Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Getting Sappy Up In Here...

It’s that time of year—time to deck the halls, fruit the cake, steamroll the mannheim, and nog the egg. We’re simplifying this year—buying fewer presents, spending more time together, and recognizing the inherent joy in the smallest of things. Decorating gingerbread houses. Bumbles and Yukon Cornelius (who came up with that name?). Singing in the church choir. Linus on national television reminding us what Christmas is all about. My son putting only the following three items on his Santa list: "a real live parakeet, 200 bucks, snow falling in my backyard." Trader Joe’s sea salt caramels (you've heard me talk about yin and yang...don't get me started on salty and sweet. Perfection in a cello wrapper). Peppermint hot chocolate and snowman Peeps. Not hearing that awful Christmas Shoes song. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. The Star Wars Christmas Album (what do you get a Wookie for Christmas, when he already has a comb?). Cousin Eddie’s dickie, Aunt Bethany’s jello mold, and Clark Griswold demanding we have the “hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny [bleeping] Kaye.”

There is also joy to be found in honoring your craft. The best gifts we can give ourselves cost nothing—time to write amidst the frenzy of the season, stolen moments with our characters, juicy plot developments all wrapped up with a fat bow. And grace. Grace to accept that 1,000 words a day may not happen until the New Year, but each sentence, each word, each thought related to your work is a small treasure. This season, may you receive presence, along with your presents.

(And, because I can’t resist, for you Twilight fans . . . an extra special gift, courtesy of the LOLcats. It makes me giggle!)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Riding the Climb or Climbing the Wave

What do Miley Cyrus and Ursula K. Le Guin have in common? Presumably, very little. Okay, probably nothing. But its been a bit of a rough spell for Jayne Lynne. Not the one-of-us-has- taken-seriously-ill or-something-like-that kind of rough spell. But the kind of rough spell where the writing isn't coming and the time that should be spent writing is commandeered by annoyingly superfluous things like our jobs, our families, our friends, the holidays, and, admittedly, the occasional red wine hangover. I know what you're thinking. The economy is in the tank, no one has a job, its crazy cold in California, Tiger Woods is no longer the Golden Boy, and this is your rough spell? Well, yes. Everything is relative.

It seems that we let our new book, Done Fell Out, sit for a while. And it turns out that an unfinished manuscript is not unlike cheese. In some cases, it needs some age; in others, it just gets rank. And its pretty rank up in this beeatch, if you know what I mean. We recently took on Chapters 9 and 10 and proceeded to wrestle with them for the better part of a month. And I mean alligator mud pit wrestling. And, much like alligator mud pit wrestling, the outcome wasn't so pretty. And to make matters worse, I read through the first eight chapters and had to look around the house to find the person who had written those words. I knew Laura had written her parts, but mine? I couldn't find that woman anywhere. And I'm a little worried she's not coming back. I've talked often lately of hanging up the keyboard and have been prone to indulge in other bad, overly dramatic metaphors indicating I might just be done with writing.

And then this weekend I received a gift from The Writing Loft - a thank you for speaking at Artoberfest. It was a book by Ursula K. Le Guin entitled The Wave in the Mind, and it struck a chord I worried had been rendered inert-an inspired, creative chord. And later I was organizing my son's room, pulling out forsaken toys and unidentifiable pieces of plastic, when Its the Climb came on the radio. I was singing at the top of my lungs, in resonant frequency (high school physics anyone?) with that inspired chord (although, notably, cleaning my son's room and not writing), before I realized, with shame, that I was singing Miley Cyrus. I rationalized that she most certainly hadn't written the song, and then I silently thanked those who did because they reminded me to worry less about the destination and just enjoy the climb, or, as Ursula would prefer, ride the wave.