I just finished reading Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson. In the novel, the main character, Ursula, dies and repeats the same life over again. In one life, she lives only one second as she is strangled by her umbilical cord. In the next life, she is saved by the timely arrival of the doctor who was absent during her first birth. In each lifetime, she lives a little longer. Each time she returns, she brings back impressions from her previous lives that allow her to avoid the deaths she has experienced in her previous lives.
This novel made me think. What would I do if I repeated my life? If a genie appeared before me right now and offered me the chance to relive my life, would I take it? I know there are mistakes I have made and things I have done that I would like to change or erase, but would changing these things alter my fundamental sense of self? What would I change? Would changing one thing change the course of my life? What if I never met my husband or never had my son? The risk of not having them in my life would be too great to contemplate.
Of course, my life is as it stands. No genie is going to appear, so my mistakes are safe from correction. Everything I have done in my life, good or bad, has led me to this time or place. Every mistake has offered me an opportunity to learn and to grow as a person. Each one, no matter how mortifying, has made me who I am.
One thing I am trying to remember in my 52nd year is that fretting about everything won’t make anything better. Last year, I spent endless days worrying about my job which I ended up losing anyway. All those tears and the sadness that darkened my days didn’t change things and ruined my time when I wasn’t at work.
I am trying to learn to be a “glass is half full” kind of person, rather than looking at everything that is wrong all the time. Maybe, I can’t find a teaching job, but, on the bright side, I don’t have to deal with bratty kids or kids who don’t want to learn. I don’t have to go to work every day and face disrespect.
Each day is mine to fill as I wish and I am trying to make the most of it-to fill my days with writing and to revel in finally being able to stay home with my son.
Kischan Atriya is a man with a mission–get into Cityscape 87, clear out a warehouse full of Dissidents, and get out alive. He has one problem–his commanding officer is out to get him.
The main character of Echo Volume II: The Taste of Ashes by Kent Wayne lives in a brutal world where honor is usurped by political gain. Piss off the wrong person and a soldier could find himself facing the muzzle of a gun. Knowing that he’s as good as dead doesn’t keep Atriya from committing to the mission–but, if he’s going to die, he plans on taking a few of his enemies with him.
The second in the Echo series, The Taste of Ashes begins with a vivid battle that seems to last forever, but, in fact, takes place in a day. A lot can change in a day, however, as Atriya finds himself facing insurmountable odds to survive. Wayne’s lyrical descriptions weave haunting images in the reader’s mind that are difficult to forget. Readers who have never been in the military experience a taste of what going into battle against all odds must be like.
I have found the best way to crank up my creativity is to keep writing. I find that, when I take a break from writing, my creativity decreases. I need the daily routine of putting my ideas on paper to keep the ideas flowing. The more I write, the more ideas I seem to have. That seems counter intuitive, but I find that it is true.
Usually, I write in the evening after my son has finished his tasks for his online school, after I have worked on my dissertation, and after my chores are done. Throughout the day, my mind will simmer as it prepares itself for the writing ahead. By the time, I sit down to write I find that the plot point I was worrying over usually works itself out or an idea will come for my blog or a journal entry.
LIke exercise, the regular routine of writing keeps my brain agile.
Sometimes, to disrupt my feelings of insecurity and fear, I need to step out of my comfort zone and do something different. Last year, around this time, I had just found out I was losing my job. I had been a teacher for 20 years, the last 15 years at the school where I was non-renewed. I was faced with uncertainty. What would I do now? I was going to apply for other teaching positions, but having been nonrenewed for performance, I knew that finding another job was going to be difficult. I had to think of alternatives. Teaching was not my passion. For me, it was just a job. What was my passion?
I knew that I was happiest when I was writing. I had had a couple of pieces covered in small journals, but that was years ago. As I dealt with the increasing demands of teaching, my writing had gone to the wayside. But I still had ideas floating around in my head that refused to go away.
Last year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to look for ways to start a blog. That is how I found WordPress. Writing on WordPress helped give me hope that there were other things I could do with my life besides teaching. Writing was one of them.
This year, I am going to step out of my comfort zone again. I am going to sign up for Christian Mihai’s program, From 0 to 5K in Six Months. I had the same fears I had when I started my blog. What if he doesn’t like what I write? What if I’m no good? I realized I had to step out of these comfortable fears that keep me from taking the risks I need to grow.
A froth of emotions curdles my mind. Should I or shouldn’t I? What if I’m not good enough? What if they don’t like what I write? My writing stutters across the page. I know I need to step out of my comfort zone, but I am frozen behind a wall of fear.
On Echo, an Earth colony in the distant future, the ruling class and its military fight a group of dissidents looking to overthrow the current regime. Despite the focus on military conflict, Wayne portrays the internal conflict of Kischan Atriya, a seasoned warrior. Atriya’s credo, “refuse to be weak,” has enabled him to attain a measure of success with the elite military unit, the Crusaders. Yet, with each achievement, Atriya continues to doubt his abilities.
While the novel contains one brutal, but crucial, fight scene, there is little external action. The important events occur within Atriya’s own mind as he attempts to pin down the source of his doubt. The introspective hero is a refreshing change from other all-powerful protagonists featured in other dystopian series. Wayne has crafted a protagonist with insecurities that many readers might share.
This novel presents a unique vision of Earth’s future. The writing is vivid. Wayne provides unexpected twists in the plot that keep the reader guessing.
I’ve had to learn that if I want to succeed as a writer, I need to show up and write every day, even if I don’t feel like it. If I am going to be in writing for the long haul, I have to dedicate myself to it. That means sitting down to write even when I don’t feel well, like when I have a horrible headache and can barely see. Or when I don’t have any ideas. Or it’s the wrong time of day.
I have found that just by showing up every day my brain will give me something to write about. If I am stuck, the act of showing up gets things moving again. It’s not enough to just mull over my ideas. I need to commit to them by writing about them.
When I was a teacher, I had to show up every day, no matter what. Some days, it didn’t matter if I had a fever of 103; I still had to show up. I am trying to treat writing the same way. It’s my job. I might not be earning anything with it right now, but I am still a writer.
Sometimes, when I sit down to write, my brain freezes. My ideas are frigid, locked behind a wall of icy fear. What if I’m not good enough? What if the final product doesn’t match the image in my head? On these days, my writing stutters across the page, like feet trudging through the slush. I can’t get a foothold on the story I am trying to write. I slip as I chase my elusive character. She won’t tell me who she really wants to be.
Other times, the ideas race from my brain into my pencil, like a river rushing after the Spring thaw. Everything is so clear. I race ahead of my character, my hand barely able to keep up with the words tumbling from my brain.