A Much Needed Kick in the Butt

Recently, while with a friend, I lamented the fact that I have no discipline (a common topic on this blog!) to write anymore. I want it back. But what do I do about it? Nothing. It’s easier to wait for inspiration to strike. When it never does, we can blame it on our muse taking a break, or anything but ourselves. It’s easier. It’s easier to blame someone than to admit your mistake, your wrong, to admit your guilt and apologize to yourself for being such a slacker and disappointment to no one but yourself. That’s probably the worst person to disappoint. It affects everything, at least it does me. If I disappoint myself, I eventually project this disappointment onto someone else, not that I become disappointed with them but rather that I assume they are with me. That’s not fair to either party. It’s not worth it. Not for me anyway. Not anymore.

So what did this friend do when I told him that? He handed me a pen and a piece of paper and told me to write. He did more for my discipline than I’ve done in months. As he meandered the bookstore, I sat with a blank paper that awaited my ideas, my words. It was a blank slate, a new beginning. I could make it into anything I wanted if only I tried.

The ideas started to flow then. After an hour, I ended up with a mind map for a new novel that I had actually thought of because of that same friend. He had said, “Who would ever do hallucinogens if they had dreams like that.” The rest is history.

To that friend, thank you. Thank you for being the kick in the butt that I needed. Thank you for that simple gesture of handing me a pen and paper and telling me to write because now I think I can. To myself, I’m sorry for disappointing you. It’s my fault. I’ll try not to do it again. Promise.

Happy writing!


Uncertainty and the Games It Plays

Some people thrive on change and uncertainty. Others are afraid of them. I fall somewhere in between. I love the idea of letting go and seeing what happens, but then the actual execution of it kind of leaves my stomach in knots. Warring knots at that. Some of them are like, “Woohoo! No idea what’s gonna happen! Let’s go get em!” While the others sort of tense up like a charlie horse, and whisper rather loudly, “Um…I don’t think so. We should just stay here in our dark hole where everything makes sense, and no one tries to come and mess things up. It’s not safe out there. I mean what kind of people or things lurk in the daylight? I shudder to think…”

And so with these warring knots, I’m left with nothing to do but sit here, paralyzed, not with fear but conflict. And sometimes, or most of the time, that’s even worse! I’ll spend hours talking it out with a friend. The pros and cons of this or that decision and wind up none the wiser for it. OR I make a decision and embrace it. For all of 2.5 seconds, then back to square one I go.

This is as much true for life decisions as it is writing ones. Is there a solution for this? No clue. I’d love to sit here and say, “Oh yeah, well just do this…” but I can’t. I’ve got nothin’ but a big fight going on in my stomach. Soooo if you have any thoughts on how to deal with uncertainty, drop it in the comments. I’d love to hear them. The more the merrier! As it is, I’ll just go and do something else while the knots fight it out themselves. One thing is for sure—I don’t have time to play their game. I’ve got some novels to write and cards to design.

Happy writing, y’all!

A Soul Searcher’s Guide to Finding Your Strengths

I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom! - CopySoul searching. What is that exactly? Is that evaluating your, most likely, complex feelings that are jumbled into a knot that not even the best boy scout can untie? Is it determining who you really are without the influence of outside factors? Is it establishing a set of values to live by? Or is it all of those things and then some indescribable need to “figure it all out?” I’m leaning to the latter as I do my own fair bit of soul searching.

In my last post, I mentioned feeling like I was being chased and no longer being comfortable with the complacency I find myself in. This has spurred on a lot of soul searching and reevaluating. I’ve mentioned my business, Puckish Propensities Press, where I design and sell all manner of whimsical greeting cards to help people connect outside of the digital world. They’re off the wall sometimes, but I love them. I love them for their unique take on things, and because I can be creative, working with my hands to make something. But lately I’ve been wondering if I’m really playing to my strengths. This has led me to ask, “what are my strengths?”

