Trigger I live in Texas- Day 6 #500wordsaday

May 27, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

So I’m from and currently live in Texas. Often this is a good thing. My family lives here, there is BBQ and Tex-Mex a plenty, margaritas galore, and I guess that’s it. Depending on your criteria, that might be all you need. Oh yeah, and compared to living in Manhattan for two years this place borderlines on free.

However, Texas is wont to pass abhorrent legislative measures that perpetuate the thought that Texas is filled with white men who hate everyone who isn’t also a white man. One of the reasons I left Texas nine years ago was that they passed a gay marriage ban. I had a not great boyfriend at the time who disgustedly said to me “your family is probably going to vote against the ban, aren’t they?” Uh yeah, dude. Duh.

Then a couple of years ago, you may remember a then unknown senator Wendy Davis who filibustered SB5, which was a law to ban abortion after 20 weeks and require abortion centers to adhere to the same standards as fucking hospitals. This too was eventually signed into law.

And Monday, our good friends at the Capitol, just a few miles from where I am sitting, passed a bill through that would make it virtually impossible for underage girls to get an abortion without parental consent. Their reasoning, parents have a right to their daughters bodies? Ho-kay.

I know a lot of people don’t agree with me. And don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an abortion debate. I think my thoughts are clear and that’s how I’ll leave it. Where I am troubled is that I love living here. Mostly because of the reasons I mentioned above. But it makes me really angry when the people I don’t vote for the people I do vote for can’t get elected because of INSANE redistricting— pass laws that take away what I and many others believe to be unalienable rights. Marrying whoever you want and getting to make whatever choice you deem is best for your body. It’s not like anyone is asking for a free pass for murder. Oh, wait, we have the death penalty here! Score!

So what are people like me supposed to do? The state song is “Texas Our Texas”. But whose Texas? Certainly not mine. I get angry and threaten to leave again. I think to myself, there must be better options where there are more like-minded people. Right? Another lyric in the song states “Texas, dear Texas! From tyrant grip now free,” but who feels free here? Our Governor said that the plastic bag ban that we passed in Austin was an assault on Texans’ freedom. I’m just going to leave that there.

When Wendy Davis was standing on her feet for 13 hours straight, men and women descended on the Capitol in droves in support. It didn’t matter. Voices were heard, yes, People around the world were sort of made aware that we aren’t all like the lawmakers trying to govern women’s bodies. We vote, though it’s mostly an exercise in futility, we advocate to the best of our abilities. Maybe someday, it will be better. LGBTQ and women will have more claim on their own lives and bodies. Maybe. There has to be hope. Because without it, we perish.

I couldn’t think of the turn of phrase “exercise in futility”. It’s early and I haven’t eaten. I asked my mom this:

What is the word for when you do something out of habit or necessity even though it won’t make a difference? Like voting Democrat in Texas?

Her response: Um…integrity?

That’s why I stay I guess.

Zzzzzz-Day 5 #500wordsaday

May 26, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I really don’t know what to write about today. I’m really tired. For the second night in a row I’ve woken obscenely early and not been able to fall asleep. And no, not like 6am. Today it was 4am. Yesterday I was awake between 2:30 and almost 5am. I normally have sleep problems so this isn’t too terribly rare. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. I’ve tried a lot of things to help me sleep. A mini-yoga practice before I get into bed, spraying a lavender-water mixture over my pillow and blankets (allegedly it helps you sleep 10% better), white noise, OTC sleeping pills, crying. Melatonin gives me psychotic dreams, Valerian Root makes me feel stoned the better part of the next morning, and Nyquil makes me groggy. And also kind of stoned. Basically, I’m just a bad sleeper and barring some type of prescription meds or something else totally unknown to me (which I’m sure is plenty), I don’t know if I’ll ever really sleep well. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve slept through the night. Like, put my head down on the pillow and then woken up at a reasonable hour. Say, 9am.

To top all of this off, I’m not a morning person. I am, in fact, quite cranky in the mornings. I’m on of those people who gets out of bed, pees, puts on robe, and walks to the coffee machine. There is no dilly-dallying in between bed and the coffee machine. My husband is somewhat of a morning person. This makes for an interesting experiment in the mornings.

