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Distractions – IWSG 05/04/16

  • Posted on May 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

We're here for you. Things that Distract one’s Focus

  • The sudden and unexplainable urge to read something one has never read before.
  • A broken nail that begs to be filed.
  • Hair that must be plucked, brushed, tweezed, or otherwise groomed.
  • The click of a pen in another room.
  • The need to feed pets, children or a partner.
  • The need to bathe said pets, children or partners.
  • A sudden and inexplicable yearning to clean every inch of one’s house.
  • The pile of laundry calling, begging to be folded.
  • An old notebook found in the deep recesses of a closet.
  • The sudden and startlingly shrill scream of a child.
  • Especially so if that child is not injured in the least, but rather enjoying the startlement they have caused.
  • The ring on one’s finger.
  • The thought that one ought to be writing, but instead is doing something else.
  • The thought that one ought to be doing something else, and so therefore, should not be writing.
  • The glowing numbers on a clock.
  • The ticking of a clock.
  • The hush of rain outside.
  • The hush of wind through trees outside.
  • The sunshine streaming through the window.
  • The blackness of the night outside one’s curtains.
  • A reminder that one’s favorite program has come on.
  • A reminder that one’s bills need paid.
  • A sudden urge to check the mail.
  • The sound of a hamster running on it’s wheel.
  • The thought that you might have books to return to the library.
  • A rambling search for said books.
  • The library.
  • The siren call of someone messaging you.
  • A tangle of cords peeking out of a box.
  • A new idea where one was not before.
  • A new plotline for a part of the story one has not reached quite yet.
  • The thought that perhaps this story isn’t worth telling after all.
  • The gross misconception that one can handle writing three or more books at once.
  • A sudden, undeserved pity party.
  • A sudden, well-deserved pity party.
  • A sudden, and entirely deserved party.
  • Any sort of party, really.
  • Cake.
  • The Dog Park.
  • One’s own thoughts.
  • A game that one wants to play.
  • A chore one must do.
  • The irksome feeling of an unmade bed.
  • The act of making a bed.
  • The comfort that comes from sitting on a made bed.
  • Pictures.
  • Dreams.
  • The look on one’s face in the mirror.
  • Anything broken.
  • Lights flickering.
  • The ding of an appliance.
  • The hum of a refrigerator.
  • Eye contact.
  • The reward one has set oneself for completing the act in the end.
  • The idea that one must complete the act at all.
  • The uncomfortable tingle of a bladder over full.
  • The rush of a breeze over one’s arm.
  • Anything at all can be a distraction.
  • When you think about it, in the end, even what you’re writing is a distraction.
  • A distraction from all of these distractions.
  • The best sort of distraction is an entertaining one.
  • So make your distractions entertaining.
  • And then write them down.
  • And share with the class.
  • Who knows.
  • Your distractions.
  • Might become someone else’s.
  • And then.
  • The world will be a better place.
  • Or so this one thinks, anyway.

IWSG – 2/3/16

  • Posted on February 3, 2016 at 6:48 pm

We're here for you.Today I’d like to go into the idea of scheduling and how it can often go wrong. You see, I have fallen in love with a method called Bullet Journaling, and it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever had to keep me organized. (Not that even bullet journaling helps entirely, I’m an unorganized mess, and I know it.) So recently, I’ve been using this method to plan out my blog posts for the month, and it’s been… Well, sort of working.

My goal for January was in fact, SIX posts, not five. But I only managed five of them. However, I’m not counting this as any kind of loss! No, not at all. In fact, this is a major win, considering for the last six months before january, I hadn’t really posted AT ALL. You see, that can happen sometimes. Life gets in the way, and you just CAN’T sit down and write.

For those of you who are hardcore writers, people who want to make this a career, (and don’t get me wrong, I do want a career as a writer.) you know how easy it is to fall into a slump. Into that chasm and catacomb of ‘Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ or ‘I can’t do it today, so maybe next week.’ And everyone’s advice is the same, WRITE IT OUT ANYWAY.

While most of the time I agree with this, I’ve also found that it can cause massive anxiety and fear for me, if I know I can’t do something, and still try to force myself to do it. Sometimes this anxiety can act as a catalyst, pushing me to greater heights. Other times, however, it can trigger something even worse. A deep depression. A ‘Woke Up Bad’ day. Or a level ten panic attack.

These sorts of things are to be avoided at all costs.

So I have given myself permission to say, ‘I can’t do this.’ Specifically, I schedule things for specific days of the week. And if it doesn’t get done? That’s okay. I don’t move it to the next day. I don’t make it follow me like some ghost rattling it’s chains of regret. I leave it. I move on to the next day’s list. Sure, I make sure it’s in next week’s list, so that it gets done EVENTUALLY. But I don’t stress over it.

