Rumbling with Disappointment.

Girl Warrior Productions - Novel by Boo King Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies

This week I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong in the little red Ford Escape to and from work. Risking criticism for excessive use of alliteration, Brene Brown is a brave beautiful brilliant writer. And her book is bringing me to my knees. I am face down in the arena Brene. Get the book and you’ll understand the reference.

The book is making me think. And more importantly it is making me feel. Lots of feels. More feels than I can process in the twenty-minute drive to work. So I’m doing it here, in my safe space, and I’m sharing it with you, which doesn’t feel safe at all. Wearing my vulnerability on my sleeve, risking emotional exposure and shame is scary. I’m feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

One of the biggest feelings that Rising Strong has brought me face-to-face with this week is that of disappointment. Raw, unvarnished, unrestrained and intense, really fucking big disappointment. It sucks. I’ve been rumbling with this feeling all week but in truth, it’s been lurking in every single landscape of my life for years. I just couldn’t properly identify it until now. The hardest part is how personal it is. I can’t blame or point the finger at any other person, place or thing. It’s pointing directly at me. I am the bullseye. Me. Me. Me.

At the top of the list of disappointments – Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies, a novel by boo king.

This is particularly grim because it was a story I was born to tell. The first draft was written back in the Toronto days when my oldest daughter was a wee one. For three or four years during her afternoon naps, I cranked out the first draft to three novels. Back then, naively, I thought writing a novel was just in the telling, which is what draft one is all about. I was not interested in going back in and doing the really hard work of editing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing until I got it right. I just wanted to tell the stories and express myself creatively. And then move on. Kind of like my feelings. Move on from any of them that make me the least bit uncomfortable. True story.

Those three novels didn’t get past draft one. Eventually after twelve years, a modest career in Advertising as a copywriter, and one life-altering separation, I moved away from Toronto. I left with my two older kids, three cats, about a thousand bucks in cash that I made at a garage sale, overdrawn on my overdraft, no husband, no partner in crime, no job prospects, no security, no nothing, and headed west to Victoria looking for a brighter future and my happily ever after.

I got that. Well, sort of. I got a job in a small boutique design firm, found an apartment in the top floor of a house owned by a newlywed couple, met a man who didn’t fit, met another man who I fell in love with, got pregnant, declared bankruptcy, moved a few times, changed jobs, but kept working and working and working. Not as a writer but as a Production Manager/Producer. The writing stopped when I left Toronto. And it was killing me.

Since childhood, writing has always been my thing. The painfully shy girl’s voice, the saving grace, the outlet, means of expression, the avenue and channel for all my feelings, thoughts and emotions. I learned to read and then I started to write. Not doing it, felt wrong. I was ill at ease for years. Not right in my skin. I didn’t feel like me.

At the direction, and wise counsel of my best friend, who simply would not tolerate my whining about not writing, I began as she advised: one word at a time. Best advice ever and just one of the many reasons why I love her and why we’re lifelong friends.

Of the three first drafts I had written in Toronto, one of the stories haunted me, demanding that I pay attention and do something with it. I blushed with secret embarrassment reading the earnest and unbridled words of a much younger me, and then I immediately went to work flushing out the story. New characters emerged, old ones fell away but the main character, Jo survived and then magic happened. A completely new story was born around Jo. The Summer” novel bore very little resemblance to the original first draft but that first draft was the impetus that lit the fire.

Because I was working full time, had three kids and little free time, I mapped out my daily writing time before the rest of the family got up. For almost four years I got up at 4:00 am and wrote before I did anything else. It was that important to me. At first, one word at a time, then one sentence and then one paragraph, page, chapter, entire novel. This time, I wrote, and re-wrote, and re-wrote, and re-wrote again and again and again. I was a ruthless, unsentimental and detached editor of my own work, a skill I had learned as a copywriter in Toronto. Then in February and March of 2001, within five weeks of each other, both my parents died. The novel was getting close to completion but not nearly ready for anyone other than me to read it.

I worked through my grief by writing. I became obsessed with completing the novel, with creating something that Ma and The Old Man would have been proud of. I stepped up my writing to include evenings and weekends. It was my passion, my magnificent obsession, my channel for dealing with sorrow and loss, and a tribute to my parents. It was a fictionalized version of our story. And in that frame of mind, I was determined to publish it. No one was going to stand in my way. No one.

By then, wrongly or rightly, I believed I wouldn’t be able to cope with, nor bear, any form of rejection or further loss. I also believed I didn’t have the strength, courage or wherewithal to jump through the hoops necessary to acquire a traditional publisher. The mere thought of receiving rejection letters was beyond endurable. I just could not do it. At least the story I told myself.

