Wreck This Journal: Insomniac

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Towards the back of Wreck This Journal, there is a page with instructions to sleep with the journal and document the experience.  For a normal person this wouldn’t be a problem, but for an insomniac it’s not an easy task.  My journal ended up being a record of a night spent wide awake, (thanks in part to a sinus infection), which I suppose is far more fitting for me.  The sleepless night with my journal inspired the doodles below as well as some thoughts about coming to terms with insomnia.  For some it’s an enemy, but for me it’s a gift.

Throughout my early childhood and adolescence, I dreaded going to bed because I knew I’d have a fight on my hands.  I’d beg for sleep and it would never answer my pleas.  The game became frustrating and ultimately made my life miserable.  Then I figured out something rather important – I’ve never really been considered normal by anyone, (I’m a nerdy, artsy, creative loner who refuses to see the world with a cookie-cutter perspective), so why would I sleep like a normal person? Once I accepted insomnia as a fact of life, I realized my little disorder gave me something quite precious: Time.

In world where a day slips by faster than ever, my inability to sleep affords me a few extra hours to do the things I love.  It’s why I’m able write so many things at once and why I read so many books within a given month.  There’s time to watch movies, listen to music, and dabble in poetry.  Time to ponder, dream, and map out engaging lesson plans for my students.  Most of all, there is a chance to enjoy a few hours of quiet as the noise of the day fades with the passing of midnight and beyond.

As a writer, those quiet moments allow inspiration to settle in and take over my imagination.  My muse speaks most clearly when the house is silent and my journal is open.  Often, I sit and wait as everything in my mind jostles and spins.  One idea is bound to push its way through and come out of my pen.  Most of everything I write starts in the wee hours of the morning.  For this simple pleasure, I have insomnia to thank.

Its not a perfect relationship by any means.  There are nights where I watch the sun go down and come up again, moments where I’m so tired I can’t remember how to sleep, and times when I think maybe I should ask about Ambien.  Then, I consider what I’d be giving up and honestly I’m not willing to make the trade.  Maybe it would be different if my sleep pattern (or lack thereof) interfered with my daily life, but it doesn’t.  I could easily let insomnia become an inconvenience, but I choose instead to let it be a gift.  All it takes is a little patience and understanding.  Perhaps one day it will grow tired of me, but until then I happily accept its presence.

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Previous Wreck This Journal posts:

Letting Go

Keep Reaching

Ignite The Spark

Be Unpredictable

Embrace Imperfection

Mess

c.b. 2011

The Autograph Ninja

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In A Nice Surprise, I stated that I have a knack for getting autographs and it got me thinking about all the signatures I’ve collected over the years.  A friend recently called me a “ninja” and I think she might be right, especially after receiving the latest addition to my collection.

My collection includes a variety of autographs, but not all come from household names. Like everything else I collect (books, rocks, etc), every signature means something to me on one level or another. Gathering autographs is all about connecting to people who have inspired me or have had a positive influence in my life.  They are all attached to memories, beautiful moments, and sometimes life-altering experiences.

It wasn’t easy to find all my autographs, but I did manage to locate the vast majority.  Many autographs are personalized to me, so in order to safeguard my identity I’ve blotted out my real name.  Sorry about the fuzzy areas, but it had to be done!   To save space, a number of photos have been made into thumbnails, but one click will enlarge them to full size.

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This week, I hit what I consider to be the mother lode of autographs because I never thought I could get Stephanie Meyer to sign my books.  She is rather reclusive and her fame is a bit out of my league.  However, through a brilliant stroke of luck I found myself in contact with a link in a chain that lead directly to her.  I sent my Twilight series and The Host down the chain and hoped for the best.  In just a few days, my books came back to me signed!

  

 

Along with the books, I sent a letter to thank her for the pivotal, even if inadvertent, role she played in the completion of my novel.  After failing three times to get a first draft off the ground, I was ready to give up.  I needed a kick in the butt and my mother gave it to me through an aptly timed phone call.  After reading an article on Meyer in the local newspaper, she told me, “If Stephanie Meyer can do it, so can you.”  In a strange twist of fate, that phone call came just as I was about to leave to catch the Twilight movie on opening night.   The next day I started writing my novel (again) and didn’t stop until I finished it.  While I have a village of people to thank for supporting me during the writing process, my mother and Stephanie Meyer both helped to wake up my muse.  Needless to say, these autographs mean the world to me.

Keeping with Twilight, I’ve also stumbled upon a couple more signatures related to the series. Peter Facinelli (left) came to me through a set of collector’s cards for the first Twilight movie.  The autograph was included in a collector edition binder I got through amazon.com (before the craze went haywire).  As for Justin Chon (right), I met him at a Twilight event a week before Eclipse opened in theaters. Both were dumb luck!

 

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During a trip to China, I had the honor of meeting Yu Hua, an author who writes novels that deal with the Cultural Revolution and Chinese culture, (most notably To Live and Chronicles of a Blood Merchant).  His stories are intense journeys in to the human experience and explore complex emotions within families and friendships. In Beijing, I got the rare opportunity to hear him speak in a small group setting.  For two hours, he discussed his writing process, the challenges of writing in a country that censors everything with great scrutiny, and the power of words and creativity.  When I see his autograph, it reminds me how lucky I am to be a writer who has the freedom to write without penalty or restriction.  Despite the obstacles he often faces, he is a true example of how writing can set the soul free.

