Hello? Can You All Still Hear Me…?

It’s been three years since I’ve regularly posted here.

I’ll be honest with you — I’m not sure I remember how to do this.

I just finished writing 99,000 words, locked in the 1700s with characters who speak another language, live in another culture, and who are traveling on horses and mules 1500 miles to the promise land of California. I’ve just lived this amazing adventure, and I’m not sure how to come back here to my blog.

I’m having a hard time returning to the 21st Century.

But do you blame me?

This 21st Century isn’t easy to live in. There’s lead in the drinking water in Michigan. People are getting shot every day. There are hurricanes and Zika-bearing mosquitos in Florida, wild fires and earthquake warnings in California, 24 hour coverage of the nastiest political race that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime…and when I try to look away, to seek some solace in the words of my fellow 21st Century travelers on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogs, I find sarcasm, snark, and insults. Sometimes even threats. It’s hard to stay positive with everything going on in the modern world around us. Harder still for a recovering agoraphobic to want to step out there into the middle of it all.

Some days I ask myself: Why aren’t there more agoraphobics in this 21st Century? After all, there’s nothing you can’t order online and have it delivered to your home. There’s no reason to go to the grocery store, the mall, the movie theater, or anywhere you need to purchase goods or content as long as you have the internet to do your shopping for you. There’s telecommuting for work, online courses for school and college, religious services, and dating. What’s the reason to ever step outside of our homes? To go out in the middle of such heartache and angst? Shouldn’t we all be hiding underneath our covers, cowering with fear and disgust? What pushes us out there every day? What gives us the faith to keep looking for the good in our world?

While writing this, I asked myself those questions. What makes me go out my front door every day, when I could stay warm and protected inside my house, with my imagination keeping me company, and without risking some unknown danger lurking outside?

The answer came easily – I didn’t have to look far.

Brown eyes.

These brown eyes…

stokely-headshot

This is my grandson, Stokely.

He was born in April, at the same hospital where my own son was born. It wasn’t planned that way – it was just one of those sweet quirks of Fate that make you smile and say, “Awwwww.”

If I stay hidden in my world, I will never have the chance to experience Stokely’s world. What I see when I look into those deep brown eyes are what make me forget about all the bad things that go bump in the night. This crazy-at-times 21st Century is his century too. Together, we have to navigate it. He knows no other century, no other world, and this crazy-by-my-terms 21st century is where he will be the most comfortable. Where I hope we can always make him feel comfortable. And above everything else—safe.

I’m working on that.

And that’s what gets me out the front door. Every. single. day.

What gets you out of your front door?

Just Because I Haven’t Written Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Care

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I miss you.

Every one of you.

If you’ve ever left a comment here, or somehow let me know you’ve been reading my blog, whether reaching out to me by email, Facebook,or Twitter: I think of you when I sit here all alone and write.

Or at least try to write.

That’s what I’ve been doing for over a year now – writing a novel.  This is where I’ve been writing it…

Stowe Grove Redwoods

That’s the view from my office – from a picnic table in the middle of a redwood grove.

I’ve never been an outdoors-type writer – I prefer the comfort of a computer screen and indoor plumbing. Hot cups of tea, and an occasional nap in an armchair. But I’m writing outdoors now because the story I’m working on is an outdoor adventure – about the first Californio families who traveled over a thousand miles on mules and horseback to start their lives in a place called Nueva California. Somehow being outdoors makes me feel a little bit closer to these people who I’ve just recently met on the page.

It’s not easy to write a novel.

Not.at.all.

Fiction writing makes writing screenplays seem like finger painting in kindergarten. The average screenplay uses 15,000 to 20,000 words to say what it needs to say. I’ve written 52,000 and I’m maybe halfway done. Adult fiction can run from 75,000 to 100,000 words, so I’m guessing mine will come in long. But I’m a wicked editor and I love to use my red pen, so (unlike dieting) I have no problem slimming down my words.

In the meantime though, while I’m still in the throes of a first draft, I try not to edit or I’ll slow myself down. In fact, on those days when my persnickety internal editor is working overtime, I find it hard to write at all. I sit there in the middle of those beautiful trees and wonder why I’m even doing this. Why am I struggling with this story when it would be so much easier to not be writing at all?

