A taste of the real world: Chew and Swallow

I am not my own boss anymore.

That’s probably the suckiest thing about working retail again. I can’t decide my pace or what projects to work on. There’s always pressure to go faster and do better if I want to keep the job. I have 6 bosses. But I can’t complain. I have to keep my mouth shut and not say what I honestly feel about where I work and the people I work with. There’s no secrecy. Bitching about co-workers and bosses to other co workers and bosses will eventually make it down the grape-vine. The bitchee will find out.

First lesson: Co-workers are not friends. They WILL nark on you. (Also, I am secretly a sour puss bitch.Who knew?)

Cuz this is the real world folks, where I am just a functioning body and corporate doesn’t care. Neither do your bosses. Get the f*&king work DONE.

How I’m turning that into a POSITIVE: Learning to deal with different types of personalities makes me stop and observe people more. Some people can take sass with a grain of salt and some get concern, even offended.

Next suckiest thing is the communication misinformation that runs rampant with major chain stores. Communication is KEY in retail. GOOD* communication. Everyone has to be more or less on the same page and any disagreements about it should be handled immediately, in a calm and professional manner. (Rather than my typical “This is complete SHIT” blurted-out honesty.) My family has spoiled me by not correcting my sardonic sass. They love me regardless. Corporate, not so much.

Second lesson: Not everyone can understand or appreciate my humor so ZIP IT.

How I’m turning that into a POSITIVE: Being silent and listening will make me more approachable and less likely to be noticed by the higher ups. It also reminds me to be patient and humble, something I think has slowly been slipping from my personality of late.

Next suckiest thing is how SLOOWWWWWWWWW I am at my job!! It’s embarrassing! I haven’t worked in ten years and it shows. I’m more blind now than I was as a teenager (I actually require glasses for my job) and my brain doesn’t work quite as fast. Hard core reality check right there. I’m getting OLD. Some of the managers are sympathetic of this fact, which I appreciate. Others are not. They attempt to give me tips and tricks to increase my speed and…yeah no. It just doesn’t compute. I say “okay” and continue doing things my way. But that makes me “uncoachable” apparently.

So I get dinged and sent to the principle’s office.

My entire attitude about it (which they’ve been able to clearly see) is “Let me do my F&*KING job and leave me alone!” All these interruptions and conversations break my concentration and I lose my rhythm. But I can’t say that. When they talk to me about how off-putting I am when it comes to advice and teaching moments, I have to be a broken record and a dancing monkey. Which makes me raise my hackles. Do NOT tell me how to do the job I’m already doing!

Well…

Third lesson: Constructive criticism is a thing. It’s not nit-picking. They do really want to help (in most cases).

How I’m turning it into a POSITIVE: I hate people telling me how to do my job. HATE IT. HOWEVER, I will learn to bite my tongue and put suggestions to use in case they really are helpful. I really don’t know everything and I must be adaptable to change.

Overall, I see this as training for being a published writer. I’m not going to be to everybody’s taste and I need to find a way to accept that with grace. Hey that rhymes! How sublime!

(See? It really does always come back around to writing ;D )

I WILL become my own boss some day and write exclusively. And I WILL combat criticism with professionalism. Every experience is a lesson. Only YOU can decide what to take from it.

Good luck with life y’all.

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The Shine has worn off but there’s a glimmer of….something

Corporate america sucks. Or just corporate.

It’s been ten long years but I remember this now.

Money grubbing lunatics. Paying their workers a pittance to do back breaking labor and expecting results at twice the speed a machine PLUS doing everyone else’s job as well at the drop of a hat. Why do the butt-scratching monkies in the “big chair” get such a huge chunk of change when we–THE WORKERS!!!– make it for them by selling their products?

…….Can you tell the shine has worn off my new book seller job? It only took three months and it’s not even the crazy season yet. Sorry I’m not a robot, management. Why don’t we trade for awhile and see if you can do three carts in 4 hours, hmmmmmm??????? I swear it’s like working on a U-boat. Everyone had to be ready to pick up slack if someone falls. Geezus.

Well I’m not here to be a negative Nancy, although I could rant for days about everything wrong at my store. I want to talk about something more…practical?……more….positive? Some sort of “P” word, instead. It’s something that I don’t usually notice is a thing until I’m faced with such bad days and it’s a thing I am so grateful for. I don’t know how I cultivated it but I’ve learned to rely on it to get me through.

It’s the ability to turn every experience I have into a story. And I truly think this is a mark of a true writer.

