Quote Monday

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I had felt this mental shift towards my writing. I suddenly felt this desperate need to get my work out into the world. Maybe it’s because I’m in a terribly monotonous, uninspiring kind of job, and at my age, I thought I’d be in a different place on so many levels. Maybe it’s because I feel another birthday looming on the horizon, and again, I thought my life would be different at this point.

I have long struggled to maintain focus and momentum where my writing has been concerned. I think this was a byproduct of my youth – thinking I had time. Another one – believing I had to be inspired to write.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, doing things in my own time. That’s why, after so many years of aimlessness, I think it finally clicked. I had to get here to know it’s not where I want to be.

I feel it. It’s different now. I’m different now.

After I pulled myself out of the mild depression I was experiencing from finishing one of my stories, I turned my attention to the troublesome 3rd Act of one of my screenplays that I have labored with many, many times. This is the act I didn’t know how to finish, for some reason have never known how to finish, but came to me during the quiet, meditative state I was in during one of my yoga practices recently.

It’s flowing, and I’m feeling satisfied with it, for the first time. Now that’s a feeling to relish.

So many things had to happen for this to come about. I had to meet a certain writer at AFF who gave me sound advice. But I had to be at a particular point in my life to be able to attend. And he had to be standing in front of me while waiting for our coffees so that I could be bold enough to speak with him – something I may not have been brave enough to do had I not taken the soul-sucking job that helped me develop certain skills.

I had to experience more of life because this isn’t a story I could have told in my twenties.

I had to realize that saying I’m a writer doesn’t mean as much as being a writer because it was just lip service for a long time because I was embarrassed about whatever job I had and it was a way of making myself sound better.

Some of this is for one particular story, but it all boils down to this:

I had to finally decide that my writing matters.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your forties to come to this realization, but as I mentioned, I’m a late bloomer. This is my journey, and goodness, has it been a long, rough ride at times. I think, for those of us who struggle, we just have to come to this conclusion for ourselves, and I believe much of this comes down to timing. No matter how many quotes your read or pin to your wall, or how many experts tell you the same thing, we have to make the decision, when we’re ready.

It’s a state of mind. It’s perspective.

Some people are fortunate to follow their path without much hesitation, while others have to find themselves in a low place, maybe even a place of desperation to discover if their passion, their art matters. However you come to the conclusion, I hope you grab it with both hands and run wild!

Best of Luck! And Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Art First

That’s it. That’s the quote.

For many of you, you know how I love my routine. I’ve talked about it a lot. It has to be tweaked every so often, given the circumstances, but with the current job, I’ve found a routine I enjoy, one that makes me feel productive and satisfied with my day.

I now wake up early to write. I know. I used to be the late night/middle of the night writer. I now wake up, make my cuppa and write for about an hour before doing yoga and heading off to work.

I even stick to the routine on my days off, and I’ll tell you why.

When you know you have time, you put it off. On your days off you think, “I should clean this or that first.” or “I’ve put this off all week so that should be the priority.” or ” I just want to sleep in and binge the new season of (insert title), then I’ll write.”

Nope.

The day gets away from you. There will always be a house project that needs doing. Bills to be paid. Shows to be watched. Books to be read.

Art first.

Last week, I planned on writing a blog before working on my story and I ended up spending the day scrolling through Pinterest. Like the whole day. In part because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to post, so I went into seek-out-content-idea mode. The other part, I didn’t feel good, so it was easy to sit on the couch, snuggled with my pups, and aimlessly scroll, but I didn’t work on my story, and I didn’t post anything. The day escaped me.

I’ve always read about these authors who would wake up early to write and I thought, “Well, that’s not going to happen. I’m not a morning person.” And now here I am. Offering the same advice.

Be creative first. Get it out of the way, so to speak, and start your day off knowing you’ve already done the one thing you wanted to do. Many of us have to endure day jobs that leave us uninspired, so feel better about your day knowing you began it by working toward your goal.

