Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zombie Marshmallows and Charmin Bath Tissue


I've been hibernating. Believe me, that's the best word for it. I landed an agent (WOOHOO!) and everything was all rainbows and butterflies. For about a week. Then schlitz got real. There's a big fat What's-Next that follows the glorious contract signing.

I waited for a revisions letter from the editor. I caught a cold. My youngest kid came down with the flu. The revisions letter came and it was an emotional roller coaster. He loves my writing! He fell in love with my main character! He didn't believe in her motivation! He didn't get the chemistry with another character! He thought the ending was predictable and lacking something! I danced, I cried, I felt like throwing up.

When I got it together and started revising, I realized he was dead on about everything. EV-REE-THANG. My cold got worse. Much worse. I hacked and coughed my way through Thanksgiving and Christmas while pushing myself to finish revisions. I had a birthday. I was sick. It was lame. Turns out my cold ripened into a rollicking case of pneumonia with a side of pleurisy (look it up-- it's evil) and I was doped up on a heady cocktail of antibiotics and pain meds. But I persevered. I finished it up and sent it back to my agent.

And now I'm in the middle of another big fat What's-Next. For the longest time, I was a single parent to my manuscript. I created it. I raised it from infancy to adolescence. I nurtured and loved it unconditionally. Everything was my responsibility-- revising, editing, revising, editing, rewriting, revising, editing, querying, revising, editing, rewriting, editing, querying...this part goes on for several pages but I'll stop here in the interest of time. It was all in my semi-capable hands until now. Now I share my baby with another parent. A dominant parent. A parent who handles submissions for me. And I wait.

"I'm confused. It sounds like you've been busy. How is that hibernation?" Not only did I binge on carbs and spend the winter in bed (pneumonia's a beast), I shut down almost completely. Blog hiatus, very few tweets, no sudden movements. If I moved a muscle, something would blow up and the whole thing would be over. Hold your breath, cross your fingers, try not to pass out. Have you ever felt like that? Like your world is a closet full of crystal champagne flutes and you're wearing an inflatable sumo suit? I thought, if I held really still, nothing could go wrong.

So it's not exactly hibernation but that's how I looked at it. Maybe cryogenics is more accurate. I don't know. All I know is I'm at least five pounds heavier and I can almost braid the hair on my legs.

It was an existential crisis over toilet paper that snapped me out of it. Yesterday, I stood in front of the Charmin at Sam's Club for a good twenty minutes, trying to remember whether I buy the red Charmin or the Blue Charmin. Ultra strong or ultra soft. I've bought the same stupid toilet paper for years. YEARS. I was absolutely lost. I tried picturing the color in my bathroom closet. Red? Blue? Did I need ultra strong toilet paper? Have I been using ultra soft all this time? Why can't I have both strength and comfort? Why can't there be a purple package that just says "ultra" and is both strong and soft? I wouldn't be pressured into making a choice like that. I would not. I would show those bastards at Proctor & Gamble. I'd buy Charmin basic, grit my teeth and endure flimsy, abrasive toilet paper just to stick it to The Man. They call it bath tissue for heaven's sake. BATH tissue. No one in their right mind uses toilet paper in the bathtub. Give me a break. Idiots. Stupid idiots.

It wasn't the first meltdown during the hibernation period either. I made an emergency run to Walmart for Christmas lights when I decided I was most definitely not okay with a strand that only lit up every fourth bulb. I couldn't do it. I drove through the dark and the rain to battle the holiday crowd at a Tennessee Walmart, then I went back out in the dark and the rain to drive home. I caught myself slumping down in my seat with both hands on the wheel, listening to Nights in White Satin, and wondering who exactly I was and what I was doing with my life. Pathetic, I know.

I will wait for news from my agent. I will be good. I will not let myself feel helpless and out of control. I will not go back into my cave and wait it out. It's not the end of the world, letting my agent take the reins. I don't need to be in the driver's seat all the time. I can do this.

Hopefully, I haven't just destroyed my glass closet and popped my suit. Wish me luck.

Zombie marshmallows are easy. Go to a craft store and buy food grade markers. Snip mini fruit marshmallows in half and stick them to regular marshmallows and doodle little dead faces on them. Voila!

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