Spark

Sometimes, I feel stuck. Sometimes, all I have in me is a stream of consciousness dump…

I am fumbling for words, searching my memory for rich sensory details, imagery and metaphor, a perfect picture painted with perspicacity, brought forth from my fertile imagination.

I am new again, raw, an amateur who is just barely beginning to understand what creative writing is. I am spilling out consciousness on the page in rambling streams of poorly relayed emotion. Write what you know, but what do I know, anyway? What stories are mine to tell?

Oh, and I thought I was dark before, thought I had some sense of loss or grief, of the thousand natural shocks, but I am only a Horatio, battered witness of the twists and turns all around me. Transferred trauma, and they tell me to take care, but care has been taken to take such time away. I have no time. I have no energy to use what time I have.

I don’t take the time. I don’t spare the energy.

I sleep too much and not enough.

I fall back on the old words, the easy words. It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rings out. Once upon a time, in a land far far away. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael.

In the room the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo. And how should I presume?

All words are old, all words used so many times already. Should I dig up my vocabulary books, reacquaint myself with the archaic and obsolete, so that I may impress myself with my own prolix prose?

And the seven (less or more?) great plot lines continue to unfold, over and over, and as Aimee Mann sings, “But nobody wants to hear this tale, The plot is clichéd, the jokes are stale, And baby we’ve all heard it all before.”

The only thing that’s mine is my voice. The only thing that can be new, the only thing that could make a story I tell different than any other.

But my voice needs words.

Words words words.

Lost in page counts, lost in deadlines, lost in pressures and anxieties floating all around me like ash, so thick it coats you, so thick it chokes you.

But even in the ash, a spark may fly, a tiny flake of potential floating on eddies, looking for the right tinder to settle on, the right wind to blow, and kindle standing by, waiting to burn.

I am a pile of kindle, ready to burn. I am waiting for my spark to find me.

 

Essential Self-Care

The news isn’t good again. I can’t remember the last time I read the news and felt anything other than dread and sadness. I feel like a collective anxiety has taken over most everyone I know. In times like these, it is important to remember to take care of yourself — and easy to forget.

Everyone pushes the concept of self-care these days, but it too often feels like yet another thing people feel like they should do, and never get around to doing. First, self-care is not all yoga classes and bubble baths. Self-care of it is all those things you do to take care of yourself, your mental and physical health, and your environment. These things are essential, not just for your physical health, but for your mental health. Here are some ways you can focus on self-care when you are feeling tired and tapped out:

Body Maintenance: did you shower today? That counts! Eat food, drink water, brush your teeth? This is all literal self-care in that you are taking care of your body. Anything you do to take care of your body, from a haircut to trimming your nails, is all a part of self care. While you may not have energy for full blown exercising on your low days, try stretching for five minutes for both a sense of accomplishment and to relieve tension in your body. I personally love doing a forward bend that is supported by a sturdy chair (mostly because I have zero flexibility.) The chair helps me feel steady while the bend takes a lot of tension out of my back.

Space Maintenance: doing the dishes, the laundry, taking out the recycling (my own personal struggle) — all of this is actually about taking care of yourself. Not only is your life better when you have clean clothes, clean dishes, and room to walk in your kitchen (again, I struggle with recycling), it is a way of saying “I matter.” This stuff is not fun and is often the first to go when we’re stressed out. And then it piles up. And then we feel really bad about it. So do yourself a favor and pick one of these chores and work on it for five to ten minutes. Wash two dishes, sort your laundry, bag your recycling — you don’t have to do it all, and you will feel better after.
Social Maintenance: Reaching out to friends via text, email, or even social media is another way of taking care of yourself. Everyone needs a support network, and any time you spend maintaining yours will ultimately help you better take care of yourself. Feeling extra ambitious? Don’t just reach out — make plans! And even if you feel really tired and like you just can’t, I encourage you to keep those plans. Again, you’ll likely feel better after. It helps to make plans closer to your house or even at your house if you are feeling extra low energy.

