Typewriter Bleeding

When you tell people you’re a writer, you get a lot of questions that are difficult to answer.

The basic one’s aren’t so bad: “What do you write?”; “What’s the genre?”; “How long have you been writing?”

The trouble comes when people ask you how you come up with ideas and what your process is and what do you hope to accomplish in the long run. These seem like straightforward questions but the process of writing–more specifically the process of discovering who you are as a writer–is difficult to explain.

Some days we plan. We write outlines and make notes in preparation for a scene. We think of all the details we need to include. We decide what we’re going to write and where it fits into our story.

Some days we research. We look at history, science, and culture. We decide how much we want the real world to influence our fictional spaces. We get lost in all the possibilities for fine detail and nuance.

But some times, we bleed. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Some days we open our laptops and in a moments that can only be described as transcendent, beautiful, and perfect, words flow from our hearts and souls through our fingertips and onto the page. We aren’t just creating–we’re discovering. It’s as though the words are there just waiting to be discovered and today, for whatever reason, our access to them is easy. There’s no thinking, there’s no deliberation. We just bleed.

And while these inspired days often feel few and far between, they are what drives writers. We crave those experiences that reminds us of this: “I am a writer. This is who I am and this is what I am meant to do.”

 

Dear Carrie Fisher

Dear Carrie,

I’d like to think you are somewhere out there watching all of us post tributes, videos, and tell stories about how much you meant to us. You’re probably touched, moved, and–let’s be honest–laughing up a storm.

I’ve never met you. I can’t say that I know you.

But I kind of feel like I do. I’ve been reading your biographies and while I’m well aware that reading someone write about his or herself does not make one an expert about that person’s life, you’ve provided a window–however small–into your life. Your candor is refreshing; your stories are heartbreaking and hilarious. You’ve managed to capture that weird, sweet, beautiful thing we call life somehow sounding elegant and brash all at the same time.

I’m currently read The Princess Diarist. I don’t know where exactly you were in your life when you wrote your entries. I do know that you’ve captured the convoluted mind of someone dealing with a mental health disorder. It’s beautiful and disturbing and haunting and perfect.

Like I said, I never met you but your passing has left this odd emptiness in my heart. I was upset when I first heard of your death but like so many things with life you figure out how to box it up and move forward.

It wasn’t until more recently while watching your friends talk about you at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando and staring at a piece of fan art I have as my wallpaper on my tablet that I realized what exactly I was missing.

There was no one like you and there will never be anyone else like you. No one can sit on couches at chat shows with Gary at their side and make us feel like you’re sitting in our living rooms. No one can make us laugh and cry all in the same moment the way you did.

No one else will ever be our Princess.

With Much Luv,

Jana

I Weep But There is Hope

It seems there is more and more evil in the world. The recent tragedies in Sweden and Syria have broken my heart. As always, my heartbreak and I am confused.

The death of innocents. The destruction of homes. The sorrow of losses.

The blood of children. The tears of the fearful. The questions from all.

At times it feels like there is no way to avoid evil. You begin to despair that terror will become all consuming. Good news and happy stories are few and far between. Images of the dead and suffering bring you to tears as you wrestle with your beliefs in your heart.

But please remember this: “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.”*

Yes, there is terror. Yes, there is despondency but there is also hope.

Hope in the way we receive those around us. Hope in the love and prayers we send to those affected by terrible acts. Hope that there are people fighting for good even if it feels like the good is a tiny spark in the middle of a forest fire.

So though I am sorrowful, though I will weep for the dead and those suffering, I choose to hope.

I choose to believe love always wins.


*Spoken by President Snow in the film The Hunger Games.

The Dip Between Hills and Peaks

The Dip Between Hills and Peaks

Soft swift sunset sweeps across dry grass

And tiny gaps between tight-lined almond

Trees.

Black bellied starlings perch on stringed

Power lines with weathered wings waiting to

Fly.

