Two posts in one day? What is this world coming to?
Today is my oldest son’s birthday. He’s a real adult in my head now. Legally, he was an adult four years ago but like every parent, I didn’t immediately see him that way. Now I do and it makes me feel less than young.
Besides my kid being grown, several other things have happened lately which have made me nostalgic and a bit sad. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in close to fifteen years. There was a falling out all those years ago and we didn’t keep in touch and she moved away. When I saw her and her husband I found out they’d moved back to town a year ago. I was surprised I’d never run into them during all that time but I shouldn’t have been. I rarely run into people I know when I’m out and about for some reason. This city isn’t even that big, barely over 250k people live here, so you’d think it would happen more often but it doesn’t.
Well, if I’m honest, I have to add I’ve become such a homebody I rarely get out except to get groceries and an occasional date night. I got especially bad about staying in once my back pain got really bad. Then with the surgery, well I’ve complained enough about that.
Eventually even I got cabin fever and by last weekend I was determined to get out and do something. There was the annual Art’s Festival on Saturday and Sunday. It was significant because last year at this time, while at the festival, I was forced to admit it was time to see a doctor about my back pain. I knew it would be a little hard on me to go but not compared to the last time.
I chose to go both days because I wasn’t sure I would make it through the whole thing in one day. I roamed around for hours, wearing myself out but loving every second. Then I ran into an old friend’s husband. I was so surprised to see him I almost believed it could actually be him so I walked past and kept going into booths and checking out all the cool stuff. We kept crossing paths and finally I believed it was him and said hi. We talked for a bit and he told me his wife would be there soon to work in one of the booths.
I didn’t know how I felt in that moment. I hadn’t seen her in so long and our friendship had ended on very bad terms. But we’d been friends for thirteen or so years before it all fell apart. I loved that woman like a sister. We were so close I was there when one of her daughters was born. Our kids had played together. We babysat for each other. We’d been there for each other through bad marriages and equally bad divorces. While a little nervous, I wanted to see her but I had one major issue. I was exhausted. I needed desperately to get home and lay down. I stayed for about twenty minutes but I got worried I wouldn’t even be able to drive so I had to leave before she arrived.
Obviously her husband was going to tell her we saw each other. I have no idea if she thought I was avoiding her or not.
The next day was my husband’s day off and he went with me to the festival and we dragged my friend Jesse with us. We saw my old friend but she was busy so we roamed around so the guys could check out everything, eventually making it back to where we started.
As soon as I got to her she hugged me. We talked for…I don’t know actually, my husband said 20-30 minutes. It was nice and it was strange. It was almost like stepping into the past.
Later in the evening my husband and I were talking about it and I got a little teary. The whole situation has been on my mind for days now and will probably continue to be. I don’t know what will happen next.
The last thing to happen to bring up old memories happened Monday evening. I met up with Jesse, who is also a writer, to talk about our writing. We went to a coffee shop we never go to. While there we ran into another writer who is part of the Nanowrimo group. The three of us talked for three hours straight. The encounter itself made me miss going to a writing group but some of the specific subject matter brought up a few painful things and one important truth.
Have you ever given advice you knew damn well you needed to follow? The other writer we ran into was talking about the guilt she felt for not working on a story she’d been trying to write for many years, eight I think. She said other stories popped up which she found more interesting and she would work on them. She also stated when she talked to people about the newer stuff she always got more interest than in her older novel. It was easy for me to tell her to put the old one to the side. I did the same thing, mostly. I explained how the more she writes the better she gets and by the time she gets back to the one bogging her down she would be better equipped to fix whatever it was that made her stray.
It’s what I did with a story, a trilogy actually, I started back in 2003, one of the worst years of my life. I really did put it aside. I made some story boards and put them up on the wall over my bed then I walked away. I occasionally have ideas for it but I simply jot them down and keep my distance. I do however still feel some guilt about not finishing the stories.
By the end of the night both me and the other writer felt less guilt about temporarily abandoning the burdensome tales. I was left with the memories of how excited I was to write the story in the beginning. How it grew into multiple books. How creative and amazing I felt and how no one cared but me. I got married for the second time a few days after the story first came to me. At first my ex pretended to be happy for me but I found out quickly it was something he was jealous of and hated. He found inventive ways to make me put my pen down. I do mean pen, back then I wrote exclusively by hand before typing everything up later.
After a while it wasn’t even hard for him to get me away from writing. I hated myself for walking away from the only thing I ever truly wanted to do and hated him because he was okay with that trade-off. Unfortunately, for years my trilogy carried so many negative vibes I could hardly stand to touch it. I did pick it back up the first year I did Nanowrimo and made some serious progress but there really are times you have to put certain things aside to make room for better ones.
The story ideas are sound but I was so bogged down in it I wasn’t making progress. Not on it or as a writer. When I stepped away and started writing really short fiction everything changed. I now have twelve stories in various stages of completion, many of them very close to being done and one completely finished waiting for revision. That’s twelve novel length ideas I’ve worked on in two years. I shouldn’t count one since I started it on Monday but I’m so into writing this one it needs to be on the list. I won’t include the two children’s books until they are edited. Add in the close to a hundred pieces of flash fiction and I think it’s safe to say it was a good idea to step away from the trilogy.
None of this would be possible if I was still spending all my time and effort on a series of books that only drag me down. Some day the memories won’t stop me from writing it. In fact I’ve used some of those memories to fuel other stories, at least partly exorcising their power over me. Until then I won’t feel bad about it, anymore. Besides, it’s there are the wall waiting for me whenever I’m ready. I won’t forget about it.
On a lighter note, I spent the morning working on my new story. I need to come up with a vague outline but I have all the pieces I need to do it. All the bare bones are there. I sat in a coffee shop for three hours sipping hot tea and writing any scene that came to me. My head was all over the place but it worked for me today. Now I need a little more structure. I’m not a real planner but some planning is beneficial. I like index card outlines.
I have a wall outside my bedroom that was used for nothing. It’s in a tiny hallway and the only decoration I tried putting on it got knocked off and broken. So I bought 12 inch cork board squares and red yard to make a giant index card outline. The last story I had on it used the three act structure but I put up extra boards so I could use it for any structure I wanted.
All the labels and yarn are put up with tacks so it’s easy enough to change. Ugh the handwriting! Having it outside the bedroom means I see it every time I go anywhere else in the house, which is great.
Once I have cards up for the new story I’ll be able to easily see where the holes are and work on filling them in. There is no estimate on when I’ll have the thing written. I’m in no hurry, I’m just thrilled to be writing again. I don’t think I’ll put this one away to work on previous stuff though. No need to clutter my recovering head space.
It’s odd, I was going to use one of my prompts from Write Anything Wednesday, the one about a birthday present, but I wrote this rambling post instead, plus all the writing I did this morning. Not a bad thing in my opinion!
Also, my inner editor is aware of how many times I used the word ‘that’ and how many unnecessary commas this post has but I refuse to get into editing mode while I have new ideas flowing. So pardon the mess while I’m still under construction or whatever.