That’s when I think of you.

Some of you have photos to your names or avatars, and those cross my mind. Others are only email addresses, but my imagination pictures you there beyond the .com. When I’m stuck and searching for a way to continue, for a reason why I should keep going and not give up, you come to me in my thoughts, and I think about you some day reading this story. And remembering that makes quitting this novel not an option at all.

The joy of writing comes from sharing. From connecting with another human being. That’s why I wrote screenplays. That’s why every time one of my screenplays became a film, on the big screen or small,  I was sharing, connecting with other people. The words had found their purpose. That’s why I started this blog, and why I miss coming here more often. You keep me writing. You keep me battling with that pesky editor, keep me focused when the squirrels are scrambling in the overhead branches, and the people are walking their dogs past this strange woman scribbling on legal pads and mumbling to herself. You keep me going forward. Knowing that you are here is what keeps me on this path, taking this journey and finishing this story.

That’s why I’m writing this today.

To let you know how much I miss you.

And I can’t wait to share this story with you.

REV Cover_ebook-1

An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

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girl  in  grunge interiorIt’s been a year since starting this blog and I want to thank every one of you who’s dropped by to read these posts, and to linger a little longer to leave a comment.  You’ve made me feel very welcome in this tiny corner of the Internet.

Many of you have been kind enough to leave a word or two and to keep the conversation rolling.  I can always count on Lynne, behindthemaskofabuse, Raani, Wayne, Heather, Jen, valeriedavis, Jeri, June, virginialorca, Cookie, bldodson, lindalochridge, alesiablogs, lpaulick, Dixie, Bette, Susan, quirky books, Adrienne, stutleytales, Shirley, 1dlagarino, Jodi, catnipoflife, Jessica, Expat Alien, Ria, Deanna, and Yasseen to let me know their feelings and ideas, as well as giving this writer a real motivation to keep posting. If you write me a comment, I value that, and I will always write you back.

It used to be that writing was something done in the loneliness of an empty room.  Just the writer, some paper, a pen or a typewriter, making up stories for anonymous readers.  Blogging came along and changed that.  Now, there are names and identities attached to readers, and I find myself eager to hear from people who I’ve come to know over the last 365 (or more) days I’ve been writing here.

So here’s to another 365 (or more) days of Can You All Hear Me In The Back?  I am toasting each and every one of you tonight – from those who comment, to those who are so considerate to “like” my posts or to click that “WordPress This” “Facebook” or “Twitter” button at the bottom of every post.  I wish I could send each and every one of you flowers.

After all, it is our anniversary.

Flowers

When Life Gets In The Way Of Blogging

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My mom fell last Friday and life has been crazy ever since.

She’s going to be fine (Thank God). Two days in the hospital, a C-Scan, one MRI, and numerous blood tests later, she’s back at home and eager to be living independently again. I won’t tell you her age; let’s just say she’s definitely a card carrying member of the Greatest (and toughest)Generation. She’s still sore, cranky as hell, and stiff (damn arthritis!), and so she’s still healing, meaning 24 hour surveillance for awhile. Not that she’s happy about it, but she’s agreeing to it for her kids peace of mind, and we appreciate her motherly sacrifice.

Needless to say, my days aren’t my own at the moment, and this blog will have to sit here quietly while I focus on my mom. I figured I should let all of you know since I’ve already had a couple of emails from people telling me they miss this blog and wondered if everything was fine. Well, things are getting fine. But there’s not much time for writing anything except grocery lists, caregiver schedules, and to-do lists. So please bear with me until life quiets down enough for me to find my way back to the keyboard again.

This week made me realize, by the way, that sometimes you can take for granted that which you love the most. I’m not talking about my mom, although there are times when maybe I might take her a wee bit for granted. She’s one strong lady and I’ve gotten used to that vitality and tenacity of hers, always assuming she’ll bounce back from whatever troubles come her way. She’s proving me right in this latest challenge that’s been thrown in her direction, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. But the one thing I never realized before was how much I’ve taken for granted my writing.

