Just Focus and Write

It can be frustrating, right? We write and we wait, write and wait, write then wait some more. What each of us are waiting for may differ slightly, but the angst is common.

We write and wait two months for literary agents to tell us “we appreciate you sending us your manuscript, but…”

We write and wait four months for publishers to tell us “we will not be accepting your manuscript at this time.”

We write and post on Medium and wait for the recommends and comments. We write on our own blogs and wait for shares. We send emails to other publications so we can write on their sites for the same reactions.

Then after we’ve finished writing, and writing and writing, we get another idea. Something in the back of our creative mind tells us there’s another way, a faster way, a way that will make more money without the waiting.

So we jump into that atmosphere because it’s a “good plan,” and this writing thing is taking to damn long. And we don’t have enough followers and not enough people are responding and who the hell wants to wait like half a year for a publisher to say no?

Breathe…

A few nights ago I laid down in my bed with the lights off when I got the urge to write. I grabbed my phone and started typing. I didn’t write with any structure, didn’t edit or even read it over once I was done. I just wrote.

I’ll probably never publish that piece, or maybe I will. Who knows. I just felt like writing and I did. Without the pressure, without any expectations, without any agenda other than to get those thoughts out of my head the best way I know how.

I think it’s easy to get frustrated as a writer. To get distracted by the waiting, the rejections, the seeming lack of interest in our offerings. But my humble suggestion is to stay focused and keep writing.

This industry is not for putters. You need to play the long game here. It takes time to find your voice, consistency to make your voice heard, and patience for your voice to soar. But in the mean time, just focus and keep writing.

And sometimes, or maybe often, remind yourself that you love this. If you are a true writer, you know that you didn’t choose this path, this path chose you. There is no scenario that makes sense in which you ever stop writing. So wake up and write, go to bed and write, sit on the train and write, and do it for yourself.

And know that you don’t need to wait for anything to happen. It’s already happening.

Till next time…

Why Aren’t More Writers Pop Stars

I really don’t get it. Is there anything happening in entertainment right now that doesn’t involve a writer? Music? Nope. Movies? No way. TV? Not a chance. Even commercials, websites, every single thing you read online was written by someone behind a laptop (or maybe some writers still use pens, who knows).

Point is, writers make the world go round. Yet anyone not named Lena Dunham or Shonda Rhimes struggle to get much recognition. No, that’s not exactly true. I mean struggle to get the same recognition as your favourite pop star.

Like why isn’t Veronica Roth as idolized as Taylor Swift? Why isn’t John Green as well known as Drake. The Fault in Our Stars sold over a million copies. Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy sold over six million copies. And these are books people. Books that take more than three minutes for each chapter and more than 45 minutes for an entire story.

Yet I bet very few people could pick either of these authors out of a lineup. And when I say “people,” I don’t mean us book lovers. We lovers of language who can list at least five Robert Patterson books on cue, or whose favourite author is Annie Dewitt. No, not us. I mean “people.”

Everyday people. People who wake up to notifications from their cell phones. People whose source of news is TMZ. These people, who peruse social media for facts. Whose lives are consumed by the 24 hour cycle of babble partly created by us writers.

I don’t think we’ll see any reporter asking Lauren Groff who she’s wearing on the red carpet tonight any time soon. But we should. Popular culture should embrace writers like they do any other pop star.

They should sing their praises, troll their Instagram feeds, be waiting outside their homes with cameras snapping every second till these writers snap and go all Chris Brown. But that won’t happen. Probably never.

No matter how many hits Max Martin writes, he’ll always be in the background. And without Googling, can anyone tell me who wrote the screenplay for Straight Outta Compton?

But to the background we descend. We writers are often writers for a reason. The background doesn’t bother us. Recognition for ourselves comes a distant second to the recognition we want for our work. So we write, and then watch everyone else enjoy the benefits of what we’ve created.  We watch others perform our work on stage, on camera, on the microphone, or on the big screen. We watch, and we watch, and we smile, and we go back to our space and write some more.

