Tag Archives: Fear

The Silence of Meekness

I’m self-described as meek. Or perhaps timid is more apt, because looking at some of the definitions of meek, a lot of people seem to associate it with the idea that you are humble, gentle and kind, rather than being prone to violence or aggression. That definition reads being meek in a very position way–and you can label yourself meek and not take it negatively.

In my case, however, being meek is something I want to change, because I think that quality–the way that I exhibit meekness, also known as timidness or being shy–actually inhibits me from becoming the kind of woman I actually want to be. And I’m tired of being the only one standing in my way.

An example, if you will.

I got a new tattoo two weeks ago. A couple people knew about it beforehand, including my group of friends. When I went to play D&D with them last Friday, I really wanted to show them my tattoo, even though I was slightly embarrassed it was still in the healing stages (and my skin hates tattoos, so my healing process always looks worse than everyone else’s), so it didn’t look exactly great. Yet I never spoke up about it. I never said, “Hey guys, remember that ink I went to get last Saturday? Check it out.” I just stayed quiet throughout the evening and still, none of them have seen it.

Let’s do another example.

Family wants to go out to dinner and they suggest going to X restaurant. Yet I either a) don’t like said restaurant or b) really don’t feel like eating there. Yet instead of speaking up and saying anything, I kept my mouth shut. Same case when we’re trying to figure out what to cook at home.

Or I want to text my best friend and tell her a story, but I haven’t heard from her in a while, so I don’t want to interrupt her day, so I don’t say anything. Or I want to hang out with her but I don’t bring it up.

Or I really want to tell my love interest about how my day was, yet I don’t say anything until he asks. Or I’m really horny, but I won’t say or do anything unless he makes the first move.

Or.
Or.
Or.

Writing this out, I’ve discovered a trend, the aspect of my meekness that I don’t like and want to change. Because I’m meek and timid, it makes me quiet. It silences my voice, pushes back my wants, sacrifices my needs.

And I don’t like it.

I’m not saying that I suddenly want to become outspoken or the center of attention. I like being quiet, more reserved. I just want to stop being so scared to use my voice, because I think that’s what fuels my timidness, my meek-mindedness. Fear, complemented by me being a people pleaser and perhaps just a dash of introvertedness.

When I didn’t say anything about my tattoo to my friends, it was because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, even if it was an important subject to me. When it comes to making decisions, I stay quiet because I never want to suggest the wrong one and then, in doing so, upset the other persons involved. When it comes to reaching out to friends and talking with them, I become timid in not wanting to interrupt their day or feel like I’m being needy. With my love interest, sometimes I don’t tell him my desires because I don’t want to come off as pushy or sex-crazed, so instead, I let him take the lead. I think I also fear getting rejected by him.

Obviously, this isn’t okay.

I may be introverted and I may be meek, but one of my most basic needs–that I really wish could be fulfilled daily–is communication, talking. I’m a storyteller. I really love to talk with the people I care about, whether it’s giving over-detailed stories about my day, ranting about something that’s bothering me, obsessing over the latest epic love or just trading stories. I need that communication to be happy, plain and simple. And it can come in different forms. In person is the best, but texting or emails are just as great, especially with people I don’t get to see daily.

And then there’s the opinion stuff, which can be as simple as telling someone what I want to eat for dinner to how I felt about a particular movie to how I feel about a certain topic I’m actually passionate about. So many times, I’ll hold back what I’m actually feeling or thinking, instead of speaking my mind and speaking candidly. I’ll submit to the other person’s desires or opinions.

Why? Why do I rob myself of not only the conversations that I need daily, but even the opportunity to have them? Why do I hesitate to be the person who actively starts a conversation or initiates an invite, instead waiting for someone else to take charge and follow suit? Why do I hold back my opinions, even when they aren’t controversial? Because I’m scared of rejection? Because I’m scared of interrupting someone else’s day and being labeled as a burden or needy or invasive?

