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Wax on Wax off – the Lo-Lo down
My very first concert was the New Kids on the Block. I was totally into them. I had the shirts, cups, the dolls, and pretty much everything else.
I remember I went away for a week with friends and my grandparents were in Vegas. When they came back they said, “While we were in Vegas we got the NKB’s to sign an autograph for you!”
Now. We all know they simply went to a store and picked up an autographed cup. But as a kid I totally bought it. My grandmother lied, to my face, down to the clothes they were wearing. I then ran to school and told everyone, ignoring those with obvious knowledge of my “story”. They were just haters!
It was one of the most exciting things of that year. I remember being the coolest kid ever for a total of one day when the sorry kids that believed me began asking me questions about it, I’d roll my eyes and shrug like it was my secret to keep and the NKB’s might be at my party next week too but you know…they could get busy cause they’re famous.
You might think how awful it was for my grandparents to lie to me, but I totally think it rocks.
It’s the spice of life, kids. It’s Santa on a Mid-May Wednesday.
People make up stuff or color it in all the time. Sometimes stretching the truth is fun.
Don’t think so?
Well then stop watching TV, or reading books. What many entertainers do is take a real happenstance and stretch it. Yup. Go read some blogs, “Well that scene actually happened to me…only, it wasn’t with flying elephants.”
I recently got blogged into “Why I write” by the wonderful and talented Christina Rozelle
It’s been explained pretty accurately by others already. I’m a thinker, a ponderer, always have been.
But since most every “why I write” reason has been covered, instead, I thought I’d make mine about “Why I continue to write”.
This is important for me because I’ve given up a few times. Yup. Or had GIGANTIC gaps in between.
If you think I haven’t gotten nasty rejection letters, or reviews of my work, and then packed in my quill and said what’s done-is-done about a million times, then, put on a strait-jacket, my friend, because it’s getting a little loony in here.
Some things I’ve posted about writing:
“A writer has to mitigate the doubt dumped daily on their heads.”
“Of course failure is an option…I’m a writer!”
“Writing is a vanity that can only be afforded by being damned good.”
More times than not I’m not: “damned good”, even perhaps, I have been: “peculiarly bad”. There are only a few beats on that path to writerdom that make me smile and say, “Ah, yes. Now this part I liked.”
I have to keep a barf bag handy for occasions where I read my old works. “What was I thinking!” bursts from my lips like I have self-review turrets.
I’m my worst critic.
What bothers me is the highs and lows, and how I sometimes let my writing achievements or lack-there-of affect my everyday life. I want to slap myself when it happens because it’s completely useless to stress about things that are out of my control.
Like when Elsa had those magical ice-shooting powers. (I have a toddler) The more they tried to “control” it, the more she exploded with icicles from her fingies.
The “accolade” aspect is unhelpful to us, because the art is supposed to be where I’m at already and not the other way around. It shouldn’t be a destination, but part of my journey that I scribble down along the way. Like some road poet noting characters only because they were people he wanted to remember rather than, oh this is gonna be the best seller of the century!
*uses ice magic against said thoughts*
You may not feel like writing is anything more than craft, but I aim to set a mood with my words, and this causes a lot of problems for the “craft” part. When I see wood and a hammer in my head, my word-mood turns carpenter, which might make things a bit…wooden. (sorry bad joke)
I want my prose to drop the reader from their perch straight into the storm that is my brain cells. I want them to try to beat me up after reading, or shake my hand, or pat my back whilst beating me up, or something along those lines because great art does that to me.
I usually throw a book with a great ending across the room.
Or I write a ravenous review of how I loved it but but but but, please fix me and write another!
As far as my own work, I don’t want them to say, “Nice structure.”
Pfft. Structure…? STRUCTURE! BAH! “Mittens are nice!” (Friends reference there for those of you…never mind)
I don’t want to set art up on the podium for a gold medal and then try to achieve that.
I’m not the only one who follows this logic either. Even going for gold can be a bit deceptive.
