The Birth Of a Writer: My Origin Story

 

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My journey to becoming a writer began when I was about eleven years old. I was a girl, a loner, struggling with being an outsider due to my hearing disability and difficulties with  communication (I spoke funny and didn’t always hear what people said even though I wore hearing aids).  As a result, I spent a lot of time in imaginary worlds and with my imaginary friends. At times, however, this proved dangerous.

An example: A year or so earlier, I was in my basement where I had set up a line of chairs. I was pretending to be Wonder Woman, and wanted to see how far I could jump (or how many chairs I could clear). My imaginary friends kept edging me on, “More! More! Make it longer!” Of course, I didn’t want to look like a poor sport, I added a kiddie rocking chair at the end, and proceeded to jump.

Well, I didn’t make it. In fact, that rocking chair was my undoing as I landed on top of it, straddling it.

I think you get the idea.

I ended up in the ER that evening, and for the next two or three weeks, using the bathroom and stairs were challenging (not to mention, painful!) at best.

Let’s move forward to when I was about eleven years old. My best friend, Melanie (a feisty red-head who didn’t mind my weird lisp and pronunciations) challenged me and a few other classmates to see who could write the “scariest” story. So, I sat down and wrote about a girl who accepted a dare to enter a haunted house where she’d discovered a decapitated head in the fridge. I no longer remember if that girl managed to get out of the house so I’ll just leave it to my imagination. Anyway, what I can clearly remember was how they all reacted when they read my story.  One was totally grossed out by the details, others either squealed or shuttered. I’d loved every reaction.

I then realized that with writing, I could “act” out my imagination without harming myself (or anyone else!). But most of all, after writing that story I felt like I had found something I could be good at. Writing was something I could excel in and not be looked down on as “odd” or as the girl “who spoke funny.”

Writing also gave me that guilty pleasure of making people squirm.

 

The #Writing Life: Struggling To Stay Grounded

Pixabay

 

“Maybe, life is a kind of waking dream.
Maybe, it’s a double-dream with a false awakening.” -― David B. Lentz

 

For most of my life, I feel I’ve lived in a dream-like state; not truly experiencing things with all of my senses.  No, rather I’ve lived in imaginary worlds where I can be who or what I desire, or change circumstances more to my liking.

Or, needs.

These imaginary worlds have been my safe havens from the reality of life which had been fairly harsh and painful.  As a defensive mechanism to protect myself (emotional well-being), I would withdraw into them frequently.

Until one day, I had a scare.

I opened my eyes and couldn’t recognize which reality was truly my own.

For mere moments, I couldn’t recall my name or where I lived or remember that I was a wife and a mother.

When the correct reality finally set in, I had to sit down and calm my shaking legs.

I’ve never really known fear…not like this.

What drew me back to earth, my earth, was my family.

My husband. My son.

Being a writer, a creative, it is so easy to lose oneself in other realms of existence that you literally can forget to return to your own.

For the scientific and medical communities, these could resemble a number of mental and psychological disorders, and I can also see why some have even been committed to asylums.

I really don’t want to be one of them.

So, what keeps me grounded in this reality?

My family.

Thank god for them.

 

 

 

Author’s Note:  Life has taken me down a bumpy road lately and I’ve had to deal with some of it instead of being on this blog so forgive my absence.   The Friday Story Prompt Challenge’s schedule has changed because of this (again my apologies).  Look for one on Friday, October 5th though (this one will be different from the others).

The #Writing Life: Pen Names

 

Recently I’ve decided to adopt a pen name (C.J. Austin) and this got me thinking.  Why do writers use pen names?

Another way of putting it…

Should writers use pen names?

Here are some reasons to use a pen name:

 

What about you?  What are your thoughts in regards to pen names?

Have you ever used one?

What would be the pros/cons of using them?

If you’re willing, share with me pen names you have used or are currently using.

#IWSG: Jumpstarting The Writing Process

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This month’s question: How do you jump-start your writing after a hiatus?

 

I know. I’m a day late this month. I have a good reason.

Honest! 🙂

It’s a reason, but probably not a good excuse.

Oh, well.

Back in July I left North Dakota and flew down to North Carolina to spend time with my Mom.  About two weeks worth.

Two full weeks without any substantial writing.