Yeah, that’s not a worthy excuse.

I think this all stems from me hating myself for so long. I don’t hate myself any more, but old habits are hard to break, apparently. And I’m not saying I want to become this rambunctious, loud individual who always fights to get her way. Because I am genuinely happiest when those around me are happiest, so if that means eating a place that isn’t my favorite and sneaking in a bowl of cereal later, then by all means, of course I’m willing to do that. But I shouldn’t be afraid to at least offer my opinion. I shouldn’t be afraid to tell those I care about most what I’m thinking or how I feel about a certain subject or asking them to hang out. I shouldn’t be afraid to, hell, talk to those I love, whether it’s just about my day, my writing, the weather, whathaveyou.

I know this is a work-in-progress, for me. I know I’m not suddenly going to become confident overnight and find my voice where it’s always been lacking. But I’d like to promise to try. And for a first step, I think that’s a pretty damn good one.

Cheers.


Defeating the Brain

So, writing and your brain. Your brain is, arguably, the biggest asset to assist telling and crafting your stories. It also, not surprisingly, is your biggest enemy. One that I’ve been battling–and losing to–for the past six, seven months. There are three main areas, I think, where my brain has created mindsets and thoughts detrimental to my writing game, to the point where I easily went weeks without writing at all.

I’m writing this post to remind myself how to fight back.

Mindset One: Writing is Work

I mean, yes. I know there is a stigma that writing is easy or maybe even a waste of time, but both of those are absolute lies. Writing takes a lot of work. Sure, it could be defined as simple: put words together until they form coherent sentences that tell a story. But there is a lot of finessing involved. There are a lot of drafts, returning to and reworking what was previously written. And, personally, I think the fact that you have to constantly battle your own head–and that battle usually doesn’t stop even after you’re published and doing well–makes it one of the hardest jobs of all. So, yeah, writing is work. Writing takes work. But what I’ve been struggling with is treating writing like work.

Image result for writing is hard

Hold a moment, lemme explain.

I recently started editing ARTEMIS again. Last week, I opened up my latest draft, scrolled down to the chapter I last left off on with every intention of working on it again. But then I realized that chapter needed a lot of work. It was filled with repetition of ideas and information that needed to be resorted, cut and most likely reworded. There wasn’t enough detail to truly put the reader in-scene and I needed to figure out what the point of that chapter was, really. Knowing all of that needed to happen after reading just the opening line of the scene, I actually closed the draft and decided to work on it the next day. I just wasn’t in the mood to try and figure that shit out. In that moment, I was viewing writing as work.

Let’s look at that scenario from a different angle, for a moment.

Those issues still exist in that chapter. But instead of looking at it as, “Shit, I need to ground readers in-scene and add in all of this description,” how about: “Alright, let’s see how interesting I can describe this room layout. What do I see? What do readers need to see? How is it important? What does it tell? Let’s put all that into words as beautifully as I know how.” Okay, let’s try again. “Wow, this chapter just told me X three different ways in three different paragraphs over five pages. This chapter is everywhere, without any focus. I’m going to have to rewrite the entire thing.” Instead: “How about I make an outline of what this chapter needs to convey and then figure out how Artemis would logically tell it. Let’s make some beats and rework the info that way. Oh, and don’t forget to incorporate his humor. It’s one of your favorite aspects of his character.”

The work hasn’t vanished. The work still definitely needs to be done. But when I think of it as work, I’m definitely not as eager to complete it, sometimes to the point that I choose not to do it at all (a luxury I have considering my writing doesn’t pay the bills yet). Yet when I think of it as an opportunity, as a challenge, to improve my writing to another degree, to push myself that much further, to give this story everything it deserves and more; I’m not only more eager to work on it (most of the time), but I also enjoy it.

