Author’s Thoughts

Lessons from Daisy

The storms passed and it was a beautiful clear day. Low 70’s with lots of sun and a slight breeze. Daisy was ready for her run and like any normal Golden Retriever nothing made her happier!  One of the city’s open space areas presently clear of ball games, bike riders and skateboarders allowed us the perfect opportunity. I unhooked her leash and threw her ball. Off she ran pure joy emanating from her flowing golden coat, tongue lolling, ears flapping, feet flying. It’s at times like these that I can most fully appreciate the natural order of things. She was created to be the dog she is and as a dog she is fully in the moment, fully alive doing what she loves to do: chase, retrieve and jump, track down interesting smells, roll in the occasional poop, dunk in the occasional mud puddle and race headlong into the occasional flock of geese! And at the end of her wonderful run she loves to get a cookie and a big bowl of fresh water! What could be better?
Ah the life of a well-loved dog! There is much we can learn from our canine friends, but perhaps chief among those lessons are:

  1. Stay in the moment
  2. Be who you are
  3. Live life to its fullest
  4. Enjoy being with your ‘best friend’
  5. Appreciate the simple things of life: a sunny day and drink of cold water
  6. Oh, and always listen to whoever is holding your leash!
 

Twins

I have always been fascinated by twins. When I was in grade school there was a set of twins in my class. They were identical but slight differences could be detected. I remember watching them interact and wondering how they thought and felt about one another. I thought it would be amazing to be a twin. To have one other person in the whole world who was just like you. Who looked like you and thought as you did. How neat would be to be able to communicate without words, to just know that someone else felt as you did.
When I was a young woman just beginning my family, I often wished for twins.  There is something about two people being genetically identical but unique and separate individuals that is compelling. I never had twins but my interest in them is  the reason I included twins in my mystery series.. The family of the main character, Elizabeth Reinhardt, who first appears in Razor’s Edge contains a set of twins and later in Seeing Double, a second set of identical twins appears and their potential for psychological contentedness becomes a compelling variable in the story’s plot.

Some psychological literature on emotional attachment talks how as human beings we strive for intense bonding and closeness to one other human being. Sometimes I think of that process as seeking ‘twin-ship.’ For some of the people who I’ve worked with there is compelling hunger for symbiosis or ego fusion in which even the tiniest differences are difficult to tolerate. Some relationships function best when those differences are almost eliminated. You may have met couples who present themselves almost as if they are one. “We’ve been together for so long we think alike, we complete one another’s sentences, it’s almost as if we are one person,” they might say. For some this is the definition of true love. For others it represents the ideal romantic love and for others it may apply to parent-child relationships. People ordering for one another in restaurants, answering questions for one another, making clothing choices might be everyday examples of this process of ‘ego-fusion’ or ‘lack of differentiation” as another way of saying it.

Existential thinkers talk about each of us coming into this world alone and leaving it in the same way. Many people resist the idea of existential ‘aloneness’ and spend their whole lives looking for that perfect relationship that will defeat this fearful state. Some people turn to G-d for that perfect sense of union, others believe that finding one’s soul-mate contains the possibility that separateness can be reversed, still others seek  fusion, twin-ship or replication of self with their children . ‘Twin-ship’ whether biologically or emotionally created embodies some of these needs and issues.  I find this subject thought provoking and exploring it may help challenge some deeply held but unexplored beliefs which would benefit from closer examination and while I do not claim to have  a exhaustive mastery this subject, perhaps I have posed a question or tweaked your interest in these ideas enough to start us having an interesting discussion… if so let me hear from you!

 

 

Trust the Process

Putting words to paper is a joy! It’s a challenge and it’s interesting. It also takes some level of trust, like stepping off a cliff into the unknown with just a glimmer of trust that a solid pathway will appear before me. OK good, you get the Indiana Jones reference!  It’s just how the creative process is for me; it meanders apparently effortlessly, taking shape and form as if autonomously and before I know it pages are written. The most amazing part about it all is those pages make sense; they are interesting, they are exciting, they  have a rhythm and a purpose that is uniquely their own.

As a psychotherapist for many years I have learned to respect the process, to let people tell their stories in their own way, to allow trains of thought to unravel in an often meandering pattern knowing that form, clarity and substance will follow.  Formulations and insights will present themselves pointing out directions and resolutions. For me writing is something like that… it requires a willingness to tolerate the unknown, to follow paths wherever they are going to lead and to patiently work with the material presented as the process unfolds and transforms into a coherent whole.

