It’s get real time. Sorry. It’s because I (Carrie)was thinking about how I can write 500 words so quickly when they aren’t supposed to be truth, but when they are about my own life I stare and stare and stare at the blank computer screen and wonder what I’m doing being a writer at all.
AND THIS FREAKED ME OUT.
“Just write 500 words about your own life,” I tell myself in sentence form inside my head. “That’s not much. You can do this. Five hundred words.”
And then I give myself the finger, because pep talks drive me crazy. They feel like platitudes and I don’t believe in words any more. I believe in actions. Sometimes.
So, our daughter Em has made it through basic training and officer candidate school, which was actually more brutal than basic training since it involved nine-mile ruck marches/runs carrying massive packs, along with the regular things they did in basic – timed runs, sit-ups, push-up, lifting. She made it through, but with hip and back pain.
“A girl s**8 her pants during the final run. I got off okay,” she says.
So she had some perspective.
Another guy didn’t take water in his Camelback or canteen, running with weight at a nine-mile pace in the August heat of Southern Georgia. He passed out.
And she had more perspective.
And perspective? That’s a good thing. It’s what every parent wants for their kid and for their own self.
After a few months in limbo at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma, her first day of field artillery officer training begins.
I send her a text that says I LOVE YOU.
She sends me one right back that says, THE “SOUND OF SILENCE” LITERALLY JUST PLAYED AS I DROVE THROUGH THE GATE.
Another text arrives immediately after and it says, FML.
Hello darkness, my old friend….
She lost perspective.
And so do I.
I stare at the phone. I have gotten really good at staring at things lately – phones, computer screens, people’s faces – and it’s like I’ve forgotten how to process anything anymore. My response time is slow. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to interact with people. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll say it isn’t noticeable, but I notice.
There is something horrible about not having it together at all. I look back on my old columns from when I was a newspaper editor and they are all so – happy and funny. But I wasn’t happy at all then. It’s crazy. It’s crazy how good I am at lying to myself about my life. Are we all like that, I wonder? We post pictures of food and perfect children on social media, these happy highlights of our lives, but what about all the ephemera that happens in between nights out and kids’ award, how about times like now when staring at the computer screen and writing just 500 words seems like an impossible task?
When faced with only pieces of realities and truths, it’s easy to lose that perspective, to compare your life to other writers or humans lives and come up… Well, to come up unfavorably.
This is supposed to be a podcast about giving you a better life and making you a better writer and here is our advice AKA WRITING TIP OF THE POD:
Tell truths as you know it.
Experience your life beyond the screen.
Live like a dog – enthusiastically bark, sulk, wag your tail. Live your emotions as you are in them. Don’t hide from them.
How do you be a better writer? Care about what you’re writing about. Care so much that you have to write about it and wrap a story around it. That’s it. There is darkness everywhere and you don’t have to pretend it doesn’t exist. And there is light everywhere and you shouldn’t pretend that doesn’t exist either. They are part of each of us, and part of the world.
So here you go DOG TIP FOR LIFE:
Be honest. Live fully. Care deeply.
Everything else is craft wrapped up in grammar. And that’s important, so important. You want to have paragraphs and dialogue, but the thing that makes a story matter to someone and to you? It’s what it’s saying, the beliefs behind it. The emotion that drives you forward to write it.
You’ve got this. Go write.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
Carrie is going to be hanging out at the Augusta Civic Center (Maine) on Saturday, Sept. 8 as part of a Maine Literacy event. It’s open to the public and cool. It’s from 10-2.
I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!
Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.