Writing Prompt: The Portal

Today’s a Nick Drake kinda day–a day when you take long walks, languidly pick up that hobby you promised yourself you were going to finish, catch up with loved ones over a nice, warm drink…and read pleasant little stories inspired by gorgeous, surreal imagery.

I’m a little overdue since posting my last writer’s prompt. I hope you read and enjoy, and have a wonderful Sunday!

Image credit: Pinterest.


The Portal

three-blue-portals“This is it.”  Dr. Ralph Kenon doubled the knot on the rope around his waist, ignoring the flash of the sapphire-lit sky above them.  “If there is any time to test the portal, it’s now.”

June stood, watching him with a wariness that she had always held.  She knew the cost of this trip–for months, they had traversed the cragged landscape, seeking the stone doorways that might–oh, Sera, might–bring them back home.  The portal that had brought them there–golden and glittering with the promise of abundance, riches–had been nothing more than a ploy of cruel universal physics.  Gold does not mean promise, or peace. How she wished she had been one of those companions who’d had enough wherewithal to provide Ralph counsel!

But no.  She was but his secretary: his faithful, devoted secretary who had been sure–absolutely sure–that what they had stumbled upon in the basement ruins of a demolished bank vault, would save them from the financial ruin that his previous perils and excavations had put them through.  Now, look at them. Look at them!

The others who had followed them were all gone.  The Tigmas–first George, then Pauline, and last their twelve-year-old son, Kris.  The policeman Mr. Myron Johnson had sacrificed himself to the beast who had found their resting spot that first night.  The newlyweds, Berturde and Guy, had succumbed to the Hunger Roots a couple of weeks after, just before they’d reached the City of Promise.  By then, it was only three of them left: Dr. Kenon, herself…and Sera.

June doubled her fists.  Dr. Kenon was inching towards the edge of the cliff; any second, the invisible field would snag him into its atmosphere, and he would no longer have a choice of remain or return.

Wildly, he threw his head back to stare at her.  His eyes distorted by those silly aviator goggles he’d always kept with him.  A momento of his mother, he’d said, on her final flight around the world. Everyone thought Amelia had been the only one, but Laura Kenon–oh, she had been glorious.  There just hadn’t been the press or the public attention to watch another woman make a grave mistake.

Under the front of living as a physician, Dr. Ralph Kenon had studied the energies of the universe, the hidden dimensions that were but a hair’s width away.  In the depth of the ocean, in the threshold of Egyption huts–June had been his longest-tenured secretary, and she had seen him in his more focused and his most psychotic episodes.

There was no proof as to where this portal would take them.  In the depths of Promise, its residents spoke of a multi-lensed “doorway” that flickered on the outskirts of the country.  “Oh, sure,” said one barkeep, tossing a spheroid glass to his counterpart across the room without spilling a drop of the iridescent liquid inside, “it’s always been there.  But no one ever goes there.  It’s just one of those things, like breath.  A lyric in a song.”

“But we sing songs where we come from,” Dr. Kenon responded.  The second barkeep bowed reproachfully but said nothing. He was built for expression only, a silent, judgemental sentient being with a purple trunk and soft, rounded shoulders meant to lie your mournful head between.  It was the first barkeep took orders and gathered regular stories so that passing strangers could understand the flow of the time in that sad, sweet city.

A city where what you wanted was guaranteed to be at your beck and call, if you only learned about it before it had already moved on.

Sera had remained generally present those first couple of nights in town.  Still, June could already tell that she was losing her when the young woman chose to look at everything else in the city but her.  At first, June blamed it on the illusion of the crystalline skyscrapers, the gloss of the marble-like sidewalks. Even the native citizens walked as if elongated by grace, striding with an elegance that made you want to lift your neck to meet them.  Even the streetwalkers, who spun around corner lights and giggled as they cuddled the thick metal poles, felt heightened in status. June kept her hand tightly around Sera’s, but the shine was too much for either of them. They parted that first night, just for an hour.  Then, in the morning, for two–June to find their houses of literature, Sera to explore the artful fountains that seem to shoot strawberry lemonade instead of water.

