#FAWM, Day 1, Song 1: A Lover’s Lover

Okay, so it’s day 1 of FAWM 23, and I’ve uploaded song #1, A Lover’s Lover.

What else am I doing on day 1 of FAWM 23? Continuing my read of Digital Minimalism. I do like minimalism, don’t I? I’m almost finished reading Essentialism. Similar ideas.

Both validate my whole POV anyway. But it’s always good to be reminded and to realize you’re not alone in thinking these things and in practicing them, too.

What to do about social media is always a struggle, but it’s good to know the best way to deal with technology is to choose the parts you find essential and to toss the rest.

Take FAWM, for example. It is a bit social media-like and can trigger the dopamine rush checking to see how many comments you get and what people are saying about your music, but it’s also the motivation I need to get some music done. So, overall, I find it worth keeping.

Now, on to some more reading and writing and listening. That’s how FAWM works. You listen to others and they listen to you and you often discover some real gems – both people and music – along the way.

Emotionally Sober (#FAWM Countdown)

As I count down the days until FAWM (just 1 more day) I’m catching up on my reading. Julia Cameron’s latest book, Write for Life: Creative Tools for Every Writer (a 6-week Artist’s Way Program), hits me with this thought: Emotionally Sober.

Struck sober at age twenty-nine, I was at the mercy of my moods. Without alcohol to buffer them, my moods were savage. I needed a new way to write and to live. I needed to be emotionally sober. – Julia Cameron, Write for Life.

She stays sober by writing her morning pages daily and by writing 2 pages of whatever writing project she is working on.

Another thing that inspired me was reading Becca Syme’s words of wisdom in yesterday’s email, about February Social Media Challenge (no social media for the first 30 minutes of your day):

If I could put my finger on the one piece of advice I give the most often recently, for any number of different problems, it would by far be: just stop with the social media. – Becca Syme

This answer might solve:

  • Empathy problems (where the Empathy Strength is overloaded by too many people having access to your emotions)
  • Input problems (where you’re using low-quality social media input to fill the well, but it’s only making a penny instead of a dollar because it’s also taking things from you)
  • Intellection problems (where you’re “really quick”ing yourself into social media when you’re stuck, only to realize it’s not making you unstuck
  • Strategic problems (where you’re avoiding the pain of being stuck by soothing on social media)
  • Learner problems (where this one time, you learned something on social media, and now your Learner is getting co-opted by your dopamine receptors into doing social media “really quick”)
  • Relationship-Building problems (where you’re isolated and lonely, and you’re hoping social media will fill your bucket, but again, it’s pennies instead of dollars)
  • Influencing problems (where you’re not getting the impact you want, and you’re hoping social media will give you some impact hits, but again, pennies, not dollars)

Yes, we all know this, right, but sometimes, we need to hear it from somebody outside of ourselves, sometimes we need to be reminded of what we already know, and sometimes we learn something new about something we thought we knew.

Introvert vs Extrovert, East vs West

As an Artist, an introvert, there are 3 things Julia Cameron says are musts:

  1. Morning pages
  2. Walks (alone)
  3. Artist dates (alone)

So not only are we now both working at home together, but we’ve been walking together, too. So lovely to walk and chat together. That’s a nice thing about having him at home. I do so enjoy his companionship.

Monday was not a work day, but we went out for a walk together and crossed paths with one of the neighbors he’s chatted with before. She and her dog were in front of our house just as we were crossing the street to go home. Naturally, we had to greet her and chat. Or, at least, he did. And then there were introductions to be had, because I hadn’t formally met her before.

She said, “Oh, you like to walk?” as if that was an odd thing to do. As if walking was something you did for your dog.

A wave would have been enough for me. We could have kept walking on our side of the street and turned around to cross over to our house later. There was no rush to go home.

Then there’s that other neighbor, the one I call Nancy, although her name is not Nancy. Everybody knows Nancy. As soon as somebody moves in, boom, she pounces on them. She must watch from her front window.

“What’s your name? What’s your last name? Where are you from? What are you going to do with your backyard?” Everybody’s trying to avoid Nancy – lol!

