Sodaro's Stories

June 27, 2012

Exorcizing demons

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:37 pm
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“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” Philip Roth

I had never honestly put much stock in the whole “Devil made me do it” idea, as it always seemed to me that it was an excuse and a way to not take responsibility for one’s own choices and actions.

It has been my goal to have my PhD since I finished my Masters. I am now one paper, one course, two residencies, and a dissertation away from that goal. Go me.

It has been my goal to be an author since I first held a crayon and found that it felt like a natural extension to my hand. I have my first shiny book and am working on the teaser sequel chapter to publishing my next book. I have 20+other novels currently started anywhere from page one to page 156 and everywhere in between.

To say I am close to all that I’ve dreamed of, is an accurate statement. To say that I’m afraid of and excited by why comes next, is an understatement. To say that I am impatient for what comes next should go without saying to those of you who know me.

Road blocks keep appearing, which I can see no other purpose for other than to divert me from my path. Since I know God’s plan for me as He keeps lining things up to work out for both my academic and creative endeavors, I can only assume these roadblock come from the previously dismissed Devil as they make no logical sense as to why they should keep happening.

When I read Philip Roth’s quote, I agreed completely. I also knew that by not completing my projects…I was letting something I had never believed in, win…and that is not acceptable.

Life has had me a little down lately…through circumstances beyond my control…and while I have the serenity prayer everywhere in my apartment…it evidently didn’t follow me in to work. I was stressing over things so far out of my control that it caused me sleep and health issues, which made it so that I didn’t swim, which made it that I didn’t write, cycle rinse repeat…silly Mich…silly silly Mich.

What I want in my world…is to have my PhD and to be able to share my stories with the world. I can’t control the road blocks, but I can make sure that I am doing all that I can every single day to make sure they don’t win…and to make sure my projects don’t stay “in-progress.”

June 24, 2012

Finding a feather…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:50 pm
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Emily Dickinson, in one of her poems, stated, “Hope is a thing with feathers.” Well, my friends, I believe I have found a feather…not a whole bird yet…nothing that will completely help me fly out of the tiny bits of minor darkness I have found myself in…but a feather…a tiny bit of hope that this, too shall pass.
And you say, of course it will pass…this is just what it is right now…this chaos and swirly and depression (which is almost entirely rotated around and caused by money, blech) time will pass and I will find all kinds of metaphoric feathers (finding real ones would cause an allergic reaction and that is never a goal).
The feather I found was the sequel to Arianna’s Honor and well, not to be too much of a tease, but the sequel has been started. I got her edited…and she is shiny…but I have known since around chapter 3, that she would have a sequel…and I told people she would be edited and ready to go by 6/18/2012…and I got her to the point I was comfortable sending her off to iUniverse…but it was bothering me, about the sequel. I love it when books give that little teaser at the end…Don’t miss, what comes next…just gives you enough so that (hopefully) you are hungry for the next book. I wanted that chapter done before I sent off the book…and the feather appeared Friday morning…Normally on Friday mornings I would be some place other than my desk drinking my coffee, but circumstances being what they are, I was at home…and my beautiful Muse (who hates when things are chaotic and swirly, especially when it is about money) whispered in my ear with the words I always love to hear, “How about we try…” and suddenly the sequel was started…and there appeared a feather…and I could feel a bit of hope return.

June 21, 2012

Hold steady…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:22 pm
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I hate it when things are all chaotic and swirly…because it is so easy to lose focus and get caught up in the drama and the chaos…and then when I am chaotic and swirly, I don’t function well and even more, I don’t write…which causes me to function even less well (I know…painful to read, and I apologize…poetic license and all that).
My friends are amazing…they help talk me out of my swirl and even when I don’t want to hear what they have to say, their words still penetrate my thick skull and their meaning gets through loud and clear.
People have been asking me A LOT lately…what I want to do…this is due in large part to my whiny “I don’t know what I should do.”
My answer is simple. I want to complete my PhD. I want to write my books and poems and screenplays. Period. That is all. How I pay my bills right now is not as essential to me as the simple fact that they get paid so that I may finish the PhD and write. I’m good at teaching. I know this and I don’t state this to be vain. If you’ve done something and studied said thing for a decade and a half, you pick up a trick or two. And I will continue to teach if that is what the powers that be want me to do. Similarly, if the powers that be decide that I could take a break from teaching people what a thesis statement is, what an essay should look like, and how to do references…I would be okay with that as well. Right now, as I said, I just need a means to an end. Which is not to say I don’t care about my students, because of course I do…but I also care about my PhD and my writing. And I just need to hold my course steady and continue on toward my goals and not let any swirly chaotic bumps knock me off my path.

