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Posts Tagged ‘writer’

I can use them as a weapon, defending my opinions, my thoughts and even my personal space.  I can use them to keep you at bay or invite you in.  I can use them to hurt you, if I choose.

I can use them as armour, protecting myself from the hurtful world around me.  With a carefully placed “I’m fine” or a strategically used “everything is good” I can deflect the questions I’m not willing or ready to answer.  If I use them correctly, you won’t even be able to tell I’m lying.

I can hide behind them or stand on top of them.  I can wrap them around myself for comfort, or scream them from the top of my lungs in anger.

I can use them to express myself, or use them as an excuse not to.

Sometimes I feel them everywhere, in my head, behind my eyes, on the tip of my tongue and sometimes they get lost, hidden away from me, making me wander aimlessly while I wait for them to appear.

On more than one occasion I have regretted them, wished I could gather them out of the air and put them back in my pocket, never to be heard from again.  If only.  If only it were that easy.

It is not so much that I wished I hadn’t thought them, quite the opposite actually. I think we all think the things we are supposed to think, there is no crime in that.  The difficulties arise when things are spoken, written, shared, that really shouldn’t be.  It is not their fault for being thought, it is our fault for not having the wisdom to keep them to ourselves.

I have never doubted them, never doubted my ability to put them to good use.  Even when every other thought in my head is a question about what I’m doing, what I’m feeling, what I’m not doing, what I’m not feeling, this is never one of them.

I can use them to erase all of that, all of that noise in my head telling me all of the things I can’t and won’t and shouldn’t.  They take all that and put it away, at least for a little while.  Because there’s no room for all of that, not now, not when it’s time to focus on what is the most important.

Because it’s always the words.

My words.

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I closed the chute on the mailbox and then opened it again quickly, checking to make sure the envelope had fallen off the tray. I stopped for a minute, slightly shocked that I’d actually done it this time.

After years of thinking about it and a couple of false starts, this year I finally did it – I submitted a story to a short story contest.

Last year I wrote something, almost finished it actually, but decided not to send it in. Talked myself out of it, let the negative voices win, as they so often have.

This year I forgot about the contest, an annual one sponsored by a newspaper, until it was almost too late. I checked the website mere weeks before the deadline and almost let it end there. But I decided not to take the easy way out this time; instead I sat down and wrote something.

I know nothing about writing short stories. I’m sure there are things that should be considered and thought out and planned but I didn’t do any of them. For me, for this time, it was really about getting something down on paper and getting it in the mail.

I finished it about a week before I had to send it off, funny actually in this day and age that it has to be submitted in hard copy, no email. It means one has to factor in time for snail mail complications, on top of everything else.

But I thought I was in good shape, until the second guessing began. I read it over again and decided I didn’t like the ending, and then the beginning, and then every second sentence. I questioned the main character and why she was doing what she was doing; berated myself for not having a stronger plot or theme. What was this story even about?

So as the deadline ticked closer, the story sat on my computer, seemingly miles away from actually being put on paper and stuffed in an envelope.

And then I just got so sick of myself that I couldn’t stand it any longer. Sick of the excuses, the lame justifications, the ridiculous doubts. If I couldn’t write a story and send it to a bunch of people I didn’t know and have them offer criticisms I would never hear how could I ever expect to write anything that one day might actually be published?

So I found an envelope, I printed off the story and my accompanying bio, and stuffed it into the mailbox, wishing it well on its journey.

I know I will not win; that’s really not even the point I don’t think. The point is that I have proven, at least to myself anyway, that I am one step further ahead than I was last year.

And, as completely cheesy as it sounds, that means I have won.

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the desk

I moved the desk up from the basement on Sunday. I moved a chair to go with it and placed both of them against the wall, under the window, in the spare room. The room that before Sunday was known as my ‘reading room.’ In my head I now refer to it as my ‘writing room’ but that’s one I’ll keep to myself for now.

I moved the computer upstairs as well, plugged it in to charge so it will be ready. It will be ready for me whenever I decide that I’m ready.

The desk looked bare with just the computer so I looked around to find something else to add. My eyes quickly landed on a sign that a friend had given me for my birthday this year, and a coaster – both with the word “dream” on them. I added them to the desk and stepped back to reassess.

Much better.

I could almost see myself sitting there, a cup of steaming tea sitting on the coaster, waiting for me to stop writing and take a sip.
For years I have had a picture in my head of my desk, my writing space, my view. And I kept telling myself that the reason I have not written anything is because the reality did not yet match the picture. I didn’t have THE desk. Sure, I had A desk, but not THE desk. I couldn’t possibly be expected to write anything without THE desk, right?

Standing there, surveying the space I had created, I realized it was a lot different from what I had pictured. I had always imagined an old, antique wood desk with a huge writing surface and drawers – it had to have a lot of drawers. I’m not sure why, but I was sure that when I was a writer I would have lots of things that would need to be put away in drawers.

The desk I dragged up from the basement is not any of those things. It’s made from some material that is doing its best to imitate wood and has a wobbly front leg that refuses to be tightened. It does have a drawer but it’s just big enough to hold a few pieces of paper and a couple of pens; not nearly big enough to hold all of the ‘writer things’ as I had imagined.

I imagined that I would sit at THE desk and stare out the window while awaiting the arrival of my brilliance. I would look out the window at an inspiring view – a forest, a lake, an acre of rolling hills. That’s what writers need, right?