Using this method, I’ve been able to keep up (mostly) not only with my writing, but also with my housecleaning. It’s a miracle, just being able to say, ‘Yeah I didn’t get to it. That’s okay.’ I never realized before how FREEING it is to just be able to say that, and move on.

So my number one tip to all you insecure writers out there? Give yourself permission to move on. Don’t let moving on turn into a slump, of course, but still. Know that you are human, and forgive yourself for your minor failures. Because honestly, only you have that power, and you should excersise it whenever possible.

Weekly Writing Update – 01-02-15

  • Posted on January 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Alright, so this week, with New Years Eve and Christmas all in it didn’t work out too well, but hey! I tried! XD However, I’ve recently found a bit of a kicker in the organisational department, and hopefully, with that, will come the energy to fight off my demons and get some editing done! <3

Also, this week, I have been asked to help a good friend out with writing up her Wikipedia page, which has been a challenge and a half, let me tell you. Any help whatsoever, or good articles you all might know about Wiki pages, please do let me know!

Word Counts: 

First Book of the Kurylian Saga: 22,205 words

Kaimi Rowe Series: Seeker Born – Rough Draft – Restarted

Blue Roses – 9,971 words – Dystopian Love Story

Blog Posts

A Day In the Life of a Saleswoman

New Page – Writing Samples

New Years Resolution Bloghop

Ulysses Bucket List

Books Read

 Start Where You Are by Chris Gardner

Goals 

Finish The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman (Published 2000)

Finish Real Money Answers by Patrice C. Washington

Start The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner

Start up Bullet Journaling

Two more blog posts for this blog this week!

 

Ulysses Bucket List

  • Posted on December 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm

While scrolling through Tumblr, I found this beautiful story, reblogged by Tumblr User despairtsumikie, and wanted to share it with all of you. I honestly thought this was so beautiful, that I read it out loud to two good friends of mine the very moment I finished it. So now, I’m passing it along to you all.

“When I was 15 years old, I ran away from home because I was pissed off at my parents for a reason I can’t remember. I didn’t have much money, so I decided to hop onto the skytrain (public transport train in British Columbia) and ride it as far as it would go. I reached the end of the line in less than an hour, and decided I wanted to ride it all the way back again, while trying to formulate some kind of plan of how I wanted to live the rest of my life without my parents or anyone. At the last stop, or the first stop depending on your perspective of it, a girl came on and sat in the row right behind me. I didn’t pay much attention to her at first, as I was busy writing my life plan on a napkin. It was a few minutes later that she got up and came sat next to me, curious as to what I was writing. I told her the story, and after a few laughs, we began talking about everything and anything. Her name was Amanda, 17 years old, and absolutely wonderful. She told me she was getting off at the last stop, which was also the first stop, depending on how you look at it. It was also the stop I had gotten on originally, and I told her we would ride to it together. The train ride took less than an hour, and what a wonderful hour indeed.

When the last stop did come, we both knew we probably wouldn’t see each other ever again(this was before the days of cellphones, and I was a shy little kid afraid to make moves). As we got to the end of the sidewalk which split in two different directions, she went right and I went left. Before saying goodbye she turned to me and asked me a question that has become a wonderful part of my life; she asked me, “Tell me something you have done, or want to do, that you think I should do? It can be anything, as challenging as you want it to be, or as easy. As long as you give me the rest of my life to complete it, I promise I will do it..” I was confused as to why, but I thought about it, and told her, “Sing a song acapella in a room full of strangers.” She said perfect and asked me if I would like a challenge as well. I told her I did, and she told me, “read, from start to finish, ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce.” I had never heard of it at the time, but I agreed, and we said our goodbyes.

I have an awful memory, and can’t remember most conversations I have with most people. But I remember all of that clearly. You know why? Because of the challenge she gave me. In the 12 years that have past since, I have tried to read that book in over 150 different sittings. Everytime I open my copy of the 780 page monster of a book, I always think of her, and I always think of that day. I’ve never been sure if it was her intent or not, but she left her lasting memory on me with that challenge. I soon after learned what she did, was a completey wonderful and amazing thing for me. So I decided to keep it going. I’ve met a lot of strangers in my life; some that have become friends, and some, due to living in different time zones and whatnot, didnt. I don’t want to just have experiences and then let them go. I want to remember these meetings, and embrace the fact that they happened. So whenever I leave someone who has left an amazing impact of my life, I always make sure to add them to my Ulysses Bucket List. I ask them to give me a challenge, as difficult or as easy as they want it to be, and regardless of the fact that they have done it or not; simply something their heart has had wanted to do.

