Archive for Personal Stories

Stretch it out part two!

I’ve previously put together a list of some of my favorite stretching videos but lately I’ve been feeling tighter than usual (that whole being a desk all the time thing will get to you) and wanted to share some more stretching videos that I’ve found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are some stretches that help you when you’re getting that tense stiffness from sitting at a desk?

Stressed out about overworrying about being anxious

Stress

I’m an incredibly anxious person. I over worry about everything. For example, I once panicked about what I was going to wear on a flight to interview for a job in Oregon… BEFORE I had even submitted my job application for the position. I’m always thinking 15 steps ahead, and at least 13 of those steps are worst case scenarios and what could go wrong.

I live with the constant thought that people always hate it when I text or email them because I’m bothering them. I worry that I responded too quickly to a message; I worry that I responded too slowly to a message and that either option means I’m a lost cause and this person will no longer respect or like me. I wake up some mornings with a sense of doom that wraps around my neck like a wool scarf suffocating me in the middle of July.

I stress out about what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, in a month, a year, ten years, twenty years. I panic about the imaginary things I haven’t done yet, and I worry that the things I have done, I’ve done all wrong somehow. I worry that every time I mess up even in the slightest, that I’ve doomed myself forever and should just go shove my head in the ground and hide.

It’s an exhausting way to live, and sometimes it flares up in wickeder than usual ways that leave me ill, depressed, and a general mess who just wants to lock myself in my room so I don’t have to interact with anyone.

Sometimes I can write my way through it, and other times I’m so worried that what I’m writing is awful, and therefore I’m awful that I can barely write a sentence. One of the things I struggle with as a writer is building high enough conflicts because tension worries me (yes even fictional tension) and I just want things to go smoothly which doesn’t make for compelling stories exactly.

I write this not because I want coddling or anything like that (and I worry immensely that’s what this post will be taken as), but because I know it’s a problem, and I’m not going to continue to hide from it, instead I’m working on ways to manage it.

  • I run, walk, or just jump in circles in my room.
  • I send a message to someone I admire and tell them why they’re amazing.
  • I look through a folder of all of the things I have accomplished.
  • I keep track of what I do every day, and praise myself for finishing things.
  • I do yoga or just lay on the floor and listen to the sounds of a thunderstorm.

Sometimes these work, some days it’s like trying to run from a swarm of killer bees that I can already feel digging into my skin. No day is perfect, and I’ve come to accept that and to try to not (hahahaha) worry about it.

I know I spend most of my time on this blog talking about writing, but this is a part of my writing (and every day life) that I don’t mention much, and I feel like it’s time to own it. Writing on some days is like trying to wade through a locust swarm in my gut that’s constantly trying to devour me from the inside out. But the things I want to write help me make it through the storm and to the other side where I can see the non-bug-infested light again.

I wish there were some piece of advice, some great tip from a self-help book that I could pass along, but the truth is, I just sort of throw a dart towards where I want to go and blindly push forward through locust swarms and all. Some days I lay down and let the bugs crawl all over me, and some days I walk through beautiful sunlight. But at the end of the day I try to do the best I can with what I’ve got going on, and to just keep pushing forward. You’re not alone.

Be Boring

When I was first starting to really take myself seriously as a writer (as in writing every day and trying to actively get published), I remember thinking that I was way too boring to write anything exciting. I mean, I don’t do drugs, or get black out drunk every night. I don’t go wild and travel through dangerous areas in the dead of night. Hell, I think the most dangerous thing I do on a regular basis is walk into my bookshelf nearly every morning when I’m getting ready for work because despite nearly a year of it being in the same place, it’s always a surprise!

I grew up with stories about the wild antics of writings, with the motto ‘write drunk, edit sober’ being thrown around by everyone I knew. I always thought I was too much of a bore to fit in, but what I’ve found over the last few years has been the opposite. Schedules actually help me keep at my writing more than any sort of wild life ever could.

Knowing that I’m home by 4 every day and sticking to the schedule lets me prepare to write. It’s become a habit now. I don’t have to sit and wait to be inspired to write, it’s simply 4:00 and time to write. Most of the writers I know who are successful do this. They write and take care of themselves. There are always exceptions to the rule, but by and large, the writers who are making it in the creative world work on schedules, not whims.

Now clearly not every day works out in an ideal way, but having a steady life where I am not totally clueless about what’s coming next helps keep me grounded. When I’m not stressing about what’s going to happen tomorrow (or where I’m going to get my next fix) keeps me focused on the story at hand. I’ve fond that the only real way to get any writing accomplished is really simple: sit on your butt (or stand at your standing desk) and write. There’s nothing else that puts the words into the world. Not talking about writing, not daydreaming, not reading. At the end of the day the only way to write is…. to write.

And a boring, stable life helps that happen.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to keep a boring life in all aspects. Try new things, travel to new places, eat weird food that you can’t pronounce, and do things that scare you, but never feel like having a stable life is a disadvantage when it comes to being creative.

