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am writing

Tag: on writing

#waswritinguntil…

We’ve all seen (and used if you’re a writer) #amwriting.

Feels good, doesn’t it? Feels forward moving and the perfect affirmation even if, at the moment, you’re staring at the screen waiting for said writing to burst forth with the same fervor as that little hashtag implies.

The night was set up so perfect. You had time, you had energy, you were feeling emotional – you did not have coffee, but the wine was near by and the music was… helping? … Ok, you got a little distracted with the music selecting. But no matter.

You began editing an old piece. There’s a new piece that you’re really proud of, but you sent it to a friend and they mentioned removing the semi colons that you’ve been judiciously dumping on your writing like they belong there. All of them. You knew it was a bad idea, but somewhere in the back of your mind you were like, “semi colons are so undervalued”.

  1. Since you have a soft spot for underdogs, you ran with it. Next time though, you’ll have learned your lesson.
  2. Now the piece needs to be edited – again. Which means, for good measure, maybe you’ll let it sit in a folder and ferment for another month.

So you’re editing the old piece, you sip the wine and sip it again. A few words fall out of your head, but something feels off. You’re not emotionally invested in the piece anymore so you put a new spin on it, a darker one. You’re good at being dark, but dark is easy and you told yourself to stop being so easy.

Not sure you’re on board with your own shift in direction, you stop #amwriting to thumb the phone for a little, take a selfie or two because you need to affirm that it’s not just your disembodied ego sitting here stewing, but the whole body, vanity and all.

You head to social media to embellish the truth around any real progress and productivity, or maybe the photo is now considered progress so that’s cool, and with the social aspect you hope it will incite actual #amwriting because now you’ve called yourself out, now you’ve a responsibility to method act your way back to the #amwriting you’re supposed to be doing.

Photo posted, you tap away at a few more words, delete a few more paragraphs because #icebergtheory – the less you say on the surface, the more meaning lies underneath. Or as Ernest put it,

If a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. –Ernest Hemingway

You bow your inner writer soul to the god that is Hemingway because now you’re giddy over how cutting out half of what you wrote makes for a more weighty piece of writing.

So, OK, but I don’t know, is it done? You re-read over and over again. Seems a bit short. You sip that wine over and over again. Does it say enough? Is it even any good? You check the status of your photo. Only two likes so far. You’ve not convinced anyone, even yourself, that you are indeed #amwriting. Should have been more truthful you think, should have posted #waswritinguntil…

You whip out the tarot deck. Close the computer. The night decays into divination and doubts. You tell yourself you’ll revisit the writing in the morning when you’re feeling less cataclysmic.

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Any of this sound familiar?

More often than not I wish I wasn’t a writer in the digital era where social media is paramount to career survival. That said, my output HAS somewhere to output because of the digital era, but that output has suffered since I was gifted a smart phone.

Blog posts seem doable. Short prose, poems, and stories seem doable. Photos – very doable. Still, it’s hard to focus on the horrible tedium that is, editing when it comes to that expansive book I #waswritinguntil…

Point being, there are ways to keep #amwriting even if you don’t feel that what you are doing can be considered such. Even if what you’re doing isn’t the thing you think you should have been doing. Like, do I really need another blog post when I have a book to edit? The answer is yes, yes I do. Because the point is #practice and #persistence and the only really bad thing a writer can do for themselves is to stop writing.

We’re hard on ourselves, us writers and creatives. I know I am. But I’m getting braver about my writer skin – more confident about what I can and cannot consider real work. You know what I’ve been learning?

  • IF YOU SHOWED UP #amwriting.
  • If you ATTEMPT to work on your craft for hours, even if a few or all of those hours were spent torturing yourself over not working efficiently or brilliantly or whatever #amwriting
  • If all you did was delete 5 sentences and reread the same first paragraph 500 times #amwriting
  • If all you managed to do was open your computer and write, “I can’t think of anything to write” – you know what? #amwriting

What I’m learning is that being a writer is a state of mind. If you never publish a damn word but consider yourself a writer, you’re a writer. So #amwriting your little heart out. Maybe #waswritinguntil… just to keep yourself in check, but above all #dontstopwriting even if the words only live in your mind. They’ll come pouring out eventually. They will because they have to because us writers, we didn’t choose the writing life, the writing life chose us.

Music selection is this gem I found – an artist out of Toronto named verzache. The above track is called “hiccup”, this one here is “juvenescence”. Was listening to his whole soundcloud last night and well… I was blown away.

Thanks for coming to my space and sharing this time with me. I’ll be posting the piece that I was working on last night… the old piece “And So We Did” on Scriggler so you can judge for yourself if it was enough of the iceberg or even any good.

