And so it goes. 

And so it goes. 

Words about stuff about words. 

The Last Five Years

Sometimes it feels as if life is running backwards. There are days when I feel like I'm old, at the end of my life, but then the next day, I feel young and full of energy. I know these perceptions aren't reality, but they certainly do feel true at the time. It's rare to find a piece of theater that can replicate that feeling, but there is one. It's called THE LAST FIVE YEARS at PowPAC(North County San Diego), and you should go see it because it's fantastic. 

 

Why is it fantastic? Many reasons. As I mentioned, it manages time as a fluid commodity, not as a linear arrow from here to there. And it's a musical, so that's even more impressive! But mostly, you have to see it because of the people who are in it. There are only two— the incomparable Sarah LeClaire, and the talented Cory Hibbs. They sing, they play piano, they glug fake wine out of bottles, and live out a trunk...and they tell the story of two characters' lives in two different directions, something that I wouldn't have believed unless I'd seen it. 

 

THE LAST FIVE YEARS, written by Jason Robert Brown (contemporary musical theater superstar) presents the story of a couple of artists: Jamie and Cathy. Jamie writes, Cathy sings. They have ambitions. They meet, fall in love, and things go as they go. But in this show, Jamie tells the story in one direction-—from their first meeting to their breakup—while Cathy tells it in the opposite direction, from breakup to love at first sight. It doesn't sound like it would work but it does. LeClaire and Hibbs, the only cast in this 90-minute show with no intermission— do yeomens' work, playing their own piano accompaniment and singing in turns as they tell the story. LeClaire's voice is like a sharp-edged diamond, bright and dazzling. Hibbs brings warmth and charm to the story of the not-as likeable (in my opinion) Jamie, a man who wants it all. It's a night of theater that you would be privileged to witness. 

 

It made me think a lot about my own life, actually. I am a writer, like Jamie, and my husband is a musician, like Cathy. We've had our own non-linear journey in life, struggling to be creative people while still making enough to live in California, raise two kids, and a pet or two. There is never enough time, and whatever time one takes, the other has to give. Resentments can build up; in the case of Jamie and Cathy, the resentments were ultimately their undoing. THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a great cautionary tale in some ways about living la vie boheme. If you want to be an artist, it will likely cost you, and you have to bring your best to your own life as well as your art if you want relationships to work as well as careers. 

 

This show is only on for another week or so, so you absolutely must go see it if you are in the San Diego area. The show runs through February 21 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Last chance. Go see it and be amazed. www.powpac.org

Butterfly Year

 

 It's a new year, as everyone has no doubt mentioned. And, like everyone else, I like to take a few moments to reflect on my work this past year. There's not much to say...I was singularly unproductive in many ways in 2014, at least from a commercial perspective. But I like to think of it as a cocoon year, a year where ideas and concepts and characters rested and mingled and brewed into whatever they will become. 

 

I am hoping that 2015 is a butterfly year. 

 

 I have two projects currently at the forefront of my consciousness. One is fiction, one is humorous non-fiction. (I really sort of hate the word 'humorous'. It is the most serious word I can think of for something that is supposed to be sharp and fun and witty. It just sounds like a clinical diagnosis. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but you have a touch of the humorous." Need a better word. Comic? Too clubb-y. Funny? Too sit-com. C'mon, English langauge. Help me out!)  

 

Keep tuned for excerpts from these two projects if you are interested. Also, if you are a frequent watcher of this space, I'd love any suggestions on how to make it better. Web design isn't really my area of expertise, and I'm sure there are things here that could be much more effective. Email me at preblebooks at gmail dot com. 

 

 Happy Butterfly Year! 

Running from What?

Free to be, nevermore.

 

I now have 200 pages of my next book finished. When I read it, I am very disappointed to get to the point where I stopped. It's like I'm reading someone else's book, and I want more. Yet, I avoid writing almost every day. Why is this?

 

I believe it is because I am a self-defeating Pinocchio. My strings are the ties to this old world, which turns whether I care or not. I work my job, I care about things that, in retrospect, do not matter, things like which spine labels are on the books in the library, or whether or not kids eat between the stacks. Sure, these things matter on a day-to-day basis, but in the long term, big scheme of life, the universe, and everything? Nah.

 

So why am I so wrapped up in this stuff? Well, some of it is just life. I have a son on the autism spectrum (and Jesus, that took me years to be able to write, let me tell you), and doing even the simplest stuff with him is a Battle Royale. Homework? Torture, for both of us. Showers? Trickery and deception in the form of Ed Hardy cologne and baby powder. Eating real food? I find Cheeto packets under the couch. He's only 11. I will never make it past his puberty, I am sure. His pits smell. He has classified the pit smell into two distinct categories: minor and major. When you live with a person who quantifies their body odor, how can you realistically focus on stuff like finishing a novel, even if it's good?

 

And it is good. I am very proud of what I've written. I've had great response to it from my writer's critique group. It feels different from my other books, more special. And yet, here I am, avoiding it. What is my problem?

 

Life, I guess. Life and autism, and jobs, and groceries, and mortgages, and stuff. At times like this I sort of wish I could run away and live (with my family) in Oregon or Washington, surrounded by trees and running rivers and oxygen. I desperately want to simplify my life. I think this is an old person thing. My parents did this. Whenever I asked them what they wanted for a birthday or Christmas, they always said the same thing, "nothing. We have enough stuff." I didn't believe them then, but now I do.

 

I just cut my hair, much to the chagrin of my male family members who like it long. It feels more free, a bit jaunty, more unexpected. I feel I need to reach out to the universe and claim my portion of unexpected results. Writing is part of that. So, I need to stop avoiding it with the mundane. I need to disappear despite the fact that I am the only one who knows where the ketchup is in the refrigerator, and the only one who knows when the homework is due, and the only one who can somehow remember to fill the water bottles and water the cat.

