Hello, Brick Wall. Didn’t See You There. (Lies. All lies.)

sweetdreams

Here are a couple little things you probably didn’t know about me:

(1) I’m scared of the dark.

(2) I have Really Truly Awful Terrible No-Good Dreams on a regular basis. Some people call them nightmares. I don’t really like that word. It’s overused to the point of not meaning anything, like ‘awesome’ and ‘literally’. But it’s shorter and easier to say than Dreamscapes Created By Evil Itself, so I suppose there’s still some decent use left in the word.

Here’s another thing that you may (or may not) know about me: 

I heart Stephen King. Granted, he’d probably view my work with the same disdain he has for Stephanie Meyer, but whatever. Doesn’t change the fact that the man can spin a yarn like nobody’s business.

My admiration of King started with my mom. She loved all things creepy, crawly, and scary. And she loved Stephen King. She introduced me to him at an early age – way too young to understand most of what I was reading, but even as a young ‘un, his rhythm of writing meant something to me. I liked the way what I was reading flowed. I liked the voice I heard in my head while I was reading it. Even the scary parts, or the parts that my young brain couldn’t fit together just right, sang.

I had bad dreams and nightmares as a kid (now don’t go blaming SK – I was having them long before his books were placed in my hands), recurring ones that were like clockwork: Evil witch + night-time massacre of my entire family while I watched on. They were vivid, down to tiny, minute details – the chip in my grandma’s serving platter, the smell of the exhaust from my dad’s truck, the sound of my grandpa’s voice as he called the cows in (these are the more pleasant details of that dream). As I’m typing this I can still see it in my head – see it, hear it, smell it; and something weird happens in my chest as I do – it gets all tight and achy. It’s an unpleasant memory, almost like a real memory.

The dreams tapered off in high-school and college – which was blissful. They picked back up after my mom died, when I was pregnant with our first child, and have persisted ever since. Some of them are recurring, some of them aren’t. And they all make those early childhood dreams look like child’s play.

So when I have a dream that doesn’t suck, it sticks with me.

I hit a brick wall with Hanna, Hanna, One-and-Two this week. I’ve seen it coming for a week or two now, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it – I was hoping it was a mirage in my brain and wasn’t really there. (It’s never any good to lie to ourselves, is it, pretty little lovies? No indeed.) I hit the brick wall with full force and was left reeling, flat out on the pavement, blood in my eyes, trying to remember my name. When I finally came out of my daze I realized a couple things:

(1) I’ve already written the ending of the book.

(2) It’s time to put meat on the bones.

These are both really fantastic revelations, but it means I’m going to cut a lot of things I’ve already written past the ending of the book, and if you know anything about authors, asking them to cut large amounts of their own written word is pretty much like asking them to cut off their own arm ala 127 Hours. The idea is repulsive and therapeutic all at the same time.

I didn’t write any more that day. I closed Scrivener and baked a cake instead. I cleaned our bathrooms. I did yoga. I painted my fingernails. I think I may have even made my bed. Anything but facing the reality that I have to cut off my freaking arm. (Dramatic much? Yeah, I know.)

I went to bed that night, following all our routines that help me sleep – TV on, the Hubster next to me, staying awake until he sees that I’m sleeping (the dreams double down on their badness if I fall asleep after him), then him drifting off after me.

And I dreamed.

But not the terrible dreams I normally have of dark shapes hovering over my bed eating my soul one slow bite at a time, or of a neon demonic moose that crawls out of the wall (shouldn’t be terrifying, but it is), or the hand that creeps around our doorframe, a hand that is attached to something so terrible that my mind can’t translate it.

None of those dreams that night. Instead, I dreamed of Uncle Stevie. And Hawaiian sweet rolls.

We were hanging out in a storage room of some type (why a storage room? No idea), and there were loads of sweet rolls. (Do I love sweet rolls? Yes I do. Very, very much. But do I eat bread? No I don’t. Do I miss it? I’m dreaming about it, so I think the answer is self-evident.)

“Have a roll,” he says, handing me my very own package of rolls. He nods a little, as if to say, Go on, take it. I pull a roll off and sink my teeth into its soft, sweet flesh. Nir-freaking-vana.

“Thanks.” The word is muffled from a mouthful of bread, but he doesn’t seem to notice or mind.

“So, Salt Mine,” he says, using the working title for Hanna, Hanna, One-and-Two. I look at him and shrug a little (when I wake up I’ll giggle a little over how natural and matter-of-fact it is that Uncle Stevie and I are on familiar enough terms for me to not only call him Uncle Stevie, but for him to use the working title for HH1+2 without me dissolving into my trademark hysterical nervous giggling). “You know what I’m going to say.”

