Monday, October 31, 2011

It Starts Tomorrow

If you've been hanging around these here parts long enough you know about my crazy past two years doing National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo, for short) during November.  For those who haven't been reading here since at least last November, NaNo is a thirty day challenge to complete an entire 50,000 word novel during just the month of November. 

Yes that's only thirty days, in case you thought you read that wrong, you didn't.

Its a brutal siege on your mental energy.  People in your life don't understand why you haven't showered in a week and a half.  Spouses figure out ways to automate the coffee pot to drip directly into the mug in your office which you haven't left for three straight weeks.  You learn impressive new techniques for ways to sleep while you type.

As I said to someone earlier this morning, I've never taken part in something so challenging yet equally (or more) rewarding in my life.  And I've been lucky enough to do it and win the challenge for the past two years in a row.

But not this year.

It pains me to even think that I'll have no excuse for being crotchety this November, that I can't play off my pale skin and wide eyed insomnia on character development, but with the new challenge of school plus a little travel in my plans next month NaNo just wasn't in the cards this year.

I have a manuscript that I wrote during NaNo in 2009 that has been edited to hell and is now being shopped for representation for publication.  I also met the goal last November but despite hitting something like 58,000 words last year, that one hasn't been opened since.  And you want to know what is so strange about that fact?  I love my characters in that book more.  Sorry RtT but my untitled second manuscript has my heart.

Probably because it hasn't been finished.  Once I've read it that many times I'm sure my feelings of murderous deletion of every single main character will take hold.  But until then I'm savoring them all.  So during November I plan to bring my MS along for the ride and do the re-writes I've been so desperate to begin as well as the necessary edits to what I've currently got in order to spring this book back into life.  It won't be the same but at least it will be writing.  And if all goes according to my nefarious plan I'll have two manuscripts complete by early next spring.

And be a red carpet walking mega writer type by next fall.  Ah yes, dare to dream.

The insanity begins tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure a couple friends are doing it again this year and I not only applaud you but also, picture me holding pom-poms in the shape of a typewriter and giving you the old college fight cheer.  Okay, the typewriter thing is dorky I know but seriously Wrimos, best of luck for a successfully completed challenge in 2011! 

Go do some finger exercises, finish those outlines and pick up your 10 pounds of coffee grounds now then get typing tomorrow!  Looking forward to being back to joining all of you next year.

Badge retrieved from the NaNoWriMo Website & doctored by me to include the word "non" in Photoshop.  Sadly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Seem to Recognize Your Face

They say write what you know. But what do any of us really know anyway? I guess the one thing I can for sure say I would be most able to figure out is myself. As of right now though, I don’t know if writing “myself” is something that would qualify as enough.

I’m only in my late thirties, so is there enough life experience in there to pull from and relay to keep people entertained; to keep them relating? I don’t know, and I struggle with the concept every day, but something forces my fingers to keep pounding on the keys; keep sharing what comes out.

All these changes taking place, I wish I’d seen the place.

Regardless of my calendar age, I feel like I’ve lived a million lives sometimes. I’ve done so many jobs, met so many people, gone so many places and, mainly, just noticed something amazing occur every day that it seems like thousands of years have moved through my head.

Memories like fingerprints are slowly raising.

So of course there are times I think back on with fondness, and others I think back and wonder if I stayed too long at that particular party. Still there are others where I know for sure I got out of that party just in the nick of time. Sometimes, figuratively. Sometimes, quite literally. Sometimes it was all about protecting my head, but most of the time it was about the heart.

Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…

I was always drawn to the shape of a heart. From a really young age as a girl when I would doodle on random pieces of paper, or my 3 ring binder and book covers when I was in school, I would most often be drawn to drawing the shape of a heart. The very simple ♥ shape.

So many notebooks and journals were filled with my daydream hearts. Who knows what scene was playing out inside my head while I took a black or blue ball point pen and scribbled out thousands of bubbly hearts all over the place, but there was no doubt it probably involved boy meets girl in some way shape or form. Romance was always at the top of my list in those days.

I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate.

A romantic living in the big city of Boston, dating nothing but Townies who will surely break your heart, can quickly become jaded, cynical, and crispy inside. Passion, and throwing oneself into a situation with the full force of it, means lots of deflated bubble hearts. So I think back to who I was with, what I was doing and how I did it back then and for some unknown reason I have no regrets even though my heart is possibly less bubbly these days than it was 20 or so years ago.

My God it’s been so long, never dreamed you’d return.