 

Onward and upward. Some strings are fraying at the edges, and soon, I will be floating weightless in the puppet theater of my own design.

Pinocchio of the Pen

From DeviantArt. 

 

It seems that I have not posted a blog since February. Hmmm. I've been quite the slacker. 

 

There are several reasons why I haven't been posting. First, and perhaps most relevant, is that I didn't think anybody was reading it. Maybe they aren't. Maybe nobody will read this one. However, this brings me to reason number 2. 

 

Reason 2 that I have not been posting: I have let myself forget about what I need to do to be part of the world. I have slipped in past months into a comfortable sort of conscious coma. I have avoided writing, despite knowing that writing is one of the few things that makes me feel connected to life, the universe, and everything. It is the image I hold in my mind of my 'real', or authentic, life. 

 

Like Pinnochio, I have longed to become 'real' without realizing that I already was. 

 

It started with a new job in the fall. I became a librarian, which is ridiculously fun, but carries its own freight in terms of stigmas and the feeling that I have given up on what has been my life-long dream to become a 'real' writer. How could I call myself an author if I had such a sizeable 'day job'?  Now I was on the hook for going to school again to earn the appropriate credential too. Where would I find time to write? Would I never become real?

 

My many measure of success, I've done okay. I've published five books to small success. I've been involved in many conferences and projects. But the holy grail has eluded me. I wanted (and still want) to be a writer who writes as a primary function, not as a side job or a fun hobby whenever time allows. This is what I would deem 'real'. 

 

And because of that, I have not been writing, not as much as I should be. I've resisted the urge, even when it tugs at me. Why would I do that? I've found distractions galore, Facebook being the prime culprit. How easy it is to fall into the pleasantly numbing and never-ending feed of silly videos and clever memes, the drama of friends' lives and the daily rantings of everyone in the world (almost literally)? As I spend hour after hour monitoring the ill-named news feed, I am conscious of time ticking, but seem unable to draw myself away from this. I might miss something. I might not see something clever that resonates with my nerdy core. I might miss a cat riding a vacuum cleaner. 

 

I've been in a media coma long enough. Here, in this space, I am committing to breaking out of this pixel shell that has contained me and lulled me into laziness. I am going to write every day and finish my new novel. I am going to stop telling myself that what I say does not matter. That is not a relevant point. It matters because I need to say it, not because anyone else needs to read it. 

 

Cutting strings. Hoping for the best. Encouragement welcome. 

Make It Safe Project

 

I was contacted by an amazing young woman named Amelia, who started a program called MAKE IT SAFE. She collects and ships books with positive LGBT messages to high schools so students have a chance of seeing that they are reflected in literature. Here's the link: http://makeitsafeproject.org/  Check it out!

 

She asked me to write a blog for her site, so I'm reprinting it here since I sort of liked it. Enjoy! And feel free to comment!

 

WOULD YOU  HIDE?

I’ve written an LGBT-themed book, but I’m not LGBT. Some people don’t see how this is possible, but here’s why it is: I’m a human being.

 

My book, Out, is a speculative fiction book where opposite-sex couples (perpendiculars) are criminalized, while same-sex couples (parallels) are in the majority and run the theocratic government. It’s really a love story, though; a minister’s son, Chris, finds himself in love with a person his society and his church have told him he cannot love: a girl.

 

Before the book was even published, people complained about it, and said that I had no right to write this book since I was not LGBT myself, and I couldn’t possibly understand the struggles. Of course, that’s partly true, but that is true for every person on this planet. None of us lives in the other’s shoes. None of us knows what story another person is truly living. The best we can do is try to communicate something true.

 

As the mother of a gay son, I have seen my share of judgment, discrimination, and downright hatred. No, it wasn’t pointed directly at me, but as anyone who’s had a child knows, when you child is attacked, so are you. I was a teacher in his high school when someone vandalized the school and spray painted on my door, ‘your son is a faggot’.  I had to watch him as he walked proudly around the school, a 6’3 budding drag queen who never apologized for who he was, as comments were whispered and looks were exchanged. I knew he had to change clothes in the teacher’s restroom for four years because the locker room was too painful.

 

And I helped him fight. I had been the advisor for our schools’ Gay Straight Alliance even before he came out in 8th grade. I’d championed LGBT students throughout my entire teaching career. I stood with him at a school board meeting when he and several of his friends complained when the board supported the hate-based YES ON PROP 8, California’s referendum against gay marriage.  And in large part I wrote my novel because I felt that flipping the reality in such a drastic way might actually make the blind see.

 

That’s a tall order for a book, I know. But I kept wondering why these people couldn’t understand that love is love. Anatomy is irrelevant. Why could they not understand this? Then it hit me one day. They don’t understand because, in our world, it is inconceivable to them that they would be denied the person they love.

 

Straight privilege had imbued them with the implied understanding that no one would ever tell them they could not be who they were born to be.

 

But how to make that clear, and more importantly, how to give it an emotional punch? The answer, to me, was clear. Show a world where straight people couldn’t love other straight people. How would it feel? What would you do? Would you deny who you are? Would you change for your parents? Would you hide? Would you rebel? All the questions our LGBT youth have had to wrestle with for decades were flipped and posed to those who had never considered what it would feel like if it happened to them.

 

This is why I wrote the book. I wanted someone who is straight to try to feel what it would be like to be disenfranchised. To feel how that inequity festers in the gut, to ultimately feel sympathy, empathy, and the injustice of it all. And maybe if those people feel it, even in a fictional world, they’d begin to have an understanding of why it needs to change.

 

No matter who you are, it is a blessing to love someone and be loved in return.

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