Posted in Thoughts

Pain and Heartache

A Thousand Tiny Cuts

This past week has been a bit painful. Many of you know our infant grandson passed away. While I cannot know the pain his parents are going through, it has been doubly hard seeing your child suffering along with losing a beautiful new grandbaby. While grief itself will not kill us, sometimes the way we handle grief can.

As a fiction writer, I talk about pain and grief more easily than I do in real life. The filter through which I write my fiction allows me to view the world in such a way that makes the pain more bearable.

There is a torture method called a thousand tiny cuts. Many of you who watch spy movies or read criminal suspense thrillers may already be familiar with this. It was used on prisoners of war. It was designed to give maximum pain without fear of death. Think of a paper cut. A paper cut hurts, can even bleed but seldom leaves a scar and I’ve never known of one that was life threatening. If you have several paper cuts, one of them might leave a scar but it is doubtful you will die. You get the idea. Now imagine several cuts, some shallow like a paper cut, others just slightly deeper but none truly deep. If you are cut many times in the same place, after a while you build up scar tissue. Your skin thickens and in order to do damage your torturer must cut deeper, and the risk of death becomes greater.

In fiction as in real life, we deal with many little hurts. People are cruel or inconsiderate. Their words or actions cut and sting, some draw blood. Some of these hurts are done without malice, a parent fearing a child might get hurt if they try, might make them believe they cannot do something. That lack of faith cuts into their psyche and undermines their self-esteem. A sibling might tease leaving behind a scar that never goes away. Other cuts are done on purpose, a bully who cuts you down to make himself feel better or a cheating lover who blames you for their own weaknesses. Many cuts are done blindly, the person with the knife doesn’t know how much hurt their cut inflicts, some may not care.

This past week I felt as if I’d been sliced and diced. I’m still a bit raw but I’m healing. Some people choose to heap on more cuts when you are already bleeding but there are others who bring out the soothing balm and wrap your wounds.

In writing my new novel, my main character Janie butts heads with a controlling mother who has made her believe she couldn’t do anything because of her mother’s fears for her. She also suffers from a jealous sister and a well-meaning brother whose interference altered her life. After learning the truth of their involvement, she must work through her anger and betrayal to see if she can forgive them.

As Sheryl Crow sang, “The first cut is the deepest,” my character Janie revisits her first love but doesn’t trust herself enough to believe in second chances. Can the truth really set you free, and can Mike “…help me dry the tears that I’ve cried.”

Posted in my books, Thoughts

Discovering my Voice

Few people know I’m shy and timid, and a bit of an introvert. Okay, stop laughing, I am really, though I hide it well. In high school, I began speaking up for myself. It didn’t come naturally but with the encouragement of my mentor, Ms. Glenoria Jennette and one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Justice Tice, I began to find my voice. My husband, David, in the course of our marriage and raising our six boys has tried to help me find my courage. My sons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, also taught me how to find my voice. Sometimes it was in their defense but often it was mediating between them.

For someone who is timid and fearful, standing up and making your voice heard is often difficult and emotionally exhausting. It’s much easier (less problematic) to just remain silent and stew in your insecurities. Writing is another way I have found my voice. Sharing my writing with others is terrifying and the many rejections I’ve received over the years has thickened my skin, though I am still insecure and tender hearted I handle it a little better now.

“A coward dies many deaths…,” If I could be anything, I’d be brave. For if I were brave then nothing would stop me from fulfilling my dreams. In my stories, I want my characters to be people who find their voice, their strength and their courage to face the task ahead of them. Whether it be allowing themselves to be loved or looking down the barrel of a gun, I want my characters to overcome their fears and conquer it.

My characters, like the main character in my novel “Chrome Pink”, are damaged personalities. Most of us don’t make it to adult-hood without some baggage. Rae Lynne Grimes has more than most but she is stronger than she realizes. She is a survivor—a fighter. After being raped and humiliated in high school, she fought back. Her anger and addictions nearly ruined her as she struggled with the shame and the pain, but with the love and help of her grandfather and her best friends she learned to cope with the demons. Hardened by her past, Rae still manages to retain a kindness the belies her tough exterior. Like many of the people we know, Rae has had to deal with the drama she didn’t create as well as her own bad choices. Her life hasn’t been a fairy tale and she is no one’s idea of a princess. She will tell you herself, she isn’t easy to love, but for that one person—she is everything. Logan Birdsong who sees past the tattoos and piercings, the foul mouth and anger, in his eyes, she is a jewel in the rough. While he has his own burdens, it is Rae’s strength and determination that pushes the story forward.

