299 Days left until the Zombie Apocalypse…
Ever since I was a little girl, books have been my life. I’m totally and completely obsessed. If I could, I’d spend my every waking moment either reading or writing books. There is no greater smell than the smell of old books gathering dust and mildew on a dank library shelf. There is no greater feeling than that moment when I throw down my pen after a particularly good writing session to see that my fingernails have dug gouges into my palm and that the callous on my middle finger is caving in again. (Although, that is admittedly probably just because it also means that the voices in my head will shut their mouths for at least a little while…)
Anyway, yeah. Books are my life. The writing part has always come pretty easily too. I haven’t always been good at finishing things, but the writing itself has never really been a problem. Then I finished my first novel in 2010. Ever since, the goal has evolved from “write a book” to “get the book published”.
…not much has happened on that front.
It’s pathetic really. When people ask me about it, my response is always the same: “I’m editing it.” Only I’m not really–editing that is. I’m not doing much of anything. Every now and then, I’ll take out the printed version that a good friend made while she was reading it for me. I’ll scratch out a few sentences, add a few commas, and think about all of the great imagery that I need to add. Then I stop, put it away, and forget about again until said friend starts nagging me. It’s not that I don’t want to finish it…I just feel like I can’t find my characters’ voices anymore. There are too many other freaks in my head dying to get attention and they’re drowning out all of the ones who escaped in Sucker Synonymous.
Having said that, I have to also confess that I have a solution to that problem–let the other voices out to play too. In the past two years I have started seven different books. I haven’t really gotten anywhere with any of them either, but they have shut out the other voices and let me edit a little bit at a time. The only problem with that is that now they’ve caught on…and the little bastards won’t talk to me anymore! And, since they won’t talk to me, they’re also holding the voices I want to hear hostage. It’s so freaking immature. But how do you tell the voices in your head to grow up without sounding like you’ve completely lost your mind?!
It’s impossible. And frustrating. And I haven’t the slightest clue what to do about it. Out of desperation, today I decided to try one of those goofy little writing prompts they make you do each day in creative writing classes. I found a website that’s perfect. It’s totally geared towards teachers who need prompts for younger students–but that works perfectly well for me. I think that writing about simple things is a much more fulfilling experience–for the writer and reader alike. Anyway, it has a day by day list of prompts which is really just excellent seeing as how I haven’t a clue what to write about anything anymore.
Today’s prompt was about “Quiet Day”. You’re supposed to write about things that you can do while being silent. I know that this probably has nothing to do with any book that I’ll ever write–I’m from California, and people here in Mississippi never fail to remind me that “Californians are loud.” Silence doesn’t come naturally to me–or to anyone come to think of it. For some reason though, it really struck a chord with me. I think it’s because of the coming Zombie Apocalypse…
Stop laughing! I’m not talking crazy–well, not any more so than usual anyway. I’m being completely serious here. If the world ends, we all want to make sure that we have appreciated our loved ones as much as possible. Right? Right. Well, an important part of that is listening to them. I don’t mean that “in one ear, and out the other” crap either. I mean genuine, honest, I-care-what-you-have-to-say listening. That’s hard…
…Talk about an understatement!
We live in a culture where individuals are valued over the collective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives us things like personal ambition and competition. However, it also tends to give us all a false sense of self-importance. This causes all kinds of nasty, ugly side effects. The most important of which is this: We often lose the ability to listen:
“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
[Ford Prefect:] “Why, what did she tell you?”
[Arthur:] “I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”
–Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
It’s almost like we can’t listen to other people anymore. We can’t listen to God. We can’t listen to our planet. Heck, we can’t even listen to our own consciences half of the time. It’s crazy. So yes, I think we could all benefit greatly from being forced to sit in silence and experience life from a less-superficial vantage point for a change…
If that’s not enough of an argument to sell you, then don’t forget, the zombies are coming. Modern zombies have pretty good hearing. You need to practice being silent while you still have time. You don’t want to be the only one talking to yourself when the zombie horde comes walking by your hideout. If they don’t catch you and eat your flesh, your compatriots will probably kill you…silently, even…in order to avoid being eaten themselves.
And if that’s still not enough, well…it’s actually fun.
