Since October 12th, I’ve been down in Florida and during this time, I’ve managed to scratch out a couple thousand words. That’s much less than a week’s worth when I’m at home, but for these 3 weeks, I’ve been helping out family and having the mental energy necessary to write has been a challenge.
I’m mentally, physically, even emotionally exhausted. Being a caregiver, short-term or long-term is not for the faint of heart. It’s definitely not for the selfish or the ‘me’ mentality. It requires patience, kindness, and the ability to scream internally when you can’t scream externally.
Normally, I would have said, ‘I just can’t. I’ll just wait until I get back home and get my head back on straight, catch up on sleep, on de-stressing, on XYZ… And then, I’ll start writing again.’ I haven’t done that. I’ve eked out words here and there, most of which don’t make much sense and most of which will be edited out. I also not upset about it, about the lack of progress on a novella I’d hoped to have finished long before November. I’m barely halfway.
I’ve texted with a couple of friends since I’ve been here. I’ve mostly taken my mom or grandma to the Dr, the store, to run whatever errands need to be taken care of, etc… while my mom is recovering from a fall that left her with multiple fractures in one arm along with a plate and nine screws in her wrist. Her sleep schedule is way off which means that mine is, too. By the time I fall asleep around 2-3am… my brain and body have had enough.
Writing is often an escape, sometimes a joy, a lot of times very hard work. Right now it’s not an escape. I can’t think straight enough for it to be an escape and I don’t have the time to sit and immerse myself in a story. I cobble together a few words, try to figure out a storyline in the moments I may have a second to think. I crave and cherish time to myself, something I haven’t had any of for three weeks. I don’t think I’ll be taking that for granted when I return home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful I can be here and I can help out when needed because no one else in the family can come. I have the freedom and flexibility in my life and schedule that my sister and cousins don’t. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my grandma who is 95. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my mom. I am close with both of these women, but we’re all also cut from the same stubborn piece of cloth and it does pull on the nerves from time to time.
All this, though, is to say… Whatever the circumstance, writing can happen. Even if it’s ten words a day. Five words a day. It’s like the jigsaw puzzles my grandma and I do when I’m here and there’s some down time. It’s one piece at a time. It may be a total of one thousand pieces, but one piece at a time gets you one step closer. It’s the same with writing. One word, five words, ten words in a novella or novel doesn’t seem like much, maybe a drop in a bucket, but it’s one, five, or ten words that weren’t written before and it’s one, five, or ten words closer to the goal.
So, if you find yourself in need of writing but you don’t have much time, you’re exhausted and don’t know which way is up or down and everything seems to be going sideways… Just add one word, five words, ten words… They don’t have to make sense. They just have to be there.
Music is such a fun and lively and mood enhancing and comfort.
I turn to music almost more than I turn to anything else when I need to get out of a mood, when I need to get into a mood, when I need a smile, a reminder, a hug, a good memory, a certain feeling, to feel safe, and when I need to clean the house.
Music got me through some of the most awful things as a teenager. Music got me through some incredibly lonely times. Music got me through heartache and loss.
And music often gets me to the memories of my grandpa, to the memories of when parts of life made sense, when I need to feel connected to something or someone that isn’t physically there.
Music influences my writing as much as anything else does. A song, a melody, a harmony, a guitar riff, a bass line, a lyric can convey exactly what I’m feeling and exactly what I need to infuse into a character or a situation.
Things in life are a bit strange and crazy and fucking scary. People are getting sick by the tens of thousands and people are dying by the thousands. Cities and states and whole countries are under Stay-At-Home orders by local and federal governments as efforts are made to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
The Internet has become the place to be for virtual concerts by celebrities, by bands we love, by people we don’t even know. Music has always come together when there’s something that needs the support of the population at large around the world. This time in history is no different. Music comes to the rescue when we need our collective spirits lifted and attention drawn to the bigger picture.
I know I’ve needed it and turned to it more in recent days.
Spotify is constantly on when I am doing anything at all or when I just need to drown out the dread and fear and worry for a while. It’s not good for us to watch so much negative, to be exposed to so much sadness and horror because our moods spiral downward, and our anger, stress, anxiety, and depression spikes. Music, though… We can never be exposed to too much. At least, in my humble opinion we can’t.