June 20, 2012

My way…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:29 pm
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Okay, so the fact that I prefer to do things my way should not really be a surprise to anyone out there…what you may call control issues, I merely call wanting things done correctly. (See…it’s all in the phrasing)…I like to teach my way…I like to work on my PhD my way…I like to write my way…my way makes sense to me, and since (to be fair) they are my classes, my papers, and my novels…so, even though logic is not always my closest friend, it seems logical to me that if I teach and work on my PhD and write and I do these things well…then I should be good to go as far as doing them to my standards.
This is not always the case…and when one of those things gets so far out of alignment with my standards, I have to take a step back (or sideways…or forward…or jump to another square altogether) and think about what I can change.
The Serenity prayer is all over my house for very good reason. I do need to know what I can change (that one is crystal clear to me right now) what I can’t change (which became clearer recently) and the wisdom to know the difference…which is what I have been concentrating on.
In order to be the unique person I am (there are other adjectives, but unique sounds shiniest), I need to be allowed to do what I do…and part of what I do is have pride in my job so that I feel good about working on my PhD, so that I have time to write without guilt or worry. It works best when all parts are in harmony…and currently they are not…so I will do what I have to do, to create harmony within myself…and like everything else…I will do it my way!!! My muse has been very patient with me…but she and I have both reached our limit with things at current.

June 17, 2012


Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:20 pm
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Okay, I know…I don’t actually believe in perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect guy or girl, there is no such thing as a perfect draft or a perfect movie (and with all the repetition and weird combos coming out in movies…blech)…I could go on and on, but the point is perfection is a ridiculous goal…the ultimate optical illusion and mirage all in one frustrating package…
But this morning…the sun is shining, I have a coffee cup full of beautiful deliciousness, I have a pen that is smooth and glob-free, I have a notebook that is begging me to fill its pages, I have a muse who is flitting beside me, I have good music filling my ears (my left ear notices more so than my right, but you get the picture) and I have two kittens who are purring because I am finally home for a day…yes, my friends…this is as close to perfection as it gets in my world. (And yes, I did go do the Father’s Day thing yesterday…I am not being remiss in my duties just to have this day of perfection. I am however going to pack as much pen-to-paper therapy as I can in this window of time, and that starts now my friends.

June 13, 2012

Productivity Please

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:25 pm
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So I have been praying for more productive “free time” (I put it in quotes because the “free” time I have is fill almost to bursting with creative and academic tasks)…and last night I went to bed at 9:30…which is sad because I got home at 8:30. And yes, sometimes a person needs sleep, and that is acceptable, but what is not acceptable is that Monday, I had an entire day off and I did nothing to further any of my projects. I sat and watched Bones all day…
I have been talking to many friends about this and I was saying I don’t have any energy…I am so uninspired by certain aspects of my current life (aspects I can’t change, but will not discuss in more detail in this forum…if you are curious, drop me an email or a text and I’ll give you the scoop)…and it doesn’t matter that I am uninspired by things I can’t change, because the reason I can’t change those aspects is that everything I do right now is to finish my PhD and further my writing, both of which are quite inspirational.
Through one conversation with my friend, Amanda, who has been doing an AMAZING job working out and getting healthier, I came up with excuse after excuse as to why I could not work out…even acknowledging that exercise would help my energy level and thus make my “free time” more productive…I hate excuses…I have always been a (forgive me) “shit or get off the pot” kind of girl. So I set my alarm this morning for 5:00 (which threw the kittens into a “let’s run around the apartment in a craze” frenzy) and I swam. It is my intention to do this every morning. I am feeling pretty good about it this time because I started on a Wednesday, in the middle of the month (it is usually my OCD that makes me wait until the 1st or at least a Monday). So here we go…more swimming (given all the metaphors lately of jumping in and the water being fine, this seems fitting) and more productive “free time.” Feel free to call me out on this any day…making things public for me, holds me accountable. And yes, Arianna will be ready to go by Monday. Thanks for checking 🙂

June 11, 2012

Lying on a Beach…

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 3:45 pm
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Okay, so no, I’m not actually lying on a beach as I type this…sand is bad for a computer and even with as many techno-friends as this girl has, I’m pretty sure even they couldn’t get the sand out of the doodads were I actually to take my pretty pink computer to the sandy shores.

But I am picturing a beach…literally, it’s posted on the wall at eye level at my desk. And it serves a reminder…the stress and chaos that currently exist in my life…the very separate HAVE to-do list and WANT to-do list which barely even get to coincide on the same paper…all of the things that HAVE to get done which makes me stall on what I WANT to get done…for now. Yes, that is the for now of my life…but it is not the forever. The writing is forever, be it academic or creative, writing will always pump the blood through my body, will always push the air through my lungs, will always be the bread to my butter, the peanut butter to my jelly, the…I think we get the point.

The picture of the beach is of course my ultimate fantasy…I want to own an island…and everyone’s invited…well, scratch that, there is a list of very specific people that are NOT allowed on my island…and trust me, you know if you are on that list. I may, in reality never own an island…upkeep would be work I have no interest in doing and really all I want to do is be near the ocean and write…so living on someone else’s island would probably suffice for that…plus despite no oceans being anywhere in view…I am quite content in Kansas City for the moment.

