Saturday, March 28, 2015

relevance

It's so easy to become irrelevant these days. As a writer and otherwise. If you're not in people's faces, you pretty much don't exist. I try to write and get stuff published or, poof, I'm gone. I try to continue promoting the book, but it came out in June and so many other books have been published since then that mine is becoming a ghost. Which means I need to write stuff or I'm going to disappear.

Would disappearing be so bad? I'm going to be working on my novel, almost exclusively, I hope. A friend and I will meet once a month to go over 15-20 pages of each other's work. I am scared of not meeting the page limit, but I need to be held accountable. I think it might be the only way to move this thing forward, and this thing needs to be moved forward. I love writing flash fiction, but it's time to work on longer pieces. Even if nobody sees me for a while. 

Even though my book is becoming a dinosaur, some people are still taking a look, and putting up reviews at Goodreads and elsewhere. In the interest of reminding myself that I'm still relevant, here are a few things people have said recently:

She has a brilliance for illustrating social problems, particularly in gender roles, without explicitly stating them. Rather, as any good writer should, she simply creates heartbreaking, relatable stories that the reader can infer from subconsciously. It takes real talent to do this, and it still wouldn't be as impactful without the guts and heart that she puts into it. Comparing her work to that of Sylvia Plath or Flannery O'Conner does not seem overly generous, but appropriate. Becker is an exciting, unapologetic, and refreshing voice.  (Matt L.)

**

Becker has a unique voice. Her prose is simple, but packs a wallop of an intellectual and emotional punch. Beautiful stuff here. (Tara M.)


When writing fiction that is empathetic to common, emotionally trodden persons, comparisons to Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel can sometimes be an unfortunate inevitability. However Becker’s pithy, cut-glass prose stylin’ and profilin’ is really all her own, and If I Would Leave Myself Behind is an artful reawakening of the short-story form. Becker owns it. She is a champion for unique characters who hold no title.

At Entropy:
Lauren Becker’s If i Would Leave Myself Behind doesn’t make you feel like shit, she is like a friend telling an elaborate story, she isn’t trying to sell you anything.

I don't want to brag, but I don't want to be forgotten. It's good to be reminded that I'm still here. I'm going to work on the novel now. I want to be around for a while longer. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

of hives and hissy fits

My cat, Noah, and I just moved into our fourth home in the past 10 months. He seems a little depressed. He sleeps a lot. Our new place has western exposure, so we get lots of sun in the afternoon, and he spends most of that time moving from sun spot to sun spot, sleeping in the warmth.

I'm not sleeping so great again. Have hives and am very itchy. I got up at 3am last night to go to the all-night Walgreen's to get this stuff called Itch-X. It is the only thing that works. Seriously, if you get hives, get some Itch-X. They're not even paying me. So, I went out and got all three boxes on the shelf and got back home and got my same parking spot (parking is super tough here) and was feeling pretty good about my mission, looking forward to getting my Itch-X on, and I pulled my phone out of my purse and it was all cracked. And it had been in my purse. At first I thought it was smeared because I didn't drop it or throw it or emphasize my need for Itch-X by pounding it on the pharmacy counter. So, I have no phone. The good thing is, I pay for insurance and my new one gets here tomorrow.

It's kind of nice not being tied to my phone. No texting. No talking. I'm pretty tied to my laptop, so there's plenty of emailing. But it leads me to revisit this sort of internal dialogue I had in September, when it was time for my upgrade. And I thought, why not just get the cheapest smartphone? It's fine for talk, text, internet, email, right? And I didn't, but I thought about it, which might count a little tiny bit, but probably not. I would like to go back. To not being accessible and "connected" at all times.

I have not met my new neighbors, but their door is right next to mine, at the end of a hall, and I know they have a baby I rarely hear (yay!) and that they eat good food. If you could smell the potato-y heaven coming from their apartment right now, you might have the urge to go over and introduce yourself, as I do.

I wrote this "humorous" ("" = totally subjective) essay about how girls always yell to their boyfriends/husbands "do we have kale?" at Trader Joe's to establish their ownership. Most of it is (objectively, I'm pretty sure) not funny, and I don't feel like working on it, so you get to hear about my general bafflement with the kale yelling in Trader Joe's. I am not some hot vamp searching for men who have wandered from their partners who are shopping in the produce section. I just want chocolate covered potato chips.