Recently, I watched gold medalist Gabriel Douglas’ documentary/reenactment of her life on Netflix. If you get the chance, see it.
Gymnastics is the epitome of discipline. There’s no one sport that forces body parts so intricately and demandingly. Your core has to be solid. You have to be able to run and lift. You yoga to remain elastic, but also stay hard as a rock. Then you have to be mentally stable, ready to compete in that moment at your peak—no full hour long game of chance or team sports going on here.
AND you also have to do all of this by the Olympic clock. You outgrow it after that clock stops ticking. Tick tock tick tock, little gymnasts all over the country are watching the calender years in advance. In some countries there are toddlers being primed. (weird countries but…)
Are you starting to feel like writing is easy compared? Good. You should.
In the documentary her coach said something epic about one of her skills. It was on the bars where she was having trouble and he said, “You are not releasing the bar and grabbing another. You are the bar. You are the skill.”
And that is so true.
I know this is a Miyagi moment, wax on-wax off. But in sports, psychology is HUGELY important.
And guess what? Writing is the same, yo.
When I competed as an equestrian, and I plan on it again, I always knew that I brought everything from my life to that point with me into the ring. In that ride, that certain movement represented my state of mind, my training, my past, and dictated my future.
The test movement was me. It was not some outside thing because I’d done it enough times correctly to know I had it in here. (taps chest) Finding it was the secret.
The test asked me questions. That was its job. Was I calm? Was I fierce? Was I nervous? Was I second guessing? Was I ready?
Art is exactly like this. Your art is you. It is not simply a distant thing floating on a tether,
YOU ALREADY HAVE IT INSIDE.
That’s kind of important.
Say it with me.
MY ART IS ALREADY INSIDE OF ME.
Down side time.
When I shred the dialogue, and when I have a para missing in rhythm, the story, characterization, descriptive….. It’s painful. Because it’s me. Because it’s my past in there, my today on those certain days. And, it dictates my future. Not specifically, no, but it’s definitely a part of the fabric of my forward momentum in life.
So why continue to write?
Because there’s good news too!
Gabby’s coach also said “Gymnastics is music”.
I wrote this almost exactly into my entire novel Gods of Anthem. The idea that life is an orchestra. You will see it spread out through an entire story, but it’s there, hidden, and the idea is a good one, I think.
Gymnastics is rhythm and flow with a final crescendo.
This is what art is to me, and why I continue to do it. Because the melody is here inside of me, and, though I make mistakes, it keeps flowing and wanting to be given shape.
My words, the novel, it has rhythm, not always accurate, but I see it there, each one I do gets better, flows more, peaks in the right spots.
But I’ve still got so many more songs to give. So much more chemistry to create.
So much more art to find.
I’m just writing until I reach the crescendo, friends.
“Girl lost in woods during writing retreat. She was never really that good anyway…”
“You may ask me out to dinner. Nothing fancy or foreign. No bars. No patios. No vegetables. And no seafood.” Angela (The Office)
Since I’m on hold with my editor having “missed my opening” by a mile (I think our original date was August…of last year) (I wish I was kidding) I’ve been skimming some of the other time wasting— (cough) ummm that is, avenues for inspiration!
A little dandy caught my eye about going off into woods or some sort of nonsense and focusing on your writing with workshops and blah blah blah, pay here, yes right here, click it!
I picture this and not in a good way:
On this retreat…we have to run for our lives.
Is it sad that to me ‘writing retreat’ is an oxymoron?
Like saying “work retreat” where I am retreating, yes, but not from work, no, so what then do I retreat from…
I’m pretty much an outdoorsy-ish person, but with limited exposure. Imagine if you will a sort of out-door Cinderella flitting about in the woods, but at the stroke of midnight no freaky glass slipper wearer worth her salt is piling into the local tent Blair Witch style to pretend she’s sleeping well on the lumpy mis-shapen earth. Sleep number setting…? Hard as hell!
