Waiting for the right train

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If you are a blogger, or an aspiring novelist, you may have seen the acronym NaNoWriMo, which is an abbreviated version of National Novel Writing Month.  The eleventh calendar month has been designated as the month when writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, or more, in a time span of 30 days.

I thought this year I would board that speeding locomotive of creativity but, as the train neared the station, I stepped back and watched the silver bullet speed past my stop and continue on its journey without me.

As the caboose rattled down the tracks and the last of the smoke had cleared from the air, I realized I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself that I scare my characters away.  I want them to tell their story at their pace.  I have developed a relationship with these unique personalities over the last couple of years and I don’t want to be the bully in the school yard making these other kids make decisions based on any peer pressure I put on them.   I will push their swings as high as they want to go but let them slow down when they want to stop pumping their legs.  This is their journey and I am only here to tell it as they tell it to me.

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I envy those who can focus so intently for thirty days, and perhaps if I were starting a new project I would be more eager to dive in and lose myself in the process.  But, for now, I have chosen to create my own acronym – NaNoWriWin……  National Novel Writing Winter.

My writing train will still stay on track, but a track that doesn’t have such a condensed schedule.  It will meander along its path, at a rate of speed that is conducive to its creativity and not just its deadline.  And I can only hope that by slowing down the velocity of my train, that my silver bullet with travel through beautiful, and sometimes scary, landscapes over the next few months.  I’m anticipating some bumps along the way, and perhaps a few derailments, but it is the journey that I am looking forward to and not just the moment I finally reach my destination.

 

When skin gets thin

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I cannot change the moods or the behavior of others.  I can only control how I let those moods and behaviors affect me.   Today, however, was a glowing example of how that ideal can radically fail.

If I were superstitious, today would have been my Friday the 13th.  My black cat was the neighbors dog, who, first thing this morning, managed to soil, not one but, two pairs of my shorts on my way to work.  The ladder I walked under was the exit door from my house.  And the broken mirror was the negativity that continued to rain throughout the day like the shards of glass falling from that broken mirror.

I am usually very thick-skinned.   Most of the time I can deflect negativity and remain blissfully unaware of the antagonism that tends to eddy in the normally calm waters of my life.  But the vortex of that disapproval became too much.  I, without my life-preserver, was pulled under and was out of breath.

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A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.  As an adult with a great deal of life experience under my belt, I know life is unfair and the wheels can fall off the bus at any given second.   But to focus solely on the loose lug nut that made the wheel come off is negating the safe driving before that wheel fell off and the work that the bus driver had to do after its liberation to safely get that bus to the shoulder of the road.

Thick skin can actually be quite tenuous and a little praise goes a long way.   If criticism is deserved, than criticism should be administered.  But if praise is deserved, it should be just as easily passed from the lips of the people who need to say it to the ears of the people who need to hear it.

Remembering the things I forgot

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Earlier today, a friend inadvertently reminded me of one of the greatest things about writing.  It’s not just for the melodic overture that silently plays as words form sentences and transport themselves from my brain to my fingertips and onto the screen.  It’s not the myriad number of ways I am able to express myself.  It is simply the fact that I am allowed to engage with people in a way that brings me joy.

When I post a blog, I certainly look at my stats to see how many people have stopped by to read what I have written.  But somewhere along the way, I have disconnected from the truth behind those statistics.  Those numbers represent people who have taken the time to ingest my words, who have possibly connected to what I had to say and who may share the same thoughts that I have shared.

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I was reminded today that my words have an impact on people.  It’s not just looking at statistics on a blog.  It’s realizing that I am able, through my writing, to make a connection with people on a level far greater than I imagined.   I can reach people who I cannot see.  I can engage with people I know or even people I may never meet.  I can speak to people without uttering a word out loud.

Writing this blog has not only allowed me to connect with the hidden parts of myself, it has enabled me to become a part of so many other lives.  This morning, this friend told me she spent an entire day thinking about a post of mine that she had read in the winter.  Her words gave so much worth to my words and this blog post is my way of thanking her for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to get back to writing more frequently.   Thanks Erin!

 

The red pen

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My writing has become the focal point in my life.   So much so that I have been consciously willing to share a few of the chapters of the novel I have so carefully crafted with a select few who will unabashedly share their opinion of my writing.  It is a big leap of faith and one I needed to make to get over my fear of rejection.  Turns out, it was (thankfully) much less painful than I anticipated.