Every second was a spin of luck, every moment a chance to laugh for the first time since arriving in this barren world.  She and Sera raced around like children, finding more and more and comparing notes later and later in the day. Finally, it was only when they curled into a single bed at night, just before slumber took them over, did they have but seconds to learn who’d had more to share.  In the end, June would spend many hours waiting, head drooping as she squinted at the illuminated web in the window that represented their clock. On the moments she did rise early enough to see Sera slipping out the hotel room door, she tried to stop her, to ask if maybe they could meet for lunch.  “Too dependent,” was what she heard, just before the door snapped shut once.

Only Dr. Kenon stayed rigid during that week, collecting the necessary supplies and verifying the stories of the three stone rings and the night that would arise and give them a chance for home.  When he had pinpointed the day they would activate, he hastily gathered the ladies as they were about to steal away towards their separate agents and told them the good news. June immediately looked to meet Sera’s eye, as they always had when they were both parties to Ralph’s excitable nature.

But Sera was smiling at a mother and her son as the latter chased a cubold drifting down a waterspout’s sparkling stream, beside a marblesque sidewalk, along a picketed lane.

The night before they were to part, Sera suddenly demanded they spend the evening exploring together—”Just you and me,” she told June.

She dragged June through alleys and under fences, and demonstrated that you watched the best music there, not heard it.  The accidental dropping of crystal marbles by an elderly gentleman upon glass steps lingered in June’s mind as they climbed to the peak of a pyramidal park.  The sound reminded her of her brother, and she began to cry, doubling over at the wretchedness of the memories. Sera’d turned away and waited until June had wiped her eyes and risen to her feet, shaken out her skirt and tightened her low bun.  Then, they’d fed on juicy buns and jumped over light stones with other festival-goers in one of the city’s cobbled squares. June thought this showed hope, that maybe she’d been imagining the distance between them all this time.

The morning that Dr. Kenon woke June up, Sera was already gone.  The second bed in their room (which Sera had taken to lying in so as not to rouse June in the middle of the night) was made, and what few articles of personal belongings she’d bought and collected had disappeared as well.  Only a note lay on her pillow, and in that note too few words: “I’m sorry. Good luck.”

Dr. Kenon pushed June from the room as if it had always just been them.  “We have three days to get to the portal before it shuts down,” he said gruffly, and waved down the cab that would take them to the outermost limits of town.

Now, the waves of return lifted Dr. Kenon’s feet from the crumbling cliffside floor.  His rope snapped behind him but remained tied to the iron stake he had drilled into the ground yards away.  Behind it June squatted, holding her coat still against the wind. Even from the distance, she could see the fright in Dr. Kenon’s bug eyes.  Soon, he was no longer over the cliff’s edge, and drifted aloft by some instinctual force that lured him towards the rippling lenses. The portals were doing their job.

“Go,” June called, and hugged herself.  They had played Rochambeau to determine who would go first.  Dr. Kenon had attempted chivalry, but what best displayed the proper gentlemanly nature here?  Go first, and potentially plummet through an unstable set of energy fields into internal implosion and your death.  Stay behind, and risk abandonment, solitude.

Dr. Kenon became a silhouette, then a dot.  The pools of rope strung out into a single line.  It was one of his biggest weaknesses, depth perception.  It always had been. When he had been measuring out the amount of rope they’d need to reach the portals, he’d asked her to check his math.  He always had. It was the afternoon before they’d left, just before Sera had burst into the courtyard and enticed her with pastries and an evening of togetherness.

June had looked at the math, taken but a glance, before pushing the pad back to him and turning away to smile.

Dr. Kenon was still a good couple of meters when the rope started to strain, but June was quick.  One pull on the loose end, and he never even felt the jerkback as he plunged into the first sheet of energy.  It converted him to light and thrust him into the second portal, which transferred into an as-yet-undiscovered equation that passed him through a world of dimensions, choices, and opportunities.  Only the strength of his will would determine whether it would lead him home.

On the cliff’s edge, June rose to her feet as the lightning dissipated, and the sky began to clear.  An uncertain calm resonated in the breeze, leaving her arms free to dangle as she stared through the rings to the mountain range far beyond them.  She spoke but one word, as the perimeter of the first portal began to disintegrate, and the second crumbled like the shell of dried meringue.

