Creator of History

Another week where I’m posting late. To be honest, I wouldn’t be posting at all if I weren’t procrastinating.

Last weekend I put the finishing touches on my first two chapters and fired them off to the writer’s group. Of course, once I’d done that I found several glaring errors I wish I had caught. It was the same way with my college papers. So, in a week and a half I will sit quietly and with the appearance of calm, while inside I am a quivering pile of fear at the feedback my fellow writers will give me. Yet, I am also excited to hear what works. Perhaps it will be well received? Who knows!

The current chapter has been a real struggle for me. Nothing has flowed. I’ve struggled to make progress. I spend as much time as I can, playing the chapter in my head like a movie, but there’s one downside to my new life here. I fall asleep quickly. Insomnia used to play an important role in story development. That means I now need to allocate more time for daydreaming. For this reason I spent $30 of my precious budgeted money on some resin adirondack chairs for my sun porch. Now I can sit out there and let my mind wander, and yesterday I discovered this is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two.

My struggles with the chapter had me doubting the entire book. It is a YA novel, which like so many others, has a boy wizard protagonist. Ho hum. Who cares? There are a gazillion of those out there, most of them poorly written. I know the other stories that have inspired some of my story. Is mine just derivative of theirs? Is there any point? Then again, there are really only 7 stories in the world. We’re all just retelling the same thing with different details.

In reworking the first few chapters, and strengthening the theme in those chapters I was reminded that my story has depth. The characters are good. The underlying themes are unique for the genre. The setting is an entirely new setting of my creation. I am a Creator of Worlds! So yes, there is a point. Yes, some people will surely care.

Last night the rest of the struggle with this chapter was finally revealed. The fact that this is an entirely new world, means I am woefully short of background material. Yes, fantasy is incredibly freeing because there’s nothing to really research. You, the writer, make it all up. But that’s just really a trap. The writer has to make it ALL up. Every last detail. I hint at events that have occurred during their history, but I don’t even know what I’m hinting at. I haven’t created some of the in-depth history that needs to be created. Foolish! Of course it’s difficult to write a scene set in a museum when I don’t even know what history that museum is displaying.

So today I have my work set before me. I need to write a few things that I landed on yesterday, and then I need to spend a few more hours in my adirondack chair, dreaming up history.

And now, I guess I have run the course of my procrastination attempt. Though it is lunch time, so there’s that.

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Be Kind

The house sale is progressing and hopefully this one won’t fall through. If it does, we already have other offers.

I’m working on a Young Adult fantasy novel that has me so excited. I have had several very good ideas I could work on, and for a while it was tough to decide on which one I should focus. Then something sparked in favor of the fantasy novel and I am off and running. It’s so good. The concept is fresh. There is subtext and depth. I just have to execute.

With free time, I’ve been researching my new home community. There are so many activities I look forward to joining. Music was a major part of my life for the first 20 years, but has had almost no role in the last 30. It was exciting to find the new town has a women’s acapella group. My low, true-alto singing voice isn’t really good for solos, but it can be a real asset to a group without male voices. It would feed my soul to sing again, and I look forward to a pace of life that will allow that.

That slower pace of life I so look forward to, is actually happening now. It’s been two months since my job ended. I have not missed it for one second of one day. There has been no loss of identity or crisis of confidence. In fact, my true self feels like it’s re-emerging. I no longer feel battered constantly by stressful incidents. I’m not spending an hour and a half a day in ugly traffic. When a friend calls to have lunch, or needs a ride, I can actually say “yes.” When I wake up, my day can be designed around what I need and want to do, rather than what others want and need me to do. When something stressful happens, it’s easier to step back, take a breath, and deal with it. The unexpected and beautiful consequence of this is that my mind, soul, and heart are opening up again. I am able to be less judgmental and far kinder.

I first noticed myself extending kindness to others. When I was out taking a walk, I saw a kid skateboarding down the middle of the street. My stressed-out, super-judgmental self would have thought, “Stupid kid with a death wish. Get out of the street.” My open self looked and him and thought, “Look at that kid skating down the street.” My judgmental thoughts about the kid would not have changed his behavior, but they certainly would have made me feel unhappy. Instead that day, I was pure awareness without judgment and it felt wonderful.

That kindness and lack of judgment for others has extended to myself. Did I meet all my daily goals every day last week? Absolutely not. A couple of days I only did one of the five things. Stressed-out me would have beat myself up over it. Here’s what the running dialogue in my head about my bad behavior would have sounded like, “Loser. Idiot. It was just 5 things. Five fun things at that! This proves it. You are not a writer. You are a loser. You will always be a loser. Why pretend? Just go curl up in a corner and die, you loser.”

Many people refer to that voice as “monkey mind,” because it leaps from thought to thought and hurls poo at you.  And, boy are those thoughts a whole load of poo. They are horrible. Would I let anyone talk to a friend like that? Of course not! Yet, that is a pretty typical conversation I might have with myself. It may even be typical of a conversation you have with yourself. Why do we do it? Has it ever helped? No! It’s not motivational. It’s defeating. It’s harmful.

Thankfully, the new de-stressed me did not have that hurtful conversation. Well, okay, maybe I did for just a second, but it was quickly followed by stepping back, taking a breath, and showing myself some kindness. I’ve never been unemployed before. I have either been in college or had a job since I was 17. That’s 33 years of marching to someone else’s drum. Before that, I suppose I was marching to my parents’ drum. This is a whole new world! It’s going to take a little time to find my rhythm. Maybe last week I missed some steps, but this week I’ll do a little better. Before long, with a little kindness and patience, I’ll be hearing my own beat, and dancing to it with flair, in my white-girl, hippie style.

Have you failed at something and now you’re beating yourself up about it? Does that help? No? So, did you learn something? Will it help you do better next time? Then you did not actually fail, did you? We are all just imperfect creatures doing this for the first time (as far as we know), and we’re trying to makes sense of a very confusing life. Anyone in that position deserves a lot of kindness. So, I’m challenging you, be kinder to yourself. I promise it will help you accomplish your goals far quicker than that nasty, little voice in your head.

Tell monkey mind to go eat a banana, you’re busy dancing.

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