Finding #balance

Happy Tuesday everyone! Hopefully this week has treated you well so far. I can’t complain on my end. Despite working long hours at the day job, and dealing with the usual chores at home, plus spending time with my boyfriend, I still managed to write and am almost done with the latest draft of my novel 32 Seconds.

Finding balance as a writer is difficult. I often complained how little time I dedicated to my passion. Over the years, I felt I was giving less and less attention to my work, and got scared I’d lose it all. There’s nothing more frightening than feeling like I would never make it, that my draft would never see the light of day, and that I’d just be a dreamer and not an achiever. Time is precious. Time is rare. The key is to steal these few minutes every day in order to focus and write.

I got distracted by side projects – which helped me develop my craft – so I can’t really consider them a waste of time. Yet, I still beat myself up because the muse is screaming in the background. Every author I met and talked to has a different system to find balance and dedicate time to writing. I do the following: write four nights a week, between 9 pm and midnight. When I can’t manage to squeeze writing time on these nights, I try to catch up on weekends. It’s a tough process. I’m not gonna lie. But if writing is really a passion, a calling I should say, then you’ll find time to write no matter what happens in your life.

I always had the tendency to swallow more than I could chew. I wanted to finish a draft in two months. I simply couldn’t. And it’s okay. We all work at a different pace. When I still feel overwhelmed and want to throw everything out of the window, I tell myself I have time. If I don’t feel like writing, I don’t force it. The creative process cannot be measured in hours or days spent staring at the blank sheet of paper on my computer screen. When words want to flow, they come out.

My mind is the place where the story takes shape. And I write day in day out inside my brain.

Stephen King said “Don’t wait for the muse.” And you know what, I gave the muse way too much attention in the past. Now I tell the muse to shut up. Writing is a difficult craft, and doesn’t offer any luxurious status unless you break the bestseller list. If the objective is to be on that list, you’ve lost the battle. If the objective is to write with your heart, and give the world your voice without expecting anything in return, then you’re on the right track. Many would say, “I want to be a famous writer someday.” Guess what? Everyone wants to get rich quickly. The trick is to focus on what you as a writer can achieve. And you can change someone’s life with one single copy of your book.

I was distracted for too long by trivial concerns. I wanted to write the best story that would sell the most. I wanted to be the next JK Rowling. I wanted to show everyone what a badass writer I was.

Such bullcrap. I don’t need to prove anyone anything. Writing is work. Work takes practice. Practice makes perfect. I finally understood my purpose as an artist. I simply express myself and I enjoy what I do. Writing is like working out for me. It helps me feel human. It helps me stay in touch with my true self. I am in pain, sweat bullets, pant and think for a few seconds I can’t do it, but at the end of the day, whether I’ve written three words or three thousand, I feel whole.

Finding balance is a tough exercise. And I still have my moments where I doubt. The mountain I decided to climb will not give itself to me. I need to show determination and endurance. Writing is probably the most beautiful gift I was given. Doing what I love on a regular basis is enough for me now. The rest shall happen if the stars align perfectly. And I don’t have control over the stars. So why worry about them?

I am a writer, and my job is to write.

And as William Feather beautifully said, “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

End of story.

#Past memories

These words are for you, my past memories. You made me who I am today. The bad happened for a reason. The good did too. The ugly just topped the cake like oversweet icing I wanted to puke so badly before it turned my stomach into a churning mess.

I look in the mirror and see love and honesty. I can’t hide behind shades of lies anymore. I will be loyal to the friends who have been there all the way. I will forget those who caused me harm. I will ignore the ones who used me for their sick little games. I was a willing participant to my own demise. I secluded myself thinking the world was a war zone. When everything fell, and I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel, all I really saw was my own desperation.

I am not making compromises as to who should come back into my life and who shouldn’t. There are people who I will never forgive. There are people who showed kindness to me, but still vanished from my thoughts because they didn’t have a place in them anymore. People come into people’s lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I’ve decided to sweep away past memories of all the souls that escorted me out of life. For those who didn’t really understand my plight, I have no explanation to give to them. My journey is mine to take, with or without their help.

Love shines through the darkest cloak of dirt. From afar I can still feel it seeping through the walls of my prison. I’ve accepted my true nature, and work to better myself every single day. But I must not forget what I’m made of. This addiction lives inside me. I cannot make friends with it. Just learn to adapt and grow with it.

