It’s the 30th Anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Rather than lament how old I am, I will take some advice from Ferris. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”
I’m tired of the ugly.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of ugly – even from people on my side of the political spectrum. Especially from people on my side of the political perspective.
I could join in the anger. I could keep my views to myself to avoid ridicule. But I don’t want to do that.
I want to be honest about how I feel and keep it movin.’ So like Usher before me, I’m making “my confessions.” For better or worse, I will roll with the punches and try to stay above the fray.
I’m for her. This is why.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.
Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.
Well, now they know!1
Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back any more.
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door.
I don’t care what they’re going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.
“Let it Go” from Frozen, songwriters ROBERT LOPEZ, KRISTEN ANDERSON-LOPEZ, EMANUEL KIRIAKOU
OK, I have a soft spot for Disney movies. Indulge me because, like a Disney Princess, I have been on a long journey. Exasperating, arduous, sometimes hopeless. But the long slog through the endless winter of my journey to become a published author has finally begun to bear fruit.
My novel, In the Heart of Texas, will be released in October of this year by She Writes Press.
Well-meaning friends and loved ones don’t always realize or understand how difficult the dynamics of pursuing publishing opportunities has become. Why it has taken me so long to get to this point. Was I just making excuses or pretending to be working on something to pump up my ego or justify my existence or worth? No. It is hard to explain, and I no longer try. I am just grateful that my unwillingness to give up on my goal to become a published author remained my primary focus despite the obstacles, the doubts, the self-doubts, the head-scratching, the countless rejections and roadblocks.
Now that I have a (new) publisher (long story), the latest “hurdle,” though that may be too strong a description, is actually putting my story in print and letting it go. Some will love it, some will not. Some will criticize the work, some will criticize me personally. Some will send me praise and support. It feels like I’m about to walk naked down Main Street. I was a reserved kid who expressed myself better in writing than with spoken words. Despite shaking off my shyness in adulthood. I still am sharper and more quick-witted in print than in voice (hence, my comfort with social media). Revealing my fiction writing to the world, my authentic inner voice, is like disrobing – scary as Hell, and possibly revolting to others, but liberating.
Perhaps this is the perfect point in my life to “let it go” and let my work enter the public ether. For I finally have reached the point where I have little shame, where I can accept judgment and continue to move forward, where its more important that I have taken a risk on myself and “done my thing,” for better or worse, than doing something with the purpose of pleasing others.
It’s scary, but exhilarating and in sync with what I feel in my gut. Which has to be a good thing.
No, the TexPat was not kidnapped. The TexPatch has been on hiatus due to the TexPat’s inability to figure out how to correct a technical glitch that kept shutting down the site. Thanks to the good and patient folks at WordPress & our web host, who walked the TexPat through a five minute fix that would have saved weeks of failed attempts had the TexPat picked up the phone right away.
Good news on the horizon – In the Heart of Texas has found a new home and is slated to be released by She Writes Press later this year. Formal announcement to come. In the meantime, a bit of levity in the midst of the world’s turmoil. Question – what tv character would you choose to rescue you from a kidnapper? I struggled between Jack Bauer, Luther and the character Angela Lansbury played on Murder She Wrote. Now Jack would go to any length to rescue me. But, Luther …
Then it came to me. Of course! Get Christie Love!
Food for (not so deep) thought.
The TexPat has spent much of the past two months on a Western odyssey. While at a writer’s residency in Northern California my latest Huffington Post article was published re my reflections as an alum of the sister school of one of the expelled University of Oklahoma frat boys. The bravado with which he spewed racist rants among his homogeneous crowd of “brothers” (and a number of dolled-up sorority women nervously laughing along, lest they lose their shot to snag the right sort of beau) is so antithetical to my experience in the community that produced him – the first schools in Dallas, Texas to integrate years before the Dallas public schools, which I entered as a shy but happy-go-lucky kindergartener in 1968 (see above – ready for my first day of school with my new book bag, though I’m not sure that I was reading yet), that I had to take a moment to reflect. My weeks in California and then driving from Cali to my native Texas provided much room for reflection as well – more to come!
I feel the Earth Move under my feet,
I feel the sky tumbling down …
Carole King, “I Feel the Earth Move”
I love people who love artists. Two in particular: the late Carl Djerassi (whom I never met) and the phenomenal Kathryn Gurfein, whom I consider a mentor and friend. In memory of his artist daughter, Carl Djerassi founded and funded the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, an artists’ retreat and residency program on an expansive, spectacular hillside property dotted with redwoods overlooking the Pacific Ocean that serves approximately 90 artists of all stripes – visual artists, sculptors, writers, choreographers, composers, etc. – per year and has provided free residencies for over 2,000 artists since its start in 1979. It is the largest and one of the best residency programs in the country, but its lofty reputation hasn’t steered it away from sticking to the spirit of its informal slogan to “yield to whim.”
I just spent a week at Djerassi with six other debut novelists under the tutelage of the amazing Heidi Durrow, author of New York Times bestseller, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” and winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize. It was an incredible experience with a diverse collection of some of the most inspiring, serious and seriously fun writers I have ever encountered. We were transformed from frustrated writers struggling with manuscript edits to “nun boxers,” “water babies,” “earth movers” (the earth literally moved – we experienced a mild earthquake during one of our workshops). We were untethered and free to explore the depths and heights of our imaginations and hearts with a mutual support trampoline to cushion us and give us a nice “bounce” when we fell from the heavens (thank you, Heidi, for inspiring so many nice metaphors). A lot of writerly enthusiasm and insider hashtags were generated that will make more sense to the outside world as our novels are rolled out.
I returned from Northern California in time to celebrate and say “thank you” to one of the most genuine and generous spirits I have ever encountered, Kathy Gurfein. Kathy and her late husband Jim founded and funded the Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College. It is the only fellowship of its kind in the country for non-matriculating students at an institution of higher learning. I was a 2008 Gurfein Fellow and this weekend had the pleasure of attending a tribute to Kathy at Sarah Lawrence. Because of Kathy and the fellowship she founded, for the first time I felt the validation and confidence I needed to call myself “writer” instead of “lawyer,” “former lawyer,” “Mom” “spouse of ….” “daughter of ….” All worthy and wonderful titles that I embrace; Kathy just enabled me to embrace and acknowledge that I was a “real writer.” Many Gurfein Fellows have been signed by literary agents and are published in newspapers, magazines, and journals – accomplishments that the fellowship helped us achieve.
Thanks to Carl Djerassi and Kathy Gurfein for causing the earth to move under my feet in the direction of my dreams.
The TexPat is knee deep in book revisions but will be back online on a more regular basis real soon.