Writer’s Diary 1/31/14

7:40 – 8:20 — 180 words Alpha Men WIP

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It’s A New Year

This morning I decided to take a cyber vacation. Time away from Facebook & Twitter & Instagram and the people who display all the tiny details of their lives for the world to see.

Why? 

Honestly, it’s because I found myself sliding back into the comfortable old habit of becoming emotionally vested in   people who couldn’t give two shits if I get up in the morning or not.  I’m not talking about the ratchets or the blowhards, those are all easily ignored for the drama guzzlers they are. It’s the ordinary people who get to me. The decent people on the fringes of my life who suffer the kinds every day problems that sometimes overwhelm us.

The people that when I die will say “I know her, my condolences to the family.”  And that is as it should be because they’re acquaintances, people I know.  The problem, to use an old cliche, isn’t them it’s me.

I am completely unable to deal with seeing others in emotional pain.  An empath if you choose to believe in such things, a bleeding heart for those who don’t subscribe. No matter what you call it the point is that I truly and honestly care about most everything that breathes life. If I ask what’s wrong I’m not being nosy and I don’t collect gossip to pass along. If I say call if you need me I mean exactly that.

That my friends is not a healthy way to live. It drains you emotionally, physically,  and if you hang with the wrong people financially.  So occasionally I have to take an “I don’t care” vacation. Today is one of those days. I’m overwhelmed and overloaded with issues that do concern me and trying to take on those that don’t.  So it’s time to back up, regroup and take care of the top priorities.

Don’t worry I’ll be back.

Spare Change is a Powerful Thing

Most people don’t much much attention to their spare change. A few people will use it to stretch their paper money as far as they can, searching for endless minutes for an exact amount to avoid reaching into their wallets.  Yet for most people it either sits in their purse or pocket until it gets heavy enough to be annoying or gets thrown into a charity bucket here or there.

The buying power of spare change is being driven home for me in an interesting way at a rather late age in life. A few weeks ago my youngest son, Shortman, joined a community service program called Young Marines. Affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps it isn’t a recruiting program but is carried out in the manner of Marine Corps life.  It is a program basically to help keep kids between 7-19 off drugs, in school, and out of trouble.

The Shortman was in danger of absolutely none of these things but was attracted to the program’s Marine style training and focus on discipline and leadership. As a pacifist these things cause me to jump out of my skin everytime one of the leaders speaks, but for my Shortman it’s a little piece of heaven.

A couple of weeks ago the Shortman’s Young Marines group started a penny war fundraiser with proceeds going to purchase a safety/kevlar vest for either a police or military bomb dog.  The group is broken into four units, one of which is my Shortman’s bootcamp recruits, and each of the four units has a change bucket.  The kids all collect spare change during the week and then at the Wednesday meeting they put their “silver” change and bills in their unit’s bucket then distribute the pennies in the other three buckets. The point of it being whichever unit raises the most money at the end wins the penny war.

My Shortman is all over this and anyone he comes in contact with is certain to be asked if they would like to donate their change.  Curious about what sort of impact my son was making on the recruits penny war effort I counted the change in his jar this morning.  In the last week just by dropping the change from my pocket into the jar at the end of the day he has raised $14.48.

To a world where gas is $3.39 a gallon and milk about the same that $14 doesn’t seem like a lot but to a 9yr old boy trying to make a dent in a $600.00 vest for a dog who saves lives it’s a hell of a start.  Considering this will be his third time to put in his change (I should have counted before but I’m a little slow) that $14.48 holds a whole lot of power and confidence that his goal will be met and his recruit unit will see victory.

PSA *** If you would like to contribute spare change to the Shortman’s cause you can contact me by email, at Facebook, or comment below. ***

To Be…Or Not To Be…

It’s 3am and I should be sleeping, but I’m not.  So I should be writing, but I’m not.  Well technically I am because I’m writing this blog but I’m not writing anything on my sadly neglected and damn near finished WIP.

Why am I awake?  Insomnia.  Why am I not working on the WIP?  Because to write romance you need to believe it exists and to write action/paranormal romance you need an open state of mind.  Last question then; why am I writing this blog post?

I’m writing it because as I was procrastinating away some attempt to sleep the three hours I have left before I have to get up and take people to work I decided to read through my blog posts.  Reading through stirred up a question in me that I believe all writers eventually have to answer…what should I write?

It would seem that there are two schools of writing and writers.  Those who write to be published in a traditional, mainstream literary capacity and those who write because they have a millions ideas and creations inside them that need to be given life.  I don’t think the two categories are at all exclusive of one another, in fact I’m sure there’s a tremendous overlap.

Still the question remains for every writer.  Should I write what is going to get me an agent and a publisher or should I write what’s inside me? 