What’s comforted me lately is the music that got me through those horrible times as a teenager I referenced earlier. Prolonged sexual abuse led to an inability to process stress and fear and I developed a medical condition, depression, and an inability to trust anyone. Music got me to the other side, both listening to and attending live concerts.
80’s Pop (mostly European acts)
Duran Duran…my all-time favorite. Forever.
I have an 80’s playlist on Spotify that has 54 songs. Over 3 hours worth of songs. And I keep adding to it.
There’s a Duran Duran playlist as well that’s just… I usually listen and sing along when I’m writing blogs or doing revisions or just need them.
There’s a 60’s/70’s playlist that was started because I wanted a lot of the Guardians of the Galaxy songs that I had forgotten I knew once upon a time and the feels they give me.
I have other playlists, too, songs and classical pieces I want at my fingertips.
Music reflects our thoughts, our consciousness, our struggles as individuals and as the human race. It’s art. It’s interpretive. It’s not always and shouldn’t always be politically correct. It’s full of emotion and pain and joy. It’s a statement, a belief, a hope. It’s an expression of everything we’ve been through, are going through, and it reminds us that we’re not alone even when we feel as though we are. And at this moment in this time when many are isolated and feeling the stress of what the world is going through and when the pain and challenge seems insurmountable, I hope they’ll turn to music and find comfort in it, find a little bit of joy in a lyric, a melody, a harmony.
What about you? Do you turn to music? If so, do you have a go to band or musician or song that brings you comfort when you’re in need?
And sadly, no, tackling isn’t a football reference in this instance. And y’all, I miss football. I know there’s the draft and pro days and the combine and so on and so forth, but I miss GameDay on Saturdays and a full slate of football games from noon until midnight. At the same time, I’m getting a shit ton done in my creative life right now so I can’t complain too much … Football will be back soon enough! 148 days, 18 hours, and 58 minutes …
Okay, now that I’ve gathered myself together …
I’m working and creating and dreaming and putting into place and changing how I play the game. I’m doing a lot more embracing of change this year, facing my fears than I have in a very long time. (Then again, I got new computer glasses that I’m in love with I can’t wait to put them on). So, I thought I’d share with you 5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now …
Creative means, according to Merriam-Webster, marked by the ability or power to create …As indie authors, blog writers, indie publishers, content creators, etc … We have an immense amount of power in our collective voices and at our fingertips. We’re limited only by our imagination. I was HUGE limited by my mindset for a long ass time. That’s no longer the case as I continue to learn just how much power creatives do have. Facing the fears, accepting them, and leaning into them to come out on the other side, that definitely takes creative courage and an open mindset. I’m still fighting against my limiting thoughts and I’m making progress every day, often, multiple times a day.
Approval from people who don’t matter … I fight this a lot. I tackle this issue day in and day out. Some voices are louder than others. I do a much better job now of surrounding myself and reaching out to people who have my back, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off them without judgment, who pull me out of my funks, who are constructive and creative in their criticism and not out to see me fall and fail. Seeking approval and advice from some people can and will kill creativity faster than you can say, well, anything. And this is not about competition and outside validation. This is simply about seeking creative guidance and sometimes, there are people, who you and I need to steer clear of or our creative desires and willpower will fly right out the window.
Comfort Zone … Boy. Howdy. I am tackling the creative comfort zone every second it seems. I am facing things that are pushing me out of where I am and where I’ve been. They’re affecting the bottom line and the momentum I had going when I started 2018 with a plan. But I also get stronger each time I take a leap. I believe more in myself when I put myself out there in ways I never thought I would. And sometimes it definitely takes having your hand forced before you’re even remotely ready in order to do the things. Don’t get me wrong here. The fear never goes away, but it when we lean into it, push through it, drown out the negativity of our own minds and that of other’s words, we gain power over it and we’re able to say ‘Bring It On’ even louder the next time.
Using multiple parts of my creative brain … At all times. All day. I’m changing how I approach Lissa Matthews, some from my own desires, and some from outside sources. A new pen name that I’m really excited to play with. She’s going to be a lot of fun when I get a point I can dedicate several hours a day to her. Some creative online business courses. Some of the information isn’t anything new to me, but the ways it’s presented is different and it’s allowing me to push against the frame of mind and limits I’d imposed on myself for years as a writer and creative. And a new venture about helping creatives see their to-do lists in a new light. (I’ll be telling you more about it later). The more I use these creative brain waves, the more creativity I’m dealt and that’s just fine with me.
