Writers tend to fluctuate between two planes of reality: The one in their heads, and the one in the waking world. The writer is often fully buried in his or her mental world, but rarely completely inhabits the waking world. The writer can also often be found somewhere in between, wandering in one direction or the other along the fantasy/reality spectrum.
What I do notice – at least with myself – is that my need to dwell my mental world often creates conflicts with the waking world. If I spend too much time in one or the other, it causes me a fair amount of stress. If I linger too long in my head, wallowing in my thoughts and fantasies, I begin to feel like I’m losing my grip on the real world. Then, like a drowning person, I feel a…
Life has been really bizarre this year. Everything seemed to go normal, even amidst covid, until I lost a job that I had for like 7 years. No one needed a concierge to welcome a virtually empty building. My last day was the day before my summer vacation was supposed to start and months after Covid had already started.
That took me by surprise because I’d been there for so long, so I had to find a new position. Since I do security, finding a new position wasn’t necessarily difficult, but because of my seniority within the company, they couldn’t just place me anywhere.
I spent some time working at the Provincial and Supreme courthouses in downtown Vancouver before finding my way to a Youth Forensics Unit. I usually try to avoid working in health care, so it was a brand new and slightly intense experience for me.
My new job started in September and by November, the position had grown on me; but, it wouldn’t be 2020 if that transition went smoothly, right? On my way to first aid training on November 26th, my life was once again derailed by a car accident and a trip to the hospital.
If that wasn’t enough, about 4 days after my hospital visit, I got sick with Covid. It started off feeling like I had a cold, but then I lost my sense of smell. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t your average cold, so I went for a Covid test and it came back positive.
One would think I had the worst luck in the world. I mean seriously, lose a job in 2020, get into an accident that totals my minivan, then catch covid. The year was not playing nice. The rain was falling and darkness was trying to brew it’s way into my life.
But in every storm, there is a rainbow…
I have just signed a publishing contract with Black Velvet Seductions for a short story of mine called “The Cowboy’s Heritage.” It is going to be included in a Cowboy Anthology set to be released in the new year.
My life goal is to always focus on the positives, the beautiful things that exist in our lives and the world around us. Sometimes it feels like the bad outweighs the good, and sometimes my anxiety is off the charts, but I want people to know that you can make it through anything that comes your way. You just have to focus your gaze on the good things, even if it’s just a tiny pretty flower or maybe even a minion twinkie. 😉
‘… I knew at their core, both men had shared a deep hostility and distrust towards the world and nearly everyone in it. That brooding malevolency was one aspect of Marco’s personality that I hoped I had been instrumental in changing.’ – line from Suzanne Smith’s ‘The Brute and I’
Didja ever read a book that just kinda blew your mind?
Call me a Narcissist, but I am ever mindful of one very simple reality: The writer is an eternally ego-driven creature. Period. It’s why we hide in the shadows, day after day, pounding away at the keyboard in the hopes that we might somehow manage to dazzle the world with our brilliance. (Or maybe just baffle ‘em with… well, you know.)
Ergo, the books most prone to blowing my fragile little mind are the ones that are eerily similar to those I might have written. Interestingly, a dear writer…
For the last 20 days, I’ve been hard at work tackling Nanowrimo. This has been a goal of mine for the last four years, but I’ve never attempted it until now. What is Nanowrimo? It’s basically a challenge for writers; where you have to write 50k words in the month of November to win. The idea is to write a novel quickly, but anyone who writes knows how easily life can get in the way. There’s work, chores, family, shopping, spouses, internet and whatever else you can think of that detracts from your free time.
In previous years when I thought of trying Nano, I was always in the middle of another project or, well, I just chickened out. I’m a mom of four(three at home), who works fulltime, so finding time to write can be tricky. Now, I could have just let this year be another one of those years, but I said no, “This time I’m gonna do it.”
I already had a few novels under my belt, along with a few short stories, so I knew that I had the ability to follow through on a goal; but, this type of goal required me to write every day, which was not something I was doing, especially not over the last year. We’ve had a lot of hardships over the last year, and that’s not including the trials we’ve had with Covid affecting our world.
If I was going to do this, I had to dig deep inside of me and bring out the person that I knew was hiding in there. The one who had finished goals before and never let anything get in the way. No matter how tough life is, I needed to show myself that I could do it. And like I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m all about setting a daily goal and keeping it.
So exactly how many words do you need to write every day to reach 50k words in a month: 1,667. Now that isn’t a lot to some writers, but when you have a crazy life, that can be a challenge. I wasn’t going to let that deter me though. I was determined to see this goal through to the end.