Introducing: Kamala

So about three weeks ago, a lovely little kitty cat showed up in front of my door and (literally) demanded to be adopted. I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to find her owners, but now, pretty much a month later, Kamala the cat is here for the long run.

I’ve wanted a cat for some time but various reasons have led to me putting it off, but apparently the universe decided to just give me an amazing, sweet cat. She’s mellow, doesn’t like jumping on things, and is happiest when she is being pet, or when she’s napping on her carpet scratching pad. She’s been a doll so far, curling up beside me and sleeping most of the night, and occasionally getting into wrestling matches with a stuffed duck.

So, I just decided to post her on up her and introduce her to the world.

So this is Kamala, named after the new Ms. Marvel, because she’s got a little lightning bolt on her tummy.

 

Tummy bolt!

Tummy bolt!

Watching me write.

Watching me write.

Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

Not wanting to get out of bed in the morning.

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Napping on my Marvel bag.

10 Things I Wish I’d Learned In My Creative Writing Degree

When I finished my BA in English with a focus in Creative Writing, I was convinced I knew everything. Then I went to try to get a short story published in something besides the college run literary magazine and realized I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. For a while I was really angry about how little I came out of school knowing how to do. (Some days I still am.) It felt like my entire degree had been geared towards learning how to write what my professors wanted me to write, certainly not for me. I learned how to write for the deadline, make the changes the professor wanted, and to turn in a paper on time.

Learning how to turn things in on a deadline is a great skill to have learned, but I still get upset when I think about all the things I wished I’d learned in my program, and the things I wished I’d even known to ask about! Here’s a list of 10 things I wish I had learned about with my degree.

… continue reading this entry.

“Books are written with time stolen from other people”

Selfish.

It’s a word that plays on repeat in my brain. On a good day I’ll only hear it once or twice. On a bad day it plays a song that lasts from the moment my eyes open to the second I finally drift to sleep.

One of the things that I struggle the most with writing is the selfishness that it requires. I don’t mean the Golum hoarding type of selfishness, I mean the ‘I have to go lock myself in my bedroom for the entire evening rather than hang out with my friends/family’ sort of selfishness.

I’ve always been very bad at saying no or not doing something for someone else. I am a people pleaser at my very core, and I struggle with any time I have to say no to doing something for someone. I have a terrible case of balloon hand where I volunteer for tasks that pop up and cut away from my time.

I want to help everyone and do everything for all of the people I care about. I will drop everything and drive eight hours through the night if someone really needs me to. But the problem with that is that I constantly give away time that I need to spend on my writing.

What I probably struggle the most with is writing in the evenings when my roommates are home. I adore my roommates and it’s rare that we’re all home at the same time so I want to savor that, but I struggle to get much work done when camped out in the living room half listening to a conversation, and half plotting on how to kill the troublesome centaur in chapter 3.

I’m half way everywhere and getting nothing done.

I recently read the quote that became the title of this post, “Books are written with time stolen from other people” and as much as I’ve searched the Internet I can’t figure out who said it (if you know please tell me!). But this quote is probably one of the truest things I’ve ever read. The time spent on writing is time not spent doing something else, and a lot of  that means cutting time with people you love.

How do you get around it?

For me, I’m starting to adjust myself to getting up earlier in the morning and trying to write then. I’m looking at a few other options to see if I can make the time I need without feeling like I’m cutting contact with the people I love, because while writing can be a lonely job, you need contact with people and a support network for the inevitable swings that writing brings.

I think this problem is particularly an issue when you work full time, because after that 8-10 hours a day are gone, there’s not many hours left to fit in everything else. To everyone with children, and spouses, I admire your dedication even more. I’m single, childless and still stress about time on a daily basis.

The truth of the matter is that there is no way to just magically ‘find’ time in your day like a discarded nickel found in the washing machine. You make time, you carve it out from the flesh of the day and you have to leave pieces behind because there just isn’t enough to go around. The important thing is to be aware of what you’re cutting out, and to take control of the hours you can free.

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Opportunity + Preparation = Luck

A few months ago I posted about putting a ban on the word luck, and I’ve been done pretty well with keeping my word and owning what I’ve done. Recently I saw an incredible quote that finally summed up what I felt about luck. It’s from a Business Insider article, and is something that Betty Liu heard from her television coach.

“Opportunity + Preparation = Luck” (hence the blog post title, I’m so clever)

You can be in the exact right place and meet the exact right person but if you’re not prepared then it’s for nothing. Imagine meeting a Hollywood executive looking for his/her next big movie option, and runs into you. You don’t have a screenplay written, you’ve just got a kind of half-formed idea. Even though you’re in the right place, things probably aren’t going to work out for you because you’re not prepared.

Luck comes to people who work hard and put themselves into positions to luck out. You’re never going to just get lucky and land a new job in a different field by sitting at home and never learning those skills you need. You’re never going to just happen to sell the next Harry Potter sitting at home never writing.

You have to put in the time and effort for all the pieces to fall into place.

2014: One Thing at a Time

I love making resolutions for the new year.

