Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Confessions From A Discombobulated Mind

First, an extremely important update: I won fantasy football!!!  That's right; I never played before, and I took the title (and the cash).  It was close; I was sweating until the end.  In an ideal situation, one of my two players would have made an awesome play in the first quarter so I could relax.  But that didn't happen.  I took the lead in the fourth quarter with three minutes on the clock.  And I have to say, I had a lot of fun playing.  It was a nice way to end the year.

What's that?  Nobody else cares?  Alright fine; moving on.

animated_brain.gifMy mind acted up at the gym this morning.  I guess this is a good thing - it proves I still have one.  (Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are.)  Had I foreseen the production of inspiring thoughts, I would have brought a notebook.  But I guess it would be hard to run and write simultaneously, no?

There was no rhyme or reason to my thoughts.  I actually struggled keeping up.  JM Tohline calls this a "thought-spill."  I call it a bunch of random junk cluttering my head that I need to blog about in hopes of making some sort of sense out of everything before getting a severe migraine.

I'm much wordier than he is.

Before going further, I should preface that this post is mostly for my benefit.  You're invited to read along, but know I don't expect anyone to care.  Perfectly understandable.

My entire life, this has been a reflective time of year.  I'm sure it's the same for most; the curtain closes on the final act of one year, the cast bows, and we all venture forward with anticipation of opportunity and starting anew. 

Before leaving for the gym, I had opened a piece I wrote a year ago.  I called it "Reflecting on a Decade."  At the time, my blog had not been invented, so it was simply one of those Facebook notes I'm sure only a handful read and most didn't understand.

It was the first I revisited the piece, and basically, I had two thoughts: Why the hell does my writing SUCK and why the hell do I sound so bloody depressed?

After some pondering, my brain answered those questions: Well, Paul, that's because the writing DOES suck and you WERE depressed.

Thanks for the clarification.

The hardest part was reliving the events that brought me to that place in life.  I like to think things are better - that the cloud over my head has at least morphed into a lighter shade of gray.  I suppose it depends on the day.

Fast forward to the gym.  I'm running on my machine, iPod buds in ears, maintaining a steady pace to the tune of something I'm too embarrassed to admit in writing.  To my right, a woman screamed into her phone.  To my left, an unpleasant stench emanated from a middle-aged gentleman.  Hoping to distract myself from the ruckus in my digestive system, I glanced at the television monitor and saw the soaps were already airing their New Years Eve episodes.  I expect they'll conclude just before Easter.

Then, all of a sudden, my conscious started screaming that enough is enough.  It's been nearly three years.  It's over - I'm not starting 2011 in the same place I started 2010.  Or 2009, for that matter.  It isn't happening. 

No more moping about not having a job. No more analyzing my career path or debating how things could be different.  No more agonizing over money and benefits.  No more feeling pathetic because I enjoy spending time alone.  No more feeling the need to explain wanting to be alone.  No more feeling my friendships have vanished; I don't need a ton of friends and I don't need to be busy every second of the day.  Downtime is acceptable.  I've maintained enough strong relationships over the years, and that is more valuable than a zillion mediocre ones.

And, NO MORE moments of feeling I need to justify my writing.  Starting now. 

What do you do? I write!  What do you want to do? I want to write; I want to publish a novel!  Well don't you think you should.... Actually, no, I don't.  But I do think you should stop talking.  Darn haters!

Let me try something new: reflecting on the positives.  This year, I've written approximately 90,000 words and cut approximately 40,000.  I joined Twitter and met other talented writers.  I social networked. Oh, and did I mention I won fantasy football?

I landed a part-time job that introduced me to amazing people.  Friends, actually.  Together, we support each other in this "It's not a good time to be a teacher" era.

In May, I started a blog.  It was a slow start because I didn't quite get it.  Now, as sad as this may sound to some, it's one of the most positive things in my life.  I truly enjoy blogging; I'm happy for a place I can express myself without judgment.  I'm happy communicating and learning from others.

I'm happy writing.

I've met some freakin' amazing people in the process.  Each play a key role in my journey.

I've composed a list of some of the blogs I highly recommend, as well as people I suggest getting to know.  When asked who they'd like to meet one day, most will list an exorbitant number of movie stars and musicians.  I'd list these folks.

Paul's League of Extraordinary (Literary) Gentlemen
Paul's Legendary Ladies of Blogosphere
So what's on the agenda for 2011?

I'm finishing my manuscript and editing the heck out of it.  I'm pretty close; I've taken a little break for the holidays and am ready to dive back in Saturday morning.  I feel refreshed and ready to spill.  I'll do everything in my power to make it the best I can, and then I'll query.  Beyond that, things are out of my control. 

Guess what?  That's okay.  I've still learned a ton and changed in the process.  I set out to do something I thought I'd only ever dream about.  For now, that is good enough for me.

Most importantly, I'm going to tackle my anxiety.  I'm tired of being afraid; tired of living with panic. Uneasiness blows. 

