I spent the month of December 2020 building a brand new author website, so be sure to visit
and take a look around my new blog https://www.mackenzielittledaleauthor.com/blog
Since there are permission restrictions on the portrait, here's the LINK with a blurb. Please take a moment to study it, look into Kurt Cobain's eyes and read its history. It was taken in 1993, a few months prior to Kurt Cobain's death.
As the last time, attendees were given a portrait with background story and twenty minutes to write. This time, we were restricted in POV from either Cobain, the photographer Mark Seliger, or from a fan. I chose to write from the photographer's point of view.
I wanted this photograph to be the first in a series, to chart Cobain's path forward into the future. I wish it wasn't so near to the end of his road. I wonder sometimes if I'd had any training in psychology, If I would have seen someone else behind his eyes, someone calling out for help. If that call had been evident, I might have asked him to hang around longer while I made some calls.
I 'd heard about Cobain's career of course, and Nirvana's singular rise drew me magnetically to him. I had to get his portrait captured. It's always an honor when the people I want to photograph say 'yes'. There's an intersection where we affirm each other's star status and elevate it higher than even we can reach.
Now that I've captured Kurt's moment of vulnerability forever, it lives on like Nirvana's music.
It's 2020 now -- 30 years after their breakout hit -- and he'll never be remembered as old or sickly or frail or vulnerable or past his prime. He became the teen spirit.
As for Cobain's pain, there are so many layers of irony, aren't there?
His physical pain could be treated, if only symptomatically, and painkillers are misnomers in the end. They don't ever kill the pain once and for all. They only make the pain hide -- sort of whack-a-mole style. Painkillers can, however, kill the man, but that's not what did Kurt in. It was the other pain, the invisible pain that only he could see in his mind and came out in his guitar. That kind of pain can be heard and felt by patients experiencing the same demon.
In that shared experience, the fan thinks Cobain has it all worked out -- just transmute the pain into music and voila, it's therapy enough to conquer another day.
No one held more sway over Cobain than that demon though. Talked him into a dark place and lied about how to get out.
If it was all there in that photograph, I had no way of knowing how to decipher the layers.
I'm in the middle of a few exciting projects, not least of which is This Darkness is Mine. It's kind of funny in an ironic way how far from the end I was when I typed "The End".
Even typing "The End" was kinda weird. I read through the manuscript again and found things to change, amend, edit, rewrite, etc. Then came the beta readers segment of the journey. Even though writers are anxious for feedback, I gave my readers a unique two-month timetable, and it worked out smashingly. The advice I'd been given from more seasoned writers was don't make every single change recommended by every single beta reader. Sure. I didn't follow that advice. In retrospect, I think it's because I chose my beta readers so carefully. They all saw different things in different places - except for one stretch in the middle that made all of them yawn.
That was July and August of 2019. Still not officially "the end"! What hubris it takes for a writer to type that phrase so prematurely! Or naïvete.
I've written elsewhere on more details of the journey, so I'll skip to present day. My dream literary agent Kelly at Serendipity Literary has (at last) marked my manuscript CLEAN. While that sounds like she has the final say, every change had to be approved by me. Mainly, I had to answer every question that potential readers - including editors - might have. Either that meant defending the words on the page, or clarifying, or chopping what was indefensible. I may have mentioned before in another post that Kelly's initial edit letter had no changes to This Darkness is Mine until page 317, which to me meant 316 very strong pages, which I took as a testament to my talent and skill, which I couldn't claim sole credit for. There's a reason why the acknowledgements page(s) in novels go on and on.
Ironic too that writing seems like such a solitary exercise when, in truth, perhaps a dozen or more people are involved. It's a collaboration in isolation though. Readers can't read with lots of distractions going on any more than writers can write in a roomful of activity. We need to tune out the world when it comes to the word. Each person who touches the manuscript does so in sequence, not in committee.
Now that This Darkness is Mine is CLEAN, she will begin her querying, though it's called subbing, which I guess means submitting. It's almost identical to the writers' process of querying and many of the same resources are utilized: #MSWL, Twitter feed, querytracker, Publishers Marketplace.
Agents go through the same hell, just on a different level! 👀👿
This process may be quick or long. There's no knowing beforehand, so I have no other news to report on that front.
On another front, Mack's Writers Rescue LLC is being filed, and a brand spanking new author website will launch, slated for January 1, 2021
Pages will be devoted to:
I participated in a virtual write-in through the National Portrait Gallery, during which a portrait with a little background story were used as writing prompts. We were allotted 20 minutes to write.
This was the portrait (Andrew Carnegie)
This is what I wrote:
"I've rendered your cheeks ever so slightly rosier than they really are, Mr. Carnegie," she said, cleaning the last of her paintbrushes with turpentine. "I hope you don't mind."
Andrew stared at the portrait of himself. He let out a murmur of a grunt as he noticed the globe.
"I did that so people can see your health and always remember you as such. For posterity."
"I see," said Andrew. "There's no hint of a train or commerce, though."
"Ah, but yes," said the artist, pointing the brush at the image of the scroll. "This here is your first certificate of stock. The one that began building your way out of poverty."
Andrew hinted a smile.
"Does that mean it pleases you?" asked the artist.
He didn't want to let on whether it did or didn't. "Who would know what that is unless you or I tell them?"
"It's a secret, sir." The artist put her oil paints away and began tucking her easel into a case. "As for the train, no one will ever forget to associate the name Carnegie with steel. The world is at your feet. See the globe there?"