When I’m in a good writing grove, I would usually write 1500 words a day between Monday-Friday and wouldn’t write anything on the weekends, except social media posts. But that wasn’t good enough for this type of challenge. I had to up my game. And to be honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible as I haven’t written much all year, and near the end of the year, I lost the job that really allowed me time to write. That was a devastating loss.
Life had changed so much for me that I either could hide my head under a pillow or change with it. I decided it was time to pick myself back up and this was just the way to do it. I made it my mission to write 1700 words a day, overshoot the goal. The question was, exactly how badly did I want it? Unless you’re determined, the chances of completing what you set out to do is unlikely. You need to believe it’s possible.
Below you can see my daily word count as the month progressed, culminating at today, November 20, 2020.
Some days I didn’t write as much, but I did manage to stay above my daily goal. Of course, that meant that sometimes we had dinner late, easy meals, takeout. Sometimes the dishes piled in the sink(Okay, that one was not so good*lol*). My son, Ethan, helped us not get buried under a whack load of them. And now that the goal is done, I’ll be doing a deep clean of my house, which somewhat looks like a tornado ripped through it. Clean laundry is piled on our loveseat, having just been plunked there after the dryer was finished. I did manage to get garbage out on a regular basis, so I had that going for our house. Haha.
Really though, I wanted to prove to myself that there was still a writer inside me somewhere, even when the world is crazy. I wanted to prove to my kids and others that you can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you are willing to do the work it takes to get there. It won’t always be easy. Sometimes it will feel almost impossible, but that’s what separates the doers from the dreamers. Doers keep doing even when the way seems dark. Dreamers just keep dreaming…
Congrats to all the Nanowrimo winners out there! What’s your dream? Share it in the comments below.
Here’s the opening to my Nanowrimo story, “Resurrection Hour: Hidden in Ice.” This is a rough first draft, so you’ll see it in all it’s raw glory. *lol*
Xavier stared at the young woman, who couldn’t be more than eighteen, walking towards him on the tarmac. One woman and man followed in her wake, carrying all the luggage, while all she carried was a backpack. She couldn’t be who they were expecting, but, for some reason, the description he was given fit her to a T—bright red hair peaked out of her parka.
When she stopped in front of him, his heart did a triple thump as her vibrant green eyes locked with his. There was something otherworldly about them, and he found himself at a loss for words. He couldn’t see much else, but it was enough.
“You must be Xavier. Hi, I’m Doctor Hannah Fraser,” she said, shoving her gloved hand at him. “And these are my assistants Cheryl Blakely and Flynn Peters.”
He stared at it mindless a moment before he cleared his throat, trying to get his mind back on track. The last thing he could afford was getting distracted. Being the head of security it was his duty to keep everyone safe, and get the doctor inside before they froze to death. It was 30 degrees below zero. Far too cold to stand out there and do idle chitchat.
“It’s nice to meet you.” After shaking her hand, he gestured towards the door a hundred feet behind him. “Right this way.” Xavier shivered as a chill blew underneath his hood, ruffling his dark brown hair. It was one of those colors somewhere in between black and brown that could be one or the other. It gave him a hell of a time filling out security applications or driver’s licenses.
Punching in the security code at the door and opening the door, he allowed them to enter first. Once the door was closed, he turned to face the newcomers. They were now in a small foyer, not any larger than a small bedroom. There was a desk on one side with a computer. Xavier pulled off his jacket and hung it on a hook in the corner before sitting down.
“I’ll need to see your identification.” He sat there patiently while they dug in their bags.
Hannah placed her bag on the edge of the table and pulled out a make-up bag, a small bag of medicine, two books-romance by the looks of it, and a bra. He glanced up at her and noted her cheeks turned a pretty hue of pink, making him grin. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was wearing a bra under all her clothes.
She chuckled nervously and continued digging through her bag’s contents. “I know it’s in here somewhere.”
In the meantime, her companions handed him their id’s. They had flown up from Vancouver, British Columbia. She was well-known in her paleontology field, which in a way surprised him. By appearance, he wouldn’t have pegged her for a doctor. She was someone who could have had her face splashed on a magazine, or even snagged a rich sucker to pay her way.
A shiver rippled through him and he pushed the thought out of his mind. He wasn’t going to go there. He’d transferred up here to get away from the memory of Catherine. Away from her bleeding him dry and ruining his life. What was Hannah trying to escape from?
“Ah ha! Found it. I must have put it in my suitcase when I was trying to find my notes.” She handed him her license and he couldn’t help but take a peek at her date of birth. He looked between her and the ID. There was no way she was twenty-eight. “I know. I know. I look sixteen, right?”