Stop laughing and try out one of these suggestions I came up with in response to the prompt…
- Play the Silent Game. This has got to be one of the greatest games ever. Period. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true! For one thing, it’s a chance to be silly. That’s on your to-do list, so get to it. There’s a reason for it too. Haven’t you ever noticed how carefree kids are? They can find enjoyment in the simplest of things. And there’s nothing like being silly to make you feel more open to living like a child once more. The Silent Game is perfect for this. For one thing, you get to pull outrageous faces to try to make your opponent laugh…and lose. More importantly, it never ends without both parties dissolving into helpless fits of the giggles. You can play it anytime, anywhere, and with anyone you want too! My personal suggestion is to play it with your kids. It’s probably the easiest way in the world to manipulate them into giving you those few moments of peace and quiet that all parents crave…
- Meditate. Yeah, I know. It sounds like new-agey, ditzy crap…until you try it out for yourself. It’s an amazing way to get in touch with yourself and what you want out of life–things that are super important considering that the world is ending this year and you don’t have all that much time left to get to know yourself. =) Plus, it’s a killer way to cure everything from migraines to road rage–believe me, I know…
- Look for pictures in the clouds. Again, you already know how I feel about clouds. They’re awesome and fantastic. It’s one of the easiest ways to escape reality–especially if you live in the Southern United States where they actually do move across the sky. The pictures are constantly changing…it’s almost like watching TV. Just without the sound.
- Watch TV…on mute…while reading the captions. I can not even begin to explain how hilarious this is. You have to experience it for yourself in order to fully understand it’s awesome powers of awesomeness. My recommendation: reruns of Moesha. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
- Sit in a clearing in the woods and listen to the Earth. If you want to find God, this is the easiest way to do it. You don’t need to go to a fancy church or read a leather-bound Bible. You just need to luxuriate in what He has created in order to truly understand what He intended for our purpose to be. My personal favorite place is the Mammoth Tree Grove in Calaveras. If you live in California and haven’t gone, hop to. It’s one of those places where you can’t help but be infused with spirituality and self-awareness.
- Sleep. It sounds like something crazy to suggest. We all sleep…every single day. So why bother to include it at all? Well, the simple answer is that we don’t enjoy it. We stay up as late as we can just to get up as early as we can the next day. Sleep is seen as some sort of chore, a hassle that can be temporarily defeated by drinking triple shots of espresso. It shouldn’t be that way though. It should be a rejuvenating experience each and every time. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. But you can dedicate at least one night of uninterrupted sleep a week–that’s not asking too much. Pick a day. Don’t set your alarm clock. Dont’ drink caffeine. Go to bed when your body is ready. If you like it as much as me, go and order yourself a copy of this book. If you follow his suggestions, you’ll have better sleep, better energy levels, and better health than you’ve ever had before.
- Eat a meal in silence. Like sleep, eating is another thing that we write off as a necessity. We fail to appreciate how incredible it can be by turning it into a chore instead of an adventure. Turn off the phone. Turn off the tv. Don’t talk. Just grab your plate and prepare to actually experience your meal for a change. Taste the way that the flavors mingle on your tongue. Feel the way that the different textures come alive in your mouth.
- Draw a bubble bath, light some candles, and soak. Yeah. That should be pretty darn self-explanatory.
- Cuddle. Primates–including humans–are very tactile creatures. Touch should be an important part of all of our lives. So go cuddle. It doesn’t matter who you cuddle with. It can be with your spouse, your best friend, a sibling, your dog, or even just a stuffed animal. Just do it.
- Just listen. Put on your favorite play list. Go to a restaurant and listen to fellow diners’ conversations. Turn on the news. Let your family talk to you without once interrupting or responding. Just listen. Care about someone for a change. Let someone else’s importance come before your own. It’ll definitely make you feel like a better person–and, more importantly, you’ll want to do it again…and again…and again…
So yeah, that’s my list. I’d love to hear yours. I’m always up for suggestions on how to improve my quality of life. Other people’s ideas are always interesting–once we allow ourselves to listen =)
The Butcher of the Bard
PS: I am totally counting this as my writing for the day! Shhhhhhhh…..don’t tell. 😉