Short answer: no idea. Why is it that when we ask ourselves this question, we can’t answer it? I don’t know if we’re afraid to sound like we’re bragging, or if it’s because we think so negatively of ourselves, that we can’t possibly see anything good? So as I ruminated on that question, “what are my strengths,” a pit opened in my stomach. I don’t know. I don’t think I have any particular quality that stands out. I did well in school, but I busted my butt. I studied a lot with many sleepless nights. Is my strength discipline? Being a hard worker? I don’t know.

So I asked. I spammed my family and close friends with text messages and phone calls. After fielding a few responses, like, “That seems like a big question. What’s up?” I got some answers. The majority of which included writing, creativity, kindness, and patience. I started to think that maybe they were right. I remembered all the stories I found in boxes dating back to when I was 7. I remembered times when I explained a concept to someone who didn’t understand it and didn’t give up until they did. I remembered how much joy I get designing and creating something. I remembered how often I’m told I’m easy to talk to. All of this outside perspective helped me sort out my confusion. While I’m still reevaluating the direction I want my business to go, I have found some clarity.

It reminds me of a William Blake quote:

I looked for my soul, but my soul I could not see. I looked for my God, but my God eluded me. I looked for a friend and then I found all three.

Friendship is important when you’re not sure of your worth anymore, when you’re questioning yourself, or what you’re good at. Let me tell you that you are worth something. Maybe you don’t see it, but I bet if you ask someone, they’ll tell you. So if your soul searching is difficult, don’t be afraid to ask. You might end up unraveling one of those knots. Any sort of clarity will help us in our every day lives. Play to your strengths and hopefully you’ll see your life soar.

Where I Run to Something Chasing Me

I wouldn't be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom!Do you ever feel like you’re being chased? Someone or something is coming after you, but you can’t quite put your finger on what? It’s a restlessness in your mind and your heart, from your toes to the tips of your hair. It’s unsettling and exciting, confusing and welcome. It doesn’t quite make sense, but you find yourself looking for it, the “chasee” becomes the chaser. That’s what I’ve been feeling for the past couple of weeks.

Why do I feel this way? If I really thought about it and had to boil it down to one thing, I would say it’s complacency. I’ve become complacent in my life. I mean every part of it, from my faith right down to my writing and socializing. I’m too comfortable with what I have, and that’s no longer working for me. I can feel it. I have a need and desire to do more. It’s exciting and terrifying at the same time. If I do something new or try harder, what will happen? Will I lose that security I’ve grown so accustomed to? Probably. Will I find inner strength I didn’t know I had? Lord, I hope so. Will I be proud of myself for being brave? Absolutely.

I’m in pursuit of uncertainty and unpredictability. I want to be forced to stay on my toes and to chase after my dreams and my joy. I want more out of my life than what I have now. I want happiness that comes from faith, not material objects, and fearlessness when the world and my plans don’t go my way. I’m starting now with this post, which is a little more revealing than perhaps I’d normally write. But maybe you can relate. Maybe what I said here will register with someone, and they’ll feel a little less alone. I’ve also started revising a short story I shelved three years ago after it was rejected by a literary magazine. It’s being reinvented (literally have 3 versions for different age ranges) and might possibly end up on Wattpad if I’m really brave. *cross your fingers*

Will you join me in chasing uncertainty in the hopes of even bigger rewards than you have now? Or at least cheer me on??

On Adequacy

What is adequacy? According to the dictionary, it’s “the state of being adequate.” Adequate is “as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit.” If we take it for that definition, then why is it that so many people, myself included, feel inadequate. Are we really all not “as good as necessary”? I don’t think so.

The other day, I felt inadequate. Truth be told, I often feel inadequate in any number of things. But on that particular day, it was my stationery business. I work very hard coming up with new designs that you can’t find anywhere else. Ones that are funny, cute, charming, something that’s not the usual. The usual is often boring or overdone. I like to think I’m neither of those things. I had just shipped off two cards to a lady in Florida when I realized both on and offline I’ve only sold cards to two people who weren’t family or friends, that lady being one of them.

Sure enough, as soon as I let that thought cross my mind, BAM! Inadequacy smacked me so hard I cried honest, frustrated, angry, I-should-give-up-now tears. I had bought business courses on how to start and run a creative business. How to use Instagram to increase your followers and in turn how many sales you make. I did it all right, at least I think so. But the followers aren’t coming. The people aren’t caring, so why do I still do it? I should give up now.

