Writing Struggles

Flash Fiction – Untitled (for now)

She slammed the sledgehammer against the giant block again. After a thousand, she stopped counting the blows. Flakes of whatever it was made of littered the ground, but she was no closer to destroying the thing.

Seven days ago she almost managed to start the apocalypse. Everything was going along perfectly until a stray thought about mythical creatures ruined it all. What a terrible idea it was too! Of course, that was the problem. The worst concept in history created the block before her. She attempted everything to break it: a chisel, blowtorch, freeze ray. She even tried with a ball of twine, which didn’t make sense but she couldn’t get it out of her head so she tried it anyway. Only the sledgehammer she held had an effect, but it took too long.

Already she could feel the apocalyptic urges fading. So close! Thoughts of that stupid unicorn were replacing her carefully laid plot to start a war. Her plan to destroy…something important…nope, gone. Instead, she kept seeing a fat old book being used as a grappling hook. What? She couldn’t stop the bizarre, random ideas from coming.

She glanced at the block. Oh crap, it was getting bigger, just like the grappling hook book. Titles of thick novels flashed until she latched onto one. She didn’t want to but she had no choice. Sometimes she hated being a muse.

Cutting off that line of thinking, she tried to concentrate again on her objective. She had to find a way to break through. Maybe a bayonet would work.

Sara sat at her computer and tried to will herself to write. Ever since that stupid unicorn story popped into her head she’d been stalled. This was the worst case of writer’s block she’d ever had. A whole week with no writing! It sucked but some part of her felt it was a good thing.

Sometimes she thought her muse must be evil. Too many thoughts of world domination or destruction crossed her mind for her to entirely trust her ‘imagination.’ She knew it was silly to think of her muse as separate from herself, yet, she strongly felt it must be so. Sara believed was a good person and there was no way such immoral thoughts could come from her!

She took one more look at her screen before giving up on writing for the day. Perhaps now would be a good time to find a show to binge-watch. As she walked away from her desk she wondered if writing down the dumb unicorn story would help beat her writer’s block.

(One year later Sunny the Super Unicorn was a best seller with the sequel eagarly awaited by fans. Yet, no one would ever know a mental image of a unicorn rescuing someone with a ball of twine, a bayonet and an old copy of War and Peace potentially saved the world.)


I wrote a story! I don’t even care about the flaws. It’s been so long since I’ve been able to sit down and write more than a few ideas.  You probably figured out this story was born of my own writer’s block. I actually jotted down the basic idea weeks about, along with the bones of eight or nine other stories. The problem wasn’t my creativity shutting down, it was my motivation turning completely off. So more of a writer’s funk but as bad as being blocked.

There are many potential reasons/excuses but I believe it all comes down to pain. With all the troubles I’ve had with my back it’s no surprise it finally got down. It sucks but there it is. I spent a lot of time being angry, then feeling sorry for myself. Now I’m back to angry, but it’s a will inducing, motivation driving anger.

Instead of being resentful of my situation I’m pissed off at at the pain and myself for letting it stop my forward writing momentum.

My first step in using this anger is this story. The next steps are the other story ideas I have written here and there. As I write I’ll post most of them. One or two I might use to finally enter some contests. I’ll keep everyone updated on that.

I also have several novels plotted out. If inspiration leans that way then I’ll work on one of them as well but I want to concentrate on flash fiction and longer short stories for now.

 


Rough draft 481 words
Photo by Sunyu on Unsplash
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My Writing Journey, Part 2

To read Part 1 click here.

Ah, the teenage years. What a beautiful, crazy, terrible nightmare they were. I could tell a million stories from that time, but I’ll stick to the writing-related stuff for the sake of brevity.

I didn’t often write back then. Like most teens, I was crippled with self-doubt and unexplained fears. How on earth did we all survive blushing almost daily? It was during these formative years that I had a lot of serious upheavals and changes.

When I was thirteen, my parents divorced. This was both painful and welcome. They hadn’t gotten along for years, so we all knew it was necessary. The hard part had to do with being a daddy’s girl. There was a time I would have done anything to please my father, but I was learning that he was human and I didn’t like it.

He was an alcoholic, which I barely understood and probably affected me the least of all of my family since I was the youngest and his favorite. In the days leading up to my mom leaving him, I finally saw some uncomfortable truth. My dad was a high functioning alcoholic, as in he came home, drank a lot of beer and you couldn’t see much change. However, he was an a-hole when he was really drunk, but like most heavy drinkers, it was even worse when he wasn’t drinking.

