Much like childbirth, one forgets the pain—and utter joy—of any huge creative endeavor. I don’t know what other artists feel like, but it is a mix of emotions that face me as I get the first edit of Book 2 back from the editor and see what she has to say.Read More
My first foray into writing occurred when I was a very young child, about 8 years old. I lived in a very rural area, up in the Northern part of Maine, 400 miles away from the nearest city of any size, which was Boston. I used to go outside at night and just look up at the night sky. It was absolutely gorgeous, too many stars to count. When you look at that many stars, your brain just boggles. It just looks like a mass of starlight. The stars always captured my imagination. I would look at the stars and wonder what planets there were surrounding them. Even as a young child, I didn’t even question that there were planets there, and probably other beings living on those planets. What were they like? What were some of the things they did? How were they different? How were they the same?
One particular heavenly body really fascinated me when I was growing up. Titan, which is a moon of Saturn. I would imagine this moon, which is one of the few moons in the solar system that has an atmosphere, and it completely mesmerized me. I didn’t know a lot about it, obviously, but it was just a jumping off point. I imagined what it would be like to live on another planet like Titan with a different colored sky. I imagined what it might be like to see something rise and set in that sky every day, whether it be another moon or a planet. I found all of that really fascinating.
When I was 8-years-old, most of my writing was very basic: “We went up the hill. We got a drink of water at the top of the hill and watched a beautiful planet rise.” Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of descriptors, or dialogue. The dialogue I did include was very basic, very simple. I would also draw pictures of what I thought the planet might look like. The creatures that lived there. The people that lived there. My drawing skills were also right on par with what an 8-year-old is capable of. Let’s just say, there were lots of stick people and stick creatures. Everything was beautiful, everything was something to be explored.
As I entered my teens, I continued to write, but moved away from Titan as a subject matter. Astronomy continued to be a fascination of mine, although I didn’t end up going into it because the math intimidated me. Explorations within astronomy absolutely captured me. I would read anything I could get my hands on by NASA, and took astronomy classes. I wanted to do anything I possibly could to learn more about planets that might exist out there.
Since, of course, it’s all based on what humanity knows, my lessons were mostly about the solar system. It was mostly our solar system that I was exploring, but it provided a jumping off point. As I got into my teens, I also started to write plays. For the most part, I would act out the plays that I wrote with my friends. We would actually go through and role play through the dialogue. I found plays to be too restrictive. There were so many details in my imagination that didn’t necessarily translate to a play, so I found myself gravitating toward a narrative style, rather than play writing. Those stories morphed and became Alawahea.
There were stories before Alawahea. There were many different characters. Whatever I happened to be reading at the time would definitely influence my writing style. There were times when I was reading thigs that weren’t really that great, so my writing followed suit.
When I got into college, I began to write the basic story of Alawahea. I told the story from my own viewpoint because my writing experience tells me, “start where you are.” When you start writing, start where you are. I wrote about a young girl who was in college and started to bring in elements of the fantastic when she encountered aliens. The questions I asked myself to drive the narrative were things like: How did meeting aliens impact her? What are some of the things she said? What are some of the things she imagined? How were the aliens different from her? How were they the same? I contrasted things by getting into the aliens heads and seeing things from their perspective. What did they think of humans? What was confusing to them? What things were the same?
All of that gave me room for the birth of a planet. It gave me the ability to create Azelle, which is the fictional planet that I’ve been able to tap into. The story just started jumping off the page. As I wrote the novel, I also wrote backstory and all kinds of things that built into the characters. All of the little details of their lives just started flowing through me. I currently have 8 stories and they came so easily. It all just started with a little girl’s fascination with the stars in the night sky, and developed into a whole other way of life that feels so very real to me.
I recently had the occasion to spend nine glorious, beautiful days in the desert. First, I sojourned in Phoenix (which is only recommended if you have a liking for overly oppressive heat and friendly biting bugs known as fire ants) and then in Sedona. Phoenix was just that, a beautiful, fiery glorious bird-being, flying high above the world on glittery wings of gold. Heat, yes, giant bugs, yes, but still stately, and alluring. I never understood why I always saw my beautiful planet, Azelle, as a desert until I spent five days in the heat of a Phoenix summer and realized the beauty of it. Well, five days in a Phoenix end-of-summer-cooling trend, but considering I spend my summers in Colorado, it was probably a good thing I didn’t brave the 120 degree heat out of the starting gates. 106 is quite daunting enough. Despite the heat, despite my wilting flower tendencies, I love the desert. The stark beauty. The majestic rocks. Even the heat that plays tricks on your perception of distance and vision. There is something about a desert that strips down everything and reveals the sheer beauty of being. There is nothing to distract. No green, no living things (except those tough plants that thrive on harsh heat and little water), no gentle blue of water. It is the bones of the earth, showing through the lush carpet of life that covers its surface.
