Wednesday, January 8, 2014

IWSG: Resolutions and Deadlines

I decided for the new year that I would commit myself to writing every single day. Whether it was one sentence or hours on end of non-stop writing did not matter to me, it was simply that I would take the time each day to write something down and use my brain to put words together. The thing is, by the end of 2013, I was finding it way too easy to do other things and continually put my writing at the bottom of my to-do list. Of course it was always with good reason - a pregnancy, a serious threat that I may lose my house and family obligations all come to mind - but that's why the new year's resolution seemed so important. Regardless of the severity of the reality of my now, I must make the time to at least jot down one little thought of the day (if not more!).

Part of the motivation in this endeavor is the project that my writing group is undertaking. A number of us in the group are writing short stories to bring together in an anthology that we are hoping to publish when we are done. It is intimidating, but it is also needed. We have set deadlines for pitching our story ideas and synopses, as well as getting a first draft of some sort for the group to read. It is because of this project and my tendency to only write the night before something is due that finally sparked the idea for my writing resolution. I now have a good idea of what I want my story to be about and the point of view I would like to write it in. This is all because of my tiny dedication to my writing each day. Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment after which I will be on an incredibly long bus ride home - I'm bringing my notebook with me! I hope to get a big chunk of my story done, but if I happen to write about something else entirely, that will be fine as well. Bus writing is one of my favorite things!

I'd like to personally thank Alex J Cavanaugh for hosting the Insecure Writer's Support Group each month, which has dragged me out of my blog silence back into the realm of the posting bloggers this week. Hopefully this will inspire me to come back very soon (in between my major nesting nonsense happening in this house!).

Did you make any writing resolutions this year?
How about reading resolutions or challenges?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Friends vs. Old Friends

In today's book review for I reviewed a book called Question of the Day: Where Truth is the Dare by Al Katkowski. In an effort to demonstrate the types of questions the book asks, I used to pick a page in the book and asked StoryDam readers to answer it.

I realized it would be pretty cruel if I didn't at least follow suit, even though I find this question a difficult one to answer. Here's the question of the day:

My Answer:

I am happy to see that this question is ranked as one of the "heavy" questions of the book because it is something that is more difficult to answer than I thought it would be when I first read it.

First of all, I am not the most social person in the world, so I can't say that there are a huge number of "new friends" to think about in terms of this question. My local writing group accounts for the first group of people that I have regularly socialized with since having to leave work due to my illness.

My natural response to this question would be that my newer friends know more about my passion for writing than my older friends. However, since my husband still works in the place where I worked and many of my older friends run into him, I am often told by him that people say they "love reading" what I write. They don't comment, or let me know this, so I would never think that this is the fact.

I honestly can not think of anything else, but this is for one big reason: Facebook. I am connected with my many of my older friends through Facebook and, as anyone who is my Facebook friend knows, I am a huge (over)sharer on that social media network. Therefore, anything that my new friends may learn about me, I would, most likely, come back to Facebook to share myself. Is this odd? Maybe. But I feel like the whole point of staying connected to older friends in this way. 

So what is your answer to this Question of the Day?
 How difficult do you find this question to answer?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

OMG! I Forgot I Have A Blog!! [IWSG]

Okay... at least a little part of me is joking. I did not really forget that I have a blog. I simply have been unable to sit down and focus on the things that I typically write about. The main culprit seems to be "pregnancy brain," or so I've been told.

When Pregnancy Brain Attacks

My reading challenge for 2013 on Goodreads is never going to be accomplished and my writing plans for this year have all but been squashed. I have been able to read things in short snippets - such as magazine articles or things that flash by on the Internet, but a whole book? No way. I have been strictly in audiobook land snce I started growing my little boy. And, at that, it is a one book at a time, needing to rewind frequently, kind of pace.

As for writing, I have to thank God over and over again for my writing group. If it were not for our weekly meetings, writing prompts and the writing assignments we give each other in between I don't think I would get any other writing done. It is frustrating, but it also feels strangely natural, which, to be completely honest with you, scares the hell out of me.

Arguing "Just for Me"

I love my blog and my writing - I don't want either one to wilt away on me. I have committed to writing for twice a week and keeping that up has been a struggle for me. I don't know how to add more on top of it when it is something that is "just for me."

And there are, quite possibly, the silliest words I have ever written. "Just for me" might be the most important reason for doing anything... ever. Particularly since my life is about to transform in such a way that every breathing moment will be dedicated to the livelihood of another. My "just for me" moments are probably running out!

Physical Roadblocks to My Creative Endeavors
Of course, two things are physically in the way of me getting any writing done: exhaustion and incessant nesting. The exhaustion is hilarious - I am basically a narcoleptic. This morning, as my husband left for work he told me he thought I should go back to bed. "Don't be ridiculous!" I said, "I am wide awake and I have to write a post for Story Dam, anyway!" I closed the door behind him and made myself some oatmeal for breakfast. I don't know what happened after I finished that oatmeal except to say that approximately five hours after my husband left for work, I woke up in a drooling stupor, on my couch, with every light on in the house and the television blasting. I still had not written my post for Story Dam. I wish I could tell you that this was out of the ordinary for me. It is not.
from Belle La Vie

On the other hand, when I am blessed with bouts of energy, like I was yesterday, I am filled with only one goal in mind: get this house in order! I have written about this house a number of times - the flood, the fact that I have lived here my entire life, and the fact that it isn't exactly... well... put together. When I was teaching, my work came first and my house barely held fast on its foundation. When I came home to deal with my disease, I was too sick to do much of anything. Now that I am somewhere in between the two worlds of "too busy" and "too sick" my eyes are finally opened to the reality around me. Unfortunately, I still live in the world of "too poor" to make the dramatic types of improvements truly necessary, but, in between I can at least clean up the debris of the chaos that has swirled within these walls for years.