Him: Hey! I’ve been thinking about stream-lining all of our bill paying by switching to this new bank that has great user-interface and an easy to use phone app! I can’t wait to talk to you about it!

Me: (crying noises and writhing from a puddle on the floor while shooting death curses out of my fingers)

Him: OK, fine. We can talk about this later I guess.

I love coffee. I started drinking it for the caffeine. This correlated with turning 21 and having unlimited access to alcohol. Also, it was the first time living by myself and it seemed like the right thing to do. I bought a red Kitchen Aid at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and declared myself an adult. When I first started, I added milk and Splenda. Gross, I know. But I needed help diluting down the intense flavor of my Folgers.

After I started dating my now husband, I dropped the Splenda but kept the milk. Weird, I know. Plus, we upgraded to Trader Joe’s coffee. He had a French Press. I remember the first morning I woke up at his place and I had to wait, like, 20 minutes for a cup of coffee.

Him: Look at how easy! You just push down on the plunger and it makes two perfectly sized cups of coffee!

Me: So we have to do this again in five minutes for my next cup of coffee?

Him: Yeah! It’s SO easy!

A couple years after that I started drinking it with cream. Plus, we upgraded to Intelligentsia coffee. These were both a real revelation to me. One, the cream actually changed the texture of my coffee. It went from hot, acidic water to velvety and hot acidic water. It was quite a difference.

Finally, after going on this crazy and stupid diet, I dropped all additives and drink my coffee neat. Plus, we downgraded to Starbucks. Our grinder broke and we’ve been too cheap and lazy to get a new one. We use a Keurig so I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.

PW-Day Four #500wordsaday

May 25, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I have a hard time knowing when enough is enough. This is particularly true when it comes to drinking and eating. I’m not an alcoholic by any stretch of the imagination. I just really like wine. Like a lot. I also really like chocolate. And come to think of it, I also like complaining so I think that makes me a stereotypical woman.

I don’t like stereotypes. They tend to be a lazy way of describing a person. It’s easier to attribute a certain characteristic to race, creed, sexual orientation, or gender rather than saying “Oh that Jane, she’s just so JANE!” Always drinking her wine, hungrily looking for someone to aggressively debate her political and social views or overshare information no one needs to know while shoving chocolate in her face and regretting how little exercise she’s gotten this week.  That would be an accurate picture of Jane. Jane. Not me.

But whatever application it is, is never the whole picture. I admit, I’m a very judgmental person. I’m also a little OCD so I like for things to make sense and fit neatly into tiny boxes where they may further be analyzed along side similar types. When New Years comes along each year, it’s like “ugh, this again?” and “great, now I get to remember how I did zero of my resolutions and am basically the same shitty person I was last year.” Anyway. I always make a resolution to be less of an asshole. To really try to walk in someone else’s shoes and basically back the fuck off all of the assumptions I make about people. Some days I’m better than others but I guess that’s they point. Attempt. I attempt to be more compassionate and kind to other people.

Now. When it comes to myself, I never make any type of resolution to be kinder or less judgey about my own self/life/decisions/choices. I’m chomping at the bit to dismantle any semblance of dignity I thought I had. You think that putrid, steamy pile of words you vomitted out was good? You made your kid spaghetti? Again? When was the last time you exfoliated?

That I can recall each of the abuses I hurl at myself on a regular basis is a testament to how easy it is to tear myself down. THis is a regular topic in therapy.

This isn’t to say that it’s unimportant to want to be better to others. To think how how the millions of people inhabiting the same time and space that I am deserve to be treated with respect. But my issue is that I don’t lump myself into the group of “others”.

I read this book called How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. Not only did they have tips on how to dress, be mysterious, cook and drink with ease for your regularly scheduled Saturday dinner parties, the authors also offered up many aphorisms to help you better resemble the Parisian Woman (PW). The one that stuck with me and has become somewhat of a hashtag within my family is “prioritize yourself”.

