Hi there. Long time no see. Still kicking. And working on all my long-term goals. I’ve obviously been on hiatus, and that’s not going to change immediately… but it will change. Once things settle into a nice groove. Not having a camera really impeded on posting regularity, but that’s changed. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my novel, my screenplay(s!), spending more time on my (non-literary) art, learning new crafts, and enjoying Veganmofo. See you soon.
Have you ever had one of those flashes of utter panic about your life? I’ve had a few of them since the age of 18 (as well as one superb, life-changing epiphany), but my most recent flare-up has been accompanied with the painful realization that I no longer have the time to sit and dawdle with my plans.
I mean, I’ve been saying this for a while. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve said as much on this blog. But you know, I’m going to be 24 in almost exactly six months. That’s almost twenty-five. Which is almost thirty. Which is an age that I’d always hoped would reveal a more settled, more satisfied me. I already had ideas about who and where I’d be by twenty-three; some were admittedly naive, but regardless, I haven’t even met my more basic, revised aspirations as to what I want to be doing at this particular moment in time. I’m running out of time to get myself there. Cue panic.
I realized, today– or maybe “remembered” is the more appropriate word– that finishing my novel would provide a tremendously helpful accomplishment to have under my belt. Screenplays and spec scripts are one thing, and I’ve got them on my radar. Spec scripts I find a bit of a strange endeavor– I worry that by the time I’ll be ready to provide a spec, the show I picked will no longer be in production, meaning I won’t be able to submit it for fellowship programs or what have you. Meaning I have to write a new one, which always bugs me out because it takes some much for me to make peace with the last script. I know I’m supposed to be writing constantly anyway, but as I’ve openly admitted in the past, I’m prone to writerly lagging. That novel is one thing I can do right now, and will always be there as a testament to what I can do. Not to mention my most ardent passion.
I realize that I no longer have the luxury of allowing self-consciousness to waste my time. It’s either now or never, do or die (career-wise, mind you). If I fall on my face, I fall on my face, but if a dream of mine goes unrealized I want it to be a function of something beyond my control, not result of my own premature resignation– or at worst, a reluctance to even put myself out there, to try. Besides, even falling on your face doesn’t mean you have to stay on the ground. I want to go down swinging, if that’s what it comes down to, but hopefully, I’ll be able to avoid that.
And do you know what I’ve been doing? Well, you know the answer to that question actually, this is all ground we’ve trodden.
So today I flailed and shrieked again, sitting around retracing all the necessary moves I’ve plotted in my attempt to get where I’m going. I feel the need for a mentor, and maybe even a separate, less career-oriented ear to bend in addition to that. Today I made major strides with a fact that I’ve sort of known about myself for a while but only truly understood the impact of today: a large part of my inactivity is self-sabotage rooted in a paralyzing, consuming fear. I sat down with a notebook and scribbled, “What am I afraid of?” on a sheet of paper, and really sat at thought about it. Bullet points and everything. Now that I’ve at least scratched the surface of that fear, I can actually address it. I intend to seek counseling regarding it. I’m also considering going back to see an old dramatic writing teacher.
At least thinking about it, planning, is satisfying. It gives me something to do with my hands. The ones in my mind. If the mind can have an eye, no reason it can’t have hands, too. Maybe I’ll get them to do some typing for me sometime soon.
This is a fairly informal update, mostly just to keep up my rhythm and to make it apparent that I’m writing– for myself, at least.
I’ve been working on a story that I’ve decided will allow me all the freedom I want or need. It will be as long as it ends up. It will flow however it wants to flow. It has fleshed out characters, some basic points that must be hit, and a well-realized idea of what the story is and where it has to go, but generally, I’ll will allow for as much meandering as I want.
I’ve taken a couple of days off, mostly because I’ve been feeling rather poor for reasons unrelated to writing. I hope I’ll be feeling less lethargic before more than a week has elapsed since my last sit-down with the work. Even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll try not to get bent out of shape about it, simply because I want to leave myself enough freedom to not have to stress out about it.
Just before November 1st, when I would try my hand at getting the bulk of my novel complete a la Nanowrimo, I wrote this blog entry about my growing discomfort in my place as a writer. I remembered being angry at a quote I’d read that was basically some writer being pompous enough to thumb his nose up at other writers whom he’d decided weren’t as dedicated or genuine as he was, with his definition of those qualities being quite arbitrary. Here is his quote, to refresh our memories:
“A writer is someone who has written today. Not someone who writes for money. Not someone who writes for publication or fame. Not someone who talks about writing, or reads about writing, or thinks about writing or attends writers’ conferences. Not someone who has written in the past or will write in the future. A writer is someone who has written TODAY.” -Paul Raymond Martin
I positively fumed at this quote. I still don’t agree with its sentiment, but I understood quite quickly why it bothered me so: he was talking about me.
