Ramblings

My Writing Journey, Part 1

One doesn’t choose to be a writer, it’s in you, but you do have to decide to write. Being a writer is part of me, it always was, but I didn’t always choose to do anything active about it. The road to writing regularly was bumpy, often blocked, detoured, sabotaged, scary, and sometimes impossible.

Even now, as in the last few months, there are times when I write next to nothing. I aim to change that, starting with this post. There are many reasons why I’ve been in what I call a ‘writer’s funk,’ but I’ll get into that in a later post.

For now, I’m going to share with you all how I got to where I am today. I called this post Part 1 because it will take several to get it all out. I don’t know how many but I would rather do this in sections than give you with a ten thousand word post.

It all began when I was a child. I’d like to say I always wrote. I wish I had hundreds of journals worth of childish thoughts and stories, but I didn’t write back then. I was capable of it, but things more powerful than the urge to write ruled my life. Fear and shame. Not fear of life or a person, just fear of baring my soul and shame when I did and was rejected. I tried several times, with diaries. After writing a few lines, I would seize up and put them away.

Opening up still fills me with dread. There was no significant event that started it. It was a mix of small childhood traumas that stifled me so much.

I was one of those kids who liked to make crazy things up. Fantastical stories with me as the star. A few times I tried to share these with friends and family.  My parents didn’t actively discourage me, but with three kids and jobs, they didn’t have time to ‘indulge’ me.

My friends were tolerant but more heavily grounded than me, so not particularly interested. All the girls my age were more interested in love stories, and the boys just wanted to watch cartoons and ride bikes. While I was imagining having a superpower or flying on a dragon, the other kids were busy being normal.

One of my brothers, who shall stay unnamed, but it’s the one I don’t get along with, had a different reaction. He made fun of me. Then his friends joined in. I won’t go into details except to say he liked upsetting me and succeed often. I valued his opinion above all others and he used that mercilessly. It wasn’t too long before I started keeping my stories to myself, even from the people who didn’t mock me.

I didn’t even want to write them down. Hence the started yet never finished diaries. What if someone read them? I would have died before letting anything see how weird I was. Now, all these years later, I don’t know what it was those boys said that made me feel so much shame, I only know the result.

Watching other girls writing their secret thoughts made me so jealous I could hardly stand it. I didn’t care what they wrote, but I wished to be like them. I wanted to be as brave as I thought they were.

I still made stuff up regularly, anytime I had a quiet moment. I kept it all to myself, for years. It took my mom pissing me off when I was a teenager so bad that I wrote her a letter to express my feelings before anything changed. That’s a story for next time.

As I stated above, I don’t know how many posts it will take me to tell my writing journey. I’m winging this one. Some posts may be short, others longer. There is also no schedule for when I’ll write them. I’m in the process of getting back to writing regularly so I hope to be very busy soon.

In my next post I’ll tell you all about how I started to embrace my weird and took a step closer, and many steps back from active writing.

Did any of you guys have problems with other people judging your creativity as a child? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


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Roadblocks & Annoyances

My muse has been waking up, so it was no surprise when my body starting betraying me again. It seems like every time I get close to being myself again after all these back problems and medication adjusting, something pops up that could potentially stop me from writing.

This time it is my sensitivity to salicylates. It’s been quite some time since I had my first major allergic reaction and I’ve done many things to avoid a repeat performance of Hellboy (this was my entire body turning bright red after drinking a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries). I really thought I had this stuff under control, but I learned twice in the last week how wrong I was.

Okay, confession time. I did learn tea was very high in salicylates, but at the time of my first reaction, I didn’t know. So I kept drinking it, every day. As time went on, I reacted to more things. The doctor had warned me of this, and while I listened to her, I unwisely decided to keep enjoying the things I loved until my body told me I was done.

Unfortunately, when I react to one thing, there is a domino effect. There are three different types of salicylate. I wasn’t reacting to the one that includes mint and menthol, so I didn’t cut either out. I loved my mints and cough drops, they acted as substitutes when I stopped smoking years ago. Then came the fateful day when my body rejected both. It was awful! They caused sores in my mouth, even under my tongue!

Once that happened I reacted to certain shampoos and cosmetics. I had already cleaned out the ones with ‘benzyl salicylate’ on their label, but I left the ones containing aloe. Mistake!

