Monday, July 27, 2015

Today I'm THAT writer.

I'm swimming in wet cement. Inching along, kind of wanting to get out, but really feeling so discouraged that I want to give up more than I want to get out. One day I'm all "I'm a writer! Let's do this. I'm inspired and good at what I do and don't have time in a day to write all that's in my head," and another day it's just, well...nothing. Blank stares from the muse, complete dread of figuring out what to write, silence from God. I'd rather stab my finger with a pencil than sit down and try to write.

It's one of THOSE days. Months, really.
A funk.
Writer's block.

And I hate it when writers write about writer's block because it's so cliche and always wreaks of woe-is-me, but here I am anyway, joining the masses, complaining about how hard it is to write.

But I just need to write. To do the excruciating work of slaying myself open and letting others see the yuck and beauty and wonder that's there. Couldn't I have been called to a less gut-wrenching thing?

And so I'm writing.
Even if it's bad.
Even if the only adjective I can come up with is "bad."
Even if my heels are bucking and I'm punching the air.
At least the bucking means I'm alive, that I care.
At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Three Things Thursday: writing edition

Thing One: I'm reading
I'm in that writing space where I'm accumulating words and cadence, ideas and craft. The words--my own words--aren't there yet, so I'm letting others' words inspire me instead. It's a necessary part of being a writer. On my bedside table now (in no particular order and none of them nearly finished):

  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (fiction)
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (a book on life and writing)
  • Women of the Word by Jen Wilken (Christian nonfiction)
  • The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (fiction)
  • My grandfather's WWII letters to my grandmother. I'm slowly transcribing hundreds of his letters so they can be preserved. So far, I'm on page 124 of a Word document and have another 9 months of the war to go. More on that another time!

Thing Two: I'm writing
It may not look like it by how often I blog, but I'm writing all the my head, on scraps of paper, making lists on my phone, writing pieces so private or rough that you may never read them here. It's good. And it's hard. And most days I'm intimidated and don't even know where to start. But I'm writing.

Thing Three: I'm dreaming
I'm wondering what God is and is going to do with this writing of mine. Publication or writing a book isn't even something I want to do right now or maybe ever, but I want to get better at it, use it to help people, and not be afraid to walk through open doors as they come.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

One more reason to write (even if you're not a writer)

*For those who read my last post on how Phil and I met, please click here to revisit it. I've added a visual of his hair that you won't want to miss as well as a hilarious Moo quote!

photo credit
Even though I have the worst memory in the history of the universe, I still think "I'll remember this moment. It's so meaningful/funny/sad/important that I don't really need to write it all down." BUT I DO, Y'ALL. Case in point:

This past weekend, I went to my parents' house. They're doing some mid-life-crisis deep cleaning and have made it all the way to the deep freezer and the attic. You know they're serious if they tackle the scary places. While most of my childhood keepsakes are sitting snug in a basement Rubbermaid at my house, they had a new stack of things for me to look through--a few buckets of clothes I wore as a child and large manilla envelopes from kindergarten to 7th grade with my school work best in them.

You think you know your past selves, those people at various stages of your life who were you but who aren't you now. And then you look back at what you wrote and said at age seven and you think THAT was me? Really? I wasn't like that, was I? Man, I'm glad my teachers made me write a lot in elementary school. (Hear that, teachers? Keep making kids write...a lot.) I learned a few things about myself from thumbing through those old stories and "All About Me" pages and composition notebooks:
  • I liked to watch TV. Over and over again, I talked about how I looked forward to when I could "just relax and watch TV." Funny, though, because I almost never watch any now and don't remember watching much as a child. 
  • I had a reason for wanting to relax. I worked really really hard. I practiced piano every day for 30 minutes BEFORE school. I made all A's. I played sports and babysat my brothers and did family chores. It wasn't slave driving or overly strict parenting; I just had a really strong work ethic and high expectations from home. 
  • I loved alone time. No surprise here, but I repeatedly wrote about how my room was my favorite place in the house because it was quiet. I can't blame me. 
  • I also loved to sleep, apparently. Which is funny because I remember always struggling to fall asleep and still have one or two nights of crappy sleep each week. 
  • My brothers "aggravated" me regularly. Again, no real surprise there. Only girl with three younger brothers? Yeah, let's just say I was familiar with face farts. 
  • I was really spiritual. I wrote all the time about God and my faith and scripture and I really meant every word. I still do. 
  • I liked math and I hated English. At least in first grade. I liked math because "I liked to learn new things," and I hated English "because I have to write a lot and my hand gets all sweaty." Fair. 
  • I was creative and artsy. I'd draw in my journal and cut out magazine pictures and make up blurbs the people were saying. I'd make twenty different thumbprint stick people, all looking better than I could possibly create now. I wrote down quotes I liked and crafted outlandish stories. I took risks and didn't care because there weren't any stakes. Of course, I also had a crazy amount of free time as a child, so my imagination wasn't suffocated by real life bills/laundry/decisions. Even so, I wish I had a little more of that risky/artsy side now. Because, let's face it: I'm pretty much the opposite of risky/artsy.
  • I was really close with my family. I wrote often of my parents and brothers and trips we would take and things we would do together, even if it was just family dinner. Some things never change.
  • I liked school. And then one day I grew up and became a teacher. :)
I loved every minute of getting reacquainted with myself, triggering memories and people that I thought were lost. Hopefully some of them will show up here in the coming months. Until then, please keep writing. Even if you're not a writer, just write it all down. Because you won't remember, and one day you'll slow down enough to read a few things you jotted down on a tired day in July and you'll think, Really? That was me? That's what I thought and experienced? I had no idea.