solstice

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I have made a Stonehenge of my heart. Piled around me, the earth, your favorite bones. Through the gaps, light, air. This day is small but tomorrow it will grow as sand grows, worn down by air and water, by moonrise and sunset. I have made a Stonehenge of my heart. Glowing from within and held up to the window so that you will always find me, even on the longest night.

 

 

 

 

I Wrote This Book Because…

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I wrote this book because we live in a sometimes horrible and often beautiful world.

I wrote this book because I did not want you to feel so alone.

I wrote this book because four boys in the town where I used to live used their collective rage, boredom, and feelings of worthlessness to turn the lives of another family into the thing of nightmares.

I wrote this book because I am raising a son.

I wrote this book because when I was a young person I used to feel very alone.

I wrote this book because of all of the strong women who raised me up.

I wrote this book because I felt like I was the only one who was not normal when I was a kid.

I wrote this book because when I was younger there were times when I wished I would die.

I wrote this book because I want you to know that it gets better.

I wrote this book because once I learned how to live inside someone else’s skin, I saw the world more clearly.

I wrote this book because I felt powerless.

I wrote this book because I felt powerful.

I wrote this book because I wanted you to read it and know that it’s not just you who feels the way you do.

I wrote this book because I love my family.

I wrote this book because I want a better future.

I wrote this book because that is what I do.

I wrote this book because we are all in this together.

I wrote this book because people let me know they believed in me.

I wrote this book because I believe in you.

Reader, though it is still a few months away from being published THE BOOK OF LANEY  is now available for pre-order just about everywhere in the english-speaking world. I know you have many choices for your time and money but I want you to know that when a book is pre-ordered it helps ease its entry into the world by relieving some of the stress on the publisher.

If you cannot pre-order it at this time, I fully understand. But maybe you would consider adding it to your wishlist for later or bookmarking it on Goodreads. Also, if you would be so kind as to bring it to the attention of your local library or bookstore, I would greatly appreciate it.

Reader, I also want you to know that while this book was written for a young adult audience that it would not be appropriate for readers under, say, the age of 14 or 15 (the protagonist is a 15-year-old girl) as some of the themes might be difficult for younger readers, no matter how advanced their reading skills.

Here’s what two of my favorite writers have to say about this book:

“Myfanwy Collins writes with big-time empathy and fierce courage.” Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

“In The Book of Laney, an unsettling and redemptive novel, Myfanwy Collins fuses heartbreak and empathy to explore uncomfortable truths about teenagers, violence, and survival. An unforgettable book.” —Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist

 

Thank you.

2015: A Year in Preview*

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In 2015:

  • My child continues to grow and dazzle me.
  • More and more frequently I find myself stealing socks from my son’s drawer when my own sock drawer is filled with socks with holes in them.
  • My husband and I lament how x or y in our house or our cars needs fixing, replacing, repairing.
  • We sit by the fire as a family and feel grateful for all that we have.
  • Our dog chews up something that he shouldn’t. We gently scold him but then laugh when he can’t see us because he’s funny.
  • Someone visiting for the first time gets locked in the guest bathroom because we forgot to tell them about the troublesome latch.
  • My third book, THE BOOK OF LANEY, is published.
  • Some people read this book and like it and tell me why and I am grateful.
  • At least one person takes it upon her/himself to hate this book after reading three pages and then write a scathingly ambiguous (because didn’t read the whole thing) review of the book on Goodreads.
  • I feel horrible about this review for far longer than I should completely giving it more power than all of the nice things that people say.
  • I come to my senses because fuck that person.
  • I feel good!
  • I feel bad again.
  • I feel good!
  • I move on.
  • I write something that pleases me.
  • I wake up feeling well-rested.
  • I read what I wrote again after a few months and I hate it.
  • I revise.
  • A few weeks later, I read the revised piece and am pleased again.
  • The next day I read it again and hate it.
  • I suffer several hours of crippling self doubt. I get on the elliptical and watch The Good Wife. One of Alicia’s clients has worse problems than I do and so I am uplifted, once again, by the magic of television.
  • My child loses another tooth and inches into the next stage of his childhood.
  • There is horrible news of injustice and suffering. I am filled with impotent rage.
  • Someone sends me an irritating email and I fume over it.
  • Something beautiful happens.
  • I wake up and wish I could stay in bed.
  • I cry.
  • At bed time, I lie beside my son in the dark and tell him a story about a star that wanted to be a boy and a boy who wanted to be a star.
  • The love that I didn’t think could grow any larger, grows.
  • The time between winter and summer and summer and winter continues to shrink.
  • We wake up breathing.

