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To Nobody in Particular.

To Nobody in Particular,

I believe that every person comes into your life for a reason. It might sound silly, but for me . . . well . . . I think the acquaintances we make and the relationships we form, build, and maintain serve a specific purpose. They help us, in one way or another – help us to learn, to better ourselves, to grow. The people – whoever they may be – teach us to be kind, to be more open-minded. They help us not only to communicate, but also to listen. To empathize. To think positively, even in troublesome situations.

It doesn’t matter how long a particular person might stay with you – it could be a few months, or it could be several years. It could be as brief as a conversation with someone on the sidewalk. You may never see that person again; nevertheless, he or she or they made an impact. In that moment of interaction, somehow, something inside of you changed.

The thing is, I don’t feel like I’ve really thanked you for coming into my life, for being my friend. Or rather, I feel like I haven’t thanked you enough. You’ve been so kind to me, and so . . . so available. If I need someone to talk to, you’re always there. You listen, and let’s be real, you give some pretty damn good advice. You’re grounded and logical . . . a glass-half-full kind of person. Your voice reassures me when I’m down, loosens the knot in the pit of my stomach when I feel like my day has gone from bad to worse. Even in the midst of a crappy situation, in your eyes, life will always turn out okay again, even if it takes time. Your door is always open if I need it, you tell me, and you mean it. That’s one thing about you I appreciate more than anything:  You follow through with what you say.

Sure, I haven’t known you as long as some other friends of mine, but I know I can turn to you if I ever need anything. It’s automatic, like a reflex. I have a problem, and you’re the first person I want to talk to. I know I can trust you, and to be honest, that’s a really big deal for me.

It’s not easy for me to trust people, you know? It’s really hard for me to open myself up and lay everything out there for all to see. I hate feeling so . . . so exposed. So vulnerable. So weak. People can formulate opinions about me based on things I’ve done, things I’ve said. And I’m terrified of being judged. What if there’s a part of my past – a part of me – that drives you away? It hurts just thinking about it. Because that’s the last thing I want to happen.

It doesn’t matter who criticizes me or why. I feel completely ashamed regardless – not to mention embarrassed and God knows what else – so I retreat far inside myself and lock myself away. Nobody can get to me then. I’m pretty good at making sure of it.

Of course, it’s not healthy. I know that. But it’s my go-to defense mechanism. It’s habitual. I build a wall and disappear behind it. In my mind, it’s the best way to protect myself.

So . . . I just want to say thank you. Thank you for opening me up, for helping me break down that wall. Thank you for putting up with me, for being around whenever I need it. Thank you for being such a good person and friend. You choose to keep your door open for me even though you really don’t have to; there aren’t enough words to tell you just how much I appreciate it.

My door is open for you as well, you know. Just in case you need a reminder. If you ever need anything – seriously, anything at all – I’ll always be there for you, just like you have been for me. Don’t ever forget that.

And, I mean, if I forgot to mention it earlier . . . thank you. Again. For everything.


All my love,

Featured · Post

Writing Is Really, Really Hard.

Writing can be the most difficult thing in the world. It seems like I always have to reassure myself that something will eventually come to me whenever I sit down with my notebook and pen.

Every. Single. Time.

I don’t really understand why this is such a routine occurrence, but time and time again, I frequently begin my journal entries with some sort of version of “I don’t know what I should write about today.” I suppose you could call that a true statement, though; I find that I struggle quite a bit when attempting to choose a subject to focus on, especially if I have a million and one ideas rattling around in my brain. And I always do. The possibilities are endless: a short story, a poem, a letter, a list, a review, or maybe the more personal journal entry . . . which, honestly, I like to lean towards. There are so many directions I could take. It’s hard enough to pick out a specific writing form, but then to choose a topic from the countless choices bouncing around in my head . . . it’s more than frustrating.

And if I end up being indecisive – I can be extremely wishy-washy, no joke – that just makes the whole process even more difficult.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m trying too hard to stick with one single idea. Because – like I mentioned previously – there are so many things I could put down on the page. And while it’s always good to challenge myself with a subject I don’t frequently write about, I always feel like I’m trying to force the words out. The writing doesn’t come as effortlessly as it could, and maybe that’s my fault. I know I haven’t been writing as much as I could be writing . . . or, well, should be writing. I haven’t been reading as much, either. And let’s be honest here, that’s not going to help me develop my craft much at all.

The one thing I’ll always remember my college professors telling me in class is if you want to be a writer, you not only have to write a lot, but you have to read a lot as well. That’s an important piece of advice I need to take and start to put into practice again. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only way to grow as a writer.

Eric Charles May was one of my many professors and the author of Bedrock Faith – if you haven’t read the novel yet, you should totally pick it up. I recall him telling me once:  “Write what you know.” That might be a little easier said than done, depending on the story you want to tell. Sometimes a particular experience is too painful put down on paper. Sometimes there’s a story begging to be told. What it ultimately comes down to is what the author wants to share.

Anyhow, a perk about creating a piece about something familiar to you is that the process may go somewhat smoother than trying to write about something you haven’t experienced. At the same time, writing about the unfamiliar gives you the opportunity to slide into your character’s shoes, really dig deep and attempt to understand the situation from his or her or their perspective, and go from there.

Of course, this might not be true for everyone. I’m sure some writers could create a piece about the unfamiliar just as easily as they could write about something they know. I just know I need to remember those words Eric May told me. There’s no question they’ll always be important, something for me to come back to if I’m ever wracking my brain, trying to dig out a fresh idea for a piece. It’s always good to remember that sort of advice . . . . I guess I’ll just have to remind myself if I ever get stuck. Because I know I will. There will be days when my thoughts flow effortlessly, like melted butter. There will be days when I hit a brick wall, and for the life of me, I won’t be able to knock it down. It’ll be discouraging, to say the least.

It might seem like the obvious choice, but the best thing to do would be to keep going. Maybe take a few days – or a week or two – put the work-in-progress on the back burner, and come back to it later. It’s imperative I don’t quit. Not when I love writing so much. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that, too, particularly when I’ve been staring at my blank notebook paper for almost an hour without a clue as to what I want to say. It just takes practice, persistence, discipline. A lot of it.

Let’s be real, it’s not easy being an artist. You have your crappy days, roadblocks, and a helluva lot of self-doubt. There’s that little voice in your head calling you a fraud. You’re your own worst critic, and it’s really hard to ignore. I mean, let’s be honest here:  We’re totally and completely overly critical of ourselves. It doesn’t matter what kind of art you create. You can work for months on a single project and, for whatever reason, you still don’t believe it’s good enough. The thing is that eventually, you have to let it go. Display your painting in a gallery, submit your film to a festival. Send your manuscript to an editor. Nothing is ever going to be perfect – what does that word mean, anyway? – but it can still be a damn good work of art.

That’s something I need to remember, too – I really need to start making a list now – because to me, my writing is never good enough. Ever. There’s always something to fix – I need to tighten my writing here, I need to add another scene there. I need more description. My title sucks. The list could go on and on, but there comes a time when the piece is pretty much as polished as possible. And I have to let it go. Submit it somewhere and simply keep my fingers crossed.

Yeah, writing is really, really hard. It makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. Or bang my head against a wall. But as much as it frustrates me, I love it. I don’t want to do anything else. And honestly, I wouldn’t change the struggle for the world.