The Baby Poet with the Purple Notebook

The month of April is flying by, so I suppose I should do my annual Poetry Month blog. In the past, I have shared my poetry, I have shared the poems of my friends, I have written about poets that I like, and about my feelings towards the craft itself. Today I will write about when I was a brand new poet, with my purple notebook.

I fell in love with poetry when I was 14, sitting in Mrs. Halm’s Freshman English classroom. She had us write a poem of any kind, and I penned several lines about the changes I was going through having left Elementary School and starting High School. She told me it was great, she gave me an A, and I hung it in my locker for the rest of the year. Sometime after that, I acquired my purple notebook.

My purple notebook was more important to me then any other book or folder in my backpack. Sure, I’d forget my math notes, but I would never forget my purple notebook. It was full of my poems, and quotes I had heard that I loved, and versus from other poets that resonated with me. Also during my Freshman year, Mrs. Halm asked me to contribute something to the school literary magazine- which now that I think about it, we only did when I was a Freshman, and I really would have liked that as a Senior. But I digress…

Anyway, she asked me to write a short story, so I did, and a lot of girls at school complimented me on it. It was the first time I received real recognition for writing from my peers, because it’s not like any of my grade school chums actually read the literary magazine that I contributed to back then. Plus, that was all teacher-guided poetry- not anything from my heart. So sometime in my Junior year, friends started inquiring what I was writing in my purple notebook. They had assumed it was a sort of diary, and when I said it was full of quotes and poems, they were surprised. I had started sharing some of my poems with my friends, and they all liked them. Then came my Senior year, and everyone was scrambling to find quotes for their Senior yearbook section.

I had one friend named Beth, and I remember sitting in class with her as she asked if she could borrow my book to look for a quote. She read much of it, and the compliments she gave me about my writing have stuck with me some 20 odd years later. We were not good friends; good acquaintances, perhaps- but I have not seen her since graduation. Still, I have never forgotten her due to her reaction to my writing. In fact, when I wrote my novella, I had the events of the book take place on her birthday, as a small homage to someone who bolstered my spirits once.

Shortly after this experience, I gained the confidence to share my work with a broader community- at which point I found the now defunct I mean, it’s not really dead, you can go there, it’s active- but it is not the site that I used 20 years ago. On that site, I was able to submit poetry online. At the end of my Senior year, quite literally the day after the end of classes, I got a letter in the mail saying that one of my poems would be included in an anthology. I’m pretty sure it was one of those things where they pick a bunch of poems and then try and get you to buy the anthology, but it was a big deal for me at the time, if only from a self-esteem point of view.

Fast forward through college, where I met others who enjoyed my writing, not just friends- professors, too. I received an A for a play I wrote for fun and submitted as my final English project. I was told to submit my poetry to the literary magazine, though I never got around to it. I received A’s on every monologue I wrote for theater class. I received A’s on every paper I wrote, in fact. I aced every essay portion of every test except for French. And all the while, I kept scrawling in my little purple notebook. When Mark and I met when we were 20, I remember reading him a couple of poems. He didn’t know a poem from a hole in the wall, but he told me it was more beautiful than the things he’d read in school, and it made me start to love him a little. To this day, my husband has me read him everything I write- the only things he hasn’t heard are the books, because I just don’t have the time to read those aloud. Reading itself is not easy for him, but he loves the words I put together.

Around the time that Mark and I broke up back in 2003, my purple notebook got filled finally,, and then packed away in a suitcase in the back of my closet with the others. “The others” are all the journals I kept from the age of 14 onward. I journaled constantly, as it was my main coping mechanism through my teens and 20s, but then one fateful day in 2007, I had a little bit of a meltdown. I dragged that suitcase down from the shelf in the closet, and I destroyed 15 notebooks. Most were journals, one was a dream diary, one or two were full of poems. Only one survived death- my purple notebook. I could not bear myself to get rid of it, because while it was a symbol of pain like the others, it’s greatness far outweighed it’s sorrow. I have a huge Tupperware container filled with special items from my life, and I put it in that box, tucked safely away. I could not say goodbye to that purple notebook- that would be too much. That would be too final.

