No Pain, No Gain [Muscle Flex]

When I was little,  my mom used to take me to tea.  Which makes me sound much fancier than I ever have been on the inside.  I liked two things about the tea – the sugar cubes and perpetual bite-sized desserts.  Basically, I’d get all sugar-ed up, flip up my pinky, sip my tea through pursed lips, and watch the other patrons through narrow eyes.  Stupid tea-drinkers had no idea I wasn’t really a fancy little girl – but a spy! I’d study their movements for any sign of curious behavior, any weapons hidden under their Sunday church hats.

Eventually though, I’d have to tear my eyes away and search for water to wash down the bite-sized treats erupting from my mouth.  Incognito wasn’t easy to pull off when choking on tart crust and filo dough.

I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew exactly – just attempted to eat so many different sweets that the effect was the same.

Lately, I have been channeling fake-fancy, spy Sydney.  Not the paranoia part, the treat-stuffing part. These are more metaphorical treats, unfortunately.  Fruit tarts and mini-eclairs have been replaced with word desserts.

I am resisting making really bad puns right now because saying they’ve been replaced with fruit retorts and mini-declarations would be cheesy and not at all entertaining.

Anyways, I’ve been experimenting – both accidentally and on purpose with different writing styles and creative brainstorming techniques.  Channeling all of my effort into these new methods has stolen quite a bit of material and time that would normally go into my blog.  The sad, incomplete entries in my drafts folder can attest to that as they sit there quietly guilt-tripping me.

On the flip side, I’ve been more productive than ever on my other writing projects.  I’m doing my best to carve out some space for my blog, to find out what this platform would be best used for without stealing material from stories or poems (that’s right… poems. Crazy new shit going on here).  The answer may be to try what I haven’t tried before – write about my writing.

For some reason, it has always been a secret, like Spy-Sydney was a secret.  I haven’t told many people or discussed it outside of my husband and immediate family because I’ve been scared to be judged.  I hear these fake bullies in my head laughing, pointing, judging.

This sad, unnecessary insecurity has limited me for years.  Hell, I’ve had two blogs over the last 6 years and never put my name to them. I have a folder full of short stories and ideas that I have never gotten “perfect” enough to submit or to show anyone or even finish.  Everything I’ve written, I’ve erased eventually, fearing that it might not be good enough. I’ve never shared them openly. While I am still not ready to do that, I am trying to be braver.

And my blog is the perfect place to share this process with others who might relate.

The first step was to stop judging myself, to write first, think later.  This led me to free-writing.  Every morning before my feet touch the floor, I grab my journal (thanks to technology, it is right there on my phone) and start writing pure stream of consciousness. Eventually, I direct the stream towards a piece I am working on.  It is a great way to brainstorm and flush out ideas because they don’t get lost in your head.  Anything from a character’s name to the motivation for a poem to what makes sense in a story line. Everything is right there on (virtual) paper for me to remember.  It organizes my thoughts and my feelings so that when I sit down at my computer to write, I have something to say.

The best thing is that I don’t have to stop this technique after I get out of bed.  Any time I am able to write, if I find myself blocked, I open up my app and start free-writing, talking about why I want to write this piece in the first place, what my motivation is, and how to accomplish it.

This technique in conjunction with a few organizational tools has gotten me in a little over my head – in the best way possible. Like Spy-Sydney choking on pie crust and filo dough, I’ve essentially bitten off a little more than I can chew.  I have a big-girl job after all, a husband, a dog, a social life.  For the first time, there is not enough time. There are not enough hours to work on every project everyday, but it’s a hell of a lot better than staring at a blank page. So I’ve had to commit every available second to writing – in lines, between meetings, in the bathroom, while doing my makeup, after my husband goes to sleep, before I’ve even opened my eyes more than a sliver.  No pain, no gain, right?

Not to mention, yesterday, for the first time ever, I submitted my work for publication.

I plan to keep submitting, to find a publication who is willing take a chance on an emerging writer, and to collect as many rejections as it takes.  It will probably take a while, but it is the biggest step I’ve taken to date.  And that’s progress.

Muscle flex.




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