“I know.” And I do. I know exactly what he’s going to say.

“It has to go.”

“I know.”

He smiles a little. The eyes behind his glasses are kind. “You don’t have to like doing it. But you do have to do it. Okay?”

“Okay.”

We fall into silence. It’s an easy silence, the kind you can only maintain with a close friend who is completely at ease in your company, and vice versa. We eat rolls.

And I wake up smiling.

Today I know what I’m going to do – not because Stephen King told me to do it, but because my subconscious felt strongly enough about the thing I don’t want to do that it concocted a happy, goofy dream to tell me to do it. When your front brain is too intrenched in its own thinking, sometimes the back brain has to bully it’s way to the front of the class and say WAKE UP, SISSY, AND SMELL THE COFFEE. YOU KEEP GOING THIS WAY AND YOU’RE NEVER GONNA GET THERE. My hero and spiritual father C.S. Lewis said something like this in Mere Christianity: 

If you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road.

He wasn’t talking about writing – not even close – but it’s a basic principle in life that’s applicable just about anywhere. If you want stuff to go right, you have to get back to the place where they were right in the first place – even if that means cutting off your own arm to do it.

Or, in my case, thousands of words.

myndiyellow

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MAKING IT HAPPEN: Ridonky

As I’ve said before, the weekend is really the start of my work-week.  I get most of my writing – and the chore of blogging – done Friday through Monday.  Here’s what happened.

Friday:  Pinched a nerve in my back.  RIDONKY.

Saturday:  Started editing the second book in the series I’m working on.  RIDONKY.  Thought I’d jump off the deep-end into the wordpress.org world.  RIDONKY.  Quickly pulled myself out of the wordpress.org water, remembering I don’t know how to swim.  RIDONKY.  Discovered that my local library isn’t quiet inside.  In fact, it’s RIDONKY loud.  I’m still kind-of weirded out by that.

Sunday:  Realized I have four blog posts to write for this week.  RIDONKY.  Started on the 6th DARK TOWER novel instead.  So frigging RIDONKY (in a good way).  Mr. Stephen King, if you’ve stumbled upon Blogging Barefoot (*snickers at the likelihood of that*), I have to tell you, you’re the bomb-diggity.  For reals.  RIDONKY reals.

Today:  Who knows?  It’s Sunday when I’m writing this, and I’m no fortune-teller.  Chances are, no matter how much I get done, I’ll end the day feeling like it wasn’t enough.  That’s kinda how I roll.  It’s hard for me ever feel like I’ve accomplished enough in a day, even if everything on my list gets crossed off.  Say it with me now….R I D O N K Y.

I’m having an inward chuckle about the second book in the SHRILUGH series.  I haven’t touched this MS in a little over two years.  It’s been a bit of a history lesson in the life of Writer Myndi.  Guys, I gotta tell ya, while there’s definitely a story there, the writing is so terrible, it has me laughing and crying all at once.  I’ve definitely got some hard work ahead to make it worth a darn.  The Hubster keeps telling me that I can cut myself a break – SHRILUGH and the books that follow are the first I’ve ever written.  They’re not going to be perfect, and that’s okay.  I keep telling myself that, hoping it will stick.

They’re not going to be perfect, and that’s okay.

Not sticking yet.  *whispers*  RI-DONNNNN-KY.

Last week I promised you another look in one of my character’s underwear drawer, and had you vote on whose you’d like to see.  You naughty little kittens chose ‘Bad Guy’.  I had a couple villains to choose from, but I went with the man named Lenox Fulbert.  His underwear take up residence in a long dresser along the east wall of his bedroom.  Top middle drawer.  It opens easily and is impeccably neat inside.  He’s a whitey-tighties guy, and his housekeeper keeps ’em folded in thirds and rolled tightly, like albino Swiss Rolls no one would ever want to eat.  Underneath these is an unframed photograph of a pretty dark haired woman in her early twenties.  His late wife.  In her arms is an infant who has an unreasonable amount of dark, curly hair on her head.  His beloved daughter, Calista.  A loaded pistol lays on top of the photograph.  Tucked between the side of the drawer and the pistol is an aging envelope with an aging letter inside.  It’s from his grandfather, telling him in the shaky handwriting of an old pissed-off man that he’ll never amount to anything.  That he’s a waste of the air he breathes, worth less than urine he dribbles out what he’s sure is a sorry excuse for a cock.  Lenox reads it over a glass of Macallan every year on the anniversary of the old bastards death, toasting the fact that he was wrong.  Not to mention dead.  Cancer saw to that.  He’d toast the cancer, too, if it hadn’t taken his wife.  Next to the photograph and the gun is a small stash of porn.  On top of that are two little black boxes.  In one is his wedding ring.  In the other is his wife’s.

