The Space to Write

Most of the time, I write in my living room on a repurposed sofa table I forced my wife to help me carry into the house after I found it at a dumpster. The only thing it doesn’t have is the ability to push my chair underneath it. But who needs that? I like to have my area clear, except for my multitude of colorful pens I tend to keep close by. There is something comforting about having pens close by, just in case I need to get creative.
Very recently, I asked my wife to hook up a second monitor to my desk so I can “research on one screen while I write on the other.” I haven’t quite gotten used to the second screen and I also have not actually researched much in the last week. Maybe tonight I will use the second screen to hold my homework notes while I retake some homework quizzes.
Right now, I am sitting on my patio. Most of the time, patios are bright spaces in back yards that overlook some trees. This patio, since I am in a garden apartment, is dug out and filled in with concrete. I don’t know why this condo has a dug-out patio while other condos in this same complete do not. Maybe the contractors realized it was a stupid idea after completing the first building. Although it is not pretty, gets no light, and no plants could survive here – it does offer a lot of privacy. I have my little table and chairs, yet, no neighbor talks to me since I am hidden from sight.
I have not had these table and chairs very long. In fact, I think it has only been two weeks. So far, I have used them three times to complete homework. This is my first blog written out here. I don’t need much to write, just a comfortable space.
A strange thing I do is put headphones in my ears even though I am not listening to music. It helps create an enclosure in my mind that outside noises take away. It makes me feel comfortable, so I do it to create that space I am looking for when I am writing.
I’ve never fared well when I go into a public space to write. I can handwrite outlines or notes but I cannot get into a creative mode to write a story line. I suppose I have not tried in a very long time. I think I prefer my patio to a library or coffee shop. Also, I have to pack everything up if I need to go pee – that sucks.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, everyone has their own place they use to get into the mindset to write. Writing at home probably makes me a homebody since I have to spend so much time not leaving the house. I think it is a necessary evil because I would otherwise be unhappy. I would never get anything done. Ugh, I hate even imagining it.
Ideally, when I am a grown up with a house, I will have an office with a window that looks out on a backyard or garden. This way, I can still feel as though I am sitting outside even when snow is on the ground or it is just too cold. For example, it is July 30 and only 70 degrees outside. It is a bit chilly in my underground patio.
I like my space because it makes me feel inspired. I don’t have to worry about ordering another coffee or losing my seat because I have a small bladder. It is also nice when my cat decides to sit in my lap while I am writing for what seems like forever.
I think being comfortable in a writing space is one of the most important aspects of being a writer. I am happy to have achieved at least some of my writing space needs. Now, I just need to make sure I am not getting distracted by cat videos and Facebook posts while in that comfortable space.

Breathing Grammar

I am on a mission to learn English grammar and it is possibly the hardest thing I have tried to learn in a long time. Here I was thinking “Oh, I already know grammar, I write ALL day long”. It isn’t that simple though – sure, I’ve learned to mimic good grammar. I know what sounds best when I am typing a sentence. It is almost unholy how wrong I was about English grammar being something that would be easy.
I recently began taking the Grammar Lab through the online certificate for copyediting offered by the University of California San Diego. I graduated with my MBA through Southern New Hampshire University in September 2014 and I have been itching to go back to school. Going back to school these days means following my passions instead of the necessity of trying to land a job to make my bank account not roll over on its back and die.
Creative writing has always been my passion. It has been that way since my childhood when all I wanted to do was write stories, read Stephen King and listen to Green Day. For a long time, I wanted to have a career in creative writing. Then, I kept being informed over and over that writing wasn’t something I should do if I actually wanted to survive on my own. Now, I am surviving on my own and I am still bitten by the need to write creatively and professionally.
Gaining the copyediting certificate is probably half my need to be a perfectionist at writing and half my need to just keep learning. I have written my first fiction novel, and although I have a lot of self-doubt about the novel itself, I still want to do it justice by editing it to the best of my abilities. I may also be procrastinating in editing it because I want to forget all about it so I can realize any dreaded plot holes. Either way, while I am waiting for my nerves to stop being jittery about my 80k word salad, learning how to edit will help me with my future writing.
Also, no one ever said I could not one day be a freelance copyeditor. People like to read and write but editing a book is difficult as hell. It is nice knowing that I can develop this skill so that it may become something more prominent in my life in the future. Sure, I put writing on my back-burner due to fear. However, this isn’t some long lost pipe-dream. I mean, I am only 28. You’d think I’d given up for 30 years by the way I am talking.
I wonder, if by the end of this class, I will be able to breathe English grammar. Maybe not – but I still own The McGraw-Hill Handbook of English Grammar and Usage, which gets into the nitty gritty of grammar like no other book I have ever read. I am sure I will learn more grammar as I get into the meat of the copyediting certificate. It is guaranteed since I am determined.

What About Tomorrow?

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

I have decided to forgive myself for not writing for the last six months. I have a good, valid excuse. Dutifully, I am going to rise above it – my reasons don’t even matter anymore – and I am going to get back to my normal, creative writing self.
Ironically, in the past, I have read a lot about mindfulness and how one should live in the present. It’s not a perfect science, as with most thoughtful psychology, and I have been distant from myself and others. It is difficult to be split between what I want and what is keeping me from what I want. It is even worse when one is fully aware of the problem.
My triumph is impending, because I feel the airiness of happiness on the other side of all the drudge. It’s a calming relief that I am going to embrace and appreciate. I believe that triumph is rising above the personal struggle – because what human doesn’t need that type of success in life?