Today I live with light, but my dark cloud is still floating somewhere above me, looming like a vulture, waiting for me to be weak. Any weakness will cause my demise. Any wrong turn will bring me back to square one. I cannot afford to lose this chance I’ve been given. The battle begins every morning when I wake up, and ends every night when I go to sleep.

Past memories will not poison me. I let them go, and focus on the now. I’ve been blessed with love, and a new voice. As a writer, I must stay true to myself. My words carry the message of my heart. Love is the word I want to carry today.

Rise and shine. Embrace the cards you’ve been dealt and don’t look back. The journey to freedom is yours to undertake at any given moment. The burden of past memories will collapse and shatter, and you’ll feel lighter, and happier.

I’m not bound to the past anymore. My memories only serve as a reminder I am not the same person I used to be.

#Growing Up

That might sound silly, but I’m in my early thirties and feel like I’m only growing up now. I thought I knew what adulthood was like once I turned seventeen, heck…I knew nothing. I don’t know much more now, but at least I can say I know enough to tell you I’m very far from being perfect, and when it comes to being real, I’m harsh and blunt.

But that’s okay. Life without honesty wouldn’t mean anything to me. I have my moments where I just want to throw everything away, give up and move on. Still, a little bird pushes me to keep trying, because challenges are supposed to be hard, otherwise they wouldn’t be called that way.

So I push. And it’s tough. And I want to quit. Then I continue my struggle, use every possible strategy to get out of an entanglement at work or with my writing, and sometimes, these strategies work, sometimes they fail. Being an adult means dealing with these failures, and not remaining defeated and bitter forever. I learn and learn, mostly, I peel the layers of my own self like an onion, and what I find is sticky, icky, sometimes stinky, and other times, it’s smooth and sweet, and wonderful just like a fairy tale. I’m made of darkness and light, all I need to do is find the balance between the two without fighting too hard.

I could stomp my feet on the ground and decide I will have everything my way. Being an adult means I have to compromise and learn patience. Ha, patience sounds like an evil word to me! Yet, when I look at my life today and the way it was a few years ago, the difference is amazing, and extremely gratifying.

My writing took a toll lately because of work obligations. I complain a lot I don’t have enough time to write, then when I actually have the time, I find an excuse not to write! I’m too tired, too lazy, I can’t find inspiration, my story sucks, I hate my main character, yadi yada…the story goes on and on and on.

Writing a book is supposed to be hard. I’m almost there with 32 Seconds. Three chapters left and I’m ready to edit and send to my editor. Now the kid in me would want to speed up the process, and write those three chapters in one day so I could be done with it. The adult in me tells me I need to experience a bit more of life before putting my final words on paper. I would never have agreed to this compromise years ago, had I known it would take me several years to finish an acceptable fifteenth draft. But all things considered, I do a lot in a twenty-four hour day, and this book will be finished very soon.

Patience is key. A good meal can’t be cooked in two minutes. I always say that good things come in small doses. And they do. The trick is to learn to catch these happy moments and cherish them while they last. And yes, I’m probably repeating myself like a broken record. Yet, I need to say these things over and over for them to really sink in.

So my growth expands and blossoms just like a flower. Rainy days bring their share of turmoil, sunny days bring their share of peace. If I acted like a child, I’d only catch the sunny days. As an adult, I must catch the rainy days too. My mood fluctuates like the weather, therefore I still see the rainy days even when it’s a sunny day. It’s my job to acknowledge not everything is bad and ugly. No one will do that for me. If I was a kid, I’d think I’m the center of the universe. As an adult, I must learn to share space and time with others.

My tribulations as a writer encompass so much more than just rainy and sunny days, but overall, they mostly deal with rainy days at the office. And I can’t really part ways with the job that gives me livelihood. I gotta learn to be grateful, especially when I don’t want to be.

I’m a grown up. I can’t deny that. Today I really feel like my childish days are over. I look at life and find myself smiling because deep down I know I’m on the right track…and that’s all that really matters.

How #Important Are You?

Latest news! I’m typing while dealing with osteoarthritis in my left thumb so needless to say is I’m much slower on the computer now. And naturally, I’m not happy about it, because typing is my thing. Yeah. How am I going to finish my book if I can’t type?

I wondered how much resentment I could build up because of this injury. Why is this crap happening to me, a writer, when my hands and fingers are the most important set of tools I have? I could go on and on about how unfair that is. But would my rant really do anything to help?

Yes, I’m in pain. Yes, writing is now harder because not only I must think of a pretty good storyline, but I must deal with my uncooperative hand. And there are these awful few seconds where I curse, and think that type of injury is totally shitty. I’d love to vent all day about it. How many people do I know suffer from hand and wrist injuries due to typing? A whole bunch.

