Acting Out

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As I was knee-deep in edits today, my flow came to a screeching halt when I was faced with a particularly difficult passage. It was difficult on two accounts. First, it recounted a very emotional day in my life during a time when I was beginning to realize that something was different about Jake.  And secondly, a beta-reader made a note that said the writing didn’t necessarily convey what I had hoped it did.

After reading the passage again, I realized what she meant. The behaviors that I highlighted weren’t strictly those of a child who was exhibiting signs of a deeper issue other than being frustrated. She asked me to consider rewriting so that the reader gets a clear picture that something more is going on.

Determined to write a stronger passage, I settled in and readied my hands at the keyboard. And I sat. And I revisited that day in my head. And I sat some more. That’s when it dawned on me that it was time to bust out my jazz hands – that is, to act out the passage as if it was a scene from a movie with me being Jake.

So I stood up and imagined a wall of choices in front of me. I am five years old. I have to make a decision. There are too many choices. I have to pick one. But what if I pick the wrong one? What if there’s a better one? Out of character, I noticed that I was pacing the floor. Okay, that’s a visual to add. I knew I was onto something.

I just needed to act it out – to feel physically what Jake was feeling emotionally so that I could help the reader visualize Jake’s mental state.

I went back under. So many kits to choose from. So many choices. What if I choose the wrong one? I let that phrase loop in my head until I felt my body tighten and my arms pull close to my sides. I imagined my eyes darting nervously from one kit to another. I feel pressure. I feel an internal tension that causes me to start breathing heavily. It’s too much. I feel like I might explode. I have to decide. My mom is waiting. I have to pick. She tells me to just pick a fun one. But which one is the most fun? Is it that one? Or this one?

It’s just a science kit she says thinking that will make it easier. But what she doesn’t understand is that my mind is stuck. And I am stuck in my mind.

I feel tears start to come and I know that I have it. By allowing myself to act it out, feel the emotions and notice how my body reacted, I am closer to knowing how Jake must have felt at that time. By moving and paying attention to how I’m moving, I can now write it down.

I want my book to read like a movie. I want the visual cues to be so spot-on that the reader can create the scenes in her mind. So I sit down and paint the scene word by word. And cut. Act 2, Scene 1 done.

Tomorrow I will tackle another scene and just like Mr. Sondheim wrote bit by bit I will complete my book.

Art isn’t easy
Even when you’re hot
Advancing art is easy
Financing it is not
A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head
If no one gets to hear it, it’s as good as dead
It has to come to life
Bit by bit, putting it together
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art
Every moment makes a contribution
Every little detail plays a part
Having just a vision’s no solution
Everything depends on execution
Putting it together, that’s what counts

-From Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George

D.E.A.R. Universe #2

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Original sketch by Ginger McGee

 

D.E.A.R. Universe,

Here I am again. I figured I should backtrack from my last letter and give credit where credit is due. Yeah, to you, of course, but to the one who introduced me to you, Mike Dooley.

Last week, Thanksgiving week to be exact, I was feeling anything but thankful. You see, there’s a lot going on in my little neck of the words lately. My oldest son has been battling some severe depression and anxiety issues. My youngest is kind of caught in between, and despises school to boot. The two love each other fiercely, but aren’t exactly getting along – eight years is a big age difference.

In addition, husband is perpetually overworked, and I’m perpetually menopausal. I’m sure you can see how this all might add up to a very non-thankful Thanksgiving for me.

Did I mention that I’m on blood pressure medicine that I ran out of and forgot to get refilled? Yep. 161/101. That was my BP the day before Thanksgiving.

Little did I know you were trying to get my attention!

So I grabbed my Kindle, and settled in for a rest. Sign 1: On the front page there was a book recommendation. The Top Ten Things Dead People Want You To Know by the aforementioned Mike Dooley. As a person who has lost someone significant, and loves the whole psychic thing, my interest was piqued.

I had never heard of Mike Dooley. I went to his website and found this about something he started in 1998 Notes From the Universe,

The Notes are brief emails written by “The Universe,” personalized with your name (and occasionally your goals and dreams), designed to remind you that you have, indeed, been given dominion over all things. -Mike Dooley

 

Sign 2: Scrolling further down, I saw a section called “Praise for the Notes”, and there was a photo of Jason Mraz!

“Notes from the Universe remind me I’m a part of something much bigger and that my dreams are constantly being realized. I love them! Thanks Mike!” -Jason Mraz

I love that guy!! He’s one of my favorite singer/songwriters. His album Love is a Four Letter Word helped me through another particularly rough patch of my life. Needless to say, I bought the book and started reading it immediately.

In the introduction something he said resonated with me. Regarding truth, my mom has always told me that when something is true, it will feel true. The truth will carry with it emotions that are almost too big for your human self. Sign 3: So when I read this and got goosebumps, yes, I really did, I knew it to be the truth – my truth. Nothing extremely profound, but it gave me that feeling and made me turn the page.

And it doesn’t matter how you find it, just that you do, and the sooner you do, the greater your peace. The way you’ll know it’s the truth is that it’ll make sense: logically, intellectually, and emotionally which isn’t too often the case given the versions of it that’ve been tossed about in recent millennia. Finding it, you’ll feel liberated, empowered, clear, joyful, loving, your confusion banished. And then suddenly you’ll see its evidence everywhere, even right under your very nose, including your nose itself. -Mike Dooley

I couldn’t put the book down. You definitely had my attention. I highlighted and created notes, and the entire time I had a smile on my face because I knew in my heart that everything I was reading was true.

You see, you knew the way to get me to pay attention was with words – a book. Honestly, I think the book should be required reading. We all deserve to know the truth, although I don’t think we’re all ready. I’ve read similar books that didn’t have the same affect, because I wasn’t ready. But this time, with this book, you were showing me that it was time.

Thank you!!!!!

As I always do when someone, or something stirs a part of my soul, I found Mike on Facebook, and I reached out to him. I hoped that I might get a response, but that’s not why I wrote to him. I just feel it necessary to tell others when they have a profound affect on me. But guess what? Sign 4: He wrote me back!!!!

I could go on and on and on forever, but suffice it to say that, you, my delicious, enthusiastic, ambitious, remarkable Universe, you are incredible. I love the way you work, so mysteriously, through others.

So, go on, get outta here and get your magic on!

Love and kisses,

Ginger, the possibilitarian