Create Fearlessly

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Today I was flipping through this Moleskine reporter’s notebook I frequently use to jot down random ideas and I found a quote I had taken the time to not only write down, but to note the author, book, and page number. I suppose I thought I may need to use the snippet eventually.

“So, this above all: Find your own voice.” Christopher Hitchens in Mortality, page 50.

I have this idea for a story that may not be as completely original as I think it is, but I have certainly never read it, and I want to. Unfortunately, I have realized my idea might be becoming a bit of a Sci-Fi adventure and I know very little about the genre.

Are there still truly original ideas, or is everything simply either satire or pastiche? Yep. I learned a new word, AND I took notes on three of the possible meanings. I also read a couple of things discussing the concept. 

I don’t want to write some silly little story. I did that in college and my instructor gave me a C- on one of my favorite stories from my adolescence. He said it was trite and I should work harder to write something more significant.

What if trite is all I can manage? How can writing bring me so much joy and leave me terrified all at the same time? It seems genuinely and dramatically unfair. Now I want you to imagine me running into my bedroom and dramatically flinging myself on the bed facedown and sobbing until someone notices my need for more attention and comes to console me as I protest the injustice of my personal insecurities. 

I have been mulling over this idea for about 15 months or so. While I was working on a different idea I finally thought of a possible way to solve the problem I was having with how to introduce a certain situation in the story. Which was a bummer, because it was the thing making the whole story possible. 

I think I have finally figured out why “Only the good die young” and how to explain fate and the secret of life. Turns out, it’s not just a good cup of coffee. Despite my inability to believe in the popular religious explanations of our creation and our death, I may have found a way to explain the purpose of it all.

I feel like I have been searching for an explanation for my entire life and when I was unable to find an existing one I decided to come up with my own. I don’t imagine it is much different from Joseph Smith and his golden tablets. Oh! Except I invented mine. There was no revelation or scripture delivered to me. Phew. That would have been awkward. 

So, in light of the absence of divine intervention, I am going to try to tell the story in my voice. The way I write and think. I am going to tell the story I have been working on all this time.

Worst case scenario?

Someone will call it trite instead of funny, clever, or original.

Best case scenario? I write my story and I am proud of it. That rarely happens.

Wish me luck! No. Wish me courage.

I just need to Create Fearlessly.

Teach Me How to Be Funny

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I just want to be funny! 

I swear. That’s really all I want. Clever, witty, smart, humorous without seeming ridiculous. 

So, I find myself reading the people that make me laugh. Augusten Burroughs, Jenny Lawson, Tig Notaro, David Sedaris, and even Dave Barry. (By the way, I have a postcard from Dave – if I can call him that, where he returned some fan mail when I was in high school. It was a highlight of my adolescence.) Not sure what that says about me, but there it is. 

I listen to podcasts. I study. I think and I write. I try to avoid emulation. 

Is this something that can be learned? I don’t pretend to think I could ever be a performer… I just want to write. 

I want to be funny! There must be a secret magic spell I can utter and I will suddenly have the gift of humor. 

Until then, I’ll keep trying. 

Seriously, is it too much to ask? 

Talking to Myself

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Jason Isbell asked me an important question tonight. I was driving to Tulsa for work. 

“Are you living the life you chose? Are you living the life that chose you?”

Okay. Jason Isbell was not actually in the car. I don’t even know him. He certainly doesn’t know me. I’m not even certain this lyric is all that profound. But, I like it. I actually kinda love it. So, thanks for serenading me in the car Mr. Isbell.

I have noticed I have a strong affinity for collecting slogans, lyrics, sayings, and quotes. I relish the ability to wave away whatever concern I may have with a meaningless dismissive exclamation I have stolen from someone else.

It is all bullshit. 

I can collect a thousand memes from Word Porn or any other Facebook page to save me the trouble of actually expressing myself. If it sounds trite or stupid, it’s okay. It wasn’t my thoughts. I didn’t sound insipid. 

Not that any of these nice little sayings are insipid. I saved them, along with hundreds of others. They do manage to inspire me. 

