Writing through the Fear

Like most writers, I am definitely an introvert. I crave time alone and behave like an evil genius when I get it. At least, I used to. Now? Now I have all the freedom in the world to write, and I can’t think of a blasted thing.

I can, however, find a million things that have to be done – anything to pull me away from my rough draft. Like binge-watching ten seasons of Supernatural….seriously, it had to be done.

I took a gigantic leap a couple of months ago and made writing my priority. I was on fire, excited and eager to turn my dream into a reality. I was determined and absolutely positive that I could do this. Nothing was going to stop me.

It’s funny, really. When I was working, all I could think about was writing. I would jot down notes on anything, anywhere, at any time – ideas came easily and the desire to write was insane. It was like an itch that I couldn’t quite reach until I was able to steal a moment at home.

I finally have to admit to myself what the real problem is. I’m just plain terrified. I’ve put all of my apples into one basket and I’m scared to pick it up. The desire is still there, and the urge is still strong. But I’m letting fear beat me to a pulp.

Oh so true:

That epiphany pisses me off. I’m facing the fact that I’m afraid of failure, and I’m allowing it to paralyze me. I’ve had sixty days that could have been filled with writing. Sixty days. That’s a lifetime for a full-time writer. For a rough-draft, that’s about 60,000 good words that I’ve squandered.

Sure, I’ve fiddle-farted around with my rough draft. Reading it aloud, fixing things that didn’t sound right, adding / deleting little snippets here and there. But it’s still sitting there, far from finished, staring back at me like the bully that it is. I can hear it taunting me: what are you gonna do now, crybaby?

as long as u get beyond 4:

What am I going to do? I’m going to write crap because that’s precisely where I am right now. I wasn’t afraid of writing crap before, so why should I be afraid of it now? It truly is part of the process. It’s akin to any sickness – you gotta get it out in order to feel better.

I’m officially declaring September 1st as World Crap-Writing Day. Heck, we could even extend the dates into a World Crap-Writing Festival.

So, let’s go write some crap!

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I choose.

There are times, like this morning, that I wish I wasn’t jaded by experience. I wish I hadn’t felt a need to build walls, a fortress to protect myself from the deceptions of others. I wish that I could be open again, ready with a kind smile and free laughter.

I haven’t been that person for quite some time now. I’m older and wiser, but I’m also harsher and more cautious with that smile and laughter.

I used to be a “glass half full” kind of person. I used to look for the best in everyone. I used to enjoy every nuance of everything.

I am so guarded, now. I carry an immense amount of baggage, if I’m honest. And I have to be honest in this moment. I have to realize that those hurts are in the past, and that I’ve spent more than enough time analyzing them, tearing them apart, reliving them. It is time to let them go.

To truly live is to experience disappointment and, yes, even pain.

I exhale now, thoughts to the future. Facing forward, I need to be excited for what is to come. I need to work on myself, still, but this is a start. This release. This unloading. This letting go.

Today is not yesterday, and tomorrow is not yet here. This day is what I have been given, and it will be what I make of it. My life is my choice, my doing, my decisions. My thoughts direct my path, not the actions of some specter from my past.

As the sun rises, so I do, too. I am creating my tomorrow, today. I choose to be proactive in my own life. It is up to me to create it, my future.

I choose happiness, I choose freedom from those chains, I choose life-loving energy.

I choose to not wait anymore. I choose to not be passive in my own life. I choose to love and appreciate all that I have been given. I choose to find the good in everything, letting go of negativity.

I choose.

I choose to release the negative energy that others bring into my life. I choose to release those people, and the power I’ve allowed them to have over me.

I choose to surround myself with like-minded people, people who have already chosen happiness and positivity.

I choose.

I choose to be thankful, every day, for everything around me. I choose wonder and amazement. I choose love. I choose life.

I choose.

I choose to support those around me who are also working on themselves. I choose to be a light in the darkness. I choose to be a beacon to a better destination.

I choose.

I choose imperfection. I choose ebb and flow. I choose the unexpected and the unplanned.

I choose to be life uninterrupted.

I choose.

Opioid Addiction

I want to talk about opioid addiction. It has become a national epidemic, fostered by the numerous “pain management clinics” that have sprung up across the country.

According to American RSDHope,  “A pain clinic is a health care facility that focuses on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. Some specialize in specific diagnoses or in pain related to a specific region of the body. Also called pain management clinics, pain clinics often use a multidisciplinary approach to help people take an active role in managing their pain and regaining control of their life. These programs are focused on the total person, not just the pain.”

My family is one of millions who have been affected by the over-prescribing of opioids, so yeah, this is a hot-button issue for me. Chronic back-pain due to degenerative disc disease. Fifteen years of “pain management”. Multiple surgeries, injections, etc. I’ve seen the results first-hand, and I call B.S. on the above statement.

Giving patients an “active role”? That’s actually laughable. The only action that the patient takes is having the prescription filled. “Regaining control of their life”? Seriously? Do these people watch the news? Does it sound like people have control?