I need to clarify that I was the one who couldn’t see much change when dad drank. I was young, dumb, and oblivious. My mother and brothers definitely weren’t in the dark. In a way, this lack of knowledge made it harder when I saw the truth.

Anyway, I won’t go into too many details, but the night we left, my dad did the unforgivable. He slapped my mother. I may have been a daddy’s girl, but no one touches my mother. Even worse, in my barely teenaged mind, it was my fault. He was drunk and pissed off because of something I did that my mother punished me for.

I don’t remember what stupid crap I’d pulled, but I do remember I deserved to be in trouble. All she did was ground me, but I was his baby, and I don’t know if he assumed I hadn’t done anything or if he thought she was too harsh. It doesn’t matter, he had no right to do what he did. Hell, he didn’t have the right to be yelling at her for it.

The words and images are fuzzy for me except the look on his face when I screamed at him. The shock and betrayal in his expression are still clear in my mind. Sitting here, writing this I keep thinking ‘he felt betrayed, what about us?’

My mom was smart enough to use the interruption to get the hell out of there. She grabbed me and my older brother and took us to her sister’s house. She filed for divorce soon after.

I need to backtrack a moment. My dad was a good man, once. He treated me like a princess and loved me with everything he had. He treated my mother well too, in the beginning. He didn’t treat my brothers the same, but I don’t know if that was the beer or just how he was.

Alcoholism messes people up, and he’d been that way for most of his adult life. Part of me believes if he’d ever completely given up beer, he might have become the man he should have been. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Once they split up, I picked up a pen again. I wrote about my feelings and then tore up the paper into confetti, every time. It helped. Life settled into a routine for a while. Then my mom started dating someone.

I was happy for her until I met him. His name was David, and I hated him, instantly. This was no teenager issue, though my mom thought it was. No, I got a bad feeling from him. I’d only gotten this feeling with one other person, and it turned out my gut was right that time. So, in all my experience and wisdom I told my mom how uncomfortable he made me. She produced the knowing smile adolescents everywhere hate and kept doing what she was doing.

Everyone assumed I would hate the first guy she dated because he wasn’t my dad. HA! Little did they know my ‘bad feeling’ was never wrong. The guy turned out to be a pig, which is the nicest thing I can say about the man. As a side note, years later, I ran into this man at the local mall, where I worked (I was 18 or 19). He told me how much I looked like my mother, how he missed her, and then hit on me! GROSS!

I occasionally pick on my mother for not listening to me, but my choice in men was much worse for a few years so I keep it to a minimum.

Not long after dumping the jerk, she met my future step-dad. I liked him right away. He was weird as hell, had a dry sense of humor, and he adored mom. No bad feelings cropped up, so I was happy for her. They got married in October 1988, and we moved from our tiny little town to the bigger city ten miles away.

It might as well have been a hundred miles. I wasn’t sad to move, but I was sad to leave my friends. I figured we still see each other often, but it didn’t take long for everyone to move on. I loved and hated my new school. There were so many people! Unfortunately, some were little assholes. Some were amazing. I found the weird tribe and joined. I settled in and decided it could have been worse, then it was.

At the end of December, fifteen days after I turned 15, my dad died in a car accident. He was driving through New Mexico, on he way to El Paso to visit his parents. My brother and I were supposed to be with him, but we didn’t go. He was mad at both my brothers for something stupid and I was mad at him. On Christmas Eve, he yelled at me and told me I ruined Christmas because I defended my siblings. It was all so unimportant and silly, but we didn’t want to be around him when he was a jerk.

As you can imagine, I was a wreck. Grief and guilt consumed me. My relationship with my middle brother fell apart. He already resented me because I was dad’s favorite and was treated differently. Now that our father was gone, there was only me left to take the blame. My mother hardly knew what to do with me.

The years that followed are particularly painful for me, and I don’t want to rehash everything. I didn’t get arrested or do a bunch of drugs or anything like that, but there are some things I’ll never talk about again. I will say that I wrote more during this time than I ever had. I got angry at my mother often back then. She was very non-confrontational, and I am the opposite. It made me so mad when she wouldn’t fight! So I wrote her letters. I wasn’t capable calmly telling her how I felt and she wouldn’t let me yell it, so it was my only option.

Those letters, which she still has, changed my world. You wouldn’t believe how many drafts of each one I wrote. I cared about how well they were written. It bothered me to misspell something or if my grammar was off. I realized how much words mattered. I also learned that I could truly express myself with a pen.

