Friday, September 30, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

Recently, a few folks on Twitter and I got into a conversation about what "true freedom" is. It quickly became apparent that we all differed greatly on our thoughts and opinions on what this ubiquitous term meant. So when suggested, we decided to do a joint blog on the subject. You will find it posted on each of our blogs. This project is neat because we had one word and each came up with different POV. We all handled the subject with our own flare and finesse.

If you like these writers, I encourage you to follow their blogs as well, or at least run over to their blogs and check 'em out. You can typically eavesdrop on us on Twitter under #StabbyLove. Don't lie, I know you guys eavesdrop. Without further ado, let freedom ring...

Ashley Elizabeth's (mine, duh!)
Freedom is a pretty open topic. I mean, it's well open to interpretation. Freedom is defined as being free of confinement, regulation, or restraint.  I, however, think most people interpret this wrong. It seems when freedom is brought up, people talk about what they are freed from; people spend more time listing what they are tied to.

(It is imperative that I note that this viewpoint of freedom stands from a fairly liberated and democratic point of view.)

Someone may say that responsibilities act as the hindrance to freedom. Some people may fault responsibilities such as bills, debt, family, or significant others. But in reality, those are all choices. The responsibilities we have are ones we choose to live with. For example, I choose to have a computer, and therefore, I choose to pay for the electricity to power it.

I say I have true freedom because I suffer from no constraint, regulation, or confinement. Sure, there are things in my life (such as bills) that I have to bend to. But, I choose to. Freedom lies more in the mind. It is most likely why people feel they lack the freedom.

It is with purpose that I stand behind my decisions. I do not accept the "norms". In fact, I have a tendency to challenge them. I have stopped thinking about what I'm supposed to do, and I make choices that I am happy to stand behind.

Make a choice, stand behind it, and be present in your situation.

 Make the choice that you are going to be truly happy with. The choice that is solid to your core, moral beliefs, and your willingness to follow through. Then, instead of trying to pick it apart and looking for the strings that hold you back, look at the shackles you shed by making that choice.

Freedom is as intangible as your state of mind. It is a mental cage or a mental playground. It is a choice.

Ciara Ballintyne's
Freedom. What is it? Like many idealistic concepts it’s hard to pin down.

When I looked up freedom I got these definitions:

1.      the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint: He won his freedom after a retrial.

2.      exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. 

3.      the power to determine action without restraint.

4.      political or national independence.

5.      personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
You’ll notice there is a lot of talk about freedom from external control, regulation or interference, or lack of restraint. We certainly don’t have that kind of freedom in Australia or many other countries. Every time our government legislates to restrict guns, or ban smoking, we are subject to interference or regulation.

 In my opinion, there is no such thing as the power to determine action without restraint. Some people restrain themselves by their own consciences. The rest will take what they want by force if something else (the law or a stronger person) does not restrain them. Action without restraint is nothing but the rule of strength. The law of the jungle. That’s not freedom at all, in my opinion.

 My conscience restrains me. I’m happy for the law to restrain the people who don’t have one. And I regret there are places in the world that are not lucky enough to have the freedom we do.

About Ciara Ballintyne:
Opinionated lawyer and writer of high fantasy. Born not made argumentative. Caution: contents explosive in the presence of idiocy. You can find more about me at or follow me on Twitter @CiaraBallintyne

 Imran Siddiq's
Freedom deserves as many interpretations as the word itself implies. My take is a rather solemn one of caution. Most will state that they have the freedom to do whatever they wish to do, and that the hindrance against such would be a travesty against mankind. I agree to an extent, but then that does mean on what are they expressing that freedom to.

 I happily use my freedom to purchase, listen, read, eat, and drink as I wish. The ‘halt’ comes if I intended to use that freedom to harm, scold, tease, or damage something/someone. Just because I own a hammer, it does not mean I can smash a wall. No -  that is where the privilege part of freedom kicks in. I have the freedom to own a hammer, but I do not have the privilege to destroy.

