Finding Why: in Life and in Fiction

There is nothing wrong with being an ambitious woman. No matter what sexism and misogyny tells you. No matter what other women might say to your face or behind your back. Your place is wherever you feel right — it may not be in the home, the kitchen, the office, the schools.

But I have to admit, even though I know this is true — I live and breathe this mindset – lately, I’m struggling to find the why of my ambition. And I need to explore that, because as a writer, knowing why is where you start. In story, WHY is better known as MOTIVE or GOAL. It is the driving force behind the protagonists struggle forward. It is what keeps the main character fighting when all the odds are stacked against them, when everything seems lost, when finally they have their big chance.

It’s no surprise to me that I am also struggling to find the why for my main character at the moment. That sounds about right, since life imitates art, art imitates life, and both myself and this shiny new character need to get to the true motive for our actions.

Earlier this year I started a YouTube channel(Books, Booze and Bitches, for anyone interested). At first it was very loose, free — just a thing my sister and I were doing to chronicle our adventure to Comic-Con. It was a release and escape from the pressing matter of what the hell am I doing in my life and career. And it was FUN. It was MINE. Anyone could watch and like or dislike, but they weren’t in control of it. And for someone trying to make it in both publishing and film, two highly-competitive, highly-controlled fields, having my own thing was like growing wings.

But then I got ambitious. I wanted it to grow wings, too. It was fine, I said, to want more from this thing than just an outlet. I could do well on YouTube. It could explode. But then it stopped being quite so fun. I started getting pissed if everyone didn’t watch, and then I started getting sick of it a little.

Ambition has tried to rob me of the fun of creative pursuit. YouTube is not the first near victim. Earlier this year I wrote about my anger toward the publishing industry, how it was killing my desire to write, ruining my stories, and giving me wrinkles. I wrote about how I was going to take a step back so I could rediscover the reason I loved writing books.

Hint: it’s not about a book deal. That is insignificant to the love of writing. The magic is in creation. If you ever think you do a thing for money or acclaim, that thing will end up souring before you can ever savor it.

Last night, after I posted my video to YouTube and Facebook, I didn’t feel happy to have it out in the world. I felt irritated. I felt like I was screaming in a room full of people and somehow no one could hear me. Because even though it always gets views, I can’t figure out how to WIN. I want to conquer the Internet. I want to crack the code to success.

But WHY? What am I hoping to achieve from YouTube? Or writing, really? What am I doing it for? I sat on my couch last night and I couldn’t even answer that question. What, existentially, the hell do I want?

On the surface, of course I want publication, or my screenplay made into a film, I want to entertain people through YouTube, and somewhere not too far below the surface, I want validation and acceptance of my creativity.

What do I have to prove? As competitive as I am (do not play me in a board game, I will crush you), I don’t care about being the best. I like to win, but my definition of winning has nothing to do with other people. I care about being the best version of me. I don’t compare myself to others often. I compare myself to the woman I think I should be by now. I look at how successful I believe myself capable, and I shoot for more. I’m not happy if I’m not winning against me.

But I will never begrudge another person’s success. I will never be jealous. I will always support someone I believe in. I’m a Gryffindor, Loyalty and Chivalry are kind of our thing.

When you’re writing a story, you always start on the surface. Getting to know a character is like getting to know another human being. You ask them questions, and they give you true but shallow answers. The reason your character MUST survive the Hunger Games cannot be just because she doesn’t want to die. That is primal, and truthful, but it is not deep. Now, winning so she can give her sister a better life, that sells. That is something we as feeling people empathize with.

You don’t reach your goal because of external wants. You reach your goal because inside you have something worth fighting for.

So…what is my WHY?

I am compelled to be more than I was yesterday. I am fighting for success, but I am also striving for excellence. I need to show my son he can WIN if he never gives up. I need to prove to my nieces that bravery is just as important as beauty. I need to prove to the little girl that had the dream to become something when she grew up that she is something already.

In the story of your life, you must be the hero. You must define for yourself what your goal is, and you must make a promise to fight through all the obstacles until you get there.

Find WHY and your character, yourself, can win it all.

For Moms & Kids Everywhere

School starts tomorrow. In some places it has already begun. In others, summer will last another week. No matter your location, if you are a mom with school-age children you face a new beginning:

Your child is going back. Or going for the first time.

