Tuesday, August 16, 2016

5 things this summer has taught me about writing and life

omg, i made this thing, so that's something i've never done before...

YOU GUYSSS!!! I'M HOME! *does a dorky little dance and flails*

If you've read my last few blog posts or know me well, you'll know that I've been away for most of the summer in Oregon.  I've written a novel and survived torment at the hands of my own indecision. With a lot of angst and some overdue prayers, I decided that it wasn't yet time for me to leave home for good.  Despite the fact that Oregon potentially held a lot more opportunities than the tiny town in Arizona where I've spent the last six years of my life, I realized that there were still opportunities here that I hadn't explored to the fullest.  But I've already written about that, so I won't bore you to death with the narrative of my indecisive life.

What I really wanted to write about were the things that I've learned this summer, both about writing and life.  I guess when you look at it, they're pretty much the same thing, aren't they? They sort of morph into each other until they are disseperate and indistinct. So without further ado, I present my list of five things I've learned this summer.

1) Worry about character, plot will follow: 

 I think that this applies to both writing and life.  When I'm writing I get stressed about what's going to happen next.  Will the plot work?  Will my story end the way I want it to?  Why won't my characters behave the way I want them to?  My life is no different.  Will everything be okay?  What if I make a mistake?  What if ten years from now I'm living in my mom's basement and I still haven't done anything with my life? What if this stupid pie crust doesn't turn out and there's nothing to eat when the guests come over? *cue internal screaming for an indeterminate length of time*

Sometimes I worry too much about how things are going to turn out in the long term that I hide in my room and watch Netflix instead of taking care of the problem. Instead, I should take things one moment at a time, and do my best and what I think is right with each moment as it comes.  What happens next happens and I've got to deal with it in the same way.  I need to do the same with my writing.  I need to form the plot around the characters and worry more about whether they're realistic than if the plot is fascinating or full of catches.

No one cares about a really amazing plot of the characters are bland.  The riveting tale of your life and success isn't going to matter and might not even happen if you don't take things one step at a time and do your best to be a decent person.  Chances are, if you write a story that works out exactly as you planned, your readers will see every plot twist and be bored. The same goes for life.  Wouldn't it be boring if you knew exactly what was going to happen next?

2) Enjoy the process:

I don't believe in chance, but I do think that if we look at a little bit of data, we can tell that I am probably never going to be a famous New York Best Selling Author or a winner of the Newbery Medal.  (Although, I am very open to a miracle if anyone is wondering.  Let me know if you know how to contact Miracle Max.)

As such is the case, I realize that I'm going to have to have a better reason for writing than becoming famous.  Okay, I've always liked writing, so that isn't much of a problem for me, but I've had a lot more challenges and run in and insecurities with my writing than I've had before.  I need something more than impossible looking goals for motivation.  I need see my writing career as an ongoing learning process where there's always more to learn and the challenges just mean greater victories.  I think it's almost impossible to be successful at writing, or anything else for that matter if you aren't positive about it and realize that the process is just as important, if not more important, than the result.

About Erin:

3) Don't take yourself so seriously, but dream big:

I think fear is the enemy of success.  Self doubt is a product of that fear, and procrastination is a product of that self doubt and a sub-product of that fear.  My fear is only as big as I let it grow, and sometimes, I think that sometimes the size of my fear might have something to do with the size of my ego.  Why am I scared to look like a fool? Because I'm worried about what others think of me, about how cool I look. Well, no one ever got anywhere by looking cool all the time.

I think one of my favorite examples of this was a tumblr post I saw comparing two of Lin Manuel Miranda's performances of  "Alexander Hamilton." The first time time he sang it, people chuckled, years later, they were cheering wildly.  He took his big dreams seriously, but he didn't take himself so seriously that he couldn't risk having people laugh at him. See for yourself:
This is a true testament to the evolution of writing. In fact, seeing people laugh at Hamilton back in 2009, makes me laugh at them in 2016 now that it's a Grammy winning, Pulitzer winning, and world movement today. WutUP! #riseup:
seriously tho, I just wanted to sneak Hamilton into this post

4) There's no place like home:

Seriously, though, being on your own is over rated.  I'm 95% I'm an oversized hobbit.  There's nothing like going on an adventure and then coming home to your own room and the people you love most in the world.  No matter where you are in life, there is nothing more important than your close knit community of family and friends.  Who knows, someday I might make millions, or become a world famous writer, or become a successful professor, none of that is going to matter as much as the people I love most and being able to spend time with them.  People are important. Need I say more? #waxingeloquentlikeaLaconian

also, homemade pie and ice cream...

