Irony

It has been one hell of a year. I’ve learned a lot these past twelve months and believe me, it hasn’t been pretty. This just happens to be my anniversary month of starting the blog. I want to thank everyone who has joined me on this journey! And I also want to thank myself. Without this blog, there are some moments where I feel like I might have given up as a writer. In light of recent events, that makes me hopeful.

It was irony, or maybe some sick twisted version of ‘fate’ that made Chester Bennington take his own life around the time of his mentor and friend Chris Cornell’s birthday. It makes me think that life is so fragile, that even the strongest of us fail. I know I’ve talked openly about mental illness here before, but now more than ever it needs to be said.

You matter. You are loved. You are needed. You are strong.

If you need to talk to someone, do it. Reach out to that friend that you feel you can trust. Tell them the truth on why you need to talk. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it won’t be easy opening up to that person about your issues. It will be the best thing you’ve ever done. As soon as I started talking to someone about my issues I no longer felt alone. Hell, half the time it is only this that helps. Talking in any capacity helps. So talk, even if it is to a Mental health phone line worker (I know it is technically the “Suicide Hotline” but that terminology sucks and increases stigma). Write it out if that helps, invite a friend to coffee and talk about it. Text, call, email, private message… Do anything to help before you take that final step.

Because it bears repeating: You are loved. You are needed. You matter more than you think.

I know this hurts. I know that it feels like the end of the world. I know it feels like the only way out, but remember that one day you could help save another because you know what it is like. That is all someone needs to hear before you offer a shoulder to lean on and listen to their story.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT!! say that you or so and so had it much worse. That shit doesn’t help.

Listen, be compassionate. Tell the person that they can reach out at any point in time, that you will be there for them. They need an ally, they need a friend, they need to feel loved. They might question you and your loyalty to them, that’s normal. But keep going back.

Okay, time to hop off the soapbox. This does need to be said, as it becomes more prevalent day by day.

You are loved, dear reader. Live your dreams.

Oh, the joy of editing!

Oops, I’m sorry! I’m not sure if that came out as sarcasm or not! It is sarcasm, there is usually no joy in editing, especially not rewrite editing. I am taking an eighty-one-page manuscript and chopping it into little pieces.  I am also planning on removing a character and adding in desperately needed detail. So far I’ve done the cutting. Wednesday is the sectioning and slowly working on it scene by scene. The piece I am pretty much reworking almost from scratch is what I had originally titled “The Stand In” and was originally promoting on a poorly thought-out Patreon.

It wasn’t nearly as ready for public eyes as I thought it was or could be. There is so much wrong with what I currently have it’s laughable. Which is why I am very thankful I have the next eight weeks to work out the kinks with two different writer’s groups. My personal local one and in my Advance Writing workshop class. And yes, I did start a local group. We meet every other Saturday and we have an online companion for those who live too far away or can’t make it every week.

Hopefully, I have people come every week!

Editing has never really been my friend, at least not when I am looking at my own works. I can review and suggest edits to another writer with minimal issues… but I have a set of writer’s blinders a mile long when it comes to my own pieces. I am, however, starting to get over that when I give a piece enough breathing room. Nine months is a little long, but what can you do? I’m not counting that little stint in March/April because nothing really changed all that much between NaNo and Patreon. Recently, everything I have written for academia and here has been missing the editorial filter that I desperately need lately. I am slowly starting to learn to take my God-damn time with things. From work, to boxing, to cleaning, to writing everything takes time and I need to S L O W  D O W N.

I don’t know why I always feel the need to rush myself. I’m bad at attempting to not rush. This crazy world we live in demands that we all move as quickly as possible, to get things done immediately, and that efficiency doesn’t matter (even though it does).

Am I rambling? Probably. That’s another downfall of mine. At least here you don’t mind. Or do you?

What are your worst editing stories? I have one, although I think this upcoming one will be a close second if not take the cake.

I was writing what is considered fanfiction for a Creative Writing class while I was still a student at CCRI. The teacher wanted us to use another author’s setting and characters and create our own story out of it. Some of the more creative folks, one of which is now published, used that prompt and spun it to share a family story or a story based on their steampunk crew. I used it to do what I did best a few years ago. Write epic fanfiction. I choose to use a show that I was currently obsessed with called Kuroshitsuji (known in the USA as Black Butler). I pumped out a twenty-page manuscript in a matter of a few days. I also tend to copy-edit as I go and reread, so my rough draft was a pre-edited draft. Once I had initial feedback from the class I attempted my first big scale edit. Oh boy, was that a disaster! Some might even go as far as to call it a shit show.

I almost trashed it. Almost. I had a few of the people I was close with in that class and a few fanfic friends read over the new edit. They provided suggestions based on both copies. They had plenty of common ground to say this works and that didn’t or to suggest that I replace it what I had last. By the time my third version came to life I was much happier and grateful that the class gave enough time for me to sit on it for almost a month. You and the rest of the world may laugh but that was the class that made me realize I wanted to write and teach how to write. If a scatter brain like me can learn how to write and how to edit, even if I still don’t know how to fix some mistakes, anyone can. This is a teachable skill, even though it feels like hell when you get down to the nitty-gritty.