 

 

Introducing Razor’s Edge

Razor’s Edge, or Dancing on the Razor’s Edge as the case may be began with the title, formed in my mind many years ago when I was working with a patient who self harmed by cutting herself. As it turns out, hers is not the story that the book ended up telling but somehow the title stuck! The day I started writing Razor’s Edge began with this patient in mind but evolved within minutes to become a different story entirely. Once on paper the characters tend to tell their own stories, odd as that may seem, in this situation that is what exactly happened. The creation of the main characters in Razor’s Edge was spontaneous and occurred as my fingers went flying over the keyboard. The plot evolved from the characters and in turn created other characters as they were needed to fill the need of the plot. The whole story wove together, I won’t say seamlessly exactly, but relatively seamlessly over time, featuring a young woman with a trauma history and her most unusual therapist.
Dancing on the Razor’s Edge is a psychological thriller with many twists and turns. The role of ‘heroine’ is shared by these two women whose lives connect in the context of a therapy setting but it soon cascades beyond that setting and to keep things interesting and mysterious a psychopathic villain presents himself, weaving his own gruesome, indomitable tale throughout the plot. Writing Razor’s Edge was a joyous experience; writing it kept me on the edge of my seat and I hope it will do the same for you as you read it!

Check back again for news about Razor’s Edge; when, where and how it will be available. I think you’ll be glad you did!

 

Buck appears in the Gunpowder Review

My second lucky break into the world of publication occurred shortly after the first meeting I attended of the Maryland Writers’ Association.  I was lucky to be present when Vonnie Winslow Crist was the presenter, reading some excerpts from her book The Greener Forest. At that time Vonnie also talked about THE GUNPOWDER REVIEW, a literary magazine she co-edited with Wendy Hellier Stevens. THE REVIEW specializes is works submitted by female writers in Maryland. She let us know that she would be accepting short stories and poems for the next few weeks.
Elated I rushed home and turned on the computer! I had written several short stories about animals and after a few revisions I was happy to send her a copy of “Buck and the Lady in the Lake,” featuring my first greatly loved Golden Retriever, Buck.  After doing some of her own editing, Vonnie accepted the story and it was included in THE GUNPOWDER REVIEW 2011 edition!  I was happy to be invited to launch the publication at a book reading held at Barnes and Noble in Bel Air in November of that year.

Many thanks to Vonnie and the Gunpowder Branch of the National League of American Pen Women for their efforts in creating this wonderful beautiful assembled collection of works by Maryland women authors and artists. The magazine is available at Lulu.com and Amazon.com. If you get the chance to read “Buck and the Lady in the Lake,” I would love to hear your comments!

An audio sample from the short story can be found here:

[audio http://nancyalexander.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/buck-sample.mp3%5D
 

‘The Hero’ published!

I have always been an animal lover and through the years have had and loved many animals of different species. Through the course of my life with my animals inevitably many situations arose, some funny, some tragic, some heart-warming. I always knew I’d write about my life with animals but it seems I needed a little impetus to get started. That impetus came through a series of some simple exchanges. I was having a conversation with a 7th grade teacher friend wherein she was describing an assignment she had given her English students. The assignment had to do with stories about unlikely heroes. Within moments I was telling her my ‘unlikely hero’ story. It was about my cat Rajah, a Siamese who indeed rose to hero status years before in an unlikely series of events.  She was enthralled by my story so I told her I’d write so she could share it with her students. I wrote the story, she shared it and the students loved it! I called the story “The Hero.” And that was when I became a writer of animal short stories.
Serendipity dipped in a bit later when an author cousin of mine emailed me a link to a website for the Ontario Veterinary College. The announcement, a Call for Submissions, announced that in honor of their 150th year anniversary, The Veterinary College planned to publish an anthology of animal stories. I submitted “The Hero” and it was accepted for inclusion in their book entitled: Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People which was published in 2012.

It seems fitting that Rajah, my first beloved Siamese, led my first foray into the world of publication!

The book is available through Amazon.com and if you get the chance to read “The Hero” I would love to hear your comments!