And nothing makes us happier…

Guest Blog - When Art Transcends Life

Guest Contributor: Nadia L. King

Art adds to the rich tapestry of our lives and is as important as schools and hospitals and roads. Art is the infrastructure for extraordinary moments in ordinary lives.

I am fascinated by that point in time where art and the everyday meet. The intersection between art and ordinary. I’m ordinary. I’m a 40s something woman who likes books and words and people. I like art in the general sense of the word and I didn’t study fine arts at university. My major was commerce. See, I’m ordinary.

I love beauty and try to keep up with exhibitions at our State Art Gallery. I like trees, music, theatre, botanical gardens and dance. Watching the tennis is also fun and I will purposely detour past Bunnings on a Saturday morning to buy a hotdog at a sausage sizzle. It’s fun to hunt down street art and I will stand in raptures in front of a public art installation. In my home city we have a gigantic sculpture outside the GPO which we call The Cactus. The sculpture supposedly represents a living organism and is officially called Grow Your Own. Personally, I love its vibrant greenness and its pointy fingers which seem to say a lot more than people bargained for. I’m also a sucker for Downton Abbey and YA books by John Green. So you see I’m ordinary.

Luckily, being ordinary doesn’t exclude you from experiencing the extraordinary.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to see the WA Ballet at the Quarry. The Quarry performances for the season are always casual. You get to take a picnic, sip chilled wine and eat cheese while dancers delight you with their agility and talent. To be honest, I was rather ho hum about going. I’d had a busy week. I was tired. I’m more of a traditionalist with ballet and The Quarry performances have a modern edge. So I was unprepared then for what happened. When I became part of art transcending the ordinary.

Matt Lehmann and Sandy Delasalle danced. I’m not even sure what the piece was called, but it was a pas de deux where a boy and a girl dance together. The music playing was a strings piece with a cello weeping and the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise. Everything disappeared around me. The Quarry and the sparkling city beyond. Scores of people with their hampers and their glasses of wine. Even the chair beneath me seemed to float away as I joined with the dancers. I was openly weeping, and gasping and clutching my hands to my breast. I was overcome. When the performance ended I clapped, wolf whistled, and kept exclaiming to myself. It was one of those extraordinary moments in an ordinary life. I have been around long enough to know those moments sneak up on you and they don’t happen often. They are precious. They are the moments to keep you warm in your old age when you have time to sift through your memories.

Art can bypass language and engage your senses. Music composed hundreds of years ago can move you. Music can elevate you and yet pull you down to the lowest levels of sadness. A photograph, a painting or a sculpture can also communicate with you on a different plane to language. They can show you another world and another way of being. I have heard instances of stroke victims being unable to speak yet able to sing in a choir. Harpists play in palliative care wards of hospitals to engender a sense of peace for patients in their last moments. Music can help you overcome pain, and is played in neonatal units, in gyms across the world and at sporting events. Art therapy can benefit your emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. Art then is good for us.

Last year I became a Haruki Murakami freak to put it mildly. To put this in context his novels had been chasing me for years but I resisted for quite some time and then finally I read Norwegian Wood. After finishing, I had to not read for a few weeks. Now I’m a serious bookworm so not reading for a few weeks is torture but I couldn’t pick up another book. I had bonded with the book in such a way I knew I would never be the same. I can’t express this any other way than to use the words of a good friend who lives in Puerto Rico. Sarah said it was as if Murakami had gotten inside her head and changed her on a cellular level and that’s exactly how I felt.

This may not be as strange a thing to say as you think. I am an adult learner of the piano. I have no musical talent but a strong desire to master this instrument and make music. My teacher talks a lot about cellular memory and it seems my fingers know scales and chords but I can’t verbalise them for you. She will ask me to play a scale and I close my eyes. My brain will be no help, here it is all up to my fingers and invariably they will perform without me. It is cellular memory. It is the same with tennis. Again I learnt to play as an adult and I had to train my body to hold the racquet just so. To finish a forehand shot with my racquet hand caught in my left. Much of my playing is down to cellular memory.