Fear still ruled, but I’d taken steps in the right direction. Years later my mother told me she thought I should write after reading those letters because they were well written.

Remember when I used the word brevity at the beginning of this post? If you know me, I figured there would be some eye-rolls, well deserved.

Certainly, I wrote more than intended but sometimes the words have to come out. Thank you for sticking with me. In part 3, I’ll cover my failed marriages and bad choice in men. Those were the years that almost broke me and nearly killed my love of writing.


 

 

Yearly Goal Post

Every year I write a post about my goals. I don’t like to make resolutions because those fail. I can say I want to eat better, and I might for a short time, but it won’t last. There will always be chicken strips in the world!

I could state I will work out more. I probably will do this, but it won’t be because I claimed I would on January 1st. I’ll do it for my health and because it helps me deal with back pain.

What I will say is I want to write more this year. I intend to; it is my primary goal. This is not a resolution; it’s what I’ll do.

Generally, in one of these posts, I make a long list of writerly goals. Not this year. There are too many roadblocks in my life to plan for anything too specific. So I’m sticking with writing more than I did last year.

I don’t want to be disappointed by too many bullet points like I was last year. However, if I’m lucky, motivated, dedicated, and able, then I will write many short stories, a novel or two and a lot of blog posts.

I’m not against other people making resolutions, but they don’t work for me. If you’re making some, I hope they work for you.

Sidenote: I’m working on a suspense novel! I started it years ago but put it aside to work on fantasy. It’s time for a change, so I picked it back up. I replotted it, with very few changes. Now I’m trying to fill in holes in the middle before I sit down and write the thing. Wish me motivation!

 

My Writing Journey, Part 1

One doesn’t choose to be a writer, it’s in you, but you do have to decide to write. Being a writer is part of me, it always was, but I didn’t always choose to do anything active about it. The road to writing regularly was bumpy, often blocked, detoured, sabotaged, scary, and sometimes impossible.

Even now, as in the last few months, there are times when I write next to nothing. I aim to change that, starting with this post. There are many reasons why I’ve been in what I call a ‘writer’s funk,’ but I’ll get into that in a later post.

For now, I’m going to share with you all how I got to where I am today. I called this post Part 1 because it will take several to get it all out. I don’t know how many but I would rather do this in sections than give you with a ten thousand word post.

It all began when I was a child. I’d like to say I always wrote. I wish I had hundreds of journals worth of childish thoughts and stories, but I didn’t write back then. I was capable of it, but things more powerful than the urge to write ruled my life. Fear and shame. Not fear of life or a person, just fear of baring my soul and shame when I did and was rejected. I tried several times, with diaries. After writing a few lines, I would seize up and put them away.

Opening up still fills me with dread. There was no significant event that started it. It was a mix of small childhood traumas that stifled me so much.

I was one of those kids who liked to make crazy things up. Fantastical stories with me as the star. A few times I tried to share these with friends and family.  My parents didn’t actively discourage me, but with three kids and jobs, they didn’t have time to ‘indulge’ me.

My friends were tolerant but more heavily grounded than me, so not particularly interested. All the girls my age were more interested in love stories, and the boys just wanted to watch cartoons and ride bikes. While I was imagining having a superpower or flying on a dragon, the other kids were busy being normal.

One of my brothers, who shall stay unnamed, but it’s the one I don’t get along with, had a different reaction. He made fun of me. Then his friends joined in. I won’t go into details except to say he liked upsetting me and succeed often. I valued his opinion above all others and he used that mercilessly. It wasn’t too long before I started keeping my stories to myself, even from the people who didn’t mock me.

I didn’t even want to write them down. Hence the started yet never finished diaries. What if someone read them? I would have died before letting anything see how weird I was. Now, all these years later, I don’t know what it was those boys said that made me feel so much shame, I only know the result.

Watching other girls writing their secret thoughts made me so jealous I could hardly stand it. I didn’t care what they wrote, but I wished to be like them. I wanted to be as brave as I thought they were.

I still made stuff up regularly, anytime I had a quiet moment. I kept it all to myself, for years. It took my mom pissing me off when I was a teenager so bad that I wrote her a letter to express my feelings before anything changed. That’s a story for next time.

As I stated above, I don’t know how many posts it will take me to tell my writing journey. I’m winging this one. Some posts may be short, others longer. There is also no schedule for when I’ll write them. I’m in the process of getting back to writing regularly so I hope to be very busy soon.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about how I started to embrace my weird and took a step closer, and many steps back from active writing.

Did any of you guys have problems with other people judging your creativity as a child? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.