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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

The Joy of Completion

Back in November I started writing a novel. It was based off a story that I’d been thinking about since 2009. I decided to participate in National Novel Writer’s Month with the goal of writing 50,000 words in a month. I surpassed that goal and ended up at 60,083 words and had the majority of the story written. It wasn’t finished, though, so I kept going. I took a lot of December off but got back into the swing of things and finished it the other night with a word count of 91,911 words. The story is 253 pages long and I’m actually happy with the way it turned out.

Throughout the process of writing, it always amazed me how if often felt like meditation. There were occasions where my mind was completely focused on writing and the words flowed out of my mind and onto the screen while I got to read them for the first time as the story wrote itself in front of me. The experience of maintaining a singular focus and putting aside distracting thoughts—and consequently losing ones sense of self-as-separate being from the universe—that I experienced while writing is only comparable to what I have found in meditation.

Writing, like meditation, is most rewarding when done daily. Both are practices that take few resources to do and both require a concerted effort and commitment to do them. While I go into the task of writing with a goal in mind, I find that I make the best progress on it when I don’t grasp at the goal or focus on it to the exclusion of the actual job of writing. When one sits down to write, the mind is distracted and wanders and must be brought gently back to the task at hand. Consistently returning to the same place, the same task, the same focus, strengthens the mind over time and one begins to have less distractions and fewer interruptions and the act of writing becomes more organic and enjoyable. Just like with meditation.

I find that writing also inspires a desire to do more writing, just as meditation inspires me to meditate further. Completing a novel has been such a rewarding experience that I’m already planning the next one and will start it as part of Camp NaNoWriMo next month. I’m only planning 30,000 words this time though because I foresee this as being a very busy month but I think it’s an attainable goal.

If you’re interested, more information can be found about Camp NaNoWriMo and my next book by clicking the image below. Full disclosure, this will take you to a sponsorship page.

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Surprises

You know that feeling you get when you’re thinking about characters for your next novel and you suddenly get a flash of inspiration for how two characters are connected that you would never have thought of on your own (though you obviously just did)? I love that feeling.

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I had been planning on writing more posts here but a funny thing happened on the way to the blog. I was challenged by a friend to participate in NaNoWriMo. For those of you unaware of this event, it is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It seemed impossible, but I buckled down, spent time thinking about what I wanted to write and started make it happen. Today, I passed the 50,000 word mark. I completed it in 20 days and the surge of triumph has not worn off yet. I’m only 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the story but I’m quite pleased with how well it has come out so far. Eventually, I’ll finish the story (I hope sometime by or in December) and then I’ll begin the editing/rewriting process. Maybe sometime in 2013 I’ll be able to say that I’ve written a book.

On the weight loss front, things continue to go well. I’m down to 304 and still making positive choices and being mindful of what I am eating. I’ve been running into the same issues I had last time I was down to this weight: a lot of my clothes are too loose and I’m fitting into things once relegated to the back of the closet. These are good problems to have.

In other news, Thanksgiving is in two days and I’ve already decided that I am not going to fret  too much over what I eat. It’s one day and for that one day, I’m going to enjoy whatever I want. I feel like I have a strong enough handle on what, why and how I eat that I don’t have to worry about one day of eating with gusto. I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

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As I’ve said in my previous two posts, I’ve been thinking about attachment a lot lately. As I examine my own thoughts, ideas and attitudes about attachment, I’ve come to realize that a majority of my attachments are to mental concepts and ideas. Sure, I have physical things that I have attachments to but if I were to categorize them into what’s called the realm of mind or the realm of eyes, more of my attachments would be to things in the realm of mind.

One thing I’m attached to is writing. It may look like I haven’t been writing as much but that is in part due to a renewed interest I’ve had in a personal writing project that I’ve been working on for about a year now. I don’t know what it is about writing that I find so enjoyable but putting my thoughts into words really does seem to do something for me. This project I’m working on is nothing like anything else I’ve ever written and it’s much more involved than anything you may read here. No, it’s not some great work of epic intellectual showmanship. In fact, it’s very likely the opposite of that: I’m working on a graphic novel.

