What I Wrote Today – 5

What I Wrote Today – An excerpt from my work in progress, Beanstalk & Basket. Jack is stuck on the last page of his story and would be completely bored – if he hadn’t just met the girl from the story next door.

Coming to you fresh and unedited – subject to change before future publication. Enjoy!

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Jack’s mother was where he left her when he returned to the mansion that night — sitting at the long, shiny wooden table in the dining room, counting gold coins, stroking the magic goose, Gertrude, who sat peacefully in her lap. She was chatting with the enchanted harp, Penelope, who was sitting on the table strumming herself and clearly not listening. Penelope looked like a normal harp, only with a woman carved into the bow, and her enchanted arms stretched out and her nimble fingers strummed herself expertly. Jack had gotten rather tired of harp music, but he couldn’t exactly complain about Penelope. He’d rescued her from a giant and she was eternally undignified in her gratitude towards him.

“There’s my hero!” Penelope called, waving merrily to Jack.

“Hello, Penelope,” Jack said, waving back and hurrying past the dining room to the stairs that would lead up to his room in the tower at the back of the mansion.

“Jack!” his mother called sharply.

He stopped short and poked his head into the dining room. “Yes, Mum?”
She looked up from her stack of coins and looked at him over the top of her small golden glasses, which she’d bought after he landed them in the lap of luxury with Gertrude and Penelope. “Where have you been?” she demanded. “The servants told me you never came round for supper,”

“Uh…just out chopping trees,” Jack replied.
“Ugh,” his mother grumbled. “I wish you wouldn’t do that. You don’t need to work. If anything you should go out and play, not work,”

Jack shrugged. “I enjoy working,”

She scoffed. “Imagine that. A boy who has reached his happily-ever-after, with a fine home and all the comforts of life, feeling any sort of need to go out and work!”

Jack sighed. He and his mother simply did not understand each other. For her, work meant survival. For him, it was…necessary. Fun at times, yes, but it was more that he felt like he’d go crazy if he wasn’t doing something.

“I’m tired, Mum,” he said. “I think I’ll go straight to bed,”
“That’s what work does to you, Jack, it wears you out. Isn’t that right, Gertrude?”

Gertrude looked up, honked as though in agreement, and closed her eyes again.

“Goodnight, Mum,” Jack said.

“Goodnight, Jack,” she called back. “Rest up. Maybe tomorrow you’ll have a little fun,”

Jack thought about that as he climbed the spiral staircase to his room — the only room the servants weren’t allowed to clean. Whatever happened tomorrow, he was pretty sure it was going to be interesting. He was going back to the gap. Maybe he’d see Red.

 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

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What I Wrote Today – 1

What I Wrote Today – 2

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What I Wrote Today – 4

How My Non-Writing Jobs Help Support My Writing

So, apparently, I was kidding when I said I wanted to blog consistently.

No. That’s not true. I do. I just kept being busy and failing to make it a priority. So here I am. Making it a priority.

Something I started thinking about this week is the two part-time jobs I currently work at. I’m a secretary for a guy who sells insurance, which means a lot of office work and organizing and sending out promotional mailings and calling the home office to ask brusque East-coast ladies about people’s beneficiaries and loan amounts. I’m also a cashier at a Hy-Vee (which, for those of you not in the midwest, is like the mother-of-all-grocery-stores).

I reflected on how those two other jobs take up so much of my time, drain so much of my energy, and tend to make the writing job feel more like…well, like a hobby. Which is sad. But I challenged myself to think of it differently by asking – Are there any ways my non-writing jobs can support my writing job? I concluded that there were, so I decided to share them in case there’s anyone else in the same boat – writing and working and wanting to be able to write more.

JobsSupportWritingIG

 

Boredom

Boredom is actually a really useful tool. It allows your brain to wander off to more interesting, creative things during tasks that don’t require you to be fully present – like putting stamps on 200 envelopes or ringing up fifty cans in a row. Without boredom, a person might not actually have any mental motivation to brainstorm or problem solve.