And I still drank tea. Even when there were signs it was doing bad things to me, I kept drinking it. Then my body, which is clearly smarter than me, decided it for me. I reacted, and it wasn’t fun. Shortly after I reacted to a face cleaner, then yesterday I an unexpected enemy reared it’s lovely, delicious, terrible head — paprika. I ate a grilled chicken salad. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper (another salicylate), garlic, onion powder, and paprika. Stupid me, I have looked at the lists of foods to avoid a hundred times and simply never noticed the spices. It’s more accurate to say I ignored it.

My punishment was to turn into Hellboy again. Honestly, I’m lucky I haven’t had any breathing issues, though the doctor says it will come to that.

There are a few more items in the house I need to figure out replacements for. Did I mention I can’t have mint? I have yet to discover a toothpaste that is for sensitive teeth but doesn’t contain mint. I guess I should cut out regular pepper too, ugh!

I had to learn all the terms used by various companies that mean salicylates without actually using the word.  Most sunscreens have the evil in them, but the label says homosalate or octisalate. Some of the ones for sensitive skin don’t have those two, but they have aloe. I found two I can use, which are more expensive but safe is good.

I’m discovering more and more things I have to avoid, but I’m paying more attention now. I hate giving up things I love (no more chicken strips from restaurants), but it’s time to give in. I don’t only turn red when I use things I shouldn’t, I also feel really awful. Lie down and stare at the ceiling awful. This stops me from writing, and I can’t allow it any longer.

Back pain and surgeries have already been roadblocks to writing, I can’t let my own bad choices also stop me too.

Yesterday was the first day with no tea. I hated it, but I survived. Today will be the same. The two pieces of chicken meant for my salads will be given to my offspring, and I’ll find something plain to eat. I’ll pout a lot and curse the unfairness of it all, but I know it’s all worth it.

Most importantly, I’ll write.

Everything Update 04/20/2017

Someone once asked why I call this my Everything Update. I think the real question was why do I update everything all at once. The answer is in the name of my blog: Writerish Ramblings. I do tend to ramble on. I’m so full of words that I can’t contain them all inside my head, so I let them out on paper, on the screen, and in person, I never shut up (unless I’m talking to a stranger).

If I did separate updates for each of the items in this post, then I would overload everyone. So I put it all here.

The other reason is pain. I can’t sit at the computer for as long as I want to, so it’s easier for me to update on everything in one post. What you don’t see is I don’t always type it up in one sitting.

So, on to the updating.

Writing: I purchased an online course about writing a series. I know how to write, but there are different rules for series, as well as many different types of series. Each kind has its own set of dictates. I figure I will learn something and add to my writing toolbox and it’s worth it to me. I also bought a book that I would call a refresher.

My reasoning on these items is I have not been writing. No work on my trilogy, no short stories, no new ideas (besides a few jotted notes).

Part of my problem is pain medication. I had to choose between a nightmare surgery or pills, so I chose pills. I hate it, but I’m doing what I can to put off the inevitable for as long as possible.

So the meds make me a little flighty and a lot sleepy. Since I’ll be on them for at least a couple of months, I need to do something to fight through it. Following instructions in a class or book seems to be my best choice for keeping my muse awake.

Besides, why wouldn’t I want to keep learning, and trying new techniques? Talent/skills can stagnate if you don’t take the time to help them grow.

I also plan to use writing prompts I normally ignore. I like prompts for writing short stories, but I never do the ones that want you to answer questions about your life. For example, Why do you want to write? Or Where do you see yourself in ten years? Maybe even Describe your hometown.

Fiction won’t come out of using these but words will. Any writing leads to more writing. I shouldn’t be ignoring them. An essay using the prompt: Why do you want to be a writer led me to win a scholarship to the West Texas Writer’s Academy. Clearly, any prompt has value!

So I’ll use them and I’ll probably post some of the results of my experiment.

Medical: BLAH! I had an injection for pain relief, but it didn’t really work. They added something to dissolve some scar tissue at the same time. I don’t know how long it takes to work, but at this point, there isn’t much difference. I’m sure it is doing something, but at this level of pain, it’s hard to appreciate a small change.

Two days ago I must have overdone it at the gym because the pain was so bad that I spent most of the day in bed. It was much the same the next day. So I skipped working out yesterday, and I’m much better now. On the upside, I watched the extended cut of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (over two days) with no writer’s guilt. I also analyzed the hell out of all three movies. Everything from dialog to structure. I almost took notes, but it’s hard to write anything when lying down.

I really enjoy those movies, but I found myself laughing at some of the speeches and Eowyn’s face when she was shocked, those eyes!