Maybe you feel like this


Or possibly you’re more this


You could be both, but one thing is certain, you are feeling something. And that something is okay to feel. You should be anxious, a little bit stressed, not quite sure how it’s gonna pan out, and also secretly lusting over the brief moment in the morning after you’ve dropped the kid off but before the day actually has to begin for real. Savor the precious solitude of the car ride to wherever (if you don’t have a toddler in the back throwing Cheerios at your head) (if that’s the case, remember you chose to have that baby, and she is a precious cherub sent from God) because uninterrupted thinking time is vital.

To mother’s of Kindergartners, don’t panic. Kids are scarily intuitive. You might think you’re holding your shit together but in reality you look like this to your five year old


I’m gonna be real with you, most kids will lose it, or at the very least cry, on the first day of Kindergarten. That new classroom and those new kids and all that new shit on the walls they can’t quite read is just TOO MUCH. It’s hard to process, and they don’t want to disappoint you, or to look like a wuss, so they need you to be brave for them. Remember that earlier gif of TSwift? Yeah, get that out of your system before tomorrow morning. Be a Disney Princess smiling through the emotional damage you’re about to incur.


It’s for the kids.

My son starts first grade tomorrow. I am not old enough to have a first grader. Some days, I’m not even old enough to have a houseplant. But, somehow, in the years since I had my sweet baby boy to now, he has grown tall and lean, started playing video games and decided he wants to marry the Pink Power Ranger. He’s able to read. He won’t just sink if he falls into the deep end of the swimming pool. He’s lost five teeth.

Part of me wants to pretend he hasn’t grown up at all because the reality that soon he won’t be able to sit in my lap or let me kiss him on the lips is almost too much to accept.

You could too. But we shouldn’t.

As parents, it’s essential that we give our babies the chance to be big. We have to let them face fears and conquer obstacles because the world is littered with traps and terrors they must learn now to overcome. Yes, we may want to tenderly kiss their foreheads and coo in their ears like when they were babes, but that’s not really what they need from us now.

They need us to listen. To play the game with them. To answer their questions and acknowledge their anxiety. They need us to agree that it’s scary — kindergarten, first grade, LIFE — because holy shit it really is, but it can also be great if you work hard and stay strong.

They need to learn from us that backing down from the challenge isn’t the answer. And when they struggle — because they will struggle, guys, they will hate it and they will cry about it, and around Christmas they will be DYING for a break — they need to know you care that all they want to do is veg out on the couch and watch Holiday movies while eating cookies.

And they need you sitting beside them. Just existing with them in the moment, showing them it’s okay to slow down, to say no, to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

In the end, it’s not really about school, or tests, it’s not how well they behave or what the other kids think of them. It’s about knowing they can (you can, too). We all can. Knowing you can is a powerful concept. An idea worth believing. A chance worth taking.


Ready. Set. Write! Update 6


Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing — I only got about 10 new pages, but I incorporated the feedback from my consultant, so I am pretty pleased.

Reading — Finished reading Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett. I stayed up way too late one night reading because I couldn’t put it down. This book is so good — sexy and scary and leaves you wanting more. Definitely recommend. Kim is doing a pre-order giveaway through McNally Jackson that everyone should check—out:

Pre-order Blood and Salt

Workout — I was a lot busier this week than I expected. I only got in three workouts this week, but I am glad I at least got that.

My Goals This Week:

Writing— I am feeling really ambitious this week. I would like to get 35 screenplay pages written, or get to the third act of my script by the end of the week. Basically, I am in game face mode to finish.

Reading — Reading screenplays. I just read Almost Famous, and plan to read a few more this week just to keep myself in screenplay world.

Workout — I plan to exercise every day. I may not get to the gym, but at least doing my own thing at home is usually feasible.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.


I’m afraid the best we can do is set you up with a volunteer to help you search the convention.


Search? A convention of 150,000 people in costume?


To be fair, not everyone is in costume.


So you won’t help me at all.


We said you could use our copy machine to make flyers with his picture on it.

She blinks at him.


Do you need thumbtacks?

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

My son was really needing extra mom time, and I decided that was the most important thing. It meant giving up some of my normal writing time. It effected how much I accomplished. And it was totally worth it.

