Life in General

57525-painting-Alyssa_Monks-748x497

painting by Alyssa Monks

Inspiration. When I first started writing I looked for it everywhere. Sometimes, I still set out on a quest, searching. The problem is I never know what I’m searching for. Not until I find it.

The older I get, the less I rely on inspiration. I put all my energy on hard work.

Maybe when you’re younger you can’t hear how it’s really hard work that makes the difference. Maybe you’re not ready to hear it. Or maybe you already feel you’re doing all the hard work–with little to no reward.

Maybe I’m talking about myself.

That’s more than likely.

Yet here I am.

The interweaving roads I walk in this life can feel too great to accomplish at times, yet when I stare back, my footprints have been left on all of them.

Unrational fears are the first thing I create. I dismiss my factual proof and cling to reactions. Overreaction. Fear. All the different shades of the unwarranted emotion that clings to me like frizz to my hair on a humid day.

I’m knee deep in denial there is only one real path.

I’m really not in denial. I know there is only way path. It’s through. One foot in front of the other, never give up, ignore all the name calling and bullshit, on the path that leads to my goals.

Goals.

Do you have some? Any? None.

I have too many.

That’s a lie. I have one. People think I have many. People tell me what I should do with my life all the time. I listen. In one ear and out the other. I’m not lost. I’m quiet. I’m busy. Always plotting. Maybe it looks like I’m being lazy.

You can call me a lot of things. I’m not lazy.

Never been.

I should be lazier. It would be good for me. Not doing anything would be good for me. Not. Doing.

Stop.

In the darkness, there is a solace. In the silence, there are the loudest shouts ever heard. I hear it ALL DAY LONG. I hear it now. In the words, music, streets, in the people around me. They all say the same. They have a story.

I have a story.

We all are stories. One billion of them. No, more than a billion. A trillion. A quadrillion. Stories everywhere. Whispers on silent lips.

It’s hard work to hear them. To shuffling through. To find the right ones. They must fit better than custom-made kid gloves. Perfection in every fold.

And it circles around. It always circles around.

Pay attention.

Quitting is failure. Hard work is the key. There is one path, it’s lined with words, stories–quintillion stories–waiting for you to gently brush your fingers over, breath in, hold.

This is my life, in general. This is me.

I’m not lost. I’m dancing. I’ve always known the way. Just wait, you’ll see.

 

 

 

[this post brought to you by the inspiration from Alt-J’s album, “This is all Yours.”]

 

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Inspiration

Inspiration.

It keeps me awake at night. Trips me up when I’m working out. Distracts me from real life. It is a whisper in my ear telling me what it thinks I need to know. Its message,  a thousand gentle fingertips brushing over my skin, raising each hair in their wake.

Call it a muse.

Paint an image of a woman in a flowy dress or whatever you like, but make sure it warms you on chilled days, lifts you on dreary ones, and dances with you when the sun is out.

I will not call mine muse, it is more like a scent on a breeze. A sprinkle of confection sugar, sweet on the tongue.

Hidden thoughts woven in air.

An enigma, a ghost, a jolt to my psyche. Arriving without announcement, planting seeds intended to devour me. Each spiky root burrows deep, claiming, consuming until I have no choice but to float on its rhyme without reason. For it has none other than to ignite.

I suppose there are things worse than being consumed by ideas, stories, images. Like, not being consumed by anything at all. A blank page, blank mind, the drab vortex of nothingness.

But I have my inspiration. It came calling like a rogue wave, washing over me when I had my back turn, pulling me into its folds. It has claimed me, uncaring of all those other things I should be doing.

I bend at its will because when it planted those seeds it has also molded me into what I’ve become. Thus proving, life without inspiration can only be death.

Slave to Words

Let’s write something meaningful, shall we? This is one of the many things I think when I sit down to write. How meaningful is my WIP?

I like to pile on the stress. You know, because raising a son, running a household, and doing the other odd jobs I keep picking up isn’t hard enough. I need to add more and more and more and more to my plate. Until it breaks. Then I know I’m worthy! But then I break. And I beat myself up for failing.

Rewind. Start over.

Inside my head is where I do most of my talking about writing. Out in the real world, not the Japanese Garden inside my brain, I rarely talk about writing any more. Rarely, I make general comments, “Got up early and wrote today,” or “I think I’m going to ruin my main characters day,” but never more than a shallow puddle. Going into detail feels like signing a contract for automatic failure. Lucky for me, the longer I don’t bring it up, the less and less people ask me about writing. The less people ask, the less I have to say. And then my secret is safe.

I’ve come to the conclusion, if no one knows, and it doesn’t work out–then it never really happen. My own personal deniable plausibility clause. Granted, I doubt I’m using the term in the right context. Yet some how it still applies…

I wish I wasn’t a slave to words. That they didn’t own me and I could go about my day… But its not meant to be. At any given time I have at least six stories playing out in my head. I work very hard to put them in the place, but some are impatient and I’m easily distracted. Yesterday I picked out a pseudonym–because keeping one of me in check is so damn easy, I should try two!