So I think I can safely say there is more going on with art than us standing in contemplative silence at a gallery. Art moves us on a cellular level. Art touches our souls. Art provides dare I say a religious experience. It adds to the rich tapestry of our lives and is as important as schools and hospitals, and roads. Art is the infrastructure for extraordinary moments in ordinary lives.

Late last year I was in Melbourne at the Victorian State Library. I stood outside the La Trobe Reading Room in tears. My family had gone in before me but I had taken a moment to savour everything the library means to me as a writer. I stood there feeling a bit foolish when a young man, an Asian tourist looked at me and grinned. He gestured with his professional looking camera and nodded at me. It seems we shared a love of the place. We shared a moment in time of appreciation for art. For what better art can there be but a library?

Victorian State Library in Melbourne, Australia.

About The Author

Nadia L. King is a writer based in Perth, Australia. She writes short stories, book reviews and essays. Her first book "Jenna's Truth" is published by Aulexic.
Nadia can be found at www.nadialking.wordpress.com.

 

Guest BloG-Career Moves: Can You Ever Really Go Home Again?

Guest Contributor: Meghan K Riley

Two years ago, I moved away from the only place I had ever lived, Michigan, to pursue a PhD program in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.  Before that, my plan had been to stay in or near Flint. I had gone to school there for the last ten years, and I wanted to stay and teach. The economy and having a young family had indefinitely postponed that dream.

 

It was time to try something different.

 

A survey by Challenger, Gray, and Christmas noted that in 2013, 35% more people were moving for a new position than in 2012.[1]

 

Millennials, in particular, are on the move. J. Maureen Henderson cites a Mayflower survey showing that 59% of people aged 18-35 live somewhere other than where they grew up. Of those, the largest percentage (51) moved for a job[2].

 

Clearly, I’m not alone. Though there are many reasons why millennials have not moved for a job, accounted for in first-person style in an entertaining but sobering The Atlantic article by Derek Thompson[3], many millennials have had to move to find or keep employment.

 

Moving isn’t easy, though. As Henderson notes, while some people might be willing to move to leave an area with low employment rates, “willingness to be mobile doesn’t pay for a moving van.” Besides the high cost of a move, ideally, you have secured a position first. Then there’s all the risk. When I moved, I left family, friends, and a house – albeit, a house I couldn’t afford.

 

And what happens if a career relocation doesn’t work out?

 

Despite the risks, I committed to making a move. Over the course of three years, I completed my Master of Arts, and applied to graduate schools. At one point, I worked four part-time jobs. I applied for, and received, a scholarship from the Center for the Education of Women at the University of Michigan, as well as other scholarships. My persistence, and the generosity of donors, allowed me to finish my degree. Finally, early in 2014, I received notice of various acceptances to PhD programs. Two of them were fully funded. I had to make a choice.

 

In September 2014, my family and I moved to Waterloo. Initially, I felt disappointed – both in circumstances and in myself – that I hadn’t managed to sustain a successful career near home. Soon, though, I became excited. I was eager to work with my advisor. I had also found a great townhouse within walking distance of a school, park, and library.

 

My first visit back to Flint, for a science fiction and neuroethics conference hosted by the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics in March 2015, had me asking one question.

 

Can you ever really go home again? I arrived in Flint late at night, and I was only in town for a day and a half, so it was a little surreal. Still, I recall feeling like it wasn’t home. Places that were familiar to me since I was very young didn’t feel familiar. Everything that has changed over the past couple of years is a little bit of a shock to me – the oldies station playing music from when I was a teenager, the renovations to the University of Michigan-Flint. These changes are old news to everyone else, and I know that if I had stayed, I probably wouldn’t have really noticed.

 

This past month, I have visited with my family. For me, it was somewhat comforting being back. In addition to seeing my family and friends, I ran into one of my teachers from high school. He asked about my plans for my PhD, and I told him about my work at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Teaching Excellence and Centre for Career Action.

