“Become a Writer! It’ll Be Fun!” – They

“Become a Writer! It’ll Be Fun!” – They

Do you ever have one of those days where you know you have to do a bazillion other things, but you can’t think of a single one of them and all you want to do is something else.  That was me yesterday. Today, I seem to not want to do anything.

Yesterday I started story boarding on paper and writing things down for the new piece I have in mind. I’m really excited about that, though I need to start working on some short fiction as well before I let this thing run away with me.

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I call it storybooking – a cross between storyboarding and scrapbooking. I like doing arts and crafts on the floor in Robert Bell.

The Tower, is currently in a stage where I have to get things down on paper, but I haven’t started writing it yet. I let it sit for a few days and now I’m incubating the ideas some more, turning them, sitting on them, trying to decide exactly what I’m doing with them. It’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret about the writing process. The writing… isn’t even my favorite part.

I KNOW! That’s ridiculous!

I actually love the planning and revising more than I love the actual act of writing the story. Planning and revising are relaxing and fun.

In the planning stage I get to relax, look at pieces of what I might use. Order them online and have them delivered. Maybe jot down a few notes or sketch out a floor plan, no heavy lifting.

In revision I get to refine and detail and tidy up. I get to make the real  purpose of the piece shine through.

But the actual writing, that’s the rough part. Sure, there are days where you get into a rhythm and you just go at it until you don’t know where the day went, and those days are great, those are the days I live for in the writing phase. But most of the writing phase is taken up by grunt work and manual labour. It’s blood sweat and tears.

It kind of feels like having a tooth pulled if you didn’t have any kind of anesthetic. (Or so I imagine.)

Writing is painful and today I seem to be avoiding it. I’m nowhere near that stage with The Tower, but I can feel myself avoiding getting to that stage just by not working on the storyboard.

So why do I do it? Why do I write at all?

I write because I have to. I write because if I don’t I’ll go even more insane than I already am.

I don’t know what’s going on right now, but I can feel with every second that I don’t write, the depression and anger creeping back into my life. And that needs to stop.

Fake It Till You Make It

“Fake it till you make it.” was one of the favorite sayings of my band director from middle and high school. He used to tell us that when we couldn’t find or hit a note. Or if we were in the middle of a concert and we got lost. We were just supposed to fake it until we found our note/place. For me, faking could be playing improv until I figured it out or just pretending to play and sneaking looks at everyone else’s fingers to see what notes they were playing in what order and then try to count and see where we were. That’s really hard to do when you’re the only bass clarinet in the band for the moment. Also really hard when your playing tuba.

More and more lately I’ve found that this phrase applies to other places in life as well, not just in band/music. Work, school, driving, socializing and conversation, finances, and last but not least – writing. So basically, this phrase applies to life as a whole. Another variation I’ve heard is “Grind it till you find it.” in reference to manual shift cars. (Of which I might be looking for one in the near future.)

And that brings me to today’s topic. I have no clue what I’m doing. I’m not just speaking about writing and it isn’t a metaphor. I just don’t know what I’m doing, here on this blog, in college, with my writing, my reading, my life.

I was reading in 1 Samuel this morning for my devotions and I read the anointing of David and then the section right after where Saul calls David to court. What stuck with me today was that David was just a shepherd, the youngest of… I think eight brothers if I do my math right. He probably had no freaking clue what was going on when he was anointed by Samuel and then suddenly called to be one of the King’s armor bearers/music player. Yet, he went.

David was put in place by God to do great things.

I know nothing about what I’m doing. I don’t even know what’s happening in my life right now. Grad school? No grad school? Writing, no writing? I’m not even sure where I am with my faith these days. I’m probably one fo the most fickle people out there. I mean, even when I’m not actively seeking God, I’m trying to live the right way. But that’s not enough.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

This is the verse that sticks in my head more than any other. Because “fake it till you make it.” isn’t always the answer. But this… this verse applies to everything. Yesterday I talked about how I’ve lost my life to my art and how art is just a part of life, a support system. But here’s the thing. I don’t think that applies to faith. I don’t think Faith is a support system for life.

