I’m currently in Cape May, NJ for a writing retreat. I’m doing an intense revision of my queer gothic mystery novel, but because my book is primarily set in Cape May and Atlantic City, I’m also doing some on-the-ground research. I wanted to know especially what these resort towns are like in the winter off-season, and let me tell you, Cape May is both beautiful and creepy, so quiet it’s almost like it’s post-rapture. I love it, but it’s also the perfect place to set a story about family lies, vengeance and murder.
Whenever I’m at the Jersey Shore, I always think of my dear friend Shannon, gone almost two years ago now. She loved Cape May and the beach in general so much. Several years ago on my birthday I had to cancel a trip to NYC because I had a migraine. Shannon refused to allow me to have a bad birthday, packing me into the car and driving me to Cape May. It was maybe 10 degrees outside, brutal cold. We stood there shivering on the beach, and for a moment, it felt somehow okay because we were on the edge of the world together. I will never forget that.
102 days ago
Day 2: MORNING: #HopeWriterLife:
I have a love/hate relationship with mornings. Weekend mornings are my jam, and I protect them fiercely. Slow. Easy. Full of writing and reading and thinking and endless cups of coffee. But weekday mornings? That’s a whole ‘nother story. I always say I’m going to get up early enough so I can find myself in the Word and in Him. But then late nights happen. And grogginess happens. And snooze buttons happen. And not being a morning person happens. And before I know it, it’s 6:30 and if I don’t crawl out of bed and stumble into the shower immediately, I’ll be late to work.
Most school mornings—no matter what time I turn off that last snooze—I still end up rushing around to walk out the door on time. These rushed mornings usually find me whispering breath prayers in the shower, scribbling words and ideas on my bathroom mirrors in dry erase markers, singing along to worship music, and reading my Bible on my bed while I dry my hair. They’re not my ideal morning, and I always find myself wistfully wishing I could just pull myself together so I could have the slower morning I always crave.
As I rush out of my driveway each morning, I look to the left and am greeted by the most beautiful, color-drenched sky. It’s the quiet invitation that beckons me to stop and sit a minute longer than necessary. I linger at the end of the driveway, breathing in the goodness of God and setting my intentions and heart toward Him.
The queen still ruled out there all alone. No one dared cross the kingdom’s gate. It was said she had poisoned them all and remained on her throne in protest. She wanted change, it was said, and the kingdom revolted. They burned themselves into the ground instead. Change is inevitable, knew the queen and she waited. She sat on her throne for some time. The future would come to meet her and her kingdom would thrive again. She just had to be patience
“Do not allow your fire to go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not at all. Do not let the hero(ine) in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved & have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists. It is real. It is possible. It is yours.”
Day 2: @Hopewriters writing challenge
Does one really want to be a writer if it’s the last thing they do before bed? If they procrastinate until they can’t anymore? I hear writing is supposed to be a morning thing, but it’s never been that way for me.
Some days I second guess myself and I wonder what made me write in the past. What was it that motivated me to blog regularly? What did others see in my writing that caused them to encourage me to fine tune my writing with further education? Is it possible to find it again?
Just last week my morning routine had a change. I started a new job with new EARLY hours, and as I pull out of my driveway in the wee hours of the morning (aka 7AM), I glance at my #onceamonthspot and I wonder if I could ever rise early enough to write before work...
But maybe I don’t have to. Although writing in the morning may be best for some, it is not a must. So here’s to paying attention to what works for me, and not frittering away the evening moments to procrastination.
One of my favorite male characters is definitely Howl from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ by Diana Wynne Jones. yes, he may start out as one thing, a bit eccentric and self absorbed, but deep down he has a heart and feelings, and he is a dope ass wizard! #30daybookchallenge
Spending time with #Scrivener because it really is one of the most powerful, inexpensive, but essential tools to have as a writer. Every day that I prioritize using it, I feel like I got something done.
I can't recommend anything more fervently.
Between this and Google Docs, you have everything you need.
202 days ago
So this all may sound silly, and just because something worked for me once doesn’t mean it will work for you (or even for me ever again), but here is a story about me getting through writer’s block that might help you.
Since September, I’ve had about 10,000 words left to finish the book I’m writing. I knew how it ended. I knew what I needed to write. But every time I sat down at the keyboard, it was like my brain fell asleep. It turned to pudding and all the ideas got lost in the mush.
This goes on for months. I know I’m so close to finishing and I want to finish, and I just can’t get through it.
Now it’s 2019, and I need this book off my back. It’s sitting there, gnawing at the back of my head, eating any drop of creativity that manages to sprout. So it’s time to try a different approach.
I grabbed a pen and a notebook, and I spent a day or so basically doodling and writing random ideas to get my brain warmed up. And then I just started writing it out by hand, and it was working. And it just kept working.
Over three days, I hand wrote the last 9,000 words that were holding me back. I haven’t had that good of a writing sprint in months and months.