In another month I will be attending my 20 year high school reunion. To say that nostalgia is heavy on my mind these days would be a gross understatement. I think about the music I listened to back then, how far I’ve come and the relationships I forged during the many years I lived within the confines of one of Boston’s suburbs. I think about what I wanted in those days, who I thought I’d marry and what I had planned to do with my life.

But now here you are, and here I am.

I wonder who will show up, who will catch up and who has passed on beyond our physical world that won’t have the chance to walk into that room, smiling. I wonder if we’ll pull out some old school tunes and dance the night away. I wonder if we’ll all recognize how, no matter what we’ve done since that hot as hell day in early June of 1991 that somehow we managed to grow past ourselves. That we managed to grow.

Lifetimes are catching up with me.

No matter what its going to be damn interesting.

Lyrics by Pearl Jam

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Concept, No

I sat here this morning wondering what I want to specialize in when I graduate. Funny thing is I’d probably tell you that this is what I want to do after graduating with a Bachelor in English – sit here and write this purge-y drivel – and that would definitely be accurate.

Because at the same time I write my papers for school and blog for my company, the whole time I’m doing it I’m aching to be writing some character that’s trapped inside my head.  The character of Me, or maybe the one who represents who I am this week.  Thanks Fall Out Boy, couldn't have said it better myself.

I don’t know, I guess I just want to be able to write run on sentences for a living, regardless if its for reality or fantasy, and have it not matter worth a damn because everyone who reads it understands my voice so if I just blabber on in one long strain it’s a no brainer that I simply haven’t taken a breath yet. Duh. My voice is from Boston after all. That first sentence here in this paragraph? Yeah, not so much a run on in Boston. Why? Because in my native tongue that’s probably, technically, only about 6 words; they get spoken really, really fast so they kind of all mash together.  But when you type Word doesn’t recognize worthadamn as an actual word. I mean, what’s up with that?

Anyway, Matt and I were sitting here the other night and I was freaking out about not being able to make money right now and he had to fish-slap me and remind me that I’m in school, I graduate in a little over a year, and then is the right time to pursue the full time thing. I know he’s right, it just wigs me out not to be contributing financially right now. Especially where we’ve been looking to buy a house.

I love what I do all day – writing papers for school, reading, marketing, and creating little items that I list in my shop – just wish it could pay the bills ya know? I mean, If he were to go down in a tragic blimp accident I want to rest assured knowing I make enough to support myself. Well I don’t make anything but A’s right now. Good of course, but A’s don’t pay the mortgage, you dig?

So then he says to me “You know, you’re gonna get recruited the second you graduate right?” And I (completely unfamiliar with the concept) said “Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Willis?” Him “Your school, they’re pretty likely going to want you on staff when you get your degree. You’re like in the top 2% of your class.”

And what immediately goes through my head? No, it wasn’t how cool that might be. It wasn’t anything to do with actually securing employment directly out of school (the former version of the American dream btw). Nope. What I think is:

“Seriously? I wonder if I really am only in the top 2%? Maybe I should work a little harder to hit that 1% or I won’t be up for...”

It doesn’t matter what came next, it’s all just my psychotic inner monologue and trust me, no one needs to be privy to that much crazy.  Not even me but sadly not much I can do about that. But at any rate I kept thinking and eventually I got to the important stuff like the part where I could be working in a year.

So there I sat, outside, smoking my cigarette and baking in the kiln (aka our south facing patio in Arizona) when it hit me that hard work might actually pay off. My heart actually started pounding a little quicker with excitement.

But you all know what that means right? I mean you could script it by this point couldn’t you?

The next thing to go through my head is that I really need to start focusing on my novel again. Sigh. Can’t blame me I guess but I just started getting my company stuff rolling and I’m not so sure I want to split focus because I know there’s no way I can do two things in a full time capacity plus school.  I tried it earlier this year and almost gave myself a nervous breakdown trying to manage it all.

So what to do? Full time faux, part time school and writing? I guess that’s possible. It’s the weekend now and here I am writing this purge-y drivel so why couldn’t I whip up a synopsis of my novel during the commercials of sports all weekend?

I don’t know why I don't just do it.  Why I procrastinate by sitting here telling everyone why I shouldn't procrastinate.  Hello?  No one wrote a synopsis by telling people they were thinking they should just write their synopsis.  I hate my head.

It’s probably fear right?

