The Struggle Is Real.

 

There are moments which define us. Moments which lead to great actualization. Moments which enrich and educate. This is what it means to be alive: the culmination of these moments which mold us as people. They help us to understand who we are and what we are meant to do. For many years, I had moments of no true significance. Sure, they were fun and they were painful but none which really spoke my truth to me. None of really pushed me to any dreams. They just pushed me to wake up in the morning and do it all over again. I just existed. And not because I didn’t have a dream to push toward, but because I didn’t believe in myself enough to get past my own ego. The moments weren’t enough to awaken that instinct to survive, to achieve.  Paradoxically, I always knew there was nothing that could ever stop me, once I put my mind to a task. I was the person you could hand a project to, and it would get completed, most likely better than what you asked. I taught myself computer programs. I taught myself to reupholster furniture. Physical tasks were never a problem to complete; however, if it involved the inner self, I was unable to find the tools to fix me. But again, I never had the push I needed to have that moment.

Then, in an instance of darkness, I received a call. Literally.  My friend called and what was just a quick hello ended up being a marathon phone conversation, where we explored why it was the way we were. I had a moment. My moment. Thus began the transformation of inner and outer.  Yet, I did not know how painful that moment would be. To quote the great Madonna from The Power of Goodbye, “pain is a warning that something’s wrong,” and that’s how it’s supposed to be, right? Discomfort is a means of discovering the irregularities in your energy.  If there is discomfort, then it should not be pursued, for everything that is pure and true to be dreamed, then there is no discomfort. It is only when it is not in the best interest of the person that there is discomfort. Right?

Maybe not.

What if the discomfort is the shedding of those moments which served you no purpose, to show you the truth? The truth is never wholly joyous. This is why we actively avoid it when we can. But in this first moment of life clarity, there was discomfort, because I knew how much I had given up and wasted, just being content in the average. Pain is the truth bubbling to the surface, demanding to be heard. It’s not meant to be feared. It’s meant to educate. It’s meant to remind us that growth must occur in order for us to achieve. Not live in the complacency of comfort and safety. Pain is indeed a warning that something is wrong. It shows us we’re not on the right path. We don’t have our truth secured. In this moment, I accepted my truth: I was meant to be an author.

I have known since I was eight that I wanted to write.  There is just a wonderful storytelling quality I have, I can weave images together as if following an internal pattern, crocheting thoughts and visions in a continuous thread.  I won my first poetry contest at that time, which set me up for failure. I knew I was talented, but everyone just made fun of me. Being creative isn’t popular. I was harassed by other kids on the bus, because I would write, instead of paying attention to them.  I had M&Ms thrown at me because I wasn’t interested in fitting in. These were the moments which told me to shut down. Give up. Be average, just like everyone else. But I wasn’t like everyone else, was I?

When I got to college, I was forced into a degree program that wasn’t really my taste. I liked science, but I was always writing.  I thought of everything as research. Finally, I went to the registrar’s office and changed my major without telling my parents. They finally gave up.  I graduated and half-heartedly tried to get a job at a newspaper, but quickly threw in the towel, because it was too hard. They didn’t pay enough. My parents were right. I was going to starve.  So, I again attempted to fit into the mold that everyone else suffered from. I got an office job and another one. I was fired from several jobs, quit several other ones, and went through a deep depression, where I truly thought I was losing my mind.  It was during this time I gave up on my pipe dream. I quit writing for almost three years. I didn’t want to think about it, look at it, or talk about it. I didn’t read books. I didn’t write poetry. I didn’t journal. It wasn’t my truth. My computer slowly rusted out.  It died as I did.

Then one day, in a chance moment, I somehow stumbled on this website for a National Novel Writing Month Competition.  It was free and no one truly “won” the competition, you simply had to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I signed up, not thinking much about it.  Before I knew it, I was knee deep in a novel that mercilessly bled out of me. By November 30th, I had written over 50,000 words and was nowhere near the end.  It was there that I met my friend. Ah, Fate. The next year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and volunteered to be the regional organizer.  The following year, I began my pursuit of two of my biggest dreams: going to graduate school and getting published. Slowly things turned around, I eventually got into graduate school, but I was having trouble getting published. I started with poetry magazines, but after a year of rejection, I gave up again.

Then that one summer happened.  Around the time of my friend’s call, I was going through a major medical problem and I found out the guy I was seeing left me for another girl, who was half his age. That night, I had a dream, in which I was walking down the street, with girls laughing at me.  They were talking about how every girl in town was seeing my boyfriend. I overheard a girl say: Every girl in town has a Carrie story. My dream self and my conscious self merged, and as I stood in the middle of the street, I told myself to wake up, and remember, “every girl in town has a Carrie story.”  The next day, I began to write. Within three weeks, I had a full manuscript. I needed the release only writing can give me. I needed to create worlds and exist in them to balance. I needed to be an architect of stories again. I needed to do it for my health, my well-being. For me. Not for publication. Not for anyone else. Just me.

As I write this, I have been successfully rejected by countless magazines and had nearly 300 queries declined, yet, I am undeterred.  I continue to write, I published my first novel, published three books of poetry, because I believe in myself and my writing. While I have moments where I want to concede, I remember those moments I have survived and grown from and understand how much they have defined me. How much they continue to define me. Moments are what make us human. Learning from those moments is what makes us who we are inside. They etch out the figure of a person and polish us down until we shine, as long as we learn from them. It’s very easy to give up when moments hand you situations which are uncomfortable or unnerving, but much like the good times, there must be bad times too, to remind us to appreciate. I appreciate my struggles. It made me a better writer and I have a greater resolve than I thought: all because of a couple of seemingly random moments leading me to a conversation that changed my thinking.

 

Until next time…


 

Like my blog? Why not try my novel? Big city actor falls for small-town historian, reigniting a moonshining feud. Things are about to get real messy, but can their love survive?

The Mess We’re In is available at AmazonAmazon KindleBarnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.

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