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Wednesday, October 29, 2014


“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” --- Maya Angelou, "Letter to My Daughter"

It's awfully easy to wallow in self-pity and it's even easier to cry out loud---Facebook, anywhere one could talk out loud---about it

With a spell of set-back, in my writing career that is, I nearly took the easy road out and whined about it. I'm a natural born whiner, believe me. So what surprised me was that I did not whine.  Publicly, that is.

There comes a time in life when you realize whining is self-defeating. Its benefits? None. Absolutely none. And, hey, if I had not found peace about the issue I'm chatting about, I'd keep my trap shut; however, I did find peace. And, because of that peace, I felt like passing on encouragement to new writers like me---established writers, too, who might feel the same from time to time.

This writing gig is a wonderful thing. Which is good, because for most writers, we could no more not write than we could hold Niagara Falls in a teacup. 

If you're like me, you felt the magic the second your fingers typed those first words to that first story. Somehow, you knew. It was right for you.

And, if you're like me, you plunged into this new adventure with the most magnificent expectations. Me? I imagined myself right up there with Mario Puzo and Dan Brown. It was going to be that easy. I felt like I had the talent, after all. 

Like the Zampster said in her blog post about writing needing to be a balance between a job and the wonderful ceremony, this wonderful literary life trip is a job. And, since it is a job, it puts you in a new limbo between dreamland and reality. 


This new job, just like any other job, can be an exhilarating  journey. Or,just like the office place, it can place you---because now you're mingling with a world of authors just like yourself as well as a staff of management---it can ram you right into a brick wall of self-doubt and fear. No, no, it's not a scary place, this writing world. It sure doesn't have to be, anyway.

But, plain and simple, once you're work is out there and you begin dealing with the world outside your writing nook, you...well...you are dealing with a world outside your writing nook. Which means, just like in school or work, you're exposed to elements that, whether you like it or not, will affect you.

You know that thick skin they always tell you about? The thick skin writers must have? Well, that thick skin applies to more than just handling bad reviews and negative junk regarding your work.

Baby, that thick skin also applies to you, to how your self-confidence has to stay intact. You walked into this gig with the confidence of a soaring eagle, my friend, and you have to keep it

That thick skin has to stay thick when you sometimes feel like you're not really a part of the big adventure. When you feel you're invisible. When elements come onto the scene that not only seem not to encourage but to actively DIScourage. When you feel like the pesky kid in the W.C. Fields movie and the world snarls, Go away, kid, you bother me

And it ain't about being somebody. Whoa! If that's your goal, get in another line, doll. That line is the one where your personal goal as primo celibrita is more important than your original passion---your writing

Me? I just suffered one of those bouts of self-doubt. When it felt like, not only did I not feel like I mattered----me or my writing---but it even seemed there were those who confirmed it for me. 

I wallowed in that for a while. I doubted my writing. I doubted my writing?  Oh, hell, no. 

Then came my mental, hold your horses, buck-o!

Then came my mental look here, toots.  

I worked hard at this writing. My heart bled into every single word. Along my way, I had a bevy of wonderful, wonderful folk who believed in me. Friends who mentored me. Friends who read my work. Friends who taught me everything they knew about writing, about editing, about everything. Folks who embraced this new writing dame. They gave me their time, their care, their knowledge. 


I'm going to chunk all that priceless input, all that beautiful care and support...because a couple of incidents happened? I'm going to regress, even for one split second, and stop believing in myself because I ran smack-dab into a few who discourage me?

And, wait. I'm not saying it's the world's job to boost me, to support me. And that's just it! I see that now. The confidence has to come from within. It can't rely on external elements to make it or break it. Just because you run into a barrier of discouragement, you can't just stand there at the roadblock, staring at it all helpless and heartbroken. You just go around it, and keep heading straight on to where you started out to begin with. 

Here's a scary thought: you do stop at the obstacles on your path. You let it halt your dreams right in the middle of the damn road. 

When, instead, Steve Maraboli says, How would your life be different if…You stopped validating your victim mentality? Let today be the day…You shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.

Are you going to let yourself be a victim and let your dream halt---even for one second---every time someone throws a kink into your confidence?

I'm not. 

Do you know, I was so discouraged I'd decided not to write sequels to books I loved? I actually allowed a tint of disinterest from someone else to set me back, to send me over the self-pity cliff?

Then, just at the brink, I remember all those fabulous people who did care.

And I stepped away from the edge. And I'm going to keep writing. And I'm going to keep loving what I write. 

This gal is going to hang on to that ol' self-confidence a bit longer. And so are you!

Friday, October 24, 2014


A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me. --- Khalil Gibran

It could be anyone. A movie star, past or present. A guy standing in a crowd on a street in a photo in an article. The pizza delivery guy. Your hairdresser. A gal behind the counter at the department store or in the line at the grocery store. A stranger passing you on the street. 

The moment you see them, you know them. You know them. Maybe even intimately. Maybe you knelt with them in the trenches during a war. Maybe you went to school with them back in the 1940's. You might have even passed them on the street---never even meeting them---only it was a hundred years ago, and you thought how handsome they were.

Yes, sugars, I'm talking about...past lives. Reincarnation.

