Ideas / life / reinventing yourself / writing

Ass-kicking and resetting

I’ve had this blog for a while. In fact I had more than a few blog entries on it, some of them quite good, if I do say so myself, but today I trashed all but two of the entries. I left these particular two because they both figure prominently in my ass kicking, and most importantly, my reset.

The first entry is about a writing “contest” in which folks from all over the world  place their butts in desk chairs and fingers to keyboards or pens to paper and write a novel of approximately 30 thousand words in the span of 72 hours over Labor Day weekend every year. I’ve participated in it for three years but this last year was the hardest for me, both mentally and physically.  My Mental difficulties is the subject  of the other post I left on this blog. The most important post to me; the death of my mother. For this weekend  I wanted to write a story of what it’s like to become motherless.  To lose one of the most important beings in my life… in most any woman’s life.  I wanted it to be a tribute to her and an epiphany as to the kind of person I should be because of her. A story of “where the hell should I go from here” soul-searching. I couldn’t do it. I spent the first 6 hours of the precious 72 staring at a blank screen.  The blinking cursor laughed at me constantly. So I put that idea aside and felt miserable about what I wrote for the remaining 66 hours of allowed time. Maybe it was too soon.  The pain of her losing her too raw.  Maybe I’m not talented enough to write that story. Maybe it’s a story that should stay only in the private places of my heart. Maybe I didn’t think I could ever do her justice. Or maybe I was scared of what I’d find out about me as a motherless child.   I really don’t know why I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t.

Instead, I opened my idea folder and wrote a story I wasn’t particularly proud of, had really very little interest in and quite frankly hated. But I kept going.  I kept going for the rest of the allowed time because I felt at least I could do that much for me and maybe even her. Mom was a voracious reader and always encouraged me to write. She read everything I put in front of her…and at times, it was some pretty twisted stuff, seeing that many of my characters and stories are about are mass murderers, psycho-thrillers and the macabre…with the occasional fantasy and sci-fi thrown in. But she always had something good to say about it.

So I muddled through.

Then the physical part of this challenge hit me.  The effects of sleep deprivation was tremendous this time.   Again, it could have been the depressing mood I slipped into after her death in April; a short five months before. I was also dealing with my own  medical ailments which chose that particular stretch of time to act up, or maybe it was me trying to still function as a sane human and interact with people when I felt like telling them all to bite me. I just know that this during this  go around, the 3 Day Novel Contest was a huge mountain and even though I made it to the top, finished the novel…the very, very short, under the 30K word count novel…The view from the top was overcast and not so great.

OK..enough with the back-story.  Now for the ass-kicking and reset.

The ass-kicking happened in March of this year. The week before I turned 60. It was Friday and I was home, settling in after supper to watch TV because the effort it took to think about the habitual weekly laundry, grocery run, and hit and miss with a dust rag in the house, wore me out too much to do anything else and I had not felt like writing in a very long time so even that wasn’t an option. I was also drinking a glass of wine.  It was snowing.  The house was chilly so I had a blanket spread across me in the lounge chair and as the rerun of an NCIS episode I’d seen a bazillion times came on, it hit me.   The only thing to make the picture more pathetic is if I had a dozen cats running around the house. Oh, did I mention I am over-weight and have other health problems?  Not a minor detail, I know, but one I like to try to forget as much as I can.  Maybe it was the wine, but I had a clear picture of my future pop in my mind and I did not like what I saw.

I cried, finished the glass of wine and watched the rest of NCIS…because, I mean, Mark Harmon is eye candy for me, then armed with a pencil and legal pad, I began the resetting. I made a list of what I needed to do to change that future picture.

I wrote down a lot of things. Some logical, some fanciful..like winning the lottery and then whittled it down to three.

1. Get healthier.  2. Start writing again.  3. Finish my damn novel.

I made a poster and hung it on the wall across from this computer.  I made it into my wallpaper on the same computer and the one at work.  That night I got online and joined a weight loss program. And I didn’t lie about my weight or measurements when I signed up.  I began to plan meals and a healthier grocery list. I took away food that was bad for me, packed up the non-perishables and put them in the car to take to work and let the people at work get fat on them….except the bag of Cheetos I had just bought the week before and I wasn’t about to waste those.  Nobody should ever throw out Cheetos. It’s a sin.

The next day after the grocery run, I wrote out a plan of attack for my writing…and you can have no idea how much I HATE to plan when it comes to writing…but I did.  I pulled out one of my twenty or so books on writing a novel and began to read it like the textbook it should be to me.  I made notes, plans, character sketches, time line, TIME LINES people!

After the first week on the ass-kicking plan, I had lost weight, felt better and had some writing to show for my efforts.  Yesterday was the five week mark and I’ve lost 15lbs.  My writing isn’t as impressive but I did begin adding to this blog again.  Baby steps, people.  Baby steps.

So there you have it. The beginning of the new, healthier, happier me.  I can’t promise I will write in this blog every day because… NO!  Damn it.  I WILL write everyday, even if it’s just to hello.  It’s all part of the reset. My reset.

And of course my ass-kicking.

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