Repeat after Me: Your Book is NOT Your Baby

WHAT’S PLAYING: Duffy “Warwick Avenue

A while ago, I resolved to put off having children until I was financially and emotionally stable. I’m well on my way to accomplishing the first task. As for the second…well, let’s just say that I’m not going to be on the cover of Sanity Fair anytime soon. In fact, I’m pretty sure that by the time I’ve worked through all the kinks and snarls in my mind, I’ll be so far past menopause that any eggs I have left will be hardboiled.

But while I’m more than happy to defer childbearing, lately when it comes to my writing, I’ve suddenly turned into some sort of crazy stage mom. Every word is precious, and any hint of criticism is a personal attack. This is a problem, especially now that I’m about to put my book into the hands of my beta readers.

The scenario will probably play out something like this:

WHAT THEY SAY: “I like the book, but I think this scene could use some tightening.”

WHAT I HEAR: “You’re ugly and stupid, and your mother dresses you funny. Oh, and your writing sucks.”

I guess this sort of reaction is natural. I’ve poured so much time and energy into this project that in some ways, it’s more “mine” than any child could be.

But, by investing so much of myself in this book, I’m not doing it, or my self-esteem, any favors. As a writer, I can’t afford to get so wrapped up in writing the book of my heart, that I lose sight of my true purpose: to tell a good story.

The truth is that this book is just a book. Yes, I’ve cried, sweated, and cursed over it into the wee hours of the night, but it’s still a creation, not an extension of my self-worth.

Still, if you happen to walk by and see me weeping hysterically while clutching papers to my chest and howling at an uncaring sky, just… look away.

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Stories from my Grandfather—The Great Flood (Part 2)

WHAT’S PLAYING: Brandi CarlileRaise Hell

(Continued from Part 1)

Suddenly, a fearful crash of thunder, louder than ever heard before, shook the earth, and a glimmering light appeared far away to the north. At first, the people were glad, thinking the light heralded the return of the Sun. Then they realized it was the gleam of great waters advancing in wave after wave. The Choctaw fled before the onslaught, wailing “Oka Falamah!” —the returned waters—as the waves rushed down upon the land of the Choctaw, destroying everything in its path.

 

 

Oklatibishi heard the wailing and the roar of the returning waters from his house on the raft. Remembering the words of Achafa Chito, he rushed to the door and saw the hunters who had laughed at him trying to clamber up the side of the mountain to reach his raft, but the angry waters swept them away. Soon Oklatibishi’s raft floated upon a sea that continued to rise for many days. He wept as he saw the bodies of his people floating upon the face of the waters. After several days, even the dead disappeared beneath the waves, and the water became so deep that he could not make out the tops of the tallest trees.

As the weeks passed, Oklatibishi’s supply of corn, nuts and dried meats dwindled. He began sending one of the gray doves out each day to fly about and see if it could spot land. And at darkness each night, the dove returned to the raft.

 

 

One morning, Oklatibishi saw a huge, black bird and asked it if land was near. The bird circled several times and finally answered with a sullen croaking screech before it flew away and did not appear again. This was how Oklatibishi came to know that evil would still exist even upon the earth cleaned by the returning waters.

The next morning, he sent forth the gray dove forth and a few hours later, she returned and deposited several blades of grass into his hand, indicating that land was not far away. A strong wind arose and carried the weary warrior to the shores of a beautiful island. The island was green, well supplied with fresh water and occupied by animals enough of all types to repopulate the world and furnish Oklatibishi with meat for his cooking pot. He found a house already built for him, with a store of nuts, dried fruits, corn, and dried meat hanging inside. There was even a well-tended garden with vegetables beginning to ripen in the light of the Sun.

For several days, Oklatibishi was content, but soon he began to realize that something was missing from his life. Walking in the woodlands, he noticed that each of the animals had a mate, but he had none. How could the race of man survive if there were no mate for the last man left after the ebbing of the returned waters?

 

 

As Oklatibishi turned his steps back toward his house, he became aware of a new sound in the forest. It was the voice of a woman singing. He hastened his steps toward home, and there washing his clothing and preparing him a supper was the most beautiful young woman that Oklatibishi had ever seen. Achafa Chito had turned the white dove into a beautiful maiden to be his mate. That is why, until this day, when a man is especially pleased with his lovely wife, he will call her “His little dove” as an extra special sign of his love for her and his gratitude to Achafa Chito for allowing him to have her as a mate.