“I was going to say eighteen, but ya.”
After checking everything over, he leaned over and pulled out their access cards from the bottom drawer. With a few clicks on the keyboard, their cards were activated. “Your cards will give you access into your rooms, as well as any medical and research rooms within the facility.”
“Funny to have such high security in the middle of nowhere,” Flynn, one of Hannah’s assistants, commented.
“You can never be too careful, even out here. We have at least two hundred people in this facility and sensitive information.” That included his twelve man security team who covered all six floors. Not much has happened since he joined, so it was a nice quiet job.
“Speaking of which, has the specimen arrived?” Hannah asked, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“One second.” Xavier picked up his radio and contacted one of his teammates to man the desk while he showed the newcomers around, and then responded to her question. “It should arrive later today.”
“Were you apprised of its condition?”
“They don’t tell and I don’t ask.”
She tilted her sweet head to the side and studied him. “You aren’t the least bit curious?”
Truth be told, when he first started here, he wanted to know everything. But they had enough on their plate without knowing every little thing, and the director didn’t like them prying into the research.
He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m not paid to inquire.” The less he knew the better because then he wouldn’t get accused of taking something if it disappeared or was misplaced. If it posed a threat that would be a different story, but a fossil frozen in ice was the least of his worries. They had the proper isolation rooms on the research floor to separate it from the rest of the population of Finley’s Research Station.
“I don’t think I could do that,” she said. “I like to know every detail.”
“Makes sense. You wouldn’t be a doctor if you didn’t like to know what makes things tick.”
As they were talking, one of his men walked in, dressed in their usual attire- white shirts with a security logo on the front and Finley’s Research Security on the arm patches, along with black pants and polished black shoes.
“Man the desk, please. I’m going to show Dr Fraser and her associates around the station.”
“Sure thing,” his buddy replied, taking up a position behind him.
Xavier nodded towards him, then turned his attention back to the newcomers. “We’ll put your luggage in your room before we do the grand tour.”
“Can we have 30 minutes to freshen up? It’s been a long flight,” Cheryl asked, her wavy hair standing on end from static after pulling off her toque. He fought to suppress a grin. It looked like she stuck her finger in a light socket.
He looked at his watch. “We might just have to wait until after dinner for the tour then because Director Adams wants to see you in the conference room in an hour.”
Pushing the chair back from his desk, he stood up and moved over to the sliding door. He pulled his access card from his pocket and held it in front of the scanner before punching in the code. The sliding doors opened and they walked into a hallway. To his left was a set of stairs that led down to the lower floors.
“You have two options. We can take the stairs or the elevator. Your pick.” He pointed down the long hallway to the elevator.
They had a pile of gear, so they opted for the elevator, even if it took them farther away from their room. As they walked down the hall, a square black case that Cheryl had stacked in her arms started to slip off.
“Oh no!” she cried as it tumbled towards the ground. Xavier snatched it out of the air, pulling it safely into his arms. Cheryl let out a visible sigh of relief. “Thank you so much.”
Instead of piling it back on top, he opted to carry it. By the look on Hannah’s face, the girl would have been up the creek without a paddle if whatever was inside broke. She held herself together though and didn’t say a word.
It didn’t take long for them to head down to the second floor. They walked halfway down the corridor and turned to the left, then a short bit later turned to the right. “Geez, this isn’t confusing at all,” Hannah said with a wry grin.
“Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it. We’re essentially a great big square and if you get lost, there are security phones along the outer hallways-one in each corner.”
Xavier stopped in front of a room. “Dr. Fraser and Mrs. Blakely, this is your room. Flynn will be sharing a room next door with one of our resident engineers, Levi White.”
“Please, it’s just Miss Blakely. I’m not married,” she made a point of saying, as she fluttered her eyelashes at him.
Xavier smiled. “Duly noted.” Cheryl was a cute little thing, but she wasn’t his type. Besides, he had no interest in pursuing a relationship while stationed out here. They may be in the middle of nowhere and fun activities were slim to none, but he was here to do a job and that’s it. Anything else complicated things more than they needed to be right now.
Hannah swiped her card on the reader and stepped inside the room after the doors slid open, placing her gear on the table before turning to him. “If I need to speak to you specifically, where will I be able to find you?”
“Our main office is on the main floor where we came in, to the right of the elevator. I’m there from 0800 to 1600.”
“Good to know.”
“Well, I’ll leave you to it.”
Hannah nodded her head and then turned to Cheryl. “Did you want the washroom first or me?”
