Finish What You Start

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3; NIV)

Finish what you start . . .

It was the title to a series my pastor preached several years ago. Unfortunately, the title is all I remember. That and one particular sermon about how unmarried people should finish being single before they rush into a marriage. That was probably one I should’ve paid more attention to. I might’ve been able to avoid a few disaster relationships, or more specifically, “situationships,” if I had.

Still, the title itself convicts me . . . Finish what you start. . .

I haven’t been able to finish many things lately. As a writer, I am the ultimate perfectionist. When I catch the editing bug, nothing I write is ever good enough. I can edit a story down to nothing if I’m not careful. And if it’s not the next great American novel that I want it to be, instead of writing it down anyway so I can revisit and rework it later, I don’t write it at all, too embarrassed by how dreadful it will read. (That’s why it’s called a first draft, silly.) And don’t let me fall behind in my word count. Even if it’s only a day, it’s a mountain I just don’t have the motivation to climb anymore. Hence my countless disappearing acts from the blogging world, and why I left 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans hanging at Day 10.

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But I intend to finish Holiday Hooligans this year, this April in fact, for the A to Z Challenge. No, it’s not the holidays, technically, but if I wait to December, a whole ten months from now, I’ll never finish it. And yes, I do realize the A to Z Challenge was the main reason for last year’s burnout, but if I don’t get back on the wagon somehow, sooner rather than later, I may never write a story or poem again, and for someone who’s been doing this since she was old enough to write, that is beyond terrifying.

So this is my second attempt at finishing what I started. A 2017 New Year’s Resolution do-over (because we all know January doesn’t count—we were too busy trying to drop all those holiday pounds we gained). There are a lot of things I plan to accomplish by the end of this year, and hopefully I’ll be able to organize myself so that I’m not overwhelmed in striving to reach my goal. But if God could create the entire earth and everything that dwells within in six days, just to kick back and relax on the seventh when He finished, then I have no excuse whatsoever.

Throughout the Bible, the number seven is used to signify completion and rest. Completion and rest. Ahh, that is so true. Unfortunately, instead of Day Seven, my day of rest usually comes at Day Four, or Five, or sometimes even Day One, and I never complete what I began. So many great stories left hanging off a cliff; so many protagonists left unfulfilled.

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But to actually finish something. Yes, that would be monumental.

Think about it. When you finally relieve your shoulders of that heavy burden of always having to do something, don’t you just want to lie down, kick your shoes off, read a good book, or play a good movie, maybe turn up your stereo, and do absolutely nothing because you’re at long last “done”? Yes, I know I do. Coming home from a long day at the 9 to 5. Wanting to get in my bed and disappear from the rest of the world for the next eight hours. Yes, that sounds heavenly . . .

BUT I HAVE TO FINISH THAT NOVEL!

The price of being a writer with a day job; there never seems to be enough time in the day to do both, especially when said day job is in an unrelated field and the only good thing it’s giving is a nice a paycheck. Nice, not fat, but nice. Coming home and having to switch gears and get into the writing mode is just . . . well, hard. But I have to do it. This is my life—not some measly job that doesn’t offer me affordable benefits worth a rat’s ass when I do get sick. Writing is my life. Creating stories is my life. Entertaining the masses with this craft God has blessed me with is my life.

So let’s hop to it. Start it. Finish it. Read it. Rest.

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“Sleeper, Awaken!”

As young as I am, I often dream about death. When I was a child, I prayed the Lord would take me in my sleep so I’d feel no pain. Mom said if you’re a Christian, it won’t hurt, but I wouldn’t take any chances. Let Him come while I’m lying in the grass, counting bunnies on clouds, blowing powdered sugar from picnic pastries into the wind.

We have so little control over what happens to us in our sleep, even less over what we do.

Do we snore (apparently I do); twitch or kick (I’ve been told I do that too); talk in our sleep (my dad once asked my brother to take out the trash and yelled for him to get off his motorcycle all while lying comfortably in his bed, eyes shut, drool collecting at the corner of his mouth); or do we sleep walk (maybe . . . at least once)?

