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I live in a world of nightmares and long for a world of dreams…

So often, I think, we humans do what the title of this post suggests. We live in the world we’ve got, where we perceive things as nightmares and droll, dull, and bad, and yet still yearn to live in a place where dreams come true, life is good, and the boring things disappear in excitement and happiness.

Growing up sucks. I’m sorry, but it does. When you’re a kid, your imagination is the center of how you view things. Monsters exist, but so do heroes. If something bad happens, more often than not, there is someone there to direct you to something more positive and shelter you from all the “bad.” As an adult, that filter you most likely had as a kid is gone. Instead, every pain is felt deep, people really do go and not come back, people you love don’t love you back, and the world is a bit duller, the days move faster, and instead of holding onto hope it’ll be different, you start living in this doubt you’ve learned exists.

I wrote a poem recently. First poem I’ve written in 10 years. Nope. Not an exaggeration. It started off as most of my poems do. A simple line that triggers an image. Living in a nightmare…hoping for a dream. Then, as most writers can tell you, the words and ideas took charge and I ended up in a different place than I started. Thematically, it worked. The poem’s far from my best. But, rereading it tonight, it kinda did what a poem should do for me. It encapsulated exactly what I’m feeling and exactly what I’m filled with fear about.

I’ve always told people I tend to write when certain emotions take me over. I’ve been very reluctant to go there this year, as my last post would hint as to why. Growing up just sucks, and the difference between being the writer I used to be and the grown-up writer I am now is not just a measure of skill or technicality. I don’t want to jump and serve the feelings. I don’t want everything I write, everyone I communicate with, and everything I do serve what’s going on inside like I used to. My writing was prolific in quantity then, but I really don’t like it. It’s confusing. It’s angry. It’s alienating, and quite frankly, only shows one side of who I am. I’m mercurial. There’s always more than one side, and it’s about damn time people got to see it.

People get the angry, cranky, sheltered person I am. They don’t see the girl that feels everything everyone around her feels. If you’re hurt, I’m hurt. If you’re sad, I get sad. They don’t see the person who is willing to throw down and put everything on the line for someone who barely glances at her. The person that smiles when she wants to cry. The person that jumps cliffs just to prove herself to the one person that’s never watching. I’m the girl that sits against the walls at parties, watching everyone mingle and instead of being jealous, just enjoys the atmosphere of the room. I’m the girl whose voice muddles with everyone else’s. I’d rather feel than not, and I remember what it’s like when I shut myself down. I could read a book in a room surrounded by people talking among themselves, and feel a part of the book’s world and the people’s world I’m in at the same time.

I’m the girl that stares at stars and wonders who also looked. I like playing in mud and dirt, and I’ve been known to dance in the rain. I hate the cold, but I won’t hesitate to play in the snow. I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want help. I want to be more than I am thought to be. I like to travel, even if I can’t go where I want. I love knowing where I came from. I want to see the land my ancestors walked. I want to know every bit of what made me me.

I miss the people that are gone. The same way anyone reading this misses the people they’ve lost. I miss the full heart I used to have when I could walk through a day and just know that this person existed. I miss being aggravated with them. I miss the normal of it.

Nothing’s gonna change with that. They’re gone. I’ve accepted it. I don’t like it, but I’ve accepted it. That’s what I am good at. I’m adaptable. I’m Gemini. I’m a Monkey (Chinese astrology y’all…look it up. haha). I can change. I can grow. I get it. But, I don’t like it. And, I think there’s just some things that won’t change.

My love for my family won’t change. I forgive everything, but I don’t forget everything. I’ll continue to put my heart and my soul out there for others, even all those people that logical part of my brain says not to. I’ll continue to stare out the window at night and gaze at the stars, listen to a song 12 times in a row to memorize lyrics that I won’t care about in two years, write crappy poems about crappy subjects that I’ll feel stupid about for years to come. I’ll continue to wake up, go to work, and put on that happy face, and I’ll continue to fall in love as I always do. I’ll still find the beauty in a sunset, or dance in a summer rain. I’ll still listen to the sound of peepers in summer, and shudder when the woodpecker sounds (it’s the Predator, don’t you know?). I’ll love the smell of manure, as bad as it is, and the smell of fresh mowed grass and the cold, brisk wind during a snowfall. I’ll still lift the snow’s weight on a shovel, and I’ll still enjoy the taste of hot cocoa (PEPPERMINT MOCHA FOR THE WIN!).

