A Fictional Life

The lines between reality and fiction become blurry when life turns out a series of unfortunate events. I know; I’ve been there. Whether you are a writer or not, when life becomes a challenge, you cannot help it when the feeling of being a character in your own novel, sitcom, or even comic book, starts to creep in. Sometimes, life does not make any sense at all or it may seem unfair. In those circumstances, one tries to find meaning or purpose in everything that goes on; however, sometimes there seems to be no purpose or light at the end of the tunnel. I know; I’ve been there too.

How does one survive life’s strongest blow so far? So far, because what we may think is the strongest blow, may not even be a whisper of what life will try to teach us. Sometimes, one has to stay with the process – show up every day, be there, follow through, and go on without making sense of it all, and without finding a purpose to it. One goes on because that is the only thing that makes sense at that moment. Sometimes, without a reason, without a why. What does not kill you makes you stronger. The adage is truth. In the midst of pain, disappointment, ruin, and many out of control emotions, the human soul must find a way to go on, to keep on being. Months become weeks, weeks become days, days turn into seconds, and the first blink of an eye in the morning. Another day; the nightmare continues. It was not a dream. One wishes consciousness away. However, somewhere very deep inside, one manages to find a weak fiber of strength to take on another second, hour, day, week, month… . To live through the next second becomes something to shoot for. The why, the purpose becomes secondary, reduced to poetry dust. At that moment, one may switch between feeling the most alive ever or feeling the numbest of deaths. A hurting reality can make you feel alive or dead. It becomes a thin blurry veil. Time is the process and through it another reality is crafted each millisecond. As long as one exists in time and space, whether the real or fictional you, life will go on – with or without meaning/purpose. Once one has been through the chapters, might as well stick around till the ending. After the experience, purpose is not so important after all, being is. To be or not to be; that is the purpose.

Simplicity

Simplicity – The quality or condition of being simple.

Simple – Easily understood or done. Plain and basic or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

 

Over the past few years my quest have been to embrace simplicity. It seems that it may be part of human nature to make things less simple. We take something basic and we build or design other things around it, whether material or non-tangible such as rituals, ceremonies, celebration, protocols, and so on. We are embellishers by nature. We may become obscure, and sometimes obtuse, for the sake of completion, in our search for becoming whole. We attach rituals and a series of steps to spirituality, and even tools and other gadgets to complete the package.

Many times, all the preliminary stuff diminishes the joy and meaning of our intention and makes our target feel farther than it is. Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it in the name of wholeness, greatness, status, or self-preservation? Is it the nature of being, and therefore inescapable? Of having the experience in the material and the spiritual? Our entire civilization, society, speaks of it. We have taken the concept of shelter or the basic need of eating, for example, and built around it. Hence all the gadgets and toys we enjoy, the mansions, the fine cuisine, and all the emotions and meaning that we attach to these things. Even in the search for simplicity we overdo or complicate things – meditation groups and techniques, lists and journals, gadgets, rituals … .

Do we go back to find simplicity because we had enough or because we lost that part of us, the sense of it? Is it because without it we do not feel whole? At any point of our lives we may try to return to it, and the quest begins (sometimes with all the bells and whistles that we may attach to it). Is it the beginning or the end? Or a circle, a cycle of life?

This post is an example on how to take a simple concept and make it complicated.

Results are Important – On Quitting or Fueling Creativity

It is human nature to expect award or recognition. It makes us feel good. As kids we looked forward to hear our parents praise. We felt good when our good grades were recognized as an achievement. If we did as expected our parents would say “good boy/girl.” We are conditioned to expect good results from our efforts; that is, until you become a writer or an artist.

Writers put on long hours and much effort when writing and publishing a novel. We expect results, good results, and the reward for all our hard work. When it doesn’t materialize in the form of income, recognition, good reviews (or any reviews), our faith and confidence may dwindle, and so does our motivation. I think most writers have gone through this, but not all writers have conquered the disillusion and loneliness that a writing career may offer at some point. Some writers quit for good, others may become angry, cynical, or depressed, thus their writing being affected by this state of mind and soul. The point is that results are important, however we measure them. In the absence of these measured results, we must fuel our motivation to go on writing, otherwise quitting becomes an option.

If you write for the love of it and could care less if your work touches (or not) a soul or two, then continue writing for the love of it. It is a valid goal as any other. However, if you want to inspire, reach out to people, entertain, educate, earn a living, and touch a few hearts, or whatever your goal might be, then you should think about riding the wave while getting wet in the process, even in the ocean of your tears. If results are few, then fuel your creativity as the only way to keep on writing. It is up to us to inspire and maintain a level of creativity that will carry us through the dark hours. It may sound macabre, but if you are a writer you know well how much of your soul you put into your work, and that is why many writers and artists take it very personal. After all, there are bits and pieces of you all over the pages.

During the dark hours, it may seem impossible to maintain creativity, but if you keep nourishing ideas, playing with them, and foreseeing projects, this becomes part of the process and you will get through. Results are also part of the process, only a small part; they are a measuring tool, but they do not define you as a writer, or as a person (when you take your craft very personal). As long as you realize this, you will continue creating and will not quit. Fuel your creativity, fuel your writing.

I wrote this poem on one of my darkest hours, and I want to share it alongside this post.

 

The Day I Quit

 

Breathless. Exhaustion of the soul

Fearless. What else is there to fear?

Weak from thriving

Strength in hiding.

