Being written up for insubordination

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The human brain never ceases to amaze me.  Out of a simple idea that inspired my mind many years ago, I have recently penned, in the short span of three weeks, what could easily amount to half a novel.  I have had moments when the words just seem to flow out of a long-buried well of ideas and I feel like the vessel being used to convey someone else’s words.

I have been roused in the wee hours by the voices of my characters, longing to continue our journey and last night was no different.  But once I was awake, my mind simply spun in circles and my thoughts had nothing to do with the book.

If I could calculate how many thoughts went through my brain from 2:00 am to 4:30 am, the number would be astronomical.  I had mentally cleaned out my car to get ready for my new car, planned my entire week at work, organized five weekends of volunteers for my food bank project, put together my next shopping list, and quite possibly have solved world hunger.  My neurons were firing on more cylinders than I even have in my head.  After three hours of rapid cranial activity, I finally drifted back to sleep and woke this morning to continue writing.

That sound of crickets was all I got.  I had nothing on my mind.  It was mutiny.  There were no whispers from the characters, no idle nudges from them asking me to go in the direction they saw fit….nothing.  I couldn’t even formulate a thought about my day-to-day life.  It was like my cerebrum had decided to enjoy the last day of March break and left me behind.

Only now am I starting to regain the mental aptitude to be able to string together these sentences.  The characters are still nowhere to be found so the book remains idle.  I now truly understand the phrase ‘feast or famine’ and can only hope they will be back tomorrow and ready to get back to work.  We have a book to finish.

 

The writer within

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‘There is something wonderful in feeling the presence of the writer within you, of something wilful that seems to have a plan’ … George Saunders

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Until I began writing my blog, I had never actually called myself a writer.  I dabbled in poetry as a child and thrived in it as a teen, I began to write short stories in my early twenties and thirties but calling myself a writer felt like a lie.  A few of my poems were published many years ago but that moderate success never brought with it the title of ‘writer’.

 Blogging opened up a narrow passage for me that eventually widened into an avenue.  The more I blogged, the more I found my voice.  And the more I found my voice, the more confident I felt about my words.  I had to master that voice before I could ever be convinced that calling myself a writer was even close to being accurate.

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Now my writing avenue has blossomed into a two-lane highway.  I am drawn to that macadam and travel the road with more confidence than I ever have.  The voice that I hear in the back of my head telling me I can write IS wilful and does seem to have a plan.  The book that I had envisioned years ago, the one that sat lifeless in the obscured corners of my brain, now seems to be writing itself and using me as a vehicle to record its story and the nuances of its characters.

Feeling that writer within me come to life and feast on words is a feeling I can only liken to euphoria.   There is something deeply intoxicating about being able to lose yourself for hours and create four thousand words of text that seem exciting and suspenseful.  I can only hope that when I finish writing the book someone else will share my passion for the story and help me promote myself from the title of writer to published author.

Where the hell were you guys 10 years ago?

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I have had my book idea for well over ten years.  Every so often, I open it up, dust it off and think ‘this is going to be it’.  I write a few paragraphs, get distracted by  life (or a rerun of a good sitcom) and the book just seems to close itself up until next time.

But something has drastically changed this time.  I purposely suspended my satellite service for six months in the hopes that I would read more but what has happened has been mind-numbing.  In just over a week, between working full-time and volunteering a few hours a week to make meals for the food bank, the characters have come to life and are pushing each other out of the way to tell their story.

In the past decade of developing this idea, I have come up with its inception, general direction and 9,000 words.  In the past week, the characters have become extensions of my brain and I have feverishly typed 16,000 more words and they just keep coming.  If I can keep this up, this book could potentially be finished by the end of April (because I periodically take time to write a blog post or two and work so I can pay my bills).

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It is an exciting process.  I have written my fair share of short stories, but getting involved in something as detailed as this is fascinating.  I get excited when a new idea pops into my head that weaves into the novel to give it a bit of a twist and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.  I have a general outline but when I sit down to write, I just go where the story takes me.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Gotta go….the characters are calling.

They just needed to point a little harder

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writing

The words are back, the characters are active and the book is alive.  Motivation is a fickle thing.  For months I have been wanting to get back to the book but life had a way of coming first.

Suddenly I find myself overwhelmed by the personalities who are craving attention.  These poor characters have been so neglected that they are doing everything they can to be heard.  The voice recorder on my phone is never far away since these voices seem to have no sense of time.  They pay no attention to the blackness of the night sky and chatter incessantly in my ears.  After not writing a single word about them over the last couple of months, I have recorded almost 5000 words in two days because they do not want to be silent anymore.

I’m happy for their intrusion.  I welcome their chatter.  And I am willing to lose sleep to hear their stories.  Fingers crossed, over the next few months I can keep up this pace and have a book at the end of this.  Keep pointing fellas….it seems to be working.

