I learn profound things from my son. And I want to share with you something he spoke to me of, just the other night...
"Hey, have you ever heard of the saying when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?"
"Yes, I have." I was scurrying about, I am always scurrying about doing things I can't recall later on. I guess I am sort of intoxicated most of the time, seeing as I can't remember what it was exactly I was scurrying around for!
"You know," he said, "some people don't drink their lemonade, because they're scared of what might be in it!"
I stood still and looked into the air, feeling as though I had been able to penetrate a brick wall and there was something on the other side! Another side that I haven't ever seen before!
"Why?" I asked. I felt as though I had stumbled upon a holy grail of some sort.
"They don't drink their lemonade because they're afraid of what might be in it, they're afraid that bad stuff might be in it."
"Wow! You know, that's true!"
"You see, life gives them lemons, and they make lemonade out of those lemons, but then they look into their glass of lemonade and are too afraid to drink it!" He said.
"They're afraid of something bad being in it!" I echoed him, and I felt as though I was standing under a light drizzle in the land of eureka!
"Yeah! And that's a terrible way to live life! Always going around looking for bad in things that are good! Going around looking for something that isn't good enough instead of seeing the thing that is good, the thing that makes you happy!"
My ten-year-old son is right. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Then when you have the lemonade, go ahead and drink it!
And you know, when other people have their lemonade, don't try to find something wrong with it, either! Let them drink their lemonade, every last drop of it! Do not hinder the courage of others! Do not console yourself with your perceived misfortunes of them. If their lemonade looks pretty good, it probably is!
If you ask the religious person "What do you believe in?" he will tell you about one thing. But if you ask him "What do you not believe in?" he will tell you about many, many things! And if you ask an atheist "What do you believe in?" he will say "Nothing." The only difference between an atheist and a religious person, is one thing. If one thing isn't there, there would be no difference at all! When I say I am losing my religion, I am not saying that I'm losing my belief; but I am saying that I'm losing my disbeliefs.
We are all tricked. We think that religion tells us what to believe; but it doesn't, it is telling us what not to believe. Atheism is not the absence of religion; atheism is the most undiluted form of religion: it tells us not to believe in anything at all! Atheists hate the religious and the religious hate atheists, but this is only a deception! We are all deceived! There is only one boat and we are all in it! All at the same time!
And I told him, I said: "One day you're going to miss the subway because it's not going to come. One of these days, it's going to break down and it's not going to come around and everyone else will just wait for the next one or will take the bus, or walk, or run to the next station: they will go on with their lives. And you're not going to be able to go on with your life! You'll be standing there, in the subway station, staring at the tube. Why? Because you think that everything has to happen perfectly and on time and when you think it's going to happen! Well guess what! That's not how things happen! And you'll be the only one who's not going to be able to go on with life, just because your subway broke down. So you know what, you've got to let go, you've got to know that things don't happen the way you think they're going to happen, but that's okay, because there's always the bus, there's always the next station...you can always take a cab."
There is such a great divide that's being had between authors, these days. Being a part of the literary industry, I see this first-hand and I'm able to make my observations. It is something like the war between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, of course it's not the same but I get the feeling it is most certainly something like it! Even you yourself can get a taste of this simply by joining Goodreads and spying in on the myriad of "author forums" alive there! You will be surprised at how hostile and competitive and downright cruel authors can be!
All this antagonism is brewing and bubbling between two types of published authors: those who are traditionally published and those who are published avant-garde ( self-published ). Authors published by other people are called "traditional" and authors who publish themselves are called "self published" but these terms are obviously not of the same ratio: traditional should be to avant-garde. And so, I call the two types of authors the traditional and the avant-garde.
The animosity that traditional authors bear for avant-garde authors is palpable throughout the literary world. It is an animosity that moves like ripples in a lake. Like resentfully immature high school students, they have "names" for avant-garde authors, such as "vain", "low quality", "trying hard" and etc. Now, I have spoken about many things and today I want to speak about this, and I want you to listen closely to what I have to say.
So, what does it really mean to be traditionally published? I will give you the answer to that question: being traditionally published means that someone else publishes you; not yourself. And what does it mean to be published avant-garde (self-published)? Well I can answer that question too: being self-published means that you have published yourself; someone else is not responsible for publishing you.
