I’m blessed, I really am.
Surprised? Not expecting such mawkish sentiment on a site usually devoted to gloom-laden navel-gazing and bitter self-recrimination. You’re wary, suspicious of some kind of a misdirection or trick.
I assure you, I’m quite serious. Too often this blog has dwelt on the darker aspects of my character, my pride and envy placed front and center for all to see. Which has provided plenty of ammunition for people with a bone to pick–when it comes to showing my warts, I’m not shy.
But now I’d like to turn the tables. No more grousing (for the moment) about the glacial pace of my career, rants on the sorry state of the publishing industry and the useless bastards who—
Instead of going on and on about the indignities I’ve endured, I want to write about how I’ve managed to survive. Persevered through twenty+ years of putting pen to paper. Spasms of tantalizing promise and then (usually) crushing disappointment. Fifteen hundred rejection slips (minimum), at least a dozen phone calls from editors begging off. Two decades of waiting for my BIG BREAK. Waiting and waiting…
My wife Sherron is stalwart and courageous and true. Kind-hearted but nobody’s fool. Generous and imbued with genuine humility. Tough, strong…but never, ever mean. Sher is simply not capable of deliberate cruelty. One of the good guys. My reason to believe.
How many of you can say that you married your best friend, the finest, smartest, funniest, most creative and inspiring human being you’ve ever met? How many of you claim love at first sight?
It amazes me that we retain so such passion for each other…although now, perhaps, it is a different, more subtle and seductive kind of desire, deeper and so intimate I cannot speak of it without risking an indiscretion.
I am reminded of the woman I heard interviewed on the radio. Married for over fifty years and she admitted, with a little giggle, that even after all that time the sound of her husband coming up the front steps still gave her a little jolt of pleasure and excitement. Isn’t that lovely?
I have a hunch Sherron and I will be like that. We just celebrated our 17th anniversary. Seventeen years plus another six years dating and living together before that. Over half our lives together. So we don’t really make big deals about anniversaries and on several occasions have spent our special day apart, in different time zones. We’re at one mind on this: anniversaries, feh! Hallmark moments. Every day together is special—why discriminate?
Every day special, yes. And every day fun and new and exciting and filled with laughter. God, we laugh a lot. And we talk and we talk and we consult with each other and throw out ideas and cross-pollinate…
She reminds me that making art is a form of play.
Not to take things so seriously.
Get out of the house, go for a long walk, be sure to talk to people, re-connect, don’t stay cooped inside all day.
Try new things, don’t be afraid to fail and look foolish.
Sherron was the one who convinced me to give this whole blogging thing a go. I was pissing and moaning about how I couldn’t get my fiction to readers because the &%#@! editors and agents weren’t cooperating and (perhaps sick of hearing this tired refrain for the umpteenth time) she piped up: “So bypass them.” The more she talked about how blogging gave me complete editorial control and access to, potentially, millions of readers, the more the notion intrigued me.
Sherron found me WordPress and worked on the initial template with me. Showed me how I could import images to spruce up the text, create links, etc. etc. She’s my tech support, visual consultant and co-editor, all rolled into one.
She’s not a whiner (like me), she’s a doer. If she doesn’t know how to accomplish something, she has the guts to learn on the fly, improvising as she goes along. Completely fearless in that respect. Watching her operate when she’s in that mode is a breathtaking thing to behold. Turn her loose on something and she is a whirlwind of creative activity.
She has the unenviable task of being my first reader and editor. Sherron’s become very adept at critical reading, quick to spot typos, continuity problems, lack of clarity. I grumble when she points out a mistake but, invariably, she’s right and I make the change. She knows me well enough, my aesthetics, to comprehend what I’m trying to do when I tackle a story or poem or novel. When I fall short, she tells me in no uncertain terms. She’s absolutely fantastic at brain-storming and we’ve solved numerous plot problems and lapses in characterization by batting ideas back and forth.
Okay, it’s clear, she’s absolutely invaluable, the best thing that ever happened to me…but what about her? What did she get out of the deal? A neurotic, self-absorbed under-achiever with a nasty persecution complex. Sheesh. Talk about drawing the low card…
Well…we do all right. We manage, don’t we, sweetie? And along the way we’ve collaborated on a lot of projects, including plays and, oh yeah, a couple of big, smart, handsome sons. They’re something, aren’t they? Our oldest only about a half inch shorter than me and his bro closing the gap fast. Must be something they’re putting in the milk…
But they’re good lads, not bully-boys. Clever brutes too, always reading or writing and they’ve both done cool movies, you can check out their claymation shorts on YouTube, Twilight Kitten and Ride Through Mount Terror (and do leave a comment, they’d like that).
Sherron and my sons are my main support system and centre of gravity; they keep me from flying off in all directions. Without them I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I have. No way. Because of them I can’t entertain the notion of giving up. They sustain me, their belief in me so absolute and unshakeable that it shames me to even consider the thought.
Because I love her
and because I am an article of her faith
I will not betray her
Because she is good and kind
and I cannot bear the notion of hurting her
I will not betray her
Because her soul has never known darkness
and she does not wish to be acquainted with horror
I will not betray her
Because of her eyes and that smile
insisting all futures are bright
I will not betray her
Copyright, 2007 Cliff Burns (All Rights Reserved)
My family gives me the courage to explore the farthest places, knowing that I’ll always be able to return to them once my arduous journey is over. For solace and, if necessary, for healing. I draw strength from that circle of love; their life force never fails to restore me.
We are a loving bunch, very demonstrative, cuddly. I like that. Kisses make some of the pain go away. It may not be scientifically verifiable but it’s true.
We find it difficult to live within our means and would spend our last dollar on a book. We dream great, big dreams and aspire to lives of purpose and significance.
And if we fall short, if things don’t quite pan out as we’d hoped and expected, well, we’ll still somehow find it within ourselves to forge on. As long as we have each other, we can absorb any rebuff, any disappointment. If all else fails, we start over again from scratch, right, guys?
Don’t ever count us out.
Love moves mountains. It empowers us to achieve remarkable feats and inspires our kind to strive, to toil unflaggingly and, finally, incredibly, to prevail…