Helplessness Blues

Can I just take a moment to say, HOLY FUCK? Pardon my French, but I am in a bit of disarray. This morning I received an invitation to “like” my ten year high school reunion facebook page. WHAT?! When did that happen? I mean, I knew I was getting older, it’s not like that thought doesn’t cross my mind on a daily basis, but boy oh boy was this a swift kick to the gut.

Okay, breathing deeply, getting over it.

So what does it matter that I am ten years out of high school? Nothing. It means that it has been ten years since I graduated from high school, no biggie. No reason to go out an get a tattoo or by a sports car.

Still, as I sit here at my local coffee shop typing this (yes, I’m a walking writer cliche) I can’t help but look around and question every decision I have made up until this point in those ten years. It says more about me that the two tables that most stick out to me are the group of middle aged business men in sweater-vests typing away on Ipads, and a group of pretty women my age who are chatting as their babies grab for the salt shakers. Is this how I see my options? Corporate or motherhood? I am neither and sometimes wonder if that is why I so often feel like a failure - a self-imposed label that I work hard to remove.

This is the first time in my life where I have really taken the time to decide what I might want to do. After high school I played it safe at University Near Mom, chose a logical major that only sort of related to my true passion, and quickly found a series of corporate jobs, none of which I managed to stick out for more than two years by my own choice. Sometimes it boggles my mind that I have had so many jobs. I am not that girl. I am the girl with the good work ethic, I do my job well and my bosses love me, the “vanilla” girl who makes smart decisions, never does anything rash. Any yet, some part of me must know I am not cut out for the 9-5 world.

As far as being a mom and making that my life…well that is fodder for a whole blog in and of itself, but the gist of it is I am just not ready yet.

So really, I figure there are two ways I can look at my life right now.

1: I can see myself as a loser. I quit a great paying full-time job as a Technical Writer for a reputable corporation only to futilely grasp at a career in writing. My twenties are fading fast, and I’m “running out of time” while EVERY woman I know has had a kid or is soon to pop out another.

OR

2: I can just stop comparing myself to everyone else. Stop worrying if I made the wrong choice and just LIVE. I can be happy and grateful for the life I have created for myself and focus on my dreams. I do work hard, when I believe I can do something. The problem is I have so much self-doubt, as we all do, that it is sometimes easier to float in this post-college haze, delaying the tough decisions.

I think it is clear which option is best, but easier said than done my friend. On a daily basis I flop between feeling like I have my whole life in front of me and then get slammed with reminders that I am no spring chicken.

There is this a fantastic Fleet Foxes song, that yes, I have already quoted a million times but anytime I feel myself struggling I think of it. “What good is it to sing helplessness blues, why should I wait for anyone else?” Please take a second to listen to it or at the very least read the lyrics here, because I relate very strongly to them: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fleetfoxes/helplessnessblues.html

It’s just that there is so much out there I want to do and see and accomplish that it all feels so overwhelming. It’s actually crippling. So then I don’t do anything and then I feel sad and guilty for wasting the time I have. It would be easier to be told what to do, but I know that I wouldn’t be happy either. I do have time. I recently heard this fantastic quote, by Tom Hiddleston of all people, and damn if it didn’t stick with me.

“We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize that we only have one.”

Now that I have gotten all this off my chest, I am returning to editing my MS from NaNoWriMo. Have a great weekend!

Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues” - duh

Happy Freaking New Year!

Boy, oh boy, it’s a good thing that I’m not a girl who believes in bad omens or signs because I may have had a rude awakening this morning. Why, you may ask, am I bordering between shaky acceptance and full on devastation early on what is the first day of this most brand new year? Because, dear reader, the very first two emails I had waiting in my inbox this morning and I mean LITERALLY, in the most true, non-ironic, over-used sense of the word, the first and only two emails of 2014 were my very first two rejection letters from my very first two short story (non-contest) submissions.

So that’s a real kick in the proverbial nuts.

But hey, at least, I’m like an official writer now. I mean what’s trying to become an author without tons and tons of rejection? And I’ve only gotten two! I have years and years of being rejected ahead of me! YAY!

You know, people say “hey your gonna be rejected and it’s gonna suck.” And you think to yourself, yeah but I’m tough, I’ll take the lickin’ and keep on kickin’? And then you wake up the morning of what is going to be your “best year yet as a writer” to find that big NO THANK YOU and suddenly all your stoic resolve goes flying out the window and you think, what's so bad in maybe just giving up, we gave it the ol' college try.

But no, I will not curl up in a ball under the blankets and say “well I tried in 2014, let’s give it another go in 2015” and spend the rest of this year eating truckloads of ice cream and waste away in self-loathing. No. I will go on. I will submit to somewhere else and be rejected by someone else, because I am a writer, gosh darn-it and I like me - even if nobody else does…yet.

