It’s the end of the day and everything is coming to a close. Now all of those unresolved thoughts from the past day, week, or months begin to see the surface. It is a great time to conclude some of them and channel the others into something productive. Something creative. When I was a young Christian the end of my day was prayer time. Mostly because I would put it off all day or forget about it altogether. Having the majority of the day’s business out of the way made it easier for me to focus on what was important. Now, having grown in my faith and learned to pray throughout the day my nights of focus have shifted to writing. I have had alot on my mind these past two weeks and when I sat down to write Saturday afternoon the pressure was finally too much and I let loose, furiously tapping away at the keys on my laptop. I saw things much clearer than I had these last few weeks and began to understand much more about my life, who I am, and who I need to become. I may only be writing a small fiction piece but know that my personal struggles and fears are being poured into this thing. And hopefully through writing this I can learn to be a better person and maybe even help others learn the lessons it has taken me years to discover for myself.
I am an avid dreamer. Whether it’s fictitious daydreaming, imagining my future, or the most common form of the term, subconsciously playing out stories in my sleep, I enjoy them all. I can even say that my desire to write directly stems from wanting to record some of the things that I dream about. There have been so many dreams that I have woken up from and immediately preserved on paper and countless more etched into my memory that I have yet to bring myself to write down. Some mornings I will wake up and be haunted by the night’s dreams throughout the day. They have the ability to excite the imagination and also reveal the thoughts and feelings that may be hiding just beneath the surface of my mind.
I had once thought about compiling the poems and stories I had written based on some of my more poignant dreams but fear eventually took hold of me. The fear of putting too much of myself out there for others to see. I have always been one who observes but rarely shares. It’s the primary reason I decided to start posting things here on this site. To overcome that nervous, uncomfortable feeling that comes with sharing my personal thoughts and feelings. I’ve been rethinking my initial shelving of that project following two eerily similar dreams I had one night. I’d describe them here but you know how it is with dreams, they make perfect sense when you’re having them but later, when you’re trying to recall the details, things just don’t add up but the emotions felt were real enough to overlook the plot holes. They aren’t like the adventurous dreams that involve urban exploration, discovering lost civilizations, or giant mech battles. They are the stressful dreams about friends, family, relationships of all sorts. Dreams where I have someplace to be but I can never seem to get there or where I’m doing something that I know isn’t right but have no control over my actions. I’m a spectator in my own body. Dreams where I wake up covered in sweat, my heart beating hard in my chest. Ultimately, dreams about God. I’ve had several dreams about my relationship with God that have shaken my world. Whether these dreams were divinely placed or just my subconscious playing out my fears is up for debate but no matter the source, these dreams are worth noting.
What about you? Do you dream? Do you remember your dreams, filing them away for later? How do they affect you? DO they affect you?
I have always had a problem with discipline. I’m not talking about discipline like in school, acting out and being all rowdy (I was a quiet kid living in my own little world.) I’m talking about self discipline. Self control. Setting a goal, making a long term plan, and sticking with it. If I knew you better and we had some time to talk then I would go into detail about how my limited self discipline has affected me in my growing up but seeing as this is going online for all to see I would like to keep this brief and focus on the last year or so once I recommitted myself to my [non-blog] writing.
Even with setting schedules and forcing myself to start writing I seem to find ways to get sidetracked. Its so much easier to just play the stories out in my head and feel a watered down sense of accomplishment than to actually put pen to paper and transcribe my thoughts for others to read. Or even easier, I can experience the stories told by others in the books, movies, and TV shows that line my shelves. And that’s just the entertainment side of things. I could trick myself into thinking that I’m not ready to write just yet. That this important bit of research needs to be done right now and not later once I’m fleshing out the details or maybe my writing isn’t good enough yet and I need to learn more before I can even begin to write. I could become absolutely convinced that the job would be easier in a month or two when I get a new laptop or if I were to go out and buy a desk instead of laying here on the floor scribbling into my notebook. I could think all of this before I even write down a single word and feel justified in my decision to postpone writing. I don’t do all of this because I don’t want my words to be read by others. Its not because I don’t enjoy the thrill of self discovery that comes with writing. It’s the work. Plain and simple. I have avoided doing work that I didn’t feel the desire to do throughout my life but that isn’t who I want to be anymore and it is who I have worked so hard to separate myself from these past five years. But old habits do indeed die hard and this one creeps up on my on a regular basis.
Life is an ongoing process. If I were to claim any sort of validity to some of the excuses I have made up not just in the avoidance of writing but in the avoidance of all hard work in the past then I would be a fool. We shouldn’t be waiting to fix ourselves or our situation before moving forward. We should be doing both at the same time. They are part of each other. And moving forward in life … that sounds like a good plan. Let’s all do that together.
