Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

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As many of you know, I recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery to tackle some tough life decisions.  So far I’ve learned 1) it’s a process which will last me a lifetime, and 2) I need to enjoy it along the way.  Two nights ago I received another epiphany, of sorts: I’ve been embracing an elusive Someday while wishing away the present, when in reality all I really have to work with is today.

So does this mean I cease to dream and scheme and hope for happily-ever-after?  Or worse yet, do I allow Franklin (my ever-present planner) to gather dust on the back of the bookshelf?  I ran across a quote this afternoon that I believe answers these two questions, at least for me: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” (Anatole France)  I think Shakespeare also said it right in The Tempest: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”  I just need to remember to fully live in the moment at the same time, so when Someday arrives I will have no regrets.  Life is too short for anything less.  ~ cs

“It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. 

It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. 

It is the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give. 

And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”

 (Bette Midler)

Psychology 101

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Shortly after I wrote my last blog, the Valley’s spring weather beckoned me to don flip flops, grab the laptop and venture onto my back patio to write.  A couple of dogs played the 101 Dalmations equivalent of “telephone” and a joy-filled warbler whistled to her heart’s content.  Soon I was lost in the click clacking on my keyboard and the scene taking shape across the monitor.  My daughter cracked open the door: “Are you still here?” 

I smiled as I finished a thought, and then turned my attention to her.  I felt as if I just emerged from a nap or, better yet, as if I recently soaked in a hot tub, a glass of wine at my fingertips.  In a moment of transparency I realized for me, writing equated to therapy.  I’m not sure when this pivotal moment actually occurred or if it was gradual, but right then I reveled in the feel-good emotions simply triggered by writing—the kind a good piece of chocolate or a mani and pedi invoke.  To receive such pleasure from the act of writing convinces me it’s something I cannot live without, like breathing and kisses.  And then I can’t help but wonder if I write hard enough and with enough passion, will I be able to bridge the distance between fantasy and reality?  I guess that’s for me to find out…one keystroke at a time and a glass of vino within arm’s reach. ~ cs

Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m a Writer

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It’s been a week since I purposed (albeit publicly) to write every day.  So far I have joined forces with two writer friends for accountability and encouragement, written several blogs for In With Skin as well as article drafts for our May/June “beach ready” issue, transcribed my own personal blog posts and a few short story vignettes.  Writing has not been the problem.  The part I’ve been struggling with has been putting pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard) to begin working on the story in my mind and in my heart that has been nagging at me for more years than I can remember.  The questions doing laps in my brain have revolved from Where do I even begin? to should I start with back story or dive right into the action or core of my piece?  Better yet, should I allow the reader to get into my character’s heads or leave a little mystery by playing hard to get? (not something I’m good at doing in real life, let alone in fiction).

Organization, the write descriptors, grammar, sentence structure—all of those details can and will be tweaked more than once during the process, of that I have no doubt.  So before allowing myself an out by becoming too fixated on the logistics, I finally just had to accept that starting was key…to simply transfer my thoughts onto the screen in front of me (or my ever-present notebook if laptop is not handy).

This brings me to a Facebook chat I engaged in last week with a good friend of mine.  He mentioned there was a typo in a recent blog.  After my initial thrill that someone actually read my blog, my anal retentive self immediately begged to know where the offensive error could be found.  A couple of minutes (although it felt much longer) went by as I waited for his response.  He mentioned I spelled the word write when I spoke about figuring out the write way to…  I assured him it was intentional and goes along with the name of my blog, Always the Write Time…because “I’m a writer,” I said.  And then in a moment of something I can only describe as clarity, “Wow, I think that’s the first time I ever called myself a writer.  And meant it.”  Baby steps.  Now I just have to keep writing, knowing everything else will eventually work itself out. ~ cs

Eliminating the Excuses

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Remembering the words “Get it done” spoken by ASU President Michael Crow at my undergraduate commencement ceremony in December, I realize I’ve put it off long enough.  Oh, don’t get me wrong …I’ve been taking stock of each month as it blows past me, plus attempting to simplify, minimize distractions and prioritize.  And three months into the new year finds me working at my dream job (albeit as an unpaid intern, currently), supplementing my income through transcription and substitute teaching (any day now), still hitting the gym six days a week (give or take a day), and daily searching for answers to life’s questions (something my recent eat, pray and love journey taught me will be a lifelong venture so I may as well enjoy the process).  What it is time to get done is purposing to write it down—the story in my heart and on my mind, the fingers of an idea that persistently tap their way around the gray matter.  Like my blog’s title, I am reminded that it’s always the write time … so what am I waiting for? 

Like some couples who wait to have children until they’re “ready,” if I’m waiting for the ideal circumstances before I’m ready to sit down and start writing the story only I can tell, then I will eternally chase that dream, always one step behind (and a dollar short).  I will repeatedly congratulate my author friends on their successes, secretly wishing it was me.  But if I believe that it’s always the write time, then that time is now. 

As many of you know, Franklin is one of my closest friends, as in Franklin day planner.  At the top of my task list for today and tomorrow—and arrowed forward indefinitely—is now scrawled the word write.  No more excuses, no more somedays and most importantly, no more buts.  ~ cs

When Fantasy Meets Reality

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How many of us go out of town—either to relax or to embark on a great adventure—and then when we return are confronted with a rude awakening called reality?  For example, it’s inevitable there’s cleaning and laundry prior to departure, and then even more once we’re back home—or any number of tasks that require attention.  It’s not unusual to take a week just to get caught up on the backlog.   My travels were no exception to this unspoken rule; add to that multiple doctor appointments, my regular transcription workload and internship, a social get together, concert and church service.  I need a vacation from my vacation.  Not only that, but I still need to make some big decisions—life decisions.

For example, what should I do after my three month internship at the magazine has been fulfilled?  Is it time to put the house up for rent and buy something closer and more centrally located?  What is the write way to tell the story in my mind and in my heart?  And how does one know when it’s time to close the door to one dream in order to fashion a new one? 

These are a few of the questions I grappled with during my recent nine day eat, pray and love journey, the answers of which still elude me.  As I write this post, the power of the Gulf’s ebb and flow is a remote memory, the sun’s kiss on my shoulders beginning to fade.  But I like to think that what I learned on my adventure will be enough … enough to help me tackle one solution at a time, while collecting all sorts of fodder to write about in the process.  I just have to keep reminding myself to enjoy the other part of the journey, the part when fantasy meets reality.  And to keep taking vacations. ~ cs