 Freedom also comes with social barriers that can decrease the level you can apply. If someone heckles me in a conversation, I have the freedom to feel anger, pain, suffering, the dark side, but my social role might strangle my freedom to shout back. That is I being cautious. If I utilised my freedom, I could start an argument which would end up with someone being hurt. And as stated above, I do not want to use my freedom to hurt.

 So, I will sing and dance that freedom makes us unique to be someone/something without become a dystopian drone, but we have to curb that freedom when a situation requires sensibility and morale to prevail.

 About Imran Siddiq:
Not yet published, but I have a museum of tales I hope to extract and tell. Details of my progression can be found on, and you can follow me on Twitter: @Flickimp

Mark Brassington's
“I'm free to be whatever I, Whatever I choose, And I'll sing the blues if I want, I'm free to say whatever I, Whatever I like, If it's wrong or right it's alright.” – Oasis, Whatever.

 Lyrics by Noel Gallagher and Neil Innes which sum my thoughts on Freedom.

It is my belief that God gave us all freewill, and therefore, the ability to make our own choices; and as I grew up I learnt the difference between making the right or wrong decision.

There have been plenty of times in my life that I have not felt free of a situation and completely trapped; being bullied at school, being in a job I hated, and under extreme pressure from the role itself and my then boss, even in previous relationships and of course bills; and as much as anyone of these things has brought me down and made me feel trapped I have pushed through them and come to move past them and accept them.

Probably the hardest thing for me from the age of about twelve onwards way for me to feel free to be myself, this ties in with me being bullied from around that time from at least another five(ish) years. You learn to not speak for fear of your own words being used against you, so that other do not learn who you are and what you like as this will become that latest in their line of ammunition during school life.

Eventually I left school but only to keep those same walls and as much as I became more confident as time went on the walls of trust still stayed up and I would say that only in the three or four years have I become free to be myself and tell people about me – “I read comics” “I am aspiring author” “I like sci-fi” – these were big things to admit but now I freely tell people and I would say that tough life lesson only gave me thicker skin.

So whatever makes you hold yourself back try to push these things aside as they are what makes you, you. Be free to be yourself.

About Mark Brassington:
In my day job, I work in Commercial Banking but I am unpublished aspiring author with hopes to one day tell my tales of fantasy and sci-fi. I blog about my progress and other things at

You can follow me on twitter: @markbrassington  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Follow Friday #4

I have been out of touch with Twitter this week. But here's what I got from the little time I was online.

Here's the deal with my #FF. If you've been to my #FF blog before, just skip down, you don't have to read this twice.

There are plenty of people who didn't make this list that deserve to be on it. I make my list throughout the week, and while I may post a #FF because someone has shown how wonderful they are, I will not repeat the same #FF just because they continue to be wonderful. They have to have shown how wonderful they are to me in that given week. If I've forgotten someone, I'm sorry, chances are I'll put it in the next #FF post. I do not give #FF just because someone gave them to me. That's not how this works. If you want to be one this list, write something cool or show me how awesome you are by interacting with me on Twitter.

My Follow Friday's/#FF

@ciaraballintyne She does not comment on every blog post I make. However, when she does comment, it really shows that she puts thought into what she has to say. She seems to take a moment and consider the post. Then, she either gives good advice or uplifting motivation...sometimes both.

@sirra_girl She's thoughtful and cares about her flock... and therefore, good to follow.

@vizprod He's hilarious. He has a pleasant mix of disdain, sarcasm, and apathy that I find quite funny. While he does display all these traits, he does not whine or complain. That and he's cool.

@LornaSuzuki So she's a published author who has returned DM's. She's also got her books in production. So that's cool. Did I mention she's interacts with people on Twitter? Yeah, she's got success and took time to answer my questions. Double thumbs up.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad, Bad Writer

I should have learned my lesson by now.

You can't be a writer if you don't write. This is what I've been telling myself for the last several days. I haven't really sat down with the intention of really getting anything done. Sure, my new project has been open and added to, and my finished book is opened for editing.