So…I’m not that important that I need to throw myself a pity party just because I think I deserve one. And I’m also not entitled to be horrible to other people who can still use their left thumb. :)

I received this quote the other day and thought I’d share it:

“How much better it is to let go of the lightness, let go of our grandiosity,

and accept the imperfections in others. We need to accept our own

imperfections too. When we do, we are better for it, and our strength and

energy can be focused on richer goals.”

If I accept the fact I’m only human, and my mind and body won’t be perfect forever, as well as accept everyone else around me won’t be perfect forever either, then my thumb injury, and any other kind of ordeal, are easier to deal with. I don’t feel like I’ve been chosen among millions to suffer more than the other. I’m not less or more important than anyone out there. My well-being matters to me, and this well-being doesn’t stop at my thumb! I’m no diva for crying out loud. Even if I thought for a few minutes after putting on the brace my writing career was over. Ridiculous.

So here I am with my thumb brace, typing with my index fingers like a five-year old on my ergonomic keyboard…And I’m excited to finish my book because my thumb injury will never replace the joy I have to write for me…and for you.

The truth is: I’ll stop writing when dead!

Fruitless Display of #Aggression

We all see it, live it, deal with it. People who are rude. People who are inconsiderate. People who are so self-centered and narrow-minded, they think they have all rights to spill their anger onto the world so we can all share their shit and feel miserable. I can’t take these assholes. And the reason why I can’t take them is because I am one of them.

I’ve imposed my fruitless display of aggression onto so many people, I’ve lost count. Relatives, friends, strangers…The list goes on and on…If it’s not on the subway, it’s on the street, on the road, in a line, at the bank, at the post office, at the DMV, at fucking McDonald’s. Yeah. People. I get nuts. But I know I get nuts, and my anger is nothing but a product of self-centeredness. Why do others have to suffer when I feel bad? Why do I think I’m justified to display my discontentment?

So I work on myself. I try my best to stay calm. And then comes the asshole who has decided he’s going to ruin my day. Here’s the asshole who behaves so selfishly, I have two options: either I smack him on the side of the head, or I take a deep breath and keep going.

That stuff is hard to do though. I always opted for the smack on the side of the head, because that’s what I grew up with. All my life, all I’ve known was anger. My dad is an angry bastard. Happy or unhappy mood, sunny or rainy day, all I’ve learned was: my feelings stop at anger. I’m pissed, it means something’s wrong. I’m ultra pissed, it means I’m about to kill someone. I’m a bit annoyed, well, I’m going to find something to get me really pissed, and then all hell breaks loose.

This is the pattern I know. And that pattern affects me more than anything else. I react to anger with anger. I act out, and smash stuff. How the heck is that a way to live?

Well, it’s not.

So…I gotta work on my patience level, especially when other people act out. It’s quite the journey. Lots of my characters have anger problems. The heroine of 32 Seconds, my WIP, is an angry chick. And she learns anger isn’t the solution. Change your frame of mind, find something positive to relate to, escape from a stressful situation by using breathing techniques…When the person holds grudges, it’s hard to let these grudges go. I know I hold resentments for years.

To all the angry assholes out there, I don’t like you. You don’t make me feel good. It takes a smile to brighten someone’s day. But one single display of aggression, and you got me hooked for weeks.

What can I say? I’m imperfect and anger is one of my character defects. There’s no magic spell that’ll take the anger away. Only work, hard work, to transform the bad energy into positive vibes.

One day at a time.

#Life on Life’s Terms

When people tell me to take it easy, I usually react like this: fuck patience. I want things fast, and when it includes writing, gosh, I wish there was a pill I could take like in the movie Limitless, and write my book in six hours. My story would be brilliant, and perfect by the first draft. How cool would that be? Life on life’s terms? Yeah. Right.

The truth of the matter is, there’s no such pill on the market. And even if that pill existed, I would think twice before taking it. First, because I don’t take pills of any kind anymore (except the ones that are really necessary and won’t mess with my mind and sanity). Second, because writing is a process. It’s like giving birth to a child. It takes nine months to make a baby. It takes years to write a book. For me at least, it takes years. My thinking process evolves constantly, and a book doesn’t take two or three drafts, but at least fifteen, including rewrites. It’s painful. It’s beautiful. It’s worth the time and effort when the job is finally done.