A very endearing couple recently checked into the lodge for their third visit.  We were making small talk about how they would spend their week and she gushed about the trilogy she had brought with her to read.  We talked books and authors and I blurted out that I was writing a book.  After giving her a brief outline of the plot, she seemed intrigued.  I took the first step off my cliff of fears when I asked her if she wanted to read some of it.  My second foot followed off the cliff when I actually printed a few pages and timidly handed them to her.

Her excitement completely contrasted my feeling of nausea.  She left with my soul on a few pieces of paper as I sat in my office, slowing curling into the fetal position, wondering what I had just done.

Hours later she came back to the office with a smile on her face that I have yet to define with words.  But what really grabbed and held my attention was the red pen in her hand.  For those who embarked on their scholastic careers before technology took over, the red pen was a symbol of doom and I began a staring contest with the inanimate object.

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Her voice circled around my head as I tried to pull my gaze from that red pen.  A few of her words burrowed into my brain, slowly connecting with the tissue, and my heart almost stopped when I heard “Mel is a retired English teacher”.  It was over.

But then it wasn’t.

After going over a few corrections which made complete sense to me, the red pen no longer felt like a threat and became something else entirely.  They were entertained by the plot.  They enjoyed the phrasing of my sentences and they were captivated enough to want to keep reading.  That red pen was the prophet that delivered the word “love” beside two of the lines that they enjoyed the most.

Somewhere during our conversation, that red pen became the pump that reinflated my confidence.  It didn’t say ‘you failed’.   It screamed ‘keep going’.  Thank you Jean and Mel for the kick in the pants I needed to climb back up the cliff and get ready to take that leap over and over again.

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When words just don’t feel like enough

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I love words.  I devour them like plants absorb the sun for nourishment.  I feed on their ability to convey so many emotions, to give us countless ways to describe the essence of who we are and to capture all the wonderful nuances in life.  Words are simple in their nature but intricate in their distinction.

But sometimes words fail.  There are so many things we want to say, so many emotions we want to share and words just don’t do justice to the feelings we are trying to express.  There have been moments that I have had so many words hovering on the precipice of being spoken aloud but those words seem to pale in comparison to the message I really want to send.

It is not often that words are not my ally.  It is an uncomfortable moment when the things I love seem to leave me when I most need them.  Where once was a plethora of idioms, a bottomless chasm of silence resides.  My inability to use words to their potential precludes me from saying the precise thing I want to say.

But those words are sometimes delivered even though they are unspoken.  Those muted messages find their way through the silence and are easily understood as they soundlessly fall on the ears intended to hear them.

As as writer, I rely on words to accurately convey how I am feeling.  I use those words to express myself.  But sometimes I forget that the words I don’t say, the words that are felt and not heard, are just as loud as the ones I speak.

 

 

 

Nothing compares to u, v, w, x……

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It’s been seven hours and fifteen days……okay, that may be a slight exaggeration (and a very cheesy song reference) but it feels pretty close to the truth that I have just faced.  I looked at my blog posts for the last 27 days and I have posted 6, a measly 6, blog posts during this 27 day period.  I have never been this bereft of creativity since I began my blogging journey.

And once those two words settled into my brain, I felt the familiar pull I feel when I write.  Calling it a blogging journey doesn’t really do it justice.  It doesn’t truly encompass the creative path that I have carved for myself since I became a member of the WordPress writing community.  In this world, I have discovered many who share my passion and I have uncovered a deep part of myself that was grossly underutilized.

We all find things that give us a sense of freedom, moments that we can savor the state of true abandon from reality.  Writing gives me that indulgence.  It permits me to leave the rest of the world behind and go where the words take me.  Nothing does compare to the pleasure I get when I tune out my inner critic and just let the words say what they want to say.  Writing is the one thing in my life that I not only give complete freedom to but also allow it honesty without the constraints of censorship.

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And although I know considerable chunks of time have seeped into the cracks and pushed the chasms of my imaginative spurts further apart, I continually stand on the precipice of inspiration, ready to seize any opportunity that the writing Gods see fit to send my way.

 

 

 

The first to break eye contact

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I stared at the beast.

It gazed back at me,

its eyes filled with the same intensity.

It hummed with a quiet curiosity

as I pondered over the best approach.

We both remained reticent,

neither willing to concede a loss

in the staring contest in which we had become engaged.

We both sat,

watchful of each other,

waiting for the other to make the first move,

until the warmth of my skin

finally touched its cold, hard surface.

The keys began to move under my fingers

and the writing process began again.