Thursday, April 3, 2014

Not All People Heal Like You

I've started this particular blog post several times. I've wondered what it'd do to my career or what it would do to my personal life. However, I just read a blog that made me so angry. I will not call out names, I don't much care to start web drama; plus, I respect the person who wrote it. I just disagree. Sort of.

Her rant was about how "awareness" campaigns where people attempt to garnish attention for causes are stupid and that apparently we already know about them plenty. She said that people posting about how hard it is to [insert dealing with a specific diagnosis here] are not heroes. Well... I beg to differ. Hardly enough people know about my kind of disorder or all the things that people with different disorders suffer. Also, I think the attitude of her kind of post is what makes me so afraid to say what I've always wanted to say.

The "Post" I've Been Afraid to Post
I was raised by a very strong mother, controlling, but strong. She surrounded herself with strong women. These women were so strong it seemed they were more like steel, cut with edges that you didn't want to come too close to for fear of being sliced in two. I was pinballed around by these women, never quite getting a hang of their language, but adapting their mannerisms with near perfection. I was taught to own up and take responsibility of all my actions. To my detriment, at first I didn't take responsibility. Then finally, also to my own detriment, I did.

I was "rebellious" and "bossy."
I had "an attitude."
I was manic depressive, I was borderline personality disorder, I was "difficult."
I was labeled.
I was none of these things.

After years of being told how I was not forming the way I should, how I was failing as an adult (18 is a fully prepared for the world adult, right?), I started to chastise myself for my "rebellious" ways. I thought that the way to "fix" me was by owning up to every mistake I ever made. I took everything I did and tore it apart looking for a way to do better, to be better, to be more acceptable. Acceptable was just something I never really achieved, and now I was seeking it with a vengeance.

But, in taking responsibility for all the things I did wrong, I also started taking responsibility for things that were not my fault. Things like being abused as a child. I literally had an adult tell me when I was a child of 9 that I "should have known better." The abuse was not my fault. Also, my mother's controlling nature, which is entirely contradictory to a person with PTSD's issues, was not my fault.

Did I forget to mention I have PTSD?

And herein lies the rub. I am still met with these strong people (like the one who posted the blog that got me to writing this) who say I have to take responsibility for my actions. They're the people who say "the past is the past," "I was abused, but you don't see me [insert some socially unacceptable behavior]", or "I have [insert another issue/disorder] but you don't see me using it as an excuse."

All I really want to do is say, "Congratu-fucking-lations! Aren't you just amazing? No, really, good for you." Seriously, whatever works for them is great, but please for the love of all things holy, not all people heal like you. 

The world is so full of people lacking compassion, and in all honesty, I'm pretty sure that no amount of therapy will completely heal the hurts I've faced. Because of this, I am openly admitting that I want what some people label "special treatment" for my disorder... I call it grace.
IS THAT SO TERRIBLE? How does that make me a lesser person because I admit that there are areas where I need more grace because I haven't figured out how to navigate that without somehow screwing it up?

I don't want to wear the label "I have PTSD" on my forehead, but on the same hand, I think it'd probably be awfully helpful when trying to explain to someone why it takes a lot of work on my part to ride in the passenger seat with pretty much anyone other than my significant other (who I've been with for 8 years). I usually refuse. Or how about how I don't pick up on social cues or fit in with normal society because I have a habit of saying things that make others uncomfortable? Or how about how paranoid I get after I see someone because I don't know if I did something wrong?

Some might say it's not the PTSD. I'll tell you what is then: the anxiety, the nervousness, the paranoia. These things all make me react a specific way. I have a tendency to want to control situations. Remember the "rebellious" child from above? That was me trying to take control of my situation because I had been robbed of control and was desperately seeking it back. I still seek it. I'm controlling because I am seeking safety. I highly doubt everyone knows about that. I don't think it hurts to continue awareness campaigns. Hell, if more people were aware of PTSD, especially the fact that it doesn't just come from battle situations, then my life would be easier. I wouldn't be so embarrassed by it. I wouldn't feel like I was having to explain my issues so much.
Maybe, I'd feel like -- for once -- it was okay to heal in my time, not in theirs.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


An Amtrak residency sounds great. Amazing, in fact. I've been drooling since I read about it. So, tonight, I went to put in my official application. But, since I read a pretty amazing blog Writer Beware, I've learned to pay much closer attention to terms and agreements.