Some have been easy and fun; I met a man in India 9 years ago who told me to, for a week or a month, cook/buy twice as much food as I intend on eating, and give the other half to a stranger in need. I completed that mission 8 years ago, and thought about that man and the time we had all the way through. I met a girl on a cruise 6 years ago, who told me to jump into a body of water on a slightly cold day, without touching or feeling the temperature of the water first. I did that the very same year. I met a couple at an outdoor music festival a few years ago that told me to wear the most bizarre outfit imaginable and walk through a public place, completely oblivious to the fact that you aren’t looking normal. I did that task the very next day, at the same festival. Some have been difficult, to say the least: three guys I met in Amsterdam and smoked all night with, told me to go to a mall and give 10 strangers 10 presents. That one took a lot of courage, but I did it a year or so after I met them. It was nerve racking, but at the same time exhilerating leaving my comfort zone. A girl I met on a plane told me to sky dive; Im still in the process of getting that done. A couple I met in Cali on the beach told me to tell the 5 people I hated the most, that I love them and respect them. That one was very difficult because of my stubborness, but I’ve come close to completing that list many a times(still in the process, 2 more people to go).

And some things, have had an everlasting impact on my daily life. I met a girl at burning man, who told me that whenever I get mad at someone, walk away, sing my happy song in my head for 5 minutes, go back to the person I’m mad at with a calm heart and mind, and work things out. I’ve made this my way of life. I once met a man at a gym in a hotel I was staying at, that told me “whenever your body and brain tells your that you are exhausted and done…use your heart instead and push out 2 more reps.” I’ve made this my motto when working out or working on any kind of extrenuating exercise in which my body demands me to quit. I also use it while working on anything, and while studying. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

There are many others that each brought joy to my life. There are still many tasks I have yet to accomplish, and everytime I think of these tasks, I think of the people that gave them to me. It amazes me how well I remember all these people, while I cant remember so many aspects of even yesterday. These experiences, not only do I take from them a “mission” or a “challenge”, I also take from them a memory of them that never fails to appear inside of my mind. I opened my Ulysses book for probably the 300th time yesterday, and read a few pages, which prompted me to share this story with you today. I’m in the final 30 pages of the book, also known as the most dreaded of the read(in the last 40 pages or so, James Joyce doesn’t use a single punctuation mark; no periods, no commas, no nothing; a straight 50 page run-on sentence).

I never saw Amanda after that day, nor do I know if she ever did get a chance to sing a song to a room full of strangers. But what I do know, is that she gave me a gift that has never once stopped giving. So wherever you may be, thank you for giving me the Ulysses Bucket List. And I swear i’ll finish it one day. My life advice? Simple: Create your own Ulysses bucket list.”

-Reddit User Yoinkie2013 when asked to “Share a story they’ve been dying to tell.”

Since then, a subReddit has been created for people to challenge each other, and create their own Ulysses Bucket List. Personally, I find this idea amazing, and intend to start my own, post haste. I think I’ll perhaps start with those closest to me, and work out from there. Because that is an amazing way to remember, forever, those that you hold close and who may pass on beyond your reach.

So please, go out and make your own Ulysses Bucket List. It may seem silly at the time, but it is worth every second. I’m sure of it.

New Years Resolution BlogHop 2015

  • Posted on December 26, 2014 at 10:51 pm

So, I missed my chance to update for Christmas, and I thought that was a damn shame. So! Instead, I’m  going to be writing up my new years resolutions for you guys! Because I plan on turning 2015 into something AMAZING. <3

Oh, and for those of you who are curious, I had a fantastic christmas! I got a heater, and new knives for my kitchen, and tupperware. And yes, I realize I sound like a horribly old adult for thinking these are amazing gifts, but they really are! ALSO, in a move that absolutely astounded me, my friend Chris Votey gave me a special copy of his book, Terran Psychosis with a special dedication to me inside, and I just about sobbed my heart out. It meant so much to me what he said in there. I won’t share it, because it was private between two friends, but let’s just say, I’ve never felt so loved.

So! Here I go, setting goals for 2015.

Health:

  1. Eat two meals a day, every day. NO FORGETTING
  2. Wash face every day.
  3. Take a hot, relaxing bath, once a week.

Wealth:

  1. Save back $50 or more from EVERY CHECK. No exceptions.
  2. Eat out only ONCE a check. Yes, that includes little meals that only cost $10.
  3. Read/listen to an hour long of personal finance information each day.

Growth:

  1. Publish a book on Amazon by June.
  2. Publish a blog post every week.
  3. Write every day.
  4. Work on Panic-Attack-Helpful-Things
  5. Start a Garden Outside

So, these are my goals for the year 2015! Join me this year in checking these off the list, and I challenge you to post your own New Years Resolutions on your goal! Make them as extensive or as short as you can! Show me your resolve, and your power! I can’t wait to read them, and cheer along with you as we make these goals come true! Consider this the start of a New Years Resolution Bloghop! Post the link to your own post in the comments below, and as I see them, I’ll add your link to the Links on this page! <3

BlogHop Participators:
Write Accountable

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group – 09/03/14

  • Posted on September 4, 2014 at 1:00 am

IWSG badgeI only recently found out about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, so forgive this post being a few minutes late.  Basically, from what I can understand of the website, it’s a group meant to bolster and support those going into writing as a career, by helping them see that others have similar insecurities, and by talking them through them.

