Monday, October 30, 2017

My Fifth NaNoWriMo

As you may already know, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) starts on Wednesday. At long last, thousands of writers will turn to their stories for the month of November in a mad dash to write 50,000 words before the thirtieth. 

While last year was fabulous, and I came away with a grand total of 606,606 words, my other take aways were mental exhaustion and sore wrists. So, although part of me desperately wants to go for anywhere between 800K and 1M words (which I may still attempt, because I am waaayyy too competitive for my own good), my official goal for this year will be comparatively more relaxed. Because of work and a few added responsibilities/demands on my time, and because I am not 100% in the best head space yet, I would like to content myself with writing 250,000 words. 

I like that number. It was my initial goal for my second NaNoWriMo (where, to my delight, I ended up with 404,404 words instead). 

But now we have to discuss coffee. Namely, the fact that I CAN NO LONGER DRINK CAFFEINATED COFFEE. I am freaking out calm. I also appear to be lactose intolerant now. *weeps copiously* 

I feel so high maintenaince ordering a decaf latte with coconut milk and no whipped cream (and that’s not including the flavor shots I want). There are too many details to remember here, and sometimes I don’t have the energy to go through the whole song and dance of ordering coffee. #Firstworldproblems Also, when people make my order wrong, and I politely ask them to fix it, sometimes I get looked at like I’m being the b word. So that’s fun. 

Long story short, after some extensive coffee research, I found out that the best decaffination method (ie., Swiss Water Process), doesn’t use chemicals and doesn’t strip the coffee of its full flavor profile. (Yes, I am turning into a coffee snob. Deal with it.) So I bought a couple bags from a couple brands and some sweetened condensed coconut milk and we are good to go. I will simply have to supply the caffeine jitters myself. 

That’s all well and good, Liz, we care so much about what you will be drinking during November (I can hear your sarcasm, btw), but what are you going to be WRITING??? I’m glad you asked. I’ve been planning some new novels/stories to try in November. Yes, you heard me right—planning! *cue collective gasp* If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that I like to write by the seat of my pants with maybe some minimal notes. For years, I spat on planning; I drowned it in the dregs of my cold coffee heart. Until there I was, one fateful day, watching videos on poisonous mushrooms because I will do anything in the name of procrastination research. When, BAM! a little story nugget popped into my head, just a scene really, which I proceeded to bang out on my superglued together keyboard (because my j key decided to do its own thing last November, and a few other keys have considered following suit). I then had ideas for several other scenes, all from the same story, so I used the handy dandy Scrivener corkboard function to summarize and organize them. It kind of escalated from there, and over the course of a couple days I compulsively outlined the majority of that novel. Not only did I do that, but I have since remained excited about the project and pleased with my outline. (Which, as you may know, is a relief, since typically when pansters plot, it drains our creative excitement and kills our prospective stories with fire.) 

All told, I have about three novels that I’m going to prioritize, and a few back-up ideas if I run out of material. I’m not going to go into specifics about what two of the novels are about, because they’re still so young—they haven’t developed immune systems yet. But I will say the third one is meant to be a complete new rough draft for BMT, which has fought edits tooth and nail for so long my options are A) start fresh or B) fake my death and take up scorpion training in a foreign country. (Option B is starting to sound tempting.) 

Now, some of you are probably wondering if I will be posting pep talks during NaNoWriMo, as I have in Novembers past. And to that my answer is, probably not. At least not with any sort of regularity. I have none written ahead—I feel like I’ve already written a fair amount of pep talks, and I don’t want to write any more unless I’m really excited about them. But I will certainly keep my options open. 

Last but not least, if you want to follow my progress this November, please feel free to add me to your buddy list! You can find my profile here. I promise I won’t bite.

What about you, my coffee beans? If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, what are your goals? What is your favorite kind of coffee? 

Monday, October 16, 2017


Note: I wrote this post during a flashback a couple weeks ago and later edited it for clarity. 

I should be going to bed right now. Today was long, and I need rest. But instead, I think I need to face something head on, to stare into its ugly eyes and describe what I see. 

Though I’m sittting here with my bags packed, I’m not going on a trip. That’s not why I shoved some of my favorites clothes, shoes, and journals into a purse. That’s not why I will stick my laptop into its case, along with my charger, after I’m done typing this. 

No. My landlord is burning a pile of wood. It’s a large pile of wood, but he is a smart man, and I should trust him. I know that there’s no wind tonight and that the fire is a relatively safe distance from the house and from my car. I know that when I wake up tomorrow, this roof will still be above me. I know this in my head. But the seven-year-old inside, the girl who had already lost everything and had to lose everything all over again, who had to twice pick and choose what little she could keep after her town became a warzone, that seven-year-old only knows that she doesn’t want to live without her Doctor Who t-shirt, her stuffed Heffalump named Woozle, her writing, her shoes, her car keys, her letters from her dead friend. 

I keep telling myself to unpack, to put everything away because I need to trust God. Maybe that would be the best course of action, an exercise in control over these flashbacks that have me forgetting where and when I am. On the other hand, what if this is a reasonable, albeit dramatic, precaution? I realize I have no compass for these situations. All I can be sure of is that it will bring me some measure of calm to know that I will at least be able to save something, should the worst happen. 

Normally, I wouldn’t be able to let you join me in my flashbacks, because I am never this aware or verbal. I don’t know why I am tonight. Maybe I’m supposed to be writing this down, so you can see whatever it is I can’t. Maybe there’s some greater reason why I’m fighting the urge to sleep in my car tonight, with all my books crammed in around me. 