Luxury Maintenance: Here is where all the usual self-care stuff happens — shopping, bubble baths, vacations, spas, resorts, etc. These definitely have a place in self-care, but they are not always as accessible as some folks need/want them to be. Self-care doesn’t have to look like a wine tasting or yoga retreat. But if that is the type of thing that helps you take time for yourself, go for it! But also spending extra money on time saving can be a great form of self-care. For example, I get my groceries delivered (yay NYC!). I know a lot of people who use laundry drop off services. Some folks use meal kit services to inspire them to eat more variety. Research has suggested that people feel better about spending money that saves them time more than other purchases.
Dream Maintenance: This one is harder to define, because everyone had different dreams when they were growing up, and a lot of people have had their “dream life” change as they got older. But we all want something. Finding a way to keep that dream alive, however small, is a huge part of taking care of ourselves. For me, it is constantly trying to make room for writing in my life when I have so many other things (like recycling) taking up my time. I also have been actively pursuing my professional dreams like starting my own private therapy practice, and while these goals are hard to focus on and sometimes seem impossible to accomplish, even sitting down and brainstorming steps helps me feel better. Doing research, planning to take a class, finding fellow hobby enthusiasts — these are all ways that people keep their dreams and interests alive. Dream maintenance is all about keeping hope going — imagining a future that is better than where you are right now. Even in these hard times — especially in these hard times — it is essential that we can picture a brighter tomorrow.

Try making and keeping a list of ways you like to take care of yourself to refer to when you feel sad, down, and stuck in your life.

The Power of “Me Too”

One of the most powerful feelings in the world is that moment when you realize that something you thought just happened to you, that only you understood or experienced (often with fear and/or shame), also happened to someone you know. Somehow sharing the experience changes how you feel about it. It shifts the burden from you to some universal truth — this is a thing that happens to people, not just me. 

It needs to not just be “me” in order to take away some of the shame. To that end I often self-disclose with my clients that I also suffer from depression. Me, too. So when I talk about how its the little things — the laundry, recycling, dishes, and trash piling up; the constant need for distraction and inability to focus on anything; the sleeping binges and insomniac binges; the appetite that refuses to stay consistent — they nod their heads. Oh yeah, that happens to me, too.

On social media, there is a trend happening right now of women saying “me too.” It is a way for them to share that they have also experienced sexual harassment and/or assault, to show how common the problem is (and is a throwback to #yesallwomen, popularized in 2014 as a response to #NotAllMen). But for me at least, it is having a secondary effect of showing me just how not alone I have been in my own experiences. It is showing me that whatever I have gone through, someone else has gone through something similar, and that means I can feel a little less ashamed about my own experiences, a little less convinced I somehow did something wrong, inadvertently “asked for it” in some way, or had something specifically wrong with me that invited other people’s bad behavior. Instead, I can see more directly how the culture at large is to blame, how systemic the issue is, how real rape culture (and the way it contributes to mass harassment) is.

For me, the power of “me too” in this instance is that it helps me continue to chip away at the shame I have had about my body since I was a little girl and was “made to feel funny” by adult men paying too much of the wrong kind of attention to me. My body was remarked on, my looks analyzed, my freedom curtailed because my very femaleness meant I would forever be a target. Pretty little girls don’t get to go play outside by themselves. I was taught that a healthy amount of fear would keep me safe. It didn’t. I was taught that a certain amount of modesty would keep me safe. It didn’t. I was taught that not wrestling with the boys would keep me safe. Not only did that not help, eventually learning self defense by “wrestling with the boys” was the only thing that did help me feel safer as an adult.

Every “me too” I saw on my timeline made me feel a combination of sad — and relieved. I wish the problem wasn’t so prevalent. But at the same time, I feel reassured that this was never just about me but about all girls and women. This was never just my problem — it was all of ours.

And I feel better still after reading wonderful messages of support from my male friends. A secondary trend of posting “yes I have” has popped up, with men sharing their own stories of giving in to rape culture and being complicit in the behavior of others, or participating in that behavior themselves. Their confessions and heartfelt apologies mean the world to me, because they come with a pledge to do better. It’s another version of “me too” that carries the same kind of power — we have all done things we are ashamed of. The first step is recognizing the problem. Together, we have a chance of changing things.

The Framing of Tragedy

The numbers keep going up. At this point, it’s 59 people killed, and over 500 injured after another American mass shooting

When I was a journalism student, I learned about the power of framing a story. The best way to understand it is to think of taking a picture — there is only so much that can be captured by the lens. The frame is how much you zoom in or out, and what part of any given view you focus on. You can achieve the same effect with the words you use to describe an event.

