{december lights: small & pinned down}

Oakland Museum of California 114

From A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard: “Thomas Merton wrote, “there is always a temptation to diddle around in the contemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage.

I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock-more than a maple- a universe. This is how you spend this afternoon, and tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon. Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you.”

May you live all the days of your life.
Arise. Shine.

{december lights: sing your song}

“…When you do not sing, you keep the rest of us from getting to know you—know your voice, a voice that has never been heard ever before in the immeasurably vast history of the cosmos and will never be heard again after you die, which could be any day, any moment. How can we love you fully unless we know you, know your voice? If you choose not to sing, we are left with your silence. We have to do the work of filling in the gaps, guessing at what you’re song might’ve been if you’d chosen to sing. Who are you, all of you? We want to know, those of us who recognize the tragedy for what it is.

There’s more, so much more. When your song goes unsung, you keep yourself from knowing yourself—knowing how your voice can sound, what it can do. You become a stranger to certain parts of yourself, certain sounds and the emotions those sounds can carry.

When you abort your soul’s longing to sing, you are choosing to distrust us, the ones surrounding you, distrust that we will love you and accept you and be grateful for whatever your song turns out to be. You are living as if we wouldn’t honor you and celebrate you exactly as you are. You are choosing to believe that we are not capable of holding you in the way that you deserve. Please, give us the chance.When you believe that you cannot sing, you are hoarding yourself. You are not giving your songs away, freely, unconditionally, those songs which only you can give, those songs which someone might be desperately needing right now. Creation needs your songs just as much as you need the air, the water, the earth and all its bounty. Creation does not deprive you of that which you need to survive. Why do you deprive creation of your songs? Why were you given a voice if not to sing yourself back to that which gave it to you?

– Andrew Forsthoefel, “The Tragedy of Believing You Can’t Sing.”


One of my favorite songs Jules introduced me to from Lost in the Trees is “Artist Song” from the 2012 album A Church That Fits Our Needs. In the song, there’s this poignant, repeated phrase which reminds me of this essay.

A fearful song
Played by trumpets for our heart
Oh, oh — I have a fear of darkness.
So sing
Your hymn of faith cause I have none
Oh, oh — Your song is my fortress.

What would we do if we needed to hear your song, but you’d decided not to sing it? Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear… The song you have may indeed be whetstone for a sword, armor for a battle, faith, and fortitude, and fuel for a lamp. A song. A fortress. So, sing out.

Arise. Shine.

{and nobody’s got time for that}


I tweeted this yesterday, but the drawback of Twitter, of course, is chopping things up into tiny bits. This quote needs to be seen and savored in its entirety. It’s from the legendary dance diva, Martha Graham in a 1973 interview. She was interviewed countless times throughout a long and brilliant career, of course, but one of the biggest things she’s ever said that stuck with me was about struggling as an artist. She told the Christian Science Monitor, `You are unique and so am I. If you do not fulfill that uniqueness, it is lost to the world. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, you must pay your debts to the life that has been permitted you. And to do it with as much courage as possible.’

It’s the COURAGE that stood out to me.

It’s odd how some people seem to equate being a writer with suffering in some vague, indefinable way, as if the suffering itself, the self-deprecation and the, “Oh, I make no money with it,” is part of the gig. The attitude some people bring to the work really has nothing to do with the writing, the desire to write, or why we do so specifically for young adults. I distrust a writer who gets too involved with The Struggle (TM), this idea that The Arts and The Life are some sort of all-caps calling to which they’re supposed to sacrifice everything. Part of me constantly chafes at myself for indecision and nonsense, while the other asks, “Did you choose this life, or not?”

“There is no place for arrogance in the arts, but neither is there room for doubt or a perpetual need for affirmation. If you come to me with doubts about a particular move in a piece, or if you come to me and ask if what you’ve written has truth and power in it, these are doubts I can handle and respect. But if you come to me and moan about whether or not you really have a place in the dance or the theatre or in film, I’ll be the first person to pack your bags and walk you to the door. You are either admitting that you lack the talent and the will, or you are just looking for some easy attention. I don’t have time for that. The world doesn’t have time for that. Believe in your worth and work with a will so that others will see it. That’s how it is done; that’s how it was always done.”

Emphasis mine, of course.