I left that world of dreams behind me more than a decade ago. That world was one where I willingly left responsibility to the side to foster being “taken care of.” I call it my world of dreams, not because I have given up getting them, but more that they were real then. Truth is, I felt I mattered in that world of dreams, not because of who I was, but because of who I wanted to be. It was easy to pretend, to fill a role, to let that become my focus and my life. I live in the world of nightmares now. It’s not that it’s scary. It’s just…not dreamy. It can hurt. It can bruise. But, it’s real. It’s who I am.

And yet, even so, the dreamer in me hasn’t let go. Maybe she never will. Maybe I’ll never let her.

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Posted by on 11/24/2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part III: The acceleration into madness.

(Sorry for the delay in getting this out–excuses don’t work anymore, so I won’t give any. Here I am just to spout off again, though, so enjoy.)

I create the story out of simple inspiration, and free write until it scares me that I won’t ever have a true plot point to follow. I decide to jot down an outline, loosely describing for myself the stages the story will progress through. So, what’s next?

I’ve spent a good deal of time to this point thinking of the purpose for the actions of characters, and envisioning them. I’ve become good friends with them: they yell at me often. Once I hit that prior stage of outlining, it’s impressed upon me that I need to finish this work, and so begins the manic writing phase.

With the guidance of the few notes I’ve jotted down, I write almost as freely as I did before, but pauses don’t exist. Deviations do not happen. It is almost like I am on a drug and I need to keep writing to keep the high moving. Unlike the initial writing phase, the “good” or “bad” writing actually matters to me as the story has become complex enough to need to make sense. I am usually up late at night, typing in darkness, listening to some inspirational music, reciting the words as they’re typed out on the screen. Sleep is secondary. My mind is consumed now with where my characters are going. Before, the visions inspired the text. Now, the text inspires the vision. The movie is in my head. The dialogue pops out, the voices are loud and clear, and I feel the adrenaline rush in this stage more than ever before.

I put so much energy into it. I want to talk about it, describe the feelings I am having, but people don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t blame them for this. Part of me does. The passion I pour into the story starts driving me. Nothing else matters. I see an end point that I need to reach, and I need to do it fast.

When I finally come to the conclusive point, I’m emotionally exhausted and sad. I do cry. I do reread the last few pages. I actually type: The End. I let the grief of letting go take over me, and I reluctantly close the document and stand up from the computer. My mind is still engaged in the world on the paper. I haven’t spent many hours away from it, and I miss it like one does an old home. My characters don’t speak to me now. They’re quiet. Not dead, just quiet. They’ve moved elsewhere for a moment, and the lonely feeling overcomes that manic high I was living on just moments before.

Because I’m me (and thus, never shut up and keep going and going and going…), despite the ending of one particular work, the story never ends. I love my characters so much that I know there are further stories to tell, and that I want to tell them. This is why I’ve rarely wrote a standalone work. It’s why I love movies that end up with sequels, and I tend to like spin-offs of tv shows. I enjoy the possibility of different stories, different perspectives, further interaction (even if different) with characters I’ve come to care about. And another part that makes me who I am is that my mind is apt to change, so often my motivation for keeping a story singular ends up with a trilogy simply because I shifted the storyline from one character to another.

Sometimes, I take a break between writing. Sometimes, eager to keep that high, I write for another week or two on a sequel (or prequel), and coast on being stuck in the world before it leaves me.  Often, though, I let it sit. I read. I let a bit of a mourning period go on, and then I start all over. Loving a new time period, engaging in the life of new characters, and spinning around some new ideas in this overactive brain of mine.

Heck, writing this may have confused you more than explaining my process, and perhaps it makes no sense. But, it follow the route I tend to take, and may explain the choices I’ve made in life and the paths I’ve taken as a writer.

 

 
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Posted by on 07/21/2014 in writing

 

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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part II: Writing for writing’s sake.

Last time, how I think through the inspiration led to me getting to write about something. Today, we talk about what comes next.

I don’t like to take an idea and control it from the start. For me, it stifles any hope of the characters, plot, and personalities to develop. Just because I can see what my female protagonist looks like, sounds like, or how she sits in the world I’m about to put on paper, doesn’t mean I know who she is. I don’t have characters that just appear to me fully revealed. They don’t trust easily. They want to be able to see the relationship to develop between us is worth it before showing me who they are. Outlining at an early stage makes me feel like I’ve put my characters in a certain personality construct, and they get loud when they get locked up. (Did I mention they’re a little like me? Stubborn as hell!)