Obviously, find a routine that works for you. If your work hours don’t offer you such freedom, or your kids schedules conflict, etc. it’s not always easy to work around, but give yourself permission to be creative, to do something for yourself, even if it’s only ten minutes a day. It adds up, and you’ll feel a bit better knowing that you did.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I’m currently reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Stranger than Fiction and I came across this text in one of his nonfiction essays. Among stories about public sex acts and learning not to care what people think of you while dressed as a dog, I discovered this nugget that, truthfully, was the most startling thing I’ve read so far.

The worst part of writing fiction is the fear of wasting your life behind a keyboard. The idea that, dying, you’ll realize you only ever lived on paper. Your only adventures were make believe, and while the world fought and kissed, you sat in some dark room, masturbating and making money.

Chuck Palahniuk

Why did this unsettle me, you ask? Because until he said it, until I read it, I didn’t know this was something to worry about.

And then my mind spiraled.

I am a homebody, an introvert, a writer of sci-fi and fantasy. I know as a writer I have to get out and experience the world in order to have those things stored in the “bank of creative tidbits”, but honestly, sometimes I’d prefer not to make the effort, and I know that’s a shortcoming. I have plenty of interests to keep me occupied but if I only ever run in the same circle, I’ll never learn and grow, experience awe or displeasure. I’ll never be exposed to new ideas and new things by experiencing them firsthand.

It wasn’t until I read these words that I started to wonder about the subjects I’m drawn to and the stories that resonate with me – they’re lives I’ll never lead.

I’ll never be a woman with a mythological god as a best friend. I’ll never be the woman traipsing across the stars in an alien space ship in search of her sister. I’ll never be a spy. I’ll never save the world.

These are adventures I can only have on the page. They are unlikely, imaginary scenarios, and that’s why I write them, so I must be content with those adventures that are available to me, and as writers, we can’t forget that. We need to get out, we need to observe and feel so that we not only live, but can also create.

And maybe not worry that we’re living vicariously through our characters.

I may not be as daring as Chuck Palahniuk, willing to put myself at physical risk or in compromising situations to experience all the different facets of humanity, but I can make more of an effort to have a wider understanding of the world around me. We may not learn, see, and do everything we want – there’s so much more to explore than once person could ever do in a lifetime – but there’s no harm in at least attempting it.

That was my takeaway, at least – be more willing to get out (of the house).

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

As creatives, we give ourselves a hard time. Whether it’s in regards to our craft, our feelings of self worth, our motivations, or life in general, it takes a lot to maintain any sense of balance and feeling of positivity. Many of you may recall my idea last year to schedule my days so that life stuff didn’t interfere with writing stuff…yeah.

I had willingly quit a job, just months before the pandemic, and writing felt like a guilty pleasure. And that old adage really started to wear on me as time drew on – a real writer writes every day. I couldn’t. For months I was a dry well. All these writers kept posting things like, “We’ve been given all this extra time.” Blech. People were being productive, and it was making me feel even worse. There were more pressing matters to attend to, there was stress and worry, and my writing wasn’t paying the bills so…after suffering in that dry spell for far too long, I chose to try something new. I created a schedule.

My idea of how my week should look went something like this:

  • Monday – clean
  • Tuesdays – write
  • Wednesdays – Etsy shop
  • Thursdays – write
  • Fridays – explore other enjoyments: piano, sew, bake, etc.
  • Saturdays – write
  • Sunday – blog

As a gamer, having a list detailing my daily goals seemed like a good idea, in theory but in practice, I was trying to schedule my brain into thinking about writing only 3 days a week. I was expecting the muse to show up on this strange itinerary I had created and thought I would make great strides in progress?! It’s one thing to show up everyday even when you’re not inspired, it’s another to think you’re going to create magic/gold/award winning work on a limited timeline.

Also, I had been, and still am, in rewrite mode on all my scripts, so I had forgotten that not all days are actual, physical writing days. When you start a new project there are those imagining days, research days, character creation days, plotting days, naming things days, so when I saw this quote I found myself dumbstruck. How could I have forgotten something so simple?

