Everything in Life Is Writable

Sylvia Plath Quote

Everything in life is writable about, according to Sylvia Plath. Everything. Every breath you take, every move you make, wait… that’s…not…I’ve digressed.

Today was held such promise but it ended up as a day where I did not get much accomplished beyond making dough in the kitchen. Sure, I eventually put sauce, pepperoni, and cheese on one of the doughs (mmmm.. homemade pizza, anyone?) but aside from that, I may have read a grand total of 10-15 pages in one of my research books and taken a whopping half-page of notes.

My brain is a bit fried from the heavier stuff earlier this week. Switching gears from intense analytical reading to simple comprehension is a bit like taking an F1 driver out of his race car and telling him to drive Monaco in a Flinstone-mobile. He’s gonna wonder where the hell the knobs and gears are, right?

That’s the catch with the writing lifestyle, I suppose. Switching gears all the time. The book I envision is comprised of a range of subjects. Some of the reading I am doing is just for background purposes as I hate discussing anything unless I fully understand it. Writing a book means I damn well better be able to comprehend what I am discussing. So, reading it is. A lot of reading. Balancing that reading is proving to be tricky, however. What is even trickier is balancing the reading/researching/note-taking with blogging. Oh, and chat. Mondays are crazy around here. Chat, worksheet development (which I think I am going to move up to the weekends, actually, to get a jump start!), and then advocacy. Phew.

I promise I am still taking good care of myself. I practice what I preach.

The quote I started with – about how everything in life is writable about – it caught my eye because it is important for me to remember that just now. At the beginning of the year, I promised a more intimate view into ME this next year. I realized over the past year that one of the reasons I stopped writing was because frankly, I lost sight of who I was as a woman, as a writer, as a blogger in my own space. Sure, it was mine, but I felt like a stranger in my own home. I was no longer who I was when I started the blog. Should I continue? Should I rebrand? (I still struggle with rebranding – I may do that one of these days yet, that one is still up in the air).

Turns out that I just needed to sit down, crack my knuckles, and remind myself that yes, everything in life IS writable about – it’s just a question of having the guts to do so, as Sylvia says. I still get to choose what I share with the public at large, but there is nothing to writing – all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed, according to Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway also claims one should write drunk and edit sober, solid advice if you ask me, actually. Nothing quite like really lowering your inhibitions and then sitting down at a typewriter to bleed. Of course, your blood might be tinged with scotch or whisky. But a bit of proper editing and you’ll be good to go, right?

A blogger I met when I first arrived on Twitter wrote these hilarious posts about lessons she learned over the past week. Sadly, I don’t read her blog much any more but really need to get back into the habit because she’s a hilarious woman. In the vein of “everything in life is writable” and the spirit of lessons I’ve learned this past week, here is a short list of things I’ve learned this past week (some the hard way):

1) Never, ever, ever, EVER grab a hot glass casserole dish without oven mitts protecting your hands. Because if you do? You sit down on the floor, grab a beer, take a long gulp whilst staring dumbfounded at the oven:

Epic Dinner Fail

Lessons learned: Wear oven mitts. Don’t make complicated meals when you’ve had less than five hours of sleep. Inadequacy and failure taste delicious when they take the form of sushi.

2) There is such a thing as too much damn snow. I lived in the deep south for nearly two decades. Despite growing up in Jersey and spending my teen years in the mid-Atlantic, I haven’t seen the white stuff for a long time so I am still like a little kid whenever it crops up. Now that I am back in the Northeast, it’s been fabulous to see all the snow. Until the past month where it has managed to snow no less than a zillion times every damn week. Right now, we have about eight inches of the crap on the ground. It’s topped with a coating of a quarter of an inch of ice. It’s gorgeous, yes. But I NEED SPRING.

Lesson learn(ing): Patience, grasshopper. Lots and lots of patience. Also, lots of cruising Flickr for pictures of beaches, spring flowers, and sunshine.

3) My handwriting sucks. I am ascribing to the Luddite method of note-taking for my book. I bought a lovely 400 page journal and scribble in it, complete with references and everything as I take notes, write thoughts, etc. When I physically write something down, I am more likely to remember it than if I type it into a computer or into my phone. Once I fling it into the ether, it is also flung far, far away from my head. Don’t even think about suggesting Evernote. I’m already scheming ways to print out PDF’s of documents I desperately need to read because yes, I don’t want to read them online. I want to feel dead trees in my grubby non-environmental friendly hands. Because dammit, it’s just not a book unless trees have shed blood for it. Remember Hemingway? We’re bleeding here as authors – and I fully expect the trees to sacrifice too. And no, I do not care how politically incorrect this makes me – I am a FIRM believer in REAL BOOKS. MADE OF DEAD TREES.

Lesson learned: Practice my handwriting whenever I get a chance. It’s already improving. I can *almost* read it when I go back over my notes now. It’s either practice or apply to med school.

4) Just because a cat looks comfy and happy doesn’t mean they want you to pet them. No, sometimes? That means they’re stalking your hand, waiting for it to wave just in reach of their very sharp teeth.

Lesson Learned: Kick the cat off the damn couch if I’m typing. Or eating. Or moving my hands in any way. Because OW.

5) Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. I suck at eating breakfast when I am tired. Which, frankly, is most mornings. So I end up making myself coffee, taking my meds, fixing an English Muffin (this morning, it was a toaster strudel), with the intent of fixing myself some sort of protein once I’ve dragged myself out of the zombiesque state I tend to live in for the first few hours after opening my eyes. Thing is, lunchtime hits before I know it and OOPS. There goes breakfast. I eat light for lunch too because I got used to skipping it as well (back when I was eating a bigger breakfast) so then I want to eat ALL THE THINGS by dinner. If I eat ALL the things at dinner (and after dinner), I wake up with heartburn. I don’t want to wake up with heartburn so I need to get breakfast. We ordered a toaster this past week that has a little egg cooker attached to it so I am hoping this will enable me to eat a healthier breakfast. I have no excuse to not cook an egg along with my muffin now. NONE.

Lesson learned: Eat breakfast to avoid heartburn. Because heartburn wakes me up at 330 and then I don’t get any sleep and then, well – see item #1.

There you have it folks, my week in a nutshell.

Here’s to a better week, better lessons, less bleeding (or is that more, because I want to write? I dunno!), and DEAD TREES! YAWP!


Turning Writer’s Block into Ruby Slippers

Ever sit in front of your computer, arched like a cat, ready to strike at the keyboard, ideas at the ready and then…they sprout wings and fly out of your head as if they have been summoned by the Wicked Witch of the West to go fight Dorothy and friends as they cross Oz on their journey to see the Wizard?

I am so there. *screams at the fleeing monkeys*

In the past couple of months, I had a brief conversation with @schmutzie on Twitter about poetry and writer’s block. She casually mentioned she did not believe in writer’s block which struck me as interesting as it is something I have struggled with from time to time – heck, all of us writers have, have we not?

Then I seriously considered her idea. Why would we willingly believe in something which only serves as a roadblock to something we so desperately want to do? By doing so, are we giving ourselves permission to daydream instead of dive into the task at hand? The only thing blocking the writer is well, the writer.

What if we refused to believe in writer’s block? Mind over matter and all that. For example, right now? I’m channeling my inner Charles Bukowski and putting his words “writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all” into practice.

Let’s say you go into the kitchen to cook a batch of muffins. You want these muffins more than anything in the world. You preheat the oven, gather your equipment, and put all the ingredients on the counter. But you realize you are out of eggs, a very necessary ingredient. Do you give up on making the muffins? No. If you’re like me, you Google for egg substitutions or you run to the store for eggs. You mix up the recipe, accepting that while it may not be exactly right, it’s better than no muffins at all.

The same is true for writing.

Even if you sit there and write about not being able to write, it is better than not writing at all. For that matter, you could simply copy another text. The method is to get you thinking and following the patterns of language and imaginative thinking. Granted, what you are currently writing may not be the most allegorically amazing thing to ever hit the page but it is writing nonetheless.

I am currently on Day 11 of author Jeff Goins’ My 500 Words Challenge. Some days I have put the keyboard to the metal and zoomed by 500 words (like yesterday when I wrote over 1k words) and other days, I have barely managed to crank out the 500 minimum words. Right now, I am eying the word count because frankly, I would rather be doing anything other than writing. Sleep sounds good, actually.

One of the things I have really appreciated about the FB group for Jeff’s challenge is the motivation. Particularly Jeff’s motivation. He has constantly encouraged us every day through example and challenges. Just yesterday he told all of us to stop doubting ourselves – that we were indeed, enough. If I am stuck, I pop into the group and scan through some of the threads for inspiration. Sometimes it works, other times, it doesn’t.

I am noticing, however, that my brain is working differently. Instead of just experiencing things and dismissing them, the most mundane things are turning into potential pieces. In fact, my most liked post from the past week was about the dinner I cooked that evening. Until I cooked that dinner, I had no idea what I would write about that day. Then, boom.

Being a writer is not about contracts. It is not about publication. It is not about writing a perfect piece every time your fingers hit the keyboard or wrap themselves around a pen hovering over paper. Being a writer is about writing when you just don’t want to but you have a deadline to meet or a challenge to fulfill. Being a writer is about seeing everything around you as a potential story. It is about digging deeper and challenging yourself to fill in the gaps.

Tonight, and always, I am a writer. A sleepy writer, but a writer. Are you a writer?

Even though we are 11 days in, you can still join Jeff’s challenge. Go here for more information. If you decide to join, I’m going to toss in an extra challenge (which is implied in Jeff’s challenge but not explicitly stated, I dare you to say to hell with Writer’s Block and write whether you feel like it or not. Use this awesome quote as inspiration:

“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.”
Lili St. Crow

Go forth and squeeze every single drop out of your Muse. Drain her dry. What you find inside may just surprise the hell out of you. Remember, according to Hemingway, ““There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

At the end of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy realizes that all she has to do is click her ruby red slippers together and say, “There’s no place like home” in order to get back to Kansas. All you have to do as a writer is click your keyboard and whisper “There’s nothing like writing” to defeat your writer’s block. (Even if it’s angry pecking and frustrated whispers or shouting). You got this, right? Good.

Now write.