Just like a dancer can choreograph to any music or a painter can see the brush strokes and colors to create a scene in their minds eye. Taking anything and everything in real life and being able to bring it back around to the thing you truly love in your heart of hearts…..that is true artistry. That’s PASSION.

Yes, I’ve had a bad day and it sucks. HOWEVER, I know that I’m going to use the injustice and indignance I feel and funnel it into a story someday. Several probably. Some angsty pre-teen or crochety old man waving his cane will be the vessel of my outrage. As I write the words, I’ll let the memory fill me up. I’ll close my eyes and remember how frustrated I felt and how the hot tears slipped down my cheeks. The horror of crying at work. The unfairness of being told I’m not doing well at my job. The miscommunication between management and their workers.

“It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.”

F%^& you it’s not personal!! I’m making is personal! And you all shall be immortalized as catalysts for my angst! May your sins be printed forever on the pages that come from me! You will not keep me down!!!!!

So thank you Barnes, for allowing me to experience how it feels to be helpless and criticized. Middle school is flooding back to me all over.

And I’m so so sorry to my co-worker for spilling my word vomit on her. I added my burden to her already sagging shoulders >.< I promise, some chocolate cookies are going to be baked for you.

All Magic comes with a Price, Dearie.

Sometimes I want to be a kid again.

Okay, ALL the time I want to be a kid again. Everything was Magic.

To them, everything has the potential to be a game and all they had to worry about was playing it. Imagination abounds morning, noon and night and they don’t give a rat’s ass who looks on while they battle dragons or fret over princes rescuing them. Only the adventure matters.

As adults, we lose this magic. Real life interrupts the adventure and evil villains like Bills and Work appear to shackle us with eternal slavitude. (Seriously Disney, make a Bills and Work Villain. Make kids NEVER want to grow up!) Thankfully, we have at least one saving grace, besides questionably healthful drinks like whiskey and coffee.

Yep. BOOKS. (Surprise, surprise 😉 )

Anyone can be an arm-chair traveler! We can sleuth as Sherlock and spelunker with a sexy tour guide in our mind, make dinner, pay bills, and come back to the adventure whenever we’re able. We can visit France, eat pan au chocolat, sip une tea citron and water the garden at the same time. Probably the only bonus to being an adult. We’ve learned to multitask. Reading is a wonderful escape from reality and a piece of recaptured childhood.

There’s something about being a kid that is so magical and carefree. But parts of it really should stay as magical memories. The neighbor girl that you played with and moved away (that you later found out became a crack whore). That trip to Disneyland where you only remembered Mr. Toad’s wild ride (and not getting lost in the mirror maze and screaming your head off till someone rescued you), or going to watch a movie with your parents on a SCHOOL NIGHT (then getting sick later from the popcorn and red vines).

As an avid writer and reader, I can extend this concept to books as well. Books that really should have stayed in my childhood out of self-preservation.

A few years ago I started to re-collect all the books I’d read as a child. The ones teacher’s used to read to us in class and book series I read that I enjoyed. I was so excited to have them again and share them with my own kids. I felt it was important to preserve these friends of mine and even re-read a few to refresh my memory.

This was a mistake.

It came with a price. Cuz all Magic does, right Rumple?

The price was that my standards have risen.

Children are fairly easy to please. The bad guys are conquered and the hero wins. The guy gets the girl in the end. The lost puppy finds his way home. Throw in a little action and some kissy scenes and most of the demographic is happy.

We ENJOYED these stories so much. The simplicity of knowing everything will be alright in the end and that there was always another adventure waiting for us on the book shelf.

Not really so satisfying as an adult. Adults require puzzles and challenges and angst. Something a little more meaty than a kissing scene or a skirmish. We need characters that don’t have all the answers immediately after they come up against a problem and that are multi-faceted enough to seem genuine. Adult readers demand more than children or Young Adult books often give.

But it’s still nice to have the memories. Tread softly with childhood my friends. Preserve them like a rare first edition tome.

Alright! Moving on!

So we’ve covered the reader part of this great magical tragedy. What about the WRITER part of it?

Ahhhh yes let’s flip this problem around on the authors.

How many times have you browsed book shelves and found a series you liked so much that binge read all of them in a week? The author held your attention the entire time and you became so engrossed in the plot you missed several meals and held your pee till the very last second? More than a few I bet. You’ve raved about these books to friends and family and wished the writer would come out with more but they don’t.