Okay, wait. Let me be honest. I was actually just kinda letting my mind wander, as it likes to do, and I was thinking about all the content whores who just keep sharing the same old tired quotes and memes. The 15 different pages that shared the same click bait cluttering my newsfeed. 

Are there any original ideas anymore? Am I doomed to see the same movie remade a thousand times? Although, I did enjoy The Magnificent Seven. It’s hilarious. Chris Pratt can come be my sidekick any day. Plus, he’s a cutie pie. 

None of this is the point though. So, what is the point? 

I guess it’s just easier to allow the fear of failure to prevent me from writing or speaking from a vulnerable place. It’s far less frightening to share a stranger’s vulnerability. 

What if I am not clever enough? What if my idea is stupid? Do I even have an original thought? I guess it all boils down to that inevitable question: Am I enough?

So, I’ll continue to collect quotes, lyrics, and memes. I will continue to scribble my ideas down and attempt to fashion them into something worth reading. I don’t want to doom my characters to a life they don’t get to experience. Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I embarrass myself? Eh. I do that regularly anyway. 

Writing and Yoga

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I have noticed I spend much of my quiet time thinking about writing. I try to come up with metaphors explaining my thoughts, feelings, and dreams. I start pieces I will never complete simply because I am too lazy to flesh the idea into a coherent finish. 

I judge my writing harshly. There are only a few things that leave me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Most of it seems to be a physical embodiment of my random thoughts. My agonizing overthinking leads me to hold back at times. 

Grammar and punctuation are my nemesis. Nemeses? Nemesi? 

So I started reading more. I am spending more time daydreaming. I practice. Which is actually a funny term for me to use. I went back to my first yoga class in ages. These funny yogis talk about your practice in hushed, irreverent voices. Apparently it is not just learning to look like everyone else in the room. Nope, they are not looking for clones. It is a personal and spiritual journey. 

I hate yoga. It hurts. I don’t like the quiet room. I can’t ever seem to relax. I wish there was loud music blaring and we were laughing and telling jokes. I would be enthralled if someone yelling out “Hey! Watch this!” were not a faux pas. Everyone is so damned serious! Lighten up. It should be fun and exhilarating. 

Writing is a little like yoga for me. It’s serious. It’s hard. I have no idea what I am actually doing. I want to scream out “whaddya think?” I want people to laugh and to relate to my words. Sometimes I feel like I am just vomiting random ideas into the Internet and they will never mean anything. 

Writing is hard work. I have to make time for it. The solitude is often daunting. I find myself craving feedback even while I am scared to know how much you think it sucks. There must be some middle ground. 

I love writing. I love thinking of different ways to say things. Words bring me immense happiness. So, I’ll keep practicing. I may even try yoga a few more times. If only because eventually I want to break all the rules. 

New Adventures

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I have finally made some decisions. I am leaving my dream job, and taking a locum tenens position. I want to have time to focus on new hobbies and endeavors.

When I take a step back and honestly evaluate my life up to this point, I realize my career and education have been my priority and focus. I have even gone as far as to make my career the center of my identity.

Frankly, this is a scary step for me. What if I don’t succeed? What if I am not good at this new job? What if I am wasting my time writing? So many questions and doubts.

Then, I remember this is my dream! To have time to write, the means to travel some, and to learn new things. If I consider the situation honestly, this is perfect for me!

While I am going to miss working with the people who have been my mentors and friends through this journey, they are not going anywhere. It is perfectly acceptable to meet new people and to find new experiences.

I cannot wait until I am “ready” to branch out. The time is now. I am excited for my new adventures.

The art of allowing yourself to achieve your dreams

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When you have spent years telling yourself that you are a loser, and you cannot do anything right, it is difficult to move on, and chase your dreams. There is a real danger for me to indulge in negativity. I have made the decision to work on writing something substantial, and it is damn scary! I find myself wondering if my life, and the things I have learned are applicable for anyone else. I wonder if it is interesting.

Then, I get over it. It does not really matter what happens with the finished product. Even if it is just an exercise in self-awareness, it will have been worth it.

