“It’s never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.”

I’m editing my book.

This is a big deal to me, for many reasons.

Y’see, I have a very…complicated history with my book.  I wrote it for NaNOWriMo about 7 years ago.  I asked a few people if they would mind reading it for me, and help me edit it.  My boyfriend, girlfriend, and best friend all said yes.  I sent it to them.  If I remember correctly, my girlfriend started off saying she was really busy but would get to it.  We’ve since been married and divorced; she never got to it.  From what I remember, my boyfriend at the time (now my ex-husband) told me my writing was too flip for him and he couldn’t help me.  My best friend said he couldn’t get past the first few pages because it wasn’t really his style/genre.  Maybe I should just let it die and move on to another project, I thought.

Over the years, when I’ve mentioned my book and the trouble I was having motivating myself to edit it and finding people to help me edit (I’ve never had the money to pay someone, though one day, maybe.), a few friends or partners said they’d love to read it and told me to send it along.  I did.

Nothing.

I get it.  Life gets in the way.  Or my book sucks.  It could.  I’d just prefer to hear that and why.  One of my pet peeves in my college writing classes was that people would think saying “it’s great” or “I didn’t like it” counted as constructive criticism/praise.  Could you please tell me why you thought it was great?  What part(s) were great?  Or what about it did you not like?  Is there anything you can think of that would make it better?

My most treasured teachers, professors, and fellow students knew how to give constructive criticism.  When I was in high school, it was hard to hear that I used too many clichès.  But you know what?  It helped me dig deeper, beyond what everyone says about things and really, truly think about what I was trying to say.  Does this character’s significant other “complete” her, or does he “miraculously have a copper key to a hidden room in her soul”?

Yes, it was hard to hear the bad criticism.  But it made being told I had a real ear for dialogue and being favorably compared to J. D. Salinger and Tobias Wolff all the sweeter.

I tried telling my friends and partners that, seriously, if it sucks, tell me.  Just tell me why.  Most recently an ex-girlfriend had said she’d take a stab at it, but life…exploded in more ways than one.  My sister also has a copy.  She got the furthest, that I know of…about a quarter-ish in.  She said it was good and she liked it, but it was a little darker than she was expecting.  Also that she recognized a lot of what I’ve gone through in it.

Not gonna lie; she’s right.  Shit gets heavy in my book.  And there is a whole lot of my life in it.  Fictionalized aspects of real people in my life are peppered amongst the characters and plot.  Since I was writing under a severe deadline, I went with the old adage: write what you know.

The other day, when helping a friend edit a memorial for a dearly departed, said friend remarked how much fun it was to write and edit with me.  I concurred, and said we’d have to write something together.  Or, I ventured, “maybe I should sit down one day (or weekend) with you and edit my damn book.”  He replied that he didn’t know I had a damn book.  When I explained the whole history from above, he told me to send it to him.  Many feelings popped up: trepidation (no, not another friend who’s going to just let it go or not tell me it sucks or something.  Please.),  fear (what if he does read it and it sucks?) and guilt (why don’t you get your ass in front of a computer, edit your own damn book , and see if you think it sucks.) Pushing them aside, I  asked if he was sure.  He responded with a simple, “yes.”

So I sent it.  This was on Thursday.  Last night, he apologized for not getting to it yet.  I laughed, refreshed by his earnestness.  Then I reassured him that it had only been a day and I didn’t expect a full report, or even him to have cracked it open yet.  “Now, six months down the line, if I don’t hear anything, then I might be a little upset.”  He told me that wouldn’t happen.  We’ll see.

But the most important thing is that I was thinking about that conversation with him tonight in the supermarket.  And I was thinking about the characters and…they started whispering to me again.  They were still there.  Still waiting to be worked on, to be brought more fully to life.  And then I found myself…with the doc open in front of me and…editing.  So, naturally, I had to run and blog about it, so I could be sure to optimize my procrastination time!

However.

