Downpour

I love the sound of a good rain early in the morning—and late in the evening too, really. The pitter-patter on the roof, the gentle kerplopping outside my window, the fragrance that draws a smile from within my soul as I step out onto the porch, the sun hiding far-off somewhere behind the mountains. I can’t get enough of it.

That fragrance—that peculiarly unique aroma brought on by the rain, of the rain—changes something inside me, relaxes something, frees something. I write better when it rains. I hear my characters more clearly when it rains. I don’t know why, but all my best ideas come to me in the rain, as if the hustle and bustle of a million drops of water racing toward the earth somehow clears my mind of all the muddle and elevates the truly beautiful ideas living inside me. It’s as though inspiration has been with me the entire time, and the rain simply allows me to become aware of it, to revel in it, to savor it. Continue reading

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Wrestling with Apathy

I’m always somewhat confounded by the apathy with which those around me seem to regard their lives. For me, “good enough” is not good enough. I’ll admit, it’s burdensome, but I’m not content with living a mediocre life. I don’t simply want to strive for the best; I have to.

A friend recently described to me his uninspired ambitions as an author—that he’d like to be just successful enough with his writing to supplement his income, and he’d be happy. Honestly, as we sat at a table together in some fast-food restaurant and talked over stale burgers and soggy french fries, his words (and surprisingly not the food) depressed me. But they also inspired me. Until that moment, I had been quite vague with myself about what my own goals were as a writer, what I wanted to achieve and how quickly I wanted to make it happen. And so on the back end of our conversation, I asked myself a simple question (so simple, in fact, I wondered why I’d never before asked it): “What kind of writer do you want to be?” I tried to be as honest with myself as possible in answering that question, and my initial reaction scared me a bit, to tell the truth. If I disregard the odds, the obstacles, and the demoralizing voices inside my head, my answer boils down to this—I want to be one of the greats. Continue reading

Stranger

I feel in my own body like a stranger, as though I no longer recognize myself when I examine the details of my life. It’s as if my physical self has stepped into a time warp while my mental self has grown at a regular pace. I can’t be old enough to father two children, to celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary, to be a grad student. Yet I do, and I am. And it’s overwhelming, the feeling that I’ve been entrusted with too much, that at any moment I could fall short and it’s no longer just me who’s affected. I’m not ready for this, and I keep saying so, yet life never seems to listen. I wish someone would listen.

Low Country Life

There’s something in low country life that is good for my soul. The air is different here—livelier, I think, rejuvinating. I tell myself I’d like to live nearer to these crashing waves, but then I’m reminded of Steinbeck’s quote about climate, and I’m thankful I spend most of my days situated far away in the mountains. But I do find inspiration like no other on these shores. I pick up a handful of sand, the grains pouring from the cracks between my fingers, and something awakens inside me, something I cannot express but love to experience. This is where my childishness thrives, where my grown-up concerns melt away, where my inspiration is fetterless.

Paradox

I can feel the creativity dwindling away inside me. Maybe it’s the quickly approaching end of the semester, or maybe it’s the grinding trudge of my every day right now, but I’m worried, I must admit. I’ve been cheating myself as of late, barely half-devoted to my craft it seems, and though I’m grossly aware of this rut I’m in, I can’t seem to escape it. I think I’m too worried what those around me will think if I write what I know I need to write. And so I don’t allow myself to be all-in, which is problematic because I’m an extremist—I either kill myself in pursuit of my goal or I don’t go after it at all. I’m in something of a stalemate, I guess, but I’m beginning to wonder why I care so much about people around me at all. I think as a writer you have to be selfish, at least to some degree. You have to not care, in service of your craft, about hurting people, which makes it difficult to care for them at all. At least for me. And I’m not sure I can accept that.

Planning Sucks

I wonder why I constantly try to stick to a five-year plan. They never work. I mean, I can’t really argue against making them—there have been a handful of times they’ve made my life easier—but in general, my feeble attempts at prophesying are never accurate. Usually not even close.

The wife and I have come to something of a cross-roads in our planning for the next two years. When I jumped on the grad school bandwagon, we both assumed that I’d be a stay-at-home dad for the duration of the program. Some recent changes (yes, I’m being intentionally vague) have caused us to rethink that, however, and suddenly, I’m on the job hunt. Fun stuff, fun stuff.

One thing I’m trying to work on is my ability to be flexible and to roll with the punches. So that’s where I am right now, constantly reworking, rethinking, reevaluating. Continue reading