* I’ve been previewing my coming year for the past few years but, inevitably, someone reading it doesn’t get it and thinks I’m reviewing my year. This is the year I decided to add an asterisk so that maybe those who think I’m reviewing will notice the asterisk and read this note. Anyway, if you’ve made it to this point, welcome!

here we are now

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We heard “About a Girl” on the way to school. I was working at Tower Records on the corner of Newbury Street and Mass Ave on the day Kurt Cobain died. People kept calling the store, crying, asking us what they should do. We stood outside in our not-quite-designated smoking area (don’t stand on the stoop or you’ll get in trouble) and talked it over. What did they want from us? What were we supposed to do? I didn’t know. I don’t know.

He was 27 when he died. I was six months away from 27. I felt both very old and very young then. I still do. 27: You are in transition. You’re supposed to be an adult but you’re still touching childhood.

All I know is that so much happens next. Some of us have moved away. Some of us drive minivans. Some of us are dead. But we were there in that moment wondering how to comfort those who could not see beyond their own pain to realize that they were not abandoned. We were wondering how to tell ourselves how to push forward, through 27 and into whatever comes next. How to push ourselves through that dark passage.

Twenty years later, the music’s still there as I drive my child to school, through the spitting snow, across the salt marsh. And here is what I want you to know: I want you to make your brave art even though it costs you. Even though it sometimes chips away at your soul. Go on and keep doing it.

Blue, blue windows behind the stars

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On the way to school this morning, my son and I heard K.D. Lang’s cover of “Helpless” by Neil Young. We were quiet, reverent as we listened. I kept checking back on him in the rearview mirror. He was staring out the window, watching the salt marsh pass by, listening. When the song was over, I said, “I love that song,” and he said, “Me, too.” I had my sunglasses on and so he couldn’t see that I was crying just a little bit. I was struck by the quiet, poignant beauty of the song. I’d forgotten this song even existed. How had I forgotten that? How had I not always needed this song?

When we got to school, we saw a little girl get out of her car and almost immediately trip on the sidewalk. The art teacher was right there, giving her a hug, checking on her, and then her big sister came up beside her, checked on her, put her arm around her and walked her into school. I was moved by the caring of the big sister. She might have even been rolling her eyes a few minutes before in the car but when her sister needed her, she was there. As it should be.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this song and this scene on my way back home. I knew they were both important to my day but I didn’t know why just yet. Now, I do. What I needed was to be reminded that it is okay to feel helpless, to have moments of helplessness, to feel despair even. We can’t be any other than we are, falling down on the sidewalk, the feeling of shame and humiliation, which will linger, but soon start to sting just a bit less.

Coming up beside us there is always the possibility for beauty. The possibility for love. Coming up beside us is someone to lift us up.

The Good Luck of Right Now, by Matthew Quick

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As I read The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick I couldn’t help but think about how part of the message behind the book relates to how I met a dear friend of mine.We met because I stumbled across a wonderful essay he had written. I loved the essay and chose to write about it on my blog. The writer then found my post and chose to reach out to me. From those two choices, we became friends and remain friends to this day. I certainly feel richer for this friendship and I’m grateful we–misfit writers–made these choices. This experience is much like the experience of the characters in The Good Luck of Right now, who learn about being open to experiences and possibilities, making choices, and understanding the importance of human connection.

At the core of this wonderfully wacky book are a group of misfits desperate to find something to believe in. It is only when the world around them seems bleakest that they create their own miracle and that miracle is about opening ourselves and our hearts up to those around us. That miracle is about being open to family and friendship when we are feeling most vulnerable and alone. Bartholomew Neil could have likely spent the rest of his days alone after his mother died, but instead he allowed himself to be vulnerable. He finally heard and understood what his mother had been telling him all those years:

“We don’t know anything. But we can choose how we respond to whatever comes our way. We have a choice always. Remember that!”

Life is not all roses but it is not all thorns either. Especially if you choose to believe Bartholomew’s mother’s overarching message:

“Whenever something bad happens to us… something good happens–often to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now.”

Of course, like most of us, it takes Bartholomew a while to fully buy into his mother’s message and to open himself up to life’s possibilities, but when he does, he becomes his own savior.

I loved this book. I think you will, too.