Good Intentions; Bad Planning

Back at the end of May I had quit my day job of janitorial cleaning to focus all of my attention on my writing; actual writing, revising, fretting, more writing, reading, and getting things ready to be sent off.

Well, I started off with good intentions, as we all do at the start of something new.  The prospect of finally being allowed to put all my energy into my writing was exhilarating.  Finally, time to just write.  No worrying about my job.  No more trying to remember codes.  No more driving in the dark.  Just the sheer bliss of doing something I’ve longed to do since I was a child.

But things don’t always turn out the way you want them to, do they?  I was very focused in the beginning; diligently writing for 3 to 4 hours a day, taking time to revise pieces I had already finished, reading articles on the writing craft, and how to publish; etc.(sigh).  I had even joined a writers’ group.  But as time went on, something began to take my focus off of my writing.  It was a television show here, just one or two chapters more in the book I was currently engrossed in, and, the biggest time suck, Social Media.

Ah yes, I allowed myself to get sucked in, again.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Baird & Warner Real Estate.  Yes, I have this problem, this addiction, to view homes for sale.  Why, you may ask?  Since I was small I’ve always been fascinated by how the insides of other people’s houses looked.  Yes, weird.  No, I won’t stop.  I’ll even go as far as to admit that when I’m a passenger in someone else’s car, I still like to peek inside homes as we drive by just to see how they look on the inside.  No, I haven’t seen anything weird.

Now I have to confess my biggest weakness.  I am a horrible planner.  Not only do I have poor organizational skills, I can’t plan to save my life.  All good intentions to be at my desk writing away, but getting easily, so easily, distracted by the little nuances of life.  I wanted to remain vigil at my laptop until the end of the year and return to work then.  But alas I haven’t kept up my end of the bargain.  And I have been kicking myself.  I wanted to blame others for this.  But who else can I blame but myself?

So I vow to forge ahead, with whatever time I can carve out of a ‘busy’ schedule to write.  No excuses because I have none.  I need to plan, yes plan, when and where to send off my short stories.  And I don’t even have to make a trip to the post office either.  Most literary magazines allow you to send through their submissions manager, or email, and snail mail as last resort.  As I hang my head in shame for not having done what I had so eagerly hoped to do, I asked forgiveness from my husband, my family, and those who have supported my efforts, fragile as they are, so that I can regain my vision and continue on.

Life is short and I need to realize this dream before it slips through these fingers of mine.  I need to have this dream realized!  I don’t want to be on my deathbed, regretting I didn’t accomplish all that I believe God created me to do.  No one wants regrets.  So here I go…again.  Until next time.

 

My Oh My Writers’ Group Experience

Okay, so I did it.  I finally attended my first ever writers’ group.  It was held at my local Barnes and Noble, and we met in the cafe area.  I brought along my daughter-in-law Kayla for moral support(I’m an introvert, so it’s difficult to go to things like this alone).  I was this close to chickening out and saying I don’t feel like going but I wrote about attending in the last blog, to hold myself accountable.  So off I went.

When we arrived, there weren’t too many people there yet.  I looked around anxiously to see who might be involved with the group.  I saw a couple of men sitting alone at tables with an open laptop so I asked one if this was where the writers’ group met and he said yes.  I was relieved I had asked the person who was actually part of the group.  We introduced ourselves and Kayla and I sat waiting for the others.

After some time passing, the rest of the group slowly filtered in and sat at a back table as others pulled a few smaller tables and chairs over to accommodate overflow.  I had seen on the group’s online site that 16 people had signed up to be there that night and I was impressed that we could squeeze so many people in a corner, and impressed with the loyalty of group members to attend.  I wasn’t the only new person, there was one other who had traveled a distance to get there.

As we sat, no one knew who we were, Kayla and I, until they asked if we were with the group and I informed them that, yes, we were new.  They warmly welcomed us over and we sat, a bit cramped, but they were very friendly.  At one point, after noticing the age range of the members, Kayla leaned over and whispered to me, “They’re all old.  Why do you keep taking me to old people stuff?”  She’s 18 and I’m sure anyone over 30 would be old to her.  I’m ancient because I’m on the cusp on 53.  Side story, when my son, Josh, and Kayla were dating, we were at a Chinese buffet restaurant and we had decided that her and I should hang out together.  And the lovely Kayla agreed and said, “Yeah, I love hanging out with old people.”  Ouch.

