The Bellowing of my Soul

I want so badly to write something cohesive. But I have no cohesion to offer you, dear reader. I have only my scattered thoughts and emotions.

Perhaps we’ll talk about my writing. That’s something I haven’t had the chance to discuss in so long. But maybe it only feels long to me.

I want to write. I was struck with inspiration this morning as I recounted my next story. I could feel the impact of it. I love these characters. I love what they represent. I love their stories.

This is normally the point in the year when I would be planning my next story. NaNoWriMo will soon be upon us.

…but I am not doing NaNoWriMo this year. For the first time in six years, I won’t have a new manuscript come December. It doesn’t feel right.

But even if I were to write, what would it come to? I’m not ready for this new story I’m developing. So, would I write a charming romance? I have no romance left in me. I have been drained of my feelings.

I would likely write a cynical piece exploring political themes and social practices. Potentially the next great dystopian hit? Unlikely.

So I sit here. Not writing. Not even blogging, because I have found myself incapable of finishing the thirty drafts sitting patiently for their moment in the sun. So many ideas, simply…blocked.

Am I stuck?

No.

Am I?

I keep gathering ideas. But I can’t seem to write them.

What did I do today?

I played guitar for the first time in months. As quaint as the ukulele is, I do prefer the guitar. The robust sound permeated my room and gave me the freedom to sing, to yell, to scream.

Perhaps I scream when I play. If the music is lively enough to cover my voice, I increase my tones until every part of me has joined in the making of music, of this song. I can’t imagine what it sounds like outside of my room. But within my room, it is me in the purest form. Playing something meaningful. Singing, not to sound beautiful, but to feel. To say something. Saying something may come with a voice crack, or the scraping of my vocal range. But I don’t care. It’s me, and that’s all that matters.

I wish I could take my guitar back to school with me. There is no place to put it, and it is unprotected in its soft case. And I’m sure no one within one hundred yards would appreciate it.

But how I wish I could be myself.

I only shine through briefly through the ukulele. The light strumming you hear, the gentle tone of my voice. That is a piece of me.

But I am passionate, deep, feeling, everything reaching down within my soul. Guitar reflects that.

I miss writing. I miss pouring myself and my experiences out onto a page under the guise of fictional characters. I miss my Becker and all of his friends. I miss crafting scenes. I miss being who I was. Who I am.

And I wish for the day that I can just be me, and those who would choose to walk alongside me in life would find me that way.

I’ll be the girl bellowing in her dorm room, pouring everything she is into the song she sings.

I apologize if it sounds obnoxious.

But it is who I am.

And if it wasn’t midnight right now, I would pull out my guitar and be.

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Published…Again.

I know, I can hardly believe it either. I published another book.

Wow.

Incredible.

Unbelievable.

What will I do next.

See, that’s the thing: I have no idea.

I’m off to college, guys. I have about eleven days until move-in and counting. I’m freaking out. My bedroom looks like a warzone of personal belongings. My heart is just about as cluttered. I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up with the workload. I’m going to miss my parents. I’m wondering who’s going to give me hugs to remind me I’m loved, since I won’t have any family nearby and I tend to be (cough cough) intimidating.

…this post is supposed to be about my book, isn’t it.

Yeah. So.

It’s amazing.

It’s heart-wrenching.

It will punch you in the feels.

Repeatedly.

And you’ll cry.

Why should you put yourself through that? Because I gotta pay for college somehow (you know, the thing I’m freaking out about), and books aren’t a half-bad way of doing that.

Except for the fact that, um, I get less than three dollars per book, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, they’re good. (I’m not talking about those black-and-white ones, I’m talking about the yellow ones.) They’re funny and meaningful and insightful and worth your time. Because you’ll connect with the characters, just like my readers have.

Swoop is good. I cried. My editor teared up a little.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, college.

I don’t know when I’ll write another book. I doubt I’ll have a few extra hours the month before finals to type up a New York Times Best Seller (ha, ha): not that I have any ideas for one right now.

So, what will you do in the mean time? If I’m not writing anymore? (Oh, I’ll be writing. Papers. Lots and lots…and lots of papers.)

You can go buy my books. The yellow ones. SoarSteadySwoop. In that order. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder at my obsession with titles starting with the letter ‘S’. It’ll be a great time.

…so that’s www.amazon.com/good-life-decision.

But wait! There’s more!

I’m the author of these books. So, if you don’t take my word for how good they are, I don’t blame you. I probably wouldn’t, in your shoes. But a dear reader has taken the time to give a review for each of those yellow books: so trust what that says.

In other news, it is midnight. I am half-asleep and think it in my best interest to head to bed before this can become anymore…fun.

cap

Just kidding! Now I’ve gone and thrown in a Captain America reference!