My life is not quite where I want it right now…the ratio of HAVE to’s is far from proportionate from the WANT to’s and that makes me all spinny and wonky and more than a little growly but the goal is to grin and bear it until my life can be more shiny (and if that sentence made sense to you…you know me way too well and I adore you…and if that sentence made no sense to you…perhaps we should get better acquainted).

Mentally, I am lying on a beach…the sun is shining down on me, and my lappy is protected from the elements…and all I can see as I look out is the ocean…and I am full of peace…yup, that should get me through the week!!!

June 10, 2012


Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:45 pm
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Anyone who has ever played Mortal Kombat (any of them or all of them) will be familiar with the deep voice yelling at  you to completely decimate the opponent who is wobbling and barely standing. Now is the time to do the fancy finishing move that will most assuredly defeat your enemy and leave you standing as the victor. I think it says a lot about me, but I always felt bad at that point in the game…I mean you have already destroyed your opponent…he’s barely standing…he’s humiliated. All of his friends and family are devastated and here you go with your special move…to make sure that he is dead…only with this move, he is defenseless…and you come off looking a bit like a bully…I always had a problem with that…

Now of course I understand that my true problem with it was not the decimation of a fictional cartoon video game character who in actuality has no family, no spouse and children in the stands sobbing at the demise of their loved one…yeah, perhaps someone with as much of an imagination as I have should not play this game…but my point is (and yes, I do remember where I am going with this…what did you think, that I had followed my fictional opponent to the gravesite where his oldest son was plotting revenge…ahem..) that I have a problem with finishing things. And my problem with finishing things is that, well, once you finish them, they are over…quite profound, I know.

I have multiple novels that I have started and almost finished. I have gobs of projects that are in the same almost finished category. I know I need to see it as “if I finish this, I can concentrate more fully on this over here.” I know this. Part of it is OCD as I like things to be as close to perfection as possible. Part of it is ADD where I have found something shiner to play with…I am self-diagnosed on both of these by the way, but most people who know me, think the initials are fairly accurate.

Maybe using the Mortal Kombat analogy was not a good one to use…after all, I am not going to kill off Arianna…good god…she’s quite adept with her sword and would chop me to pieces. I am also not going to kill off my doctorate paper because well, that would just be silly…what I am going to do is simple. I am going to FINISH THEM.

June 6, 2012

Knowing names

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:31 pm
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As many of you know, sometimes my attention gets a little diverted by different things. Like for example when there is something shiny in eye sight…or something with pretty colors…or a leaf blowing by.
I was looking for a name for a character of one of my random projects that are helping me continue to keep writing without needing the concentration and continuity of my current novel…and yes, I did find that name…I also started a list of names I can never use in a novel (mostly ex-boyfriends and such) and a list of names I want to eventually use in a novel…and I might have found names for 5 or 6 other characters in other projects. It was a fascinating “read” that Baby name book…but the important thing is that I found the name I was looking for.
I like names that mean something. Sometimes the name of the character is already set. Sometimes my beautiful Muse already knows what she wants someone to be called…other times, I am left to my own devices which involves research and the potential to be very very distracted by the 20,000 names that exist in that book. Some names I am also very curious about as to why anyone would name a child something that means “condor’s vomit” um…yeah, he or she is bound to have a bright future with that moniker.

June 4, 2012

Getting out of my own way

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 10:26 pm
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I love it when advice I give to others comes back to bite me in my butt. Over the 15 years I have been teaching, I have told students countless times to get out of their own way…to not let their fears of being a success cause a self-fulfilling prophecy…to not let their questions and doubts keep them from all they have dreamt of and planned for…and it is really good advice…until I had to tell myself the same thing.

I have been hesitating on finishing Arianna’s Honor. I have been dragging my feet and procrastinating the editing of a novel I absolutely adore…with characters that I love and know my readers will love as well. I know my story is solid. I know my characters are strong. I am not saying this to be egotistical…I am stating a fact. With as much reading as I have done, I feel qualified to know what a good story is…and Arianna is a good story. Arianna and her brothers belong at your family dinner, everyone should have a Morgan watching out for them, and the prince…well, at the end of the day, he turns out to be a pretty decent human being. So what’s the problem, Mich???

I could say I am focusing on completing my PhD…and while that is not a lie, it’s not the entire truth either…the truth, dear friend, is that I am standing on the diving board and putting myself in a near-paralysis state.

I have said I was going to be an author for as long as I have known me. This has always been the goal. And now I am here…I have one novel published and waiting on the sidelines. I have countless people both real and imaginary in the pool telling me to jump on in, the water’s fine. I also have a beautiful muse, sawing away at the diving board with all she has so that I can’t chicken out and climb back down the ladder to the secure ground below.

I just need to get out of my own way. I need to just jump and trust that I won’t drown…

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