 

I have resolved only one thing….

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I am not a fan of making resolutions for the new year.  I have never followed the time-honored tradition of making a list of things that, once they are scripted, seem somewhat ridiculous and marginally unattainable.  I have known enough disappointment in my life to know that setting myself up for a possible failure, in a manuscript penned only by me, is not an option.

But this year something changed.  A small cog in the wheel of my thought process became stuck for a short period of time and had me reflecting on the past year and the role that social media played in perpetuating a plethora of misguided and angry posts.  No topic was sacred and no member of any social media outlet came out unscathed.

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Friendships have been lost or irrevocably changed.  Lines have been drawn in the sand and sides have been taken.  The majority of posts I ignored and would not engage in a battle, political or otherwise, without the benefit of being able to see my opponent.  It is easy to send a cascade of beliefs out into the cyber world without having to actually face your adversary.  There is a level of comfort enjoyed when you are typing your emotional mitigation without the burden of having to face a rebuttal.  You can simply turn off your device and ignore the reply.

So my resolution this year is simple and it came as no surprise.  I have resolved to not post any negative statements this year.  This does not mean I will not have strong opinions on many topics.  It simply means I will hold my pessimistic views about any issues until a fair and just way of sharing those sentiments presents itself in a personal and neutral setting.

Social media makes voicing thoughts far too easy without taking that extra moment to calm down before we type.  Just thinking about how many eyes may read what I write has made me want to be much more culpable for the content of my posts.  Fingers crossed I can hold my tongue if the need arises!

 

Becoming a student of the law

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No, I have not decided to go back to school.  Instead, I have vowed to become a student of life and pursue the merits of the Laws of Attraction.

I recently overheard friends discussing their desire to create a vision board.  Although I knew vaguely what a vision board was, I had never been entertained by the idea of creating one for myself.  I love to lose time dreaming about my perfect kitchen.  I have seen my future home in my brain so many times, and the idyllic life that goes along with it, but I have never felt the need to purchase a white board and post pictures of my idealized Arcadian existence until now.

my new kitchen

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I have envisioned myself cooking in this kitchen.  I have seen the faces of the guests in those chairs enjoying wine and appetizers while I artfully prepare the next course, amusing their bouche with each morsel.  My fully stocked pantry is organized so well, with labels facing forward, that it is only protected by a Muskoka-style screen door.  The wine cellar is filled with robust red and crisp white wines and the food is freshly cooked every day.  This is my bliss.

To add to my paradise there is a writing nook off in the corner, away from everything else, where my dreams are free to escape the confines of my brain and spontaneously arrange themselves on a blank page.  All facets of my creativity thrive in this space and my happiness is shared with those around me.

Vision boards appeal to both the conscious and subconscious levels of our instinct.  As I wrote this post, my vision board was staring back at me, daring me to make it a reality.  Those spaces invite me to live within them.  Those dreams want me to follow them into my new future.  And those images will pursue me in my sleep and be there in the morning to remind me that my desires are real and I should never lose hope.

I just wanna be me

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“Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.” ~ Judy Garland

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I spent much of my youth trying to be the person everyone would like.  I was never ANY version of myself because I wasted too much time being concerned with who others thought I should be instead of becoming the person I was meant to be.   Eventually I was able to break the cycle of trying to please everyone.  I stopped feigning interest in things I had no real passion for and focused more on me.  I slowly distanced myself from the users and spent far less time crossing the Great Lakes for people who wouldn’t jump over a puddle for me.

In my wisdom and older age I have learned a few things that I really like about myself.   I speak three languages – English, sarcasm and profanity – and I am fluent in all three.  I love to write.  I don’t just do it because I enjoy it.  I write because words bleed from my brain and my head feels like it will explode if I don’t expel the stories trapped inside.  And I have learned to write without needing anyone else’s opinion or approval.  What flows from my brain to my fingertips is what I publish on this blog and I’m very proud of the words I have shared.

I enjoy my solitude and am happy with the company I keep, whether I am home alone or spending time with friends and family.  I love to cook and it doesn’t matter if it is a table for one, I will take the time to create a dining experience and not just ‘have some food’.

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(my dinner last night)

Music is a big part of my life and my playlist spans the recording alphabet from Abba to Zeppelin.  I could live without television but I could never have a life without movies.  I will still cross oceans for people but I am much more selective when it comes to deeming who is worthy of my epic journey before I captain the ship.

I am the person I am now because I fought to become this version of myself.  I stopped letting outside voices influence my decisions and started hearing the only voice that should matter – mine.  It took a while to get here but I have enjoyed the journey and am really liking the view.  Thanks Judy, I like your advice very much.