So, I free write. I don’t know if they’re going to stay good. Maybe just maybe the evil bloke I saw at the beginning starts showing a softer, more vulnerable side. Maybe that character that everyone starts to like decides he feels like doing some really bad things. Heck, maybe the world explodes and they all end up in Central New York mooing at cows (see, just like me!). I want the story to tell me what’s important. I want to get to know my characters, and start to love or hate them the same way I want those reading to.

The best part of this, for me, is that I am constantly motivated to come back to the document I’m writing because the most curious part of me is waiting to see what comes next. The worst part is that when you go to further parts of the process, you sometimes are confronted with the reality that you might not always write some brilliant things.

So, I write. Chapter after chapter, thousands of words, deepening my understanding of current characters, watching new ones pop up. About a third of the way into what would end up the finished product, something changes, and I start changing with it. The mercurial Lauren, always true to her Gemini nature, decides it’s time to do it a little different.

Then, a new sort of fun begins.

This is when I start needing a direction to move in. My mind starts to realize that, like in most things, it can always run away with itself and this writing idea, and if I want any of it to make sense, I must make it make sense.

And so, now, I start to outline. It starts pretty simple. At this point, I can see the end game, even if it’s well off. I’ve started to see that this character loves to leap before looking, the other is too busy being a flirt to pay attention, and the personalities of all the others have developed to the point I start feeling they’re real people telling me their story. I know what sort they are; now, I just need to know where they’re going.

I plot out the plot as loosely as possible to allow for creativity to still flourish. I get nervous if I don’t know the story has a point. I also like that these ideas developed in the outlining lead on to bigger and better plot ideas. More often than not, the outline leads to future book ideas, and then I start overwhelming myself with the history involved.

During this outlining period, I’m still writing. However, now I feel like I’ve an actual purpose with it. I’m more determined than ever to have a productive output, and I feel rather manic. The ideas start pouring in because I know the structure they’ll be contained in is there. I also know that, as the architect, I’m still able to manipulate as the characters and stories need.

I’m probably my happiest, most productive, and best in this stage. I’m always that mercurial sort mentioned above. I do love being in control…and losing it. It’s so very hard to decide what I think on so many things because of this, the least of which is writing.

But, to where do I go after the outline?

 
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Posted by on 12/13/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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Writer’s process…or how my mind controls its creativity, part I: The Idea.

If there’s one thing to learn from being around creative types, it’s that there is no one way to achieve an end. There is no real “right” process to making something happen. It just is what it is. Sometimes, it works for you. Sometimes, you have to play with it as you change and grow. Sometimes, it’s an utter crapshoot and you hate every moment of it, even if the end result is beauty. But, there is never just one way to do it.

One of my friends posted about his process in a blog entry, and I read it, understanding every step of it, and responded in the comments with a brief description of my own. But, even though I thought I was reflecting on my own attempts to create something from a blank page, I realized I barely scraped the surface of how I work.

As a person who has always been driven by her imagination, I end up with a lot of ideas. I’m never short of them. I always tell people that my brain never shuts up. It has an opinion: right, wrong, even hardly thought out. It has a vivid show to give: I’m pretty sure I think in color all the time. It’s just always on. I often lack sleep, especially if I have decided that, five minutes before hitting the pillow, this awesome movie needs to play, all inside a head that really, really needs some shut-eye.

I used to call these ideas visions, mostly because I felt they were coming from some external source. I even wrote a poem about how these ideas hit, and they may not make sense. I might be out at a bar with friends, and this amazing scene just plays inside, and I have to fight the urge to just expound upon it while attempting to be social. I might be sitting by a lake or ocean, watching waves lap the shore, and see a female detective sitting in an office, interrupted by her male assistant who informs her some new client is outside, waiting to hire her for the next big case.

Some writers like to carry a little notebook around to jot down these ideas so they can work through them after the first insight to story greatness shows up. I was blessed with a pretty good memory, and I tend to hold on to my ideas as if they were my greatest treasure. I don’t carry a notebook. I just carry the idea with me until I can play with it.

So, let’s get to that play. Some writers like to outline and plan everything. Some free write, planning to edit and smooth out the story later. Me? I like to do both, and not always in some sense of order.