I hesitated to list this as a positive because what I’ve been working on most throughout 2018 is being more in the moment and less in my head. I wondered if it was actually a bad thing to let boredom take me out of the present. However, this week I came up with two ideas for blog posts (including this one) while I was at work, so I concluded that a little bit of boredom does actually support me as a writer, which is a very good thing.

 

Money

Let me be perfectly honest here. I am nowhere close to supporting myself with my writing. And that’s okay. Really. Because everyone has to start somewhere and no two people’s career paths are the same. It’s only been a year since I published my first book. I’m working on my next one. I’ve got time.

In the meantime, I have bills to pay, meals to eat, and I would rather not move back in with my parents. My two part-time, not-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life jobs enable me to live (and live independently) while I figure this whole writing thing out.  Money is a necessity in life, and while my goal is to eventually be able to support myself by writing, I’m grateful to be employed at two decent jobs where there’s security and even potential for growth.

 

Conversations

My boss at my secretary job will occasionally just sit back and talk to me about politics, theology, ethics, and wild mushrooms. I love when he gets in a chatty mood. I’ve learned a lot and gotten some real inspiration from our conversations. Just today we had a lengthy discussion about grief and how to talk to someone who is grieving. 

At Hy-Vee, I will potentially talk to hundreds of people throughout the day. While it’s true a lot of those conversations range from banal to unpleasant, they still open me up to another person’s perspective. Every person I meet could inspire a new book character or contribute to an existing one. While working as a cashier, I have been taught a brief history of the Easy Bake oven, been told a slightly inappropriate story about Sir Lancelot, been offered a job as a face model (which I regret to say I declined because I’m still battling a fear of new experiences) and have had a woman offer to set me up with either(!) of her single sons. Quality story material.

 

People Watching

I also get to study the mannerisms, facial expressions, and movements of people as they perform the very human task of shopping. Often times, I’m bored and sour and wish I could be at home doing anything else, and I forget to pay attention. But let me encourage you (and me) to pay attention. You never know what interesting or weird or wonderful things might be waiting to be discovered. Like a couple absent-mindedly touching each other’s arm or back as they shop. Or a little girl asking her dad if they can get a bouquet of flowers for her mom. Or a sweet, slightly shy man who comes in almost every afternoon and must be a good cook based on what he buys. Or a couple of middle-school boys having the most low-key fight ever so their mom doesn’t notice them punching each other across the cart. Stories are everywhere – you just have to be looking for them. 

 

Connections

I actually got my secretary job because of my writing job. My now-boss’s wife was directing a play that I had written for a local homeschool group. He was looking for a secretary, and it occurred to his wife that I might be a good candidate – if I had time to write a whole play I probably had a lot of free time (I didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there) and I must be good at typing. So she e-mailed me asking if I would be interested in a secretary position. They interviewed me and hired me within the next week. Just this week, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in a potential writing job with a friend of his. I don’t know if anything will come of that, but it’s a possibility. Another example – last year I sold several copies of my book to coworkers at my Hy-Vee job. You never know what kind of connections you might find at a fine-but-not-what-I-want job.

So there you have it. Just a few of the ways I found that my non-writing jobs actually do support my writing job. Yes, those jobs take up a lot of my time. Yes, they often wear me out to the point that I don’t have the mental energy to actually write at the end of the day. But this is my life right now. Those jobs are supporting the life I will have someday – next month, next year, or whenever it comes together. For now, they are helping build me into the writer and the person I will be. And for that, I am most certainly grateful.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

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4/27/18 – UPDATE

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It’s been a while and I wanted to give an update on me and my writing because this matters to me and if you’re reading this, maybe it matters to you, too.

  • It’s been almost a full year since Good You Were Here went live on Amazon! Craziness. To celebrate the anniversary (May 19th) I’m probably going to be doing a giveaway. More on that in the future.
  • I finished a first draft of my short play, Royal Bring Your Dog to Dinner Day. I was writing it for a local homeschool group and learned they are not actually going to be performing a play this year. No worries. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing it performed sometime in 2019.
  • After finishing the play, I picked back up my 2015 NaNo Novel Tulip Season. There’s a lot of very good stuff there but it needs some work and some revising. Not a lot of headway on that but we’ll see. Definitely a story I want to finish and send out into the world sooner than later.
  • I got a little bit stuck and overwhelmed with Tulip Season since it’s a longer book, so I picked back up a story I’ve been developing probably since 2010. It has a working title of Beanstalk and Basket and it’s a crossover of Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood. I’m really excited at the prospect of writing a book for a younger audience since my 13-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother love reading and have been asking me for books geared more towards them.

