Monday, August 31, 2009

Digging Deeper and Oprah's Couch

Today I get back to work on the book. There are parts that I need to dig deeper into, so I'm starting that process today. I'm simply writing short stories about my mom and I, my dad and I, and Reese and I. I thought I was done digging deep, but I'm learning that life is all about digging; deeper is where the goods are.

So with today comes a breath of fresh air, fresh life into the book. I don't know that everything I'll be working on in the next couple of weeks will even make it into the book, but I must start this process.

I had a dream I was on Oprah's yellow couch, listening to her talk about my book. Maybe that's because I (poorly, as you can see, but it gets the job done!) photoshopped myself onto her couch last week with my book in her hands. I believe in the law of attraction, and am certain that posting it on my vision board will help me get there. Of course, I know that just posting it won't get me there...and that's where the digging comes back into play.

So, off to dig I go...I wonder what I will find for you....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thursday Exploration

Yesterday was a day of exploration. My friend,
Lisa Mae, and I got on a train in Long Beach and headed north at 9AM this morning. Here's a recap of our experiences:

A man with extraordinarily long legs sat next to me, and was gracious enough to apologize when his knees bumped me along the ride. My favorite part of his interaction with me was his direct eye contact. Eye contact can be so uncomfortable with strangers, yet with this man, I saw his kindness and warmth, without an ounce of "I bet you'll look away before me!" What a great start to the morning!

A woman on the train just a few minutes later began a conversation with Lisa Mae over her hair. Lisa Mae apparently resembles the woman's daughter, and so she felt it necessary to give Lisa Mae tips on how to dye and take care of her hair. After the short conversation, the woman moved back a couple rows to sit with her friend, and continued to stare in silence at Lisa Mae until she stepped off the train. I guess we all need a little conversation.

We walked up one street and down another and across another and back up the same street to find a breakfast spot near the Staples Center. Thinking we were headed for IHOP (which we weren't terribly excited about, but it seemed to be the only place promising to be open in the area before noon), we happened upon The Original Pantry Cafe and proceeded to eat breakfast inside the Historical Landmark. Do you know they've never been closed since they opened their doors in 1924? They don't even have locks on the doors!

There are no bars on Sunset between Vine and Highland (aside from the one inside the Arclight, which we bypassed, thinking another would be just up the street--not a good idea, walking in 100-degree weather). Lisa Mae said out loud to me, for no apparent reason, "I'd love to see Michael Jackson's star!" Just a few minutes after her wish, on our way up to Hollywood Blvd from Sunset (simply because that was the route we accidentally took), we glanced down to find this:

My, the Universe is speedy.

We had a drink in Hooters and all I can say about that is: it must be hot running around in those pantyhose all day.

We skipped half-way down a street block to a vintage clothing store. While skipping, I turned to Lisa Mae and said, "I don't think it's possible to skip without smiling!!"

While walking around City Walk at Universal, this sign caught Lisa Mae's eye:

So then we did this:

If you know me at all, you know that I despise the heights. Especially the variety where people jump out of planes that aren't even on fire. It seemed like a happy medium, where the wind came out of the ground, I never got more than 6 feet off the ground (which I think is a pretty good way to stay away from 6 feet under it), and I didn't have to jump out of a plane. Afterward, we celebrated with a beer.

This man joined us on the last leg of our trip back to Long Beach:

He brought his own chair and sat at the head of the train. It was like he planned to have an audience. In my bliss of the day, and enjoying my previous experience of direct eye contact on the train, I looked the man in the eye and smiled. This was apparently his cue for action. He took off his headphones and began to preach verses from the Bible. I sat next to Lisa Mae and watch this man perform his sermon of sorts, delighted with his passion for the Lord. And then it turned... well, I'll let you be the judge.
He said (and I quote), "God don't like it when one woman lick on another woman. No he don't." He went on to say something about balls on a billy goat and a giant knocking at the door, at which point I stopped listening. But with all the ruckus of his ranting, I couldn't help but look up at him every now and then and smile. One of the times I looked up at him, he looked me right in the eye and said he'd kill me if I raped his wife. I had and ahve no intention, so I felt safe. A few minutes later a LA County Sheriff's officer stepped forwards and we all though he'd escort the screaming man off the train. He did not. He pulled out his ticket book just before the train stopped, stepped off the train and proceeded to walk to patrons on the deck to see if they had a ticket for the train. Apparently it's more important to the Sheriff's office that you pay for a ticket for the train than maintain orderly conduct once you're on it. Which isn't to say that I wanted the screaming man to get arrested, or even a ticket, I just would have liked a quieter ride home. But I guess if I had that, I wouldn't have this story to tell you.

And that was our day. How was yours?

For another spin on this day from me, go here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Moose for Sale (Not Really, But My Book Will Be Soon)

I have a raging headache that's gotten worse since last night. I've eaten breakfast and taken something for it. And the gardeners with the leaf blowers outside are not helping.

I went ahead and painted something in the last couple of weeks. A moose. A friend of mine like moose (not meese, Erin), and I thought I'd paint her one. I warned her that the end result may look nothing like an actual moose, but I was surprised to see that it does. A little. The antlers give it away, otherwise one might think it's just J-Lo in a deer suit. But here it is:

In other news, I've gotten a little bit of feedback on the book (I sent it out to 9 people, and I've heard snippits from 6 of them), and so far, so good. It's been pretty much what I've expected, that the story is solid, and there are some adjustments that need to be made. This makes sense, as I've never written a book before. One of the things I didn't expect was this:
"I intuitively knew this was going to be an important book and now it has been confirmed."
Wow. As I've been writing the book, I guess I've known the importance all along (it's kind of what's driven me to this point), I just couldn't know the impact until I let it go off to Kindergarten to see what it might do in the world.