“Sera.”

Fin.

Reasons Why I Write

In my last major post, I discussed my fears to pursue my lifelong sleeping desire to be a novelist. I call it a sleeping desire because, although I have literally been writing, illustrating, and narrating stories since I was in the single digits, I didn’t have the confidence to believe that I deserved to be a published author until about five years ago.

Even now, as I sit on a “completed” novel that I still hold fondly (and securely) to my heart, I still struggle with believing that my work will be enjoyed by the mass public. But that internal struggle isn’t getting me anywhere–and it sure isn’t getting my novel anywhere closer to publication.

I lost my way in the fear.

Heck, I lost myself in my fear.

A few days after posting “I am Afraid to Write,” I was reminded of something very important, something that encouraged me to look beyond my fears. Not just beyond, but across the grander expanse in which my fear was not far-reaching enough to extend. For someone who has been writing nearly her entire life, I know that fear is not the reason nor the catalyst as to why I started writing in the first place.

So, then, what was? What is?

In summary–why do I write?

I write this post to reflect my own writing journey, but the questions that serve as headings below hopefully also serve as signposts for any writer who may have also lost their way in the landscape of fear and insecurity.

(On a side note…d’you see that extended metaphor up there?? D’you see it?? That’s some durn sexy metaphor work right chere! 🙌 I’m gettin’ my creative mojo back, baby!)

(Ahem…sorry.)

Why Do You Write?

Believe it or not, but in my 30-something years of writing fiction…I never really thought about why I do it. Throughout the M.o.B blog, I’ve sprinkled my enjoyment of writing in my lessons, analogies, and explanations.

A few notable posts:

I won’t reinvent the wheel in what I’ve already shared. However, the primary, easiest, and obvious answer is this:

I write because it’s a part of me.

When I move through extended periods of time without writing something, I begin to grow irritable and annoyed with…well, everything. When it first happened, I couldn’t understand why everything was suddenly ticking me off.

Then, I had a weekend to write in a novel I had put on hold for a few months. For the following week afterward, my productivity at work improved. I became more aware, intuitive, and even more spiritually in tune. The world made sense. I was content.

Then again, as the weeks passed without a chance to write, my irritability returned. And 2 and 2 made 4.

Writing is the most gentle, calmest way to release what’s bound up inside you. When you write your innermost self down, whether it’s in the form of a poem, a story, a blog post, or even stream of consciousness, no one can negate those words. They exist, and you watch them come to life as your pen scratches paper, or your fingertips tap keys.

I write because it’s an escape.

In the post “Writing Is…” I tell the story of the moment when I consciously began writing to free myself from the tyranny that was my parents’ attention and love. As I grew older and experienced the hills and valleys of life, I met each obstacle with varying amounts of success. By the time I reached college, bouts of depression were prevalent. I graduated, got a job, had a breakdown or two, moved to a new city, got another job, got fired, and juggled around until I ended up where I am today.

No matter what happened, though, even if I couldn’t physically will myself to leave my dorm room, my apartment, or my house, writing was always an option to get away from it all. The characters that I’ve developed over the years were fully formed. The worlds they inhabited were rich with problems, but they were problems that I’d manifested and therefore could also resolve.

I could write for hours and become pillowed in depths of imagination. There wasn’t a concern of good or bad writing; it was just writing. Here, not even depression could find me. For just a few hours (maybe more), I was safe. I was needed.

I was home.

I write better than I speak.

The other day, I was chatting with a friend about communication. I came to a revelation just as I was telling her my truth:

“I hate talking,” I said. “I feel like I’m always stumbling over my words; I miss a lot of the social cues of when to start talking and when to stop. And when I do talk, I feel like I’m being normal; but people just stare at me after I’m done. I feel like a freak!

“I would rather write, sing, dance, touch, eye contact, gesture, or pantomime to express myself than to talk,” I concluded. The irony that I was talking when I said this was not lost on me.