What does that even mean? Do what’s best for me first? Like before everyone else? What does that even look like? If we all put ourselves first, how will others be taken care of? Maybe it’s like trickle down economics. As in, if we all take care of ourselves first, hakuna matata? That sounds nice but…

This innate ability to self-hate may seem contradictory to my vanity I described yesterday. But you know what? One of the other paths to emulating the PW is to be contradictory. So I’ll continue to keep you guessing. I’m vain enough to think you remember what I wrote yesterday, but also self-depreciating enough to remind you in case you didn’t.

These are some words that I wrote-Day 3 #500wordsaday

May 24, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I don’t think I’m shallow. But I often spend an inordinate amount of time looking at myself in the mirror. Even before I go teach a yoga class. I have to make sure my ponytail is just the right amount of off-center, my top bun the perfect combination of mess and put-togetherness, or my side braid is laying nicely over my collar bone. My hair is weird. It’s neither curly nor straight, but it’s more than wavy. One out of maybe every 30 days I can do zero to no styling. Otherwise it’s commitment to a round brush and blowdryer or one of the aforementioned “up” styles.

You may be thinking to yourself the very nature of this piece does indicate a moderate level of shallowness. I wouldn’t disagree. Partly it’s because I care how I look, but mostly it’s because I want to be taken seriously. When I go out in the wild—a rare thing for this stay at home mama/writer lady—wearing yoga pants, a t-shirt and disheveled hair would perpetuate a myth that stay at home mom’s don’t give a shit. In fact, some may not. I don’t know. I don’t know many other mothers because, as I said, I don’t go out much.

For many years, I worked in the beauty industry. I entered beauty school after high school, worked in several salons, and managed a beauty school in San Francisco. My job was to look as awesome as possible at all times. That’s how I was taken seriously. And from my experience, there is merit in wearing clothes that fit well and make you feel like Howard Dean speaking to Iowans in 2008.

Some of that mind-set has bled into my life as woman who sits in chair “writing”, not “reading Twitter and Jezebel” as some may claim. I met my therapist while I was living in New York. (Have you ever read a more stereotypical sentence?) Anyway, when I moved back to Texas we decided that she and I would continue our work through FaceTime. (Thanks Apple!) About fifteen minutes before my session starts, I boot up my FaceTime, see how bad or good I look and then go fix whatever needs to be fixed. This comes more from my not wanting her to be concerned if I look like death rather than getting her to take me seriously. And this leads me to my final point.

I’m a bad speller. My gratitude for spell-check cannot be expressed with words alone. We’re intimate. But even still, I’ll occasionally misspell a word so abominably spell-check can’t help me because it has no fucking idea what I’m trying to say. It’s embarrassing.

When I journal–since I’m writing by hand and there is is no spell check–I always make a note next to words I can’t spell. Like, ha ha! how do you spell that?! You know, for posterity. Sometimes I worry that being terrible at spelling will exclude me from becoming a real adult. Because unfortunately, coupled with my bad spelling, I have the handwriting of a fifth grader. At best. Whenever anyone has to read anything I’ve written manually, they move the paper back and forth slowly as if that will help bring my scrawl into focus. So maybe my notes for the future people reading my scintillating journal entries aren’t necessary.

The final point being, I’ve been to enough therapists that I should be able to spell psychologist with my eyes closed. That time I did! Just now! It won’t happen again.

More on Writing-Day Two #500wordsaday

May 23, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I wrote a novel in 2013. It was a detective/crime fiction/whodunnit. I figured I was qualified because I have seen every episode of Law and Order at least three times. Regular, not one of the spin-offs. Though I admit, I’ve seen like a million of those, too. The novel basically spilled out of me and I was convinced I had written the next Great American Commercial Fiction Detective Though Everyone Should Read It Novel. Take that Franzen.

With all due respect to the novel I wrote, I sometimes feel like it’s a noose around my neck. I can’t let it go but I also can’t seem to give it the sparkle it so desperately needs. So I thought about it and journaled about it. A lot. Way more than actually been working on the damn book.