Carnegie tapped his foot and nodded. "It's mostly in darkness."
"That's the truth of the real world. If the masses follow your lead, the light will be theirs, enlightenment if you will."
Andrew frowned. He thought perhaps the artist was overdoing it in hopes of fetching a higher price, but he had settled on a price and it was strictly for the commission, not for his ego's gratification. He bent over to inspect the details of the portrait. "My hands seem a bit small, no?"
The artist gasped and then shrugged with a sly smile, as though she'd just thought of a plausible why. "Large hands belong only to greedy men, sir. I rendered your hands thusly to represent you take only what you have justly earned and no more."
Carnegie smiled, pulling a cigar from his breast pocket. "Well done. I must admit I like that, I like it because it's true." He pursed his lips. "You left out my dog."
The artist rubbed at her lapel. "Another portrait with less subtle meaning, perhaps? A family portrait and I'll be happy to include your dog."
Andrew started at the artist's handiwork. The painting isn't bad. Rosy cheeks, enlightenment, the beginnings of wealth creation -- these were all important to him after all. Could he credibly claim to be modest. He wanted to believe so.
What does mental health look like to a person who has #bipolar? For myself, it means my everyday is as neurotypical as possible, and that's only a reality when I stick with my medication.
But what does mental health look like for anyone - with or without a mental illness challenge - during a prolonged pandemic?
|Dreamstime.com royalty-free image|
I couldn't adequately answer the question, but Google's home page had a link to a gorgeous montage, and I'll share it here ==> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPLaajIJq8M&feature=youtu.be. The whole human population needs to function with coronavirus in the backdrop. It's a beautiful and concise clip. It made me tear up because we all so desperately need each other but we're torn apart along illogical racial and political fault lines.
For specific care, especially coping with profound grief, YouTube suggested Amy Morin, LCSW and her TED-x Talk from Ocala, Florida. Imagine being 23 years old, graduating from graduate school, getting a dream job, getting married, and buying a house with a bright, shiny future ahead of you, only to lose your mother. Morin describes mental resilience by replacing unhealthy mental habits with healthier habits. Worth a listen. ==> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFbv757kup4
As for myself, my world has been closing in on me in certain ways, and my outlets have been writing, weekly family Zooms, and the occasional visit in the park with a friend. I've attached a significant portion of my identity with my work, and being furloughed going on seven months has taken a toll. Who am I without gainful employment?
Who am I indeed.
I'm still a friend and a cat mommy, a sister, a writer with a story. I'm still here. I'm still facing a plethora of enormous uncertainty, which doesn't make me special. It makes me connected, because we're all in this together despite the six feet between us.
And later today, I'll be video chatting with my dear friends, and I look forward to seeing them, hearing their voices, seeing their faces, laughing until our guts burst, and leaning on each other.
READERS, follow my Facebook author page ==> https://www.facebook.com/MackenzieLittledaleWriter
WRITERS, follow me on Twitter ==> @mackenzielitt13
Is there an act of #SelfCare you can fit into your day today? In addition to the video chat with my friends, I'm going to give myself a hydration facial, avoid soda, and spend time with my brother and mom.
Be well, stay safe and have a magical day!
12/18/2018 Guest post (Anger vs. Negativity) on The Bipolar Battle website
01/2019 First published article (Self-aware Movement through Somatic Bodywork) Conscious Life Journal
07/17/2019 AskWin Podcast interview
11/2019 Diffusing the Tension blog Interview/Q&A
07/12/2020 Wendi Blum Weiss interview Growing Your Twitter Account from zero to 14,000
07/31/2020 Winning short story (Freedom 500) Gestalt Media July contest
09/17/2020 Gestalt Media Creative Community interview My Creative Process
09/30/2020 Winning short story (It was an Accident) Gestalt Media September contest
It's both aggravating and comforting that Black Lives Matter gets followed up with All Lives Matter.
On one hand, it's comforting because the person telling me is an ally and says it out of allyship, that he or she always believed my life matters, always included minorities as equals.
On the other hand, it's aggravating when it comes from a person who insinuates that I have no reason or right to single out Black lives as mattering. It's not that the BLM movement is singling out Black lives to elevate them ABOVE all others. To the contrary, we want to be elevated to EQUALITY. Why does this argument still have to be pointed out? Wtf?
Anyone whose intent is to shut me up and "put me in my place" by saying All Lives Matter can go fuck themselves.
Blue Lives Matter. Wow. There's no such thing as a Blue Life unless you're referencing a fucking Smurf. The uniform is blue. It's an occupation that comes with occupational hazards. It comes with a badge that confers authority to use deadly force. It's almost unquestioned. The blue uniform can be removed at the end of a shift. The badge can be misused and the power behind it can be abused. At what point in the day -- or in my life for that matter -- can I slink out of my skin?
That's a long introduction to see if readers have the stomach to read more. If you've stuck it out this long and aren't squeamish...
To read the rest of my poem, purchase the journal. Pages 22-23...https://www.tywi.org/black-lives-matter.html
The Young Writers Initiative launched The Black Lives Matter Project with a literary journal.
My poem You Want to Know Who I Think I Am is included on Pages 22-23, as well as my friend Phebe Yawson's piece Black Hope begins on Page 24.
The journal is well done and simply stunning. It's a tremendous honor to be included with such luminous talent and voices.
Be well, stay safe and have a magical day!