(Full Disclosure: I likely have not seen the film this GIF originates from and have no idea of the context. So be it.)

That Time I Had a Pet Squirrel

Once upon a time, my cousin would come to stay with us during fishing season. Our house is only minutes from a creek, so he lived with us off and on for several years. One year while he was with us, there was this unbearable scratching sound coming from our fence.

Our property is surrounded by a giant wooden fence. When you exit the back porch onto the patio, there’s a covered section enclosed by the fence. The cover section is normally filled with chairs, machinery, garden tools, inflated balls, and tennis rackets; this day was no exception. From the back corner of this enclosed area, there was a scratching sound. If you jostled some things, it would stop for a moment, but ultimately, it continued to scrape for the entirety of the day.

My mother told me to wait until my father came home to investigate. We didn’t know what it was. It could be a rat.

My cousin came home before my dad did that day, and being a rugged farm boy, he grabbed a glove and fished out whatever feral thing was making such incessant scratching noises. When he pulled back his hand, we found a baby squirrel.

It was absolutely adorable, and absolutely terrified of us. The poor thing had been trapped somehow in the fence, and my cousin had rescued it. Mom quickly grabbed an empty fish tank so we could hold him until my dad came home.

We intended to release him outside of the fence, so he wouldn’t get stuck again. However, when we’d finally given our tearful goodbyes to Hammy (a reference to Over the Hedge), he didn’t leave. He instead padded after my cousin, his savior.

My cousin, being a rugged farm boy, told Hammy to “git”, but the squirrel didn’t listen, choosing to crawl on him instead.

Since Hammy wouldn’t leave, we got him a pampered three-level home with the door set for him to come and go as he pleased. We fed him acorns and nuts and corn (if I remember correctly). For months, we had a pet squirrel on our residence who was quite content to be touched or to perch on your shoulder.

One morning, my mother went out to greet Hammy. He climbed out the door, jumped onto her shoulder, bit her ear, and darted away, never to be seen again. Mom said he had reached his teenage years.

Any time we saw a squirrel for years after, we would greet him as Hammy. We’re sure he’s still out there, somewhere.

I Miss You, Bro–I Mean, Cuz

For all of the arguing we’ve done in our lifetimes, it’s hard to think I’d miss you. But I do.

We’ve had plenty of fights. I can’t count the number of times Mom said, “The No-Touch Rule is now in effect.” I’m sorry I poked you in the stomach so much. Then again, you did put a pillow on me and use me as a seat.

Regardless of all the water wars and general blunders, I know you have my back when it really counts. I know you have a listening ear when I really need it. The feeling is mutual.

I’m so proud of how much you’ve grown up. What happened to that little boy in the sky blue polo? He’s suddenly almost a man. (I mean, there was that whole “adolescence” thing, but I think we’ll just pretend that era didn’t happen.) He’s working hard, connecting with kids, sharing bits of himself with those who need it.

As I make this college decision, I wish you were coming with me. When it comes down to it, I don’t want to be too far away from you. I’ve had enough of that this year. I mean, being away did you a lot of good, and I saw you more than others did. But being so far that we won’t be around each other once a month, at the very least?

Who’s going to volunteer to drive me home from camp so he can just talk and get a new perspective? Who’s going to stop by and ask me how I’m feeling in the mornings when I have a grumpy look on my face? Who’s going to stick up for me whenever I get into dumb arguments with people over little things? Who’s going to be mistaken as some kind of boyfriend and help me embarrass people when we say we’re related?

I mean, we can message each other. But isn’t the same as when you wrap your arms around me in a “bear hug” and I try to jab you with my elbows.

I just want to say that if I do go away…farther away from you than I’d like…that I’m going to miss you a whole lot.

And if I am further away, then I’m sure God will use it to benefit us.

Thanks for being the best cousin I could have asked for. (Well, actually, the best cousin ever probably wouldn’t have sat on me, but I guess it all balances out since you gave me your jacket when I was very intelligently sitting in front of an air conditioner on a spring evening trying to sell books.)

Moon-Shaped Nose

I was a Girl Scout once. A Brownie, to be exact. I have many fragmented memories of that time in my life. Door-to-door cookie sales. Singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. Going on nature walks at camp. Making cousin Heidi’s snickerdoodles and watching my friends eat the dough. Birthday parties with Taylor Swift music. Marching in parades. Sewing patches onto a little brown vest. Getting two prizes for graduating because I was the only one in my troop who wanted the flower-shaped highlighter, and since they ordered the prizes wrong I also got the jewelry box that everyone else received.

However, one memory sticks out prominently. I remember sitting in a room with a conference table and chairs. We were doing a drawing activity: a self-portrait. Instead of having us simply draw ourselves, they had us following directions.

