Day 289-293: Start Volunteering at Writing Center, Better Manage Some Anxiety, Get A Rejection Letter, Start New Game, Start Reading News Again.

My writing focus for tha past 6 months has been to write more.  I’m definitely writing more, and feeling happier for it.  My next step is to start submitting more of the writing.  To that end I recently sent out a piece of flash fiction and recently received a rejection note from an editor that I’m entirely sure is a very nice person and upon whom I want only good things to befall.  I definitely don’t want them to get a terrible condition in their hands that makes them or able to type the letters V, Y, and J or to be trampled by raging unicorns, or for their coffee to spill in their lap.  Definitely not.  I am way too classy for that sort of thing.

Actually–to be honest, I’m starting to get used to this and to get the hang of it.  It’s like applying for jobs.  Do your research, show them your best work, then let it go.  All of the energy spent worrying and raging is much better spent writing and doing things that make you want to write.  Such as….volunteering at a writing center!  Reading BBC news online!  Pretending to be a demi-goddess!

With that clever segue, I am happy to announce that I interviewed a nabbed a work-study position at a writing center and worked my first shift yesterday.  In exchange for holding down the desk, making coffee, sweeping up pencil eraser crumbs (there are a lot of those in a writing studio), and helping them refine their course evaluations I will get free writing classes!  Hooray! 

I decided to address feeling out of the loop when it comes to current affairs by reading BBC news online.  It is one of the best news sites I’ve ever come across and I like going through all of it quickly, then choosing one region of the world to cover more deeply.  Apparently we have refused the extradition request of Bolivia.  Also Canada has kicked out lots of Iranian diplomats. 

Last but far form least, I started playing a table top RPG in which we are playing modern day demi-gods.  It’s a great group of folks who all love mythology so it should be a lot of fun.

Day 288: Why Hello…

It’s been a while.

Let me catch you up.

Sometime on Day 240-something I was discussing this blog project with a friend.  He commented, rightly so, that the project seemed to be less about documenting all the new things I purposefully made myself do, and more a record of new things I happened to do.  This sent me into a bit of a project-crisis–was I failing my mission?  Was I failing the project?  Was I being a coward?  Maybe I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough. Ohdearohdearohdear………

I decided to hold off for a bit and think about what my goals were and are. For about forty days and forty nights I wrote a lot, thought a lot, and generally wandered through some metaphorical wilderness.  Once I also wandered through some literal wilderness, but that was due to a misunderstanding. 

I wanted to try new things everyday because the way I was living my life wasn’t working for me.  I kept doing the same thing, thinking the same thing, reading the same things, being afraid or envious or unhappy about the same things.  And it didn’t make me happy.  I’m an all or nothing kind of gal, so I decided to Do All the New Things.  I expected that this would involve a lot of piercings and hair-dyeing and maybe being airborne.

This decision had an unexpected consequence.  In retrospect, I would call this year, An Unexpected Journey (shout out to you, J.R.R.).  When I decided that I could try new things, I started making small split second decisions to do small things differently.  For example, I hate confronting people.  It makes me queasy and shaky and question my intellectual capacity.  So I rarely do it.  But during the past 288 days, I have suddenly chosen to confront people on issues that need confronting.  It’s been a split second decision in most cases.  I am also uncomfortable being genuine with people.  I don’t like being that vulnerable.  But for 288 days I have chosen honesty over hiding in tiny, split second decisions.

And everything has changed.

I feel hopeful in a way I have never felt hopeful.  Not naively hopeful, not hopeful because I don’t think anything bad will ever happen, but hopeful about my ability to face whatever mysterious monsters are in my future.  I feel happier in a way I don’t remember being happy since I was a small child.  Not happy because I am never sad, but happy because I’m less ruled by fear.  I still sometimes retreat to the Shame-Doom silo but I can draw on the walls and I usually remember where the key is.  Because…I can do something different.  I can do new things.

So yes, I have and am failing my original conception of the project.  I haven’t parachuted out of a plane, or shaved my head.  But I think if I had done those things out of a sense of fear and failure, I would have failed the real purpose the project.  I didn’t want to change who I was as a person, I wanted to be more of who am.  And I really don’t want to shave my head, I hate heights–but I want to be willing to try things that I really want to do and stop doing things that make me unhappy.

So…I think my new act of the last forty days and nights was letting go of old projects.  I started writing a thousand words a day, five days a week, then revising one of the pieces over the weekend, rather than continually browbeating the same essay I had been browbeating for 2 months.  I let go of some old ideas about work and careers and what makes me valuable.  And I let go of my old idea about this blog, that it would be full of crazy highjinks that made me cool.  Instead, it’s become a somewhat weird instrospective highly personal document on figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t.  I hadn’t really faced that or written as honestly about that as I might.  It is probably not the most exciting things for someone else to read, but it’s been an interesting ride to take.

I also came up with a new blog project.  To be started after this one is concluded.  I had a flicker of the idea about a year and a half ago, but I shut it down because it was too new and different than my regular groove.  But I think it will work for me now.

Day 235-242: Wrote my way out of the Shame-Doom Silo

My new act today is one that I am particularly happy about.  I have been bored and fearful of my writing for the past couple of days.  I’m stuck on an essay and feeling bad about all of my work.  So today I decided to make myself work ont he essay for a half hour, then do a writing prompt from Poets and Writers.  I ended up writing for a whole hour and now have another possible essay idea.  And I’m reminding myself that all that stands between now and making something good is time and writing a lot.

