Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One is the Loneliest Number

Writing can be a lonely endeavor.  It's just you and the blank piece of paper (or blank Word document on your computer screen).  There's no one there to help you through it.  No one to tell you what to do.  There's just you and your imagination in an empty, quiet room.  It can be equal parts thrilling and... lonely.

I've been feeling very lonely lately, and it has little to do with the number of people I'm surrounded with or that I encounter in any given day.  In fact, I am blessed with an amazing husband, dear life-long-friends, and a terrific writing colleague.  They are all loving, supportive, offer good criticisms, hold me accountable to my goals, and are always there for me, through thick and thin. There's even the immediate gratification of interacting with all of you, Gentle Readers, who are also a connection point for me through the miracle of the interwebs.  But at the end of the day, it's still all up to me.

As I said, I have found myself struggling with loneliness lately, in almost every area of my life.  I work a part-time job in a very small office, staffed with very few people, and the rest of the time I freelance out of my home where it's just me, myself, and I.  When it comes to my freelance work, if I want to run an idea by someone, there's no co-worker to ask.  If I have a question about something, there's no manager to email.  When clients are unreasonable or difficult, there's no client representative to mediate for me. When I wonder how to promote my skills, there's no marketing department to point me in the right direction. I feel like I'm just floating out there, alone. 

Then of course, there are the personal struggles - having family members pass away or fall away from being in my life, when my family is so little to begin with, having friends move away or drift away as they often do, especially in such a transient state like Arizona, and then there's the exclusion that comes from not having "normal" interests or not having children or whatever the excluding factor is that eliminates me from a given social group.  I don't begrudge anyone that, I suppose.  Even on days when I really needed someone to talk to recently, friends were unavailable because of prior commitments, and my husband was called into work for an emergency and had to stay beyond his normal working hours.  Or there have been times where I have shared what I've been struggling with, only to have the other person shut me down because they either couldn't understand why I couldn't cope with life or they themselves couldn't deal with what I was telling them.

All of this has just made it painfully clear to me that we all long for connection, but no one can fully understand what it feels like to be me, to have the thoughts and feelings I have, as I walk through the practical and emotional challenges I've been facing.  That sounds really arrogant, like I'm a special and unique little snowflake, but I don't mean for it to be.  In fact, the same lesson goes for me in regards to others.  As empathetic as I think I am, as compassionate and understanding as I try to be, as loyal as a friend I hope I am, I still can't fully be there for someone.  We are all alone in the darkness.

 Now, before this bummer of a blog turns into this:

"I am utterly alone..."

(Did you just laugh at that? I hope you did.)

Before this bummer of a blog post makes everyone feel like jumping off the Winter River Bridge, let me offer the hope portion of this post, if you have been struggling with loneliness like me.

There is One who understands completely what it's like to be rejected, to be misunderstood, to be betrayed, to be alone. When He needed His friends the most, they fell asleep on Him, then ran away and denied they even knew Him.  He had people tell lies and talk smack and conspire against Him, and even His own family didn't support Him.  There is no one on earth that can understand everything you are going through, but there is One in heaven who does.  And I think my recent feelings of alienation have actually been a blessing in disguise, as it has caused me to draw closer to Him - the One who not only has "been there, done that" and can sympathize, but can also see into my heart in a way no human can, and offer solutions to my pain.  He's there for you too.  All you have to do is seek Him.   He is the light in the darkness.  We are not alone.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

And just like that...

And just like that... the pages began to be filled.

One of the most simple and complicated things.  It's just a pen.  It's just paper, bound in a book.  And yet, it was as scary and thrilling and insurmountable looking as man deciding to walk on the moon.  I took a deep breath, and with one swipe of the pen, the spell was broken.  Just like that.

I liked the scritchy-scratchy sound of the pen on the paper.  

Typing all the time for my day job and for my writing, I had forgotten how rewarding the tactile feel of pen to paper was.  It felt so right; like coming home.  I think I need to do more writing this way.  I also noticed there was less editing and more of a straight and pure flow of ideas and thoughts. It didn't have to be good.  It didn't have to be perfect.  It could just be.  No re-thinking each sentence, with my fingers hovering over a backspace key.  No scrolling back up to move or delete paragraphs.  That will come later, if this story decides it wants to be something more.  For now, there was freedom in just letting it all take me where it wanted to go. That may sound weird, since it was coming from my own brain, but in my experience with writing fiction, it's best to sit back and listen to the characters and where they want to go. I was surprised where "William" went in this story.  Turns out he has some hidden pyrokinesis powers.  What a surprise!

Writing prompts are fun, and dispel the overthinking that paralyzes me.

I have a lot of stories and characters and ideas all rolling around in my head.  So when I sit down to write, it's hard to focus or decide which one is the "winning" idea that I should work on.  As of late, when I would finally decide on what story to tell, I would overthink how to start, or what I wanted to do, and be so overly-concerned with accomplishing everything I had in mind, it would quickly get to the point where I would be paralyzed with the inability to even get started, overwhelmed by everything that concerned me.

I have a book of writing prompts and creativity starters (which I once thought were cheesy, but now have a new appreciation for).  I sat down with my journal, looked up one of the prompts and off I went.  It was like opening all the cans of fingerpaint and smearing them around on the paper until something cool happened, or until you saw something you liked.  What a freeing little exercise.  Like your elementary school teacher asking you to write about what you would like to do over your summer vacation.  Funny, how such a simple, silly prompt could jump start all the gears that I thought were long rusted over, still and silent.  How exciting, to know everything was still there, waiting to be put to use.

And now, if you'll excuse me.  I have more writing to do.