 

Black outline of factory pipes and towers

In front of vibrant oranges and pinks and

Yellows.

A soft divide between end of daylight

And dawn of night time plays in shifting

Patterns.

 

Day tomorrow may bring blistered heat

Or shifting breeze but this moment sings

 

Perfection.

26

Being an adult is hard. 

I realize the above statement may make me sound like I’m a little late to the game. I’ve been a legal adult for the past five years (according to US legal standards).

But when I say being an adult is hard, I’m referring to the emotive turmoil surrounding identity and belonging not the seemingly endless list of responsibites to be completed. 

I’m twenty-six. I don’t have an established career path or even the beginnings of one. I’m only working once a week and sometimes it feels like I have no friends. 

And I’m single while friends and people younger than me are married and having children. 

But I do know what I want to do and who I want to become. I am walking step by step toward my dreams. I have a general plan of how I’m going to get there and overall, I’m optimistic about my ability to carry out said plan. 

So when I say being an adult is hard, I guess what I really mean is it’s hard work. 

But I’m beginning to realize it is so worth it. 

Technology in an Age of Moral Relativism

I love science fiction. I write it, I read it, I watch it. So it’s fair to say I’m kind of technology geek. Anything that reminds me of something I’ve watched or read gets me pretty excited.

But I’ve also consumed enough science fiction to know what happens when technology goes massively, colossally wrong.

And it’s not pretty.

When I look at the kinds of technology being invented and created today, I ask myself this: are we losing our humanity or is technology helping us further who we really are?

I’m not saying I think technology is a bad thing. I’m writing this on a laptop, on a website, and after pressing a button this post will be available to almost anyone on the planet. How cool is that?

But in an age where right and wrong have become greyed and ambiguous concepts, technology and its applications become just as convoluted.

On the one hand, a robotically operated machine can perform life saving surgeries once thought impossible. On the other hand, artificial intelligence is reaching a critical point.

Are we creating beasts that will one day come back to bite the hand that feeds them?

I don’t really have any clear answers about this topic. I don’t think anyone does.

But I think it is very important we carefully think and discuss where technology will lead us.

Because one day, we will reach a point where measured thought and tangible boundaries may no longer be part of the equation.

And thinking of the possibility of that day scares me.

I’m Still Here

I left an empty house to wait in a crowded terminal.

I flew 2,901 miles, then drifted for nine hours before flying another 5,607 miles.

I ate my favorite burger while riding in the biggest pick up truck I’ve ever been in.

I lived out of a suitcase, slept in someone’s living room, and caught an annoying cold.

I walked through the doors of my childhood home and couldn’t decide if I liked what I was feeling.

I walked along the shores of my favorite coast line and thought only of the water and the sun and the sand and the people in my heart.

I walked into grocery stores shelved with ten types of bread and two types of ramen. I pushed a heavy cart with a dazed look through The Home Depot as I realized–again–that I live here now.

I slowly set up my room–in a temporary form. Pictures Scotch taped to the walls. Books and movies lined up on the floor. Wrinkled clothes pulled from suitcases and hung in a closet that feels twice as small as it used to. A borrowed bedside table that doesn’t do much to help the clutter.

I’ve generally felt too overwhelmed to make a plan or feel like I’m moving forward.

I’ve panicked–genuine hyperventilation, requires-medication-to-calm-me-down panicked.

I’ve been angry.

I’ve been confused.

But I’ve also walked between the shelves of the library I grew up begging Mom to take me to.

I’ve eaten Mexican food as often as I like.

I’ve eaten chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

I’ve been to the Farmer’s Market and eaten delightfully fresh strawberries, nectarines, and kettle corn.

I’ve sat in coffee shops with friendly baristas and pleasant ambience.

I got to talk to my brother on the phone.

I’ve texted my close friends who live throughout the US.

I’ve been blessed by the hospitality and generosity of so many people.

So yeah, it’s been hard, and sometimes I feel like I’ve gotten nowhere.

But I’m still here.