Everything else: I had to rearrange my work space. I have an L-shaped desk, and where I had, it wasn’t causing me problems. One of the desks was in the middle of the room. The space was too tight, and I was getting into my chair in a way that hurt a lot. Now, that desk is against a wall. The area is open and I’m better off.

My dogs love it because they can’t sprawl out but still be close to me. I miss my ‘nest’ but overall, I like this arrangement better.

I also moved all my books around. Every time I can’t do things because of pain, I want to do all the things! So I do some of the things even though it’s going to hurt. A rebellious nature sucks when you’re rebelling against your own body and it fights back!

I’ll try to post more often. I’ve been slacking but I’m trying to push through all these roadblocks. That’s all for now.  I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Disappointing/Potentially Dangerous Morning Due To My Own Bad Choices

As an adult, I have the right to make terrible decisions, right? My most recent mess up has to do with Pop Tarts, and I’m ticked off about it. Not long ago I made a choice to start eating a cherry one every morning. Not the healthiest thing, but it was quick, easy, and kept my blood sugar mostly normal.

Besides eating mostly sugar for breakfast, my biggest mistake was assuming something as cheap and bad for you as Pop Tarts are, there couldn’t be real fruit in them. I was spectacularly wrong!

There are dried cherries, and oddly, dried apples in them. Guess who is allergic to berries and most other fruits? Actually, it’s more that I’m overly sensitive to something in a lot of foods – salicylates. I’ve always had issues with them, but until several months ago, when I had a severe reaction to some berries, it wasn’t too much of an issue. I’ve never cared for most fruit, so I rarely had any, except in Pop Tarts.

I learned from my doctor that my sensitivity would grow worse once I had the bad reaction. The problem is salicylates are in so many foods. To break it down a bit, everyone is sensitive to them, as they are basically poison. As we grow and try new things, our bodies build up a tolerance, allowing us to eat them. How else do you think you can eat tomatoes, which are nightshades – poison? People like me are more sensitive to them and can’t build as strong a tolerance, so are likely to have an allergic reaction eventually.

Have you seen Hellboy? Imagine a female version, and you’ll get a good mental image of what I looked like when I reacted to a smoothie containing blackberries and blueberries. I’d avoided these my whole life until that day, apparently for a good reason. My entire body turned bright red, and I felt terrible. I probably should have gone to the hospital, but I took a Benadryl and waited.

So, back to the cherry Pop Tarts. As usual, I ate one today. I was cutting potatoes for a stew I was going to throw together in the slow-cooker. I ended up eating pretty slow, in between potatoes. It took about fifteen minutes to cut the veggies and get everything in the pot. Then I went to my bedroom to change into my gym clothes. On the way, my bottom lip started feeling strange.

It was a tingling that was almost a burning sensation. It was the same with a couple of my fingers. Curse words flooded my thoughts because I recognized the feeling. I was reacting to something. I panicked a little at first because it could only be the cheap pastry or the tea I was drinking with it. I looked at my cup of tea and realized I’d only taken a few small drinks. It had to be the damn Pop Tart!

Claritin is part of my morning pill routine so I didn’t take a Benadryl. All I could do was finish getting ready and take my kid to school. I almost didn’t go to the gym but decided I would because I didn’t really feel bad, the burning, which had moved into my entire chin, wouldn’t stop me from working out. When I got to the gym I checked my face and the bottom half was definitely red. I worried I looked like a ventriloquist’s dummy but I sucked it up and got on the elliptical. The allergy stuff wasn’t going to kick in for at least two more hours so I kept my head down and made as little eye contact as possible. Actually, I do that every time I go to the gym so I wasn’t acting out of the ordinary, haha.

After my workout, I went to the grocery store and picked up something different for breakfast. I came home and looked at the ingredients on the food that betrayed me, and sure enough, it had real fruit. I’m an idiot for not checking this before I started eating them every day, which was two months ago. I can only guess how I was able to eat them this long. With the fruits in dried form, maybe it takes longer to get to me?

At least this will force me to eat something healthy in the morning. I should have been all along. The truth is, I’m a creature of habit. Buying a box of Pop Tarts was an impulse and then quickly became a habit. Plus, I LIKE them. Whatever I choose to eat for breakfast always becomes an everyday thing. I don’t have time in the morning to think too much about food. I certainly don’t have enough time to eat anything that takes a lot of prep.