But I haven't accomplished anything worth boasting about. In fact, it's the complete opposite. It's my own fault. And I wonder what happened to my love of writing. It doesn't make much sense.

I look at my finished (it's written) MS and I try to remember where my love for the characters went. When I go back to read it, I just see all of my errors.

But, today something happened. My landlord decided to give me the ideal scenario. She wants my guy and I to buy her house. No down payment, no increase in monthly payments, and depending on the circumstances, she'd even grant us an allowance for our home owner's taxes. This was just too good to be true.

But I realized that it would require I get a job that pays something decent so that my guy and I could afford to fix it up the way we want. Due to my "ailment" I can't really afford to be under too much stress or have too many projects going at once. This means one of two things. I must finish my book and get it published so I can get a well-paying job or I figure out how to earn a decent income from my writing.

Either way, I need to finish editing my MS.

End of story.

I'd lost sight of the bigger picture. And I think that's the problem. I spend so much time trying to make sure I'm not dreaming too big that I forget to actually take time to dream at all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Follow Friday #3

Here's the deal with my #FF. If you've been to my #FF blog before, just skip down, you don't have to read this twice.

There are plenty of people who didn't make this list that deserve to be on it. I make my list throughout the week, and while I may post a #FF because someone has shown how wonderful they are, I will not repeat the same #FF just because they continue to be wonderful. They have to have shown how wonderful they are to me in that given week. If I've forgotten someone, I'm sorry, chances are I'll put it in the next #FF post. I do not give #FF just because someone gave them to me. That's not how this works. If you want to be one this list, write something cool or show me how awesome you are by interacting with me on Twitter.

MY #FF on September 15, 2011
After some rather unsavory and personal comments were left on my blog (which were deleted, no room for negativity here) a group, known as #stabbylove, came to my rescue. So the #stabbylove crew deserves a #FF.

@Safireblade She and I got to meet this week, which was very, very cool. She also exploded on the angry commenters. She took up for me hardcore, which was also very cool. She and I have very similar editing styles, and in her comment she left for the "angry commenters" I was able to learn that she can articulate things I've only ever thought of.
@FlickImp He's been on my #FF blog before. Very sweet and extremely devoted to his work. Wrote a great blog about synopsis, which is what earned him his place this week, totally read it:

@Sirra_girl She's an editor and translator. She's very supportive of writers as general rule and has a blog to help:

@Ericaluckedean She's also been on here before. She's good with her words in her blog posts and in her comments.

@scooterchicken For his random recipe awesomeness. His pictures usually inspire my dinner recipes, which seeing as I hate coming up with what to cook, makes him a godsend. Check 'em out here: Pi R Round, Cake R Squared & here too: Time For Dinner

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Windham Hill and Writing

I'm sitting listening to one of my favorite albums. Don't laugh, but it's a Windham Hill Piano Sampler.

When I started listening to this CD, I was a kid and didn't own many. I usually got whatever my dad didn't mind parting with. One of those was the Windham Hill Piano Sampler. I couldn't have been more than 11 years old the first time I listened to it.  But tonight, over a decade and half later, I realized that I was predicting the music before it even reached the speakers. I knew what notes came next... how the wordless story unfolded. And it made me feel like I was home.

That is saying a lot. I was an army brat and my parents were divorced. I didn't really have a "home". Over the years, however, this CD traveled with me and was the calm in the turbulent times of my life. (Despite the fact that the music itself is not quite calm itself.)

This (of course) has a correlation to writing... several as a matter of fact.

  • No one could ever tell me what my home was. No one would ever be able to define it or recreate it for me. It was something I claimed for myself. The same goes with writing. No one can tell you how to write. As many classes as there are, they can only help you if you let them help you. Your voice can't be recreated or defined. Of course you can try, but you'll never succeed. When a great writer is born, people compare others to them. Think of J.R.R. Tolkein, J.K. Rowling, or Jane Austen (3 of my favorite writers, by the way).

