I have decided to start writing with my eyes shut. It seems it is the easiest, and sometimes only, way I can get the words out of my head and onto the screen. It all started this past November, when for the first time ever, I attempted NaNoWriMo. I made the decision the morning the challenge started, which happened to also be two days before working a week-long trade show in Vegas.
Needless to say I failed. Terribly. I barely got a paragraph out that Sunday before deciding that I would work on my novel mentally while in Vegas (my first ever trip to Vegas, btw) and would type out all my wonderful words after I returned. Every night that week, while my co-workers were out partying it up in Vegas, I headed back to my room. Not to work on my writing though; after standing in a booth talking to strangers all day, instead of thinking about my characters or subplots, all I could think about was throwing away my dress shoes and sleeping forever. Neither option possible since I had to get up and do it all over again the next morning. And then I got home, and my kids and husband missed me and wanted my attention! And then I had to work late, to make up for the real work I missed while at the trade show! And then it was Thanksgiving! And then it was December! And then, and then! With all these fairly legit excuses I was doomed before I started and never really made a dent on the novel.
Usually I start over-analyzing everything and editing and worrying and I end up with a blank screen in the end, but that one paragraph I eked out on the second of November? I wrote that fully embracing the whole "write now, edit later" thing everyone seems to love about NaNo: I just sat down and started typing out my story. After a couple false starts, where I deleted and changed those first few sentences, I finally just closed my eyes and started typing. And it wasn't half bad, and I was actually proud of those words. Even though I haven't written much since November <insert excuse here, here and here>, for what I have written-a story start, several blog drafts, half a poem-I've found that closing my eyes and just typing silences the condescending voices in my head, at least long enough to get the words out, then I really do have to edit.
I rarely stand up for myself or for people I know. So I surprised myself earlier this week when I couldn't resist the urge to call Social Services on behalf of a stranger for something other than a neglect or abuse call-which I would and have actually done before. This time though, I was calling about one of the volunteers they had enlisted.
Our county has a group home for children whose parents are neglectful, abusive or incarcerated. Most of the kids at the group home can't be placed with foster families either because of the nature of their situation or the lack of available foster care at any given time. When I was a teen I had to stay there for a short time, a few days or so, maybe a week, and I have visited children there as well. Volunteers are used for chauffeuring kids to appointments or meetings when the group shuttle bus isn't available. I realized that I was sitting next to one-such volunteer and her ward in an overcrowded waiting room because the woman was clueless and wouldn't stop talking about the boy's situation in public. She kept asking him questions and while he answered politely enough, it was obvious he didn't want to talk-he kept lowering his voice and not-obviously-enough tried to change the subject.
I know he lives in the group home and how long he's been there because she called it by name and asked him how long he's been there. None of MY business, probably none of HER business, but now a dozen people know HIS business. And she continued to ask him questions in a bubbly, out of touch tone, like she really didn't get it. She responded to his lack of sleep with something along the lines of "Oh, that sucks. I have a baby and she keeps me up most nights, so I know exactly how you feel with not being able to sleep". Really? This continued for a few minutes before I left and I'm sure it continued after.
I wanted to tell her off in the waiting room, to tell her that while it is great she is volunteering her time she needed to just think about what this kid's life is like and quit talking about it in front of others. But between my lack of backbone and the assumption that he probably would've felt worse if I made a scene, I left without saying a word. But even after a twenty minute drive to calm myself I couldn't shake my anger or my sorrow and ended up parked on the side of the road, Googling Social Services. After I was transferred to the "right person", I explained I wasn't trying to get anyone in trouble and that the main reason I called was to suggest more sensitivity training for volunteers. I told her I had hoped that the only reason I realized the boy's situation was because I had personal experience at the home, so maybe I was overreacting. But she said they do a lot of promotions for the home to raise funds and recruit volunteers so any number of people are familiar with it, and the boy's situation is his own business and they need to protect the confidentiality of these kids, so she appreciated my call.
I've had time to over analyze think about the situation and my actions, and I still worry that I overreacted. But at the same time I know how much I worried about people knowing about my few days in that group home, I can only imagine two years would be worse. I hope I did the right thing.
