INTJ female writer setting out to become a published author of contemporary literature. Writing includes horror/mystery, young adult fantasy and science fiction.
All opinions, mistakes and dog hair are my own. Thank you for joining me.
Hello, and welcome to the first edition of “Reginald Swinebottom Presents.” I’m your narrator, Mr. Swinebottom himself. Please no drinks, candies, popcorn, gum or anything else that fills you with empty calories and cavities. Flash photography and cell phones are not permitted during the stage performance. If used, your device will be confiscated and destroyed, along with your arms and legs. Now, please enjoy the show.”
(The red curtain parts. The scene opens to a house, filled with many rooms. The stage lights focus on a simply furnished bedroom on the second floor. A lump underneath the blankets is snoring deeply in rhythm. A black dog wakes and stretches in the corner beside a quaint doggy bed.)
“Once upon a time an author woke up early on a Saturday morning. A certain Labrador Retriever needed to use the great grassy beyond and began vocalizing her needs. The Labrador also desired num nums. Good num nums. Delicious num nums. It was time to put on the slippers and start the day.
“The author found the leash and collar and tiptoed out the front door in her purple slippers, the canine companion trotting closely behind. Anyone passing by would see the author’s darling new owl pajama bottoms and her worn-but-cozy hoodie. A pee and a poo later, the Labrador sprung sprightly back inside the house, ready for her meal. Breakfast was served for both.
“The author, now fed and warm, curled up in her chair. Quiet ebbed and flowed; blood cells danced and swirled inside her veins in bliss. It was peaceful and silent, save for a squeak or two from a dog toy. Maybe she would write. The day was open and hers to explore. All was well.
“And then the doorbell rang.”
Interviewer: “Good afternoon, Arcians! We are excited to have with us today, up and coming indie author A.R. Clayton. Peregrine Arc is her platform and Memory Bound is her first pending publication. Welcome!”
Author: “Thank you. I don’t know what an Arcian is but thank you for having me.”
Interviewer: “It’s something I came up with back stage. Your followers need a name, right?”
Author: “Do they?”
Interviewer: “…Yes. Yes they do. Moving on. First question from our fans. What inspired you to be a writer?”
Author: “I’m still stuck on the Arcian thing. Followers should already have names, unless the hospital forgot to write them in on their birth certificate. Or their parents couldn’t make up their minds. Or maybe they were switched at birth, and their actual name is something horrible, like Swinebottom. Imagine finding that out when you’re twenty. That would be dreadful…”
Above, you can see the cover of my upcoming book–Memory Bound. I finally feel comfortable releasing the cover for view as I (really, truly) believe publishing is very close at hand. A second editor is going through my narrative currently as a “last proof” edit and is also formatting my book for ebook and hard copy print. It’s definitely been a long journey but I’ve learned a lot.
The editor is hoping to get the book back to me before Halloween, but I’m not establishing a firm publication date at this point in time. Every time I’ve set a deadline, another step has popped up I need to complete. It’s become comical really, and is to be expected (I think) with one’s first book.
Or so I tell myself. With hands shaking and eyes twitching. Pass the wine, would you?
A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered at a Deaf festival. I was put in charge of the kid’s area. Think coloring, simple games and some arts and crafts. I chased balls, I colored in teddy bears, I said goodbye to balls I’d never find again underneath dusty bleachers and I handed out prizes. Mostly, I listened to what the kids had to say–either through signing or verbally. You learn a lot about kids, just by being present.
Towards the end of the day, I started cutting kids off on candy to ensure they still had their teeth at age 20 (and that I still had my sanity at lunch.). Shortly after, the concept of sharing came up…repeatedly. (I really believe kids have a tendency to hoard resources sometimes). At another point in the day, the Saint cut off a Lord of the Flies scenario from emerging with an older group of boys competing at our cornhole station. To top it off, one of the festival booths handed out Frisbees as their giveaway. Hooray. We were indoors, mind you, with hundreds of people milling about. And most of them were focused on signing. What could possibly go wrong?*
At one point an interpreter came up to me and inquired about the Deaf Kid’s Club banner we had proudly hanging up behind our area. The interpreter and I made small talk inbetween me plucking out blue and green crayons for the kid’s masterpieces. The interpreter said something that made my volunteer experience all the more vivid:
“There’s not a lot of opportunities for Deaf kids to get out and play and socialize. This is really wonderful, what you’re doing.”
Something inside of me twinged. It’s 2018, lady. Are you kidding me?
My flash fiction for Carrot Ranch. Mosey on over and see what all the hubbub’s about. Charli’s got some contests coming up, too, so check it out.
There’s quite a few lines from the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium that have stuck with me over the years. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. The script doesn’t blanch at the realities of change and death. The characters frequently toss out clever lines and understand what it means to laugh and to struggle. It’s a simple plot, one that revolves around a magical toy store, but it’s powerful. I think I like the simple, magical stories the best.
One of the more poignant lines, one that is towards the end of the film, goes like this:
Molly: Are you dying?
Mr. Magorium: Light bulbs die, my sweet. I will depart.
I don’t like my country very much lately. Since late 2016, a fissure emerged in America’s lands and everyone jumped eagerly to either side. Trump being elected was like a trumpet blown by the Republicans and all of their party supporters. The supporters were portrayed as frustrated, forgotten, worn out voters who put Trump into power to “Make America Great Again”–their version of greatness, anyway. Many of these voters had been affected by the lack of working class jobs, ones shipped overseas or replaced by technology. Trump was their secret weapon; he was their line drawn in the sand. They wanted to turn back time and have their old way of life back.
I’ve been sick for the past week and have had time to reflect. I attended classes and counseling sessions last month to jump start my writing platform. And to be honest, I found that I hated these sessions. I was asked questions like “What makes your writing special?” and “Why should I pick up your book?” I answered their questions, in my typical straightforward fashion, but none of my answers seemed to appease. I sensed my words weren’t flashy enough, weren’t meeting the elusive standards of good marketing. I wasn’t attracting attention in the American, shallow way of enticement. I came away feeling I needed to change and become a saleswoman.
And I found myself simply not caring.
“Be still and know that I am God” is one of my favorite scripture verses.* As an introvert who needs approximately four hours of alone time for every one hour of interaction with others, these words are balm on my soul. It reassures me that peace, quiet and solitude are necessary. I don’t need to seek after worldly things until I burn myself out or to prove to anyone that I’m “worthy.” Jesus died for me–I am his treasured one. This is my compass.
Is it weird that I’m a horror author who is also Christian? I don’t think so. Christianity, once you get past the baby milk and sugar, is actually filled with terrifying ideas and creatures–demons, angels, martyrdom and Hell being just a few. “Be still and know that I am God” are ringing bells of power in the cemetery of death, the world of lies and illusions we navigate before rejoining God in Heaven. Evil lurks behind the tombstones waiting to distract us or to push us off course. Few things about this are fair and the journey is sometimes filled with horrible things. But we get there. With God, we get there.
But let’s step back onto the main path for now. It’s foggy and cold in the cemetery, but the full moon is out and there’s a dry patch under the elm. Let’s talk about my main subject: setting up my writing space.