Therapy and Writing

I went to see my therapist last night. It was the first time I’ve gone in a long time…several months, anyway, and then even longer before that. Hopefully this will be the start of something a bit more regular now, though. At least for a while. It wasn’t an emergency session, exactly, but it was much needed, and very last minute. I wasn’t sure I could wait until next week, so was trying to figure out if I could go in the morning today or tomorrow and just be late for work. But she had an opening that no one else was taking last night, and she told me to just come in, so I did.

She’s the best. Takes very good care of me.

I’d made a list of the things I wanted to touch on, and while I’ll wait to delve into some of them more fully next time, I’m pleased that I made it through the entire list to some degree.  I also made sure to mention right off the bat that, while I was grateful and relieved to be there so quickly after asking about seeing her again (she’d just been thinking about me the day before, too), I was also extremely nervous.  Much more so that I thought I’d be.  It reminded me a little of the first time we met.  We talked a bit about that night, as well.

I forgot to tell her about my meeting with the Library’s Writer In Residence last weekend, but we can talk about that later. I told her about this blog, but then spoke more about communicating and trying to express myself better in general, rather than feeling the need to talk more about creative writing and the like this time. It wasn’t even a conscious decision, really. Just a result of the organic nature of our conversation at the time.

My meeting with the Writer In Residence went extremely well, however. It was very positive, and pretty much changed my mind yet again on how to move forward and strengthen my manuscript, and that was completely unexpected. I went in with a plan I wanted to float by her, and some questions that were on my mind, and instead, she was so supportive of the story and the characters and the way things are currently laid out, that I left feeling like I didn’t need to change very much at all. She gave me some valuable tips and advice on how to make specific lines more powerful, but as far as the structure and execution of the story itself, she was very pleased with what she’d seen.

It had been quite a long time since I’d been able to talk about writing and the process of putting a whole novel together and to even just revisit those characters and that story with another writer. I’d gone in ready to tear a few things apart and rebuild them, and left feeling like that may not be necessary, and that I can make what I have all the stronger and more powerful just by changing some of the language and sentence structure.

Not that line editing isn’t a huge chore in itself, but if I can get that all tightened up, bit by bit, I think I will be closer to my goal for this book than I’d anticipated prior to having that meeting. My plan is to work on one chapter a week, but since it’s now Thursday and I haven’t started working on this first week’s chapter at all, I’m not sure I’ll be able to live up to that plan, but we’ll see. I have several other things on the go at the same time, so I am not sure how much time I can devote to this right now, anyway. It was definitely a positive kick in the butt to get me focusing on it more again, though, so I am hopeful that I will be able to maintain that bit of momentum as we move forward into the dark times.

Also known as winter.

Editing & Aging

Confession time!  Despite my declaration that I would be honest in this space, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t keenly aware of the possibility of an audience, and therefore self-edit as I write.

There are people I hope read it, as often I am trying to learn to talk to them in particular.  There are some I hope don’t read it, for various reasons depending on the circumstance.  There are billions I just don’t care one way or the other about.

Though having a billion views would be insane and cool, now that I think about it.

Anyway, it’s not that I’m intending to spew falsehoods here.  But I definitely don’t intend to tell the whole truth every time.  And there will always be way more that I don’t write about, because, you know, life.  But if you find I reveal more to you specifically than I do online in a more public forum like this, then you’ll know you’re someone I trust with more of me than the norm.  And as someone who writes creatively from time to time, the mere fact that I don’t write several drafts of each post prior to letting anyone read it is proof that this is all at least more raw and real than my other works!

So, moving on, lately I’ve been thinking about aging.  Not in terms of getting old, but in terms of getting older.  The hate directed at Carrie Fisher for whether or not she has “aged well”, for example.  What does that even mean?  How does someone age well?

I already know I can’t age gracefully, because grace is not a word that would ever be ascribed to ANYTHING I do.  Graceful, I am not.  There is no reason to think it could be a way I’d age.  Or even walk.

But to age well?  How does one do that?  Does it mean fighting the effects of aging in an attempt to appear as though one has not aged at all?  Because that would seem to be without grace or doing it well, as your attempts still won’t stop it from happening, nor will it stop the Earth from turning, so ultimately you will have failed.  And failing does not mean you did something well.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

So aging well must instead mean embracing the process and accepting the things you can’t change, while simultaneously understanding that every line, wrinkle and scar is there because you lived.  You’re living.  You’re alive. You grabbed life by the balls and participated in it.  Created it.  You got on the ride and held on for dear, well, life.  You laughed, and cried, you loved, and lost, you smiled and frowned.  You worked, you played, you created and destroyed.  You were here, and you have a story to tell.  Even as your story is still being written.

And when you look in the mirror, you see someone you know and love looking back at you, but it’s weird because that person is WAY older than you see them in your head.  The you in your head is young and vibrant and in many ways still just a child, but with the ability to legally purchase alcohol.  Maybe you even have children of your own, or pets, or a plant, yet there is the occasional quiet voice in the back of your head that’s, like, “Who’s brilliant idea was it to give ME a kid/dog/hibiscus?”

Maybe on the inside, none of us ever age.  Maybe on the inside, we are forever young, and no matter how old our bodies are, we still want someone to take care of us when we’re sick, or fix things for us when we’ve been irresponsible, or just go out and play with us for awhile.

Carrie Fisher said her body hasn’t aged as well as she has, and those words ring very true to me.  I spend my days in an unpredictable body that I barely recognize as my own, thanks in part to MS, and when I look in the mirror I’m usually startled to see what the outside world must see when they look at me, because it’s just the very surface of who I see in my head.

Maybe aging well means finding the balance between those two realities, and then finding a way to express that balance.

I’m thus interested to see how well a generation of selfie-takers age.  Will they do better or worse than those of us who didn’t grow up taking photos of ourselves every day, keenly unaware of what we look like most of the time?  I wonder.

In the meantime, though, it’s Sunday afternoon and the sun is currently shining.  I’m gonna take Brody the doggie to go outside and play for awhile.  After I wake him from his nap.