You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good other people think you are or how good people think you look.
— Amy Poehler, Yes Please
I hate to admit it, but I smoked cigarettes for thirteen years before finally quitting cold turkey about three and a half years ago.
I don’t half-ass things.
When I decide to do something, I go all in.
If I decide I want to quit smoking, I just do it. If I decide I want to write a book in a month, I just do it.
Twenty-three days ago, I decided I wanted to write a poem every day – not every day for a month, not every day for a year – just, every day.
I want to write a poem every day, because writer’s write, and I fancied myself a poet before anything else I ever aspired to be, so I’m here now, thirty fucking five, and doing it.
There’s a power in deciding to do something and following through with it.
I have lists of things to write every day:
- 1,000 words
- WordPress post
- Medium article
- poem a day
and as I am crossing these things off my list, I’m doing even more than I’m asking of myself, because I want to.
Because I love writing.
I’ve been prolific lately, and now all I want is to stay prolific, to keep creating at this pace until what I love becomes what I am becomes what I do.
You know what I mean?
As I’m sure I’ve said a few times before, I have been writing a poem every day over on Medium, trying to break into that platform’s incredible cadre of poets, adding things to publications when I can, thinking about starting one myself – but for some reason I don’t feel like that is the place to come and ramble so much as I feel this is, the home on WordPress, the place that I’ve been coming to for years and opening up a blank box to spill words on pages and hope, hope, hope someone will read them.
Maybe I should have been better at doing this from the beginning – documenting my writing process, being open and honest about how hard it is sometimes, how more often than not the words don’t come easy.
They are choked out, vomited up from my fingers into paragraphs that may or may not be worth keeping. It’s always hard for me to tell.
But this month, while everyone else is focusing on their Poem a Day for April or the A-Z post challenge that I’ve tried and failed at finishing too many times to count, I’ve been writing the first draft of a new book.
It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time again, and this time I dove into it with some friends, and every Sunday now I come to this beautiful bookstore and write with them for most hours of the afternoon and evening.
I’m really plowing through it this time.
Since the end of week one, I have been on target or above my target every day, and I am not planning on letting up any time soon.
That’s because I plan to keep writing, no matter what, until it’s finished.
I’m tired of leaving half-finished manuscripts dead on my hard drive.
I’m tired of telling myself that none of them are good enough to go for a second draft.
I am determined now, no matter what, to figure out how to make this novel work.
I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this.
I don’t have an outline – on purpose, of course – but I also don’t even have a general idea of where I want the story to end up. It’s an open-ended story of a small town with a nasty problem of some alien abductions going on.
There’s a lot to work with – maybe too much.
So, I’ll come here to ramble, because even though I’ve finished my words for the day, my fingers still feel the need to keep on typing, as they have done lately, which I love more than I can possibly say.
What are you working on right now? How’s it going for you?
Photo by Giulia Porrini on Unsplash
Commit to loving yourself completely. It’s the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime.
— Andrea Gibson
So here’s the story, for anyone who’s keeping track.
About a month ago I freaked out and thought to myself that I could never grow the guts and gumption to write under my own name on the internet. I’m just too scared of everything. It would never work.
I spent days creating an alias, a new website for the alias, social profiles, et cetera.
Want to know why?
Because as soon as I had posted a few things under that other name and gotten good feedback I was pissed that it wasn’t ME that was getting the good feedback.
So then I was like, fuck this, and decided that I am a strong, warrior writer woman and I will do and say what I want.
Except for maybe some things about my family while they’re still alive, I haven’t decided that yet.
For the last nineteen days (and counting) I have been posting a poem a day on Medium and it has been a wonderful exercise for me.
I have to come back here to participate in linkups like Yeah Write because their linkys hate Medium links.
I’ve also been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and I’m caught up for the month.
I’ve been writing the shit of out of these words, all these words, thousands and thousands of them and I can’t stop – and I am so glad I picked the right place (the right person) to do it.
Out on the road, Chrissy felt stronger than she ever had in her life.
She was actually stronger than she used to be. Eating only what she and her companions could find, catch, or kill, she had grown lean and muscular; she became able to climb trees and hop fences like she never could as a child.
But her heart was not growing as strong.
Her heart was weakening and giving in to what she knew it wanted, which was Jeff.
It was always Jeff.
They’d known each other their whole lives and had been together on the road since the collapse. From their original gang of twelve that walked out of the city alive, besides Chrissy, he was the only one left.
Incredible how much things could change, and how many people could die in only a few short weeks.
They were with new people now. Nice people who allowed Jeff and Chrissy to fold into their midst and walk on with them, walk on to where exactly, she didn’t know. Wherever the radiation would kill them more slowly than near the big cities.
The group walked all day and only stopped when the sun began its daily dip toward the horizon. Then, they would move off the road and into the woods to make camp. Some had the jobs of pitching the tents and building the fires, and others had the jobs of going to forage and hunt for dinner. This group didn’t raid houses or loot stores anymore – they had lost too many of their own fighting for what was not rightfully theirs.
Chrissy’s job was to forage. She looked for berries every day but hardly found any that were edible. She picked up acorns that they could boil and blanch to eat later, they were a great source of nutrients and protein. That night, she got lucky and found a clearing full of clover and dandelions and it took her almost until dark to pick the clearing clean of them all.
She heard shuffling in the woods around her and spun around to see a bunch of hunters, Jeff among them, passing by her as they made their way back to camp.
“Find any deer today?” she called out to them.
“Sorry, but it’s not on the menu,” Jeff answered, and held his arm up for her to see his spoils.
“Tonight, we’ve got squirrels. And more squirrels. And one raccoon.”
“Ooo,” she said. Raccoons were delicious, turns out.
She followed the hunters back to the camp. The tents were all erect, a few fires burning, and Chrissy went directly to the fire tended by her friend Julia.
“Water is already boiling,” Julia said, and Chrissy passed her the bag of acorns.
“Great, we’ll only have to boil these things five times before they’re ready,” Chrissy’s voice dripping with sarcasm.
It was full dark, and Chrissy wandered around the edges of the camp, looking for Jeff.
They had been friends for so long, she wondered if Jeff would ever think of her the way she thought of him. She wondered whether he missed sharing a tent with her now that they were with this group and he was sleeping in a tent with the single hunters and her among the single women. She had to know; she needed a sign.
She found him washing his hands in a bucket of water, scrubbing away the blood from whichever squirrel he just prepared for their dinner.
“Hey there,” he said to her and smiled.
“Hey,” she smiled back.
“I have a surprise for you,” he said. “Hold on.”
Chrissy waited and a moment after stepping into his tent, Jeff was before her again, holding something behind his back. He swung his arm around to show her with a flourish.
A bouquet of white and yellow daisies. Their stems were sagging and their petals drooped toward the ground, but Chrissy didn’t care, she took them when they were held out to her.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the mangled and wilting beautiful thing from his hands. “What are they for?”
“Then let’s share,” she said.
They stole away into the woods.
“I have a surprise for you, too,” she said and led Jeff into the clearing where she’d picked all the clovers.
“So, what’s the surprise?”
Chrissy pointed up and looked with him at the magnificence of the constellations above them – Orion, the Pleiades, all the other stars shining brighter than they’d ever seen in their lives, ever since the power went out for good.
“Aren’t they beautiful?” she asked him.
“I guess they’re okay, but they’ve got nothing on you.”
This piece was written for Yeah Write using the prompts Pleiades, and “Sorry, but it’s not on the menu.”