Something I love about my WiP:

It’s the story I want to be working on. Sometimes our ideas don’t pan out, or they turn into something else along the way, and — good or bad — we have to adjust. Even with this stories evolution, I know I am working on the story I should be working on right now. And rightness trumps everything else.

Comic-Con Magic


When you’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con, explaining the experience to anyone who hasn’t can be difficult. Describing the sheer volume of people feels like an exercise in hyperbole. It’s not a place for the faint of heart. It’s not easy. And when it’s over, when reality comes crashing back in on you, the sinking feeling in your stomach that you have to wait a whole year until you can go back makes one thing clear: this is your home.

Comic-Con may never matter to you, but for me, my obsession with the largest Con in America began about two years ago when I conceived an idea for a screenplay set there. Like all my stories, this one began with a character and a question. Those two elements, who and why, set me on a path to fervently investigate this mythical beast, this magical place where writers, actors, artists and their fans come together for four days of insanity, united.

This research created in me a deep fascination. I am a card-carrying member of many fandoms. I love my shows and my books and all the flawed and fabulous characters with a sometimes rabid passion. But going to Comic-Con isn’t something you just do. It takes forethought. It takes guts, and it is not easily achieved. It does not happen on your own.

Stephanie, my sister and best friend, and I agreed that if we could get badges to Comic Con, we would go, and not only that, we would start a YouTube channel to chronicle our journey.

Our road to Comic-Con was filled with struggle, but also, allies willing to help make this thing happen.

The first was Melissa. A friend of Stephanie’s that dreamed of going to Comic-Con as well. We linked up, agreeing that whoever got sent through registration would buy badges for all three of us. Melissa was the Chosen One, from a lottery that resembled the Reaping. And in less than a minute, we had acquired a one-day badge. We didn’t care that it was just Sunday. We were going. Melissa ended up not being able to attend, but if not for her, our journey would have stopped there. Melissa has favors she can forever call in.

The second was the Internet of Comic-Con Nerds. Once we started vlogging, tweeting, tumblring about the Con, we quickly found there was a plethora of experts at our fingertips. There was a Comic Con fandom. There was a blogger named Tony B. Kim, maybe better known as Crazy 4 Comic Con, who has made a career out of going to Cons. His insight and passion became a guide to surviving, maybe even winning, San Diego Comic-Con. To all those who dedicate themselves to this fandom, we thank you. You made this unknown monster a little less scary.

The third was a woman we affectionately call our Jedi Master. A volunteer we befriended before the Con after meeting her in our hometown. Jedi Master taught us the ways of her people, and gave us the gift of Friday and Saturday passes. She took us under the arm of her cloak, imparting her wisdom and making us believe that Con Magic exists. Con Magic was real. And we, for some unknown reason, were being touched by it.

We conquered the unconquerable lines of Hall H and Ballroom 20. Walking into the darkness of Hall H, surrounded by 6,500 other humans there for the same reason we were — they were fans — my heart exploded with feeling. I had built this place up in my mind, something that could have gone terribly wrong, but when it came to it I had no idea just how powerful it would be. How the weight of this world would rest on my shoulders like a cloak of invisibility, allowing me to feel, for a moment, completely invincible.

And when I lost my wallet, the person that turned it in, leaving my cash and cards intact, gets the credit for finally making me cry. It was more magic than I deserved, too much kindness, after days of unforeseen blessings. I was unworthy.

Comic-Con isn’t just a place to spot celebrities, or fight for exclusives, or listen to panels. It’s about more than seeing unreleased footage or blooper reels from favorite shows. Those things are awesome, but not everything. Comic-Con is a place where, if only for a few moments, you are not alone in the world, you are not misunderstood, and you can become a hero.

I am a fan that aspires to be a creator, to one day sit on a panel and have fans of my own. But I am a fan first, and I need other fans. I needed to be reminded that human beings are capable of greatness.

Ready. Set. Write! Update 4


Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I Did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing — I was able to get 25 pages on my screenplay last week. So I wrote most days, at least 5 pages. This is me accomplishing my goal.

Reading— I didn’t have any time this week to read. But I did make a video about being an American woman and get to go on a date with my husband. So, I am okay with my choices.

Workout — I did two sessions with my brother the Personal Trainer, as well as the elliptical everyday. Yay exercise.

