Sunday, February 07, 2016

Notes from a year named Thrive: February

Earlier this month I started a new job as a social media and customer service coordinator at an events company here in Toronto; the application to interview to offer happened quickly during December—so quickly that I had already accepted the position before most of my friends even knew it had been offered to me.

So yay? Yay.

And oh, I'm so tired. A mostly good kind of tired—but so, so tired.

I had to relearn how to be in an office at a desk all day. How to be around other people again when I was used to working on my own. How to commute on the subway packed like sardines when I had leisurely walked most places. It's been four weeks, and I'm almost at the point where I've found the rhythm to it.

However, I don't have a lot of energy to spare. Sleeping is my new favourite hobby. I know that's not a forever thing, but it's a challenge not to feel like I'm missing out on my friends and acquaintance's lives. I'm aware there are things that have happened that I know nothing about. Whether those are thing-things or just Twitter-thing... well, someone would have to come tell me, because the finding out would take time away from sleeping. Which I enjoy. A lot.

Yesterday, I managed to write again for the first time in weeks. And that helped. I know it's healthy for me to be around people and interacting with others and working towards goals day-to-day. I do better when I'm working—it's the tangible progress, the sociability, and the structure.

It's become apparent in the past couple of weeks how badly I was doing and how drained of resources I was. (In that way where one knows one isn't doing well, but how not-well only gets put into focus when it's no longer the constant emotional state.) There were days over the past few months that believing I would get another job took more capacity than I had. I was really scared life was going to fall apart around me. It wasn't going to, resources were in place to keep that from happening, but anxiety wants us to always expect the worst.

Thus, it's important right now for me to be able to trust that there is a better or onwards or a light at the end of what has felt like a very long tunnel. It's important that I'm careful where I put my attention and how I allot what capacity I have. My emotional well went dry months ago; it's finally beginning to refill. Slower than I'd like, but such is the way of everything.

That and having the flu meant my anxiety was off the charts for the first week or so of work, and it's only now calming down enough that I can feel confident about my abilities again. I had a bad day this past week, when a meeting went a little too much like most meetings went at that corporate job I quit. When people were a little too invested in what they wanted instead of what the customer wanted.

This was compounded by my former employer doing a big restructure in January that affected a lot of my former colleagues. Two of my friends got laid off. And I found out about this a week and a half into my new job. Right around the same time media outlets in Canada laid a bunch of other people off.

So I'm feeling especially grateful about having gainful employment right now—even thought not giving into the anxiety that this workplace will be Just Like my other workplace is something I struggle with. Despite that there is much to enjoy at this new job, and many great people on the team. It's going to take a few months to put that worry to rest. It's not just like the other workplace. That's not to say there aren't things that are similar—but they're not the same.

It's been more than a year since I left, so I thought that I could handle hearing about how things were going for my friends still employed there. The full disclosure. No kid gloves. I was wrong. Talking about that workplace left me exhausted. I came home feeling like I still worked there.

There's a lot of talk about the importance of leaving toxic people and relationships, getting out of jobs that are eating us alive, but it's not a magically happy ever after just because we did. We don't talk about the echoes or the way it lingers. Or how we brace for it to happen everywhere else. The work doesn't stop when we go.

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I don't think it gets easier. I think we get better at it. In the same way I got better at managing my anxiety and recognizing what triggers it. In the same way I know I won't be tired forever. It's just how I feel now. It, too, will pass.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Obligatory post about The Force Awakens

I saw The Force Awakens. I was rather excited by it when I left the theatre, mostly because it had what the original trilogy lacked: A woman with a lightsaber. All I care about are lightsabers and tiny robots. Other things may have happened in Star Wars, but seriously, lightsabers. Tiny robots. What more do you need? (NOTHING.)

Now it's a few days later, and I don't really remember what happened in the movie. This is a problem I find with much of the films J.J. Abrams makes: They're so crammed full of stuff that the plot becomes incomprehensible. It's much harder to view them critically, because you have to dig through the layer of "and then they did this and then they did that and then and then and then" to find where the narrative structure got buried.

Most of what I can remember is: Rey lightsabered the shit out of stuff, there was a really cool temple, Poe didn't die, and I found Finn interesting.

Poe arrived prepackaged as a badass. He told us repeatedly he was badass. Showed up at the end to be a badass. Which makes sense because we see him the least. He's got no time for character development. (I thought so much emphasis had been placed on him being great because he was gonna die soon so they gave him an abbreviated character arc.)