So cheers fine citizens of 2014. Let’s make this year our bitch!

UPDATE: The husband finally awoke and I shared my tragic news with the saddest of faces, his reaction? "Awesome congrats! First of many, you are on a roll! You got this! There will be a ton more. The hardest part is over."  It wasn't the comforting pity party I had excepted but I could use a pep talk that wasn't internal, so WOO!

Current Song:  "Flawless" by Beyonce

A Short Tale of an Exhausted, Outgoing Introvert

I, like most people, am many things, ill-fitted to be defined by one term. Personality quizzes leave me floating a little bit in all groups, mostly in two, but never entirely in one. That is because all people are unique, “like a snowflake, unique among snowflakes.” And while I hate to slap on trendy pop culture labels, I am never more aware of myself as introvert then during the Holiday season.  Among many things, I am a sensitive, creative, people-pleasing, outgoing, and an introvert, and quite frankly it makes for a draining combination. I think there is a common misnomer for a person who is friendly, smiling, and out-going as shallow. They must not know the problems of the silently suffering of the wallflower in the corner, this is not true. We all have our shit, we all just deal with it in different ways. I am no stronger or weaker, better or worse, kinder or crueler, worldly or uncultured, than a person zipped up tight. There is a great quote which I firmly strive to live by, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” Imagine if everyone took Plato’s quote to heart, what an understanding and kind world we would live in.

There seems to be a plethora of trendy Buzzfeed type lists out there, with catchy .gifs, that make being an introvert this cool hipster-type club that only the most emotionally tormented can get into. Let me just say this: shyness does not mean introvert. You can be a shy extrovert and an outgoing introvert. And who knows, maybe I’m not a full introvert either, but oh my god, who cares?! Actually, I am not even sure where I am going with this blog anymore except to say that damn, I’m tired. Being around people is a lot of work. I have fun and I love being around people and making connections, but there is only so much one person can take. And yes, the fact that I do try and make conversation with everyone, makes me an outgoing person. The fact that afterwords I have to be by myself and nap just to get through another day makes me an introvert. I think before I speak - believe it or not. I observe the little things. I am constantly watching everyone around, wondering what they are thinking and what motivates them. I treat the world as one, giant, never ending book where I am free to pluck tiny details and use them however I want.

When I am in a big group setting, I cannot just sit quietly and observe, or if I do I seem uncharacteristically out of sorts, and that’s because most of the time I am happy and chatty and I am okay with that. I am starting to worry less about strangers who may think I am a flaky dumb blonde just because I go out of my way* to be nice. The problem occurs when I am in several of these situations back to back, I feel my strength start to give out.  I need to spend half a day reading whatever series I am currently into, just to feel whole again. It's like in every interaction I give a tiny piece of myself and soon I'm just an empty container.  I’m like WALL-E in need of a solar charge. There are times when I am so sapped of energy it does take me a little longer to bounce back, but I cope. We all cope.

We are all fighting a harder battle.

Be kind. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

Fleet Foxes, “Helplessness Blues”

I typically hate spending entirely blogs talking about myself on anything more than a superficial manner (not related to anything to do with writing - because obviously that’s mostly what I talk about) but I feel like I had to hash out these conflicting personality aspects in the best way I know how, through my writing. You know what, just read this, I think it sums up how I’m feeling about myself and the rest of the world: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/08/26/23-signs-youre-secretly-a-narcissist-masquerading-as-a-sensitive-introvert/

* I decided to edit this and add a note because though I said "I go out of my way" it never feels like I am putting myself out. In fact it feels more natural to make people included than to have a room full of tension and awkward silences - even if it means I come off a certain way. Read: shallow.

Phew!

It’s December 1st and writers across the country are letting out a huge sigh of relief. Actually, I have to say that this year was pretty awesome for me. I powered through my MS for “Nine Cigarettes” like I never have on any other project. Even last year, I struggled to get to my ending in that amount of words; which reassures me that I must at least be growing as a writer a little bit. All said and done this year I wrote about seventy-five thousand words for my MS and that does not include the five thousand I wrote prior to NaNoWriMo. (The meet-cute scene came to me somewhere in September and after I wrote that, I forced myself to wait to write anything else until November. This actually gave me a great deal of time to really flesh out my characters. I didn’t have a strong plot going into it but as often happens, the characters just sort of took the story where they wanted it to go.)

Each day, I would start by re-reading the previous written scenes and add to them and fill them out slightly. Then, I wrote two scenes, averaging about fifteen hundred words each. I didn’t count those additional words added with the re-through while tracking my progress, which I regret because it ended up contributing to my total word count more than I thought. Anyway, I enjoy this story and it’s characters. I still think about them and send myself notes for future edits.