You know, if you are subscriber to my Patreon, I urge you to check in tomorrow. I intend to post a poem from that notebook- something I wrote when I was only 16, and the first poem that I truly shared with my mother. I performed it for her and my Aunt Ka, and they were blown away. My mother explained that she didn’t know I could write like that, which is saying something because she thought I was the best writer in the world since I was about 6 years old. I just have to dig up the notebook and transcribe it, which will happen sometime in the afternoon.

I suppose I should take this opportunity to hype my Patreon? It’s $5 a month, and you get a weekly update from me- always new stuff that you can’t get anywhere else. I know I need to put some more effort into it, and if I really think about it I should be moving half the blog over there and charging folks, but somehow that still makes me feel grimy inside. So instead I offer you the latest in my writing world, available only on Patreon. I am considering adding a $1 tier as well, where I perhaps share two items a month or so, but that also means I have to ramp up the offerings for my $5 a month patrons. See, now I’m just thinking out loud…just check out my Patreon, and consider joining up if you really love my stuff. Here is a link.

Anyway, that is the tale of my purple notebook, that traveled with me for about 10 years and kept me sane during that time. That was my Xanax before I had Xanax. So happy Poetry Month, and happy Tuesday. I hope your words come together for you today.  


Where the Kids Hang Out

The whole family came down with a stomach bug after Sunday night, when we had our Corned Beef Cook-off. My sister called me, because she was very sick, and needed me to bring her Ginger Ale. I, of course, ran into the burning building of germs because that is what I do when my baby sister needs me. The next day, I felt like crap. I spent most of the day sleeping, and when I woke up I felt a lot better. I had made plans to go to a poetry reading on Wednesday night, and since I was no longer ill, I figured I would give it a go. Probably a mistake, since by the time I got home I felt terrible again, but this blog is not about feeling terrible, this is about the brief moment in which I did not.

Now, as the usual reader knows, I attend a poetry night at a bookstore near my house about once a month. In fact, I was the featured reader last October, and I have sadly not been in attendance since, because weather forced it to close for a few months, and then Momma passing caused ME to close for a few months. (By the way, both are back open.) I plan to attend tonight’s reading, but it all really depends on how I feel when I get out of work. But that is beside the point, which is that I went to a reading on Wednesday.

I started attending the bookstore reading pre-pandemic, when it was a mix of a crowd and I was far too anxious to try and speak to anyone. I arrived, read my poems, and went home. Then the world got sick, and we stopped doing things for a while, and when poetry night returned it was in a different incarnation, run by a different moderator, and with a different group of people. I got to know their faces and styles of poetry over the past year, and I like them all very much. However, and I am not saying this in any sort of bragging way, but I am almost always the youngest person in the room. This is not a problem for me, because I have always interacted with “adults” better than my peers. But I also know that poetry is having a renaissance here in Buffalo, and I’ve been to one or two events where there was a younger group of poets. But I only knew a couple of them, and I didn’t know where they hung out! It certainly was not the little bookstore I went to the last Friday of every month, so where have they been? I started looking around for other readings or workshops last year, and I discovered that there was a coffee shop in the Elmwood Village that was doing readings on Wednesday nights. I further discovered this night was hosted by my favorite local poet, and so I decided to attend. Of course, every time there was a reading something came up. It was almost always my health, so on Wednesday when I woke up sick, I was not at all surprised it would be ruining my plans again. However, I then slept for 6 hours, and when I woke up I felt like I could take on the world. It was a blessed break from feeling crappy, and it came at the perfect moment, right in time for me to go read a couple poems at a coffee shop to a group of strangers.

