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Am I Really Doing This Again?

I think the more I try to push away writing projects for other things, the more my life works to swing me around and bring me right back to where I started: small and scared, pen in hand in front of a blank piece of looseleaf. Or, in this case, insert creaking knuckles and office laptop screen into the appropriate slot, I suppose.

I don’t want to talk about where I’ve been; I’ll let the stories do that. What’s important is that I’m back again, and that I never actually stopped writing to begin with. The rusty old brain has been kicked around, patched up, scratched up and booted halfway from here to Arkansas (I didn’t actually go to Arkansas, I just like the way it’s spelled, and how I say it phonetically in my head like an elementary rebel while I pronounce it aloud the right way), but thank the Lord above, she’s kept on trucking for me, and that’s more than I could have asked for.

Hell, she even managed to pump out some things that got published, that little fighter, and I love her for it. And now, after our nap that wasn’t quite a nap, now we’re here; maybe because I like this medium, or maybe because there’s something I’m supposed to get from this, I’m not sure. I do know that my fingers got to aching to move a melody against a set of plastic keys–this Mac makes a better sound than a baby grand, let me tell you– and where a rusty tap used to jut out from my cortex, a leak has sprouted from beneath the siding and there’s a bunch of stuff–creative oil, perhaps– just gushing out into my imagination and pooling there. And though that blank page is as terrifying as ever, I’m starting to see what it would look like with, dear God yes, words on it. So I guess I’ve just got to do what I’ve always done and put them where it looks like they should go.

You can see it when I’m done, too, if you like. For now, you’ve got these silly little brain scrapings to read. Hope you like ’em.

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Hello, again.

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Road Maps and Novel-Writing: Keep Me Away from Indigo.

I went to write in a coffee shop today because being home meant distractions. I started to work on my book while sitting on my parent’s loveseat, but plot thread and character development were replaced every minute with imhungrymyfacehurtswhydoesmyfacestillhurtthedentistsaiditwouldonlytakeaweektohealmaybeishould

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andseeifmylandloardpulledmyrentdoihaveunderwearfortomorroworshouldidolaundrybeforeigohomewhydidyou

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Replace a few of these with endless YouTube video mini-marathons and I lost a good two hours of writing time being home. At that point, I took a stand. I refused to lose to the curiosity of my twenty-first century teenaged brain, and so I packed up my things, left my laptop at home and headed to my local Starbucks to grab a latte, scribble out a dozen pages of draft one and praise my decision to put my Master’s degree on hold lest I join the ranks of overqualified baristas who serve people like me and wonder why they aren’t working at a job they’re qualified for.

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Sorry, Starbucks folk. Our job market is awful, but you do make a mean chai tea.

I got some pretty important work done before I realized that I needed to do some research, not necessarily for accuracy, as most of what I’m writing is indeed fiction, but to give me an idea of the sort of thing I was getting myself into, and how to write it. Most of the subject was unimportant; probably something I could look up online later, but as a kid who still can’t comprehend things unless she’s underlining them on paper, I did, in fact, need a road map. Why I needed the map isn’t really worth telling (at least right now), but I should note that I was in the perfect position to get one. See, in Canada–and I’m not sure about anywhere else, so don’t murder me for thinking we’re unique–our main bookstore chain, Indigo, and its sister stores usually come with a Starbucks on the inside. Of course, I was sitting twenty feet away to the gates of this chic and modern Heaven-on-Earth. If Indigo didn’t have a road map for the area I was looking for, then I don’t know who would.

So I wandered from the Starbucks into the main store and was immediately caught by the adorable Kate Spade collection of journals that looked like old library books. No, I didn’t buy one. But I contemplated it. Oh yes, for five minutes, actually. (Ten points for self-control, what what).

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Not for long.
Can someone freeze my credit cards, too?

No worries, my steel will didn’t hold up too long. I bought literary magazines. I bought the newest book from an author I’m going to see at the end of the month (Joseph Boyden; I first read Three Day Road, a story of two Cree friends who go off to fight in WWI, and fell in love). I bought a neat little question and answer book to fuel thought and make my evenings a little more fun. I bought a collection of C.S. Lewis essays (I love that man, impeccable genius, both as a fantasy author and Christian apologetic), and then, and only then did I reach the travel section to collect my map. They had it, just like I knew they would, but as I did the walk of shame to the cash register, I did not feel triumph, but sympathy for my debit card.

My addiction to literature– and cute things and shopping in general– is getting out of hand. I suppose it could be worse, but sending me into an Indigo is like sending a recovered drug-addict into a crack house to pick up a jacket for a friend who left it there.

If you were wondering the map did come in handy.

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Sorry, little guy.

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What Cloud Nine Looks Like: Hobbit Adventures to Mount Awesome

This summer–though I won’t be prancing off to conferences and sports tournaments in other countries for once–has probably been one of the more eventful ones of my life. It may be because it’s been two months longer than all previous summers, or it may be that I’m leaving home in August for the first time ever and want to spend as much time as I can tying up lose ends and all that jazz. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever been as excited about the future as I am now.

On top of the novel– which is coming along nicely to my relief and surprise– the writing opportunities that have found me are immense, and for once I actually can tell people that I don’t just write for fun. These little side projects have turned into the main focus of my life; I’m getting paid to do a few of them, and now, instead of trading in my notebooks for textbooks when school starts this fall, I actually get to pull them out in earnest, because I’m going to school to fool around with fiction (partnered in with a whole lot of history, which isn’t fiction but is just as cool). Creative Writing degrees actually exist, and if you’re serious enough to work your ass off  to keep out of applying for the manager’s position at McDonald’s, you might just find yourself doing something after grad school. I’m halfway there. Little small-city writer girl is taking off, and for once, I don’t have to question whether or not this profession is for me.

For one, I didn’t have to go searching for chances. I’ve made a big enough name for myself to have to offers come to me, and they’ve been rolling in faster than deadlines during the last three weeks of class. Of course, I’m still going to have to look for opportunities, but now there’s no doubt in my mind that someday my name is going to be on the cover of a novel that people actually want to read. Why? Because in the meantime, I’m working on a whole bunch of little things that people want to read already and that is totally freakin’ awesome. For realz. Yo.

It’s the coolest thing in the world to start out on an uncertain path, only to have your choice ratified by things like this. I don’t care if you’re religious or not, but God’s laying down stepping stones like crazy, and I’m eagerly one-foot hopping all the way to my goal, which can now thankfully be seen on the horizon. It’s a little dot; kind of grey and fuzzy, but it’s there nonetheless, and I can’t wait to reach it. At this point, I’m likening my journey to the one Bilbo Baggins took in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, partly because I’m halfway through reading Lord of the Rings and partly because I can’t help but notice how bloody long it takes hobbits to reach mountains.

I’m getting there. I’m writing, I’m in love with it, and who knows? I may actually be able to support myself on this stuff. Until then, I’ll work my way to what the world calls a real career in university, and do it on the side. Either way, I’m in love with the way things are going.

Expect a few road blocks. It’s times like these when I start wondering when they’ll show up, not because I’m a pessimist or anything, but because I haven’t had any yet. Bilbo made it through a few easy leagues before bumping into the trolls, after all.

Right now though, I’m doing just fine without my handkerchief.