Finn came coded as antagonist who will become a protagonist, because we see him as a stormtrooper for the opening of the movie. When he takes off his helmet and we see him as a person, that's very effective. That's the signal of what his arc will be. Again, it happens very early in the movie because he isn't the main protagonist. (He's the secondary protagonist.) We need to see him leave the Starkiller, because his leaving is the source of his enthusiasm. So much is new to Finn and he's secretly worried he'll be rejected because he used to be an antagonist. 

When Rey arrives on the scene, she's obviously our main protagonist. We spend some time with her scavenging. The movie establishes that she can defend herself (this will be important later), she's adaptable and works hard, and she has made herself a life. She has plans. BB8 goes out and finds her with the plot, but there is no doubt she is the hero. She's going to be a Jedi by the end of things.

The problem with J.J. Abrams is he loves the source material a little too much—he's not going to take any risk that's too big, because he always focuses on elbowing the audience and going DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? JUST LIKE IN [MOVIE]. YEAH. (I'm a little weary of it, because it's the same thing Joss Whedon and Steven Moffat do. I'd like to see more stories where the writers worked a little harder to hide where they filed off the serial numbers.)

So. Yeah. The Force Awakens. It's about as good as A New Hope. With some updates, because it's 2015.

About halfway through TFA, I found myself thinking "this is so EASY. Look at how Rey gets to be the protagonist and have the hero quest. We can all do this. Look at how easy it is." Why aren't there more movies like this, I wondered. Why do we keep getting told the hero has to be the guy? Because it's not like it took a lot of narrative effort to make it Rey instead of Poe or Finn. (Make your arguments about the back end production if you want, but it's possible. We keep seeing it's possible.)

I don't believe that the gender of the main character is what determines if a work is feminist or not, because that leads to the work getting a pass even if it's shit with consent or full of internalized misogyny. But I do believe that we need stories with women in the spotlight. All kinds of women.

I would've preferred to have seen more emphasis put on the relationship between Rey and Leia. Rey had women in the film who showed up to support her, but she was still really on her own with some dudes. When Han Solo and Chewbacca showed up, I felt like the movie forgot who the protagonist was. The Force Awakens is a little too in love with Han Solo.

I enjoyed Finn. I felt that turning away from the stormtrooper conditioning to pursue his own morals was equally interesting to Rey leaving her loner life to join up with the resistance. I also enjoyed how she was established as more competent and capable than Finn. So I can see the structural argument to take Rey aside for a moment and let Finn lead the mission to the Starkiller. She was busy searching within and rescuing herself.

Could've done without the nonconsensual Force mind-reading stuff, but it's always been a problem in Star Wars. The Force Awakens wasn't going to ditch that for the same reason it didn't ditch showing us C3PO and R2D2.

Also, I was relieved Poe didn't die because what a waste of character set up, and Finn needs a friend—in addition to Rey—to talk to about... I don't know jackets or something. Honestly, it was just a relief to see media where characters aren't adversarial for the sake of plot. That Poe was like sure, why not showed the Resistance as being accepting. It juxtaposed well against the rigidity of the First Order.

I think the movie was good about not working too hard to make Finn and Rey more than friends. It felt like watching a movie made to be enjoyed by my inner seven year old. It was pleasant and imperfect, but it tried to be better than what had come before it.

However, if someone had come to me with that script and said "What do we have to do to make this even better?" here is the treatment I would've given them:

Rey, our BAMF scavenger, and her tiny robot friend BB8 find the Falcon in the ruins. She tries fixing it up, holding back on the best parts and making due with lower rations (which she’s getting because misogyny) to do so. She is about halfway through when another scavenger named... uh... Laputa happens upon her camp. They decide to work together and pool their rations. Also Rey needs a co-pilot.

