Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Creating is terrifying. It's actually not, it's the sharing of the creation, or even *the thought* of sharing the creation that's terrifying."


I have been writing the Aubrey Nightingale Series (originally entitled 'The Grand Awakening', and before that, I believe it was called something along the lines of, "Get me the fuck out of this town before I kill someone with my magic" because I could not think of a name that did the story justice) for so long now, that I feel like it will never be finished.  If you aren't familiar with this story, I will give you the gist of where the idea came from and the process of where it has come to today.

It started in 2006, when I was living in the Southern Tier of New York state, the cesspool that is the tiny, dismal, depressing city of Binghamton.  I don't mean to offend anyone by saying that, but in all honesty, I don't think it's possible to offend anyone because everyone who lives there, has ever lived there or has even visited there, knows that it is nothing more than a pile of decrepit corpses with a mixture of snooty SUNY kids, most of which are from NYC, whose parents are too cheap to send them to a school in NYC.  (BU is actually a really hard school to get into. It is the SUNY equivalent of Harvard or Yale, but it doesn't change the fact that the majority of the students are still stuck up, arrogant, inconsiderate, butt-faced miscreants.)

I moved down there to be with my sons father and was able to finish my A.A.S. degree at BCC (Broome Community College), which wasn't that bad.  A lot of the professors there were adjuncts or fresh out of their Masters program and in the process of getting their PH.D., so they knew what we were dealing with.  (School is hard, even community college, believe it or not.)

The time I spent living there, I did not know anyone outside of my son's father's family.  I was quasi-friends with his cousins, who were our age, but it wasn't easy for me being so isolated.  Once we moved out of his parent house, things got a little easier as far as relationships went, but also got a little harder because I did not drive at the time.  I didn't have my own car and my ex's car was a stick shift, as was his parents.  He tried teaching me to drive it, but I'm going to be completely honest, have no patience for a manual transmission, and every time we'd get in the car and I'd attempt this frustrating  task of switching back and forth between the clutch and the shifter and gas and break and OMG TOO MANY PEDALS.  Even now, seven years later, I still sometimes hit the wrong pedal when I'm driving... (oops...)  Granted I just got my drivers license not even three months ago (March 4th).  I've always had anxiety issues with driving because there are just so many things you have to pay attention too and it was very overwhelming.  It's easier now that I've been doing it more often, but I'm not a pro yet.

So, we'd moved into our own apartment in August of '06, right before the semester started.  The only people I had were my son and his father.  I had no friends, I had no family, I was really isolated.  I remember one day, we'd gone to the store to get groceries and I was standing in the parking lot of Wegmans while he packed the groceries in the trunk, and I looked at the scenery around me, and realized we were surrounded by hills, to me they looked more like mountains because of how I was feeling at the time, and I just thought to myself "Holy shit, I really am trapped in the middle of a fucking valley, with no way out."  It was a moment of sheer panic and claustrophobia that I had never experienced before.

And that is how the Vale got it's name.

The character of Aubrey is partly based on myself (I, unfortunately, do not have real magical powers, BOO), and my time spent living in Binghamton; being "trapped in the Vale" became an inside joke with myself, and soon, the only friend I made down there, my Katie.

I met her at Mom's House; a free daycare for single women who are attending school full time.  It was a program run by a church, but did not overly push their religious beliefs on us (thank the stars because we all know I'm not religious), and the Mom's had to give 3 hours per week service time to help the program, duties that included making breakfast,lunch and snack, cleaning toys, bathrooms and playground equipment, paper work, etc.  It was a lucky break for me, because I had no idea how I was going to pay for daycare, and when I called them, they had one opening available in the room for his age group, and that was the same room Katie's daughter was also in.

We didn't really become friends until the second semester.  We both attended BCC and our "service time" at Mom's House was at the same time on Tuesday's and Thursdays.  I had come into a problem that semester;  my son's father needed the car to find a new job and I didn't have a way to get to Mom's House to do my service time, and since Katie had the same time as I did, I asked her if I could meet her at BCC and ride with her to Mom's house and I would chip in gas money.  Katie, being the nicest person alive, said sure no problem.

It was so nice because we became friends pretty fast.  She was a single mother and didn't have a lot of help so I offered to babysit her daughter anytime she needed, whether it be to study or go shopping or just to take a nap.  That was when our kids became best friends, and they still are to this day.

I told her about my isolation and about the Vale and Aubrey and everything came together in my head.  Slowly, I started writing the story.  The first draft was with paper and pen and it's probably the worst thing I've ever read in my life, looking back on it now.  I had no freaking idea what I was doing.  But it was so exciting and cathartic and healing.  Katie ended up moving into the same apartment complex as us, only a few buildings down the path and that was one of the best things that ever happened to me, having the only person I knew right down the block from me.

