Tag Archives: self improvement

This Writing Life…

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou.

I was surprised with the recent publication of my essay, “Harnessed”. It wasn’t only the fact that I finally felt a writer, meeting the literary criteria of a journal. It wasn’t simply because this was a fresh piece of prose, put to the page late July in Benjamin Busch’s class at Sierra Nevada’s MFA program. There were painstaking hours spent with this work, in my early journals while in the Air Force, and later, marinading in my heart to brave up and pen it to paper. Once written, Busch asked us to surgically hone our narratives to less than half, to something so concise that only the essential story would remain.

This was tough work. But the edit did not surprise me.

What caught me off guard was the response once the piece published. The out-pour of support through texts and emails. Messages from those who knew bits of my story and secretly rooted me on from afar. Those I grew up with and those only recently met. There were also those who were concerned.

“I didn’t know you still carried so much anger, so much hatred,” someone told me.

I didn’t expect the conversation to open this way, but I realized there is a grand misunderstanding about how someone might process their own life. For me, I no longer held rage and the fact that I could write or talk about aspects of my life was proof that I was healing.

No, I haven’t written everything down about my journey. No, I don’t know that I will be able to share portions of myself, submit them for publication, even if I do draft them into an essay. No, I may never be able to open up, even to myself, and ink out the darkest times. I’m okay with all of it.

But that conversation prompted me to reach out to my family and close friends and tell them to not worry about me, that finally speaking out and breaking my own silence was a good thing, not a sign of my past wounding. The funny thing was that in the dialogues that followed, we finally cut through the quiet and talked about something that had remained unspoken. Most of them shared how they worried for me over the years and how they prayed for me and wished, somehow, they could’ve stepped in and intervened in my suffering. It was the type of talk that helped us all.

I’m thankful “Harnessed” made its mark in Gravel and out into the world. I’m full of more gratitude that in doing so, it changed and encouraged those close to me to know that I am doing all right. My hope is that it will reach those I may never cross paths, those who may have faced or are enduring similar circumstances and that, in reading this short piece, they will know that they are no longer alone. They will, I pray, have a glimpse of hope.

https://www.gravelmag.com/rebecca-evans.html

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This Writing Life…

Writing is water.

I need it to survive. I find myself at the page, lost in the words. I cry and laugh aloud when I write. I put things on paper that I would never say out loud. This is my safe place, my best friend, my therapy.

I don’t feel worthy to keep a writing blog. It’s hard to arrive and feel like a writer. My hope was that in blogging about writing, especially revision, I would stay the course and finish my bigger project, my manuscript and hopefully inspire others to write as well.

But I don’t need the blog to write. I need only to write. Life water to live.

Instead, this blog has become a sort of process for anyone that needs encouragement in writing through a busy life. This year, I’ve irked quite a few people with my unavailability to preserve my treasured time, my gold nugget, my writing time. This is new to me. This is new to them too. They don’t get it. To sit, with peace, coffee, a candle and a pen is ecstasy. It is all that is needed.

I’ve spent the last two months reorganizing my files. To date, I have 52 short stories, 20 horrific poems, two screenplays, one manuscript and 12 flash fiction pieces. These are in a constant state of revision. But this organization process has given me clarity – a sense of how I can now combine these pieces–thread them, weave them–through theme and emotional arc. Part of this awareness was the realization that my manuscript, which I had hoped to revise over the summer, would be completed.

It doesn’t really work that way.

I’ve only revised half the manuscript. With that, I began to pummel “unproductive” self.

But then, half is good. These are hard revisions and I’m still in grad school and producing new material along with revising other shorts. I’m a writing-manic.

I know writers who can focus on one thing. One story. One book.

I’m not THAT writer.

My life is full of interruptions. I embrace the breaks because it is usually my children, pausing my work for a need. I love that I’m still needed by my sons.

Besides, I have to marinade ideas.

My brain soak is done in the kitchen and garden. This is the space I sort out dialogue, character development and problems with my work. I make sun-dried tomatoes with garlic from my garden or create new recipes, like smashed sweet potatoes with a hint of Wasabi. This is part of my writing process. The “think time”.

For me, this works; the interruptions and the time away from the page.

I’m learning to encourage the writer-me more, cheer her on and tell her, at the day’s end, this was a life worth living and she indeed has been “productive” enough.

