Writing My Life

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I want my life as a writer to look. I’ve been thinking about how much writing I should be doing, what kind of writing I should be doing, when I should be writing, where I should be writing, who I should be writing for, what kind of income (if any) I want to earn from my writing.

Part of me feels incapable of committing myself to any kind of career, part of me is afraid writing will become less fun, and part of me doubts my writing would be profitable in any significant way. I deal with a lot of self-doubt at times, and not just about my writing… I have to change the narrative. Because, honestly, if I never write anything else on “paper,” I am writing my life. Every day, I am writing my story.

It’s been pretty boring lately… a lot of she wakes up, gets dressed, sits at her desk, works for 8 hours, makes dinner, watches some TV, journals, and goes to bed. Every day, the same story. Some days there’s a little more adventure… she goes to the furniture store to find a chair for her new home office space, she meets a really cute salesman, she spends more on a chair than she wanted but decides it was worth it, she goes home and can’t get the salesman out of her head. What does she do next? She wakes up, gets dressed, sits at her desk, works for 8 hours, makes dinner, watches some TV, journals, and goes to bed.

Recognizing that I can change the story is powerful. However, I’m not particularly good with change. The redundancy of life gets comfortable after a while, even when it’s not exactly welcome. I can get reckless with characters in a story because I know I can change the narrative at any moment and make everything comfortable again. Being reckless in my own life isn’t so simple. But here’s the thing… what I’m referring to as “reckless” is really just taking a chance. What if I started viewing myself as a character in one of my stories? What if, as the writer of said story, I made my character (me) take more chances? What if I stopped being so afraid of getting my feelings hurt?

Of course, as in any story, there is a higher power controlling the events that take place, but it is possible for me to take more control of the narrative. It’s possible for me to shape myself as a character, push myself toward action rather than complacency. What kind of life do I want to write? I guess I should start by writing myself as a writer… as an active writer… as a self-publishing writer. The story doesn’t move forward if I don’t move it forward.

I’m sure there are some flaws in this idea of treating myself like a character in one of my stories, but I haven’t pinpointed them yet. I’m intrigued by the idea, though. In general, I create situations for characters in my stories to do things I typically wouldn’t do myself. Their hurt isn’t as tangible as my own, so I take bigger risks with them. I’m interested, now, in discovering what’s possible for me if I stepped outside of myself a bit and started writing my life differently.

We’ll take some small steps toward that. First, though, I have got to get out of my own way in finishing this book. Keep it simple. That’s what I keep telling myself. Yet, every time I get to the next step I make it more complicated than it probably needs to be.

What kind of writer do I want to be? The kind who isn’t afraid to write. The kind who doesn’t get stuck in her own head. The kind who rips herself open so that other people can feel her words in the pit of their stomach. I want to be the kind of writer who gets a little messy… but for the greater good. You know?

Happy Writing!

A Literary Shadow Box

It’s been a few months since my short story “Makers of Men” was published in Issue 3 of midnight & indigo. One of the things I was excited to do when the book came out was to memorialize a copy for myself. I had an old shadow box that I bought on sale at Michael’s (*cough* from 2013 *cough*) that I’d never done anything with, so I decided to decorate it around my first (paid) published piece.

The first thing I did was paint the box inside and out. It took a while to mix the right shades to compliment the colors of the book cover, and the first couple of layers of paint disappeared into the wood entirely (mostly because I didn’t have primer on hand). After I was happy with the inside and outside colors, I had to figure out how I was going to mount the book in the middle of the box.

My first thought was to attach a frame inside for the book to rest in, but it would’ve taken up too much space and I was trying to keep my project budget low. Instead, I hung a mini copy of the book inside the box using a binder clip and a clear hook. Lots of hot glue was used in the making of this shadow box.

Before I could hang the mini copy I had to do a few things. First, I had to decorate the background. I had some wide burlap ribbon in my craft box from a few Christmases ago, so I hot glued three overlapping strips inside the shadow box. Second, I purchased an eBook version of Issue 3, converted it to a PDF, and printed basically everything except other people’s stories (to keep the ink and paper low) onto small sheets of paper. Then I used hot glue to secure the clear hook onto the burlap, making sure it also made contact with the back wall of the box, and hung the mini book on the hook with a yellow binder clip.

Then it was time to decorate! I got the glass bottles, paper flowers, and mini terra cotta pot from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby; salt and loose leaf tea (herbs) from the kitchen; obsidian, butterflies, and a chicken from Etsy, and sand from a trip to the beach. I also made a small anklet from leftover beads and string I used to make my waist beads.

Put it all together and we have a literary shadow box!

Of course, you’ll have to read “Makers of Men” to know how it all fits together to represent the story. You can get Issue 3 of midnight & indigo here. There’s also an eBook version. Of course, I have both!

I’ve been wanting to share this little project with you for a while, I just… I forgot, okay. I may never truly get over the excitement of seeing my name on the cover of a book that I didn’t have to publish myself. I’m sure I’ll also be excited once I finally figure out the best self-publishing method, but it’s been a challenge trying to navigate all of the many ways to get my own book done. It’s been a little stressful and a bit pricey, but I don’t want to just throw something out there all willy nilly. There’s enough junk in the world.

Until next time…

Happy crafting!

Writing Journal: Put It in Someone Else’s Hands

I have a really difficult time putting my writing in the hands of other people. I ran around in mental circles trying to decide who to trust with the latest draft of my book. I procrastinated, honestly, because I knew a while ago who I could ask to read it but didn’t want to give it to that person because I wasn’t sure what their response would be. I had to learn a lesson…

You have to put it in somebody else’s hands!

I’ve always been concerned that the message I’m trying to get across won’t make sense to other people. I spend so much time in my own head that I don’t know if it makes sense when it comes out. However, after actually putting my writing in someone else’s hands, I learned that I can write things that not only make sense to other people, but that makes them feel things! That’s the goal, really, to make people feel things.

Talking to this person about how they felt reading the book gave me so much hope for what it could be. The feedback also gave me more confidence in my decision to put the book out into the universe (i.e. the Internet). This person’s thoughts on the book even gave me more confidence in putting it in the hands of a second person. I’m still waiting on feedback from the second person, but I’m not as nervous about the response.

If I get similar feedback from the second person as I did from the first, I will know that the book has good potential to land with my target demographic. Of course, I don’t have a lot of people to solicit reviews from, but I think the feedback from these two people will allow me to make the changes necessary to feel comfortable putting the book in the hands of an editor (who I will have to pay).

Moral of the story is that sometimes we hold on too tightly to what we hold dear, especially when it comes to our creative work. We have to let it go, let it out, and be open to receiving what comes back.

Happy Writing!