From the Letters to Lovers I've never Met Archive
A Thousand Years Ago (Published Spring 2009 on Theblissquest)
I could hear the smile in your voice - that half crooked grin that catches in a dimple on the right and puts mischievous sparks in your eyes. I could hear you smiling at me and I knew what you were thinking…I shivered a little and grinned back.
It seems like we’ve known each other for a thousand years. Perhaps we were lovers or best friends two lifetimes back. Probably again in a few lifetimes hence. But the important thing is that we are here - together again – with so much catching up to do!
Do you still ride horses? Do you still like to build furniture with your hands? Do you still plan on spending a year wandering around the world and exploring another culture? Do you still get flustered and chuckle when a pretty woman looks you right in the eye?
Remember when we were camping on the beach and the tide was out? We could see the meteor shower in the wet sand like a mirror of heaven and we got up and danced together with stars falling up and stars shooting down all around us! Remember that? Or has in not happened yet… I forget. But I do remember you kissing me and saying that I made you feel like stars falling heavenward and heaven crashing down to earth. It made my toes curl and my belly tingle. Do you think I could still do that to you? Make you feel that way?
Are you still the free-spirit that I remember? Do you still like to have time alone and in the spaces of your imagination? Do you still like words? They used to mean a lot to you.
Do you still wear a hat whenever you go out? I feel like we’ve lost so much time in this life and that when we catch up it will take us forever!
I want to know how your childhood was. Did you get into trouble – you usually did. Did you fall in love? Did you fall out? Did you have children? Are you a good father?
So many questions I wish I could ask you in person. But really, mostly, I just want to know… are you happy? Are you living the life you have dreamed for yourself? I’m so proud of you and I can’t wait to see it for myself! You were always so good at manifesting.
I am still me – missing you, from a thousand years ago. Let’s catch up. If you are ready. I just miss my best friend.
Many years ago I felt like my efforts to create were going directly into the void. I struggled to find my voice and my niche in the creative sphere. I realized then that while my work is an amalgamate of all the things I’ve encountered, experienced, researched, discovered or been exposed to—so too, is nearly every artist’s body of work.
Hence the phrase on my business card, “Inhale life, exhale story”.
I decided then, that whenever I became conscious of an influence in my writing, storytelling, sculpting, or cooking…I would make a good faith effort to reach out and say thank you to the creative inspiration that lent me that particular bit of tool/nudge/craft/energy/wisdom.
I wasn’t sure at first how it would work. I sent emails, notes, cards, and thank you treats to chefs, songwriters, performers, directors, and most importantly—my teachers and mentors. I knew most of the letters would be skipped, or dumped in a fan pile bin. Some would be read and likely tossed. Others would be wrongly addressed as it’s difficult to find a way to deliver what is essentially fan mail to the proper recipient.
Even knowing that, it seemed really important to let other artists and creatives know that they are not producing into a void. The void can be a lonely uninspiring place. At the very least, I hoped a thank you note would get through to any one of them if they were in a space to really need it at the time, because I know what that feels like.
When I realize I’ve been influenced or inspired by a creative who has passed away; J.R.R. Tolkien, Marilyn Monroe, or Audrey Hepburn—I try to add a piece of gratitude to the Universe for their contribution, and quietly acknowledge they had a part to play in my humble creative hodgepodge.
Whatever collective amniotic fluid I drift in as an artist, I consciously know nothing is original. Still, there are days I sit at my computer and bang away believing I’m a regurgitative hack. I worry everything I’m writing is crap, and I have the rejection pile to prove it. Some days are better than others with the internal battle of originality versus circular creation.
Then a funny thing happens. Usually at my lowest point, a reader walks into the restaurant where I work, and they want to talk about the books while I serve them beer. It’s weird. I don’t look anything like my author photo. I still work a part time job to pay bills, yet somehow they recognize me right away.
At first they’re confused about why they’re seeing me out of context. Then, they change and become super talkative, and encouraging.
Perspective is not letting positive or negative feedback become an ego challenge or boost. It is only feedback, and must be calculated as any data would be tallied.
But I’m not ashamed to say that after these encounters I feel much less like I’m writing into a void. The story went somewhere, it found a home. Once it’s out of my hands it doesn’t belong to me anymore—but knowing it landed in the reading pile of someone who took it in makes me feel somehow like the world is a conceivable size…an understandable circumference. I am a small, nobody artist---who touched someone somewhere I’ve never actually been, and they touched me in return.
