Bone Beauty

Dear Ladies,

Let’s have us a little chat.

We, and society, are constantly judging us, labeling us fat, thin, short, heavy, and a billion other terms but it’s all a ruse and uselessly pain inducing. So we all seem to have a love/hate relationship with our reflections.

Distorted self images.

Growing up, I never cared much for clothes, fashion, hair, or make-up, all the important “feminine” things in life. So I was labeled a tomboy, masculine, or butch.

It didn’t bother me too much though, because I knew what I was and who I was. My outside was only that; a shell that housed my true self and if people were willing to judge me against their own insecurities then there was nothing I could do about it since I couldn’t control what others thought or did.

Fast forward to now. I’ve actually taken more care when choosing my clothing, not that I’m drooling over what’s the latest and greatest, but I have a decent clothes that are classic and of good quality. The most important thing about them, is that I like them and I like the way I feel when I don them. So I get more complements on what I wear now that I have ever before in my life.

This ratcheting up of complements isn’t because I’m stick thin and constantly worrying about getting soft around the middle. I’m currently at my heaviest I’ve ever been but I sometimes I catch my reflection in the mirror and realize that my hair is just perfect today or that my outfit is very flattering.

I know I hear people thinking, well that’s natural. Well for me it’s not. I normally don’t even register how my hair looks until 4 hours into my day. I mean I brush it out wet (shh don’t tell my hair stylist, she’d try to ban me from doing so) when I leave the house but that’s it.

When I get dressed 9 out of 10 times, these are my 3 questions that need to be answered when picking out an outfit in the morning:

  • Is it clean?
  • Did I already wear this this week?
  • Can I wear comfortable shoes with this?

That’s it. I only wear make-up if I know I’m meeting people for the first time. (What can I say, 1st impressions matter but after that . . . only if I know I have to be in pictures.) I blow dry my hair and actually put product in, oh, about once ever other month so it’s not like I’m doing all the fluffing and decorating of my body we traditionally see women do to get complements.

I think my biggest strength in getting complements is that I’m not looking for them.

Do I love to get them? Hell, yeah I do.

But when people give them to me it’s because they truly mean it and aren’t buttering me up for any favors or benefits. Plus, my inner self worth isn’t dependent on these kudos, they only enhance my beauty instead of being my addiction that I must have to validate my breathing.

We all know women, or are those women, who without those repeated external praises feel lackluster and dingy.

Have heart and know you are the most beautiful creature ever to land on this Earth.

How can I be certain of this? Because there is beauty in every soul. We are perfect – quirks, wrinkles, and cellulite and all.

Let’s talk a little about “wrinkles.”

I’m what I like to call a thinker; when I’m contemplating, plotting, or reading, I apparently furrow my brow in concentration so I have the dreaded 11s lines. For those of you who don’t know what they are (heck I was blissfully unaware until I was informed I had them by a well-meaning colleague), they are the vertical lines between your eyebrows. So since I was informed about them, I guess I have them. I also have smile lines beginning to form.

Shouldn’t I agonize about these “imperfections” that mar my face? Society, ads, and other women say yes.

But how can I lambaste these creases that carry 32 years of joy and pondering?

The big they (again society and other women) believe that I should fill them in, plaster over them, and not take pride in the happiness nor the deep reflective thoughts that I’ve expressed in the world. Sorry world, that just ain’t going to happen.

You can call me names and slap we around with slanderous terms trying to make me believe that jail-bait beauty is the highest peak of beauty. Well, that’s not how I see it.

How can people believe that youths, who don’t know who they are and are constantly bowing to the peer pressure of other like wise clueless peer group and modeling who they think society is pretty, hold a spark of the brilliance of beauty to a fully-grounded woman who knows a bit about how the world works and is willing to keep her own rules about how to express herself? Is it delusions that make us negate “older” or “mature” beauty?

How many of you cringed reading those words of older and mature beauty? Stop it. Seriously. Quit buying into society’s joke of that you’re beauty wanes by your early 20s.

Vintage beauty, is the term I prefer.

It’s a beauty that starts in your soul and permeates each cell and pore until it bursts out for the outside world to see. I think that’s why many people love French beauties (or at least the culture depiction), they don’t care what others think of them, they wear what they want, when they want because it pleases them. That’s it, no other motivation is needed & if you don’t like it well they don’t care.

