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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."

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exploration

So, I began writing at a very young age……

……..a practice that I’m continuing to do even now, many years later. In a previous blog, I mentioned that, upon seeing Star Wars: A New Hope at age 7, I had become so enamored of that universe that I wanted to become a part of it. So I wrote myself into it.

This is commonly known as ‘fan-fiction’, a term I didn’t learn until many years later, but even then, I didn’t equate my scribbles with what others were doing. The stories I wrote myself into were for my eyes only, ranging from favorite books to TV shows as well as movies. It was how I learned to develop characters and plot and world building.

Upon discovering creative writing classes, I enrolled as fast as I could, wanting to better my voice and skills. Sometimes, these classes provided exactly what I sought; sometimes, they didn’t. It’s also how I feel about writing groups – the few that I’d attended seemed to provide a great deal of support for many of the people I met there, but I often felt dissatisfied and not given a safe platform to discuss my work.

This is not to say that classes and groups aren’t beneficial – they are, you just have to keep searching until you find one that not only suits your writing needs, but offers a supportive and secure environment. And you may even come to the conclusion that writing groups are not for you, which is fine, especially if writing is for your eyes only. If you want to take your writing a step further and need objective criticism and feedback, a group of fellow writers is a good place to start, thus the importance of finding the right group.

While I’m blessed to live in a highly creative community, the writing groups I’ve attended did not suit my needs. I found myself wanting to be at home and writing rather than participate in any of the exercises provided (1). My creative impulse demanded my attention, pushing me to dive back into my story and immerse myself in its world and characters.

I’m feeling that itch now, as I write this post, to pick up my pen and follow the tale as it winds itself towards its conclusion. To disappear completely within that world, like I did when I was young and exploring the galaxy aboard the Enterprise or learning the ways of the Force with Yoda and Ben Kenobi.

For me, writing is a bit like deep sea diving and archaeology mixed together. Just as you would submerge yourself into the water, I do the same by submerging myself into the psyche of various characters and their world. As one would unearth clues to an ancient civilization’s past as an archaeologist, so do I when finding more details and questions as I write.

As a kid, upon wanting to be a part of the Star Wars universe, I spent hours writing in a white heat. As an adult, it is my job and responsibility to tap into that white heat and bring that focus back to my writing. Each project is like learning how to write all over again, because each one has its own challenges and demands.

More and more, I’m remembering that young me, the one who was so enchanted with the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa. That energy and passion is what I need to bring to every story I sit down to write.

That itch to write is reminding me to do that every day.

*****

(1) This is my experience with groups and is not going to be reflective of yours.

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So, I’ve been pondering the word ‘can’t’……

…….and it is the most limiting thing to say, either to yourself or to someone else. ‘Can’t’ implies that you are not capable – of changing a tire, of getting a degree, of looking at situations in a different light. ‘Can’t’ implies that you are stuck forever in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. ‘Can’t’ implies that you are victim not of your own making and absolves you of the responsibility for changing it.

One can certainly say, “I can’t practice medicine because I don’t have the required education or degrees” or “I can’t inspect buildings to make sure they’re built to code because I’m not licensed to do so”. Fair enough. Those are legitimate ‘can’ts’ and can apply to areas that require one to be licensed or have a degree in order to find work in those fields.

So then the phrase becomes “I want to….” not, “I can’t do….”.

Let’s take masonry inspector, for example. I actually studied this for awhile and still have the books. I wasn’t particularly interested in becoming a masonry inspector, but it sounded like something I could do and since I didn’t have any real drive to pursue anything else, I chose to explore this as a possible career choice.

I didn’t fare so well – the architectural plan reading wasn’t easy and that’s an important part of being an inspector. You need to be able to decipher the lines on those plans – where the pipes are, what type of re-bar goes where, etc., otherwise, you end up with a building that’s not only lopsided, but unsafe and frankly, I want every building or structure that people live or work in to be safe.

It was a good lesson to learn, taking that class and paying for the books. Yes, it cost me the tuition fees and the books, but I feel that the investment was worth it, regardless of the outcome. Sometimes, that’s how it works – you invest some time and effort to see if it’s what you want for yourself. That’s always the best reason to do anything – exploring possible paths to better yourself, your circumstances, your life, your mind.

However, the only way to take that first step of exploration – of any positive change – is to say to yourself “I can do that.” Curiosity, desire, that insatiable want to see beyond the curve in the path, is what keeps you pushing forward.

“I can’t…..” locks you into a treadmill of fear and insecurity.

“I can…..” opens you up to every possibility.

As Henry Ford (1863-1937) once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

Wouldn’t you rather be right knowing you can?

 

Recommended*:
My Life and Work by Henry Ford
How to Stop Worrying & Start Living by Dale Carnegie
Around the World in 72 Days & Other Writings by Nellie Bly

*to be updated with related material.

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