When I was a little girl in red shorts, I didn't know about any of this. All I knew was that there were books and therefore someone made those books. I knew that there were writers, authors and that writers made books so I could read them; that's all I wanted to do, make my own books so people could read them! I wanted to say my own things so people could hear them, believe them, and remember them to live with them. Up until the time I was finished making my first manuscript (my first book The Sun Is Snowing), I still thought everything was just as simple as that. As far as I was concerned, I had finally at long last made my own book! A very shiny dream come true! But then I discovered how some people felt about authors like me, I discovered that not all books are made the way that I made my book, I discovered that there are a lot of people who dedicate so much time to making books like mine look like bad books, I uncovered many things for the first time after becoming a part of the literary world! To them, my shiny dream wasn't big enough because a "properly big dream" would be to become a traditional author. There are those who wish to set the standards of our dreams, for us. But why?
As with the rest of the world, the literary world is not exempt from it's axis revolving around money. We are accustomed to, and almost automatically inclined to think "Oh if it's published by Scholastic, it's the best book," and so on and so forth. But who made us think that way? Scholastic did. Through years and years of advertising. Who makes all that money when you buy a book published by Scholastic? Scholastic does. (I am just citing Scholastic as an example, as it is the first publishing house which comes to my mind, it being the publisher of some of the very first books I read as a child.) The fact is that, the author of the book makes "change money" it's the publishers who make all the real money. A traditionally-published author is an author who is "commercial enough" for the liking of big publishing houses, that's just a fact. Everyone has to make money, everyone has to put food on the table: the author's agent who sells the titles to the publishing houses, and the people working at the publishing houses. Then the author eats scrap food. That is of course, unless her/his books sells a million copies, then it's not scraps we're talking about anymore. So why do some authors get traditionally published and some not? Well, there are good authors and there are bad authors; some people can write and some people can't write, but the real distinguisher between the traditionally published and the self-published is commercial potential. Whatever is selling right now. Whatever people want to pay money for, at the moment. Whatever will make the publishing house money. That's what they are going to publish. That's who they are going to publish.
Traditional authors insist that avant-garde authors are authors of a lower-class. I beg to differ. Is Paris Hilton self-published or is she traditionally-published? Take a guess. Of course she's traditionally-published. Her first book Confessions of an Heiress was published by Touchstone and her other book, Your Heiress Diary was published by Fireside. And what about Nicole Richie's book The Truth About Diamonds? Or Kim Kardashian's book Kardashian Konfidential? These people are all traditionally-published. In your good judgment, do you consider these "authors" to be "higher-class" authors? Do you even consider them to be writers? Should it even be legal that they call themselves authors? So why were they traditionally published? They're not just normally traditionally published, by the way, they are actually offered to be published by publishing houses who will scramble to get first rights to their names . Why? Because the publishers know that their titles are going to fly off the shelves. Is it because they're good writers? No, it's because they already have a cult following of fans who watch them on TV!
Readers think that they are getting better-quality literature if they buy books from well-known, big publishing houses, and why do people think that? Because advertising has conditioned them to think that. If I had tens of thousands –even millions– of dollars to condition your brain to think that my books are the best in the world, I would probably take advantage of that, too! But I don't have all that money to advertise to you! But the fact is, those publishing houses DO.
So why do authors strive to become traditionally published? A variety of reasons. The first being there is no capital needed. A traditionally-published author hasn't spent any money of her own/ of his own to become published. It's the traditional publishers who do that for them. Another reason is they believe that to be traditionally-published means to be joining a "higher class" and so we are able to witness the classic "social climbing" taking place. It's remarkable, really, how social climbing happens everywhere! In high school, in suburbia, and in the literary world! It's so much more easier to sell a million copies when you're traditionally-published because your publishers are the ones promoting you, marketing you, building your image, advertising you as "the next big thing" and they have all the money to do that. Avant-garde authors don't. We only have as much money for advertising and promoting and publishing as we can spare from our personal budgets for home, family, future, lifestyle, and etc. Publishing yourself with the capital needed is already a stretch in the budget, marketing and advertising yourself is the stretch at painful proportions! So now we come to the question "Then why do some authors self-publish if there is so much to lose and so little to gain in the long run?" Well, there are a variety of answers to that. There are those who self-publish because they really can't write and they are never accepted by literary agents, there are those who self-publish because they are phenomenal writers and it is a fact that there is a great deal of antagonism in the industry towards new writers of phenomenal capabilities ["...the early struggles of famous authors, the notorious antagonism of publishers and editors to any new writer of exceptional promise" (Edith Wharton)], there are those who publish themselves simply because they don't have those extra six months to spare sitting around waiting for an acceptance letter/ a rejection letter from a publishing house/from an agent, there are some who prefer to be in control of every aspect of their manuscript and final product book, and there are some who have a great pride and love for what they do, preferring to work in the knowledge that as the author and publisher of their own books, they will receive much more than just 5% of their book sales once those sales are made. And then of course I suppose there are the very few who, like me, just thought that if you are a writer you make your own books and that's that.
