On Writing and Trusting Your Process

I mentioned a bit about my writing process in my post on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking about it and wanted to expand on it a little bit.  Maybe it will help it sink into my brain and I can actually start doing it rather than what I always seem to do which is doubt myself and spin my wheels.

I’ve never written for a challenge or used a writing prompt before (I guess you could say that isn’t true when you have to write papers in high school and college, but I didn’t really think about the school aspect of it until just seconds ago).  In the past, I just let whatever was around me inspire me.  There have been times when my head was so full of words, I obsessed for hours until it finally stopped or I forced myself to stop.  I didn’t really think about getting it down on paper in order to stop the madness and the few times I tried, it never quite turned out the way it was in my head so I didn’t pursue it.

When I first started the blog it was to write more consistently; to actually work on the project I started forever ago; and I loved reading the entries for Chuck’s challenges on Terribleminds so much, I decided to try my hand at a few.  Needless to say, I was surprised at the results.  I was surprised I was able to come up with stories for the challenges and that they actually fit into the scope of the challenge.  I have enjoyed it so much, I added Turn-a-trope to my weekly challenge list because one just wasn’t enough, apparently.

Having a few months under my belt now, I have noticed that the same thing keeps happening over and over again.

When I first read a prompt, I am usually hit with an idea within the first few minutes.  Even if it takes some time to formulate, I usually have the original idea fairly early.  For reasons I am just starting to sort out, I usually tell myself that idea is lame, or it doesn’t fit or any number of negative things I can think of in order not to tell that particular story.  So, I spend another day or two trying to come up with something different.  Usually, I am met with silence in my head, or I think of a cool idea, but I just can’t seem to tell the story completely. When I finally get frustrated, usually to the point I almost give up on the challenge, the original idea will shine its bright sparkly goodness into my thoughts again and I jump on it and spit out the words within an hour or so.  I think there is only once where I listened to the story that originally spurted into my thoughts and banged it out and published it within about an hour.

Which leads me to the question, why don’t I trust myself?

I think it’s more than that actually.  For starters, I am pretty new at this and I’m still learning what my process actually is.  Having said that, this particular thing has happened multiple times, so when will I learn to change it and actually trust the original idea and let it happen?

I’m sure there are many reasons, including confidence issues and wanting to be as cool as everyone else telling stories for the same challenge/prompt.  But one keeps glaring at me, spewing its nastiness into my head, so I thought I would share it so you, dear reader, don’t fall into a similar trap.  Actually, if I’m being honest,  it’s really to hammer it into my own head that I don’t need to listen to this voice anymore, and if it somehow helps you, then awesome!

For a little back story, I started thinking about this writing thing quite a few years back.  I even started on the project because it wouldn’t get out of my head and it just had to be told.  I didn’t actually write that many words, but the idea was solid.  I knew how the story began and how it ended.  Fast forward a few years and I ended up in a relationship with someone who said “I’m a writer” when you asked him what he did or what he wanted to do.  I’m not here to judge him or put him down for that.  I’m sure he had(s) every intention of writing that book someday.  I hope he does.  But when we were together, I only rarely saw his writing and we were together for three years.  He talked about it a lot though.  On the other hand, I never felt comfortable sharing my aspirations with him because I didn’t want him to feel like I was jumping on his bandwagon, or something.  When I finally did get up the courage to tell him my story and send him what I had written so far, he was less than supportive.  I don’t remember his exact words, but he said something like “there is too much emotion in your writing.  Most people don’t want to feel like this when they read something.”

I know what you’re thinking.  Why the hell did I let his words breed insanity in my head?  Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you that they affected me.  I started over-thinking my process and wondering if I really should tell my story and would people really want to read it or anything I wrote…

The thing is, I like it when I am hit with emotion in stories.  I like being emotionally connected to a character.  The books I have a hard time reading are the ones that don’t have that. Which stands to reason I would write like that as well.  And I do.  But it took some pretty serious feedback and cajoling from a few people I love and trust in my life now to actually get the courage up  to start this blog and to share my stories.  Not that I wouldn’t have had a hard time doing it without this voice in my head, but it has added an extra layer that, frankly, I don’t need.  Who does?  But every time I have my first idea, one of the reasons I reject it is because it is too emotional or too close to home – things that directly relate to those stupid words from someone I trusted at the time.