 

Bucket List

One of the things I had on my bucket list was to write. From fifth grade English onward, when creative writing was assigned, I relished the task. Of course in those days writing was done in composition books with leaky ball point pens and eventually on peck and poke typewriters replete with smeary erasures. But I always enjoyed the process of writing my thoughts and observations, of creating scenes for the reader to help them see what I saw and feel what I felt.
Having been a sick child, I was naturally inclined toward being an observer, a watcher, a listener. Surrounded by doctors and nurses I learned to read their body language, notice their behaviors toward me and toward one another, read them. I absorbed myself, even entertained myself observing things in the world around me. Noticing even the smallest detail about a person’s expression revealed much about their true feelings and beliefs.  I became interested in this process of noticing things. Although I was too young to reach many conclusions about all this and was years away from developing any insight or constructing any formulations about either myself or others, the groundwork was laid. All of this watching, listening and eventually thinking inclined me toward my chosen profession but it also dovetailed with my interest in doing some serious writing.

Through the years as a psychotherapist, there were many times when I’d look across at a patient and think, this is a story that needs to be told. These tragedies and these truths, they need to be shared with others and I’d tuck those stories away somewhere. It is from that wealth of knowledge, my in-depth understanding of human struggle and frailty, of success and recovery that many of my ideas derive. It is out of respect for their lives and their travels that I write and out of their souls come the essence of the characters I develop.

 

Let’s get this blogging started!

And so … apropos of nothing in particular and everything in general I want to bring up a current but socially complex topic.  I’ve been thinking about how technology has brought us closer together and yet further from our basic humanity. We’re in constant contact with each other, but seem so much more emotionally isolated. Our messages are shorthand, abbreviated, mostly lacking time and patience with the communication process. Texters are missing the quick smile, the frown, the questioning look. They are missing the importance of being a good, calm listener while their friend is thinking about what to say.  The human element has been taken out of our communication process. Type the facts, think fast, press ‘send’, wait for a beep and do it all over again. Our collective fingers have never moved faster, our brains have learned how to alter and condense language into series of nearly unrecognizable letters dots and dashes. It’s fast, it’s fact-based, it’s black and white. My old English teachers would be tearing their hair out over these culturally congruent travesties of the language. My old psychology and sociology professors would be dumbfounded.
Oh no, you’re thinking here we go again on another anti-change rant! Not really. I’m a “techie fan”. I text some, I email lots, I even started blogging, just now but I also think there can be some balance. Could we stop rushing about and talking about private things out loud in elevators while strangers are listening? Could we slow down and speak face to face sometimes and listen and think about what we’re saying? Could we formulate thoughts and sentences that take more than 30 seconds? Could we look at one another when we talk? Could we nod and say “uh ha” and make eye contact and be good respectful listeners? Why is it that people sitting together are texting each other and looking at phone screens rather than looking at each other? Why are people sitting together say in Starbucks and texting other people?  What’s with that? Talk about rude! Take away the phones and imagine you are sitting with a friend and ignoring them and talking to everyone else in the room? How do you think that would work out?  Clearly there is something about texting, emails and blogs that make communication easier somehow. But really folks, there is a price society is paying for all of this.  Complex thought has been reduced to a series of letters on a tiny screen. Meaningful heart to heart feelings and decisions have been reduced to 15 keystrokes and then ‘send’.

Healthy thoughtful discussions with complete well-formed sentences have been all but eliminated from our social shmorgasbord. We’re training our children to look down at their fingers and not up into someone else’s face. Let’s try to bring some humanity back into our world. How can we do that? I’m not sure. Not that I have the power to influence the technological tidal wave but at least we can ‘blog’ about it. What do you think?

 

First Plunge

Hi Everyone
I’m Nancy and I’m new to the blogging world so I want to say Hello!

I’m a life long animal lover, a long time psychotherapist and a brand new author. I’m excited to be sharing with you from all these aspect of my self as time goes on. I’ll share some of my animal stories and even be inviting some of my animals to be ‘guest bloggers’… just wait till you see what they have to say! I’ll be sharing some ideas that have evolved from my years of practicing psychotherapy, new and old observations about people and what makes them tick… and I’ll be sharing with you some ideas about writing as I plunge into the brave new world of authorship.

Looking forward to hearing from you and beginning some conversations on many different topics.

bye for now

Nancy

 

1 6 7 8