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. 

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.