They get the Falcon operational and take off into the stars. Rey admits she is looking for her parents. Her friends are more than happy to help her find them. Along the way, they recruit a hotshot pilot who isn’t a dick and a former stormtrooper who questioned the morality of the society he'd been raised in. Everyone is friends and they all have adventures. No one kisses anyone, because who's got time for that when you're having so many adventures. (Save that kissing for the second movie!)
Then they land on a planet and go to this cool temple bar thing. Rey goes downstairs and fights a bunch of ghosts or something in the dungeon and finds the lightsaber and goes THIS IS GREAT. Because lightsabers are great. Period.
No one is surprised Rey can lightsaber the heck out of stuff because she has already been shown as more than capable of defending herself, and why would her friends doubt her abilities? She’s badass. A badass with a lightsaber.
The First Order wants the map. They try to capture Rey, but they only get Poe because he's too cocky. (His arc is learning not to be so cocky.) It’s fine because Rey and Laputa are completely capable of rescuing him, and Finn knows the schematics of the Starkiller. Laputa gets to fly an X-Wing and blast up shit. Rey lightsabers every creeper who gets in her way and learns the Force as she goes. Finn gets to face down his former commander with his new friends at his side.
After they save Poe, they follow the map to the Resistance. General Leia is like hey, I'm a general BAMF. Nice work on that Starkiller. She gives them the rest of the map. Rey is like cool, do you know who this lightsaber belongs to? I found it in a temple dungeon because that's how quests work. Leia is like I think it's my brother's. He went off to deal with his massive PTSD. Let's send him a message and see if he would like visitors and not stalk him across the universe and just show up.
Anyway so they call up Luke and he's like "well, ok, I guess you can come visit but now J.J. Abrams has to pay me more because I spoke onscreen." And they're like cool and they set off to visit him.

You see how easy this is? It took me fifteen minutes tops. Your move, Hollywood.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Notes from a year named Kindness: Winter Solstice

Here we are on the shortest day of the year, rain falling as it often does for the Solstice in Toronto, and what's trending on Twitter is a hashtag about the people who made 2015 great.

I've had a year-long conversation around the word kindness—giving it and receiving it, realizing that it does cost me something, and understanding that no one is entitled to it. In learning about agency over decisions and care, I've learned a lot about self-care and boundaries. Establishing them, defending them, respecting the ones others establish so they don't have to defend them against me.

I watched other people have this conversation—former colleagues and current friends—and it grew, it expanded into a cultural discussion of how kindness tangles up in privilege. In consent and agency. A lot of us spent this year recalculating the amount of damns we have to allot, and how we conserve them for when we need them most.

The best advice I got remains when someone told me in a job interview that first you take care of yourself, then your loved ones, and your job—whether it's marketing or non-profit or social media or publishing—comes last. Because you can't do it well if you aren't taking care of yourself.

I learned that lesson the hard way, and it meant I have firm boundaries regarding what I won't put up with—and that very little to do with whether or not I can endure it. It has to do with defending the choice not to have to endure it. Because each time one of us chooses, it makes room for the next person. I also learned when and what and whom I make exceptions for.

Life is full of well-meaning bullets and assholes who don't know—or just don't care—they're assholes. But the world is also full of brilliant, caring people—and self-aware assholes—who want to be and do better. What a bunch of hustlers we are; over-extended in our own ways, and all fighting our own battles.

Those are the people who made this year great. The warmest of wishes to those of you who showed up with a smile or a song or a joke, who lent an ear or a hand. To the ones made of swords and fire, and the ones made of feathers and light.

May you have things that fill you up, people who love you, and a safe place to rest when you are weary. It's been a long year, and it's going to a long night. Stay warm; remain bright.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Best Albums of 2015

Given what I was listening for this year, as it was a year heavily-focused on music for projects, I've likely missed some great albums. But here are the ones that I've been enjoying. (If you're wondering why Adele's 25 or the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording aren't on here—well, you should've been able to find those on your own given the sheer amount of attention they're receiving.)

Of Monsters and Men's Beneath The Skin
I have a long-established love for OMAM's My Head is an Animal. And Beneath the Skin is better. The album is tighter with its lyrics, and more adventurous with its sound. There's a better balance to their sophomore effort, and more songs that share vocals. Also, all the little references within the lyrics create a unity to the album; it's like reading a well-edited anthology. (There's a sense of structural thought that didn't feel as well-developed on their first album.)
This is the album I've listened to the most this year. The one that I am always pleased to hear. The one that I never skip a track because they're all so great.
Recommended tracks: (All of them) Crystals, Hunger, Empire, I Of The Storm, We Sink.