This will be hard and I don't know how I plan to do it.  But I'm determined to give it an honest effort.  I've been on this boat long enough.  It's time to get back on land.

Hmm, what else? My paternal grandfather will turn 100 in July.  My brother gets married in August and I'll be in my first wedding.  And who knows, maybe the two of us will start getting along in the process.

A new blog design is forthcoming and I started keeping a list of topics to consider for future postings.  I'm also drafting up a contest to host when the new site is launched.

Oh, and I'll be working on my first assignment as a beta-reader.  I'm pretty pumped for that!

If you're still with me, what's on your agenda for 2011?  And sorry for the long post.  It was good for the soul.


  1. Despite your prediction that nobody would be interested in your blog, I did find it interesting. I'm glad you're determined to be more positive, work on your anxiety, and let yourself enjoy your writing. I've been in a negative mindset lately (mainly thinking about how I've isolated myself from friends and haven't engaged in any musical hobbies in years), and I wish I could suddenly get that change in attitude. Perhaps I should go back to the gym? lol. An adrenaline and serotonine rush can do wonders sometimes.


  2. While I don't run and don't go to the gym, I've always found exercise helps shake the creative juices loose and gets them flowing. One of my friends takes a little mini-recorder with her on her walks so she can dictate the ideas as the come to her. While I don't go to that extent (yet) I sometimes repeat an idea over and over until I get back to someplace where I can commit it to the page.

    Focusing on the positive will put you on the right track to effect changes. Put out to the universe what you want to get back and it will happen. It's a good mindset you're heading into the new year with, and I wish you the best of luck with it.

    Thanks SO MUCH for your mention in the blog. And yes, I was interested in your Fantasy Football win. Seems like a good omen. :)


  3. First, let me state: I. Love. This. Post. I've been through a lot of the things you've been through, am still going through some of them, and I can totally relate to your experience in many ways! I'm happy for you, because even when you can't see it, your life is spiraling upwards. One slow tiny spiral at a time, mind you, but spiraling nonetheless. And better up than down, right?

    So, keep going. When it gets toughest, keep the dream alive and work your butt off at what you're best at and at what makes you genuinely joyful. :D

    And congrats on winning fantasy football!

  4. I felt like screaming "YES!" to so many parts of this post. I'm happy you got some of that off of your chest. I can't wait to be a beta reader for your book! I feel like this new juju for 2011 is only going to work out good for you. I'm cheering you on.

    When I stopped to think of my 2011 plans the only thing I thought of was - a visit to the dentist, and a vacation. What extreme opposites. I also want to read more, and swim more than I did last year.

  5. Colleen: I see so many benefits from a regular gym schedule - both physical AND mental. You are right - it does wonders. Definitely consider it.

    LK: "Put out to the universe what you want to get back and it will happen." That was a big reason for my post. I'm a man of my word, or at least try to be. My thought was if I put all this out there, I can't take it back. In a way, I see it as trapping myself into following through. Thank you for visiting, for your kind words, and most importantly, for your friendship. I'm very much looking forward to reading your work and sharing it with others. One day, you and I will have adjacent tables at some huge YA conference. At first, we will not have much time to chat because the lines of readers awaiting our signatures will be around the block. But afterwards, you will help me laugh about these hardships and share those words of encouragement you are so good at. Oh, and you'll wear that pink hoodie...

    Adam: I'm glad you enjoyed the post and I'm glad you could relate, though I'm sorry to hear you've experienced some of the same circumstances. I'm sort of assuming we are in the same age bracket, and if I accepted one thing this year, it is the world is just not nice to our population. It's tough out there, but we can't change much. Most is out of our control. Fortunately, you and I have something to pursue, something to distract us until opportunities present themselves. Best of luck. I was reading some of your work earlier this week and you are talented. You can join LK and I at our big YA signing, okay?

    Michelle: One of the voices in my head that helped create that post. I don't have to say anything else, because you already know. Thanks for being one of the best parts of 2011 (and for making me play fantasy football.) Get ready for Quizzo!

  6. Wow! You're way too kind! And thanks. It always lifts my day to hear someone appreciated my writing. :D

  7. Paul - It's funny how these thought-spills become popular (and even therapeutic) reads for those who visit a page, is it not? People dig honesty, and nothing is more honest than the laying bare of one's own thoughts, fears, struggles, etc. (with just a dash of fantasy football braggadocio thrown in to level things out...thanks for reminding me that your season was a great success while mine crashed in failure). In all reality, I love to see your thoughts develop like this. Keep it up. Can hardly wait to see the new blog design.

  8. Jordan, you are absolutely correct. This was the most therapeutic post I've written, and I imagine your thought-spills have the same result. As someone who definitely digs honesty, I want that to be a virtue I portray to my readers. And again, I am sorry your fantasy season was unsuccessful. It's okay though - this year, you will be undefeated, and I'll be desperately trying to win my first game in the final weeks of the season. That's how these things work, right? Happy New Year!


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