Special visitors to the island were given the best suites, which had a full bathroom, as opposed to the normal crew which only had a sink and toilet inside theirs. Only the director and assistant director had the same. Xavier didn’t really mind. It’s not like he had any entertaining plans.
Stepping out of the room, he allowed the doors to close behind him. Just as he was about to head back to the front his radio squawked. “Alpha-1 to Delta-1, the elevator has malfunctioned. The Director is inside. Repair crew has been dispatched.”
When we have a negative mindset, our determination and stubbornness can become a problem. We become too stubborn about the wrong things. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too flat chested. I have too much acne. Who’s going to love me? I can’t read, so what can I do? I can’t see. I can’t walk. Or any number of things that are sometimes drilled into our psyche by others and by our own mind.
What we accomplish or don’t accomplish in life is based on the mindset we have. Whether we can be happy or whether we’re just plain miserable is based on what we allow ourselves to dwell on. If we keep telling ourselves that nothing ever goes right. This sucks. I hate my life. Then that is what we are training our brain to think and to perceive. They call this neuroplasticity. It’s our brain’s ability to re-wire itself. This is something I learned a lot about while fighting with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
When I was at my worst, I had what you could call a can’t mindset. People would tell me to just stop doing my compulsions, and I would say, “That’s easy for you to say. I can’t do it. I can’t just stop.”
“Why?” they’d ask.
And that right there was a very good question. Why couldn’t I stop? It’s because that’s what I taught my brain. Now, I’m not a doctor—nowhere close to being a doctor—I just have my own experiences which has taught me things along the way. I’d done my compulsions so much that I’d developed a habit, an addiction of sorts. If I didn’t do them, I have such a feeling of dread that it would drop me to the floor in tears.
Can’t is a very powerful word, very destructive. And likewise, the opposite is also true—I can is equally powerful. Don’t tell yourself you’ll try, tell yourself you will. The words, I’ll try can set you up for failure, set you up for the idea that you might not do it. Instead, we need to be speaking positively to ourselves, not just for our mind’s sake, but for those around who hear us, who witness our journey…especially kids, who soak everything up like sponges.
How many more successful kids would there be if they saw us going after our dreams…if we were telling them that their dreams had value, that their dreams are important. Your dreams are important, too, and no one should be able to tell you otherwise. Biggest thing to remember is that what you allow your mindset to be is what you’ll become, whether good or bad. You tell yourself you can’t, you won’t. You tell yourself you can, and you will.
“But what if I fail?” you ask.
Did you know that believing you failed is a mindset of its own? What is failure? How do you define failure? Do you remember how I mentioned Thomas Edison earlier? A reporter once asked him about how it felt to fail 1000 times. He said, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention that took 1,000 steps.”
Sometimes you won’t succeed right away. Nobody does, but it’s those who stay persistent that eventually get to where they want to go. You never truly fail until you give up, and even then, what’s to say that somewhere down the line, you don’t finally succeed? I put my writing aside for a decade, but I still came back and accomplished what I set out to do.
You are never too old or too young to start living your dream, setting yourself on the path to fulfilling it. If Akiane Kramarik, Hanalei Swan, Caroline Bercaw, Isabel Bercaw, and Alina Morse can believe in themselves and go after their dreams, why should we be any different?
As adults we sometimes forget how to dream, how to believe. I think this is where kids have a leg up on us. We become more logical minded and less fanciful, and in this I believe we are doing our kids a great injustice. They need to see us going after our dreams if they are to go after theirs.
And if they have a dream, they have to know that we believe in them. Their dreams are not stupid or unrealistic, that’s our own mindset that we are putting on them. They don’t deserve that. They deserve to know they can follow their passion. I know not all of us are rich. Some of us can’t put our kids in city sports(too expensive). We can’t buy our kids the moon as some may be able to, but we can help them reach for it by encouraging them. Believing in them. Letting them know that their dreams have value. That they have value.
As a mom of teenagers, I watch mine struggle through various issues, and I try to be there for them. They’ve seen me struggle with certain things myself, but I make a point of standing right back up and trying again. My goal is to teach them that they can do whatever they set their mind to, nothing has to stop them. One day at a time, one step at a time is how we get to where we want to go.
Life really is what you make it. We have to get rid of that negative mindset because life doesn’t stop for it. We keep aging, so we have to make a choice as to what that is going to look like for us. All I know is that I don’t want to lay on my death bed wishing I took the chance on my dreams.
You are never too old or too young to follow a dream. As long as you have breath, your dreams are waiting for you. So why don’t you decide today to go after them! Let today be a fresh start. I believe in you! The only thing left is for you to believe in yourself. If you find the strength to take that first step, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.