Ok, well, I started writing this about four days ago, during which time I had a major hissy at Verizon, making them give me a new phone because the useless insurance company was taking way too long to send the reconditioned (or whatever it's called) one, and I didn't have an old phone and had no way of making or receiving calls/texts or gps and, despite my earlier homage to the beauty of not having these things, I found that not having these things SUCKS. Therefore, hissy. More like stern talking to. Very stern. I'm back in the saddle and heavily reliant on my phone once again. Sigh of relief.

I have other things to say, but, you know, the lazy thing ... I will tell you more stuff later. Still avoiding social media. Which I guess includes this blog, but I sort of like this blog and it's been nice to write here again. I've been advised to make it into a Tumblr. I don't know why. But if I do, I will let you know. Until then, I hope you enjoy hearing about my cat and my displeasure with Verizon here. Keep on truckin'.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

things to read

I had a couple of stories published recently. They are both very tiny. You can read them here and here if you'd like. It's been awhile since I've had anything out there.

Yesterday, I had a day of feeling pretty dejected about the business of writing. And then someone who totally didn't have to said some really awesome things and, I don't know, the sun sort of shifted a little back into view, and I started writing a story. And I only worked on it for maybe a half hour and I don't know if I'll go back to it. But it felt so good to feel ideas turn into words and sentences and to do a little shaping and playing with ideas. Maybe it's what it feels like when you practice a kind of dance or martial art and haven't done it for awhile and you try it again and it's sort of awkward, but your muscles have that sense memory and you hit sweet spots, and, yeah. So, I guess I'm not done. 

I have more to say. I will say more soon. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

grace

Sometimes people are so kind it makes me cry.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

shy again

I turned shy again. Or maybe I just realized again that I'm shy. Either way, I don't really feel comfortable around people, especially groups of people, anymore. And I don't always really like this return to my innate nature so much. Because I'm living in a new place again and I like and need to be alone a lot, but maybe not as much as I am. As much as I have been for at least the last few years. I have made two major moves in the last eight months, and I am ready to be settled and known.

I started to write this post today while I was at this street festival with my friends and their baby. I paid $20 for a pretty little pottery bowl and five tickets for chili from various restaurants. I walked around by myself for awhile, because one of my friends designs t-shirts and stuff, and she had to stay at the booth and the other was doing baby stuff. And everyone had babies and dogs. And boyfriends and girlfriends and wives and husbands and children and many, many babies and dogs. Maybe I just noticed all of the babies and dogs because they were so cute, but I felt the absence of both.  And I felt invisible and, at the same time, very visible for my lack of anything or anyone to assist in defining me. So I felt sort of blurry.

I am not young or skinny or tattooed. I do not have a significant other and I didn't have a friend to wander with for most of the time. I could have talked to people, but I felt shy. So shy. Like, painfully shy. It hurt me to think of talking to people, of attempting to get to know people, probably because I just spent six months in a different state trying so hard to get to know people, and it was exhausting. I am tired and shy, and these might be the first two adjectives I would use to describe myself if anyone asked.

BUT, I am living with a friend and her children and it is so nice. I have lived by myself for many years, and I thought I required it because I was too difficult to live with and too easily irritated by others, but it turns out I love living with my friend and her children. I have people to talk to every day and to eat dinner with. People who know or wonder where I am or where I've been. I do not have to answer to them. I am free to come and go as I please. But when my friend's 12 year-old daughter lights up and gives me big hugs when she gets home from school, or when I arrive home for dinner, it is a lovely thing. And I learned I am not so difficult to get along with, and I am sometimes irritable, not really because of them, but because normal people sometimes just get irritable. I feel like I am part of a family, and I have not felt that way for the longest time, if ever. Partly because I was too shy to assert my place as a daughter or sister, and partly because I always felt wrong. And so this is a wonderful thing for me.

I am not going to say anything about writing, because this time is about me figuring out how to be shy and still be part of the world. I have friends here and I will keep trying, even though it is hard and effortful and painful and disappointing sometimes. Because, ultimately, I believe in connection. It is what I want and it is worth working toward. I believe that connection is the meaning of life, and that it is my life's purpose specifically, and that it keeps me alive. And that is how I will end this post. I am shy and scared of people, but I want to know them, and even more so, I want them to know me. There are some good things to know about me. I believe this like I believe I am shy. These are things I could have always known, but, much as I believe in connection, I believe in detours and disconnections, and in learning how to be who you are again or for the first time. So, I will go back to observing and listening, and being shy, but not timid. I am strong in knowing what I want and smart enough to know what I don't. And even without dogs or babies or tattoos, I think that people might want to see and hear me, even if I ask very quietly or not at all.