Words matter. Describe a mass shooter as a terrorist, and one kind of narrative is created. Describe a mass shooter as a “lone wolf” and another kind of narrative is created. Is this a story about the enemies of America, or about the way a single, misunderstood and troubled man chose to act out? 

In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history, different groups of people scrambled for a framing device for the story. In the immediate aftermath, before anything was known about the man who shot into a crowd of concert goers on the Las Vegas strip with high-powered automatic assault rifles, a group of alt-right followers were busy spreading fake news that the shooter was an anti-Trump democrat. Search engine algorithms picked up the story, and, as the saying goes, the lie got half-way around the world before the truth got its pants on. For those alt-right folks and the people who reposted them, this was a narrative that at least, to them, made sense.

As Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post, every tragedy inevitably becomes a political tool, and no one is exempt from using it as thus: 

What “Don’t politicize this” often means is, Don’t politicize this if the shooter belongs to meAs personal details about the gunman begin to come out — old voting records, Facebook rants — “Don’t politicize this” is the placeholder statement we use while figuring out exactly which political knives need to be sharpened.

She goes on to describe the potential narratives that could come out and how different groups might respond to them. Facts, as they become available, help shape the narrative and frame the picture, but as always, how those facts are seen and used will vary dramatically from group to group: Hesse writes, “We waited, because knowing who [the shooter] was would cue Americans how to respond.”

Human beings are hard-wired to make tragedy make sense. The idea that a man would take 23 weapons into a hotel, break open the window, and open fire on a crowd, doesn’t make sense unless we name the hate we assume he must have felt. In the aftermath of horrible events like this, people look to blame something they feel safe blaming. People don’t actually want to change their world view after tragedy. Instead, they reframe the event so that it matches the views they already hold. 

There is a social work joke that I go back to on a regular basis: “how many social workers does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change.”

As much as I’d like to think that yet another record-breaking mass shooting will change hearts and minds, I know that those hearts and minds have to want to be changed in order for these new facts to be seen in a new way. 

Things are not okay. They have not been okay. They will not be okay for likely a very long time. And no amount of thoughts and prayers will make them okay. There is no magic framing device that can erase the bullets that went into bodies, and the blood and tears that followed. People need to be willing to let those pictures change them in order for them to be willing to do something to prevent another mass shooting from happening.

Far too many people will zoom out, shift the frame, adjust the focus, and see what they want to see. They will chose a false narrative over a view-altering truth. They will insist that nothing has to change, that nothing can be changed. But the truth is that we have a mass shooting epidemic in America, and there is a solution to it (change gun laws, reevaluate safety standards, increase access to mental health care, and have a national conversation about how mass shootings could be avoided in the future)– if people are willing to see it.  

As satire site The Onion writes: “At press time, Americans nationwide agreed that years of taking no measures whatsoever to prevent mass shootings may finally be paying off.” 

We can keep our heads in the sand, and hope that somehow by doing nothing bullets will stop flying, and bodies will stop falling. Or we can look beyond the frame and see what is actually contributing to mass shootings — and finally, collectively, work to end them. 

Running on Empty

I have been trying to write this blog for several hours now. I wanted to write something about Charlottesville, VA, and about white nationalism (how it came to be, and why we can’t just abide it). I wanted to write about meeting anger with compassion, and the struggle to do that.

I also really want to write about Game of Thrones, because the last two episodes have been amazing, and it’s one of my favorite shows (in part because I also write fantasy). And it would be easier to write about that than pretty much anything else I could come up with.

And I also want to write about my struggle at work with clients who have little to no tolerance for the fallibility of others (including their therapist) and how hard that is to hold, again, with compassion.

But I just feel so bleh about it all. I am trying to hold on to the idea that what I write matters, both in this blog and in my fiction. I have been struggling to hold on to the idea that art matters, that novels matter, when I feel like I should be out marching instead of writing, or calling more senators and house representatives.

I am struggling to have enough energy to balance out all the things I want in my personal life with the national tragedy that is all around us. I am really struggling with dealing with the fact that so many people (again, including clients) don’t believe there is a national tragedy or fear the rise of white nationalism (and literal Nazis!) in our country.

