Writing the Feelings

Today is my 37th birthday. Not too young. Not too old. But it’s gone so fast. Actually, the first twenty years or so went super slowly. Then it took off. I don’t even remember the last ten years of my life. They were mostly filled with dirty diapers, grades, too much to do, spousal spats and reconciliations, gaining and losing friends, and kids growing up at the speed of light.

I’ve been down this week. And I think it’s because I’m not doing what I expected to do with my life. Plus, I started cleaning out my closets yesterday and stumbled upon pictures from college and when the kids were little. Nostalgia always makes me feel down. Not regret. But a sense of loss to a certain extent. I attach myself easily to people, and I feel such a sadness when they are no longer in my life.

But depression is a liar as someone told me yesterday. Depression tries to tell me I’m worthless. It tries to tell me I can’t and won’t achieve my goals. Well that’s total bullshit. And I know it. Deep down on the inside, I know I have it within me to write and to lead the life I want. Happiness is not elusive. It’s a decision.

I’ve told you before, but I HAVE to write. I have to write to get all the bad feelings out. I go through life smiling, because mostly I am happy. And I can find the positive in my life every day. But sometimes I feel so down. And this just happens to be one of those weeks.

The one thing about feeling down is it energizes my writing. I can type and hurt my characters. I can twist their souls with angst, guilt, anger, sadness. All of the above. All of the things I can’t seem to express that feel stuck inside. You see, I’m a better writer than a communicator. And it hurts me when it comes to real life relationships. People have always thought I was so cool because I didn’t give a damn what people thought of me. And perhaps this is why I tend to have more close male friends than female friends. Girls seem to get caught up in the small bits without looking at the bigger picture. And I’ve always been a bigger picture type person. I love and care about my male friends. But I need and want female friendships. I’m just not sure how to go about making them and keeping them.

I think I’m open and caring, but I feel like I can’t express my deepest wants and desires to others. In the past, I let the fear of intimacy rule my life. I didn’t tell certain people I loved them when I did. I didn’t tell them my wants and desires. I expected them to read my mind. And I became sullen and angry when they didn’t. Instead of expressing those emotions to them, I let them walk out of my life. Eventually I learned how to express all of that in my writing and it became an outlet for conversations never had, wants and needs never lived. Fear stifled my creativity and became a thief of happiness in my life.

But I’ve reached the point where pretending to make other people happy isn’t worth it anymore. I’m tired of living in a pretend world. I want the important people in my life to know what I think. I want them to know when I feel disappointment, sadness, love, excitement. I’m tired of being stuck in a box of despair, at the whim of my moods and emotions. And so, I’m trying to make a change. Once again. And feeling a little stuck in the muck.

It’s hard to change a behavior and a way of life I’ve been living for years. It’s hard to stop hiding when things get tough. It’s hard to stop shutting people out when all I really want is to let people in. As I work through these heavy emotions and feelings, I’ll be writing more for sure. But I also plan to be listening more, engaging more, and cleaning out my closet of all the emotional clutter that only serves as an impediment to my happiness.

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PS: The Devil Within is only available until May 31, 2016. Don’t forget to get your copy while you still can at Amazon.

Persistence in the Face of Fear

Hey Lovely Readers! I’m fessing up as a slacker once again. With this short and busy week, I feel like I’ve been behind the 8-ball. But before I get to the point of this post, I don’t want you to slack and miss the opportunity to get The Devil Within for 99 cents! The sale ends on October 17th, so there’s not a lot of time! If you like Southern literature and coming-of-age novels with some grit then you’ll like this book.

The Devil Within Cover

Enough of my shameless plugs. Now back to slacking. Over the weekend, I started writing a new piece. Yeah, I know. I was supposed to stick to rural Alabama and Anna Kate. But I was stuck–seriously stuck. And then I wrote a short for the class I’m taking through University of Iowa (Go DUCKS!), and it begged to be expanded. And people in the class really liked it. And as a writer, I seek to serve my readers.

I also ran a lot this weekend, and when I run I think. And sometimes I overthink. As we all know from the post that’s circulating around Facebook, overthinking is a sign of being a creative genius (or so some article says, and I’d like to believe that over just thinking I’m nuts). Overthinking can also cause some issues. My thought process revolved around solving problems in both books when I ran, but pretty soon it turned into: Why am I writing? Does anyone even want to read my books? Why does it have to be so hard to land an agent? Will I ever finish editing Little Birdhouses? Can I even write a query letter? Is it worth it? And fifty thousand other rhetorical questions I could throw out of you. Rhetorical questions are a no-no in writing too, but if you know me you know I LOVE to break the rules.