A year and a half ago I would have not even started the essay, let alone pushed through some difficulty, let alone started something else.  I still wish my writing was better, I still wish that a lot of things were better, but things are already better then they were.

There have been a couple new acts in the past week, but this is the one I’m most happy about.  If there are any writers reading, here is the site from which I got the prompt. http://www.pw.org/

                Behold the Shame Doom Silo!

Day 230-235: Spent A Week Alone in New-ish Apartment and Did the Following…

1)  Watched the first season of Dollhouse

2)  Gave myself a “newsprint manicure”

3) Got a New Supervisor

4) Went to the Dark Knight movie in the theater

5) Ate at a New Restaurant

6)  Did  a LOT of reflecting

7)  Bought a fancy new earring- ear cuff combo.

8)  Tried a new workout routine

9)  Tried a Ginger Kombucha drink

10)  Downloaded new songs to work out to

11)  Wore a short skirt for the first time in a long time

12) Tried a new board game

 

 

 

Day 229: Started Reading Canterbury Tales And OMG Chaucer Is Awesome!

I realize I may be a little late in this observation.

My friend Benjamin from the previous post has started a book club in order to read classics.  Because frankly, even super nerdy glasses wearing dictionary reading british television watching once took Latin for no credit over the summer just because it seemed fun people like me aren’t going to sit down go through Ovid or Milton or Chaucer by ourselves.  And if we did, it would be far less fun then reading them aloud over food and drinks in a friends’ living room.

So, after much convincing and a semi-resentful drive on Sunday morning (I had woken up in a bad mood and there were idiotic people IN MY WAY EVERYWHERE) I came to the first of reading of Canterbury Tales at the book club.

And wow.  Homeboy knew his shit.

I’ve heard a million times that Geoffrey Chaucer was a great observer of human character and a great writer, but I was little doubtful because c’mon.  He was writing the first English vernacular work so of course he was going to be acclaimed.  But I will say now having only read the prologue that Chaucer is a good writer apart from all that.  His descriptions hit that wonderful sweet spot of being compassionate and also having great biting social critique.  I also recognize ALL of the characters, the obnoxious loud-mouth merchant struggling with debt, the impoverished pretentious scholar, the great dame with the yappy dogs.  It’s amazing how little people have changed.

I also love his statement about his own writing:

Original Text

725: But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,
726: That ye n’ arette it nat my vileynye,
727: Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere,
728: To telle yow hir wordes and hir cheere,
729: Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.
730: For this ye knowen al so wel as I,
731: Whoso shal telle a tale after a man,
732: He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan
733: Everich a word, if it be in his charge,
734: Al speke he never so rudeliche and large,
735: Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,
736: Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.
737: He may nat spare, althogh he were his brother;
738: He moot as wel seye o word as another.
739: Crist spak hymself ful brode in hooly writ,
740: And wel ye woot no vileynye is it.
741: Eek plato seith, whoso that kan hym rede,
742: The wordes moote be cosyn to the dede.
743: Also I prey yow to foryeve it me,
744: Al have I nat set folk in hir degree
745: Heere in this tale, as that they sholde stonde.
746: My wit is short, ye may wel understonde.

Modern English

But first, I pray you, of your courtesy,
You’ll not ascribe it to vulgarity
Though I speak plainly of this matter here,
Retailing you their words and means of cheer;
Nor though I use their very terms, nor lie.
For this thing do you know as well as I:
When one repeats a tale told by a man,
He must report, as nearly as he can,
Every least word, if he remember it,
However rude it be, or how unfit;
Or else he may be telling what’s untrue,
Embellishing and fictionizing too.
He may not spare, although it were his brother;
He must as well say one word as another.
Christ spoke right broadly out, in holy writ,
And, you know well, there’s nothing low in it.
And Plato says, to those able to read:
“The word should be the cousin to the deed.”
Also, I pray that you’ll forgive it me
If I have not set folk, in their degree
Here in this tale, by rank as they should stand.
My wits are not the best, you’ll understand.

My interpretation is that Chaucer is saying, “Look, I realize that my words my offend some people, especially because I’m talking about lots of different people of varying social rank.  But I’m trying to tell a story and make a point and the best best to do that is to be honest and use everyday examples.  Christ did it and so did Plato and we should follow in the steps of such wise communicators.  And if I made some mistakes, I’m only human so don’t hold against too harshly or execute me or anything.”

I think that’s a great thesis statement for any writer.

Day 228: Wrote More Cover Letters, Went to a Friend’s Birthday Party, Watched Lots of Dr. Who/TikTok mashups, Also Learned About the History of China

Happy birthday to my friend Benjamin, reader of classics, purveyor of his own true style, maker of masks, watcher of Bollywood, and baker of a very fine birthday cake.  You inspire me to be more true to myself and have more fun in my life.

At Benjamin’s party I was introduced to Crash Course history videos, which means I may never leave my computer.

Day 227: Went to A New Grocery Store, Tried Almond Milk

There is a new Trader Joe’s store near-ish my apartment.  Since the Husbandit is off At Library Boot Camp I’m taking the opportunity to buy and cook lots of things that I like and he doesn’t.   Such as fish.  And more fish.  And then some shrimp.

I also bought some almond milk, which I didn’t realize has a long history and was not invented by trendy trainers and hippie chicks in 1995.  Apparently, it was a popular drink in the Middle Ages, especially during Lent (having no animal products in it) and was called amygdalate.

It is tasty in iced tea.