The window in my spare room looks directly out on the side of my neighbour’s house. A perfectly uninspiring view of off-white aluminum siding. If I put my face up right next to the glass I can almost see the sky.

Not at all what I pictured.

But the reality is, if I wait until I have the perfect desk, in the perfect room with the perfect view, I will spend the rest of my life waiting. And I’m tired of waiting; I’m tired of making excuses; I’m tired of dreaming.

But I’m scared.

As I stood there looking at that little desk I realized that I created all of those excuses to protect myself. Being a writer is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do; the only thing I ever believed I was any good at.

What if I fail? What if I realize that I’m not as good as I thought I was? Who will I be if I’m not that person? What do I do if this dream doesn’t come true?

I start to panic, feel the tears welling up in my eyes, the grip tightening around my heart. Maybe I should move the desk back downstairs; maybe I should wait and give it a try next year; maybe, maybe, maybe.

But instead of letting the doubts win, I decided to listen to the other voice in my head, the one that is slowly starting to speak louder, drowning out everything else.

“Stop thinking so much. They’re just words. Sit your butt down and start writing them.”

And maybe this time I will finally believe that it’s just that simple.

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the words

The words come, they flow so quickly and effortlessly that I don’t even think about it. I don’t question where they came from or wonder what to do with them. They are the words; they are my words, and I trust that they will be there.

Until they stop.

I didn’t even realize they were gone right away. Days went by and I realized I had not written anything. I had a feeling in the back of my mind like I had forgotten something; like I left my purse somewhere or forgot to pay the cable bill.

I ran through the ongoing list in my head, running down the page, checking things off. Everything was as it should be. Except something was still missing.

The words.

I don’t know where they go when they go. It’s almost like I’m allotted so many words and when I use them up, they’re gone. I have to sit and wait for the next installment. And until then, my mind goes quiet.

I want to answer an email from a friend but I can’t get past the first sentence. I don’t want to write. I want to stare out the window, I want to read a book, I want to sit and listen to the quiet in my head.

I don’t want to talk. I have nothing to say; the words bore me. The sound of my voice makes me sigh. I just want the quiet.

It used to scare me. I used to wonder who I would be without the words, but now I know. I am the same; it’s still me. And the words will come.

I will walk down the street and see the first orange leaf of Fall and the words will come.

I will hear a story that makes me laugh and I will want to share it. I will want to tell everyone I know and make them laugh too.

I will once again see the small things and feel them light me up inside, and the words will come.

I am no longer afraid. I believe they will come; I know they will.

And when they do, I will be here waiting.

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i am a writer

I am a writer because I write.

Why do I waste so much time turning something so simple into something so complicated?

Am I a writer if no one reads what I write?  Am I a writer if the few people who DO read what I write don’t like it?  What if I’m no good?  Am I still a writer?  What if I never publish anything? Am I still a writer?  What if no one ever pays me for anything I’ve written? Am I still a writer?

I am a writer because I write.

You don’t have to like what I write; you don’t have to think it’s any good; you don’t have to publish it or pay for it.  That doesn’t change the fact that I’m a writer.

I need to stop being embarrassed when I say it.  I need to stop saying it in a way that seems like I’m apologizing for something.  I’m a writer, do you have a problem with that?

I am a writer because I need to write.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t need to.  Sometimes I think it would make things much easier but I have to stop fighting it.  When something happens that’s good, I need to write about it.  When something happens that’s not good, I need to write about it even more.

One minute after seeing that little blue line on the stick when I found out I was pregnant for the first time, as I stood alone in the bathroom 3,000 miles away from the one person in the world I needed to share the news with, I turned and ran to the bedroom searching desperately for a pen and paper.  I needed to write about all the feelings that were rushing through my body.  When I got the phone call from my mom to tell me that the test results weren’t good and there would be surgery and then chemo, I cried for 10 minutes and then pulled out a pen and paper.

I don’t know that writing has ever actually solved any of my problems but taking all of the feelings and words running around in my head and putting them on paper creates for me a sense of clarity.  It makes room in my head for other things until the next time I can pour them out again.

I will no longer spend my time justifying or explaining it because that is time that could be spent writing.

I am a writer.

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35 posts

My previous post (new year’s realizations) was my 35th post.  I only know this because wordpress is kind enough to tell me what number I’m at after each post.  Kind of helpful; kind of disheartening.

I started this blog on my 34th birthday in the hopes that it would be an outlet for me, a place to collect and keep all of the random thoughts, events, happenings, goings-on, and useless things that I’d like to get out of my head.  And so the polka dot palace was born.  A kooky name for a kooky little thing started by a fairly kooky lady.

And here we are, 35 posts later.  I can’t say that anything I’ve written has made the world a better place, solved any big problems or even made an impact on anyone other than me but, 35 posts later, I’ve come to the realization that I’m okay with that.

When I used to lay awake at night wrestling with a problem, whether big or small, I would toss and turn, feeling weak and useless.  Now, I find myself spending that time deciding how to best translate what I’m thinking and feeling into words, so I can write about it and post it here.  When I used to think about the future, I had no idea what it would hold for me.  I still don’t really have any idea but I can at least be certain that it will contain writing, one way or the other.

So I’m going to keep plugging away, for 35 more posts and then 35 more after that.  We’ll see where it takes me.

Finally, a quick shout out to my friend Fah, without whom this blog would never have been started.  Even when no one else is reading this, I know she is.  And hats off for commenting on pretty much every single one of the 35 posts; you deserve some kind of award girl!

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