See, part of the Amtrak application asks for a sample submission of your writing. Of course, I figured I'd just submit the first chapter of my book. It's strong writing, and it sure does pull you in. Trust me, ask my beta readers... or don't cause I won't tell you who they are, but they are writing professionals, so take that for what it's worth. (Update: I say all this about my book to point out that they could have legally taken something very precious from me and potentially valuable.) In any case, I started reading the rules, and this bit right here really didn't sit right with me.
"Applicant understands and agrees that Sponsor has wide access to ideas, stories and other literary, artistic and creative materials submitted to it from outside sources or developed by its own employees and agents (together, “Sponsor Creative”); and, such Sponsor Creative may be competitive with, similar to (or even identical to) the writing sample/answers to questions created and submitted by Applicants; and, Sponsor shall have no liability to Applicant or any third party in respect to or in connection with the development, use, sale and/or commercial exploitation of all or any portion of Sponsor Creative by Sponsor and/or its designees and licensees, all of which liability, if any, Applicant hereby expressly and irrevocably waives, releases and discharges. 
6.   Grant of RightsIn submitting an Application, Applicant hereby grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy Applicant’s Application, in whole or in part, for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing, and to sublicense such rights to any third parties. In addition, Applicant hereby represents that he/she has obtained the necessary rights from any persons identified in the Application (if any persons are minors, then the written consent of and grant from the minor’s parent or legal guardian); and, Applicant grants Sponsor the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy the name, image, and/or likeness of Applicant and the names of any such persons identified in the Application for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing. For the avoidance of doubt, one’s Application will NOT be kept confidential (and, for this reason, it is recommended that the writing sample and answers to questions not contain any personally identifiable information – e.g., name or e-mail address – of Applicant.) Upon Sponsor's request and without compensation, Applicant agrees to sign any additional documentation that Sponsor may require so as to effect, perfect or record the preceding grant of rights and/or to furnish Sponsor with written proof that he/she has secured any and all necessary third party consents relative to the Application."
From what I understand, if I had submitted the first chapter of my book, it would officially be theirs and they could sell it to whoever they wanted to be "developed" however they saw fit. And guess what, they wouldn't have to pay me a dime. They are only taking 24 writers this month, and even though in the application page they say that "A passion for writing and an aspiration for travel with Amtrak for inspiration are the sole criteria for selection" if you go the the Official Terms, you'll find out that to be the "ideal candidate" you will have to have "extensive social media connections." Yeah, I'd love to see their definition of extensive. I wonder if they check Klout scores (I hope you can tell I'm being sarcastic.) Psht. I was so excited about this. However, this is bogus. Most of the writers who would really benefit from this because they need a change of scenery or maybe a break from the kids or whatever are not going to get it. Not unless they are doing just fantastically on their own with social media, and in that case, I question whether they really need it.

Amtrak is underhandedly taking people's rights to their work. Why not fork over the money for what they've written? This whole program made me so excited until I read these Official Terms.

Oh, and be prepared to be handed a 1099 tax form because they've informed you your gift will be reported to the IRS. So, make sure all you winners remember to file and pay that. (Granted, this is expected, but it's nice to remind us of it after they say they're taking all their applicants rights to their work.)

Anyone else have a problem with this?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Your BEST Book Recommendations?

I've been organizing my bookshelves, as I said every writer should, in my last post. It's been a somewhat exhaustive and eye-opening experience. I am so utterly disappointed at my selection. So, I've decided I need to swell my collection. I want, nay I NEED, suggestions on what should absolutely be on my shelf. I am accepting every genre, with the exception of horror. Sorry, folks, I've still not quite fallen for that one just yet. Maybe, in another 10 years or so my PTSD won't be a factor in which books I choose to read. Okay, so maybe some horror, just no human torture horror. I can do zombies and ghosts and that kind of horror, but nothing that involves torture. For example, I read Charlie Higson's The Enemy, and I did just fine. I started Stephen King's It and had nightmares for weeks. Hope that helps, and for those of you that read horror, I'm thinking it will.