To be completely honest, I have more insecurities than triumphs, right now, and that’s not something to shake a stick at. I’ve triumphed a lot in my life, to get where I am now, and so when I say the insecurities way me down, I mean it, truthfully.

The thing about it is, however, that you can’t let that sort of thing hold you back. Several of my fears are completely valid. Being the type of person I am, I compartmentalize, and then end up completely disorganized through out the entire process, which just leads to chaos. So, in an effort to help you through some of the things that I’m suffering through, I’m going to organize a little.

Worry one: I’m not going to make it. 

My mother is an author. My best friend is an author. My Mentor is an author. All of these people, I hold dear. But each in their own way, they struggle beyond what is possible for me to feel comfortable with. My mother has one book published, and is working on her second, and honestly, I’d give anything to be nothing like her. That’s a whole seperate story. My best friend has written five books, and none of them are published because he is waiting for one specific publishing house to recognise his works. And my mentor, possibly the most successful of all of us, has two books published, and still is not earning enough to support himself yet.

None of these are my idea of ‘making it’. Of Succeeding. My idea of succeeding is the type of fandom and fame that people like Neil Gaiman, Andrew Hussie, and J.K. Rowling have. And my fear is that I will never reach that level of success.

But that’s wrong. To worry about that so early in the game. The only way I will ever make it, is if I put my all into it now, if I give everything I have to succeeding. I can’t allow this worry to cripple me, the way I’ve allowed worries like this to do so in the past. I have done so much in my short life, and this will not be something that I don’t cross off my bucket list. So please, don’t let the high pole of your own idea of ‘making it’ hold you down.

Worry number two: The things I’m writing will perpetuate horrible things.

If there is one thing I want more than to be the next J.K., it’s to make sure that my writing MEANS something. That it gives someone who didn’t have representation before, that representation. That it allows people to feel more comfortable being themselves.

So I worry and fuss and drive myself nuts over my books and blogposts and writing, to make sure that they don’t hurt those I’m trying to help. It’s a lot harder than one might think to avoid internalised misogyny, or misandry. To fight off homophobia that I didn’t realise slipped into the way I write. To tear away anything that might make someone feel worse about themselves than they already do. And I’m scared that I might never be able to do what needs to be done to make the world a better place.

To combat this worry, I’m trying to learn as much about the world as possible, so that I might end up helping, instead of hurting. I’m attempting to make sure that nothing is left out. That I leave no stone unturned. Honestly, there are some who would tell me not to worry about this, but it seems to me that not enough people worry. So I try my hardest.

Worry number three: I’m afraid I’ll decide this is a waste of time someday, and quit.

I have picked up a habit over my years on earth, and it’s a bad one. I start something, put a lot of work into it. Hard, fun work, that leaves me breathless and wanting more. And then suddenly, as if nothing ever happened, I just… can’t do it anymore. I can’t pick up the pen. I can’t make myself write that next reply. I can’t tell myself that I need to continue it.

Knitting, Final Fantasy Eight, Gardening, Drawing, Painting, Manga-writing, BDSM, Domme-ing, Relationships, and numerous, numerous story ideas. All thrown to the wind, on a whim. I have come to accept that I am a fickle creature. And what worries me, is that after all this effort I’ve put into working so hard on this, I’ll just… give up.

I don’t know how to combat this worry. I don’t know how to get rid of it, or change it, or make it work for me. The best I can do, the best anyone can do, is take it one day at a time, and try their hardest. That’s why I write as many blogposts as I can, that’s why I read so many blogs on my Feedly. That’s why I twitter more now than I ever have before. That’s why I search for blogs and talk to other writers, and try desperately to tie what I’m doing here into my other areas of interest.

Worry number four: I’m worried that this will take over my life, and kill my other dreams.

I want to open a Manga Cafe. The first Manga Cafe in Colorado. I want to have children. I want to travel the world. I want to be financially stable and own my own home. All of these things… None of them are mutually exclusive. But I’m afraid that all the work, all the effort, all the energy I have to put into this whole author-business, will take away from the energy I’ll have for these other dreams.

How can I run a cafe, a business, when I have to spend so much time writing, just to be a mediocre author? What will my children think when I have to tell them I can’t take them to the park because Mommy has to write? Travelling the world costs money, and since it looks like I’m going to be an indie-author, I can’t afford that kind of expense. My money, my life, my energy has to go towards my career as an author.

This is a simple fix, though. This is all just a matter of perspective. If I can wire my writing into the rest of my life, as well, then maybe, just maybe, I can have it all. Why not write while travelling? It’ll make my books more realistic! My cafe can give rise to whole new book ideas, as well as a place to sell my books, and others! My children will see me working hard towards my dreams, and gain a work ethic themselves. I can do it. I can do this, and I WILL make my dreams come true!