Connection is the antithesis of the void.
Usually, this encourages me to double my efforts to say thank you, to express my gratitude for my experiences and influences. So, I rush home and write a pile of thank you notes, because gratitude is as contagious as creativity.
And this world could certainly use more of both.
Spring brought a few weeks of heat, and a rush of blooms. I was able to get most of the garden planted, and about half of the exterior windows cleaned. More shifts at the restaurant means the beach season is about to get rolling full steam, so I’ll take the hours now so I can write later.
Scold of Jays has been on the market for a month. It was a sneaky release so I didn’t expect much notice. A couple of reviews have come in, but I’m not stressing too much about the low visibility. I’m already planning my winter of writing Plague of Gargoyles.
On an amazing note, my childhood friend, Rob, was inspired by Xabien’s melee and skinning blade, which he then made in real life. Rob’s a brilliant weapon maker and sculptor, and does an assortment of ulus. When he sent me Xabien’s ulu, I opened the box and just stared. This is such a spectacular work of art and craftsmanship that I couldn’t even find words. He just nailed the dragon Ryder King in all his weaponry glory.
I’ll be putting together a photo shoot as soon as I have the chance. More to come with pictures and props. In the meantime, you can see more of Rob’s work here, or visit his site. Yes, he does commissions!
I put my creative boosting sessions on hold this summer while the busy season at the restaurant is going. I hope this will also give me the chance to set up my website registration option for the autumn classes.
The autumn creative session will hopefully have a creativity workbook for students as well. The concepts I’ve been working on in writing my Innovation and Creativity manuscript will be tested on my workshops. So, I need the extra time to hopefully get that workbook laid out and ready for print. If I can’t make it in time for the autumn class, then definitely by winter class.
Stay tuned, new creative workshops are in the September 2019 queue.
The bees are installed and doing well. I’m still feeding them, and have put off cutting my grass and weeds just to have extra flowers available until the apples and blackberries come into full bloom. I’m going for the Wabi-Sabi look in the yard at the moment, which is to say it appears my cottage might be abandoned. Not the case, I assure. Just saving the dandelions and ground cover as long as possible for the bees to have a good head start this year.
Speaking of apple blooms, the trees are definitely beginning their bloom. I’ve been in this house for three springs, and the owner told me he’d planted the apple trees near the road ten years prior. The gala apple had two apples last year, and I never saw it blossom, though it had to have at least two blossoms last year—the tree has not “bloomed” since I’ve been here.
I’d tried fertilizer granules, then spikes, then pruning, and nothing would make the tree go into full bloom. So last summer I placed the chicken run beside the tree in hopes that they would fertilize all through the winter.
The gala apple in in full, massive bloom this year. I had no idea it could bloom so much! It’s beautiful. Even the small apple, the one that tilts, is putting out blooms and opening up. Finally, some food for the bees, and a chance at some apples this year.
I planted some flowers, an herb garden and some veggies. The rhubarb is bigger than my head and ready for early harvest. I just need some strawberries and I’ll have the makings of strawberry rhubarb crisp.
The chickens are thriving. They’re laying three to five eggs a day, and their addition to the garden beds over wintering has allowed for the rich beautiful color of the new shoots and the lush raspberry canes. The roses love it as well. In short, we’re off to a promising start.
All these little bits of mundane life are part of the long-term goal of being sustainable and creative. So, they may seem tedious and boring to many—it’s a huge part of drawing the web tighter to a center that will allow me greater creative freedom and output.
Also, who doesn’t love fresh honey and eggs? And a basket of fresh picked apples and a vase of garden roses?
There are many days when I think, “This was not the plan…” By now I was supposed to be traveling the world, writing at Parisian cafés and having whirlwind romances with beautiful, literate men, and walking through exotic cities, and taking pictures of all the fabulous architecture… not shoveling chicken manure into lopsided garden beds I built myself, and setting mouse traps by the feed bins, then going to work as a waitress.
Then I sit at my writing desk staring out over the creek and into the woods, I smile because I realize, “This is much better than my original plan….” I shrug. “I’ll get to all that other stuff eventually, for now I just want to write, and write, and write. Everything else doesn’t even matter anymore.”
Bliss is a funny thing. It rarely shows up in the packages you expect, and often in the packages you have intentionally avoided.