I guess what I’m trying to say is trust yourself.  Trust your process.  Other people’s opinions and words are okay and they can help, but sometimes you need to throw them in the trash where they belong.  If only it was as easy to do that as just typing these words, but I do know that the more I tell myself the things that will actually help, the less I hear the other things that sap my confidence and make it harder to write.

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me rant about my writing process for a bit.  How about you?  Do you have something similar that keeps banging you over the head?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy writing everyone!

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Daydreams and Wishes

Chuck’s challenge this week over at Terrible Minds was to write a 1,000 word flash fiction on the new cover for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I happen to agree with him that this photo doesn’t seem to match the story that I know.  In fact, this photo brought things to mind that I didn’t want to delve into in order to write 1,000 words.  So, I decided to write a poem instead.  Just as disturbing perhaps, but at least it’s out of my head and I can move on to the next challenge or blog post or whatever else I decide to do.

Funny how things come to a close once I hit that publish button.  I’m really hoping for closure on this one because it didn’t bring up good things.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my poem inspired by the photo.

Daydreams and Wishes

there once was a girl filled with daydreams and wishes
pink candy rainbows and bubblegum clouds
baby dolls’ carriages
ruffles and bows
tied up in bouncing yellow curls
hopping, skipping, smiling
sparkling blue eyes dancing
playing and clasping in friendships abounding

there once was a girl filled with daydreams and wishes
pink shattered glass floating like ice-covered feathers
orange marmalade on wax painted faces
stern disapproval
quietly mocking voices out of
ruby red lips turned down
vacant blue eyes pleading intently
fingers beckoning, screaming for help
oblivious joy retreating to safer places

Is Two Better Than One?

This is written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G. Hill.  The prompt this week was: double/two/bi-/twin or anything else that means “two”.  I suppose I took it in a pretty cheesy direction, but if I’ve learned nothing else from this writing thing, I’ve learned to go with my very first thought and run with it.  Otherwise, I spend more time than I’d like to admit spinning my wheels or hearing crickets from the lack of words filling my head.

Is Two Better Than One?

When I first read the prompt, the first thing that came to my mind is “two is better than one.”  There is a song by Boys Like Girls with the same title.  The song has always resonated with me, but I have to admit to being slightly more cynical these days than I used to be.

When I was growing up, I had this ideal about love that we all most likely share at a certain point.  Books and movies didn’t help this concept.  Most of them ended happily ever after when boy finally falls for girl or vice-versa and they make it through some conflict, realize their love and voila!  They live happily ever after.  They never really showed what happened next.  So, there was a part of me that thought this would happen.

I fell in love when I was sixteen for the first time.  It was beautiful and tragic and wonderful and horrible all at the same time.  It takes work for two people to come together and decide they want to spend their moments together.  Most people don’t last, or if they do, they spend much of the time in unhappiness, staying with that person for all the wrong reasons.  (That sounds really jaded, even for me, but our divorce rate is atrocious, and looking at some relationships that have lasted over 20 years, you wonder why they even stayed together).

So, is two really better than one?

I would like to think that whatever brings two people together is a strong link that can last, if we allow it.  It takes growing with that person, backing down when you don’t want to, but are you really going to stand toe to toe with the one you love over an idea?  Over something you believe but they think slightly differently about?

This brings to mind another song by the Beatles “All you need is love”.  I think it is, or it can be.  Because love isn’t just one thing.  Love grows and changes and becomes something else, if you allow it.  It isn’t a stagnant thing.  It is so many different things that are all wrapped up in one word.  It isn’t really fair to the word love and how much we put into it.