Now that I’m done with this blog post, I’m going back to editing my book.

“There’s stardust in my head.”

Now that autumn is finally here, I can feel myself relaxing.  The season does that for me now.  It used to excite the hell out of me; fall meant “back to school.”  There was a time when it depressed me…dropping out of high school damn near killed me, but I found college.  Once college was over and I graduated, I had a period of time where, in the immortal words of Avenue Q, I just wished I could go back to college.  But that’s over and now autumn means cooler weather, upcoming holidays, a time to reflect and change.  To embrace endings.  With endings can come the opportunity for new beginnings.

The divorce papers are here; I’ve spoken to a lawyer and my sister.  I don’t feel comfortable filing a counterclaim, but I need to protect myself and make sure my health insurance stays intact somehow.  My sister came up with the brilliant suggestion of talking to Michael and just…asking.  Asking if we could handle this without the courts and just get the divorce finalized but also if he could help me with my health insurance.  He said that he wanted to help me any way he could and would get back to me by Monday or Tuesday to let me know what he can do.  We had a very amicable phone conversation…the first time I’ve spoken to him in more than four months.  It was weird, bittersweet, but good.  There’s still an underlying friendship there, I think.  I hope.  We’ll see what happens.

It’s not much, but I started editing my second book.  Now I need to plan to write more on it.

I’ve also fallen in love. (Yay!  One more crossed off the bucket list!)

The cat is mostly out of the bag; I had been planning on telling people (especially my soon-to-be exes and my best friend/co-director) in person when I visit in November.  However, when planning the shows I’m coming up for, it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was something new budding in my life.  My bf/c-d asked me outright as did my soon-to-be ex husband.  I told them that I was dating.  Both George and Michael were supportive, which was wonderful.  Michael was initially concerned, but admitted it wasn’t his business so he scaled back to “if you’re happy, that’s great.”

And I am very happy.  Very, very happy.  However, I now know why people say long distance relationships suck.  Cause they do.  Resolving conflict over 1,000 miles also sucks.  But what’s awesome is when you resolve it quicker than you ever have with anyone else.  Like poly with the rules I had years ago, it also opens up new ways to get to know each other.  It makes you work to stay connected.  Plus, it gives me time to fully heal and move on from the past, and also establish myself in this new place and life.

As such, I’m in the process of rethinking my bucket list.  There are some things that I think are more topically thrilling or glamorously enticing that I need to take a good, hard look at.  Pointe went by the wayside.  I simply don’t have enough time and honestly, interest, to dedicate what I would need to do to learn ballet en pointe.  Plus, at my age, I don’t even think it’s physically a good idea.  Maybe someday, I’ll wear pointe shoes and that will satisfy the hunger.  That and actually going to the ballet.  But knowing my limitations isn’t a bad thing.  It frees me up to focus on other things that will be more rewarding.

Who can say if your love grows? Only time.

It’s always good to cross another thing off the bucket list.  🙂

I’m also working on crossing another off.  Been working on my splits.  They’re coming along slowly but surely.  I’d forgotten how good stretching and exercising feels.

Lots is changing, moving forward, and I love it.  I finally feel like I’m coming back to myself, and relearning who that is again.

Tonight, I went out to a poly meetup in Memphis.  That was a LOT of fun.  I met 6 other like-minded, awesome people.  There was great food (mmmm, middle Eastern), hysterical conversation, and just general camaraderie with really cool people. They host a few other meetup groups in Memphis, and I might wind up going to this really fucking awesome looking place if I go to another one of their meetups.

Today I spent the day looking after my niece’s daughters.  I did aqua zumba, then took them swimming, did laundry, some dishes, talked to some important people.

Sunday’s sermon at church was AWESOME.  It was very much a message I needed to hear.  It boiled down to the fact that even though the woes of the world are always with us, we must choose to keep moving forward, share our lives and gifts with others, even if we get hurt along the way, and truly believe in love and connection.  Amazing how applicable that lesson is in my life at the moment.