Remembering this would have helped me to not be so hard on myself during that time in the desert, and that’s why I decided to share this tip today, for those of you who have found themselves similarly marooned. If you’re reading anything, if you’re taking personality quizzes as your characters, if you’re coming up with story lines, snippets of dialogue, and what-if scenarios, it’s all writing. Not every day requires words on paper (or screen).

Sometimes we need to explore other options to discover what works for us, and my schedule idea was an attempt at that. It didn’t work because I was expecting too much from a structure that was not ideal for creativity…and it compounded my negative feelings when I was already weighed down. Side note, it wasn’t like I wasn’t thinking about my writing every day, it’s not something I can ever escape, but I felt guilty when I was writing and when I wasn’t. What a vicious cycle we’re a part of.

Remember that this path we have chosen is already a difficult one, so be kind to yourselves. Try to be creative in some capacity everyday, but give yourself a break if you aren’t. Don’t feel guilty if you watch a movie, take a walk, skim Pinterest, or just stare out the window because you never know when inspiration will strike.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.

Quote of the Week

For many writers, myself included, we find, from time to time, that we may not be exactly where we hoped we’d be by a certain point in our lives. I made the discovery this morning that this winter it will be a particular number of years since I graduated from university. I had big dreams for my career as a writer, and yet here I am, all these years later, still working towards that goal.

I have family and friends who are supportive of this long held dream – I think a lot of it is surprise, at this point, that I’m still trying, so it’s no wonder that every now and again I think, “What the hell happened?”

I see these positivity messages that Vera Wang didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40, Julia Child wrote her first cookbook at 50, even Samuel L. Jackson was 43 when he landed his first major role in Jungle Fever as if all of this was meant to make me feel better that though I’m now closer to Julia’s age than Vera’s there’s still time.

And it’s hard not to compare to other’s who are finding success, especially when they’re younger, and yet, all of our journeys are different – their struggles, their life, their direction is not mine, not yours, and as long as our vision of the destination is clear, we’ll get there…in our own time.

So keep hacking away at that goal, little by little, because any amount of progress is progress.

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

In my last post I mentioned a sick pup. Something in our move to Washington State triggered an illness in him that has taken us nearly four weeks to resolve, and we’ve been here six. We were truly reconsidering the move at one point. I’ll write a separate post about this experience as he was diagnosed with something rare and other pet parents should be informed.

During these stressful weeks, our focus was only on him. What could we do for him? How could we make him more comfortable? It was hard to concentrate on anything else.

I am thankful for the job opportunity I’ve been given, but as his medical bills continue to rise, I’m already considering a change to cover the expenses. I couldn’t write, couldn’t read, didn’t have the attention span to watch anything with any sort of vested interest. All we could do was hold him and comfort him and wait for the vet to share with us the results of all the tests.

It has been hard to be positive.

Since the move my stress level has increased…beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before – and maybe it has because, in part, yoga has been relegated to the back burner for a while now. What did I do before I discovered yoga?

Being positive is a choice, but when life gets messy, it’s harder sometimes to remain so. When I saw this quote, which I saved weeks ago, I thought, “I need to change my perspective, but I can’t until I know my furkid is okay.” It’s not that I wasn’t “positive”, I had to be in order to reassure myself and The Sis that he would recover, it’s just that it was harder to find other things to be thankful for.

Hence the quote.

Sometimes we just need to get through the day and finding a moment, a silver lining makes all the difference. Maybe it’s something as simple as “you have your health” because right now, that’s actually a pretty big something. Maybe it’s that you have a job because, again, right now, that’s also a big something. Maybe they’re more personal or related to your writing, like you worked out that plot hole or you finished writing that difficult chapter. You started yoga again and are feeling better. As you start to consider the different aspects of your life, you’ll probably find a number of things to be positive about and those add up.

The world is (still) a mess, and those outside influences can definitely affect our outlook, so finding a thread of positivity is a necessity to keeping our sanity. Journaling is a great way to keep track of these, and if you’ve been struggling, I highly recommend trying it. A number of journaling prompts offer this specific practice, “what are you thankful for today”, to maintain a positive attitude and it’s an easy reference tool for when you’re feeling low.

