Ripple Effect

I’m turning up the heat on my writing. I get emails about contests and the like every now and then, and I’ve always been told by my peers and the people I look up to that contests are a wonderful way to get feedback on your stuff. I found one that focuses on mechanics of the craft, so I’ve been plugging away at a story for that one. I have a week left to finalize, rewrite and submit—fingers crossed I win a thousand dollars. In addition to the story I’m trying to get done inside of this week, I have two more pinned to a metaphorical wall between my friend Ashlee and me. About six months ago, I made one of the best friends my life will ever know, and it just so happens she has the logical mind of an editor. We’ve gone through one of my stories with a fine-toothed comb, and it’s on its way to being solid.

My goal is that by the end of twenty eighteen, I will have three short stories and a novel to my name, all of them started years ago and finished in the fall of this year. It’s time to start following through with my ideas. I’ve got to normalize finishing my work, otherwise my life will continue on and I’ll die surrounded by half written stories and notes. That’s my biggest fear, to be completely honest: to die without the endings written down. A lot of endings live only in my head, and if something were to happen to me, they’d be forever unfinished.

It seems like women named Ashlee/Ashley are good for my motivation. The latter, an old friend, declared to me that she will be drafting a novel in November, and if (when) she finishes, she wants me to read it—much to my excitement. She said one of her coworkers turned her onto the idea, and she inadvertently turned me on to the idea. I’ve tried writing a novel before. It was a lot of heavy lifting, but it was one of the most energizing feelings I’ve ever had. Writing is the one way that you can do this: {image} without people worrying about you.

It feels a bit like creative fate, when I started Datum on this website, I thought it was a good little idea that I could flesh into a small, ongoing story, but then it got away from me. I have twenty-five pages of notes just floating around my bedroom, waiting to be turned into a story. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end filled with characters with lives. I have a novel plotted out, and then this challenge comes along. The world is crazy sometimes. All of this has just fed my motivation. I want to be a finisher. I want to finish my stories, run them through the Ash-machine, tighten the screws and trim the fat off the mechanical hog we call fiction.

Because writing is something I want to do yet can’t do without a pre-ritual that involves cleaning to create physical and mental space, I want to use it to get myself back on track. When I started doing this daily blog, I was in a great routine of eating at decent times and staying on top of the little things like laundry and cleanliness around the house. For some reason I was able to get up earlier in the day and remain productive, but since the seasons turned, I have regressed into a position of barely caring for myself. It’s taken me a while to see it, but my moods and my feelings of self worth are directly tied to the writing. It doesn’t happen when I’m feeling down, or lazy—it’s easy for me to shuffle it out of my list of priorities when all I want to do is watch TV or something dumb like that.

I may as well be able to title my week “Ripple Effect,” because it’s been a learning experience for me; no matter what I do in one arena of my life, it will impact several others. The simplest of all being my bedtimes. I fight the morning so hard because I can’t get to bed at a decent time—I fight sleep. I noticed this last night; I was ready for bed at ten but needed to stay up until one a.m. because today is Sunday and I have no plans. Why do I do this to myself? I have a quantity over quality mindset when it comes to the hours of the day right now, and it needs to change drastically. I believe this is step one to making everything else fall into place.

Do you remember the game Perfection? The one with the different shaped pegs that you had to fit in the corresponding holes before the timer ran out and flung your shit across the kitchen? I feel like my board just popped and I’m on attempt number two—but this time I know what to do. I did it all wrong before; I didn’t value myself, I didn’t take time to think about what I was doing—I was too impulsive. Somehow, I’ve gotten away from my original message too. I have to read my own blog to remember the headspace of the beginning of this journey. Maybe I need my meds tweaked a bit, or maybe I just need to really lean into talk therapy. Now that it’s almost been two month with my little pills, I feel like the acrobat that just re-chalked his hands to do the big work. I just need to make that jump.

See you tomorrow.