And, let’s not forget that they are “focused on the total person, not just the pain”. Sure, they do pill counts and urine tests. But trust me, an addict will make sure they pass both in order to obtain what they crave. As long as those two hurdles are jumped, another prescription is written.

Pain getting worse? They’ll increase your milligram in an effort to get the pain under control again. Eventual surgery? Absolutely, and they’ll give you more pain meds to control the pain from that. Believe it or not, addicts will go under the knife just to continue getting their fix.

But here’s the kicker: opioids can prolong and intensify pain. Meaning, patients receiving opioids aren’t really getting any pain relief at all. Thus begins a deadly spiral. I dare you to Google it, but I’ll give you a link to make it quicker:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201605/unexpected-double-whammy-opioids-prolong-and-intensify-pain

This, my friends, is how addicts are created. And, this is how the so-called “pain management clinics” stay in business – they’re basically  gathering guaranteed repeat customers.

These clinics are prolific in my area. In response to the fast-growing rate of opioid addicts, methadone clinics have sprung up everywhere, too. Our unemployment rate has skyrocketed, with people receiving disability checks due to their addictions. The poverty level has increased, more children are living in shelters, and families are being destroyed.

We, as a society, know that there’s a problem. Our government knows that there’s a problem. Research proves that there’s a problem.

So why the hell isn’t anybody doing anything about it? I’m so frustrated by the lack of action on this front.

Now, having said all of that, I realize that these clinics are a God-send for some people. Those people may not have an addictive personality (yes, that’s a real thing) and may never have an issue with addiction. Each person is different, and each set of circumstances is unique. I understand that.

But, I can almost guarantee you that no one walks into one of those clinics thinking, “Gee, I want to become addicted to opioids.” For those people who do become addicted, that clinic is nothing more than a dressed-up drug dealer, doing business legally and getting a large paycheck for it.

It’s the availability that makes me angry. It’s the ease of getting a script that makes me angry. Fifteen years of taking a highly-addictive pain med. Fifteen years of increasing pain levels, due primarily to the extended use of this pain med.

All the while, there are non-narcotic pain-control alternatives. I realize those may not work for everyone, but are people even being given that option? Are they being educated on the choices that are available, or are the highly-addictive opioids simply being prescribed without discussion?

I’m now off to educate myself on the subject of addiction versus dependence. Apparently, dependence leads to addiction, and there is a fine distinction between the two. Sounds like splitting hairs to me, but I want to understand as much as I possibly can.

 

Why a divorcee?

A beta reader asked me why I would make the protagonist of my story a woman going through a divorce.

So I asked this person, why not?

Their answer: Well, divorce is devastating.

Yes. Yes it is. But, it can also be FREEING. It can be viewed as an opportunity for a new beginning instead of just an ending. We can draw strength from it instead of wallowing in our heartbreak and misery.

I, myself, am a divorcee. Believe me when I tell you that I wanted to wallow. And I did for a short while, with the help of A LOT of good red wine and way too much take-out. But then I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and began creating a new life for myself. A better life.

I had no idea that someone would find that idea offensive. I didn’t know that I would make a person feel “broken” because they were still struggling, years after the fact.

Given my own experience, I know that my perspective on it will be different than others. I wrote from that perspective, because it is the only point of view on the subject that I have.

Never, ever, did I intend to make anyone feel “less than” or “wrong”.

Unfortunately, she felt so strongly about the subject that she became angry with me and decided to stop reading for me. I will truly miss her input.

We, as humans, are made up of experiences. Some will be similar, and others will be vastly different. That doesn’t mean that one is better, or more right, than the other. We are unique individuals, therefore our reactions to certain situations will be unique, as well.

I’ve always been told to “write what you know”, and I really think that’s sage advice. What I know is that laughter can be abundant again, love can be thrilling again, and life can be as fulfilling as we make it.

Words are powerful. I just witnessed that truth, in a very awkward way.

 

 

Paycheck VS Passion

It’s six a.m. on a Saturday and I’m the only one awake, as usual. Except for my cats, of course. It’s them who wake me up this early because, technically, it’s two hours past their feeding time. Apparently they have schedules to keep, even on the weekend. Go figure.

My day-job continues to be a hellish landscape. Text messages while I’m at home allow no escape from it. The stress and pressure follow me wherever I go, even the frozen food section of the grocery store as I am too tired to prepare a fresh meal for my family.

My mind is so tired from the business of the last two weeks that words simply escape me. I am exhausted, more mentally than physically. I still have the urge to write, the craving to do so, but my mind simply isn’t cooperating.

It is preoccupied with the busy-ness of life. It won’t allow me to take flight into my imagination because one part of it knows that it’ll take me all weekend to get the laundry caught up. It wonders if I have enough scent-beads to make it through all those many loads.

While I yearn to jump back into the make-believe world of my novel, my brain is making a meal plan and grocery list instead of allowing me to see what my characters are going to do and say next.

I’ve stopped laughing out loud when my favorite character, Ella, pops off at the mouth with her usual silliness. Her frame of mind has morphed into my frame of mind, and she has become tired and boring.

That’s not good writing.

I have never seriously considered quitting my day-job. Until this week.