Falling back into old habits of procrastination …So, yes, on the heels of a lot creativity flowing through me and facing fears, I still have to deal with old habits creeping in. I haven’t been watching television much. Sports, yes. March Madness. Golf next weekend, etc … But television shows? I’ve pretty much ditched them. I still catch a 30min one once or twice a week, but that’s it. I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie in months. Or binged on Netflix. (Though I do have it in my planner that I’m allowed to binge watch Bosch when it returns in April). But television doesn’t serve my business or me. Yes, one could get ideas from it every so often, but not enough to waste valuable time. And I’ll occasionally find myself playing Candy Crush and have to force myself to walk away. I don’t do Facebook much. I’m there only for specific things (a few groups and my Page). Instead, I read more. Business books, female entrepreneurial books, fiction, blog posts, articles that are relevant to what I’m doing, and the like. I’ve gotten to the point I can let my house go if necessary (but not for too long… I can’t work for too long in the equivalent of a college frat house). But putting my business and myself first has helped me add to my creative well and pull myself out of the time sucks. I’m a much happier person now that I’m not wasting so many precious moments on things that mean nothing. The caveat to this is, once again, sports. My son loves sports. Sports broadcasting is what he wants to go into when he goes to college. We watch sports together. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s one of the ways we connect and share time together. It helps that I like sports, too.
What are you tackling in your creative life or in your life in general? Leave a comment below! And have a great Thursday!
Why 35? How did I come up with 35? Not using common core, that’s for sure. I simply added 20+15…
My list is comprised of personal and business related things. Some of which I’ll go into more detail about later, and some I’ll just let go of, or try…
I didn’t do fuck all in 2015
I learned it takes a village in the writing/publishing business to get the word out, the boost your name, etc…
I don’t have a village or a small tribe of good friends/authors/bloggers who I can band together with.
I’m not organized enough and I like my personal time with family way too much
I hate always having to be ON
I compared myself to others. A LOT. And while we’re not ‘supposed’ to do it, when everyone posts their awesomeness, it’s kinda hard not to do compare. It’s okay. We ALL do it.
Success is a state of mind and mine has been in the crapper.
I’m lost. And let’s face it, I’ve been lost in this writing/publishing business since 2010. That’s a long ass time to wander in the dark. Without a map.
I suck at time management, especially when there are big changes to my schedule.
I suck writing during the day.
I didn’t read enough
I didn’t bake enough
I didn’t craft enough
I didn’t go to any conferences and I wasn’t once sad about it.
Depression is a fucking liar, but a fucking good one
6 deaths in the family in 24 months is not good for anyone
I need a vacation
My kids growing up make me both incredibly proud and incredibly sad
Emotions are a bitch.
My swearing has picked up the pace.
Too many hurtful, negative voices in my head telling me I can’t and I shouldn’t and I need to but I won’t
I made a bestseller list with a group of amazing authors who have dedication that I can’t begin to fathom
I wrote some fun stories and made some money
I wrote some fun stories and didn’t make enough money
I don’t do it right. Any Of It!
I did not lose weight
I exercised more
I drank a lot of water
I didn’t see or do a lot of things
I was proud to be a Kyle Busch fan
I was proud to be a Florida State Seminole fan
Common Core sucks ass
I’m glad 2015 is over
Brilliance is out there. I just don’t know how to find it.
So, there it is. My list. It’s sad and completely uninspired. It’s depressing and horrible to look at. This lost thing is going to stop and go away. It has to. There is no other choice. I had a voice once and it’s fucking GONE. It’s time to find a new voice. I don’t know how. I don’t know how you’re going to learn about it. But, it’s time for me to find it.
I have some goals set for 2016, but that’s a post for another day.
Be blessed and beautiful and thank you for being there for me.
Speeds are rather slow at the moment. Slow, but not relaxing. It’s been a rough few days in my house. Work on the next book hasn’t taken place save for scenes here and there written in Evernote. Instead, I’ve been working on keeping as much of my home germ and illness free as I can (though if DH and DD would stay in one place and not move around and touch everything, it would be easier). (more…)