And as writers, we’re often in our own worlds, struggling differently, often quietly. Knowing there are others, like us, out there can help lessen the burden, so if you have any tips for maintaining your positivity, please share them below and let’s help one another!

Take care! xx, Rach

Quote Monday

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across a number of articles related to the topic of when to consider giving up on your writing. Most of the titles were decisively click bait but I was intrigued that this was a common theme making the rounds.

It got me thinking about my writing and my shortcomings in regards to my career thus far.

I am now of a particular age in which my job prospects should be more of a priority. I am smart, educated, and capable of doing more than I am currently interested in doing but the thought of a “real” job makes me uncomfortable, in part, because I know that I would have to put those particular obligations above those I value more, because…paycheck.

I want to be a writer (or so I keep saying), and now that we’re settled in our new home in a new state and I have a (mediocre) job lined up, I’ve been able to write. For days. It has been an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction to see the words I’m thinking stream from my fingertips to the screen, especially in light of the barren wordless wasteland I found myself in until now.

I have not given my career a proper chance, and I still have passion, so the thought of giving up is not an option I’ve truly considered. Since reading some of those articles, I did think, “What would it take for me to give up writing?” and could not think of a single thing. I’d like to be considered a professional writer, and I know I would be disappointed should that never happen, but I don’t think I would or could ever give up writing all together.

And neither should you.

If you feel the same.

I’ve taken long breaks, which I always regret, but I perpetually feel the urge to want to write. It’s like a shadow, always lurking in the recesses of my mind, my fingers itching for the feel of the keys beneath them.

Most of the articles ended on a similar note.

Only we can hold ourselves responsible for the goals we set and reach. Only we are capable of writing in our own particular voice, and if we want to keep using our voice, then the thought of giving up shouldn’t even cross our minds because the alternative is silence. Stifling our creativity.

If you’ve been considering calling it quits, really think on it. Ask yourself if you would miss it. Try to remember what it is about writing that you enjoy. Maybe you don’t think you have anything to say – what topics compel you to want to act? Try your hand at a different style. Read.

If after all this you find that you don’t have the desire to continue, only then would I recommend taking a break but I would never suggest giving up. Maybe the passion has fizzled, but I believe if it once existed, it’s likely to return.

And don’t you want to know what happens next?

As a writer, the answer should be a resounding YES!

So should you need more of a pep talk, send me a message. If you have any words of wisdom to share with your fellow writers, please leave a comment below.

Good Luck & Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Hello from Washington!

It’s official. The Sis and I are now residents of the Evergreen State. For my own bad memory, I’ll post an overview of our journey to get here and that’s why this week’s quote struck me, in particular, as it’s about being brave.

I deeply struggled (for some time) with the decision to move. We weren’t happy in Las Vegas, the reason we had returned had run its course, but even thinking about taking the first step towards change left me with an anxiety I have not encountered before, and it made me wonder if growing older was making me more wary of taking risks.

Or was there something else?

I still haven’t discovered the truth of it but now we’re settled in our new place and I have to wonder what all the hoopla was about? Why was I afraid?

Our lives were put on hold for nearly a year, thanks, in part to Covid, but also because we kept delaying the move, thanks, in part to Covid. We couldn’t make a decision and by the end of the year I was so antsy I couldn’t take much more. I struggled to read, barely wrote a word, and just felt like I was in some sort of purgatory. Time is precious, something I’m definitely aware of, and yet I wasted and lost so much of it last year just waiting for change. A change I was fearful to make.

Huh?!

What I realized through all of this is I talk a big game. I talk about being brave and following your dreams, and while I did eventually make it happen, I let the fear consume and rule me for much longer than it ever should have. We get comfortable in what we know, regardless of its negative effects. Change is scary. It’s the unknown.

The possibility of new beginnings and new adventures should outweigh the reluctance at taking advantage of those opportunities. So take it from me, embrace the excitement that comes from change. Don’t dwell on the uncertainties because as they say, “the only constant is change” and the worry will wreak havoc with your mental and physical well-being.

If you’re wavering on the precipice of your own new endeavor and need a reassuring word, feel free to drop me a line.

xx, Rach