5) Pay attention:

There are two rules of writing that everyone always insists are the most important.  1) Read, read, read. And 2) Write, write, write.  I've done both, and I still find an important element missing in my writing.  A flatness, a blandness.  My writing seems false to me.  And that is one of the worst things writing can be.  I wasn't one hundred percent sure what was missing until I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.  She talked about how she would pay attention to everything and take notes about it, and then I realized what was missing from my life.  I don't listen enough.

I think it's a common downfall for writers.  We are writers, we're expected to have something to say.  What I haven't realized is this.  In order to have something to say, we need more than just what we read and gather from that.  We have to experience life.  Pay attention to the way the old lady at the cafe drinks her tea, and the way your friend reacts to your stance on abortion, and why do they do those things?  For once, I realize, I need to be silent, and listen.  And if I must talk, let it be to ask questions.  Why? How? Tell me... And then when you write, tell the truth.  This has been one of my greatest writing struggles.  I'm not going to lie, I'm self centered, and I don't think outside the box as much as I would like to think I do.  I'm still learning to realize that there is more for me to learn than I could ever tackle in one-hundred life times. Guess that means I'd better get started. So I'm adding one more rule to the list.  Number 3) Listen.
* * * * *
*drops mic and walks away fabulously with my hair blowing in the wind* In all honesty tho, I didn't realize that I was going to talk that much... *ahemitrunsinthefamilyahem* *I think I'm going to sign out now...*
Do you agree or disagree with my ideas? (It's totally okay to disagree BTWs if you're wondering) What amazing things have you recently learned about writing and life?  Did you miss me? Also, did you get that reference?


Sunday, August 7, 2016

what's happening now? // an update on my latest adventures

I know I didn't post about this yet, but yes, I did win Camp NaNoWriMo with a couple thousand extra words and a couple days to spare. To be honest though, I think I bragged about it enough on social media to make even my dearest friends want to throttle me, so no, this post is not entirely about my Camp NaNoWriMo novel.
Only one picture, I promise

So, besides completing Camp NaNoWriMo and silly things like starting a second pinterest account and frequenting the library and Starbucks, I've been up to some other slightly bigger things. (A.K.A. life decisions.)

At the beginning of last month, I thought that I would be staying in Oregon with my Grandmother for at least a whole semester.  That I'd be transferring schools, getting a job, making friends, adulting, starting a new life here.  I was really excited about it and I was applying for all kinds of jobs, getting my paper work in order to transfer, thinking about auditioning for the community theatre, etc... It seemed like a really great plan, and it still does, but I think God has other things in mind for me.  It became more apparent after a couple of weeks. 
25 Inspiring Quotes for this Week:
via pinterest
The transfer process was not going as smoothly as we'd hoped.  I wasn't getting any calls back for jobs, and when I did, there were always problems with the fact that I'm not eighteen yet or something like that.  On top of that, I was really missing the rest of my family.  Let's face it, I may be seventeen, but I still get homesick after three weeks.  I'm a hobbit.  I may love a good adventure, but at the end, I just want to go home and eat second breakfast with my family and closest friends.  I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that home isn't just a place, it's a feeling unlike any other.  It's people you love and traditions you grew up with and the smell of that bread your mom always makes at Christmas.  That feeling when you're all sitting around the dinner table together and you don't have to say anything, you just understand that mutual connection and memory that stretches back further than you can remember.
via pinterest

Okay, now that I've finished my tangent about the universally acknowledged truth that there is no place like home, let's move on.  Instead of staying here, I'm flying back to AZ shortly.  (In time for three of my sister's birthdays. Yay!) I'm going to continue going to the same little community college I've been going to for the past three years.  I'm going to keep working in my family's bakery and anticipating the dinner gatherings we have with our friends and drumming out scales on the piano in our little library and dreaming of someday writing something that's somewhat fabulous.  And things won't always be the same, they will change.  Soon I'll have my licence and a sense of independence.  Soon I'll be taking new classes on subjects I've always wanted to learn more about. I'll be living each day like it's a beginning, because it is.  I'll be trying and failing and succeeding and either way, learning something. I am not finished there.
You Don't Have to Have Your Life Completely Figured Out Right Now ...:
via pinterest
I don't know why things weren't supposed to work out for me here.  But one thing I know for sure is that God has a different plan, and it's better than any plan I could have come up with even in my craziest dreams.  The reason I'm not upset about going back to the Podunk town that I've always complained about, is that I know that there's a reason for it.  I just don't know what it is yet.  I'm still learning that it's okay to not always know.

I've been terrible keeping up in the blogger world and I miss talking with you guys! Leave me a comment to tell me what you've been up to.  What have you learned recently? How has your summer been thus far? What kind of posts would you like to see more of on this blog? Also, important questions, favorite ice cream flavor(s)?

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