Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Ghosts of the Past

March 8, 2015

I’m long overdue for a wrap-up of my ghost trip. I’ve been putting it off for some reason. It’s not that I’ve been waiting on photos – I had those processed and uploaded the day after I made it home. Not waiting for mental processing, either – I do all my thinking on the road, and haven’t really done any more since. No, really. No thinking at all.

It’s more due to the fact that I came to a big, scary realization on the road, one that I’m only slowly beginning to tell my friends and families about. And yes, it’s shocking people every bit as much as it shocked me to discover.

I don’t want to be an author.

Dude. Gentle reader, you may or may not know how huge that realization is. I’ve written throughout my life, ever since my first short story was published in the Saipan Sun at the tender age of 6 (it was pretty bad, but it was the family newspaper that my dad photocopied at his office so the standards weren’t super high). I wrote my way through high school and college, and wrote on into my career, where the word Writer became a part of my title in my jobby job.

Still, there was this feeling that it wasn’t enough. A writer does not become an author until they are published, and you’re only published if you write every day, and follow through with query letter after query letter, and ballsy introductions to agents and acquisitions editors at hotel bars during conventions.

So I did it. I joined the board of a writing association, I queried (some of which were accepted), I schmoozed. But my heart wasn’t in it. And I tried to write in my chosen genre every day, and every time I skipped it, I felt guilty.

The guilt grew. I didn’t talk about it. I wrote less. The guilt got bigger. I started talking about it, bitterly. But I never attacked that core assumption: that a writer must desire to be an author.

I don’t. And it took this trip for me to realize that, to allow me to release that ghost from the past.

How will this change things for me? Meh. Probably not much. I’ll still write every day (I mentioned my day job is Writer, right?). I’ll still blog, especially while traveling. I’ll still write short stories when the mood catches me. I’ll likely still do NaNoWriMo (cuz it’s awesome). But I’m releasing the guilt. I’m releasing the feeling that Author must be my career goal.

Man, is it freeing. There’s this project that I’ve had on the side, where a friend and I work with teenagers around the idea of beauty and societal values, then help them put together their own beauty mag, and I think I’m going to shift some of my drive over in that direction.

It’s also terrifying. I told a friend at work about my revelation, and proceeded to wig out a bit on her. Writing and aiming for publishing has always been my main creative outlet. What do I do without it? She brought out her ukulele and let me harmonize to “Hallelujah” and “Blank Space” to prove it wouldn’t be a problem. She’s good people.

I’ll always have writing, I’ll have singing and photography and knitting and a host of other creative outlets. But y’know what? I’m cool if I never achieve pro status at any of those. I’ll be a blissful amateur.

And hey, what the heck does this have to do with road tripping? Umm… Nothing, really. This just wraps up the various paths my mind was wandering down while I was physically wandering. And I’ve gone on so long, I think I need to do another wrap-up that’s a bit less in the mind. But the road trip epiphanies are about 80% of the reason that I love traveling that way, so this felt like the piece that had to be wrapped up first. Thanks for putting up with the detour; more awesome photos of bizarre places coming soon.

Amargosa Performance

Trust Everyone

February 3, 2014

I just had to get “Trust No One” off as the first post (especially since it’s been there for nearly a year)! 

But seriously, that’s closer to my feelings today. I just got back from an annual volunteer trip up to Bolinas, where I co-run a weekend workshop for teen girls aimed at redefining beauty. We do a slew of activities examining how beauty standards get imposed on us and either end up shaming us or trapping us in a struggle to be perfect that we will always, eventually, lose. We talk about other ways to define beauty, then I do a photoshoot with each girl as she portrays a particular beautiful quality. At the end of the weekend, I put together a little ‘beauty magazine’ that they get to take with them. It’s a gorgeous setting, on a farm in Bolinas, with winding paths in oak forests, horses on the property, and the a view of the lagoon down the hill. 

Image

And I hold in rolling my eyes, THE ENTIRE TIME. Because this is good work, and important practice. Because some nugget, somewhere, might stick with them and make them think. Because it can’t hurt to have a supportive group come together and tell you you’re beautiful, all weekend. 

When I was a teen? I would have been mocking this endlessly. I would have been rolling my eyes, and yawning. I’d heard all of it before. Yeah, yeah, it’s the media’s fault. Mmm hmm, impossible to achieve beauty standards. Whatever. You’re just saying this ‘cuz you’re ugly. 

This weekend reminded me of the importance of holding that snark in. I’m trusting those girls to take what they can from this workshop, to listen and bring in the important points, and to appreciate what we created together. And today, I feel dang good about that trust. 