Many believe it, many call it hogwash.

All my life, in spite of being taught in church that it wasn't possible, that it was sacrilegious, I still felt it was possible. It made so much sense to me, this idea of our souls being infinite and existing inside various forms throughout the universe. I love the thought of this.

Oddly, though, the concept never made as much sense to me as it did when I started writing. 

And here is why.

When I did start writing, my very first character was this thin, rather pale, dark-haired man. Very broody, very intense. Beautiful like one of those saints in a stained glass window in a cathedral. Hey, don't start laughing just yet. There's reasoning behind this madness. Just wait.

Now, here's something else about this man. Whenever he came to my mind---which was pretty cotton-picking often---I kept seeing the Catholic church. When I'd write him, he either was a priest or had been a priest or was somehow associated with Catholicism. Strongly, he always appeared in my mind this way.

This 'character' began to trouble me. After a while, after I'd had a chance to get to know him better, I began to feel---with overwhelming certainty---that I knew him, really knew him from somewhere. No longer was he this figment of my imagination, a character trying to be fleshed out, but he was somebody real

There were times I almost saw him, saw exactly who he was and where I knew him from. Kind of like staring at a faint reflection of a face that hid deep, deep in a dreamy pond. Almost, but not quite, I could touch him. 

Okay, you'll maybe find this silly. I even checked around to study past-life regression. Yep, he'd gotten that much under my skin. 

I was wildly attracted to him, horribly sad about him for some reason. Talk about feeling like you're crazy! I dared tell only a handful of open-minded friends about him. Anybody else, I was pretty damn sure, would say I was off my nut. 

And then it happened. 

I was watching a film on Telemundo, the Hispanic television station. What was funny was that it was an Italian film with Spanish captions on a Spanish station. It was, if I remember correctly, The Holy Family. The guy who played Joseph on the film! Lordy, I found him so damn attractive. Something so familiar about him. Maybe he looked like an old boyfriend or something. Couldn't quite place why he seemed familiar, he just did. 

Of course, the next day, I googled him. 

There he was. It was him. Him! The man who'd taken over my mind and had this weird place in my heart. I can't tell you know I knew it was him, I just knew. 

He was the Italian actor, Alessandro Gassman.

Holy shitsky. In all his dark, brooding glory. No, I'm not saying I knew the actor intimately, from some other life.  But he was the face of the creature who'd invaded my mind.

Well, anybody who knows me knows that I fell in love, head over heels, for this actor. But what most have never known was why. And there it is, darlings. Most of my friends have surely just figured it was part of my fascination---no, call it obsession---with dark haired Mediterranean and Latino men. Sure, I like them. But this man was different. 

Wait! No, no, no, no! Before you go and start hollering that ol' Vastine thinks she had an affair with an actor in a past life...that's not what I'm saying. 

What I am saying is that his face, his persona, his everything reminded me very much of something---gods only knows what or who---of something, someone from some time that was not in this life. I don't know what this is. I only know how it feels, and how certain it feels. I wish it was explainable. It's not. 

And the Catholic element? Here's where it's kind of funny. 

So by now, I had a face to my faceless man. Whoever he had been in my life, I felt very surely that he had been Catholic. 

One day, after this 'epiphany', a guy from church came up to me when services were letting out. He said My mother said to tell you that she dreamed about you last night. I don't know if the ambrosia she'd eaten was bad, or what made her dream this. But---and he chuckled---she dreamed that you had a son. And she said he was a priest or something. She thought he might have even been the pope.

Of course I laughed, as it was funny. But, deep down inside, I was a mix of elated and scared. This woman had no way to know about this imaginary connection I felt to the Catholic church. And, hey, maybe it was just one of those nifty telepathic wave lengths that folks share sometimes. 
Whatever it was, I had to---just had to----put a add a bit of weight to its meaning.
By now, you're chalking Ms. Vastine up to being a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Maybe I am.

Maybe, too, there's something deeper in all of us writers than we give credit to. Maybe sometimes our muses aren't simply imaginary characters conjuring themselves out of nowhere to put themselves into our stories. 
Maybe they go deeper than that. I truly believe that, sometimes---who knows, maybe all the time?---our muses are people our hearts really do know. Maybe we write them at times so vividly because they are not strangers to us. 

Come on. So many authors claim that they know their characters intimately. Couldn't that just more than just imagination? Maybe there is a logical although ethereal truth to this because they might just really know them? Perhaps not from this life but from another. I mean, how do we get into their souls so easy at times? How do they get into ours? 

I love the thought of this. I choose to embrace it. Not only from an artistic standpoint but from a realistic one. A theory that makes very much sense to me, this idea of souls being infinite. 

After all this being said, you can only imagine my delight when I stumbled on this photo of my movie star-turned-muse...

Maybe one day the mystery of the man in my head will be clear. I sure would like to know who he is. And if I never do have that revelation, I'll just be content to write him and write him and write him. Until maybe, through the writing of him, his true persona will manifest.

Call it just a muse. Call it experiences from a past life. Whatever you do call it, it's still the same inexplicable, exquisite experience. 

You see that face. And you smile.

I know you.