The Pits of Meaningless Despair

I just sent my manuscript to the proofreader so why do I feel like crying?  What’s wrong with me?

My rosy cheeked boy!

My baby!

I haven’t felt this lost since I left my youngest at college, looking so innocent that I had to be dragged away by my mother and hubby.  Was he really ready for the hard knocks of college life? My baby.  So young – barely eighteen.  He’d never even been to camp!  Six hours from his mommy in a dorm with all those savages!  What if he got sick, who would take care of him???

The funny thing is, after stressing all night, the next morning we couldn’t even find the rascal to say good-bye.  He’d met a girl.

Now my other baby is gone and I can’t stop thinking, she’s not ready for the world!  I should have looked her over just one more time. Just one more time!  Maybe I shouldn’t have removed that scene in draft three.  Maybe the protagonist is too snarky.  Maybe, maybe, maybe…. (Maybes will be the end of me, t’is true.)

On and on I descend into the pits of meaningless despair,* each step down deeper and deeper until finally I am so mired in self-made muck that I’m worthless for anything other than paper-shredding, which is what I did for three hours this morning, my form of self-flagellation. 

Don’t we all wish our babies received this type of reception into the world, singing storks and all, ahhhhh:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTbYZsC8z7k

*Pits of meaningless despair – how my darling son describes life with his mother.

Not for sale at any price

Years ago, while exploring a ghost town near Virginia City, I walked into a beat-up  building with a sign in front that simply read “Goods.”  Inside was the oddest assortment of supplies I’d ever seen. Stacked on wooden shelves that had never been dusted were bags of dry dog food, piles of canned human food, rat poison, ammunition and bags of sand.

Skull

Welcome

Cafe on Highway 50 which advertised free coffee for bikers

Under a decorated but dried up Christmas tree hung upside down from the rafters in the corner of the “store” were three dead cats frozen in a state of ire by a taxidermist.  A handmade sign in front of the cats made it very clear that they were NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE.  The owner emerged in a cloud of smoke from the back a few minutes later and scowled at me “Whatcha want?”  He looked like Keith Richards. My inspiration for FLIPKA.

Boston

It’s hard to blog these days, hard to tweet.  It’s hard to focus on anything cheerful when the receptionist at your dentist’s office tells you she’s had to hide a copy of People magazine because it contained the faces of the New Town victims.  Too many patients would see those precious babies and break down in tears, making it difficult for the staff to get through the day (as you can well imagine.)  And now Boston.  I can’t even think about it without awakening antediluvian Jan, the one who wants to watch as the perpetrators are dragged down, down, down into the pits of meaningless despair, far from TV hype and courtroom sideshows, and so…

IMG_0185

Cameron, a watercolor by Connemoira

I’m just going to post a portrait of another eight year old boy, mouth clutched tight to hide his braces, eyes apprehensively gazing towards the future where fairies, dragons and wizards await him – some evil, some good, but most an unpredictable combination of both.

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Heaven, print by Connemoira

Cheese

I wish I wrote about cheese.  Life would be so much simpler.  AdelostI don’t know about other writers, but I have a hard time describing my work without babbling on and on and there can be nothing worse in the whole wide world than an artist who babbles on and on and on about their work.

For example, yesterday I attended a baby shower held in (believe it or not) a trophy room.  Picture a cavernous, two-story room crammed with the bodies of lions, antelopes, sheep, goats, tigers and bears, all mounted as they would appear in the wild by the best taxidermists money can buy; on the walls the heads of other beasts, as well as sport fish on plagues and exotic birds perched as though about to take flight.  The challenge of how to cheer up the room for a baby shower was solved by placing teddy bears – hundreds of teddy bears – all around the room and even on the backs of some of the beasts.  In addition, the big game hunter responsible for all the trophies put a bonnet on the head of the howling baboon and a pink cowboy hat on the charging lioness.  The mounted beasts were not spared.

babyshower

We were not allowed to take pictures in the trophy room so you will have to depend on my amateurish drawing skills and your imaginations.

The water buffalo got a pirate hat, the moose, a beret.  And so on.  The elephant head was the only trophy spared the indignity.

During the shower I chatted with a fellow guest, someone I rarely see, who I will call Wendy because that’s her name.  Here’s how it went:

Wendy:  What have you been up?

Me:  I wrote a book.

Wendy:  What’s it about?

Me:  Well, it’s about blah blah blah blah blah and then more blah, blah, blah… blah, blah, blah…blah blah blah blah blah and then more blah, blah, blah… blah, blah, blah…

Wendy’s eyes begin to gloss over. Not so subtly, she glances around the room, hoping to spot someone who had not written a book. 

Me: It looks like I’ve done an outstanding job of boring you to death.

Wendy: (who is too intelligence to lie): I have a client who writes about cheese.

Me:  Cheese?  I love cheese.

You can guess the moral of this tale. Don’t blab on about your book or you’ll end up as popular as a howling baboon in an Easter bonnet.babyshower1

No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog, just badly drawn.

Haunted by Words

The writing process is a mystery to me.  I start out thinking I know where I’m going and then, as the characters develop, the plot changes. Characters I thought had finished their purpose, reappear, often with their true identities revealed.  I’m always, it seems, the last person to know.

Mad Tea Party

Funny, you all seemed so different a minute ago.

At least my characters haven’t started talking to me or demanding tea. This, I imagine, would only end badly.

Off with her head!

Off with her head!

old journal

I’m on this train of thought for a reason, really. It all began when I needed a plot device, you know, something to bridge the gap between action scenes.  I had worn out just about every implausible gimmick you can imagine, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of innocent words, and then I saw it.  An old journal, dusty and frail.  The handwriting, elegant. The sentiments within, haunting.  Like one of those journals under glass in a ghost town museum, open to a page you glance at for a second before pressing on to the antique guns, the Native American diorama, the Victorian gowns.