Close your eyes and imagine, that each line, pound, and divot that is on your body are really beauty marks. Is there a reason why you have it? I’ve already explained why I appreciate my wrinkles but what about those few extra pounds? I know there aren’t many women who are content with, dare I say it, being fluffier. Heck I know I struggle with my newly found pounds. But I keep reminding myself that I am grateful that I am well fed and without this extra weight, I’d be a glorified clothes hanger.
Plus, I know that my weight is my decision. I could get up and exercise but I choose not to so until I’m willing to make a different decision, it is what it is. It’s not guilt talking; it’s an acknowledgement that I’m not really ready to change, just yet.

I know it sounds cliche but it all boils down to how do you treat yourself? Do you believe that you have worth & are beautiful? And if someone says something contrary to your truth, of how glorious & dazzling you truly are, know that it’s your choice to believe them or let the comment fall out of your mind without a second thought.

When you feel alone, withered, and without grace, know that you are the embodiment of love and house within your fleshy shell the most precious flame of the gods. And your body is perfect just as you are right now. Nothing is wrong with you.

You are loved deeply.

You are perfection reflected.

Know it is true. And so it is.

I’m glad we could have this little chat. I feel better, I hope you do too.

With a pep in my step & love for all you vintage beauties,
Melissa

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Can You Understand Me?

I’m a native English speaker but there are days when nothing but the verb is coherent in other people’s sentences. Even when I was in high school, I didn’t really like using super new slang when I talked. It wasn’t that I was resisting being like everyone else. My desire when I tried to communicate was that no one needed a secret code book to understand what I was trying to say.

a bullhorn

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now with the online games/hackers who use L33t speak, pop culture, and texting shortcuts, I’m screwed because I don’t have the same lexicon as everyone else it seems. For example, I posted on my Facebook page about how my wireless cut out but I was still listening to Pandora. Someone wrote the comments, “Buffering FTW!”

I stared at in and thought, are they dyslectic because I know WTF, mate but that is not appropriate for a response. (see if somehow I’m slightly more hip that you & you haven’t seen it yet)

My friend looks over, sees my befuddled face, reads the text, and explains, “For The Win, Melissa.”

Right, isn’t that just obvious?

Seriously, an acronym for 9 letters and 2 spaces? Are people wanted to be misunderstood? That’s why I am always on the look out for a better word to use that fits like the last puzzle piece when I talk. Maybe I’m retro in how I talk and but the meaning of word you can’t understand in my sentence, can be found in the dictionary and not some vague cultural reference that only the few plugged in people will get.

I guess my quest for a better word will leave me with a constant I-think-that-was-English face when speaking to those who don’t want to enrich their vocabulary with words that actually exist.

Adieu,
Melissa

Never Done

Seven years ago I decided that I had a story burning up inside me that I needed to get out. So I wrote over 100 pages and went to get feedback.

It wasn’t pretty.

So I decided to take a writing course. That helped shape me up. I rewrote the story, got stuck, so write an entirely different novel, applying all the good notes I received from my course. I used said without fear, made sure the character’s scenes were conflict motivated, beefed up my setting description but not over doing it.

This time when I handed my manuscript to beta readers, I got more line-by-line tweaks since I had improved my basic building blocks of writing a compelling story. Now that I am starting to feel good again about my abilities as a writer I read a blog and now I question my sentence structure. Am I varying them enough? Am I boring the readers?

Even though I’m submitting my work to agents to get this book published, should I stop and rework the entire thing, for the 12th time? I know that each time I work on the manuscript it is getting better but when can I just let it go? When will I stop working over the same material but from different angles?

My guess is once this is goes to print. *sigh* That seems like that is so far away. At least, I don’t feel sick of working on it but I sure wish I could stop feeling self conscious of it and just feel done with it. Well, that could be my motivation to get this done and printed. So I can truly be complete with this manuscript.

Back to the little red pen.
The Dutiful Writer

My Story’s Purpose

I finished up a round of books that are all deep with social commentary in the message of the story. They were great stories with such meaning and touch on dark spots on our human experience.

When I got the end I reflected on my own stories I’ve written and they seem shallow. Yet the deep, dark sides of humanity seem constantly in our faces with the news, conversations, and tragic events that happen all around us so why do I feel bad for wanting to bring joy, laughter, and light into the world with my creative works?

Do I want to take my religious/political/world view and bare it to the world by burying down into the storyline and make the reader’s question just what is happening in the world? Is that my purpose? Do I want that to be my purpose?

To be a writer, I want to be very clear about why I AM writing. Is it to entertain? To lighten another human’s burdens even for the brief time they read my words? Or do I want to comment on social woes and strive to make changes?