(Concluded in Part 3 next week!)

Stories from My Grandfather – The Great Flood (Part 1)

WHAT’S PLAYING: Lady GagaYoü and I

Long ago, the Choctaw became so corrupt that they displeased Achafa Chito—the Great Spirit. He sent storms and earthquakes to warn them, but the people would resume their wicked ways as soon as the storms and tremors ceased. Finally, Achafa Chito sent forth a great prophet who went from iksa to iksa—village to village—warning the Choctaw that all would be destroyed if they did not return to the path of light, but none believed his words.

Only Oklatibishi—He Who Holds Himself Apart from People—heard and heeded the words of the great prophet. (In other versions, his name is Oklatabashih, which means “Mourner for the People.”) Oklatibishi had withdrawn from other men and built a small house high up on a mountainside, from where he could observe the evil of mankind.

Achafa Chito called the spirit of Oklatibishi into the mid-world between life and death and instructed him, saying, “You must fell the eight largest sassafras trees to be found upon your mountain, trim them and make a great raft. Upon this raft, you will construct a house. You will stock your house with enough corn, nuts and dried meat to feed you and those you take with you for three times as many days as you have fingers and toes. With you, you will take three doves: two gray and one white. You must complete this task before Hashi—the Sun—shows His face on a count of ten times the number of fingers upon your hand. On that morning, you must have your doves in cages, your stores and yourself in your house aboard your raft.”

As soon as his spirit re-entered his body, Oklatibishi began his labors as instructed by the Great Spirit. One day, a group of hunters chanced upon him and asked him what he was doing.

When he told them, they called him a crazy old man and laughed because he was building such a large raft so far from the river, saying, “How will you ever get it to the water?”

But even as Oklatibishi labored and the long summer days shortened into autumn, a change came upon the land. The skies grew cloudy, so that the people saw neither the sun by day nor the moon and stars by night.

Finally, all light and warmth withdrew from the earth. The Choctaw had to carry torches to light their way. They went to magic men, healers, spirit talkers and conjurers, but none could tell why the Sun had chosen to hide His face.

The Choctaw became despondent, sleeping in darkness only to awaken to more darkness. Some even began to chant their death songs. Food that had been stored away against the coming of the winter grew moldy and unfit to eat, and the wild animals of the forest gathered around the fires, even entering the towns and villages, seeming to have lost all fear of men.

(Continued in Part 2 tomorrow!)

Book Review – Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

WHAT’S PLAYING: Janet Jackson featuring Nelly “Call on Me”

This week’s book is Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett.

Everybody wants more time, but one man is about to stop it for good by constructing the world’s first truly accurate clock. The Auditors—spirits who, like Accountants from Hell, try to keep the Universe in order—have decided their task would be much easier if time would just stop. Then they could sort everything out and it would stay that way. So, they hatch a plan to commission the Perfect Clock. It falls to History Monk Lu-Tze and his apprentice Lobsang Ludd to find the timepiece and stop it before it starts. Because if the Perfect Clock starts ticking, Time as we know it will stop. And that’s when the real trouble will begin.

This is one of the darker, more satirical Discworld novels. I’ve been looking forward to revisiting the Monks of History ever since they first appeared in Small Gods. But, the monks aren’t the only familiar faces. Two of my favorite characters, Death and Susan Sto Helit feature heavily. Nanny Ogg has a cameo as Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Not to mention the supporting cast of heroes, villains, yetis, martial artists. And we mustn’t forget the fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse (who left before they became famous).

A superb send-up of science and philosophy, religion and death, Thief of Time provides the perfect opportunity to kick back and unwind.

 

Favorite Line/Image:  Jeremy was completely baffled as to his next move. He’d never been very good at talking to people, and this, apart from Lady LeJean and a wrangle with Mr. Soak over an unwanted cheese, was the longest conversation he’d had for a year. Perhaps it was because it was hard to think of Igor as coming under the heading of people. Up until now, Jeremy’s definition of “people” had not included anyone with more stitches than a handbag.

“I’m not sure I’ve got any work for you, though,” he said. “I’ve got a new commission, but I’m not sure how…anyway, I’m not insane!”

“That’th not compulthory, thur.”

“I’ve actually got a piece of paper that says I’m not, you know.”

“Well done, thur.”

“Not many people have one of those!”

“Very true, thur.”

 

Bottom Line:  Don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today. Read Thief of Time.

 

Coming Up Next: My Own Worst Frenemy by Kimberly Reid