In looking back

I’ve been writing for 3/5ths of my life.

This blog has already been around for three years, a confusing rush of time blended into the everything else happening. On that note, many thanks for continuing to read, my friends. This is, as always, an interesting experience for me.

We’re approaching the third anniversary of my first publishing acceptance, and in turn, the second anniversary of holding an actual printed book in my hands, containing a story I had composed. I’ve made some amazing friends in being a part of that anthology.

Almost six months ago, my first novel successfully launched, along with a little companion tale. The start of many to come in the Anecdota.

And now, another short story will be given to the world. Something small and special, still close to my heart, still young and cherished until the moment the anthology is made and I cannot hold the words as they pour between my fingers and make their way into the reader’s minds, when the story is no longer mine alone.

As stated on the Acknowledgements page of The Damning Moths, I merely write these things; they come to life when you read them. You take them in and experience the story, and they become more, something outside of my control.

Gazing over what I have already accomplished gives a sense of warmth and comfort, a happy glow proving, “I Am.” To know how many people I am reaching, from corners of the globe both obvious and unexpected, is poignant. I’m glad for what I have already done, and equally grateful for the small, screaming voice which always tells me it’s still not enough. Because I have a drive to do it all again. Write a story. Find it the right home. Release it to change and grow and transform into what it must.

Looking back over these things, just one possible sum of my existence, I know I have done well. Here I am, listening to songs hopeful and quietly melancholic and composing new tales, always, endlessly. I can wrap the past around me as a comforting blanket. None of it was a fluke, I’m leaving a mark.

I am here, doing what I was made for.

~A

Advertisements

The meaningful versus conflict anxiety

Around my online hangouts, I have always tended to be vocal, argumentative, and long-winded. We give it a positive spin. We like to call them “debates”. It’s mostly just politely shouting at each other, though. The joy of the internet is the ease in which we can connect to a huge variety of people. That is also its downfall, because you encounter the bigots, the ignorant, and the malicious in equal amounts.

I do my best not to hold any heated discussion against a person; having a right to their own opinion and all that. Sometimes, in the middle of things, I start shaking and can’t see straight for the fact that someone won’t even look at the evidence being provided to counter their misconception, especially if it’s over something either very simple, or a misunderstanding which could cause another being harm.

But I don’t like arguing with people. It gives me no pleasure. Those of you who know me elsewhere, perhaps you’ll find that hard to believe. But it’s exhausting. The topic gets stuck on a loop in my head. I keep returning to what someone’s said, what I replied with, poking, assessing, and generally feeding my anxiety until I either purposefully depart from the discussion, or we reach a temporary end.

So I’ve never brought that here. I don’t talk about equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ issues. I don’t go into religion or politics or animal welfare. Hell, I don’t even repost things on Facebook that I support, because I want there to be some online space where I won’t automatically have someone arguing with me over the things I see as basic humanity.

Those debates do need to happen, without a doubt. I was told very recently by an observer they’re not sure how, or indeed why, people continue arguing against the known dissenters when there’s no sign of changing their opinion. The truth there is, we don’t just debate to change the other side’s perspective. We do it so those like us, or those we speak up for, know there are more people out here. They’re not alone. We see them, we hear them, we know they exist. Even if it’s not our personal fight, we will stand with them. We care.

My decision to avoid those all too common conflicts at a place like my blog is a problem of its own merit. Shouldn’t have insightful things to say? Shouldn’t I tell the world of my many strong stances about making society even better? Isn’t this the ultimate platform to promote all the good juju imaginable? I could delete comments that try and start arguments, or I could choose not to engage. And indeed, on the days when all the things filling my head are about these topics, I find I run out of other things to say. But I still don’t think I want to bring the war to my home turf. It’s okay to have a little bit of peace, to separate and not alienate myself from my own blog. Surely.

~A

Writers gonna write

I’m supposed to have an endless supply of things to talk about. Great ideas to muse over, or funny anecdotes to share. Pieces of my life and observations put into words and given freely to the world. I’m meant to connect with others, to find common ground, and to express my emotions regarding the state of existence.

But all I have are half-written blog posts about things which only serve to inspire me for a moment.

I’ve started–hold up, let me count them–sixteen entries which haven’t been finished recently. There are a couple which are fully written, but I’m not quite interested in posting them yet. It’s not that I’m worried about sharing these insights so much as I’m straddling the line between introvert and extrovert, and it just takes so much more effort to put things out there.