Worry number five: I’m worried that I’ll succeed. 

Now, bear with me here, because I know one of my worries up there was that I WOULDN’T make it. But, making it, succeeding in becoming the type of author I want to be… Well, that’s just as terrifying. The kind of fanbases that J.K. and Hussie and Gaiman have are amazing, but also, dangerous. People have Andrew Hussies’ BABY pictures online. I would have no privacy. Not only that, but these people would be hanging on my every word. I would be responsible for a part of their world view. That’s a horrid responsibility.

And there would be my close friends. What of my best friend, who is still waiting for that publisher to call him back? The jealousy there might ruin our friendship. I would rather die than lose him as a friend. And what of my mother? I love her, but what if she thinks this is some kind of contest? We barely have a tenuous relationship as it is. I’d rather not turn into Rose Lalonde, thank you.

The only balm I can soothe this worry with is that I won’t let success change me. Not really. I will still be friends with those I love. I will still be me. And I know I’ve never intentionally hurt a person. And I’ve never withheld an apology when I knew it was really needed. So I can only hope that responsibility will sit with me easily.

Does anyone else have these worries? How do you soothe yours? Please tell me, because I’d love to hear.

Nightmares Waking

  • Posted on September 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

My world is full of monsters. Everyone I pass is monstrous in one way or another. Some with single eyes, some with mouths too large for their faces. Some are different all together, put together like china dolls strung out too large over bones that don’t fit right. Some aren’t even remotely close to human-shaped, but instead are massive creatures with scales and teeth that hiss when I come too close. My world is full of creatures that look like nightmares, except my nightmares are only ever filled with pink-and-brown-and-yellow-skinned people like me, who have two eyes, and one nose, and one mouth.

The monster people are nice, most of the time. One helps me pick up the worksheets I’ve dropped, the claws scratching some of the answers out for my students. Later, one opens the door to my apartment building for me, with writhing tentacles covered in vein-y thorns. However, I shudder when the principal walks by, smiling at me with his thin lips, those normal straight teeth, the brown glasses over his wrinkled eyes. Something about him sits wrong with me.

In the mirror, I see only myself, my plain dark hair twisted into a bun, my shirt and skirt over my too-thick-body. My face is set in a frown, as always, lips plump if glossed, too serious. My eyes have dark bags under them, but not the way the monster down the hall has, with heavy lids hanging down. No, my eyes are normal, and dull, and human. Perhaps that’s why I hate them so. When everyone else is monstrous and hard to look at, why are my eyes alone human?

The bunny rabbit on my bed, a childhood treasure, tells me that I’m beautiful, and that I would look very nice in a coffin. He reminds me that there are sixty two pills in my pill-bottle, and that I should use the refill my doctor gave me, so that I have even more, just in case. I sigh, heavily, because going to the market is like trekking through the jungle. If someone talks to me, I’ll get that tight, taught feeling in my chest again, like someone has reached in, and is squeezing my heart with their ragged claws.

I leave for the supermarket. Every step is a painful reminder of how much my body doesn’t want me to go. I’m desperate and hungry, so I continue to push myself toward the market. I wait, nervous, as the woman with no eyes, and a mouth too large for her cheeks, filled with needle-sharp teeth, fills my prescription There is a frond dangling from her head, blinking in the light, like some subterranean fish. Her nails are lacquered pink and white with flowers when she hands the bag to me.  I pay with a debit card that I can’t remember the code to, until I think about the rabbit sitting on my bed, and then I remember.

Going home, I sit at the table, counting the pills once more. My rabbit sits next to me, it’s stitched eyes black and beady. I do not place any of the pills on my tongue. I count them, slow. I put the lid on the bottle, and pull up a notepad on my computer. Typing comes second nature to me now. I’ve been a teacher far too long, not to know how to type without looking at the keyboard. Who knows what my little monsters are up to, if I don’t keep an eye on them. Notes, and the like.

I type out an agenda. Tomorrow night is the night I do it. The night I end this all, before I can ruin the world anymore with my rosey cheeks, and my two hands, and two eyes, and two ears. I have decided. After work, I shall go, and find a new dress, and get my hair done, as if I am going to a wonderful dinner. Then, when I get home, I shall cook myself something nice to eat, and have a glass of wine. I type these all down with little bullet points next to it, and then print it out.

In class the next day, the Dulsey twins refuse to use seperate desks. And why shouldn’t they? Bound together from the waist down, their bottom half a spiderly amalgamation of doll’s limbs, their upper halves naked of clothing and doll-jointed. The brother’s face is cracked, one eye hanging from it’s socket plaintively, by some kind of ribbon. The sister is the one whom looks at me, her face pale as ice, and her eyes dull as mine when I look in the mirrors. Her long hair is limp and tangled, reminding me of a doll I had seen in a window as a child.