One of the questions I’d pondered at length was what do I like to read? What are the books I’ve read recently that have resonated with me and inspired me to spring forth and write? I started making a list on a sheet of paper on my desk (I got a desk!) and it got too long so I had to stop. It was by no means an exhaustive or even all inclusive list, but some of the heavy hitters that make me feel. Right now I’m really into Joan Didion and Juno Díaz and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

Anyway. It turns out, it wasn’t very good. I wasn’t exactly devastated, more I was shocked. For whatever reason, I really got it in to my head that I was onto something brilliant. After realizing I had not in fact written the next GACFDTESRIN (see above) I did what was recommended. I stopped writing immediately and pretended that book that could not be named hadn’t happened.

And yet.

I thought about it all the time. What I could do differently, ways to reshape the story. Maybe make the main character a dog or a drag queen or the daughter of Burning Man going, off the grid parents. (That last thing might work.) I started reading anything I could get my hands on. You may notice none of the names listed above write crime fiction. At least not that I’m aware of. If they do, please PM me.

Huh, I thought. I should probably read some of my genre if I ever hope to resuscitate my book. So I picked up a few thrillers. I liked them. They were page turners. But they didn’t evoke anything more than “hey, I liked that book!” Not like Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I for real almost packed up my Lululemon backpack to go hiking on the nearest trail. I was living in Manhattan at the time, so I just ended up taking the dog for a walk. But you know what I mean.

When I read I want to feel the words. I want to be inspired off my ass. At least as far as around the block.

Celebrate-Day One of #500WordsADay

May 22, 2015

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing challenge. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and check out the Facebook Group.

I’m addicted to personality tests, career matching tests, and how-should-I-be-spending-all-of-my-time tests. If that was a career, I would be very good at it. Well, maybe not good, but committed at least.

I don’t know if it’s good or bad that they all more or less say the same thing. I won’t bore you with the test results, they aren’t fascinating or groundbreaking. More like a reinforcement of what I know to be true about myself. So why keep taking the tests? Why not do the things it says I should be doing? Does it stem from a dark place that needs constant validation that I’m making the right choices?

I liken it to a typical ritual of mine to stand in front of the pantry willing the junk food in there to be healthier and more satisfying. It’s gratifying in a sick way to gaze over all the items I shouldn’t eat. Each bag of goldfish, pretzels, box of cereal cries out to me, “Pick me! Pick me!” I try not to, but sometimes I’m weak. Behind me is a big metal box called a fridge that is home to a bounty of fresh food. Only I have to make that food. I have to select ingredients, weigh their flavors and potential contribution, and then I have to construct a meal. It’s harder, difficult, though ultimately more satisfying and healthy. What does it say about me that I am constantly seeking the easy way out of things? What’s the fastest route to the store, who can I hire to run all of my errands, how can my floors be mopped and my laundry be folded without my actual help but without robots? I don’t like robots. They scare me.

Once, I accidentally hit the wrong answer to one of those tests and I got a different result. I had to retake the entire test just to make sure I hadn’t changed without noticing. I hadn’t. Sidenote, I should look in to OCD symptoms and what to do about them.

Sometimes I worry that I spend too much time trying to put a name to who I am and too little time actually discovering who I am. Like, does it matter how thoroughly I know that I’m a feeler, an introvert, creative? It was really hard to type creative out. I’m also not big on complimenting myself.  Shouldn’t I be spending more time actually creating? Or introverting?

Back to the food analogy. I want things to be easy. Not because I’m lazy, but because, well isn’t easy better? Doesn’t it make more sense for things to be as simple as possible? In some cases sure. It’s funny. Sometimes I make simple things excruciatingly difficult and hard things as easy as opening a bottle of wine at 3pm on a Wednesday! Voila!

I read this thing recently that really resonated with me. It was “Sometimes you have to work at shit. All the shit.” Pretty powerful, isn’t it? I admit, that was from my journal. So maybe, in some way, I am aware that certain parts of life require actual work. They aren’t easy because if they were easy they might be sucky and devoid of any real value. I’m trying to celebrate my victories, embrace my setbacks and incorporate both into making something good. Not sucky.