Much love, and comment away! Please, also tell me what genre the book falls into, that way I know where to look in my local and used book stores! And how about we splash the pot a bit, if I get 20 different people to comment (yes, I need that many book recommendations), I'll do a raffle for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. (To which, you will have 3 days to give me your info so I can get your gift card to you! If not, I'll redraw...)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Writer Spring Cleaning List

Okay, come on, we all know most of us put it off. I have only heard of people who actually rotate winter clothes for summer clothes. The closest relation I have to one of those people is my husband's aunt who I've never met. But, as a writer, we all NEED to do this.

We are, in general, a pretty messy group. We have any combination of soda cans, coffee mugs, Starbucks cups, tea cups, and/or glasses with remnants of who-knows-what surrounding our writing desks. Writing desks themselves, I've come to realize are mythical things. I go through periods where mine doesn't exist. There's a myriad of printed out rough drafts, pictures of who we think our MC's resemble, queries, and doodles that are a direct result of writers block. Don't even get me started on the post-it notes.

Don't try to tell me that your mess makes sense to you. Chances are it's just a way to make you think you've been productive. Or in some cases, to mark your territory, "I am a WRITER. This is my DESK. This where I create mind-blowing awesomeness and simultaneously wallow in self pity! Behold it's greatness!"

No, no.

So let's get started.

  1. Clean that bookshelf off. Yup, do it. It's not just cluttered with books anymore. Put everything else away so that you can get to that book on writing that's going to help you make your prose shine. Doesn't do any good if you don't use it. 
  2. Also, organize your books! You've bought more books than you've gotten around to reading, and now when you go to look at your shelves for that friend that wants a book recommendation in a certain genre, you're at a loss (What was that book again?). No need to alphabetize if you don't want to, grouping them by genre should be more than enough. 
  3. Put all the books you haven't read on one shelf so that you know what you need to work through. It gives a visual to that reading list. Bonus: take a look at your "unread" shelf before you go to the bookstore, it may stave off your need to buy 20 new books. 
  4. Throw away old rough drafts. Yes, I said it. These take up A LOT of room. It's great to be able to look back on your old work to see how you've progressed, but I've never met a writer who has come across an old MS and didn't sit there for a while reading over it. This is time wasted, folks. Besides, sometimes it can be depressing: "Wow, I used to think this was awesome! This is such crap! Maybe the stuff I think is gold now is really crap and I just don't realize it." Boo. No need to put that kind of black cloud over your head. 
  5. Buy a cork board. If you have one, take everything off and rehang it in a manner that makes sense. We all know you've added stuff through the year as a quick place to hang onto something we don't want to get lost. Take stuff from your desk that you "use for inspiration" and hang it up. I can personally attest to Command Hooks. Those things are great for organizing EVERYTHING. Probably my favorite thing about them is that I can remove them, use a new adhesive strip, and move it whenever I want. (Please note, I am not endorsed by their company.)
  6. Make your snack(s) easily accessible. I have a college mini fridge in my office that I got from someone who wasn't using it (my brother). Because, let's be honest, how many times have you gotten up to get a drink and gotten distracted? This is especially true for those who also take care of the house. Don't leave your office if you don't have to. 
This is my list. I would LOVE to hear more ideas and suggestions! Just leave the suggestion in the comments. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Accepting You Can Belong In Two Camps - A Writer's Article

"I've been suspended in a pool, adrift between two islands. To the east is indecision and derision. To the west is where the sun sets and where its rays set fire to my success." 

As a blogger, a woman, a mother, a survivor, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and writer, I see things from many different angles. Over the last few days, I've been reading my old blog entries, and I can't help but wonder, "who is this?" There's been entries written from either "island," either praising hopefulness or exposing defeat. I contemplated where my place was as a writer. How could I possibly be both hopeful and defeated at the same time? That's just not possible. No one is like that... .

I am wrong... er... was wrong.