I also wanted to knock off some get ready for SDCC things off my list and not panic. I did both, with some concerted effort.

My Goals This Week:

Writing— I’m leaving for San Diego Comic Con on Friday morning before the buttcrack of dawn, so I this week is going to be kind of nuts already. I’d still like to add 10-15 pages to my screenplay, if possible. Dreamers gotta dream.

Reading —I plan to start A Court of Thorns and Roses at least once i get on the plan to San Diego. It will be too early to drink, so I will need something to distract me from my nerves. Plus, Sarah J. Maas will be at Comic Con

Workout — I will workout Monday through Thursday this week, at least two maybe three session with Personal Trainer and Asgrdian, brother Isaac.

I may not be able to post on Monday of next week, depending on how dog tired I am and if I remember there is a life outside Comic Con…oh, wait, that’s the title of my screenplay…

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.


Abigail and Kate stand at the edge of the Exhibit Hall. Abigail has her nose in the MAP of the Exhibit Hall. Kate has her eyes on the massive crowd.


May the gods of Comic Con grant us patience and strong immune systems.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

I struggled to find time to write during my usual writing time with all the OTHER things going on. One of the things that really helped was scheduling some night time sessions with my CP Susan (she’s a participant in Ready. Set. Write! too) because it helped me make up pages. Plus, it was fun!

Something I love about my WiP.

This is where I talk about the necessity of plotting the hell out of a screenplay. Doing that work upfront, and not moving forward until I felt satisfied with the scenes I had planned, has made a massive difference in this revision.

So, how did you do this week on your goals?

Ready. Set. Write! Update 3


Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

How I Did on Last Week’s Goals:

Writing- I began work on my screenplay revision on Thursday and was able to get 9 pages that day. I also finished the BEAT SHEET for the other screenplay I’m working on. It’s still a rough draft, but I love the idea and where it’s going.

Reading – I finished Things We Know By Heart by Jessie Kirby, but haven’t had a chance to start any new reads yet. I plan to start A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.

Workout – I kept up my exercise routine, and added in two sessions with my brother the personal trainer. This week I would like to do the same!

My Goals This Week:


1. Get between 5-15 pages on my screenplay every day this week. I won’t have a full finished revision before I leave for Comic Con and Los Angeles, but I’ll be more than half way through.


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas next.


1. Start knocking stuff off my “getting ready for Comic Con list” and don’t panic about the fact that it’s almost here.

2. Workout every day, do two sessions with my brother this week.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Line of Dialog from one of my characters, Simon.

But here, we can be anything. Here, maybe there’s way to save the damsel. Even if the damsel is you.

The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Focus. I have a lot going on right now, like everyone, and focusing on the task at hand without getting distracted with future tasks, other tasks I should be dealing with, was a real hurdle this week.

Something I love about my WiP.

I love that by the end of this revision I will have a largely different story than I had at the end of the first draft, but will still feature all the same characters, just deeper versions of themselves. The power of revision in action!

What are your goals this week?

Ready. Set. Write! Update 2


Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

I missed updating last week, but I’m here this week. Even though I missed updating last week, I did not miss meeting goals. Here’s how I’m doing:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals:

Writing: I’ve been working steadily on the Beat Sheet for my screenplay revision. In the last two weeks I have executed a major overhaul on the plot and dug down deeper in the main character’s motives. I finished a new draft on Friday and I’m pretty sure it’s the One. I also began a new Beat Sheet for a new screenplay and I am really excited about it.

Reading: I read Just One Day by Gayle Foreman and LOVED it so much. I know I’m a bit late to that fan club, but man, what a wonderful book. I am heavily into reading The Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby, and it’s already ripping out my heart.

Workout: I’ve kept up my workout routine, and even added in some sessions with my brother, Isaac, who is a personal trainer. I almost died on YouTube last week when my sister-in-law and I did a workout to prepare for Comic Con. If you enjoy laughing, you should check out our video!

2.  My goal(s) for this week.


1. I need to finish this Beat Sheet for the new screenplay because it’s due to my screenwriting consultant before Thursday.

2. Start the revision of the Comic Con screenplay!

Reading: Finish The Things We Know By Heart!

Workout: Do at least two sessions with my brother!

