Writing Your Life

I’ve been thinking about how our lives will one day become stories. Stories are wonderful things. I love hearing them and telling them. I love different perspectives on the same story.

My life is my story. I think it’s important to journal our thoughts and feelings and the way we view the seasons of our lives. Those who come after us can learn about the today that we live in. They can see how things were viewed and learn about how different our current situation is to how theirs will be. I wonder all the time how my grandparents and great aunts and uncles viewed the world they lived in. I wish I knew more about the things they experienced.

I made several pointers for myself in writing my life. I thought I might share them with you.

Plotting: What I’ve recently come to understand about plotting is that you may decide how you think things will go, but it’s never set in stone. Be prepared for changes and scenes that don’t quite fit. In this, I see that writing is a lot like living.

Writing: The crux of everything. The living of your life is the writing of it. You must live it to write it. What are you doing today that is living your life? Would it be enjoyable for someone to read it later? Live a life of adventure and joy. Make your story colorful with experience and vibrant characters. Let the people you surround yourself with be interesting.

Editing: Edit often. Cut out what doesn’t fit, doesn’t enhance your story, or doesn’t make sense. Your story, your life, is too short for things that don’t benefit it. You are the only one with the power to change or edit your circumstances. You hold the pen, and history shows that it truly can be mightier than the sword.

I’ve been telling myself that I need to start journaling. I need to start making note of the story my life will tell. I will make more of an effort to turn it into something worth reading. I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

I’ve Got Something to Say

I’ve been doing more writing than reading.

I type this with a sigh, a good sigh. It feels good. Reading is and always will be my first love, but it is essentially admiring the world another person has created. That’s wonderful, and I love it. However, there’s something about stepping into a world of your own making. Seeing life stories play out in your head and pouring them out on paper for someone else to admire is something I’ve always wanted to do. Getting to know my characters has been my favorite part. It’s like sitting down with an old friend and hearing how their life has been going up until now. Characters can certainly be demanding. I might have a touch of schizophrenia, but there have been several times that I’ve felt a character nudge me and say, “Nope. That’s not me. Fix it.”

I’ve written stories before that have started out strong but fizzled out before I really got to the meat of it. This one, though, has kept me on my toes. It’s in my head, in my dreams, and is taking over. I don’t know if the difference is that I have a friend reading it as I write or if it’s just time.

I’m hoping for good. I’ve used the backspace button as much as any other key on my keyboard. This story has me writing everyday. I’ve been reflecting most days as I write on the lessons I learned from On Writing by Stephen King.  One of the things I have struggled with, he addresses in his book. He noted that:

“Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation, Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sort of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad’, is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.”

Overcoming fears has been a lifelong endeavor. Fearing being adventurous with what I’m writing has been dragging me down as a writer. The other day I wrote my first intimate scene between a couple. While to most this doesn’t seem like a step outside the box, for me, it absolutely was. When I, blushing furiously, sent it to my friend, I got good feedback. She assured me it wasn’t cheap or tasteless. I’m pretty pleased with the review.

Another pointer I’ve been pulling from the King is writing what you like is as important as writing what you know. In the King’s book, this quote is one of my favorites:

“Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex and work.”

A point my reader made was that writers tend to over describe characters and settings. I make a conscious effort not to do that so that I don’t do all the work for readers. I want them to form their own view. My job is to define my characters and settings, not completely describe them.

This dream has been accumulating in my heart. Now, it’s up to my mind to bring it to fruition.

I’m enjoying stretching my writing legs and hope to one day run marathons. All in all, I’m learning that what my characters say is all to do with them, but what my writing comes down to is what I have to say.

 

 

 

 

Leap of Faith

I’ve been writing a story. That’s really no surprise to anyone. I’m usually writing a story all the time. What makes this story different is that I’m letting a friend read it. It’s about 20,000 words worth of me so far.

For full disclosure, it is a romance. Well, more like life with a healthy dose of romance. Since I knew that was her thing, I sent her a message. Actually,  I typed it, deleted it, typed it again, read it twelve times, and finally sent it. She replied within minutes.

I emailed her the first few chapters of my story and waited. I can be pretty patient. However, when you’re waiting on judgement, minutes stretch themselves indefinitely.

When she told me she loved it, I got emotional. I know that she’s honest and has no problem telling anyone what she thinks. This made her perfect for honest feedback but also very scary. She said it definitely needs some editing, but it’s good.

