Necessity is the mother of invention and fear

I read a quote on Twitter from an author that said something about how desperation creates material with which to write (major paraphrase), but even though I feel the beginnings of desperation, I don’t feel I’m any more creative.  In fact, I’m just scared.

When I was a child, I used to write fan fiction.  I didn’t know that’s what it was because I was seven, but to be frank, that’s what it was.  I wrote about Godzilla and the Boxcar children, creating battles and mysteries that would result in Godzilla emerging as the hero and the Boxcar children demonstrating their resourcefulness and cleverness.  I even wrote some short stories in middle school involving the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, most notably stories of Leonardo falling in love with me.  Nothing gross, just romantic (except for the mutant turtle part).  I also went through a moody, angst-filled adolescent poetry phase.  To be fair, my mentally-ill father experimented with not taking his medication, I went to a boarding school, transferred to a friends school, and got two part-time jobs.  I had shit going on!  The poems were decent though.  If I had any skill with an acoustic guitar, I could maybe make something out of them.

As an adult, I had backed off writing until I went back to college.  The four-year university I was interested in transferring to (not sure that I still am) required a score of five on the AP exam that I took in high school.  Wonderful, I got a four so I took first-year English again.  The best part about it, besides the A I got, was a re-invigoration of my passion for writing.  I wrote a short narrative about the day I knew I needed to get my own motorcycle.  It was amazing and my professor said that it was one of the best essays she had read.  My confidence shot up.

Since then I’ve had ideas for books, but haven’t always made the time.  Besides that, I’ve never been desperate enough to overcome my fear and write about what really matters.  Things like my childhood, adolescence, marriage, postpartum depression, and other topics that readers can connect to.  Now though, I feel myself nearing the cliff of desperation as I struggle to find a job that pays well enough for the amount of bullshit work entails (at any job).  I grapple with the indecision in my educational path to a career (what major, what college).  Sometimes I wonder if I should be a “big kid” and accept I’m not going to do better than my retail job (pays better than you think at the “store manager” level), knowing I’m disappointing myself by taking the easy road, but providing income.  Like I said, the sense of desperation is creeping in.  There’s a part of me that hopes the fear of doing nothing overwhelms the fear of doing something scary, something like becoming vulnerable.  Maybe then I’ll actually write material with substance.

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Sadness

“Sometimes I’m sad
And I don’t know why
It makes me want
To sit down and cry”

This beginning to a poem came into my head as I was feeding my youngest and feeling emotional.  Just given that knowledge, one might think I’m depressed, but I know otherwise.

I’ve had several bouts with depression over the years.  Most notably in middle and high school while experiencing the normal growing pains adolescents go through, when my mentally-ill father was alive and off his medication, when he passed away, after birthing my first child, and different points during my separation from my now ex-husband.  I know what depression feels like.  It feels like looking into darkness and seeing no light, not at the end of the tunnel nor around the corner.  Depression feels like hurting yourself to know you can still feel.  It’s believing the world is better off without you.  I know what depression is.  Life with hope or dreams, without living. 

Like most people, I get in ruts.  They are little and temporary.  They often involve feeling like there is something missing or like there’s something there that doesn’t.  It’s that nagging feeling that something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it. 

Sometimes the sensation goes away on its own.  You wake up the next day and it’s like you were never down at all, like it was a bad dream.  Other times you can chase it away by engaging in a fun activity or something you’re passionate about, a hobby, whatever.  Sometimes it’s just a low-pressure front moving through the area or a cloudy day.  Those always make me funky.  Sometimes it’s hormones and you just need to wait it out.

Today is sunny, warm, a perfect September day.  I watched some football (my team lost), played with my children, and took a nap.  I get anxious about money, my job, my school work, and I always worry about my kids in just the way a parent can.  My job is like a black hole I cannot escape (ten years of retail can do that to you) and I feel my lack of a degree like an invisible badge of shame.  I’m making progress, but it’s slow-going.

Today though, I’m pretty sure it’s just hormones. 

Gaming and my Lit class

I am taking a required literature class, specifically African-American Literature.  We recently read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, among others.  They’re depressing, obviously, but they really make you think and evaluate our culture and country today.  To be honest, I don’t really want to get into it.  This information is more for context.

