Thursday, May 31, 2007

Do You Hear Voices?

I once spoke at an event for the Gullah/Geechee Nation about how I came to write The Spirit of Sweetgrass. I told the group how my main character, Essie Mae, basically wrote her own story. I simply penned it for her. When it was time for questions, a hand raised. It was attached to one of my favorite fellow writers, Fred Robinson. Fred was there in my writer's group when I first began sharing my work several years ago. Matter of fact, he's still in that group. It was a pleasant surprise to see his friendly face there, supporting me.

"About these voices you mentioned," he said. All eyes turned to him. "Do you really hear voices when you're writing?" I thought it was a joke. I thought he was ribbing me.

"No, I don't really hear voices," I said politely, waving my hands around. "Not like I have multiple personalities or anything, ahem, it's more like I feel it inside. Feel the story wanting to come out." I laughed a little. Nervously. Gee, thanks, Fred.

Turns out Fred wasn't kidding. Instead, he was actually just paying attention.

This week, I learned that Fred Robinson is one of the winners of this year's SC Fiction Project. His short story "The Leaky Roof" will be published in all its glory in the Post & Courier very soon. Fred will get the recognition he deserves. I am so thrilled for him!

So I wrote him a note telling him how excited I am for him, and he wrote back. Said he finally just listened to "the voices" in his head and wrote them down. Ha. How about that?

Well, I'm working on my third novel now and the story has been swimming inside me. I've been so concerned with how this will work, or what will happen or should the story go this way....and there are multiple voices trying to be heard, but there's too much distraction lately. I can only clearly hear my two little children around me, laughing, whining, playing. So inspired by Fred, last night I asked my husband to watch the kids. I turned on the bathtub, filled it with bubbles, got in, soaked, and just...listened. Listened for anything that God would put on my heart. Listened for any story or voice that needed to be told. Then quite miraculously, I let the water out, climbed the steps to my office, and dutifully, excitedly, wrote the character--the voice--that needed to come out.

Thanks so much, Fred, for the inspiration when I needed it most. You gave me back my own advice. Boy, I needed that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Monday, Monday

It was one year ago, May, that I lost him.

Just as soon as I uttered the words last week--admitting to God and myself for the first time that my heart was growing ready to love another cat--here comes a stray yesterday. We've lived in this house for almost 2 1/2 years, and I've never seen a stray cat, yet for some reason, less than a week after I mentioned my secret longing for one on my blog, here he comes, bright eyes and all.

Look at him. Isn't he cute? I took him to the vet this morning for an exam, shots, the works. He's such a sweet fellow. I've posted fliers in the neighborhood and have put an ad in the newspaper. Now, we just wait. In the meantime, he's got a double ear infection, so if he sticks around long enough, he'll get drops twice a day, fresh food and water, flea treatment--oh, and he has this new glow-in-the-dark collar now displaying his rabies tag. He's such a sweet kitty.

Well, Monday (that's what I've named him, temporarily of course) should be a happy kitty until his owners claim him. I want him to be happy. If his real family shows up it will be bittersweet for me--but God's will, not mine. If nothing else, Monday has shown me that my heart has room in it to love another kitty. Of course no one will ever replace my Espresso, but God commands us to love one another. I'm sure that involves cute kitties and anyway, I'm sure God had something to do with his coming to our front lawn.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

8 Things About Me

I've been tagged by my very talented editor and mistress of the blogosphere, Rachelle Gardner, to tell you 8 random things about me that you may not know. This could be frightening. Here we go:
  1. I typically work in my pajamas.
  2. I love ethnic food! Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai...I know I'm forgetting something...
  3. My beloved cat, Espresso, passed away last year, and I'm secretly waiting for the appropriate time to get a new one. I need to wait until my son is out of his "taunt the dog" phase.
  4. I'm afraid of heights, and I have to pray fervently when landing or taking off in an airplane to ease my anxiety.
  5. I considered switching majors in college to either cultural anthropology or photojournalism. Instead, I stuck it out in broadcast journalism. I once dreamed of being a reporter for 60 Minutes.
  6. I have a terrible memory, and I have to work very hard to pay attention to everything going on around me in order to remember the details.
  7. My side of the closet is an absolute mess. My husband's is neat and tidy.
  8. At 5 feet, 3 and 3/4 inches, I'm the largest woman in my immediate family.

I'm supposed to tag other people now, but I'd rather hear from my readers who want to share 8 random things about themselves! Please leave me a comment...