Category Archives: creativity

There Are Many.

Perks of being a wallflower, that is. One being that, as a wallflower, you may more easily stumble upon a book that will change everything. A book that will make you feel like you’re not invisible. A book that will make you remember you matter. A book that will help you see that there’s something, somewhere out there for you, and that it’s worth the wait to find it. For me, that book was The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

I first came across this book about ten years ago. I was fresh(ish) out of college, and I had a mind-bendingly awful crush on an older musician. I obsessed (read: borderline stalked) him for the better part of a year (longer? probably longer). I let him lead me on, and he let me drool over him from a booth at the back of the biker bar where he and his brother presided over open mic night. I got exactly one thing of worth out of this arrangement: he recommended Perks. I bought and read it immediately because he said to. But by page two, I was reading it because I wanted to. For me.

I read it in one sitting while my then two-year-old niece slept. I was living with her and my sister in their little trailer in the country. I know that we were all three miserable, but I remember being happy. I remember waking my niece in the middle of the night to show her a lunar eclipse and listening to her whisper “moon” in her half-sleep. I remember hearing in the thin blue morning air her tiny feet pat-pat-pattering across the trailer to snuggle me. She split every night between her mother and me, curling up against our chests, making sure the love she had to give was spread out evenly and thick. She made our home happy.

Since that night in the trailer, I’ve read Perks so many times I’ve lost count. The second time I started reading it was the moment I stopped crying after the first time I read it. I was twenty-two (twenty-three?), and a book about teenagers shouldn’t have affected me so much. Except it did. And it made me realize that when they are good, characters and stories affect you because they are beautiful and tragic and amazing and everything that you are. It doesn’t matter whether you relate on paper. (I also have seemingly nothing in common with Scout Finch and Janie Crawford, but no one questions when you’re affected by those books.)

Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower—that first time, and every time since—solidified this idea I have that I am meant to write books for kids. Kids like Charlie, kids like me. Kids who need to know that their lives will not always look they way they do from the vantage point of their lonely seats in the high school cafeteria. Kids like my niece.

She’s twelve now. And though she might be a tad young for it yet, she will be getting a copy for Christmas. It will be inscribed, S — I’ve been lucky enough to have met more than a few Sams and Patricks in my life. You’re one of them. I love you.

 

I meant for this post to be about the movie, which was wonderful. I’ve seen it twice and am seriously considering going once more before it finishes its theater run. It is imperfect, but beautifully so, and the feeling of the book carries over better than in any other adaptation I have ever seen. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller are brilliantly cast. See it.

But first, buy the book. Read the book. Read it again. Read it once more. Pass it around. Buy another copy. Repeat.

What Am I Doing?

If a few weeks ago I felt I was doing my best to keep up with a stampede, then in the weeks that have followed, I’ve felt like I was…just…stampedED, I guess. It was a wild-rumpus start to fall, and then I got a lovely break to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary and my thirty-second birthday. Ten glorious, unplugged days spent camping, hiking, reading, sleeping, and seeing great movies*.

I missed blogging. But I also didn’t have much to say. And I decided, probably because of the unplugging, that I would refuse to feel guilty about not blogging. I needed the space, the time, the quiet. I needed it more than you needed a post about nothing in particular. So I took it.**

By taking a break, I was able to step back and think a little (really, only a little) about what I want from and for this blog. When I first dreamed up Aviatrix, I wanted to create an online space for teen girls. I wanted to offer insight, information, and tools that they could keep in their arsenals for years to come. I wanted to create a space where thinking girls felt safe, nurtured, and part of a community.

And just before I wanted to launch, I found something. Something so wonderful. I found Rookie. It is nearly exactly what I wanted to create. But, better yet, it’s helmed by a sixteen-year-old. It made my idea for Aviatrix completely unnecessary. This sounds as though I am bitter. I am not. I am so very glad that I am not the first person to see this need and want to fill it. My hat goes off to the Rookie team. Brava, ladies!