There are several reasons why I’ve been more absent for almost a month from my blog and from my writing social media in general. I’ve been busy with: life in general, my two other jobs, family/friends/relationship. But I’ve also been struggling with a general lack of sleep, some anxiety, and imposter syndrome.

If you aren’t familiar with imposter syndrome, Wikipedia defines it thus: “Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”

For me, this has meant feeling like my writing isn’t ‘that good’, that no one really cares about my writing, that I’m too lazy to be a full-time writer, that I should stop trying to make it more than a hobby because I’ll just be wasting my time, and that no one will take me seriously. I have good support systems helping me overcome this but it’s going to be a process. Over this last month, I kept wanting to give updates, especially as I was tip-typing away and making progress on stories, but I kept thinking, “Eh, no one cares, it doesn’t really matter.”

But it does matter. A lot. Stories matter and no one else can tell the stories I have to tell. It may be slow going, but there’s no reason I can’t potentially help support myself with my writing. It will take a lot of hard work, but I’m capable of hard work. I want to put in the work. I just have to believe it matters.

So there’s my update. It is still my goal to have a blog post up every Tuesday and Friday. My overall writing goal for the year is to publish at least one book. I had originally had the lofty ambition of publishing at least three books, but I’m okay with downsizing that goal so I can put out something truly beautiful.

Thank you for reading and thank you for sticking with me. Stories coming soon, I promise. 

God bless,

Clare

 

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A Love Letter to Lent

Dear Lent,

Every year, I feel like I fail you. You are 40 days (plus 6 Sundays) for me to really restart my faith. This year, in particular, I feel like I didn’t do enough. I should have tried harder. Prayed more. Given up something more challenging. I’m just not as different now as I hoped I’d be. And yet, I had my priest encourage me to look at what God has done this Lent, not what I’ve done. When I look at you that way, I see how beautiful and fruitful and unexpected you have truly been this year.

Today is Holy Saturday. You are drawing to a close. Tonight and tomorrow we will stand in our churches and proclaim an earth-shattering truth that we’ve heard so many times, it doesn’t shake us. We’ve gotten used to it. But it is still true and it is still utterly amazing. Christ is risen.

I remember, probably a decade ago, I came to a realization during Holy Week that Jesus actually died. Maybe it was seeing the bodies of my uncle and great-grandmother at their funerals that convinced me how astonishing that was. That Jesus was really and truly dead. His soul left and what was taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb was nothing more than a body. This realization felt stupid; duh, Clare, you’ve heard this at every single Mass you’ve ever been to in your life. But God assured me it wasn’t stupid. It was important. It was good. What would the Crucifixion be worth if Jesus had just been kidding?

Last night for Good Friday, I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ for the first time. It’s hard to explain how powerful that was for me, but I’ll try to put it this way: As I watched Jesus being scourged nearly to death, suffering unimaginably before he’d even taken up His cross, the thought that kept going through my head was, “I don’t feel worth this.” And what God continually responded to me with was, “This is how much I love you. This is how much you are worth.” Whether or not I believed it or felt worthy of it, I knew it was true.

As I type this, I’m listening to ‘Pieces’ by Amanda Cook on repeat. I think this song captures what Jesus was expressing with every step, every drop of blood of His Passion. He gave Himself fully, completely, holding nothing back – for me. That ‘for me’ statement is true for all of us. For me, as though I were the only one in the whole world. Jesus would have gone up on that cross and died the definition of an excruciating death if I was the only sinner in existence. He would have gone the whole nine yards whether or not I ever loved Him back – whether or not I even believed in Him.

