A Different Kind of Rebellion

I’m not getting a tattoo, running away from home, or telling my boss off Johnny Paycheck style (as in his 1977 Country song “Take This Job and Shove it”.)  I have no desire to ‘stick it to the man’ or break laws just to see if I can.  The only authority I challenge is my own.

I have been afflicted with writing rebellion; specifically, the disregard for written deadlines.

You might be skeptical, but I can explain.

I finished the character research for novel character #3 over a month ago and wrote down a goal to have her short story completed by August 31st.  It’s an emotional story and I want to get it right.  For several weeks, I’ve waffled about where to begin.  A part of me wondered if my procrastination was caused by avoidance (to delay feeling her pain).

Yeah, I hear what you’re saying:  “Oh, boo-hoo, quit sniveling.  Suck it up and write the stinkin’ story if you want to be writer.”

You didn’t say that?  Ah, must be my inner voice of encouragement again.

I was ready to go with the avoidance of pain theory, until I realized that my progress came to an abrupt halt as soon as I wrote a “deadline” for completion of this story, as well as the remaining three character stories.  A more disturbing explanation came to mind:  perhaps I’m subconsciously sabotaging myself by rebelling against my self-imposed deadline.

If that’s the case, it’s a puzzling personality development because I’ve spent my life avoiding rebellion.  I turned down party invites because I knew my awkwardness had no place at rowdy gatherings.  I sensed that just being in a “cool” place would not make me “cool,” unless it was air conditioned.  Oh, and I knew my parents would ask too many questions for me to get away with anything.

To eliminate any doubts of the uncool aura that surrounded (and still surrounds) me, I should fess up that I only got three invitations, and I decided to go to the last one – at the age of twenty.  I shouldn’t tell you that I stayed at the party for fifteen minutes before beating a hasty exit, but I just did.

When I arrived at the party, my olfactory nerves were assaulted by a wretched smell.  A haze hung in the room, worse than Phoenix smog during a High Pollution Advisory.  And I couldn’t figure out what the funky plastic things on the tables were.  Finally, the fog of naivety cleared:  my co-workers were potheads.  And this fish was out of water.

Like a poker player hides any reaction to a dealt hand, I attempted to play calm.  At the same time, I imagined my brain cells suffocating.   I had a big Abnormal Psychology test on Monday and a 3.75 GPA.  I didn’t want to blow either one, so I took in as little air as possible.

I’m not sure if my dizziness resulted from the weed-filled air in the room, or lack of air.  My ultra-geek mind imagined the police busting the party at any moment.  I knew they would single me out of the group of sixty or so people and take me to jail and then I would have to call my parents to bail me out…and that was enough – I left the party.

It wasn’t a “cool” exit.  There were no excuses, no thanks for the invite – nothing.  I literally ran out like someone set my skirt on fire.  When I got  far enough away, I sucked in gulps of weed-free air, thankful to be on the right side of the law again.

Freedom (Golden Gate Bridge)

My brush with youthful rebellion ended up being the uprising that wasn’t.  Now, I have a chance to redeem myself.  This is why I must rebel against writing rebellion and finish that story by August 31st.

This is why, if I had the dexterity, I’d give myself a swift kick in the rear.

What’s your biggest roadblock to accomplishing your writing goals?  How did you do youthful rebellion?  How are you rebellious today? 

27 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Rebellion

  1. chlost August 25, 2011 / 8:16 AM

    So, you will be very busy writing this weekend, right? Have fun. You know that once you start it, it will flow. 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 7:40 PM

      I should be busy writing this weekend, but life is coming up with other plans. I’ll still have my late nights, so I’ll see how it goes, Chlost 🙂

      I think you’re right – I think I can get a decent first draft if I just sit down and do it.

  2. Debbie August 25, 2011 / 8:19 AM

    I had a similar party-story from when I was in high school, and I too couldn’t get outta there fast enough! It made my senior year awfully lonely, but I survived. I don’t see what you’re doing now as rebelling; rather, it seems more like procrastination to me. Maybe you’re not good with deadlines (having working years in newspapers, I like deadlines!) In fact, the lack of a deadline just might be my problem now!

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 7:48 PM

      Glad I’m not alone on the party side, Debbie! I have also worked with deadlines and I have gotten along fine. Although, going back to college days, I did tend to be a procrastinator when it came to the ‘icky’ stuff I didn’t want to do (like a twenty page paper with at least ten resources about tip-of-the-tongue phenomena.) *Yawn* This story isn’t like that for me. I want to write it.

      I’ll get a few good nights of sleep to see if that kicks me into gear. By that time, it will be really close to August 31st, so if it is procrastination, it will cure itself, right?

  3. crumbl August 25, 2011 / 8:48 AM

    Performance anxiety … you imposed a deadline on yourself … does it really matter if you complete the story on the 31th or the 32th, or that it be the best story you can write?

    I think, having read (thank you kindly) some of my blogs that you know I am a rebel. Today … pretty much sittin’ in the bushes, but it’s early yet! In my youth … hair down past my butt, moved away from “home” when I was 15, a few other indiscretions.