Monday night, three weeks after you arrived at the ER, you finally opened your eyes.
One day after they decided to let you go, you looked at me.
Monday night, you moved your head and you responded to my voice.
Your eyes welled up, but you couldn't talk, couldn't tell me what was wrong.
Monday night, I videotaped you and hoped, no, I knew this was the turning point.
I begged you to stay with us; I promised to help you if you could just stay awake.
Monday night, I let myself believe that it wasn't over.
I told myself this was what we had been waiting for.
Monday night, you said goodbye, but my hope blinded me and I couldn't see it.
I just deleted four drafts from blogger. Two random updates that were outdated in the wording, a post about anonymity and a list that I've now lost interest in. I figure I can combine anything from those in this one post and move on from 2013.
I "committed" to posting more and participating in more challenges last year and failed, completely. I probably won't be better this year but I know better than to publicly commit again. A lot of my valid excuses for not writing revolved around crafting.
Crafty things I did last year:
-Worked on my crazy quilt entries for the first half of the year, didn't complete the challenge but it was nice to actually spend some time working on my quilt blocks.
-Spent over a month making 50 invitations for a friend's bridal shower. This was way more stressful than it should have been. I didn't want to disappoint the bride, I wanted to impress her friends and family and I put a ton of unnecessary pressure on myself to make everything perfect. But they turned out awesome so I guess it was worth it!
-Designed subway art canvases for a wedding gift and for my sister. They ended up being 24x30"; I didn't take a picture of Gina's after I finished, I was so excited that I took it straight over to her house and then she promised to take pictures of it on the wall but she keeps forgetting too. Designing these took way longer than I expected-only worked on them in the evenings after work so it took me almost two weeks. Once the printed canvas arrived from Spoonflower I just wrapped it around an artist canvas and stapled it in place.
-Made a dozen "Thank You" cards as an additional wedding gift for my friend.
-Made random cards and stamped jewelry gifts for friends throughout the year.
-Made a dozen "Hello" cards for a random stranger in an online holiday gift exchange.
-Made and mailed out two dozen Christmas cards. I waited until the weekend before Christmas so this was a touch stressful.
-Made another dozen Christmas cards for Gina to mail out. I'm pretty sure she let the kids play with them instead. Oh well.
Non-crafty things that kept me from writing last year:
-Played crappy Facebook/phone games.
-Read a few books, not as many as I wanted to. Seems I always challenge myself to 36 on Goodreads then I only get in 18.
My last two updates:
Gina is almost finished with her clinical trial. She can't really discuss it with anyone so I can't really go into details but everyone is optimistic. She is in the beginning stages of being in remission and is doing maintenance chemo and the doctors are monitoring her remaining spots in her lungs. I still have some posts on her and cancer and everything but like always, those will be written "later".
My littles are getting too big, too fast. We baked cookies together for the first time. It was so much fun that I'm thinking of making it a monthly ritual and not just a Christmas one.
This weekend's Trifextra Challenge is inspired by The Tummy Beast by Roald Dahl, and the challenge is to write about a beast living in an unusual place. Last weekend's Trifextra was supposed to be about a fear, and while I didn't enter last week, my entry this week fits both, as it isn't entirely fiction.
* It's not real. It's not real.
"Prove it. Just look."
She almost gives in, but she knows.
Hiding in that darkened mirror, the beast patiently
waits for her to meet his shadowed gaze. *
My beast lives in the mirror.
I prefer not to voice my worst fears, I'm just superstitious enough not to say the words out loud, but I'll admit to one of my biggest fears, which is also my most irrational one. You see, I'm not scared of the dark, I sleep best when the room is pitch black, but I'm freakin' scared to look into a mirror if the room is not well-lit. And I know it's the stupidest thing in the world and I know there is nothing in there, but the tiniest part of me will not tempt fate and look into a mirror if it's dark-ish. Because, well, what if?
I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've entered a challenge on the first day it's been available! This gives you lots of time to check out the rest of the entrants and maybe take a shot at the challenge yourself!