I am the primary bread-winner. My paycheck is a necessity for survival.

But what about my own survival? What do I do when that paycheck is squashing the very thing that makes me feel alive?!

Reading and writing are what fuel me, bringing out everything that is passionate within me. If I were ever stranded on an island, I’d need three things to survive: a good book, a pen, and paper.

Yeah, I would starve to death but I would die happy.

I have vacation scheduled next month, and I strategically planned it around it my family’s activities so that I could have a “stay-cation”. I plan to stay in my jammies, my big bootie at my desk, and write.

Blissfully uninterrupted, laser focused, completely responsibility-free.

I will block the numbers of my co-workers. They’re on their own.

I am steadfastly determined to finish my novel that week. I look forward to the rewrites, revisions, cuts, and all the hard work that will follow.

This is the difference between passion and paycheck. I welcome and embrace the work produced by my passion, while simply earning a paycheck is stripping me bare.

It’s two completely different types of survival.

I’m hoping, during that week of “stay-cation”, to determine a solid path that will allow me to survive with passion.

And, I hope that returning to work after a nine-day absence won’t make me lose my mind.

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets and Lies

Secrets and lies are poison. They are toxic, deadly, and destructive. We, sadly, are not immune to them, and can never build up a tolerance against them.

Why do we do it? Why do we create a circus of secrets and lies that leads us to jump through hoops and tame lions as the truth tries to swim to the surface?

I am currently watching a loved one go through hell because of someone else’s secrets and lies. I have been there, and my heart aches for this person. The anguish, pain, confusion, and fear caused by someone (whom you believed loved you) desperately trying to maintain a facade can be unbearable.

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

The truth doesn’t just make the facade crumble. It causes it to explode with atomic force. The wake is usually far-reaching and devastating.

Why is it so hard to be honest?

Fallen out of love with someone? Leave them. Over-drawn the bank account? Tell your partner. Behind on several bills? Talk about it. Check your priorities and make an effort to straighten things out.

The truth is so simple. Secrets and lies create more work than they’re worth.

I’m not naive. I know that relationships are a many-layered thing. I know that there are nuances to the way every couple communicates. I get it.

I just don’t understand wasting precious, precious time with secrets and lies. It takes entirely too much effort in up-keep, and it usually never pays off.

I wonder if people need to be more introspective.

If we have an inkling that our partner is going to be hurt by something that we’re doing, why do we continue on with that activity? Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop and consider our own motivations for why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Is it for the thrill of having a secret? Ask ourselves why we need that thrill. What is lacking in our current situation that would create such a need?

I totally get that people change with time. I know I have. When that happens, it’s difficult to make things mesh. So, we need to ask ourselves if it’s worth it.

Is what we have worth fighting for?

Sure, the truth will cause an argument. It absolutely will be an unpleasant experience. That’s why we lie and keep secrets: to avoid the pain of finally telling the truth.

Sometimes, it can be worked through. Other times, the damage is too great.

I suppose my perspective is skewed, having been on the receiving end of said atomic bomb. Maybe it’s not as easy as I’d like to believe. Maybe I am a little naive.

Or, maybe I’m just too honest. Trial and tribulation can do that to a person.

 

 

Back to the Basics

I think I have writer’s block.

It’s been over a week since I’ve had homework to worry about, and I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I’ve spent an hour at my keyboard every morning before work, doing what I call “warm-ups”. I usually get some pretty good ideas, gain perspective on a WIP, or simply empty my head of yesterday’s garbage. It’s a sort of purge, I suppose, in an effort to find clarity in my writing.

I am lost in the forest right now.

They’re not joking when they say you have to write every day in order to keep the juices flowing. That’s truth right there.

I find it rather ironic that I forgot that truth while pursuing a degree in English / Creative Writing. That’s a real head-scratcher.

Anyhoo, a couple of nights ago, I picked up William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and began reading it again. I also grabbed my copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and plan to read that one again, too. Both are marked up with notes and highlights already, but that’s okay because it takes me back to where I was before my brain got muddied with algebra and computer science. Ick.

I’ve also reloaded my Kindle with things I want to read. I have time to read again! And I don’t feel guilty about the condition of my kitchen! Yay! My living room is spotless, though, because that’s where my writing nook is and, hey, that has priority over dirty dishes.

I digress.

Sometimes we have to take a step back in order to move forward. That’s life. And the life of a writer is not an easy one. It’s not a choice; it’s a need. Occasionally, that need demands a reverse in direction.

I am so there.

But, the knowledge that I can reignite that spark into my own personal bonfire is so exciting!

The same can be said for whatever your dream may be. Don’t give up! That desire was placed inside of you for a reason, and it is very much a part of who you are and who you will become. Do-overs are allowed for dreamers. You will never see a sign that says “NO U-TURNS ALLOWED”. Feel free to make as many as you need to reach your destination.

Me and my Kindle have numerous dates next week. With temps in the seventies all week, I’m itching to sit in my backyard after work, with a mason-jar of sweet-tea and a few good stories. This is my U-Turn.

Start thinking about yours.