Relentless search

to nowhere leads

Passionate failures

Death from within.

The Soul, the heart

Dim light, a beat

Beneath the darkness

life still exists.

A fire within

the ice melts slow

thawing the heart

and a frozen soul.

No faith, no hope

To live, to die

Not without a fight

For I will quit only after I die.

Handling a Dry Season

On a previous post I wrote about how I nourish my writing, and this topic is very close to it. When I approach the subject of writing I write about my experience and how I do things that have work for me. It is not intended as a “to do” or as teaching; it relates to my journey as a writer.

A dry season may or may not qualify as writer’s block. It depends on the circumstances, and when the well is dry, it is dry, and it is a soul’s feeling. This is why I find it important to nourish and reconnect with my writing. However, these are times when I might be producing material but it seems “automated” and as if  it lacked soul; as if something is missing, and I cannot find it – I cannot get the spirit back.

In my experience, there are two ways in which I handle a dry season, and it depends on the circumstances prior, and during the dry season. The first is to keep writing and work through it, even if I write only for myself, keeping productive, but resting as needed. The second deals with resting. Resting does not mean taking a break from writing, although sometimes that is all I need to end a dry season – a soul-searching inspirational break. Resting also means finding other ways to reconnect or find what is missing, whether I meditate, pray, study other authors, or practice any activity that inspires me for a longer period. Usually as long as it takes for my well to feel full again and awaken my soul. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things what sparks creativity.

What works for other writers may or may not work for you, and the length of time it takes will depend on your personal circumstances. I’ve found that the longer I wait to reconnect, the more challenging it becomes. When I feel that my inkwell is drying, I step aside, take a serious look, and put myself in motion to do what is necessary to capture the spark again. I don’t ignore the feeling; it is the voice of my soul calling me into action.

On Nourishing My Writing

I ‘ve noticed that writers, in general, are tuned to their surroundings, emotions, and feelings. This is true for me. Although I don’t necessarily strive for drama (low tolerance) my emotions drain me at times. It is then that I must nourish my writing the most. Even when emotions run high (and this is good for my writing), if I don’t pay attention the well is exhausted.

How do I nourish my writing? By recharging myself. From slowing down my pace to eating a favorite meal, or doing anything that lifts my spirits; it is all welcomed. I may read something new or reread a favorite book, enjoy nature… I take a short break from writing and reconnect with life. I spend more time with my cats, call a friend, treat myself to a new writing gadget, and so on. Such activities may seem mundane but these certainly help me. How you nourish your writing is a personal ritual, and of course, different for every writer. Nourish the writer, nourish the craft.

My Writing Process

Every writer develops a writing process, a routine, a style. There is no ” one size fits all” in writing, and the same reason why I stay away from “the how to’s” and “the must do’s.” Certain guidelines, tips, and recommendations have worked for me and many other authors, but it does not mean that it will work for everyone. I follow my own heart and mind when establishing my writing process and developing my style. I welcome what will benefit it and discard what will not. I am grateful that there is so much information out there to help me widen my point of view. This was not available many years ago.

When I commit to a story its development starts – ideas, images, dreams, and serendipity make themselves a part of my daily living. When I write and I put myself in a receiving state, inspiration will come in many forms and from many sources. In that receiving state I don’t pass judgement, however,  it helps me recognize when something is not working or just doesn’t feel right. Some writers can edit as they write, or as they finish a page, a chapter, or the day’s work. I cannot do that. It seems to interfere with the receiving state, and degree of inspiration, as well with the flow of ideas.

My first draft is truly a rough draft. After it is done, I must take a break from the story, and then editing can begin, in several rounds from one draft to the next. Only when something does not feel right will I go back and change it during the first draft, and only because it will influence the rest of the story, and it becomes a mental road block for me. Point of view is a perfect example of something that might feel wrong in the beginning of a story, and must be dealt with right away. Another example is a character that defied me until I had to change everything about him – his looks, his demeanor, personality, and even role, from secondary to primary. It was not what I had intended, but I became aware in the very early stage of writing the story. Awareness came in the form of this character refusing to be written in a certain way, and even shutting up. This may sound weird to some people, but if you are a writer immersed in your craft you get the point, and understand it.

I believe that the more you write the more you grow and evolve, and so does your process. It is a living endeavor that does not stay the same, and it should not. Never the less, it has to be nourished and developed. The love of a lifetime.

 

On Saying Goodbye

Losing a loved one is never easy. Whether a partner in life, a friend, or family member, it is one of the most painful experiences. Having to say goodbye when one is not ready is devastating, and it may render a person numb out of an unexpected dose of pain. One of the secondary themes in my novel The Five-dollar Miracle is the loss of a spouse, and the feelings and emotions that go with it.

Last year I experienced the loss of loved ones, and just a few weeks after I had finished writing a chapter dealing with this topic, a friend died unexpectedly leaving her partner experiencing the feelings of pain, loss, desolation, and so many other emotions that can only be described by someone who has gone through it.

As writers, we draw from our experiences when we try to convey through our writing, and the rest we imagine or draw from observation; we try to do the best we can when portraying what we have not experienced. Many times, we place ourselves in those situations fictionally, and try to understand or visualize the array of emotions surrounding a particular situation. At other times, inspiration seems to take our hand and guide us in our writing. We try our best, and as writers that is all we can do, but I can say with certainty that our writing will only match the synergy of our experience.