I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny and a little of Diablo 3 on PS4.  For some reason, I got a craving to play Assassin’s Creed IV, which I have on PS3.  I put the disc in and start-up the game.  I have 97% completed; that includes side quests, additional requirements, treasures, etc. so I decided try the expansion pack I received with my season pass that I had bought when I purchased the game.  The expansion is called “Freedom Cry” and features your first mate, Adéwal

In “Freedom Cry”, you, as Adéwalare a trained Assassin fighting against the Templars.  You start the game on a ship (pretty sure it’s the Jackdaw, from the main game) in the process of attacking a Templar fleet.  After boarding one of the ships and obtaining a package, you attempt to escape by sailing into a storm.  Naturally, you get ship-wrecked.  It turns out that you are in Saint-Dominique, a French colony that is heavily involved in the slave trade.  Long story short, you free as many slaves as possible while pursuing the Templars.

What are the chances that I get the urge to play that game while I’m in this class?  I haven’t touched that game in months and I think my PS3 was becoming melancholy.  I didn’t even know what “Freedom Cry” entailed.  I knew that Adéwal

Missed Opportunity

On Tuesday I missed a great writing opportunity.  I was feeling discouraged (more on that another time) and I wasn’t sure why.  Overall I was just dissatisfied, with school, work, life.  I walked around during the hour and a half that I have between classes, not really sure what to do with myself.  I ended up going outside past the designated smoking spot and down a path towards a patio.  This patio area had rocking chairs, picnic tables, and arches with ivy.  It was like I discovered the secret garden.  There was even a volleyball court back there.  It was empty, but it exists, which is something.  The tables and rockers were under some trees; I can’t say which ones, but they were overlooking the mountains that surround the school.  The sun was out.  It wasn’t too hot or cool, just right with a slight breeze blowing through.  I sat at one of the tables looking at the vista and tried to convince myself that things weren’t that bad.  I longed for my chromebook that I had accidentally left at home.  I wrote nothing.  I ended up doing some statistics homework some time later, but I did not write anything.  Why?  Because I didn’t have a computer?  Ridiculous.  I prefer writing with pen on paper, but the thought never occurred to me.  What a missed opportunity that was.

Legitimately, I wrote today

Today I am on a roll.  I just completed a seven paragraph post about my experience with the new Bungie game, Destiny.  I also worked on my story about my son and his bedtime.  If you didn’t notice, I also responded to the Daily Post on WordPress.  Overall, it’s been a productive day of writing for me.

I’m feeling extremely positive about my writing now that I’m starting to do it.  I think that the more I write, the better I will feel too because as I was typing, I found myself getting more descriptive and more sensory as I fell into the material.  I have a feeling that the more often I write, and the more lengthier my product, the more successful it will be.  What do I have to lose anyway?

Even though I doubt my interest in writing (truthfully, I doubt most things about myself), the more I engage in it, the more confident I become.  Eventually, my content will reflect that confidence and will communicate my passion more clearly.  It’s time to stop writing for everyone else and remember that the true purpose of this blog is to keep me honest and to encourage me to practice my craft.  It feels weird to call it that, but until I treat it like I would painting or any other passion of mine, it will remain a fantasy, and a faint one at that.

Here’s the link to the other post, if you’re interested: http://heysotoday.blogspot.com/2014/09/destiny-game-not-philosophical-power.html

Here’s a few lines from my kids story:

“Night, night, MaMa”

“Night, night” to baby brother and big sister.

DaDa follows after

Flop, flop, flop, go padded feet up the stairs.

Five things

Don’t know how I never noticed before, but there is a daily prompt located here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/to-do-done/.  That would be an excellent way to ensure that I actually write a little every day.

The prompt for today is a to-do list of five things that you’d like to change in your life and a post about the day all five are accomplished.

My list:

  1. Choosing a major (because I need to stop being indecisive)
  2. Getting a job I feel really good about (no offense to current job–don’t fire me!)
  3. Regaining my confidence (it got lost somewhere along the way)
  4. Actually organizing my house (trust me, it would be a life-changing event)
  5. Saying no and meaning it

I’d like to believe that I will be happy the day that those things have been accomplished, but like getting married, having children, and buying a house, everything worth having comes with some amount of work, and likely some anxiety as well.  Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that I will accomplish those five things (and sooner, rather than later).

Making time is harder than it sounds

I understand that writing is what you put into it, but I did not expect it to be so difficult to “put into it”.  Shortly before I started this endeavor, I started back at school (as I’ve mentioned before).  I scheduled all four of my classes on Tue and Thur.  I gave myself a lunch and dinner break, thinking I could get some writing in between.  Instead, I’ve ended up using those breaks for homework.  I try very hard to stay ahead and keep from working on assignments every day of the week since I’d like to have some time for myself and my family.