I feel like my innermost strengths lie more in expressing myself through my work than engaging in small talk. And it is no secret that verbal cues play a very small part in actually communicating with others.

Writing gives me a moment to collect my thoughts before I respond. As an introvert, I need time to process many of my thoughts, especially if the question reflected to me is multi-faceted. That’s not saying that I can’t talk; I just know that a truer form of myself is better replicated in the written word. Usually.

Or, you know what? Just cuddle me. That should work, too.

Additional “Why I Write” Questions

A few other questions came my way as I was contemplating the big WHY, and I thought I should share them here and at least touch on them for a moment.

What do you want to get out of writing your work?

Many authors and writing “experts” claim that, once you publish a book, you should detach from it, let it go. That way, any attention you receive (or don’t receive) won’t affect you as hard. I don’t agree with that philosophy.

A quote from one of my favorite movies said it best, I think:

Joe Fox:
It wasn’t… personal.

Kathleen Kelly:
What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. But it was personal to me. It’s personal to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?

Joe Fox:
Uh, nothing.

Kathleen Kelly:
Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

–You’ve Got Mail

After all, that’s why we read.

Isn’t it?

We read to find the personal. We read to be personal with someone–even if that someone is a fictional boy who avenges his wizard parents and defends his magical school and friends. Or that someone is a young woman who, despite her lack of dowry and poor upbringing, asserts her presence as an intellectual equal to that of a handsome, well-endowed, yet seemingly standoffish man. Or that someone is a little hobbit whom no one expected anything from, yet endured almost more than anyone.

The gifts that writers selflessly offer to the world, they give because it is the story that only they can tell. Though I’m sure all of them will have different answers, a story is told because it must be told.

In college, I took a specialized, one-on-one course with a professor while I developed a fantasy novella. Though I rushed a bit on the writing, I was quite proud of the story and submitted it for her scrutiny. I also gave a copy of the story to a counselor that I used to see but had become friends with.

When I met the professor for her unbiased feedback, she didn’t hold back. “It’s under-written and unrealized,” she told me, tossing my manuscript onto her desk. “It reads like something a child would write.” The feedback stunned me silent for so long and so hard that the notoriously hardened instructor finally amended that perhaps she’d “read it too fast.”

For weeks, I moved devastated throughout my days, unsure of how to proceed with other books that I’d had in my mind for years. Not only that, but English was the fourth major that I had switched to since being in college. If I, a lover of the written word and grammarphile since 5 years old couldn’t make it as a writer of any sort, what was I good for?

Then, as if by cue, I received an email from my counselor in the middle of her vacation. Apparently, she hadn’t been able to wait until she’d returned from her time off at the beach before she could tell me how much she’d loved my story. From the moment she’d finally begun reading, she’d taken my manuscript everywhere, breaking it open whenever she had a free moment.

So, what do I want to “get” from writing?

Nothing.

What I want, however, is to give others the same sense of pleasure and peace that I feel when I read a good book. Knowing that I helped contribute to someone else’s positive state of mind means that I shared an intimate piece of myself–and it was happily received. Perhaps even welcomed.

What do you expect to happen from writing and publishing your work(s)?

Honestly? Not a clue.

I hope that I can make enough income from published books to allow me more time, freedom, and security to write fiction and nonfiction on a full-time basis. This would also allow me more time to dedicate to other areas of my life. Tend to my family. Travel. Goodwill. Love. Life.

I could go on, but the focus for the sake of this post is writing.

The goal isn’t to be rich, but to have enough energy and time before I’m decrepit and senile to record all of the stories that have crossed my mind. And there are a lot of stories in my mind.

Since last year, I’m even realizing that some of my stories would do better in screenplay form. So I want to have enough time to see those to fruition on the big screen and the Netflix stream. I want creative control to see my vision in the format that I always envisioned it.

I’ve begun writing like I’m running out of time, because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

Are you looking to see how your work is received or viewed by others (impact)? Are you looking for fame and fortune?

I’m not going to lie–would it be cool to win a Nobel Prize for Literature? A Pulitzer for Fiction? A Hugo Award? A Nebula Award?

Would I be ecstatic to disover that I’ve made the New York Times Best Seller list? #1 for more weeks than anyone ever?

