Monday, October 20

From Bitch to Books

Having survived a bleak fire season, I welcomed fall and the changes it signifies. I could have continued to sit on a tanker base, but only because the earnings would pay the shrink I’d learn to rely upon. I greeted this season like a spoiled puppy with a bad case of separation anxiety. How dare it test my bladder for such an extended period of time.

Fall also creates a little anxiety for me. It has proven a tough transition to go from being someone else’s full-time . . . bitch (remember the puppy?), to working for myself. Last winter I penned out optimistic schedules that included hours of writing each day. Instead, I’d clean my bamboo floors three times between sunrise and sunset to abate restlessness. I conquered lesser projects with ease: cleaning the glass shelving in my fridge, alphabetizing reference books, conditioning my red leather couch, and organizing the garage. I’d do just about anything but write.

But I found the solution: take on the task of writing a book—a memoir of sorts—in 90 days. It does wonders for your priorities. Now, my place is a mess and I freak out if I can’t fit five hours of writing into a day. For a limited time only, here’s a paragraph taken from a recently completed chapter:

Significantly souring my objectivity early on was the divorce of my parents and subsequent absence of my father. My life was supposed to brim with happiness and carefree joy: mother and father living under one roof sharing their lives and the progression of their only daughter, Clydesdales frolicking in the pastures out back, the sun forever shining between harmless billowing clouds that dance overhead. Instead ours was the broken home filled with fear, tears, and pointed anger. Ours was the house where animals were sold and rarely a person witnessed. Ours was the house where witches lived. That part is true, though this witch transcended gender bias and arrived with the title “stepfather.” I’m sure I was boiled once or twice, if not physically then a doll made to be me. There were hexes and hatred and overly enthusiastic celebrations of Halloween. Shy of submerging my stepfather into his own caldron of boiling frog hearts and wart juice, excusing him as a witch was the best I could do.

I need some help—obviously—with my book. Drop a note in the comments section and educate me on what you, the reader, would like to know more about; is it the tanker industry in general, the chick behind the stick, or witches’ brew.


Anonymous said...

Keep up the hard work and you WILL finish your book in 90 days.

More stories about tanker life and flight...more about the chick behind the stick...

SEE the end product of your work...a published book!


Helisphere said...

Definitely more about the chick, of course!

Cowboy173 said...

Most pilots like me will want to know what got you turned on to be a pilot. Did you go to the airport and watch planes t/o and land for hours when you were a kid? Did you have a relatiave fly?

Were you afraid of flying?

Do some hanger flying with us to let us know things about what you've done that you really shouldn't tell anyone. You might want to put it under the title of STUFF THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE TRUE AND IF IT'S ILLEGAL, IT WASN'T ME DOING THEM.

Have you flown under a bridge ... you know that kind of stuff? Do any aerobatic stuff you weren't supposed to?

What's a chick doing dive bombing on wildfires for? What makes your heart beat fast in a good way or bad way when you're flying against wildfires or anything else?

What kind of flying do you do better than most of your pilot friends?

Ever want to fly helicopters and have real fun?

Can't want to hear about what got you in the air and what keeps you there.


Choc. D said...

Thanks guys! I appreciate the light you so graciously shone upon the path. I will go forth, RR, thanks for the push. It is my honor to comply.

On the short note, cowboy, I got into tankers through a series of bad decisions. That's my favorite answer, anyway; whether it's true or not depends on the day.

Hey helisphere, are you saving the world down there in California?

Jackson Snead said...

Feed back on your writing?
It better grab and hold me. I met you at the Surrey Writers’ conference and left Sunday after the breakfast speech. It was a beautiful clear morning so I drove my Mercedes convertible over the bridges on the King George Highway. The fog in Burrard inlet reached the level of the bridge, reminding me of flying over clouds. I had great classic rock on the radio, the top down, the sun was shining and hey, I’m driving a Mercedes! So instead of feeling inadequate among the gatekeepers of the literati, I created a couple of peak memories. I’m putting them right next to the memory of flying over sparkling snow-capped mountains in the Yukon in my helicopter while listening to Steve Winwood on the headset. I know it’s something I’ll probably never do again but it enriches my life as a memory. If written well, someone else catches the memory too.
That’s what writing is, a series of events that inspire words to express a situation and create a memory. The words will probably come out different each time. It’s very difficult to set things in stone and get it right for all eyes and mentalities and a memoir changes and evolves as you grow. Feelings of events change, value affixes to different parts of the memory depending on your point of view, and until you die, a memoir continues to be written. I think the proper place for a memoir is on your blog. Tell us things we can’t experience. Give us a memory of an event. Thrill us, scare us, make us think you are crazy lucky to be alive. (Which you are.) That’s the real story. Spice it up, put it in another section of your website, and even sell chapters in a PDF if you want the money. But it’s your story, not some desk jockey’s project. That’s what makes me so frustrated about looking into the publishing world. I went to the Writers Idol Event where they read a few lines of a story and cut it to shreds or praise its brilliance. My eyes were opened when I saw the gatekeepers cut down Margaret Atwood in the first sentence from A Handmaid’s Tale. It’s a very subjective and arbitrary process. At least I did as well as Margaret Atwood. Don’t get me wrong, I want approval as much as the next person, but to be fair, one sentence does not a writing career end.
Sure, someone knows punctuation better or phrases things differently or is more articulate but that doesn’t mean that they tell a better story. I’d rather hear a joke from a tipsy friend then a proper English butler. So that’s my level of success now… does someone laugh when they read my stuff? Although I want approval from others, I am more interested in my peers reading it then getting permission to print. Thanks to the internet, I feel like the agents and publishers at the conference are the last stalwart gatekeepers of a fortress with walls that have fallen. That’s why I will probably stay working through my website . No gates to be unlocked. And if you connect with 1000 true fans, you will probably get all the approval you need.
Also, I never fail to crack myself up.
Good Job, Jackson