Kicking in the Wall: Day 7

Last week was a bit of a crazy week since I decided to take off to San Francisco on Thursday morning to attend the American Society of Journalists and Authors New Avenues conference on Friday and Saturday. It was definitely worth everything it took to get there. Got good information and leads and connections. Everything is about connections isn’t it? Sooo…..I pushed my creative writing to the back burner while I worked hard to take two days off and head to the Bay Area.

Day 7

Where do you live? In a house, in a town, in a dream? Be literal or not. Go with your first thought.

I live in my head. Yes, my eyes are open, taking in everything I see. Every detail, every word. Then they all go right into my brain for discussion, to be analyzed, to be dissected. Why does a person do what her or she does, what does it all mean. Why does our planet go round? Do aliens really exist? What if I had magical powers like the witches and wizards in Harry Potter? Does what any one of us do or say actually matter? What is the point of existence? Is God sitting up in the clouds having a laugh at how silly we all are? Or is his palm permanently affixed to his forehead, thinking, “What in the world did I do?” How does man make things that are not good for us out of the earth? Everything starts from the earth so how did we get all this waste that won’t break down? What is the real meaning behind it all? Does any of it really matter? Who’s going to care, or remember, or know in 50 years? 75? 100? 1,000? What will life be like in 1,000 years?

Kicking in the Wall: Day 6

I missed a whole week because of sickness. I felt completely off last week, especially since I didn’t workout or do my writing. I did work, but not as much as I wanted, but I’m finally feeling a bit better, so jumping back into my routine.

Kicking in the Wall: Day 6

Write about a time you tried to pay attention but couldn’t. You floated out of your head, or you fell asleep or you studied your fingernails. What was it you didn’t want to pay attention to? What was it you were avoiding? Or was boredom part of it?

I wonder if I’d look good with a bob? Syd thought studying the waitress’ golden blonde, cropped haircut. What if I added highlights to my dark brown hair? Is my hair too curly? Hmmm…it probably is.

“Are you listening to me, Syd,” Brian’s voice broke into my thoughts.

“Hmm? Yeah, sure,” Syd said, bringing her eyes back to Brian. He’s so boring, she thought. Why am I even here with him? “What were you saying again?”

“So, I was asking what you thought about the current status of our political system?” Brian said, leaning back ready to get into another long discussion. While Syd cares about politics and stays fairly up-to-date with what’s going on, she’s really tired of discussing it unendlessly with Brian. This is their fifth date and they haven’t really talked about themselves or other things they are interested in. For a while she kept up with the discussion, but now…she’s ready for a change in topic, or to go home and do anything else. Maybe gorge her eyes out with a spoon.

Syd sighs and then says, “I’m not totally happy with it, but who is? No one’s ever happy with how things are going. The best we can do is be educated and vote for what and who we think best represents us.”

That was good, she thinks as he launches into another long explanation of what he thinks. She doesn’t care what he has to say as he huffs and puffs and shows off how smart he is with his master’s in public policy from Syracuse University. This is the last date, she thinks looking at him with an interested smile pasted on her face, while her thoughts drift to what she’d rather be doing–snuggled in bed, alone, with the book she’s currently reading. Why do I even try dating when every date all I can think about is how I’d rather be reading? It’s not me, right? Maybe something is wrong with me, but why do all the men I like, that I find interesting, only like me as a friend and the men that are interested in me, I’d rather be washing my hair.

Kicking in the Wall: Day 5

Day 5

Write what your five senses are picking up right at this moment. Keep it simple. Write the specific details of sounds, touch, smell, taste and what you see. Five minutes

 

I close my eyes and hear the gentle strumming of a guitar, paired with a gentle voice. The calming sounds puts me a state of calm — something that doesn’t wash over me all that often. I forget all that I have to do and am engulfed in the warmth of the music. I wish for it go on forever. Behind the guitar is the slow brush of the standup bass. I can hear the bow gently being pushed and pulled over the strings. Every sound intentional. Every note on the guitar strumming at my heart, at my insides, telling me it will be OK. I barely even here the words, the music itself and the low hum of the voices enough to send me into a state of suspension. A lovely feeling when the normal state of being is going, going, going/doing, doing, doing. Working harder and faster, forgetting about just being.