Unreserved, unrestrained, your love is wild Your love is wild for me
It isn’t shy, it’s unashamed, your love is proud to be seen with me
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us
Uncontrolled, uncontained, you love is a fire
Burning bright for me
It’s not just a spark, it’s not just a flame your love is a light
That all the world will see
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us
Your love’s not fractured, it’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind
Your love’s not passive
Its never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps it promises
It keeps its word
It honors what’s sacred
Cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
You love is pure
You don’t give your heart in pieces, you don’t hide yourself to tease us 

You have been a very good Lent, whether or not I feel it. Throughout these 46 days, God shook me down to my deepest wound, challenged me, grew me and blessed me beyond anything I could ever imagine.

So, thank you. I’ll see you again next year.

Love,

Clare

 

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Some Thoughts on Patience

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about patience.

If there’s one thing I could use more of, it’s patience. I need to be patient with my writing because it’s happening, even if it’s happening slowly. I need to be patient with God and trust His timing in my life. I need to be patient with myself as I struggle against anxiety and try to figure out my next steps in life. I need to be patient with the people I love because they are just as imperfect and incomplete as I am.

Sometimes I just want to be done waiting and get to the part where I’m there, having done/doing the thing or living the life I’ve been waiting for. Today I had a conversation with my boss about how the tough thing about patience is that you’re never DONE being patient. Even if you get to the the thing you’ve been waiting for, there’s always something new to have to wait and be patient for.

So then I guess life is one long string of waiting for something…unless you stop just living for the next thing and start being present in the moment.

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I’m really bad at this. That’s why I bought this shirt, as a wearable reminder to myself.

I tend to live in the theoretical someday because it is either more interesting or more concerning than the present. The older I get, the more I realize how much time I waste and how much I miss by doing that. True, a lot of the time, the present moment is painful or hard or even just boring, but it’s only going to happen once and if I miss it, that’s it, it’s gone.

It becomes easy to live in the past, which has already happened and we can replay, or the future, which hasn’t happened and we can imagine however we want. Living in the moment is hard. The moment is happening now and it’s always moving. It takes patience. It takes conscious effort. I’m trying, but I know I still have a long way to go.

I started thinking about this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke this afternoon. I think it captures what I mean.

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“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as though they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future. you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

So, here I am, waiting, trying to live in the moment, to love the questions, and praying for patience.

 

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

What I Wrote Today – 4

An excerpt from the play I’m working on for a local homeschool group, currently titled Royal Bring Your Dog to Dinner Day.

 

(Messenger enters stage left)

Chef: Another message, Messenger?

Messenger: Naturally. (Shakes out the scroll) Ahem. A Message from Her Majesty the Queen to the Royal Chef. Dear Chef. The dogs will be arriving shortly.

Chef: Wait, wait, wait. Dogs? What does she mean, DOGS? And why are they arriving shortly? How long from now is shortly, exactly?

Messenger: Let me finish. Ahem. The Duchess and the Other Duchess and I are getting our nails done, we will be joining the dogs just as quick as we can. Give them a little appetizer and keep them entertained. They’re no trouble at all, I promise.

Chef: (wailing) No!

Messenger: (Finishing message) Thanks a million, you’re the best, love and hugs, Her Majesty the Queen.

Chef: Is there a postscript where she says haha, just kidding?

Messenger: There is not.

Chef: (putting head in hands) Of course not.

Sous: (patting the Chef on the shoulder) There, there, Chef. It’ll be okay.

Messenger: Any return message, Chef?
Chef: Uh…tell her it is our Royal Pleasure to watch the Royal Dogs.

Messenger: (giving the chef a thumbs up) I will do that. Hang in there, guys.

Chef: Yes, yes, thank you, Messenger, goodbye.

(Messenger exits stage right)

Chef: Anyone know how soon shortly is?

(Trumpets blast)

Commis 1: I guess shortly is over now.

(Reenter the Messenger stage right with Chubby and Tubby and one leash dragging behind him)

Messenger: May I present to the Royal Kitchen Staff, the Royal Dogs.

(The kitchen staff all bow to the royal dogs)

Commis 2: Not to be disrespectful, but isn’t there someone who’s job it actually is to watch the Royal Dogs? You know…maybe a Royal Dogsitter?
Messenger: There are actually five of them, but they all have the day off.