I had bought a 5-subject notebook with every intention of filling it up with written words.

Instead, I wrote maybe three pages of short poetry.

Nothing substantial at all.

Yesterday I flew back home.

Today, as I stare at the computer monitor I find myself wondering…where do I start?

When I left two weeks ago, I suddenly dropped all the projects I was working on and took a vacation.  Now, I have no idea on how restart the writing process.

I have lists of what need to be done, but it’s like I’ve hit this wall that I can’t seem to break through to that creative well of inspiration and energy to get the imaginative juice flowing again.

Hmm…

What about you? How do you get back in to your writing groove after a long break?

#IWSG: The Ultimate Writing Goals

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This month’s question: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

 

Ultimately, like many other writers, I’d love to have a book published. But, fearing that I’d be penalized by Social Security (am on disability benefits for my progressive vision loss-called Usher Syndrome) I can’t earn very much so I’ve tabled that…for now.  In the meantime, I write poetry and short (as well as flash) fiction of which some are published in various zines.

Another one of my goals is to learn the playwriting craft, and attempt an one-act play.  I already have a title, just need to write it.  I then would love to see it performed through a local Council for the Arts performance group. Having moved to North Dakota back in 2015, I haven’t made too many friends yet; I figure what better way to get to know people in the community than through the local arts.

I don’t think my writing goals have changed much over the years (started writing seriously in 2007) since they usually involve being published in some capacity which I have done with several of my short works.

 

What about you?  What are some of your biggest goals that you would like to fulfill?

 

 

#IWSG: Book Titles Vs. Character Names

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This month’s question: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

 

For me, the book titles (or for any type of stories, short or long) are more difficult to come up with.  A title has to encompass the theme and message of the story, giving the reader some idea of what it may be about.  Because of this, it takes a while to come up with a title that “feels” right.  Many times I end up giving a story a working title until I can come up with a better one.

With some stories, any title I gave never felt right.  For these, I usually set them to one side for a while in the hope that the right title will magically pop in mind.  It does happen, but rare.  I’d end up settling for one that I could live with, and move on.

What about you?  Which one is more difficult for you to come up with a name?

Friday Favorite: Captain Kirk (Quote)

 

I’ve long been a fan of the Star Trek television series and films, and out of all the Captains, James T. Kirk has always been one of my favorites.  Although I do enjoy the version by actor Chris Pine, the one portrayed by William Shatner will forever be the best.

The most memorable quote by Kirk (Star Trek V The Final Frontier):

(The full quote: “Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!“)

This quote resonated with me on so many levels both personally and as a writer.  Our painful experiences deepen and enrich our lives, and make us the individuals we are.  Without painful experiences, how else are we able to sympathize and empathize with others?  They make us human.  Our painful experiences also enable us to be better writers.  To create real characters that our readers can identify with.

For me, on a personal level, I’ve decided to keep my pain instead of seeing shrinks to help ease them.  Not (just) to punish myself (yeah, morbid), but they help me craft better poetry and disturbing stories.

Sounds so Stephen Kingish, eh?

This is probably one of the reasons why I write dark stuff although lately I’m attempting to write Romance (but of course they’ll have some dark qualities in them).  Life is real, and it’s hard.  Life isn’t all roses and sweet.  But, it does have moments of hope and love and laughter.

Being human is complicated.  Full of layers.  Both good and not-so-good.

Like Captain Kirk.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite quote that resonates with you?

 

 

#ThursdayThoughts: Beethoven

Ever wondered where some of the greatest musicians get ideas for their masterpieces?  Ludwig van Beethoven shed a little light on his creative process below:

 

 

Even for Beethoven, the creative process was a bit of a mystery.

Where do ideas come from?

The Divine?

From some unknown source in the deep recess of our minds?

Wherever the ideas truly come from, I welcome them!

#ThursdayThoughts: The Idea of a Memoir (Part Two)

 

Now that I’ve decided to write a memoir, I need to decide on a “theme” for it.  Since I’ve experienced so many losses, I will do my first memoir around them.

Writing poetry has been so therapeutic in helping me deal with those losses, I’m thinking of including a number of poems in the memoir.  In fact, I’m inclined to open each chapter with a poem, and then delve into details around a particular loss.

The title I think will be Life: Tears in the Rain.