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Satisfying Character Arcs — one of the things I have struggled with a lot on this Comic Con screenplay is making the three main characters (because it is more of an ensemble) all have satisfying arcs that happen at the right time in the story.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Juggling. Like most of y’all, I’m sure, summer is insanely busy. I have a lot going on with my son, my husband, my dogs, and my own stuff. Keeping all the things in the air is kind of distracting.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I love that, after working so much on the plot, I really feel like I know these characters inside out, and even with all their many flaws, I am confident that each of them is worth following on their journey.

The Writer and the Fan: Thoughts on Mother’s Mercy

**Here there be spoilers about the Game of Thrones season five finale**

via casaharington on tumblr
via casaharington on Tumblr

The writer and the fan in me are constantly at odds.

The season five finale of Game of Thrones did a great job of highlighting this fact. As a writer, I understand the need to kill beloved characters for the sake of narrative integrity and vision. I have done that in my own writing with little concern for the future, potential reader’s delicate feelings. To me, the creator of the world and her characters, that death is destined, unchangeable, simply fact.

The fan in me does not deal in those absolutes.

The fan in me loved Jon Snow. And last night, this morning, throughout the day if I let my mind wander, the fan ached.

Now, before you laugh, judge, or think you are better than me because you care about the real world, I encourage you to consider, for a moment, why we absorb into art in the first place. Why actors act, writers write, musicians compose, and on and on: we want to connect, to make sense or make light or make broken something from our real world. There have even been studies done that show readers are more empathetic human beings.

We need art to help us understand the world we do live in.

As a creative person, I may also be more inclined to feel deeply for the characters I spend time with — whether they be my own or someone else’s. In the two years since I began watching Game of Thrones (we binged the blu-rays during the hiatus between season 2 and 3), my affection for the Bastard son of Ned Stark has become a thing of amusement to family and friends. I have received texts and Tweets and Facebook tags whenever someone ran across news about this character. I even wrote a character analysis about him once.

Fine, you can judge me a little. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I remember feeling this way as an eleven year old reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, sobbing over the attack on Jem and Scout, broken for these characters that had become (and forever will be) a part of me. I remember when I was sixteen, reading Harry Potter and turning into a broke-down zombie bride, waking in the middle of the night to check that the book was still beside me. I wrote essays about Harry. I wrote off other humans who couldn’t understand how I had been changed, utterly and completely, by the experience of going to Hogwarts.

I remember it from earlier, too. From Anne of Green Gables, from Pollyanna, from Charlotte’s Web and The Chronicles of Narnia.

And when I discovered The Hunger Games at twenty-six, and was suddenly thrust back into that experience of visceral, untainted affection, I remember spending an entire day crying after finishing Mockingjay. I was without the words to explain why I couldn’t shake the feeling of loss and longing gnawing away inside me.

Jon Snow is dead. We can speculate as fans that he will resurrect, but the line coming from the Thrones camp is one of finality. Kit Harington, the actor who was Jon for these five seasons of Thrones, has given interviews expressing his certainty that he is done. They could all be lying, milking it, but for now, I am just trying to grieve the loss. Because even if Jon comes back, it won’t be the same.

The writer in me understands this. Even if this is not the death I would have ultimately given him — a point I have argued with anyone willing to listen since I woke up this morning. But, this is not my show, and as much as my affection affords me the right to pine for the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or to nerd rage over this loss, I can’t change it. I have nothing to bargain with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and all my empty threats about quitting the show, well, they aren’t listening to them.

But I can allow the fan in me a chance to feel sadness. To feel cheated. To feel like Jon — my Jon — deserved better than death at the end of a mutinous dagger. I have to because that is why I consume and create art. Feeling pain is wonderful and valuable, it provides an opportunity to grow, to learn. Is it silly to cry about Jon Snow’s death? Maybe. But ignoring what I have gained and now lost through his death, that would be a missed opportunity. That would be a mistake, as a writer and a fan.

And I’m both. I’m proud to be both.

(Clarifying: HBO and Kit Harington both have an obligation to maintain the line that he is gone because the show ended on a cliffhanger. My perspective is simply to believe that even if Jon (and the actor who plays him) comes back, the character of Jon Snow as we have known him will be altered. I expect, if they are going to bring him back, he will likely have a different identity (being reborn/renamed), and that will be how they get around the statements they have made this week.)