The Bottom Before the Top

March 5, 2015

The bad news is, making time for one thing mean something else has to be left behind or forgotten completely. This may be news to you, but there are only so many hours in the day. And one can only do so many things in the too few 24 hours we are given. When I first started writing this, I thought it was going to turn in to a zen-like think-piece on how we all just need to slow down and appreciate shit. But for real, I can only do so much whilst staying insane. That wasn’t a typo.
I’m not saying being crazy is a life goal or anything. Being less stressed is something I definitely aspire to, but I don’t mind the idea of being somewhat…off. If I wanted to be normal I could be. I think I’ve made enough decisions to indicate I steer away from normal and gravitate toward something else. Insert gif of Seinfeld shouting, “not that there’s anything wrong with that!” That being normal.
Being normal has its appeal. It seems easy. Is it? I don’t know. Perhaps more stable, predictable. Those things I like. Fluctuation and the unknown aren’t my favorite, so I can see why people would choose a lifestyle that helps decrease both. I can’t seem to do that for some reason. Writing is perhaps the poster-child of stepping into the unsure. There are no guarantees. You can work for years and no one may ever read, let alone pay for, your work. Yoga is similar. You can be passionate, capable, and amazing. None of that means you can make a living on teaching. These are careers—that doesn’t seem like the right word, way of life maybe?—that require something else. And I’m not talking about the freedom to decide your schedule and having to file 1099s. That is just an added bonus.
No. What I’m talking about is the oft heard phrase, “I really couldn’t see myself doing anything else.” I mean if I had to, sure. But I’m fortunate at this stage that I get to try to do things. I get frustrated with both at times for their ROI. I admit it. And I don’t even get paid for writing. (I know, right?)
This brings me back to my initial point, and something I’ve mentioned before. I don’t have a ton of free time. I’ve decided to put more of an emphasis on writing. I want to take it more seriously. That means other things fall to the wayside. This is a sad truth that cannot be avoided. Before, I would chide and berate myself for not doing more, more, more. As if raising a kid and everyone making through they day unscathed wasn’t enough. But I don’t want to do that anymore. It would just add another thing to my to-do list. And frankly, I’m all tapped out. I don’t really like to half-ass things, but that’s what I tend to do when I attempt to cram everything in. Or I just quit.
But enough whining. I went to my writing group on Monday and brought a section from my novel. My dear, dear novel I refuse to let die. Most of the remarks and comments were positive, which inflates my ego and adds to my delusions. I think I feed off of both. But there was also that look in their collective eye of wondering where it was all going to lead. “I loved your first chapter,” they said, “but in this one, the story seems to fall a little flat.” GOD DAMNIT.
Since writing the darn thing in November of 2013, I keep telling myself that the story, the STORY, is my main character. Without her, there is nothing. Without her, there is no hope. Now is when this post is going to turn into a navel-gazing, new-agey reflection. I don’t have a story. I mean I do, everyone does. But I don’t know how to string all of my life experiences, failures, successes, and deviations into a fluid and consistent narrative. It all feels so segregated. Which is silly because I have most certainly been there front and center for each and every joyful moment and each and every heart-wrenching blow. Yet there is disconnect. So how can I expect to create something cohesive for someone else when I can’t even do that for myself? Even if I am making it all up? It’s almost harder this way. So I just have to keep writing. That’s they only way it will happen.