Despite everything I have been through in my life, I still love LOVE.  I love being with another person, having a deep connection and working together to make it through this thing called life.  Love isn’t a mystical thing that just happens.  It takes work and growth and self-realization.  But in the end, I will always believe it’s worth it.  I’m going to leave you with some lyrics from both songs I’ve listed above.  I’m not a huge fan of linking to videos, but both can be found on YouTube if you’re so inclined.  I also found both sets of lyrics on http://www.azlyrics.com.

Two is Better Than One by Boys Like Girls

And I’m thinking, I can’t live without you
‘Cause, baby, two is better than one
There’s so much time to figure out the best of my life
But I’ll figure out with all that’s said and done
Two is better than one

All You Need is Love by The Beatles

Nothing you can make that can’t be made
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It’s easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Gruff The Rat

This story is for Turn-a-trope Tuesday, a challenge laid down by Mark Baron. This weeks prompt was Verbal Tic Name.  (Think Yeah Yeah from Sandlot – that’s the one that resonated  the most with me and helped me move forward)  I’m not sure I turned it on its head, but I had fun with it.  I’ve wanted to do more Sammy adventures and this gave me the perfect opportunity.  If you want to read Sammy’s debut, you can do that here.

Coming in at 998 words:

Gruff the Rat

I’m a good girl. I’m a good girl.

It’s my mantra these days even though I’m feeling less good, more confused and purposeless. My only real purpose is sitting by Mom, loving her and giving what I can.

Something happened.

We were supposed to go running one morning, but we didn’t, even though I waited by the door staring at my leash, futilely wagging my tail. Then she disappeared for what seemed like forever. The other humans didn’t spend much time at home either and I spent a lot of time with my head in my paws waiting by the door, occasionally twitching my tail and moving my eyes back and forth.

Now she’s home, but she’s on the couch a lot and we don’t go running anymore. She seems to need comfort so I spend a lot of time by her side or at her feet. She tolerates me and occasionally says things like, “I’m sorry, Sammy. I know you miss running.”

A lot of other humans come and go. I pretend I understand their conversations, but really I only understand a few words, like my name.

“How’s Sammy holding up?”

“You know, I think she’s depressed. Can a dog be depressed?” Mom rubs my head and I lick her hand, my tail wagging back and forth. “It might be some time before I can take her running again, and I keep forgetting to have the kids walk her. Even then, it’s just around the block. Hopefully getting another dog will be good for her. She needs the company and I don’t like seeing her like this.”

“That’ll probably help. Are you planning on getting another Lab?”

“No. A neighbor’s sheepdog just had puppies a few months ago and we already picked one out of the litter. We are going to pick him up tomorrow.” Mom is petting me but she bends to lift my muzzle and stares into my eyes. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you girl?”

I let my tongue hang out and my breath is coming fast, my tail picking up speed. I don’t know what she’s saying but I love it when she looks in my eyes.

If I’d known then what was going to happen, well, I don’t know what I would have done. It’s not like I have a whole lot of power here. To be honest, when the gray ball of matted fur shows up, I’m curious, sniffing and licking him. The thing barely moves and doesn’t really change things much, at first.

They start calling him Gruff because that’s how he barks, I kid you not. The first time he lets out a little “gruff” sound it takes so much energy, it almost knocks him off the couch. All the humans say “Awwww” and laugh as if they’ve never heard anything like it before. I let out a bark, full-throated and deep, to show the humans and the intruder how it’s supposed to be done, but they all shush me.

I look at Mom, stung, but she has her face in the fur ball and doesn’t see me.

I try to be a good girl, but I can’t help but think that Gruff the Rat doesn’t have anything on me. I have velvety, chocolate brown fur, I hardly shed and I pee outside where dogs are supposed to pee. I am also named after something sensible – Samus, the female warrior from a thing called Metroid. At least, that’s what Mom tells other humans when they ask.

Gruff is named after his bark (how dumb is that?). He’s pretty rough around the edges with weird splotches of black haphazardly strewn over his long gray fur, but not in the cute Dalmatian sort of way, and his eyes are mismatched. He looks more like a rat than a dog, thus the name I’ve given him.