What are some of your worst editing stories or what are some of your best tips for getting through tough edits? Please let me know, I want to know I am not alone!

Waiting on the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July!! 

If you aren’t inside the USA, welcome to another day! I’m currently clustered in a park with about a thousand or so Rhode Islanders and I’m going to wait upwards of three hours to witness twenty minutes of mediocre fireworks. But that’s okay because I am outside, I’m with my husband, and enjoying the freedom my founding fathers fought in the killer summer heat for. 

I am thankful for the freedom I do have though. Just this week I started my first writer’s group! I also signed up for a boxing gym. Yup, you read that right. I plan on writing on the days I take off from boxing. So three days boxing, three days writing, one day designated to homework. Since it is Camp NaNoWriMo this month I hope to work on the piece I started last time. I will have to rework the whole thing because I’m taking it in a completely different direction than I had originally intended. I also now feel like a writer. I am writing, I’m taking strides to make my writing better, and I’m no longer trying to go it alone. 

I hope everyone has a safe and fun filled Fourth! Fellow Campers: Write On!

Degree Price Tag

How much Student Loan Debt is too much?

As I ponder my next steps past my Bachelor’s degree, my husband is getting sticker shock. I understand that higher education in America has a hefty price tag. So much so that I am already approximately $30,000.00 (yes, I actually mean that many zeros) in before my first piece of paper with my name on it that means I am a hireable worker. I’ve even kept costs down by first going to the Community College of Rhode Island and then transferred a majority of my credits to Southern New Hampshire University. The Master’s program is now what awaits my final decision.

Do I go for a Master’s of Arts Degree? Or the Master in Fine Arts Degree?

Both degrees get me into the field I want. Teaching at the community college level with writing as a side gig (and a full-time career to supplement income).

But what is better for me, the student?

From what I can tell before speaking with my advisor from SNHU is that the MFA program is better suited to a person who wants to write, not just the person who wants to teach. The only drawback is that the program is about $15,000 more than the MA program and that is just after a rough estimate. But it has a residency program that rivals its counterpart the MA program.

I have a total of four classes left of my BA program and a possible six-month break before I have to decide. But the issue I’m currently facing, because my husband is a super-realist, is the issue of debt payback. Approximately, at the end of everything, the total price tag for both degrees is around $80,000 to $100,000. That includes a tiny amount of interest. Again I am not a math major but a writing major. Numbers aren’t my forte. So I ask my audience, is this too much debt? Those who have graduated is it all worth it in the end?

Will I die under the weight of the imposed debt sentence?

Perfectionism

As you all know I am currently a student trudging through the depths of online schooling to get my degree in Creative Writing. I am now finding myself crying in front of my Chromebook staring at a 91 overall grade because I got a 77 on one assignment. I honestly had a breakdown that lasted twenty minutes that I needed my husband’s help to get out of because of one lousy grade.

 

Yup. Jackie, I don’t know why either. The talk with my husband helped me realize that I do this a lot. So much in fact that I remember doing this in middle school, high school, and I can even go back as far as elementary school. It is engraved in every fiber of my being when it comes to performance. If I didn’t get an A in school I was upset for the week, even if I hated the project in the first place. I once had a college professor tell his entire class that technically we would all fail his class if he didn’t have a bell curve the size of Jupiter. To be fair, he taught Astrophysics to community college students and none of us were really prepared for the three hours worth of physics homework every week, especially when pretty much half the class had never even taken physics. Myself included. But yet I passed with an A, which would have technically been a C.

My life is completely ironic. I want to teach, yet dislike when teachers give me bad grades. I wouldn’t mind giving bad grades myself, but think that I would “grade differently”. It’s like saying that you’ll never raise your kids they way others do because there is something you don’t like about their parenting. We all end up making mistakes in the end, so why are we so hard on ourselves?

For me, I think it started off with my parents telling me to work as hard as I could to not be like them, to do better than them. To do that I would have to get good grades and go to college and become something better than the laborers that they are. My father and I argue on many of my collegiate decisions. He would have preferred I become a pharmacist like several of my cousins. I think I would have ended up dead from the sheer amount of stress that they go through. I wanted to do something I loved. Something that from the time I was in third grade I picked because I knew I could continuously learn from it.  I picked writing because I don’t have to just be one person. I don’t always have to be an academic, or a fantasy writer, or a realist. I can just let everything flow onto the page and sort it out later. By NaNoWriMo standards, I have always been a pantster.

I guess what I am trying to convince myself is that being perfect doesn’t matter, that these grades don’t necessarily matter in the long run. To anyone that is currently struggling with this ideal school life scenario I am with you. Just remember that there is still life after a 70. As long as you have done your best and you are happy with the paper or project that is what matters most.

We are all perfect, even if our brains tell us otherwise.

Tiny and Fragile

Smashed into the cement

The once bright life I envisioned is gone.

Tiny and fragile,

The color of pale moonlight,

The little lives of the robin’s share the same fate.