I don’t know the origin of the phrase, “Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise,” but this quote pulls that to mind. Oh, the self pity, the “look-at-me” posting of daily word count (I know that for some people, this is a necessary part of keeping themselves accountable, but not only is it really painful sometimes for other people who write very much more slowly, but daily word count is really… significant of nothing), the sort of whingeing of worrying aloud we do, when we see someone else “stealing” our plot or idea – all of this is unnecessary. Terry Pratchett always said that there are stories simply “sleeting” through the Universe. There’s enough for all. There is room for all. There is art for all. It only requires that we reach out and embrace it. Believing in our work, our worth, our will. Which is just kind of huge.

“The world seethes with ideas the way a week-old carcass seethes with maggots, and they are individually just about as valuable. Standing atop the carcass shouting, “The eighteenth maggot on the left belongs to MEEEEE!” is well… bless your heart, as they say around here. And even if both you and I, creative carrion birds that we are, grab for the same maggot, we’d get very different results.

…so, stories are like dead whales. One falls from the sky every now and again, and we all jump on it.”

– Ursula Vernon, on why writers really shouldn’t worry about story ideas being “taken” because there are stories out there, forever, like there are whales washing up on beaches forever, which will nourish all of us bottom-feeder writers forever, amen. Really, it’s a charming analogy, just as charming as whalefall, which is whales washing up dead on beaches… Okay, so NOT charming, but whatever. Circle of life. Just like ideas, and writing, and all of this work. Circle of life.

So, the next time I find myself in the presence of undue “suffering” in my chosen profession, I’m going to imagine Ms. Martha plié-ing across the floor to escort that person OUT of the field. (At least out of my hearing and field of vision, if nothing else.) Gracefully, of course. Because nobody has time for the transparent bids for sympathy in a job we took onto our own shoulders. Believe in your work and your worth and go on.

{poetry 7: haiku, classified}

It is the same song, second verse — I am always whinging how each challenge we set ourselves as Poetry Sisters (plus Sara’s brother JC, who is our collective plus one poet) during this 12 Months, 12 Poems thing is challenging in a different way than the last. I fully expected the three classified ad haiku to be easy-peasy; after all, I do a daily haiku or senryu every National Poetry Month… however, after my learned sisters talked about the form – its purpose and meaning, and the lazy people who just worry about syllable count and not the punch of the final line nor the precise wording nor beautiful language — I started feeling like this was a little beyond me.

Granted, I have been in the U.S. now for a solid week, and am still slightly travel-fuzzed, so I kind of have an excuse. My brain hasn’t caught up; I seem to want to have lunch in the UK, so am waking up between 2-3 a.m. for my usual 1 p.m. repast — it’s doing my sleep no favors. Despite the shortness of the form, the classified theme seemed really overwhelming. I don’t remember ever placing an ad in a paper in my life, and even the simple language – which pay by the word, right? – seemed to elude me. Fortunately, when we opened the group document where we share our work, other people admitted to struggling, and “threw” haiku at the group wall, to see what stuck.

One of the goals of this 12 Months, 12 Poems exercise, for me, at least, is to make friends with failure — to be best mates with mediocrity and intimate with imperfection, — and to move on. I am just going to do that, okay? I don’t really love any of these, except a little, in the way one loves a lost tooth, or a gallstone one has passed. (Not that I’ve ever done that, but when I was in college, my boss… had hers put… in a baby food jar. And brought it to show her student workers. I’ve often thought she probably needed… hobbies…) My feeling on these is that they’re mine – I did them – but it’s still not quite… what I’d call a great job. But, the point is to DO it, right? *sigh* Meh. Whatever.

Daily Grind

CLASSIFIEDS

$.05 per word

Caveat emptor, people.

BUY/SELL/TRADE

for sale: one wardrobe
once owned by True Believer
oak. no secret door.

LOST AND FOUND
Missing: narrative
arc, plot, characters: Greatest
story never told

PERSONALS, MISSED CONNECTIONS
hard-backed bookie seeks
shelf-conscious thriller for close
reading pot-boilers

Local papers in the Poetry Sister Cities are making a killing on ads this week.

The Sara Quarterly has some great ads this month.

The Kelly Traveler has wildlife, and cabana boys – can’t beat that.

The Tricia Courier offers optional head-losing for any boys in the area,

The Liz Intelligencer has an offer on stolen hours,

The Daily Laura offers wrecking balls, and buzzes about personal ads.

And finally, Andromeda Planet is in search of everything, in cheese sauce.


