A piece of cake tastes better when you know there’s another piece waiting for you in the fridge.
My e-mail is cleaned up and I still don’t know what to write about. I go upstairs to moisturize my skin and I come back down to a blank page. My heart is racing from the double shot of espresso I had earlier in the morning and I still don’t know how to get scribbling. I’ve opened up my packages from Amazon finally, after waiting a couple of days due to THE virus, and still, nothing. I go back upstairs to brush and floss my teeth, but when I come back down it’s still nada on the screen. I watch an episode of one of my favorite TV shows and then come back and not a single letter materializes on my Word document. I go do the dishes and then look out the window for a little bit. A fly has attached itself on the glass and while it stares out into space, I scratch the glass with my finger. The fly rubs its front legs together like a scheming person. Oh how I wish I could scheme some words onto the page. I walk away again, this time accidentally bruising my knee and wondering if bruising my knee could ever happen on purpose. I mean, I suppose if I’m a parkour expert or something, but I imagine I wouldn’t pull any stunt to bruise myself on purpose, right? Nope, there’s no logical reason why getting a bruise would ever not be on accident, just like there’s no logical reason why I can’t seem to find the words to fill this page. As I am nursing my knee on the couch, I stare at a painting on the wall. It is one my parents had bought from my art teacher from a long time ago. My mom didn’t really like it, but I did because it had a butterfly in it, so she reluctantly got it. It was the beginning of me fighting for my right to be heard. If only this page could hear me in my time of need and spill some words out. Nothing. My eyes shift over to my bed. I yawn and really want my head to make friends with the pillow. My eyes agree. I think they are tired of looking at a lot of nothing, so my brain agrees as well. I remove my butt from the chair. I think I’m good to work on this writer’s block tomorrow…
You too, are a crazy writer. Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He is correct. There’s culture, there’s race, there’s gender, there’s sports fan, there’s music fan, there’s age, and then there’s writer. We belong in a category all our own. I mean, if you really think about it, I think writer might be a category for everybody. I used to think all my overanalyzing everything, all my replaying every embarrassing moment in my head, all my word hustling, all my perfectionism, all my redundancy, all my thoroughness, all my curiosity…was just a girl thing. Now that I really think about, it’s a crazy writer thing. And honestly it probably stems even further than that. It’s a human thing. Whether you actually enjoy writing or not, as long as you learned how, you’ve probably done some sort of writing in your life for any number of reasons, from making a grocery list to writing a dissertation. Every piece of writing comes as a result of thinking. You wouldn’t even be able to do any physical writing without thinking. So in a way everyone who is able to think is a writer. Every thought that is not voiced aloud can be written down and in a way appears in invisible ink on invisible paper that is stored somewhere underneath an invisibility cloak. But when we need something to be written down for real, we can always pull off the invisibility cloak. (If only crafting a novel was that easy, am I right?) When Hemingway said we bleed, he meant we share the raw unadulterated thoughts that most people would be too afraid to share. We do this because we are crazy writers and that is part of who we are. Each one of these thoughts we share opens us up for ridicule and shame and ultimately, judgment. But we do it anyway because it is who we are.
I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!
Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.
I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!
It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.
Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.
I just wanted to say I haven’t been that active on here lately because I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who know what that is and/or have participated, good for you and I hope you the best in your word count keep up. I know it’s taken a toll on my sleep. For those of you who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a non-profit organization, short for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my third time participating and my goal this time is to simply crank out 50,000 words. I am not worried about how good my novel is. I want to get in a good writing habit, starting with this challenge so I will be happy if I just write 50,000 words. I can always edit the story later, but for now, just getting the words out.
