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Having a Community

Several weeks ago, many members of the North-Central Ohio Writers group attended a retreat, and I was fortunate enough to go.

Others have already made posts about their experience and what occurred (see the previous post I linked to on this blog), so I will spare the recap of the activities and ramble about my thoughts/feelings/emotions.

You may have noticed this blog is rather quiet, and that is because I am still going through that weird Ominous Feeling and questioning my abilities. You know, the whole “maybe I’m just good at coming up with concepts and ideas and not skilled enough to execute and make the words happen.” All my works-in-progress are stalled because that doubt  gets to me every time I open a writing file, or jot an idea in my notebook, or think about editing something.

Going to the NCOW retreat helped push some of that doubt away. I could not ask for a better community of writers, and am so glad that some of our newer members joined us, too. I felt safe to share my ideas and worries, and wish that we had more time because being around that group is incredibly comforting. At thirty, I am still looking for a place where I feel like I belong, and while I still have a desire to live in a bigger city, being around these people always feels like I belong, like an extension of Home.

I learned things about myself, my writing, and got to know this group even more. Being creative in general can be so exhausting. Sometimes that exhaustion is great and fulfilling, and sometimes it’s more tiring and feels like a weight holding me down. When I feel like burning all my writing, I think of them, and their kind words, and tell myself that there are people who actually want to read what I have written.

I would have given up by now if it weren’t for these people. Maybe not entirely, but the motivation from these people makes me think that I have a chance, and that someone cares about the stories I want to tell. On top of that, I am so excited to see all of the wonderful things this group is going to produce, because damn, do we have an amazingly talented community.

Thank you, Carma, for planning all of that for us, and thank you to everyone else who attended and helped organize and contribute. I am so lucky to be part of our growing community.

Sharing

NCOWS Writer’s Retreat Review Part 2: My Humps My Humps My Humps — Cooking For One

I am still riding the high that comes after an event that one later recognizes as life-altering.Dude. It was just 15 people partying in a cabin all weekend, how life altering do you think that really is?Short answer? Very.Prior to the retreat, I had spent less than a few hours engaged in conversation with any…

via NCOWS Writer’s Retreat Review Part 2: My Humps My Humps My Humps — Cooking For One

A great blog entry from someone who attended the retreat I went to.

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Hello. It’s me.

I was wondering if after all these months I should post an update.

The last time I checked in was… an embarrassingly long time ago. Since then, I have moved around different departments at work, fallen head-over-heels into a new fandom, started learning the basics of D&D, played and completed new video games, and finished my re-read of the Harry Potter books from beginning to end. In March, C. Bryan Brown held a get-together for local writers and authors to meet and pick each other’s brains, and I went to MARCon at the beginning of May.

Between all of that is the writing. Oh, the writing, how I love you and also want to throttle you.

There is also this… thing. I have had this very ominous feeling the last few days like something is going to change. I feel like it may be a good change, but I honestly have no reason to think that. I have not knowingly reached out for this. Does that make sense? I keep getting these waves of anxiousness and apprehension waiting for whatever it is to happen. For all I know, I could be wrong, but I have this gut feeling that I should expect something.

The Ominous Feeling is inspiring me, at least. Maybe in the end that is what it is meant to do; kick me in the ass to be productive. Yesterday I decided to open one of the novels I am working on, then started a whole new file and cranked out 1,655 words for the new opening scene.

I’ve been struggling lately and doing a lot of internal arguing with myself. I do this thing where I look at all the ideas I have for stories, and then evaluate my actual skill, and I wonder if maybe I’m only good at coming up with ideas, but not talented or skilled enough to execute them. Maybe I’m also better at evaluating stories than I am writing them. Maybe it’s just because this year was a milestone birthday year, so I’m looking at my life and wondering why I’m not where I want to be. Because let’s be realistic; it’s one thing to have a goal and a dream and to work for those things. Sometimes those dreams aren’t meant for us, and it’s okay to change them.

I plan on riding this wave of hopeful productivity until I either crash land, or find myself jumping for joy whenever this Ominious Feeling sorts itself out. At least I know that I need a change of some kind, and soon.

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Creating and self doubt

It’s been a struggle the last several days to think positively about my writing goals. Yes, we are only eighteen days into 2016. I expect my blog will have lots of highs and lows expressed here.

Today at work we did an exercise where you share your goals and whatnot with your coworkers, and one question was “What’s holding you back?” or something along those lines. Well, really, it’s me. I’m holding myself back, and simultaneously motivating myself and tearing myself down is exhausting.

