Tag Archives: chasing the dream

Travelling: The Writer’s Master Class

I wrote this late last Friday night and have only gotten around to editing it now. As of today, the numbers below are right — 90 days until I’m homeless and a world traveller. If you’re not following my travel blog, you should.

It’s hard to find great movies on writers. Funny, that.

But I guess it’s such an internal experience that it’s very hard to relay that visually or in any other way. It’s why a movie like Eat Pray Love can suck so hard while the book is a delight to read.

So it’s with great enjoyment that I’m watching Jane Campion’s biopic on New Zealand author Janet Frame, who I’d never even heard about, despite read. Don’t let my ignorance dissuade you of her import; her list of writing awards spans nearly six decades and would be intimidating to nearly any writer. An Angel At My Table is the name of both the film and the corresponding books.

Frame was unique, to put it lightly, and suffered mental illness in varying (but it turns out manageable) degrees. She was due for a lobotomy when word came that her first book of poems was an award-winning publication, and some wise doctor realized her malaise was also the source of her brilliance.

I’m at the point where she’s coming into her own as a writer but is still troubled by the demons of anxiety and other illnesses, and like any proper writer, she is only her complete self when writing.

 

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons. My first stop in my travels.

London, England, by Unsplash on Pixabay. Creative Commons.

Doing what a writer’s born to do

It makes me think that a writer who isn’t writing is a person who can never be happy. Without writing, we’re haunted. If we can’t do what we are, then what are we to be, if not cursed?

I write. Boy, do I write. I can’t say I don’t write. Know how many words I’ve written since April 1st, about 90 days? Over 70,000. Maybe over 80K. Until this quarter, I never knew how much a writer I am. I set a goal, then I blew way past it, so much so that I’ll be the writer anomaly when I travel, as I’ll be completely debt-free.

Strangely though, with all that production going into paid blogging and other professional endeavours, plus some unpaid personal blogging, I have to tell you… I really wish I had some time to write.

There’s writing for the dollars, then there’s writing for the soul, and there’s very little of the latter I’ve been able to execute, only because I’m so riddled by the chase of the almighty buck that I’m too full of emotional holes to really write what I wanna.

Zagreb_1_Ilica

Creative Commons image from Sobrecroacia.com. Ilica Street, Zagreb, my second stop on my travels, and near where I’ll live for three weeks, except for a short stint in the next town — which is… see the next picture!

 

Stealing back my time

In the movie, Janet Frame has just launched herself on her first international voyage. She’s told, to be a better writer, she needs to travel and expand her horizons.

It calls to mind what I wrote about how my travels are, even if others don’t say it, essentially most writers’ dream life. Go abroad. Travel slow. Soak in the world. Record it. Process it. Love it.

That’s writing for you, it’s a writer’s master class — travel.

I’m 90 days away from that life. Travel. No appointments, no obligations, no friends, no family, nothing but a schedule to meet for work, the ability to be in some exotic place for a month or so, and enough time in the day to write for an hour or two EVERY SINGLE DAY. Maybe more! Tee-hee-hee!

Ask me if I’m more excited about the distraction-free time to chase a writing-first life or the opportunity to see the world for five years, and I would honestly struggle to choose. I love the idea of both so completely that it blows my mind I’m getting both at the same time.

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com's list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Ljubljana, Slovenia, from PopSugar.com’s list of 23 places to visit. And stop number three for me!

Writing is not a “hobby”

I’ve been through a lot in my life. It’s all gone whizzing past in a blur of survival and perseverance. Seldom have I had a chance to percolate and absorb it. I haven’t processed half the emotions I’ve felt over the years.

To some, they might say I need therapy. But the writers, they know. They know I need silence, a phone that doesn’t ring and a door that doesn’t knock. They know I need a window with a view, a desk at a good height, and fingers that won’t weary from a day or a year or a life of pounding out the truth.

It’s better than therapy, writing. It’s more honest, and it’s less selfish, in a way.* Put it down, push it into the world, and watch it resonate with others. When one taps into how fucked up they are, shares it with the world, resulting in a cacophony of voices rising to say how much it resonated with them — that’s the original therapy group session.

Something tells me, though, that landing on the far shores of the Atlantic isn’t going to be when and where I realize what a mess I am — it’ll be where I realize how together I’ve got it.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I'll be spending 4 weeks this fall -- stop number 4. And this photo's from Sobrecroacia.com.

Motovun, Istria, in Croatia, where I’ll be spending 4 weeks this fall — stop number 4. And this photo’s from Sobrecroacia.com.

Choosing passion

It doesn’t matter how I think I’ll do. My expectations don’t matter either. In about 105 days, after I’ve whirlwinded through Vancouver and London, UK, it’ll be my chance to see exactly how it unfolds. But there are no doubts in my mind about travelling improving me as a writer.

There haven’t been many opportunities in my life to spend 10 or 20 hours a week just writing for myself, let lone more, but the few times I’ve had that, my writing has been top-notch and I’ve been enormously proud of it. It’s a whole ‘nother writing level when you’ve got the time, focus, and dedication to achieve consistency.

This is what I hope to experience again. A chance to become more plugged into words and flow. I want the noise and distraction of life to evaporate, and the cadence of something exciting and new to fuel what I write.

What’s that they say about asking and receiving? 100 days.

