It’s day 25 of the writing challenge I’m currently participating in and I will admit that I dropped off the face of the earth for a bit. Honestly, I was writing and didn’t have time to update my blog of all the thoughts pouring out of my now pounding mind. What I’ve managed to accomplish during this lapse are three new stories (two short stories and one flash fiction) which will be incorporated in my -shivers- novel once I receive feedback from my mentor. This challenge has also taught me that it is okay not to write every single day AND share every painstaking update through your blog or chosen social media poison. Just seeing my journal filling up with pages of written work, some usable some that shall forever remain hidden behind its black covers, makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
And that sometimes, I need a day to just step away from writing in order to remind myself that filling those pages is not a chore, but something that I enjoy doing and if one day I’m not inspired to create, that’s okay.
DAY 25 – DIG DEEPER:
How do you push yourself beyond your smaller self? And where/how could you push yourself harder? Have you ever felt like quitting right before a breakthrough?
These self reflection prompts both bore and excite me. Bore because I thought I knew all of my issues, pursuing a career in writing. I know my father doesn’t believe that going around and telling people that you want to become an author is a real career choice, more like a hobby or what someone would do after they retire from their “real” job. I struggle with this because it makes me feel like he doesn’t believe I have any talent, that I’m not as determined as he was when it came to his job. I don’t need a big, fancy title to prove that I’m good at what I do nor do I have to write something brilliant and then spiral into a deep depression that equates in me taking my life. While unfortunate that so many creative, brilliant minds chose to end their lives, that is not predetermined destiny for everyone that choices to be an artist, musician, performer.
So I battled with that every day (notice that past tense I’ll return to that later). Then there is the issue of my “deer in headlights” look every time someone pays me a compliment. It’s not that I’m against receiving compliments, I truly do enjoy them, its just I don’t know how to react. I say thank you, I appreciate it but when someone keeps repeating the same thing it just gets weird. So weird that I come off as guarded, timid, nervous or that I just don’t like the person. This is especially true when I encounter extremely aggressive people who are just so open and naturally have a loud voice that my one thank you gets swallowed up. One person even thought I was intimidated by her and proceeded to explain to me why someone as shy and quiet as me finds someone like her intimidating. I then yelled that she doesn’t intimidate me its just that she is being too loud to hear anything I’m saying.
Then she called me rude. I can’t win.
So I’m trying to find a balance, learning what to say when complimented and not coming off as distant or uninterested. I’m just weird, though when you insult me and I have the same reaction it’s perfectly acceptable.
But how am I pushing myself outside of my smaller self? For one thing, I’m sending out my work to more people and not just to contests but to people I’ve met to receive their opinions. One person, she knows who she is, sent me an email saying one of my stories gave her chills. Though I don’t think I expressed my gratitude and relief well in the email (or at all) I giggled, squealed and saved the email for rainy days to remind myself that at least one person enjoyed the first draft and it can only get better.
Another amazing thing I did that was completely out of my comfort zone was I just placed a draft of one of my stories casually on the kitchen table and left it there. Within a few hours it was gone and the next day my father, the man that doesn’t read and likes to think of this whole thing as a hobby, asked me where I was sending the piece to and even searched online for contests/awards specifically for African American writers! Sure his search was just for writers of nonfiction and I remain in the realm of fiction but its a start!
And that brings me to the whirlwind of a project I’ve taken on. I set a goal for myself, 150 pages before I graduate in November. Though I keep telling myself this, there are several flashbacks to the multiple projects I’ve walked away from either from boredom or just writers block. The project I have now interests me but I still can’t get rid of the fear that one day I will walk away from it and everyone I’ve told, shared pieces of it with or projected future pieces of it to will just be left hanging. Then, there’s me, another project put on the shelf and wondering if one day I’ll be able to give my mother a book by me to put on her bookshelf. A book that I can thank everyone for patiently waiting for and now its real. It’s here and I did it with all of your help.
Or am I just dreaming? Am I choosing to get caught in everyone’s compliments and suggestions because I’m ignoring what might be in front of me again?
I hope not, because then I see the emails and texts from friends asking what happens next to my two characters whose lives are slowly taking shape. I talk with my mentor who wants to drink coffee with me and talk about the stories I’m working on (I don’t drink coffee but she can drink coffee and I’ll have an orange juice because I’m five.) So all the support is there and it keeps revealing itself in the people I least expected.
But I still can’t figure out why I can’t support myself. Maybe because I’m so terrified of failure. But today’s prompt is about pushing yourself beyond your smaller self. So, I’m going to become my bigger self, continuing with my goal and doing what I love.
Then this next prompt happens.
DAY 25 – DAILY PROMPT:
Choose a form of writing that terrifies you, and force yourself to write for at least 30 minutes, in that method. If poetry has always scared you, write poetry for half an hour, if you have always shied away from short stories, try to complete one, if you have always wanted to start a novel but have never taken the first step, use these 30 minutes to come up with at least a page or two, anywhere in the book, before you finish.
Those who know me know that I started out in poetry and I die a little inside every time someone asks me to write a poem. I’m not good at it, the form terrifies me because I feel like I can’t describe anything clearly enough to be understood like a short story does.
Here is my scale of writing comfort, starting with least comfortable to my heaven/dream form.
So here is a poem I wrote to fulfill the prompt in the form that terrifies me: Poetry
Caught Up Again
I dream again
of Cedars again
of you holding me
embracing and loving me
I returned, again
to our city, again
and our willow wept
because the unfamiliarity
of me walking, sulking, weeping
tendrils teasing as I clutch my knees
breathing, dreaming, deceiving
those who I told I’d forgotten you
when really I came here
to remember you
to wait for you
to love you
and for you to embrace me
and tell me its true
that we can be together
I dreamed of you again
yearned for the heartbreak again
because before the sadness
curfews, laws and wars
there was you and me
under the willow tree
and I’d give anything to have that