If we liked to bike, we’d draw curly hair; but if we liked to run, we’d draw straight. A toothy grin for reading books, but a simply smile for movies. It was simple choices like this, representing ourselves on the page.

Eight-year-old me was astounded by this. The entire process was inaccurate. My hair was curly, but if I preferred running to biking, I had to draw it as if it were straight? No sir! I wanted my picture to be beautiful, and I wanted it to actually look like me.

Eight-year-old me was stubborn that way.

When we got to the choice for nose, I was presented with a terrible internal dilemma. Our choice was as follows:

If we liked the day better, draw a circle for the nose (representing the sun).
If we liked the night better, draw a crescent for the nose (representing the moon).

What was eight-year-old me to do? At this age, I went to bed on the dot each night. I was afraid of the dark. I had to sleep with a nightlight. Shadows on the walls frightened me. (I unfortunately didn’t understand the correlation between my nightlight and the shadows.)

But noses aren’t circles.

How could I ruin my portrait by stickin’ a big ole’ circle in the middle of my carefully sketched face? I couldn’t stand for this. The circle was ugly. It would ruin my picture.

But I hated the dark.

Could I lie? For the sake of my picture? To keep my portrait face in tact?

…I could.

(Eight-year-old me was also, apparently, a perfectionist. I have unfortunately not outgrown that trait.)

I remember whispering among my friends about how awful the circle would look. One of the leaders told us it didn’t matter what it looked like. It was supposed to represent us as people.

Well, I’m sorry, but as I person, I can’t stand for having a circle for a nose, even if I am afraid of the dark.

I sketched a crescent moon. I suppose it was all for naught, because I have no idea where that portrait ended up.

But I did not have a circle for a nose.

The Greatest Day

I wasn’t especially terrified, unlike the people who surrounded me. Some had been up half the night in anticipation for this moment. Was I afraid? Yes. Was I confident? No. But I knew that I could pull through–no, I would pull through. There was no room to try.

I sat there in the silence. She had been late two days in a row, so I didn’t think today would be any kind of exception. I quickly checked to see if it had become available.

It hadn’t.

So I sat. I reminded myself of my preparedness. I reminded myself what was on the line today. My grade. I had three percent of wiggle room, and that was all.

That’s when she appeared, only a hair late today. I waited for the dismissal. The speeches. The rallying of our spirits.

“I’m not going to make you take the final today,” came her voice through my laptop.

There was complete silence for a moment–nay, not even a moment, as we clamored to confirm her statement. The chat box exploded with questions and hallelujahs.

“AHHHHHH”
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”
“What?”
“wait WHAT”
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT”
“WHATTTTTTTT”
“WHAT”
“WHAAAAAT”
“what”
“WE AREN’T WRITING STUFF”

(And, my personal favorite):

“BEST”
“huh?!?”
“TEACHER”
“OH GOSH”
“SJKALDJSK”
“THANK YOU!”
“EVERRRRRR”
“IM HYPERVENTILATING”

It was a glorious day. Yesterday, we took a multiple choice final. We were thrust into a lottery of subjective questions given objective answers. Most of us received terrible scores. We knew, however, that if we did well enough on this second part of the final–the writing portion–we might just save our grades.

And now we didn’t have to take it at all.

Instead, we spent our class period chatting, laughing, and blessing the soul of the teacher who had taken such great mercy upon us.

Today is a glorious day, my friends.

Friendship Crisis

I came to the realization yesterday that if I were to stop putting effort into my friendships, I would only have about two or three left. That was rather sobering, to realize that so few of the people I call “friend” actually contribute to what is considered “friendship”.

As an only child, friendship has always been important to me. I cherish relationships with people. However, most of these relationships are rather one-sided. I’ve always been more than happy to do more than my share of the upkeep. Right now, though, I’m not sure if I’m alright with that anymore.

I have a couple of people who can’t contribute anything to a conversation. They simply laugh after everything I say, and when I try to turn the topic to them, they shrug and say that they have nothing new to share. Others only have one way to communicate with me, and they realize it; however, they choose not to check it frequently enough to actually talk. Some turn the topic of conversation continuously to themselves, even when you’re trying to speak to them about something.

It’s utterly exhausting, trying to keep everything straight. It’s even more frustrating to not have anyone to talk to.

At this rate, I’ll be thrilled to go to college by spring, considering I might actually meet people interested in friendship.

I don’t feel that I’m too unreasonable. However, it could be that my relationship ideals only exist and thrive in a fictional setting. That would be greatly disappointing.