Ready. Set. Write! and My Goals


Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself. All the details are HERE.

This is (I think!) my third year participating in RSW, and I can promise that it is worth the commitment. Accountability and community are key to the solitary life of a writer. We need each other more because so much of being a writer means being inside your own head, warring with fictional characters and sorting out plot and stakes and getting words out.

So, I am excited to join in. And here are my goals:

  1. Get my BEAT SHEET finalized for my screenplay There’s Life Outside Comic Con. Now that I am working with a consultant, I am not allowed to move forward until the Beat Sheet (from Save the Cat!) proves this script will hit all the high notes.
  2. Begin the Revision on that screenplay, with the hope of completing another draft by the middle of July. (When I will be at San Diego Comic Con!)
  3. Start a revision of my manuscript Of Blood and Promises. I had back burnered it for a while to focus on screenwriting. I am moving slow with this, and need to be right now since that’s not my #1 priority. So, just knowing how to start and starting is my goal for the summer.
  4. Do a Beat Sheet draft for at least one more feature.
  5. Read the books I want to read, as many or as few, and let myself be moved, take time, stay up all night.
  6. Continue to work out every weekday. I have been exercising for the last six weeks and am seeing happy-making results. I am doing nothing for diet, but don’t want to. My goal is strength and stamina and feeling good about my body. That’s it.

Next week (Monday, June 15th) we’ll be posting our first update using these headings…

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I hope you join in! I’ll be cheering you on if you do. 

Baby Steps

Work it out. Take it one step at a time. We don’t always get what we want, when we want it. Stop freaking out. Try again…

These are things I say to my five-year-old a lot. Like, multiple times a day, sometimes an hour. And often when I am huffing the words at him, I am huffing them at myself. I am acknowledging how hard it is to ever remember those immoveable truths.

Recently I started working out again. My relationship with exercise is comparable to non-exclusive dating. We see each other when we see each other. Maybe we text winky emojis or question marks when we’ve gone too long without physical contact. But we’re not possessive. We’re not committed. And a lot of it is my fault. I never want to bite the bullet. To hunker down and do the real work to get to know exercise. I like to keep my options open for laziness, or busyness, or “not feeling it today”.

A few weeks ago I was pretty low on myself. Grappling with my state of ALMOST in every area of my life, examining my complete and utter Coming Soon status. I am the summer feature that gets pushed to fall, to next spring, to limited release…I am waiting for my premier in an infinite loop.

So I decided to trick myself into motion. I decided I was tired of waiting on my moment, and realized my moment was now, and tomorrow, and always.

I started with baby steps.

I reintroduced myself to the elliptical machine. We moved slow in this period of rediscovery. Then — once we were both comfortable — we added time, we added resistance, increased our speed. The machine became a place to challenge myself, to focus some of my energy in a way that will make my heart healthy and my ass a little tighter, to process the swirl of ideas in my wild mind.

I stayed off the scale. I closed my eyes when the seconds on the timer seemed to slow, as if my machine had somehow slipped into an event horizon. I didn’t set a goal beyond doing it and not giving up.

And somehow, this trickery uncovered a truth I’d hidden deep inside. I wasn’t just tired of waiting. I was tired of being told how to wait. If making my own rules for working out kept me going back for more, would making my own rules for my creative life do the same?

And so I tried. Or, rather, I felt. I stuck my fingers in my imaginary clay and started to mold. I opened my heart up to new ideas, to old ideas, to ideas that scare and unsettle me. Instead of asking myself What should I be working on? I asked, What do I want to work on? I called my friend and spilled my fears and hopes at her feet and allowed her to help me clean it up and make it pretty.

I cut myself some slack even if it looked like a fail.

fist bump

Goal oriented people struggle. We expend a lot of energy on beating ourselves up when we miss, fall short, lose sight. We think a lot about the end and forget to enjoy the journey. We forget that all worthy tasks take time, build slowly, plateau, but rarely do they peak too soon. Rarely do you regret your part.

I am not going to build up my stamina, or shave a few pounds and a tiny marsupial pooch, without doing the work. Without committing to hours with my elliptical.

Be a today person. A there-is-not-one-moment-but-many type.

Take baby steps.