It was so funny how such short snippets of poetry – when we finally managed to get them on paper – revealed so much. That’s the beauty of a shorter form. So much is packed down into succinctness.

More poetry can be found this Poetry Friday at The Opposite of Indifference, which is always an intriguing name for a blog. Cheers! May your garage sales and classified scouring go well this week.

Happy Weekend!

{poetry 7: oh sing we of odes}

This. Poetry. Project.

I feel more righteously untouchable every month. I am DOING this thing! Yeah! It’s June and we Poetry Sisters have been poetically collaborating for Six. Whole. Months. How cool are we???

Of course, next month we may do imitative poems “In The Style Of,” or launch the crown of sonnets, wherein we seven have to take the last line of the sonnet in the crown ahead of us and make it the first line of our current sonnet (and the final person has to use the first AND last lines), and I am prettydarnedsure I will not feel so righteously anything at that point, except righteously clinging to sanity, but this month, I was ALL about the odes… because, odes are songs, and I am a choir girl. In my head (or brainradio, as my friend Kel calls it), there’s always A Song For Every Occasion.

Island of Broken Jewelry

We decided to skip the traditional Homeric or Pindaric forms of odes, which have waaaay too many lines for a fun Poetry Friday exercise, and stick with our own topics (not nature or Greek gods) and possibly make them un peu amusant as well. Well — I didn’t win on humor or nuance (you must see the others for that. My word.) – but I had a good time… and was righteously untouchable, of course. So I shall sing… of my bling.

Jewelry 8

ode to the adorned

Sing of ankles, wrists and throat; lobes and fingers unadorned
Natural beauty this promotes – (and an urge for baubles, note) –
Both paste and pearls my parents scorned, and so in me, the need was born
for…

anklet, armbands, bangles, beads – (Siren Bijou, sing to me)
bracelets, brooch-pins charming chains — bling’s the thing that chants my name
chokers, charms, or cameos; circlets clipped on, don and go –
crowns of diamanté, gems, hoops, with jewels that never dim.

Praise for brilliance, facet, size – color, carat, clarity –
Sing of sequins, glitter’s guise; crystals (quartz) by Swarovski
Sticker studs, mehndi swirls —
necklace knots for boys or girls –
sing of pendants, rhinestone rings; tie tacks seen in magazines…

glass or stone it matters not – sparkle, shimmer, gleam and shine –
Won’t give that a second thought – all that matters is it’s mine.

Sing, the swing of pearl earrings, toes to forehead all adorned
Praise the beauty in the charm of the bracelet on my arm –
Laud the art as it is formed, praise for beauty, in me borne.

Skyway Drive 268

There’s still room at the top. ☺


I hope you’ve gotten a smile – and the idea that I’m like a wee, maddened magpie, always picking up rocks and stray buttons and things that sparkle on the street. (I do. I have no shame. Or shortage of quarters, either.) I also hope you’ll pop over to see what the scintillating Seven Sisters have written – the wit really sparkles in these odes and a lot of personality shines through, much more than in any other style than we’ve attempted, interestingly enough. I’m still kind of gobsmacked that in the spirit of “just getting one out” Ms. Rumphius scribbled one out and wowed us all. This was such fun, we’re still snickering, and you will be too:

Poetry Friday is where you can find even more swing and rhythm and meter, and it’s hosted today by the wonderfully named Buffy Silverman @ Buffy’s Blog. Have the most amazing, song-worthy weekend. Keep a song in your hearts, kids.

{okay, break is over, time for the other pantoum}

Around Glasgow 274

Working in young adult literature can be a little weird, because we’re marketing an idea of youth to the youthful, and everyone has their perception of youth culture and what’s cool, and sometimes it can feel like Fourth Grade: The Later Years, and can be a real bummer. Recently, the experience of having a copy editor tell me that a word usage or whatever “isn’t what people actually say,” (actual phrase: “Nobody says that”) despite a.) me being “somebody,” b.) me having heard that exact word and stuff like that daily growing up and even now, I realized anew that the world is full of different perceptions, and only hubris – and privilege – allow us to be so blind to the experience of another to the extent that we blindly insist that ours is the only valid reality. If we’re smart, we greet these realizations (“diminishments,” microaggressions) with a philosophical mien. Stuff happens. People are weird. It’s the scrapes, slings and arrows of life. Still, exchanges like this can make you just feel weary and stupid and useless and — out of it.

