A Reintroduction

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Hi, I’m Sam, and I am terrible at writing.

Okay, so I wrote a book. Sure. But how often do I write each day? A few minutes? Do I even do that much? Author or not, can I even consider myself a writer if I can’t write for even a few minutes each day?

I have been reflecting a lot on my blog, and how it isn’t really a blog anymore. I started the blog as a way to keep writing, to train myself to write even if a story’s well dried up. I used to consistently write a post per week, and then I switched to every other week — I was taking too much time away from the real writing, I told myself — and now, I post maybe once a month, or when I feel like it.

And that’s just… not great.

The blog was supposed to keep me refined. In shape. And instead, it made me tired. That says more about the structure I gave for the goal, and not the actual goal. If I were to do it right, the goal would give me fuel… the idea being, if I’m not writing every day, then I’m not going to feel inspired to write every day, whether it’s blog posts, screenplays, novels, or even basic journal entries. Writing begets writing. It’s an addiction, but it is one of the few addictions that needs persistence and effort to remain addicted.

So.

Reasons I don’t write:

I don’t know what to write.
I feel like anything I have to say is too self-deprecating.
I feel like anything I have to say is not applicable to anyone else.
I have something to say, but don’t know how to say it.
I don’t know what to write.
I don’t know what to write.

These are excuses.

Too self-deprecating? That’s why rough drafts exist. I go to therapy — I know how to catch myself and correct myself. I know (most of the time) when my thoughts are just in my head and not in reality.

Not applicable? Bullshit. The entire reason, Sam, that you hit “publish” on 80% of your previous blogs was not because you felt it was applicable, but because you wanted to be honest, and if even one person connected with it, then that was an added benefit. If it’s not applicable (which it probably is), then write it anyway and stop worrying about how many people read your posts.

You don’t know how to say what you want to say? That’s literally how art works. You try to say what you want to say, and sometimes that message is properly conveyed, and if it isn’t, then people will still interpret it to fit their needs. We always do. We are creatures of meaning… If it doesn’t make sense, we’ll make sense of it. So perhaps we’ll make a different sense than the original intentions, but who the hell cares? We’re reacting, and we’re engaging.

You don’t know what to write?

Ah. Here’s the tricky one.

I always have fallback stories that I can work on when I get stuck and don’t know what to write, but that doesn’t always help if the thing I get stuck on is that story, or all the stories. And if I intend to just write something, even if it’s not a story, if I just want to train myself to put something on proverbial paper, then I have to get past the idea that I don’t have anything to write about. My life is not that interesting, she says, feeling tangentially like a Michel Gondry character. Which sparks a little hope, right? We always have something to talk about, even if we don’t think it’s worth the effort.

So, I sit here, making a list of things that have caught my attention, “wasted” my time, engaged me, and otherwise given me fuel in the past few months.

DIY house projects.
Moss, and all the facts I can uncover about it.
Looking at past work and making note of personal growth and areas to work on.
Making clothing, and discovering my personal fashion potential.
Personal finances.
Perspectives.
Character arcs in Netflix shows.
My cat.
Sustainability and ecological autonomy.
Studying the amount of time it takes for society to learn a thing and then apply it, and being hopeful for the future, even if there’s not much hope for the current day. And realizing and accepting my pessimism.

These are things that interest me, and that, if I really wanted to, I could write about. That I should write about. So why not? Why do I not write about these things? The answer to that is that I am lazy, and I have fallen out of addiction to writing, and it has made my life less fulfilled.

(Again, I realize and accept my pessimism. And with that acceptance, I counter with a goal to do something about it, and change my behavior, and strive to renew my addiction, and feel fulfilled once more. And yes, I’m ending this post with a parenthetical.)

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I’ve got reviews!

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Since releasing The Fields at the end of December, I guess the logical next step was for people to start reading the book.

Man, was that a hard thing to be patient about. When you work on something for so long, and you worry about it being enjoyable and legible, it can be pretty unnerving to then have to wait for people to actually dive in. But that’s exactly what people have been doing… and as a result, I’ve started to get some reviews on Amazon!

It’s incredibly weird to see reviews for something you’ve created, especially something created specifically to engage with. My hope is not just for people to enjoy reading The Fields, but to get something from it too, and that is not something I can control. I hope that readers will have something to mull over as they flip through the pages, and I hope that it’s not just something to pass the time.