Part of this is because I’ve actually talked to people about writing. This is wonderful! This is great! I’m trying to tell my introversion to chill out and share my passions with people I work with, and friends and acquaintances online. Co-workers have asked to read the project I’m currently focused on, and others have offered to look at parts of it for me. They ask how my writing is going, and if I’ve written, what I’ve written. I’m incredibly touched by this, but also scared, because the things we create can feel so private and personal, and once you share something it’s out there forever, even if you only share with one person. It’s not just yours anymore. It is uplifting and intimidating that people are interested in what I’m doing.

This is where the second part of my struggle comes in, because I start being mean to myself. “You’ll never be as good as all your favorite authors, so why are you even trying? Why are you still putting words together when they’ll all a pile of crap? You suck at description, and your pacing is terrible, so you might as well give up. You are never going to be as good as any other writer you know, so just stop and save yourself the time and frustration.”

It is a horrible mindset, and one I find myself in frequently. When I get like this, I remind myself that stories happen in stages. My current pass through it will not be the final one. I can go back and work more on the description and fill it in after I’ve made a more structured first draft. I know that I will go through the revision process a few more times, and that my first attempt is not supposed to create a flawless, beautiful shining product. I know this, and yet I expect this of myself, because I want to tell stories and move people the way I’ve been moved by my favorite stories.

I need to take my own advice and stop comparing myself to others.

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My 2016 Goals

We are a few days into 2016. Hello and welcome to the new year! I know that there is no reason to wait to make goals for the new year to come around, that I can decide to make changes any time I want, but I still like to set at least a few goals when the new year starts.

Health:

  • Eating better in general. I already started working on this the last quarter of 2015 and want to maintain this and keep doing better.
  • Exercise more, too. You know, typical New Year’s Resolution things.

Home:

  • DECLUTTER. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo in 2015 and this approach to cleaning and decluttering is simple yet amazing. I’m so tired of looking around my bedroom and seeing a mess, and I feel like every time I clean it just gets messed up again, so I’m excited to start implementing this method to my space, especially since this seems like it is easy to maintain, too.
  • Setting aside more money to save up for moving to the city. Ever since I was young (around 12 to 13 years old, I’d say) I dreamed of living in a big city. Back then it was New York. I’m almost 30 now, and still haven’t actually been to New York, but I do love Columbus, and I’ve wanted to make the move for years.
  • It would be great to either be on the way to lining up a job down there, or a living situation, and ideally have both set up by the end of the year!

Finances:

  • Paying off student loans. Forever and ever.

Writing:

  • Finish my first run of edits through my current project by the end of June.
  • Write my short story contribution for our local writing group’s anthology project.
  • Research more for my post-apocalyptic romcom. It’s a thing. It’s a steaming pile of poo right now, but it’s a thing that exists.
  • Query agents? Determined by the success of the edits of my rough draft, oh god.

Internal:

  • I’m relatively private about where I am in my spiritual path, and that is due in large part because I haven’t quite figured that out for myself, but I’ve mentioned casually that I am studying divination, and I’m starting to feel more like the term “kitchen witch” may fit me better than anything else. I don’t necessarily think that I follow a deity or deities, but I do believe in energy. I’ve had success with my pendulum, and would like to devote more time to my tarot cards.
  • Letting go of fear and letting it control my decisions, especially fears of my past. While nothing shady lurks back there, it does have a lot of guilt, and I have to trust myself to be strong enough to deal with that now if I want to be successful in other aspects of my life.
  • Do better at keeping in touch with loved-ones. This ties to my previous bullet point; I have this terrible habit of being incredibly mean to myself and semi-regularly there is a part of me that says “No one wants you around, and they would be better off without you in their lives” and on occasion I believe it, and tell myself that if I’m wanted, they’ll reach out first. Rationally, I know this is not the case and that all relationships work both ways. I need to stop sucking at letting the people I care about know that they are important to me.

This is a rather intimidating list, but also looks doable. I desperately want it to be doable. 2016, here I come.

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The year of big, fun, scary things

It’s nearing the end of December, and with that comes thoughts about the next year. New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. I get a little nostalgic, and hopeful that the next year will be better. I’m determined to make 2016 the year that I truly go after my dreams.

I keep saying “I want _” and then make meager attempts at going for those goals and dreams, but the more honest I am with myself, the more I admit that I’m afraid of going after the things I want. I want to publish my writing, and I want to move to the big city, but I’m also sort of afraid. I don’t want to be afraid of things anymore.

National Novel Writing Month has a challenge that they call “The Year of Doing Big, Fun, Scary Things Together.” I am going to make steps toward my dreams. I made a few in 2015, but I have a long way to go.

To encourage myself, I’m setting up my blog and website to hold myself accountable, and to keep track of the progress that I make.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride.