52 Week Writing Challenge

So here I go again… trying another writing challenge. I just can’t seem to find one that sticks.

The challenge came from the writer, Ray Bradbury. I have to admit that I have never actually read any of his work. His name was always vaguely familiar to me until I found his 52 week writing challenge.

Today is Sunday. I am going to start with my first story of this week with the goal of finishing it by the upcoming Saturday. Wish me luck…

The Vessel

A space ship that has literally everything. It would allow me to go virtually anywhere.

The Unrequited Love Poem

Okay. So this is not a poem. The writing prompt project asked me to write about how I feel when someone doesn’t love me back.

I can pin point this to an exact moment. Grade ten, I was 15. I was in love with Kris, my best friend. I met Kris in middle school and we became friends one day when we walked home together.

It took me one year to realise I had a crush on him. It took me another year to get up the courage to tell him.

Kris had stayed home one day because he was sick. I think he was really just cutting class. Lia Kim and I had been talking about how much I liked him.

So we went to see him. And we were in his kitchen when I told him. I couldn’t even look at him when I said it.

Kris was so calm. He didn’t miss a beat. He said it was better if we stayed friends because we had such a good thing going as friends.

It killed me. I felt like I suddenly could no longer face the world. I don’t know what I had expected him to say. Perhaps I was hopeful? I had so many fantasies of how a life with Kris would be like if we were both in love with each other–but in that one instant, all that hope was gone.

Then came the self doubts. Why didn’t he want to be with me? He had told me he thought I was amazing once. He looked me straight in the eye and said it, so why didn’t he want to be with me?

It took me a whole semester to recover. I kept to myself and stopped eating lunch with everyone. I literally could not face anybody.

At that time, I didn’t understand how attraction worked. I thought that if two friends thought of each other as amazing, then naturally they should be together, right? I was clueless about chemistry. I don’t think I even felt a sexual attraction for anyone at that point. I had girlish crushes, but anyone who’s felt sexual attraction for another person would agree that a crush and sexual attraction are not the same thing.

Kris really liked this girl, Jocelyn. Back before I spilled my guts and got shot down, I always asked him why he liked her. His answer was always, “she’s got big boobs.”

To me, Jocelyn was a superficial fob who wouldn’t really be friends with us if she wasn’t so foreign. She wasn’t funny, kind, or amazing (all traits Kris had attributed to me at one point). Why did having large breasts suddenly top all of those things?

Now that I’m a woman in my thirties, I understand completely why Jocelyn’s breasts won out over any other connection for a 15 year old boy. I wish this was something I could have learned much earlier in order to save the months of hurt and isolation I put myself through. Still, I’m glad I learnt my lesson, anyway.

Unrequited love. If unchecked, it becomes an obsession.

I, ____

I have two hometowns. I identify with 2 cultures, and I’m married into to a third. I hold two–soon to be three–citizenships.

I have two names.

This is how my next writing project begins. I plan for it to be the most truthful account of my experiences. By truthful, I mean to say it will be written without any attempt to make anything sound more interesting than it actually is; it will be written without any intention to make myself more likable.

I’ve been writing for roughly 18 years now. I made up stories about fictional characters, and I wrote about my life and experiences in various blogs.

But this is something I’ve never tried: writing something without worrying about what the eventual reader will think.

Sure, I’ve kept personal (hand-written) diaries. I have 6 notebooks of it so far, the oldest entry dating back to 1999. When I go back and read these diary entries, I realised something: even when I write in paper notebooks that I assume no one will ever read, I’ve actually been writing to impress my future self.

So the new writing project, I, ____, is my attempt at writing about myself, my past, my beliefs, without bias, or expectation.

I’m only a few pages in, and already I am afraid. Here is some of what I wrote on the first page:

I worry that by putting all of this down on paper and one day actually publishing this, I will lose everyone. My family will disown me, my husband will divorce me, and our future children would never speak to me again.

Whether this thing will ever see the light of day, I have no idea. It’s something I really should try at least once, though–writing a piece of work with complete honesty.

Perhaps that’s why some writers only write fiction; they put their horrid thoughts and feelings and pin them on some innocent fictional character, just so they can get their thoughts out there somewhere without being directly associated with having those thoughts.

And really, I tried that. I started the story of my family many times, in fictional format. Over the years, I shed my childhood fears and sorrows all over the pages as if they were happening to someone else. There are many versions of my story in the shorts and poems I’ve generated, but none of them were actually me.