I know that art matters. I know that it doesn’t have to be high and mighty, capital A Art to matter either. I know that distraction is not a bad thing when there is so much bad news happening all the time. And I know that for myself, I do best when I engage actively in creativity on a consistent basis.

And I also know that I am not the only one struggling right now, so I’m just going to put this here:

I’m going to go practice some art — even if I do it badly — so that I can refill my compassion well. It’s been on empty for a while.

Heroes Vs Villains

There is a saying that no villain really knows that they are a villain. We are all heroes in our own minds. But in fiction, it is also often true that heroes don’t know they are heroes. They resist the title. They push back against the events that would take them to heroic destiny. The good ones, the ones we relate to most, never really feel heroic so much as overwhelmed by the circumstances they face.

I have broken the main rule of the Internet: never read the comments. In reading the comments I find, over and over again, people so opposed to each other, they resort to insults, each side assuming the other is the biased one, the stupid one, the one who refuses to get it (or is incapable of getting it). Each side has painted theirs as the one full of heroes, the other the one full of villains.

How can this be?

It is enough to give me pause and wonder how I see myself, how I live my life, even how I write my characters. How have I decided what is heroic and what is villainous? What criteria was I using and why was I so sure I could tell the one from the other?

Maybe it was just circumstance — the heroes had the most bad things happening to them. Maybe it was just perspective. The heroes are the ones that get the most time spent on their thoughts, feelings, and motives. Heroes are the ones whose pain audiences are supposed to relate to, their reactions more justified, their mistakes made smaller with familiarity. They are allowed remorse, guilt, shame, and insecurity. They are the ones fighting for hope.

Or maybe it’s just about likability. Heroes are the ones we like — they have the charm, the talent, the special magical ability to make audiences want to find out more.

If I can’t say for sure which characters I have created are truly heroic, how can I say which people in life are truly villainous? Particularly when people on both sides are so determined that theirs is the side to be on?

After much thought and consideration, I finally came up with the only definition (and a working one at that) which could even start to help me make sense of the world: heroes are the ones that are willing to admit they are wrong, and they are the ones most likely to change and grow over time. Heroes are the ones looking to be redeemed, in whatever way they feel they need to be. Villains are the ones who aggressively refuse to change.

It’s not a perfect definition, and the distinction between heroes and villains, as much as there is one, is, I’m sure, much more nuanced than can be contained in one simple line (or three). But I need some measure, some way to determine if I actually really am on the right side, something that isn’t an appeal to authority or tradition. I need to know that flawed people can be heroic, and that not all villains have to stay that way.

Because the truth is that things in the world often feel very overwhelming. Life often feels full of obstacles I feel less than equipped to overcome. And I don’t feel like a hero. Yet I also know my thoughts and views have easily painted as me someone else’s villain. It gets murky, here the middle, in the real world, away from fiction (and non-fiction) organizing events to make one side seem better than the other. It’s hard to know what side I stand on, and I suppose throughout my life I will flit from the heroic to the villainous and back again, depending on circumstance, perspective, and context. Just because I think I’m right doesn’t necessarily mean that I am.

I’m prepared to be wrong though. And I think that is a good sign that maybe, just maybe, I lean toward the heroic. At least, that’s what I hope.

Radical Self-Love and Pride

I first became an activist in 2008, when, on the night of Barack Obama’s historic win of the presidential election, Proposition 8 passed in California, my home state, voters declaring that same-sex couples shouldn’t have the right to marry. I happened to be watching the results with a good friend and her girlfriend, on the day of my friend’s birthday. Her tears moved me to action, and when she looked for ways to get involved and protest Prop 8, I went with her.

That was also the first year I went to the Pride Parade in Los Angeles. It was the first time I became fully aware of the multitude of rights LGBTQ folks were being denied because of the bigotry of others. And it was the first time I understood what an ally was — and started the long process of learning to be one while confronting my own privilege.

A lot has changed for me since 2008, including earning a masters degree in social work, and working in the field for almost five years post-graduation. My understanding of privilege and being an ally has continued to evolve. It has not been an easy process, and in fact, I often find myself frustrated both with the multitude of battles for equality that still need to be fought, and the various ways I have, both specifically and generically as a white woman, been called out. I am reminded daily that I need to  be called out in order to grow — and that it is up to me to work through my frustration in order to be an effective ally.