March 2, 2015

Journaling is awesome. And hard. My mother has a dresser drawer full of her old journals and her mother has entire bookcase dedicated to them. I kept diaries when I was little. They said things like “OHMYGOD Jordan totally kicked me at the playground. He’s so mean. Hopefully we’ll hold hands later.” Or “I like juice.” That’s real life, y’all.
Several years ago I was introduced to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In it, she recommends a few things to help break down internal barriers to get in touch with your inner artist. The one I most closely associated with was the morning pages. This is where you sit down, ideally right after waking, and vomit in your diary. This is a gross simplification but that’s basically what you do. Whatever comes into your brain, you put on the page. She recommends three pages, about thirty minutes of writing. Hopefully your inner demons and critics come out and you rid yourself of them to make room for creation. Three-page-days are rare for me. I mostly stick to two. I won’t say that they’ve cured me of anything. I won’t even say I’ve sufficiently broken down any barriers. Since beginning “serious” journaling almost six years ago, I haven’t even been able to stick to it regularly. I’m only on my third journal in my adult life! The journal from my 19th year on this blessed Earth was so outrageously sad that I threw it away. I regret that now.
But in the past few months, during this period of deep reflection, I’ve been writing nearly everyday. It has to happen with a few minutes of getting out of bed or it won’t happen at all. And I have to have started drinking coffee or nothing would happen ever. I admit, writing my thoughts, observations, questionable decisions down have helped keep me sane. My inner bitch stays somewhat rational and a few interesting ideas have cropped up.
When I started developing the idea for this project I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. I’m not even sure what I was expecting. Miracles maybe? I think I’ve made it clear that I like it best when things are easy. The thought of combining my morning pages and writing seriously every day contributed to my delusion that greatness was around the corner. That I haven’t broken through and written a stunningly compelling novel in the last few days, while disappointing, shouldn’t be surprising. But I am surprised. What’s up with that? Why is it so hard for me to keep my expectations in check? OK, maybe I didn’t expect to pen (type) the next Great American Novel. But I was hoping for a little more insight.
I read an interview with a successful agent that got me thinking. In it, he talks of a client who spent ten years writing his novel. I think Donna Tartt spent at least that writing The Goldfinch, for which she won the Pulitzer. There have sadly been zero indications that I have innate genius bubbling beneath the surface, begging to be released. I guess that’s fine. And also perhaps the point. One of my greatest challenges is that I have trouble committing to almost everything. It’s more of a revelation when I see something through. Wow, I’ll think, I finished something! (See The Goldfinch.)
I didn’t even get past the first part of Julia Cameron’s book. I got to the end of the morning pages section and was like, finally! A cure for what ails me.
My husband on the other hand has an uncanny dedication to things. A little over a month ago he started this diet that requires complete elimination of dairy, refined carbs, and joy. If you like eating protein and vegetables at every meal then this is the diet for you. If you think butter takes away from the integrity of broccoli and green beans or does nothing for steak, this diet is for you. And finally, if you like home cooking every. single. meal. This diet is for you. Apparently, my husband doesn’t mind all of this. He has stuck to it, rigorously. Most times, I watch in stunned silence. It’s fascinating! He decided on his own to do something hard and is doing it. Other times I grumble at my healthy plate of food that I didn’t have to cook.
So, yeah. This project has no definition, rather very loose and vague intentions. I intend to write every day and see what happens. Maybe by committing to the act of putting words on paper, hopefully words that make sense when grouped together, I can start to define a more intentional path.
I have my writing group tonight and I’m trying to figure out what piece I will bring for their critiquing. Will it be part of my novel I am trying to keep alive? Or something else? So far all I have prepared are blank sheets of paper and a stapler. Last time I used no binding agent for my five sheets of paper. The pages weren’t numbered either so I spent a lot of time shuffling the pages around and putting them back in order for people to read. It didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in my abilities.
I’ve said before that process isn’t something that comes naturally to me. For a lot of things in life, there is a dedicated order one must follow to even have a chance. I think this is where I went wrong with my book. I thought I had already done the hard part. The actual writing of the book, in my mind, should have been the most difficult step of creating a publishable work. That there were many, perhaps years of, more steps involved triggered my fear button. I made the cross with my fingers and backed away slowly. For me, historically, the process has been mangled and garbled. For years I thought that was just how I did things. I tried to revel in my chaos and label it as part of my way of doing and being. It never quite worked.
Today I ask you for help. What are things you have done that work for you? Experiences you have learned from? Is this a break down, break through situation?

Aw, Yeah.