In the end, I don’t think it matter why I write. Maybe I’m just being too heady about this all and I should just write what I want to write and let the rest sort itself out later after I’m done with the piece. For now, I guess I will be content and get the story out of me and let the rest just be and not worry to deeply about it.

Finding the words & telling the story,
Melissa

I Confess . . .

That there are many classic must-read books that I just have never read:
Emma,
Catcher in the Rye,
Don Quixote,
and so on.

Old book open, laying flat on a wooden table.(Image courtesy of koratmember FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)
(Image courtesy of koratmember FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

To become a better writer one must always read. And I’m an avid reader, so why haven’t I read this classics that people always talk about? For one, everyone always talks about them so it’s not like I don’t know what’s going to happen in it and two, some of the truly older classics are so long-winded and boring that it’s hard to get through the book to harvest the great story. I really don’t want to have a whole chapter were all the author is don’t is explaining the setting. If the characters aren’t around to help break up the expository, why read it?

Yet I have read/scene most of Shakespeare’s work, loved some of the ancient philosophical texts, and an always interested in great pieces of writing no matter when it was written. Someone recently recommended a book by Georgette Heyer Frederica. The style was definitely different and the pace slower but it was a delight to read something that wasn’t the same old books that seem to follow out into the market today. Georgette Heyer though new to me started writing in 1921 and ended up writing over 50 novels and her first one has yet to go out of print.

So it’s not as though I’m against older books but the modern audience don’t want huge over loaded passages without paragraphs and over the top length descriptions of places (well, I don’t know about you but I don’t).

Is there any “classic” books that you absolutely loved but no one else has read?

To hunt of a new author (well new to me at least),
Melissa

Focus

My creativity, well most likely my life, is being super squirrelly. I’ll get these great ideas and I’m excited to do the work. The words flow out of me and onto the page. It feels me with joy and struggles to capture it all. And then nothing. I slam into my own back hole. I’ve never had this happen to me before it’s like I’ve been robbed of the sun.

Maybe this is because I’ve still got other pieces that are in various stages of pruning and shaping that I can’t seem to focus so my mind keeps wanting to wrap up the other works first? Naw, that sounds like an excuse. So how do I keep my eye on the long-term goal of getting the actually writing down and finish a project?

Well, I do know of one thing NaNoWriMo is around the corner. I’ve been wanting to do it for a few years but I’ve normally been neck deep in editing when November has came around. So this year I’ll make sure I’m pumped and ready to write starting November 1st. I love me a good deadline so this idea works with my goal oriented brain. So between here and November I’ll make sure I’ve got the structure of what I want to happen and the characters a bit more fleshed out than what I normally have before I start writing and see how it goes for me.

To the plan,

Melissa

On Safari

Our ammunition is the query, synopsis (of various lengths), and  first pages or chapters of our book. Our bullets are stuffed into either an envelope or email and our hopes ride on them finding the target and bagging an agent.

Picture of unseen person wearing a safari hat and binoculars peeking through grass

Yet how does one make their bullets powerfully enough to hook that agent’s overwhelmed eye? Well, isn’t that the book-contract-question? If I knew the magic recipe I’d have done it already. So it’s back to the basics.

The two most important things to snag an agent:

  • R.I.F
  • content.

R.I.F. (Reading Is Fundamental): Search for agents and only submit to the ones who want your type work. Did you write a killer spy novel but blindly submitted it to a romance agent? Boo on you. Be respectful of the agent’s time and yours. Read what they want, how they want to be submitted to and then follow their wishes.

Simple, yes but don’t get your material thrown off the to-do list because you didn’t feel like cutting your synopsis down from the ten-page monster you are in love with down to the requested two-page one.

Content: Again a no-brainer yet you can’t over state the obvious. Clean up your work. Get feedback from people who are actually submitting and doing the work. Befriend someone who is a grammar stickler. Ask for help. Always look for ways to be a better writer.

So while it’s tough being on safari and polishing your guns for that big hunt over and over again (and you feel like everything you write is rubbish), have faith. And if you don’t have faith in your work, keep writing, learn how do better, and find support around you to keep going when the brushes seems to snare you.

Remember one of the best author out on an agent hunt story I’d hear was Kathryn Stockett. You know her little book called The Help. She had over 60 rejections letters from agents and it took her over 5 years to finally down a live one. But she decided that her book and her work were worth it. So don’t get too discouraged just keep reloading and putting yourself out there, in the hunt.

Shh, did you hear that twig snap? They must be close; look alive and release the hounds.

Tallyho,

Melissa