I’m not even gonna lie, there’s a part of every writer including myself that craves the kudos and credibility of the traditional publishing world.  To be among the few manuscripts chosen from literally thousands of queries and submissions is a huge honor even if not always a testament to true talent.  Talent is a subjective term since there’s not a reader alive who couldn’t walk into a library or book store and pull a dozen titles that they could deem lacking in talent and unworthy of publication.  You can’t please everyone with your writing but if you choose to follow the dream goal of traditional publication you do have to please first a literary agent and then a publishing house editor.  To do that you have to write what they feel is going to sell, and in order to do THAT you are going to have to know your genres down to the tiniest, most minute little detail. 

Your other option is to take the road that these days is more frequently traveled.  You write what’s inside you and you self-publish it through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or some other internet program or a small, independent publishing house that you basically buy your way into.  Self-publishing comes with the stigma that anyone can do it and therefore it’s mostly worthless junk that people throw on a page and put on the internet.   That brings us back to talent being subjective because even loosely written, first draft quality, poorly edited works of creative fiction can grasp moderate success by word of mouth and sheer luck. 

I know because I’ve done it and as soon as I recapture my rosy romance writer’s glasses and my will to allow my mind the room to expand to the unbelievable I will do it again.  Then maybe one day I may decide to reach for the stars again; to write, edit, polish, query, submit, edit, polish, query again until I have honed my craft into some form acceptable to traditional publishing agents and houses… or maybe I won’t.

Finding Your Way Back

This morning digging through my nightstand for my comb I found a thank you card from one of my work kids. It was exuberant and outgoing like the author and reminded me of who I used to be. 

Some will be confused by that because they see me every day doing the things I have always done. I go to work, check on my Mom, run errands, and taxi the Shortman to his activities.  Yet those who know me well will realize when they read this…assuming anyone actually does LOL…exactly what I’m talking about.

Small things have changed in subtle ways over the past few years. The cookie list disappeared, the candy bucket isn’t filled quite as often, the new book is eight months behind schedule. There are other things, less public things, that have changed in the same subtle ways.

Originally the excuses were based in logic…finances were suffocating and spare time non existent…but the reality was I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.  I wasn’t depressed in any clinical sense it was more like I just didn’t see the point any more.  I started listening to the well meaning family, friends, and aquaintances around me who couldn’t understand why I would bother to cook something I wasn’t planning to enjoy and carry it to work on my day off to the people I made it for. 

It was never a matter of lack of appreciation either. Everything I ever did was greatly appreciated and I always knew it. What was missing I see now was my growing discomfort with my inability to answer the question everyone was asking me… “Why do you do that?”

Reading that card this morning made me realize the answer to that question. I did it because I wanted to. I did because when the world was a dark, dismal place and there was nothing I could do to change it I could still do something to make someone smile.  Quite simply I did it because that’s who I am and it’s the person I felt the best about being.

So now my job is to find my way back to that person a little at a time. To remember that when I felt good about who I was and what I was doing I was a more productive author and a happier person.

So watch for it because slowly I will be finding the path back to that cookie baking, Shemar Moore obsessing, shit talking, trashy book writing, crazy woman God has always smiled down on.

Confidence is Sexy

My birthday is coming up in twelve days. It’s an occasion most people celebrate and every year I make an attempt to pretend that I’m excited.  Some years I go out and celebrate with some drunk white girl dancing and mechanical bull riding and some, most, are spent more quietly with friends or family. 

Those who know me best, and there aren’t a lot of those people left on this side of the great divide, know that I generally refer to that special day as “the great black hole day.”  It’s a day I enjoyed as a child with the usual cake and presents, but as I got older it became just one mile marker closer to death. 

Death is one of those black holes that people are either untouched by because of their faith or lack there of. There is nothing to question, nothing to fear, because they are confident in their view of what will happen once that final breath rattles out of their body.  To people like me death is a source of anxiety not because my faith is weak but because my curiosity is strong and my confidence in myself is underdeveloped.

I’m sure if you’ve hung around and read this far you’re wondering what confidence has to do with death. The answer is that one thing I have learned over the last 46 years is self-confidence is the key to happiness. Not ego, not delusions of grandeur,  but simple confidence. 

Confidence answers questions, quiets fears, and strengthens hope. Confidence makes a small person tall, a fat person thin, a plain person spectacular.  Confidence destroys doubts and builds dreams.

So for my birthday this year I’m going to part with a hard learned lessen.  Confidence,  my friends, is incredibly sexy.  Man or woman, gay or straight, nothing is a bigger turn on than stand up tall, accept me as I am, love me for me confidence in who you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.

So whatever it is you find yourself doing whether you’re writing a book, singing a song, or chasing a dream do it with confidence. Not just the confidence that things will go your way, more often than not they won’t, but with an unshakeable confidence in your self worth and your ability to follow through and that win or lose or draw you gave it your all.