It took work to get here.  It took losing control, and unraveling, crying, pounding my fists into a pillow until I was exhausted and strengthened by the visceral rage.  Discovering wellness role models, having intense healing conversations with friends.  Downloading the Calm app.  Packing up my yoga mat.  Unrolling it in the park between thunder storms.  Structuring my body in positions of power.  Remembering to breathe.

I’ve done yoga for the last three days straight.  I’ve learned stability, balance, centeredness, groundedness, calm, serenity, peace, healing, and most of all strength.  After session today, I journaled as I have been every day for the last three weeks or so.  I wrote down my goals for the summer to lose weight and get healthy by incorporating a yoga practice 5 days a week.  I found areas that I was needing encouragement in, like comfort, validation, and empowerment.  And wrote down validation for things I have completed despite the odds that empower and fortify me. I felt healed, strengthened, and empowered.  And committed to bringing strength and compassion to others.

However, as I was driving away, I was stopped by a policewoman who was conducting traffic.  She held her hand up and made me stop for five minutes as cars backed up behind me even as no one was coming in the opposite direction.  I felt her drawn to my positive energy in a an antagonistic and jealous way.  And I felt my mood shift from positive to negative instantaneously.

It upset me that I couldn’t conjure the compassion for others I committed to in that moment.  And that I allowed one negative interaction to throw me off.  I went in a negative spiral and started to dismantle positive concepts about my life.

Then I realized, I was doing it all wrong.  I was invalidating the reason I was upset in the first place.  And that was the fact that when we emit positive energy, there are people who give off toxic negativity in return. It’s upsetting because no matter how much pain and struggle I went to to get to that healing place.  And how much hard work I put into finding a positive outlook, someone who is too lazy to put in the hard work themselves, is willing to dismantle it.  It feels unjust to me.

Once I realized I was feeling that way, I could address those feelings, and allow myself to be upset over the situation and even cry about it.  Rather than invalidating and repressing the feeling, or taking it to the extreme, feeling the feeling, allows me to release the negative tension. And drain the toxicity.

Empowerment is a journey and there will be setbacks, but accepting the  challenges of that journey will allow us to devote more energy to the opportunities and resources we do have to foster positivity.   So feel the feeling.  And accept moments of disempowerment, knowing that they are little compared to the magnificent splendor of your growth.

104291577_10157075041786401_7650867996984894533_oQuarantine has been tense.  It has pushed me and society at large to its tipping point economically, socially, but also psychologically.   Less socialization and more avoidance behavior to isolate and protect against risk, has led to people being icier and more on edge than usual.  It’s easy to take this personally.

A week back, I took this icy behavior to its extreme personally.  I was having a particularly off day.  Instead of taking responsibility for my terrible mood, I blamed the culture of my city for my shitty feelings.  I went down a rabbit hole of impulsivity deciding that if I moved to a nicer city- one with sunlight and fancy beaches- everything would get miraculously better.

Then, I started reading about conflict resolution.  One of it’s main tenants is a compassionate approach to our perception of and the way we engage with others.

I learned that by approaching conflict with compassion, even the gnarliest of antagonisms can be approached and soothed.  I also read a blog by Deepak Chopra about how gratitude and a positive attitude can lead to a karmic cleanse

  1. Be grateful: for every experience, both the good and the bad.
  2. Act with love: towards everyone no matter what they’ve done.
  3. Check your motives: and make sure they come from a place of love for self and others.
  4. Watch your attitude: because negative thoughts create angry energy directed at you.
  5. Forgive: It can be the hardest thing to do, but the most important in creating great karma.

— Dina Strada https://chopra.com/articles/5-steps-to-give-yourself-a-karmic-cleanse

As part of my self-care approach, I decided to go on a coastal trip.  Yet people were still on edge in this beach town.  So I decided to give good karma and conflict resolution a try.

I grew agitated when someone almost ran their car into me as I crossed the street and then had the nerve to yell at *me*.  Instead of getting upset or holding onto the negativity thought, I thought to myself, “She must be having a bad day to be behaving in this way.”  And this thought allowed me to let it go and move on with my life.

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Someone with negative energy passed me on the street aggressively, but instead of getting upset, I thought, “They must have a hard life.”  Even though it wasn’t the most natural thought at first, I decided to try the “fake it until you make it” practice.  Sure enough, the thought sunk in.  I was able to complete my walk along the promenade and look out onto the beach serenely.  It was lovely.