Anyway, I did not submit a chapter to the group’s site for critique because I wanted to see how everything worked first.  They went around and introduced themselves and then they starting discussing each other’s work.  I noticed that I did not share the same writing that they did.  I am a more modern-day literary or romance writer and have a plethora of short fiction and not novels in the works, though I do have a couple of NaNoWriMo works.  Most wrote historical, or fantasy pieces.  I did find it interesting how they kindly critique each other’s work and I felt confident, after hearing their comments, that I could do this as well.

After two hours, they were finished, and mentioned that normally there was usually a group of three or four that met every two weeks or so.  I have to say they were a very eclectic group.  Wasn’t sure what I was expecting but what I saw I felt comfortable being around, me being an Aspie and an introvert.  My husband asked me later if I was going back and I said yes but maybe only once a month or so.  I am looking forward to the group critiquing some of my work.  There are several published writers in the group and others who just have a life-time love of the written word.

So I survived my first writers’ group experience.  Now I need to work on my grammar since I’ve been told I use too many commas.  Thanks for reading.  Until next time, my friends, happy writing.  Oh, and reading because it was reported on the news this week that those who read live longer lives.  Go books!

 

Another Day in the Life of a Writer

I was always worried about calling myself a writer.  I have never been paid for my work and I’ve only been published in church newsletters, Letter to the Editor in magazines and newspapers, and had some poetry published in the local paper.  So I was unsure whether labeling myself a writer might be a mistake.

But I’ve been reassured by many writing sites that it’s okay to label myself a writer.  If you write, then you are a writer.  Simple as that.  And yes, I love to write.  It’s not something that I do, it’s actually something I need to do!  Like breathing, or drinking coffee, it’s something that if I don’t do it I feel like part of me isn’t alive.  Okay, maybe coffee isn’t the best example, but I’m sure you understand.  Well, other coffee drinkers for sure.

There are days that I can’t get enough of sitting in front of my laptop clicking away at the keys, watching in wonder as the words appear before me, like they are now.  It’s almost like my fingers can’t keep up with my brain, as the creativity flows from my fingers, making contact with the keyboard.

Other days, I find it a drudgery to sit down and write.  Not that I’m blocked, but because sometimes I just need my brain to have a breather.  So on those days I decide to do other things like read a good piece of fiction.  Currently I’m reading Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh.  Great author, by the way.  If you’re looking for a fantastic writer, there’s one right there.  You’re welcome.  Or I will go through my Writer’s Market for short fiction publications and take an index card and jot down the pertinent info about the journal, for later use.  I try and figure out the best outlets for my work.  Or I’ll go watch t.v. for a bit.  One of my favorite shows is the new Hawaii Five-O, and I’ll catch an episode on Netflix.

So there are very productive days and others maybe not so much.  But as I look at both types of days, I realize that both are needed, to keep me from losing it, my mind that is.  Sometimes us writers need to step back from the laptop or notepad and just take a deep cleansing breath.  Maybe go for a long walk, or just sit outside for a bit and soak up some Vitamin D.

Just relax, fellow writers, and take a break when you need one, unless you are on a deadline, then maybe my advice wouldn’t be the best one for you.  But I haven’t run into that issue yet; but it will happen someday.  Hopefully I won’t be complaining when I have a deadline to meet because a novel needs a little tweaking or a short story has to be sent out to an interested journal.  I am looking forward to having that shot someday, and I feel that it is only a matter of time.  Happy writing, my friends.

 

 

Addiction and the Creative Types(In My Opinion)

Addiction:  the condition of being addicted (to a habit), spec. the habitual use of narcotic drugs.

Creative:  (3) having or showing imagination and artistic or intellectual inventiveness(creative writing).  —- Webster’s New World Dictionary

I’m a writer:  Creative.  Word lover.  Avid reader.  Imaginative.  Deep down there’s a pull to make believe; the desire to convince others that my imaginary friends are living, breathing human beings.  My mind is alive with various characters, dialogue, settings, and plot lines.  A chaotic place indeed.