 

Then I chatted with my former colleagues from two different departments at the University of Michigan-Flint (including the first department I worked for, way back in 2004), which reminded me of how much I enjoyed my both the work, and the people with whom I worked. Nevertheless, Michigan is no longer quite home. Recently my five and a half year old son told me, “I want to go back to our new home.” He was not even yet four when we moved. To him, Waterloo is home.

 

While people and groups of people have of course moved throughout recent history to pursue opportunities, a study shows that frequent moves during a person’s childhood may be connected to poorer life quality in adulthood.[4]

 

I have a dilemma, then. More so than people in other fields, job seekers in academia face the reality that they must move where jobs are available. Arguably, a new PhD will have trouble finding a position regardless. Phil Ray Jack points out that at least 70 percent of college courses are taught by part-time employees[5] (and that was in 2008!). According to Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus, the U.S. saw 100,000 new doctoral degrees from 2005-2009, but only 16,000 new professorial positions[6].

 

Those that secure tenure track positions will most likely have to move. More and more, I’m considering positions elsewhere in academia, known as alt-ac positions. For that reason, I’ve deliberately sought out positions in facilitation, event planning, and advising during my PhD. What I’ve discovered is a renewed vigor for teaching and advising – I love working with students; that is the reason I pursued a teaching degree in the first place. Knowing that a tenure track position is unlikely has opened my mind to new possibilities, and because of that, I’ve been able to take advantage of some amazing professional development opportunities at the University of Waterloo.

 

When I graduate, I would be delighted to stay and work in Waterloo, if there are suitable employment opportunities. I would be equally as delighted to return to Flint. Still, I have to be prepared for the possibility that there will not be jobs available when I look. To some extent, I’ll still be at the mercy of hiring trends, timing, and other factors beyond my control.

 

I’m optimistic, though. I know that starting my PhD in Waterloo when I did was the best move, both in my career and in my life, for me and for my family. Next time I pursue a career opportunity, I’ll be ready.

 

What about you? Have you had to move for a job or for school? Have you had to move a family? What were the factors in your decision, and what were the results?

 

[1] Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc. “Q2 2013 Relocation Report: More Job Seekers Relocating for Work.” Survey. Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc. 2013. Web. 30 Jul 2016. <https://www.challengergray.com/press/press-releases/q2-2013-relocation-report-more-job-seekers-relocating-work>.

 

[2] Henderon, Maureen J. “Why Do Millennials Move? The Answers May Surprise You.” Forbes. 5 Apr 2016. Web. 31 Jul 2016. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2016/04/05/why-do-millennials-move-the-answers-may-surprise-you/#20933ec12665>.

 

[3] Thompson, Derek. “The Go-Nowhere Generation Speaks: ‘I’d Love to Move, but I Can’t.’” The Atlantic. 15 Mar 2012. Web. 01 Aug 2016. <http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/the-go-nowhere-generation-speaks-id-love-to-move-but-i-cant/254579/>.

 

[4] Oishi, Shigehiro and Ulrich Shimmack. “Residential Mobility, Well-being, and Mortality.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology98.6 (2010): 980-994.

 

[5] Jack, Phil Ray. “Waiting 20 Years for the Tenure Track.” Inside Higher Ed. 17 Jun 2008. Web. 02 Aug 2016. <https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/06/17/waiting-20-years-tenure-track>.

 

[6] Hacker, Andrew and Claudia Dreifus. Higher Education?: How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids---and What We Can Do About It. New York: Times Books, 2010. 

About The Author
Meghan K Riley is an ambitious, student-centred higher education professional, tutor and editor.   She helps people with educational and career success, offering personalized tutoring, resume/cover letter review and university application coaching.  Additionally, Meghan does research through the English Language and Literature PhD program at the University of Waterloo. 
Meghan can be reached via Linkedin or via her website www.megankriley.com.

We Need A Thought Revolution

Everyone needs to take a deep breath. This week has been insane to say the least, and I know everyone is exhausted from the slew of depressing and disturbing content streaming on social media. 