Now, the Claritin is doing its job. My face isn’t red, and my bottom lip and chin aren’t swollen or burning anymore. I still feel it a bit in my fingers, but it will go away soon. If it doesn’t, I guess it will be doctor time.

The really sad part for me is my tea. I drink a cup every day while I eat breakfast. For all I know, it contributed to what happened. Tea is high in salicylates. I have been drinking it anyway because I did build up a tolerance. I knew eventually it would probably betray me too but I was hoping it would take a long time. Giving up my daily caffeine is terrifying! I may have to anyway.

I hope this time I’ve learned my lesson!

 

Writers Are Mean…

All writers are mean. We are abusive, bullying, nasty, horrible people. We are overly critical, judgy, and our standards are too high. We cause crying, anger, yelling, sadness, depression, anxiety, and sleeping problems. Writers do and are all these things, to ourselves, often.

Therefore, why on earth should we allow other writers to do the same to us? Too many times I’ve seen a writer trying to bring another one down. In most cases the perpetrator is doing so to make themselves feel better – superior. You know what makes me feel good when reading another writer’s work? Telling them the good things I see.

I’m more than happy to critique something when requested but generally most writers when they put themselves out for the world to see, i.e. a short story on their blog, or a Facebook post, etc, need encouragement.

Personally, I know sometimes I need the motivational push or someone to tell me it’s not terrible, or something else positive. So I have to assume other writers need the same.

Why can’t we hold each other up and be supportive instead of mean and judgemental? There are a few people I know who like to tear others down and it is clearly based on a lack of confidence on their part. Maybe no one helped them or encouraged them early in their career. I know that even when I or other writers in my community try now, these people don’t notice.

What if they were told the good stuff when they first started out? Would they feel the need to be crappy to other writers today? Maybe so, but also, maybe not.

Think about this. If you’re only surrounded by harsh comments, negativity, unwarranted criticism, and unfavorable comparisons for years, you’re probably going to be a pretty miserable human right? Since, as a writer, you’re going to do this to yourself and be unable to escape it, wouldn’t it be great if someone, preferably many someones, was there telling you what you did right? Saying how you are great with dialog or description, or how your writing voice is so clear. Maybe just telling you they love your stories.

Now what if it were other writers telling you the good stuff? As writers we can’t help it, we value what other writers say over everyone else. I mean, sure, your mom, or spouse, or best friend can say every word you write is perfection but you know they love you and that makes their credibility a little shaky (even if they are correct). When someone else who practices your craft gives you positive feedback, WHAM, it hits you in the ego in the best sort of way. Little tendrils of goodness invade your subconscious…maybe I’m not the worst writer on the planet…yeah, that is a damn good sentence…perhaps I can do this, etc.

I believe, as a writer, I have several jobs to do.

1: Write, as often as I can.

1.5: Finish what I start writing.

2: Always try to improve my craft.

3. Help other writers as much as possible.

The third one is very important to me. When I first started writing I was alone in it. One person encouraged me but only as a hobby. I was a stay at home mom with a husband who thought I should never do anything for me. My job was to be a mom and nothing else. Throughout the years I was actively discouraged and ignored when it came to writing. Everything from being told my writing sucked to being accused of being irresponsible for even trying. Once I was divorced and then married again I was the victim of subtle undermining. My confidence was shot and my desire to write was nil.

Then one day I realized something. My exes were A-holes who played on my real issue with writing: fear. I always worried I wasn’t good enough at it, that I was wasting time only to fail. I feared succeeding as much as failing. I was afraid of what others though or might think.

So I took the first steps toward writing regularly. Eventually I married a man who actually wants me to write. I found other writers in my community, most of which were encouraging and welcoming. The ones who aren’t, well, they can’t touch me after the stuff I heard from the exes.

Being around others like me changed everything. Now I write all the time. I have more confidence in what I do and I’m constantly improving.

When I meet new writers, or people trying to get back into it, with fear in their eyes, everything I went through comes back to me. So I step up and try to make them feel welcome. I share my story when needed and always have something positive to say about their work. I do the same for people who are actively writing. All I want is to be as supportive as I can. No one should have to feel bad about writing.

There will always be the negative writers around so I hope my attitude and others who think the same help to balance out the bad things we all have to hear. It takes so little effort to do these little things to help others and everyone benefits.

I’ll save my mean writer side for myself. Speaking of, after rereading this I spotted tons of complicated or shaky sentences and am fighting the urge to fix them. See? I don’t need anyone else to tell me I suck. Maybe someday I’ll even stop listening to myself.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to encourage at least one writer this week. I hope this message doesn’t self destruct!