I think faith is supposed to be life.

This is my pledge to myself, to God, and to you. I’m going to seek God before I seek my art, and maybe, just maybe, in my art, God will come through.

I can fake it till I make it all I want, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it if I don’t start looking in the right places and with everything I have. Dedication is what I’ve gathered as a rule from successful people. And what is dedication if not giving one’s self over to something with one’s whole heart and being?

Quote of the Day #1

Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.
—Enid Bagnold

This Doesn’t Feel Like Life

Yesterday my best friend had a bottle of wine in her car and she ran over my foot.

Maybe I should clarify, she was not drinking said bottle, it was closed, and still has not been opened to my knowledge.

We started our day by her waking up at 7ish to go to work at 8, I woke at about 7:30ish after she left and got ready for work before going in at 9. I stopped at Dunkin donuts on the way for coffee. We both worked until 4 pm.

I should note that we both work at the same CVS pharmacy and I stay at her parents’ house on an air mattress in her bedroom. She got me the job after I figured out that on-campus jobs a) did not pay enough, and b) just weren’t enough activity for me… also I had problems at that last job that it would be unprofessional to go into.

Right after we got out of work we drove back to Muncie in separate cars because we had worked such different hours Friday and Saturday we couldn’t manage to carpool like a normal weekend. When we got back we drove directly to the overflow lot at Ball State where I park my Gramma’s car during the week.

My Gramma is awesome and lets me drive her car because I kind of need one to be able to do things like have a job off campus.

While I was transferring my things from my trunk to her car she somehow got it into her head that I was already in the car… I don’t understand because I was at the rear passenger door and not in the seat next to her. My foot happened to be next to the back wheel and she started moving to get out of another person’s way. I started yelling at her to stop, and stop she did… on my foot.

For what felt like an eternity and was probably less than a minute the car sat on my foot as I yelled at her, “It’s on my foot! Get it off! Back up!” and other phrases similar to that effect. And she stared at me as if she did not understand.

In my memory, she said something along the lines of “Well just pick it up.” or “Move your foot, then.” But now I’m pretty sure she didn’t say anything in reality… even if I remember her saying something.

Finally, I managed to look her in the eyes and say. “Reverse! Back up! You’re on my foot!” And then it dawned on her. You could see this little light flip on in her head and she reversed the car and was halfway between laughing and feeling really bad and apologizing.

The whole way to dinner at Panda Express she apologized, and I imagine tried not to laugh. I was a big baby about it, but a 4000# car kind of hurts when it’s on your foot so I think I had a right to be a bit of a baby. Nothing was broken, it’s not even bruised or swollen, but it was sore all last night and I can still feel the remnants of that particular pain.

Eventually, she bought my dinner to apologize for “running me over”. I decided not to argue because I just got over the flu. As a result, my last paycheck only had 8hrs on it. So enough for gas money, maybe.

After dinner, we went to the library and studied for 3-4 hours, till 10 pm. I finished reading the screenplay for Passengers, One of the more recent films that came out. I’ve seen the film so I didn’t mind reading for spoilers… and let me tell you this… no spoilers. The original story in the script was a way different ending.

But all of this is just a segway into what I really want to talk about today… I know, long segway.

I’m tired. No, that’s not because it’s Monday, and it’s not because it’s a positively dreary day outside and there’s rain pounding on the window while I have minimal lights on. I’m just tired. I’m depressed again, but I’m fighting it. I refuse to give in, easier said than done.

I’ve been talking about going to graduate school for library science and now, I’m not so sure… and that isn’t entirely the depression talking… or the nerves either as the application deadlines approach and I need to ask for recommendations from my professors.I kind of want to take a semester or even a full year off. I want to focus on my writing and maybe try to get a job with the degree I’m about to get in the beginning of May.

I kind of want to take a semester or even a full year off. I want to focus on my writing and maybe try to get a job with the degree I’m about to get in the beginning of May. My family originally told me not to take a year off after I graduated High School, and that was the correct course of action at the time. Now… I think it might be better for me and my goals if I took a semester or more off and decided for sure if I wanted to go into Library science, or if I wanted to continue my writing as my main focus.

