A Beautiful, Scary, Uplifting and Uncertain Time

by Jane Devin on 09/23/2011

It’s an unsettled time. A beautiful, scary, uplifting, hungry and uncertain time. – September 21, 2011 Journal Entry

“Can you do addition?” the White Queen asked. “What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?”

“I don’t know,” said Alice. “I lost count.

* * *

The correct answer to the White Queen’s question is ten, but like Alice I often lose count. Of numbers, time, and time between posts. My blogging has been sporadic lately. There’s just been a lot going on — as many as six impossible things before breakfast — but I’m hopeful that all my work and worry now will eventually have a happy ending. In the meantime, there’s:

Faith & Belief. 80 people made my Kickstarter publicity campaign for Elephant Girl a success. 40 people have left reviews on Amazon. Several readers have sent me personal messages letting me know that my story was also theirs in some way, or moved them, or made them see something in a different light. None of this makes me feel proud or redeemed. I feel, instead, incredibly humbled and slightly overwhelmed by the sense of unity. I’ve walked alone most of my life. Someone told me last year that I should be used to it. I never did get used to it. I had just reconciled myself to a certain amount of solitude and “blamed” it on being different — on being a writer, on circumstances, on being me. To have this level of support now, at 49 years old, feels like the gift of belief. I am believing in myself more because other people have expressed their faith in me and I am determined not to let them down.

Imperfect Focus. My lease ends in 6.5 days. I have no idea where I’m going next. I had hoped to have a car by now, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to work out this month. I’m scrambling for quick solutions while at the same time really wanting some kind of longer-term security. With the support of friends, I put everything I had into writing this book and getting it published, and I don’t regret one minute of it, but its time now to come up with a more sustainable plan for the future. In the meantime, I’m filling up spreadsheets with the names of newspaper editors and book reviewers. I’m scouting out printers who can get my book into brick and mortar stores. I’ve begun my own, somewhat scattered process of outlining my next book which will be, I think, different than anything I’ve ever written before.

A Want of Space & Balance. I want to write until I’m exhausted and fall asleep in my clothes, or until I notice the world has suddenly changed color and I’ve stayed up to greet the morning sun. That time isn’t here yet. I’m not in the right space, physically or emotionally. My anxiety level is high and my paragraphs are full of stutters and distractions. I write drafts and throw them away, sometimes embarrassed by how much effort I put into stories that end up in the trash. I miss in-person friends and human-to-human companionship, but I also know I do my best work when I’m alone. One day, I hope it’s possible that I have not only a “room of my own” but also the balance I seek.

Hope & Doubt. I have a long way to go and reasons to be both excited and discouraged. Janis Ian, one of my favorite musicians, (a few lines from her song “Lover’s Lullaby” are excerpted in Elephant Girl), took the time to write me a note and say my story was beautiful. (She could have said it was brown paper plain and I would still be grateful she took the time to read and respond. What a gracious artist and woman). Sheri Salata allowed me to send her a copy. A film agent in L.A. has promised to read the paperback as soon as she can. On the other hand, some reviewers, online and off, won’t even consider a self-published book. Due to the subject matter of Elephant Girl (poverty, child abuse, single parenthood, Aspergers and more) it’s going to be difficult to find corporate sponsors for a book tour to visit indie bookstores and social media clubs.

Reminders That It’s Not Just About Me. Like many people, I find it easy to get wrapped up in my own life and challenges. And sometimes, just when it’s needed, something comes along to alleviate my myopia. This past week, it was watching a small group of internet thugs unjustifiably attack Mark Horvath, founder of InvisiblePeople.tv, his supporters and his sponsors. I wrote this article about the “I Can Do Betters” who don’t really seek to do better at all, but merely wish to hurt those they feel have gotten too successful or who have gained too much attention for their hard work and efforts. I encourage you to read the post and the comments. I’ve been attacked online before. It’s hurtful and frustrating. I’ve learned: There’s no arguing reasonably with unreasonable people who are determined to find fault in everything you say or do. It’s just a fact of living life openly and somewhat publicly that some people aren’t going to like you, but a campaign of personal destruction, replete with fake accounts created to spread misinformation, is particularly ugly. Mark spends his days and nights serving those most disenfranchised by society. He has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the plight of homelessness and to give visibility to those society has left behind. In the name of goodness, and of countering hostility with support, I’d like my readers to think about helping Mark and his InvisiblePeople.tv mission here or here. I will do the same. In October, I will choose a week when all proceeds from the sale of Elephant Girl will go towards Mark’s continuing mission. Stay tuned for more information.

Strength, Trust & Feelings. I know what it’s like to move forward even when somewhat tied by circumstance. To push and scrape even when it all feels impossible. I know how to recover my spirit when it has been crushed. To pray my way into a sense of well-being. To write my way out of despair and into the best of possibilities. I know all of this, yet it’s never made me feel particularly happy. There are times I just don’t want to have to be strong, or work against the odds, or try to heal something. Times that I’d just like shed my well-worn muscles and expose all that’s vulnerable— to fall and know that someone is there to catch me. The older I get, the more urgent this need feels. . .which makes me afraid of getting old. More than that, it makes me think of how many elderly people are homeless and hungry, with no loving family and no where to go. It bears repeating. These are among the people covered by and helped by the friends and supporters of InvisiblePeople.tv, both in the United States and Canada. Please go watch the stories as told by the homeless themselves, be moved, and consider doing what you can to help.

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