I started making room for myself and noticing that there were other girls on the beach who were reading alone too–like me they didn’t need to bring a boyfriend or anyone to enjoy their time sunning themselves.  And that’s when I realized thinking kindly of others was allowing me to feel a sense of belonging in society and think kindly of myself and my reflection on my place in it.

I took my dog to the beach, and find my heart open up and grow strong and I started to greet beach goers in a friendly and open way without my previous reservations.

And that’s the self-care power of compassion.

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I think one of the greatest joys of being an up and coming author is to encounter freshly minted authors a hop skip and a jump ahead of you.

I finished reading my friend’s manuscript today.  An older version.  That he spent 10 tumultuous world savoring years toiling over and unfurling.

It was so exciting to read one of the most refreshing voices of our time in draft form.

The story was a rollicking seat gripper that deployed a gentle dark humor to coax (egg?) the reader onto the next chapter despite the psychological intensity and heavy thematic subject matter. It tackled lost innocence and how violence is a sometimes unanticipated byproduct of the human experience and the narrowing of our worlds.

How profound!  Reading something like this by a contemporary inspires me to hone my vision and my craft.  To do the work of wrapping my head around a critical problem that I content with both personally and politically and approach it from many angles, attack it from the duality of both science and empathy and do the topic justice by exploring it facet by facet until I have produced a work that distills a profound truth from a kaleidescope blur to a clear headed blueprint vision. boudewijn-huysmans-1xEoe5HkQjY-unsplash

 

My process for writing a query letter got off to a rocky start.  I had undergone treatment for a medical condition.  I had been rejected from a handful of jobs and my first ever publication candidacy.  I wrote a blurb about my personal dramas on a canvas and an inflated bio and hit submit and hoped that would suffice.  That the writing would speak for itself.

After 10+ years of being on the forefront and deeply immersed in the marketing industry I KNEW that wouldn’t be enough.  Yet, I’m a writer.  And as a writer, no amount of marketing influence could reroute my desire to let my writing speak for itself.  It was hardwired into my DNA.  And I know its hardwired into yours too.

Writing is expression, and its creativity, its an outlet, a playground, an imaginative discovery, its organization, its the way we process and reflect on our deepest desires, and distill our most compelling insights and urges.  Its volatile and its elegant, its embryonic, deadly, holy, and profane.  How can something that is all those things NOT speak for itself we think?

Yet– like everything else in life.  Art is about context.  Publication is about context.  Marketing is about context.  The context of your audience, the context of the publisher, the context of the chorus of voices you want to situate your art in.

So I began to sit with these things.  And when I sat with my comedian pal it all came together.  All the nuances and colors and frequencies.  You have to research your reader and find common ground.  That is what your opener is about.  You have to have the verbose ingredients to stud your writing with to prove your worth your tuppins as a wordsmith. You have to research the publication and how their social media describes the bios and work of the authors they have published.  But most importantly, you have to clearly state and locate yourself among your influences.  So that you can be placed on a locus of collective consciousness.

So thats what I set out to do.  Here is my outline for a template:

I. Influences from x publication span from z to a

a. author I quote

b. author II quote

c. my quote that reflects author I and author II

II.  My x unique value proposition does y and z

a.  In the manner of x genre and y unique influence it

i. starts off with b conflict

ii.  that conjures c personal / political drama

iii.  and portrays d community/ individualistic spirit

III.  What makes my writing unique is x yet it fits because of y and is timely and urgent because of z.

IV.  Personal / warm note at the end or compelling call to action

 

Hope that helps all of you emerging poets and novelists!

 

xoxo

 

Sara Joy

 

© Sara Grimes

And I want to tell you a story.  I hold so near to my heart.

It was an overcast day. Shadows danced across a country road. The path before us was strewn with bits of hay. A storm brewed on the horizon.  I was whispering lullabies to the infant in my arms.  When suddenly a gust of wind threatened to teeter me off balance.  That was the day you were born, Maddie.

Far away on the coast, a tower stood guard over the cliffs.  It was dripping in molten coal.  Inside, two witches stirred a charcoal cauldron of spices.  Cardamom, cinnamon, and sage.  The color of your skin, eyes, and hair.

Now it is said that there are always elements of truth in a lie.  Their brew was a lie, Maddie.  But you? You in your patchwork shawl, wrapped around your tiny figure.  You in your wrinkled eyes.  You in your sheep cries.  You were nothing short of a miracle.

A stray cat wandered into our path, its crimson tale swishing in the air.  Like a fox dusting off feathers.

It was our companion step by weary step across that dusty road.  Until we reached the fork in the road.  Then it loped off to the right, toward the witches mansion.