There are always people trying to make money off of authors, whether or not it is within the traditionally-published arena or the self-published rink. Even I, as an avant-garde author who publishes her own self, continually face this struggle! I receive daily emails from Writer's Digest, and many other sources, always trying to sell me stuff promising to make me a "better writer" or promising me "all the visibility and promotions" that I need to "sell a million copies" I am constantly bombarded with the notion that I am not good enough in myself and that there is a better thing to strive for. Constantly stoned with the certain thoughts that mean my dream isn't big enough "Dream Bigger" they say, of course, because they want to make money off of me as I dream! The longer you are dreaming, the longer you are asleep, the easier it is for people to rob you! And to be blatantly honest with you, I am sick of my friends telling me "One day you will sell a million copies and be famous" because, that wasn't my dream to begin with. I'm already happy, I have already accomplished my dreams as far as being a writer is concerned, and I probably will not sell a million copies, ever, because there is a lot more to that going on behind the scenes than my friends are aware of. You don't just write a good book and if people like it, it will sell a million copies and you're famous. As I have explained above, there's a whole lot more to that than meets the eye! Even the idea that you the reader have, of what is "current" and "hip" and "happening" to read right now, is a direct influence by traditional publishing companies. They tell their writers what to write, they MAKE the next big reading experience. And you thought it was just you? And you thought your interests are simply evolving? I laugh. AHHAHAHA. (and now I am laughing at myself for laughing) but your big evolution from classic literature to werewolves and vampires and fallen angels isn't from within yourself at all, but it is the effect of what the publishing houses want you to be reading right now. What you think is real– isn't.
I will leave you with a funny thought which is amusingly comparable to everything I've been writing of above. I used to be a loyal La Mer lip balm user. It's the only lip balm I would ever use, up until just a week ago. Crème de La Mer: The Lip Balm, is very very very expensive. I recently ran out of it and couldn't use anything in that moment aside for Alba Botanica's Coconut Cream lip balm. The verdict? I'm not going back to La Mer. Why? Because my lips are more beautiful now that I'm using this very very very cheap lip balm which is of impressive quality, 82% certified organic, made from excellent ingredients all derived from nature. How is this even remotely comparable to literature? Well, I thought that La Mer was better because it was La Mer. I didn't even give anything else a chance. But now I'm thankful and glad that I broke free from that illusion, because now I have all the lip care I need in a cheap stick of organic coconut cream and other good things! xx
Funny how it's the people living under rocks who actually believe that their rock is the whole world and they are the shell and the rock is their oyster; they can be very expressive and speak confidently of their convictions as if everyone and everything they don't understand is deserving of their judgement and ridicule. I stand nearby and I am laughing, marveling at these people who celebrate their "oyster" not knowing that it is not an oyster at all but merely a rock, and a rock that they live under as a matter of fact!
No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!
I found this piece of writing here, while looking for a copy of the "Europa Regina" map. This writing grabbed my attention, as I've always been very interested in poetry and prose from the 14'th, 15'th, 16'th, 17'th, 18'th centuries. So I just wanted to share this with all of you since it echoes the soul in some of my recent writings:
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. (John Donne, Meditation XVII, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, 1623)
For a few of us, love and madness are the first things on our minds. Love is like a veil that lightly cascades over everything, and madness is a state of mind. We are the differents, and for the differents, no ordinary methods will do; no standard procedures are acceptable! Only a wild, otherworldly escapade of the soul will serve sufficient and anything less is simply unacceptable!