So now, not only do I have to be strategic inside the house, but I need to plot and plan my steps outside the house. Not what an introvert wants to do. It doesn’t work well with the whole automatic thing to avoid decision fatigue.

Walking alone should help. Nobody really approaches me when I’m walking alone. If I cross paths with someone, we smile, say, “Good morning” and keep moving. That’s my style. That’s energizing.

The challenge for my husband is that he needs interaction and that’s probably been difficult for him working at home. Not having those work encounters. I love how friendly he is. That people like him. So personable. His great sense of humor. Dry wit. How he comes alive joking around with people. That’s what drew me to him when we met at work in Silicon Valley.

That’s why we gave him the front bedroom for his office. He can see what’s going on outside, he can pop out and chat with someone when they’re outside. In fact, he’s gotten to know several neighbors, all bonding together in a brand new community, exchanging builder stories and what’s going on with their house. They all seem to be from up north (as is he), as is so often the case in Florida. They bond over that, too. They’re chatty people. That’s what they do out here.

The West is more independent. Even if you do chat briefly with a neighbor, there’s no fear that it’s going to become a problem. There’s no feeling of claustrophobia. There’s no need for strategy. You know you’ll part and carry on with your independent life.

Nobody asks if you like to walk. Of course, we like to walk. That’s what we do there. Nobody asks what your plans are for your backyard. Nobody even asks your name or certainly not your last name or where you’re from. That may sound cold, but that’s what I’m used to. That’s what works for an introvert.

This house gives us all the space we need, but now I feel claustrophobic outside the house and when I come inside, I feel claustrophobic inside the house. As if all of that togetherness outside has barged its way inside, too.

There’s always the nocturnal life, popular with introverts. So here I am, up at 4 am, writing this blog post. I usually wait until first light to get up. But if I get up now, do a few things, starting with morning pages, I can sneak out and go for a walk once the sun comes up.

So that takes care of morning pages and solo walks. I haven’t mentioned solo artist dates, though. That’s because I haven’t been doing them. My excuse is that I don’t really know my way around here–we’re still exploring together. But he’s encouraging me to get started with my artist dates. He thinks they will really help me feel like I do know my way around here.

I’ll let you know how it’s all working for me.

 

 

Wrapping Up National Novel Writing Month 2022

Click here to listen on Spotify.

I finished writing/editing She’s Not That Good over the Thanksgiving weekend. I’m now going through the final read through (audio) before hitting publish. Finally!

I’ve been working on this story on and on for maybe a decade. It started out as a young adult novel but when a contest judge wrote that it sounded like a 40-year-old, I dropped it. To me it sounded just like me in my teens. But maybe I sounded like a 40-year-old back then. Ha!

I rewrote it as a contemporary romantic comedy, but couldn’t seem to finish it. Then I realized it wasn’t a novel. It was a novella.

I’m so excited to be this far with this story. And now I’m all revved up to work on the next one!

So please stay tuned for other books and music released by Screamie Birds Studios here at screamiebirds.com.

Chasing With Words

As a big fan of Julia Cameron’s “Artist Way” series, I’ve been looking through her books to see what I might have missed. And one book I just noticed is Your Right to Write. In it she tells the story of a boy in the 6th grade and how she’d written numerous short stories, hoping to get his attention. She says she “chased him with pencil and paper.” And in doing so discovered the thrill of chasing with words.

I had to give that some thought. Although I also did a lot of writing in school, music was my first love. And I realized that my 6th grade love life was more about listening to my Elvis records in my garage (door open) with my “boyfriend” rather than any chasing with pencil and paper. Or chasing with words. Okay, so maybe I wrote my first love letter to him, so there were some words involved. 🙂

Since books about art are usually written by writers, the focus is on writing and the life of a writer. And while that is super encouraging to artists of any kind, I’d like to find something written from the point of view of music. It may exist out there – I just haven’t found it. I’d write it if I thought I had something new to offer, but maybe I’m already doing it right here. Sharing other people’s words with my musical experience thrown into the mix. Mix – yeah, that’s my kind of word. lol!

So maybe writing is writing and songwriting is another form of it.

“Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn’t get some of that stuff out.” — Dolly Parton

Lucy By the Sea, Part 3: Truth Discovered

Lucy By the Sea is quite thought-provoking but mostly because it triggers my own experiences. And the most recent part that triggered something is the discovery of William’s half-sister–the one he didn’t know about. And how the first attempt to meet her did not go well. In fact, his sister refused to meet him. But, later, during the lockdown, she sought him out and very much wanted to meet him. And they had a lovely reunion.

So I thought about my own half-siblings–the ones I didn’t know growing up: my father’s younger kids (my two half-brothers and a half-sister). I grew up with my mother’s two other children–a half sister and a half brother, and a step dad. Also, I knew about a son my father had before I was born and a daughter my step dad had before I was born.

But during this time of discovery, I exchanged several emails with my half-sister, my father’s daughter. And things started off rather promising, but, then, it turned ugly. My dad tried to build a relationship with me, I know he did, but he had other family members pressuring him. And I thought about the entire family and their reaction to me and while I was open to a relationship with everyone, my main interest was my father. And nobody, really, was interested in the truth I’d discovered. And that, along with my natural curiosity, was the reason for my search.

People always want to know “why now” did you look for them. Besides my other unsuccessful attempts, I finally had the means to find them. But my main purpose was not to just get to know them, but to get to know them with this new understanding I’d had. This truth, this secret that had come to light which changed everything for me. But nobody wanted to know that and refused to hear it. And so it all came to an end.

I had risked it all and, for a time, it had paid off. But, in the end, I lost both sides of my family, that is, my mother’s kids and my father’s kids. But if you can’t have an honest relationship, is that even a relationship at all?

The good news is that those not so closely involved welcomed me with open arms.

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

Reading the novel Lucy by the Sea (Elizabeth Strout) in the author’s very autobiographical style stirs up all kinds of memories and ideas, not only in my experience with Covid, which was so different from the main character’s (and author’s?) and probably from so many New Yorkers, that I’m driven to write bits and pieces of something that may or may not make it into a book.

One piece sitting on one of my hard drives is called “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?” Perhaps, it’s on a backup drive because I can’t find it on my newest computer. So I decided to write this new piece:

If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?

The last time I “spoke” to my father was actually through email. I’d posted a photo on Facebook of him (with camera, next to Joe) with Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, the one he had given me and said I had permission to post on my website even in a book as requested by somebody writing about Marilyn Monroe. Well, he asked me to take it down from Facebook. For some reason, it was a problem for my half sister, the one who was his daughter, not my other half sister, who was my mother’s daughter.

It brought back those heartbreaking memories of when I was a kid and had first heard that my dad was not my dad, that he was Sherry’s dad and I had a different dad. My grandmother (my mother’s mother) had given me a letter and photos, but my mother insisted I give them back, that they would “hurt” my step dad, who I called dad.

So to have my real father so many years later, the one I had searched for and found and met and was doing everything I could to create a relationship with, ask that I take down that photo was just too much! I deleted Facebook for the last time and never communicated with him again.

A year later, I sent him a Christmas card because I didn’t want to part that way but he died the next year and I don’t even know if he got the Christmas card as he was in an assisted living facility before his death. I only discovered my dad was dead when my aunt (my uncle’s widow) saw it on Facebook and told me at the same time that the rest of the world found out. This is why I hate Facebook.

Writing as Therapy

Writing used to be therapeutic for me. I processed a lot of stuff during that time of discovery by writing and blogging. And did I need to do that back then! You’d think I’d be finished by now. But every once in a while, some old feelings are stirred up and become too draining to write them in a book. It’s no longer therapeutic. Besides, I told that story in Myths of the Fatherless (the “cleaned-up” version, I might add… what if I told the whole story…) And that’s the idea behind “If I Don’t Tell the Story, Who Will?”

Even my wip, She’s Not That Good, is giving me migraines during the editing process. My editor kindly suggests I stop the project. But I’m feeling a bit stubborn and want to finish it. But will I have the stamina? Perhaps, one chapter at a time.

Music as Healer

Instead, I find music more soothing. It keeps me anchored in the present, instead of the past. It conquers the past. it’s like my brain has been rewired from writing to music and can’t really turn back. And if it’s true that you should “put your ass where your heart wants to be,” well, that is certainly where my heart is.