  • I can predict something that doesn't have words. I'm connecting with the intangible. I can feel the way the music is going to move; I'm in sync with it. It's like the notes are being played from inside my chest. So it goes with writing. Most people hear the lyrics but forget that the instruments make up over half the song. Unless you connect with your writing and create a strong core, all you'll have is a few catchy ditties and rhymes.

  • I also know how this music goes because I've listened to it so many times. The rises and falls are predictable, and in music, I believe that's fine. (I'd be kind of worried if I couldn't predict a song I'd listened to hundreds of times.) However, in the writing world, a good solid reader has seen it all and will be able to predict just about anything. If you don't think they have, then you don't read enough in your genre. Truth is, someone somewhere along the way has dropped the same "oh my gosh" moment or created the same relationship symantics that you have. Make us fall in love with your writing, be it your characters or your particular story, and it won't matter that we've seen it done before... because we will never have seen it done by you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Was I Thinking?

About six months ago, I decided I was bored with my life. Like most people, I saw things that I wanted to do, but never did them. I was either too embarrassed or didn't want to go it alone. At the end of the day, I saw more missed oppurtunities. Now, I am a fan of accepting the choices we make. Those choices, however, seemed to define me as someone who had an adventuresome spirit, but lacked the courageous heart to back it up.

So, to correct this, I took my first leap and auditioned for a role (I didn't get it). I had to drive 2 hours to the audition and wait in a huge line. I was terrified the whole time and mostly considered backing out. The traffice jam on the way there was no fun either. My car almost over heated several times. But, I did it.

And I realized something about the "adventurous" people. They get the courage and motivation from the realization that comes afterwards. It's like a rush, a high when you see that you can accomplish something that is beyond your scope, beyond your level of comfort, and beyond what you are capable of. I'll explain.

So, last night was the official onset of the college football season in my house. There were four very loud and boisterous men in my living room, who were either shouting obsenities or cheering. Needless to say, the call to enjoy the fall weather was much louder because of this. Usually, I'd buzz a friend and see if they wanted to get coffee, but instead, I decided I'd take drive into the mountains. I'd just go, and hopefully I'd find a nice place to stop and write or sketch or take pictures. Well, it turns out I did. Here are some of the pictures I took yesterday:

Historical Bridge

View from where I was laying

There are woods and creeks everywhere

These landscapes are everywhere, so are the long, countryside fences.
However, in the midst of my personal mountain retreat, a friend of mine invited me to join her at a local festival. She said her mother was helping out and that she had to go. So I contemplated it for a moment... and then said yes.

It was at least an hour from where I was, and I didn't really have any money anyway. But I said yes. That little word created the evening as follows.

I went to this festival, it turned out her mother was not helping out, but on some sort of council that afforded us some extras. When I got there, I was immediately swooped up in their golf cart, where we road to the annual doggy parade. This was simply too cute for words. From there, my friend (L) and I went to look at the vendors. There were not many but it was still fun to walk and listen to the live band.

L's phone rang, and how she heard it through all the noise still baffles me. It was her mom, she had ride tickets that she was not going to use. So, we scurried over to her mother to collect these tickets. We were both wondering how many tickets there would be, when her mother produced two singular tickets. Apparently, these tickets would get us each wristband to ride as much as we wanted. Oh, the joy.

Our first ride looked something like this:

And that's where the life experiences started to kick in. If you carefully notice in this picture, there are white bars that look like wagon wheel spokes coming out from the center. Well, midway though the ride, one of these started to quite obviously shake loose. So, because I was stupid enough to watch Final Destination, I was picturing all the horrible ways this could go wrong. However, it did not. I told the man operating the ride about it, and he thanked me, quite enthusiastically. The ride didn't run for another 30 minutes.

From there, L got some fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade, which was free because the vendor couldn't make change for a $20. Then, we got some tasty street vendor food (mexican). I tried grilled cactus for the first time.