Will I ever learn?? I doubt it. Especially at this time of year. It’s nearly spring. The LA Festival of Books is just a little over a month away.

Anyway, now I’m rambling. And rambling won’t get the laundry folded, dinner prepped, or the last twenty pages of my current WIP written. So, I’m off. And to all you out there who are also slaves to word, god speed. Don’t let them manhandle you. Because they will if you’re not paying attention.

 

The Blog Post

It’s so difficult for me to come on here and write. Not because I don’t want to, but because of life. I write and maintain another blog, one for a whole other branch of my life.

The more I do it, the harder it feels. Not because I don’t like it–I do. But this is what I’ve always wanted the most. Writing. It’s been my greatest love since I was seven years old. I married a writer. I gave birth to a writer… <- that is a 100% true statement. That kid, he loves to spin a good yarn. (and boy does he have the punishments to prove it.)

Does anyone else feel this way? Like, maintaining a blog is too much?

I use my spare time to work on my current WIP. I wake up at 5 am. I stay up late. I sneak in minutes here and there. I work out scenes in my head before I fall asleep, so they’re ready to go when I have my next second to sit in front of this here old computer.

The other bits of time are filled looking back at older, completed (and in dire need of a good edit) WIPs, or forward to a series I have plotted out in my head. Just like the idea of my first High School boyfriend, it’s all consuming.

And the blog is forgotten.

A land of crickets and mothballs. Cobwebs line the pages.

Yet, I want to do it! I want to have a weekly post, but the lists of “Inspirations for Writer’s Blog Posts” are about as inspiring as a cookbook from the 1970s.

How’s this for inspiring:

70s-dinner-party

In case you aren’t sure what I’m referring to ^^ that’s what I mean.

So, dear reader, please forgive me for not posting weekly, monthly, or at all. I have good intentions, much unlike the team at Betty Crocker when the staff thought, “You know what we should stuff? A head of iceberg lettuce! BRING ME THE PIMENTOS!”

“Don’t forget the olives for the fish eyes!!”

Lordy… I’m making a promise to myself to try harder. Maybe I can write about uninspired recipes from each decade? Or I can get back to working on my WIP…?

It’s not a tough decision.

Till next time…

A

 

Self-Ageism (stop it)

One of the hardest parts about growing up is coping with the number of years you’ve been alive. Ha! Okay, that sounds off, so let me explain better…

Take two: The most difficult part about growing older is dealing with and accepting the number limit we have (subconsciously of course) put on our lives. It’s the old, “By the time I’m 35 I’ll have 4 kids, a house in Hawaii, and have a billion dollars in the bank,” road block.

We set it firmly, then we watch the number approach and pass us. Then we pull out the jar of nutella and have a pity party. Because life may be a lot of things, mostly a hot mess, but it’s never predictable.

Best laid plans and all that… Let’s take me for example:

  • I’ve plotted out book I’ve never finished.
  • Written books I’ve never plotted.
  • Written full books and never edited them.
  • Edited books that should have been set on fire.
  • Written stupid things to agents in desperate moments.
  • Cried in my cereal whilst grasping my flash drive, begging it to explain why it’s contents is never ever ‘good enough’.
  • I’ve had my tarot cards read to show me exactly HOW I’d finally obtain the title of ‘author’ I so desperately want.
  • I’ve joined writing groups
  • I’ve quite writing groups
  • Made writing friend
  • Taken writing classes
  • Danced in the shadows of a solar eclipse while chanting, “Book Gods!! Hear my pleas!!”
  • Thrown handfuls of salt on my WIPs at dawn to keep all my characters on their path.
  • Left silver coins in the moonlight to collect the lunar wisdom before clutching them tights as I wrote a new scene
  • Used the same coin to do laundry, because clean socks are nice when you’re writing.
  • And I’ve even made up a list filled with utter lies about the extent I’m willing to go, in order to entice the books gods into finally giving me that “hells yes” response to a query letter–all before [insert age here,] and you know what?

My birthday still came an went. Know what else? I’M STILL HERE!

So, it’s easier to say, “Age is just a number” than it is to feel the damn sentence is true. But guess what? AGE IS JUST A NUMBER. Want to know what age you should stop trying at? Well I can’t tell you because I have no idea how old you’ll be when you die.

If you find something that makes your heart soar when you do it (for me writing, and well, eating) and you give it up because you’re [insert age here] years old…

power rangers dissapointed GIF

Yeah. The Power Rangers are flummoxed by this response. Don’t flummox the Power Ranges. They have enough on their plate.

And better yet… GO WRITE SOMETHINGS.