Let me get straight to the point here. All of these things that are happening now have always been happening. Both in America and all over the world. And we can devise all the strategies we want, the only way anything is going to change for good is if we change the way we think. 

We need a thought revolution. 

I mean everyone. Every single person reading this, everyone on this earth including myself needs to change the way we think. I mean radical change, the Enlightenment but brighter. The industrial era but more humane. 

We need to realize that any prefix is divisive. That any label is exclusive. We are humans. All of us. There should not be space in our thoughts for wanting to harm another human being. There should not be space in our thoughts for wanting to disrespect another human being. 

We need to look at a woman and see a person. We need to look at someone who is gay and see a person. We need to look at someone whose skin is black and see a person. We need to look at a Muslim and see a person. 

Any other adjective before person should be meant to uplift not degrade. We must be able to criticize without demeaning. We must be able to accept criticism without being sensitive. And I don’t care how corny this sounds, but we must put LOVE first. To the point where it’s nearly impossible to do wrong. 

Is any of this possible. I say HELL YES. Maybe this sounds a bit too iRobot for some people (the book not the movie), but why isn’t it possible to change our thinking to the point where we choose to love each other before hating each other. Where we see a human being before we add any labels - man, woman, gay, black, white, ugly, fat, skinny, muslim, christian, police officer - whatever. 

We need a thought revolution. An awakening. A revival of humanity. The alternative is what we’re living now.

Jogging On The Backstreets

I never jog on the main road. Strictly the back streets. If it’s not scorching hot I’ll have my hoodie on both drawstrings pulled tight, or at least a cap pulled down as far as possible. Not sure what it is, but I don’t want anyone to know it’s me. 

Sounds odd, I’m sure. Especially since 99.9% of the front and backyards I jog past have no idea who I am. At least I don’t think they do. But that doesn’t stop me from pretending they aren’t still judging. Wondering what this tall black guy is doing jogging on the sidewalk. 

I hate that feeling. That feeling of people watching me. I watched Fantastic Four last night and envy that girl who can make herself invisible on command. That would for sure be my superpower, just so that I can jog free from peering eyeballs. 

But the backstreets make it bearable. It cuts down on the number of cars I have turning their heads as they drive by. It takes away the people walking for a coffee, or for lunch, or to get to the subway or streetcar. 

I’m more comfortable in the backstreets. The occasional “hi” to a passerby doesn’t bother me as much. I can think. I can be me. I can go as fast or slow as I want. There’s no one there expecting any more or less, expecting me to run faster, or longer, or telling me to pick my feet up when I stride. 

That main road is scary. Too much of everything but not enough of what I want. When I’m coming down to the end of my jog, though, I like to walk. Maybe the last five minutes or so. It’s only then that I’ll step onto the main roads. Sweating, panting, my hoodie halfway off my head or my hat lifted up enough to tell who I am. 

I’m more comfortable now. The work is complete. The eyes don’t bother me as much. I don’t even notice the cars anymore and I half smile at every other walker. By the time I get back home, everything’s good again. I love jogging.

Creating A Moment To Remember

What a night! For the past two months I’ve been preparing for the celebration of me completing my second manuscript for my novel titled BEAUTY SCARS. No it wasn’t a book launch. Beauty Scars isn’t even published yet. I literally just brought people together around the idea that just finishing a manuscript is an amazing accomplishment.

And it is. But I knew I wanted to make this night special. Special meaning that I wanted to create moments that people can take with them even after the night was over. And to do that, I knew it would take some work.

 

My thinking was simple, though. The theme of the night was expression. Yes this was celebrating my writing, but writing is just another form of creative expression and so I wanted to put as many forms of creative expression on display as possible.

 

The first thing I did was decide to hold the event inside of an art gallery. That would instantly set the mood and give people the first impression I wanted to create. I also had a bunch of pieces from the BEAUTY SCARS Book Cover Contest that I ran back in December. I went back to those same high school students for the originals and displayed them throughout the gallery.

And I didn’t just put them up any old way. I actually had a professional installation artist named Robert Young to come and do it for me. I have an amazing network of friends, so when I told Robert of my idea, he actually volunteered to do it.