And then... I did something that was certainly not in my realm of comfort. Meet my foe:

The electric bull. Yes. I had never ridden one before. There was a whole throng of onlookers. They laughed loudly at everyone as they fell off, which didn't take but a few seconds to do. All the while, I'm trying to convince myself that I have the nerve to do this... ya know, to willingly absolutely humiliate myself.

The little girl in front of me was trying to put it off. We giggled a little together. "If you can do it, I can do it," I told her as she made her way up to the beast. And when it was finally my turn, people were already waiting to see which way I would meet my end. But, there's one thing I forgot to mention, I am strong. I used to ride horse when I was a little girl, and learned how to move with a bucking horse or beast. I was doing so well (according to the crowd who had started to cheer for me) that they suggested I only hold on with one hand. Uh, no. I was brave, but not stupid.

So, I eventually let go... it was going to come soon anyway, so I figured, I'd just end it in the best way possible, and I casually let myself fall off the bull into a blown up cactus.

So, I have pictures to prove, "Yeah, I did it."

I have the feeling inside me that tells me I am capable of more than I think I am.

I have a whole experience that would have be lost if I'd said no.


I am also very sore.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Follow Friday

Almost immediately after I finished my #FF last week, I thought of a blog that I'd read and connected with by Erica Lucke Dean . It was lighthearted and well written. It was also something I connected to... in so many ways. Thinking about the "eye rolling" immediately elicits a laughing "I know, right?" response from me. Plus, this blog she wrote had an intelligent and clever title: This is All Your Fault Gloria Steinman . #FF @ericaluckedean

@dbowenauthor A few weeks ago, I posted a tweet of desperation clearly stating my desire to quite possibly burn my book. This guy replied to my tweet, then we started DMing. Since then, we've been emailing me. He has been my personal source for all my writer questions. He handles them smoothly and with tact, something I certainly lack. So, when I am confronted with someone who can handle my abrasiveness I am forced to give mad props.

@Safireblade This crazy lady did line crits for me. And she's good at finding the places that need smoothing over.... keep tabs on her.  (Website:

@CiaraBallintyne I can't really explain this one. Her bio is impressive... kind of one of those people who are so impressive you are almost driven to jealousy. But, then when you talk to her, you realize how wonderful she is and then you can't be jealous because she's just too fantastic.... she just got her website off the ground... you can find it here:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


So, today, funny thing happened. Actually, it wasn't funny. It was far from funny. It was more like watching a psychotic person finally explode.

And that psychotic person... well... was me.

I suppose that could be funny. Back to the point--

I've been doing a lot of critiquing lately. A lot. There have been several people that I've been helping out. Luckily, one of them happens to be a friend (let's call him B) that lives near me. We got together at Starbucks today because nothing goes better with a red pen than coffee. After 3 hours on his (I think) 5 pages of work, someone I once knew came up to say "hello".

They were pleasant, and when this person left B remarked, "Oh, what a nice person." But then he paused. "Oh, I guess they're not a nice person?" he asked, raising an eyebrow and evaluating my expression.

What B didn't know was all the subtle exchanges that had gone on while this person and I were talking. They hadn't talked to me in months. It was one of those quiet separations of a friendship, where one person slowly bows out of the the picture never really explaining why.

I knew why it happened. I didn't need any explanation. And here they were, interrupting my time, to point out that they still knew that I existed... as if things were fine. They weren't. I don't need niceties. What this exchange elicited from me was a final explosion of my restraint. And my friend, oh my poor friend, got to witness me in all my abrasive glory.

My explosion went something like this...