I'm learning as I go and not letting "not knowing how to do it" keep me from doing it. I'm excited to get everyone's notes back and get to work on the final product. Once I finish revising based on the feedback I get, I'll be ready to look into the means to get it published. I have a couple of options to look at, so I'll just have to be patient and see what pans out.

If you want to be on a mailing list to be notified when the book is available for purchase, please email me at dian[at]dianreidwrites[dot]com.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holding Period

I hardly know what to do with myself now that this phase of the book is done. I printed 10 copies total and have sent nine out for reading and feedback. I hope it's not too much feedback. I hope it's not too little. Maybe I'll be like Goldie Locks.

I can't seem to remember all the little projects I used to distract me from writing the book (for a while there I seemed to be pretty good at finding things to do that were not writing my book). You'd think a writer would have made a list...

Maybe I'll paint a little. Maybe I'll start another writing project. Maybe I'll golf. Maybe I'll coach. Maybe I'll take a bath in the middle of the day just because I can. Maybe I'll cook up some poetry, or an essay, just for fun. Maybe I'll celebrate. Whatever I do, it won't have anything to do with opening up a word document from the folder, "7 Days". At least not until September 1st. Seems like the right thing to do, to wait for the feedback before I start making changes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lather, Rinse, Repeat (Or: Holy Crap)

I just finished the book. My emotions are all over the place. I cried this morning because Erin walked past me as she got ready for work. Which is what she does every morning, but this morning I wanted her to stop. To stop and look at me. Notice that tears were welling in my eyes. Notice that my emotions were too raw for her to get ready for work. I walked around the house. I fed the cats. I sat on the bed. And when she walked in to get dressed, I could barely get the words out, "I'm feeling a little emotional today." I cried in her arms and didn't know exactly why I was crying. Guess I didn't need to know.

This morning I printed a copy of the book and handed it to a friend to give me some feedback. I'm headed to Kinkos as soon as I'm finished with this blog and printing off six more copies. One for Texas, One for Orange County, two for Long Beach, one for Studio City, and one for Venice Beach. Some are giving me technical feedback of, "take this out, put that there, add more here," and some are giving me real life feedback of, "this really spoke to me, wish there was more on that."

My emotions seem to be bred from fear. Fear that it's all crap. Fear that I just spent three years putting my soul on paper and it's not going to amount to anything. Fear that I'll get ripped to shreds in the feedback that I've gone and asked for. I realize the fears are unfounded, even irrational. The important thing is that I'm processing through it. Feeling the fear, addressing the fear, and moving forward anyway. It's the only way to let the fear go. It will come up again, I'm sure of it. No life is sans fear. And when it does, lather, rinse, repeat.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Painting 99 (101 is too advanced for me)

A few things I've learned as I paint for the first time since kindergarten:
  • Big brushes cover more space than, say, small brushes.
  • When you mix colors and run out of that mix, it's hard to recreate it; best to make a lot.
  • There are no lines to paint inside or outside of; I get to create my own lines.
  • When a color is gone, that color is gone until you buy more paint.
  • Size your painting to the canvas; it does not shrink to fit.
  • I can create beauty, even in a mess of paint.
  • Bristles fall right out of cheap brushes.
  • Light colors do not hide a charcoal sketch.
  • Jackson will bark every time I need a steady hand.
  • What ends up on the canvas looks nothing like what was in my head.
  • It's okay to suck at painting, at least I'm willing to learn.
  • Wear comfy shoes if you stand on a hardwood floor; sore piggies are no good for creativity.
  • No matter how much he tries, don't let the cat help you.
Here's the first of my paintings, which is related to my coaching practice:

I used a brush that was really small because I forgot that I bought a larger set of brushes. But the extra time painting the background gave me a chance to lose myself in the brush strokes. I forgot to paint around the light at the top of the lighthouse, and was crushed at the thought of ruining my first painting. Until I realized that I could just paint over the red with white, and that the effect of the brush fade worked perfectly to show the fading light at the end of its reach. I didn't realize I'd have so much space left once I finished the logo, so I improvised by adding my company name and tag line. Divine intervention, I guess.

What I love about this painting is that I did everything wrong and it came out perfect. Critically, I'm sure it's a mess, but I learned so much about painting, and about patience, and not being attached to an outcome. I'm working on my second piece, and I have been able to exercise what I've learned so far, as well as pick up a few new tricks.

The creative space of painting is so much different than the creative space of writing. As I'm coming to the end of 7 Days I'm finding that I need more and more space from it. Finishing the book is an intense process, and if I don't step away for a minute or 90, I can't see the forest for the trees. I've been allowing my brain to shift and think on different levels, so when I come back to writing I have a fresh perspective. It's working brilliantly.

As for the book, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it no longer looks like a train.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Just a quick update. I'm in Houston, copy editing the book. I would have liked to have had this part finished by 7/31, but I'm super stoked that I'm finally at this stage after 3 1/2 years. I spent the first two years trying to wrap my head around the idea of actually writing a book while telling everyone that I was writing it. It's not that I wasn't writing it, it's that what I was writing wasn't the finished product. And I didn't understand that one does not write a book in a single rough draft. This version is the 6th draft, and I'm sure it's not the last draft. I've been told by several people that handing a copy to an editor is like handing your heart over and asking him/her to rip it apart with tweezers. I think I've done all I can to prepare myself for that part of the process, but I'm sure the actual editing process will be...something to remember.

I really don't know what the process is after I'm happy with a copy to hand to an editor or publisher. First I'll need to find an editor or publisher to hand it to. And then... Oprah, here I come.