Gettin’ It Right

Up early combing through these first page proofs and I’m glad I didn’t take the fast/easy way out. Finding before-hidden errors that could have been embarrassing. Thanks Diane Lefer and Kelly Cherry for your excellent advice. I had wanted to rush through, using my trusty editing program, and be done with it.  But Kelly and Diane encouraged me to read every word, every time the opportunity to do so presented itself. The thing with reading the manuscript over and over again is I become a blubbering mess each time. I know there’s this distance that is supposed to come as you get deeper and deeper into the revision process, but that hasn’t come for me.

Some days I can just push through unscathed, but there are days I’m that little girl again, confused, angry, and unsure that there is a way out. Friday, I could barely make it to Chico’s arms before the tears shook me defenseless.  All I could say, over and oScreenshot 2015-01-18 10.04.19ver again, was this is so sad.  It’s so very sad that children have to live like this. Up until that day, my tears had never been for myself. They were for the child I was writing about and writing to.  But on that day, I realized it was me, that I don’t often allow myself to cry for that little girl in me. And it was sad.  It is still sad, even sadder when I look at my baby girl, knowing how used over and tired I was by the time I was her age, fourteen. And the sadness becomes all encompassing when I imagine today’s fourteen-year-olds, feeling like men and women, acting like men and women because circumstances won’t allow them to be children.

So, I’ve acknowledged the tears are part of the process, even this late in the revision process, and my family knows this, so they force me to take breaks throughout the day.  Chico even went shopping for towels and sheets with me at Kohls :-).  That man loves me!

And I want to get this right.  I don’t want any distracting errors pulling the reader from the narrative, giving the allusion my story and the stories of children like me aren’t worth getting right.  So, I’ll keep reading and crying every opportunity I can.  We should all be crying because no matter where we are in our lives, no matter how happy, loved, and sheltered our babies are, there are still children in this world suffering, in real-time, atrocities we get to write about in our leisure, ones we get to visit when we choose, ones we get to close the book on when it gets too tough.  That fact alone warrants the tears.  That fact alone means we should never stop crying, trying, and working to get it right.

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A page a day . . .

Just returned from a blissful New Year’s celebration with my VA family and I am full. Full, because I stepped out on faith, did something new, and reaped the benefits of that newness. Save for the two New Years I spent at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the Cannady family has always spent New Years in the quiet of our home, wrapped in what we believed to be the safety of our spaces, ushering in the new year with prayers, hugs, and promises we intended to collect. This new year’s day was different, still met with the hugs, the prayers, and the promises, but also dance, a little sipping, the shortest and tightest dress I’ve worn in years, the music of my extended family’s cheers, the music of some not-so-danceable (but we danced anyway) tunes, and the realization that the idea of safety does not have to reside in one space. It can reside in places filled with hearts that love so much and so hard, nothing untoward can reach in.

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I promised I would be updating this blog throughout my revision and writing journey, but 2014 held days, weeks, and months of crippling writing, rewriting, and revision. It held moments of fright, when the words on the page became nights’ terrors and days’ intrusions. It held the constant reminder that memoir writing is a beast, never tamed, but one we struggle to walk alongside, all cautiousness and bravery in one body.

With the inundation of one national and global travesty after another, 2014 held me as an untethered, bouncing between moments of balance and complete abandon, as the PTSD of it all squeezed breath, voice out of me. So, I definitely needed a change. Despite the fears of bad weather, bad driving (Anyone who has driven through I-495 and I-95 during a holiday week knows exactly what I’m talking about), and newness, the Cannadys hit the road and loved every bit of it, especially the beach with its salty scent and constant rumble, that which always reminded me as a girl, I could be movement, fluid, penetrable, and whole at the same time. I needed that reminder for this coming year, as some of my innermost thoughts are introduced to the world in the form of memoir.10277524_1007668605913569_4142725939073684636_n

With this new “newness” and uncertainty, I return to the old that carried me through one of the most difficult times. Alongside my talented, intelligent, and devilishly handsome Dereck, I’m returning to the process that got me through writing, revising, and defending a five-chapter dissertation in five months, while teaching an overload along with two online classes, and being mommy and wife to the Cannady Clan; I’m returning to my “one-a-day”pill that always kept my anxiety away. Dereck and I have committed to writing at least one page a day or for him, one poem a day for the entire year. We’re allowing ourselves to write crap, to write masterpieces, to write at the brink of dawn or during the last seconds of the day, but we will write, together, even though miles separate us.

That “one-a-day” concept is what had me, against earlier fears, opening the new year with my loves, wearing a dress I won’t ever wear in the state of PA, and dropping it like it was hot so many times, I’m certain I left parts of “it” on the dance floor. It found me embracing the new, holding tightly to the old, fluid, one day, one page at a time.