For once, I let them sit however they wish. The bird child, the one with the razor sharp beak, and a head too large for his shoulders, caws out how unfair it is, but I pay no mind. He’s always chirping about one thing or another. One of the monsters is odd, a swirling whirlpool of water, with little ballons floating tethered to it. Her face is on the balloons, and when she’s upset, she makes an odd squeaking noise. Today, she makes that noise, and I have to stop class, and ask her to come outside with me. She refuses to tell me what is wrong, and why she is squeaking. Her balloon face looks at me oddly, as if I’ve said something strange. She asks if I am alright. I tell her to go sit back down. I shall have to call Mr. Snyder, her father, later, and ask if anything is going wrong at home.

Ah, no… No, I won’t. I smile when I remember that, and sit back at my desk. The jack-in-the-box boy punches the back of the seat of the teddybear wearing chains, and I have to tell him to move back. I wish I had the strength to deal with the boy’s father again. An overbearing monster with tusks and a pig’s snout, wearing a uniform like a military officer, and I hate speaking with him. Never again, I think to myself, and smile again.

The Heller girl, an odd thing made of rusty metal curled into beautiful shapes, like a peacock, who’s heart is a cage, fidgets. Inside, a little girl sobs and cries, and I can never reach that little girl and get her to speak, only ever does the peacock’s beak splutter and shout. I ask if she needs to use the bathroom. She does, and I let her go. When she comes back, she elbows the bird boy in the head,  and I have to send her out into the hall. I make her leave her cell phone, so that she isn’t texting. That way, it’s actually a punishment.

Having decided to end it all, I decide to skip my normal lesson. I feel light, for once, the ball of worry in my stomach gone, and I invite my little monsters to give me ideas for games we can play. Someone says Heads Up, Thumbs Down, which was a delight from my childhood. I agree, and allow the children to play, heads down, or what passes for them, anyway, and watch Nathan White, the mass of black flesh, tied up in chicken wire, with no head but a cloud of dark dreadlocks falling to the floor, go around, tapping the bird child’s thumb. Victoria Kingston taps the finger of Brie Snyder, which causes her balloon head to wobble oddly. At the end, when everyone has guessed, I call for the next round.

The school bell rings, and for once, the little monsters are sneering and laughing, sharp teeth on display for who knows what reason. I still feel light, and take out my to-do-list. I read off my first stop. A dress. Walking to the shopping mall in town takes twenty minutes. I find a beautiful dress there. Red, like I would never wear to work, with long sleeves made of lace, and a beautiful bow in back. The hips and skirt of the dress are tight, which does wonders for my figure, so I get it. I see Skip, the birdchild, with his grandmother. His grandmother seems determined to put him in a dress small and frilly. I’ve never understood why. I pass them by, without a word from either.

Next is my hair done. In the salon, while the girl is curling and tying my hair back, I see the mother of the bear-in-chains who sits in the third row of my class. Mrs. Tinderfoot is in uniform again, a police officer, sharp and steady. She’s chatting with the woman who owns the salon. I wonder if she knows how much her son shakes when he’s in my classroom? I think, for second, about asking her if she knows. And decide against it. I’d rather not have a black spot on my otherwise perfect day.

Once done, I smile into the mirror. The woman looking back at me is beautiful and dangerous. Not a monster at all, and for that, she is terrifying. I slide a five dollar bill into the maw of the creature who was just cutting my hair, and thank her. She chitters at me with a beak that doesn’t fit her face. Monsters everywhere, and I walk right past them on my very last day. I will no longer have to suffer this place. Never again, and it makes my heart sing. But as I walk back through the park, a sort of sadness sings through me as well.

I will never again get to see the sun set through the trees the way it is now. I stop, and enjoy it, and the fresh smell of sunshine fading away. I enjoy the soft touch of the wind, and revel in the slow crawl of the storm clouds headed my way. The wind is rising, now, and so, I pass through, heading instead for my room. Locking the door, I pull off my shoes. The bunny rabbit greets me, and I smile for it. It tells me my hair will look beautiful surrounded by funeral flowers. I agree.

I set the food to cooking, and when I have a moment, I change into the red dress. It fits just as it did in the store, and I wrap myself in it like armor. I feel invincible in this dress, and that guides my hand to take the bottle and set it next to my glass of red wine. Taking a second thought, I pick up the wine, and sip it. It tastes like something died in the bottle, or like it might have been fruit once. I put the wine glass down. The timer dings, and lets me know that food is ready. I serve myself, arranging the food as prettily as I can. I take a picture, and upload it. It’s the first post I’ve made in months, and within two minutes it has three likes.

