Thursday, June 30, 2011


I just entered a prestigious writing contest.

It took three days of emotional blood, sweat and tears to write this story. I gave it 100% and, even though I know it has some flaws, I'm proud of it. I wrote about family and friendship ... and an ominous intergalactic agency whose mission may or may not be evil.

I may have said this before, but bear with me since my memory is about as long as my fingernails (and I keep them cut short for piano, guitar and handling small children):

I've invested years of my life training my singing voice. Not because I wanted to improve upon a talent but because I had no musical talent to begin with. And I love music. And singing makes me happy. So I wanted to be able to do it better. So I invested a lot of money and time and effort into learning how to sing. I consider myself somewhat capable now, but I lack things that can't be taught.

On the other hand, I have always had a natural aptitude for writing. I wrote poetry through elementary school, took AP English classes, acted as editor-in-chief for my high school yearbook, attended young writer's conferences, devoured literature voraciously, and majored in Communications in college. (I've also been blogging since 2003, folks! I had no idea it had been that long!) It's the one natural talent I think God gave to me. And I have completely neglected it.

I put it up on a shelf, scared to death of what would happen if I ever took it down and dusted it off. Why? Because if I put my heart and soul into the one thing I do the best, and it's still not very good, where does that leave me? Feeling pathetic, that's where.

So when I wrote stories in the last few years, I said proudly, "This is just therapeutic. It's for me, because I love to write." Kind of like, "See? I don't care if you don't like it, because it's not for you anyway."

At some point in the last year, though, that wasn't good enough anymore. I am ready to put myself out there, open to criticism and rejection, because I believe in myself. And I am sick of burying a talent in the sand. Yeah, it might not be much of a talent, but it's all I got so I should make the most of it.

So today marks the first day when I open myself up to real, legitimate rejection. And I fully expect to get that rejection letter in the email box a couple months from now. It'll sting a bit, but it's better than never trying. The real triumph here is me choosing to take the leap.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Am I Magic?

I put Eden in her crib with a cup of milk, closed the blinds, turned on the lamp, twisted up the music box to play its broken melody and then prostrated myself to find a pacifier under the crib. After pushing aside two (probably moldy) bottles and a torn canvas toy cover, I found the prayed-for pacifiers against the far wall. Wriggling under the crib and reaching as far as my T-Rex/5'4"-personage arms could, I barely reached them.

Success was, literally, within my grasp and I was backing out from under the crib when something happened. I had no idea what it was; the unexpected rarely announces itself in comprehensible bullet points. My nervous system informed me that there was sudden and severe pain on the side of my head. Just like that: pain. It's interesting to me that the pain registered first and then I became aware that I was being pummeled by some unseen object. Wouldn't you expect yourself to mentally register the impact and then subsequent pain?

I screeched out in high-pitched girlie mode, grasping the side of my head where I had been attacked. After bravely yelling, "Owie! Owie! Owie! Owie!" so loudly that my son upstairs came running down in a panic, I looked around for the aggressor. There it was, lying on the floor: a tattered unicorn. Yes, the same one that I blogged about last week. The unicorn of youthful sentiment. It attacked me harshly from its precarious perch up above.

"What happened?" asked my husband, running in from the other room.

With eyes pinched shut in pain and hands pressed to my bleeding ear, I said, "The unicorn fell on me. It hit me on the head." I pointed at the fallen unicorn.

Apparently the whole pity-me-because-I-just-got-attacked-by-a-unicorn bit was unimpressive to my husband because he immediately replied, "Oh, are you magical now?"

"No," I replied. "This is my blood, not the unicorn's. The unicorn is fine."

I'm not really sure of my logic with that last bit, so I'm secretly hoping that I actually am magical now. If so, I hope I have some really cool ability like being able to finally grow taller than 5'4" so I can reach behind the crib without hurting myself.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Music Box

Years ago, or so I am told, my father gave my mother a small bronze music box. A unicorn atop the box twirled to the strains of Fur Elise. As a child, I was completely entranced by the music box. I sat with knees hugged to my chest, staring at the unicorn's dance. More often, though, I would take the unicorn from its throne and stare at the mechanical inner workings. Simple technology creating art. Wind, wind, wind, play, play, play.

Though my parents divorced and the music box lost its shine, it never lost any of the enchantment. Over the years, the inner workings have broken. A broken melody, at best. A piece of the base is chipped away forever. It is half an object, but I still keep it for sentiment.

As I put my daughter to sleep just now, I wound up the tired music box and let the unicorn dance to half a melody. My daughter stared at it, lost in the beauty of such a thing, as she drifted off to sleep.

My life is abundantly blessed.