Let’s take that fantasy novel I sometimes mention. The idea for it actually came from another piece of writing I did. I think it was the first time I inspired a story from another story. During college, I had to write a senior thesis, and I wrote a presentation that was poetry and prose combined. Don’t worry; It wasn’t as confusing as it sounds. I was even complemented by one of my professors on my proficiency to mix the two without being awkward. When I decided to dip deep into a fantasy work, I decided to pick out the female protagonist from this thesis and rewrite her story.

At this time, I wrote every bit of prose in third person. I wasn’t confident I could drive an entire plot from the viewpoint of one character, but with the encouragement and urging of a dear writing friend, I picked this idea, already popping those movies into my head at the most awkward of times, to explore it.

So, I had a protagonist, I had a basic plot, and plenty of visions dancing in my head. I knew the tone I wanted to write in. I wrote.

 
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Posted by on 11/15/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Realizing all the while, you’ve been doing it wrong.

Once upon a time, I wrote a fantasy novel. I haven’t spent too much time on my specific works in this blog, mostly because I had intended on having another blog serve to deal with my “I’M A WRITER, DAMNIT!” thoughts. However, I’ve been in a weird sort of mood lately, and I really just want to talk about stories.

I didn’t start out writing fantasy when I decided writing was the craft for me. In fact, I was just a little obsessed with a time period of history/country called Ancient Egypt and writing a story set there. I was so obsessed that some of my early internet usernames were based upon characters in that novel series. I started that series when I was 17, finished the first book when I was 21, and started up the prequel (because writing out of order is just awesome, let me tell you). Then, the story just crashed and burned.

It wasn’t because the plot couldn’t sustain itself. It could, and I still hope that it can. However, the time of life I was entering, I found myself consumed with other things that distracted me further from the closeness I had experienced with the characters.

Two years later, after writing hundreds of poems, reading a dear friend’s own fantasy work, and trying to work through some visions of plot that danced in my head, I decided to start working on a fantasy novel. It started a lot smaller in scope, and now it sits as a waiting trilogy, but I really believed in the storyline and I admit, it was a lot of fun to write.

That’s the background. Now, here’s what I’m trying to get at.

A few posts ago, I wrote about going through some old writing, finding that 23 year old me, and reliving the past relationships that have since faded with time. I have struggled for years to get myself back into a writing sort of mood, and that Monday was a trigger moment. The following weekend, I actually worked on my writing. I was happy, but a little sad, too.

Since I left high school, writing wasn’t just about me getting whatever thoughts in my head out on paper, but rather a sort of social interaction I held with classmates, friends, other writers, and often, I would just spend an entire night talking about plot points, worries, and directions I wanted to take. It wasn’t selfish. I listened just as much as I talked. I spent countless hours with other creative people, letting the pulse of their own exploration inspire and motivate me to be bigger, better, and stronger as an artist.

I really enjoyed myself, reading the words I wrote about a decade ago, edited seven years ago, and wrote in a very changeable winter. But, part of what I missed was knowing I couldn’t really share that with anyone. I couldn’t do anything but pace the rooms of my house, whispering my thoughts on working through the bad areas of writing. It was a lonely process. I really didn’t like it.

This isn’t a foreign feeling. I’ve been struggling with it for the past seven years. Every time I went to write, that beautiful urge faded as I felt so alone with it. I wasn’t comfortable with the change, so I’d give up.

Yeah, self-inflicted writer’s block.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t want to be that way. I’m sick of letting it be that way.

Time for a change.

 
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Posted by on 11/12/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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To rhyme, or not to rhyme. That is the question I ask…

I figured that if I was going to have any sort of success in keeping this journal a little bit alive, I needed to spend some time when I had the urge and time to write creating a small backlog of entries so that I could at least present the internet with something from me when a block hit. Perhaps this will take the pressure off of feeling guilty when I don’t write, and allow me to enjoy and appreciate the times I do.

I used to write a lot of poetry. And, if I am not too biased, I was pretty darn good at it too. Writing poems helped me work through a lot of dark thoughts and feelings. A lot of my poetry concerned my spirituality (which yes, I’ve mentioned in several entries now. Perhaps, one day I’ll expound a little on that.), but some of it did relate to people, in particular, and feelings I had towards people I couldn’t openly reveal.

I haven’t written a poem in over 6 years. I don’t know why I stopped exactly. I think it had something to do with the death knell of a phase of a particular relationship I had, and that I had lost a lot of the culture that I had created around me during those prolific poetry years. I once told a friend that I write best when in love or happy, coasting on the physical highs those emotions provoke in me. But, so much of my poetry was dark and angry, at least, on the surface. Perhaps I unwittingly lied to my friend when I said that. Maybe the truth is, I write best when I can feel a connection to someone or something that makes me want to be better, smarter, and honest. It’s been a long time since I have had that.