I was wrong because there is someone who both miraculously believes in their own work while living in a realist's reality. This person is me. You could call me a pragmatic idealist.

This realization hit me about an hour ago while I was simultaneously wondering why I bother staying up so late to read books on improving my craft while knowing I was doing it to build my craft. It's like asking someone why they would look for a needle in a haystack. To one person, the person observing, they'd think the person searching was crazy. To the person searching, it seems quite obvious... they need a needle.

So, no more battling the two sides. No more picking who is right, no more figuring out who wins. I used to think that I had to either believe in myself or not. That there was only one right. I think it may be the Christian upbringing in me telling me (more like shouting, as my upbringing usually does) there is no grey, no in-between. Which, as a grown adult, I know not to be true. There's tons of gray. Whole countries are built on in-betweens, and in-between is how we managed to survive through childhood to adulthood. All these in-betweens are as awkward as they are real. Which means that there is no reason for me to think that the place in between the raging fire of success and my own doubts of publication is going to be any less awkward. But, I think if I can learn to deal with this in-between as I have all the others, which is with unequivocal acceptance, I can finally move forward.

Anyone else in between two camps? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Literary vs. Escapist

I have this deep resounding fear that I'm writing the wrong thing. I sit down to write, and sometimes it's eloquent, gut wrenching truth. It's only three lines, and as I read over it I feel like I'm betraying everyone I've ever known. I slam shut the laptop, and remind myself that this is why I write escapist fiction.

Sometimes I sit down to write, and the words come crashing to the page in an all too familiar way that makes my past too much of a reality, too heartbreaking for me to accept, and too many shadows are cast on people who are now very different than how they turned up on my page. This time, I click the "x" and just close the document. "Do you want to save?" No, why would I ever want to save something like that?

Then, I'm running, running to the bookstore to pick up something that will take me away from the Pandora's Box I've just unleashed on myself. I look at covers, and I imagine my own sitting there on the shelf beside all the others. I find one I want, but hesitantly put in back on the shelf, reminding myself that it's too hard to hold a hardback book and feed my child at the same time. I'll just download it later...

The later never comes, and instead I find myself reading literary magazines and journals, all of which are hell bent on exalting the writer who dug within themselves to expose some nasty truth about humanity. I hear a whisper, you have stories like those. Those are your best stories. 

So I sit.
I open a document.
I punch out the condescending drivel and absolute truths that have come from years of living my life. Then...

I hear my child doing that fussy cry when he wakes up that will surely be followed by hysterics if I don't go collect him. But, by now, I'm so deep in my reverie of lost dreams and corruption that I have to pull myself back to here, to the now. I have to try not to resent my husband as he attempts to harness a few hours of sleep before he goes back into work third shift.

This is why I write escapist fiction, I remind myself. It's fun. And I mean it.


I have been wanting to write a few articles on escapist fiction, and I intend to do so. But, I wanted to start with my reason why. Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Late in the Game - Self Pub Hell

I've been a huge advocate for self publication for years now. Despite having queried (and received requests), I never could quite get on the bandwagon of having to fork over so much money and control over my original work to someone else. I mean, hell, you don't see a painter have someone else go in after they've finished and say, "Here, get me more paint and let me just add some more, and you know what, hand me that bottle of turpentine too while you're at it." Or perhaps, it's like a choreographer/coach working with a dancer for a long time on this beautiful piece, only to have someone run on stage and ad lib in the middle of the performance. Traditional publishing has just never felt right to me.

However, lately, and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm so late to the game, I've been learning about another side of publishing, a tedious and exhaustively overwhelming side of self publishing. It seems so obvious that you have to do it yourself, but the side of self publishing I was never prepared to face was the business management. I've always been a bit of an idealist, thinking that writing, cover art, and editing was the bulk of the work. Oooooh, I've been delusional. It's a bit embarrassing seeing as I've been such a huge advocate for it. On a daily basis, I look at my significant other and say, "I get it now. I know why people traditionally publish, to avoid all this s**t." Then it's usually followed up by something like this,

Me: Wanna know what I've been reading about today? I've been reading about __________.
Him: What've you learned?
Me: It's the devil, and no one will take you seriously if you do. Your book will end up in the trash if you do/don't do ________.
Him: So what does that mean?
Me: Well, from what I can gather, and I'm only on page 56, I'll essentially have to start my own publishing company and hire a printer to print my books if I want to go full on true blue self publishing. I think. Hell, I dunno. It's expensive.

