The Power of Love

I fell in love with a turtle this week. That’s a strange sentence, and not one I ever thought I’d write. On Wednesday around noon I was coming home from working out and getting my hair highlighted (I know, my life is so hard, but before you throw tomatoes at me, it had been six months since I had the time to get my hair done. And I’m a marshmallow, so work out machines resemble torture devises to me.) when the corner of my eye caught on something moving in the grass by my shoe.

A baby turtle!

Without thinking, my husband and I gathered him up, and made a makeshift habitat out of tupperware and river rocks. We discovered the little guy is a red ear slider. Aquatic by nature. We live on a hill surrounded by woods. We have a mostly dry creek bed, because Texas has been in drought, but no real natural source of water anywhere close enough for this turtle to be coming from or trying to get to. There had been a storm, so our thinking is that the turtle was washed up into our yard and then got lost.

(OK, you don’t need to know all this. I do have a point. Bear with me.)

Needless to say, my husband, Sam and I have spent the last four days getting the turtle set up in wondrous aquatic habitat. Sam named the turtle Scout, which is his favorite name. We worry over the little thing like he’s, well, not a wild turtle I nearly stepped on, but a sudden, welcome member of our family.

The turtle hiding underwater.

The turtle hiding underwater.

We love him, for some reason, and we feel responsible for keeping him alive. He’s just a turtle, you say? He is, but that doesn’t change the fact that his tiny swimming self is worth loving.

Love is funny. It is quite possibly the most natural physiological and emotional reaction in life, and yet human beings are terrified of giving themselves over to it. No matter what kind of love it is. Love is dangerous and powerful because loving something or someone means they have some measure of control over you. They own a piece of you.

Even Scout, the turtle. Scout the turtle has the place in my heart reserved for amphibians. I didn’t know there was a place there for those, but unexpectedly there is. Scout has it.

We are so afraid of the pain of love, of the losing, or the hurt that can be caused by loving that it becomes very easy to shut off your aching heart from feeling it. Your mind from opening to the possibility of it. Your body from releasing the rush of adrenaline and oxytocin associated with the fierce instinct to protect. Rather, we numb ourselves. Or we lessen the validity of the emotion in order to protect ourselves from the possible, and often, eventual pain of losing something or someone we love.

As a mother, I gave up that right when my son was born. The daily anxiety I feel associated to Sam is tantamount to tiny panic attacks in my heart. As a wife, (7 years today!) I have no choice but to feel the fear and longing of being inextricably bound to another person. The last time I was free to wound myself without it affecting another person was…never…because before my husband and Sam, it was my mother and father.

Love is treacherous. Those you love take root in your soul. The power of love is supernatural, it binds and breaks and saves. It’s an incredible thing because it is the foundation that lives and worlds are built on. Pretending love has any less power than it does is sticking your head in the sand. Being capable of loving when you understand its power is superhero work.

So, I love a turtle. His little life has bearing, even if it’s small in comparison to my other loves, on mine. I accept that. When we love things — whether human, animal, aquatic, or other — we must acknowledge their power. Writing words is a love in my life. My nieces are loves in my life. God is a love in my life. My five brothers are loves, and those married have wives I love. Best friends, old and new…and so on, forever.

Loving gives them the right to need you, to want you, to take your time and energy, and very often, to cut you deeply. If you don’t love, and you don’t understand the potential in loving something or someone more than yourself, then you miss the fruit of having them love you back. Of having your son wake up in the morning, run upstairs and tell you you’re beautiful when you know —right then — you’re not. Of having your husband hold you when you’re crying because you just are and that’s enough of a reason. Of so much more that makes life, actually and only then, worth living.

That’s…the Power of Love. Happy Arrested Development Premier Day and my wedding anniversary. A special note to some other wonderful couples who got married today as well: Jennifer and Darren, Allen and Mindy, Violet and John —May 26th is Love day!

“I think we should see other people.”

I’ve been struggling to blog these past couple weeks. It’s not that I haven’t had topics to discuss or thoughts to share, but it’s that when they grab me, I’m not sure I want to share them. Coming to the end of a revision always leaves me feeling a little lost. My main characters voice grows quiet, and with her absence I’m left a little hollow.

When you spend a lot of time talking to characters, bickering about how things are going to go or examining their motives, their feelings, their world, your world, your motives, your feelings can get tossed to the wayside. This may not be true for all writers, but it is for me.

I can disconnect a little too much from myself while writing. This particular revision maybe even more than the others, the disconnect was more acute. I can’t pinpoint the reason, other than this revision has been the most in depth. I spent a lot of time examining character arcs, not just my main character and her counterpart/love interest, but the other significant characters. I learned so much about them, and fell so much more in love with them, or more in hate in the case of the villain (although, honestly, villains rock my world, so…), that each one took on a life inside me.

When the bulk of the revising was finished, and what was left was minor tweaks, my characters voices left me with a whoosh. In their place were bouts of melancholy and aimlessness.

I was forced into actual conversations with living people. (Weird.) I went shoe shopping and got overwhelmed by all the selection. Too many and yet, nothing. (Sad.) I realized people in my life needed help, mine or someones, and those muscles were out of practice. (Woah.)