Then I did something that most writers would probably consider sacrilege. I shared excerpts from BEAUTY SCARS with whoever was in attendance, and I didn’t just want to do a standard book reading. I decided to have an actor read the excerpts for me.  Writing a book is one thing, but truly bringing a story to life through voice is an entirely different gift.

So I tapped into my network and reached out to someone from my writing group. His name is Shomee and he is a trained actor and playwright that I knew he would do an amazing job at bringing my book to life. And that is he exactly what he did.

Shomee didn’t read those excerpts as much as he performed them. And having him perform in theatre like style captivated everyone and turned a typical, banal book reading into a mesmerizing experience that was the most memorable of the evening.

And isn’t that what it’s really about? As writers, we always need to keep people engaged. We need them to connect with us on a whole different level because we aren’t selling a product that people necessarily need.

Especially when you’re a novelist, books are a luxury for your audience. Something they read in their spare time. So we must be able to offer more, and I believe that’s what I did on this night.

The reactions on people’s faces allowed me to see that I’d done something special. The enormous amount of praise I received for creating this scene let me know I’d done something special. And although the night is over, I’ve forever etched something in the memory of everyone who came to celebrate BEAUTY SCARS.

Why Am I Waiting for People to Change

  I’m still trying to figure out if this is a strength or a flaw. I have this problem where I almost instinctively see the thing in people that I want to see. Some sort of light, or goodness, or hope that I arrogantly feel only I am aware of and only I can bring out.

From one perspective, this helps me to stay positive. And I notice when I treat people as I see them and not as they are, they end up behaving closer to the image I have in my mind. But what does that really mean? Only that they have potential, which is true of even the worst people. Worse, this may only mean they are capable of altering their behaviour to fit the circumstance, usually to some selfish end.

From the other perspective, having this notion that people can change has put me in plenty of situations in which I constantly give people chances. I can recount even recently me speaking to this person and not understanding at all how they can continually behave this way, even though their history has proven to me that this is exactly who they are.

And this person doesn’t necessarily have to be a partner. For me, this is not a girlfriend issue. This is a people issue, or a recognizing who to trust issue.

Waiting for people to change is like drawing a circle. No matter what, you end up in the same place you started. And as I’m writing this I still feel some hesitation within myself because I genuinely want to believe that we all have the capacity for change. That we all have bad moments, or go through rough periods where we aren’t exactly at our best.

And if that’s true, then these people should expect us, the ones who love them and care for them, to be there as they make their way around the ferris wheel.

But that’s really not how it works, is it? I had a thought a few weeks ago. A thought incited by a real life decision. I wrote on my Facebook page that sometimes we just have to let people go, no matter how long they’ve been in our lives and regardless of if we love them. Because if our goal in any friendship or relationship is to wait for someone to change or attempt to spur on that change, then we’ve entered that situation for the wrong reason and it’s time to get out.

Now in writing this, another thought has crossed my mind. Maybe I’M changing. Maybe I’ve already changed. And if this is true, if I’ve really changed, then my expectation that anyone else should change to match who I am now is baseless.

I’m either creating or have created a new me, which means I’m creating or have created a new world for myself. Instead of waiting for anyone else to change, I should be finding people who fit my new world.

Right? Am I making any sense? Is any of this making any sense?

It’s tough when I’m actually going through it to see anywhere outside of my own mind, but this is what I’m feeling. A writer/artist expressing myself the only way I know how. And yet I feel there are countless amounts of people going through this right now who know precisely what I mean.

#PassionAndPaper

Read my novella THOUGHTS OF A FRACTURED SOUL here.

Finally Letting People In

My friend Steve tells me all the time that I’ve finally come out of my shell. “You’re finally letting people in,” he says. And coming from someone who’s known me since I was 10 years old, that statement holds a lot of weight. He knows how I was. How guarded I’d keep myself and anything close to me. Not that I wasn’t social, but the thought of “letting people in,” frightened me, and it still does to some degree. Accept now I don’t let that fear own me.