Now I’ve started working on a next book, and I switched over to a notebook app on my iPad (basically just handwriting on e-paper with the benefit of being backed up to a cloud). It’s been going wonderfully so far.
So. I don’t know. Something about handwriting - pen in hand, pen on paper - helped me tap back into my creativity. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my life handwriting my stories until I was in my late teens. Maybe it’s just a wacky fluke. But it helped me and maybe it will help you.
Also I’m just really happy that I finished this book. 😋
Last post for today: ”This is where the gunshots are fired. You’ve got a gun for a mouth, and your mother has pulled the trigger. You want to become something more, or perhaps to say something more, but your words are bullets fired.”
“You Are Alive” by Keren Chelsea Guevara
I had to learn that my dreams were worth chasing, I cut all my friends off, cause they thought we were racing. That’s not healthy for a guy like me whose practicing his patience. Remind me of the time when my ex said she couldn’t wait and, now I can’t get her to stop calling me cause she seen I made it. Avoided the streets, so I never paid it, still going down in my city as one of the legends, making sure my pen gives you a glimpse of my heaven. I’m in phase where I write art and don’t think to correct it, cause even when I’m inaccurate there’s an accurate blessing in my lesson. I live humbly, I don’t believe in speaking my finances, cause I learned they hold it over me. New book almost ready WORLDWIDE and we already at 33, because my audience loves me because I show em me. Maybe in 2019, y’all will finally get the collab with Prince and his former master the Zen, I call him Tyler P. I know it will be some shit that you wanna see. I promise to break ever record not as them, but as the realest me.🌻✍🏾
Being in limbo is the absolute hardest part. When you have not actually made up your mind about something, you won’t make much progress. This is because when you are confused about what you truly want, the universe will be too.
It’s ok, btw, to be in the in between of decision. It’s part of the process. But just know that once you really decide, once your mind arrives at a clear cut decision, that’s when things can start getting rearranged. Then and only then.
So, if there’s something you’re stuck on or some area where you aren’t progressing, get quiet and ask yourself if you’ve really made up your mind about it. Because once you do, that’s when divine order begins.
Your mind must arrive at the destination before your life ever will. 💜 Tag anyone below who needs to read this. 👇🏼
I conquered my Everest (minus one rogue piece)!!! This 1000 piece puzzle became my sole project giving my brain a full body workout.
It would make sense that I dove straight into this when I’m in the midst of writing a book. Sure, it became a distraction but one that stretched my mind to the edge.
Solving puzzles are all about perseverance and staying with it till the end. Putting in the last piece is satisfying but it’s about the journey that gets you there.
When I got to the 50+ all white pieces at the end, I almost threw in the towel but I hadn’t got this far to give up. So I powered through and felt that rush of adrenaline as I surveyed the end result.
It’s funny how puzzles are a mirror into our world and how we work, whether it’s writing a book, starting a business or working on a new project. Plus, they are super fun to do as a family. Now, it’s time to relish in my trophy for a bit before I take it down to focus on my writing.
My #10yearchallenge is pretty on point... a picture of me outside my dorm room at Penn in 2009 and a picture of me in my dorm room at VCFA in 2019. I think if I knew then where I’d be posting this right now, I’d be pleased and very, very excited. ☺️ This residency and writing my way through first-semester existential angst has made me even more empowered to go all in on writing about mental illness, neurodivergence, and ace stuff for kids and teens. I know my MFA experience will help me find the balance between writing with both hope and honesty. If I had anything to say to 2009 me, it’d be, keep going—and keep writing!! ✏️ #bipolar#mentalhealthawareness#kidlit#writersofinsta#amwriting#writersonig
To know that nothing is permanent is both an empowering and humbling experience. Everything is subject to change. Your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Even your city, your thoughts, the people around you, and the trees are constantly changing. Don't get so attached, observe everything from afar and you'll see a better perspective. ❤️
2212 days ago
Speak it out.
A new year always leads to some reflecting on the past and dreaming for the future.
There is something special being held in this season, this time.
I’ve been challenged to not just hold what I hope, but release it.
To speak it out.
The wild, beautiful stuff.
The stuff we feel in our gut and see in our dreams and scribble in our journals.
It’s coming out of hiding, not in pride, but in the power of God.
Because some of us are praying for tents when God made us for castles.
Timid declarations are being replaced with deep roars.
Not because we are good, but because that mustard seed of faith is ready to talk with some mountains.
He isn’t a just-enough God and this isn’t a just-enough year.
Don’t just dream in your heart again, hiding in hope what you think God could do.
Open your mouth and speak it.
Not in arrogance, but in faith.
That the God who gave you the dream is actually good enough, big enough, to bring it to pass.
I won’t miss this.
And I pray you won’t either.
In the temptation to sit back, let’s lean in.
You didn’t make it this far to give up now.
The whispers in the wonder are growing and building and changing things, changing us.
Rather than a word for the year, I’m believing that each month will hold its own word, its own encouragement for the journey.
I can’t wait to share them with you. ❤️