I decided to publish the novel myself. By this time I was a seasoned Production Manager and I knew how to pull a creative team together to get it done. To put it in perspective, in Canada self-publishing was in its infancy, so was blogging and social media, and there were very few Indie producers and artists. Nothing like it is today.

Fragile complicated emotions aside, the thought of undertaking a project of this scope intrigued and excited me. I hooked up with Trafford Publishing who handled all the publishing and legal stuff, hired my own talented crew of design and production professionals, proofreaders and beta readers, and solicited the feedback and candor of my best friend and editorial sounding board. Shortly before Christmas 2001, the book was published. With the exception of my children, it was my greatest accomplishment.

Seventeen years later, it is my greatest disappointment. It is at the very top of a long list of huge commercial failures – the novel, the book for girl warriors, the speaking engagements, the storytelling, the website, the girl warrior productions, the interviews, the t-shirts, the blogging, the poetry writing, the songwriting, the social media, the recordings and the guided meditations. Personal and professional flops each and every one. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. But Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies hurts the most. The palpable pain of that disappointment is the worst, the fucking worst.

I didn’t have the courage and I wasn’t brave. Worse yet, I didn’t even try. And because I was unwilling to risk rejection by a traditional publisher, this funny heartbreaking little story, this homage to my parents, siblings, friends, neighbors and the redneck northwestern Ontario town where I grew up never took flight, never found its wings, and worst of all, never found its readers. And that’s all on me.

But it’s also on me that I acknowledge and accept that I feel this disappointment. It’s real and it’s okay, or it will be. It’s also on me that I am completely vulnerable, curious and have my heart wide open to all ‘the feels’ that will come. It’s also on me to keep rumbling with these feelings and to Rise Strong. And most importantly, it’s also on me to continue writing and storytelling no matter what.

Get Rising Strong here:

https://amzn.to/2w7FGTi

Learn more about Brene Brown here:

https://brenebrown.com/

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Finding My Voice.

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I found my voice. For many years I’ve suffered from writer’s laryngitis. My writer’s voice sounded sort of like me. But it wasn’t 100% authentic. Not really me. Close but no cigars.

When I first started writing I mimicked other writers. This wasn’t a conscious act on my part. I’ve always read a lot so when I started writing my own stuff I subconsciously channeled the authors that I liked to read. I learned to write novels by reading novels. I read for pleasure but part of me was always studying the technique, style and process the author used to tell their story. This was helpful. The hard part was erasing their voice from my head so mine could take over and tell my own stories.

The other hard part was shutting down my inner critic. The ugliest voice of all. The judge. Jury. And executioner of all things creative. The one who paralyzes. Punishes boldness. And pushes sweet dreams downward. Getting rid of that monster was essential.

It’s taken years to find my true voice. The one I’m using right now as I write this blog.

My authentic voice began to emerge in the writing of my first novel Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies. Regrettable title. But for now I’m stuck with it. The challenge with writing a novel and creating fictional characters is creating authentic real voices for them. There’s your voice, which is the over-arching narrative. And there are the voices of the people you create. This was a fascinating journey of discovery. But only the beginning.

My real voice took a foothold in 2011 when I started this blog. Post by post. Bit by bit my real voice has surfaced. Manifested. Revealed itself. And it has been a joy.

For years I’ve felt like I was speaking through a blanket. Or many blankets on some days. Let the authentic honest voice out is frightening, intimidating, awkward, and at times disturbing. But it’s also liberating, empowering, profound, and the best thing that could ever happen to a writer. Or anyone.

We all have a voice. I learned that valuable lesson last fall.

I love to sing as much as I love to write. But I’ve always been self-conscious of my singing voice. So I reserved all singing to this room, the shower, along the quiet country road that I walk at lunch and church. Then there was that one cringe-worthy performance at our wedding where I sang the love song I wrote for E. Enough said.

That moment, recorded forever on our guests’ iPhones and posted to YouTube, has haunted me. I blush at the thought.  But out of that experience came the next evolution in finding my voice. I spent four months exploring the physical voice with a wonderful teacher, who not only encouraged me to sing, but to do it fearlessly. Right from the gut.

You should too.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Stay in Your Own Lane.

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Girl Warrior. Stay in your own lane. Focus on the task at hand. Concentrate fully on what you want to achieve and accomplish right here and now. Make this your priority. Pay attention. Be alert. Remain vigilant.

Don’t be sidetracked or derailed by the people, places or things that have nothing to do with this particular project or undertaking. This won’t be easy in a world of non-stop distraction. But you’re up for the challenge and you don’t need easy when you’ve got drive and determination in your hip pocket.