I feel dang good about THIS, too!

Bad Ass Faeries: It's Elemental book cover Bad Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental is now available for pre-order! With a story by ME! Faerieland Local 2413 tells the story of a nickar water faerie on the railroad. I am so excited – I loved this story, and it actually kicked off more stories set in this world, some of which are still in my head, some of which may be popping up soon… 

That’s all for today. Trust everyone. You’re beautiful.

#notwriting

August 19, 2012

Oh, I had good intentions today. I woke up before seven, ready to jump into the blank page. But since I woke up so early, I decided there was time for a bath. Then, after the bath, I had to make tea. Then, I began my pre-writing ritual of clearing out my rss reader, and ‘warming up’ on my blog.

It is now almost nine. I have an appointment at 9:30. That means I spent over two hours on all the pre-writing crap, just to get to the warm-up stage. More upsetting is the fact that I seem to be doing this more and more. I think I just need to move the writing part up in the ritual. Before my eyes open, I should be warming up here, on the blog, letting the words flow while my mind is still muddy and doesn’t know what my fingers are doing. Hey, that’s my theory of exercise: get the running shoes on and be out the door before my brain knows what hit it.

I sabotage myself, I know. I always feel like I have the best intentions, but I’m pretty sure I’m fooling myself. If I had wanted to write today, I would have written. My subconscious intentions are crap, and they all want to bathe.

Right. I still have 35 minutes. I’m not going to let my subconscious get the best of me.

#amwriting

Not totally in the mood for love

June 25, 2011

Late last year, I was coerced seduced invited to become a volunteer Board member for my local Romance Writers of America chapter. It was a pretty doggone good choice; SFA-RWA is a staggeringly fantastic group of strong women writers that I’m thrilled to be a part of. Though I’m a genre-jumper at heart (and will be until I really find my voice), I’ve found myself writing more and more romance, just to be a bit more like these awesome authors.

But I have a secret. One that came out on a date last night. I’m not totally sure I’ve ever been in love. And dude, I’m 32. That’s kinda embarrassing.

Oh, there’s been puppy love, and infatuation, and sincere like, but nothing that felt true enough or lasted long enough for me to say, “THAT. That’s love, ennit.” I’m not wholly convinced that anything different exists; what if we’re all talking about the same thing, except some folks talk it up more? Kinda like my old stoned-in-high-school conversations about color. If I say that’s blue, and you say that’s blue, how do we know we’re talking about the same blue? Your blue might be my yellow. Everything’s relative, and just because we share a language doesn’t mean I have access to the truth of your experience.

Maybe it does exist, and maybe some day it will smack me over the head with a frying pan. I’m keeping an open mind. But I refuse to fall in love just for the sake of being in love. If it ever does happen, it will be because I’ve actually found someone I actually want to give up some of my precious free time for.

Showing my lack of respect for the Heart

Also, hey, congrats NY! I may not convinced true love exists for me, but I’ll be damned if I’ll keep others from committing to it.

In my library

April 25, 2011

I stumbled upon this post on journal writing prompts the other day, and one of them caught my eye. “Name a totally useless possession and how you came to acquire it.”

My first thought was, jeez, how do I choose? I’ve toned it down over the years, since I stopped working retail book shops and toy stores, but I’m still a bit of an acquirer. Right now there is a stunningly soft stuffed bear in a pink bunny jumpsuit above my head, a hard plastic box holding a purple and gold band hat to my left, a framed print of a bear holding a rifle across from me, and a bookshelf full of unread books and Todd McFarlane action figures to my right.

Useless, right? Well, not really. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, maybe it’s because I’m a romantic, but everything I have is useful. It’s fodder. If it’s not outright inspiration, like all the piles of books that I will some day get to, I swear, it’s fodder one step removed.

The art inspires me. The bear is actually a character from Remington Ridge, a picture book by one of my favorite artists, Ben Walker. The bear is staring at the artist with all the seriousness of a Wild West gunslinger facing a camera for the first time. There’s a certain gravitas paired with whimsy to him that I try to inject into all my writing.

me dressed as Adam Ant for HalloweenThe band hat represents the fodder that is my life. I’m a Halloween fiend, and one year I dressed as Adam Ant as I ran around town in a city-wide game of tag called Journey to the End of the Night. The hat came with the jacket that I modded. I’m keeping it, because band hat! Who knows what costume that will morph into come October?

I bought two of the pink bunny bears when one of my best friends had her first baby girl, and kept one for plainly sentimental reasons. For my first Halloween, my loving mother dressed me up in a pink bunny footie pajama outfit. I haven’t been able to top that one yet.

