“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.” – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
A young woman who lost her parents, one to infidelity and the other to a war in some foreign land, must choose between a childhood dream and her familial responsibility…real life sucks.
This month’s question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?
I wrote an essay on this last year, and today I took and created a video from it.
Whimsical images flash through my mind as I wait for sleep to overtake me only to be interrupted by the deafening crunches of the bones in my mouth.
Where to begin? Because of so and so, and of something that happened, I’m to start keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings and whatever else I care to share. WTH.
Okay, let’s start from the beginning. My name is Carla Jones. I’m twenty-five, and I live with my parents. Eh, that sounds like an opener for one of those Alcoholics Anonymous sessions. I’m not an alcoholic, but I am a screw-up.
Damn. That sounds pretty harsh now that it’s out there. But this is what my shrink wants to read, so there you go.
I lived a fairly normal life, I guess. Grew up in a small town in the mountains. Mom was a telephone operator for many years before switching to being an administrative assistance at a local community college. Dad’s a salesperson at a hardware store. I have two sisters. Trish, the eldest, moved out of the house when she was eighteen. She joined the Navy. I hardly ever see her. Mandy, the baby, is off to college, studying power engineering. She’s the brains, like Dad.
Me? I’m the oddball. The one with all the problems.
Heck, I’m not even related to these people. Not by blood anyway. You see, my parents tried to have another baby after Trish was born, but nothing happened after four years. So, they adopted me. Mandy came along as a complete surprise three years later. That left me, a brunette with blue eyes, sandwiched between these blonde-haired, brown-eyed individuals. Yep, like an oddball.
We lived next to Mom’s parents (Dad’s parents died when he was a boy). Nana and Papa to Trish and Mandy, but not to me. They made that well known as soon as I was old enough to understand. I was to call them Pat and Dave.
Trish and Mandy were always into sports. I tried, but I was deemed too klutzy to play on any team. So, I turned to running. I never competed, though. All that hardcore training and competing in meets or races never interested me.
I never excelled in anything in school. It’s not for the lack of trying…it’s just that I really didn’t care. I studied just enough to pass the exams. That’s it. Mom and Dad never really pushed me. They pretty much let me do my own thing. They rode the other two daily, though. They accepted nothing less than As or Bs from them.
When it came time to head off to college, I had no clue what to major in. I wasn’t interested in science or math or business. I ended up picking a major in Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. I had always doodled with poetry and wrote in my journal, so why not take them one step further, right? Boy, my Dad was not happy with that. I asked, what’s wrong with being a writer or a journalist? He said that those weren’t respectable fields. So, in order to appease him, I switched to a major in Kinesiology with a minor in Athletic Training.
I got as far as sophomore year before dropping out. I sucked in science classes and ended up failing them.
I refused to move back home—didn’t want to endure the daily scorn from Pat and Dave or the disappointed looks from my parents. Instead, I moved to a small city an hour from home and got a job working as a writer for the city’s newspaper. I rented a tiny, run-down apartment downtown that robbed me of over half of my monthly salary. I had no furniture, slept on an air mattress, and ate meals on the grungy carpet.
I guess I got too carried away with my sudden independence, or perhaps I was just overly desperate to be accepted for who I was. The people I ended up hanging out with liked to smoke pot. Personally, I hated pot, but these people made me feel like I was a somebody, like I actually mattered, so I just went with it.
Anyway, I ended up getting caught with some weed and was sent to jail. Lost my job and my apartment. Dad bailed me out and took me back home. Not sure what he did, but he somehow got the charges against me reduced so that there was no court or jail time for me. However, the judge ordered me to see this shrink, and since I liked to write, this same shrink gave me this ridiculous journal assignment.
I’m writing this from my hospital bed. Actually, I’m in a psych ward within the hospital. The day after I wrote the first entry to this journaling assignment, Dad and I got into a big fight. Apparently, I’m a hardship to him and Mom, and it’s starting to affect their health and job stability. I guess I just lost it. I yelled at him saying something like, well, if I’m such a hardship, perhaps I should just remove myself from their lives.
I ran into the only bathroom in the house and locked myself in. I grabbed a shaving razor and proceeded to slash the top of my hands. Freaking out, Mom called 911. From there on, everything’s just a blur. I remember waking up in a hospital room, strapped to the bed. My whole body felt bruised. Mom was sitting beside me, crying. Dad, well, I haven’t seen him since that night. She said that it took three people tackling me to stop me from continuing to slice my wrists. I don’t remember that part, but she was right, both of my wrists are bandaged up. The top of my hands are also bandaged, so I can barely write this stupid entry.
This stupid assignment. Stupid shrink. I hate him. I hate them all.
I’m still here, in the psych ward. It seems that I’m not ready to be released yet. Or rather, my parents aren’t ready to take me back home. Either way, I don’t give a rip.
Mandy visited me yesterday. She said she was worried about me. She then turned around and told me how angry she was with me. How could I be so selfish to have hurt Mom and Dad. I told her to get out of my face. I don’t need this from her or from anyone for that matter!
Why is everyone against me? What have I done so wrong to be treated so? Pat stopped by for a few minutes. Long enough to tell me that my own parents were seriously considering having me permanently committed. She went on to tell me that she did some research on my biological parents. My mother gave birth to me at the age of 13. She had been raped by her 16-year-old cousin who then committed suicide shortly afterward. Pat said that I should never have been adopted and that I’ve been nothing but a heartache to Mom and Dad.
After she left, I just lied down on the bed and cried.
The shrink told me that I was actually starting to make progress and that I should continue to journal. Whatever.
Today, I wrote my first poem in months. It’s called “Alone.”