Things go from bad to worse when he gets a little bit bigger.

I’m just walking through the kitchen on my way to my favorite spot when all the sudden Gruff bites down on my tail and I am carrying an extra little fur ball across the room. I swat my tail as hard as I can and he goes sailing through the air, landing underneath a chair. I look at Mom to see if she will do anything to stop the madness, but she laughs. Laughs! Can you believe it?

Things like this happen all the time. The Rat invades my space, wrecks my peace and fiddles with my sanity.

When I finally manage to make it to my favorite spot, I’m just soaking up the sun letting my eyes glaze over and my lids start to droop when the rat gets all in my business, shoving his muzzle into mine, sniffing and licking. I swat at him with my paw and he answers with a bounce and a “gruff” and starts at it again.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t take long before he actually starts to grow on me. There’s just something about the level of cute he puts out that seems to have an invisible string attached to my heart and the more he yanks on it, well, you know.

Once he settles down after bugging me to the point I growl in warning, he curls up next to me and we spend a few hours dozing. When we go outside, he reminds me what it’s like to have a friend to play with. He chases me and I chase him. I have to be careful, though, because his paws aren’t quite up to speed yet. While he’s bouncing through the grass, running from my exuberance, he misses a step and skids face first into the grass forcing me to quickly change direction before I barrel into him.

He’s a lovable little thing. He’s torn my world in two and rebuilt it into something else entirely, but I’m starting to think it isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m a good girl, after all.

The Equal Amateur

As ever, the amazing Chuck Wendig has put forth a challenge this week,  the Random Title Challenge.  I actually used a random number generator and rolled #2.  I wasn’t sure how to get it to work and even thought about using one of the other titles, but with some amazing input from real life on Saturday – everything from flat tires to people watching at an all day concert – I was able to come up with something. It is 995 words and I hope you enjoy.

The Equal Amateur

Driving in the dead of night on a two lane highway is like the typical death story those who make it back tell – a shining light up ahead with ghostly darkness all around. The only difference is the occasional glare of on-coming head lights highlighting the yellow tick-ticking of the lane marker rushing by.

Thank God she isn’t alone, even if her companion is snoring in the passenger seat, drool seeping out the corner of his mouth to land on his sticky tank top. He almost sleeps more soundly now than he did when he was a baby. She takes in the dark brown waves framing his teenage-blemished face and sighs in wonder at how quickly time has passed.

Not so, the trip. Driving for three days is no joke, but their destination is fast approaching, only about eight hours away. Abby glances in the rear view mirror and fiddles with the radio. She hasn’t been able to get anything but static since the sun went down. She sighs and goes back to other ridiculous techniques that just might keep her eyes open but most likely not.

Her thoughts are on maybe pulling off to the side of the road to take a nap when the car does a strange lurch and a weird grating noise from the front right lets her know the tire has gone flat. It takes some maneuvering, but slowly letting off the gas and turning the car slightly to the right, she eventually comes to a rumbling stop on the side of the deserted highway.

“What’s going on?” Aaden’s voice is thick with sleep and he’s rubbing his eyes, slowly straightening from his hunched position.

“We have a flat tire.”

“Do we call someone? What do we do?”

Abby laughs. “No, buddy. We change it ourselves and hope there’s a gas station not too far away.”

“Seriously? God, Mom! This sucks!”

“Don’t I know it! Come on.”

He sighs as they both get out of the car and head to the back, leaving the doors open to give them some light.

“Have you ever done this before?”

She laughs again. “Well, yes, but damned if I remember.”

Suitcases, blankets, pillows, a heaping pile of junk lands on the dusty roadside in order to accommodate lifting the fake bottom where the spare is stored in the trunk. They spend some time yanking and pulling, trying to lift the tire out. “Maybe if you twist it…” Just as she says it, he starts twisting a screw in the center that holds it in place. She smiles. “We figured that out at the same time.”