So here I am, by myself with some time to write.  Now, I’m struggling to find words to type.  I’d work on some of the projects I have in mind, but there isn’t much accountability unless I post something on here, which I’m scared to do because I don’t want someone to plagiarize my material.  Not like I’m conceited enough to assume someone wants to steal my ideas, I’m just paranoid.  And who knows, maybe I have a mental goldmine!

In any case, I think my best bet is to start putting my ideas to “paper”.  If you don’t hear from me in a while, there’s a chance I’m actually writing.

Procrastination?

If all I have to do is write, why do I find it so difficult?  A couple of theories: I’m concerned my children will try to take away my chromebook, I’m scared I won’t have anything to write, or maybe I don’t always feel like it.  Two out of those three involve fear and insecurity.  Why is that?  What do I have to be afraid of?

Sometimes I worry that I’m not capable of writing or that nobody will read what I’ve written.  I’m starting to think that maybe that doesn’t matter.  If that is why I’m writing, no wonder I have concerns about substance.  I have a feeling that I should be writing from the heart.  Then the issue becomes one of heart.  I think I am scared of being vulnerable, which is silly.  I want to write because I feel I have something important to say.  I have experiences that I want to share because I want to pay it forward.

I have lots of ideas and lots of memories to draw from.  I need to pick one and start writing about it.  My strength is in writing first-person narratives.  I can write poetry and short stories, but writing with my voice is what makes my perspective unique.  

Now as I type this, my one-year-old is spinning along the sofa.  It’s probably hard to picture, but he is standing up and basically rolling in that position along the sofa, where I am sitting.  His head is tilted back and he is making burbling sounds.  Poor thing is so tired.  So for now, I’m done, but I’ll be back again later.  Maybe today, maybe tomorrow.  Either way, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Spanish class

Today I worked on my homework for Spanish.  Our assignment was to read a news story on BBC news in Spanish, write a summary, and include a sentence or two in response to the article.  It’s not long, maybe half a page or slightly more.  The funny thing is any time I do any work for Spanish or have Spanish class, English feels foreign.  What makes it funny to me is that I never experienced that in my last two Spanish classes.  

In high school, I took Spanish through level 3.  I also went on a language immersion trip to Costa Rica for a week and a half in both my sophomore and senior years.  In Costa Rica, it was easy to speak Spanish automatically.  When it is all around you, you stop thinking in English and translating every word sentence by sentence.  After high school, I didn’t use Spanish so it seemed to slip away.  Because of UVA’s requirements, I am taking Spanish in college.  I earned A’s in both Spanish 101 and 102, probably due in part to my previous experience with Spanish.  After a year and a half break, I assumed I would struggle to succeed in Spanish 201, but I haven’t.  Our instructor speaks in Spanish almost the entire time and it is making a huge difference.  Not only is my Spanish coming back, but it is coming more easily as well.  Even in something as superficial as reading headlines in Spanish and summarizing.  Clearly my instructor is doing something right.

Practice Makes Perfect

They say that “practice makes perfect”.  We’ve all heard it a million times and we say it just as often to our own children, but how often do we “practice what we preach” (pun intended)?  I am guilty of this very common fallacy.  I say I’m going to do something, but rarely follow through.  However, I have a tendency of doing this, or rather not doing, only when it affects something I want.  For example, this blog, or even writing in general.  I had a passion for writing as a child and still have my journals, notebooks, and creative writing assignments from school.  After I started working though, writing never even crossed my mind.  I was too busy.  Now that I’m older and I’ve climbed the management ladder, I want to do something more productive with my time.  Making money is productive, but hardly fulfilling.

In seeking a degree, I’ve wrestled with choosing the right major.  I try to evaluate my passions and cross-reference careers that would provide some financial stability.  Painting: outdated (unless it’s computer generated); photography: requires additional facility; acting: ridiculously impossible; writing: too time-consuming with too little profit.  To be honest, I don’t habitually engage in any of those hobbies.  Can they even be considered passions?

The one thing I know for certain is that I love my children.  I am passionate about my children.  They are the reason I feel so compelled to acquire a financially secure position that does not require me to go to work within an hour of calling me for the purpose of selling a product that serves no benefit to anyone.  They are the reason I can’t get a degree that fails to provide me with a career, even if I love it.

Here’s the thing, I always feel that the dreams I have are too difficult or unrealistic to achieve, and yes, I may have a point.  I probably will never live in Costa Rica and study sea turtles for an income; however, I can write.  Perhaps I won’t earn a living, but maybe I can do something important.  Maybe I can provide some experience that may benefit someone.  I’ll never know until I try.  The only way I’ll try is by doing, by writing.  That can only occur through practice.