Brave, mad and happy

There’s a fine line between brave and mad. But whatever I do, I go for it — Viv Albertine

Everything that has given me nothing but joy came from the simple and seemingly harmless thought of ‘why not?’

That however, does not include romantic relationships. I attribute those to sheer stupidity stemming from a boat load of insecurities. If I had been saner, I would have never entered into any of those relationships. That’s just the god-honest truth. I don’t particularly give a fuck if any of my exes are offended by this statement. I’m sure they wished they had never met me either.

Anyway, I try to straddle the line between brave and mad with regards to my passions. Depending what it is, I think I fall into mad territory more often than not. I think I start out brave, then I just fall into utter madness.

Right now, I might be falling into utter madness with my writing. There are works-in-progress that I’m excited about tackling. None of them, however, are the long-term projects I had been thinking about. For now, the stories I plan to tackle have nothing to do with traditional publishing.

As a friend pointed out to me last night as we were messaging each other about her current work-in-progress, I’m re-prioritizing. She’s not wrong. I have been re-prioritizing for a long time. In baby steps. It’s only now, this year, that I’m kicking those changes into overdrive and making them as much as a reality as I can.

Throughout our lives, we’re always re-prioritizing what’s important to us. There’s a fluidity to life that we have to follow. Not following it will only lead to more grief than we care to handle. I can’t stay where I’m at. There’s no growth. I’m being challenged for all the wrong reasons and not the right ones. That’s what I’m re-prioritizing for. To be challenged for the right reasons. And to continue growing.

Me being stagnant is a very bad idea. Bad things happen.

Re-prioritizing, for me, also means redefining what it means to wear the mantle of ‘writer’ comfortably and without feeling apologetic that I am a writer. But I wear the mantle of ‘storyteller’ proudly. It might be semantics but I do differentiate the two words.

I’m more interested in honing the craft of storytelling than spinning my wheels trying to figure out my next book. Try too hard and the wheels keep spinning until you’re burning rubber for no good reason. I also believe some of the things that keep me from working on the next book will be found in working on other stories and being around other creative souls.

It might also be my brain engaging in self-preservation. When you devoted a good chunk of time to writing a novel, you sometimes don’t realize how much your brain wants to decompress and have fun. That’s what I’m doing now. Decompressing by having fun with the writing I’m currently working on.

There is still lots of bravery and madness to be found in what I’m doing now. It’s available by the boat loads. It’s something I gladly take on because nothing else makes me happier.

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.