Would I stare, speechless, from receiving an invitation to meet Oprah as she unveils me as her latest top addition to Oprah’s Book Club?

…Why yes. It would all be quite lovely.

But, that’s not why I write. If I wrote with that mindset all the time, I’d be scared excrement-less.

When I was in high school and my friends would peer at me as I bent over my journal, scratching away, I got a sick sense of superiority from my seemingly unique stance. There were not many kids that I knew who were writing at the “uber-cool” level that I was.

Them? They were doing generic teenager things like dating and going to parties with friends and shopping and…and hanging out n chilln.

Me? I was 15, listening to smooth jazz on a Friday night while burning sticks of sandalwood incense, scribbling pages upon pages of character profiles for my fantasy/science fiction magnum opus.

You couldn’t think of anyone cooler than me.

There have been times when I’ve shared my writing with people whose opinion I valued highly, only for them to come back and tell me, “Actually, I got a little bored, so I stopped.” The feedback was devastating, and I would throw the story at the bottom of the pile for it to collect its proverbial dust.

And yet…the stories never left me.

It’s only by writing this now, do I remember that

  1. One person’s opinion is one person’s opinion. Just because she/he didn’t like it doesn’t mean the rest of the world won’t.
  2. It’s not my place to determine the rest of the world’s likes and dislikes. Let them read and decide for themselves.

I don’t write to make masterpieces. I don’t write to prompt a room full of English majors to debate the significance of a green bottle in Chapter 3.

If I write for anyone, it’s for the readers who pick up my book to help them detach, relax, unwind, escape.

I’m writing for the introverted outcast who always feels like they are too “them” to belong anywhere.

I’m writing for the reader who is trying to find that one “perfect” novel that makes them laugh, cry, and scream at the same time.

Does that make me a writer who isn’t reaching high enough?

Who the flip cares.

This world has enough crap happening for people to not be able to just enjoy a good book.

I write to write. And I must write.

Because, at this stage in my life, to not write is to deny me of myself.

And I’ve wasted enough time doing that already.


Why do you write? I would love to hear your thoughts.

I am Afraid to Write. Here’s Why.

A few days ago, I was talking on the phone with someone I admire greatly and who is, among many things, a talented writer. As I was explaining the plot of a story I’d outlined a couple of years ago to get his thoughts on it, he suddenly cut me off.

“Did you notice,” he said carefully, seeming hesitant to call me out, “that every time you mention one of your stories, you end by saying how much it sucks?”

I hadn’t noticed and flushed with embarrassment, grateful that he couldn’t see my reddening face. Jokingly, I tried to downplay my self-condescension, explaining that I used to be more creative in my childhood and adolescence. Why, I’d even written 30 short stories and two fan-fiction manuscripts over the course of two years in college!

But then, life happened. I graduated and, in my eyes, failed to integrate into adulthood. Through the struggle to stand on my own two feet and several bouts of severe writer’s blocks, it wasn’t until now, in my 30s, that I’d finally decided to place more attention on how I truly wanted to live.

Despite this newfound desire, my creativity is still recovering. The mental freedom I used to feel as a child is nonexistent. Even a 400-page manuscript that I’d completed four years ago was shoved into limbo after I dozed off in the middle of editing it–twice.

Now, I’m lucky to draft a 10-page story outline, let alone a full-length novel. I was too afraid to write beyond that.

“What are you afraid of?” my friend asked.

I paused, running the question through my mind and letting the silence on the line balloon between us. When the answer formed, it was a lot longer–and more heart-rending–than I’d expected it to be.

Why I am Afraid

This isn’t the first time I’ve explored my fear of writing. It has been, however, seven years since I really looked at the root of the problem. While some things remained the same, time (and neglect) have allowed the number of fears to multiply.