I haven’t been writing a lot lately and it’s my own fault. Sometimes it’s because of my schedule, but mostly it is because of lack of record-worthy inspiration. I say this because I don’t find it hard to get inspired by something, but I do find it hard to write it down. I don’t even know if that’s normal for a writer or if it’s due to pure laziness, but I’ve resolved to get better at it this week. I can’t be like this anymore. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t even have writer’s block, it’s simply feeling tired at the end of the day and not feeling like writing, unless I’m blogging about One Tree Hill. (And ironically, I am thinking of Brooke Davis prepping for her presidential speech and she tells Lucas, “I am who I am. No excuses.” That resonates with me right now as I am owning up to my laziness to write.) I think I’ve avoided writing publicly almost because I’m afraid of failure. When I’m afraid of failure, I watch my comfort shows because it takes my mind off of the task at hand. And in true procrastinator style, it lets me put off my task at hand. But lately, it’s getting out of control for me. I find myself not able to write anything on a certain day unless I’m getting the chance to watch “One Tree Hill.” That show motivates me to write. That is the ugly truth about being a crazy writer. As much as I love writing and telling people that is my number one passion, it hurts when I think about the days that go by and I don’t write anything worth posting.
One thing that has helped me stay on track though or rather, help myself keep myself accountable is my quasi bullet journal I keep at the back of my Erin Condren. There’s a section in my planner at the back where there’s a lot of dots in a sort of graph paper layout, so I turned it into a bullet journal to quench my desire to start a bullet journal when I don’t need to add yet another notebook to my gargantuan pile of notebooks. (That’s another fun problem of being a crazy writer. Am I right?) I make two boxes for every day, one for reading and one for writing. If I read something that day, I color the box blue. If I wrote something that day, I color the box red. If I didn’t do something that day, I color the box yellow for incomplete. Whenever I flip to that page it is a visual reminder of where I’ve fallen short or where I’ve made progress or where I’ve kept up with my writing and reading habits.
That was one of the words my ex-boyfriend used to describe me. He was wrong about a lot of things, but he was right about that one and that one right thing was what I hated the most about him and me together. It’s funny it sometimes takes a romantic relationship to learn who I am, but that’s what happened seven years ago. To me, being nervous and easily upset is the worst thing in the world. I don’t know why I feel that way or where the feeling comes from. I just do. But more specifically I hate the word “high-strung.” I don’t even like saying it. It’s like if I’m thinking about saying it I’ll have to pull a Harry Potter and just call it a “you-know-what” instead. Like, my ex-boyfriend used to call me a you-know-what. That doesn’t sound right either so that’s probably why it never became a thing. Not that I hope it does because that would be weird. I just think “high-strung” makes me think of “crazy” and while I like being called a crazy writer, I don’t like being called “crazy.” Is that so crazy?
Writer’s block is a terrible condition. It makes you sniff your nails and try to clean them if they smell off. Distract yourself by watching random music videos. Scratch your hair. Adjust your glasses 531 times. Pick at your temporary tattoo. Pick up hair from the carpet one strand at a time. Fold 1,000 paper cranes. Wait…I don’t think I’m quite at a thousand…
Clean your pencil sharpener. Check Facebook and Twitter. Take out the trash. Fill in your planner for next week. Floss your teeth. Shower.
And then it chases you back to your seat where butt + chair = write.
There’s a feeling you get when you know something is about to happen. But then again, something may not happen. So you question it, back and forth like a pendulum. It’s a little like nervousness and it’s a little like throwing up. I know I’m not describing this feeling very well, but I don’t think there’s a word out there for it yet. I guess you just have to be in my body feeling what I’m feeling to really know what I’m talking about. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You’re not going to ever feel exactly what I’m feeling. But it’s okay because I’m not ever going to feel exactly what you’re feeling either. There’s not another person out there exactly like me and there’s not another person out there exactly like you. Isn’t the world a wonderful place? So knowing this it makes me sad to think someone would feel so unworthy to be in existence they end their life by their own hands. Or someone would cause physical harm to themselves. People have seriously made life a lot more complicated than it is, but then again, maybe the way I experience reality is different from the way you experience yours so who am I to judge you for how you live? But if I don’t voice it out loud, I’m still going to do it in my head whether I notice it or not. You know what I mean?
More and more her thoughts grew, like an ulcer inside of a stomach. Then one day, the VCR in her brain ejected a novel.