I was thinking about that experience when I read Poetry Sister Kelly’s philosophical pantoum about, among other things, aging, and read the lines, Do not go gently into that good night– / Is that the best advice we can hope for? and found myself irately asking the same question, from a different perspective. Don’t engage the trolls? Is this the best advice we can hope for? Let them put you into whatever little box that suits them, and play nicely? Do I have to play this grade school game of “Who is cooler?” on their field, by their rules? Do I have to let this person work their way under my skin, and make me feel less than?

Short answer, HECK NO.

Kelly’s poem goes on, We have to lose ourselves. In time / we’ll find something better, a place we can / take back words, or let them go…. All good options, yeah? Time and losing ourselves, and finding our self again. But, the one thing that this poem emphasized for me is CHOICE. We still get to choose our attitude, our take on things, our path. No matter what.

I choose not to feel out of it, stupid, and unhip. I choose to be, like the cars of the late seventies, vintage and classic.

classic*

Ignition – all my plugs throw out a spark,
My engine purrs and builds into a roar.
The pipes and pumps are working fine tonight –
Road sings to rubber on the ribbon-track.

My engine purrs and builds into a roar —
We call old “vintage” in a ride this fine —
Road sings to rubber on the ribbon-track
Croons out, “Pull over if you can’t keep up.”

We call old “vintage.” In a ride this fine,
Who cares if we must add a little oil?
Cry out, “Pull over. If you can’t keep up
Get belted in, love. Gun it and hold on.”

Who cares if we must add a little oil?
The pipes and pumps are workin’ fine tonight.
Get belted in. Love, gun it. And hold on –
Ignition – all my plugs are throwin’ sparks.

2013 Benicia 037

*with love to e.e. cummings, for “she being Brand / -new”. – You imagined us cars, e.e., but we’re in the driver’s seat.


{april haiku, the fantastic michael j. rosen}

Back from Drumlanrig 24

If you have taught, or are a teacher of writing, go to Tricia’s blog and read Michael J. Rosen on poetic form. Much of what he says could be directed to the teaching of English in general, but I loved what he had to say as he referenced the wonderful Yeats quote, “We make out of the quarrel with others rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.” (“Anima Hominis,” Essays, 1924) Mr. Rosen describes form as the ring in which a writer can wrestle ideas. That’s very evocative for me. And the idea of poetry as arguing with myself? Also very true, in many ways — as I realized with my poems for this Friday. I laugh a little about how much angst is in my poetry, as if I’m still thirteen and annoyed with my mother — but I also find that experimenting with an working through these forms this year have given me an excuse to ask questions and …answer myself in poetic form. I hadn’t realized that’s what I was doing, but when I came up with a car-related pantoum, I realized it was in response to feeling like a broken-down old car. I’ll be sharing that Friday, so stay tuned. Meanwhile…

I’m ready to roll!
some cars are old, and others
are known as classics

2013 Benicia 021

{nat’l poetry month: poetry friday bonus}

2014 Benicia 004

Not really warm enough to eat outside yet, no matter how sunny it looks.

flirtation al fresco

relish the rustle –
crisp linen slides. Barely brushed
silken skin shivers

Crockett 14 HDR

stored up
perhaps moth and rust
are the least of concerns, on
hills made for rolling

Crockett 47 HDR

shepherded

past orderly lines
and outside of boundaries
the wind entices

{clothing character: reflections on literary couture}

Occasionally I mess about with the New York Times for reasons other than to feed a rising dismay at the amount of the crossword I’m unable to complete. This week I looked through the online offerings at their craft of writing page, Draft , and read with my usual jaundiced writer’s eye. It was, of course, well-reasoned, tidy little piece – what in the Times wouldn’t be? – but I read it with the sense of dislocation that I often have when reading about adult writing.

old school typewriter I

I admit, since grad school, I no longer read much writing that is strictly literary fiction, aimed not just at adults, but educated adults with long attention spans and linguistic ability. I gratefully released Ian McEwan back into the wild, shoved Vladmir Nabokov under the bus, and showed V.S. Naipaul the door. (I kept some, like Barbara Kingsolver, Marianne Robinson, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Adichie and A.M. Homes, lest you think me a total Philistine.) (HM. I just realized that I kicked out the men, and kept the women. This was unintentional. I think? I was mostly fine with the depressive, atmospheric Naipaul until he decided that women weren’t his literary equal, the toffee-nosed git.) I took up with low company, with science fiction writers and spinners of fantasy, and I took up with those who wrote for “lesser” readers, that is, for young adults. So, often what I read in shiny publications is not for me – I know that. And yet? Young adult fiction is statistically the strong, flowering branch of the publication tree, really and truly bearing fruit. What I read critically about writing should be about young adult literature as well. But, I digress.