I had the idea that planted the seed for this work last December and I started to take notes about it back then. After that, I actually started to write the damn thing instead of just thinking it would be cool to do “some day”. Eventually, I met with an artist and had a full-fledged project on my hands! As things turned out, the artist couldn’t do the work since the pay (nothing) wasn’t enough for her to invest her time in. I’ve continued to look for an artist but haven’t had much luck so in addition to revisiting the 68 pages of material I already have written, I’ve begun to learn how to draw comic illustrations and I’m working on the visual aspect of the project as well. I’ve written 66 pages and have almost completed illustrations of one page. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Since I’ve been so preoccupied with writing and learning a new skill the blog has taken a bit of a back seat to the other project. This is because of the particular way that I attach to things. As is obvious to anyone who spends time reading through some of my posts, I am a hard-core no-appologies-about-it geek. Part of what makes me a geek is my ability to obsess over something. I’ve been that way all my life: books, movies, music, television, comics, cooking, programming, theology, philosophy, optics, sci-fi, Star Trek, Star Wars, the Internet, World of Warcraft and many other things that I’m not recalling have all been subject to my almost unquenchable thirst for knowledge/experience of something once I set my attention to it. The end result of this is that I have collected an impressive amount of knowledge about stuff that nobody really needs to know. Seriously, you don’t want to play Trivial Pursuit with me (just ask my wife).

This is what I mean by attaching to things in the realm of mind. For me, writing is just another thing that I obsess over. The past week, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the story that I’m trying to tell and I’ve had ideas for plot, outlines, story arcs and visual elements that I want to work into the book. When I attach to an idea, I do it with everything in me. This has been a source of a lot of enjoyment for me over the course of my life but it’s also worked against me. Regardless of whether an attachment is good or bad or indifferent, having it can and will cause suffering in the end. This is because when we attach to something, we begin to identify it as part of our “self” and we see ourselves as being a part of something external and other. Whenever we feel like we can attach a label to ourself, “I am a liberal/conservative”, “I am a writer/artist”, “I am a male/female”, “I am this or that” are all attachments that cause us to lose sight of our true self.

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to stay aware of how I might be attaching to this latest iteration of geek obsession. It’s a fact that I love to write. It’s a fact that I am enjoying myself. It’s a fact that my natural inclination is to obsess over something to the point of harming myself. So, what am I going to do about this? I’m going to do exactly what you see me doing here. I will acknowledge it for what it is, I will be mindful and aware of my own behaviors and attitudes and I’ll do my best to remain present in the moment regardless of where I may find myself.

I think one reason that I am so apt to attach to mental constructs is that they can often be a way for me to block out the world around me. I often have a hard time trying to figure out how to deal with people and things so I think this is one way I limit my exposure to others. Who here thinks that it works or is a good idea? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? I didn’t think so. Usually, this just blows up in my face and I end up with bigger issues than I had when I first attempted to ignore them. My own weight is a great example of that: I spent years ignoring it until it hit 330. How’s that for blowing up? This time, I’m not going to ignore the attachment as I see it forming. Instead, I’ll try to apply the Buddhist approach and acknowledge it for what it is without judgement. I will not try to make it go away by force of will as that would not work anyway. This way, I will be able to allow it to run its course without causing undue suffering. The up side is that it should also let me continue to focus on doing other things that I enjoy (like writing for this blog). I’ll try to keep my progress with this self-experimentation updated here and record how it goes. One of the most basic tenets of Buddhism is to not accept anyone’s word for something but to experience it for yourself. That’s what I’m going to do with this latest budding attachment. Just consider me your friendly neighborhood Buddhist guinea pig.

My New Self Portrait?

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