Because that’s what they were: strangers. There was a single man there that I have seen before, an older gentleman with a rambling poem that transports you back in time. I saw him once or twice at the bookstore, but every other face in the crowd aside from Justin’s was unfamiliar to me. And I don’t even know Justin that well! I thought to myself that there was a time when I would never have been able to go to this event. It took a lot of work to get me to the one at the bookstore back in the day, with me waging a constant war against my anxiety. But now, there I was, performing my poetry for a crowd of folks I had never seen before. Progress.

What struck me was the age of the folks in attendance. I was surprised to find people younger than me, older than me, and most surprising…folks my own age! It’s not that I feel out of place at the bookstore, but I do often feel like the baby of group. Here, I blended into the crowd and that is something that my anxiety really enjoyed. Then, it was my turn to read. I read Heaven is History, my little rhyming poem about the afterlife, which was met with much applause and cheering. Then I read Brigid, my poem about the saint/goddess, and myself and my mother, to which I received massive applause, as well as someone in the crowd screaming “Go, poet!” I don’t know who that was- but they made my freaking day. I felt really good afterwards, and driving home I thought to myself that there was nothing I could not accomplish.  Of course, then I woke up sick in the morning, but that is beside the point as well.

Tonight, I have the bookstore, but I have decided that I will be attending the coffee shop as well from this point forward. The older group gets together on Wednesday’s at a venue in Amherst, and while I would really like to check that out at some point, I think my Wednesday’s will now be devoted to a different crowd. It’s not like I’m going to stop going to the Friday night readings, because I have been going for a year now and I very much appreciate and admire the folks I have met. But the circle is small there, and I need to expand my reach. So we will incorporate Wednesday evenings into the rotation. Mark mentioned the age differences between the two groups to me, and I smiled. Perhaps I will write a poem about them, how they write about different topics, with very different voices, and live life in different ways. And yet, no matter our age or walk of life, we come together to read our work and express our love of existence. That has no age limit.

Step One

Sometime before Christmas, I turned off my computer. See, it was too close to the heating vent, and as a result the fan seem to be working overtime. It made far too much noise, and so I turned it off. I adjusted it’s position, figured maybe it just needed a break for a day or two, and I walked away. I already had not used it much since October, when we moved into the new apartment. See, I love my new apartment, but I did sacrifice my office for it. Now I have a small set up in my bedroom, but it is not the same. I have had a lot of trouble sitting there and writing, and also some crazy nonsense happened with my pinky finger, so sometimes it is hard to type. I used the computer sporadically through October and November and a little of December before turning it off for a break, hoping the whirring sound that I heard was simply it overheating due to running too long and being too close to the vent. And then, I did not turn it on again until yesterday.

See, my mother up and died, and while that did not stop me from writing in general, it did hinder my work on my greater projects, all of which exists inside my computer. Everything I have put out since December, be it blog or Patreon essay or poem, has been written on my phone. In fact, much of it has been dictated, due to what I believe maybe the start of some arthritis in my hands. It’s not that I can’t type, but I can’t go as long as I used to or as fast, which gets very frustrating for me. It’s much like how reading is slower for me now given the wear and tear of my eyeballs.

Anyway, yesterday I fired up the computer and she ran beautifully and silently, albeit slow as molasses. She’s an old model, so it takes her a while to get started. I went on a hunt for an essay I wrote back in 2007 about my sister, and when I found it I posted it to my Patreon. It is a little piece that I always imagined I would use as a chapter in an autobiography, but of course I now think it is substandard writing. Also, it is a snapshot of a moment in time- a time when I was still adapting to having a sister, and not being an only child anymore. Now, I have adjusted to the situation, so I believe the story of her birth would look different if I wrote it today. But I digress…

Anyway, the computer was soundless, so I left it on. It’s on right now, even though I am sitting on my couch in my living room using my phone to pen this blog. I don’t know why I am not comfortable using it yet, but I do know that yesterday- I turned it on. So, baby steps.