As always, be well, love often, and enjoy.

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Routine Maintenance

I’ve been doing this routine where I bike an hour to yoga, practice yoga for an hour, then bike back an hour from yoga. It’s a routine that takes me out of my head, forces me to pay attention as I’m dodging cars and pot holes; forces me to focus on something other than my immediate emotions as I’m stretching this way and that, challenging muscle groups to open and strengthen. Every drop of sweat padding on my rubber mat is a reward – a reminder of the solid foundation that is built upon routines.

I’ve been thinking a lot about routines.

I’ve other routines:

  • Make the bed every morning
  • Wash the sheets on Sunday
  • Clean and organize room before bed and/or before leaving the house
  • Clean dishes immediately after use
  • Get up at 6am every day and write an hour before work…..

Ok, I lied about that last one. However, in front of me is a list. Number 3 on that list is, “come up with a writing routine.” I suppose “up at 6am sharp” might be a good start.

Seems I need routines to normalize parts of my life as we all do, I’m sure. And normally those routines work to get gears turning, forcing us out of stupid habits like NOT performing those routines. We set those routines up for a reason. They need to be there because they work like oil to keep the machine turning.

But today was different. As I biked back from yoga I became frustrated that not once, not in the slightest had I exited my head during the whole 3 hours of the work out. This became most apparent mid yoga session. As my frustration grew to intolerable levels, I found myself holding my breath, resenting my instructor, doubting, cursing, just thinking negatively in all ways possible – totally contradictory to my usual heart-opening, clear-minded post yoga attitude.

Furrowed brow, I road home recklessly, wondering why today the routine had not worked.

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photography by @rustyvaughanyoung follow him on instagram

The head is a complicated place.

Maybe, I thought, to expect to scale the mountain of tumultuous ideas the mind creates with one method, even two or three – is madness.

The thought occurred to me that there is never one way, one solution, one answer to any problem. That a life filled with yoga, tai chi, tap dance, or tarot; boxing, boating, hockey, or horse riding; no amount of praying, painting, volunteering, nor activism can really solve a thing. They are tricks, methods like a magician’s handbook. Their work is an illusion.

The real work it seems, begins and ends in the mind, the heart, the human.

 

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Fitting. I drew the High Priestess and the Queen of Pentacles. Going to do a real simple summation here. The Queen, the one who has it all, the solid earth sign (represented by the pentacle) – sure and content, yet paired with the High Priestess – it’s like she’s wondering why the hell she feels like the usual just isn’t working as usual, why things seem so unsure at the moment. It’s like she’s consulting the High Priestess, like going to confessional, like provoking the deepest parts of herself. It’s like she’s sitting in her castle with all her wealth and being like, yeah but, I’m unhappy. Maybe something needs to budge, something needs to change, but what? Is it me? Is it this castle? Is it my heart? Is there something I’m not admitting to myself? Is there something I’m holding to so tightly that’s keeping me from seeing the truth, or from becoming my true self?

Maybe that’s the conversation we’re all having right now.

But don’t stop, let the frustration be fuel. Mine provoked me to do this post, and I feel great about it. Hadn’t done one in quite some time.

I’m not killing the idea of routines. Routines do help the mind cope, the gears turn, the foundation settle, and the body rest. They do, they most certainly do. But don’t be afraid to change those routines because if they’re no longer working, than the work there is done.

Do a routine maintenance check of your current routines. Change perspectives, alter angles and outlooks. Keep pushing. Fill your bag with tricks.

Choice is what guides us to becoming the best or worst versions of ourselves. We always have the power to choose.

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I don’t have any answers, not at the moment. But I do have thoughts and I hope you appreciated me sharing them.

 

Musical selection is a from a producer I’ve been obsessed with lately – Mark Barrott and his album Sketches From An Island. Love the whole album, but “Go Berri Be Happy” is currently playing while I’m closing this out so – there you have it.

Be well, love often, and enjoy!

The Cup, The Key: The Quiet Act of Knowing

Been a minute since I asked these cards about writing. What I asked is if I posses the skills of a writer, not so much because I believe I don’t, but  I figured if I got some disheartening cards back I may have to re-think what I want this chapter in my life to look like.

What I got was an affirmation of the time – exactly what tarot is, mind you – a window into the tools one has in front of them, the option of energies either to use, or not. For this I turned to my very first tarot deck , The Da Vinci Tarot. Seemed fitting that while revisiting old doubts I summon an old deck, the deck that was with me 2 years ago when on the road writing From The Other Seat, the deck that birthed the idea of incorporating tarot into my blog as a way to lighten the pressure, and to offer fodder as I continued to explore the act of writing.