Have you ever been in love with an idea? Not something that has been fleshed out but just the vague idea of something. Like a cause that just feels right or some sort of gadget that you may not have a use for but seems cool? I guess a better question is, have you ever had a crush on someone? Someone you have met like a coworker, classmate, or friend of a friend? You have had casual conversations with this person but never talked about anything substantial, you know things about them like their passions and party anecdotes but haven’t gotten to know them, why they love what they love and hate what they hate. You are in love with this idea of them you have built up in your head but neglected to get to the know the actual person your idea of them is based on.
These past few months I have been working on and off on a story that follows several characters in their early to mid twenties as they are growing into adulthood. They all share traits and ideas I have had about life and through a series of events they come to learn some of the things that I have learned throughout the years. As I am writing these characters I am also growing. I am noticing things about who I was and understanding a cause and effect that I couldn’t have seen at the time. One of these characters, Mark, is in love with the idea of being a writer. He even tells people who ask him what he does for a living that he is a writer but lists his day job as what he does to support his lifestyle but he never actually writes anything. Not even the few story ideas he comes up with are committed to paper. He paints this image of himself that does not accurately reflect the one that he lives out. He just sits around hoping that one day inspiration will hit and he will be able to sit down and write the next great American novel in a single sitting. He, like me, was an idiot. While opening a notebook and putting pen to paper might not seem very difficult, forming a habit and creating a writing routine is. Writing on a regular basis is still something that I’m working on and that’s the key word here, work. Things are worked for and towards. It is something that many learn later in life but one of the most important lessons we will ever learn. We need to find our motivation, latch on to what drives us, and become more ambitious in our endeavors whether its in our hobbies, careers, or relationships.
Oddly enough halfway through writing this I stopped. For a week I wrote nothing and didn’t even open my notebook. The subject I had originally set out to write about kept changing and my frustration building until I no longer wanted to work on this. I thought that this would end up as another unpublished post that would take up space in my notebook and would never be seen again. Then I cam across this passage in Margaret Feinberg’s Wonderstruck that I would like to close with.
“Too many of us play and pray it safe. We allow our aspirations to stay in our heads, our goals to remain barely outside our grasp. Life become a series of unrealized hopes and dreams. Rather than engage in the fullness of life, we remain on the sidelines and pass up uncounted opportunities. Our fears become greater than the hope of the One who came to bring us abundant life.
What is keeping you on the sidelines of life? What have you convinced yourself is impossible with God? Where have you allowed your fear to replace your faith? What’s stopping you from moving forward? Or taking your first step toward change? Even if you stumble, you may find your dream expanding into something even more enchanting than you ever imagined.”
Its as if everything I was doing this week had built up to this one moment where I would read these words and know exactly what had been going on with me and what I had to do to remedy it. I needed to work at it and I needed to trust God. Its this simple reminder that keeps me going as I continue my journey through life.
Aside Posted on
I’ve been in a writing jam recently. I had a good few weeks where I would force myself to write for at least an hour a day whether I was in the mood or not and some days I wrote pages and pages fleshing out this story fueled by inspiration from my own life but other nights I wrote and rewrote the same things over and over until something new would shine through the smudged ink on paper. But these past few weeks I was lucky if even twice I sat down to write. After weeks of figuring out the story and characters I had finally gotten to a point where I could go no further without writing a rough draft to then pick apart and make changes where needed but in my head the story was over. I had seen where the characters began and where the story took them so it felt finished. I was relaxed, relieved, and had an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment without ever actually writing the story itself and it was this attitude that put me into my funk because as I was working on the draft I hit a roadblock that I hadn’t yet considered. How do these two characters, absolute strangers, become friends? Everything I was writing into it felt forced or relied too much on understanding how I felt about the characters without me actually explaining those feelings and motivations which would only create a disconnect between them and the reader. Bad news. How do people meet? How do friendships form? How do relationships develop? Okay, that last one I understand but I had been building these characters in my head for months now and each new day had some sort of revelatory experience that they were each pieces of me but never did I think to compare their situations with my own experiences. How foolish of me! I never was the guy who stopped to chat with his neighbors or make casual conversations with strangers at a restaurant. Except for my coworkers, every person I have known I met through other people. My story was lacking secondary characters. I had people in the background but they didn’t do anything but establish a setting in reality, they didn’t do anything that would move the plot forward. Life is full of secondary characters (for the record, the term “secondary” isn’t meant to sound as demeaning as it probably does. They are the main characters of their own lives much like I am a secondary in theirs.) Sometimes being trapped in my own imaginary world I forget such obvious things and take them for granted. I don’t mean to and really wish I could immediately catch myself when I do so I could instantly apologize because they are vital to my story (and by “my story” I mean my life). To not be surrounded by friends or even casual acquaintances to sometimes butt heads with life would be … well, livable but all the more dull. And without these secondary characters how would we go about creating main characters with wives & husbands, sons & daughters, families both biological and extended? Maybe side character is the wrong term. Supporting character would be a bit more accurate because we could all use a little support in our lives and we can surround ourselves with the perfect people for the job. Thats what life needs and that what my story has been missing.