Big day, awesome weekend, and good stuff in general.

So. much. to think about.  Luckily, it’s mostly all wonderful.  I am hella blessed and grateful.

I can knit!

Yesterday, I attended my first knitting class.  It was fun and quite interesting to see how yarn becomes intricately knotted and useful things like sweaters, socks, and scarves.  My first project is a scarf, which is being knitting with the needles and yarn that a dear friend gave me.  The knitting instructor wasn’t too thrilled with the yarn, but I’m working with it just fine.  Eventually, I’d love to be able to have the skill and money to justify buying expensive yarns, but that’s a goal for future Genevieve to achieve.

In other news, I’ve been Taking Care of Business.  I’ve been on hold with the IRS for nearly a half hour now to clear up what seems like a simple mistake (on their part).  Of course, that doesn’t make the wait time any shorter.  I’ve also printed out some other paperwork needed to get my finances under control.  In other Big Life News, the divorce papers should be coming in about 2 weeks.  Not looking forward to that, but it’s probably best that it’s all taken care of.  He clearly doesn’t want me anymore and why would I want to be with someone who doesn’t appreciate or want to be with me?

Changing my diet and exercise habits has been more of a challenge.  I’m clearly depressed (surprise!) and have been having mental battles with myself that go kinda like this:

Unhealthy Craving: You know what would be good right now?  Snickers 3X.

Me: No.

UC: Right!  Four would be better!

Me: Wow, that does sound good.

My Internal Goddess of Health: Are you fucking nuts? If you weren’t going to go for one, how is getting four better?

UC: Oh, I wouldn’t eat them all now. I’d save some for later when I’m feeling sad and weak.  I’m going through a divorce, you know.  And I lost my job.  And I’m in a new place.  And it’s hotter than the devil’s ass out…

MIGH: Now you’re just whining. I’m also going through a divorce, lost my job, moved…but that last metaphor is apt, I’ll give you that.

UC: Yay!  Four Snickers 3Xs!

MIGH: You keep that up and you’ll be a size 3X!

UC: Fuck it all!  I already am!  I’m fat!  Who the hell cares?!  I can’t deal with this all.  It sucks!

MIGH: YES, YOU CAN.  Exercise, starting eating better.  You got the unsweetened almond coconut milk. That was a good step.  Sorbet instead of ice cream was also good.  And what about those green beans and sugar snap peas you got?  Those are good choices!  Make more!

UC: Shut up, you sanctimonious harpy. WANT CHOCOLATE.

Me: Yo!  LADIES! All y’all shut up.  Have some ice cream.

MIGH: But…

UC: YAY!!!

Me: And a banana.

UC: Sure, whatever.

MIGH: Small but delicious progress.

Me: Mmmm.

In other news, The Voice auditions are this weekend.  I’ve been practicing (even at the yarn shop, twice now).  That’s definitely something I’m going for.

Ask and ye shall receive; seek and you shall find.

It’s amazing what happens when you start putting out into the universe what you want.  Of course, it doesn’t really work with specific people, because you can’t control them.  But looking at my growing bucket list and what’s happened in the last few days, I’m pretty astounded.

#11. Learn to knit/crochet – I went to the local yarn store and signed up for a beginners knitting class.  I start on Monday. Also, while I was there, me and the lovely two Southern ladies got to talking and they were suprised that I was from up North because I apparently didn’t sound like I was from the North.  That made me feel good.  I told them that I’ve had vocal training and like to sing, so I’m trying to pick up the accent.  When they heard that, they asked me to sing something, so I did.  It came out pretty good, and they clapped.  It made me very happy.

#40. Relearn to play guitar fluently – About an hour ago, I got an email from my sister.  She had some LivingSocial credit and got me four music lessons!  I get lessons to relearn to play guitar!  I could even get help with songwriting, too, cause they do that, too!  Awesome!