There will always be someone cutting into your lane, requesting a piece of you. But if you want to fulfill your dreams and reach your goals then you’ll need to push aside the extraneous noise, enticing diversions, idle amusements, and yes, even all those guilty pleasures. At least for the time being. Or for however long it takes to arrive at your destination.

Girl Warrior, don’t worry about what’s going in someone else’s lane either. That’s none of your business. Quit peeking. Craning your neck. Taking a gander. Glancing over your shoulder. Or worse yet, surreptitiously spying on the performance, power or presentation of others. And most importantly, stop comparing. That’s a fool’s game. So shut that shit down immediately.

Instead, remind yourself of just how incomparable you are Girl Warrior. And keep your eyes on the road ahead, as you cruise down the highway of infinite possibilities.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: We Marched.

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Girl Warrior. Sometimes a Girl Warrior’s gotta do what a Girl Warrior’s gotta do. Here’s my story.

On January 21, I did something I’ve never done before. Something so deeply marrow wrenching and profound that I believe it has changed me. Irrevocably.

I marched.

Shockingly it took decades for this to happen. If ever there had been a quintessential time, surely it was during my budding feminist years in university. But no, I did not march. Not even then. Truth is, I don’t even recall there being any marches in our neck of the woods. But then again, we were pretty backwoods. The university’s claim to fame at that time was their male-oriented Forestry Program. Says it all.

My feminism came in the form of a monthly subscription to Ms. Magazine and a huge secret girl-crush on Gloria Steinem. I read it in my room and kept my thoughts to myself. Thoughts like, I don’t want my mother’s life; I want to get the hell out of this town; I want to go to Paris; I want a career; I want to write; I want to make a difference and be a part of changing things for the better, especially for women. But I also had thoughts like, I want to fall in love; I want a family; I want a nice home with two cats in the yard; I want to be part of a community; I want to teach and have a positive empowering impact on the hearts and minds of youth, especially girls.

Most of that happened. Not all at once and not nearly as quickly as I thought it would. It’s taken a lifetime to unfold and there have been many twists and turns, surprises and derailments along the road. I still haven’t been to Paris and I’m okay with that.

Up until my mother died sixteen years ago, for the most part, I was still that young girl in her room reading Ms. Magazine and keeping her thoughts to herself. But after she died, things started to change. At first it was a slow steady percolation, a burning and churning inside my head, heart and gut. Then five years ago, I unleashed my Girl Warrior spirit and spoke. And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Girl Warrior blog posts, Girl Warrior books and now a Girl Warrior production company and website.

With two strong ferocious daughters, a granddaughter and a daughter-in-law I learned close-up and intimately what courage looks like. Inspired by them, I was compelled to speak up and use my words to help bring about change, at least in my own small way. Now I focus all of my attention on the last two thoughts at the end of both lists that I created all those years ago.

Take all of that in for a moment. Then think about the horrifying spectacle of the current American political scene with the rise to power of the unqualified and unfit DJT & Friends. What you get is the perfect storm for this Girl Warrior. And the biggest reason in her entire life to march, shoulder to shoulder, and in support of her American sisters, and all women across the world.

The Women’s March was magnificent in its purpose, resolve and scope.

There we stood in the crowded overflowing square, side-by-side, one-voice-in-many, wholly united and carrying signs with messages like Nasty Women Unite, The Future is Female, Ally to All Slave to None Let’s Unite, Trump Violence Against Women, A Woman’s Place is in the Revolution, We Will Not be Silent, Women’s Rights are Human Rights, and I’m With Her. There we stood and joined forces with other women, children and men – all ages, all different stages of life, and diverse backgrounds and beliefs. There we stood fighting for a cause that touched all of us, affected all of us and was far, far, far bigger and more important than we imagined. And we knew it. We felt it on every level, and with every fiber of our collective souls. Now was the time.

And now is the time Girl Warrior to fight for all human rights, to respect our natural and fragile habitat, to remember our prevailing humanity, to restore our faith in each other and our shared decency, kindness and goodness, to extend compassion and grace at every turn, and most importantly, to grow our capacity to always love divinely in the face of ugly hatred.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Piss or Get Off the Pot.

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Girl Warrior. Make this the year you piss or get off the pot. This is your great big powerful year where you kick all the excuses, delaying tactics, postponing, stalling and deferring to last year’s dragging-your-feet curb. No more of that. It’s done.

The clock is ticking and the truth is there is no more time to waste. Time waits for no man. Or Girl Warrior. So get on with it.