    Roadblocks? Time, and sometimes, inspiration, but then I have an Aha! moment (or a Doh! moment), and things come together seamlessly, hopefully when I have time to get them down before I lose them.

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 7:52 PM

      I hadn’t looked at the performance anxiety angle, Crumbl. You could have a point there. I wrote out the short story ‘deadlines’ because I wanted to have an idea of when I would finally start the novel. (I came up with January as a best-case.)

      I could see the ‘rebel’ in your posts! I guess I find it interesting because I am anything but a rebel 🙂

  4. Tori Nelson August 25, 2011 / 11:53 AM

    No passing of the peace pipe, eh? I’m proud of your morals, missy! In writing, I panic at the sight of deadlines I set for myself. If I go by the idea that “I’ll get to that when I get to it” I end up cranking out post after post! My poor, backwards brain!

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 7:53 PM

      Um, well…it was fear more than morals that had me running for the hills, Tori. It’s possible I have a backwards brain, too. I don’t like to be bossed around, so maybe I see my deadlines as orders that must be defied? I don’t know.

  5. Widdershins August 25, 2011 / 2:32 PM

    Great story! … I couldn’t get out of the dope smoke filled parties either … one couldn’t talk at them anyway!!!

    Git a’writing woman!

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 7:56 PM

      Thanks, Widdershins. I’ll get a couple full nights of sleep and then sit down to get a draft done on this one. I won’t plan an exact day because I’ll just prove myself wrong again 🙂

  6. cuhome August 25, 2011 / 3:00 PM

    Well, let me offer you some consolation, and maybe just one more answer to your perplexing conundrum.

    I wrote a young adult novel ~~ that was back in the 80s. Ending word count: about 54,000; ending page count: 256. I did 13 outlines, and at least 15 re-writes. It took 2 years from start to box.

    And, despite the ‘go-get-em-girls’ that I received from my college English and Lit profs (2 of them), it still sits in the SAME BOX!! My family wants to know why I don’t “do” something with that book. I say, I will if I’m ready. Every time I look at that box, I get the kind of shaking chills you get with some kind of (deadly) virus. I cringe at more re-writes.

    But, mostly, I think, as long as I leave that manuscript in the box, I can tell myself that if I DID ever send it off to some publisher who expressed an interest, it MIGHT be accepted, and it MIGHT be published. So that’s not rebellion, for me: it’s just plain and simple avoidance. And that’s really funny, because I’ve always been the kind of person (from childhood) who, if I thought there was a monster in the closet, I could NOT pull the covers over my head; I HAD to run over there and fling open the closet door, so I could confront it on my own terms.

    No matter the rationale behind it, for me, it’s avoidance. Does anyone else out there go through that?

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 8:08 PM

      That is an interesting situation, Cuhome. I had some reluctance when I queried the first novel I wrote. I was afraid to send it out because if I wasn’t any good, then my dream of being a published author wouldn’t happen. A part of me wanted to not query the novel because then I could hold on to my untarnished dream and believe it was good enough to be published. This seems similar in some ways to what you describe.

      The queries and subsequent rejections toughened me up a little bit. I made the decision to stop querying that novel and move on. I’ve stepped away from the dream a bit so I’m not so emotionally tied up in it and I feel stronger now.

      Have you worked on other novels since that one? If the thought of editing that novel is unpleasant, working on other projects might give you the confidence you need to either 1) look into publishing the first novel or 2) work on publishing one of the subsequent novels.

      Good luck, Cuhome. I appreciate your honest comment – I can relate to much of it. Except, I’m a “covers-over-my-head” type of girl myself 😉

      • crumbl August 26, 2011 / 6:18 AM

        Just a “my two cents worth” add-on to cuhome’s (and your) comment … ever read all (or most … some I couldn’t get through) of Stephen King’s novels? Carrie may have been the one that launched his career, but you can tell which ones preceded even Carrie that he subsequently published … some of the Bachman manuscripts come to mind.

        Sometimes, leaving a manuscript in the box for a bit isn’t a bad thing.

        • jannatwrites August 26, 2011 / 10:42 PM

          I agree, Crumbl. I haven’t read any Stephen King, but it makes sense that his writing would have improved as he wrote more. That’s one reason why I moved on from my first manuscript. I figure if nothing else, it was some good practice.

      • cuhome August 27, 2011 / 4:33 PM

        Thanks, you guys, for the helpful, honest input! It makes sense to me. You are all great to have around, I enjoy this blog so much! And I learn so much from everyone else!!

        • jannatwrites August 27, 2011 / 10:56 PM

          I’m glad you found the responses helpful, Cuhome. I’m also happy that you enjoy visiting – that made me smile 🙂

  7. nrhatch August 25, 2011 / 3:44 PM

    I was at that party!!! And plenty more just like it. 😆

    Some people benefit from deadlines and others don’t. I don’t like deadlines, or writing on a schedule, or having one type of post on Monday, and another on Tuesday.