June is Pride month in many places across the US, including NY (where I am now). It has also been a very challenging month. It was the one-month anniversary of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It had the devastating results of the case against the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile (acquittal). It was yet another month full of terrorist attacks against Muslims, both here in the US and abroad. My social media feeds continue to be filled with heartbreaking story after story. Most of us are still reeling from the reality of living in a post-Trump world, and all the hatred that has emerged with it.

I am back to wondering what it is to be an ally, and what it means to make space for pride in my life, not just as someone who feels more queer than straight (though isn’t sure how to identify as queer without a strict label to go with it), but as someone who constantly spends time with others who take pride in the very identities that they are prosecuted and attacked for. Pride is a radical act of defiance in the face of oppression. Pride is about daring to celebrate, even in the midst of all the reasons to mourn. Pride is about radical self-love, and radically loving others.

So I am sharing with folks several websites that have become my go-to spaces for helping me grow as an ally, and celebrate the concept of radical love and pride all year long:

The Body is Not an Apology: founded by Sonya Renee Taylor, the mission of the website is to “foster global, radical, unapologetic self love which translates to radical human love and action in service toward a more just, equitable and compassionate world.”

Everyday Feminism: founded by Sandra Kim, the mission is “to help people dismantle everyday violence, discrimination, and marginalization through applied intersectional feminism and to create a world where self-determination and loving communities are social norms through compassionate activism.”

Wear Your Voice Magazine: is an intersectional feminist magazine “run by women and femmes of color who are trying to make more room for marginalized voices away from the white, cis-centric, heteronormative, patriarchal gaze.”

PEN America: part of PEN International, it is an community that works together to “ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others” with a specific focus on “the intersection of literature and human rights.”

And finally:

Pajiba: a community of movie and pop culture reviewers and commenters that is my favorite corner of the Internet, and who I have been reading for so long, I have added all the writers as social media friends because I feel like I know them that well. Radical self-love is also about connecting with community, and I have been part of this online community (if often as a lurker) for as long as I can remember.

Learning to Let Go

A writer friend of mine told me that being in your 20s is all about unbridled optimism that anything can happen, while being in your 30s is about figuring out your limitations, and what really is possible. Limitations are hard, she said. But it makes life so much easier when you just accept who you really are instead of constantly banging your head against your own weaknesses, hoping they’ll stop existing.

When I was younger, I had all these visions about what my life was going to look like, and what the future was going to hold for me. I was sold on my own potential, something adults had assured me I had plenty of for most of my life, but I also found it paralyzing. I could do anything. I could do anything. And that meant I had to pick and choose and apparently be very very good at it or else I would be wasting all that potential.

Things in my life did  not go as planned. In fact, they keep not going as planned. I have spent a lot of time trying to fit myself into spaces where I just don’t fit, and even if I managed to force my way in, being in them would make me constantly uncomfortable, and completely inauthentic. And why? Because of some worry that I was failing to live up to something as ill-defined as potential?

I was talking about feeling stuck, overwhelmed by the potential of my story. “Over determination is the enemy,” my friend reminded me. She told me to stop trying to force it, to move back toward writing as play. It was almost shocking advice. I have spent a long time trying to embrace writing as work. Somewhere along the way I forgot that it is also supposed to be fun.

And that life is supposed to be fun — or at least not miserable. If I was working on not forcing things in my greater life, why would I then be willing to force things in my writing? I had to let go.

It’s scary to let go. It’s scary to abandon plans — or to at least pull back on the details. It’s scary to imagine that at best you can aim for a certain direction and see what happens. As in life, so it is in writing. All the outlining in the world won’t actually take your story where it needs to go.

More importantly, worrying about living up to the potential of a story — or of a life — is a great way to squander said potential. No one person can do ALL the things in life. The therapist part of me of course knows this, but the writer part of me often forgets it. The story will come when it comes, and how it will come, and it won’t be forced.

So that’s where I am these days — trying to learn the art of letting go. My hope is that my letting go this idea of unrealized potential I can start to better focus on what already is, what I am already good at, and what I already know. I can stop living in the shadow of what could be, and enjoy the light of what actually is.

I think I’d rather be in the light.