Photo by Ryan McGuire

Why All Adults Should Strive To Be Someone A Child Can Trust

I had an eventful weekend. It didn’t start that way. On Friday I wasn’t feeling very good so I stayed home and spent all day alternating between sitting in my desk chair for 20 minutes and laying down for a while. I couldn’t figure out if I was having massive allergy issues or if I was sick. I erred on the side of caution by taking it easy.

On Saturday I was still a little sluggish but better so I guess it was allergies. I decided to stay home again just in case. I was so bored! I tried for a while to plan my new novel but I was unsuccessful. I did manage to cook dinner, clean off my bathroom counter, and  some dusting.

My daughter planned to have a friend, who I’ll call “M,” come over to spend the night. It was her best friend, who is practically a part of the family, so even though I didn’t feel good I didn’t mind.

At some point in the evening my daughter comes into my room alone looking nervous. I need to insert some back story here. M has an awful, controlling boyfriend. This guy made her delete all her social media accounts except Facebook and only allowed her to use it if he had the password. He wouldn’t let her see her friends often and cheated constantly. I was terrified it would get worse.

So back to that night, it took her a while, but eventually my kid started talking. She said M’s boyfriend had hit M, multiple times. For a few moments I couldn’t speak. I’ve been pretty angry many times in my life, I admit to a hot temper. But I’ve never felt anger like I did in that moment.

The first thing I asked was if M knew she was telling me, she did. I asked a few questions but quickly realized I needed to be asking M. I had my daughter go get her. She came in with her head down and sat on the end of my bed facing me. This kid looked like she was prepared to get in trouble! My heart broke.

I asked a lot of questions, like how many times, what else did he do, how long, etc. She was hesitant but once she started answering the floodgates opened. It took every bit of self-control I had in me to not demand we go to her mom and call the cops NOW. The problem was she had already said she didn’t want him to go to jail, she wanted him to get help. I also realized if she was ready to tell her mother she wouldn’t have come to me first.

So I controlled my impulse and gently steered her in the direction I thought she should go. I felt, and still feel guilty about it. I felt like I manipulated her and she’d had enough of that crap.

Anyway, she told stories of how when she tried to leave the guy he would cry and beg or if that didn’t work he would hit her. One day he punched her in the stomach repeatedly and hurt her hand when she tried to block him. I could go on and on at what this little bastard did but it’s getting me all worked up again so I’ll stop. Suffice it to say, he was abusive, in all the ways.

As the conversation continued I was searching for ways to get through to her and finally found the two triggers. First I said, “I bet you haven’t felt like yourself in a long time.” She was shocked and agreed. Then I asked her what she would want to happen if it was my daughter who’d been abused. It was a lightbulb moment. She looked at my daughter, then for the first time met my eyes. “I would want you to go to the cops.”

She agreed going to the police was the right thing to do but was nervous at the idea of facing him in court. I couldn’t advise her. She’s 15, old enough to be questioned in court, but maybe young enough that she can’t be forced. I just told her to tell the police how she felt about it. Did I mention the boyfriend is 18?

Then came the hardest part of all. I had to talk her into telling her mother. She didn’t want to but knew she should. She said she would tell her in the morning. I said “I think you should tell her tonight.”

She balked. I offered to do the talking and she agreed. As guilty as I feel for pushing her to tell her mom, I know in the back of her mind it’s what she wanted. So the three of us got in the car and drove to her house. On the way there she said she felt guilty. I told her it was okay to feel that way as no one can turn off feelings. She seemed relieved to hear it.

It was hard to tell her mother but I imagine it was easier for me than it would have been for M. Obviously the woman was very upset but it went as well as it could have. She said the best thing she could have at one point. When she asked M why she hadn’t come to her, M said she was afraid to tell an adult and she’d only barely told my daughter that night. Her mom said “I understand but it was telling an adult that is going to get you the help you need.” It was another lightbulb moment for M. I wanted to fist pump at the mom!

We went back to my house and on the way I asked M if she felt relieved. She said she did.

I haven’t heard anything yet about what they have done. I know M’s mom planned to go up the school and I hope she went to the police. M didn’t go to school today because she didn’t want to face the boyfriend. I do know he already knows she told her mom about him thanks to her idiotic sister telling him.