I still love the dark romanticism these cards evoke. Even on the positively inclined cards the images appear wistful – perfect for the writer’s mind. There’s a seriousness to the tone of this deck, it begs that you consider the balance of light and dark when interpreting the message.

So here’s what turned up. They all popped out on their own in this order: Ten of Chalices, Four of Swords, and the Knave of Chalices.

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As a quick intuitive interpretation, Ten’s are a completion and an end to a cycle. Ten of Chalices says both, yes, you have everything you need, all the passion is there, either you’re nurturing your talents or the energy exists for you to do so. But ten’s are also the end of a cycle, not to say it’s all going to go to shit afterwards, but with every ending, there is a new beginning, and there will be a change, a shift. How have you shaped your perception? How will you have used that nurturing love of, say, a mother and her baby? How will your baby grow?

That question follows into the Four of Swords perfectly because this card signifies a sabbatical, a much needed time out. Swords signify thoughts and assessing what those thoughts mean. The Four of Swords is recharging the batteries and making sure that these thoughts are yours and yours alone. I love how the figure in this image looks entirely confident and totally at peace, as if he’s Siddhartha, having come back from a long walk in the valley you see behind him. He knows the answer, or at least has a sense, he’s got the key there in front of him, but he’s taking his time. There’s no hurry, the journey will continue when the time is right.

Timing is key, for the right thing at the wrong time would no longer be the right thing.

And this is why taking a step aside to make time for inner contemplation is so important. One must cultivate the patience to wait for the right time.

The description in the Da Vinci Tarot reference book calls it “peaceful receptivity”. One must have a clear state of mind before making any decisions on the future, and this card signals a time to calm the mind, to find a quiet place all your own, trust in the process, and be open and objective about the path ahead. The figure in the Four of Swords is receptive enough to adapt to anything that might challenge this sense of peace – he’s found equilibrium or is currently seeking it. He’s not taking advice from others, he’s looking within and collecting his own personal strength. The Four of Swords is one of my favorite cards because it tends to come up when a sabbatical is needed. I love sabbaticals, I just took one actually, so I feel like the card that answers my question, whether I posses the skills of a writer, is the third in this spread.

In the third card, the Knave of Chalices is renewed passion. Knaves, or knights, refer to young energies, sometimes young people. It could be that a young person will inspire you, or that a new burst of inspiration is just in its beginning phase, but the fact is – it’s there. It’s naked, and vulnerable, innocent, wanting; emotions pure and simple, raw and abundant, observing the world in a new way, with new words to color what it sees and feels. It’s love, new love, for a person, for a task, for life… for whatever. Life is presenting this now, or it’s coming very soon.

Mid writing this, I got a call about a job, an editing position. I think the initial phone interview went well. They said they’d follow up next week. Promising.

Almost immediately after, my roommate beckoned me to the kitchen where an owl sat on the window ledge. It flew away and was replaced by a pair of cardinals singing to each other, male and female. Owl omens are usual seen as the harbinger of death, could be a metaphysical one, but with death is renewal. Cardinals are a see as a message that you’ve been visited by Spirit. Knaves, cardnials, cups, and keys – the air is ripe with new love, opportunity, and the support is there from a divine quarter, telling one to keep going.

Anyway, I’ve lost focus, gone off the metaphysical deep end, so I’ll leave this here. Musical selection is The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener. His lyrics are wrought with symbols and they really speak to me. Hope this post was interesting in some way. Mostly, if anyone is reading, thank you. Happy to share this space with you.

Be well, love often, and enjoy!

Sometimes you just have to stop and eat the roses (aka thoughts from a cubicle)

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I feel like I’m eating the world’s feelings today. My stomach hurts and I wish everyone would stop fighting.

I’m thinking about staying in airbnbs and crashing at other people’s places, interchangeably, every few months, eternally. I think that model works well with my life.

I only do good work in cafés. What I mean is, the only time I actually do work is when I’m in a café.

Hair. Like so many things in life, I do not understand it and I wish it would stop plaguing me with its bullshit.

Everyday I am a new person. Some days I don’t recognize the person I am, but I do seem to have a clear sense of what I’m becoming – until I get there, that is.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself. At the very least, don’t go blogging about them. Just write a book and then maybe one day you will win the hateful, bitter audience you were looking for, at which point, you will either have grown up or died. Either way, the rest of the world will be better off. Wait… was that a mean thing to say? Ah shit.

Every generation will have their new noise that will become a strong voice. Wisdom finds value in change, foolishness finds bitter words.

Trying to condense thoughts into twitter posts makes thoughts sound more profound.