It tastes like heaven, in my mouth. Warm and thoroughly cooked, and for once, I don’t feel the gnawing emptiness of hunger in my throat, and I don’t want to. I love this feeling, of being warm, and eating, and chewing. Something about the slow sensation of growing full… Ah, there’s nothing like it. I think about the last sunset I would ever see, and realize that this is the last meal I would ever eat. I have seconds. And then thirds. Without thinking, I put the food away in tupperware, so that some lucky officer  will get to finish it off when they find my body.

Then, I sit on my bed. The bunny rabbit is next to me, and I can see the rain pattering against the window in the dark now. I halt, as the streetlights make the water shimmer on the dark asphalt as it falls. This was the reason I moved into this apartment, years ago. I’d seen a view like this no where else, and I’d wanted to keep it. The beauty of rain in the dimness of night, made into cold sparkling stars falling to the earth all thanks to the lamplights the city keeps on for weary travellers. It makes the world into a whole different place, and I watch for a moment, before the bunny’s voice calls me back.

I count out pills. Five, for a breakup that happened two years ago, after he said that he couldn’t stand my negativity. The bunny pushes my glass closer, as I swallow them down. I count out three. Three for my mother who went on a trip to Cancun on my birthday. She’d been planning it for years, so I couldn’t be angry with her. She had quite the time. The pills go down like sorrow.

Four, for the day that my skirt ripped just before getting to work, and when I called in, my boss told me that I might as well not come in that day.

Two, for the weekend that I just couldn’t get out of bed. Not for food, not for drink. I’d slept all weekend. It had been the best vacation I’d had in years.

Seven for the cat I’d run over the last time I drove the car. I don’t own the car anymore. Driving makes my breath choke, and my heart clench painfully.

I’ve lost count now, and the world is slowly turning fuzzy. The clock ticks so loudly that I think it sounds like someone knocking. But I have no friends. And my mother lives two towns over. Who would bother visiting me? Ah, that’s another three. I can’t count anylonger, so the bunny counts for me.

It hurts. I’m dizzy and hot, and cold, all at the same time. My head aches, so I lay it down, my pillows not soft enough. The agony inside my body is nothing compared to the swirling nausea biting my throat. I press a hand tight to my chest, right where my heart is beating, and tell myself to sleep. I close my eyes, darkness thumping behind them,  and obey.

Nightmares2

 

– This particular story was written a long time ago, as the opening for a videogame I had planned on making. I still have the entirety of the videogame’s story in mind, and am thinking of making it a series of short stories.  Don’t worry, the next section has her revival, and her new purpose. Please, look forward to it!

In the meantime, do tell me what you think in the comments! If there’s a way I’ve misrepresented something, let me know. If you find this cathartic, or in any way something that you relate to, let me know that too!

9 Ways to Fix your Stereotyped Character – A guestpost by Cindy Grigg

  • Posted on August 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm

So You Wrote a Stereotyped Character…9 Ways to Fix Your Story

 

I’ve recently been doing a blog post series on How to Write Well-Rounded Female Characters, which included a list of 19 Female Character Stereotypes to Avoid.

Since Nicohle and I are swapping blog posts today, I would love to take that list one step further and show how I would fix a stereotyped female character (but the same concepts apply to any character).

Why You Don’t Have to Start Over

If your female character falls into a stereotype, it’s not so much that you’ve written her wrong as that you’re just not done writing her.

Writers revert to stereotypes or tropes rather than fully articulating what makes a character unique. It’s tricky because you may not feel lazy as you write a stereotypical character. You’re still sitting in the writer’s chair fulfilling your daily word count or time quota, but essentially you’re being creatively lazy about who you are writing about.

1. Rearrange what you’ve got. A lot of creativity is a matter of how you arrange the disparate parts of something to make a whole. Which aspect of your character is the focal point? By restructuring which personality traits are pivotal, you could create a more fresh character.

2. Add something to the character that scares, stretches, or otherwise challenges you. If writing about a certain characteristic your character possesses makes you think about the world in a new way, it likely will do the same for many readers.

3. Change how long your character stays a stereotype. Maybe your character can start out as a character but be changed by a new event. Maybe reveal they were hiding their true nature for some good reason. Think: Scarlet Pimpernel.

4. Look around you. Think of the most unique people you know and add some part of their personality to your character.

Rarity gives you an example reaction.

5. Add more weaknesses, flaws,  fears, and losses! I like the trick of thinking, What is the worst thing that could happen to my character? Then consider adding that to your plot so your character has to really solve and struggle.

6. Put your character in strange situations. Brainstorm several seemingly unrelated scenes and put your character in them. Consider crossing genres with this exercise. Put your fantasy heroine in a murder mystery and see how she behaves, etc. You may stumble upon an interesting nuance to add to your story.

7. Change your character’s past or future. If the character seems flat or one-dimensional, hook the audience into caring based on something terrible or wonderful they went through or will go through.

8. Give your character a unique motivation. Most of humanity is motivated to some degree by love of family, romance, personal gain, or moral/spiritual paradigms, for example. But what if you made your character also motivated by something kooky like a love of snails, and wanting to save those snails from extinction, for example?