When Outlines Fork Up

On October 5, 2015, I ordered Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M Weiland. I read the entire Kindle e-book in one sitting as though it was a best selling thriller novel. I could not walk away, I was inspired. So, I immediately started outlining my novel in order to prepare for NaNoWriMo the next month.
So, I outlined, and outlined, and kept outlining. When November hit, I began to write this story from this outline I had spent three weeks developing. Within the first 5K words, my plot line had hit a fork in the road at least three or four times. The outline was useless except for giving me the ability to develop the characters in my mind.
Still intrigued by the outlining idea, I learned about Scrivener (which I am using now and adore) and used the corkboard feature to revamp the steps I wanted to take in my novel. I did not keep to that outline since my plot progressed more naturally with a few other monkey wrenches tossed in the path of my characters.
By January, I began to really struggle. I did not reach my 50k words in November which I was not heartbroken over. I had my elements, my characters were talking to me, yet I did not like where they were going. I was getting bored with my own plot line and that is never ever a good sign.
Somehow (fearful procrastination), a few months went by and my story sat at 35K word, wondering if it was going to be tossed into my junk pile. Then, I began to journal about my feelings on this writers block. I did not outline this time. I did write about my desire to go back to another story in which I wrote only 8k words but it had seemed more like the middle of a story instead of the beginning.
Ding. Ding. Ding. My creativity kicked me in the face. I didn’t even have to scrap the 35k words since my twist fits right in. It is as though I was writing in order to add that other more intriguing plot to my story via my subconscious.
I’ve since given up on the traditional version of an outline, since no such thing exists. I do hand write journal entries on what I think the characters want. I also do a lot of “What if?” statements to see what sounds like a good idea. I feel like I am accessing a different part of my brain when I decide to write by hand as opposed to using a keyboard. I’ve always like to hand write my ideas first and all my outlining was handwritten except for the Scrivener version.
James Scott Bell writes about Pantsers and Outliners. Pantsers being writers who are creating their stories by the seat of their pants. I can promise I will not follow the outline I write. I have no regrets about the outlining process though. What if I had written my first idea without hitting that fork in the road? Then colliding with another fork. And then once again. I’ve spent a lot of time with these characters over the past year. They are starting to grow on me. I am still putting them through hell though.
This writing thing has a lot of bumpy roads and I’ve identified a few of the plot holes I will need to fill in thanks to my detours. That is for the second draft though, when I build eloquent architecture where there once was just a brick wall.

She does not know.

via Daily Prompt: Generous

She does not know she has nothing.
There was nothing from the start, nothing now.
No time or money, no good karma.
She is not selfish – she is in deficit.
How can she give more than expected
when she expects nothing anyway?
She does not know she has nothing.
There was no exchange, no learning experience.
No aspirations to break even here,
She does not know the formula, the breakdown.
How can she be generous?
She has no pieces worth giving that she’s ever known.
She does not know. She has nothing.

Through the Trees, Over the Bushes

via Daily Prompt: Jump

When I used to ride my bicycle through the semi-circled neighborhood, I knew enough people to cut through backyards and down massive hills into crevices where I should have been knocked unconscious by a tree. The mere thought of my makeshift roller-coaster ride in poverty makes my heart palpitate these days. No one would have thought now that at one point I used to use the five foot platform of my cement porch to launch myself and my bicycle over the ugly brown bushes that stood like dead carcasses in front my house.
Fear strikes through me nowadays even if I miss a step in the dark for stairs that I walk down daily. My roller-coaster rides are all safety approved, if I even ride them at all. I do not jump over tree stumps with no helmet anymore. I do not place myself in the position to break my neck even though I did not consume myself with that notion in the past.
I still jump though. I jump through my own self-doubt in order to achieve what I believe are my goals in this life. I fall backwards into a trust pile of plans, wishful thinking, and instinctive ambition. I jump through stigmas to tell people ‘No’ instead of giving in.
I wonder if in ten years if I will think back on these days and realize that I could have given myself a broken spirit at any moment. Just like I could have jumped over those tree trunks, down those steep hills or over those spiked bushes and broken my neck. I may be more of a risk taker these days given how many times I cheated nature and gravity in the past. When giving those beast the old “one-two”, confidence reigns. I know they still follow me though waiting to see in what metaphorical way I will defeat them again.

Tracking Progress

Recently, my friend sent me a message through Facebook and asked me if I had ever tried Bullet Journaling. If I hadn’t, I should try it out. So I checked out some Youtube videos and I have been addicted since I ordered my black Moleskine journal. Although I can write pretty words, I am not good at decorating my journal but I sure try. The most important part of the Bullet Journal though is the fact that I can actively track my progress in certain areas of my life.

I already mentioned in my first post that I have my system for rewarding myself for reaching a word count per day. I also track when I work out (not as much as I should) and when I bring my lunch to work (to save money). The first month I tried to track all my activities was a big fail because I put far too many expectation on myself. Under my current, less ambitious, tracking I have just learned to be more aware of my time.

I’ve also noticed a change in my mood when I start to really realize what I should be doing each day. Doing the activities by putting my best self into them has really seemed to expand my time. I don’t hate working out, I just like to be lazy more. I love to write but it is easy to skip on a hard day. Sometimes there are a lot of hard days in a row, which I am learning to curb.

One thing that will be nice to look back on is seeing how my habits have evolved over time. If I can find a system that works for me personally, such as committing to the 1000 words per day measures I have put in place, I think I will be a more productive person for it. I may look as though I am carrying around a notebook for an emo kindergartner since I enjoy my black sparkly washi tape but I get my work done. Who cares what anyone else thinks?