There are 7 days left in November which means, I will not be winning NaNo this year.

What is failure if not the shadow of bravery?

If you don’t think it makes sense, post it on Facebook and let the world be your guide. Sarcasm? Even I’m not so sure.

Last night I had a dream about a room with many beds. Other people had taken all the other beds. I was worried about the position of the last bed because if I placed it against the wrong wall, an evil spirit would posses my body by entering the top of my head.

I’m probably not the girl you think I am, but like you, I wish I could be.

 

I think sign language should be the universal language. I believe this would make us less judgmental as humans, also we could make some pretty cool dance moves as seen in this super fun video by Wishes called “Settle”.

Thanks for hanging out with me and my thoughts.
Be well, love often, and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

On Writing: Raising the Dead

tarot, on writing

Last night I pulled the Death card. I’ve been pulling this card a lot these past few weeks, regardless of the question. What this tells me is that there is something divinely connected to this particular time that signifies both a death and a rebirth.

Personally, I love when I draw Death. I can’t help but always focus on the positive aspects of this card. To me, Death is the ultimate creation card. It tells me that there’s something in the womb bubbling with life that couldn’t have been without the death of something else.

While I’m not using a traditional tarot card this week, I think this artwork depicts Death’s meaning really well.

A definite end and a definite beginning, a change that one feels, that can’t be avoided, is here. Embrace it; death to an aspect of you, a phase, a relationship, a project, a period of stagnation has just happened- roll with it. Recognize that what’s  on the other side is the birth of some other seed you’d planted, maybe some intention you set months or years ago that’s coming to fruition, exposing its leafy tips, its plump petals.

In regards to writing, NaNoWriMo started yesterday and for those of us contributing, we’re all in the Death/Rebirth mode, the start of a new phase. Death is here to usher in the new, not to be a guide but rather, a time marker. Note: this is when the death occurred, this is when you made a change, this is when you started that thing that changed the way your future unfolded. This is when you felt death was lurking, this is when you knew life went on. This is your opportunity to start over.

Been listening to “Dust Clears” by Clean Bandit a lot lately. Always have loved the track, but it’s ringing in strong this month for it speaks to death and rebirth. As the lyrics say,

“As the dust clears and it all starts to disappear, it may get harder because you just restarted. And wherever you are, land on another star. It may get harder because you just restarted….”

Death isn’t about to make this transition easy, it’s just cleaning up the shit you knew needed to go anyway. It’s doing you a favor. Life is all about balance. Death is exciting. Death is life, life is death. Change your perspective and you change your future.

Good luck if you’re venturing into NaNoWrimo and as always, be well, love often and enjoy!

Onward! to NaNoWriMo 2016

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Most writers already know, NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I’ve had a few conversations about this with a friends already. General consensus: we’re all going to attempt it this year, regardless of that other pressing project in the works.

Last year, I completed From the Other Seat for Nano. It was challenging and rewarding and I’m thankful to have done it. This year, I’m still working on From the Other Seat. While I did send it off to an editor I found over at Reedsy and while I’ve been sharing plenty of sample chapters over at Scriggler, with this book in particular, I think the content was, and possibly still is, too close to me to be editing at this juncture. Even though I’ve been editing for a year (jeeze, that sounds bad), in truth I should have followed the advice of Stephen King and stuck it in a drawer for 6 months to 2 years. I didn’t because I didn’t have another project to focus on (which is healthy practice and prevents oneself from getting exhausted by the first book.)

I’m opting to set aside From the Other Seat to participate in Nano this year and I think this will be precisely what the doctor ordered.

Which brings me to this spread. I asked the tarot where I’m at in my writing process. I did a three card spread because I drew The Eight of Swords first. This is where I’m at in the process, for sure, but that’s certainly no solution, so I drew the two others, The Two of Pentacles and The Page of Swords, as clarifiers- and how clear that message became!

It’s helpful to know that swords represent any process of the mind, thoughts and feelings that we internalize, but they also represent communication- writing in particular. They’re usually somewhat negative cards just because, you know, knives are sharp and dangerous. Cutting words, devious and harmful thoughts, cold maneuvers, logical love- these are things swords can represent. (They have good qualities too, depending on the card; bravery or decisiveness, for instance.)

In this case (and I’m strictly consulting my own intuition here) I see The Eight of Swords as me, surrounded by my pages. I’m bound up and I got that blindfold on because, like I said, at this point those pages are too close to me, I can’t see my way through them, I can’t editing my way out of them blind. They’re making me feel stormy and trapped which isn’t helpful to me or the book. So a choice emerges, The Two of Pentacles. I’ve an opportunity to balance the situation, and I’ve got to. Notice the grey sky has turned blue, and that blue is then mirrored in the the tunic of the The Page of Swords who comes rushing in with an exciting new idea, a bold and decisive direction – a youthful one – but fresh, nonetheless.