Anyone who has ever been to a New Year’s Eve party with me knows that I take my time to put my resolutions on pretty scrapbook paper, carefully chosen and decorated. I then hang that paper somewhere in my room where I will see it every day for the next year.

I also have a bad habit of making somewhat unrealistic resolutions, like the year I resolved to write a best selling novel and make a million dollars…in that single year. But this year I’ve done really well with my goals and kept them at a realistic level. I’m not going to share all of my resolutions, but I have made a goal that I want to talk about because it’s the one I’m most excited about.

This year I have resolved to do things one at a time.

It sounds so simple, but it’s something I really struggle with. In the past, while writing a blog post I would  have a youtube video going, and probably be chatting with a friend or two, and maybe reading a book or playing a game too.

I would watch movies with my phone in my hand, and read books while trying to play a game. I would never really stop to 100% focus on the one task I was trying to accomplish, so I ended up with a lot of confused, half-finished projects that I never quite knew where to pick up.

So this year I’ve resolved to do things one at a time. So while I’m writing this blog post, that’s all I’m doing. There’s no video playing in the background; I’m not trying to cook dinner at the same time. I am sitting here giving my entire attention to the task at hand.

So far, it’s gone wonderfully, and I really can see a difference in a lot of what I do. I’ve accomplished more, and kept better organized. I see a project, start it, and finish it. BAM.

Now, I know there are projects that cannot be finished in a single sitting, and that’s fine too. I devote a certain amount of time to them, and when that time is up I can work on other things. For instance, I’ll write on the next novella of the Bone Queen series for twenty minutes to an hour, and then I’ll work on something else, but during that project time, that’s all I do.

It’s strange to think that actually stopping to just focus on one thing is a resolution I would make, but lately I’ve noticed how badly multi-tasking has served me. I get a little bit of work done on a lot of different projects but can never cross anything off my list. What good is that? Just a whole lot of spinning in place and going nowhere.  So this year I resolve to forget multi-tasking and go back to focusing on a single project at a time!

What kind of resolutions are you making for this year (if any) and how’s it going keeping them so far?

Back to my roots in Milledgeville, GA

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This weekend I will be a guest at the Georgia Literary Festival taking place in Milledgeville, Ga. This is my first year as a guest, and, for me, what makes this honor even more special is the fact that I received my bachelor’s degree from Georgia College in Milledgeville. It’s also the first place I was published (in the Georgia College Literary Magazine, The Peacock’s Feet.

So Milledgeville is near and dear to my heart and I’m very excited about returning.

So, where will I be?

Friday

Somewhere between 5-7: The Georgia College reception in the Dunahoo Lounge on campus (next to the Chic-Fil-A).

Saturday

12:oopm: Rise of the New Pulp in the Georgia College Library Information Technology Center.

4:00pm: Georgia (and Murder) On My Mind in the Old Governor’s Mansion Education Room.

Between those, I’ll be in vendor area wandering from table to table. My awesome friends, and fellow writers Bobby Nash, Sean Taylor, Van Allen Plexico and Barry Reese (who also deserves a huge thanks for all the work he’s put in the festival and making it awesome!).

I will be selling my books and am happy to sign anything, so just come say hello!

Book Releases and Tears

Today my first stand alone work debuted on Amazon (which you can buy here).

It’s been an incredible trip to get here, and I have a confession to make.

Today, after getting home from work, and just staring at a book cover with my name on it, I  burst into loud, ugly sobbing for about thirty minutes.

Because a year ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be here.

I wrote the Bone Queen while I was in my second to last semester of grad school, and I was ready to give up writing. I hated the first draft of the Bone Queen. Hated it. I was ashamed of what I’d written.

I lost all faith in myself as a writer, and resigned myself to never writing again.

And for about six months after that, I didn’t write. I was at a point of exhaustion I didn’t think could exist. I was past just running on fumes; I ran on nothing but spite, hate, and caffeine. Graduate school really did nearly kill me and every creative bone in my body.

It wasn’t until I had turned in my thesis that I even really gave writing a try again, and I was shocked at how much just writing again helped me feel like me again. It helped me be not so exhausted, not so depressed, and anxious.

It was like falling in love with words all over again.

The Bone Queen’s revisions all happened during that slow return back to words. The first few revision drafts were painful and awkward like trying to crawl through a mine field with your arms and legs bound behind your back. But by the time the third draft was taking shape, I felt confident in my own fingers again.

I found my footing, and The Bone Queen’s story found its heart.

Seeing it in print, knowing that everything had paid off in the end just sent me into tears of relief, and joy at knowing that I did it, that I was much stronger and way more dedicated than I ever gave myself credit for. (and waaaaay more dedicated to writing than to say… getting up early to exercise. hahahaha)

So, here’s a little bit of encouragement and hope out there for anyone whose struggling with writing, who can’t see the end of the road. It’s out there, and you can get there even if you have to crawl through the mud, and drag your exhausted body across coals.

I know a lot of people are starting Nanowrimo right now, so just buckled down and crawl through the fire.

You can do it.

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