The night she told me all this I managed to get her to change her password on Facebook. While she was at my house he logged onto her account, pretended to be her, and asked both my daughters what ‘she’ should do about him.

We talked about ways to avoid this guy and to never be alone in the halls.  I also told her I would be more than happy to drive her to and from school because she normally rides a bike. It’s the only time she’ll be alone.

I’m worried about what’s she’s about to go through but I’m so happy she’s took steps to escape the situation. I’ve always been the ‘understanding’ mom of my daughter’s friend group. So thankfully she trusted me enough to tell me, the poor kid has been so scared and confused for so long.

The rest of the weekend was taken up by writing group stuff and Batman vs. Superman ultimate edition. I am still not feeling great but I was able to get out of the house today to work on planning my novel for Nanowrimo.

I’m a little distracted thinking about M but I plan to do some writing this afternoon. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.


P.S. Should I feel guilty for thinking about going to M’s mom or the police even if she didn’t agree? When I thought she wouldn’t do it, I was sorely tempted to do it myself.

Did I Dream This Day?

It’s been a strange day. Amazing, but weird. It started with my alarm scaring me so badly I almost yelped. I might have actually done it but I was out of it so I can’t be sure. I was super groggy when I got out of bed so it took me a while to notice I wasn’t in any pain.

You might assume I would jump for joy at this realization but not only do I never jump, as to avoid pain, but I was so confused by it I couldn’t have thought to be happy enough to leap. I simply let the dogs out and fed them, got ready and took my kid to school. I’m lucky I remembered to brush my teeth and throw a clippie in my hair.

After dropping her off I went to the gym, for the first time in four days I believe. I was a little nervous but even working out was odd today. First, I didn’t sweat while on the elliptical. I know, TMI but this was so out of the ordinary it’s worth adding to the list of strangeness that was this day.

Since it has been half a week since I worked out I expected it to be really hard but it wasn’t. I felt like I breezed through everything. Part of me wanted to stay longer and work harder but I was afraid my back would rebel. During all of this there was this tiny lady staring me down. I do mean the entire time. No matter where I went or what I did she was right there.

She had no expression on her face so I couldn’t figure out why she only had eyes for me. It was so uncomfortable! Eventually I got tired of it so after she once again got settled on the machine closest to mine I got up and went into the 30-minute workout room to finish up. I kept expecting her to come in there but she didn’t. I forgot about her and did what I needed to. When I left the room I saw her right outside the doorway but she was turned away.

I felt like a guilty child rushing past, hoping I wouldn’t get caught, but I did. A woman I previously worked with stopped me before reaching the other corner and we stood and talked for a few minutes. I was happy to see her but I wished we were standing anywhere but where we were. I could feel those eyes on me again!

When my conversation was ending, tiny lady walked past us and went into the locker room. So I went to sit in a massage chair for a while. While sitting there I realize I was being stupid. The poor woman had probably accidentally focused on me while she was working out and she might not have any idea she’d made me so uncomfortable. As there was nothing I could do about it I stopped thinking about it and tried to enjoy the massage.

Then I went to the locker room. Standing in front of my locker, naked, was tiny lady. She jerked a towel up in front of her, lengthwise, and scowled when she saw movement but as soon as she saw my face she relaxed and dropped the towel. She turned her back to me and went about her business. I don’t know precisely what that business was because I was too busy trying to find my locker without actually looking anywhere in its direction.

I’m pretty sure I bent sideways to retrieve my bag. This is impressive because as far as I know I shouldn’t be able to do that without a lot of pain. I promptly went into one of the changing rooms and closed the curtain. I heard a loud sigh from her, which prompted me to change slower than I ever have, ever, in the history of ever.

I heard another woman walk in and she made this odd little squeaky, gaspy sound. This was followed by a snort and a laugh, origin unknown. I’m sitting there on the little bench trying my hardest not to giggle at how ridiculous the whole situation was when I hear some huffing sounds. I believe they were offended noises but I can’t be sure, then someone walked out. I guess another lady had come in because one said “Can you believe that?” and another answered “Nope.” Then all was quiet and I finished changing.

When I peeked out there was only one other person in the room and she jerked around and stared at me in horror, then relief, I’m guessing because she feared I was also naked. She smiled at me sheepishly and we both left.

In the parking lot I was almost approached by a drunk woman asking for money (this was 9am!) but she was fixated on a man who’d come out before me. She kept yelling “Sir!” over and over but he was ignoring her. She turned in my direction and said “Ma’am,” but then turned back to the fleeing man and forgot about me.

