For Writers: Popcorn

One cause of the many fits and starts in telling the story of my writing journey is because I’m an obsessively organized person. A spreadsheet fanatic. Although I “write into the dark” rather than outlining my fiction, I don’t like disorder. It works for fiction. For the other parts of my life, not so much.

I organize my writing schedule and my work-in-progress with detailed spreadsheets. I organize the upcoming few weeks for the rest of my life, track my erratic workouts, make lists of everything — all in spreadsheets. When I go on vacation, I plan the trip with my fellow travelers via a shared spreadsheet!

The story of my writing career is like making popcorn with the lid off.

I’m not a memoirist or a biographer. Reigning in all the lessons learned, advice, and the emotional roller coaster, trying to create a cohesive narrative is difficult. Everything is interconnected. Everything!

I write about my dreams and the story is infiltrated with the detours taken. Writing about the decision to self-publish turns into a discussion of genre and marketing. Recalling mistakes and missteps in marketing is inevitably littered with the desire to realize my dream of being a full-time fiction writer.

I get frustrated. I cut sections and move them elsewhere, then find the same incident or lesson learned resurfacing from a slightly different perspective.

Part of the problem is that the story of a life, a writer’s life, is more like a web than a single thread stretched from start to the end of the rainbow.

Life is messy. Art is messy. I’m trying to clean it up, but it’s the storytelling that’s fun, not moving the furniture back and forth and re-hanging pictures in multiple locations.

I make popcorn every Friday and Saturday night. I’ve always wanted to try opening the lid while the kernels are exploding, just to see what it looks like, but I know a hard, sharp pellet might hit me in the eye.

If I can keep the lid on, I’ll have a satisfying, crunchy snack with a taste of butter and salt.

Read about the beginning of this wild ride: Scared to death

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