All of these things inspire me. They all represent memories that, as a writer, will someday get chopped up and regurgitated into something new. So, useless? I don’t have anything that’s useless.

I bet a hoarder would say that as well, huh? Don’t worry, I can still see all the walls and no animals or small children have gone missing. Yet.

The En

February 24, 2011

I am truly awful at finishing. It’s not that my stories get lost and wander out of control, with no idea of how to bring them home. Except for one sad attempt at a mystery that turned into a ghost story and wandered off into the heavens, I can generally see the end, and the path is clear to get there.

In fact, I tend to race towards the end a bit too fast. I have to slow myself down, and take time to smell the paper roses. I sprint, writing my heart out, all the way up until the point where it really looks like I’m going to finish.

And then? Without the glorious motivation that comes once a year with NaNoWriMo? Then I pause. First I tell myself that I’ve earned it. I’m almost there, what does it matter if I watch a quick TV show? Then I remember this other story that I’ve been dying to tell. I’ll come back to the other one, I swear, but an artist has to follow her muse, right?

I was beginning to fear that it was fear itself holding me back. Once a story is finished, that’s when the scary things start. First there’s the editing, which always causes some heart palpitations. What if I can’t make it as perfect as it is in my mind? Worse than that is what follows: The submitting. Rejection is flat-out terrifying, and anyone who says otherwise is masochistic or lying.

It’s not just writing, though. I can see this unfinishing habit all throughout the rest of my life.

Cleaning. I will scour the bathroom, and get distracted from the rest of the house by re-organizing my lip glosses. Then I’ll remember that website I saw that taught you how to make your own glittery lip gloss. I’ll power up my computer and get distracted by my iTunes library on the way, and by this point cleaning is ten steps behind me.

Cooking. Last week I discovered an awesome recipe for chicken with parmesan, kale, green beans, and mushrooms. I did a big shopping trip, and set everything up. Then I ate raw green beans and put everything else back in the fridge. Maybe I’d cook the mushrooms the next day. I know big meals with many ingredients are good things, intellectually, but I can’t seem to get past the planning stage and the tasty individual ingredients.

Reading. I have seven books next to my bed with bookmarks in them. My GoodReads bookshelf is starting to get overloaded. No further comment needed.

cabled hat in ocean colorsKnitting. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a fear of rejection that revolves around the cute little cotton tank top I started back in 2004, or the blanket from 2007, or the sea cable hat from ’08. My warmies love me no matter what. I finally decided to institute a rule: Before I can start a new project, I have to Finish two old ones. Even if Finishing means tearing it to pieces, burning the bits, and burying the ashes out behind the old garden shed.

Last night, it finally hit me. Why not apply that same rule to my writing? And when I say Finishing, I mean edited and submitted. To that end, I reorganized my files, shifting everything into Finished, Unfinished, On Submission, and Published folders. Now before I start anything new, I have to move at least two things out the door, whether they’re short stories or epic novels.

Seriously, this is good. I wasn’t doing all that just to avoid finishing that story about hobo fairies. I swear.

And the craziness continues…

January 20, 2011

Stupid life. It keeps running on without me, and I’m getting a bit tired of it.

Usually I get upset by the way the craziness interferes with my social life. You know; canceling pub quiz, falling behind in my apocalyptic book club, letting that Netflix disc of West Wing languish in the corner. It’s rare that I’m upset by the way it interferes with my writing. One reason for that lack lies in the fact that I insist on writing, no matter what. Even if it’s just for a few minutes in the morning, I get my fix in.

The main reason, however, is one I rarely talk about. Because… *stage whisper* I don’t Need to write!

I cannot tell you how ashamed I am by this fact. Conferences, friends, seminars, loved ones, bloggers, all of them agree that a True Writer writes. A True Writer Needs to write, with every bone of their body. A day that passes without writing, in a True Writer’s life, is a day that is shot through with pain. Like little needles in your fingertips.

I am not a True Writer. I can go days, weeks, months without writing. I might be a little forlorn, but I wouldn’t be contemplating driving my car into a deep dark ravine. I wouldn’t even notice, except for that moment of guilt as I decide between a Female Troubles concert and a moonlight sea kayak trip, nearly instantaneously dismissing writing.

But you know what? I like writing. I like creating things, whether they’re knitted sweaters or new worlds. So I make time. I enjoy writing, and I pursue it professionally. So I’m a writer, and not a Writer. So what? Enough with the guilt, I say.