He was talking about the “so-called” writer who occasionally is at a loss as to how to go on. Who sits wallowing in self-doubt more often than should be admitted. Who has written in the past, and will write in the future, but can’t always write now. I reeled, offended that he dared make a distinction between all of us, and horrified that I was not a member of the treasured “writer” category. That in the scuffle, I had landed on the wrong side of the gate.
I never believed what that quote implied, regardless of what it made me feel, but obviously someone believed it, and that someone was a more successful writer who was in a “better” position to judge a writer like me because of that belief. Perhaps this is a reflection of a wider opinion. As far as “real” writers were concerned, I speculated, I might not be “one of them” though frankly I don’t know why most would care.
Then, I recently went re-paging through “Writing a Novel” by Nigel Watts, a book I purchased years ago. I found an entire segment addressing the nature of being a writer, and indirectly, the feeling I had experienced. This segment was aptly titled “The Myth of the Writer”.
“If you are the sort of person to be intimidated by the weight of books that have already been written, or are unsure of your talent or your vocation, take heart. There is no such personage as a ‘writer’. If you worry that you don’t possess that special ingredient other writers have, particularly the writers you admire– don’t. There is only one qualification to be a writer: human beingness.
It took me years before I could call myself a writer, years more before I learned the term means nothing. A writer is a person who writes. A novelist is a person who writes novels… why else do some novelists write again and again and again? Not for the money, nor the limelight, nor even because they have a story burning a hole in their mind, but because they are reaching for a distant star, just as Tagore was.” -Nigel Watts
A. Freaking. Men. It goes on from there and only gets better, but there is only so much I can quote. Reading this for the first time, nearly ten years ago I think, is likely part of the reason I was so disgusted by the Martin quote. It goes against a basic belief I have about what it means to be a writer, and who gets to “use” the term– anyone. I don’t have the right to dismiss another person’s self-identification or passion, I feel, and neither does this Martin fellow.
Basically, my feelings on the subject are this: People have the right to decide for themselves what labels they will apply to themselves. There’s no checklist or requirement for being a writer, other than the desire and the hard work, I suppose. So to all of us who do the writerly thing, write on.
Still tinkering on back here. Currently working on a pair of short stories, primarily to prevent writing muscle atrophy. I find that I write more when the pressure that comes with saying, “This is my novel” is turned off. The actual novel is at rest for now, mostly to let other ideas bounce around, but the screenplay is doing well. So yes, I am actually progressing, if slowly.
Generally have at least a few plans for blog entries but always somehow forget to post on my designated Sundays/Thursdays and I don’t like posting on off days– obviously I made an exception for today. I actually got started on a piece I wanted to share here, but then became (rather characteristically) shy about it.
I like taking photos, and would share them here regularly if I could, but part of the long quiet phase is due to the fact that my digital camera is actually broken. The lens stopped retracting after an accident a few months ago, meaning no images from my wanderings, collecting, or meals to share.
Amazingly, that’s what killed my first camera, too. It’ll be a long while before I can afford a new one, especially since I told myself that my next camera would be a major upgrade– one with a detachable lens, for starters. The only thing I miss about the old camera was that, memorably, my sister and I purchased it on a plane somewhere over the Mediterranean during our London/Nigeria/New York trip two years ago. It was pretty good quality for the circumstances.
Interests are doing alright. Haven’t gotten a new cap in a while. I saw a six pack of some exotic beer My crocheting is at a slowdown, but still intend to finish that cotton blanket. Didn’t plan on doing any major gardening this year, but now I wish I had. I did get another complimentary Early Girl plant on my doorstep, though– I’m definitely taking care of it. My only goal is to have a larger tomato yield than I did last year– meaning, more than three.
Wish I could say I did something interesting yesterday specifically for Earth Day, but didn’t plan well enough. I spent the day at home with the niece, which was fun in its own way, but I wish I’d used the opportunity to celebrate with her. I thought about taking that tomato starter out with her so we could plant it together– that would have been vaguely appropriate– but I refrained.
That’s about all for now!
Wow, lots of time away. This update’s purpose is exceedingly simple. This is a quick check-up on all my projects’ progress. And believe it or not, there has indeed been some.
First and foremost comes my screenplay, which has finally been tentatively named “Action”. It’s been getting a lot of attention, and I’ve finally gotten myself into a schedule (and sleep patterns) that give me the opportunity to work on it at least once a day. I mentioned a while back that I’d finally given my characters names, but now I’m pleased to say that I finally feel that their personalities, motivations, and entire lives have begun to wield some weight, if that makes any sense. They feel real, and I enjoy crafting their story.
My novel, SJL, has been largely neglected as of late, for obvious reasons. My collection of short stories, on the other hand, is at least being thought about and vaguely organized.
That’s about it for now!
Obviously, I took a nice long break from blogging throughout December. I should have announced it, but no matter. I wanted to post on my birthday, seeing as that’s actually kind of a big milestone in regards to this blog, but that’s also not a huge deal. I’ll probably hop back into the deal in the next few days. Hope your holiday season was lovely.