Poetry of Life

I am not a poet. I shouldn’t really have to say that on here, should I? If you’ve read even a few of my posts, you’d know that I have a very conversational style in my writing; I write as I talk, and I am not a poet in my conversations, either.

Most of the time that doesn’t bother me. I’m not much on reading poetry, either. I memorized the first few stanzas of Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lady of the Lake” when I was a kid, and I gained some appreciation for Emily Dickinson in my freshman creative writing class in college, and I struggle to appreciate John Donne because of my abiding love for Lord Peter Wimsey, but really? Poetry is a closed book to me. I can scratch together a few lines for a Christmas present for a family member, or put together a little poem to hang next to a baby picture on my littles’ bedroom wall, but using poetry to express my innermost feelings? Not gonna happen.

And then I read people who write prose so beautifully that it reads like poetry, those blog posts that dig into my heart, those words accompanying a recipe in a cookbook that make me want to bury my hands in flour and build a legacy, those lines in a book that shine a light on feelings that have been obscure even to me. And I wish (oh how I wish) that I could write the same way. That even if I can’t write poetry, that my prose could be deep and rich and beautiful and speak out of the chambers of my heart, right into others’ hearts.

But I sit with my fingers poised over the keyboard, or twirling a pen above a blank page, and what comes out is my usual light chatter instead. Even when I am writing for myself, that doesn’t change, so it isn’t that I’m afraid to expose my inner self to others. Or is it that, is it that I have hidden myself away from others for so long that it’s become an ingrained habit, something I can’t break even for myself?

This post here is more stream-of-consciousness than I usually write. It’s about as close to poetry as I get. I do have a poetry blog that I started several years ago in an attempt to develop a more poetic side, but it’s been gathering dust for many months. Maybe I should start working on that again?

I don’t want to stay in the shallows, with my writing or with my life. I’m not afraid to dive into the unknown deeps when it comes to my life. I shouldn’t be afraid of stretching out with my writing, either. Light entertainment is fine, and even good, at times, but I don’t want that to be all I ever write. I want to make people think, and feel, with my writing. I want to use my writing to convey at least a part of the beauty and wonder I find in this world, this life.

Maybe I just need to take a deep breath, and dive right in. No fear.

I wrote this over a period of a couple days, but I have not edited anything (well, aside from a few spelling errors). An attempt to stay raw and not polish the truth away from my words.

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Winners!

Time’s up! The winners have been chosen!

(drum roll, please)

The winner of the Etsy gift card is Eva.

The winner of Justice’s Mask is bn100.

Congratulations! And thanks to the rest of you for entering.

Eva, send me your email address (you can reach me at elouise.bates@gmail.com). Our internet is down until Wednesday morning, so I will try to get both prizes emailed out Wednesday afternoon.

I loved doing this giveaway; thank you to The Indelibles for hosting such a wonderful blogfest! I hope this becomes an annual tradition.

I also hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you are looking forward to December with bright-eyed anticipation. We certainly are; “Did it snow last night?” is the first question we hear every morning. So far the answer is always “no,” but we live in hope.

Cheers!

Happy INDIE-giving!

Funny, when I signed up to join this Blogfest, I didn’t think that I would have already joined the ranks of independent published authors! I expected to still be a “wanna-be.” Just goes to show you can still surprise yourself sometimes.

I surprised myself yesterday, too, when I had my first ice dance lesson in twelve years. Oh, I was sore when I got off the ice, but overall? I felt AWESOME. I expected it to be so much more difficult than it turned out to be. I remembered so much more than I thought I would, and following the pattern, keeping my center, all that – challenging, but nowhere near as impossible as I was expecting. The moral of the story (to imitate the White Queen)? Never hold back from doing something just because you think it’s going to be hard! If you really want it, go for it, and don’t give up, and you might just be amazed at how much you are able to accomplish!

I am so thankful for this opportunity to get back to something I have loved so well for my entire life. Thankful, too, for the opportunity to publish my stories – writing is something else I have loved my entire life. I have dreamed for almost that long about being published, and to be able to achieve the first step of that dream – publishing a short story – is amazing. It is nothing I take for granted.

And neither are any of you! I am truly grateful for all the friends I have made in this little corner of the web. Writing would not be anywhere near so much fun without the community and support we all give each other.

And to show that thankfulness in a little more tangible manner, I’m offering TWO giveaways. One, my short story, naturally!

Justice’s Mask: Cassandra James finds the line between right and wrong blurs when a Loyalist spy is unmasked at her eighteenth birthday party.

This story was a major departure from my usual writing genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to share it with one of you, too! Edited to add: Alex asked if this was an e-book. Yes, it is! Thanks to Smashwords, it is available in Kindle, Epub (which works for iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Sony, and more), PDF, or even just as online viewing. Thanks for bringing that point to my attention, Alex!