The last note fades into nothing, leaving me feeling peaceful, but wistful to get those moments back. The next song, however, doesn’t disappoint. It puts me right back into that state of suspension, one in which I feel like I’m flying. No one can touch me. Everything is right in the world right now. It’s OK if I don’t finish that one project right now. The world won’t stop. No one will die. I can take a minute for me. Yes, that’s right, a minute for moi.

I breathe — I often forget to — inhaling the wonderful aroma of coffee. I love coffee, everything about it from the smell to the taste, but only untouched coffee, I don’t want to cover up the beautiful taste and feel of the coffee. I pick up my coffee mug — a wonderful spill proof cup that keeps my coffee hot for hours — and slowly tip the cup back to let a slow stream of hot coffee trickle into my mouth and down my throat. It calms me. I don’t drink coffee for the caffeine, but rather for the taste and feeling I get from drinking it. I don’t want the effect of drinking caffeine, so I drink decaf, which, to me, tastes just as good. Of course, the key is to get an organic bean that is water processed. Chemical processing changes the taste.

Kicking in the Wall: Day 4

This one was difficult….

Day 4

Write about a time you went into cold water — a lake, pool, shower or rain. Write about how your body reacted. Or write about the cold water as a metaphor. Time for five minutes.

That day everything changed. When I got the news, heard the words coming from the other end of the phone, I felt as though I had been plunged into a pool of ice water. My blood slowed, as though frozen. My limbs and fingers and toes unable to move. Everything seemed to move a turtle speed, almost at a standstill. My whole life changed with that one call, the cold dread washed over me, rendering me useless. I couldn’t move, I could tread water. I sunk to the bottom where I’d stay until the last breath left my body or someone rescued me.

Kicking in the Wall: Day 3

Day 3

Write three sentences. Any three sentences, they don’t even have to connect. Five minutes time

The day started as any other: gray and overcast. Why did she choose to live in the Pacific Northwest? She needs sun, lots and lots of sun. Walking down the street, she pulls her jacket in closer and pulls the strap around her middle tighter to keep the jacket closed since she can’t quite get the buttons to close, anymore. Try and try as she might, but the jacket gets smaller and smaller as each day passes. Another reason, she thinks, to live somewhere warm and sunny, she’ll fell less depressed–and cold–and eat less. Maybe. Just maybe that will work, but, she knows, she’ll never move anywhere that is warm and sunny. This is her home after all. She’s lived in Walton, Washington her whole life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. She did dream of the big city when she was a teen, and she did leave Walton to attend college in Seattle, but those four years proved that big city living just wasn’t for her. She was meant for a quieter, slower existence. So back to Walton she moved.

 

Kicking in the Wall: Day 2

Day 2

Write an intention, a new way to look at the wall that’s keeping you from writing, or a plan to ignore it and move on. Could wall also be giving you privacy and protection? Maybe you need to blast a hole in it or dynamite it to smithereens. Write for five minutes, about anything.

 

I’m not sure if I’m scared, or just so pressed to do everything–anything–else. Again, like exercise, if I don’t do it first thing in the morning, it most likely won’t happen. Not that I don’t want to do it, but trying to fit in those things around everything else really isn’t realistic. I remember the story–one I’ve both read online and heard at church–about putting the rocks, the most important things in your life first, then filling in the space with the next important things, the pebbles, then filling in with sand, there’s always room for sand among the rocks and pebbles and then adding in the less important stuff, the water. But if you were to start with the water, there’s no room for anything else.

I’ve always known this and have worked to keep this a reality, and have been relatively successful. I schedule in church on Sunday, activities for my daughter, but what about me and my goals? In the last couple of years, I’ve made exercise and healthy habits a priority–working out every weekend at 5 a.m. and preparing food from scratch. sometimes spending hours in the kitchen–but what about my goal to write a novel? I get so excited for it, and even managed to get 17,000 words into before I stopped and realized it was all crap. Yeah, it was all crap. But at least I got into and saw how much I can write if I set my mind to it. Problem is, once I realized it was crap, I had difficulty starting again. It’s there, the desire, and I have plenty of ideas. My flaw, I’ve come to realized, is that I don’t spend enough time planning the novel; I’ve always thought it’d just “come” to me. That it would flow out of me and that I didn’t need to plot or do an outline.

