When I was in 7th grade, I was determined to be a writer. I loved English class. I loved to read. More than anything, I loved to write, even if I didn't really have anything to write about. I would journal about my days and try to make them sound exciting, for some future self who might someday be reading my diary. I would scribble story ideas on napkins and used envelopes, and stick them in a notebook for future writing inspiration. I probably still have one or two or ten of those notebooks lying around, gathering dust.
So what happened? Well, lots of things. My perspective on the world changed a lot when I went home to Manila instead of applying for an Ivy League school like I'd always planned on doing. Depression happened. Working in retail and being really tired all the time happened. Community college happened. Not all things that happened were necessarily good or bad, it was just life. I honed some skills (baking, knitting, art) and got worse at some things (exercising, staying organized, swimming).
Now and then when I think about writing, I realize I have lots and lots of things to talk about. Want to know about that time I got kicked off the school paper? Or that time I really embarrassed myself in front of a guy I liked? (Those times, I should say, there were a few.) How about that time I got left back a grade even though I had the most freaking perfect grades a student could ever want? Oh man, I have some stories.
I read a lot, too. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but reading is so, SO important for anyone who wants to be a writer. You have to learn how words work, how they string along together to do something, like teach a lesson or evoke a feeling or make you cringe. You have to know the rules before you break them. You have to learn what bores people to tears so you can, you know, NOT write like that.
I almost think reading, too much reading, is the thing that has eaten away at my writing life the most in the last 20 years. Every year I try to read more than I did the year before. Every year I write less, and less, and less. I can tweet, no problem. I usually strive for funny/informative in 140 characters or less. I just want to share things that I think people I know will find interesting. I love hashtags, too. They're the best on Instagram--I probably spend more time picking hashtags there than writing the caption. I kind of hate writing reviews now. I still form opinions on things, but I'd rather comment about them on Facebook than really go into a full analysis of something. I want to have short text conversations with others more than I want to carefully compose a critical essay (because that feels like homework). I just want to react and use as many emojis as possible to get my feelings across. Tumblr is my absolute favorite. I don't even have to comment: just reblog. Always reblog.
When I'm not chasing deadlines for school work, I read. I have read some pretty amazing books, and that's kind of the problem. Have you read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss? How about every book ever written by Leigh Bardugo, or Mary Pearson, or Maggie Stiefvater, or Maria V. Snyder, or Margaret Atwood? How about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind (no relation to the other previously named book with "wind" in the title)? I love those books. I think some part of me thinks too far ahead, that I'll never be as good as they are, and why waste time working on something that will never pan out, that won't pay the rent, when I can sit here and unwind from my day job by watching 6 episodes of Gilmore Girls every night?
Part of me knows it's not supposed to be easy if it's worth doing. But another part of me insists I need to do something else first. Cleaning the fridge, or scrubbing the toilet, or putting away the laundry: once the most pressing to-do-list items have been checked off, by the time I'm done, all I'm good for is putting my feet up and watching, you guessed it, just one more episode of Gilmore Girls. Some perverse part of me thinks getting on a treadmill for an hour should come first. Barring that, I should play paper ball catch with the cats so they get some much-needed exercise. These are things worth doing. Maintaining good hygiene, cooking a meal from scratch, getting my teeth cleaned. All worthwhile and responsible uses of time and effort. When I'm done with all of these other things, I'll read. When I'm done, I'll paint/knit/sew something. When I'm done, I'll write. It's always in the plans.
Today, however, and every other day for at least a week, I am writing first, and everything else later. (Actually, I thought up this challenge for myself while procrastinating on the final paper I have to turn in to my teacher on Friday.) Every other day, the moment I'm free, the books will stay closed. The knitting bag stays unopened. Netflix remains frozen on the Gilmore Girls episode I stopped watching last night because I had to be up at 4:30 for work.
What do I think will happen? Well, I don't think I'll have a bestselling novel anytime soon. I won't even have a finished first draft of something in the next year (oh school, I love you, I hate you!). I think I will write about writing, about not writing, about things that are not writing. But maybe, just maybe, I will write.
Is there something you'd like me to write about? Let me know in the comments. Here are some things I brainstormed while procrastinating some more because I am really, really not ready to work on this paper for class:
- learning to drive
- favorite restaurants
- how much I hate shopping for clothes
- celebrity crushes
- being a bad god-parent
- being a bully
- my cats (of course)
- unrealistic musical aspirations (probably)
- how much I love eating out alone
- used bookstores
- talking on the phone and how much I hate it now
- looking for work
- working in groups
- board games
- video games
- why I procrastinate
Ok, I think that's enough procrastination for now.
I'm going to go cook some spaghetti while watching Gilmore Girls, then work on my paper... after I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls...
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