He gives her a grunt in response as he pulls the spare out and she grabs for the mechanism she knows will lift the car. She looks at it warily, twisting it this way and that, wondering how the tiny metal contraption is going to manage its purpose. She follows her son to the side where he is already twisting the lug nuts off the flat. For having changed a tire once but Aaden not at all, they seem to be on equally amateurish ground.

He stops what he’s doing long enough to grab the jack out of her hand and before she knows it, he has it under the car and he’s twisting something to make it lift. Maybe he is actually better at this than she is.

“Here, Mom. You do this while I finish getting the lug nuts off.”

Kneeling in the dusty gravel is not an option so she plops down on her butt and starts turning the metal thingy. Is it even working? She can’t tell, but she continues anyway, trying not to think about how creepy night sounds can be on a dark, lonely highway in the middle of the night.

Aaden has the lug nuts off and tries to lift the spare onto the car. “It needs to be higher. Do you want me to take over?”

“No, I’ve got it. It doesn’t seem like I’m even doing anything, but I can hear the car lifting.”

“Yeah.”

He hefts the flat back to the trunk while she gets up to check the height. She doesn’t realize how heavy a spare tire is and it takes her by surprise. She doesn’t even get it off the ground before Aaden is taking it from her and turning to put it on the car. Feeling useless, she decides to put things back in the trunk and starts to head that way when a shadow moves by the back of the car.

What the hell?

She blinks and freezes in place, her hand gesturing wildly behind her in Aaden’s general direction.

“Aaden!” She whispers anxiously.

She is staring hard at the shadow as it slowly materializes into a form and becomes what she thinks is a man. She feels Aaden behind her and she closes her hand around his arm, using her body to shield him.

“Hello?” Her voice is shaky and she wishes it wasn’t, but she is freaking out. How the hell does a man just appear out of nowhere like that?

The man stands with feet planted level on the ground, his hands folded in front of him. Most of his body is lost in the shadows of his dark clothing blending with the night, but his too pale face looks painted on and he has a halo of black hair surrounding it, falling down past what the darkness allows her to see. What she can see clearly are his eyes – glowing blood-red, shot through with white.

Frantic, she is just about to urge Aaden into the car when the shadow moves. Faster than she can follow with her eyes, he… it… descends on them, lifts them into the air and carries them off. Their screams echo across the inky desolation and blend with the crickets making soft music that floats upward, hovering in the air momentarily before vanishing into the wind.

Hearing Music

This was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday hosted by Linda G Hill where the prompt was to write about hear/here.  I know I’m late, but I was gone all day yesterday and wanted some quality time with the boyfriend last night.  I also need to confess that I read the prompt on Friday and made the mistake of waiting until this morning to write it, so it isn’t necessarily stream of consciousness because I thought more about it than I probably should have.  But, it still fit the prompt so I’m going with it.

Hearing Music

I always tell other people that music is in my soul. There are times when I feel music so profoundly it fills me up and I’m overwhelmed by its beauty resonating not just through my ears and hearing it, but through feeling it throughout my entire body. I know many people have similar experiences with music and it is amazing when like-minded people gather together to listen and enjoy it.

Growing up, my parents limited my music intake to what they thought was “appropriate” like classical music or, I don’t know, music from the 50s. Whenever we would try to play something current, they would make us change the radio because, no matter what the song was, it was too loud and sending the wrong message or there is the crazy saying “that’s devil’s music.”

It is strange to me how I can hear something entirely different than what someone else hears.

I used to work in a busy sales office and they used to play all sorts of music on the loud speakers to pump up the salesmen and make more sales. It was more in the hip-hop/pop genre and while I enjoyed it, they usually had it tuned to a station that played the same ten songs in a mind-numbing loop so you would hear the same song at least four times a day. I ended up not wanting to listen to music that I loved simply because I heard it too many times.