(Royal Kitchen Staff all groan)

 

Thanks for reading! God bless.

 

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The Tower Princess – A Short Story

I wrote this short story based on the fairy tale Rapunzel back in 2012 for a contest. It was inspired by a girl I knew from online who was suffering from severe anxiety attacks and couldn’t leave her house. It’s not my best work by any means. I’m thinking of rewriting it to be a little more polished (and realistic) so I thought it would be fun to share the original first. Enjoy!

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(image source)

Once Upon a Time, Rae could leave her house.

Rae could ride in cars.

Rae could talk to strangers.

Rae could get in the elevator and go all the way down from the 11th Floor to the 1st Floor, and walk out the revolving doors of the Hotel Tower, and be just like everybody else.

But one day, someone tried to hurt Rae. He attacked her right on the street. He would have used her and left her for dead if a stranger hadn’t helped her get away.

When Rae finally got home at the end of that long, traumatic day, she ran into the Tower, took the stairs to the 11th Floor, shut herself in her room, and never came out.

“I will never go outside again,” she vowed fearfully. “Ever.”

Rae’s mother’s solutions for herself were always temporary, like a Band-Aid. Her solutions for Rae were no different. She thought she could ‘fix’ Rae’s problem by trying to force her to go outside, to be normal again. But all she did was wound Rae deeper. Rae couldn’t leave the safety of the apartment. She suddenly wanted nothing to do with a world that had once meant everything to her.

Slowly, Rae’s friends, even her closest friends, abandoned her. It was as though they feared her broken, isolated condition was contagious, and they left her. Even Rae’s mother, living in the same apartment, distanced herself and liked to pretend there wasn’t a lonely, sad girl behind the door to Rae’s room.

Rae was all alone.

 

Meanwhile upon a time, I was the stranger.

I had always been curious about Rae. I was working for my BA in architecture at the same college where she was taking art classes in the city, and even though I never had the nerve to say hello, I started following her from time to time. I tried to be subtle, but when she daringly strode into shiftier neighborhoods, I hung around just in case.

And that one day, I was there to save her.

During the twelve hours we sat next to each other in the police department, I managed to talk to her.

“Hi. My name’s Patrick.”

She didn’t answer, but I knew her name. Rae. Rae Elizabeth Ponce.

“Are you alright?”

Then, she looked at me, with those beautiful eyes that were suddenly so full of tragedy. She shook her head slowly. “No.” she murmured. “No, I’m not.”

When Rae disappeared, I knew she had gone up to the top floor of the Hotel Tower. It broke my heart to hear her closest friends write her off at school. I could only guess how lonely she was, and I decided to contact her online, offering her support.

At first, she was suspicious of me, even resentful. But I gave her time, and gradually, she accepted my offer.

Years passed, and I graduated from college. Rae and I became close friends and we talked on the phone frequently. But Rae stayed stuck in her tower. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.

I wanted to see her again.

So I walked to the back of the Hotel Tower building and found the fire escape. I had to jump onto a dumpster to reach it but then started climbing up without thinking. I didn’t stop until I’d gone as far as I possibly could. Then, I gave Rae a call on my cell phone.

“Hello?” she said quietly. Her voice was always a little hoarse from underuse.

“Rae, it’s me. Patrick. I’m under your window. Let down your fire escape.”

“What?”

“Let down your fire escape. I can’t go any higher until you do. I’m coming to see you.”

“You mean… open the window?” Rae asked nervously.

“Yes. You can do it, Rae. I’ll be waiting for you.”

It took a while, but finally, I heard the rattling and clattering of metal stairs unfolding, and the long, unreachable section of the fire escape tumbled down until it stopped at my feet. I climbed up two more stories, and I found my princess waiting for me at the top, sitting on her balcony. She had her arms wrapped around her knees, and looked a little bit like she might blow away in the wind.

For a moment, she just stared at me, afraid and unsure.

“Rae,” I said gently.

Rae started to cry. She leaped up and embraced me in a tight, desperate hug. She hadn’t seen anyone but her mother in two years.

 

And so, our worlds, our very distant ‘once upon a times’, collided.