     "I'm tired of it B. I'm so tired of all of it," I growled, my eyes rolling dangerously back into my head. That still didn't seem to quelch his curiousity over what had just transposed.                       
     "That person is the representation everything I hate about myself," I continued. "I can't do it anymore, seriously. It's not like I've been nice today or anything, but I'm done holding back. I'm tired of people thinking that I'm stupid or that I need to apologize or excuse myself for the way that I am."
 "You don't have to apologize to me," B said.
     While my brain acknowledged his kindness, my mouth would not pause long enough to say so. The verbal tirade had been unleashed, and there was certainly no stopping it now. 
     "I know, B, but you are one out of a million. I'm tired of feeling like no matter how hard I try I can't ever say the right thing. I used to blame it on my (insert ailment here) but I don't think it has anything to do with that anymore." I started to drum my fingers on the arm of my chair. I lit another cigarette. B still didn't say anything, he knew I had some greater explanation to get out. I'd surely not expressed enough sarcasm at this point.
     "I think I must have a version of savantism. I can't socially interact well with others. I have zero tact, no matter how hard I try!" I considered this last statement for a moment, thinking about how much I'd actually poured into trying to have deccent conversations. The gears turned fairly quickly though, and I offered a quick guesstimation, "Seriously, it takes three times as much effort just to be 25% less abrasive." I raised my hands over my head, admitting defeat.
     "And, guess what, it's not worth it to me anymore. There are people like that in the world (I thumb over my shoulder to where this person had gone to) that are just too tired of dealing with someone who is as socially inept as I am. I don't need them to pat me on the back or tell me that it's okay. I never needed that. I only ever needed people to be upfront with me... to just say that I'm being a b**** and have a laugh with me about it."
     "I come across as a b****. I know I do. But I have a good heart, and I know that too. I'm tired of trying to show people how much I care or that I just want to help. I'm done. I'm done being nice. And you know what, while I'm ranting I might as well get this out. And I hate to say it, and I know I'm going to sound arrogant.... but, I'm right. I know I'm right about certain things. It's like a piece in a puzzle, I can scour the board for the right piece, and when I see it, I know I've got the right one. It's true about writing. I mean, there is a reason why my red pen is almost out of ink. I don't say it to be mean, or to be cruel... I just need the right pieces. I'm smart. I get things. I'm not going to sit down and explain something to someone if I didn't think they were worth it. I don't think anyone is worthless! I'm a big dreamer and would do anything to help someone get there. That's why I'm so abrasive. It's not like I think I'm better than anyone else. Obviously, I think my writing is mediocre... but I will work to make it better. I won't stop. I just don't know how else to be, and I'm tired of covering it up, trying to make excuses, and change this part of me. I'm abrasive and a social moron. I don't care anymore."

 B held up a hand to give me a high five. He took a deep breath, "Does that feel better?"

I started laughing, "Yes." This guy gets me. Even if he doesn't, he pretends to very well. And at the very least, he'll never stop humoring me. 
My fear is that people will hate me. I don't need to be petted or treated delicately or handled with kid gloves. I just want people to be upfront with me. I'm not mean because I hate anyone or I think I'm any better than anyone else. I simply can't help it. My perception of what comes out of my mouth is different from what most people have. My verbal filter was set off and skewed a very long time ago... by means out of my control. I've been trying (and failing) for years to set it right. I just think I deserve to be told the truth. I deserve to be surrounded by people who sincerely appreciate me and have a thick enough skin to laugh with me when I'm on a tirade.

I'm guessing this whole post may seem a bit weird coming from the girl who wrote Speechless and Insight Into Sight. Well, those were about what is in my heart. This is just about my ability to communicate.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Oh, how does one really define failure? It's not quite so simple. It's NEVER been quite-so-simple. But when has an artist's life ever been easy? (We pull things from places that other people don't even know exist.)

I feel like I'm perceived as a failure. I'm not saying that I sit around and feel miserable, weeping for myself, wondering why I'm not successful. I am successful in smaller ways... I get good feedback, I write a well-circulated blog article, or someone buys me a cup of coffee just for my input. But, as a writer, I think that the feeling of failure isn't exactly a fleeting one. Let me explain...

I think that writers (as with most art) work doesn't really "count" in the world until we sell something. Now, I've sold my work before, but not anything that could account for a sustainable income.