There’s just no excuse for brushing our teeth without batteries, just none.
I know what you’re thinking. She seems to forget the most commonly known writer-vacay is a cabin which has a bed.
Well Mr. Smarty pants what you seem to forget is that my OWN writer-vacay is a jet ski and a hotel room with air conditioning…away from other writers…or anyone who tries to speak at length beyond “I just had ANOTHER glass of that pink stuff and I can’t feel my face!”
Seriously, who can’t think up an awesome plot on a jetski?
What can I say, I like to party.
It’s not my fault. This invite to pack me away with twelve other failures (cough), hey I said OTHER meaning I’m one too—to listen to a lady or gent with some sort of experience (vague in the flyer) come up with euphemisms for “Your book sucked and now you need other humans to tell you it didn’t, preferably ones who don’t know you very well or who charge a fee.” OR “You have never finished a book, and probably won’t ever finish a book. Ever. But here you are and your check didn’t bounce so Namaste.”
What? I’m sorry Cupcake if I’m ruining your inspirational blog hopping but let’s get real. If my book just sold for half a mil I’m pretty sure I don’t immediately sign up for a “writers retreat” in Idaho. I’m certain that I’ve just blown a tenth of it on the craps table since I’ve never played and another 5th on the hotel room in Vegas. Or let’s say I’m feeling cultural I’ve been traveling…the world, like the whole wide one.
If none of those things have happened yet and you can’t find me see my para about the Jetski.
When I first started writing I pictured myself pulling mind blowing prose from my lyrical cesspool , something cryptic and enticing, alive and gripping filling my readers with so much awe that even peanut butter couldn’t keep their mouths closed.
While I hold out hope that this may still happen before I die. Or after. Probably after. I’ve given up the idea that this happens when you most want it to, or train it to, or better yet attempt to whip it into submission via “writing retreat”. It just doesn’t allow you to force it.
Since we all know that a grammatical masterpiece is not going to be my end game, as for the life of me the English language in all it’s glory seemingly puts me into a stupor if held up to any reasonable standard… I do have some grammar books I’ve decided to again extend my education toward but truth be known it’s the voice that comes to me in a scheming ungrammatical sense that throws everything off.
It speaks to me like gutter-tripe that ate a thesaurus and burbs out fragmented sentences.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with the dialogue that argues and yells and screams through my brain like twelve angry men only there are women too and do you know how fast some of us talk?
Then he/she (my voice is multi-gender thank you very much) slaps my editor across the face with a pair of gloves and demands a duel.
My editor (very much a she and not to be trifled with) immediately screams, “On guard you scallywag!” or whatever genre I’ve currently started writing in my NEXT midlife growth spurt (we don’t say crisis round here y’all) and they fight while I, the wilting flower, maiden of perfect figure and character, all in white, covers my bosom, watching in horror, terror, feeling faint, to await my champion to kiss, or hug, or pay, depending on who wins which most usually means, “Get your check book out you dead beat and pay your wonderful editor.”
Fact is, that writing for me is perilously close to hard labor at times (whenever rewriting or edits which is about 90 percent of it for me) and a retreat to try and be “artsy” sounds as lovely as a dentist appointment.
“But Logan if you go with an open mind you might be inspired to write the next classic!”
Well arn’t you just as magestic as a unicorn?
I might also be inspired to buy stock in bug spray. Did you ever think of that?
When I take a break or a retreat I let it all hang out…bosom notwithstanding. You wanna see that? Didn’t think so.
I swear by the end of your vacation (yours not mine cause this is least likely to be a vacation for me) you’ll all sit around and vote me off the island but instead of a helicopter that waits to take me back to my blessed bath to soak I’ll have given you all a story all right, one for the front of the New York Times: “Girl lost in woods during writing retreat. She was never really that good anyway…”
Where even the journalist cant for the life of him understand why we’d need a retreat. Because HE writes for the freaking New York Times!