Tag Archives: writers block

Feels Like Home

Consistent effort toward a goal is more reliable than a whimsical wish.I really want to work on Baby Love right now, but I can’t seem to settle down. My mind is filled with these other little meanderings looking for a home. Are you home, dear blank page? Because these thoughts are seriously getting in the way of production. They’re clogging up the highway, so I really need to find them a permanent home. They’ve become so…. well…. loitery.

Author’s note: don’t use that word. I may have made it up.

This morning, my mind is filled with memories of almost four years in England. I struggle with the persistence of these memories, perhaps most of all. How can a place be missed even more than the human beings who inhabit it? I don’t know. I just don’t know. All I really do know is that when I close my eyes, I am so often there. The smell of damp air and trees and wet stone, and so many thousands of events imprinted upon any given space. The way the breeze was so cold coming off of the sea in November, or the rumble of fighter jets from the air base roaring overhead all day in the summer. I loved it there. I loved it there from the moment the door of the airplane opened and I first breathed Great Britain.

To be truthful, I wrote those first couple of paragraphs yesterday. Today I woke up with the word smitten on my mind, but that simple word brought me right back to England and that short period of my life where I felt at home. I was 100% smitten with England well before I was afforded the opportunity to live there thanks to the United States Air Force.

I was so genuinely happy there. I felt so at home, and I don’t understand why or how that is even possible. But the airplane door opened on December 7, 1998, and I saw that grey sky and that forest of tall, skinny, bare trees in the distant landscape surrounding RAF Mildenhall, and my heart was full. It was the strangest, strongest feeling.

They say that home is where your heart is, and I believe it. But why was this California girl’s heart in England? Okay, it might have been the mad crush I had on John Taylor (yes, of Duran Duran) when I was 13. But I don’t think so. I think there is something else, another reason that I haven’t yet discovered and may never know.

Tennessee reminds me of England. I have that same sense of home here, but I have begun to wonder if maybe that is because this is the first place that is ours. We haven’t made memories or plans or life here with anyone else; it’s just us. I’m so smitten with Nashville and all that it has to offer, but I’m more smitten with what we are together, no matter where we go. I’m beginning to think it isn’t Tennessee that feels like home. It’s him.

 

P.S. I’m also so so so smitten with Baby Love – and once this novel is complete, I hope you will be, too!

In The Story

Something really interesting has happened as I work consistently on Baby Love. I’m struggling with the words to describe it, and oh wow, that just feels like a really big problem for a writer. Struggling with words! Gasp! But that is supposed to be your strength, she cries to herself. It’s true, though. I’m having trouble explaining what, precisely, is happening inside my heart and mind these days.

To be totally truthful, I’ve been aboard Ye Ol’ Struggle Bus as I’ve watched my friends and former co-workers engage once more in the lively world of racing. The season has fired up again, and so much is happening. We are approaching race two of 24 this weekend, and by ‘we’ I mean ‘they,’ ahem. There are so many things I would really enjoy being part of out there, but there is also so much that I am super grateful to have left behind.

I could harp on this forever. I probably will. You will tire of my lamentations, dear reader, of this I am certain. And so I will attempt to restrain myself from blah blah blahing you to tears with how much I miss that super-fast world and the thunderous excitement of drag racing.

I really do want to tell you about this interesting thing that has happened, so allow me to begin again.

Baby Love has meant something to me from the beginning, but it was always just this story that I wanted to tell. I felt compelled, I was driven toward expelling it from my mind and heart, and it was almost like it wasn’t something I could control. I had to write this story. No choice. It was going to come out of me at some point, like the alien that busts through that guy’s belly in that creepy 1979 movie. Hmmmm. That’s an analogy I really don’t feel very good about, now that it’s on paper. That movie gave me some serious nightmares as a kid, but hey, it’s a good visual, right?

Anyway. Baby Love was always just a story – until this week, when I somehow fell into it. I think I told you all before that the characters were beginning to feel real, which does sound a bit weird, except that I want them to be real for you. If I don’t believe them, why would the reader? The characters must be relatable and believable, and I feel as though through development I am achieving that, but I’m also seeing the story from the inside now. That’s a crazy feeling, but it’s crazy-good. It makes it so much fun, and I suspect I’m supposed to feel that in order for the book to be worthy of your time.