 

Zen in the Art of Writing

513bmaahpkl-_ac_ul320_sr210320_Can’t say I go out of my way to look for books on writing, these days at least, but this one sort of fell into my lap.

The other night, after finishing Jeff Smith’s, BONE, which I was reading for a elementary school Graphic Novel Book Club I’m leading, I began to swipe through the catalog available on Hoopla. (LA County Library grants access to Hoopla with your library card. Bonus books!)

It was late, and I needed to sleep–but wasn’t tired enough to go to bed. Actually, it was one of those night when I didn’t want to sleep, because I didn’t want it to be tomorrow. Has that ever happened to you? Anyway, I laying on the sofa, swiping through Hoopla’s ebook selection, and find… “Zen in the Art of Writing,” by the late, great Ray Bradbury.

At this moment, I’m about 1/2 way through. Yes, I should wait until I’m completely done to form a full opinion–but there was this one scene in there… this one moment that has stuck with me.

Bradbury is discussing how he enjoying keeping lists of nouns. These list have lead to titles like, “Something Wicked this way Comes,” or his short story, “The Dwarf.” He was remembering years ago, living in his parents house in Illinois, where the bathroom was on the second floor. Every night he would wake up from the need to use the bathroom, but to get there–he would have to climb the dark stairs up a level  in order to turn on the light to get to the bathroom in the first place.

Ray Bradbury hated it. On his list he added “The Thing,” because to him, something wicked lived at the top of those stairs and it was going to kill him.

Each night he’s lay in bed contemplating how long he could hold it. The he’d pull himself out of bed, climbs the stairs, only to fall back down–waking his parents in the process. His father would ignore him, and his mother would help him up, turn on the light, and kiss him on the head every night.

This only brought him more inspiration.

Sometimes it’s hard to see where ideas come from. Maybe you find them in a book you’re reading, or a show you’ve seen. Maybe it’s from a list, like Bradbury, or something you read in an old journal–something you forgotten.

As I said above, I never intended to read another book on writing–not right now. A ‘how-to’ to get my juices flowing–yet here I am. Pretty much the same way I found out where Ray Bradbury is buried–I didn’t go in search of him. His name wasn’t even mentioned when I was asked to take visiting family to see “where Marilyn’s grave is,” but there I was–standing over a plot so fresh there wasn’t a tombstone and the sod was still waiting to take hold.

“That’s Ray Bradbury’s grave,” a random person said, leaving me to stare at the earth.

It makes me wonder, maybe Ray Bradbury is my spirit writing guide? Or maybe I’ve been lucky enough to have not one, but two serendipitous moments that forced me to question his art.

I suppose that is the beauty of art, how non-conformed or predictable it is. Inspiration lies in myriad places, waiting for you to swipe to find them, fall down the stairs into their arms, or walk directly into their arms.

And as I struggle forward, at least I am still moving forward. And while I didn’t set out to find a book on writing, at least one that resonates with me dropped in my path. Signs are funny things–they’re pretty much whatever you decided them to be. So, maybe it is serendipitous. Why? Because I need it to be.

 

#5amWritersClub

I would be lying if I said that last year wasn’t difficult when it came to dealing with rejection with my writing world. After years of being “gung-ho” where I chant things like, “I’m learning!” and “This will make me a stronger writer!” the last string of rejections knocked the wind out of me.

I watched my writing partner flourish and grow.

I watched other writing friends move forward.

All while I sat around, silently pining. There is no worse critic than yourself, and I embraced this idea with both hands, my legs wrapped around its core, as I pressed my cheek into its damaging side.

But I also kept working, even at a snails pace. A short story here. A reworked idea there. Then… I found the #5amWritersClub.

Writing a novel is a thing of solitude. There is a reason Walden had a lake. There are many reasons artists of all walks–vanish. But it’s also good to find a place to be around people as well. I mean, how else will you have content? New characters to develop?

Even thought I don’t know these people personally (outside of my critique partner), one little ‘like’ propels me forward. One shiny red heart makes me try harder. It makes the solitude in writing a first draft so much easier.

This post is dedicated to them. Every single #5amWritersClub writer, I thank you. It is also dedicated to every single person who had a long string of rejections. Before you give up, ask yourself this: Do I really want to quit? Do I?

If you’re answer is no, then keep going.

 

Number 53

A common theme in blogs posts on my site is rejection. Like choosing a character’s name and plotting a general outline, rejection is another part of the path to becoming an author. It is also one of those bullet points that we, as writers, don’t really concentrate on–especially when you have just begun walking the writing path.

In the beginning, rejection letters are one of those things that happen to other people. You are not ‘other people,’ and know–for a fact–you’ll walk the path of JK Rowling and Dr. Seuss. After a small number of rejections (you know, from literary agents who didn’t know any better) you will find your agent. Then, of course, you will find your fame. (Or whatever it is you’re looking or at the end of that writing tunnel.)