I’ve invested hours into this story. I’m not sure what will come of it. That’s the part that’s exciting but also terrifying. This has me thinking that I may want to put myself out there soon. My inner introvert is shaking her head and looking at me disapprovingly over her glasses.

I was brave when I started this blog a few years ago. I was a nervous wreck when I published the first post. When my most popular post hit 5000 views, I jumped up and down and then plopped back down in fear. I’m doing much the same with someone reading my story.

I am learning to be open and put myself out there. I’m understanding that my words might mean something to someone even if it’s just one person.

Tony has been pushing me. I hear almost every other day that I need to get on my novel. He’s got this steady, unshakable faith in me that has been a solid rock in rough seas. Now, my friend has read what I have of my story and has the same faith. I’m honestly a bit shaken.

My mind is telling me to not get my hopes up. My heart says we’re due for a leap of faith.

Just One of Those Days

Today has just been one of those days.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Nothing goes right. Life is coming at you full speed, and it seems like you can’t get a decent breath to save your life. Anxiety is the ocean, and you are the Titanic. Overwhelmed is an understatement.

I’ve made stupid mistakes all day. I just have to chalk it up to lack of a decent night’s sleep, hormones, and just not thinking. My day has been filled with fumble fingers, a sluggish brain, and I feel like I need a reboot. I can see Friday on the horizon, and it’s a lovely sight.

September was mostly a blur. It felt rushed, but October is here.

If October was a person, it would be a favorite aunt with comforting hugs. If it were a food, it would be chicken and dumplings (If you’re from the south, you know what I mean). If it were a day of the week, it would be a slowed down Sunday. It’s a month that feels like that time of day when the light slants just right through the windows before the sun sets. October seems gentle. It’s a milder month. It’s the gateway to the end of the year, and the calm before the storm that is the holidays.

The month begins with our anniversary on the first. This year made sixteen years. I’ve been a wife for sixteen years. It seems like just yesterday that Tony was a shy fifteen year old boy telling me that he was going to marry me. It seems like we should still be riding around in his loud truck with the windows down on back roads while singing along with the radio.

October usually ushers in some slightly cooler temperatures. I’m hoping this one does. The sky was beautiful this morning and was a positive start to the day. My pecan tree is already shedding leaves. I’m hoping to gather up some pine straw for my flower beds soon.

I haven’t been writing or reading as much. I’m sure that has something to do with my “off” feeling. That’s probably why I’ve been on edge. Some people need warm bubble baths, others need a glass of wine, but give me some peace and a good book. It centers me. Now, all three of those things together seems a bit like paradise.

I could use a bit of that right now with the day I’ve had. My feet hurt, my mind is jumbled, and my emotions are high. I’m going to remedy that now when I go find my peace.

It’s just been one of those days.

 

Where Were You?

Every year on the anniversary of the worst act of terrorism our country has ever seen, possibly thousands of people answer the question, “Where were you?”

Where were you when life for an entire nation changed so drastically on what seemed to be an ordinary Tuesday morning?

I woke up that beautiful morning, had breakfast, and got on the school bus. I imagine I chatted with my friends on the bus and then at school. I imagine people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia did much the same; got up, talked to loved ones, commuted, started their day.

I was in Ms. Sherman’s class when someone ran in and told Ms. Sherman that we needed to watch the news. When the TV illuminated, we saw the first Tower in flames. It was startling. I remember this cold feeling running through my body as if I had ice water in my blood. I was a week away from turning fifteen and had no idea at the loss of life or how many people were even in a building of that size. I’d hardly been out of Mississippi.

The second plane hit the Tower’s twin a few minutes later. That’s when it began to be clear that this was not a random accident. This was an attack.

By the time the news announced that the Pentagon had also been hit as well as a plane going down in a field in Pennsylvania, I was trembling. I remember students being all around, laughing, talking, and going about their day. I didn’t know what this would bring about, but I knew it was incredibly horrific and sad. The newscasters talked about the loss of the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of people. My teenage mind couldn’t comprehend.

When the Towers fell, I remember watching the TV in horror with my heart pounding. Surely, I thought, anyone left alive in the buildings were able to evacuate. At fourteen, you still see the world as a movie. You hold out the hope that there’s always a hero to save the day. Many lives were saved that day by brave souls in uniforms as well as civilian clothing.