Every day I wake up and writing is always there for me. When I get an idea I reach for a pen or click on my computer and the words flow – sometimes effortlessly and sometimes after a little prodding. But this week there’s been no time to write and no way of predicting when I’d find the time to even think about writing.

That was a first for me.

I’ve always found the time. As a professional screenwriter with a paycheck waiting for my words to fill the paper, it was my job to make the time to write. Even when my two babies came along while I was in the middle of of screenwriting assignments, I’d write the scenes in my head while breast feeding. And after putting the little darlings back into the crib, I’d scribble down those scenes in the middle of the night and write them up the next morning.

Somehow I always found time to write.

But this last week was way beyond hectic, and juggling my own needs (my husband, my kids, my house, my dog) with what my mom needed was more hours and energy than this writer could barely manage. Through all of these busy days and nights I realized just how full my life feels when I’m writing. And how empty and lonely it can be when I’m not.

It might be a little quiet around here for awhile. So please, leave a comment just to let me know you’re still out there. It’ll give me a chance to write you back, and it’ll probably be the only writing I’ll be able to do for awhile.

Merci! Gracias! (and whatever the word is in Polish)

Writing a blog is a little like hosting a cocktail party: You’ve got a house filled with people, there’s food and drink for all, but if you don’t circulate, you’re not a good hostess, and the party isn’t going to last long.

My living room after a party.

In the spirit of keeping a good party going, let me say thanks to all of you for dropping by.  For reading my stories, leaving your wonderful comments, and lending me your support. As a professional screenwriter, my readers have always been executives, producers, directors, and yes, actors. They’ve been more concerned with changing my words than connecting with them. Writing stories here on my blog is much more fulfilling because it takes a true partner – you, the reader – to complete the experience. I may not know all of you personally, but every time you leave me a comment, you become someone special to me.  You’ve stepped out of the anonymity of the internet to say hello.  You’ve become more than just one of the stats on a WordPress page, and I thank you for wanting to connect with a writer who spends far too much time sitting alone in a room, rather than venturing into the world to meet new people.

Judging from the stats page of this website, many of you live all over the world.  I’m amazed by the number of nations represented as “hits” on this website.  Since I started “Can You All Hear Me In The Back?” people from the following countries have visited the site: India, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Canada, Spain, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Greece, Mexico, Netherlands, Thailand, France, Turkey, Eqypt, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Singapore, Cape Verde, Philippines, Romania, El Salvador, Czech Republic, Nigeria, Belgium, Jordan, Israel, Saint Lucia, Austria, Portugal, Pakistan, Tunisia, U.S., and the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

My last post about my struggles as a recovering agoraphobic brought eleven people from Poland to this site.  Why? I have no idea. Maybe they were just lost. But I still hold out hope that if they come back to visit again they’ll say “witajcie” which means (according to the Polish-English dictionary http://en.bab.la/dictionary/polish-english/witajcie) “hello” in Polish.

For those of you who have been reading my posts weekly, let me give you an update on several of the stories.  Last week I wrote about my safety person (my husband) going out of town, and what that meant to me as a recovering agoraphobic. I want you all to know that it was a great week – I managed to do all of my errands (including going to the supermarket) and anxiety was at a minimum. I thank everyone who sent me well wishes, and told me to hang in. I did hang in, and I did take my dog with me when I went to the supermarket. I didn’t actually bring her inside the store, but I saw her through the window as she sat behind the steering wheel, (she likes to do that) watching me as I shopped.  And I must say, it did help me to know she was out there.

The last couple of days of the week, my friend, Cookie (yes, of Cookie & Marty) came to visit me, and we had a wonderful time.  Oh and for those of you wondering after reading A Love Story (sort of), and A Love Story Continues (sort of), Cookie has taken a leap of faith and booked an airline ticket for a week in New York to go sit side by side with Marty in beach chairs and to look out at the ocean (the same ocean) at the same time. She promises to keep me posted as to “how it all goes.”

Finally, for those of you who have nominated me for blogging awards, I thank you with all of my heart.  I want you to know that I’ll be creating a special page for those nominations, and I’ll be posting them over the next week.  Merci! Gracias! Danke!

I hope you’ll continue to drop by here and say hello to me.  It does get awfully lonely being a writer.

But the occasional cocktail party does help.