, just a few good people.”

A few good people.

I know what it’s like to be seduced by lights, to desperately crave approval from others. I’m well-acquainted with circles, sitting blissful, and at times, ignorantly excluding in the center of them. I’m also achingly aware of what it feels like to be carelessly tossed out of circles. Whether on my own volition, or because someone decided I no longer had a place, it’s devastating to lose that sense of belonging.

I’ve navigated beyond these losses, daring to create new bonds. Being familiar with the intimate pain of what it feels like to have belonging stripped away, I seek ways to help others to feel included. Wanted. Cared for.

That’s what was so mesmerizing and beautiful about this film. We all struggle with a freakish nature. We are all afraid to be shockingly vulnerable, scared that our secrets, our shortcomings, our oddities, and our “otherness” will be found out. Know what we all really desire?

To be embraced and loved for who we are, where we are, as we are.

There’s also beauty in learning to discern who the few good people are—the small ring of folks in our lives who will always be faithful, who love us through and through.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Power of Story

I’m a sucker for Olympic stories. I’ll root for you if you give me a moving piece about your past and what it’s taken to get you to this place.

That’s why I believe this story immediately piqued my interest.

It’s not of the Olympic variety, but one of memoirs, a shared bond, and a love written between the pages.

I adore memoirs. I read both WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR and THE BRIGHT HOUR, struck by the bravery, eloquence, and insight that two memoirists exuded as they captured the equally tragic and poignant perspective of what it’s like to be dying.

Both memoirs were published posthumously.

The spouses were encouraged by their dying loved ones to enter a new relationship or remarry after they pass away. The article uses the words radical permission to emphasize this.

And so . . .

John Duberstein and Lucy Kalanithi came together.

I’ve read these books. I understand this union is the farthest thing from a fairy tale box office bond. I love how the article I linked detailed one of their first interactions as obscenely vulnerable. I’ve always happened to believe great things come when we risk being vulnerable.

Finally, the article concludes with this hopeful message. “For now they are relishing their time together, in all its complexity.”

Because doesn’t that just say it all? Relish through the complexity. Relish despite it. Amidst it. Relish the time we have.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Googling Generations Before

I’m not sure what inspired me, but a few nights ago I decided to google my grandparents. I was surprised to discover my mom’s dad has a Wikipedia page. He was a hotshot basketball player in his day. As I read the stats listed for him, and the brief details about the teams he played for, I just kept thinking how much more there was to this man. Over the years I’ve listened intently to the stories my mom has shared about him. Let’s just say, now more than ever, we can’t trust that what we encounter about people online encapsulates the entirety of who they are. I’m sure that’s not news to you. But I know for me, it’s a good reminder.

People can come across however they want to online. But everyone possesses layers and stories that don’t make it to a Wikipedia page—that don’t get showcased on a Facebook status update or an Instagram upload.

Craving the story behind the story is partly what inspired me to become a writer. I wanted to go there.

With my plots and characters. And trust me, my characters have been taking me there lately.
Years ago, I met a woman in a coffee shop who generously offered to trace my lineage for me. I was blown away by the time she invested and her extensive research. When she unraveled two large
sheets of paper, detailed with etchings, ancestors dating back to kings and queens (I knew I had royal blood), I was beyond impressed. The other night I dedicated time to study the names in my line. I made note of where my peeps came from, where they’d moved, even the occupations for some. And as awestruck as I was at the details, the dozens of family trees splayed before me, I couldn’t help but itch for the stories.

This sense of wonder has always been an intrinsic part of who I am. I’m not afraid to go there. I love how writing fiction has built a bridge for me, a means to go there through my characters. Because I happen to believe that going there is the most human thing about humanity. It connects us more than it separates, and it has the incomparable ability to open minds and to stretch souls.

Generations deep, I wonder who in my long line also appreciated the stories behind the stories.

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...