#1. Do a split – I found this site that talks about how stretching is not all you need to know/do to get into “the splits” (can someone tell me why it’s a plural?  It’s like eggplants.  I didn’t know that was supposed to be plural, either, until I saw it on a few menus.  Weird.)  I really want the DVDs, but maybe for Christmas, cause the set is $100.  But I found the site.

I’ve also made some general progress towards losing weight and getting healthier.  Instead of ice cream, I bought sorbet the other night when I went to the store.  And when I decided to start eating cereal again, I got my unsweetened almond coconut milk instead of regular milk.  I’ve been taking my nieces out into the pool the last few days, and I did a LOT of walking yesterday.  The whole So You Think You Can Dance workout series is saved on my Pinterest, so sometime this week, I’m going to start learning the routines to get my body moving more.

Learning how to curate my life

Over the years, there’ve been many articles, books, and TV segments about de-cluttering your life.  There are many synonyms, such as:

  1. streamline
  2. purge
  3. downsize
  4. minimalize
  5. trash the shit you don’t need (more a phrase than a synonym, but it still holds)

My personal favorite came to me a few months ago via an article in Good Housekeeping.  (Ironically, I can’t find the magazine right now, because of too much clutter from having just moving halfway across the country.  Once I find it, I’ll credit the author and post the article name.)  The gist of the article was not to approach decluttering as any of the above words, but instead to curate.  Your things are your own personal collection.  Even more so if you have a dedicated collection of certain items.  Like any good museum, you can’t possibly display everything you own all the time.  Things accumulate over time and we don’t want to part with them for a variety of reasons.  But no matter what the reason, there is only so much space.  So we have to curate.  Choose the best things (the author specifically chose things for beauty and/or usefulness) to display and pack up or get rid of the rest.

This helped me a lot when I was packing to move, and yet I look around at my new place (the basement in my sister’s house – I’m calling it my own little studio) and all I see is too much stuff. I’ve been wanting to reduce the amount of stuff I have for a while now (perhaps that’s one of the biggest differences between me and my ex-wife.  She just wanted to grow her [and our] collection without, it seemed, regard for space) but only recently have I begun to actively curate.

While watching a new series I discovered on Netflix called Dance Academy, it occurred to me that not only was I actively working against many of my goals on my bucket list, but the fact that I was eating Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips while watching a ballet TV series from Australia proves I have fascinating ways of mentally and physically torturing myself.  It also made me think about the physical and mental connection between clutter.  (Did I mention I also rank very well in Avoidance of Certain Subjects?  Yeah, a blog (or 12) is coming about the physical body being a metaphor for the mental body.  It might even have something in there about how I should stop writing about getting fit and start doing some exercises.)  Anyway, a quick Google search led me to this article, which discusses the link between mental and physical clutter.

My favorite part is this paragraph:

Sometimes it helps to externalize our internal landscape. And sometimes, dealing with our external landscapes can help us deal with our internal ones as well. Finding the proper place for every item, cleaning up clutter, organizing our spaces, helps us find some clarity in our lives. The act of cleaning up clutter challenges us to question where everything belongs, and perhaps in doing so, we can find the places for our thoughts and emotions.

It’s no secret that my “internal landscape” is a fucking landmine of pain, hope, loss, love, betrayal, new creativity, and confusion.  Looking around at my “external landscape” is like seeing a physical representation of that.  There are boxes still packed, dented from having things piled on top of them.  Many things, like books and DVDs and some CDs, have been shelved at least, but aren’t in any kind of order.  They look pretty, but they’re all disorganized.  My essential clothing (bras, panties, night wear, comfy pants, tank tops) are fairly organized but the rest of my crazy amount of clothing is still packed in various bags and totes all over my room and in the closet.  My burlesque persona has been neatly folded into a few large plastic bins for the time being as I take some time to uncover Genevieve.

So, the work has begun.  I just have to keep it up.  It’s time to continue towards mental and physical clarity.

Go for it, Genevieve!