Zella Day's Kicker
Her album opens with a murder ballad, contains a love song to a Clint Eastwood movie, and ends with a ballad that will steal the breath from your lungs to return it to them. You probably know Mustang Kids (Featuring Baby E) from it being featured prominently in a campaign for MTV's Teen Wolf.
But the truth of what makes Zella Day great, aside from her impressive talent, is that she composes story-songs and tries on different genres. (She has the most of the quintessential Bastille-ness of Bastille that I've found in another artist.) Zella Day is everything. And she's amazing live.
Recommended Tracks: (All of them) Jerome, High, East of Eden, Hypnotic, Compass.



CHVRCHES's Every Eye Open
With the first CHVRCHES album, I had about three favourite tracks that I could listen to forever... but I never felt compelled to listen to the album as a whole. It worked as one, but it wasn't an album for me at the time. When I got Every Eye Open, I was delighted by how it shimmers and glows. It may have been the right album, right time. However, it's one of those albums meant to be listened to in its entirety.
If OMAM's Beneath the Skin is an anthology, CHVRCHES's Every Eye Open is a novel. It's constructed and deliberate, and it will leave you feeling immensely satisfied. And it'll do all this without ever including a guitar solo.
Recommended tracks: (All of them) Leave a Trace, Make Them Gold, Empty Threat, Bury It, Get Away.



Florence + The Machine's How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
In the latest—and aptly titled album—Florence Welch and crew have created a soaring, big sound that reverberates with varied emotions. There's an expansive quality to the album, maybe best exemplified in the title track or Various Storms & Saints. It sounds distinctly like Florence + The Machine without sounding exactly like Ceremonials.
Recommended Tracks (all of them): Ship to Wreck, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Queen of Peace, Various Storms & Saints, St. Jude, Third Eye.



Carly Rae Jepsen's E*MO*TION
This album gets this year's Fine, Twitter, You Were Right About Taylor Swift's 1989 mention. As well-engineered 80's inspired synthpop, Jepsen's album is designed to listen to again and again—while walking, grocery shopping, driving, or whatever. It's not as structurally rewarding as CHVRCHES, but E*MO*TION knows what it is, and it does it well.
Recommended Tracks: Run Away With Me, E*mo*tion, Boy Problems, LA Hallucinations.



Metric's Pagans in Vegas
For this album, Metric does Metric songs but with a more techno sound. New sound, similar stories. While I'm not sold on the final two tracks (The Face Pt I and The Face Pt II), the rest of the album works well enough to make up for it.
Recommended tracks: Lie, Lie, Lie, Fortunes, The Shade, Too Bad So Sad, The Governess.



Oh Wonder (Self-Titled)
Driven by piano and vocals, Oh Wonder gained attention by releasing a song a month on soundcloud. It worked. There was no wondering if you'd enjoy their album, because you heard all of it. By the time it released, you were already a fan of this UK duo and their soulful sound.
Recommended Tracks: Livewire, Lose It, Landslide, Without You, Midnight Moon.




Indiepop EP bonus streaming round:

ASTR's Homecoming
Soundcloud.
Recommended Tracks: Bleeding Love, Part of Me.

Ji Nilsson's Blue is the Saddest Colour
Soundcloud.
Recommended Tracks: Nothing, Heartbreak Free, Belong To.

Rationale's Fuel to the Fire
Soundcloud.
Recommended Tracks: Fast Lane, Fuel to the Fire.

SLEEPLUST (Self-Titled)
Soundcloud.
Recommended Tracks: Deep Nights, Over It Now, Lone Black.

Micky Blue's Wild Things
Soundcloud.
Recommended: The Good The Bad The Ugly, Champagne Reign.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

I finished my draft last night.

I finished my draft last night.

It used to be that when I reached the last 15,000 to 10,000 words of a draft it became a race downhill to catch the words as they overflowed their banks. The whole draft spilled and I scrambled to be fast enough to get it on the page.

But that didn't happen with the end of this draft. It didn't happen at any point; anything that came fast needed to be rewritten or edited the next day. Everything was slow and deliberate and even then it was often still wrong. I'd love to say that the matter of this was overthinking things, but I genuinely believe it was because I used to under-think the things I had previously written. They needed so many drafts, because the structural issues or bigger problems were things I tried to smooth over later instead of replacing as they happened.

I still need to do a continuity check and polish before I can let anyone else read this, but I hope I'm at least catching most of the issues. That was the craft goal with this story—to be aware of subtext and control it in a way that I couldn't before.