What I found? Invariably the characters themselves grew their own sense of independence. They end up entirely different than I am, and forcing my own thoughts and beliefs upon them would no longer feel right. I let them veer off in the directions they wanted to go, and that’s usually when I end up with a story I like. A story about an actually fictional character with a completely different life than mine.

That reminds me of a quote from another great writer:

“This is the beauty of fiction. Giving your characters what you never had, which then comes around and is a vicarious gift to yourself.”

— David Wong Louie.

But I’ve had enough of “vicarious gifts”. Instead I think it’s time to write about the things I’ve been afraid to put down on paper. Maybe by committing past atrocities and childhood memories to paper will make them smaller and more bearable.

There’s a Chinese expression that I was taught to adopt; swallow bitterness. It’s something Chinese girls have always been encouraged to do in order to keep our families happy. Today I’m deciding to do the opposite of that. I’ll spit out all the things that poisoned me in one place, and move on.

 

Finishing a Story

This hasn’t happened in a while. Most of the stories I start writing end up lost in the shuffle.

Yesterday I finished a story I had been working on and, amazingly, I feel pretty good about it.

Of course it’s still early. I may come back to the same story next week and see all the flaws with it. It may be entirely garbage.

But for now, I’m just happy that I finished one.

A Writing Project

I have several of these. I find that I enjoy it this way. When I am bored of one story, I jump to the other.

Sometimes I take stock of my on-going work, and I ask myself what I’m writing them for. I think by doing this, I’ll be more motivated to finish them.

This is what I’ve came up with.

Understanding My Past

There’s a story I’m writing that’s loosely based on my parents and their family. I think I do this as to try to understand my childhood. I feel like in order to fix the mental and emotional baggage from my childhood, I need to write about their lives before me. I need to see them as the young adults they were then and to understand and sympathize with their motivations. Above all, I need to feel like they must have all loved each other deeply at one time.

Escaping a Present Circumstance

There’s another story I’m writing that’s based on a random thought. It’s somewhat science fiction, because it involves a multi-verse. It’s about escaping our disappointment and dissatisfaction with daily life and getting a fresh start. I think I started writing this because I felt trapped in my work situation and felt I could do nothing about it.

Drawing a Different Future 

This other story is about a single mother, and how she’s lost her only son to a better life. This story makes me sad to write, but for some reason I have to write it. It’s about sacrifice, and how a mother’s love can endure many hardships. It’s one of the random scenarios I run through my head when I can’t sleep at night. It’s a thing I’ve done ever since I was a small child. I make up scenarios in my head, put myself in the place of one of the characters, and I wonder: How would I feel, in that situation?

So, that’s what I’ve been busy doing lately.

My Writing Process – And How It Led to an Uncomfortable Argument

Confounded

When people ask me what my writing process is, I have no idea.

Recently Hubs tried to help me through a long stretch of writer’s block by giving me a daily writing exercise. While I appreciate the thought, I wasn’t able to continue with the exercise after just a week.

What happened? Did I get lazy? Did I get so stuck for words that I couldn’t even write even just a paragraph a day?

Not really. The opposite happened. I stumbled across a topic that I enjoyed writing about so much that it became a full short story project. The project went from a one-day project to a one week project.

The Argument

The Hubs made an observation tonight about “see what happened the moment you took the daily exercise into your own hands; you stopped doing it.”

I resented the implication. I explained what I had been doing.

And he insisted his point; that I should have stuck to writing short daily exercises so that it became a routine.

What he wasn’t seeing was that I was using the time I spent writing the short daily exercises on the work that’s inspired me. I said that I simply didn’t have the time in my day between my day job & my writing projects to complete the daily exercise he held me accountable for.

I told him so; only to be met with, “you can use whatever excuse you want. You can always make time.”

At that point I got up from our week night talk and said, “fine, I’ll go write right now. I should be making time to be writing, right? Then I don’t need to spend time talking to you about this.”

Immature? Yes, I thought so. I was upset. I felt that he wasn’t hearing me. I also felt that he wasn’t the best person to give me writing advice; I resented the implications that he made towards me lacking discipline.

The Process

Even though the discussion upset me, I took away from it what I could. I need to write, every day. Doesn’t matter what, doesn’t matter where. So… expect to see a lot more content here as I continue this uphill struggle with getting these words out of my head.