Monday, September 8, 2008

"Without opposition there is no growth."

"Without opposition there is no growth. It is hard to argue with that logic. A state in which we are free from problems or constraints is not happiness. Happiness is transcending all opposition and obstacles and continuing to grow."

This is today's quote from "For Today and Tomorrow Daily Encouragement" by Daisaku Ikeda. A Buddhist friend of mine gave this book to me a few weeks ago along with some other materials. I read from the book each morning and I've begun chanting. I've never been a religious person. This isn't a blog about religion, I promise you, but I just need to explain how I ended up chanting briefly. Feel free to skim over the following and skip to my point, which I've bolded below for your convenience.

My dad was raised Lutheran, was Atheist at the time he had me (now he's converted to Judiasm because his new wife is Jewish...) and my mom was raised Catholic, but due to her marriage stopped practicing, so my brother and I were raised with no religious upbringing except for a brief bout in the Mennonite church because we were friends with a family across the street from us and the dad was a Mennonite pastor. I've never connected with Christianity though. I considered myself Wiccan and practiced Wicca in my late teens/early twenties, but never with much regularity. By my mid-twenties, I basically considered myself Atheist. Then, as you know, three of my friends died all within nine months. Marcel's death in June particularly rocked me. I didn't need "something to believe in" so to speak, but I needed something to ground me, to focus me, to make me feel like I am in control of my own life even though loved ones can be taken from us in an instant and there is nothing that I can do about that; I can't and haven't been able to control when I am able to fall asleep for 16 years now; and I can write a book, pour my whole soul into it, and not control if people will like it or how well it does, etc. I vented about all of this to my friend and she told me about chanting, how it is not about asking some higher power for help, a concept which I have never been able to grasp, but it is about focusing your own energy and inner resources on what you need and want. Plus it forces you to slow down and meditate basically, which I really need. So I've been trying to get into the routine of chanting. Anyway, on to my point.

My point is that it's Monday morning and I really need to believe in the quote at the beginning of the blog. I had a shitty weekend. A really shitty weekend. I believe on Friday I mentioned that my roof was leaking? Well, I spent each day just hoping that Scott's dad's friend would have time to come over and look at it and that it wouldn't rain in the meantime. Stressed beyond belief because if it did leak, it was leaking into my office, which is my sacred space on so many levels. Stressed because I had no idea how much it would cost and I've quit the job with the stable income. Stressed because it has been really slow at the bar all week. Angry for about the thirtieth time at the jerk who owned the house before me and lied about and covered up numerous problems with the house (I may not be religious, but I've always believed in Karma and I hope his is coming...), not to mention all the repairs he did do on the house have turned out to be cheap, such as this roof which was supposed to be good for 10 years, but lo and behold it's been 5 and the flashing (don't ask me what that is, I am just repeating back terms said to me) is coming up or something and it is going to have to be resealed. Anyway so I spent the whole weekend stressed and when I'm stressed my sleep is even worse than usual. The roof didn't get fixed until this morning and while I cannot really complain because Scott's dad and his friend did me a HUGE favor and though I'm still not sure what it's gonna cost me, I know it's gonna cost much less than anyone else would charge, but the thing that sucked was that I got home from work around 2:30 am last night, due to my sleeping issues, I didn't fall asleep until 3:30 or 4. The roof work started at 7. I tried to sleep with ear plugs and a pillow over my head til about 9 with little success and finally got up with a throbbing headache.

I'm telling myself that this is the end of the bad though. I am reciting the quote from the beginning of the blog over and over and telling myself this will be a good week. I will finally adjust to my new routine. I will finally catch up on all the email and interview questions and such and this week I will finally write. I will write through the opposition. When I am stressed I feel the worst about my writing. And dude, after this weekend, I am so done going on Goodreads. The negative shit about the book on there totally overpowers the positive stuff and yesterday in the midst of my stress, I went on there just to approve a friend request, thought oh, I'll see if the requestor said anything about the book and then bam, I find the following one star review from some guy (not the requestor) named Jay, "probably the worst book written in the 21st century. that includes all books yet to be written in the coming 92 years." Wow, thanks for making me cry in the shower, Jay. Seriously, I hope it makes you feel good to be that full of bile and just shit all over someone's hard work like that. I had a mini-breakdown about being totally worthless as a writer. I thought maybe I'm having a hard time focusing and pouring myself into my next two projects because I just suck and I should give up and go back to being an office slave. Then I got a very sweet email from my friend Amber telling me I'm her idol and one from my friend Jenny reminding me never to give up on my dreams and what I love about life. This morning I got a message from a dear named Andrea on myspace, who sent me a link to her review of my book and she obviously totally completely got the book and is the kind of person I cared about connecting with it.

It's still hard to shake that scathing review, but "without opposition there is no growth." I will fight for my happiness. I had to fight to become the person who could write and publish a book to begin with, who could follow her dreams like Emily in IWBYJR as opposed to stagnate because of her pain like Louisa. So I'll keep fighting. And I strive to someday handle bad reviews as well as Brad Meltzer:

And you know why else I want to be like Brad? Because they released a companion soundtrack to his latest book, Book of Lies! I got a press release about the soundtrack a couple weeks ago and had been meaning to blog about how jealous I was that his publisher did this, but I got bogged down. Here is what Meltzer said about why he did a soundtrack to the book:
"Music is manipulative, it helps evoke an emotion. Every time I write a book I write in complete silence but there is always as soundtrack in my head as I write....What you hear [in the soundtrack] is as close as I can give you to what I'm feeling as I'm writing.”

I thought that was pretty cool and basically how I feel about books and music, too. Maybe if I become a bestseller like him one day I can convince my publisher that my book needs a soundtrack! The Book of Lies Soundtrack has a wide range of stuff on it from an REM song to a song composed about the book. And that's what I think would be really cool is to someday write a book and work with a musician friend (like my friend Jenny who records under the name Heilige and writes totally amazing stuff that you can hear on her myspace, the first few songs are covers, but scroll down to the last two "In Pieces" and "Get Rid of Me" which I have been listening to a ton) to create an original soundtrack to it. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in buying soundtracks for books? (If you are, and you are planning to read Book of Lies, you should pick up the soundtrack too to show publishers you like this kind of thing!) Which of your favorite books do you wish had a soundtrack?

Okay, I'm feeling better now, focusing on that quote and listening to Jenny's music. If you had a bad weekend or a rotten Monday, I hope sharing that quote helped you too. Also, if you are in the Chicago area, please come hang with me tonight at Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs at 7 pm tonight. I'll read and answer questions and talking to interested readers always reinvigorates me!


adh said...

Hi, Stephanie! Thanks for reading (and blogging about) my review. I'm glad it was a bright spot in your day. I really did love the book and hope other book obsessed music lovers discover it. =) Andrea

heilige. said...

wow thanks for blogging about me. lol. i'm really glad my music can make you happy, and all this time i thought it was really depressng...

i've been going through a hard time, and i know you know that, but out of it all i've come to realize how important the arts are to us (people like you have writing, people like me have music).

always know everytime you have abad week, weekend, day, or whatever, that there are people out there who look to the same type of release..and make sure it makes you happy to realize that you never gave up on.

and you're a great person. i'm thinking of coming to chicago for a weekend in october, will you be around??