I headed to what is quickly losing its title of ‘favorite writing place” to write. There was some guy in my spot, for the second time in a week. I guess it’s become his favorite spot too. So I sat in at the second choice table. It was a little uncomfortable because I didn’t have my laptop and while I can write without it, it was a change in my routine that threw me off. Still, I had my tablet and a spiral so I got to work.

The end of my novel was rearing its head at me. I was half excite and half terrified. Add in being weirded out by how my day was going and I had no clue if I’d be able to write. I did. My first task was to type up a few scenes I’d handwritten, then I wrote a couple more. When it came time for the last scene I realized I’d already written it, weeks ago, by hand. I was hungry by this point and my back started hurting so I went home for lunch and to search for the scene. I never found it. I searched through everything but it was nowhere.

I tried looking on the computer, just in case I’d already typed it up. It wasn’t there either. I searched through all my spirals and notes again, then again. Finally I decided to rewrite it. It irritated me because I liked the way I wrote it originally and I didn’t feel like the new version lived up to it, but I can fix it during revisions.

Then it struck me. I was finished with the first draft! I was so distracted by my odd day and the search for the elusive scene, I hardly noticed my accomplishment. I didn’t feel excited. I felt weird. It was like I couldn’t believe it or something. This day has simply been too weird.

So I must be dreaming, although I hope not because I don’t want to dream about odd tiny naked ladies, and spot stealing men. I certainly don’t want to write that final scene again!

Sidenote: There were several more odd occurrences today. From me leaving the dogs alone to take my son to the store without thinking about it (we never leave them unsupervised) to a woman calling me from the doctor’s office saying I owed $700 I don’t actually owe (which she discovered was an error on their part). I hope nothing else strange happens today. One can only take so much!

Ramblings

Two posts in one day? What is this world coming to?

Today is my oldest son’s birthday. He’s a real adult in my head now. Legally, he was an adult four years ago but like every parent, I didn’t immediately see him that way. Now I do and it makes me feel less than young.

Besides my kid being grown, several other things have happened lately which have made me nostalgic and a bit sad. I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in close to fifteen years. There was a falling out all those years ago and we didn’t keep in touch and she moved away. When I saw her and her husband I found out they’d moved back to town a year ago. I was surprised I’d never run into them during all that time but I shouldn’t have been. I rarely run into people I know when I’m out and about for some reason. This city isn’t even that big, barely over 250k people live here, so you’d think it would happen more often but it doesn’t.

Well, if I’m honest, I have to add I’ve become such a homebody I rarely get out except to get groceries and an occasional date night. I got especially bad about staying in once my back pain got really bad. Then with the surgery, well I’ve complained enough about that.

Eventually even I got cabin fever and by last weekend I was determined to get out and do something. There was the annual Art’s Festival on Saturday and Sunday. It was significant because last year at this time, while at the festival, I was forced to admit it was time to see a doctor about my back pain. I knew it would be a little hard on me to go but not compared to the last time.

I chose to go both days because I wasn’t sure I would make it through the whole thing in one day. I roamed around for hours, wearing myself out but loving every second. Then I ran into an old friend’s husband. I was so surprised to see him I almost believed it could actually be him so I walked past and kept going into booths and checking out all the cool stuff. We kept crossing paths and finally I believed it was him and said hi. We talked for a bit and he told me his wife would be there soon to work in one of the booths.

I didn’t know how I felt in that moment. I hadn’t seen her in so long and our friendship had ended on very bad terms. But we’d been friends for thirteen or so years before it all fell apart. I loved that woman like a sister. We were so close I was there when one of her daughters was born. Our kids had played together. We babysat for each other. We’d been there for each other through bad marriages and equally bad divorces. While a little nervous, I wanted to see her but I had one major issue. I was exhausted. I needed desperately to get home and lay down. I stayed for about twenty minutes but I got worried I wouldn’t even be able to drive so I had to leave before she arrived.

Obviously her husband was going to tell her we saw each other. I have no idea if she thought I was avoiding her or not.

The next day was my husband’s day off and he went with me to the festival and we dragged my friend Jesse with us. We saw my old friend but she was busy so we roamed around so the guys could check out everything, eventually making it back to where we started.

As soon as I got to her she hugged me. We talked for…I don’t know actually, my husband said 20-30 minutes. It was nice and it was strange. It was almost like stepping into the past.

