Running into the unknown. Naked.

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I have a WIP page here on my website (Work in Progress) that I use to keep you kind of up to date on what I’m doing, but it doesn’t really encompass the sheer insanity of my life this year. I’ve written eight distinct works so far as Erin M. Leaf and Marie E. Blossom, and it’s only June. That’s two short stories, and six novels (some were 30,000+ words and some were 50,000+ words long). My favorite story is my worst seller. The novel I was most nervous about is one of my best sellers.

I have no idea what I’m doing.

I think, in order to understand what it is like to be a writer, you need to imagine you’re in a dream. You’re on a boat and the ocean is vast, beautiful, and treacherous. It’s nighttime and the stars are incredibly bright. You can’t stop looking at them, because you’re trying to figure out where you are. You never do. Instead, you befriend a dolphin for a little while and tell her story. Then you find an island where there is nothing but sand, and you tell the story of the lone turtle sleeping on the shore. You cast off again, and follow a reef, telling the story of the coral. Eventually you end up on another island, except this one is a continent and you head into the forest to explore. You tell the story of a mountain lion, a frog, and the mist. This continues….

forever.

You never find out where you are going, but you remember where you have been. You have no tools except for your mind itself. You are exposed all the time and you must use your wits to ignore the weirdness of having your soul visible.

If you spend too much time second-guessing yourself and obsessing over what is happening to you, you end up frozen, like a zombie with its strings cut. The zombie gets eaten very quickly because anything unmoving in this dreamscape is food. The world eats you.

That is what writing feels like to me.

I love it. Even though it’s scary.

Feeling awkward? Throw some stars on yourself. Or wear rainbow tights.

When I was a little kid, my teachers liked to reward good grades on tests with little sticky stars. Now, every time I see a pack of them in the store I get all kinds of nostalgic. Sometimes they’d peel off my tests until just the little residue in the shape of a star was left. I didn’t care. I knew that the star meant I’d done well. Being a kid is fraught with awkwardness and confusion and I was willing to take any kind of praise I could get.

Being an adult is surprisingly full of a great deal of awkwardness and confusion, too. No one tells you this when you’re a kid, but it’s true. At one of my jobs (yes, a real grownup job in an office in Manhattan, I kid you not) there was a group of women who actively disliked me (actually, dislike is too mild a term for how they felt). Sometimes they’d throw trash over the cubicle walls onto my desk. They bitched about me in the bathroom: “She’s so unprofessional! And her frizzy hair! Did you see who she ate lunch with the other day?” Part of the reason they hated me was because a few of my outfits were a bit, ahem, colorful (rainbow striped tights—whatever, I was CHIC).

Anyway, AWKWARD is a situation with which I am intimately familiar. So when my boss told me I was doing a great job, I gave myself a little mental silver star and got on with my day. If I could have I would’ve pasted stars all over myself and paraded in front of those women, happily giving them a mental eff you as I walked past, but the damn things are notoriously difficult to stick onto fabric. So, whatever. I wore STRIPED TIGHTS instead. I wore those tights a LOT. Every time one of those women grimaced at me I laughed inside (every grimace = a wrinkle later on).

Today I woke up and found a brand new silver star stuck onto the page of Kiss Is A Four-Letter Word at All Romance ebooks (ARe). This means that my book is a bestseller! The little girl in my head jumped up and down and freaked out because she got an STAR!!! on her novel. A star! I haven’t received a star for anything since second grade ended about a zillion years ago. Stars are cool.

Over on BookStrand, I was thrilled to see that Kiss Is A Four-Letter Word is one of the featured bestsellers. It’s like I got a double star! DOUBLE-STARS! Double-stars are seriously awesome. Not everyone gets those stuck on their books.

Double stars are cool, yo.

After that, I clicked on Amazon and found A FIVE STAR REVIEW for Kiss Is A Four-Letter Word. Yes, I can’t emphasize it enough. FIVE. STARS. Dear reviewer: I love you. No, really. I have some stars for you, because you are awesome and now I have extras. *throws some sticky stars at Lisa O*. My favorite part of the review: “…she manages to write with a humor that had me chuckling aloud.”

Honestly, that comment is worth more than five stars. It’s a freaking star cluster. Why? Because the point of writing is to communicate with a reader. With this book I wanted to make my readers laugh and spend an enjoyable few hours with my characters. That comment told me that I’d actually managed to accomplish what I’d wanted. That right there is a GIANT star in the life of a writer. I’m going to have to dig out my rainbow tights and wear them in celebration.