Valuing Friendship

I’m writing this having just left my friend’s condo. He’s a new friend, someone I’ve become really close with over the past year. And in the short time we’ve known each other, he’s already a staple in my life, someone with whom I can speak freely, be myself, and bond over everything from basketball to pop culture.

He may not even realize it, but for me his friendship was a risk. A risk meaning letting someone get that close to me was not something I would’ve been comfortable with even a few years ago.

And he’s not the only example. I’ve made other friends over the past two years. My Queen street friends, my Kensington Market Writers Circle friends, some artist friends; all of which would have been nearly impossible for me in my former mind frame.

Writing Not My Only Expression Anymore

I can’t even begin to tell you how valuable all of these people have been in my life. The difference they have made in helping me feel safe trusting people, and really feeling like there are some amazing people in the world who get me; like really understand who I am.

That kind of friendship is invaluable, even more so for me coming from a place where the last thing I ever wanted to do was have someone get to know me. Just the thought of that would make me cringe.

Looking back now, there was definitely some insecurity. The potential to disappoint someone after they got to know me intimately was always what I feared. “What if they don’t like who they see,” were the thoughts plaguing my mind and holding me back from fully engaging with anyone.

And I know that kind of thinking has cost me some friendships, ruined some relationships, and prevented me from growing emotionally. What’s crazy is that I was always such an open minded person, but still so scared to open myself up enough to experience anything meaningful.

But that’s all changed now. Maybe not completely, but enough to where I can feel the difference. And enough to where my world has been changed by the people I let in. For me that’s been everything.

Writing used to be the only platform in which I spoke openly. I took comfort in knowing I could sit and type out my thoughts, click a button, and put it out into the universe without ever really having to face any of its content. Even pieces where I stirred up conversation, there’s a safety in writing that kept me at a distance from the audience that wasn’t threatening.   

And I still feel the same way about writing. It’s such a passion for me now that there’s nothing that could ever pull me away. But I’ve moved some of those emotions off the screen and into my everyday life. Carefully and deliberately, but now someone I’ve let in won’t have to read dozens my blog posts to get an idea of who I am.

They can just ask, and I'll tell.

New friends, new friendships, new bonds, new connections, new experiences. Life is good.

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Photo Credit: Henk Costers

Change and Betrayal

A final word from my short trip to New York. I mentioned that I had the honour of seeing Jhumpa Lahiri speak at the NYPL on west 42nd street near time square. The host and speaker was a man named Paul Holdengraber and he said something that has stuck with me since that evening.

“Every change necessitates a betrayal.”

He was quoting someone else and referring it to the conversation with Jhumpa, but to me those words were everything.

Thinking about the word betrayal; how deep it is, how significant it is within that phrase. Not sacrifice, but betrayal, meaning you mustn’t just remove something from your life as sacrifice suggests, but you must directly oppose that something if you hope to achieve change, or drastic change as I see it. 

In the context of the conversation with Jhumpa, the speaker was referring to her leaving New York for Italy and learning the language so intimately that she has recently written her latest book in full Italian.

In her initial move from the city, Jhumpa left her entire library of of English books behind. All of them. She didn’t take any. For me that showed that she not only had to sacrifice “something” to learn the language, but she had to completely abandon and betray the English language in order to attain the level of fluidity with Italian she set out to achieve.

How many of us can honestly say we are willing to be that bold?

How many of us are willing to go against our common way of thinking, of behaving, of seeing things, so we can transform our lives? And believe me when I say transform is the precise word. The sharper the betrayal, the greater the transformation.

Let that sink in for a while. Let that concept really take its course. So many of us want to do great things, want to be seen as great influencers, but are we willing to betray…

I had to take a hard look at myself, as well. I post so much about my passion for writing, for being a novelist. And though I feel like I can certainly answer affirmatively to the former question, in my own mind I’m left to wonder what exactly that betrayal will look like.

#HistoryOrNothing

Read my debut novella "THOUGHTS OF A FRACTURED SOUL," here.