The Power of Coffee!

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Part instruction, brainstorming, motivation, & critique, our supportive group meets the second and fourth Saturday of the month and is user-friendly, inspirational, and empowering. Every woman deserves a room of her own.

"As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle."~Honore de Balzac

Friday, March 19, 2010

Upside of Down

With taxes looming, I'm really depressed. You would be, too, if you just discovered that two of your part time, low paying jobs, much treasured because they help pay the bills, FORGOT or NEGLECTED or ON PURPOSE did not take out state and federal taxes. That means I'm going to have to cough up a bunch of money I don't have on April 15th, and the only way I can do that is to beg, borrow, or steal to pay the government. This revelation did not make my day. Of course, any fool would have checked pay stubs carefully and noticed the error long before now, but people who know me will tell you I'm too busy for such things because I'm writing, reading, teaching and sometimes doing all three at once!

April 15th is a date that everyone dreads so to balance things out for struggling Orange County writers and to make my time even more impacted and crazy, I picked that date as the deadline for submitting to the upcoming Orange County Anthology. Oh, yes, I publish books, too, and this is the year I'm taking on a big expensive, time consuming project when I have no money due to the tax glitch mentioned earlier and I promise not to refer to ever again except perhaps in a slam poem or bitter character diatribe in fiction. Sure, we must answer to the government on that particular day and fork over the cash, but we can respond to our muse at the same time and offer up some of our best and most brilliant work that can be showcased in this anthology.

I've found there's an upside to every miserable moment. A few years ago, I visited an elementary school as an author and, after students cleared out of the assembly hall, I packed up my posters, realia, and books. As I was wheeling the load out, I tripped on the door jamb and fell flat on my face. Luckily, no one was around since making a fool of myself is not top on my list of fun things to do. To save face, no pun intended, I picked myself up, hurried to my car, and bled profusely all the way home. The result was a broken nose and two very black eyes that lasted for weeks. The upside came several years later when I had a character in a novel trip and fall flat on her face and break her nose!

One of my students lost his wife several years ago and still suffers from a broken heart. He writes poetry we swoon over and reads during open mic throughout the county. Another student is revising her miserable childhood in a stellar memoir. We can turn the negative into positive. Everything we do, see, or feel, every unhappiness, hurt, or grief can be developed into a story scene, poem, or screenplay. Misery makes for good story. Everyone can relate to owing taxes and broken noses, to grief and heartbreak and looking like a fool.

We are writers, after all, and that means we must be observers, too, even if our observations center around ourselves. As Anne Lamott said: "The writer is the person standing apart like the cheese in 'The Farmer in the Dell' standing there alone but deciding to take a few notes."

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