As you get further along in writing, as it's not the first book or even the fourth, you're always aware that end of draft means the beginning of the work. But for now, it's an accomplishment. It's something to grow.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Slow life writing

This is around the time of year when we all start with our NaNoWriMo posts. This is also the first year that I didn't even consider doing NaNoWriMo. I usually at least have a fleeting moment of maybe I should—nahhhhhh. The glib reason is that I've already drafted 50,000 fast, wrong words and then decided to throw them out this year.

Seriously, though, it has taken me a few years to come to understand I don't write well when I aim to write fast. I do believe that NaNoWriMo is an excellent opportunity to build the habit and create the discipline of writing every day. Word goals, specifically a consistent word goal, is how I keep the momentum going. It's less about the word count than it is the reminder to be writing, to be pushing the story forward. (This does not, at any point, become a post about how I changed my mind and will be doing NaNoWriMo this year.)

I don't do NaNoWriMo for other reasons, including that I find 50,000 words to be an awkward length. (That's a little over half a story worth of words.) There may be a year that I choose to participate just for the challenge of writing something that is that length. But it won't be 2015.

I've been working on something this year, that I tweet about occasionally and I talk about to people, but I've not really blogged it. Possibly because I've been busy putting words into it instead of writing words about it. Also, it's a bit difficult to refer to as it needs a new title, because the current one is connected to when I planned to do something overly complicated with the structure that I'm not doing anymore. (Past Me got too much sleep in late 2014 and then had this great idea about trying to write a David Mitchell book. No. We're not doing that.)

Usually I refer to it as the damn magpie book. It's new but not, as I completed a rough draft in January of 2014. But I had left it to gather dust for most of last year, because I'd spent far too much time with it. To be honest, I was certain I hated it. We have a long history of fighting each other to get the job done.

Earlier this year, I had the great idea to draft something new and come back to revising. So I stuffed the magpie draft in a folder on my harddrive, and I (gleefully) moved on. I wrote more than 50,000 words of something else. Something fun. But I stalled out. Because I was writing fast and thin and I could see the story going to pieces. I had these characters and this vague plot and a reaction to a few things, but I didn't have what made the story mine. Why was I writing it?

I don't think that stories should only be about our viewpoints and our experience, but I do think there needs to be something that connects the writer and the story. Because the writer is the first reader. Before feedback and revisions and everything else, you've got to be invested enough to finish that first draft. And I suffered through years of falling out of love with an idea but sticking to it so I could get something finished. I wasn't about to do it again.

When I decided to have a go at applying for writing grants in June, I pulled the magpie thing out and started working on making it suck less readable. (The grant I applied for is specifically targeted at works in progress and offers funding to complete them.) I cringed my way through it. It wasn't a bad story; it just wasn't the story I wanted to tell. It had been written too slow—too much time between its starts and stops—so that it was equally thin as something written too fast.

I tried revising, got 30,000 or 40,000 words in—it had topped out around 90,000—and realized revising wasn't going to do it. I had to rewrite it into something I could love enough to do what it takes to make stories good.

My new challenge was could I make the western—such an American genre—into something Canadian, but more importantly... could I make it feminist? It was a bargain story, but could I make it about the danger of transactional relationships in a way that wasn't heavy-handed? Could I write a revenge tale that was kind? And most importantly, how could I make it so magic spilled out the sides of it even if doing magic wasn't the focus of the story?

I stopped when I was doing job interviews or reading and reviewing... but I kept at writing it. I pulled the story apart, examined it with the same critical gaze I use for other people's stories, and put it back together better. I listened when people spoke of representation and the problems with historical assumptions and felt grateful I was at a stage where I could easily make those changes. I fed it songs. So many songs. (Seriously, there is a place reserved in the acknowledgements for the person who unintentionally half-built this story's playlist.)

And the story's getting there. It is well on its way to being something. I've got work left to do, but I know I'll have it finished and readable before the end of the year. That's really all I wanted.

But if you are deciding whether or not to do NaNoWriMo, I would tell you that producing an arbitrary amount of words by a certain date won't make you a better writer. It may make you a faster writer. Few of us are fortunate enough to improve by accident rather than intent.