And so far, that’s what the reviews have been confirming! Which is pretty exciting.

If you’ve been reading the book, feel free to write a review, and be honest! I don’t want applause, I want engagement. Let’s get talkin’!

Try Harder (Or, a Happy New Year?)

Today is the release date of my book, The Fields. I have been trying to promote it more than I’ve tried to promote anything else, really, which still means I haven’t tried to promote it enough, because I’m terrible at telling the world to look at me.

But nonetheless, I am proud of myself.

Not for publishing a book, and not even for writing a book, but I am proud of myself for finishing what I started out to do. I have so much unfinished business in my art portfolio.

The real challenge in finishing projects has been to refine my work, because I get a draft or a cut done and I don’t want to mess with it. “It’s perfect just the way it is,” I say. And the thing is, I know it’s not perfect, but I’m afraid that if I touch it again, I’ll ruin it. And why not just be proud of what I have so far?

Because what I have so far is incomplete. Because what I have so far is not at its full potential, and, years from now, will just make me wonder what would have happened if I had just edited my work. Made it more accessible to a wider audience. Tried harder. If I tried harder and ruined it, at least I could say I tried.

But that is a scary leap, far scarier than that initial birth of an idea, the “honeymoon phase” of every art project: the beginning. I love beginnings. Beginnings usually have an ending already in sight for me. It’s like how I write every story: a beginning pops into my head, and either the ending is already there, sitting in front of me, or I can usually quickly concoct an ending — and then I stare at the page blankly, not sure of what happens in the middle. And what is the middle, really, but the most important part?

I don’t even think I have to say that this is entirely too applicable to life.

This is how I run my relationships. My career goals. My mental health. I think about how it’s not really perfect, but if I touch it, I’ll ruin it. It’s so much better as complacent as it is now, or as a dream.

My mental health needs a bridge between the beginning and the end. My relationships deserve better than to not be at their full potential. My career should be something that I can say I tried.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. I have a lot of unfinished business this year, and not just in my art portfolio. I had a mental hurricane for which I’m still working on shutting the storm doors. And while I can’t say I’m entirely proud of the middle of this year, I can happily say I’m embracing its end… And I already have a beginning in mind for the next year. The middle will come to me, I’m sure of it. I just have to try harder.

Happy Anniversary (We’ll Make It Happy)

Remember, remember.

It’s weird, but it’s much easier to remember the negative anniversaries over the positive ones — which is an irony in itself, since the go-to phrase is “happy anniversary”. Not everyone is so lucky. Some people are routinely surrounded by unhappy anniversaries.

It’s not an active choice. Even if there are good anniversaries in your life, it’s the bad ones that take hold. For some anniversaries, every year I find myself with overwhelming anxiety in the weeks preceding, and every year, like an idiot, I wonder why. And then the day comes, and it all starts to make perfect sense… Sure, I could stop being overdramatic about these anniversaries and choose to let them fall from my memory (I know I’m being dramatic because my anxiety tells me that’s what people think of me!).

But you know, there are some moments that you need to accept that this is something you have been impacted by, and whether you like it or not, it has affected your decisions.

My reaction is still valid. That’s what my therapist said.

She also told me that if I’m going to hold a negative anniversary in my mind so firmly, then I’ve got to start coupling it with positive decisions, with affirmations of how far I’ve come, or reminders of other things that I can focus on in my life that deserve credit. I don’t want to cave in on myself every time a specific date pops up. So what can I do to give myself structure?

Yesterday was one of those dates, and I decided that enough was enough. Well… I guess there have been lots of moments when I’ve thought enough is enough, but this time I’m ready to be proactive about it.

So this anniversary, I choose to find something to be happy about. And while my brain likes to look around and say, “I can’t see anything to be happy about,” my heart knows now to plant things so that it can tell my brain to shut up. If you have something negative inside of you that nags, that weighs you down, then you need to start carrying balloons with you. Pick-me-ups. Sometimes those balloons are things you already have, but sometimes you’ve got to create them, to counteract.

Like game nights, and spending time with friends. Whatever you find enjoyable, and can make happen, make it happen. I’m learning to value those who reach out to me, and let go of anxieties I can’t control, so a lot of my balloons end up being social activities, but there are plenty of other things that can work. It’s a long, ridiculous process, but it’s necessary. Because what else are you supposed to say, if you can’t say “happy anniversary”?