Well, that’s all bullocks. I need to write an outline–which scares me right there, I hate writing outlines and have always avoided them as much as possible. But I need to write an outline. I need to plot and develop my characters, BEFORE I start writing the novel. As much as I’m excited to discover my problem, I’m a little disappointed that it’s not the romanticized vision of sitting down and a book flowing from inside of me through my fingers, like magic, and just being the most incredible thing ever.

Like anything romanticized, it’s not realistic. Just another fantasy to add to my list of fantasies, so I guess I should write romantic fantasies, huh?

I’m breaking through this wall by practicing daily. Just like my daily exercise, I show up every day–every weekday, though since I don’t work out on the weekend, I want to replace that workout with a writing workout since I can do that early in the morning without even leaving the house–since the first step is showing up. I go to the gym every morning at 5, even when I have a whole list of reasons why I should just stay in bed. I go, glasses on–one of the only times I wear my glasses instead of contact–hair pulled back, the sleep still in my eyes. I sometimes even close my eyes to pretend I’m still in my warm, cozy bed as I’m doing crunches or bicycles–or “sicles” as my 5-year-old says. With my eyes closes, laying on the ground, it’s the same really, at least that’s what I tell myself.

When I entered the gym yesterday morning, Ted at the front desk gave me the task of coming up with the inspiration quote of the day. At 5:14 a.m., my brain was still asleep, so I told him I needed my workout to think of it. While lifting 50 pounds–25 in each hand–overhead, it came to me: “Take a tiny step every day, it will add up to a lot in a year.” That can be applied to anything. Anything at all. I’m applying it to my writing. I have to show up every day and do something. Take one tiny step.

(I wrote for 17 minutes today.)

Kicking in the Wall: Day 1

After two days at the Central Coast Writers’ Conference at Cuesta College, I’m ready to kick in the wall and write my first novel! I’ve been working as journalist for the last 11 years, but always had excuses for why I couldn’t. And I’d always think, “I’ll write when there’s time.” Of course, there never was any time. I would always be too tired, or too busy, or both. It was the same with exercise and I finally got it. I get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning and hit the gym. I do it every Monday through Friday. I kept trying to do that with me writing. Not that early; it’s easier to workout so early because I don’t actually have to use my brain. So instead, I’m doing an hour or so of writing/professional development (like writing this blog) first thing after I eat breakfast and get ready for the day, so I start at 7:30 a.m. After BRIEFLY scanning Facebook, might as well just address the elephant in the room, I open up “Kicking in the Wall” By Barbara Abercrombie (I’ve seen her several times at writers’ conferences) and read through the writing prompt of the day and then set the timer for five minutes and go. Today’s writing, Day 1, lasted for about 10 minutes. I’m ready for tomorrow’s! After I finish writing (and post it on this blog), I open up “Make a Scene” by Jordan Rosenfeld. I realized that my approach to writing — just going with the flow — isn’t working so I need to do something new. So that means more planning and writing an outline. I’ve always hated outlines and avoided them as much as possible. But here I am, realizing that’s probably exactly what I need.

 

Day 1

What is my wall? Describe it. (I’m doing zero editing on these exercises, just write and post, so give me a little latitude if there are mistakes…)

I stand, shoulders square, feet planted firmly in the ground, my hands hanging loosely at my sides, fingers slightly curled in. I’m ready for a battle. I stay at the wall in front of me, all the colors of the rainbow mixed in, showing me the possibilities. I’m ready to do this. Ready to tackle this wall, to do it. I take a step forward, look up to find the first hand-hold. I don’t want to see how tall it is, that will discourage me. Overwhelm me. I just want to take it one step at a time. Just one teeny, tiny step. I put in my earbuds, turn on my favorite music to drown out all the negatives. I can do this. Oh yes I can.

I rub my hands together to warm them up, then I reach my left arm up and a gloved hand meets for the first hand-hold. My right foot finds a foot-hold and I pull myself up. I do the same with the right hand and left foot and up I go. I don’t look down and I don’t look up, at least any further than the next notch to hold onto. I don’t know how long it will take, but I have faith that I will make it and that I have the ability to make it happen. I have been training and practicing, the only thing that will keep me from reaching my goal is me. There is always the chance of a challenge popping up here and there, maybe even pushing me back a bit, but I know that I am strong of enough to take a little setback and push on through.

I can do it. I can do it. I know I can.