Every writer questions themselves and what they’re doing and whether it matters. They want to hide behind a rock in the face of fear. Instead of facing the wolf, they’d rather curl up in their bed and be eaten. Do the brave thing and write the words, because if you don’t you’re going to be more unhappy than if you do. If you’re a writer then you have to write for sanity. If you’re a writer then you have a driving force and you need to write. If you’re a writer, I’m here to tell you DON’T GIVE UP! I have thoughts that my writing sucks and no one wants to read it. Everyone has those thoughts. Taking this online class has boosted my confidence as a writer ten-fold. I’ve received such great and positive feedback on my work. It’s nice to receive that after receiving tons of rejections for agents, because at least I know if I keep trying I will some day make it.

And what does making it even mean? It means making writing a priority in my life every day, editing my stuff, putting it out there and making a few bucks. Sure, I’d like to be rolling in the dough like Stephen King, but I know it’s not realistic. Maybe some day–we can all hope to dream. But the important thing is: Don’t give up! Don’t give into the fear. If you give into fear you’ll never know how far you can go (I even wrote a blog post about that not so long ago).

Now, if you want this same post with more colorful language go read Chuck Wendig’s post over at Terrible Minds. He knows what he’s talking about.

And I promise I’ll stop slacking (maybe). And I’ll write a blog post tomorrow morning before I succumb to fear in the Maze of Terror (that’s another story).

What do you do when you’re slacking or procrastinating (in anything, not just writing) and how do you get back to the task at hand? I play Civilization or binge watch Netflix.


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Comfort Zone

Every day, instead of getting dressed and showered, I’d be content to sit around in my snowman pajama bottoms. I’ve written about these P.J.s before, over on my personal blog (which has sadly gone by the wayside). You know how some clothes just make you feel good? Well my snowman P.J.s make me feel comfy. They’re like walking around in a blanket all day long. It’s like having someone’s arms wrapped around you without all the extra weight. It’s like biting into your mom’s homemade casserole after you’ve been away at college for three months. I can’t say enough times that I LOVE my snowman P.J.s. They’re part of my tangible comfort zone.

Do you have a comfort zone? I have always been a person who has had firm routines, firm traditions, and, yes, even clothes that make me feel comfortable, happy, and most like myself. When I first started writing, my comfort zone included not letting anyone seem my work. If they did then GASP, they might not like it! They might ask me difficult questions about the meaning behind my work. They might draw conclusions I didn’t come up with. They might tell me that I’m a horrid writer and not to ever bother picking up a pen.

Good thing, most people don’t tell this to an inspiring writer (except maybe agents, but I haven’t gotten that far yet, and I’d hope they’d have more couth). They do, don’t they? As a writer, I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone more often than not.

One of the things that most scares me as a newbie writer is public speaking. I hate public speaking. In 9th grade, World Cultures I had to do a book review on The Black Death, which I hadn’t even read (sorry Mr. Roberts—I skimmed it). I had to stand in front of a whole group of fourteen years old, and I was an awkward fourteen year old myself who felt like everyone in the class was noticing my bald spots or seeing me naked—I couldn’t figure out which one was worse at that age. And I said “um” exactly 52 times. How do I know it was 52 times? Because Mr. Roberts told me when he asked me to stay after class. He said he’d give me one more chance the next day. He gave me some tips, and I pulled it off the next day pretending like I was having a personal conversation with my friend Allie the whole time.

Mr. Roberts didn’t eliminate my fear of public speaking, but he did give me ground rules for how to deal with a situation that made me uncomfortable. That’s the first step when we’re out of our comfort zone, right? Find something to make you comfortable–a point of relation with your audience, a realization that the person who is reading you work is a human like you–heck, they may even be a writer like you, and the ability to problem solve and find a way to calm your nerves in a new situation.

Stepping out of your comfort zone helps you grow as a person (and as a writer, if you are one). If I’d never let anyone see my writing, I’d still be unpublished. If I’d never done a fake book review on the bubonic plague then I’d be even more afraid of public speaking than I currently am.

Take off your snowman pajamas, try on something new, and see how much you can achieve!

What have you done to step out of your comfort zone?

Snowman PJS


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