Defining the “writer.”

Had an interesting discussion with someone recently (a fairly famous someone) about the concept of writing — the romanticized, “oh I want to be a writer!” people versus the actual writers. It wasn’t a pretentious conversation. You don’t call someone a doctor simply because they’re a WebMD enthusiast.

Long story short, writers have a refined craft. Aspiring writers may diagnose you with leprosy when you have dry skin.

 

Everything, nothing, somethings, sometimes, maybe so.

I hate cliche writing. Nothing pisses me off more than verbs and adjectives tumbling from sub par storylines– creaking floors, “perfect” this and that. That’s not writing. That’s spelling and sentences and coherence, but that’s not creative writing.

The busyness (or lack thereof) in my life always seems to vary between the cliche and the outrageous. For months and months — or even years — I’ll meander along, decisions presenting themselves as unavoidable. That’s just the natural next step, yes? Yes. The cliche of decisions — the creaking and the perfects of the world.

And then fortunately, thankfully, I’m sabotaged by a great story. The floor isn’t creaking — it’s groaning under the weight of a century of footsteps carelessly traversing its weathered slats. Nothing is perfect. It’s excellent or terrifying or satisfying or fading or childlike or any other myriad of possibilities in the well from which I can take a sip and digest slowly.

I’ve been living in a sweeping succession of these digestible moments lately. One magnificent mistake sent me spinning, and I’ve yet to recover. I never will. This is my new reality. But in this new reality I am braver, stronger, more willing to try…and more susceptible to the outrageous.

I feel myself being pulled toward the unavoidable, but it’s not cliche this go-around. I’m baffled and astounded and shocked and feeling the tug toward an exciting proposition, a pivot point in my life drawing me to something more.

I don’t care what that damn groundhog says. Spring is here.

It didn’t happen.

I had these lofty ideas about finally completing NaBloWriMo.

Then my friend died.

We weren’t great friends. I can’t even really say we were good ones. We were coworkers. Comrades. We didn’t throw back margaritas after work or flip our boss off behind her back (1. We work remotely; 2. Our boss is wonderful).

What we did do was share an understanding. Our Slack messages were always funny, our lighthearted complaints about work the silly back-and-forth banter that makes work, even in its most mundane moments, breathable.

Then, on an otherwise plain November morning, our boss called an emergency meeting. Through sorrowful tears that made her voice barely audible, I heard the words, “I have horrible news — Amanda died.”

Amanda? How? Why?

Amanda — the one who brought the laughter to our meetings. The one who made me feel welcome when I started at this job two years ago. The one with whom I had a special understanding, our child-free lifestyles making us more comparable than other teammates.

I didn’t get a goodbye. We didn’t get a goodbye. Life is cruel like that.

One day we were discussing repurping content and filling in for each other during upcoming vacations…the next minute I’m seeing pictures of her memorial service and taking over part of her line up.

For the last two months I have been writing in real journals, exploring my feelings in the primal, private way only pen and paper affords you. What I have discovered about myself — so far — is that my passion for life is starting to spill over.

Life is fast and short, and if you don’t inhale it now, you’ll lose it forever.

I get it.

I used to think you had to absorb the old pieces of yourself, chew them up, spit them out until they were no longer a part of you. Clean breaks, perfect lines. No baggage on the other end.

I was wrong.

Chew them up. Swallow them whole. Make them so intricately woven into your being that the work of art that is your collective experience is a garden of yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever.

NaBloWriMo

“I closed my eyes and just let go.”

It’s one of my favorite lines in my novel, Sixteen Days. A simple statement that reflected emotional nudity. A complex decision that reflected an inability to ever go back. 

As we enter this NaBloWriMo season, my goal is to share tips of this trade, secrets and tricks to improving your writing, as well as explore my own journey as an editor and author.

Care to join? Close your eyes and just let go.