More than a need

Ignore all advice about writing. Leave your blood on every page. Every page! — Miriam Toews

This week, it looks like I’ll be rolling up my sleeves to get down to the business of building and nurturing the writing life I want to thrive in. 

I’ll be meeting with my mentor this week to catch up on a lot of things. He is going to get an earful from me because of recent decisions I’ve made regarding my writing. This is significant because I plan to do one-on-one sessions with him from now. The writing group set-up isn’t working for me anymore. Things might be a bit constraining.

I suppose it’s partly to do with my development as a writer and the things that I want to pursue as a storyteller. I might be a little ambitious as fuck.

But that’s too simplistic. I think it’s more than just being ambitious as fuck. There is a need. Yes, there is a need to write. But there is also a need to remind myself to have fun. To not turn writing into a job. Because, let’s be honest, that would be the kiss of death for me.

I have a better idea of what will inhabit my writing life and how I want to inhabit that life. I’m pretty excited by the lay of the land. The somewhat scary thing about this is seeing how it will all come together. I know what I want to do. But I don’t know how everything will co-exist. And on top of that, how will my writing life blend into a life that has proven on numerous occasions to be quite chaotic. 

I’m already dreading how chaotic February and March is going to be because in the last 10 years or so, I’ve always referred to that time period as the busy season. The upcoming busy season (February being the bigger villain of the two) could very well be the worst and I’m not being a fucking drama queen when I say that.

I know something has got to give. And I will blow up the busy season if not this coming year, then within the next two years. It’s inevitable.

Quite frankly, I’d like to blow it up now. But it wouldn’t be fair to the parties involved so I’ll have to ride through it to the other side. And then blow it up. Give them time to look for someone else who can volunteer their time. Even if I was getting paid, I’d probably pull the plug all the same.

Depending how crazy things get, I may end up cutting ties sooner than expected. The time is coming to move on. 

This need to write, to be a storyteller, is more powerful than I had expected. And I’m in awe of it and want to embrace it. It’s not everyday you become aware of how powerful a passion can be. Some refer to this passion as a calling.

Do I want to refer to this need as a calling? I probably will refer to it as a calling. But I’m not gonna pretend that whatever I write will change the world. Far from it. If only a handful of people who read my stories ‘get’ me, that’s more than fine with me. I knew a long time ago that I wouldn’t be able to please everyone nor do I want to. That’s a kind of validation I don’t seek.

I seek to be the best storyteller I can be. Most of the time, the way I go about it is unconventional for a lot of people. But it works for me. And at the end of the day, I couldn’t give a shit what anybody else thinks. 

Organized chaos

Masochism is a valuable job skill Chuck Palahniuk 

Masochism isn’t just a valuable job skill. It’s valuable for life. 

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a masochist when it comes to things I do for fun or things I am passionate about. I might even consider myself a masochist when it comes to matters of the heart which is why being single will always seem to be the best option for me. But enough of that.

This past weekend, I participated in my first CrossFit competition. It was held at the box I go to and it was a friendly competition between two boxes. Even though there were prizes up for grabs, the whole intent of the competition was to have fun. 

Let’s be honest, I had fun. The movements in the WODS were not unfamiliar. But man, when you put certain movements together, something is bound to happen and your body will, at some point, bitch at you for all its worth.

There were three WODs – four if you managed to score well enough to make it to the finals. Thank god, I didn’t make the finals. I might be a masochist but my body is only willing to put up with so much. 

Out of the three WODs, the second WOD was the most taxing. It was pretty much a cardio-centred WOD. For those who love cardio, easy peasey. Although, I didn’t hear anyone say they loved that one all that much. That WOD burned. Every major muscle group burned. You could call it a full-body burn. I don’t ever remember my thighs burning the way they did after I was done. Throw me into a tub of ice, why don’t ya.

The third WOD was easier to move through because it was about muscular endurance. I tolerate that quite well. As I frequently tell/joke with my fellow CrossFitters, I ‘turtle’ my way through WODs. I just tell myself to keep moving regardless of how slow I may be going.

I won’t bore you with the specific movements that are associated with the WODs. All you need to know is that I’m kind of sore. 

But there is one very positive takeaway from doing the competition. My right shoulder survived the workouts. And judging by the muscle soreness, I engaged the proper muscles that protected and prevented the shoulder from going sideways on me.

That is huge. But that doesn’t mean I can get sloppy. I can’t get sloppy because it’s too easy to injure myself again and undo the work I’ve been slowly and diligently putting in.