So here I sit. Desperate for conversation, but with no one to talk to. If I email them, will they answer me within a week? Say they answer my message, but they only sending laughing emojis after each thought of mine? Or maybe I’ll try to communicate something important to me and they’ll want to talk about coats.

Perhaps I need to dial back my sense of humor. As much as I enjoy my class clown image, it may be more beneficial for friendship to be less hilarious.

NaNoWriMo Jitters

Here I sit. One hour until National Novel Writing Month officially begins. My sixth attempt; I am historically successfully.

And I am terrified.

All I have been able to say about this for the past two days is “I’m not ready”. And I haven’t been able to say it to anyone. So I turn to you, dear reader, in the absence of anyone who cares to understand my severe apprehension.

I have the plot ready, so that isn’t my problem. In fact, I’m rather excited for this story. In my last book, my characters experienced the tough parts of growing up. Now, they’re experiencing some of the more exciting elements. I have a more simplified plot, along with starting and ending places.

I think my characters are ready. I know what has happened to everyone in the last year. Where they have stumbled and struggled; where they have grown. I’m excited for them, yet also heartbroken. I’ve designed this plot to be the end of this “Toner World” I created. The end of my childhood stories.

Is that what’s bugging me? It’s my senior year. I have so much on my plate, and everything is about to change. Oh, for crying out loud, everything is changing. Everything is already changed. I don’t have any best friends; I have responsibilities in every part of my life; I’m growing up.

I want to be excited to jump back into this world. And as I begin to talk about it, I’m getting excited.

Is that my problem? I don’t have anyone to talk to? And it’s not that I don’t have anyone to talk to—it’s that the people I talk to don’t care about my writing. For goodness sake, today I tried to bring up my writing to my one friend, and they said “dun dun dun”. That isn’t conversation. That’s a sound effect. I can contribute those on my own.

Am I so sick of not having anyone care? Is it manifesting in this upset bubble of “not ready”?

Actually, someone does care. I received the sweetest, most encouraging card the other day. They care.

Well, there’s one.

I guess I’m just in an odd place right now. For example, I’ve been growing out my hair since I was ten years old. But I’m in such a need for a change, I have an appointment in a few days to chop it off.

Do I need change? I know I’m sick of maintaining my long hair. I’m sick of a lot of things.

I guess what’s important is, I’m excited to wake up tomorrow and reenter the world of my characters. For the last time. The last November.

At least they care what happens to them.

And I love them for it.

Parodies

Once upon a time, I found I possessed the skills required to write decent parodies. Granted, they aren’t perfect; they don’t always feature rhyme schemes, and occasional words must be sung rapidly. But I manage to tell a story; a new story with old music. I think that’s rather cool.

Because I think that’s cool, I write parodies more often than I should. “Why, Lexi,” you ask. “More often than you should? What’s that supposed to mean? That’s great that you can write them, you should write them all the time, just to have them.”

Yeah. Wouldn’t it be awesome if my brain worked that way?

Instead, my brain decides that we need to play it on guitar.

And after we learn how to play it, we practice it.

After we’ve mastered it, we record it on our phones and share it with people.

After we have a basic recording, we want to record it for real.

When we record it for real, we want to mix the audio nicely.

Once that’s done, we want to make a video to accompany it.

You see how this works?

No matter what it is, I end up putting an incredible amount of effort and passion into things. I can’t just write a song and think, “Huh, that’s cool.” No, my brain will not rest until it has finished the project. This leads to unfortunate lapses of sanity, as I latch onto multiple projects and try to see them to completion all at once.

For example, I published a book recently and am making efforts to market that. Meanwhile, I’m pondering what I’ll be doing for NaNoWriMo this year and doing tiny spurts of research. Yet, I’m dividing another share of time to another series I’m working on planning out.

Four different plans of my own for Robotics are fighting for my attention, while several other necessary aspects of being a part of the leading committee are also tugging at me. Occasionally, camp will lean in and whisper a remind in my ear of something I need to be doing. School has started its incessant pounding and pulling; and smaller, enjoyable responsibilities begin to adopt the role of “chore”.

Welcome to the creative mind.

A Lesson on Nouns

Nouns. A noun is a person, place, or thing. I think we, as a society, have forgotten that not all nouns are the same. Let’s have a third grade level grammar lesson, shall we?

A person is not a place. Mr. Jones is not 5th Street. A person is not a thing. Mr. Jones is also not a hamburger. While all of these words classify as nouns, they aren’t the same.

We have a tendency to look at people as meat, as objects, when they are people. You aren’t a burger, a building, or a kangaroo. You are a person. A special type of noun.

Don’t look at other human beings as objects. No matter how your brain would like to objectify someone else, they aren’t an object. You’ve got a handle on the noun part. Now, you just have to understand that not all nouns are the same.

We cool with that, society?