But what is the correlation between addiction and creative people?  Is it because we have so much inner turmoil constantly brewing that we struggle to numb; to quell our demons?  Reaching for just a few minutes of quiet respite?

Some forms of addictions I am acutely aware of:  Sex, drugs, alcohol, money, food, and even work; just to name a few of the better known ones.  A beloved author of mine was besieged by his own inner demons:  Edgar Allan Poe.

I still drink at times though older now I have learned to control it.  But it my younger days I’d go all out.  A mind crowded with thoughts and ideas to the point that either I wanted to either scream or numb it so that it could be controlled.  Addictions find us in a frightening place.  Sometimes I believe we rather not get the help so as to keep the juices of creativity flowing.  Maybe we see our addictions as helping us be part of the bigger picture.  To let us taste of the real world.  To help us understand humanity on a deeper level.  To make our character more real to those we are fortunate enough to have read our words.

Creative types are continually striving to create.  We cannot put down that pen, brush, or instrument.  We have learned not to fit the sway creativity hold over us.  It is near impossible to still the hand, the heart, or the mind.  Like air and water, creating is what keeps us alive; nourishes our souls.  Without it, we are at a loss.

So if you have a child who decides, at a tender age, to pick up a pen, or a brush, or an instrument, or whatever they desire to do, do not discourage them.  Even if you yourself feel bound to do one of these, do it!  For it is the creative types who eventually change the world.

The Difficulty of Friendship

Okay, if you know anything about Asperger’s is that we have a difficult time making and maintaining friendships.  I just never got the hang o f it.  I probably can count on one hand the number of friends that I have.  And this isn’t an attempt to garner pity, but just sharing a truth.  Growing up, I always wondered why I was so different from everyone else.  I  wanted friends.  I just didn’t know how to get them.  I couldn’t maintain good eye contact, I was not proficient at small talk, and I wasn’t sure how to act around other people.  It just seemed to me that other women were completely into other things that I had no interest in:  scrapbooking, for instance.  I was attending a new members’ class at a local church when the discussion turned to what the other women’s hobbies were.  They gushed about scrapbooking.  I guess I just didn’t get the thrill of it.  I, for one, didn’t even have a large collection of baby photos of my two sons.  It just wasn’t something I thought of doing, as a woman with Asperger’s.  I didn’t know then what I know now.  Unfortunately for my sons, they won’t have a lot of childhood photos to look back on.

But I was always the quiet one.  Not that I always wanted to be.  I talked the ears off of people I knew.  And just ask my poor husband how much I talk to him.  He just tells me that I must be saving it all for him!  Lucky guy!  I’ve heard that us women have so many words that need to be used up in a day, and he gets to hear almost all of them.  I bet that he feels so honored!

Anyway, I am not a social person, not even with my own family.  I like to see how they all are and then I normally shut up after that.  It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them, it’s just that I don’t want to talk period.  No offense to my family. 

It’s lonely, though, not having friends to confide in, though my husband is my best friend.  I’m thankful that he does listen to me, for the most part.  It used to make me cry, wondering why I was so different.  It doesn’t anymore, because now I  understand.  It is just the way that I am.  It’s not that I don’t want to change, but there are times that I much rather be alone with my thoughts and my books.  I love reading, because they help me with my fantasy life.  I have an amazing imagination, that’s probably why I love to write.  But I won’t go there this time. 

So, if you see someone who doesn’t seem to want to be the life of the party, it may not be that they are terribly shy or standoffish, it could very well be that they just don’t feel like speaking but would much rather listen to what is going on around them.  And that’s not such a bad thing to be.

Here I am, in the midst of so much unimportant fluff weighing me down again.  Laundry, dirty dishes, working out, cleaning, worrying about my boys, even though they’re basically men now, I feel dragged down and exhausted.  Why is it that the little things, the really quite nonessential things, really tear us down?  Again with the guilt of not writing.  It weighs me down.  Do I feed off the guilt?  Does it make me feel like I have purpose in my life, even by not writing?  Okay, maybe I don’t even know where I’m going with this.

