There's a squirrel outside my window, grooming himself on a tree, wondering where the branch he used to live on has gone and what he's supposed to do now. He's been out there for a few hours now, just sitting, trying to figure out where to live now that the ice storm has destroyed his home.
We're pretty lucky the whole tree didn't go down. It's an old one and weathered many storms, but there's always the chance that this might've been the one to take it down.
But that's how life rolls, right?
We live our life like all is good until we hit that point when everything changes, then we walk a different path and keep on going forward until we can't go forward anymore.
Except sometimes we get stuck when really bad things happen and we sit there like the little squirrel wondering what to do, what to do, what to do and it takes a bit of a prod, and sometimes a hefty push, to get us moving forward again.
The point of the story is, that I've been like the little squirrel for a while now. Sitting on a branch and not really moving forward, because life is damn hard. It really is. And it drags me down.
About six weeks ago, I had a casual conversation with a good friend, who said, "You know, you're doing fine. You're doing really good. And what you're writing is great, but it's dragging on too long. You need a break. Do something short and different, and this--this I KNOW you can do. A thousand words a day and in a month you'll have a short story."
I thought about it. About all the excuses I use to hold me back and about how good it would feel to have something DONE. Finally. Something I could hold up in my hands and say, despite the odds, I did it. And the odds really are high, people. There's just so much that gets in the way of the process from idea--first word--and the end.
So the choice was mine. Sit there like the little squirrel on the branch or go outside my safe zone and explore the tree to see what other homes it had to offer.
I probably couldn't have picked a worse time to take on that kind of challenge. My beloved kitty, my little writing buddy, had just passed. A workplace strike was about to begin, and physically I was exhausted as my MS symptoms decided to flare up, making even carrying a plate to the kitchen sink a problem.
But maybe that's why I did it. Because no matter how crazy life gets, you should never just sit on the branch when there's a whole tree waiting for you to explore. You should always take that chance to learn what you're made of.
So I did it. Not a thousand words a day like the plan. Sometimes only a hundred, but then on others, when my mind was clear and my fingers not so numb, three thousand or so words blessed me from the great bucket of inspiration in the sky. And six weeks after I began this little challenge, I now have a shiny new story I can hold in my hands and be proud of.
Against the odds, I did it.
And yeah, it feels really, really awesome. Like I've hit the ball out of the park and ran a home run. There isn't any cheering crowd, but that's not what I'm in this for.
I love writing. I love living.
Thank you, Maya Blake for showing me there's a whole tree to explore and for all your words of wisdom. You've made a difference in my world.
And thank you Sutton Fox, for walking with me on this six week journey, holding my hand when the doubt monster scratched at my door, and never letting me give up.
And to Autumn Piper, KJ Roberts and all my writing pals...thank you. It's been a long journey for me, but with your help and encouragement, I got there in the end.
And to you, the person reading this blog right now, thank you for taking an interest in my small corner of the world.
Your support means everything to me.
~Felicity Kates; author of fun, flirty, fantasies~
~Kate Reedwood: Steampunk novels for adventurous girls~