Last night, I finally returned to that chapter. At first, I reread that opening line and I just wanted to pull up another tab and start browsing through social media. I didn’t want to put in that work. But I just forced myself to keep reading, thinking in the back of my head, How can you make this better? And how can you have fun while doing it? I ended up not only “finishing” editing that entire chapter, but I also wrote for almost two hours–a lot longer than the planned 30 minutes I wanted to edit.

It’s a simple change in mindset, a simple change in how I view the work I’m doing. But it’s a trick that actually helps overcome this pesky brain of mine.

Mindset Two: Editing Doesn’t Count

This is stupid.

So I’ve had a writing drought recently. And though the past two weeks, I’ve slowly been getting back into the swing of things by editing ARTEMIS, my brain will sometimes whisper that I’m still fully stuck in my rut, because I’m not writing anything new. Editing something I’ve already written doesn’t count.

Again: stupid.

Of course editing counts. Hell, I often find myself working harder when I’m on draft two or three of something than when I was just spitting out nonsense the first time. I don’t have any tricks to crush this idea (it’s been rather persistent, of late), except to remind myself that it’s ridiculous. I’m putting words to paper. I’m strengthening the foundation I laid months ago. I’m rewriting, adding new scenes, cutting, re-envisioning…yeah, it bloody counts as writing.

Mindset Three: Fear and Doubt

This one is as infuriating as it is constant and confusing. I’ve always had fears when it comes to my writing: wondering if it’s good enough, if my stories are worthy to tell, if they are unique, if they’d ever sell. I fear getting publishing and reading reviews claiming my writing is shit, my characters are boring or my plot is trash. I fear offending/misrepresenting people/ideas unintentionally with what I write or what my characters do/believe. I fear never getting published.

And then there are the doubts.

I doubt the quality of my work. I doubt my ability to tell stories. I doubt that any of my ideas are original. I doubt my ability, my craft, my execution, my effort, my drive, my heart, my characters, my plots, my worlds, my voice…myself.

Image result for suffer so much fear and doubt GIF

Pair fear and doubt together and that equates to a lot of time doing anything but writing. Ironically, it’s easy for me to bury my biggest fear underneath all aforementioned: giving up and never writing again.

Honestly, I think I need to focus on that fear a bit more. Because it is real and it is fierce, even if I hide it underneath all of these other fears and doubts that plague me more often they should. Yet how can I ignore that fear and risk it coming true just because I doubt myself sometimes? Just because I am afraid I won’t live up to my own standards of storytelling, my own expectations of myself; afraid of a negative review (which will always happen, no matter how fantastic a story I write), afraid of rejection or hell, afraid I won’t ever be published at all?

Here’s the thing about writing and being a writer. I’ll always have stories to tell. If I run out, I’ll always find things to draw inspiration from. If I mess up one book, I will always have another chance to do better. If I perfect a book, I’ll still have a chance–and an expectation–to improve. Failure and hiccups are inevitable. Yet how many characters have I read, let alone written, who have been faced with impossible odds and make a dozen mistakes–sometimes even failed drastically–only to come out victorious in the end? No matter how many times their brains told them it was impossible, they pushed forward.

So that’s what I’m going to do. Push forward and write stories, no matter how many times or how many ways my brain tries to convince me to do to otherwise.

Cheers.


Non-Existent Eggshells

(Tangent before the post even begins: I totally want to use that as a title, for something. So I call dibs.)

I’ve been realizing lately that I do those closest to me the absolute greatest disservice by treating them like eggshells to be tiptoed around. This is especially ridiculous because they don’t deserve any such treatment in the slightest and I can’t even really explain why my actions lately are to treat every relationship like it is founded on non-existent eggshells.

I don’t have much of a social life. I’ve never really had what you’d probably label as a traditional social life, full of partying and going out on the weekends and drinking. Mine has always been much more low-key, hanging out in living rooms, gorging on chips and talking too much while YouTube plays in the background. And I love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Yet as each year goes by, I grow more introverted by nature. I find myself spending more time alone, as my favorite hobbies are all solitary: writing, reading, video games, blogging. I’ve always loved doing those things, but growing up, in high school and in college, there was always something else to break up those hobbies; something involving other people. A club. A class. Meeting the group for dinner. Soccer practice.