I am still struggling with self confidence, and I have to make a decision every day. I have to decide to chase my dreams, and if it turns out that my first attempt is not good enough, I will have to regroup and try again.

There comes a time where you have to tell yourself to shut up and just do it. It’s like the nickname my FB friends gave me,  Swoosh. That is enough evidence for me to put aside my insecurities, and do the damn work.

After all, I have nothing to lose. I just happen to have every thing to gain.

What is the worst thing that can happen? Worst case scenario? I will have something written which I worked hard on, and I will have remembered the lessons I have learned.

So, what is the lesson? Get a grip. Grow a pair. Get on with it already.

I am on page 62. (Double spaced pages.) It is rough, and there is a lot of editing and revising that must be done, not to mention more to write. I am pleased with the progress I have made, and I am excited to keep working. This is my dream. Who am I to ignore my dreams?

If the losses I have seen this year serve any purpose for me at all, I need to remember this:

  • Life is short.
  • You have no guarantees for tomorrow.
  • If you wait until you are ready, you will never do anything worth while.
  • Do what you love.
  • Love what you do.
  • Tell the people you love how much they mean to you.
  • Easy come, easy go.
  • Just do it already.
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Photo credit: Me- May, 2015- University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

 

My friend stole my room key.

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2015-05-01 14.52.09Her husband warned me. Do not let her have your room key. She always loses the room key. I left the room key on the dresser. Guess who stole my room key?

Sigh. I lose stuff all the time. Maybe I lost it. No, I remember leaving it on the dresser. Where is her room key? Nope- not there. Maybe the bathroom? Nope. On that little table? Nope.

Sigh. I probably do not need it anyway.

I do not have a room key.

This is why her husband told me not to let her find my room key.

I need a room key.

I have had a blast this weekend. Lots of writing, and basically just relaxing. I needed that. I think I am going to make it a point to take a few days here and there for relaxing every now and then. It is so easy to forget that you need time that you are not worried about the every day stuff.

Choosing to take care of myself is hard to do. I seem to think that burning the candle at both ends is a perfectly acceptable way to live life. I am wrong. So very wrong. I may thrive on being overextended and stressed out for awhile, but then I have to allow myself a chance to refocus, and relax. To sleep without an alarm.

Then, I can return to hectic every day stress of my life. The problem is that I am beginning to have less tolerance for the stress. I do not see the benefit of it anymore. Why do we have to kill ourselves every day? What is that going to accomplish? At what point do you choose to focus on what you love, and to make the money part less of a priority? How do you change your mindset?

Turns out, I think it requires money.

😦

Back at it Monday. At least for now. Maybe someday this whole writing thing will work out. That is really my main goal. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

New Heights?

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Photo by Mark Larsen

There are many things in my life that I should probably regret. I don’t regret them though. I say it all the time, I am every thing I have ever experienced. Some of the stories are not much fun to remember, but they are my experience, and they color the way I view my world now.

This beautiful photo made me think of all the challenges I have faced throughout my life. I can be climbing up an expanse of heartache and wondering if I was ever going to reach the other side, and then out of no where, a sturdy staircase will appear. The best staircases are weathered with the experiences of others, and if I keep my eyes open, I will get to see a small sliver of their journey. This gives me hope.

It is far more likely that I will stumble across a staircase that is full of potential and possibility. All I have to do is climb. I do not have to know where all the landings are, and I do not have to know what is waiting for me at the top. I will probably meet other explorers on my trek, and some of them will have advice or help to offer. Some may need advice or assistance from me. The whole point is to be open to the possibilities. Even when I do not think I have anything to offer, I can give a kind word. I may have to stop and rest. The most important part of this journey is that I do not quit aspiring to continue the climb.

No one ever said it was going to be easy. No one is going to carry me up. I have to do the work. I may slip and fall sometimes, but it is up to me to get back on my feet.

We don’t know where our staircase ends. We have no idea how many flights we have to navigate. There may be gaps in the steps. Every now and then we may have to leap and put ourselves out there and risk everything.

Sometimes writing feels like a risk. I have stories that I want to tell. Perhaps my biggest fear is that no one wants to hear them.