Katie became the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Not long after I graduated from BCC in May of 07', my son's father and I broke up.  He moved back in with his parents and I was stuck up on the hill, within walking distance to NO WHERE, except for a special needs school that was right across the street from the entrance to the complex, (which is where I got my first job only a month after graduating, only because I could walk there and didn't need a ride from anyone...) I fell into a deep depression.  My anxiety level rose through the roof because I couldn't afford to pay the rent by myself or any of the other bills.  And I had no one. I had no way of going anywhere, I started going grocery shopping with Katie, or asking my son's dad to take me to the store, which I hated having to do.  I had become so dependent on others, I didn't know how to survive on my own .

I ended up losing my job after only six months because it got so bad.  All I wanted to do was be with my kid because he was the only thing keeping me sane at the time.  And, of course, Katie.  I am not one to need a lot of friends, but I am one who needs a few close, trustworthy friends, who understand me, and she was the first person in my entire life who I felt completely understood me.

So much to the point where she inspired the character of Rhea Kenti, which you don't meet until the second book, BEYOND THE VALE, that I am still working to finish...

And here is where my problem comes in.

Writing is an absolutely terrifying experience, and it's not so much the writing part, but as Hank Green said so brilliantly in his YouTube video "We're All Scared", it's the sharing of that creation that scares us.

When you write a book, or poem, or short story, or song, or painting, or ANYTHING IDEA YOU HAVE, you are creating life.  You are, in a way, playing God.  You come up with these characters, these people, who to you are amazing and wonderful and you love them like your own children, but as soon as you share that life with another person, you give them the power to potentially rip your soul apart.  And GIVING SOMEONE ELSE THAT KIND OF POWER OVER YOU IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.  And it makes you completely vulnerable.

Now, I know that not everything you or I write or create is going to be horrible, but the anticipation of not knowing what they are thinking is just as bad as them telling you "Wow, this is the worst piece of garbage I've ever read."

Even though I am in love with Aubrey and Azra and Rhea and everything that makes up the world of Aubrey Nightingale, I also know that doesn't mean everybody else will be.  It doesn't mean anybody else will be.  And lately, I have been feeling so TERRIFIED of my story being rejected, that I haven't written anything.  Every time I open the document for BEYOND THE VALE, I re-read what I've already written, and edit almost everything, and rephrase it because I think it sounds stupid, even though I've read so many books that write a similar phrase just the way I did (not in a plagiarizing way, but somethings are just said a certain way in the American English language, in books, TV shows and normal everyday dialogue.)  I have to force myself to stop reading what I DON'T NEED TOO, and just scroll down to page 51 and finish where I left off... but the fear takes over me, and the self doubt is floating around in my head, and I have this overwhelming feeling that some invisible being is standing behind me, reading over my shoulder, telling me how much I suck at writing.

Watching Hank's, and a few other's, YouTube videos last night, all of which were about being scared of this, has REALLY helped me to see that, not only am I not the only one who feels this way, but that I need to find a way to get over the fear, and remember that everything I do in my life, I am taking a risk.  Getting in the car and driving to the store, I take the chance of getting into an accident.  I walk outside and take a chance at getting stung by a bee or hit by a bus or exposed to some random toxic chemical that was released into the air by a group of crazy terrorists and dying ...

{Anything could happen.  I'm not saying it's likely, but the possibility is always there.}

I don't want to live my life in fear anymore.  I've been doing it for so long; allowing the anxiety and societal pressure to be what they want me to be to take over my entire life, to the point where I can't even work like a normal person because real people scare the shit out of me.

"... Which is why talking to a stranger is always scary ... because when you talk to a new person, you are making you inside of them, and you don't want to do a bad job!  And that's why we all fear judgment so much, because judgment is just someone creating you inside of their head without your permission, without full knowledge of who you are, they're making you, but they're making you improperly. It's terrifying." (Hank Green)

It works the same with that we create.  Because everything inside your head is only 100% when it's inside your head.  When you give it to another person, they can change it and twist it and form it into how they perceive it from their point of view, and I want to make sure people really see what I'm creating.  I want people to understand that there is a point and a purpose to what I write...  Now, I don't want to tell you what to think, please don't get me wrong, that's a terrible and very wrong thing for anyone to do.  I just want to make sure that I'm doing a good job of creating myself, and my characters, properly.

I apologize for the length of this post. I really needed to get all of this out, and sometimes a lot of word vomit is the only way to do it.  Thank you for reading.

"Don't Forget To Be Awesome." ~The Green Brothers   ;-)