Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Feeling Naked

I have a lot of anxiety. There's the garden variety kind, like being anxious when I go on an interview or walk into a roomful of strangers (that happens to everyone else, right?), and then there's the totally irrational stuff. Like freaking out at the mere presence of bees or being terrified to make phone calls. Or the fact that I routinely go to the darkest of places whenever something is not exactly as expected. Example: hubby is ten minutes late coming home from work. He's surely in a ditch somewhere, bleeding internally, unable to call for help. The boss wants to speak to me? It's obvious she thinks I'm the worst employee in the history of ever and I should just leave my keys in the slot and walk away quietly.

You get the idea.

So now that I am finally beginning to "go public" with my writing, anxiety is hitting an all time high. It feels a bit like one of those dreams when you're standing naked in front of a crowd and they're all laughing and pointing at you. (That happens to everyone else, right?) Sometimes the writing world is this safe cozy place where you can snuggle up with your critique partner and dream about a future when your books will graze the shelves of every store in town. People say they like your work. The encouragement is amazing. You feel fabulous, like the words that leave your fingertips are magical and will change the world.
But then the clouds roll in. You learn to don your thickest suit of armor before trudging out into the world where every person you meet has written this amazingly fabulous book that is much, much better than yours. Where everyone has a different idea about what works or doesn't work in your story. Where you feel like a goldfish swimming in a pond with millions of other goldfish hoping some cute five year old kid will bring you home and put you in a glass bowl with plastic seaweed because your colors are exactly what he's been looking for in a goldfish.

It is really hard to keep pushing forward. And I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for my rationally thinking husband and cheer-leading friends I would have given up a long time ago.

Sometimes anxiety gets the best of me. I uncover a pile of dead bees in the wall of my parents' house that sends me into a full blow panic attack. Night after night I have that dream where I need to use the bathroom but there are no doors on any of the stalls.

Sometimes, I let it fuel my passion. Channel it into crafting a scene or bringing a character's quirks to life.

Recognize it's part of who I am as a human being and that's okay.

Take a deep breath and enjoy the journey.

Sip my tea, dig into revisions, and pretend like I'm still wearing clothes.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Green Book

Do you ever have that moment where your significant other asks, "Hey - do you remember the name of that [restaurant, winery, hotel] we went to three years ago last Sunday?" And you stare blankly at them because you're lucky you remembered to eat breakfast and brush your teeth that morning?

That's me. All the time.

My short term memory is pretty poor, and my long term memory seems intent on remembering insignificant and often uncomfortable details like that time I was at a baseball game in 8th grade and spilled mustard on my shorts and my friend teased me for weeks about needing a diaper, (which may explain why I hate mustard.) while important dates, milestones, and significant events often slip through the cracks of my brain. I am thankful that:
A) My phone number has a lot of zeros in it
B) Both my children have easy to remember birthdays and KTA days
C) My husband is always there to fix my story when I recall something incorrectly

Okay, maybe not that last one. In fact, I usually just tell him that I was trying to make the story more interesting.

But I was starting to get frustrated by the fact that I could never remember which hotel we stayed in that has the good swimming pool, or which highway exit on the way to my sister-in-law's house has vegetarian options.

Enter: The Green Book

It's a handy little thing, really. Every time we travel anywhere or do a wine tasting (our region has a lot of wine trails), I log it in the book along with a silly memory or two. Of course, as I look back through it sometimes I've completely forgotten what my little comment refers to - kind of like re-reading the inside jokes in your high school yearbook. But I try to write cute things that the boys did or said, or mistakes we made like when I forgot to check the drawers in a hotel in California and left half of my husband's wardrobe behind. Or "Nice wait staff - they didn't mind when J dumped his entire glass of water all over himself, the table, the bench." I started the book in 2012, but it has already started to come in handy. My brother and sister-in-law are visiting a local wine trail, and I was able to give them recommendations based on my notes. And it makes me smile to look back and see the fun things we did, especially because I'm generally a ball of stress in the planning/executing stage. It's good to know that my stress is worth it.

I've been surprisingly good about maintaining The Green Book. Which reminds me, I need to enter in the last few details from our most recent family vacation before I forget the name of that place where we saw the thing.