You may have thought I've given up blogging, and I certainly can't refute the idea. My last post was made over eight months ago. Whoa! WTH happened to 2015?
But I haven't given up blogging, although I did make a conscious decision that I needed to put what little writing time I have toward an actual book, rather than the Internet masses. Apologies in advance, hardcore Ren fans: my current work in progress is penned by my alter ego, Evelyn Grimwood. I'm pitching it as a "steamy steampunk time-traveling adventure romance." If that ain't enough to make you geeks out there drool, I don't know what will, and you should get some professional help.
I learned that all kids poised between childhood and impending adult life are demigods.
Brute force hasn't worked - the demon only feeds on yelling and criticism. Logic doesn't work either, since this demon Anxiety has the power to twist both reality and perception, until the people it stands between are as distant as if they were on different planets. Potions are therapeutic for some, but I distrust what I don't understand, and all along my internal voice/spirit guide has told me that the answer lies elsewhere.
So I've decided to be open, and let the Power that binds the universe together - love - lead me. I'm giving this everything I can. Some days I'm frigging brilliant. Others I'm a spiteful, frustrated hag. Step forward, step backward, on and on.
In mid-spring, when it's time to sign kids up for summer activities, I formed a plan, a battle strategy of such stunningly simple brilliance I really should get some kind of medal. Only, I wasn't even aware I'd made a plan, so I can't take any credit. Such is the way of quests: sometimes you don't even know you're on one. Maybe I got lucky, maybe I prayed enough, maybe I trusted enough… I'm not sure, but things fell into place. Thank God.
Somehow I orchestrated a summer vacation of a lifetime for my eldest. God knows how, literally, since I didn't know what I was doing. Day camp at the lake away from her younger sister, who is so adorable and confident, a natural leader, that she outshines us all. Horse camp at a magical place in the woods, named Rivendell (no kidding), where fully half the kids had anxiety disorders and no one cared. A trip to California. Science camp for tween girls. And finally, a week at Camp Calumet Lutheran, the only place on earth where my child is completely at ease.
Damn, that cost a lot of money.
But I would have paid twice as much when I heard her counselor say, "I think she's going to have a far different experience at school this year. She's a different kid."
No, not different. She's the same sensitive soul, who lives in her internal world far more than the external one, but somehow we've managed to build a fragile bridge that allows her to travel back and forth in relative safety and comfort. Even better - I'm allowed to cross the bridge sometimes. Occasionally, she lets me in.
Maybe that's because I finally noticed that for the past year she's often clutching a dog-eared fat novel with a lurid picture of a boy and a monster on the cover.
When I was younger I was a voracious reader. These days, I struggle to find the time, even though I know that no writer has any business writing if she's not reading. But something made me want to connect with me kid, and I chose to enter the world of middle-grade fantasy to do it.
I downloaded Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief on my Kindle for $3.99 (thanks for the break, Mr. Riordan). From the perspective of a fantasy author who also uses mythology to build present-day stories, I can tell you that there's really nothing original in the premise, the structure, or the prose. It's completely plot driven; the characters are drawn in crayon, imprecise and largely undeveloped (although they get more complex in the later books as the author builds steam and confidence in his story arc). But man, action turns pages. And sells books.
I finished Lightning Thief in a day or two. On to the rest of the series. And then - my child asked what I was reading. She was shocked and alarmed when I told her. I'd invaded her space. How could I just come tramping into her fiction like that? Wasn't there some rule that kept adults out, like Thalia's tree at Half-Blood Hill? But at the same time, she was intrigued when I said I just wanted to know what she was reading.
The bridge appeared out of nowhere. She would quiz me ad nauseum, wanting to know if I had questions about the characters, if I wanted her to tell me what was coming, what happened, who lived, who died. When I asked her to borrow the hard copy of The Lost Hero, she searched her room to bring it to me. She wouldn't let me read them out of order; that was a crime.
So what have I learned? I learned that all kids poised between childhood and impending adult life are demigods. They don't know who they are. They haven't been "claimed" by some powerful unknown force - their life's passion - that will shape their being for the rest of their days. They sense they have immense potential, but don't know how to use it yet. Childhood is safety but powerlessness. Adulthood means personal freedom and control, but adults seem so whimsical, removed, and cruel like the gods of myth. Do they want to be mortals - children - or gods? Will they ever be more than caught between those poles, pulled in opposing directions? Why don't the adult gods that rule their lives seem more sympathetic? Is it because they've lived so damn long they've forgotten what it was like?
Yes, little godlings, we have forgotten. You see us as ancient and immortal. We can't tell you that we know what you see is a lie. We won't live forever, we've already passed milestones that we've failed to achieve, and we are so terrified that we will fail with you that we've forgotten we share each other's blood.
Thanks to Percy, I've been reminded. I'm hoping I can keep that lesson sharp in my fading memory as you move forward, and I hope I can soften the blow when you realize the world of the gods isn't much different than the one you're experiencing now; just as insecure, but with far more responsibilities and far less time.
I don't have a cool-ass sword like Riptide. My knees are creaky, and I wear embarrassingly unfashionable clothes. I drive a minivan, for heaven's sake. I worry about money, about laundry, about shuttling kids from one place to the next. But I will fight to protect the bridge between us with every power I have. And you may be surprised at how powerful an ancient mother goddess can be.