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Back in 2007, I attended The Office Convention in Scranton, PA.  The stars seemed to align during the whole weekend as I found myself almost constantly in the company of cast members, writers, and producers.  While a fan’s ultimate dream, the convention and the people I encountered had life-altering effects that still impact me today.  Throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I wrote a series of posts on The Office message boards that analyzed each episode and a friend of mine brought them to the attention of one of the producers.  He liked what I wrote so much, he personally presented me with a cast-signed Season 3 DVD set.   Furthermore, he invited me for a one-on-one encounter with the writers of the show.  For close to an hour, I got to rub elbows with some of the most creative and amazing writers in the industry.  During this event, the same producer introduced me as a writer.  It was the first time anyone had ever given me that distinction and it changed my life.  Every time I sit down to write, I try to live up to the title of “Writer.”

The Office is a big reason why I started writing after a very long dry spell, so these autographs serve as a monument not only to fandom, but also as a constant reminder that I must keep writing.  One day I hope to send a published copy of my novel to the producer who gave me such a wonderful gift.

1.Steve Carell 2.Leslie David Baker* 3.Mindy Kaling* 4.Rainn Wilson 5.Oscar Nunez* 6.Paul Lieberstein 7.Brian Baumgartner 8.John Krasinski 9.Angela Kinsey* 10.Jenna Fischer 11.Kate Flannery* 12.B.J. Novak* 13.Ed Helms* 14. Phyllis Smith* 15.Creed Bratton*

*I got a second personalized autograph from these cast members when I met them at the convention.

In addition, many of the writers, other producers, supporting actors, and even the creators of the show were kind enough to sign my autograph scrapbook.

   

Left to right: Gene Stupnitsky, Justin Spitzer and Mindy Kaling / Bobby Ray Shafer / Kent Zbornak / Andy Buckley

  

Left to Right: Craig Robinson / Michael Schur / Greg Daniels, Lester Lewis

When I got home from the convention, I had another little surprise waiting for me in the mailbox.  Jenna Fischer answered my letter and returned an item I asked her to autograph.

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There’s even more after the jump . . .

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Spreading The Word

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Over on Thinking of Rob, they are trying to help out a member of the TOR community who recently fell on hard times.  Her husband suffered a serious injury and unfortunately it occurred during a lapse in their health insurance.  As if the pain wasn’t enough, the medical bills are piling up fast.  To help out, TOR is taking donations and holding an auction to raise money.  The auction is full of amazing items donated by the TOR community and beyond.  Please head over to bid on some great items and help out someone who could really use the support.

I’m not kidding when I say they’ve got some great items!  Here’s just a small list of what’s up for auction:

  • First edition, hardcover Eclipse signed by Stephanie Meyer
  • Signed copy of Outlander by Diana Galbadon
  • Props from Remember Me
  • Entertainment Weekly autographed by Kristen Stewart
  • Items signed by Peter Facinelli, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz
  • White cover edition Twilight series
  • Breaking Dawn Comic Con badges
  • Books signed by Charlain Harris, Particia Briggs, and Janet Evanovich
  • Twilight Collector Cards
  • Hunger Games poster
  • Signed New Moon movie companion (up for bids on Monday 9/19/2011)

There is so much more, too!  Bidding is as simple as leaving a comment.  For more information visit Auctions for Shannon.  The auction will continue through September 23, 2011 so keep watching for new items and bidding opportunities.  Hope to see you there!

c.b. 2011

Wreck This Journal: Mess

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Aside from setting a page on fire, this is the biggest mess I’ve made with my Wreck This Journal. The page instructed me to rip it out, put it in the pocket of my jeans and then wash them.  I figured the page would come out looking the way a one dollar bill does after a wash cycle – a little soggy, crumpled, and maybe a little fuzzy.  Silly, silly me.

When I opened the lid to my washer, all my clothes were covered with little white specks.  My Wreck This Journal page had shredded into a million pieces!  All I could do was laugh as I stood there and picked out every last piece from between the wrinkles of jeans, t-shirts, and socks.  After about half and hour, I had a lovely pile of moist confetti.  Lesson learned: Never wash flimsy paper in the pocket of your jeans.  In addition, I learned my sense of humor runs a little deeper than I thought.  I didn’t get mad, nor did I have a fit at the mess.

I preserved my little learning moment on a blank page in my journal.  I put what was left of the washed page in a little plastic bag and stapled it down.  Then I drew a pair of jeans and documented the experience.

This little mess got me thinking of how my first draft manuscript looked after an extensive overhaul. When I first printed it out, it was so clean and pristine.  Then I got to work and turned my beautiful draft into a disaster area of scribbles, scrawl in multiple colors of ink, arrows, highlighter marks, notations, folded corners, sticky notes, and what I refer to as frustration graffiti (don’t ask).  The mess I made on those pages is truly frightening, but its a mess that taught me more about writing than any class or how-to book.

There’s a lot to be said for making a mess, (even the neatnik in me agrees).  When creativity is given free reign the possibilities are endless.  So go ahead and make that mess!

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Incidentally, Keri Smith also has a book entitled Mess that builds upon the idea of recognizing the creative potential of a mess.  So far, I have found it to be another enlightening little book.

Previous Wreck This Journal posts:

Letting Go

Keep Reaching

Ignite the Spark

Be Unpredictable 

Embrace Imperfection

c.b. 2011