Rae was so afraid, and I didn’t blame her. She didn’t invite me into her room for a long time, but when she did, I could tell how sacred it was to her. It was the only place she felt safe.

A year went by, and Rae’s mother never knew I was there. She was gone most of the time, and when she was home, she was usually recovering from drugs or drinking. I was afraid for Rae, but she begged me not to tell anyone about her, or her mother.

One night, Rae and I were lying side by side on her floor and gazing at the very few stars and helicopter lights out her window. We’d just finished watching a movie together, and it was almost one in the morning. I knew I should leave, but I hesitated. 

Rae suddenly pulled away from me. “This will never work, Rick. It never will.”

I looked into her eyes. I watched them glisten in the semi-dark.

“No. It will. Even if you never leave this place, Rae, I’ll make it work. I’ll be here for you. Everything will be okay, I swear.”

Finally, Rae let herself fall for me. She pulled me to my feet and kissed me. It was the most beautiful, innocent kiss any girl ever gave me.

Suddenly, the door to Rae’s room flew open. Her mother stood in the doorway, breathing heavily. She had a half-empty bottle of beer gripped in one hand, and she advanced on us quickly.

“Get out!” she slurred. “Get out of my daughter’s room you—”

“Mom, no!” Rae cried, as her mother grabbed me with surprising strength, and pushed me out onto the balcony.

“Stop!” Rae sobbed, trying to pull me away from her mother. “Let go of him!”

The last thing I remember was Rae’s mother breaking her beer bottle over my head, and shoving me over the balcony railings.

I fell eleven stories to the ground.

 

I woke up in excruciating pain, barely able to move, and unaware of my surroundings.

Sirens wailed somewhere, echoing in my ears.

“Rick! Rick please, wake up, please speak to me!” a familiar voice sobbed above my head.

As I slowly came to, I found that I was lying on the hard, cold cement surface of a sidewalk. I opened my eyes and saw my Tower Princess looking down at me, her tears dripping from her cheeks onto my forehead.

“I… I’m alive,” I breathed in amazement.

“You better be,” she replied, kissing me in relief. “I came out of my tower for you.” 

 

 

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A Memory – Fuzzy Blue Lights

“If I could look across the country from California to New Jersey
then I would count the parks and lake resorts
and number all the jets and airports.
All those rather dreary rain clouds still bother me,
’cause I look through the camera eyepiece and cannot see.”

 

Whenever I hear the song Fuzzy Blue Lights by Owl City, I am immediately back on an airplane in January of 2012, exhausted, relieved, both happy and sad, about to land at MSP after a nine-hour flight back from Paris. I was listening to music because the sound of the constant, rushing wind was making me anxious. I was too cold. I’m pretty sure I was in the window seat and next to Josh. He was probably asleep. I sat up as I felt the plane really starting to descend and looked out at the sunset and the wing of the plane cutting through the clouds. Fuzzy Blue Lights was playing on my MP3 player and I started it over because, somehow, it captured all the emotions going through my 17-year-old body at that moment.

I had just been in Italy for eleven days with a group from my church. It was the longest that I’d ever been away from home. It was simultaneously the best and hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I spent the first three days of that trip so homesick I thought I was actually physically sick. I didn’t know anyone in the group very well, I was so jet-lagged I couldn’t eat or sleep, I couldn’t find a phone card to call my family, I felt awkward and out of place – and, oh yeah, my purse got stolen on the beach in Nettuno.

That trip grew me so much as a person. I had been terrified to go, but I went anyway. I had so much fun and so many beautiful experiences in spite of the struggles and the growing pains. I got to see too many beautiful churches to count. I got to see the Sistine Chapel. I got to go to Mass down in the catacombs. I got to see Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from only about six feet away. I discovered strawberry gelato and ‘walking pizza’. I learned so much about the history of the Church. I saw so many tombs of saints. I stepped into the ocean for the first time. I got to see the American-Italian cemetery in Nettuno. I wouldn’t trade away the good parts so the bad didn’t happen. I look back on that trip as the beginning of me becoming who I am now; so much braver and deeper of a woman because I was willing to try this big thing that scared me.