Well alright. You move on and you shelve the series under “Most Beloved” in your mind. You might re-read them over the years, like visiting good friends and discover some things you never knew or had forgotten. Your opinions might change and characters that were once your favorite may be knocked off their pedestal in favor of the funny side kick or “one-liner Bob”. You still wish there were more books to enjoy, that you didn’t have to quit the adventure so soon.

What happens when the WRITER wishes this?

…..this is where it becomes tricky my friends. And this is where my heart feels so well–disheartened.

So a writer really enjoyed penning the series you raved about. It was well-rounded, poignant, action packed and maybe even won an award. They sweat, toiled, cried and bled and spun straw into solid gold. Probably thousands of dollars worth of gold. Once they finished the series, they sat back and smiled and got through the book hangover with a good long vacation and maybe a book tour a little later.

Jump forward ten years.

They have several more books or series under their belt now. They may or may not have been more successful with them. They may or may not have won awards or had more tours. Sitting in their grand houses in their special writing room, they look around, trying to drum up some inspiration.

Hmm….What next?

Then something catches their eye. It’s THAT series. YOUR series. HMMMM. There was a lot of potential in that series huh? Things seemed to come together so well and there were a lot of things they meant to do with it. Characters they wanted to flesh out with a side story or two or maybe an origin story. And there was the one villain that didn’t quite fit into the first part of the series but maybe with some tweaking—

I honestly don’t know WHY this happens. Really. IT’S A TRAGEDY!!!!!!

I’m going to be truthful and say that I have NEVER come across a book series that has had a successful return to life.

NEVER.

They all were zombiefied versions of an author that was ten years younger, had a different mindset and different circumstances. I feel like when writers try to resuscitate a long dead series that they’re looking at their tux or dress from prom and confidently thinking they can slip back into it with ease, ten years later. “Nothing much has changed! I’m still as fit as ever!”

Guuhhhh. Seeing fat authors in skinny jeans is something you can never un-read. Trust me. It ruins everything and it taints your previous enjoyment of the beloved book series.

They don’t notice that particular brand of  magic is gone and the price that has been paid is that they have become a different author. 

I made my bestie Owen swear an oath to me. He had to swear to me that when I become successful author and in a decade I even THINK about trying to add on to a series I’ve written, he has to flog me until the idea passes. This is how passionately I believe that once dead, keep dead.

There ARE exceptions of course but this is where tricky comes in.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is one such exception. I say this because the book isn’t about Harry, Draco, Hermione and Ron. It’s about their KIDS. They’re parents in this book and have minimal parts to play. Books written within the same WORLD I think have more success with resuscitation. Genuine “It LIIVVESSSSSS!!!” Frankenstein moments. If someone were to make a continuation of the Narnia series for instance or the Dark Crystal series with only peripheral mentions of characters past, that’s acceptable. (Sorry I can only think of fantasy examples. It is my genre after all.)

Also tricky is when a reader first comes to the series and is able to re-read through the entire old and new halves of it in one go. It may not affect them at all and they simply cannot see anything wrong with the skinny jeans. But to me, it’s like binge watching all the Star Wars. ALL of them. 1 through 7. (Or is it 8 now? I’m losing track.) There are huge glaring differences that CGI and flashy tech simply cannot dazzle me enough to forget.

I’ve learned to be wary when it comes to books from my past. Childhood should be preserved. You should be a kid again of course; just do it the adult way. Don’t try to recapture what you had because you’ll pay the price. It’s not worth it, believe me. I’m writing this blog post to pass on what I’ve learned to you and to my future self. You can agree or disagree. We’re human and have opinions and free will. I’d welcome a comment about your opinions if you feel obliged!

—————DON’T DO IT!!!!!!!! FUTURE JESS, DO. NOT. DO. IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!—————-

😀 Have a pleasant experience my friends and followers. Tread carefully.

The Happiest Place on Earth is NOT Disneyland

So.

This post is going to be a little more personal than usual but it eventually will end up about writing. Long story short, there’s been several deaths in the family, several births, very large and painful secrets divulged, there’s been separations and divorces, my husband lost his job and I had to find one after 10 years of not working.

It’s not a complaint-fest I swear! It’s a bit of a story actually. Surprise, surprise 😉

When my husband lost his job it was right around the same time I was looking for my own employment. His employer hadn’t been paying the workers on time and that sent up a huge red flag that something was going down. The kids were older and I knew we all could handle me getting a part-time job now. Plus, it was going to be necessary.