There is a difference between failing in other careers and failing in the arts. If you fail to get a certain job or promotion, you are no less an engineer or a nurse. You are those professions, and any failure you have along the way is a singular event. No one looks at a nurse who isn't the head of her department as a failure. No one looks at an engineer who is incapable of designing the Louvre as a failure. However...

As writer, unless you are money or a household name, you have failed at your career. In writing, there is only so much room at the top. And unfortunately, in the eyes of the world, there really isn't anything below the top when it comes to writing/art.

Which means unless you are at the top, you have failed as a writer, and though you may continue to write, until you are published, you have not succeeded.

Granted, this is not how I see it. It is the perception that I have gleamed from writers in my little corner of the world and reaching outwards. It is well decided that this is how the world sees us.

I don't feel like a failure, though. But, I know a lot of people see me as a failure (namely, my family and some "friends"). I think this a vague understanding in the trade... we have something to prove to someone or to ourselves. (While there is always an exception somewhere, surely, someone wanting to be the exception just for sake of being different, well... don't start, I've seen the other sides of this argument, thanks.)

I feel bad for people who pay $10 to go see a movie so that they can be entertained for a while and escape from their lives... and then have the audacity to judge me for what I do. I am in league with the people who write that music you listen to, that movie you just saw, or that book you just read. No one magically comes out on top, most of those people you adore and praise were once "hopeless dreamers" too. The successful artists were once just like me.

So, until you lay down that MP3 player, turn off your radio, remove paintings from your wall, and stop watching movies... stop judging me.

PS- Most writers want to make money writing not because it's easy, but because we would like to be able to quit one of our full time jobs.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Insight Into Sight

The title should really read, "Insight Into My Sight." I keep finding myself trying to explain statements I make so that people don't find them offensive... well, really so that they understand where I'm coming from. Some people are going to be offended no matter what I do.

First there is a little back story that you need. Two summers ago, a best friend of mine died. Four years ago, my other best friend was killed. I tear up as I type that, probably because this will be the first time I've let myself consider my future without them. Unless you have lost someone close to you that is not a family member, you will probably not understand what this means.

There is lasting pain that will always follow me because these people were honestly the light in my life. A true and honest light. The first friend was killed out of anger; it was a bizarre accident. One punch to the face separated his neck from his spinal column. They say it was because my friend was gay, I don't care why the attacker did it, he's gone just the same. One second I had a best friend, the other he was gone. The other friend died, from what I assume was obesity, possibly suicide. They were very different people, but they were so great to me.

I haven't really talked or really mentioned what they meant to me... I have felt that no one deserves to know me like they did.

4-years-ago-friend took me in to his house when my mother (she was a bit nuts) kicked me out. He showed up with a truck and forcibly moved me in with him. He literally just showed up. He, and his family, silently (they did sneer at my mother, they just didn't say anything) took my things from the breezeway of my mother's apartment complex. He saved me. He'd save a lot of others, too. When I lived with him, he healed me from some pretty deep wounds my mother had left in me. He convinced me I wasn't evil.

2-years-ago-friend also died unexpectedly. He and I had met when I lived up north for a time. For some reason, he found it completely baffling that I would even give him the time of day. He was obese, morbidly obese. I don't say that to be cruel. It never made me think any less of him. He and I shared so many commonalities. And he adored me, but not in the way most men adore me (with their eyes), he sincerely adored me. He had a tendency to shower me with gifts. He bought me my LOTR extended edition set that I have. He also introduced me to the world of anime (which I had previously ridiculed). He was so good to me, and all I ever did was just talk to him.

This has thus far been a very tearful blog to write.  But please, stick with me, there is a point.

One friend saved me. He was light in every sense possible. He smiled constantly, when I was down and bitter he lifted me up. When I was homeless he took me in. He literally gave me the shirt off his back. When he was in the ICU, the nurses said they'd never EVER seen that many people show up to see someone.

The other friend gave to me when I didn't deserve it. And this guy, man, he was talented. Wanna talk about wasted talent? How about this?
That's freehand ink pen folks... he was that good. 