It’s like this: I have a very dear friend who is a writer but also works on racecars and has been a racecar driver, himself. He has been part of racing all of his life and is very well known in that world. This man is an incredible writer, but I am most fascinated by his presence on the starting line. I loved watching him watch the racecars, because he is so clearly in the run. He isn’t really observing the car power down the quarter-mile, he IS the car and the driver and the racetrack all at once. He lives the run as it happens, and you can see it by the way he moves with the car though his feet remain planted.

Lately, I have come to know what that feels like. As I have gotten to know the characters, I have actually felt sad about what I know is going to happen to some of them – but happy and excited, too, about the good things ahead. I can’t believe I’m the lucky fortuneteller who gets to lay it out for them. It’s a privilege to be here. I’m not a character, no, but I’m most certainly inside the book, feeling the feelings and caring about these people and their lives. I care about what happens at the finish line. I care about what happens after, and I can even see the next race now.

Before, the story was just an idea that I kept kind of trying to squint at and decipher. What was blurry and questionable is now very clear and defined, and I am grateful for this transition. I know it won’t always be this vivid, though. Writing is like that. Heck, life is like that. But right now I am very thankful to be in the story.

Are You Sleepy?

Or…. The One With All The Parentheses

Came across this today and it reminded me of when my dad insisted my verrrry slow-to-wake little brother (then in high school) start drinking coffee: Kids try coffee for the first time.

I grew up in a really weird family. Sometimes I wonder if everyone thinks their family is weird, but then I see how positively “normal” they all are in comparison and I just want to say, you guys. You have no idea. MY family was (is) weird. Super weird. The families I remember from my youth were loaves of white bread on a shelf full of like-breaded loaves. Lucky bastards.

I mean no disrespect. I really am jealous. What I would have given back then to be one of those spectacularly similar loaves. I just wanted to be like everyone else. Alas, we were oddballs and misfits, strange little standouts of human beings, and today we are all exceptionally unique individuals with creative souls who bloom in non-traditional ways.

Kinda difficult to be mad about that. We’re spectacular, too. Just not in any kind of a corporate-environment/widely accepted/typical-of-society/financially flourishing way. It’s okay. I like us (for the most part). It’s a good weird (sort of).

I think about this often. The four of us had no structure. Sure, we had plenty of punishment (more on this another time), but there was little discipline. Do your homework or don’t; whatever works for you, kid. Bedtime? Whenever (and wherever) you want! Dinner is make-your-own tonight (a handful of nights a week). What’s a curfew?

Let’s be honest. We were living the dream. We did what we wanted, for the most part, and even though I was envious of other families, I also secretly knew we had it pretty sweet. Our friends could crash on the couch whenever they wanted. In high school, my house was the sleepover house because yeah – no curfew. Even when there was a curfew, it was mostly ignored by all parties involved (with two noted exceptions – also another blog for another day).

This, too, must be said: For all of the turbulence in our little lives with a Mentally Unwell Momma (MUM), we sure had some fun. We did things as a family, including going out to dinner on borrowed dollars, burning swiped pallets at beach bonfires, taking trips funded by Grandma and Grandpa to amusement parks, occasional family vacations up north, and more. A lot more.

Every single family adventure – big or small – always included at least one angry outburst followed by tears from the MUM, but we still had the adventures. We still made the memories. And eventually, we grew up and grew weird little families of our own.

One of my siblings was (is) extraordinarily intelligent with a passion for rationale. Two of my siblings were (are) incredibly industrious. I was (am) creative but also a wee bit overly emotional/sensitive and extremely shy. Oh, I’m much better now – but to this day, I’m still terrified of “getting in trouble.” We’re all characters. We’re all successful, and some of us are (surprisingly) really and truly happy.

Plus! Somewhere along the way, it became cool to be weird. So I guess now we’re cool, even though we didn’t have the designer jeans and meals every night around the table and ski trips with the Joneses and proper bedtimes. See? Everything works out.

712bb474897b051d09428544ff6cfc20Image borrowed from the brilliant Butterflies and Pebbles. Like her on Facebook here.

Like-Minded

Realized something today. Actually, it was about 60 seconds ago, and I simply had to share this brilliant epiphany with you (whoever you are, dear reader).