March 1, 2015

When I first started writing, I pictured myself turning into Carrie Bradshaw from the critically acclaimed and always awesome Sex and the City. Couture and all. In one episode of SATC, she said she decided she wanted to be a writer and then made herself a writer. I’m paraphrasing of course, but you get the idea. I guess I thought that’s what I was going to do, too. That by deciding it, it would be so. Granted, I was very young and knew little of how the real world worked.
For instance, I hadn’t heard of the 10,000 hour rule. In case you are unfamiliar like I was it’s the thought that to really master something, you must put in upwards of 10,000 hours. It was talked about four decades ago, specifically pertaining to chess, and Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his book Outliers. There has to be some innate talent and then you have put in a significant amount of time to achieve anything great, he claims. This idea both terrifies and relives me, to be honest. In real talk, I have about 2-3 hours a day of real free time. I use the qualifier real because the kiddo naps for 1.5-2 hours and after she goes to bed there is about 3 hours before I go to bed. So sure, cumulatively that is upwards of five hours, but that would mean ALL of my free time would be spent devoted to writing. I know myself well enough to know that I would burn out if I used every millisecond toward any one thing. It would be a huge sacrifice. No yoga, no vegging in front of the TV, no reading. .
There are only so many hours in the day. And Sadie doesn’t like it when I’m on my computer. I digress again. The point is, let’s say I spend two hours per day writing. In order to get that magic number of 10,000 hours it would take me, like, upwards of 13 years! Did I blow your mind just now? Because I certainly blew mine when I did that calculation. I’m also not great at math, so if a correction (in my favor only) is needed, let me know. Surely I’ve already clocked in close to a couple thousand. But that means I’m only 20% of the way there. That’s a daunting thought. So why continue? Where is all of this going? I’m not really sure to be honest. And that’s the point. It’s a fusion of tests and questions that I am hoping to flesh out into something I care about and am proud of. That’s the scary part.
The relieving part is that by that logic, it can’t be easy for anyone. We are all working our asses off with the vain hope that one day we will produce something with a even just a modicum of of merit.
But back to Sex and the City for a minute. There was and is a lot about that show I find appealing. The clothes, the girls’ attitudes, and the notion that four women could have careers they loved that empowered them. Among other things. I’ve already stated that I’m an Law & Order fan, so Chris Noth helped, too. I can’t say for certain that Carrie Bradshaw is who inspired me to be a writer. She’s a fictional character after all and wrote about sex. Something I could never do out of fear of shaming my parents’. They’re ministers and it just doesn’t feel OK. Not that anyone is banging down my door to ask about my sex life.
When I was in grade school, I wrote a lot of stories. Oddly, the main character was often named Carrie. I reread some of these a couple of months ago. Some of them are pretty dark. Suicide, self-mutilation, and bullying were a common theme. It’s a wonder I wasn’t shipped off to some sort of institution. Maybe after watching SATC, I began to narrow the focus. Same with reading Maureen Dowd’s columns in the New York Times. I liked that they, more or less, got to write about whatever they felt like. I don’t often feel comfortable sharing my opinions with people, unless I’m drunk then watch out, but maybe have too many opinions and wish to put them out there.
I started practicing yoga and writing more seriously around the same time. Coincidental? Maybe, maybe not. Each provide me with something inexplicable. Yoga changed my life. It is one of the first things—I hate using such an informal word to describe it—that I stuck with for any considerable amount of time. I’ve touched on how I quit or tire of things quickly before. When I started practicing yoga, quite by accident by the way, it never dawned on me to ever stop. It became a constant in my life that has helped ground me and encouraged me to think in a less linear way. I’ll talk more about that later.
Writing has done something similar. Though I admit to sometimes thinking about stopping writing because I fear I’m terrible at it and no one wants to hear my musings. But truth be told, that’s also part of the fun. The push and pull. The risk. At times, it’s almost passive aggressive. Like, I can say whatever the fuck I want and put it out there. To the public. (*Very small public*)It may or may not get read, but that’s beside the point. I want to think that writing has helped me become more confidant. But I wonder if the opposite is true. I’m not certain of this, as I mentioned I’m very far from the ideal 10,000 hours, but perhaps writing makes me more vulnerable. A conscious choice since I’m the one creating these pieces and publishing them on the Internet. But I’m certainly opening up myself to dialogue and criticism. I guess that’s growth, which I won’t discount.
At this point, you may be wondering if this whole project is going to be thousands of words of me thinking about myself and commenting on my mind’s meanderings. Fair question. I’ll get back to you.