This week’s Draft was about, interestingly, clothes. Clothes in classic literary fiction have always been a huge thing — you get an immediate sense of who a character is, and where they stand, based on their couture. The author points out how well Fitzgerald used this conceit in THE GREAT GATSBY, how Homer had Paris show up with the skin of a leopard over his shoulders in The Iliad, and how Jacob, gifting his son a many-hued coat, really should have sprung for at least new jeans for all the others.

I appreciated cultural critic Lee Siegel reminding me of various outfits worn by various characters, but I found some points jarring. When the author compares the classic Gatsby of 1925 with a central character in Jennifer Egan’s 2010 novel, A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, he kind of loses me.

Gatsby is wearing the novel’s themes: white as the fantasy of self-remaking without the blemishes of the past; silver and gold the currency-tinged colors of an impossible happiness. Egan’s character is simply wearing clothes.

Well, to be blunt, I don’t buy that. If you’ve read A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD, it’s clear the basic black/white of Egan’s character says something about that character, too. After all, the Goon Squad is representative of time, in this collection of linked short stories. The characters, with ferocious intellect, massive talent, money, everything — NONE of them can stand against the goon squad. The black/white simple outfit, rather than just being “clothes” says something about the pared down defense that a human being can mount against the unassailable. You can’t dress for success against time – so you put on the uniform and just do what you can.

Siegel goes on:

Clothes have become more like costumes, intended more to hide than reveal who we are, or who we would like to be. An eclectic, basic, affordable style allows the super-rich to conceal their soaring exclusivity and to mimic humble circumstances, while it permits the rapidly contracting classes below them to camouflage their precarious status. The result is a place somewhere in between: a middle-class style without an actual middle class.

But, to a certain extent in modern society, isn’t this always the way it has been? The only reason – THE ONLY REASON – writers have name-dropped clothing brands and stuff into narrative has been to imply class – whether actual social class or the “aspirational” class of a poorer character. In the “chick lit” barrage of the 90’s and early “oughts” where everyone and his purse-sized terrier dropped Louboutin or Manalo, those labels meant less than nothing – except that some ridiculously cookie-cutter editorial assistant (weren’t they all???) was unwisely spending the paycheck that barely kept her housed in some cruddy little flat on aspirational crap – pretending to be someone she was not, in hopes that she looked the part enough to get the part someday.

More Siegel:

After all, we live amid a ceaseless torrent not just of new images, but of ones that have been computer-generated, mashed up and photoshopped. Appearances are no longer merely deceiving. They are increasingly worthless.

…which I think is a fascinating, fascinating thing to say about characters in literary fiction. We’ve been so visually manipulated that appearances are worthless. And, Siegel goes on to say, that the hunger in adult lit for the stripped-down, personal narrative is rising higher than the appetite for fiction. This to him is telling. Yet, in YA lit, the discussion about the need for more diverse images surges on – this is DEFINITELY a very telling difference between young adult and adult literature: we’re not shutting down the usefulness of appearances. We’re BEGGING for more to look at that reflects our real world, while adult fiction is withdrawing, perhaps, from the external world into the interior world – where maybe YA lit has been all along.

Huh.

Something to think about.

{heart of your matter; matters of your heart}

I don’t remember where I got this, but I love it.

In grad school, my critique partner, J-Dawg (a petite, Caucasian, blue-eyed blonde who named herself thus), commented that every writer writes the same thing. Whilst at Mills, J chaired the first Aphra Behn conference, edited an anthology called “Scandalosissima Scoundrelia:’ A Collection of Critical Essays on Mary Delarivier Manley”, and her graduate thesis was something to do with the voices of 18th century women. I sensed a theme early on. It didn’t matter what class she was in, what paper she was writing, somehow, someway, J’s work ALWAYS came around to the writings of subversive women; or to make you all wince, Chicks Acting Up (Well-behaved women rarely make history, right?). “Every writer has a theme,” J-Dawg told me. I had no idea what mine was.