I could blame it on being more tired than I realized, or being traumatized when How to Get Away with Murder revealed Wes, with half his face blown off, #UndertheSheet. (God, I was so sure it was Nate! Why, Shonda?! Wes was the main character, the first person we were introduced to in season 1, episode 1. I’m not used to this. I don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. I don’t know the torment your fans go through on a weekly basis!)

I guess I should’ve added a spoiler alert before that last point, but if you haven’t seen the How to Get Away with Murder winter finale by now, then too bad. It’s Tuesday, man.

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I used to date a guy who often joked about coming to my house late at night, watching me sleep through my bedroom window. He had a very dark sense of humor, and while some girls might have laughed (albeit uncomfortably), I found it extremely creepy. Especially since my ex before him used to stalk me, and going back to my very first job, I had a manager who texted me one night at 3AM wanting to “feel what it’s like to be inside you,” telling me that he was on his way over, and I needed to come outside when he flashed his headlights. I was sixteen. He was twenty-one.

This is the crop of men I seem to attract . . .

And most recently, the security guard at my job, who slowly looks me up and down before speaking to me, said, “I didn’t know you were a Dallas Cowboys fan.” I was not wearing my Cowboys jacket that day. Of course, he could’ve just remembered that I wore it the day before, but a more eerie thought crossed my mind . . .

That he was in my bedroom that night . . .

You see, Friday morning I woke up lying on the opposite end of my bed, on top of the covers, my bedroom door wide open, the overhead light shinning in my face.

That was not how I’d fallen asleep. I was under the covers. I’m pretty sure. I’d turned off my light. I remember making that extra effort of getting up out of my warm bed and walking across the room to flick the switch. It wasn’t a dream. And I always close my door at night. Always. Because I don’t like waking up and seeing shadows from the hall. Shadows of mysterious men creeping into my room . . .

I’m a writer, so my mind is working in overdrive churning off stories of what could have happened Thursday night as I slept. But I think I’ve finally figured it out.

I read a book before turning in for the night. A novel that completely spooked me. The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. And at the end, the ghostly diary writer, Sara Harrison Shea, gave us the instructions for bringing a “sleeper” back to life.

It all makes sense to me now. I rose from my bed in a trance, gathered the ingredients I needed—a candle, a fresh heart, something that belonged to the deceased—ventured out into the night to find a portal between the natural and spiritual realms, chanted the incantation, and brought Wes back to me.

That scratching outside my door, like a small critter digging its claws into the frozen dirt, trying to escape from the chill of the air, it’s him, it’s Wes Gibbins, wanting to be let inside.

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Where Have You Been All My Life?

Raise your hand if you started singing Rihanna’s “Where Have You Been” when you read that title . . .

Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife

Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife
Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife
Where have you been all my li-i-i-i-i-ife

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Where have you been . . . all my life?
Oh, just under a rock, chiseling my thoughts with broken off finger nails.

Where have you been . . . all my life?
That’s such a strange question. If asked by a man to a woman, it’s probably the second cheesiest pick-up line ever created (the first being “You look familiar—have I seen you in my dreams…”)

Where have you been . . . all my life?
A witty dialogue exchange between love interested characters that you think perfectly shows their chemistry until your editor screams, “Cut it!”

But before I get off topic, let’s address the elephant in the room—and if you follow my other blog, Lovely Curses, you know exactly what I’m talking about—the greatest disappearing act in the HISTORY of internet blogging! Er . . . actually . . . maybe the second greatest . . . more like the third . . . nah, who am I kidding—this probably doesn’t even rank in the top ten one hundred.

But again I’m rambling, and now that I’ve just passed the 150 words mark, and you still have no idea what I’m talking about, your internet-induced short attention span is begging me to get to the freaking point.

The truth is I haven’t written a blog post—or anything, for that matter—in almost five months. Back then it was summer, unbearably hot, and all I wanted was a drink of water.

I wish I had an acceptable answer for my extended absence from blogging.

Like maybe I was on a five-month long vacation. Cruising the Mediterranean. Sunning nude on a beach in Ibiza. Zero access to the internet. But let’s be serious. Very few places in the world today aren’t Wi-Fi accessible.