Day Two

February 27, 2015

I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly eight years. What does this have to do with writing you ask? Let me tell you! A lot of the principles that apply to a successful yoga practice are also imperative for writers.
1. Body on Mat for Practice
2. Butt in Chair for Writing
Also with both, it is helpful to have a special-to-you place. When I prepare for class, I put on comfortable clothes, I bring my own mat, and I try to arrive 15-20 minutes early to imbue myself with yoga studio ambiance. When writing, I go to one of two places in my house. I don’t have a dedicated work space, yet, so it’s either the couch or the kitchen table. Both of which I really like. I need silence to concentrate, some sort of beverage, and a window.
One of my favorite teachers said something striking that applies to this project, and my yoga practice, that I have yet to be able to incorporate into my writing. Or completely understand, to be honest. What she said was this “our normal tendencies seem to appear when we get on our mat. If we are inclined to hurry and be thoughtless to what we are doing, that will show in the practice”. She advised us to try to do the opposite of whatever felt natural.
How the fuck am I supposed to do that? I thought in the most yogic way possible. In my practice, my tendencies are to push and work as hard as I can. That is not my tendency when writing. Maybe it’s due to the window or something, but a lot of my dedicated writing time is spent staring off into space rolling the same thought over in my head. Maybe what I’m saying is, well I’m not sure. I was about to write that yoga feels natural. But often times at the beginning of class when we are sitting or moving slowly, I feel resistant to getting up and moving more vigorously. I like being still and stretching and feeling calm. But once I get into the flow, I totally go with it. I start to crave the sweat, the edge, the challenge to keep my breath even and full.
When I wrote my novel, it spilled out of me. There wasn’t a ton of plotting or outlining. The words were there. Though as you may recall, not the story. It was easy. I think that’s why I truly and completely believed it would get published and I would become a NYT bestselling author. I didn’t build from the ground up. Meaning, there was no foundation, i.e. no story. When it came time to edit, I did try to wait the recommended minimum of six weeks but only lasted four. I stared at the 67,000 words I’d written and had no clue where to start. I couldn’t even tell which parts worked and which parts didn’t. This was partly due to my attachment to something I had spent hundreds of hours on, but also inexperience. I started with the easy parts. Typos, misused or misspelled words, run-on sentences and the like. So while the book wasn’t polished, it was definitely cleaner. I printed it out, as I had been instructed via On Writing by Stephen King, and went through with my red pen looking for plot holes and inconsistencies. I cleared up the glaring errors, dusted it off and declared it ready for beta readers.
More inexperience crept in here. This is by no means a dis or a criticism of the gracious volunteers who read my work and took the time to make comments. They were all great. In fact, so many of them said they loved it, my delusions of grandeur blew up and I fired off several queries to prospective agents. What I needed was someone to tell me this “this is a good start, but it needs a ton of work.” One person did tell me that, but I chose not to pay too much attention. So many others had praised it, why listen to criticism? I admit, it was a deliberate choice. She was my one writer friend, so she knew what she was talking about. But my natural inclination was to go with what was easy. And that was deciding to be finished. It didn’t work out the way I wanted. That’s on me.
Now that I’m choosing to do the work, I have to figure out what the antithesis looks like. It may seem obvious to you, but it’s not to me and that’s why I’m here. How do I get into the flow and crave the sweat, the edge, the challenge? How do I train myself not to be afraid of the process?
As Vizzini said, you have to go back to the beginning. So I have. Well, sort of.
I enrolled in an online essay writing class. I joined a writing group. I found a critique partner. I think my hope is that if I can put my work out there and have other writers help me see where I go wrong, I can learn to craft my story and find my flow.
Have I chosen the wrong genre? Being an avid and near obsessive fan of Law & Order doesn’t mean I have to write crime fiction. My novel is a mystery, btw. At the time I wrote, it felt natural. And in a way it was. As I said, I wrote a “story” in two months. It was one of those things you hear successful writers say. That it has to come from somewhere as if you can’t help but write the story. And dammit, that book did. I digress.
As I’ve written this out, a little thought keeps bubbling up. Process has never really been my thing. I’m one of those annoying people who buy put-it-together-yourself furniture and doesn’t like to read the instructions. Mostly, I start trying to figure it out myself. This has merits, but if the damn instructions are RIGHT THERE, why wouldn’t I follow them? So maybe my natural tendency is to lean toward instinct and intuition, tools that work for me in many ways, but not here.


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