Aimless: A Story A Day

reflect

I completed the Story a Day for May challenge! Coming on the heels of GloPoWriMo, I knew it would be a lot, and I knew that it would take me away from my other stories for a month. But I was ready for the change and ready for the challenge.

When I saw Ny’s tweet about Story a Day for May on the first of the month, I took a deep moment to breathe before plunging in. If I was going to make the dive, I wanted to follow through. I’ve come to love that feeling of setting a commitment–and even more, I love the follow-through.

With GloPoWriMo and Story a Day, I’ve written–and posted–daily since April 1. Personally, these two months were full of challenge. We had our kitchen redone in April, and in May, I had some major dental work done and have been fighting a chronic infection connected with that.

If ever there were two common excuses not to write, “major home remodel” and “major dental work” would be up there.

But in a way that fills me with enthusiasm, inspiration, and excitement, tackling these two writing challenges in the midst of these two physical challenges offered a balance that was grounding and healing. The physical needs and demands I faced these past two months took top priority–they had to. So that meant that I needed to find a way to write anyway, while most of my energy went, first, to taking care of our home and our daily lives, and then, to taking care of my healing and wellness. Writing fit. It didn’t overtake these other needs or turn into an obsession or distraction–it fit into life.

There’s that common saying, “life happened.” And it’s often meant as an excuse: Life happened, so I didn’t write.

But life happened–life always happens, what else can it do?–and I wrote. Every day. I didn’t wait for inspiration or for the “right mood” or to see if I had extra energy. I approached writing the way I do watering the garden or practicing cello. It’s something I committed to doing daily, so I made time.

I feel confident: I can meet a commitment to daily writing even when life brings challenges and disruptions. When I was younger, I didn’t feel this way–I couldn’t write when we moved houses (which we did way too often for way too many years). I couldn’t write when ill or tired or drained or too stressed. I felt I needed stability to write. But now I see, I can write anyway.

I also discovered an approach which I really like: Think about the idea or plan–the inspiration seed or the goal–the night before. Then, spend the next day’s daydreaming time turning around the writing to be done that evening. In the summer, my days are especially full, so I have an hour or two after supper to write. And that was enough to put out a chapter, especially when the ideas had been germinating since the night before.

I took risks with this challenge. I wrote and shared my mistakes in published posts. I love the freedom that brings! It carries me back to Beginner’s Mind, and that’s what lets me continue to learn.

I also discovered that I had a story to tell and that it found its way through interconnected short pieces and prompts that didn’t always fit. But the structure of having the prompts and the notion of “stories” allowed this larger story to find its way. I don’t think this particular story would have ever come to me otherwise, and now I’m glad I told it.

My experience these past two months has been finding gifts in things that might not seem like gifts at first. Of course, there were the two challenges I’ve mentioned. But I have also lost many (most?) of my regular readers during these two months–and the freedom that brings is a huge gift! I am unhooked, and while I’ve discovered that I love commitment, I’ve also discovered I don’t like hooks. I suppose that most readers read my SimLit because of the “Sim” part of it–not the “lit” part of it. For me, writing literature has always been a solitary venture first. It’s had to be. For decades, before the Internet and blogs, I’d write alone and seldom share my work. The better pieces got shared, after revision and editing, but most work stayed private. And I like that freedom. I approached the GloPoWriMo and Story a Day with that same spirit: writing as an act of discovery, following the paths of the words, writing to write, rather than to share. I did share, for I’ve fallen in love with the open-journal aspect of blogging–but I didn’t write for the purpose of sharing. I wrote for the purpose of discovery.

I’m grateful for everyone who has read anyway! Some of you have walked with me during the poetry month and the short story month–thank you so much! I don’t know how valuable the writing has been to you as readers, but I do know that for me, in spite of what I said about loving and craving the writer’s solitude, being able to have that AND to have you smiling in the “Likes” and comments has brought a cozy and safe feeling, creating a place where I could play with words, images, and stories. Thank you.

I’m grateful, too, for those who have stepped aside so I could create in a freedom that allows for mistakes, introspection, experimentation, and the lack of self-consciousness that accompanies Beginner’s Mind. There’s something free and beautiful about not having many readers!

I hope to bring this free and independent spirit with me when I return to my other stories.

What’s next?

I plan to work regularly on Puppy Love, Sierra and S-Boys, and Lighthouse this summer. I’d also like to finish up a few old pieces. I’ve got two chapters more to write for Eight Pieces–maybe I can finish that this weekend! Drifter can probably be wrapped up this summer, if I’m able to fit in game-time, because it’s a game-driven story based on a specific Sim challenge. I think I have an ending to Houseful of Hippies–which will be followed with the sequel Houseful of Kids, which I hope to start after Seasons comes out.  I want to make a commitment to Poems for Sundays–just need to think it through a bit to make sure I’m ready to commit to writing a poem a week. I think it would be good for me, writer-wise and wellness-wise. And I want to start a new longer piece written in an approach similar to Story A Day, with only one screenshot at the beginning of each chapter, and the rest text. I like the freedom this brings to both my game-play and my writing.

I want to keep observing the ways that writing fits into and contributes to my life. Like playing Bach cello suites each day, writing each day–or nearly–helps build, open, broaden, and smooth–life’s more full, right?