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We’re flaky.

See, I can say this, because I am one. (Though, unfortunately, it’s not the only reason why I’m flaky.)

I’ve not mentioned this on here yet, though it’s something I’m very excited about. Back in August, I started a writing group with my old friend Rachel (Rachel Writes Again) and our friends and friends of theirs. We’ve had about 4 scheduled meetings since then, and a few were big successes. I couldn’t make it to the other two, but from what I heard… not as many people showed up as we’d been expecting.

Which is fine. It’s hard enough to get a large group of anyone together in one place, let alone writers. Besides, I think when you have a large group of writers, it’s hard to focus. Everyone has something to talk about, and then the wine gets passed around and the oatmeal cookies, and next thing you know we’re typing nonsense onto typewriters and occasionally remembering to workshop.

OK, it’s not that bad.

But I still stand by it. Even the dedicated writers (who write daily and finish ten books a year) are flaky. Maybe not flaky to their writing (I admire them! I need to become them, and I am trying), but flaky to their life. It’s hard to pin them down even in a 5-minute conversation.

It’s nothing against them, of course.

I love writers. Sometimes I wish I had more writer friends, but then I remember our type: we don’t really plan, we just show up places and hope someone else will be there. We’re shy, at times, but like a bullhorn when you settle on something we enjoy. We tend to have two conversations at once, because each person is caught in a fantasy. We’re friendly but don’t always follow the social rituals of the everyday person. We’re thoughtful but always thoughtless; we don’t always think about the fact that what we say or do has a reaction outside of our world.

Which is, really, the problem. We’re stuck in our world, fantasy or real.

Maybe I’m just talking about me. But I think there’s a certain essence to all the writers I know, even the ones that are on the functioning side of writer life.

And that essence is really hard to pin to one place at one time long enough to have a meeting of larger than three.

But that’s OK. I like small crowds.


I think one of the things I love about writing is the honesty.

When writing, I have the capability to be honest about anything, without feeling guilt to go with it. As long as there’s one lie in there, it cannot be nonfiction (unless no one finds out and causes a big scandal on Oprah), and some of my stories are and always will be less than real but more than fiction.

In real life, we tell half-truths to each other. Even in a desperate moment, the truth is hard and sometimes brutal and doesn’t always allow for the best situation.

You can bare your soul to someone and they can give you a half-hearted piece of discouragement, leaving a dash of hope in its destruction. Sometimes that hope has no business being there.

It’s something I struggle with daily. I like people, and I love being friendly, but I also hate to lie. If you ask me, “How is my writing?” and I don’t think it’s good, I have trouble saying, “Oh, you’re amazing!” I won’t. It just won’t happen. I’ll try and tell you something you do well; I’ll let you know you’re growing. But I won’t lie.

But it’s not just with writing. I’m sometimes bad with encouragement if I don’t believe in it–I don’t believe in blindly supporting stupid decisions.

That’s harsh.

Let me back up a step, too, and be fair.

Girls–and guys–don’t always make good decisions. Especially about each other. But if a girl friend comes complaining about a boyfriend who is awful and lazy or even just one of the two, there’s two ways you can go about it. You can sympathize and say, “I know, that sucks!” and share a pint of Rocky Road while watching How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, and don’t say a thing when they get together the next day. Or you can crack out the Rocky Road, still have How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days playing in the background, and tell them that the movie isn’t real life and to ditch the slob.

Option two is the better one for your friend–option one is the better one for your friendship.

There are moments in my life when I wanted opinions on something but I didn’t ask because I had a feeling I knew the answer and I didn’t want to hear it. So I just never asked, and I can’t fault my friends for never telling me. You don’t walk up to people and say, “You’re fat,” even if they’re in danger of killing themselves, or “Ditch the loser,” unless their life is in danger, or “You’re slacking–work harder if you want to go anywhere in your life,” unless it’s your boss. Sometimes we don’t even say the truths that are good; we don’t just walk up to someone and say, “I love your smile,” or “I think you’re the kindest person I’ve met,” or “You’re the only person who could have done that.” Unless something prompts it, we don’t share it. (Even in the moments when a stranger, or a good friend, comes with a genuine compliment, most people’s first reaction will be happy but they’ll stutter over the happiness, unsure of why someone would just tell them something so wonderful so out of the blue.)

I think we, as people, are naturally secretive. I think we don’t just react badly to hearing the truth, but we’re in denial about hearing it. I’m guilty on all three accounts, though I try to take the last two in stride.

But for me, that’s where writing comes in. I don’t have to lie or keep secrets. Sure, the characters might still hate each other for a truth that went too far, but it doesn’t matter. They got the nerve to say it like we don’t every day. Even the words are truths, and I don’t have to censor myself, or worry if I’ll offend someone. If you don’t like it–stop reading.

Then again, it’ll always be a struggle, and those stories full of truth are the hardest to write and forget the consequences. But sometimes a truth between you and a piece of paper is nice.

I have an announcement:

I’ve formed a habit.

I realized it last night, when I thought about how I’d finally rejoined a gym after 2 years. I haven’t been getting the results I’ve been wanting, even though I’ve been eating well. Note that says well, not great, since great is reserved for at least a weak-long stretch of no candy or mini marshmallows paired with M&Ms. But I was at the gym, exhausted and wishing I was at home and on my couch watching whatever my DVR has to offer. I was feeling guilty about the shortened workout, disheartened because it feels like nothing’s happened, and trying to accept the fact that, yes, I can miss one day of strength training and the world won’t end.

And it didn’t.

And even better, I found that spark of hope when I realized that I’d formed a habit. Not a straight 21-day habit, but a 100% habit.

That thing that told me to get off the couch at 5:45 last night and finally make my way to the gym, if only for 30 minutes, was not guilt, which is what I’d been chalking it up to. It wasn’t someone else telling me to get my ass in gear. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even my obsessions telling me to take it 5 steps further. It was my habit, calling in the back of my head and asking if I could, just please, keep her intact.

I’ve belonged to the gym 28 days today. I’ve done some form of exercise (even just the treadmill for 15 minutes) 23 of those days. The days I missed? One was Christmas Eve, and the other four I was on vacation–and even went for a short run 2 days. I even jumped on my treadmill for 30 minutes Christmas morning.

I know what you’re thinking. Jessica, this isn’t your exercise blog, this is your writing blog.

I get it. But let’s look at this again:

I formed a habit.

The next step is to just keep it up, but to take it a step further and find the time to add another habit–a writing habit.

See, it was easier than I thought. I turned around, and the habit was there, following along obediently though I never asked it to.

If I can do it, you can. I know people say that a lot, but it’s true. I spend an inordinate amount of time watching TV, and at least 200 minutes a week washing dishes. I read while at the gym, my iPad propped up on the treadmill or elliptical as I page through some new release or self-published find. I play with my dogs, and hang out with my boyfriend, and try to make time for my friends. I work eight and a half hours a day, and sit in the car another 3 just to get there and home. Yeah, I may not have formed the writing habit, but I’ll squeeze the time out of there to do it.

Once I’ve retrained myself into one habit, what’s one more?

I can’t wait!

It’s been so long since I’ve posted in here that I had to go back to read the last thing I wrote. And then I was shocked–I didn’t realize it was November, and here we are back at the start of 2012. A whole new year.

All I can say is that I hope 2012 turns out better than 2011. But, let’s not be a Debbie Downer. There was a lot of good, too.  I want to recap those, see what I have to look forward to in 2012.

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