I think I’m not alone. I think there’s a whole underclass of we writers, a group that has stayed silent for too long. We’ve nodded our heads in faux agreement, as speakers pronounce their Writerly Compulsions. And we’ve felt that maybe, just maybe, there was something lacking inside ourselves. We have dear friends that are said Compulsive Writers. As quick as they are to assure us that we are, indeed, Writers, we know they’re sheltering a hidden, niggling thought that something is, indeed, lacking.

Enough. Nothing’s missing. We just have different processes. I’m going to say it, and say it loud. I do not Need to write.

… Except right now I do. There’s an exception to every rule, and right now, I want the entire world to go to hell so that I can shut myself up in my cafe with my laptop and my story. I know exactly where Mr. Jones is heading, and what’s in his path, and gosh-darn-it-all, I just want to go send him on his way! I’m having too much fun with this story.

Even so, it’s not Writing that I Need to do. It’s this particular story that’s caught me around the neck and won’t let me go. So I am still not a True Writer, and proud of it! Nyah, nyah nyah.

I seem to be ultra-cranky and spoiling for a fight. Baaaad day to be at work, today is. You should just fire me so I can go home and write.

In the place for writing

November 6, 2010

Well, it’s officially no longer Halloween. The decorations came down yesterday, so I guess I should knock the blog post down a spot or two. I’m just so reluctant to see it go!

Largely because I know that as soon as Halloween is over, NaNoWriMo begins. I know, yay. It’s something I always look forward to, that I end up loving, and that has the absolute best community surrounding it. So, yay.

But oh, the tears! The frustration at starting out two days behind (I always start out two days behind, for some reason. May have something to do with extended Halloween hangovers). The waffling over my plot and characters; one day I hate them, the next they are so fabulous my head wants to explode. Then I go back to hating them. The avoidance; I’ve played some bizarre, stumbled-upon online games recently. The complete, absolute knowledge that everything I have just written is garbage.

All of this is nothing, in the end. With a little distance, in NaNoEdMo (I’m not sure if National Novel Editing Month is real, but it is for all the nanoers I know) your garbage writing transforms into decent, editable prose. The frustration of being behind is overcome by the triumph of winning. The online games do, in the end, let go their death grip and your obsessive procrastination fades.

Even blog posts are procrastination. Can I count these words? No? Then what the heck am I doing here?

Party Down

April 1, 2010

I’m celebrating today. I cracked open some prosecco, and I’m celebrating.

I don’t actually have much to celebrate; I was monumentally lazy today, doing none of the fun ditching work things I planned, missing the St. Stupid’s Day Parade, and, even more heartbreaking, the “bring a can, get in free” day at ACT that I always truly love. I actually worked from home – how devoid of celebration-earning is that?

But. There was a bottle of prosecco in the fridge, and it needed cracking.

So… ta daa! I have a new website! Or a new business. Or something.

I’ve never fooled myself into thinking I’m a graphic designer, and I still don’t think that, but I do know my way around photoshop. A little bit. Enough that I apparently delighted my sister, and I started wondering if there were other new authors that might be delighted by a very cheap designer of promo materials.

We’ll see. It’s out there. I might even promote it a bit. But for now, it’s enough that it’s out there. I think it was one big procrastination device, but maybe it’ll make me a little money, and now I can go back to not-writing for free. Or maybe I’ll actually finish that story about the end of the world…

We’ll see. In the meantime, more prosecco, please.

Staring at a blue screen

March 6, 2010

Good lord, I’m tired.

Leaving work at 3 today helped, but I’ve just got a backlog of exhaustion stored up. I’ve been working weekends, 12-hour days, all while chasing after, in a writerly fashion, the almighty buck. It’s glorious to be paid to write. It’s also bloody awful.

Last night I collapsed on my bed after driving 3 hours through the pouring rain, returning from a conference in Sacramento. Fully dressed, I passed out and missed my sister-in-law’s cd release party. I had the most wonderful dream…

And as much as I want to write it out, I know there is nothing more painful in the world than being forced to listen to someone else’s dreams. Suffice it to say that my family bought a pirate ship. A haunted one. There were rituals involving candles and ears from the long-deceased, and a detour (looking for a restroom – I had to pee) up a side road in San Francisco that sent the ship plunging into a row of painted ladies. We were trying to parallel park alongside Dolores Park.

Anyway.

Actually, I have no anyway. I just wanted to trick someone into listening to my dream. It was soooo awesome. Now, after an hour-long bath and a full night’s sleep, I’m feeling the need to do some of my own writing, the type that does not bring in the bucks at all. So adios; trolls and bridges await my ham-handed touch.