Wind, Work, and Writing

As I sit here, I can hear the wind howling outside. My phone tells me it is 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and -15 is the “feels like” temperature. I spent the morning mostly outdoors, safely bundled but wishing I had put on a third layer because it was certainly colder than I expected. It wasn’t, however, as hard as I expected to work in the cold, and at one point I did think to myself that if it were a nice summer day it would be an enjoyable morning of work. Really though, it was an enjoyable morning of work. I can’t really explain to you why I like working at Avis, because you would probably find it to be a slightly dull job. But, I suppose it is more exciting then sitting at a desk and working on a computer or answering the phone, or sitting on a factory line, or maybe for me, sitting is just the equivalent of dullness. Anyway, I am almost always on the move at Avis, even more so than I am at the school job. So it was easy for me to keep warm despite the frigid temperatures coming off Lake Erie.

After I got home, I sat down to write but nothing really came up. I was going to do a poem about the cold and the weather, but no new words seemed to needed to be said about the subject. Then I realized I updated the blog on Wednesday, which means it’s due to be updated today, if I want to keep up with my twice a week postings. And since I am doing a terrible job of sticking to Tuesday and Thursday as planned, I am insisting upon myself to at least keep the numbers up. So I tried to write this blog, but nothing really came up again, and so that led me to organizing the files that are saved to my phone.

I edited three poems, and put them together as the beginning of a submission packet. I haven’t sent out a packet in over a year; in fact I haven’t sent out much of anything in over a year. That’s not to say that work has not been produced (you can find everything new on Patreon on Wednesdays…hint.) However, I have not find tuned anything and presented it for reading in quite some time. So today, I started to work on that.

I need a publication. Even if it’s just a tiny poem in an obscure journal, it would be a delight- simply because I haven’t had anything out in a while and I could use a little boost of serotonin. See, I am still very stressed out about a certain mini-chap that should have gone to press over a year ago. I still do not know what is happening with it, and have been completely unable to contact anybody. I am about to take it elsewhere, because I think I could find another home for it- I just really loved what this press had planned. It’s just a disappointment, and frankly I am not in the mood for anymore of those.

So here we are, on a day where I don’t really have anything to write about, but I feel like I have to write, anyway. I guess I just take a minute to write about writing? I have some big writing goals this year, and a month has already disappeared in a blink. So, I guess I need to get myself organized again. Wish me luck, and happy Friday.

Writer’s Burnout

Oh my God, I think I have writer’s block.  I can’t settle on a topic, can’t choose a project, and have started this blog seven times. I can’t focus to edit the WIP and I can’t decide on anything for the blog, and I can’t create something new for the Patreon, so I am panicking.  I finally have a little time to write, given that school is out for the day for elections, but I have nothing.

Election Day in the USA!  Right??  No!  I tried that topic, but I don’t have anything to say that I haven’t said already.  Any seasoned reader knows this is one of my top five holidays’, and I of course did my civic duty bright and early.  You should do the same…and that’s literally all I have to say on that. 

I opened my WIP and stared at it for a few minutes, so if that counts as writing then I am doing just fine.  And I also tried to pen some Patreon poetry, but it is lacking.  So instead I will obsess over what to post tomorrow until I finally force something out of myself that I don’t quite love…ick. That sounds terrible.

A weatherman on Twitter said that if you live within 200 miles of a Great Lake, expect the snow this weekend.  Since I live literally two miles from one of those guys, I suppose autumn is over now.  Maybe that’s why i feel so tired.  We just changed the stupid clocks again, so naturally it feels like 6pm right now though it is not even three in the afternoon.  I want a cup of cocoa and a good movie and a blanket, but I am pushing myself to live life…which I shouldn’t, in a sense.  There’s that quote, that if you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.  That is so true, and I am trying to remember that as I sit here and try to convince myself that taking a bubble bath would be a productive thing.  It doesn’t feel that way…but it is.

No.  I refuse to bend to writer’s block; I will only suffer a little writer’s burnout.  Easily remedied by an easy to make dinner and a Hulu subscription. Away I go.


