Thursday, May 6, 2010

The end is only the beginning

I'm better at hello. It's the goodbyes that lodge like a piece of moussaka (as in Disney's Hercules) in my throat leaving me voiceless. Or worse yet, teary-eyed as well as tongue tied.

Oh, those beginnings. They are but a dream. A time of joy and excitement when nearly anything is possible. And then, the bottom falls out and it is no longer the blossoming beginning, but somewhere in the murky middle sucking the life out of me with every wheezing breath taken.

I am speaking of writing, yet it is quite fitting for many facets of my life. Endings have always been difficult. But aren't they for everyone? Anyone who knows me can see a pattern here, though. Instead of goodbye, I've been known to walk away without a word, mute and unable to cope, rather than experience the pain and torture that go into actually letting go. Which leads me to my current status - ending a relationship with my latest manuscript.

How many unfinished masterpieces do I have in a drawer which have the first 50-100 pages done? So bright and full of life. The characters seem to leap off the page. Oh how I love them. They are strong and virile and beautiful and unique. They are the loves of my life. All of them. But that's before the saggy, flawed, angry, middle rears its head. The part that doesn't even seem to have any heart, much less soul. This is the scary part. The part that separates the short timers from the distance runners.

I read an essay the other day from Amy Tan called 'Angst and the Second Book' in which she said she started six books after the success of The Joy Luck Club. Nearly 1,000 pages churned out and tossed all because she was worried how people would react to her SECOND book. Now, I do not have a bestseller I am trying to say goodbye to, but I am trying to improve my craft with this next endeavor. So I enter into each day over analyzing each word that's placed on the page. Yet, somehow I'm plowing through, slowly but surely.

So, here I am with the words THE END looming yet I can't seem to take the leap and just be done with it. There's tweaking that still needs to be done. There's the life that I still need to breathe into my main character.

Walking away is never easy. Just one more draft and it might be the perfect piece of literary genius. HA!

Goodbyes are certainly not my forte. But to move on, I must...

Monday, May 3, 2010

What goes around comes around

What goes around comes around. This is and always has been my Mother's mantra. Actually, even at this moment I hear her voice in my head saying these five words. Only she's laughing this time, gleeful that I am finally dealing with what she had to decades ago during my youth.

What goes around comes around. It was a phrase my Mom used particularly when my sister and I were being difficult teenagers. At the time I thought she meant it as some sort of hopeful prayer to keep her sanity. Now I know it was more of a hex, one that would someday stick.

I do not deny I was periodically problematic during those awkward teen years. Not verbally defiant (that was my sister's department). Mine came in the form of being the Queen of NO. Not coming out and actually saying I hated something, but not willing to try it or give reasons why. And I admit shopping excursions were a mite tense. Especially those involving the purchase of specific types of under garments. Ok, bra shopping.

But you have to understand, that was a long time ago. I didn't like the colors that were offered. Some were too tight, too loose, too constricting, too whatever. It was frustrating for me. But I wasn't to blame. Really. Still, it got to the point where neither my sister nor my mother would shop with me, deeming me "difficult."

I never saw it that way, though. Discerning. That's it. I have discerning tastes. But, I have found, rarely do we see those 'special' traits that annoy our beloved familia. That is, until our own children toss it back in our faces and it's hard to miss. When our own children act as a mirror image to our youth.

What goes around comes around. And here we arrive in the present day and I offer up a slice of department store discussion (or lack there of) with my son:

Me: "You said you needed a few new golf shirts. Is that right?"

Teenage son: "Yuh huh."

Me: "What color would you like? There's a ton here."

Teenage son: "I dunno."

Me: "How about this?" I hold up a striped shirt.

Teenage son: "No."

Me: "Ok. How about this one? It would look nice with your eyes."

Teenage son: "Uh, no."

Me: "Ooooh. How about this one? It's really soft and..."

Teenage son: No comment, just a pursing of the lips and shaking of the head.

Me (getting really angry): "How about I just buy three white ones and call it done?"

Teenage son
: "Can we do that?"

Me: "No! Can't you just tell me what you want? What you like?"

Teenage son: "I dunno."

What goes around comes around. And so goes the vicious cycle that has become shopping with my own beloved child. It's painful. Poking your eyes out painful. Still, I hopped back on that roller coaster ride of non-committal again because we had to buy a nice pair of slacks and shirt for the First Communion of a family friend.

I prepared for the worst. Ready for the 'no' train. But this time he was a different person. My teenager listened to the salesman and smiled when he offered ideas. The child of my loins pointed to which shirts he liked with which pants. He even trotted to the dressing room without snarling one little bit.

I think my chin almost hit the ground in surprise. Who was this kid and what did he do with my "I dunno" guy?

Then I realized. What goes around comes around. That's it! He coming around! Or is it going around? Damn. I think I'll just call and ask my mom.