Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Moving’

Writing and Moving

In Moving, Shelley Widhalm, Writing, Writing Discipline, Writing Processes on July 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

This summer, I moved from one apartment to another to not even the opposite side of town, but one block north and a half block east.

This move’s like my writing life: I took chances but not huge ones, and I packed to unpack.

I relocated to move in with my fiancé, but I didn’t want to let go of my old apartment: the high ceilings, tall windows and hard-wood floors. To put it another way, I was having a difficult time killing my darlings, meaning my darling apartment decorated exactly how I liked it with all of my stuff.

Welcome the man with his geometric style of decorating, decorations that didn’t mean anything to me and way of putting together stuff that clashed with my sense of style.

How does one compromise: Argue, debate, talk, give in a little, accept, let go, pack up a few things.
I packed a dozen boxes of the few dozen I had unpacked, labeled them and took them off to storage. I had to reduce what I thought I needed, get rid of stuff I didn’t need and rethink my (our) space. I went from three closets (front, walk-in linen and bedroom) to a shared closet in the bedroom.

In other words, I had too much stuff for our shared 600 square feet of space. Through the process of repacking, I realized I didn’t need extra sets of towels and sheets, an extra set of bedding, three extra pillows, winter pajamas in the summer, baskets to store stuff now that I had less storage space and my collection of Starbucks teddy bears.

I had to fit what I wanted to keep into smaller bathroom drawers, fewer kitchen cabinets and half a closet (actually three-fifths from my crossing over to his side). At first, I didn’t think I could find space for and reassemble my belongings to work within the geometric shapes of drawers, shelves and cabinets, while also keeping it all assessable in case I wanted any of those things.

This reconfiguring is like how I pack and unpack with my writing.

When I write news and feature articles, I follow a loose formula, writing my lead and basing the rest of what I write on the first graf or two, followed by a quote and narrowing in on the information I provide from the most important to least important. I write in a box with some sense of freedom when I choose the lead, pick out the best and sparkly quotes, and find the best descriptions for the five W’s and H.

Writing a novel, I follow the outline, venturing off here and there, but still keeping within the parameters of my story.

With short story writing, I sit down for a session or two and let my mind burst out of the parameters until I figure out the story, and then I pack my words into the framework I’ve created.

And for poetry, I wait for inspiration, feeling the freest in this form because I am not thinking about story structure, setting and character identity but writing out of feeling, allowing that later I will edit.

The editing part is getting rid of the junk you don’t need, storing away great sentences and paragraphs that don’t fit the scene or the page, and coming up with a new reality from what you thought was in your head. It’s now on paper with a shape that you can see, feel and almost touch.

That’s what moving does to you: it makes you reshape and re-see what you own and what you really need and don’t need. Editing gets down to the most essential of what you’re writing, and that’s what living should be: the best and the important, not all the stuff, the junk and the unnecessary things.


The Shy Label

In Challenge delay, Shelley Widhalm, Shyness on October 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

The word SHY used to be a label I branded into my identity. I considered myself too shy to do certain things, like network at a party or approach an interesting person (in a safe location like a coffee shop) to start a conversation.

I initiated a shyness challenge earlier this year to take specific steps to overcome my shyness, but for the past two or three months, I haven’t created a challenge for the week.

That’s probably because I don’t think of myself as shy anymore.

However, this past week I realized I have become comfortable in my routines and tend to choose being alone over trying too hard to be sociable if it requires work on my part. I weigh the costs and think, nah. Why, I don’t know.

I do know that I’m an introvert with some extroverted tendencies, like wanting to be around people on a daily basis and to connect with them through talking and doing things together. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t need that alone time but always wanted to go out and, even if I was the quiet one, to be in the presence of others.

In the past 20-plus years, I lived in 10 cities at 12 different addresses and had to start over with each move. I withdrew as I encountered difficulties with making and finding friends. I had to figure out things to do alone because I let shyness keep me from trying too hard, the reason different – actual shyness instead of liking my alone comfort.

With my last move two months before I started the challenge, I wanted “to fix” myself and get rid of the word I used to describe myself, one that, I’ve since noticed, no one else uses.

I don’t have social anxiety or fear of new and awkward situations.

I would say my challenge for next week is to approach someone I haven’t met yet to get myself out of my comfortable routine of letting things happen. I’m not being active but reactive, comfortable in my state of not thinking of myself as shy.

The Modeling-Writing Connection

In Artists, Modeling, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on September 11, 2011 at 7:00 am

I decided to accept the modeling contract but still need to do the paperwork. Why I’m delaying, I don’t know.

Maybe it’s fear. I don’t mind getting the rejections, but I do hate to waste time. I’m worried that I’ll go after the casting and modeling calls and not get accepted for anything, plus lose the time that I could have spent writing.

I’m trying to finish editing a novel, start my next novel and put together a collection of poetry.

I see my time after the work day as something I have to fill with a set number of tasks, plus have some fun, if there is, you know, time. If I don’t accomplish at least most of those tasks, I tell myself that I won’t get anywhere with my goals of writing and getting published. It’s a self-imposed conundrum born out of perfectionism.

I used to not be this way, well except for my grades.

I used to see myself as shy and introverted with a desire to go out, at least during my college years. If there was a party to go to, I wanted to be there. I wanted to stay up late, listening to loud music, talking to at least a few people and forgetting that I usually label myself as shy.

But after college, I started moving every couple of years, chasing my news career. I still wanted the fun factor, but making friends wasn’t always easy.

So I hung out alone – a lot.

As I became more extroverted as a reporter, and that quality seeped into my personal life, I became more introverted in another way. I started getting my satisfaction not from seeing how much fun could be had in one night but from inner stuff, including completing tasks, writing and working on my dream of becoming a novelist.

Now, I want to show off my exterior through modeling, but at the same time, I want to protect my interior comfort of being that starving, alone and needing-to-achieve artist.