Thoughts and Wonderings

I’ve been thinking lately about my blog, it’s purpose, who reads it, all those little things. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t blog about writing because it’s self-indulgent, and maybe (probably) that’s true, but the thing is, this blog is self-indulgent. It was designed that way. I write for my past self, the girl I was, who gobbled up writing advice like it was manna from heaven. I write for my current self, to force myself to slow down and reflect on where I am and where I’m going. And I write for my future self, so I can measure my own growth and recall those important moments, like the time I almost gave up and the time I was really glad I didn’t.

So, why not make this blog private, let it be my own personal journal where I can be as earnest or morose or ecstatic as I want? Because Diana Peterfreund, Justine Larbalestier, Carrie Ryan, Maggie Stiefvater. Those blogs are the reason I’m here, still writing. I still go back and read their archives from time to time, for encouragement and perspective. And I don’t know, maybe I’m being completely egotistical, but I have this idea that one day a young writer might read back through my archives and find some small encouragement.

Who knows?

I’ve been having these crazy spider dreams. I’ve had them before, but never so frequently. I’m lying in bed and I can’t sleep, just staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, I see something move. It’s a spider on a web dangling right above my face. I watch it, entranced, until I can bring myself to scurry out of bed and turn the light on. I can’t get back to sleep until Michael searches the whole room.

And the weird thing is, in that whole period, I’m not conscious of ever having fallen asleep. To my mind, I was awake the whole time, unable to sleep, spiders making webs a few feet above my face.

I know the real cause of these dreams, but the funny thing is, this morning I was making the bed and I happened to look up at the platform my husband built to house the projector when one of us is sick in bed (yes, I have an awesome husband). There, just a few feet above our pillows, was the dessicated body of a dead redback spider.

We’re heading back overseas in a few weeks. Last time we were in New York it was Thanksgiving and people were just starting to set up the Christmas tree stands on the street. We went to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a holiday market and tasted a few holiday-themed drinks, but the whole time we were there we kept saying “wouldn’t it be lovely to stay for Christmas?”

We’ve never had a cold Christmas before. Our Christmases include barbeques and air conditioners and the beach, which is lovely in its own way, but not quite the same. We grew up on Christmas movies featuring snow and fireplaces and mittens, and we’ve always kind of yearned for that experience. SO, we decided to pack up our favourite family members (just kidding, people who aren’t coming) and cart them to NYC for Christmas!

We hear it might be cold, but unless you’ve actually experienced those kinds of temperatures, it can be hard to gauge what that might mean. I’m guessing coats and gloves and thermal underwear? If you have any tips on what kinds/brands of coats etc we might look for (we’ll be buying in LA) please pass them on!

(P.S. If you’re planning to rob our house while we’re away, I’m afraid we have housemates who are staying home for Christmas. Feel free to stop by for puppy cuddles, though.)

I write a lot about motivation and dreams and keeping the faith here, but it occurred to me recently that there’s an element I haven’t talked all that much about. I’m a fairly self-reliant, self-motivated person and I can also be a bit proud. It’s hard for me to ask for help sometimes (all the time) or admit I’m falling short.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to keep believing you’re going to make it. Sometimes you’re just too tired to believe in that dream anymore. Sometimes you’re just hanging by a thread, and no matter how hard you try to push through you just can’t do it. That’s just a fact. It happens.

The truth is, dreams aren’t achieved by one person all on their own, and our ego is our biggest weakness. In these situations, what you really need is to let down your defenses, admit your doubts, and rely on the people who love you. You have to let them step into the gap between your dream and your reality and have faith for you.

Wednesday was a big day for me. I did something I’ve needed to do for a long, long time. I did the thing that scared me most. That morning, before I did the thing, I was walking down the street and I passed this kid dressed in school uniform. I was feeling pretty terrified and I wasn’t paying all that much attention to what was going on around me, but I did notice this kid was both in primary school and taller than me (what are we feeding our kids these days? They’re all giants!)

Just as I drew up level with the kid, he looked at me seriously and held his arm straight out by his side. “Five,” he said, and I reacted just in time. I held out my hand and as he passed he gave it a good slap.

Just a few hours before I had to go do a very scary thing, a random kid gave me a high five on the street.

I’m a person of faith, so I read certain things into that small interaction. Things about God and promises and faithfulness. But here’s something I think applies to everyone, believers and non: Sometimes the universe gives you exactly what you need.

Christmas on my mind.
Christmas on my mind.
Writing/study dates with my sweetheart are my favourite thing.
Writing/study dates with my sweetheart are my favourite thing.
Clear blue.
Clear blue.
This is what Christmas in Australia looks like.
This is what Christmas in Australia looks like.
Thoughts and Wonderings

4 thoughts on “Thoughts and Wonderings

  1. The spider dreams you describe are hynagogic hallucinations. They’re completely normal, however if they are frequent they could be a sign of a sleep disorder, especially when combined with other sleep problems like insomnia. It could be worth seeing a sleep specialist πŸ™‚ I went through a battery of tests last year for narcolepsy so I’ve done heaps of research. My tests came up negative, and it turned out treating my migraine condition eased my symptoms.

    We are getting a winter Christmas of sorts too! A bit of both actually, because we land in London on Boxing Day evening. I’m crossing my fingers for snow, without getting a blizzard. I tread fine lines with my wishes haha

    1. bethanyrsmith says:

      Ooh, London, how exciting! I’ll cross my fingers for snow for both of us πŸ™‚

      I’m pretty certain my spider dreams are linked to a certain stressful area of my life, but that stress has recently been excised so I’m hopeful they’ll go away. Glad your own symptoms have eased. Here’s to good sleep!

  2. Hi Bethany,

    I found your blog sometime after your story did so well in Pitch Wars, and I love reading your thoughts so don’t stop! I’m an ‘older’ writer but still young in the craft, and I too find blogs on writing so helpful. Of your list, I’m only familiar with Stiefvater’s. I’ll have to check out the others.

    The story of the primary school boy is precious. Those random acts of friendliness can resonate for years–and are great in stories. πŸ™‚

    Loved your images of Christmas in Australia. Gorgeous. I haven’t been in NYC for Christmas but it sounds fun. I live in Ohio where we have similar weather as NY, just days sooner. πŸ˜‰ Boots are a good idea–for all the wet slush! And scarves make a huge difference in feeling warm. Have a safe and wonder-filled trip.

    1. bethanyrsmith says:

      Hi Eva! I’m so glad you commented — I love knowing who is reading my words and it’s such an encouragement to hear they have resonated with you. Thanks also for your advice on boots and scarves — I definitely plan on taking both! I hope you have a lovely Christmas and best of luck with your writing πŸ™‚

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