Earlier this month I set up my profile page for this years National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, or henceforth, just NaNo.  I decided I would do my “final” draft of my novel, assuming as one does that by the start of November my life would be a little more in order…and it is.  However, time is now a factor.  I work every afternoon at the school, and 3-5 mornings a week at Avis.  On top of that I have writing responsibilities, household responsibilities, deep-dive motherhood on weekends, a mother who is sick in another state, and my own mental and physical well-being to deal with.  It can get overwhelming, so why am I trying to throw 1,667 words a day on top of it?

Because I am a writer, and I am crazy.

As evidenced by the fact that I’ve been up since 3am waiting to write this, but there wasn’t enough light until now at a quarter to eight.  I am really missing my office right now…it is the only thing i have missed from the old apartment.  I hate having this noisy old computer in my bedroom, and I don’t feel as much good energy as I did when there was a door that I could fling open and let in the air and sun.  I wrote the first draft of my novel there, and I am a little sad I will be finishing it elsewhere. 

But then, will I ever finish it?

I like NaNo because it pushes me to write, and I work well with deadlines.  It helps me get organized and stay focused on the task.  Last year, I ate, slept, and breathed my book throughout the month of November, and I won NaNo, and I got my +50k words.  Just like I did when I won in 2019 with my novella, The Second Before.  The following year, I planned on starting my first draft of my novel, and broke my pinky.  Then last year, I accomplished the feat.  This year…well, I think it’s a broken-pinky year.  Seriously…there is something wrong with my hand.  Same pinky, but this time it is a pain in the knuckle.  Anytime my doctor would like to call me back would be great.  But I digress…

My point is that I feel like I will maybe give it a go, but I also think it isn’t going to work out, and I don’t know if it’s my self-doubt or my psychic abilities talking this time.  Thing is, I know deep down that finishing this is my key to financial freedom…I don’t usually brag about my stuff, but if I retained wide publication with this book, Netflix would come calling.  As a theatrical person, I can confidently say it would make a great little script.  Alas, I am stalled because…life.

I think of Stephen, of course, tossing the first chapters of Carrie into the trash, certain no one would read it.  That was me, last year.  I think about JKR a lot, too (despite not wanting to anymore,) but I imagine her sitting in a little coffee shop or something penning Harry Potter on napkins and waiting for the welfare check to come in the mail.  That is me, right now. 

My book is this lovely little cup, see.  It’s a little mishappen…think of a Rae Dunn mug, Many imperfections, not quite circular, but sturdy and simple…useful.  That is what I have right now.  I mean, I started with just the lump of clay and formed me up some pottery, so I am pleased with what I have accomplished and if I stopped there, it would still be a valiant effort.  But what I want is an ornate teacup.  The teacup is beautiful and perfect and free of flaws, usually with an accompanying coaster (read: film option.)  Or maybe I want a Yeti thermos, scientifically proven to work, perfect for on-the-go situations and new opportunities (read: sequels.)  The point is that I really love Rae Dunn, but my mug needs a little more shine.

So that’s what I intend to do in November.  Provided my hands and head and stomach all get together and cooperate, but it’s been days since that happened so I am not holding out much hope.

In other news, my reading is tomorrow night, and I have it all planned and timed and everything.  I’m a little nervous, but not very.  I just kind of wish it was tomorrow already, is all.

Poetry in October

Everything, of course, is garbage.  Meaning, everything I write; meaning, complete hamster-cage liner.  I mean, yeah, I know that’s not true; just let me have this meltdown for a moment, ok?

So, October is coming up pretty quick, huh?  Many things are going on in October for me, like moving to a new apartment, my husband’s 40th birthday (E has a b-day, too,) my first weekend running the shop on my own, at least one trip out to Erie to see mom, and Halloween/my sister’s birthday, wherein she turns 26 and I finally live in a neighborhood that hands out candy.  Also…poetry night, featuring yours truly.  Clearly, we are going to talk about that, since I started this post by telling you all of my writing is garbage.  Hot, stinky trash. 