Participating as an athlete in a competition isn’t the only example of masochism I willingly inflict upon myself.

Writing can be like that too. Yeah, I guess it can be painful. But I think it’s a necessary kind of pain. It’s not the kind of pain you back away from. It’s kind of pain that can be managed and be pleasurable depending where you are in the writing process. But I think you could say that about anything you’re passionate about.

It’s becoming quite clear to me that any sort of down time between major writing projects has me crawling out of my skin. I had mentioned in the last blog that I discovered an online community where I could examine ideas and concepts that I hadn’t really explored in my fiction writing yet. I get to play in my sandbox free from judgement, free to experiment, free to be curious. I get to do this while reminding myself why writing/storytelling is one of the things I love to do and need to do. And it will also be a reminder to me how much fun writing can be and should be despite the moments things don’t want to come together harmoniously. 

One of the things I worry about is, intentionally or unintentionally, losing or tamping down the passion and the fun that comes with creating stories.

Built into the process of creating something is the joy of discovering something about your characters and learning what makes them tick. Within that same process, you discover a lot about yourself – what makes you tick, what are the kinds of risks you’re willing to creatively take into order to tell a story the way it should be told.

I love discovering things about the characters I work with. I love discovering things about myself that had always, for one reason or another, had been lying dormant waiting for the right moment to awaken and roar with ferocity.

The masochistic part of writing is not the act of creating. The masochistic part is trying to juggle two or more projects and spend time at any given moment with any of these projects and keep the momentum with each one moving forward.

For whatever reason, I’m bound and determined to master this particular form of organized chaos.

So, here I am, with a nice little pile of projects to play with. And I couldn’t be happier.

Now, if I could only get my writing life and my actual life to live together in harmony. 

Embracing a need

The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on and suddenly it all makes sense. You get to feel like both the creator and the audienceNeil Gaiman

It seems I’m hellbent on creating a writing life that is far more creatively chaotic (and I mean that in a good way) than I could have ever imagined for myself.

As recently as last week’s blog, I talked about figuring out how to juggle two writing projects at the same time. I didn’t give a reason for wanting to be busy as a bee. I just figured I needed to start writing again. None of this taking time off to ponder my next move.

I was already pondering my next steps when I was finishing up the second book. 

The two projects are in their fledgling stages. WIP1 and WIP2 are in their conception/research phases.

And as of last Thursday, I’ve added another ongoing project/endeavour to my writing plate. I won’t even call this one WIP3 because of the beast it could potentially become.

I say ‘beast’ with zeal and affection. It is a beast I get to call my own. The beast will play with me and experiment with me in the sandbox. I’ll get to flex some creative muscles I haven’t flexed too often in my writing. The hope is that by playing with this beast, whatever I learn from it, it will be absorbed onto my other writing projects. Kind of a win-win situation.

You’re probably wondering why the hell would I throw myself into another writing endeavour. Would it be okay if my answer is “I’m a masochist”? 

I suppose I should say I’m following my heart. But I’m also following my instincts. I’m pursuing an opportunity to grow as a writer and storyteller. I think most importantly, I’m following a need to write, a need to create. The need is not one of those things that drills into you like a woodpecker making holes into a tree.

By the way, I actually saw one in action back in September when my best friends was in town. Fuck that pecking/tapping is loud. When I heard that bird strike the tree with its beak, all I could think about was the kind of massive headache you could get if you weren’t careful with that thing.

Anyway, the need doesn’t feel like something violently poking at you until you bleed or break a rib. Although some folks might like that feeling.

The need feels more like a gentle prod against your ribs and occasionally gives you a fervent, hungry hug. Then it decides to sink into your bones. It’s not there to cause you pain. It’s there to remind you that you are more than how people want to define you. You are more than what the physical world allows you to be. It’s there to remind you that your creative life is just as important than your work life and any other life you have.

More frequently than not, it’s more important, more urgent than all those other lives combined.

So yeah, I’m embracing this need. I’m operating via the phrase “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” To be honest, that’s phrase that been with me for my entire adult life. It hasn’t always been at the forefront of my life but sometimes it’s all there is.

Right now, it’s wrapped up in this need. It’s an incentive. It’s a reminder. But it’s never a lie, never a trick of mirrors. It is something that will never lie to me.

People will lie to me. Lies said out of selfishness, misunderstanding, misinformation, ignorance, envy, weakness, fear or cruelty. 

A need, especially a creative need, will never do that. I choose to follow that need. Nothing else matters.