Which takes me back to Fuzzy Blue Lights. When I hear that song, I remember the way I felt when the plane was landing in Minneapolis. I remember that hopeful feeling of having done something in spite of fear and anxiety, which, for me, will always, always be a triumph.

If I was flying on a plane above your town
and you were gazing at the sky
somehow I’d feel intact and reassured
if you began to wave goodbye.”

 

Thanks for reading, God bless.

Clare

 

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Shelving Being Daniel & What’s Next?

I promised an update on Being Daniel at the beginning of February, and here it finally is.

Like I planned, I started over and rewrote Being Daniel from the beginning. That process started out very rewarding and exciting and as I went, I thought, “Awesome! This is going to work!” But then something happened.

I got to the part that had really given me trouble in my original draft, the part that I had rushed because I didn’t know what to do with it; the nitty-gritty of why the relationship between the primary characters doesn’t work. I found that I still didn’t know what to do with it. But I kept trying. I had so many ideas and did more research to be certain I was portraying this emotionally abusive relationship as sensitively but authentically as possible.

Unfortunately, I’ve realized that now just isn’t Being Daniel‘s time. I’m not in a place where I am able to mentally or emotionally dig deep where I need to, but even more than that, there are elements in the story that aren’t fully formed in my head and heart. I’ve gotten feedback, tried writing my way through those underdeveloped parts and given it my best effort; the story just isn’t ready.

So now what?

Well, I’ve been asked to write a play for a local homeschool group! I wrote a play two years ago for them and it was such a fun experience watching them bring it to life. I’m going to focus on writing the best play that I can for them and see where I am after that. I’m hopeful Being Daniel will be a published book someday, but I’m at peace with shelving it for the time being.

Thanks for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

More Posts on Being Daniel:

Writing Alcohol

Being Daniel – 95 Days To Go

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

What I Wrote Today 3

Being Daniel Concept Art

 

How Ted Met Penny

Today, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day. A day to reflect on the brevity of life and a day to celebrate romantic love. I thought it would be fitting to share something from a story of mine that captures the spirit of this day.

My short play To Whom It May Concern was performed back in May of 2015 by the Words Players Theatre in Rochester, MN as part of their 10th Annual Thornton Wilder Play Festival. It was an incredible experience writing, casting and directing what became a deeply personal and powerful work of art.

The play opens with newlyweds Penny and Ted getting moved into their first house. While unpacking, Penny discovers a stack of letters from her deceased husband, Howard. The letters are addressed “to whom it may concern”, and Penny realizes they are for Ted.

I’m planning on talking more about this play and the profound impact it had on my life in another post, but for now, I want to share an excerpt from the novelization of it that I’m working on.

Happy Valentine’s Day, hope Lent gets off to a good start for you!