Nope, that’s just me psyching myself out.  I know what I want to do: a couple of pieces from, A Lovely Wreckage…gotta sell those books.  A piece from the yet to be picked up (Un)Requited.  Maybe VII from Me and Jesus etc.  Some outliers…the ones I really like that I haven’t read yet.  And maybe The Squirrel, and Halloween…y’know, because…Halloween. 

See, I know what I’ll read, and I know I’ll read well.  I don’t have the panic I had a few years back.  Still, old habits die real hard, and I find myself judging my work through my most critical eye-which I despise, of course.  I thought that my imposter syndrome was dead and gone, at least at the level of writing I have achieved.  This is new, however…being a featured reader.  I get like 15-17 minutes or something crazy when I’m used to doing 3-6 minutes at a time.  I’m going to have to figure out timing on my performance as well.

Anyway, that’s what I’m going to go work on during this rainy Monday afternoon.  If you’re here in the area on October 28th around 6pm, do drop in and hear me read.  On one hand, I want to pack the place.  On the other hand, I’d like no one to show up at all, besides the regulars I am already comfortable sharing with.  But it would be nice, I think, to see some familiar friends in the crowd.  So come on down to Dog Ears, and I’ll read you a poem about a squirrel.

Happy Monday.

Scarce Stories

I don’t have a topic, ok??

I’m over here with the world on fire, what with my mother being bounced around hospitals and needing to move apartments in less than 18 days.  I have to pack and clean and find a place, all while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of my mother being sick.  Ergo, topics are scarce.  So scarce that I didn’t write last Thursday, and then felt all guilty about it.  I hate that; I always try to tell myself that this blog is FREE-I do not make money off it, so if I take a break one day, it is not a problem.  I am disappointing no one, and if there is one dissatisfied individual out there who looks forward to regular, biweekly postings…well that’s just too bad.  I ain’t getting paid for this.

But then I think about Wednesday, when I post on Patreon, over where I DO get paid.  I haven’t written any new content, so I’m going to have to deep dive the computer archives to find a piece.  For Patreon, I will put in the effort, and I will certainly make the time, because there is a paycheck involved.  Again…this blog is free, now and forever.  So, forgive me if I take a break.

Speaking of paychecks, work is also a priority that has sidelined some of the writing.  I am working mornings at one job and will soon be starting afternoons at another.  Work saps my energy, which leaves me plenty creative but with very little follow through.  Like, I want to write today, but I also worked this morning and would love to go sit on the sofa and watch tv when I am done here.

God, that sounds good.  Ok, I’m done here.

Happy Monday.

Poems in the Past

The other day, I received a memory notification on Facebook that 2 years prior, I had been published in The Buffalo News.  This was a momentous day which I wrote about in my blog back then, and am writing about now, as well. 

See, long story made very short, I wanted to be published in The Buffalo News poetry column since I was about 15, and I did not accomplish it until well after I began my publishing career in 2018.  On Fire was a special little poem I wrote for a poetry contest that I won, and I liked it enough to throw it into my submission packet, and then one day I got up the guts to actually send it to The News, with literally no expectation whatsoever.  In fact, I forgot I even sent it, until the day it appeared in the Sunday paper.

I felt so accomplished.  I know to some it may seem like hardly anything, but for me it was a dream 20 years in the making. I had already published several pieces, and my book had been out for a few months, but that was the day I truly felt like an actual author

Well, folks, the paper dropped the column.  Shocking, isn’t it?  This left me with a hollow feeling, as if now the newspaper is completely devoid of hope.

The column has been run by Robert D. Pohl, a man I have never met but know of via socials and friends of friends.  Despite not knowing him, I would run up and hug him if I could, because in my opinion he gave me the gift of a dream come true, and I am sad to see his legacy leave the newspaper. 