And to be perfectly honest, I almost feel like I have to hoard it all, store it up, to prepare for when I will absolutely need to push myself out into the spotlight when I launch The Damning Moths. That will require all of this enthusiasm and charisma. I can call the energy forth when I need to, but it makes everything else seem that much heavier. A little more strain on my reclusive half.

I’ve seen so many humourous comics or captioned images lately that reflect my state of being exactly: I don’t mind going out, but that means I need to put on pants and actually see people. I like being a writer, where I can sit at home and make things up about fictional people with outrageous abilities and entertaining quirks. I get true enjoyment out of putting together unlikely scenarios then figuring out how they make perfect sense.

Surely, I should have more thoughts to share with this corner of the world, right?

The proclivity to write does not translate to finding something worth saying. I can compose dozens of things, but deciding whether to put them into this specific platform is another thing altogether. I’m not interested in this blog being political, or adding this voice to the cries of social reform; at some stage I realised I don’t want to bring my opinionated side here. I have other places to get into debates (which I do often), and I suppose, I just don’t want to invite argument in yet another location I frequent.

But sometimes, that leaves me with little to say.

~A

Lose a wish, gain another

I carry a wish/prayer box with me on a keyring. It’s just a small pewter cube with a magnetic fastener on the lid, with a tiny space inside to put a slip of paper with your wish/prayer written on it. There are pretty little swirlies as decoration, and the words “faith”, “love”, “joy”, and “hope” on each edge of the lid. Up until recently, my box carried a rolled strip of paper with some serious advice from a trusted author friend. Someone who talked me out of being stupid about my fears. Her words meant a huge amount, and they were exactly what I needed to hear, and I decided to copy them into my box to hang off my belt loop and reinforce the positive change I had to commit to.

On the keyring right beside the box is a small spiral cage holding my craggy ball of Apache Tear Obsidian, a grounding and creative stone. They go together well, and as a pair are my “touchstone”. A tangible sign of my intent, something to grab when I need a ready reminder of my will to grow and improve and overcome. In recent times, I had sat down to review my plans for the future, as the New Year tends to inspire. Not much about my goals has changed, but I did realise that the mantras inside my wish/prayer box had come to pass; I didn’t feel the same way about those troubles anymore. The repetition had worked and reinforced my ability to be confident in those areas. With this rather self-satisfied understanding, I grabbed my box to replace the note within-

And it was already gone. One empty box, no sign of my mini-scroll anywhere.

Make no mistake, I flip open the lid on the wish/prayer box near-daily (the magnetic clasp makes such a nice “clack” when it shuts!) and just peek inside. I didn’t need to pry out the note, unroll the paper, and read the message each day as I knew its words and meaning off by heart by that point. So it couldn’t have been gone for longer than a day, two at the very most. Right at the point where I’m concluding it’s time for a new mantra to lead me on?

So I lost one wish. It flitted away to the Nether to make way for something new, and did so at exactly the right time.

~A

Two months, just like that

Wow, hey. Zips by, doesn’t it? I’ve been all too aware of the passing days, though not within the context of, “I haven’t blogged in two months”, and more the general sense of time whirling by, oblivious to the human experience. Time is a fascinating illusion; the measurement of movement and change, especially when one can imagine that nothing is changing at all, and still observe the all too obvious differences between “then” and “now”.

Life has been what it is. The down parts which we spend half our effort trying to avoid still come knocking. Upheaval is part of that change which I note, but also blurs together in the apparent sea of sameness. We still get up each day. Eat, shower, work, sleep. The little things in between. Seeing the same faces, having close approximations of the same conversation within each encounter. Our greetings are universal. Sometimes I answer differently just to see the expression on a person’s face register that they must think about my reply, rather than it being the expected generalisation. Sometimes, I see how glad they are for a variation, themselves. Sometimes, they are busy, and it was a cursory exchange, and they don’t really want to have to think about something new. Ah, but that’s people-watching for you.

And as a counter to the troughs, there are the bright points of laughter and friendship; the good news instead of bad; the moments of brilliant entertainment which enrich our lives. Going away for short trips to places I like with people I love. Seeing animals, walking in the rain, making children giggle. Spending hours talking, seeing the obvious fruits of your labour, and especially, the much-appreciated acknowledgement of others for what you do. Finding things worth reading, worth watching, worth playing. Even the quiet times of being alone where thoughts are free to bubble over faster than you can possibly record them, even though you’re certain they are important and need to be collected for future uses.