I fell in love with the desert. The energy of Colorado is light, lissome, teasing. Coy. The energy of Phoenix is clear, expansive and joyous. Sometimes unforgiving, raw and honest, but never hiding. There is no pretending in the desert. You are a part of something much larger than yourself. If you have the courage, you can embrace it. Or you can let it overwhelm you. The choice is yours. The desert welcomes either.
Then I made my way to Sedona. There are no words for the power of that place. A place of healing, of love. Nurturing. Beautiful, of course. Hiking on one of its myriad trails, I found myself moving quite unconsciously in tune with the Tai Chi I am learning. Embracing my body was easy, effortless. Nothing seemed out of place or upsetting. Everything just flowed. Spontaneous healing, emotional barriers collapsing, openness where none was available before…Sedona is a mysterious, beautiful place that is the universe’s gift to us. A marriage between Earth and cosmos, where stars beyond counting and the bones of the earth meet in glorious harmony. I could spend all of my existences through all time and space there, in that glittering place.
It is Alawahea, the title of my book and a word I created to explain that beautiful concept of embracing and celebrating everything exactly as it is, without needing to change anything at all. It is an acceptance and a rejoicing, a throwing open of the heart and knowing that everything is…just as it is. Not good, not bad, just what it is. It feels like home….and perhaps it is.
Now that the primary jobs I have (my “day jobs”) have eased up a bit, I’ve started to focus again on my writing and the editing process. One of life’s biggest mysteries has always been that I have never carved out time to write. Yet it’s something I just love to do! Why do we typically block ourselves from doing what we love? We create so many excuses! So many “reasons” why NOT to do something, when it’s really that we’re just not willing to give ourselves the time to do something that is so fulfilling, so caring toward ourselves. We allow ourselves to get distracted by the little things in life—whether it be our children, our spouses, our jobs, our hobbies, the news, the plight of those around us—all of those things are nothing more than a distraction from this bigger picture. What do we love? And will we allow ourselves to just do it?
For me, writing is one of the ways in which I express that love. I’ve been writing since I was eight, and been doing it constantly since then. I might take a year off here, a year off there, and the writing might change shape and not look like a novel, but I have been writing since I could write.
There has been nothing more fascinating for me than the actual process of writing and editing. I had told myself, as part of the “excuse” for why I didn’t send my writing in, was the fear of what the editor would say. What if it’s bad? What if they tear it apart? It’s my baby!! I can’t stand the idea that someone might tear apart my baby!
Except that’s not how it worked. My wonderful, amazing, incredible editor instead pointed out the places I already knew the story had holes—which was why I went to her in the first place, for help in realizing the story around the holes. Her questions told me immediately that there were spots I hadn’t explained adequately. Her comments highlighted the areas I hadn’t fully visualized the character, so there might be inconsistencies. Her perspective helped me visualize the somewhat squashed timeline that I had to expand. And her ability to see the overall picture with completely fresh eyes—I wasn’t there to explain the story, so it had to stand on its own—well, all of that was hugely invaluable to me. And in the end, the second edit produced something I had hoped to see: a stronger story that would pop on its own. We are a team, my editor and me…and together we are going to see this story brought into the fullness of what it can be. Thank you, Donna! So glad I found you!
I’m so excited for publication! Today is the launch of my new website!! It’s finally happening; the unfolding of a dream I’ve had since I was a young child. Publishing a story….it’s been with me a long time, the whisper of possibilities in my ear, the ideas about what could be. It’s time to let that out, to see what’s hidden in the whisper of the infinite.
Such a journey it has been—after spending most of my life telling myself I couldn’t do it, and coming up with a thousand reasons why not, I’ve finally woken up to the realization that all of it, the excuses, the reasons, the hundreds of piled of “because’s” were just more stories. Entertaining, but only true if I allowed them to be true. Why not spread my wings and fly? We’ve forgotten that we could have fun with our lives. I’m ready to remember what that feels like!
As I work through the editing/rewrite process all the way to the finished work, I’d like to share the process, the fun and the joys of it all. Allowing loved ones to read what I’d written, getting an editor who would support me in my vision, starting a website, revealing to friends on social media that I’d done these things, getting involved with an entrepreneurial mastermind group….so much support from everyone. My story was that no one knew what I really wanted, that I was hidden from the world. Yet when I told everyone I was stepping onto this path, there was no surprise from anyone. I write. It’s what I love to do. So I’m doing it, following my heart…and the possibilities are infinite.
It’s time to see what we can create when we play! Are we ready for creative power of what if, what then, what more?