When I got home from school, I spent the evening hours on the phone with Tony. He was my best friend at the time. We hadn’t yet started dating. We watched the news and talked about the horrific the events of the day. Hundreds of people were missing. Their loved ones begged for any word of their fate and showed pictures of the missing on the news. Those photos showed people smiling during happy times. They were hearts and souls with dreams and hopes. They were gone in what seemed like an instant.
I searched the internet that night for information about the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The sheer size of the buildings left me reeling. I think that was when it began to register for me just how many people would have been inside, around, and involved with the Towers that morning. The Pentagon was left with a gaping, burning hole.
Ground Zero was still burning that night and would for the next 100 days. Videos of those who threw themselves to their death to escape the heat and flames haunted me. The thought of those trapped terrified me. What they must have experienced still makes me ache to think of it. Over the next months, I read the stories online. I read of people lost, those who were lost saving lives, and those who lived because someone saved them. I heard of people who heard last moments over the phone. I was shaken to my core.

Last night, I was thinking of the final count of the lives lost on that day.

2800+

I was living and going to school in a very small town on September 11, 2001. The town population was a little less than 2500. On that sad September day, there were more lives lost than there were lives in the town I lived in. That absolutely astounds me.

The losses continue after that day. There are those who can’t live with survivor’s guilt and those who develop illnesses from dust and chemicals.

Those who were lost lived, loved, were different races, genders, and lifestyles. They had children, were someone’s children, and left a staggering void in the hearts of those who knew and loved them. I hope they know the flood of love and unity our nation experienced after their losses. I hope they know that people like me who never knew them, have read their names, said a prayer for them, and remember their stories. After all, at the end of our lives, we all become stories. As long as I live, I’ll remember their stories.

Feelin’ Good

Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by, you know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me, yeah
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me, ooh
And I’m feeling good

-Feeling Good, Nina Simone

The days have been passing fast. My birth month is upon me. This month will mark thirty three years that I’ve been alive. I came into the world exactly a month early, a 4 lb tiny thing with dark skin and hair.

Since then, I’ve lived to see blue skies and gray thunder heads. I’ve walked under moonlight and viewed in amazement a confetti of stars in inky skies. It’s amazing how you feel so big until you realize the vastness of the universe and how tiny you truly are. The Bible describes us as vapor. Here today and gone tomorrow. Carl Sagan reminds us that we are made of star stuff. We are made of ancient dust that defies our imaginations.

I’ve grown and learned, developed views and changed them. I’ve challenged everything I’ve thought I’ve known. I learn new things all the time and reach for knowledge when I don’t.

I’ve loved books and hated them. I’ve read them and relived them. I’ve lived among their pages to ease the aching of my heart or to revel in the joy of it. I’ve found it to be my purest joy, to read and also to be read. Words seem to make me, break me, or envelope me. They are my most favorite thing.

I’ve walked miles of concrete and grass, and planted flowers in my wake. I’ve watched them grow in delight and mourned them when they died. When the cold claims them, I look forward to their new growth in spring. It makes me realize that everything about me that dies yields new growth as well, eventually.

I’ve loved and lost, and loved and lasted. I’ve watched people I love fade away. I’ve watched new people to love be born. I’ve outlasted people who far deserve to live more than I do. I’ve known the desolate void they left behind.

I’ve cried an ocean of salty tears and have smiled so big that my eyes disappear. I’ve bared my teeth in anger and gentled my touch to comfort. I’ve lingered over a meal with friends and chugged coffee on the run. I’ve held open doors and closed windows to the cold.

I’ve known the hope of children and the loss of it not coming to pass. I’ve mourned children born of my heart. I’ve held onto their memory and cherished moments of their too short lives. I’ve loved them with an immeasurable love that will follow me into eternity.

I’ve held hate in my fist and told it that it has no place in my heart.

I’ve known the feel of grass on my bare feet and the sun on my face. I’ve felt the cleansing of the rain as I’ve stood in it’s fall. I’ve counted clouds on the wind and asked it to move the sails of my life. I’ve smelled jasmine and fresh turned dirt and loved them both.

I’ve loved a man with all my heart.

I’ve released a million faults and failures. I’ve overcome many fears. I embrace my own happiness and the future on the horizon. I’m looking forward to new years and adventures. The best is yet to come, and I’m feelin’ good.

Summer Reading Update

20131117_093619
I haven’t gotten to see this view this year, but I’ve been staring at this photo I took several years ago and dreaming.

I’m realizing that I don’t stick to my reading lists. It’s much the same as buying a book that I’m excited to read and getting distracted by another book before I even begin the first. I am notorious for this.