Now, I’m not sure what to do. Obviously, insane amounts of edits. Who knows what came out while writing that fast. I may start on the next book in the series, based on a character who did not yet get his happy ending. I think I have the potential to create a whole series of Romances based in this little world. I like the idea of continuing to write Romances, if only to get published and then once I have some fans and books under my belt switch to Urban Fantasy, which I ultimately want to write.

So in conclusion, this NaNoWriMo was the shit. I love my book and I have a really good feeling about it. Maybe within the year I can at least have made a round of thorough edits, have it read by Beta readers and then MAYBE, just maybe start sending out query letters. The idea still haunts and thrills me.

I’m super proud of WBWW and all my other writer friends who also hit their goals. It’s not easy to commit the time and effort it takes to write this consistent, especially while leading full lives, but everyone managed to kick ass despite any obstacles.

Halloween Dreaming!

Happy NaNoWriMo! Remember how I JUST said I wasn’t posting until December? HA! My unconscious mind had other plans for me. I am just about to go start my new MS but first I had to get this nightmare out of my head! Halloween must have leaked into my brain while I wasn’t paying attention, though typically I have these types of dreams when I’m feeling stressed. So, I better get to writing for NaNoWriMo! Talk to you all later! I am running. Several other people run along side me, equally terrified but knowing well enough not to scream. The moon provides enough light that I can see we are headed through a field. We are exposed, unsafe. I hear a soft cry out as someone falls down near me. It is a little girl, maybe about six years old. Even she knows that she must remain quiet. Her large eyes look up to me, beg me for help. I scoop her up into my arms and we are running again. Ahead I see a barbed-wire fence, not very tall, maybe it had been used to keep cattle in. We need to keep them out. They are about as smart as cattle, this is perhaps our best bet for now. The people around me also think it’s good enough.

I bend over the fence, and the metal burs cut into my gut as I place the little girl safely on the other side. The jacket I use to cover sharp edges is not enough and my sleeve gets tangled. The little girl lifts her arms out as though to hurry me. I can hear them close behind me, slow dragging footsteps. My shirt rips and my flesh gets caught as I throw myself over. Somehow a woman next to me has completed wrapped herself up in the wire. It is twisted around her body so much that her feet are lifted off the ground. There is no time to help her. I pick up the little girl and we run to the center of the field.

They are there, collecting outside the edges of fence. Their pale flesh turned silver in the moonlight. Next to me I recognize a group of cops and official-looking type people, they are planning something. I remember how earlier I heard them conspiring in hushed voices. They knew this whole time. I want to yell at them but then I see the glint of light flashing off fierce automatic rifles and I force the little girl to the ground placing my body over hers as shots are fired all around us.

* * *

Now we are climbing to the top of shelves in a grocery store. There are less of us now, but I still watch over the little girl. I push her up to the top of the shelf where there is a loft type area where we can hide. It’s cramped and dusty but better than being down there with them. When I pull myself up, I feel relief but only briefly. The little girl is antsy. She is only a toddler now and she is tired of being quiet and still. She paces and giggles and mumbles nonsense.

“Shh. Shh.” I say and move to quiet her. My hand covers half a face that’s warm with snot and tears. This upsets her. She lets out a wail - high pitched and piercing. Terrified, I look around just in time to see one snap its head towards the direction of the noise. It drags its body towards us slowly.  Somehow the others know now too and head for us. We are up high but not high enough. The little girl is quiet again as though she senses her mistake. A few of the others from the field who made it here safely throw cans of food across the store to try and distract them. As if they were attracted to only the noise. We are not safe here.

* * *

I am alone in a vast library with thick shelves that stretch high over my head to a second story. I need a weapon. I run down the stacks looking for anything sharp as terrified people run past me. Finally I spot a letter opener laying on a table. I grab it and not a moment too soon because at that moment, one of them turns the corner. Its dead eyes widen for a moment when it spots me. He doesn't look much different than us, but his skin is grey-green and he moves too slow. I shove the letter opener into his gut. There is no gore, not like I thought there would be, but he is unaffected. I see a dull, worn knife and grab that instead, quickly stabbing it into his throat. This brings him to his knees. I have no choice, I move the blade back and forth until his head is an inch away from the rest of him.

There are more of them now. I hear screams all around me. I climb the nearest bookshelf like a tree. Jumping from one shelf to the next, I run across the sturdy tops until I am close enough to climb to the second story. Once I’m to the safety of landing, I grab for thick, hard covered books. I drop them from high above and the gravity and weight pops their heads like zits. Others get the ideas and climb to safety too. Soon, almanacs, dictionaries, and encyclopedias are falling all around me, smashing the enemy. We are getting the best of them.

For now.

Current song: "Cold Out There" by Jon Hopkins