As each reason poured from my mouth, a new one flooded my head right behind it:

  • There are only a finite number of plots and themes that are recycled throughout storytelling. What would make anyone read mine when they could read somebody else’s? Someone much more talented?
  • My plot will be stupid.
  • My plot will be boring.
  • My characters, setting, climax, and resolution will be an amazing conglomerate of boring and stupid.
  • I’ll start drafting a book, then get bored and stop. Therefore, I’ve wasted my time getting started in the first place.
  • Everyone (fanatics and critics alike) will ridicule every book I write, calling them crappy, mortifying, and just plain awful.
  • I don’t have the intelligence, maturity, or skillset to write the story the way I want it. The premise will sound good, but then I’ll have to flesh out the details. Of which I will do a miserable job.
  • I should be putting my time and energy into “more important, productive” activities. Like a full-time corporate job, and socializing with friends, and…um…laundry.
  • All the time spent writing the book, editing the book, submitting the book, promoting the book, publishing the book…will all be for nothing. No one will read it.
  • I’ll get a literary agent who doesn’t represent me to his/her fullest, and my book will end up in horrifying obscurity, not seeing the light of day until 500 years later, when I will be adored only because my book will serve as the only remnant of an otherwise forgotten time.
  • I have a former very close friend whom I knew throughout high school who is now a lauded, bestselling author. I have other friends, family members, and clients who have also published books. So, then…what void is left for me to fill in the writing world?

This list is more complete than the one I gave my friend during our call. After reciting about three or four, I trailed off, again embarrassed to be exposing this part of myself that I hadn’t realized ran so deep.

My friend, to his credit, remained matter-of-fact. “Well, you need to get them out somehow. Otherwise, you’ll run them through your mind over and over again, and you’ll never get out of your own head. You might also be surprised at how many writers share your fears. Maybe it will help you and them to get them out. Maybe you could add it to your blog.”

And, well. Here we are.

Writing Full Circle

I have re-written this post about three or four times in the last few days.

Why?

Because I was afraid to write about being afraid to write.

Throughout the years, I’ve written about my issues with social anxiety and chronic depression without much hesitation. That is probably because they are more familiar issues to address. I know the signs for when they onset; though I can’t always regulate them, I’m somewhat learning how to keep them under control.

What I struggle with now is different. Being afraid to write doesn’t disrupt my life in the same way anxiety and depression do. I’ve been able to ignore the urge to fight it by writing in other ways to satisfy it. Writing prompts. Fan fiction. Blog posts.

Other people publish books. I wasn’t meant for that.

Logic tells me that most of my fears are unfounded. Common sense tells me that they’re all ridiculous. Practicality tells me that, even if any of these fears were founded, writing is a skill that I could easily improve upon.

The first step to overcoming a fear is admitting that you are afraid.

The second step is to embrace the fear.

And the third?

Grab that fear by the hand and dance in the rain under a waxing moon until you’re both laughing and twirling, and the fear has faded among the heated mist that rises from the earth during a sweet, smoldering summer evening.

The Return of Writer’s Block — and How I’m Dealing

Any writer’s who’s a real writer will feel the pain of sitting at their desk, their brain pumping and flowing with ideas — when suddenly, to their absolute horror, they don’t remember how to get any of it out on paper.  It is the dreaded writer’s block, the scourge of the Seven Pens (heh — just thought of that), the mortifying realization that you just.  Can’t.  Write.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  The desire is more than there.  You really, really want to.  It’s just…well…there’s that thing for work I need to work on, and the laundry to fold.  And oh, if I had children, they’d need dinner — so I guess I should get started on that…

Yeah.  It’s not pretty.

Today, I have the perfect reason to sit and do nothing but write:  the inability to walk, and doctor’s orders.  And yet, all I want to do is plop myself on the floor and sort through that office closet full of junk that I’ve been wanting to clean for the last six months.  But I’m not!  I’m here, typing viciously to get this out before what little inspiration and time I have tell me to stop.  I’m also here to tell you just how I am choosing to get through this year’s current bout of writer’s block.

 

1. Writing through the Pain (aka Denial)

Okay, so, I know I used to be able to write.  I know that I could at one time sit and write for hours.  I know that I felt so satisfied doing it.  So, how in the freak do I get back to that?

Simple.  I mentally grab myself by the collar and say, “Look.  We both know what this is really about.  You don’t have writer’s block.  You never had writer’s block.  You think that just because you’re tired and stressed from other things, that gives you the right to make excuses?