But if you want to do NaNoWriMo to put yourself in a position to have to make writing decisions faster and have the support of a community of people who are sharing that experience, then it's a good place and probably something you'll enjoy. Like everything, you get out of it what you put in.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Notes from a year named Kindness: October

It is a strange thing, job-hunting. Because you have to let yourself believe during the hiring process that this could be your job. You have to let that possibility in and grow it with each successful step forward. And each time it doesn't happen, each time reality diverges and this timeline we live in isn't the one where you get that job, you have to mourn the loss of the possibility.

That is not always an easy thing to do. But it is a thing I have to keep doing, even if it doesn't get easier. Because the goal is to get a new job, and not getting one isn't an alternative. It helps to know other people in this position; we're all doing our best to find something stable. When we discuss this, everyone agrees that the only thing to do is to keep going. Disappointment hurts, and when things are difficult it hurts more. But it still doesn't hurt like it did a year ago.

I had a job lined up earlier this month. Well, I was dead certain that I did. I cleared reference checks. I was the best candidate they had interviewed (they told me so.) And I wanted the job. It was the kind of challenge that channelled traits I have in healthy ways so I could thrive. Three weeks after the reference checks I was still waiting to hear next steps, so I called the company to get an update... and found out they couldn't hire me. They couldn't hire for the position until the end of their fiscal year—which is the end of March.

That possibility of not having to worry about income and paying rent and being on a salary when the end of my current lease comes up mid next year vanished. The little knot of dread in my stomach returned, tied up in the possibility that I might be in over my head. Then people showed up. They said I'm sorry. They said that sucks. They asked what do you need? And I remembered I have a small army, and the reason I stopped thinking about leaving this city is because I spent this year growing my in-person support network instead.

See, the company told me you didn't do anything wrong. I thought of course, I didn't. And it's difficult to know that—to know this is just something that happened that wasn't in my favour. Because things happen. It doesn't make it easier to accept. It doesn't make the disappointment hurt less. But things happen. So I let it hurt for a day or two, and then I got back to work looking and applying for jobs. Because I need full-time work.

I didn't get the literary grants that I applied for in June, either. Last year—or even six months ago—that would have been devastating. Now it was a moment of disappointment followed by another afternoon of putting words on the page. Continuing to do the thing I was doing anyway and would keep doing anyway. It would have be amazing if someone had paid me to do it, but that no wasn't going to be the thing to stop me. (I am old enough, and have been at this long enough, to recognize the only things that ever stop me from writing are me and exhaustion.)

When my family had a farm, I remember growing up with an understanding of how much of its success was beyond anyone's control. Wet summers. Early frosts. Fields flooded out, or the snow came too soon, and people lost entire crops. The precariousness of grain farming is part of why my family stopped doing it. But I learned that when it was nothing you had done or could have prevented, you did what you needed to prepare the ground for the winter. You looked at your options. Then in the spring, you went out and you planted more seeds. And you grew those possibilities all over again.

This might be why I've always been super goal-orientated. I was raised to set a goal and work towards accomplishing it. Then set another one and work towards that. To go out into the world looking for what I expect to find. And I realize this is a privilege in its own right, because not everyone has that support to fall back on. Occasionally, I do battle with the thought that accepting help is too easy. I could always be doing more, you see. I could always be trying harder.

That's why I applied for the writing grants, even though I had already decided what I wanted was full-time work. Because it was an option, and how much I needed it didn't affect my chances of getting it. The only thing I could ever guarantee would be to never get one because I didn't try.

190 people applied for the June Works In Progress grant, and 20 people got one. They're not stupendous odds, but they're not impossible ones, either. I've beat out more candidates than that for job interviews these past few months. Also, all of this job hunting has taught me that I have options. More options than I ever had when I restricted the paying work I wanted to do to a job in publishing or writing fiction.

I have a certain amount of privilege that allows me more choices about how I'm going to get to where I want to be. But I still have to get there. As does everyone else. We don't all necessarily want to travel the same route. Living life is a lot like writing in that everyone has a process and it's individualized. What works for me doesn't necessarily work for someone else, and may not even be what they want to work.

This is not revolutionary news. It's not an epiphany. It's mostly a peptalk for me, a reminder that I may need again later, that getting up and putting one foot in front of the other is still only way to get anywhere. Because somedays that feels harder than others, and somedays I still need to hear it.

If this happens to be a day that you also need to hear it, there's a shorthand among some friends of mine for this: Do the work. Prep the fields. Plant the possibilities. Let them grow.