Heart is the bridge to
one’s soul, break it in
pieces and it will
strand you, immerse you
with unspeakable loneliness
You know what? After writing this, I felt better. Purged. Does that make any sense? I’m looking back over it, and am wondering…where did this come from? Am I really that pathetic? Do I really feel that way?
The answer is yes.
It’s been a while since the last entry. I have a good reason. Well, make that twenty-five reasons, as that’s how many poems I’ve written. I’m somewhat amazed at how dark and desperate some sounded. I thought about rewriting a few so they don’t make me out to be some kind of psychotic bitch, but I didn’t.
I worked up the courage and gave some to the shrink to read. I felt certain that he would definitely have me permanently committed after reading those particular ones (that would just please the family wouldn’t it?). I was stunned when he said that they were really good. Then he had to ask if I had thought about submitting them to places to have them published.
I’ve been released from the hospital/psych ward. Since I’m no longer welcome home, I’m now living in a halfway house of sorts. I’m working part-time as a dishwasher at a college. It’s nothing glamorous, just a no-brainer, tedious job. I did something last week that scared the crap out of me, though. I submitted a few of my poems to four literary journals. Shrink seems confident that one of these places will publish my work. I have serious doubts. I mean, who would want to read my stuff? They’re just stupid poems. Nothing special about them at all.
I’m in disbelief. I received word yesterday that my poems have been accepted by Julienne Literary Journal to be published. Oh. My. God.
I think I may have even hyperventilated because I found myself on the floor breathing hysterically with a bag over my face. All those poor people at the post office. God bless them for not freaking out on me.
Good news keeps rolling in. Apparently, Dad has been working with a judge to try and get my criminal/drug/psych ward incarceration expunged from my record since it was my first offense, and guess what? As of this morning, I’m a free woman with a clean record! I’ve a feeling that my shrink may have had a hand in this even though he vehemently denied it. I know better.
This will be my last entry for the journaling assignment—the psych sessions are ending. As I read through the earlier entries, I hadn’t realized just how full of anger I was, and rightfully so, but I’ve learned that I no longer need to be. There is so much more to life than holding on to the feeling of anger because people refused to accept me as I am. No more. I want to live my own life the way I feel is best for me. I no longer need to rely on others to help me feel worthy. I can do that for myself. Writing poems and journaling have shown me that. They became the keys to unlocking my true soul.
*First published with GFT Press March 2016
Just a little blurb this week about an essay I have published with the current issue of Doll Hospital Journal.
In the essay, In Search of Hope, I recount my struggles through various losses and disabilities that brought me close to suicide as well as my battle with anxiety and depression. Mental illness also runs in my family.
What helped me through all these?
Writing, and the love for my family.
For those of you struggling with mental illness, just know that you’re not alone, and to never give up!
*To read this digital issue, click on the Doll Hospital’s image on top and this will take you to the site to download the item. It will ask for $5.00 but this is only a suggested donation amount.
*This post is written for this month’s BlogHop for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
For many I’m sure that the New Year is to be celebrated.
It’s a time when I tend to freak out.
I’m getting ready to start the second half of my forties, and with each New Year that passes, the ticking clock grows louder.
Throughout my life, I have experienced variety of losses. And because I am acutely aware just how short life really is, I can’t help but to feel that I’m somehow missing my calling.
A calling to what???
That question has haunted me for many years; and, I’m no closer to the answer now than I was a year ago.
There are clues though.
I’m certain it has something to do with writing, and with helping people.
But, that’s all I know.
I keep writing stuff, but I’m hopping from one form and genre to the next with no idea of which area should be my specialty or niche.
I’ve opened my blog to try and help struggling and/or new writers gain more exposure but feel I should be doing more.
Now, I’m looking at yet another New Year.
And I’m really freaking out.
What should be my writing goals?
What should I be focusing on that will bring me closer to whatever my calling is?
Is there any point in trying?
The question for December: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?
Wow, my first month with the group and they just had to ask this question. What is a writing career? I have always considered a career as something you get paid for while you pursue a passion or an occupational path which leads to promotions and higher pay grades.
I have hung up that “hat” in January 2015. You see, I have a progressive disability called Usher Syndrome (where I’m slowly losing my vision coupled with moderate hearing loss); and because of this, I “retired” and went on Social Security. And because I receive the SS disability benefits, I’m not to earn an income.
I’m only 45.
And believe me, I still have lots to live for!
So, back to the question.
In order to clear my conscience and help me figure out my answer, I consulted a dictionary and here what it had to say about the word, career:
Hmm, still having trouble with applying this word to my situation. Let’s see what else I can find.
“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”-Maya Angelou
That’s it! A writing career to me isn’t about “making a living” but “making a life.”
Now that I’m feeling better about things, let’s move on.
For the first part of the question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now?
Though I’ve been regularly writing and publishing (short stuff) since 2007, I still haven’t found that niche. I desire to have a book of some sort traditionally published in five years, but whether it’ll be the fiction or nonfiction sort, I haven’t a clue. I have dabbled in all forms and nearly all genres, and I’m still in the dark.
Does this mean I should try to be one of those multi-genre/format kind of writer?
Or, should I continue to try and narrow down the area or areas of “expertise” for myself?
I’m starting to wonder if maybe I need to find a mentor to help guide me on this journey.
Sheesh, I’m all over the place. See what you did, IWSG? 😉
On to the second part of the question: what’s your plan to get there?
At this juncture, I plan to continue what I’m currently doing: craft the kind of fictional stories that I’d want to read, and then find a home for them; plus write micropoems and essays about my various life experiences (have been dealt with a lot of losses that I’m still trying to work through).
Survived this one.
What about you? Where do you see yourself, as a writer, in five years?
How do you view yourself as a writer?
Or perhaps something else?