It just seems like I’m going around the same stubborn mountain.  Around and around I go.  And of course the winter weather monster isn’t helping my depression in the least.  Can I blame it on the weather?  Probably.  But probably not a good idea either.  I can come up with a long list of reasons why I put off writing.  But they’re the same excuses I constantly bitch and moan about.  So of course that is getting old.

Does writing pep you up?  Does it make you feel happier?  Give you a sense of self-worth?  Give you a reason for living?  It does for me.  Then why don’t I write, you may ask?  Trust me, I’ve asked myself that so many times that it doesn’t even phase me anymore.  And that is sad in a way.  If one loves to write, and finds sheer joy in the putting of words to paper, then why doesn’t one do it?  I can’t explain it anymore.  Is it failure or fame that I fear more?  Is it so that I can claim that I am a writer?  I tell my family that I have so many good story ideas and great beginnings, but they just shake their heads and tell me to go write them then.  And I should. 

But there is something hidden beneath the surface.  What it is, again, I have no clue.  Maybe I don’t want to know.  Maybe I like keeping it dead and buried.  But I am sick of continuing this life without meaning.  Without driving myself steadily towards my goals and dreams.  Okay, it does have meaning, of course.  But what I mean is that I feel that I’m coasting again through this life.  And I’m fifty now.  More than half my life is over, I’m sure.  One cannot keep sitting back and allowing the world to flash before them without at least attempting to go after what they want most in life.  So, dear reader, again I ask for your valued opinions.  How do you keep at writing even when you don’t seem to have the time?  I need some advice, please.  It sincerely aggravates me that I keep talking about the same issues without even trying to resolve them.  No one wants to keep reading about the same thing all of the time. 

So here’s to reading good books, for writing about what is on your heart and in your  head.  Without excuses.  Without fear.  Without apathy.  Without complaint.  Thanks, again, for listening.  Please comment with any sage advice, or any good books that might help me out of this funk.

The Best of Intentions

In the beginning, when I decided that I wanted to have a blog, my intentions were good.  I had set my heart on posting at least once a week, but, as you probably know, I’ve failed at that attempt.  My heart, though in the right place in wanting to do, can’t do much for keeping my promise to myself.  As a writer, not paid but still always a writer, I feel a lot of guilt over not accomplishing my goal of writing on a daily basis.  I just completed NaNoWriMo last month, which was also my first attempt at the 30-day challenge.  I am glad to say that I did complete the challenge and under the 30-days, by four.  I loved it!  I now realize that I have no excuses not to sit my butt down in a chair at my writing table.  I realized that I can whip words out quite easily, but it is the editing that is a bite in the ass!  Coming up with ideas was not a challenge to me.  My many uncompleted short stories can attest to that.  It is finishing them.  Because I know that when they have been completed, that means that the editing process must begin.  And that scares the hell out of me! 

Writing is my passion, yes, but along with having a great love for words, I have a total fear of rejection.  That’s why I found the 30-day challenge so refreshing.  I didn’t need to worry about editing it.  That will come later, if I so choose to submit it for publication.  I find it frightening to turn around and slice and dice my stories.  One does get attached to one’s imaginary friends.  Or at least I do.  You love them into existence and then you have to massacre the hell out of your manuscript to make it just right.  I struggle with that.  That’s why I am constantly trying to find just the right words, even from the beginning of a new piece.  Maybe that’s part of my fear.  Fear of not having it just right.  Fear of an editor scratching his or her head and wondering why in God’s name did I even submit this piece of junk.  I want them to like it.  I want them to understand where I’m coming from.  Sometimes it is from a happy place, other times it is wrenched out of the darkness from my soul. 

We have those moments as writers.  Please.  Please.  Please.  Be gentle with my characters.  They are fragile.  Just as I am.  I want to know that I have talent.  I want to be able to share this with the world.  I don’t need fame or riches, just the opportunity to share my thoughts, feelings, and voice with the world.  All I’m asking for is a chance to get out there, to be heard.  I love to write.  I love words.  I don’t want to be hurt.  But I also don’t want to live in the constant state of fear of rejection.  Can you relate?