being prey for a spider

I like mornings. No. I actually love them, crave them. The solitude, the stillness, the hushed black sky. Not so much when I actually have to talk to or engage with anyone. My zen can turn ugly in a nanosecond when someone disrupts my quiet. The other morning, a certain someone was talking in decibels that are not tolerated at such an early hour and for a good twenty minutes about Isis. Do I care about this right now? Can't I get some let's not talk at all especially about a serious topic my brain is not ready to ingest at 5 am?


But hey. Let's talk about dreams. Especially those that actually change the course of your life. Have you had the pleasure? I've had a few. Yes, yes, I've had those cryptic dreams where something came true the next day, and those are neat and all, but... there was that one dream recently that pushed my butt in the right direction. Those are the best dreams.

Recently I came to this conclusion that my lifestyle was destroying me. Well, I exaggerate a tad, but still. I became aware of all these things I was doing to sabotage myself, my health, my contentment. And I got pissed off. At myself. I remember telling my husband my thoughts and how I needed to change my habits and stop undermining my struggle to do better. The next day, I had this dream that my friend, Cam would chuckle at the sheer textbook psychology of it. It was all about spiders.

I was at a picnic in a secluded park with several people, mostly strangers. While sitting at a table eating my lunch, I began arguing with my brother, getting really heated and angry because he put his feet up on the table, right next to my food. The people next to us were staring at me because I was yelling at him to move his feet. At some point there seemed to be a scare that someone had been bitten by a venomous spider - and then that person died. I had left the picnic table to see what was going on with the victim and looked up to see hundreds of enormous spiders in the trees - like tarantula sized and ready to take over the world. Then one of them flew at me (yes, they could fly) and bit me on the neck, which meant I was going to die. I woke up. 

I'm not one for nightmares and bad dreams usually. In fact, I'm a pretty lucid dreamer in that once a dream begins to go sour, or to a place where I can't quite handle, I become aware and I change the course of the dream or wake myself up. This one was only slightly nightmarish, but mostly it revolved around the psychological details. When I looked up spiders in dreams, I ruled out the dominant female thing and some other interpretations that didn't apply to me. What resonated for me was how they can symbolize your future, fear and entrapment. The spider's web can have subconscious association of weaving our own destiny and consequently being trapped inside it. Disagreeing with the "clingy relationship" side of it, I knew that ensnaring force was myself. The bite itself was a symbol of the peril I felt I'd put myself in.

I had already decided the night before that I needed to change. The swarming spiders and subsequent attack in my dream world only added to my determination. Since then, I made a lot of progress on those so-called unresolved issues.

And on a similar though totally different note, I've been working on the 3rd draft of my novel. This, too, fed into my spider dream. The fear of my future and feeling like I'm never going to finish this novel or that it's taking so damn long is like straight out of a textbook dream book. While I know I'm far from perfect and I understand that I'll make mistakes, one thing I can't tolerate about myself is a lack of control and self-discipline. This is certainly an ongoing process, but taking notes from the spider, I have to be patient and continue to build my web. I also have to have the conviction that it won't be long when I look up to see my intricately built web is finished and I've reached my goal. Then, I'll just have to build another.

xo Kira

something this way comes

Do you remember when I mentioned that writing the first draft of a book is easy? I still hang on to that belief. But I also believe that once you're getting into the meat of your novel, the easy plummets and gets buried beneath all the structure, ruxles and editing that are necessary to make it compelling, convincing and at the very least, readable. 

I've recently come across yet another site on the advice of how to write a novel which really caused me to see my book in a new way. I think most people have heard of Storyfix and Larry Brooks' Story Engineering. When I was first starting out, it seemed like whenever I searched a specific question about writing on the web, something by Larry Brooks would pop up or if it weren't his article, it would be someone else referring to him. Then a few months ago, I came across another website just when I thought I was nearly finished with my second draft - the 12 pillars of novel construction on Live Write Thrive. There's tons of advice on this website in general, but what I've really found helpful are the 'inspection checklists' she posts at the end. So while I was on my way to making my deadline of December 28, I had to backtrack because this website caused me to look at my story differently. This is a good thing. 

I may have been a literature major in college, but nobody taught me how to write a novel. I read hundreds of books for my major and had to write essays about them, but writing a book is a whole other world. And while I'm not capable of giving advice on writing, I can at least advise anyone who's starting out to not do what I did: write a book before learning how to write a book. I admit, sometimes it's daunting. And scary and tragic. Especially when I read things like this article telling me that writers as a rule are dismally poor and struggle to make ends meet. Yikes.