Another thing Robert did was keep the literature calendar, which I believe I heard he will still try to continue to do, which Is a blessing to all us writers.  The literature calendar told us who was reading where and when, and also who was hosting open mics and other events.  Buffalo has a pretty broad writing community, and I am hopeful that we will still be able to figure out how to get together. 

Anyhoo, I am very sad to see this feature go, but I am very grateful to have been published when I was.  What we need here in Buffalo is an arts magazine again.  We used to have one, but it folded, and now we have nothing to promote and discuss our incredibly vibrant arts scene.  I wish someone would step up and create such awesomeness…I can tell you, you would not be short of content.  We have enough writers in this city to bring it to life-shame I don’t know a single entrepreneur, though.

Enjoyment and Enlightenment

Once upon a time, I had a librarian.  Her name was Mrs. Priester, and she worked at my elementary school.  Kevin was quite fond of her, because she encouraged reading in him and even took it upon herself to find books that she thought he would enjoy.  She didn’t need to do this for me, because the day I met her I told her, in the bragging way of a 5-year-old, that I already knew how to read, thank you very much.  In fact, I even had a library card already.  (I thought I was hot shit.)  What Mrs. Priester did teach me, however, was the difference between fiction and non-fiction.  I don’t know why the concept confused me so much as a small child, but I kept mixing up the terms, until one day she made it very simple: fiction was Fake.  Non-fiction was Not Fake.  It stuck, I understood, and she further explained that the books I wanted to read were not just called “chapter books,” but novels, and that novels were fiction: made-up stories for one’s enjoyment and enlightenment. 

I tell you this so that we are all very clear on what a novel is, and what fiction is.  I want there to be no misunderstanding, because this is the key piece of the thing that is infuriating me right now.

Let me paint for you a word-picture.  I, a writer, who lives in the Western New York region, and writes fiction, awoke Friday morning to learn of a tragedy that befell a fellow author.  Salman Rushdie was attacked with a knife onstage at the Chautauqua Institute while doing an interview.  I quite literally choked on my iced coffee, and my reasons are twofold.  First of all, Chautauqua?! I live in Buffalo and we just had a grand scale community tragedy about 3 months ago, and now we got crazies rushing stages and stabbing authors just an hour away? Not to mention, I can’t tell you how many times I have fantasized of being some famous writer who is invited to speak at Chautauqua-that’s like life-goal stuff.  And now, that place is marred, too…just like the damn grocery store.

Secondly, and more importantly: violence against a wordsmith.  I know of Rushdie, though his book, The Satanic Verses, sits unread on my shelf because I simply haven’t picked it up yet. But I know a little backstory, like the fact that Iran’s Ayatollah issued a fatwa in the 80s against him, which is basically an edict saying an Iranian should kill Rushdie. The man has been living with death threats for years, all because his book supposedly goes against Islam.  I think it’s because, from what I have read online, one character abandons the religion.  But again, I haven’t read it yet.  The point is that it doesn’t matter, because The Satanic Verses is a novel, and therefore, fiction, and fiction equals fake.  It’s not real; it’s just a story-a made-up situation in a guy’s head that he put down on paper and then an entire country took it the wrong way and decided he needed to die. 

How easily that could be any one of us.

I mean, I just finished the first draft of a book that features an exploration of the concept of religion as a shackle that keeps one from living their authentic life.  I do not expect death threats for the thoughts I come up with in my own head, but I’m sure its gonna piss of an evangelical or two.  But as mad as they get, do I deserve to be stabbed in the face for my imagination?  Absolutely not. 

So, when I head about Salman Rushdie, I was crushed.  I tried to explain to Mark why it was bothering me so much, but I couldn’t find the words.  Maybe it’s just that I am so sad that someone was hurt…just for playing pretend. Because that’s all we’re doing, really, when we write fiction: make-believe, in verse.  And I just do not believe anyone should be harmed over such innocent enjoyment.