My other offering is a $10. Etsy gift card. I love Etsy, the global marketplace for independent artisans. This is my second year of ordering personalized ornaments for the littles through Etsy, and I think it’s going to become a family tradition! Etsy is now offering gift cards for many shops, which I think makes for a fantastic gift or giveaway.

No hoops to jump through or forms to fill out for these two giveaways – just leave a comment letting me know which one you’re interested in, and next Monday I’ll draw one name out of a hat for each!

Thank you all for being you. You’re all fantastic people, every one of you! And for more wonderful giveaways, check out the Indelibles blog!

Sometimes I Dance on Ice …

Last week after the littles finished up their skating lessons, I had a lovely chat with one of the coaches about starting private ice dance lessons the next week. We came to a mutual agreement, and I walked out of the rink with a mixture of elation and sheer terror.

I love ice dance. It’s been a passion since I was a teenager and took my first test (Dutch Waltz, in a shimmery blue dress with lace insets that I still have and wore for about half my tests, just kept changing the embellishments). From Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko to Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz to Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto to Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Maia & Alex Shibutani, ice dancers have been capturing my heart and firing my imagination since the early ’90s. I even took up step dancing in college for no other reason than that I adored Bourne & Kraatz’s “Riverdance” routine so much!

Watched this live at the ’98 Worlds. Still blows my mind.

So there’s the elation. The terror?

My last ice dance lesson was in 1999. I was seventeen years old. (It was the Fiesta Tango, in case you’re curious, and one of the few I did not wear the blue dress for: I wore a black-and-red crushed velvet dress that I shared with three other girls that same day – we just kept spraying Febreeze into the armpits and handing it off to the next girl as soon as we were finished. Ah, the glamorous life of figure skaters!)

I’ve skated off and on for fun ever since then, of course. For about a year before Joy was born I was on the ice almost once a week, just public skating, but enough to remember some of my old skills – and to recognize how much I’d lost. Even that, though, was six years ago. And the difference between 24 and 30 is huge. The last time I decided to show my littles how to do a spiral, I propped my leg up on the boards as usual to stretch – and wasn’t sure I’d be able to get it back down. I could barely walk the next day.

So I’m really not sure how on earth I’m going to do this. But I’m going to try anyway. I promised myself a few years ago that I would do everything in my power to take up ice dance again by the time I turned 30. Well, here I am, and here it goes.

This is my year (and week, apparently), for fulfilling promises to myself. First I published a story, and now I’m starting up skating again!

If I miss my usual Monday post, you’ll know it’s because I’m in too much pain from Sunday’s lesson to even type.

Wish me luck!

Six years ago – the last time I was able to do a spiral without pain!

Posing
On the ice with baby Joy – you can see she was tremendously impressed (HA!). I’m expecting something of that same expression when the littles watch me this Sunday!

Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the song I borrowed this post’s title from.

Published!

Wednesday afternoon. Feeling frustrated with everything. Election over, but people still being completely illogical, ungracious, and unkind. Stories needing editing, but nothing moving forward with already-edited stories to encourage me to keep up with the rest. Children, as always and forever, needing me constantly, no matter how much I’ve already done.

Nothing earth-shattering, nothing that ought to bother me, just lots of little gnat bites adding up to ferocious annoyance.

Something snapped. I put a movie on for the kids, went into Carl’s study with the door open so I could still hear them if (when) they needed me. Brought up a basic photo-editing program, and turned one of my photographs into a book cover. Went onto Smashwords and read their book on basic formatting. Went to Amazon and read their directions. Implemented their suggestions.

In the middle of all this, talked to my husband, who was also having a frustrating day. We commiserated with each other, I went back to my formatting. Movie ended, kids ended up in the study with me, playing while I worked, me trying to answer their questions and respond to their comments while still getting accomplished what I needed.

Called Carl on his way home from work. Told him he was no longer allowed to be in a bad mood. “Why?” he asked.

“Because,” I said. “I am officially a published author. And that’s huge.”

And it is.

It may be “just” a short story; it may be “just” self-published, it may be offered “only” in ebook form right now, it may not have a “professional” cover …

but it’s mine. And it’s published. And I am over the moon. I’ve dreamed of this moment almost my entire life, and I finally made that dream a reality.

Justice’s Mask, by Louise Ayers. Available at Amazon and at Smashwords.

Apparently I should snap more often!
Huge thanks to Laura, my fantastic editor, as well as Rockinlibrarian and Amo Vitam, who gave me wonderful and enormously helpful critiques. Thank are also due to all of you, who have encouraged me and walked along this road with me. This is just the beginning!