And yet, we keep writing. Just because we love it. And we have to do it. We have all these stories in our minds - these characters that are dancing around, tormenting us, their worlds beckoning.... they have to come out somehow!! We think about those writers who are deemed mediocre at best by the critics, yet they're making millions off their best-selling novels and scoring movie deals. Some of these writers have had overnight success and we think to ourselves - why can't that be me? But really? I think most of us would be happy just being somewhere in the middle. Making up stories and getting paid handsomely for our efforts. Mm, perhaps an extra bedroom for a home office. That should do nicely.

xo Kira

june in january

I don't make new year resolutions. I find that I make enough goals throughout the year that when January comes around, it's unnecessary.  My trouble is I have ongoing goals that I never seem to master - things like finish my book, do yoga everyday, exercise at least five times a week and eat less processed foods. These are my constants and sometimes I achieve them, sometimes I don't. The bottom line is you need to want to change. And just because it's a new year doesn't mean it's a magical time to begin your new life or start a new you. 

clouds in january.JPG

Around ten years ago, I fell under something akin to depression. Although I was never diagnosed with anything (I never asked, to be honest), I'm pretty sure I was dysthymic - which is a low-grade depression that affects your everyday life, but isn't debilitating. Anyway, in order to quell this new crappy feeling, I began eating my way out to make myself feel better. Naturally, I gained weight. I put on around 18 lbs within a two-ish year span. Previously I had always prided myself on being fit and lean. I ran 20 miles for fun, I ate my greens and I felt great. But then I was stuck in a living situation where I became desolate and I sort of lost myself. I was in a job that I loathed, had moved to a new place where I had no friends and I felt empty and alone. I became anti-social, barely making it out of my quarters to talk to anyone, which I'm sure only made things worse. I was miserable doing what I was doing and I hated myself for falling down that wretched hole. Yet, I couldn't seem to bring myself out of it. It wasn't until I connected with some new people that I began to feel myself again. I lost about eight pounds because I stopped eating trashy foods to lift my mood and for the first time in a long while I had people around whose company I enjoyed, even grew to love. I still wasn't where I wanted to be physically. I took a picture of myself in the mirror and seeing myself that way made all the difference. It made me want to change. Once I had made that decision, the rest came easy - at least with losing those unwanted pounds. 

This may come across as saying that I bounced out of depression in an instant, therefore anyone could. No, that's not it at all. I do not dismiss mental illness or in any way say that quelling these illnesses are easy. But for me I know it was all related to this certain period in my life. In experiencing it, I now know what to avoid. I'm certainly no psychologist or even close, but I do know myself. And once I wanted to make a change - once I could - I did.

Aside from that, there was a time not too long ago when I was concentrating mostly on my photography, and then I moved on to art and ceramics. All that time I'd been simultaneously writing my book and had written a draft that was so far removed from the one I'm writing now, it's almost like a new story. Then I realized I can't do it all. I have to pick one thing and do it. I chose writing. Once I made that decision, my progress catapulted enormously. Again - this was a change I wanted to make. 

Finishing (and publishing!!) my book is on a short list of ongoing goals alongside daily yoga and trying not to turn into a tub of unfit jelly. And while I am not the lean machine I once was, I am definitely not where I was ten years ago. Not even close.   

And my book? I have a new deadline - but once I realized how much I wanted this, I have not ceased moving forward. I sometimes have to push myself a little. Sometimes I need to search for inspiration. But nowadays those moments are rare - I want this. That's the bottom line. January be damned. 

I don't normally post images that aren't mine, but I couldn't resist this one. From The Hours of My Life.

I don't normally post images that aren't mine, but I couldn't resist this one. From The Hours of My Life.

the woes of not getting it right

In some ways, writing a novel is easy. You have a concept, theme, conflict, plot, a kick-ass protagonist and all those other goodies that drive the story. All you have to do now is put it down on paper. The first draft is practically effortless. It's when you read that pile of papers you'd like to call a manuscript and discover just how far from a manuscript it actually is.

I know my writing needs work. I have a habit of over-explaining, writing too much and not leaving a whole lot to the imagination. It's almost like I'm writing a screenplay, as if I have to describe every piece of furniture in the room, every move my characters make. Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. But! Something I've noticed is that my writing has improved with every cut, every, re-write, every edit. Within all these edits, I've become aware of this flaw, among others. Editing is never, ever wasted time even though sometimes it might feel that way.

I have written the first draft of my novel, a while ago it seems - that was the painless part. Once I started restructuring it, I saw my book for what it was:  A Mess that Needs a Helluva Lot o' Work. However, in restructuring it, it seemed as if the end was that much nearer - at least it did seem that way. On my second draft, I've encountered a lot of stop and go time. I stop because the structure's not working. I stop for superfluous characters. Delete, delete! Goodbye, David, Goodbye, what's-her-name. I stop because the midpoint and first half of the book is all wrong. Rewrite again and again and again. I stop to flesh out the background, to set up my world of magic. You get the point. Much stoppage, not enough advancing. I finally got to the point where I was somewhat happy with it, like hell yeah, this is it! Just on Sunday, I reached the midpoint again, and ahead of schedule! Then I realized I miscalculated and I had to cut lots and lots of words out. In the meantime, I found a few writing websites that made me see some detrimental mistakes I was making with regard to, well, everything. Well, maybe not everything, but at the moment I'm feeling like I need to start all over. And I mean allll ovvveeerrrrr. (Insert cry face.)

This is why I can take the time out to write in this dear lil' unused and lonely blog o' mine. Because I am stopping yet again, restructuring. This has been happening a lot right at the midpoint. I wonder how common this is. I would ask my readers, but I don't think anyone even knows this blog exists. I am THE WORST when it comes to self-promotion. I don't know why this makes me chuckle. It shouldn't. 

At least my cats are helping.