And so how do we thrive in a world filled with those who don't even have a peripheral vision? They are all mundane and predictable, not overcome by any great thing! And look at us! We walk with Destiny, we think like madness, and we see through the eyes of a smoldering love! We watch people play in puddles while we rule the deepest oceans and seas.
We are an existence all our own; undiscovered and independent of the rest of the earth. We thrive only with the ones who are also like us. And it is a journey to find another different, another one like us.
There be many people who seek out love, who want to have love, who think that they are meant for love, but they live on the margins of the page; he who is not born a lover, will never really be a lover. You may find a romance, but if you are not born a lover, you will never know that great love they speak of. Lovers are born and reborn to one another, if you are not one of these, you will never have this. Yet you will have something else, something like a drunken stupor, something like a sweetened illusion. And if you really knew what it means to be born a lover, you would shut your mouth and drink of your own cup, contented, having quit wishing to be one.
We all think that we wish to have what is secret and what is truth in magic but the reality is, secrets are revealed to those who are able to speak with dragons, and truth in magic is given to those whose blood washes away poisons.
I wrote this poem some 2 months ago, then I passed it to a poetry magazine for consideration to be included in their magazine circulation. I didn't get to share it here with you, because literary magazines, agencies, and the like, will only accept writings that have never been previously shared even in the most personal of ways (yes I don't agree with that either, but, that's their rules because they want to have control and ownership, exclusivity.) So, I submitted this piece to them instead, even if I wanted to share it immediately at the time I wrote it. Well, the magazine rejected this poem so now I finally get to share it with all of you. I'm really not sure if submitting pieces to literary authorities is worth it, because all that time while this writing of mine was sitting on their desk, could have been time given to many people around the world reading it and enjoying it. Please feel free to frolic and swim in my words...
Must I be concerned with you and those of your likeness?
That I am to care about your downfall?
Did you not already know that I would drown you and then eat you alive?
So why did you still cross my waters?
You did! You did know that it is my kind who drown those like you
Who dare cross my seas
Evidently, you have still sailed
Is this to be of any concern of mine?
I fear not. I do not take responsibility and apologize
For the fate of you and your crew
When you knew plainly well where you were going
And what you were doing
When you crossed my waters
Destiny has dealt with you
I only dwell with Destiny; Venus has formed me
Have I sinned? I doubt so.
Is it a sin to exist inside Destiny and with God?
Of course not
But only a fool sails a sea he knows will take him
Is it a fault of mine that I am placed within these waters?
But it is your lack of understanding that brought you here
I think I am more of a poet than a novelist. Yes, I have two hundred stories in my soul and in my head that wait to be written down onto paper, but I'm just too excited about living my own life and being the ink on my own paper, that I don't want to give too much time to sitting away somewhere, writing out the lives of other characters. I want to live. I want to be my number one main character, I want every day to be a fresh page that I can dance around on, I want the pages of my life to be the tabletops that I dance on! But poetry...poetry is like dance! Every poem is like a memory or a belief, a dream or an unexpected snowflake! Poems are breaths that you exhale as you live your own life; the visions that you see while you step into all the realities of you! You can't exhale unless you inhale; you can't be a meaningful poet unless you are living and bleeding and loving and laughing and seeing and being surprised! And so, I am a poet. But I wonder if I am more of a philosopher than a poet, or if I am equal in both things!?Philosophers in history were often poets; poetry is an exhale of life while philosophy is the love of wisdom (from the Greek φιλοσοφία, which literally means "love of wisdom"). Or maybe I am simply visionary. People say that vision is unreal. Then if vision is unreal, what are you? A useless sponge floating in the ocean, that's a person with no vision! A predictable golem.
Yes, I have a novella, a novella which sounds to me like a long song, which feels to me as if I am part of a long dance! A novella which is like a very long ray of light, like a long poem!
Do I think that I will find myself to be a failure if I don't write down all of the stories I know, onto paper one day? If I don't make all of my stories into many, many books? No. I won't think myself a failure. I will only think of myself as one who knows very many stories, and knows them all by heart.
I find no importance in showing others that I am happy; it's not important to me that they know or think that I am happy but what is important to me is that I am happy. I am interested in being happy, not in making others think or know that I am.