Maybe fame isn’t your ultimate goal, but the one thing we all have in common is feeling we’re worthy of literary representation.

But then life happens. You pass the 12 rejections. You passed 27 of Dr. Seuss. And then what?

My last novel, and I’m not sure I should even call it that seeing it remains unpublished, is at 53 rejections. 53.

I read an article once claiming  you shouldn’t quit sending queries until 80, but let me tell you 53 stings in ways I never imagined. The longer I do this, write new stories and send them out to get rejected, the harder it becomes.

The small voice in the back of my head tells me to keep going, but heart isn’t so sure it’s worth the beating any more. I’d like to say, “you get used to it,” but I’m not sure that’s ever true. How can you ever get used to subtly being told you’re not good enough?

Maybe it’s time for a little break. I’m not sure… the only thing I can say is, if you’re a writer, thicken up your skin, and I really do hope you get the fastest acceptance ever.

happy writing–xxoo-a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Internet–a rant about out society

The internet. Oh, the internet… how it has changed things. It’s changed EVERYTHING, even if we want to turn a blind eye and pretend it hasn’t.

A decade ago, when I first half-heartily considered walking the path of a writer, the world was a different place. That really wasn’t that long ago… but here we are. Turned on our heads.

The saying used to be, “Everyone is a critic,” but now it should be, “Everyone thinks they’re an expert.”

This LOOK AT ME mentality isn’t helping anyone.

Yes, I want people to read my blog. Yes, I want an agent/publisher to be interested in my books–but I want them to be interested in my work. Insta-fame is overrate.

And this constant need for *instant* notoriety and gratification is deflating.

I loath the down side to the accessibility of information and communication. I despise how many people tag themselves an expert on one topic or another. If they are an actually–certified–expert, great job! But it’s the wannabes that make my blood boils.

Once, I followed a blog that claimed themselves a grammar king–and received numerous newsletter with grammatical errors. But said site has THOUSANDS of followers. Moo-train! Moo!!

~sigh~ Obviously this tangent isn’t solving any issues, but it sure feels great to vent.

Yes, there are people out there who are knowledgeable and are willing to lend a hand. But any more, I feel there are more people selling snake oil than actual information.

Everyone wants to be famous.

My son told me he wants to be famous. He said it with a glint in his eyes.

I told him to aim higher.

Oh, the damn internet. It is such a double edge sword. One hand you have actual information and facts, and the other–“Look at me! Look at me!”

More people should look at themselves. Maybe then we’d have quality–rather than pile upon piles of know-it-all’s with limited to know knowledge of anything.

The Lonely Writer (excuses)

My name is Aryn, and I’m a writer. (even though I may not have a book deal–I AM a writer.) And this is my Friday rant:

The Lonely Writer:

Talk to any writer and they’ll tell you how lonely it is. This is a fact, not a lie. Writing is a desert island. Sometimes it has to do with your muse. The only way to isolate the perfect ideas is to to sequester yourself from outside influences. (And I don’t mean you stop reading other books, or participating in general every day life. That’s crazy.)

Then there is the actual work. You don’t need (or want) a buddy pushing the keyboard buttons for you. Thus, again, alone. Fingers tapping on keys. Tap-a-tap-a-tap. In solitude.

Then editing… (editing is like literary plastic surgery. It puts you elbow deep in syntax and metaphors. E’s everywhere! Cover your eyes…)

But let’s not forget the other factor. After a while, non-writers really get tired of hearing your ramblings about your next “big idea.” I don’t know why… I mean, seriously, it’s genius! My ideas are brilliant!

Ah! funny….

Anyway, I have been “on a break” this past week. Trust me when I say, it’s me–not my writing. My writing is beautiful and kind–but I’ve drifted from it’s side. Now I feel more like my writings friend than a lover, which is a BIG issue. Not insurmountable, but that feeling is what led to this weeks hiatus.

Luckily, it’s not the total white noise of writers block. There are still some plot lines trickling it, but they’re all unrelated to my current WiP.

This is the curse of being a writer–besides feeling alone there are all the fake people in your head demanding you tell their story–NOW!

And suddenly I realize that I’m writing this blog post to justify my week off. HA! I may be alone in this, or maybe you feel the same–but I don’t regret the break. I needed my brain clear. I needed to be able to see the trees from the forest. And I needed to clean my house. It’s kinda gross… I mean, if I HAD friends and they stopped over, I’d be super duper embarrassed..

In the end:

Life is what you make of it–so is writing. And that means some times you need to stop what you’re doing to regroup, allowing you to move forward with all those plans. (and stories)

I hope you’re all well and enjoying a fantastic day, where ever you are. But most of all, I hope you’re listening to good music, embracing the life you have. Even if today is the day you look to excuses, let tomorrow lead to your truth.

Happy writing! xxoo-a