This all stems from me doing something I never thought I'd do, and my reasons for not doing them were arrogant and weak. I didn't read books on the craft of writing and publishing. I shall now divulge my own misconceptions.

  1. I thought that all that information was free and out there on the Internet.
  2. I thought the books were only sold for the idiot who was taking writing up as a know, "This might be fun, I have money to throw at it." 
  3. I saw these books as a kind of "get rich" or "how to turn your talentless self into a sensation." And while some of those type books have merit, they are usually marketed to those who buy them around New Years and quickly stuff them on a shelf.  
  4. I thought they were aimed at the literary who had no shot at real publication.
Oh, go ahead. Hang me now. I deserve it. I know I do.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Collecting Things Part 1

I've always had a penchant for journals. The blank pages are like a precious form of artwork to me; the covers are art. It's one of the few things I collect, along with tarot cards. Who knows why anyone collects anything these days. I know someone who collects salt and pepper shakers, which is undeniably a thing you only can use one set of at a time. I suppose if you had multiple types of salt and pepper from all over the world, then it would make sense, but this salt and pepper shaker collector does not. In fact, I'm pretty sure she uses salt from one of those $1 disposable cardboard picnic shakers.

Some people collect in hopes that whatever they are collecting will someday be valuable. Or, in the case of my journals, I see them as valuable. To me, they are the embodiment of  writing and creation. They have space for any number of stories or ideas.

I wonder what others might collect. Four leaf clovers? Trading cards? Bottle caps? People of notoriety? Memories? Lucky rabbits feet? And of all the odd things out there, what does this say about the collectors? What kind of character does this create...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Blogging Without Coffee - 2013 Recap and some 2014 plans

It's been well over a year since I've posted on this blog.

I've grown a bit rusty at blogging; I'm tired of ranting and you should know by now how I hate the term "platform building."

To get me back into the swing of things, I suppose I'll do a recap of 2013. Well, we should start in the end of 2012 because that's when I got pregnant. Well, that occupied most of 2013. Ya know, lots of months carrying my son, the six hours it took to have him (guess I do have birthing hips after all- pain med free mind you, which means I'm a goddess), and then the months of sleeplessness. Now, we're on to teething.

So as I sit here contemplating what to write, I find myself drumming my fingers over the keys and never really pressing down. I ask myself what great nugget of information I've learned and need to share with the interwebs. Don't get me wrong, I've learned plenty, but either the people reading this are already parents and have been there and done that. Or, they don't have kids and don't need me to add to the list of people telling them just how hard it really is.

So, I ask myself this, do I have any news on the writing/editing front? Well, I guess it is kind of news that I've closed shop on the editing front. I turned away too many people in the last year, simply because I didn't have the time dealing with all the pregnancy issues. Nowadays, I'm fearful that I just may be too snarky for my own good. I have a hard time being polite and nice, especially if I haven't had my Starbucks. Which, come to think of it, may be why this blog entry is kind of sucking.

I have been doing daily writing prompts, which is great for my fiction writing. I've also filmed a crowdfunding campaign to launch my book. The number crunching for that is kind of devastating, but by my non-solid (at this point) numbers, I'd only need approximately 3K folk to give up/donate/"back" $5 worth, which is essentially a cup of coffee... totally doable right? I think so.

Honestly, the reason why I want to publish is because I want to be able to be more altruistic myself. I really want to help my family out more. Trust me, they need it. My talent lies in writing, so this is the best solution I can come up with: lean on others altruism, then pay it all back to the world many times over. Of course, the crowdfunding campaign comes with perks, so by definition it's not entirely altruistic to "back it", but I say screw the definition, it sure seems altruistic to me.

There's so much ahead of me, and this is all I was able to blog about today. Maybe I'll try again after I brew myself some coffee.