I just wrote this today. It being Halloween and seeing every horror film known to man flash on the t.v. screen as I scan my television channels, I found the chance to sit down with my son Gilead, in front of a horror film, and explain fear to him, explaining the mechanisms of fear while watching it. I put the t.v. on mute and I showed him that we're not actually afraid of what we're seeing on the screen, but we're afraid of what we're hearing, because of the emotions evoked by the frightening sound track. My talk with him flowed and as we finished our discussion, the t.v. was off and we weren't even the least bit interested in turning it back on again; we were more interested in having discussed the nature of fear. This is something that I want to share with all of you. I didn't plan to write any such thing, but it happened, and so I hope that you will benefit from the writing below.
I used to battle fear as if it was a troll on my back. I would have actual panic attacks and couldn't even stand up! During that time, I got to know fear very well (how it smells, how it moves, how it rears it's ugly head). I want to share my knowledge of fear with you, during this time that all the world is celebrating it.
The nature of fear is that it feeds off of the knowledge that you are afraid of it. Fear to you, cannot grow unless it starts from the smallest thing and then feeds off of the knowledge that you are afraid of that small thing it has presented to you and then it feeds off of that, growing into something a little bigger, then into something bigger than that, and so on and so forth. Think of it as a succession of steps. You have to take the first step in order to get to the second, the second in order to get to the third, and its a lot of steps before you get to the top and become so consumed by fear that it's actually capable of paralyzing you.
The key is peace. An immoveable inner peace. Peace is a deep, permanent lake inside of your soul that is always still and calm no matter what may be going on around it. The eye of the storm. That immoveable, deep lake is always there no matter what, but if you don't know that it's there and if you don't believe in it, your battles with fear will always be futile, because one cannot combat fear with one's head. Fear is to be combated with the soul because it is a thing of the soul, it is not a thing of the material world. The truth is that, fear flees in the presence of peace that passes all understanding, peace is so much more powerful than fear, but you move away from that eternally serene lake the moment that you take that first step in the direction of fear. It begins with the smallest things, comparable to a tasty bait at the end of a fishing hook!
The answer to knowledge of the spiritual is not to seek out to understand evil, but it is to remain in peace. Remain is a strong word, it means that you are going to stay there with a choice to stay there; that means staying there no matter what. And the easiest way to lose your peace is by believing that you're not good enough to have it, because of all your humanly sins. Good for me, because I believe that I'm no longer accountable for any of my sins past present and future, because Someone made that ultimate sacrifice for me already, taking my place. No matter how human I am, I am worthy. I don't work to have peace, it's given to me, but I must choose to remain in it.
You must always remain in the peace that passes all understanding, remain in the eye of the storm, remember the deep, immoveable lake inside of your soul and when you do find this peace and dwell in it, I'm telling you right now, that you will have with you the greatest weapon of all!
Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending.
My greatest fear in life, is that I might forget to live in my pursuit and desire to write. I read about other authors who say that writing IS living and without writing, there is no life. But writing isn't living, writing is only a by-product of living, that is what I think. Henry David Thoreau once said: "How vain it is to sit down and write, when you have not stood up to live." and that quote resonates with me as an author; I think that through many various pieces, I have expressed my lust for life and my fear of losing life to the act of writing. I see too many authors spending 15 hours a day (or more) dedicated to writing, promoting themselves, marketing their work, building their name and it scares me because I don't want to become like that. They say that is the path that needs to be taken in order to become a successful author, but I doubt that nature of success. Is it really success when you forget your original dream in the race of fulfilling other people's expectations? Is it really success if it doesn't make you happy?
You will understand more of how I feel, while reading this short piece below, the first of others I have recently written that are similar to it in expressing the same sentiments...
A Moveable Banquet
If I write two hundred books, and through those books I give many people windows from which to jump out of and begin living, yet in doing so I have forgotten my own life; I will not consider myself to be successful. But it is when I reflect upon myself in a living, breathing, illuminated moment that I will catch a true glimpse of who I am and I will say "I am a success. I am alive. I am living."
I don't want to be standing on the sidewalk watching my life go by like a train bound for Rome, no! I want to be on that train, I want to live my life, every minute of it. This is my train, these are my tracks. I will stop at living gardens and succulent vineyards, flourishing festivals and dancing carnivals! And I will fill this train with all of my bounty! Wherever I am, there is a moveable banquet! Prepared and laden for me! I will not take one step towards the direction of the sidewalk, I don't want to miss even a single moment of this train ride, of this festival, of this moveable banquet!