Favorite passage is an excerpt from my short narrative, “Garden”:

“A new routine would begin each morning before the children woke. I’d rise, and with coffee, tend this garden. This morning was no different. I was finally here. My garden. This would become the place I could return when there were in-between moments needing filled. A place to grow a habit, something grounded, something I could count on. It offered both a sense of release and control.”

 


This Writing Life…

I’ve missed you. Too much time has escaped me on this blog. It is a busy life. A full life. Which means that I have an endless well to draw when it comes to ideas for stories. Writer’s Block has never been an issue for me. But carving time to write…well THAT is my challenge.

Part of the summer’s hustle was family and friends visiting. My brother and his wife came to Idaho, beyond a blessing, and one dramatic change in my life from this encounter was my relationship with water. I know. Unbelievable. I’ve fought drinking water most days of my life. I’ve hated it. Choked on it. Struggled to guzzle even a sip. But my beautiful sis-in-law set the example as she consumes 100 oz a day. A day! I thought if she could achieve this, I could certainly do my part. I’m up to ten cups of water in a 24 hour period. I’m even feeling thirsty when I forget my water bottle. I can’t remember the last time I sensed thirst, but I’m embracing the idea that my body likes water.

I also attended my first residency at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA program. This group has a deep connection for keeping words alive. The faculty is beyond nurturing (and demanding) and the experience took my passion for story-telling to the next level.  I had the honor to work with Joe McGee and Benjamin Busch in class and will continue the semester with Suzanne Roberts. This program sets the bar, creating writers with muscle and heart. I’m thrilled to move forward with this segment of my journey.

I produced the start to numerous new stories while in residency, which I’m just beginning to flush a few of them into something tangible. My favorite lines developed to date?

“We were over the white cliffs of Dover and no longer whizzing, more like sailing and I felt like G-d was pulling me through the sky, pulling me through the clouds and I felt jealous of the clouds. Those heavy British clouds that looked like they were always ready to weep. They didn’t mind feeling massive and they didn’t mind letting it all go.” (excerpt from “Harnessed”)

My summer project to revise my manuscript? I’m halfway through my manuscript and I’ve decided to switch gears. My goal is to help each chapter stand alone as a short story. This doesn’t really change the revision process, but does shift my overall end-result for this project. I’ll continue to plugging away at each chapter in the attempt to turn it to a short read that makes sense all on its own.

Now…how to carve out my writing life time? One word for me = boundaries. I know I load myself with guilt when I say no. There are many great project, prospects, opportunities and options. I cannot do them all. My children have high needs. I have high needs. I’m learning to place boundaries on those things less critical in life and get back my writing habit.

 

 

 


This Writing Life…

Three chapters revised. Twenty-nine to go. Though at this juncture, there are two chapters that I think will be entirely cut as they really do not contribute to this story. The thing that I’m loving about this process is the time that has passed since I wrote the early draft. I’m far enough removed from the material to truly rewrite and revise.

Favorite line in the last week: “She presses Zach to her chest. His heart against her. She slows her own breathing and tries to feel, maybe even hear, the little extra click in his heart.”

For other writers reading this blog, feel free to offer your input. The one aspect that I’m most struggling is the POV. I’ve gone back and forth between first and third person (limited). It is nonfiction, and I know that traditionally, nonfiction work is in first person. But I like the feel of the “hero” being un-named and in third person for numerous reasons and creative ideas.

For the remaining goals in the last week or so:

  1. I’m counting anything fluid that I consume as “water” from here on out.
  2. I’ve done either core strength, stretching or meditation daily.
  3. My weekly family excursion was to Hagerman. This was extremely exciting for my youngest son who wants to be a Paleontologist. He loved the fossils, the teeth of ancient beasts and their eating habits. We ate at the Snake River Cafe and had a picnic along the river on our return home.

The backyard “oasis” is complete! Writing and creative space near a few chimneys and firepits along with my garden and flowers. The chickens are happy. The pugs are happy. The Chiweenie and Bearded Dragon seem to be living a life of bliss.

I need to carve four hours a day to writing. This is my goal. I know, realistically, I cannot write four hours in a row…but the sprinkle of time throughout my day is what I know I need to get the job done.

Wish me luck. Offer help. Keep on writing.


This Writing Life…

Twenty-eight pages. That is a good day of revision. One of my goals with this long narrative is that each chapter can be published as a stand-alone. Today, I feel that this chapter is complete and could carry the weight of story all on its own.