 

I’m having a rough couple of days. I’m trying to “own” my anxiety, depression, and migraines. The mental illnesses are self-diagnosed, but after many doctors and insisting that I know I have a problem one doctor finally listened. It’s hard trying to take care of yourself and get up to do the things you either have to do or want to do when your body constantly fights you. I’m trying different options and seeing where each leaves me. I’m even considering medical marijuana, but it is hard to get in my state.

 

I hate living like this.

 

The constant fear of never being good enough, the pounding head pain with strained eyes and convulsing pain in my neck, the drag of everyday life that one minute causes my heart to race the next makes me want to curl in a ball and cry. Even getting out of bed is a constant struggle, but getting to sleep is worse. Do I write this to get pity? No, not by any means. I write this to help myself make sense of this turbulent life I live day to day. Maybe if I write enough someone can say “Hey, me too,” or “I recommend this type of doctor, they really helped me”.

 

I’m writing this to write.

 

I feel like I haven’t been able to write properly but maybe, at this point in my life, this is the type of thing I should be writing. This is currently what I want to write. I’m also getting inspiration to write like this from the website The Mighty. The articles are written by people just like you and I. Knowing that I am not alone, even if it is just to read an article for a few minutes, makes me feel better.

 

The small verse of poetry at the beginning? I happened to see three tiny robin’s eggs that fell from a tree on my way from my mail box. It made me upset and so I attempted to channel it into something beautiful. It’s more sad than beautiful.

New Seasons

I haven’t been consistent with my blogging. I’ve changed gears several times and probably confused my audience in more ways than I’ve intended. My life isn’t structured. I work, come home and veg out, do homework, and sleep. It is the time that I take the moments I am wasting into my own hands.

So from now on, I plan on writing a few times a week. My homework will take priority some days, but it is my sincerest hope to write on an almost daily basis. If I wish to make this a career I need to put the excuses away.

I am not too busy to find time to better myself. I am not too busy to make myself happy. 

I have an expensive planner that I haven’t properly used in months. I am planning out my weeks on Sunday’s and seeing what I can accomplish each week. This week so far has been a success. The days I have designated to using my stationary bike I have used the bike for the full 30 minutes I set aside. This is my second writing day this week and I hope to alternate between writing for the blog and working on my two stories. Ezzy and Steven at the moment have put themselves on hold, but during my planned vacation from work we will sit and see where we can restructure their lives. Which brings me to my Patreon. I will no longer be posting there. It was naive of me to attempt that, as I am no closer to the editing process than I am to publishing it.

The minimal family and friend support was also difficult. In the age of social media, people don’t care if you are a struggling artist attempting to get paid, they just want to connect with you and complain about it. When I can, I always support my friend’s business or creative ventures. I don’t ask for anything for free because I understand that their time is valuable. Which is why I stopped my Patreon. My time is valuable and if currently, I am only writing my stories for me, then that is where I have to focus my time. Writing here is to give me something else to do when I hit writer’s block.

What now?

Well, for now, I plan on talking about my journey as a writer. How I keep going, what is difficult for me, what I use for inspiration… Everything that I hope to teach students when I get my Masters. Granted, there will be many posts on here about my personal life and what is going on, but what is a blog but a glorified diary?

So, one final time, will you take this journey with me (and secretly will you hold me to it)?

~V

Stop Thinking

Stop thinking about writing, stop worrying about writing, and just actually sit in one place and write something.

-Augusten Burroughs 

Dont Flinch” by Jack Smith interviewing Augusten Burroughs for The Writer Magazine

The tip mentioned above was originally intended for memoirists, but it fits my current situation just as well.

I haven’t been writing. Hell, I’ve barely been reading. Mostly because I’ve “been busy”, which is just a fancy way of me saying I’m too tired to do anything but work and veg out on my couch watching BuzzFeed videos, “WestWorld”, and Rooster Teeth content. I became complacent in my everyday life since coming back from my honeymoon. 

On my honeymoon I did whatever I wanted to do to relax; none of which, I am sad to say, was writing. I am not feeling guilty that I didn’t write, but realizing that it would have been a great time to write. I did, however love the time with my husband and adored the time I didn’t feel pressured to do something socially acceptable. 

Everyone, and I mean pretty much everyone, was constantly on their phones or iPad, or their laptops! Some folks were actually working and holding conference calls! No, they weren’t staff either. If was great to be free of that during the week we spent on board. The two weeks following the trip have been getting back into work schedules and having daily responsibilities again. As soon as we get back at it our life is being upended again! 

Will I finally settle into a routine of daily life and writing? Being a morning person doesn’t work for me so being a night owl I might have to be! If any of my readers are also writers, what time of day works better for you to write? Any help is great!

Replacement?

I feel like I keep trying too hard to do things that, we’ll at the end of the day aren’t making me happy. Writing here makes me happy. Reading for myself makes me happy. Writing in general makes me happy. 

Forcing myself to do all that doesn’t.

Realized that after two months of burn out the last time I tried to revamp myself. So I am starting over; completely starting over. 

You will still see the overly personal content from me, because that is just who I am! But I’m going to start on a few topic ideas for here along with the two stories I’m writing. I hope to produce content that makes me happy, which in the long run is the goal. 

Thank you all for bearing with me in this time of determination of the type of writer I am!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