That’s his drawer.  I hope you’re not disappointed – no minions or scribbled down plots to take over the world.  Lenox Fulbert is a pretty normal guy, save for the fact that he’s cruel and losing his mind.

Whelp, that’s it for Monday, folks.  I hope your week is RIDONKY good.

Giggles and grins,

Myn

p.s.  Check out my Pinterest boards SHRILUGH, and SHRILUGH, AS YOU SEE IT if you’re interested.  The second board is all images my beta-readers have posted, which makes it pretty special, I think.  Hey, and BETA’s, there’s no Lenox Fulbert on the board…I’m interested in what you think he looks like!

Where Does She Get it From?

I was going through my old Facebook photo albums the other day. It’s wild to see how our family has grown and changed since the first day I signed up for social media all those years ago.

During my stroll down memory lane I came across a series of photographs. Of my daughter. From over a year ago. Refusing to swallow a bite of food.

As I was looking at my two-year-old little SweetZ obstinately holding food in her mouth for more than an hour, I was asking myself, “Where does she get it from?” – that stubborn refusal to do the thing that she really doesn’t want to do.

Then a childhood memory of my own came flooding into my thoughts – a very specific trip to the dentist. I’d heard my parents whispering in the front seat of the car during the trip there about what we were going to have done. They didn’t know I was listening, but I was. Even though I was too young to fully understand everything they were saying, I was, however, plenty old enough to understand these words:

“…stitches…”

“…shots…”

“…needles…”

I made up my mind very quickly – lonnnnnng before we reached the dentist’s office. No way in hell was I going to open my mouth. That dentist could call frogs from the waters and fire from the heavens, and nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – was going to make me open my mouth. Not if doing so meant that there would be needles, shots, and stitches.

I remember sitting in the dentist’s chair (which to my little, distrustful eyes, seemed like some kind of mutant-mechanical praying mantis waiting to eat me, slowly and painfully), looking up at the posters they had tacked up on the ceiling. A kitten sitting in a wagon. A pretty rainbow scene. That classic shot of the two little boys wearing overalls that reads, “So, how long have you been farming?” I distrusted those posters. They reminded me of clowns. And I was LIGHTYEARS ahead of Stephen King when it came to the ugly truth behind clowns. I had my own preconceived notions regarding those devilish bastards before IT was published…and he was 39 when that went to print. I was a mere sprite when I realized the true evil behind clowns. But that’s a story for another post, another day.

Anyway…

I was staring up at those posters, all alone in the examination room, contemplating my chances of success if I were to bolt, when the dentist came in.

He said hello.

I stared at him.

His nurse said hello.

I ignored her and stared at him.

He sat on his chair and pulled on his mask. His eyes crinkled behind his glasses. Maybe he was trying to smile at me. I thought he was glaring.

He asked me to open my mouth.

I stared at him.

He repeated himself.

I stared at him and gave my head a tiny shake. No.

He looked at the nurse and gave her a slight nod. She moved a step closer to the chair.

My tiny head shake grew into something a little bigger.

I don’t remember much past this point. It’s all kind of a blur. There was a commotion, some loud yelling, and hands holding my shoulders down while someone else tried to pry my mouth open.

I still have bad dreams. I still loathe dentists.

I don’t know if they were able to do what we’d come for them to do – I honestly don’t remember. All I remember was clinging to the notion that if I were to survive that visit, I MUST NOT OPEN MY MOUTH.

So, as I was looking through our family photographs of my daughter displaying her stubbornness, I realized,

Oh.

She gets it from me.

And I smiled. Because even though she’ll have to learn to develop the kind of self-control that doesn’t allow her to just give into her stubbornness willy-nilly, seeing myself reflected in her is a pretty darn cool thing.

Now, check out SweetZ in her 1 hr, 10 minute refusal to swallow her food.

Fifteen minutes into her refusal to swallow a bite. She’s still trying to smile at me as if to say, “Look, lady. I could do this all night long.”

Twenty minutes in. It’s becoming less and less fun.

Forty-five minutes into the battle of the wills. All eye contact has been cut off. She had no idea at this point just how stubborn her mama could be. And clearly, I had no idea just how stubborn my daughter could be.

A full hour into it. An HOUR, people.

And there it is. Seventy minutes later, the will broke. The food was swallowed. And there was much, much cuddling. We never had an issue with her swallowing her food again.