This is the perfect time to pull all your dreams, plans, schemes, resolutions and to-do lists out of the vault and unleash them. This is the perfect time to show the world just exactly what it is you can do. This is the perfect time to rally your troops and all your resources and get some shit done. This is the perfect time for action not reaction. This is the perfect time to become a force to be reckoned with. This is the perfect time to light that fire in your belly. This is the perfect time to take your life to the next level and beyond. This is the perfect time to have the best year of your magnificent life.

What’s stopping you Girl Warrior?

Take a moment to think about what exactly it is that’s holding you back, keeping you from doing all the things you want to do and accomplish. There’s probably a lot of negative self-talk and emotional baggage fogging up your beautiful brain and clogging your thinking. It’s creative constipation caused by the likes of fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of making waves, fear of losing friends or family, fear of being considered a bad girl, fear of being abandoned and left alone, fear of being thought of as crazy. So what.

Say so what to all of those fears. Odds are, none it’s going to happen anyway. And if it does, you’ll deal with it. Head-on and brave-on like you always do. Don’t be afraid to be a little bit crazy either. It’s the juicy sweet stuff of imagination and innovation. Harness it and make it work on your behalf. Make it crazy vision. Crazy inspiration. Crazy motivation. Crazy inventiveness. Crazy originality. Crazy artistry. Crazy genius. Crazy love.

So Girl Warrior, go completely crazy this year doing all the mind-blowing extraordinary awesome things you’ve been putting off. Make this the best year of your life.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Settle.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t settle. Go along with, resign or reconcile yourself, stomach, swallow or submit to anything that doesn’t ring true to the bright and shiny person you are.

Don’t live a default life. A ‘learn to live with’ life. An involuntary life. Or worse yet, one that belongs to someone else. And you’re just going along for the ride. Sitting complacently, but maybe not so comfortably, in the back seat or sidecar. You belong behind the wheel of your own life, the one of your own making. Steer your spaceship courageously in the direction of your dreams. Not someone else’s. That’s your mission, your primary assignment here.

You only get to do this present-life thing one time, and one time only, Girl Warrior. And it is oh so very brief. So fleeting. A flutter of the butterfly’s wing. Yes, some things are eternal. Our souls. The tender memories of us. But this here-and-now Earth Walk, and all the glorious people, places and things that are gifted to us are here for such a woefully brief time. So don’t squander any of it by settling.

Don’t settle in. Don’t settle down. Don’t settle for. Anything. And that goes for the people in your life, the work you do, the place where you live, the man or woman you’re involved with, and most importantly, the desires of your heart.

Girl Warrior, don’t be afraid that if you choose not to settle you’ll be all alone. You won’t. Quite the opposite is true. You’ll be surrounded by your loving and brave Tribe of kindred spirits who also refused to settle for anything less than an authentic life.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Feel the Pain.

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Girl Warrior. Pain is inevitable. So feel it. Fully. Thoroughly. Exhaustively. Allow yourself to experience every little detail of the hurt you are experiencing. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Wring your emotions dry.

Purge. Cleanse. Release. Repeat.

There is no escaping pain. You can run but you cannot hide. It affects us all sooner or later. Like death, it happens to everyone and everything. Guaranteed. But unlike death, it doesn’t just happen once. And then boom. Lights out. Pain recurs. Also guaranteed.

But what isn’t guaranteed is your perspective. The way you think, feel, react, respond and behave when you’re suffering and in your darkest hour. You may not be able to control when something hurtful is going to come your way or cross your path. But you can control what you do when it does.

This isn’t easy. Your first impulse may be avoidance. Or denial. Or retreat. You may want to run like hell away from the source of your torment, if you can. Or pull the covers over your head. Bury it in the sand. Lock yourself away. Hold a pity party. Lash out. Make accusations. Lay blame. Threaten to harm yourself. Crush your psyche. Curse at your body or mind. Condemn their betrayal. Give up.

Do these things if you must. And there will be times when you need to do all or some of these things. Recovery, getting rid of the bad shit that happens, is a process. And it takes time to heal wounds. Whether it’s a broken arm or a broken heart. A sore knee or a sore spirit. An injured back or an injured mind.

But know Girl Warrior that eventually you have to face it all. Have a showdown with the pain. Feel it all. Surrender to it all. Accept that it is happening. Because the pain won’t leave you until you deal with it. One way or the other. Head-on works. So does a slow and gentle approach. Trust yourself. You actually already know what to do. The wisdom to guide you through this already abides within. Listen to your small quiet voice of truth. Know that all pain is temporary.

Girl Warrior, let this pain be one of your quintessential teachers. Learn. Grow. Forgive. Accept. Emerge. Move on.

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