So, just a bit ago Jack J. Binding, Writer followed my blog. It’s been a bit scary getting “followed” by various writers since I started tagging my blog entries. I’ve had a blog before, but I didn’t share it because I was, apparently, scared out of my ever-loving mind that someone would actually read it. My heavens, they would read it. I would have let my thoughts out for the world to see. I would be bare, vulnerable, PUBLIC. And – holy mother of all things holy and unholy and everything in between – I would be subject to criticism. Writing is precious. It is my baby. I didn’t want anyone telling me I have an ugly baby, alright? Keep it to yourself, thank you very much.

I don’t mean that. But I did. I used to. And okay, maybe I do still mean it just a little bit.

But here is the thing, and thank you Jack J. Binding for unintentionally alerting me to this fact: If I don’t get this all out of my head and into a place where others can read it and yes, actually INVITE readers into my space, I’m just keeping a diary. That act is not, technically, going to help me achieve my grand goal of finishing the novel and becoming a NY Times Bestselling Author.

Confession: A deep and ridiculous fear of criticism has kept me quiet for four decades. FOUR DAMN DECADES. That quiet is kind of lonely, to be truthful. And how terrifying it is to feel that you may not succeed at this one thing that has always mattered more than any other. So you just don’t speak of it. You sit with it, all alone and pondery and moody and broody. Turns out I’m really not alone at all. When you start talking, like-minded folks pipe up – not to make you feel less alone, but to say, “Hey, I see you. Do you see me?” Yes, I see you. I do. Thank you.

I’ve cut-and-pasted a particular paragraph that shouted at me just now, ripped right from the page of this blog post: Planning a Novel and Getting Wrecked

“I came to the conclusion that you have to write for yourself. If you don’t want to read the final product, then sure as shit no other fucker will. Create something you love first of all, everything after that is just a bonus.”

Create something that you love. I mean, it’s simple – but it’s brilliant.

That’s all. I just wanted to share this with you. Whoever you are.

Carry on.

p.s. I continued to read JJB’s post before I posted this just to be sure it didn’t have something horrific attached to it that I might have missed (who knows what I was worried about). Oh good Lord. He used the same “ugly baby” phrase as I did. Either I’m in love or I’ve found my people.

p.p.s. Just kidding about the in love thing, JJB. Don’t fret.
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Coffee Talk

It’s good to have someone to talk to. It can change your perception, simply having the ability to get something out of your head and into the light of day. I don’t know about anyone else, but what goes on inside my brain can be far darker than anything I project into the universe. It’s as though I feel an obligation to shine, and frankly, that’s kind of a shitty way to go through life. You aren’t obligated to smile at the world. But you darn sure better know that you’re responsible for your own happiness.

Part of the darkness that lives inside my brain is an untidy collection of what I have deemed monstrous failures. They aren’t filed neatly in little cabinets along a wall with the accomplishments that I tend to keep out of sight. No, these “failures” are piled on a corner of the desk in a terrifying, towering stack of pure yuckiness. That stack is intimidating. It’s quite tall. And it talks. It drawls creepily, “You won’t succeed. You will not accomplish your goals. Here is the proof.” Then it laughs like this “MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

So this morning during #CoffeeWithPatrick, my perception was shifted. That stack isn’t a pile of failures. Good Lord, NO! It is a manual. It’s proof of the lessons that I’ve learned. It shows I have tried, tried again, and carved a new path with each effort until I have found one that works. I am comfortable with admitting that I have been moderately successful in most everything I have attempted – I haven’t actually FAILED at anything, if I am honest with myself. Sometimes I have said things I wish I hadn’t. Sometimes I have done things I would really like to take back. Sometimes I fall, and then I get back up. If I didn’t, well, maybe that would be something I could accurately label “failure.”

Oh, and that scary voice belonging to the stack? Yeah, I’m the one who gave it that voice. I’m in control over what that pile of memories actually is – a tower of terrifying failures or a collection of things I’ve learned along the path of life. Grab hold of this: I am responsible for my own happiness, and THAT obligation means gathering these things that are hiding in the dark and bringing them out into the light so that I can see that they really aren’t all that scary.

Go have coffee with a friend. Confess what’s lurking in the dark. Look at it from a different angle. And then you can really shine.

Do not dwell on the perceived failures