*But therapy is awesome if you can afford it. For real.

Jumping. No Parachute.

So, that thing I wrote yesterday about quality? Pfft, fuhgeddaboutit.

Today, I had nothing to eat for 9 hours and thought it’d be wise to drink wine. Now, writing for you (because I love you so) seems brilliant.

This, or I piss off Twitter. Every now and then it’s fun to memorialize stupidity as a whole, so, uh, HI.

You know what I did today?

I sent a Not-a-Book-Proposal to a literary agent. Apparently it’s impossible to get a literary agent in Vancouver, so I’m totally comfortable with failing in Mission: Get A Literary Agent. Like, t-o-t-a-l-l-y.

But then again? I feel pretty good. I do! I do. It wasn’t a book proposal, but it was proposal about a book I proposed; just, you know, done my way.

Even if it’s rejected, just hitting “send” was a major accomplishment. Huge.

I packaged up my dream into a little box, tied it with a bow, and sent it into the great unknown, to a pretty not-insignificant agent I’d be lucky to land. THAT deserves celebrating.

I jumped, man. I jumped MY way. Cue Sinatra!

I don’t want success and fame if it comes at the price of bending over and taking it before I kiss every ass in sight, okay? I want to be myself. Be nice, but not pull punches. I wanna do whatever whimsy hits me. I don’t want to worry about consequences or overthink moves.

I can’t be a sell-out, I don’t roll that way. My friends would die laughing at the proposition of me trying to sell shit I don’t believe in. You have no idea.

For years, I’ve been told there was a “process” to success in writing. People you had to please, things you had to do.

Well, a few years ago all I did was write well for a few months, with no apologies, and it did me wonders. Somewhere deep inside I think craft matters more than promotion, and so do integrity and individuality, and seeking success the “tried and true” way ain’t individual and isn’t a ringing endorsement of one’s integrity.

But, you know, have at it, if that’s how you go.

Whatever happens, I know it’s ALL on me and I won’t have to wonder what woulda happened if I followed my instincts.

That’s its own reward. If you’re me, anyhow.

I was terrified today because I know nothing about book proposals.

Know what I had down in my calendar to do THIS week? “Read about Larsen’s book about book proposals.” I was gonna START that today. Know what I finished and hit send on today at 3:30? Right, a totally winged, improvised, “well, that looks right” version of a book proposal I sorta hashed out in an email with the agent then went rogue on.

If, by some intergalactic long-shot, I should happen to land the agent, you know what probably would be the reason? That it was completely against type. I dunno. Whatever. I did the best *I* know how to do, and I’m half-drunk tonight out of contentment and satisfaction with myself, not stress and worry.

Fuck it, man. You do what you can, and if you fail, you plan “B” it. That’s life lived the fun way.

I’m 36. I’ve wanted to write a book since I was 15. The closest I came was in ’96, when I did a novel-writing workshop and really got somewhere with a basic idea, but never figured out the endgame of my plot.

My then-writing teacher, Maureen Medved, who’s had a movie made of her novel Tracey Fragments, said I wrote stories like Denis Johnson, the awesome author behind Jesus’s Son — the book/movie. Which is to say my fiction is really dark and harrowing, with a cruel psychological bent and scarcity of language and edgy vernacular. Or something.

I haven’t written fiction since, aside from a few stories. But I’ll go back there. Someplace real, real dark. Someday. Likely sooner than later, too. I think the drama needs to end in my life first before I turn to creating more of it at will.

I digress.

The last 10 days have been monumental for me.

Huge. Monster. Unparalleled.

I’ve spent so long just trying to survive in life that I forgot how to get ahead.

I don’t want to try and explain that right now, but know that when I hit that last period, my eyes were overcome with tears. It has been many, many very long, very hard years. Any successes or moments of awesomeness I have had of late, I’ve earned the hard way.

But, no, I don’t want to explain that right now. I’ve spent five years writing about it.

The last 10 days, though? That’s new.  Luck, fortune, validation, proving things to myself, conquering lifetime fears, being completely myself without apologies? Um, yeah. New.

Sending a book proposal today was the single most optimistic, hopeful act I have ever committed in my life. Ever.

It’s the biggest stamp of faith I’ve ever put on myself. Ever.

It is absolutely monstrous. Schwing.

The book?

100% about me. E-e-k.

It makes me laugh, really. My entire life has been governed by my insecurities. Others would probably think I’m cocky or arrogant, because I write so much about myself or tweet constantly. And that makes me laugh really hard.

It’s a strange paradox. Yeah, I think I’m amusing. But there’s only so far I think that gets me, and there’s only so good that I think am. It’s one thing to have an idea of what you might be capable of, but a whole ‘nother one to go there in reality.

I consider my wit to be kind of like a localized weather phenomenon. Think of it as that storm that blows over your neighbourhood. For a moment: Relevant. Then, poof, gone.

That’s not running myself down, that’s just acknowledging that it’s a big, big world filled with much to be fascinated by.

Still.

I took that big chance and tonight I get to enjoy the intrigue. Was it good? Did he like it? Do I get a lollipop? Stay tuned.

I jumped.

Tonight, that’s all that counts. I took the leap, the one I’ve been avoiding for 15 years.

About motherfucking time.

Photo from Skydive Virginia.