I began reading Jurassic Park a few weeks ago. I’ve been thinking it would go better as an actual book read rather than ebook. I’ll probably check in with the library to see if they have it. I’m not sure exactly why I wanted to read it other than it caught my attention while scrolling through books. I loved the movie as a kid, and I’ve been looking to read outside my box. I’m really enjoying it. I like Sci Fi movies, but I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read much of it. Recommendations are appreciated.

This is me rectifying my reading sins.

After Where the Crawdads Sing, I’ve began listening to The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms. When I first started it, I was worried because it came across as very chick lit. There’s nothing wrong with chick lit, but I just don’t tend to enjoy it. However, the humor caught me. I think I’m beginning to appreciate chick lit more as I get older as long as it’s funny or smart. The voices the narrator uses has me chuckling. It seems like what I call a good palate cleanser. It’s something fun and refreshing after a heavy read.  I’ll update more when I finish or at least get further along.

Let me just say that all Mississippians have been offended by the heat. We are fed up and over it. Even for Mississippi, this is ridiculous.

I haven’t been doing as much writing in recent weeks. I’ve been focusing on reading more. Most writers agree that a lot of reading makes for a better writer.

I’ve got several books on my radar. Some of which I am looking forward to listening to on Audible. Maybe if I read books set during the fall of the year, I can convince myself that I’ll get to experience it soon.

Talk on Indolence

“Well I’ve been lockin’ myself up in my house for sometime now
Readin’ and writin’ and readin’ and thinkin’
And searching for reasons and missing the seasons.
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow.
The record will stop and the record will go.
Latches latched the windows down,
The dog coming in and the dog going out.
Up with caffeine and down with a shot.
Constantly worried about what I’ve got.
Distracting my work but I can’t make a stop
And my confidence on and my confidence off.
And I sink to the bottom and rise to the top
And I think to myself that I do this a lot.
World outside just goes
It goes it goes it goes it goes it goes”
– The Avett Brothers, Talk on Indolence
20140128_111930
As of late, I’ve recognized so much with the lyrics above. I’ve been a level 368 introvert, and I’ve been loving it. I enjoy seeing family and friends, but lately I’ve been enjoying my own company. I’ve worked hard at convincing myself that it’s perfectly fine for me to do so.
The older I get the more that I find myself getting overstimulated around people. I’ve always been one to shy away from touch. Now, voices, smells, and loud laughter seem to grate on my sensitive nerves. The anxiety really gets to me.
Earlier in the summer, I made a list of books I wanted to read over the slow months of debilitating Mississippi heat. I am half way through the first on my list, and done with one that I found because of a song. I found my favorite band, The Avett Brothers, through a book. I found a book that I was really sucked into because of a song. I’ll get to that shortly.
I’ve barely noticed the last two months slipping by. Suddenly it’s August, and I realize that the second half of the year is upon us. The second half is always my favorite. In Mississippi, we have summer and then extended summer before about a week of fall. I live for that week. I become what my book club girls call “basic” during the last half of the year.
I’ve been really indolent lately. I’ve been doing exactly what the song says, “readin and writin and readin and thinkin”
I finished Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher. I’ve heard of her several times in the same circles as Colleen Hoover. I put her in the Rolodex in the back of my mind to read one day. Although I confess, I thought she wrote romance, and she does, but not like I was thinking. I found Mud Vein while looking up the song Landscape by Florence + the Machine. That’s when I saw comments about people finding this song because of the book. When I checked out the book, I read the summary and thought it might be interesting.
Let me just say that this is not a read for you if you are a sucker for happy endings. Also, not if you enjoy likable characters. If you like unusual stories about broken people struggling to get by and exist in this messed up thing we call life under almost unbearable circumstances, this might be for you. The protagonist is a writer that keeps her own company. I know a little something about that. It’s a dark read.
I’ve been reading a lot of those lately.
All in all, the first half of 2019 has not been kind. Being a recluse is a coping mechanism. Reading and writing and reading and thinking are survival tools. Everyone has their own way of finding their peace, and these are mine.

I Do

Snapchat-2004024208

I had a conversation about marriage with a young lady the other day. She’s engaged to a great guy. I’ve never met him, but he must be something special if talking about him makes her eyes light up the way they do.

She confided in me that although she’s so in love with this man, she’s also afraid. We live in a divorce culture, she said, and I don’t want that to happen to us. She asked about my marriage. I told her we’ve been married fifteen years. With big eyes, she asked me, “How do you keep it all together?”