It is for those who will never reach the ball, those women who are destined to deal with the bad choices they’ve made, that I write. I want to tell the story of a women too tough to lay down and die. Women who go through hell and not only did survive, but thrive. I want to show others going through their own versions of hell, that they are not alone.

 

Posted in inspiration, Story, Thoughts

The Power and The Pain

I duck my head and hold my books close to my chest hoping to go unnoticed.

“Hey fellows look who it is, city shitty,” the older boy chants. His words are mimicked by the group of boys with him. All of them are several years older than me.

He reaches out and knocks the books from my hands. I blink back tears. Like blood in the water, my weakness attracts more abuse. Like sharks they circle, chanting and touching, pushing and crowding, I gasp for breath, my heart racing, fear threatens to loosen my bladder.

“Hey, you boys, leave her alone and get on the bus,” the teacher orders.

I gather my books and smile in relief and appreciation at the teacher.

“You need to toughen up, fight back,” he tells me.

I look up at him, six-foot tall and wide as a door. Tears blur my vision as I rush to the bus. I don’t know how to fight.

I squeeze past the boys standing in the aisles. They turn to face me, blocking the seats up front where I like to sit. The move their hips suggestively and laugh at my discomfort.

“Whew, what is that I smell?”

“I bet she pissed her pants.”

I hadn’t, at least not yet.

“Nah, I bet she’s just creamed her jeans.” He stroked my arm moving close to my undeveloped breast.

Chill bumps pebble my arms. There’s a tingling in my chest and a fluttering in my tummy. I shift sideways and push past the bullies.

“Leave her alone guys or I’ll kick you off the bus,” the bus driver, a high school boy, shuts the door and eases into the lineup. “Take your seats before we get wrote up.”

Perching on their seats, they look back to where I sit just in front of the black kids who huddle at the back of the bus. “Do you know what a carpenter’s dream is?”

“A girl flat as a board.” The boys laugh.

One of the black girls, I don’t know her name, whispers, “Don’t let them know they hurt you.”

Her sister tells her to stay out of it. “If they’re picking on her they’re leaving us alone.”

“Just keep your head down and ignore them,” the girl continues to whisper.

I nod and open my book, loosing myself in reading.

The boys continued their jokes. “I think she might be a Pirate’s girl.”

The boys laughed in reply, “A sunken treasure.”

I didn’t understand half of what they were talking about and that makes it easier to ignore them.

The bus makes several stops, the girls behind me rise. We’re on the road to my house. I glance up as they pass and the girl who looks close to my age smiles at me. I return the smile. I’ll ask my daddy who they are when he gets home.

Just a few more stops and I’m almost home. I rise and gather my things.

The older boys stand up and lean out of their seats. One of them grabs my hands and puts it on the fly of his jeans. I snatch my hand away and stumble from the bus. I hear the bus driver threatening the boy but know nothing will happen. Nothing ever does.

I wish him dead.

He is killed in a car accident a few years later, I cannot mourn him. In truth, I am thankful he is gone. Over forty years later and I still feel the fear and shame, bullying has lasting effects.

 

When my grandson complained of being bullied, my first reaction was to tell him to toughen up, fight back, don’t let them see your pain. What is the answer to dealing with a bully? I still have trouble standing up for myself, being brave, finding my voice. I believe, that is why I write.

 

Posted in Thoughts

Death waits for her

I see her laying there, the pain intense upon her pale face. The blue veins of her eyelids look bruised as her eyes flutter with agitation. She groans in her sleep, restless and exhausted. Death plays her cruel joke teasing and taunting, it threatens to take her only to leave her in pain. What is worse to pray for death yet linger or fear it and be taken with it’s swift sword. Death waits for her, hovering just out of reach. Death waits for her.