Best writing for today:  “I didn’t know I had so much blood inside of me. Feeling dizzy, I tenderly lowered myself onto the glass, lying on my back as if I were used to a bed such as this. I stared at the ceiling while waiting for Mrs. Heights to come help. The ceiling was the same gray cement color as the floor. There were thick cobwebs in the corners, and the ceiling seemed lower than I remembered. I watched as a spider dropped and trembled on a thread above my face. I was afraid of spiders. I tasted bile and my body began to shake.”

I know every writer has their own system, their method to “warm up” to write. I have a beautiful fountain pen with deep purple ink and I love both the sound of it scratching on paper and the way it feels as I write in my journals. It isn’t writing in a creative manner, I’m actually copying poems from my past journals into one place. This process connects my mind to my heart, my heart to my hand, my hand to pen and finally, pen to page. It is a quiet process. And slow. I have a permanent purple ink stain on my finger where the pen rests that looks like a deep bruise. This is one of those warm ups into writing.

Family Adventure = Bowling at Big Al’s. My gutter ball was so slow that it stalled in the gutter and I had to flag down a staff member to walk onto the lane and retrieve it for me. My youngest son beat us all in the first game. My disabled son won the second. I lost every time. I consider myself the entertainment factor for bowling as I roll it down the lane carefully so I don’t hurt my neck.

Water = forget it.

Core Strength = I held in my stomach most of today.

Guitar = it hurts to play. I can strum, but not pick and am only decent at three cords to date.

New Dish = Chicken Tortellini – Kosher, of course. Coated in salt, cracked pepper, olive oil, rosemary and a titch of lemon juice.

New Discovery = I enjoy my mid-life hot flashes. My feet are always cold and having this new internal heating pad doesn’t seem such a bad deal. At least for me.

Staying Bright.

 

 


This Writing Life….

This writing life is more full of life than writing.

The last few days have been mostly dramatic. Parenting is not for the meek and weak. Parenting teens requires only the bravest of soldiers. And when a crisis rises to the surface, every other corner of life is placed in the holding pattern.

So I did not write Friday or Saturday or Sunday.

Not writing feels like not breathing for me.

But there was only so much room in which to operate my life. So here I am. First thing Monday and almost wearing an oxygen mask to get to my manuscript and, yes…finally write.

Best lines  this morning: “She pulls on her sports bra, mashing her breasts against her chest, a reminder that Zach is feeding with a tube instead of through her. She pulls on a sweatshirt two sizes too big and leaves the leftover make up in tact. Her skin around her belly is loose and hangs over the band of her pants. Normally, this would bother her, but she doesn’t have time to worry about feeling fat right now.”

Water = nil.

Core strength = a bit.

Sleep = a pinch.

Family Adventures = pends on how I define “adventures” this week.

Writing on!


This Writing Life…

Yesterday was a nonproductive writing day. I “warmed up” my pen, read for inspiration, rewrote bad poetry and opened the “working copy” of my manuscript four times. Nothing would come through. I worked on one sentence for 30 minutes and still could not get it right. I gardened, played a board game with my son, and then organized my desk. Then re-organized it two more times.

Some days, the line is meant to marinade while you live your life. I used to tell myself that my full life, single-handedly raising three boys (one who is disabled) offered me rich perspective and material in which I could draw from as a writer.

But yesterday did not feel much like a writing life. Instead, it felt like an avoid-the-writing life.

Today, I woke starving to write.

Best lines: “Even the original pediatrician, the one she painstakingly reviewed and researched for months, has a substitute because he is now unreachable, on vacation. Realistically, Zach wasn’t due for another seven weeks. Yet here the two of them are, her and Zach, mostly alone.”

These lines were almost two paragraphs, mostly nonsense detail that added nothing to the story. Cutting sucks.

Water intake = zero.

Rest = three hours in a row. Miraculous for me.

Core strength = 30 minutes with my disabled son yesterday.

Guitar = painful 15 minutes yesterday and today.

New dishes = zero. I’m on motherly strike this week in an effort to help my sons appreciate all that is done on a daily (and hourly) basis for them, so they are “cooking” meals this week.

My progress through two chapters a week = I’m only halfway through one chapter at this juncture. The progress to rework old prose is daunting. My hope is to complete this chapter by tomorrow and begin on the second (randomly selected) chapter by Friday.

Submissions = submitted two short stories yesterday to a few more literary journals.

Cheer me on please.


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