Tag Archives: New Beginnings

Starting fresh

I don’t know if it’s that I know tons of other people are doing the same thing during the month of November, or if it’s just sort of become a habit that’s hard to break, but National Novel Writing Month in November seems to be the constant kick in the pants I need to get writing.

I wish it would last through the rest of the year, but maybe being refreshed every November will someday lead to a more consistent writing schedule throughout the year. After all, I’ve been able to keep it up for a few months throughout the last few years…

This year I decided to finally write the satire fiction about an employee working in a bookstore. Except the bookstore has a unique service policy–be sassy, snarky, sarcastic, and irritate as many customers as possible.

This gives me a wealth of ideas to draw from when I’m feeling stuck, all I have to do is think of my own day at work, and I’m bound to come up with something. It’s a great outlet for all the responses I have to swallow to customer questions and comments like, “where’s the nonfiction section?” And “I’m looking for a book.”‘

My bookstore employees also get to do all the things people assume we do in my store–like make up prices, hide political books we don’t agree with, decide how to categorize books, and create company policy.

Right now, the story is basically a collection of made-up anecdotes, snapshots from a day in the life. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t have a huge overarching plot. And while it kind of bugs me, because who’s gonna want to read a whole novel like that? I’m also just letting it go. I’m writing. I’m having fun with it. It’s engaging me and helping me feel grounded and connected. And it’s pushing me to get involved a little in the local writing community.

So we’ll see what we end up with in three weeks. It may never see the light of day. It may just be a little something I share with other retail workers for a laugh. Maybe someday it’ll be published and popular.

Either way, the process doesn’t have to be perfect, just creative.

Setting new goals

I have a confession: I have a hard time making myself set aside time to write.

I love writing. I love uncovering the story, planning and outlining. But I have a hard time making myself sit down and put it on paper.

I think maybe in part because lately I’ve been using stories to process my life, which makes it less of an escape than I might be looking for.

It may also just be that I’m lazy, and writing is work. But I don’t want to think about that.

This week, I didn’t set aside a lot of time, just some stolen moments. This week my goal is to actually set aside time. At least two days this week, I’m going to sit for at least an hour and just write, see where the story goes.

I’m not doing a lot of planning or outlining. I’m trying the fly by the seat of my pants approach, to see if it taps into my creativity in a different way.

But, despite not getting as far as I wanted, I did make a start last week, and that’s what counts. Beginnings are hard. I always feel pressure to start with something incredible, but that never seems to happen. But I chose to dive right in, and the story is already compelling (to me).

So, here’s to this week and accomplishing goals.

Choosing life, choosing ideas

It’s strange to think it’s only been about two months since I last really engaged in writing. It seems like it’s been so much longer.

While I was trying to use writing as a ladder to climb my way out of some darkness, I really just sort of tumbled deeper in. I’m in a better headspace now, and each week I’m learning and growing more, and I’ve found myself actually wanting to start writing again.

I’ve been plotting out a couple of ideas at week, and I’m excited about both. I need to choose one to start writing, and this time I’m actually going to write until the story is done (a draft, at least. I’m trying to be realistic). I’ve found that I’m still very drawn to the same kinds of things I’ve been wrestling with myself–identity, purpose, feeling stuck and reckless, mental health. Both the ideas I have right now deal with a lot of these topics, but in quite different ways.

Idea no.1 is the story of a woman who essentially lives a double life. On the outside, she’s pretty outgoing and likes to party. But this is a persona she’s created because she thinks it’s who she needs to be to feel accepted. What people don’t see are the various ways she has to cope with the effects of living as someone she isn’t. Somehow, she will have to uncover and accept her true self, regardless of who others want her to be and build the life she wants.

Idea no.2 is almost a fleshing out of one of the short stories I published this summer, but with some significant changes. A young woman is feeling very stuck in her life, and impulsively volunteers to be part of a colonization mission to a nearby planet. Her boyfriend refuses to go with her, so she goes alone and finds that all the same problems–feeling stuck, feeling alone, lacking purpose and dreams–followed her through space. She’s forced to accept that in order to see real change, she has to take charge of her life, make choices and take action instead of letting life happen to her.

The common theme in both these ideas is that these women have to accept who they are and what their lives are in order to take charge and enact change (I’ve been learning a lot about this over the summer). These are stories of self-acceptance, strength, personal growth, and ultimately choosing life over existence.

The problem now is choosing which one to write first. When I get into the story of one, I think it’s surely the one I want to write… right up until I add some notes to the story of the other idea. Then I think surely that’s the one I want to write. So I’ll ask for a bit of input for you, my readers (let’s call it proof that you’re there, ok?): which story would you be most interested in?

Dabbling

I haven’t been writing a ton lately, still. I was off to a decent start this month, until I bought 22 books and got really excited to start plowing my way through them. Add to that the renewed job hunt (OK, so that’s been going on like two days. It’s mostly that I’ve worked a lot of closing shifts, which means I don’t do anything but sleep and read for an hour or two before work), and I’ve got a pile of excuses to roll my eyes at.

After dabbling in fan fiction a little, I’ve set that aside because it was feeding into my obsession and continued sadness that I’d finished my show without realizing (and I still have a few weeks before more is available). However, I did start a new little short story project.

It’s very short, and it’s very silly. But it’s about a girl who is introducing her boyfriend to her friends. He’s supposed to come over for a small get together to meet them. It’s not until he arrives that he finds out she was telling him about her favorite books (which all happen to have movies as well, that wasn’t exactly planned, it just sort of happened as I was trying to think of my favorite fiction characters who would be reasonably well-known by the general public). While he was looking forward to meeting these people who could give him an insiders look at his girlfriend, she’s playing a little joke on him. However, if you really think about it, the kind of people from fiction that someone would choose to name as their best friends really does say a lot about them. And if you read the books (or even watch the movies), keeping in mind that someone relates to these characters, you can still learn new things about the person.

I’m not sure what I’ll do once I wrap this up.

I’m kicking around the idea of starting something new. I feel a strong urge and desire to write my own weird, darkish story set in a Pacific North West town, full of rain and pine trees (confession: the show I’ve been obsessed with is Riverdale. I know it’s probably not even set in the PNW, but it feels like it could be. And, since I’ve run out of episodes, I’ve returned to watching Twin Peaks, because it’s weird and I love it). I’m not 100 percent what the story will be, and it’ll definitely be heavily influenced by my current obsessions, but right now I’m not worried about writing a debut novel that will get picked up by some publishing house and become an overnight success.

I’m trying to remind myself why I love writing. Why I identify myself as a writer. Why creativity is so important, and if it can’t be my job, why I want to make sure I have time and energy for it.

I’m really burned out right now. Doing much more than existing takes monumental effort some days. Some things are within my control to change, and some aren’t. And some things fall somewhere in between (like a job. I can apply, but I can’t make anyone hire me, or even interview me). So I have to find life and energy somewhere. I have to find a way to turn off when I leave work, and re-energize the rest of my life. It’s a struggle. A daily one. And it’s not going to go away any time soon. But if all I write is a few sentences a week, I’ll call it a success. And I’ll keep calling it a success so that I don’t allow myself to give up on something that I know I love.

Entering a new world

Lately I’ve been working on doing only one thing at a time. For example, if I’m watching TV, I’m trying not to be on my phone, or checking my phone while reading. And while I’ve only just started writing again, I’m definitely going to carve out specific time for it, without other distractions.

Most of last week was spent working on the beginnings of an outline for my newest project. It’s only partial, and not overly detailed, but it’s enough to start from.

Set in a dystopian world (which, I always thought I didn’t like, but, turns out it’s just specific kinds of dystopian stories I don’t like. Usually the predictable and boring ones.), society is broken into two groups: those who live in the cities, connected to technology through, essentially, virtual reality, and the fringe society who lives outside the cities, living off the land and as much without technology as possible. This fringe society generally believes themselves to be better than the city folk, who spend all their time creating fake worlds and fake identities to live in.

Aliyah (I think I’ve chosen this as her name. It’s what I’ve begun using, anyway) is part of the fringe society, and while she recognizes some truth in what her leaders say, she also finds herself discontent with the way they live, turning their backs on most advancements and help, because it isn’t done with a person’s own two hands.

She’s on the verge of being ostracized because of her love for books, and it’s this same love for books that causes her to cross paths with a city girl during a scavenging mission. This city girl (name unknown, at the moment) is also discontent (surprise!), finding it hard to have meaningful and genuine relationships in a virtual world where a person can recreate themselves at will. It’s impossible to know who anyone truly is. The two determine to find a middle ground, and try to make both halves of society recognize the benefits of the other, while also seeing the flaws in themselves.

 

When I started writing the first chapter, I was surprised at how much I wanted to lose myself in the world and in my writing (though it was hard because other stuff was going on in the background). I only wrote a couple paragraphs, but it was enough to help me remember what it feels like to get lost in creativity.

I know that as the days and weeks go on, it’ll be a challenge to make myself set aside specific time for just writing. It’ll be tempting to turn on the TV and pretend that I can watch something and write at the same time (I can’t, and I’ve always known I can’t. That’s why I used to pretend to study with the TV on during finals, because I felt obligated to study, but I knew I didn’t really need it.). But, as long as I keep making it a priority, even just 15 minutes in a day, I’ll hang on to that feeling of getting lost in this new world of my own creation. And that’s exactly what I’ve been missing lately. I’m glad to have that joy back.

A fresh beginning

So, obviously December didn’t really go as planned, as far as writing was concerned.

Work got in the way, and I was tired and desperate to watch as many Christmas movies as I could. January has been off to a slow start too. I hardly feel like I know what I’ve done with the last week, and get it’s gone, just the same.

But a slow start is better than nothing, and I will be intentional about returning to my editing, wrapping up the project I’ve been working on most of 2017 and choosing one of my other projects to return to.

While I’ve enjoyed a break to carelessly watch tv and soak in reading, I’m excited, too, to return to the creative process.

In the book review department, I’m hoping to meet at least the goal I met in 2017. My goal was to read 52 book, one per week. I think I had review blogs posted every week, but after counting, I know I read at least 55 books, because that’s how many I reviewed. Not bad, I’d say. (Some of the reviews won’t be posted on my blog until later in January, though.)

So, here’s to a new year full of creative opportunities. Join me in creating this year, and tell me what your project is going to be.