Later in the evening my husband and I were talking about it and I got a little teary. The whole situation has been on my mind for days now and will probably continue to be. I don’t know what will happen next.

The last thing to happen to bring up old memories happened Monday evening. I met up with Jesse, who is also a writer, to talk about our writing. We went to a coffee shop we never go to. While there we ran into another writer who is part of the Nanowrimo group. The three of us talked for three hours straight. The encounter itself made me miss going to a writing group but some of the specific subject matter brought up a few painful things and one important truth.

Have you ever given advice you knew damn well you needed to follow? The other writer we ran into was talking about the guilt she felt for not working on a story she’d been trying to write for many years, eight I think. She said other stories popped up which she found more interesting and she would work on them. She also stated when she talked to people about the newer stuff she always got more interest than in her older novel. It was easy for me to tell her to put the old one to the side. I did the same thing, mostly. I explained how the more she writes the better she gets and by the time she gets back to the one bogging her down she would be better equipped to fix whatever it was that made her stray.

It’s what I did with a story, a trilogy actually, I started back in 2003, one of the worst years of my life. I really did put it aside. I made some story boards and put them up on the wall over my bed then I walked away. I occasionally have ideas for it but I simply jot them down and keep my distance. I do however still feel some guilt about not finishing the stories.

By the end of the night both me and the other writer felt less guilt about temporarily abandoning the burdensome tales. I was left with the memories of how excited I was to write the story in the beginning. How it grew into multiple books. How creative and amazing I felt and how no one cared but me. I got married for the second time a few days after the story first came to me. At first my ex pretended to be happy for me but I found out quickly it was something he was jealous of and hated. He found inventive ways to make me put my pen down. I do mean pen, back then I wrote exclusively by hand before typing everything up later.

After a while it wasn’t even hard for him to get me away from writing. I hated myself for walking away from the only thing I ever truly wanted to do and hated him because he was okay with that trade-off. Unfortunately, for years my trilogy carried so many negative vibes I could hardly stand to touch it. I did pick it back up the first year I did Nanowrimo and made some serious progress but there really are times you have to put certain things aside to make room for better ones.

The story ideas are sound but I was so bogged down in it I wasn’t making progress. Not on it or as a writer. When I stepped away and started writing really short fiction everything changed. I now have twelve stories in various stages of completion, many of them very close to being done and one completely finished waiting for revision. That’s twelve novel length ideas I’ve worked on in two years. I shouldn’t count one since I started it on Monday but I’m so into writing this one it needs to be on the list. I won’t include the two children’s books until they are edited. Add in the close to a hundred pieces of flash fiction and I think it’s safe to say it was a good idea to step away from the trilogy.

None of this would be possible if I was still spending all my time and effort on a series of books that only drag me down. Some day the memories won’t stop me from writing it. In fact I’ve used some of those memories to fuel other stories, at least partly exorcising their power over me. Until then I won’t feel bad about it, anymore. Besides, it’s there are the wall waiting for me whenever I’m ready. I won’t forget about it.

On a lighter note, I spent the morning working on my new story. I need to come up with a vague outline but I have all the pieces I need to do it. All the bare bones are there. I sat in a coffee shop for three hours sipping hot tea and writing any scene that came to me. My head was all over the place but it worked for me today. Now I need a little more structure. I’m not a real planner but some planning is beneficial. I like index card outlines.

I have a wall outside my bedroom that was used for nothing. It’s in a tiny hallway and the only decoration I tried putting on it got knocked off and broken. So I bought 12 inch cork board squares and red yard to make a giant index card outline. The last story I had on it used the three act structure but I put up extra boards so I could use it for any structure I wanted.

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All the labels and yarn are put up with tacks so it’s easy enough to change. Ugh the handwriting! Having it outside the bedroom means I see it every time I go anywhere else in the house, which is great.

Once I have cards up for the new story I’ll be able to easily see where the holes are and work on filling them in. There is no estimate on when I’ll have the thing written. I’m in no hurry, I’m just thrilled to be writing again. I don’t think I’ll put this one away to work on previous stuff though. No need to clutter my recovering head space.

It’s odd, I was going to use one of my prompts from Write Anything Wednesday, the one about a birthday present, but I wrote this rambling post instead, plus all the writing I did this morning. Not a bad thing in my opinion!

Also, my inner editor is aware of how many times I used the word ‘that’ and how many unnecessary commas this post has but I refuse to get into editing mode while I have new ideas flowing. So pardon the mess while I’m still under construction or whatever.