Stories and Reality

I’ve been obsessed lately. Like, staying up until 2 am, thinking about nothing else, pushing aside more important things obsessed. It’s a bit scary, actually. It’s nothing I want to be obsessed with; I know there are better ways to deal with life, that something else is going on below the surface here.

I’ve been obsessed with stories lately. Stories told on any medium: books, web comics, movies, TV shows. Stories about everything from zombies to crime fighting to grad school. Stories that I like and stories that I’m not all that sure I do.

That’s the key, isn’t it? I’m not all that sure I like any of these stories. I’m not all that sure this is what I really want to be doing; there are so many things I could be doing instead, things that are much more worth doing and things that are much more urgent than rewatching that show I loved ten years ago. Something else is going on.

I love stories, of all kinds and shapes and sizes. That’s why I write, after all; I want to tell stories, too. As J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote, ““Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” That’s the beauty of stories; they show us the reality behind the veil, the reasons for hope.

But sometimes they really are just an escape. A false escape? There is beauty and reality here, in the present moment. Who doesn’t like to daydream about being brave, seeing new places, having exciting things happen? I certainly love it. Especially when I’m caught in the daily routine and faced with the realities of repetition and hard work, I certainly love it. I’d much rather imagine that I’m flying over London thanks to a spell than face the fact that I have a book to read for class. I’d much rather watch my favorite character save the world for the fifth time than write that paper. It’s easier. It’s more pleasant.

It’s easier to take part in others’ stories than craft my own.

I’m tired. I don’t want to face the reality of doing dishes. I don’t want to face the reality of all the hard work I’ll have to do to write my final paper. I don’t want to face the reality of how much life scares me. Everything’s so much simpler in a fictional story. I long for that simplicity.


I have no solution. There have been a lot of ups and downs. What can I say? Life is hard sometimes, especially when you try to avoid it.

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Bacon! (Five Minute Friday)

Today I’m writing about bacon, the prompt for Five Minute Friday.


I’m not gonna lie: I saw the prompt and just thought, “Ugh. What am I going to write about?” Somehow the recent health scandal didn’t appeal. (Apparently it’s an inside joke? From before my time. Bacon, I mean, not the health scandal)

And I was all set to skip this Five Minute Friday. “I’ll wait until it’s something easier, something that immediately sparks a reaction.” I had other things to do this morning, after all. I opened a new tab, got all ready to sink into some useless Internet time-wasting.

Really? It occurred to me a few minutes in. Really? I was just going to give up, without even trying, just because it might not be the easiest thing ever, just because in ten seconds I couldn’t think of anything to write about? Really?

So, here I am. Writing about not wanting to write about bacon. But here I am, writing. I came after all. I’m not sure this is any good, but sometimes coming at all is good enough. Sometimes that’s enough of a victory to start with.

Fear

There’s so much fear in my life as a writer:

When I see “I was a professional writing major.” I was no such thing. My studies have been a joy in so many ways, but none of them had ‘writing’ in the title. I feel unqualified to become a writer, to put my writing out there. ‘I must fail, because I haven’t had all that training.’ I know nothing about the writing trade, and I’m learning as I go. I’m just someone who loves to read, who loves to write, who has all these feelings and ideas and knows no way to get them out except through writing, who loves to create beautiful things.

When I see somewhere I’d love to get published. But am I good enough? Is my writing? Is it really a good fit? How do I make myself stand out from all the others who want to write for you? What will I write?

When I sit in front of a blank page, waiting for the words to come. It’s such a place of trust. Will the words come? Will God come? What if I haven’t been listening hard enough? What if I have been separating myself from God all day; what right do I have now to come to this place of worship and expectation, and hope that God will come, when I’ve been shoving God away all day, all week? Or what if God and I disagree about the words that are needed? Sometimes I don’t have the strength to give in.

When I think about the future. Can I make this writing thing work? Am I submitting enough? To the right places? It’s just so overwhelming!

When I get ready to submit something. Is it any good? Will they accept it? Yes, submitting anything is a victory, but… That’s a bit of my soul I’m sending out.

When I think about writing. Writing is a lot of work. I think of stories I’d love to write, ones that need research. When will I do that, and how? How can I go from my images and emotions to words on a page? The work involved scares me.

When I read an amazing book. ‘I’ll never be this good.’ Everything that they did well, I despair of ever doing half as well. Will anyone ever be so completely drawn in and enchanted by my writing, as I am by theirs? It seems impossible.

 

Being afraid frightens me. I would much rather not be afraid, thank you very much. I would much rather power on through, supremely confident of my own abilities and where I’m going. Of course, that also sounds like a fantastic way to become an arrogant monster, so perhaps it’s for the best.

I can’t ignore my fear; it’s certainly not going away. Ignoring it sounds a lot like trying to stuff everything you hate in the closet until your closet explodes. Not going to go well, in other words. I can’t just pretend I’m not afraid, because I am. But then, life is scary too. There’s just as much uncertainty, just as much vulnerability, at least in the life I hope I’m living, the one that I strive for.