The past couple of weeks have been a little eye-opening. Getting away from my MC was scary at first. It’s like being away from your codependent boyfriend. Will he stop loving you or you stop loving him if you have breathing room? If you can’t see him, will he still think about you? The answer is hold on, simma. (Do you guys remember that skit on SNL?) That’s not how it works, and not ever how it should be, and if it is, there’s something majorly wrong there.

My advice to any writer coming up to the end of a revision: don’t be afraid of a little distance. Your characters won’t die without you. In fact, it’s only by distance that you can allow readers to fall in love. Or that you can handle feedback when it comes. Or that you can accept more edits. Eventually your words will, hopefully, be loved by many others. They won’t care about how you feel about your characters, because your characters become theirs.

That why we write, isn’t it? I know that’s one reason I love to read. Here’s a funny post from buzz feed illustrating that very thing. So, to sum up, the end of a revision is not a break up, it is a girls night, a boy night, a moms weekend. It’s you and your characters seeing friends so that you don’t kill each other. It’s wonderful, and hopefully, fruitful.

What’s Up Wednesday

whats up wednesdayWhat’s up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of this post. We really hope you will take part.

This is my first time taking part in this blog-hop, but I’ve been wanting to for a few weeks. So, yay for today!

What I’m Reading

I just finished Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I’m taking a workshop with Nova, and hadn’t read this book yet. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something truly unique with heartbreaking narrative. Also, Nova is the bees knees. I just started reading Fuse by Julianna Baggott. Fuse is the second of the Pure trilogy. Julianna is a phenomenal, hardworking mother and writer, who’s prolific and unbound by genre. I firmly believe Pure will be an important series to reference in the coming years. I’m also reading pages from classmates books they are workshopping in Nova’s class. The talent is astounding.

What I’m Writing

I just finished a massive revision on my MS and sent it to a couple readers, and an author friend, for feedback. After every revision I hope to be done, and by done I mean, ready to submit it for publication. I am optimistic, yet not expectant. We aren’t done with our manuscripts until our editor says so, and it’s in copyediting, and that readiness is decided by many different factors. I am mulling what to work on in the interim period. Part of me wants to work on a new project, and part of me wants to get a massage. We’ll see which part wins out.

What Inspires Me

My fellow writers. Writers are readers, and readers are people who never grow up.

The color of my son’s eyes.

Cobalt blue

Cobalt blue

True family stories, full of character arcs that astound.

trust_your_struggle

What Else I’ve Been Up To

I went to NYC last week, which I wrote about on my blog briefly. It was a bit of a whirlwind. If you do not follow me on Twitters (which you can do with the scroll to you right) I posted a pic of me being supercool when I met Lauren Graham.

Random House Open House. Me and Lauren Graham.

Random House Open House. Me and Lauren Graham.

Can you see how cool I’m being?

My son is on the last leg of potty training. Life without wiping someone else’s ass is a miracle. The end.

I’m exercising. I hate it, like most people, but I believe I will love not feeling like a marshmallow anymore. I am already seeing results, mainly in my face. I haven’t done any face exercises, so this is a bit of a bummer.

Happy Wednesday!

New York City Rematch

Today I am writing you from New York City. When we moved away from Brooklyn two — yikes almost three — months ago, I wondered when I would come back. Moving back to Texas was a bag of mixed emotions and fears for me. Going home again is supposed to be off limits, or so Thomas Wolfe said. He meant this metaphorically, because when leave, you change and so home is different by your changing.

Being back in Texas has been being home again. I reacquainted myself with old haunts. I have taken aimless drives around the rolling, grassy farmlands and through old neighborhoods. I have watched horses frolic in the dawn light after a rain.

I have also finished the most grueling revision of my MS so far.

It has been right to be home again, so when I decided to come to New York, I was leery. Ruffled. My panties and my feathers were in a bunch. More than anything, New York was where I found myself. It was where my husband, son and I branched out on our own to see what we could do. It was prosperous, but also it forced examination, and forced all of us to learn better who we could be. (Yes, even my darling, three year old, Sam.)

When we left, we were ready to go,and I was afraid that the identity forged in New York — the one where I learned I was really a writer —would vanish. Like identity could be removed by a location change.

I do think that is something the City convinces you of, if only in retrospect. That you cannot leave lest you abandon the hope of a future.

When we arrived last night, I was filled with that same nervous energy that first found me three years ago: on my first visit to New York City. It is a powerful thing, standing in the City, feeling the possibility of it pulse around you like a living, breathing organism. You become part of that possibility.

Today I write you from New York City because I go to Random House for author events and mingling. No, I’m not taking a meeting there, but maybe someday. Mainly, if I’m being entirely honest, I am going to see Lauren Graham. Lorelei Gilmore. I will not even pretend to be cool about this. Not even the tiniest shred.

We also came to keep channels open to bosses and agents and all those we love up here. And therein lies the point to it all. We are planted where we are planted, but our branches can extend over state lines and city sky scrapers.

The view from my hotel room.

The view from my hotel room.

It’s going to be a beautiful day in the City.