The sea was miles away. I knew as much.  It was in that moment that I looked up, starward. Toward the dusty sky.  And saw past the cobweb sky with it’s witches brew. Sharpened my third eye.  And saw a star.

I held you close to my chest and wished upon the star.  Wished upon our pagan ancestors that the sky would clear and a fortnight from now that star would become visible.  IN the enchanted twilight that only sea air can reveal.

Had I only known then, with what trepidation, we would embark upon our journey. I might have thought twice.

A deep fog inserted itself into the scene.  Almost mistakable was a little pipe of smoke, hovering above the chimney.  Inhale, exhale.  The door knob twisted ahead of us.  And a balding man stuck his head out, squinted.  And then looked at us quizzically.  I later found out he initially mistook us for a two headed ogre. Yet he didn’t flinch.

Instead, he held his golden binoculars to his eyes.  Then he scratched the fluff on his head.  Inhaled sharply.  By that time we were nearing his stoop.

He walked wobbly steps towards us.  It was a wonder the wind didn’t knock him clean over.

To save him the trouble, I walked up to him, stuck out my hand.

He studied it quizzically. Then he grabbed it warmly with both hands.

“Child, your hands are cold. Come warm yourself by my fire.  I am Trust.”

“Thank you,” my words came out in unexpectedly hushed decibals.  “Trust, I am Savoire.”

Inside, I peeled off my shoes, more like bandages really.  He placed his binoculars on the stainglass ledge by the fire.

“What is it’s significance?” I asked

“You are Savoire.”  He replied.  “Curious indeed!”

Here, have a cheese. I looked up at him, kindly.  Then I carefully chewed on the bit of cheese. It filled me with warmth. I was satisfied even though the portion was small.

He spoke first.

Now tell me where you are coming from.

“Wouldn’t you rather know where I am going?” I asked.

He smiled, knowingly.

“Once you tell me where you are coming from, I will know where you are going.”

Nonplussed, I poured out my story.  Carefully, at first, then generously.  Then uncontrollably.

At the end, I was sobbing.

He was calm and staid.

It reassured me.

“I grew up in the Maje.  I was a wild youth.  Not one to study, I spent my day, terrorizing the community.  Daytime, all the other students in the Maje would do their morning rituals and meditations.  Then they would spend their days on the inside of the wicker fence, minding their spells and reading their tarots.”

He smiled knowingly.

“I would jump over the fence, and find a gang of neighboring cast outs to fall devious with.  We cast spells with our wands to break the glass at the tops of churches.  Then we would cast rocks on the stone floor of the church to devise our fates.  We aspired to spiring heights.  But we were wrong.  We were amateur stone casters.  But that didn’t stop us from shooting magnificent stars into the air. Dreams they are called.”

Would you believe Maddie, I was lulled into a trance by my own story?

“In the meantime, I would find time to wander into the village to watch the Magicless.  There was one weaver who would spend all day inside weaving in apprenticeship school.  At night, she would sew quilts.  One day, she wrapped a youth in it.  A couple days later, the youth grew to be a dapper boy.  Then the boy a handsome man.  I could feel my cheeks turn crimson as I watched him shoot archery, high over the tops of the trees.  One day he shot his arrow clear into the branch of the tree I was sitting on. Before I could conjure any trickery, I was falling, swiftly.  He caught me in his arms, my hips sinking into his palms, my blue skirt draped across his arms, my  golden bodice clutched tight to his chest.

I looked up into his eyes and what I saw took my breathe away.  His oil black pupils were deep pools spilling into his almond brown eyes. I inhaled deeply and forgot to speak I was so captivated by the beauty of the moment and the richness of his soul. Then my gaze fell to his soft pink lips. They parted.  Then their edges tilted up.

“A silent witch.”  He said.  “What a catch.”

I leaped out of his arms and dusted my muddied skirt off.

“I…I’ll have you know..we witches…you mortals…”

“Tongue of an egret, skin of a fox, tusk of an elephant.  Isn’t that what you put in your potions?”

“I’m…I’m not a witch.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“I’ll have you know, I’m a mortal.”

“Mortals never call ourselves so.  And…” he held my wrist up to the sunlight.  It radiated to the glow of the sun.  “Then why is your wrist so?”

I flicked the star off my wrist.

“Just dust, nothing more.” I said.

“I see.” He said.

“Well if you are so mortal,” he said. “What is your occupation?”

“I am a….weaver.” I said the first thing that sprang to mind.