 

*Originally posted on The Stiletto Gang

The Flying of Time

There comes a point in a new position where everything begins to feel routine. Where the schedule is pretty locked in, the tasks rote, and the days start to blend together. I always worry when this happens, because as the weeks whirl into months, I feel my life passes before my eyes at an almost numbing speed. I become complacent.

Writing is the only thing that seems to help keep the flying of time in check, because it is a measurable use of time. Most of my tasks disappear, as it were, by the next week. As a therapist, I see the same people over and over again, marking their progress with notes written weekly and treatment plans written every three months. But the progress in therapy is sometimes is small, and hard to see from week to week, like tracking the growth of a child. You know they are growing, but it takes a while to actually see it.

At the breakneck speed of a mental health clinic where I see clients one right after another, with one short break midway through a stretch of 9 clients in a row, it’s hard to spend a lot of time processing each session to look for those moments of growth or change. Each week picks up on the topics of the previous, so it feels sometimes like I am binging other people’s lives.

And it sometimes feels like in doing so I am neglecting my own. Again, writing is one of the few things that keeps me grounded in my own goals and dreams, and helps me see my own growth. I can see the pages that mark the passing of time, see the drafts build, one on another, and when I hit that final draft, have an actual product to give people that is a physical manifestation of “how I used my time.”

However, I struggle to make time for writing. It often comes after — after work, after chores, after general life maintenance. It’s been hard to put writing first. When I look back over a stretch of time and see how few pages I have to show for that period of time, I know my priorities have drifted away from me, and that my routine has taken over.

You’d think that the natural thing to do is to make writing part of that routine, and that has always been my goal. But with so little time, and so many other things going on, it continues to be very hard to make the kind of dedicated writing time I want. I end up getting snatches of time here and there, which never seem to let me get to the place I want to get to, where the words just flow and the story takes over. That is what I miss, more than anything, when I say I miss writing. I miss being a conduit instead of a work horse. I miss feeling inspired instead of feeling obligated. I miss getting quality time with my own imaginary adventures.

So, now that I see that my time management has gotten away from me, it’s time to make adjustments and put writing back up on the priority list. I know doing that though means that some other things may start to slide. There simply just isn’t enough time for everything. I have to use the time I have better.

The Good Parts

I have a confession to make: when I read books, I tend to skip through large swaths of text. It started when I was a kid, reading fantasy novels. I adore fantasy novels. But without fail, every fantasy author I have ever read has spent a tremendous amount of time describing things. Now, when you are creating a world mostly from scratch, there are a lot of new things to describe. World-building takes a lot of time (as I am learning, since I am now writing a contemporary fantasy novel), and authors want to make sure that effort shows in their book.

And while I know there are readers who really appreciate those long, detailed passages that describe all the unique things of that magical new world, I am not one of them. I find myself skimming, searching out the gist of whatever is being described — the character likes fancy clothing or the home is drafty and cold — and then move on to dialogue and action. Sometimes I have to go back and actually read something I’ve skimmed through because I’ve missed something important, but mostly I can get away with skipping entire paragraphs without missing anything significant.

This is not just a fantasy and science fiction problem either — I have ready plenty of mysteries where characters are described like the author is working with a sketch artist, and romances where the heroine’s wardrobe has gotten more page-space than the love scenes.

I should say that I have never not enjoyed a book because I skipped over the long descriptions — in fact, some of the best lines I have ever read have been in those passages (when I have read them). They just tend to interfere with my primary driving force as a reader — to find out what happens next.

Now that I am trying to create a new world, I find myself writing those same long passages that describe everything. And honestly, I have been wondering just how much I have to actually include — and how much I can get away with leaving out. It is an essential question for every writer — how much can you trust the reader to fill in the blanks?

I know there is no one-size-fits-all level of description that will satisfy every reader, and certainly I may be on the far side of the spectrum in the number of scenes I gloss over. And while there probably are more writers not writing enough vivid description, I also don’t want to be one of those writers that overdoes it either. But it’s a hard balance to achieve.

But, since I am making my confession, I should also make my apologies. To most every author I have ever read, even the ones I loved — I am sorry for not actually reading all the words you wrote. I am sure they were amazing words. Gorgeous descriptions. Pure poetry. I likely skipped your best lines.

But I probably loved your book, anyway.