I fucking hate fear too. I get right to the edge and then talk myself out of jumping ALL THE TIME even though I see the stupid net, I’m also strapped to a bungee cord and there is a big thing that looks like a bouncy castle beneath it all. I’m well protected, I know it, but I still can’t fucking bring myself to leap.

But what am I even really afraid of? That's the question du jour isn't it?  Is it putting my writing out there to be openly criticized? Is it nerves that no one will want to criticize it? Am I a-scared of potential success? Am I afraid I'll have nothing to obsess over anymore if I just get a fucking book deal and move on with my life?  Am I nervous that I could actually do what I always told people was the thing I wanted to do…be rich and famous?

We were driving around a potential neighborhood yesterday and I just kept spewing off about how when I was a kid all I said was I wanted to be rich and famous. I kept on saying it as I grew up, and now that I’m old what the fuck am I doing? Certainly not taking steps to get there. Not by painting and doing finishing.

Because, while it is true that I could be rich and famous in a certain circle, that circle being the house painters and plasterers local 179 isn’t exactly what I had in mind as a kid. It isn’t what I had in mind 6 months ago. And if I open up my brutal honesty can of whoop ass all over myself it wasn’t what I had in mind 6 minutes ago either.

It must be in entertainment. Period.

I love to paint though, that’s the thing. There is a turn-off-my-bipolarity that happens when I’m painting or doing faux that is so unbelievably attractive that is probably the very reason I decided to pursue it in the first place. It is calming, soothing and satisfying to see labor and creativity come together in cohesion of something beautiful, it’s true.

But does that mean I have to do it full time, run the company that’s been taking a loss for the last 3 years and continue to beat my head against a wall? For what? So I can justify to all those judgy-wudgy bears out there what I do with my life? Why the fuck do I even care what anyone thinks?  Aren't the only important people here me and Matt?  And if he's telling me to just do it and I know deep down that I should...

And there is the real fear right? Not living up to my own level of necessary perfectionism to prove to the world how fucking brilliant I am.

Ugh. And this is why I fucking hate myself sometimes because I talk myself into and out of everything at the snap of my fingers. Still selling that dog off the meat truck, its just that the dog is what I can’t admit to myself I really want, the meat is me and the truck is my procrastination.

When I figure out how to make life work, decide how I can achieve what I want to be when I grow up, if I’ll ever actually allow myself to truly grow up and all that stupid crap, I’ll certainly let you know. Until then I’m heading off to have an existential crisis and a beer.

And fucking curse some more.  Damn it.

"All my life I've been searching for something.  Something never comes never leads to nothing.  Nothing satisfys but I'm getting close.  Closer to the prize at the end of the rope."
- Foo Fighters

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where I've Been

Its been so long since I posted here that at this point most people have probably dropped me from their reading list anyway.  Sorry about that.  Wait, no I'm not.  And even if I was, or said it out loud, those who I'd be fake apologizing to wouldn't be reading it anyway because they're not here anymore right?  Right. 

Anyway, want to know what I've been up to?  Here's the email I received this morning when I logged in... 

"Dear Jenn,
On behalf of the Faculty and Staff at Ashford University, congratulations on being named to the Dean's list for Summer 2011. Your appointment to the Dean's List is published on the Ashford University website under the Academic Superstars link. (Note: If you have submitted a request not to release or publish information about you, your name is not included.)
Your dedication and commitment to your studies make you a great role model for others to emulate. You and your family should feel quite proud of your accomplishment. All of us at Ashford University share in this pride as well and believe that students like you help make Ashford University the quality learning institution it is.
Again, congratulations for a job well done!

Dr. R.W.
Ashford University"
And also about 6 weeks ago I was invited to join Golden Key which is an unbelievable honor and priveledge.  Not everyone gets that invitation, only the top percentage in the class and it makes me happy to know that the dedication I've put into my studies is really paying off.  Matt is convinced I'm going to get recruited by my University after I graduate.  I don't know about all that, it would certainly be very cool if it happened, but unless its a home based position I'd have to turn it down.  Not a chance in hell I'm moving from the warmest, least expensive, sunniest place in this country for Iowa.

Anyway, its pretty exciting to be in this place in my life and even if no one is reading this anymore I at least wanted to put it out there.

I don't generally run around telling people how awesome I am or anything but I've worked extremely hard to get where I am in my degree program thus far and have sacrificed a lot of stuff to make sure I maintain a 4.0 GPA so I'm pretty stoked to share the news.

See you all in 16 years when I can get my fingers off the keyboard and face out of my textbook long enough to post again!  I hope everyone is enjoying their fall!