So there you have it. I will most definitely stick From the Other Seat in a theoretical drawer and rush forward with a new book for National November Writing Month!

What will I be writing about this year? I want to give myself a little more freedom, magic up my environments. I think it will be a love story, it could turn out to be a tragedy, but it will most likely be realistic with an element of magic to blur the lines a bit. Nothing original in that simple description, no. I can think of handful of writers that regularly do this type of writing, but it is my perspective and my writing style that needs to set me apart. I’m thinking of mermaids, longing, new lands, love and loss. I’m thinking, dry indie films and exotic records. I’m thinking of an interview I recently read in Playboy Magazine between James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhall and this bit that I found highly intriguing (quote below):

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Gyllenhaal: An actress said to me two days ago, “I’ve been getting so scared when it comes time for my close-up. I’m paralyzed with fear.” From my objective position, I was like, “You’re playing someone who is acting like they’re comfortable with the wildest sexual encounters. It is so much more interesting if that person sometimes is paralyzed with fear.” I don’t believe in the fantasy person who is totally comfortable with that kind of stuff. Maybe there are a couple of people like that in the world, but I’m not really interested in them. I’m much more interested in the person who acts like they’re comfortable with all those things and then sometimes is paralyzed with fear.

And I’ll leave you with MaJLo “Another Day” mostly because I love this song like it was my own heart beating, but also because he offers another glimpse into the setting of my upcoming NaNoWriMo adventure. MaJLo is based near Gdansk, Poland. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

On writing: Using sadness to your benefit

http://www.fountaintarot.com/

I’ve been away in mind, waiting for the shift in the season, the shift in the cosmos to give me back a little energy; revive me or destroy me, but floating here feels like swords to the soul.

Truth be told, I avoided a post last week thinking I might be in a better state of mind this week, a better place with my book, a better mood for sharing. Whether or not I am isn’t an excuse to remain at a stalemate. If the outward aspects of my life aren’t planning on moving forward anytime soon at least I can attempt to push my mind past this place of numbness.

Over the weekend, I was able to dedicate one whole day to the writing/editing process. In that day, I worked on one chapter. One chapter, and it’s not like I even changed that much. I read it, edited and edited again and again. One word here, cut and paste there. Delete, delete, edit undo. Two new words. Two steps forward, three steps back. That is how it went.

It was a process that rolled on for hours, about 6, until the sun went down and I realized I hadn’t eaten. And while the work on that chapter felt like torture, in the end, it was better than it had been.

It’s with this state of being that I share this card, drawn digitally because I’m not at home by my own deck.

The Three of Swords is a card that tends to strike sadness in the heart of those who receive it. Three knives piercing a heart. It’s a painful present, but with sword energy at least we can rest assured it won’t last. Maybe a painful situation is coming, maybe it’s already here, all the same, there’s lessons to learn in the Three of Swords and as horrible as it may feel, as frustrated and as stuck, it’s still energy that can be utilized.

Writing in this state of mind rather than using it as an excuse not to write can be a moving experience.

The Three of Swords is where I’m at in my heart, it’s where I’m at in my life, it’s where I’m at in my memoir. Heartbreaking moments abound, but I’m using this instead of succumbing to it. And so far, it’s working out well. Hasn’t been fun, but it’s working out.

The image I used is from a deck called The Fountain Tarot. What I love about it is that it’s one of the more hopeful renditions of the Three of Swords that I’ve seen. Notice the rainbow reflected in the heart? There’s a silver lining to everything, a positive way to flip even the darkest emotions. A reminder that hope is right around the corner. Everything is transitory. These painful emotions need to happen just like the feel-good ones. That’s just life.

So, there you have it- a short blog, but it’s about all the heart space I can spare right now.

This may seem like random advice, but I feel compelled to share it: don’t be afraid to cut away what is no longer serving you, whether you want to apply that to your book or your personal life, start making some clean cuts. In light of the Three of Swords, cut away three things that are confusing your plot. Cut away three paragraphs, three sub-characters, three words. And if you feel you are cutting too much, do not fear. In life we need to completely separate from the old to make way for the new. Cut away all those things that have been holding you back. Burn them, trash them, block them and never look back.

That said, once you do and you’re feeling a little like you miss it, them, those– capture that feeling and fucking use it. 

Cry over your words, pour your soul out on that paper, over those keys; get deep, allow your heart to break fully and completely. At the end of that, there you will find the rainbow.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

 

 

 

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