So much left unsaid
and love bittersweet lingers
I ache with missing you
So much left unsaid
and love bittersweet lingers
I ache with missing you
This past weekend I saw a homeless man collapse, his head inches away from cars whizzing by on a busy four lane road. My 15-year-old car was being fixed and I’d been stuck in the waiting room for hours, irritated and worried about another $900 repair bill. I’d been watching the man through the window because pedestrians are rare on this particular stretch of road but also because he was elderly with an unsteady gait.
When he fell and remained unmoving, I yelled for the mechanics to call 911 and raced across the street. I stood over him on the curb so that the cars would slow and ease to the other side of the lane. The man stirred and a couple minutes later sat up. By this time more people had run over to help. Two young women (one with a blond ponytail, one wearing a hijab and both surgical techs) took his pulse, a middle-aged tall guy jumped out of his car in the parking lot to help; a middle Eastern gentleman, an employee from the store next door, ran over to see what he could do; a young man (I’m not sure where he came from) remained on his phone with 911 and directed them.
The injured man told me his name and shook his head no when I asked if had any family that I could call. He just wanted to get to his motel room, he said, which was about 400 yards away. Well, that might as well have been 400 miles since he couldn’t even stand.
Then came the sirens and flashing lights. The cavalry arrived. When the man told the paramedics that he was 61 years old I was shocked. He looked closer to 80. He seemed confused, possibly inebriated or possibly mentally ill, repeatedly saying he got dizzy with panic attacks and that he didn’t mean to cause any trouble. His clothing was simple – tee shirt, pull on pants, slip on shoes, a Chicago Bears cap. He needed a haircut and shave. Was he a veteran? Was he a parent? Grandparent? What had happened to him? I didn’t know.
I admit I worried that the paramedics and police officers would be brusque and impatient with the man After all, the news over the past month has been filled with gut-punching stories about cutting federal funding for the elderly, the homeless, the poor, the mentally ill; from rationalizing its necessity to outright glee that we, as a country, wouldn’t have to support “them” anymore.
I was flat-out wrong. Everyone involved that day, from concerned bystanders to overworked emergency personnel, men and women, young and old, different races and faiths, all treated the man with respect. Eventually, the medics and police officers gently coaxed him with humor and kindness into going to the hospital. And once there Social Services would look out for him after he was discharged (which he was later that day).
This incident on a Saturday afternoon reminded me that people are basically good. I’d forgotten that, or misplaced it, or stopped believing that as long as there are good people in this world, there is hope. Simplistic? Maybe. But this realization made my day brighter and I’ll take that over a gut punch all day long and twice on Sundays.
Because I hadn’t even known how desperately I needed the reminder I am sharing this story in case anyone else needs it.
When people find out that I’m an author I get comments that I bet many authors get like:
“I’ve never heard of you.” Um, it’s Anna Kyle, I just introduced myself (I say silently, people, silently)
“Oh, I only read NYT bestsellers/nonfiction/thrillers.” Nod and smile.
Sometimes it’s a simple “that’s nice” before they move on to someone more exciting. And that’s totally okay.
But the really interested people, the ones whose eyes brighten and you know instantly that they love reading and writing and possibly yearn in their heart of hearts to be published, will ask questions and the #1 question is a version of “How do you do it/What’s your process?”
I love talking to them. My answer will be different from other authors simply because I’m me. Everyone’s journey in life is different and writing is no exception. My writing process is constantly evolving but some things remain constant.
WRITE WHEN YOU FEEL PRODUCTIVE. I write best in the morning so I like to wake up early on my late start days for work and write a bit. My alarm goes off every morning at 5 a.m. even on weekends. Yes, that’s the ass-crack of dawn today and the middle of the night during winter. I’d be lying if I said I write every morning, but I do it a lot. I’ve become a morning person. In my days after college I’d stay up writing until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning writing fast and furious. Not so much anymore. Work, life, responsibilities have transformed this night owl into a grumpy morning lark.
OMG GET YOUR IDEAS DOWN. I write down all my ideas, well, the good ones. Readers and writers are cut from the same cloth or two sides of the same coin, in my opinion. By that I mean we both have active, fertile imaginations. Ideas are fleeting, ephemeral. When one sparks, write it down because you WILL forget it. And yes, I keep a pad and pen by my bed but tbh, I only used it twice.
WRITE A LOT. I also don’t usually write every day (four to six days a week depending on the week). Unless a deadline is zooming toward me, then, yes, I write every day
LEARN IT. There is no substitute for learning the craft of writing. I have a writing background as a reporter and later freelance writer but I found out quickly that fiction is another beast entirely. I attended workshops and read tons of books on the subject and, if asked, that would be my #1 nugget of wisdom to readers aspiring to be authors.
Thanks for having me, Night Owl. It’s been a hoot (ugh sorry, not like you haven’t heard that one ten thousand times and cringe L I’ll show myself out 🙁 )
This post originally appeared at nightowlreviews.com in June 2016
Okay, bear with me. Like many, many people I’ve been feeling depressed and fearful over the daily horror show that is the president-elect – his strange, awful fascination with nukes, the blaring headlines with Russia! China! Obamacare! Muslim registry! And on and on.
Tossed into the mix is the piercing loneliness I feel every holiday season that my partner/best friend/love of my life is no longer walking this earth. Like the protective covering I’ve used for the past five years is shredded.
My writing is not going well, and I’ve missed deadlines.
Then this morning, I woke up thinking it was 4 or 5 a.m. On the TV (yes, I fall asleep with the TV on) was an old b&w movie I’d never seen. Normally, I’d turn over and fall back asleep but this one caught my attention. It was called Tenth Avenue Angel during the part when the pregnant and sick mother tried to soothe her daughter (who had just broken her cow bank) and said it wasn’t broken because cows kneel on Christmas when they feel the Christmas blessing.
The kid believed, for a second, then asked the mom if she’d ever seen a cow kneel and, props to mom here, she says no. Later, after more lies are revealed, kid runs off upset that everyone lies to her, mom falls down the stairs, yada yada yada.
At the end, though, I found myself crying with hope for this little girl and her Christmas blessing. So, on Christmas Eve morning I have hope that…somehow…. that our politicians will rein in (or impeach) the prez and work for the people they represent.
Yes, I still miss Steve but this Christmas I’m so much stronger than that first Christmas so I know I am healing and heading in the right direction. This tiny happiness is enough.
I’m going to work like hell and finish this story and further vow to protect my writing time like it’s the gold it is.
This right here is my Christmas blessing and I’m deeply grateful to be reminded of this by an old movie in the wee hours of the morning. The cow kneeled.
The oddest part of all this is that it was actually after 6 a.m. , a half hour after my alarm goes off (which it didn’t or I have absolutely no memory of turning it off). If I’d known what time it was I would have gotten up like usual and missed this perspective shift entirely.
Christmas blessings to everyone! May your cows kneel.