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.

Summer Reading Update

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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
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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’m Sorry, Writing

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I’m sorry I’ve pushed my notebooks into the corner. I’m sorry I’ve let my laptop sit unused. I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. I’m sorry I left the words swirling around in my head until my emotions get the best of me.

I’m sorry I’ve kept all my words to myself. I’m sorry I’ve let shame, pain, anger, and confusion keep me prisoner. I’m sorry I’ve been letting myself get overwhelmed without coming to you and using you to cope. I always have and haven’t been lately. The last few months of my life have been proof.

I’m sorry my pens have been sitting in cups without so much as being used for a signature. I’m sorry I’ve let myself get to a sorry state of not being as consistent. I’m sorry I’ve let life dictate what my writing hours are used for and letting it steal them away.

I’m sorry I’ve let unimportant things take your time.

I’m sorry I’ve been unavailable.

I’m sorry, writing.

Writer’s Block

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I’ve been frustrated lately. Creatively frustrated. I’ve been mad at my computer for something it did not do. I’ve been angry about it’s blinking cursor and blank pages without words. I’ve felt dried up and uninspired. I thought maybe if  I went back to the fundamentals. You know, pen to paper. I put pen to paper and waited for something to happen. The only thing that happened was that I scribbled and scrabbled and got even more frustrated.

I’ve words and stories a-plenty in my brain, swirling about in a never ending vortex. I just can’t get a good connection between my brain and my fingers. I’ve tried all the usual suspects to no avail.

I’m discouraged with my inconsistency. My last blog did really well in terms of views and visitors. I think I’ve gotten intimidated by it. Doubts and insecurities can wreak havoc on one’s creativity. I came to the conclusion that I should write about being uninspired and insecure and all those things going on with me.

I’ve sat down numerous times with my computer and determination only to be let down. I’ve put on my game face, tightened my ponytail, and set my teeth only to give myself a headache. In this case, headache leads to heartache because I am disappointed in myself.

After searching WordPress, I’ve found I’m not alone. There are lots of creators out there with brains and hearts on hiatus. I found I’ve been more inspired these past few hours from the one thing that calms and helps always. Reading.

I wish that I could say I’ve been reading something new, but I can’t. I’ve discovered in recent years that I am a rereader. I’m not sure that’s a word. Microsoft Word says no, but I’m going with it. I’ve been reading something that I’ve already read and using it as a comfort. There’s no anxiety, no rush, no suspense. It’s just me and old friends I’ve known for a while taking a stroll down memory lane. It’s reading words that are familiar and seeing something new in the pages.

Stress is more than likely a factor in all this. I find the best stress relief is to go from cover to cover. It’s like a salve for achy head and heart.

I’ve been writing more fiction in private than things I wish to share on my blog. I love my blog. I’m proud of it. However, I’ve recently alienated myself from it. I’m not happy about this and intend to change it. Hitting a brick wall when you want to be on an open highway is frustrating to say the least. I’m slowly taking a pickaxe to it. Please be patient. I’m undertaking an uphill battle in my writing life. There is so much I want to say, and my brain is failing me.

Words

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Words are easily my favorite thing. They make up all my other favorite things: books, stories, and poetry. They seem to be the fastest way to my heart. Words can make something from nothing. Empires have been built on words.

Laws are created with words.

Love has bloomed from words.

Wars have been started over words.

They are used to motivate, to militarize, to organize, and to separate.

I hear people say all the time, “They’re just words.” I’m living proof that some of the most painful injuries can be caused by words.

Life is described by words.

I’ve read articles and stories of the blind and how they are better able to perceive the world because of being able to read braille.

The deaf are able to learn where they have not been able before. The animated teacher’s mouth movements can make sense when they are transcribed. Words are made into motion as someone translates speech to ASL.

I use words in everything. I use them to explain, to understand, to evoke, to heal.

Words make up the sonnet, the manifesto, the suicide note, and the battlecry.

Emotions and worlds come to life as words pass the lips or spill across the page. They are a confession of love, an apology, a last chance, a request, and sometimes, the last memory people have of us after we’re gone.

Whether in ink, by mouth, on a screen, or locked away and confined to your heart, words are my most favorite thing.