ToWhomItMayConcernPoster2

Photo credit: Joel Kuhlmann

Jordan had absolutely insisted that Ted come to the party. Ted would have much rather stayed home, read a book, and gone to bed at 9:30. But Jordan said he would not be moving again for forty years, at least, and Ted owed it to him to come and warm his house with everyone else. So Ted found himself getting out of a taxi on a picturesque suburban street in front of a shabby but quaint little house. Jordan was getting married in a few months and planned to work on improving the place before the wedding. It began to rain as Ted walked up the steps, and he was greeted noisily by Jordan who was already tipsy. Jordan promptly introduced Ted to twelve people who greeted him politely and proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the evening. They were all dressed as though this were a formal affair and Ted regretted having worn his favorite sweater, keenly aware of the small hole in the left sleeve. He knew one other person, Ralph, the fellow who played the piano the entire night, but Ralph was not much of a talker.
There was a woman there who stood out to Ted because, though she was not the center of attention, people seemed to gravitate towards her anyway. She was a woman in her late twenties who dressed and styled her hair simply but elegantly. She didn’t say much, but she laughed loudly and appreciatively at everyone who spoke to her.
Jordan tried to get everyone to play parlor games for an hour and finally, they urged Ralph to play them a slow one and paired off to dance around the piano.
So Ted, feeling underdressed and out of place, had gotten himself a glass of scotch and handful of oyster crackers and went out to the back porch. He found he was not alone — the woman who laughed loudly was sitting on the steps, watching the rain, swirling her champagne around in its glass.
“Oh, hello,” she said, startled as Ted came out the back door.
“Oh, no, I’m sorry,” Ted said, staring at her and taking a step back. “Am I…”
“No, no, please, come on out,” she replied. “There’s all the wrong kind of noise in there right now, I know,”
“Ah, yes,” Ted laughed nervously and walked till he stood at the top of the steps, glancing nervously down at the top of her auburn head. He noticed she had her shoes off and was resting her feet in the puddle forming at the bottom of the steps.
“So, uh, how do you know Jordan?” he asked.
“I’m good friends with Cynthia,”
“His fiance,”
“Yes,”
A distant clap of thunder could be heard echoing over the trees and houses.
“Go on, sit down,” she invited, patting the space beside her on the step.
Hesitantly, Ted sat down beside her, stealing a look at her out of the corner of his eye. She was so beautiful in a soft, easygoing way but something about the crinkles on the corners of her eyes revealed a deep sadness in her heart, somewhere.
He looked away and cleared his throat. “You know, Jordan is the first of my friends to get married,”
She nodded absentmindedly. “Mm. I was the first of mine,”
“Oh,” Ted was surprised how crestfallen he felt at hearing this. “Is your husband here tonight?”
She glanced at him and smiled so sadly it melted his heart. “No. I haven’t got a husband anymore. He died,”
Ted raised his eyebrows. “I’m sorry,”
“Don’t be. It was years ago,”
Ted didn’t know what to say, but she changed the subject anyway. “They’ll have a nice backyard,” she observed. “Once Jordan cleans it up a bit.”
“That tree would be perfect for a tree house.”
She laughed. “You’re right.”
“And I think Cynthia was talking about putting in a garden.”
She sighed heavily, a contented sigh. “I like rain.”
“Mm. I like it during the day, but not when it’s dark out like this.”
“Mm, yes. I wish it would clear up so we could see the stars,” She looked upward at the curtain of raindrops coming down out of the inky night sky.
“Do you know how to find the constellations?” Ted asked her.
She looked at him. “No! Do you?”
“Most of them,” Ted said, smiling nervously at her.
“I lived in the city for so long, I got used to not bothering to try and see the stars,”
They fell silent for a while, listening to the rain in front of them and the merry sounds of the party behind them. They sat, soaking in the quiet between them, a quiet that was comfortable and full, like a body after a good meal.
Ted looked at the woman, at her feet wet in the puddle, at her not caring that the hem of her dress was also getting wet, and back again to her face. He took in the imperfections and the colors in the dim, warm light of the porch lamp. In that moment, her softness made him brave, and he scooted slightly closer to her.
To his delight and surprise, she reciprocated the scoot.
“Do you live around here?” he asked her.
“No, I live downtown,”
“Really? So do I,” Ted said. “I have a little studio apartment,”
“What do you do?” she asked.
“I’m an editor — or, I’m becoming one,” Ted replied. “I’m up for a job with a small publishing company,”
“Really? That sounds wonderful. Do you edit books, newspapers?”
“Books.”
“So you like to read,” she said with a smile.
He nodded. “I love it,”
“What do you read?”
“Mainly mystery novels,”
She laughed that loud, pretty laugh. “I don’t know much about mystery stories. What are the good ones?”
“The classics are always good — Sherlock Holmes and all that,” Ted replied.
“I should read more,” she said softly.
They were quiet for a while. She drew her feet up out of the puddle and shivered a little.
“Here,” Ted took off his jacket and placed it over his shoulders. He started to take his hand away, but she caught it, holding it on her shoulder. She turned and looked at him, smiling warmly.
He smiled back bashfully, but she scooted closer and so did he.
Now here’s a real woman, Ted remembered thinking. Nothing fake or put on about her. She had a genuine sincerity that matched his, something he hadn’t encountered before. By the end of the night he got her number, and, from then on, he had eyes for no one else.

 

Thank you for reading, God bless!

Clare

 

More posts like this:

What I Wrote Today 1

What I Wrote Today 2

What I Wrote Today 3

Good You Were Here, Chapter 17