I started playing my own Ipod in my office to drown out the madness coming from the sales floor. I have to thank Adelle for opening my eyes to a greater diversity in music, although I don’t think she intended to get me to like her music when it first happened. It was more like I just let her play it in the car and while it was pretty painful for me at first, eventually I started asking for certain songs and thinking about her music and before you know it, it was on my Ipod and I was geeking over it just as much as she was.

One day at work, a band was playing and they can be a little screamy, a little loud, but the reason I let it play in my office was because the lyrics were awesome and no one else seemed to mind. One of the salesmen walked in when this band was playing and right away he said, “Oh, you like devil music, huh?”

It made me angry. It is such a knee jerk reaction to label something “of the devil” when its new and foreign and you don’t take the time to actually hear it.

My reply, “If you actually took the time to listen to the lyrics, this song is about love. So maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge.”

I wasn’t going to convince him simply from my anger and what I said. It didn’t matter, I suppose. I listen to music for my own reasons, not anyone else’s.

The band was Family Force 5 and the song was Love Addict.  One of my favorite lines from the song is “Hold up, wait a minute, put a little love in it.”

When Adelle was thirteen, she started wanting to go to concerts and the first one I ever took her to was Vans Warped Tour. If you don’t know what it is, it’s an outdoor venue with about 8 different stages and music playing every hour on each stage from 11am to 8pm. They play across the country during the summer, so you may have heard of it.

Yesterday was the first year Adelle didn’t go with me, but I took Jaxon for the first time. I cannot describe what it was like to see it through his eyes, fresh and new and beyond exciting. When I dropped him off at home last night, he hugged me at least three times and I can’t count how many times he thanked me throughout the day yesterday.

Here I will leave you with some pictures, some special moments from yesterday.  I hope you enjoy.  I also hope you will take a moment to hear music differently, maybe listen to a band you’ve never heard of.  Listen to the lyrics.  Not all music will touch everyone equally, but music is like that.  That’s what makes it so beautiful to me.

First things first.  This is a snippet of two stages with all the bands playing on them.  I highlighted these because most of the bands I wanted to see were playing here.

Schedule of Bands

What would a concert be without a selfie or two.  Here we are waiting for The Devil Wears Prada.  We had just watched Icon for Hire which is a band I’ve never heard of before but we both really liked.  I’m excited to check out more of their music.  We left after a few songs by The Devil Wears Prada.  They started late and the singer said he wasn’t feeling well, which I think showed in their set.  We went to see more sites and enjoy more and different music.

Waiting for The Devil Wears Prada

I was excited to see Mayday Parade.  The one thing I loved about them was the lead singer and how he would sing and then just break out in a smile.

Mayday Parade

After Mayday Parade, we went walking around again.  I think we went to the Peace Tea tent where they were serving free drinks.  I wasn’t too excited about the next band and even told Jaxon we could see someone else or do something else.  We wandered aimlessly for a while but eventually found ourselves back at the main stage just before Of Mice And Men started.  I am so happy we did!  They played a great set and we enjoyed the hell out of it.

Of Mice And Men

Just before they finished, Jaxon turned to me and asked if we could get closer for the next band.  I decided yesterday that they are my favorite band and I was stoked that he wanted to see them closer.  We systematically made our way forward when everyone was leaving and made it to the front row.  We were a little off to one side, but it didn’t matter!

Quick Note: I should have at least pointed out the my favorite band is We the Kings – just in case you can’t make it out from the picture below.

We The Kings Stage Setup

This was the stage setup and the waiting.  It was about thirty minutes in between, where we were standing here baking in the sun.  So, we decided to take more silly selfies.

More Waiting  Waiting for We The Kings

And then… the highlight of the whole day… my favorite band!

We The Kings  I Love We The Kings

After that, we wandered and sat and basically lost the wind in our sails.  I wanted to see a band at 6:30 and we  were planning on staying to the end, but right before Breathe Carolina started, Jaxon decided he was done.  Breathe Carolina turned out to not be what they used to be, so after a few songs we left.

All in all, it was a fantastic day.