So maybe I’ve been in the hospital all this time. Nothing serious—I just got pulled over for speeding and somehow managed to get a bullet lodged in my spine. But then, where was the social media outcry?

#BlackLivesMatter #WeStandWithKap #HandsUpDontShoot
#AllLivesOnlyMatterWhenItsConvenientForYou

Ok, well my next excuse would be that my assignment at work changed, and since I do most of my blogging while on the clock, I have no time to do it anymore. While the first part of that statement is true, I’m no busier than I was before. The only difference is that I was moved to office location HELL! My cubicle is situated in a corner surrounded by the offices of three managers, one of them being the head of the entire department. To make matters worse, it’s an open cubicle (not the partially walled bay area that I’m used to), and it’s turned so that my back is to the hall, making it impossible for me to hide what I’m really doing from nosy co-workers and managers walking by.

Fair enough, but that only accounts for the 9 to 5 shift. What about the other eight hours of the day (because of course I have to sleep)? Well, I have been dedicating a lot of my time to my new diet. And yes, I know I talk about losing weight a lot, from New Year’s Resolutions, to poems about getting skinny in time for October bikini season (guess I missed that), to poems about hating the reflection in the mirror, to poems about a thin figure attracting a Grandpa-approved suitor.

But this time I’m serious. Damn near obsessive. I’ve already lost 30 pounds and if I hadn’t slacked off my 80% plant based/whole foods diet during the early autumn months, I probably would be down 50 by now.

So you literally spend the other eight hours of your day cooking fancy meals and following food blogs? you ask.

. . . Yeah, actually . . .

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But then there’s the real reason.

I’ve completely lost my motivation to WRITE!

I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was a combination of things. And it’s not that I have no inspiration, because as I write this, tons of stories are swirling around in my head waiting to be written. I just can’t seem to sit my fat behind down in front of a computer and write them! Plus, I’m such the procrastinator. Once I let that spirit take a hold, it requires a miraculous shake of the cosmos to get it off my back.

I’ve mentioned before that this year’s A to Z Challenge completely wiped me out. It’s quite ironic how it happened. I can write a new flash fiction story every day with ease, until I’m force to, and heaven forbid, am obligated to fit those stories into a pattern. I was able to finish that challenge—though a day late—but I never got my writer’s mojo back.

I continued to write sporadically for the next month and a half, while trying to keep up with other side projects like editing two magazines, hosting a weekly flash fiction challenge (that I’ve completely abandoned—sorry, guys), writing a novel, reading more books than I did last year (5), and a plethora of other things, until finally, my head exploded and I disappeared off the face of the earth internet, leaving my followers to only speculate about my demise.

If I’m being honest, I think I just committed myself to way too many things, and the pressure of having to keep up with all of them day after day finally caught up with me. I’m like an overenthusiastic toddler. I get a thousand ideas in my head and I want to do them all at once until I crash in the middle of the kitchen floor with a half-eaten chicken leg sticking out of my mouth.

But good news, guys. I’m not dead! Just my muse. However, if this post is any indication, I’m slowly trying to revive her . . .  S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Which is why I created this blog. So I can have an outlet to just write, about anything. Because I obviously can’t post it all on Facebook. And let’s face it, after having to click the “More” link twice on a post, no one has any interest in reading more unless there’s a photo or video attached to it . . . or it’s about Donald Trump . . .

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While I’ve dedicated most of the year to making Lovely Curses all about my fiction and poetry and anything writing/author/book related, I lost my freedom to simply talk about me, which is surprising because I never thought I was all that interesting. And who knows—maybe I’m still not. Maybe this new blog will turn into an online not-so-private diary that comes back to haunt me when I’m 50, or becomes a New York Times bestseller after I’m dead.

But I’m going to revel in the fact that I’m finally able to write again. Even if it’s just ramblings for now. I can’t tell you when I’ll dive back into the fiction and poetry. I won’t make any false promises, and I damn sure won’t over-commit myself again, but if I can keep this up (I’m already over 1,000 words. YAY!), I’m confident that they’ll be back real soon.

So stay tuned. And hey, why not follow this blog? At least you’ll have something from me to read until I can get my life together . . .

From the title, you know it’s going to be fun, right?
😉