As far as divorce culture goes, I couldn’t offer much, but in the way my own marriage works and why it works, I have a lot to say. I told her that different things work for different people, but I explained some of what works for us.

I told her that you can’t go into a marriage with society’s expectations. People love the idea of a traditional marriage where the husband works, the wife has and tends to babies, and there’s a white picket fence. The first thing I told her was that sometimes life won’t allow that to happen. Circumstances change, stuff happens, and things hardly ever go as planned. I had her attention at this point

Secondly, listen to your vows and mean them. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, til death do you part. That means when things get hard, you work through it together. In my case, if your husband gets hurt and can’t work, you step up. You have to be willing to live in a shack if you must and take care of each other. It means that whenever life throws something huge at you, you deal with it as a unit. It means that when you are angry and fighting that it’s you and your husband against the problem and not against each other. It means you still love that person even when you don’t like them. It means that you love them more than you love yourself. She listened and nodded and told me that all that sounded pretty miserable.

I laughed and told her that just because there is bad, doesn’t mean there won’t be good. That’s different for everyone too, but for us, it’s making up wacky song lyrics. It’s dancing in the kitchen while we cook together. It’s being cuddled up on the couch watching a movie. It’s one of us doing something so silly that we both can’t stop laughing. It’s listening to the one you love sing along with the radio in the car and feeling like there’s no way you could ever love them more. It’s waking up after a nightmare and feeling safe and taking comfort in their warmth beside you. It’s being glad they’re with you while you watch a sunset or fireflies or the ocean kissing the rocks. It’s being in the hospital and finding strength in them. It’s holding their hand while your baby is being born. It’s finding out that you’ll probably never have children and finding comfort in one another. It’s little notes to each other. It’s being so thankful when they wash the dishes/do the laundry/scrub the toilet. It’s wanting to do similar things for them that you know you’re going to hate but doing it anyway because you love them and want to see them smile. It’s talking for hours about life and the universe and experiences and things you enjoy. It’s arguing and debating politics/religion/whatever you disagree about and still loving each other afterward. It’s dreaming together about what you both want out of life as individuals as well as together.

I told her it’s realizing that whatever you’re going through is only temporary. The bad is only temporary. It’s understanding that you are married to an imperfect human. A human that is going to make mistakes, make you angry, and make you sad. Because you love them, you forgive them and still cherish them.

I’ve been married to Tony for fifteen years. It’s hard to believe and easy to believe at the same time. We know the ins and the outs of each other. He’s seen me at my worst and my best. He’s seen me fall apart. He’s never threatened to leave or walk away when most would. Because when he said “I do” he meant it.

The most important thing is to mean it.

I told her that there was no way to predict what time would tell. Life changes and evolves. So do people. There’s no guarantee that comes with a marriage license that it’s a sure fire happily ever after. I didn’t want to sugar coat anything for her. I am the type of person that if I know something is doable, that’s all the assurance I need. She seemed like the same. A long happy marriage is doable if both give 100%. I know from the experiences of my friends that isn’t always the case. I hope I gave her a little hope. That’s all anyone can ask for.

 

Unedited

Just be. Be present in the moment. Enjoy your joy without reservations.

Smile for the camera. Display your unedited self. Love it.

Your wild hair is gorgeous. Your freckles are galaxies on your body. Your crooked smile is adorable. Everyone has rolls at one point. Cellulite is normal. Stretch marks are badges. Your curves are appreciated by someone. Bad hair days are common. You are not measured by the size of your waist.

Post that no makeup, unfiltered, untouched, unedited selfie. Rock it. Own it. Love it. Who cares what anyone else says?

I’ll go first.

Wandering eye. Crooked smile. Breakout. Bad hair day. Imperfect skin. In need of new glasses. Unusual nose. Eyebrows not plucked or waxed.

Also.

Big toothy smile. Happy face. Moisturized. Natural. Feeling loved. Bright crescent moon eyes. Good mood. Feeling good in my skin. Real.

Not everyone will appreciate it. That’s ok. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but my husband says I’m his Tennessee whiskey. Not everyone will appreciate my looks, my body, or my personality. That’s fine.

This is me. Unedited.

I spent too many years of my life trying to please people. So have you. Let it go. Shine without reservations. Your own mind can be a toxic place where self love doesn’t grow.

Don’t over think it. Do what makes you happy. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your life. Live that moment. Be gloriously and riotously you. Be happy. Unedited.