I have a tendency to be over-critical of my work. I ask myself the same questions, over and over again. Is the story good? Does it make sense? Will it speak to people? I’m not here to give you fluff. I write about life, my life, and use fictional characters to basically tell you everything I do, think and dream of. Writing feels like cutting a piece of my own flesh and putting it on paper. It truly feels this way for me.

I have a day job. Hobbies. Friends. Commitments. A boyfriend. Cats. All of that takes away from the writing time. And I do get mad at myself for not giving my muse more attention. I wish I could write more. Do more. Life on life’s terms. Life asks of me to be there for others, before being there for my selfish self. So the writing sometimes takes more time than I like. But the end result often appears to be better than expected.

Because life makes me grow. Life gives me inspiration. Life proves to me on a daily basis that my art is versatile. Writing takes away my fears and worries. Writing gives me freedom to dig into myself deeper, and find wonderful treasures. Why should I rush through this? Why should I believe writing a book in six hours would be the best deal ever?

Life on life’s terms simply means time is not my enemy, but my ally. And as a dedicated writer, time helps me improve my craft. I heard from many people I should only work on my books, not blog as often, not be on social sites, not do this, not do that, but you know what? This is just something that doesn’t work for me. Maybe it works for others. I need to embrace the experience. Writing is my passion. If I start putting impossible deadlines on my work, I won’t go anywhere. I’ll probably die before the book is finished.

Life isn’t supposed to be rushed. Nor is writing. I’ll just keep telling myself these words over and over again to prevent the muse from screaming and kicking in the background.

#Enough or Not Enough

It’s never going to be good enough. I’m never going to be good enough. People will judge me, and criticize me, mostly I will be hard on myself, bringing myself down, so down, my life won’t mean anything until I achieve absolute perfection. Writing, composing, living…My stories aren’t good enough. My life isn’t good enough. I’m never satisfied. I always want more.

Because instant gratification taught me how to get a quick fix every time I felt unsure about something, I forgot to learn patience. I forgot to take the time to take the time. I built up resentments – at the world – and mostly at myself, but for what end?

I remember the days where I was writing poetry on my notepad, and I thought the world was dark because my world was dark. This darkness engulfed every one of my dreams, pushing me to dwell deeper into a realm filled with angst and sadness. I was not satisfied with who I was. I hated myself, thought I was stupid, ugly, unworthy of attention and love. Because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I compared myself to others, thought they were better than me when really, they weren’t. Schoolmates were jealous of me. I never understood why. How could people envy me if I wasn’t good enough?

The image I projected wasn’t the image I had of myself. People saw me as a smart, outgoing girl, and I posed a threat. I saw myself as an outcast and a freak. Teenagehood worsened my darkest feelings of shame and guilt. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t know how to be popular. I didn’t know how to be liked.

I competed against myself. Changed my image, transformed the awkwardness into confidence. Yet again, I stood behind a wall of smoke. I lied, pretended I could be someone I wasn’t. I never liked people. I never liked going to parties and hanging out at clubs, high on drugs, tripping in my own world of fear. There wasn’t a moment in my life where I didn’t ask myself why I was doing the things I was doing. No one cared how much I could drink besides me. No one cared how hard I fought but me.

Because I always thought I wasn’t good enough. I could always do better. As I continue my journey writing stories, I take a good look at myself and wonder how good my storytelling truly is. But at this point, I don’t care. I have something to say, and I say it. Words come out, and carry a message. If only one person reads my stories, and understands my message, then my job is done.

Art isn’t about fame. It’s about doing what you love. I could be very successful making money off selling my books, not having a day job anymore, but would I truly be happy? I’d be happy writing all day. I wouldn’t be happy to be in the spotlight every single moment of my life. The stuff I say isn’t for everyone. I’m not unique in the sense many people have gone through tough times and made it. I’m not unique in the sense many people are addicts, and depend on substances to escape from reality. I’m not unique in the sense my writing carries a message many others have carried throughout the centuries.

But I’m unique because I’m me. And despite thinking I’m not good enough, I am good enough for me. I am loved – because I love me. The little girl with short hair and glasses sitting in a corner, writing on her notepad about death, is still by my side, When I look at her, I smile. That little girl is brave. That little girl is a fighter. That little girl has crossed an ocean to make her dreams come true, and she never let anyone break her spirit.

Because enough is relative. Enough is never quantified. There’s no scale of enough. Today, I look at myself and thank God for everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. No one is more perfect than me. No one is less imperfect than me. I am a writer, a woman, a little girl with dreams. And that innocence will never be tainted by self-loathing, self-depreciation and hatred.

Today, enough is garbage. And love is everything.