Lord knows I haven’t been able to focus very much on my writing these last three years. If I have time I read and write for classes, not me. When I have free time I’m so frustrated with all my school work that I don’t want to read or write anymore. There are too many things going through my head from class for me to sort out what I want to do and what I have to do so I end up on Netflix or just sleeping. Sometimes I just sit at my friend’s apartment or in the library and surf the internet.

I feel guilty more often than not. I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t feel a drive to write, but a drive to get away from writing, to breathe.

Life isn’t a support system for art, it’s the other way around. – Stephen King

In my three years here at Ball State my art has become the one thing that is constantly being looked at. I’m being made to learn all these… really cool… things. I’m being given all these tools, but I’m not applying them the way they need to be applied. The art has become the focus and my life the secondary function of my existence. The demands of classes in my chosen form of art have made it that way.

I do have to add that this isn’t the fault of Ball State or the English Department. It’s not what my professors intended I think. But the way I scheduled things in my (successful) attempt to leave college within three years and with as little debt as possible, I managed to overload myself. I have so much art that I’m supposed to do that I don’t have enough life to go around. And I’m starting to really take this Stephen King quote to heart.

I have so much art that I’m supposed to do that I don’t have enough life to go around. And I’m starting to really take this Stephen King quote to heart. My life shouldn’t be my retreat from my art. Art should be my retreat from life so that I can live and be a moderately sane human being.

Just for this reason alone, I want to take some time off and live a little, let the art come as it will and support the ups and downs of life instead of life supporting my ability to create art.

As a result of all of these things, I’m going to be setting aside my current works in progress. All of them. What art I do for classes, I will do on my own terms. what art I do outside of class work will not be because I feel I have to because I’m a writer and that’s what writers do. What art I do will be because I can’t breathe without it. It has to be such a need that if I don’t do it I’ll go insane.

I’m going to read more outside of my class work.

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. simple as that. – Stephen King

Another Stephen King quote… and another extremely accurate quote. My professors would be proud of me for taking this one to heart. But they’d also be a little annoyed by what comes next… who know’s maybe they’re reading this now.

I’ve been reading so much for classes. I’m reading what they want me to read. I’m learning the tools they want me to have. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s good to have the benefit of being taught by people who wish they’d known these things when they were in your shoes… but I’m also getting the picture that this is the like the prime directive.

For Star Trek fans, you know what I’m talking about. The prime directive is the law set in place by the federation not to interfere with the development of other worlds who aren’t as advanced as they are. For instance, don’t give missiles to people who haven’t quite figured out the bow and arrow yet, they won’t know what to do with them and will probably go crazy with the power because they don’t know how they got it or how to use it.

In this situation, I feel like the person who doesn’t know how to get the bow and arrow to work properly. I’m being guided into learning the technology for missiles to work, and I’m using it… but I’m confused. It’s not a natural progression. I’m not learning through trial and error so much as I’m learning by “sink or swim”… and if I sink, I drown. That’s not a bad way to learn, but it’s also proving to be dangerous.

The farther I go, learning things that I didn’t progress to in a wholly organic way, the less in love with writing I am. That breaks my heart. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time. Even when I had brief flirtations with math, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and zoology (all in high school), I still wrote. I was always working on one story or another. A poem, when I was angry.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time. Even when I had brief flirtations with math, neuroscience, psychology, medicine, and zoology (all in high school), I still wrote. I was always working on one story or another. A poem, when I was angry. It’s who I am/was.

I need some time to figure out if that’s still who I am.

I want to read. I want to learn on my own for a while and see if this isn’t really where I want to go rather than into the library field. I want to see if I really even need Grad School.

I recently heard an author say that you don’t need an MFA to write, it just gives you time to write and permission to live the writer’s life… Maybe I’ll take that to heart too.

Right now… it feels like there’s a metaphorical car on my foot. I can’t get away and I can’t move it. I’m freaking out, and I’m way too calm for the situation. I’ll keep you updated on how that works.

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