That’s what I told my dad and a friend of mine. My friend told me my cards were just a little off-center that no one understood them, that it’s not me, it’s them. Those aren’t the words you want to hear when you end a relationship, but it helped me a little then. My dad also told me that if I could just get them in front of people, and if they could just talk to me, they’d understand. It always seems to boil down to people understanding me or what I make. So why do I feel inadequate? I don’t know.

I should give up now. I should give up trying to please or impress everyone because I never will. I should give up caring about my number of followers. But I should not, and I won’t, give up on myself, my writing, or my cards. I love making them. I’m happy when I’m drawing and writing, when I’m exercising my creativity, and when I think that maybe someone out there will smile or laugh because of something I made. I don’t know everything, but I do know that I’m happier when I’m doing what I love no matter how hard it is. Even on the days I want to give up, and there are several of those, I remember that inadequacy is subjective. If I gave up, then I really would be inadequate according to myself, and I don’t want to do that.

If inadequacy comes knocking, smack IT upside the head and keep going! Happy creating!

P.S. For those of you who don’t know, I own Puckish Propensities Press. Find it here on Etsy. I’m still working on my own website!

The Up-to-No-Goods

chibi storyThey say creative people work better at night. I’m proving that true today since it’s 2:45 AM as I write this! I’ve accomplished more in the past three hours than I have three days. Yay!

As you may know, I have been pursuing discipline of late. You can find posts on that here, here, and here. Since setting daily goals hasn’t worked yet, I’m going to try something else. I’m going to illustrate a short story, or vignettes involving these two characters—Sally and Kenny. “Writing and illustrating?!” you say. Yep! It’s a double whammy to get the creative juices flowing. I hope you enjoy my illustrations. I’m not at all an artist!

Let me introduce the characters.

Sally—a precocious 8-year-old—always finds herself getting into mischief with her neighbor friend Kenny. Kenny is the level-headed one, but often his well-meaning efforts wind up getting him into trouble when Sally comes knocking. What shenanigans will these two find themselves in? Will they manage to convince everyone that they really aren’t up-to-no-good?

Stay tuned!

If only I were Preston Sturges…

mv5bnju1ndiyndg4nf5bml5banbnxkftztywmjk2mji2-_v1_sy317_cr170214317_Preston Sturges was a playwright, screenwriter, and film director during the 30s, 40s, and early 50s. Some of his notable, and might I say hilarious, films are Sullivan’s Travels, The Lady Eve, and The Palm Beach Story. If you haven’t seen them or any of his others, you have to. I love them. I laugh so much my stomach aches and tears trickle out the sides of my eyes. The most fascinating thing about Sturges, though, especially for us writer folk, is that he wrote fast, and he wrote well. He wrote a play, Strictly Dishonorable, in 6 days. That play went on to make him over $300,000. I heard a story that he wrote it to spite an ex-girlfriend who claimed she could write a better play than him. Hers flopped. And, well, if his profits are anything to judge by, his was anything but a flop.

If I were Preston Sturges, I would be able to crank out my novels in a couple of months instead of several years. If I were Preston Sturges, people would laugh so hard they’d cry when they read my jokes. If I were Preston Sturges, I wouldn’t feel so disappointed in my writing accomplishments for the past year.

Problem is I’m not. I’m not Preston Sturges. I’m Maya, a woman who wants to be a writer but can’t stick her butt in a chair long enough to do it. But you know, that’s ok. We can’t all be Preston Sturges. Sometimes, the world needs a little bit of hardworking-a-lot-of-the-time-discipline-lacking-kicking-themselves-in-the-butt people. We’ve all heard that it takes all kinds to make a world. I’m sure the writing world is no different. So I guess what I’m saying is I’m going to show the world just what I’m capable of. It may take me a while to get there, and I might cry out of frustration when I think of what I haven’t accomplished yet. But yet, is not never, as long as I don’t give up.

Just you wait, Mr. Sturges. I’ll get there eventually. Happy writing!

P.S. Hope I remember this tomorrow!