9. Create personality contradictions. I love giving a character two characteristics that seem paradoxical or at odds with one another, then showing why they are this way.

Both fixing characters or scrapping them will require a lot of editing, so I figure you might as well refurbish your stereotyped character rather than starting from square one.

While it takes more effort, it’s more fun and interesting to write well-rounded characters. For me, this comes down to asking, But who else is she/he?! By consciously steering clear of stereotypes, writing becomes more adventure. More fun.

Cindy Grigg

Cindy Grigg writes speculative fiction and instructional non-fiction. She is the author of the HULDUSNOOPS series, a middle grade mystery and fantasy adventure about Icelandic Huldufolk or “hidden people”. As About.com’s Office Software Expert, Cindy also writes about technology and productivity (www.Office.About.com). Find her writing advice, blog, and other projects she’s working on at www.CindyGrigg.com.

Finding Your Niche in 3 Easy Steps

  • Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:45 pm

For some of us, the word Niche ends up being a scary sort of thing. Something to fear and worry over. It becomes something akin to the word ‘cage’ or ‘trap’. We feel as though it is meant to hem in what we want to accomplish with the world. It isn’t something that comes easy or is to be taken lightly, and that, in and of itself, brings about a form of terror. Niche writing tends to end up very personal, and some don’t wish to be subjected to the backlash that writing a blog on ‘personal care after BDSM‘ or ‘how to trim your pubic hairs‘, but that is what they know, and love.
When it came to my attention that perhaps finding that one little niche market that meant something to me would be a good idea, I legitimately had a panic attack for several days. I didn’t want to be hemmed into something that didn’t fit. But how could I find something that did? What if it was too much for my readers to ever want to read? What if what I liked was something too obscure, and no one would want to read it?
So, I sat down, in front of my Zenwriter, and thought to myself, what are some steps I can take to make this less terrifying. What are some things I can ask myself about writing in a niche, to find out what exactly my niche was. Now, I already had a niggling thought in the back of my head of what that might be, but I didn’t necessarily want to force myself into it.
The first question in my list was: What do I want to share with the world?
This was easy. I want to share fantasy with everyone. I want to share it in a way that makes everyone feel included. Women, men, transgender, genderqueer, gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, aromantic, everyone, everywhere should be able to read a fantasy book and think, “oh wow, I wish that I could experience that.”
The second question was: Okay, but what do you want to share with the world ON YOUR BLOG?
This wasn’t so easy. In fact, it’s what caused the several day panic attack. I want to share myself with the world. I want to let everyone know who I am and where I come from and why I’m the way I am. But I also want to share with the world the things that are wrong, and the things that are right and the things that are beautiful. I want to teach the world to accept not only itself but everyone else, and to see that we are all the same in that we dream beautiful dreams.
That lead to the question: But how can I share this with the world?
A friend of mine, Chris Votey, brought up the idea of interviews with other LGBTQA writers, Reviews of other writer’s work, and offering myself as a representative of Asexual culture. Which, honestly, I wouldn’t find too bad. It would take a lot of time, and energy however. But, I find the more I think about it, the less I mind. Because really, isn’t it about what I give, not what it takes from me? Then, I thought about what else I could do to share my dream of representation with the world.
Resources. I could provide resources for things that most people don’t think of. I could try to provide a unique look into certain subcultures. I could write about the things that interest me, and hopefully, provide enough information that others would like it. But that won’t get me any closer to being like those I admire. That won’t bring me the same sort of love that Misha Collins, Andrew Hussie, or Neil Gaiman have. That won’t help others to see my words.
Then, I thought that perhaps I could start with lists. With things that I find out, over the course of my journey to become a full-fledged author. Such as this list that you’re reading right now. That definitely helped to ease my panic a little. Because lists, lists are small, and easy, and quickly done, so I can definitely work with them. Another thing I could have tried is perhaps snippets of information found throughout the internet. Or perhaps little anecdotes from my life that help me to focus on what it is I am working on.
But that’s all very abstract and not very well thought out. So, I rewrote it.

 

1) What is it that I want to share with the world?
– Representation for all, and fantasy that everyone can enjoy.

2) What is it that I want to share with those reading my blog?
-Ways to spread Representation, My thoughts on LGBTQA representation, and my progress in my quest for more.

3) How am I to share this?
– Lists
– Personal anecdotes
– Resources found throughout my internet trawling
– Interviews with other LGBTQA writers
– Reviews of websites, blogs and books written for/by other LGBTQA writers
– Snippets of my writing and writing styles

And there you have it. My path to finding my niche, and settling into it. I hope this helps you, because it certainly helped me. If you need any more information, please, leave a comment, or email me, and I’ll be happy to help you find your niche too. And please, don’t hesitate to speak up.

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