Two months. We saved a kitten from a storm, and said goodbye to some family members. I’ve read a whole lot of books, and written nearly a third of another. I have determined that I can probably do a lot more than I believe of myself, but it’s finding the time and effort that’s the real trouble. I like November and the positivity and companionship it brings out in so many of my writer friends (thanks to NaNoWriMo). I’m especially enjoying building some expertise on the “behind the scenes” aspects in releasing books.

Oh, yes. I’m still around. Two months in a long time, but really, it’s just the blink of an eye.

~A

On the Introvert Swing

When taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator/personality test, I usually come up right in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale. This wouldn’t mean much to anyone, but I have distinctly noticed a back and forth swing of my personality traits; sometimes I am a perfectly satisfied extrovert, and other times I fall onto the introvert side completely.

Yes, now is an introvert period. A lengthy one, at that.

This still doesn’t mean much, other than finding it especially tiring to put myself out there and communicate. I’m feeling altogether quiet and introspective at the moment. It’s challenging to write blog posts about the things I’m thinking on, largely because I have used this blog as a means of communication and discussion, and I’m not in a very communicative state. I do love you all dearly, I just don’t need to say anything much.

Having known this about myself for a long time, now, I’ve frequently wondered over a “public” sort of career. In this day and age where authors are meant to be accessible and celebrities in their own right, how will I deal with that much attention in my introvert periods? Even when I’m experiencing my extrovert side, I’m already terrible at keeping track of things like time, dates, emails and private messages. Deadlines are more like guidelines. Social expectations are there, but don’t necessarily intersect with me personally.

There’s the option of reducing how “interactive” this is; I could close off comments on the blog, and that would be a kind of solution. I know and admire many wonderful people who blog without enabling comments for their own varied reasons. I understand their necessity for that choice, and find the notion just a little appealing, at least while I’m here on the quiet musing side of life. I wouldn’t be cut off from the world. There’s Facebook, Twitter, and of course, emails. Plus, I am a firm believer that friends can pick up where they left off having experienced such wonderful friendships personally.

So while I consider my options, weigh up the choices, I will likely remain an infrequent voice in the vast virtual world. There’s no harm in enjoying an extended “holiday” as an introvert. To bundle myself up in blankets and klackity away at stories. I haven’t disappeared, I’m just in my own head.

~A

Who I Want To Be

I was going to talk about something light. I began drafting a post about shuffling scenes around, which is something I am most certainly in the midst of right now. It’s kind of liberating to have decided that certain discussions between characters are happening out of order. I’m really loving editing my stories and seeing that I am making them more than what they were. But that post wouldn’t come out, no matter how many ways I tried.

Instead, I’m drawn back to a question I’ve been wondering about for the past week or two. Who do I want to be? Not in the sense of where is my life going, I’ve got that part. But who I want to be, as the author Ashlee Scheuerman. What face am I putting out there, and what do my actions reflect upon me?

The other day when I was busy fretting over everything and nothing, I drew a Rune for a manner of insight. If you don’t know much about Runes, that’s okay, I’m just learning, myself. The Rune which came out of my little blue velvet bag was Mannaz, or Maðr. From my favourite online resource, Sunnyway Runes, we have the following:

Mannaz: (M: Man, mankind.) The Self; the individual or the human race. Your attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Friends and enemies, social order. Intelligence, forethought, create, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness. Expect to receive some sort of aid or cooperation now.

My attitude toward others, and their attitude toward me. Yes. Summed up one very key element to my worries: who am I, and how am I perceived? And more importantly, what do I want that to be? By nature, I am honest (sometimes to the point of trouble) and interested in others. I consider myself empathic, caring about people and animals and nature and life.

I want to be dependable, even though I am prone to flightiness. Blog frequently, release stories more than once every 12 months, reply to emails and messages and other people’s happenings. I want to support others, but in a well-balanced way so I don’t end up feeling like it’s a massive drain on my time. I want to be clever and educated and do things right, preferably without lengthy periods of trial and error, but I also need to focus on patience. Lots of patience.

Here I go back to Mannaz. “Intelligence, forethought, create, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness.” Again playing to my concerns. Forethought, and skill, and awareness. All necessary to my intent.

~A