    I’m very disciplined about writing . . . as long as it’s “No Rules. Just Write.”

    Loved this:

    Yeah, I hear what you’re saying: “Oh, boo-hoo, quit sniveling. Suck it up and write the stinkin’ story if you want to be writer.”

    You didn’t say that? Ah, must be my inner voice of encouragement again.

    • jannatwrites August 25, 2011 / 8:14 PM

      So you were, huh? I didn’t see you through the smoke in the room 😉

      I like less structure, too. I do have types of posts for each day I post (Monday = life; Thursday = writing; Sunday = spiritual) but I don’t necessarily write them in that order. For instance, I drafted Sunday’s post on Monday, before today’s post. Your “rules” are certainly ones I could follow. “No rules. Just write.”

      Glad you liked that line, Nancy. My inner self believes in tough love.

  8. pattisj August 25, 2011 / 10:29 PM

    My roadblock–reading a bazillion blogs! 🙂 Not the rebellious type.

    • jannatwrites August 26, 2011 / 10:43 PM

      Hehehe. I can relate, Patti. Sometimes I just can’t keep up!

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who hasn’t taken to rebellion.

  9. SAS Fiction Girl September 14, 2011 / 10:57 AM

    Oh, yes. Pot parties. Once again I will completely ignore the question at the end of your post and riff on a portion of the post itself.
    I managed to avoid pot parties for a very long time, because I’m not amused by drugs or the people who use them. At some point, years after high school, my younger sister was dating a total loser who was into a) drugs, b) stalking, c) wearing women’s accessories, and d) me.
    He spoke openly in front of my mom and my sister (i.e. his girlfriend) about how he wished he could date me. Then he came up with a plan: if he couldn’t date me, then perhaps a friend of his could, and he’d get some vicarious charge from it. Apparently hoping this scheme would shut him up forever, my sister decided to “help.” She invited me to this jerk’s house for a party, so I could meet some of his friends.
    I saw someone I knew and we began chatting. Then they started passing a bowl around. When I figured out what was going on, I was furious. I didn’t bother to hide it, either. My sister knew what went on at this guy’s house and invited me anyway. I felt like she set me up.
    I grabbed my purse and stormed out. Seeing me leave, one guy asked what was up and I told him I was pi$$ed because people were doing drugs in there. He commented that he wished he could just leave, too (no idea why he couldn’t.)
    My head felt fuzzy on the way home (probably more from anger than a genuine contact high, but who knows?) I thought about calling the cops to bust the party, but didn’t follow through ultimately because I didn’t want my sister to end up in jail. Apparently, I’m a lot nicer than she is.

    On the writing: fear of failure is my biggest roadblock. The words in my head rarely match the words that make it to paper, which I understand is a common left-brain/right-brain problem for writers. I have what I think will be a great storyline, dialogue, and descriptions, but I’ve been disappointed on more than one occasion by the end result. Makes me want to keep my favorite stories all tucked safely in my head where no harm will ever come to them.

    • jannatwrites September 14, 2011 / 6:18 PM

      You can ignore my questions anytime, Jen! I love the story you shared….I also would have been very angry with my sister (if I had one). You have more restraint than me, I would’ve called the cops in anger without even thinking. I would have felt terrible later, too.

      Fear is a huge stumbling block, but your stories are fun to read. (I call that a success.) I suspect you might be harder on yourself than your readers are. Speaking of this, you haven’t had a story posted in a while – when are you going to share again? 😉

      • SAS Fiction Girl September 15, 2011 / 10:42 AM

        Thank you for the encouragement, Janna! My head has felt completely empty since June. The stories aren’t coming, but I do need to force myself to just sit and write. Generally, I need to have most of the story worked out in my head before I can put it on paper. I’ll get something out this month.

        • jannatwrites September 15, 2011 / 8:53 PM

          You’re welcome, Jen! I still haven’t written any of the story that prompted this post, so I know how it goes. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it’ll get written whenever you decide you’re ready.

  10. cuhome September 16, 2011 / 4:59 AM

    Keep on writing, Jen. Even if all I write is jibberish (and that’s being gracious, believe me!), I will write “something, someday that someone may notice . . . and if they don’t, I’ll keep on writing anyway, because I love writing!!

    Also, this blog team is awesome, keeps me going, keeps my chin up ~~ I admit that doesn’t help the sagggy butt problem, but it does keep me writing. Keep in touch!! What the hell? Weren’t the pubs just complaining about that very thing? Now we threaten to take away their precious undocumented hojdd

  11. cuhome September 16, 2011 / 5:09 AM

    Oooooops!!! Guess I got my fingers on the wrong keys there ~~ hehehe! I meant to say,, before I got sidetracked about “pubs” (republicans) complaining about what you would think was their god-given right to hire, then pay, undocumented workers for less than minimum wage.

    • jannatwrites September 16, 2011 / 6:25 PM

      I hope Jen comes back and sees that she’s got her own little cheerleading section 🙂 There might only be two of us, but we’re loud 🙂

      As for you, Cuhome, as long as the chin is up, everything else can drag the ground!

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