But, even though the things I wanted to say are being said, I still feel a need to speak. To share. To offer something that’s not already out there. I’m still figuring out exactly what that is, but I do know this:

  1. I want to tell the truth. The real truth.
  2. The truth is, I have a million questions.
  3. The truth is, I don’t have a million answers.
  4. The truth is, I know I’m not the only one.
  5. The truth is, I’m tired of reading “10 Ways To Fix This Specific Problem You Have” lists that do nothing to fix said specific problem because none of us fit into boxes made by lists. (And yet, here I am writing lists.)
  6. The truth is, I want to be part of a community of people who don’t feel the need to curate their lives for public consumption. Most of our lives are not picturesque. Mine certainly isn’t, and I refuse to show it as such.
  7. The truth is, I am fantastically imperfect and I do not intend to change that. But if I go back on these core values, you are within your rights to call me on it. I promise to love you for it.

Dear readers, whoever and wherever you are, let’s start something new. Let’s be ourselves. Let’s see what happens, okay?

______
*The greatest among them The Perks of Being a Wallflower. More on that later.
**More on this later, too, perhaps.

Weekends Collected

weekendHappy September! And Happy Weekend!

Grab some coffee and toast and meet me over at Weekends Collected today.

It is a gorgeous site, and every piece is as lovely as the next. Peruse at your leisure. And then contribute a piece of your own!

Weekends are my refuge. It’s when I find the most calm, the most respite from the week’s anxiety. So I’m off to enjoy this long weekend. See you on Tuesday. 

I hope you find calm joy in your weekend!

My Mind Is a Jungle

Often and often afterwards, the beloved Aunt would ask me why I had never told anyone how I was being treated. Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established. –Rudyard Kipling

With all due respect to Mr. Kipling (and there is very much due), I don’t believe this phenomenon is exclusive to children. I am forty days from my thirty-second birthday, and I still have trouble speaking up. I assume that what I have interpreted as somehow wrong or faulty or misguided is in fact fine. It must be fine; otherwise, why would it have happened? I assume that I am the one who is wrong, faulty, misguided. I assume that I have misread the situation. That my thinking is clouded. That I’m just simply weird.

This bad thought pattern goes the other way and muddies the good stuff, too. When I have an idea, I think there’s no way I’m the first to imagine it. I am not the only one who thinks this way. This idea isn’t new. Everyone already knows this. This is not unique. I am not offering anything a million people haven’t already said. And I’m probably not saying it well, anyway. Best not bother.


It is a dark, dark tunnel.

And it has taken me until just recently to even start to find my way through.

As a writer who struggles with strong and consistent writer’s block,* I am always on the lookout for anything that will help me write. Just write. Get the words out and down on the page. What I find again and again is that it all boils down to faith and self-esteem. Believe in myself, believe in what I have to say. And that it applies to my whole life, not just my writer life.

Tara Mohr taught me that the voice that tells me “Best not bother” is my inner critic. Per her advice, I’ve named my inner critic. His name is Karl. He is old, portly, and bald, and he thinks he is The Shit. But he’s ridiculous. When he chimes in with “Everyone already knows this,” I try to say “Okay, Karl. Thanks. I’m going to say it anyway.” Sometimes it works. It worked today. I’m writing this post. (And I’m certainly not the first to write on this subject. Look at how many links I’ve already given you, and I didn’t even look very hard for examples.)

The School of Life reminded me recently that there’s nothing wrong with saying again what’s already been said. A recent blog post, In Praise of Copying, reminded me that very few stories (or ideas) are new. What makes stories and ideas great is point of view. If you’ve never said it before, then it’s never been said in your way before. By this virtue alone, it’s new. If you don’t speak up, whatever it is you were going to say will never be said the way you’d say it. And someone, somewhere, will never get the opportunity to see something old in a new way. And that is a true loss.

Nothing is eternally established. Your first thought is a good thought, no matter what it’s about – a creative spark, a reaction against something you think is wrong, an idea for a different way to do things. Go back to it. Listen to the tiny voice behind the inner critic that says, “Wait, wait…I think you’re on to something.” She is awesome and smart and probably right. And so are you.

* You can say writer’s block doesn’t exist if you want to. It probably doesn’t. And yet, I’ve been trying to write the same novel since I was fifteen. Whatever it is, it’s here.