And how does one make time for themselves when that reality exists? My answer, thus far, has been that one does not. My answer has been that I am not as important as my setting. And while I feel so much better with the progress that I have been able to make in certain portions of this house, innately I know something is very wrong about this line of logic. A part of me keeps asking if I am just making excuses, if there is something else holding me back from letting my mind wander while I write. Or am I being irresponsible even thinking that "I should be writing" instead of doing more laundry?

Finding The Balance

I know somewhere in between there is a balance. There is a place where I can write, blog, read, keep my house in order and build a baby. All is possible. I simply have to allow myself to believe that again. I also have to allow myself to believe that I deserve it all.

What kind of mom will I be if I squash my own desires? While I want to store up all of my creative juices to pour onto my baby boy (did I tell you that?! I'm having a little mister!), I am beginning to realize that bottling them up in the interim will merely make them atrophy. I need to work these creative muscles out so I can shower my son with the best that I have to offer - not only in parenting responsibilities, but also in beautiful visions of the world around him. 

Have you ever been faced with something in your life that you felt was "more important" than your writing? How did you deal with it and find a balance?

For those who have experienced pregnancy brain - did you ever find a cure besides giving birth? What things became impossible for you while afflicted?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Refreshed, Revived and Re... Writing

I just came back from my writing group which has become so popular we have switched from meeting once every two weeks to meeting every week. The fact is, the only writing I am doing lately is in relation to this group. I don't know if it is pregnancy brain or something else, but I have been unable to focus on two things that are pretty pivotal to my existence as a sane human being: reading and writing.

I keep telling myself that it is the exhaustion associated with the first trimester and that there is an end in sight, but I know that is more than that. First and foremost, I must bring myself to the page. I am at the point where I must FORCE myself to write. Not because it is torture, but because it is, in fact, the opposite. Writing is my release, if I don't do it I am bound to get overwhelmed with little more than my existence.

Sophia, the organizer of our writing group, called us all to action this week. She brought light to the fact that we aren't pushing ourselves to a solid writing goal. She's right. I know, personally, I have started treating my writing like more of a hobby than a passion.

Enough is enough.

Time for me to get back to work. Time for me to embrace, once again, that this is work. However, just like my teaching, this is the kind of work that reaps rewards that are so very worth the time and effort.

What things help to reboot your writing habits?
Do you have a writing group that you meet with regularly?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Secrets REVEALED!!

I wrote this yesterday, but once the phone began to ring and the Facebook lit up, I was unable to post it:

Ten days ago I was cracking at the seems with a desperate desire to spill a secret that I wasn't sure I was able to do.

Today's the day. The secret is out. And here it is:
Oh my Lord. How good is it to type those words? Even better is knowing the truth behind them.

This is it. I am having a baby.

Then for a completely different perspective of the news, forgetting that I wrote the above yesterday, I wrote this today:

Something happens when you spend years of your life hospitalized, sick and suffering - people look at you differently. They don’t even know it. They don’t realize that when they ask you how you are doing that a glaze of sadness falls over their eyes. They don’t realize that your heart breaks every time you realize you are the one to bring them down even if it’s just for a flicker of a moment.

I stopped sharing with people face to face. It was something that had to be done to save my own sanity and do what I thought needed to be done to relieve them of their pity. When I had to have an emergency eye surgery to save my eyesight, I begged my husband to keep the location a secret from everyone. I love the support showered upon me, I just didn’t want to hurt everyone else. Wasn’t it enough that I was hurting? How dare I cast that upon those I loved?

Slowly, things got better. But by that point I had already locked myself in a world of isolation that no longer included phone calls, human to human interaction and the look in people’s eyes. Good news was shared through the grapevine, via my husband or, my old faithful, the Facebook status.

Then the miracles came. Opportunities to share things with people that couldn’t possibly cast a shadow on their souls started to finally occur. Little by little, I was turning into someone who had good news to share once again. I was turning back into the person who could shine sunlight into your day. I wanted to share. I wanted to scream it all from the rooftops.

Except for one thing… the haunting possibility that the miracle could be shattered before its true fruition. Sharing the news too soon ran the risk of bringing everyone to their knees in the event of a not so uncommon mishap. The miracle would have to remain secret. My joy would remain my own due to the threat of my unlucky medical history.

Yesterday I was finally able to share that secret. Yesterday I was able to shed my curse of bad news and bring friends and family to tears of joy. Yesterday I was finally able to tell the world I am pregnant.

And today I am telling you.

There are no words to fully encapsulate how overjoyed and blessed I am feeling to not only have this be true, but also to be able to share it. I am 12 weeks today and everything about the baby and me thus far has been healthy. A simple seven letter word so many take for granted, but one that brings tears of joy to me on a daily basis.

I’ve been super tired and maybe I can’t concentrate on things as well as I normally do (reading and writing have been super challenging), but everything else has been wonderful - no morning sickness, no cravings or food aversions, so far no crazy mood swings - just growing lovingness.

At the conclusion of this, I realize this doesn’t capture any of the thrill, excitement or overwhelming joy that I am feeling every moment of every day, but that’s because my writing always serves a different voice - the quiet one within my heart. The voice who desperately wants to say she is sorry for getting sick, for breaking people’s hearts and for not being strong enough to share all of her difficulties with everyone who loves her so deeply. The voice who silently tells me it was wrong to lock people out and who knows it is time to learn how to bring them back in.

Now I feel like a complete schizophrenic reading those two announcements side by side. However, I still feel like they both belong. Forgive me!!