I tell you that God is good, and I believe that—evvery day I work to believe that, even when it's my greatest struggle. I have trust issues, with God, with others, with myself. It’s a very lonely, scary place to call home. Too often I catch myself saying, “God, I will trust you, but only if you promise not to let bad things happen.” What sort of trust is that? That is the assumption that he is against me, not for me, that he is just waiting for me to let my guard down so he can hurt me. That is me living every day, bracing for a blow. 

I drank a Kool-Aid Burst last Friday, because I loved them when I was a kid. But they are disgusting to me now. Time takes and takes; it leaves rope burns as it slides through your fingers. You cannot change what has happened; you are not supposed to. God gives and God takes away, and we are supposed to hold everything with open hands. 

In Isaiah, the prophets tells of Hezekiah, who was meant to die but was allowed to live another fifteen years when he begged the Lord to spare him. Had he died when he was supposed to, his son, Manasseh, would never have been born and much evil would have been avoided. That is not to say, in concrete, that Hezekiah ought not to have lived those extra years. That is only to say that sometimes the horrible things God allows are meant to grow us, but sometimes they are meant to spare us. 

I have lived with this spider inside my head for so long, I can barely remember what it was like to walk unafraid, to wander out into a crowded Ivorian marketplace because I was curious, because I wanted to say hi to people. Sometimes I catch myself wondering who I was supposed to be, in those words. But God is sovereign, and who I am today is who I am supposed to be. Nothing sneaks around his will. He is not up in heaven, looking down on me in anger, saying “How dare you not trust me?” He is right here, right beside me, holding my heart and letting me know that it’s going to be okay—that even if I lose my home tonight, it will be well with my soul.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Post Where I Get Melodramatic

Two weeks ago, I remembered why it is that I love writing, after so long of forgetting why it is that I like living. Maybe it was the smell of autumn in the air, or the pumpkin spice latte in my hand (decaf, because my body can no longer tolerate caffeine, but I’m trying to look on the bright side). Maybe it was that I turned a corner in battling dehydration; there are fewer moments where I stand dead-eyed, fishing for language in an empty stream. 

I want to open the windows and clean all the oxygen in this house, even though it will let the chill into my bones. We have lightbulbs that need replacing, and my clutter has become more cluttered because I haven’t had the energy to do, do, do. Yesterday I made a list of goals, and it was ambitious. Today I had plans and even hopes because I am excited (oh so tentatively) to exist. I am accomplishing things again. 

There is still a spider crawling around inside my skull, trying to spin cobwebs over my eardrums so I will only hear its voice telling me nothing is worth it. But for the past month and a half, it has held so little power over me. I will take anything for a win. 

Do you know how many posts I have drafted in an effort to bring you one, just one? I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them out for you. Somewhere along the line, my vocal chords became barbed wire—it hurts to speak my mind. That does not mean I will be silent. Most days I want to crawl into some deep, dark cave and just be thought for a while. That does not mean I will set up camp there. 

For a time I had stopped reading and writing, because my attention span was so badly diminished, and with it, my ability to care and invest. I’m back, though. Slowly but surely I am leaving the darkness of starvation that told me it was light, and yes, I have miles more to go. Eight times out of ten, I still disapprove of my reflection. The difference is that now I don’t think that silhouette warrants a death sentence. Two months ago, I gained five pounds of muscle weight through eating more and exercising well, and the world didn’t stop spinning—didn’t even hiccup. 

Sometimes I think I was a better person when I was heavier; I think I cared more and did more and felt more. When I stopped eating, I think I carved more from my frame than just fat and muscle. 

What matters is, I’m trying. I’m pulling myself out of bed and bucking against the urge to numb it all, to do anything but think. I’m finding it’s scarier now that I’m leaving the woods than it was when I wasn’t out yet. I’m looking over my shoulder at what was chasing me, and I have no words to describe how ugly it is. 

In times of war, POWs have been starved as a means of torture, to whittle them down to the barest outlines of themselves. It is one of the cruelest acts of hatred a human being can commit against another. 

I treated my body like a prisoner of war. 

There are days I can’t stand to be alone with myself because I’m scared that I will do it again, scared that next time I won’t be able to stop. I don’t want to live there anymore. For so long I felt like I was failing at recovery, because even when I was trying to get better I was still losing weight. But inch by inch, I’m getting my life back, and I’m not letting go.

C'est moi

Monday, August 28, 2017

That Awkward Moment When You Forget Your Blogversary

Okay, so I didn’t entirely forget my blogversay. A couple weeks ago, I realized it was approaching. Then, in customary Liz fashion, I lost track of time and suddenly it was August 26 and I had nothing to offer you and no time to whip anything together. A few days back, I drafted a post updating you as to how I am, because I’m planning to start posting again, and you will get that update sooner or later. But right now I’m moving slowly in pretty much every area, and I don’t have the energy to celebrate my blogversary, or host a giveaway, or write something fun. Also, I get overwhelmed easily (which I will discuss more in the future), so I wanted to keep this low key. 

Anyway, I’m happy my blog is turning three, although it feels like it’s already older than that. Those terrible twos can really take a lot out of you. (Oh my goodness, I’m so funny.) I’m excited by how much Out of Coffee, Out of Mind grew before I sort of went on hiatus. I miss interacting with you, my lovely coffee beans. I miss this aspect of my old life—I’ve felt like a drafty, cluttered attic without it. And I want you to know that I am doing much better, mentally, than I have in years. Recovering from an eating disorder is a lengthy process, though, and I’ve needed—and will continue—to devote a good deal of energy to rewriting myself. But suffice it to say that, were this an actual birthday party, I would eat a piece of the cake.