Fast forward to SAM mentioning once that I wrote like Joyce Carol Oates. “That’s a good thing!” he responded to my stricken silence. “Um… great!” I replied brightly, trying to remember what books I’d read of hers past ORDINARY PEOPLE when I was about ten (did I even finish?). I wondered if today’s teens had even ever heard of her. (Probably. BIG MOUTH & UGLY GIRL and AFTER THE WRECK weren’t that long ago.) I had no idea what my agent meant, and became somewhat obsessed with not fulfilling his prophesy – which is completely counter to what editors and publishing houses infer that you should do. Writers are supposed to have a brand, a market, a niche. A THING they do. I didn’t want to do a THING. I didn’t want to write like Joyce Carol Oates – awesome though she might be. I wanted to be free to do what I wanted. This silly supposition that I was supposed to be able to just write what came into my head is the sort of thing that gives marketing people migraines. And yet: marketing isn’t an exact science, is it? Maybe what I wanted to write next was going to be The Next Big Thing. I felt I was doing myself favors by not having a single thing that I did – I wanted to remain open to the possibility of doing it all.

Yeah. Like that works.

This morning I read a Cynsations interview on that very thing. Instead of calling it a theme, Janet S. Fox calls it a “core emotion.” And she agrees: every writer has one. The trick is finding yours.

Why? Because if you can find your core emotion, you can find your life’s thesis, as it were; your reason for writing. So many of us are utterly inarticulate as to the reasons why we’re doing this. The YA lit field is PACKED, stuffed. Why are we writing? Who needs one more book about, even one not about sparkly, emo vampires or zombies or fallen angels or, or, or — ? How can we justify our need to put ink to paper and scribble to the world if we don’t know exactly what it is we’re dying to say? (Because, as Charles Bukowski reminds us, unless it comes out of our souls like a rocket, and we absolutely cannot not say it, we should not speak.)

So, I looked at every book I’ve ever done – the two which are out of print, the more recent three with Knopf – and found they have a common theme. From summer camps to the ETO to Spring Break, every one of my novels has been about relationships. Tangled ones, romantic ones, familial ones, failed ones. This, I think, is what SAM picked up on – JCO is famous for depicting the fractured family. I can live with that, I thought. However, I read a review of HAPPY FAMILIES this week in Bookslut (thanks, Colleen!) which suddenly brought things into focus. Colleen writes:

“…Ysabel and Justin manage to get their parents to get real. It’s this focus on the damage to the family that makes Happy Families really succeed — Davis sees that with all the questions about what transgender means (and those questions are excellently explored), the real core to this novel is that the children were lied to. This is the essence to all of the novels in this column — in one way or another, the parents have failed their children, and in every instance they have insisted that failure did not take place. While some of them feel very badly — particularly in Happy Families — and while some are just complete asses — see Dora — the drama of each novel all comes around to the teenagers demanding fair and worthy attention from the people who are supposed to love them most. It doesn’t work out for all of these families; some are just too damaged to save, but in each case there are moments of amazing honesty in which the kids realize that they deserve to stand up and be heard; they deserve respect. For Ysabel and Justin, that moment is a good one, a not quite happily-ever-after-one, but at least a moment that shows them the way forward.

People who know me, or who get to know me find out in due time that I am not a liar (not a good one, anyway. I tell outrageous lies for fun, and watch people laugh). I am a storyteller – I believe in the power of fiction instead of lies – but I am also straightforward to the point, at times, of making myself and others uncomfortable. I do not respond well to lies. There is only one person I can think of, off the top of my head, who is still my friend after a lie, and there are extremely extraordinary circumstances involved. I have zero tolerance for liars and lying. It has been that way since I was a child and woke up to the lies I was told. Since then, it has been my personal mission to napalm out of existence all lies told to me… and the lies I have lived.

And within this epiphany, I begin to glimpse a theme… a core story. The lies our families tell (sit venia parentum), the lies with which we grow up, which are written on our bodies and secreted in the folds of our brains; the lies which are within the silence that we keep about the ways we’ve had to live, have had to compromise; the lies that inform our identity and shape us, and leave us rootless when we discover the truth… these are my heart matters, my core emotions. This informs my work: characters struggling to rip their way through what they thought they knew, into a world where what they hold within is ALL that is true.

Now, all I have to do is hold onto my truth, and hold it up, until I truly see it, and… well, then, everything should resolve itself from there.

…this is my hope, anyway; that all I will see is my truth, that all will see my truth. That the rocket will trail a light that rivals the sun.