It’s been rare, in recent years, for me to like any picture of myself. Which is okay; it’s been a funky few years, filled with changes, some welcome, others very much not. Life will do that, and when life does do that, it affects the writing life as well. Maybe I’m not cut out for this, we think. Maybe all of that writing stuff is behind me and taking care of family/doing the day job is where it’s at from here on out. We’ve all had thoughts like that, I’m guessing, from time to time. It makes for a disconnect of sorts, between the worlds in our heads and the world that everybody else can see. Tricky, to say the least.
This doesn’t apply only to the face in the mirror, but the words on the page as well. It’s a weird place to be, yourself but not yourself. Things should work, but they don’t and it isn’t that the voices in our heads aren’t talking, because they are, but they somehow found a secret language they don’t feel like teaching us for the foreseeable future. It’s the same as looking in the mirror, understanding that yes, that’s what others see, but it’s not us. It’s not real. The problem is, getting the real of the insides of our heads out into the everybody-else-can-see-it world.
For the physical, this is easy. Take better care of self, learn a new updo, swap out clothes of displeasing colors for those that make us happy. Try a bright/dark lipstick, play with accessories, dress the body you’ve got instead of a past or future one, learn what makes you feel and look good now. For the writing, there’s no foolproof plan. I wish there were. The closest I’ve been able to come is “read, read, read, and write, write, write.” There’s still a part of my brain, equipped with a bullhorn, screaming, “no, you can’t talk about this. You’re not successful enough. You’re not allowed.” This voice needs to be quiet, because this voice is wrong. This voice is looking in the wrong mirror.
Yesterday, I spent some time with Sue Ann Porter and another friend, in Sue Ann’s beautiful front garden. I needed an author photo for my upcoming From Fanfiction to Fantastic Fiction workshop at Savvy Authors, and I didn’t have one. Well, I did, but it’s old enough to get married or join the military without parental permission. That wasn’t going to do. To quote a sweatshirt marketed at drill sergeants, “sweat dries, blood clots, bones heal; suck it up, buttercup.” I popped my camera in my bag and surveyed the perimeter.
Fountain, good. I like fountains. Sue Ann and I roped another friend into being my stand-in so I could check the composition, then we took pictures. This picture, I like. This is me. This is a woman who writes romance and writes about romance. This picture can be attached to the work I am doing now, because when I look in this mirror and on these pages, what i see fits.