My older brother bought me a leather bound journal for Christmas one year. I haven’t used it. Part of that is that it’s beautiful and I don’t want to ruin it with scratched out words and my own insane thoughts. Another reason is that if I were to use it, I wanted a purpose for it that I would stick to. In truth, as you can see from the haphazard posting I do here, I am not very good at keeping a regular journal. About the only thing in my life that is regulated is my work, and heck, that changes all the time too. Keeping a journal every day, writing on the regular? Ha! That’s just not for me. Never has been, never will be.

Now, I think I know what I want to use that journal for. I want to get in touch with the poetic part of me that has been gone for so many years. I have a feeling that this will not be fun. I think I’m going to hate a lot of what may come out, and I hate when I don’t like what I write. But, I need to do this. I miss the part of me I saw when I crafted a poem, and I need to find that again. If I don’t try now, I might never do it.

That would be the biggest loss of all.

 
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Posted by on 11/10/2013 in Uncategorized

 

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A spring and summer creating memories…

A few days ago, I updated my Facebook status describing how I found some old binders, notebooks, and folders with some writing and thoughts I had when I was finishing college, and learning how to move towards a goal of being a responsible adult. Now, over a decade later, I still can’t say I have figured out the adult thing, but I can say I’ve made progress.

I can admit I’m a bit of a pack rat. In some cases, I keep things because of sentimental value; maybe they remind me of an event, or maybe they just are things I believe I will eventually use. I tend to remember things vividly from years ago, and occasionally get a little too nostalgic due to that. So, if I have things that relate to a vivid memory, or signify a relationship of the past, I tend to keep it.

The other night, I came home from work and walked over to my overstuffed bookshelf. I thought I might have stashed some extra office/school supplies there that I could have taken to work to use for something. Instead, I started pulling out these binders, folders, and a notebook with a “title” written up on it in big sharpie handwriting. A part of me stared at disbelief as I had forgotten that I had stuffed these items away, intending to keep them for posterity.

I never found the supplies I thought I had. Instead, I found the 22/23 year old me, full of opinions, an awakening spirituality, and completely in love with writing. I found the imagination that I sometimes think has escaped from me as I’ve grown older, more mature, responsible. The kid part of me I strove to hold on to those years went down for a nap so long ago, and I wonder if she will ever wake up.

One of the notebooks was a journal a friend and I had kept my last summer at the job I had right out of college before the place went out of business. In the journal, my friend and I wrote about friendships (with coworkers and people we knew outside our little group), our philosophies and beliefs, poetry and short stories. Inside, I also used the notebook to detail out growing relationships I was making with people that, at the time, were consuming my world. In 2002, fresh out of college, optimistic that the world was at my feet, and boy, did I dream and want things bigger and grander than anything I ever did and got. Inside this one subject notebook, I poured out some of the biggest parts of who I was and what I wanted. Ironically, I also made promises and declarations in this notebook I later broke to myself. Ah, the mercurial me.

One of the best and worst parts of reading these materials this week was not the memory trip it conjured, but the realization that back then, so very few people knew me, or, for that matter, saw me. I have always been a bit of the quiet girl, keeping my feelings and emotions close. I can guarantee that some of the people closest to me in proximity knew nothing of what things I wrote, or believed, or hell, felt. The crushes, the falling in love, the intense spirituality building within me, centering me and giving me the confidence to believe, for once, I was okay. The knowledge that writing wasn’t just some hobby I liked to do on cold weather mornings, but an immense part of who I was as a person. And, the fact that writing brought to me so many connections to people so far away that matched my personality in ways I still can’t begin to explain to people. So many secrets back then. So much need for them.

Probably the best part of the trip down memory lane was the fact that I got to see my description of the beginning of one of the longest and fulfilling relationships of my adult life. Sure, living through that, I was aware of what I felt at the time, and what I personally saw, but writing it down for an audience outside of myself, I saw a bit of what I had forgotten about it. It was genuine, unintended, and fun. As it went, sometimes it hurt more than I could ever know things could hurt. But, it started as fun.

I need to get that back. That sort of fun. Ah, well…we shall see.

 
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Posted by on 11/08/2013 in blogging, writing

 

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