“Do you want to be an award-winning novelist?  Do you want to make your own schedule and type on those beaches of Hawaii in the middle of nowhere?  Well then, stop sulking and start scribing!”  And then I shove  myself into a chair, fold my arms, and wait until I’ve nervously loaded up my laptop.  Yeah — that’ll teach me.

 

2. Stream of Consciousness Writing on Steroids

I think my biggest fear in taking the time to write again is both building up the stamina to write like I used to (my longest session was 8 glorious hours) and giving myself permission to dedicate that time to it without feeling guilty or like I should be doing something “better” with my time.  You hear it all the time:  writing is a lonely sport, and it can be easy to feel like you’re wasting time.

Anyway, I’ve decided to set aside a minimum of 30 minutes a day to write pure stream of consciousness on anything, for anything.  The bottom line is, I can’t stop writing.  This is going to be time different from writing a blog entry or in an actual story.  Hopefully, this time will allow me to “purge” all the crappy content that is blocking the real flow of dialogue and scene-setting.

 

3. Eating a Weird Meal

Tonight, my dinner consists of two sardines, a raw bell pepper, a yogurt “cheesecake” tart and a navel orange.  First course — the pepper — was about an hour ago.  Time for the main course!

 

4. Listening to James Blake Radio

About a year ago, while morphing into a basket case under the weight of being picked for jury duty, I met a young lady who introduced me to James Blake via his song “Retrograde.”  I was immediately hooked and started listening to more music of his genre: folk, indie, Douglas Dare, Corinne Bailey Rae, Citizen Cope, with a little Seal and Michael Franks here and there.  I welcomed, needed, and enjoyed the music that was inoffensive, soft, real, and simple.  The kind of music that’s equivalent to sitting on the back porch in the summer, drinking tea and watching the moon rise among the choir of crickets and owls.

Ah, I can just hear the opening chords of Michael Franks’ “Lotus Blossom” now.

 

5. Editing Something Else

Believe it or not (I’m Robert Ripley!  No, just kidding), but I actually have 90% of a rough draft of a novel that I completed in April or so of last year.  It was a 300-page, hardcore labor of love, and I felt like singing when I finished that last sentence.

Then, three weeks after that, I read it again — and wanted to cry from my perceived sheer boredom of the content.

Fast-forward to about a month ago.  While sorting through ye ol’ closet o’ junk, I found the aforementioned manuscript, beat-up and losing a few corners.  Curious, I flipped through few pages and realized — huh.  Tweren’t half bad, it weren’t.  So, I’ve decided to resurrect the poor thing and see if there is a story yet to be salvaged within.  Maybe the new-found hope will spark my currently fizzled-out muse.

 

And that, friends, is my current curriculum for beating writer’s block.  I can only hope that I’ve given the next poor, unconventional soul some pearls of wisdom (or a grain of shrewd sand) to help them defeat this cruel, unbiased beast.

And now, I must close, because my head is feeling heavy, and it’s getting hot in this room, and my eyes are crossing, and I need to finish eating before my fat-burning window closes.  Until next time!

(Durn this lack of writing stamina.)

Writer’s Relapse

I’m having a minor (okay, major) writing “what if.”  I can tell that I am having this moment due to several of my usual anxiety symptoms: I’m staying up late, feeling like I should be working on something…anything. I’m browsing my favorite shopping sites, feeling the need to buy, buy, buy. I’m planning for my writing career without actually taking any physical steps to register for a conference, apply for some freelancing jobs, and the like. The “what if” moment is as follows:What if my novel sucks?This statement, of course, can be broken down into several mini-“what ifs”: What if…

Online, Take Two

Eight years ago, I opened an account on LiveJournal and began what could unofficially be called my very first blog.  It was amazing just how long and how extensively I managed to write about my life while I was in college.  Every corner of my existence received my greatest attention.  Nothing was sacred. The only difference from today is, my LiveJournal account remained accessible only to my most intimate of friends.  From first loves to first jobs to changes in school to changes in mood – it was all there, yet fenced off and safe.At the time, that was okay. …