Suddenly his face went flat. Then contemplative.

“My mom’s a weaver.  She can help you find an apprenticeship. Come with me.”

“I can’t….” I begged. But then, he looked at me with those magnetic eyes. Coupled with the healthy dose of curiosity, my raisson d essence in those days, got the better of me.  And I followed him across the dale.  To the village below…..

Do you want read more?   Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

Matthew Hussey said that potential is like a sumptuous plot of land, lush and colorful and verdant.  But its not enough.  And you have to have two builders for your castle.  Because that is the real magic.  The secret chambers and passageways and history hung and labored together on its walls and majestic interior are what really counts.  And I want to find the other builder for my castle.  But all I can seem to find are promising plots of land where the builder has run off and created sheds on many random plots of land without any conceptualization or talent for building a formidable and lofty building such as a fortress or castle that will protect and inspire us.

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We workshopped his play at a cafe.  And it was quite a lot to take on.  The plot was in your face irreverent.  And his imagination was fire.  And my structure was exuberant.  And our vocabularies were rich and pluralistic. Whenever I was a short of phrase, “What is something that means “viscerally transformational” he knew I meant “Cathartic.”  And together we polished and branded and refurbished the perfect, heart hitting query letter.  That stripped me of any doubt he would land as a screenplay writer.  Even though it seemed impossible.

 

And all that potential vanishes as soon as the holidays show up.  Because you know, I have needs too.  Circumstances have forced me to celebrate Christmas alone stone cold and dead inside too many times.  And I want to do something romantic.  ANd he cant be moved.  Except in lust for meeting new bodies at a party.  So I drive us there and he abandons me for the first wine addled floozy to share a superficial connection.

 

And so I am left with Matthew Husseys indomitable words.  That what you need is not a plot of land with all the potential in the world. You need a blueprint, and two worthy builders, and a castle that will house and inspire, and protect you with its magic.  And I kick the dirt in my empty property because all I care about is the wild pastoral lands and not cold walls of a fortress.  But here I am, staring out across the lake contemplating longing and shock and the desire for a village of craftsman chipping away at the ice with their pick axes.

Her infant is being held over a cauldron.

“Witch-hazel for the eyes, straw for the hair, and obsidian for the heartache,” the witches chant, filling the cauldron with a toxic potion that emanates up into the child’s nostrils.  

Day 3 of Novel Writing.  I have a 2000 word synopsis of my novel.  The plot, which is the hardest part, is loosely framed.  Now, it’s time to flesh out the details.

The hardest part is not falling prey to typical movie and literary tropes for a fantasy novel of this nature.  I think I am going to spend some time teasing out original scenarios when the time comes to revise.  For now, it is a matter of getting everything down on paper.

 

Today, I had a rough day. I had to confront some demons from my personal life. It took it’s toll on my energy, creating a harsh frequency that I vibrated to all day. But I didn’t give up, instead I let that empower me to find high caliber clients and write 500 more words of my novel. Day 2 of novel writing was successful! I channeled my angry energy into a scene of conflict and power, that had a feistiness it wouldn’t have had had things gone smoothly for me. I also met a published writer from my student newspaper days!

As a creative writer, it is tempting to write “whenever inspiration strikes.” As my friend reminded me today, there was an experiment done in which a group of students were divided up into two focus group. One was told to focus on quality the other on quantity. The one focused on quantity succeeded. In my freelancing career, I started off as a slow writer focused on perfect verbiage. It would take me 8 hours to write a 3 page article. I kept practicing writing and studied best practices on being more efficient and today I can write that 3 page article better and more articulately in 3 hours. Now, I want to apply the same concept to my creative writing. Follow me for the next 9 weeks as I seek to spend 5 hours a week writing 2400 words of my novel a week. As I go along, I will research and share best practices so stay tuned! #copywriting #success #novel #writinglife #personalgrowth #inspiration

A chapbook of poems is like reading love letters to yourself. That quiet place we call wise. Writing is healing and writing is power and writing is expression and writing is voice. Sometimes, I find myself straddling these dual worlds of writing for marketing and writing creatively. They both have their place. The former allows us to organize the mission and identity of a company. The latter is so much more vulnerable. It allows us to open ourselves to share all the pain and anguish that we humans experience by default. And then doing the work of transforming that into connection instead of the concrete walls of wounded pride. That is what my chapbook is about. You can support my endeavor to empower self and community by investing in my book or requesting a free copy from me via DM and investing the time to review. Thank you all for your support over the years. ❤ Sara Joy.

“Catch Your Dreams”