Sometimes I just have to acknowledge my fear, say, “Hey, I see you there” and then move on. And then do it anyway. My fear constricts me, but I’ve started to fight against it, to fight for the freedom to follow my dreams rather than allowing my fears to trap me where I am. Sometimes I just need to acknowledge my fears, say, “This is what I’m afraid of,” and go through everything that could happen if my fears were true. And you know what? Most of them are things I’m completely willing to live with. This article won’t get accepted; I’ll have to rewrite that devotional. I will have been foolish, perhaps, made mistakes, but I will have been fighting for the life I dream of. I will have been fighting for what God has gifted me to do. I will have been fighting to follow God, one step at a time.

I am afraid. But is it anything worth being afraid of?

Currently, vol. 2

Feeling: Excited for a new day.

Craving: Productivity.

Watching: Deep Space 9, on and off. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (the third season just recently came on Netflix!).

Listening: A Good Day, by Priscilla Ahn. It’s beautiful and I love it.

Drinking: Water.

Reading: Currently, nothing. I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, and it was just so amazing that I can’t bear to read anything else until I get the second copy from the library. It was just so well-researched that everything jumped off the page, plus great characters….

Making: Nothing, really. Although I have lots of half-finished projects, I haven’t worked on any of them recently.

Cooking: Ha!

Planning: A trip to the store so I have things to cook. Pieces to write. To gather all my stuff and go get some work done, probably outside. It’s a beautiful fall day!

Thinking: Am I actually shy, or just introverted? What should my next sermon be about? Where should I go to study?

Loving: Mornings. They are my favorite time of day. Also, my roommate. She’s a joy to live with!

Green (Five Minute Friday)

All around was green: teal, emerald, lime, sea green, glinting and shimmering. It was more dresses than she had ever seen before, racks and racks of them extending into the distance. A few feet away they shifted to blues: sapphire, sky blue, powder blue, midnight blue. It even smelled of fabric, overlaid with perfume and sanitation chemicals. It wasn’t an entirely pleasant combination.

“Can I help you find something?” The woman who approached was wearing a red dress; it clashed with the greens and blues behind her.

“I’m looking for Tasha.”

The clerk’s face shifted. “She’s in the back. Maybe you should come in that way next time.”

Pria just shrugged as she brushed past the other woman, even as her face and neck prickled with uncomfortable heat. Yes, she should have, but, as much as she despised the fake facade out here, she hated the dank, stinking back rooms even more.


Today was a fiction day. It’s not from anything I’m writing, but such a visual prompt just sparked something. It’s an odd bit of scene, so thanks for reading!

A Writer?

Sometimes writing is just so overwhelming, whether because I have too many ideas, not enough, too many ridiculous expectations of myself, or just feel utterly inadequate. I’m someone who struggles with writing. It’s something I feel preposterous even admitting, as someone who wants to be a writer. Even more so as someone who is slowly beginning to call herself a writer.

Then again, what makes one a writer? Naming oneself? Writing? But what? How much? Is publication a necessity? How much? Where? Would my high school newspaper have been worse than an established magazine, made me less of a writer?

Is it how one writes? On paper or on a computer? Totally focused, regularly, sporadically, in spare moments, with distractions every few moments? I’ve done all of these.

Maybe categories aren’t the point. Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I started my first journal in third grade. Maybe I’ve been a writer ever since I started wanting to be one, an event that’s much harder to pinpoint. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because I’m a writer now. Maybe it’s because of none of those things, but simply because God has placed the call, the need to write on my heart.

What can I do but write?

Rag Rug

Rag Rug 1

This is the rag rug I’ve been working on for more than a year now. Overwhelming, isn’t it? What I’ve done so far feels tiny and insignificant, and I feel so far away from the completion that it feels impossible.

I’ve been working on it in little bits: choosing cloth to cut up (old clothes that were far too ragged to give away for re-use), cutting it into painstaking strips, and finally, one by one, threading the strips into the holes. In a fit of excitement at my awesome project, I cut up the black shirts and made the border all in one day. “Oh, this wasn’t so bad!”

Every tutorial I looked at warned me that this was a long process, that the rug is created SLOWLY. “I’m sure it will be fine.”

My strips of cloth, waiting to be threaded into the rug.
My strips of cloth, waiting to be threaded into the rug.

Trying to build a writing career feels overwhelming. Heck, going on with my day feels overwhelming sometimes. Getting the dishes done feels overwhelming, leaving homework and relationships completely out of it! And all I can do is focus on the small things, one thing at a time, one moment at a time. That doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t plan for the future, because I absolutely should. I must. Otherwise my focus is always just in the present, doing whatever presents itself. But I can’t focus on the entirety of what needs to be done. It’s huge and overwhelming, and that makes me freeze up, worry so much that I can’t get anything done. Instead, I have to look at what’s right in front of me, decide what my next task is going to be and focus on that. Just as with my rag rug, I can’t try to put ten strips in ten different holes at once. Instead, I have to go one at a time. Each one feels insignificant, just as each task sometimes feels insignificant. But, if chosen wisely, each task builds on the others, until eventually something beautiful has been created.