Friday, October 21, 2016

Discipline: The Necessary Evil of Writing

Couldn't get the review I was working on done in time this week, so unfortunately, this'll need to be a quickie.

I think I, along with all other writers, start with this false idea of what a career in writing will entail. We have this vision of doing what we love all day long, of achieving our dreams.

Don't get me wrong. I love being a writer (remember my reasons why?), but it actually is a job. It's hard work.

One of the writing advice I kept hearing over and over again while I was in college was "Write regularly. Make it a discipline. Even if you're only writing 1,000 words a day--or less--take it seriously. Write every single day."

I can't tell you how long I spent blowing off this advice. I'd write when I had the inspiration. And oh, that worked for a couple years, but when The Victor's Blade hit a brick wall (or when real life got in the way), writing ground to a halt.

The only way to get over that hump is just to keep writing. That's what everybody said, and now I finally know from experience that it's true. Even if the writing you're churning out sucks (which it probably will since you're forcing yourself to write), at least you're getting stuff down on paper. For many writers, revision is a lot easier than rough drafts. At least with revision, you're working with something that's already there. A blank page is terrifying.

So keep writing every day. Keep working every day. Make it a priority. Set smaller goals at first (my first goal was "Write one page a day." Then it grew to "three to five pages"), then expand into larger goals as time goes. And don't sweat the days that you don't meet your goals. It happens. Don't let it make you feel like a failure. Give yourself license to be human.

I know, I know--easier said than done. I know because I've experienced both sides: before and after I sat down and got disciplined. But as hard as it is some days (or some weeks), I can't deny that it works.

Don't procrastinate. Persevere! And little by little, you'll see results.

Friday, October 7, 2016

When a Loved One Has Cancer

Just when I say nothing serious is going on, I get some of the worst news you can get:

My grandmother has cancer.

It's... odd going through the variety of emotions and stages that come from hearing news that big. It took me a good few hours to even digest the news enough to be sad. I just felt...

Honestly, those first few hours, I'm not sure what I felt. An eerie sense of peace? Peace really isn't the right word, though. I guess it was more like closure. My grandma had gone in for a biopsy, but I don't know if I believed it would end up being cancer or not. My dad and grandma were sure it was. I was on the fence.

Well, it was. And I guess part of me went, "Well, we know they were right."

After those first few hours of wondering whether my grandma was going to refuse treatment like my grandpa (who died of Stage 4 lung cancer about six years ago)... that's when the tears started coming.

You wonder why God's letting this happen. You wonder how everyone's going to make it through. You start to think about life without that person, and the things that highlights scares you to death.

I feel fortunate that I was at least here when my grandma got the news. When my grandpa was diagnosed, I was across the country in Washington state visiting my then-fiance. We were in a long-distance relationship, so this month-long stay was supposed to be the highlight of my year.

Not so much.

Now I know that being with a family member while they're going through medical nightmares can be a nightmare all on its own. But for me, being apart from my family when they're going through a challenge is torture. At least if I'm with them, I can offer my presence as the tiniest comfort and support. I wasn't able to do that for my grandpa when he first heard the news.

The night my grandma found out, I couldn't spend enough time with her, just sitting with her.

But every time I think of her now, I can't help but wonder how much time I'll have left to do that. Is that wrong? Is it morbid? Or can I use that to help me enjoy every last drop out of the time we've got left to love on each other this side of heaven?

I debated starting this post off by clarifying that my grandparents have both lived with my family since 2002. That we're all close. But what does that matter? You went into this knowing that this post was about people we care about battling cancer. Does it matter how far away our family lives? Isn't it just as painful no matter what?

It's like I'd say to any other couple when I was in a long-distance relationship: It doesn't matter how far away you are from them. It sucks just as much.

It doesn't matter whether it's a parent or grandparent or friend. They're dealing with this monster that brings all this fear and pain and misery. It doesn't matter whether they live in the same house or a country apart: it hurts just as much.