Ever since graduating college, it’s been very different.

Go to sleep. Go to Job One, where we are usually too busy to talk to anyone. Go to the gym alone. Shower. Eat and get ready for Job Two. Socialize a bit with my employees, but I usually have to cut that out so I have time to write. Go home. Sleep. Repeat. Though I love my main job, my schedule–working from the early afternoon until 12am Sunday through Thursday–makes it nigh impossible to fit in any socializing throughout the week. Then, my weekends, which consists of Friday evenings and Saturdays, are always jammed packed to the brim, trying to fit in time with the few friends I still have and my family, putting me in a constant struggle of trying to have enough time to see everyone I care about on a consistent basis.

Amidst all of this, I find myself worrying that all of these relationships are going to disappear. A lot of my other relationships have disappeared. My group of high school, I have one friend (and she’s a lifelong friend) who I still cherish. A few others I talk to occasionally. And one friendship that I hope is about to rekindle. My college friends? Gone, too. Some I still text occasionally or run into, but most of them have moved away and started careers, gotten engaged or married, talking about starting families. So the few relationships that have stuck it out throughout the change, I cherish more than I ever have before (and I’ve always cherished them deeply). But with that love towards those relationships, there is a new fear; a fear that if I miss one hang session, I’ll piss someone off. If I don’t text someone for a day, they are angry with me. When I try to juggle these relationships over the weekend, that’s when this fear materializes the most. What if, by hanging out with X friend instead of Y friend, Y friend is angry? If I stay home instead of visiting people, will they be angry? Will I lose them? 

These are the non-existent eggshells that I walk on.

Keyword: non-existent.

Non-existent.

You see, to me, these eggshells, for some undefined reason that I seriously cannot pin down, are very real. The fear is there. This fear that all of these relationships I hold so dear are suddenly going to disappear or be ruined by my actions/inaction. Which doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons. First off, the relationships I have now are the ones that have lasted the longest. If nothing else, these are the ones meant to last, because they’ve already persevered through so much. Yet I’m over here treating them as if they are brand new, to be gently held and tiptoed around, as if they are fragile. They aren’t.

Secondly, I feel it is such an insult to those relationships for me to be questioning their longevity or fearing their end. These people–my best friend, my parents, my sister, amongst a few others–have done absolutely nothing to cause me to question. Sure, sometimes we don’t talk as much as I would like or we don’t get to see one another every week. But hell, that’s life. And when you’re working 60 hours a week like I am, the main bulk of those being worked when everyone else if off, yeah, it’s going to be a little more difficult to make plans and see people. You won’t get to do everything you want to in one weekend. You’ll have to put off plans or have weekends where you don’t make any, just to recharge. That’s my reality now. A change, certainly, but nothing warranting these fears.

So why the hell are they there?

I have no bloody idea.

I do know that I hate it. I hate being so nervous all of the time and so insecure in this area. If there is any aspect of my life for me to feel confident and secure in, it is the relationships I’ve built with those closest to me. The relationships that have battled growth and change and conflict and come out stronger. The relationships that deserve more than my misplace fear; deserve more than to be treated as eggshells that will shatter as soon as I come near them.

I’m not sure why these fears are there. I’m not sure exactly how to combat them, honestly. I’m talking with one of my friends now about it. Though my stomach is still in knots, I do feel better than she knows and understands exactly how I feel–which is impressive in and of itself, considering I’m feeling a load of different things all at once: Loneliness. Fear. Sadness. Stress. Neediness. Anxiety. Guilt. This weekend, I have plans to see almost everyone that I care about the most, which will be really nice and really, really needed. So those things are happening. But at the same time, I’m sort of at a loss about what to do with the jumble of feelings inside of me. I am certain that I don’t like this unease that has crept into me and making me feel so skittish and inadequate and alone. Advice, my internet friends (particularly those 20-somethings like me who are trying to navigate this complicated life known as “adulting”), would be most welcome.