The point:
Both of these men are gone. A part of me says that they took their light with them. But, that's not really true. Because I think that in being a part of my life, they left some their light with me. They were both pretty depressed. Each of them were targeted for being gay or being obese, but they still had it in them to bring their light to a very, very lost girl.

And now that they are gone, I find myself seeing their troubles and depression in other people. And something happens, at first I get sad because my friends are gone. But something else happens, I find myself becoming someone else's light. I find myself reaching out for no good reason other than the fact that I'm sharing what my friends left behind in me.

I don't believe in violence or hating or excluding. I believe in kindness and sharing. Call me a hippie, call me whatever you want. Call me naive or a hopeless dreamer.

Life really is short. I know. One died at 20, the other in his early 30's. But in those years, they brought me so much happiness. I will die fighting for others happiness. I will give when I have nothing to give. I will put my nose where it doesn't belong. I will find the beauty in the simplest things. I will accept people for who they are, who they really are. I will do everything in my power to help someone accomplish their dreams.

I will continue my friends' legacies. You cannot stop me. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Follow Fridays

So I get that we have all these nifty hashtags to help each other out. Monday Mentions, Writer Wednesday, and FollowFriday/Friday Favorites.

Come Friday, my feed is FULL of paragraphs of highlighted text... and this kind of irks me. I mean, really... you're telling me that in a given week you've had 30 people that you have avidly hounded and conversed with enough for them to be your favorite?

I don't. I have a handful. But, even out of those I talk to regularly, there are fewer still who have impacted my week enough to really come to my mind as a #FF. Please don't get me wrong, there are quite a few people I would like to give a shout out to. Maybe we can have a ShoutoutSaturday or something. But, I want to keep my list short, and that means, I have to pick who has impacted my week the most.

I'm going to try doing my #FF here, because I want to tell you why they are so worth following.

And it's not like the people who are NOT on this list haven't affected my week. These people have just stood out in particular for this week.

My first #FF list:

@CiaraBallintyne She's an unpublished writer, though you wouldn't know it if you talked to her. She is very professional. She has this perfect balance between confidence and humility when it come to her work, and is always saying thank you to whoever follows her... I don't even have the patience for that. (Don't worry, these thank you's won't clutter your feed.) She has just gotten her website up and going...

@Flickimp This guy never ceases to amaze me. He is the most humble person I Twitterknow. He works harder than most and gives more than that. Simply put, he's ace in my book.

@HinduWannabe She has a blog about food. And while I don't avidly read food blogs, I really liked this one. It's not arrogant like most food blogs. But main reason for the #FF is because of this blog right here: Waste Not Want More . I very rarely find someone who can tell me how to save time and money on food. Rarely. While she may not have created the wheel, she gave me information that was just as valuable to me.

@Safireblade & @dbowenauthor Both are Beta-ing for me. And of the people who have my MS in their hands, these two have started reading it and giving feedback. I know most people are too busy to help a stranger out, and these two are as well. They are too busy to add "help a stranger" to their list of things to do, but guess what.... they both did it anyway. I know I'm biased, in a way, because it's my MS, but objectively speaking, what they have done for me is impressive. It is a similar idea to the one in my Speechless blog.

And finally, @Kara_Malinczak . I used to get my book suggestions from my niece. Now, I get them from Kara, hands down no questions, this chick reads more than anyone I know. Seriously, ever. Thankfully, she updates her goodreads account with well-written reviews.

If you did not make the list, don't feel left out, I can come up with several people who could be deserving of #FF... like I said, this week these are my tops.

 When I get #FF or #WW I see them as a kind of pat on the back. I refuse to look at them as an obligation to do the same thing for the person who gave them to me. And I also feel a lot better when I'm on lists that are short.

I feel bad because I might have missed someone this week, but I will start making my #FF blog out throughout the week so that I don't miss anyone.

Thanks guys, more interesting blogs to come soon. :)