Cheers.


Breaking the Chains

I am pumped.

Couldn’t tell with the use of that period, could you? Considering that I overuse the exclamation point in every day life (thankfully, I don’t in my actual writing), the use of the period here is actually quite poignant of how pumped I am right now. Why am I so stoked? Because I am breaking the chains that I’ve enslaved myself with and I am excited. I am eager.

I am back.

You see, ever since November, when I started a new book called BLOOD PRICE, what started out as a strong attempt to write book number six turned into a drought lasting almost three months; a drought inspired by fear, doubt, confusion and laziness. Fear in what was (is) happening in the world and fear of how that impacts not only myself, but those I love and those who undeservedly are being targeted and affected the most. Doubt in myself, in the stories I’m telling, in my ability to tell stories. Confusion in where BLOOD PRICE was going and where it was meant to go–and fear that I was telling the wrong version of the story or, even sometimes, a fear that I was writing too true of a version, and the response to either option. The natural laziness that happens during the holidays and the winter season paired with the laziness used as an excuse to not confront those doubts, fears and confusion. These emotions have dragged on and, though I’ve written two short stories and jotted down a handful of notes pertaining to book ideas, I’ve written nothing. I haven’t worked towards anything.

It got to the point where I was considering tabling BLOOD PRICE altogether, to work on something else. The excitement for the story had obviously passed and I was running into more roadblocks than I was solutions. I have other stories I want to tell. I could work on one of those, get back into the groove of things, and return to BLOOD PRICE when I got my mojo back.

That’s not a bad plan. That’s not a bad thing, at all. Tabling, though I’ve always unjustly paired it with a bad taste in my mouth, can be very beneficial and very needed. Yet when I thought about the stories I wanted to tell, the ones that I am currently excited and jazzed to write about, the same emotions still lingered and no words were getting written on the page. Suddenly, hopelessness was creeping in; hopelessness that I would never break out of these chains I’ve placed upon myself.

And then I had an idea.

I didn’t want to table BLOOD PRICE. Not really. Yet the idea of trying to pick back up on page 70, where I’d left off, and come up with where to go next is exactly the thing that has kept me from even opening up the Word document and attempting it in the first place.

So why couldn’t I start over?

And here’s where the excitement comes in.

I know what you’re thinking: starting over? How could that prospect possibly ignite so much excitement? You’re moving backwards. Usually, I’d be right there with you, but as soon as the idea took hold and I felt the excitement building, I knew I figured out a solution, a way back into my craft. I’d make an outline. A proper outline that I skipped making before NaNoWriMo. I’d figure out what was going on, where the story was heading, what happens at the end. And then, once I had my headway, I’d pull up my current draft of BLOOD PRICE. I’m not deleting what I’ve already written. Instead, I’m going back in, editing to fit the new outline and then, once I get to page 70, I’ll be so tired of fixing that and changing this that I’ll be dying to write down something new.

And so the story will continue.

Perhaps this seems like a silly method or an impossible solution for overcoming my demons and escaping my fears. Yet I just spent the last 20 minutes finishing the outline and, in doing so, I fell in love with the story again. I fell in love with the characters that answered, this time, when I spoke to them and asked them what happened next. I got excited about how much I’m playing with the environment, how different this is structurally from anything else I’ve written and how powerful Natanni is–my first female protagonist (how it took me six books to get to a female protag, I have no bloody clue). Though it is going to be a lot of work and deleting to fix what I’ve already written to include the necessary scenes and aspects now required to make this story what it needs to be, it’s work I’m willing to do; work I’m excited to do. When you’re coming from a place where you felt suffocated because you couldn’t remember how to breathe and suddenly, you not only inhale, but exhale as well?

Yeah, I think pumped is actually an understatement.

Cheers.