So I went online and did the whole “job recruiter” thing. I sent out half a dozen applications a day and waited anxiously. Target called me right away for an interview and I was excited. Not to work there but about being called back. This was easy! I trotted myself down there and waited on a bench with two other beefy guys. Haaaaa…

I did everything wrong apparently. I wore jeans to the interview for one. I was so far out of the game I didn’t realize that was taboo. I was a mom for Christ sake, looking for a stocking job! Who needed to be fancy?! I was too honest in my interview and said the wrong kinds of things. Like, “What is one quality your employer would say you need to work on?” and I replied with “Speed. I’m a perfectionist so I go slow and do things right.”

*FACE PALM*

They trap you with those questions, I swear! What is the LEAST BAD thing you can say about yourself that won’t impact your job performance? Seriously. And being a perfectionist isn’t bad! Ugghhh. Needless to say I didn’t get called back. I’ve been much less inclined to shop there suddenly. Hmm. Back to the apps.

Now, I don’t know how it is for you lovely people out there in WordPress Land but there has always been a job or two that I’ve ALWAYS wanted. I don’t aim high for employment so it’s not like I wanted to be a CEO or anything. I’m perfectly happy working in retail (a rare trait, might I add.) One of those jobs I had before I got pregnant with my first daughter. I wanted to work at a craft store. Michael’s hired me and I stayed there until a week before my kid was born. I was never able to go back since I got pregnant again right after my first was born. But I got to live one of my “dream” jobs!

It was wonderful! I helped kids with their art projects and I helped a young couple memorialize their deceased babies in a beautiful ceremony with reminder bracelets. I knew alllll the tips and tricks for the artsy things and I could whip out a full custom frame job in an hour if need be. I felt energized by helping people and my bubbly personality made their shopping experience better. No grumpy employee here! It was a mutualistic happy relationship I had with Michael’s. 

I did apply there first, actually. My mom works there now and my cousin worked there for many years off and on. I knew the managers by name and many of the employees knew ME because I practically lived there, shopping for one crafty project or another. It would still be a good job for me and I knew I would benefit the company.

However.

There was one “Unicorn Job” I’ve wanted since I was 18. I applied every year and always seemed to just miss the cut off. I was there almost every day of the summer in middle and high school. It was my salvation away from an abusive step father.

Can you guess that it might be? If one half of me is crafts, then the other half iiiiisssssss……??????

C’mon you can guess! I made a blog specifically for this kind of thing!

Nothing? Not a clue?

Alright, fine. I’ll tell you.

My unicorn job is Barnes and Nobles. It was and is MY happiest Place on Earth. Screw you Disneyland with your long lines and screaming kids. *shudder*

Yep! All those lovely dead trees printed with stories and facts and information. MMMM!!!!!! I knew I would be a good fit in there too if I could just get my foot in the door. I am well-read and I’m a pleasant and helpful soul. So once more, with a hope and a prayer, I tried one last time. I filled out the application and sent it in. Then I waited three agonizing days before taking my mama’s advice and going there to show my face. She always said it was better to go and let your physical presence be known to potential employers. It showed initiative.

Well. I was terrified. My interview went so badly with Target I got tongue-tied when I saw the store manager. My mind went blank. This was my unicorn job! I had to keep it together! I fumbled my way through introductions and could barely spit out what I came to ask. I was shaking and near tears. I was a mess.

She took pity on me, thankfully. I think my trembling chihuahua bit softened her and she arranged to have me contact her assistant manager to set up an interview. I walked out of the store, zombie-like, and stood by my car, in shock.

Did…did that just happen? Was that my foot going into the proverbial door of my dream job? OMG. OMG! I threw my arms up and screamed “YES!”

Well, I’m happy to inform you I am the newest part-time employee at Barnes and Nobles. YES! I did it! I didn’t get the book seller position I wanted BUT I got something much better suited for me. I joined the work force, which is basically stocking shelves and organizing, my two favorite things to do to books besides read them. I get to see all the newest titles pass through my hands and glean information here and there about what publishers are pushing out these days. My Good Reads account is slowly starting to fill up.

I did it. I can hardly believe it. I got my Unicorn job! I’m very slow, which is bad but that’ll improve with time. The holiday season is right around the corner and I need to be fully cognizant of the shelves before the crazy season begins. I adore all my co workers, who are welcoming and generous with me and my incessant questions. My managers are equal parts firm and funny. It is literally, everything I wanted.

I’m humbled working there too. I’m only a month in but so many things have been brought to my attention that I know I need to work on. For one thing, I have a poor diet of books in my library. Or rather, a very fantasy rich diet. Trying to recommend my personal selection of books to guests makes me feel like a toddler handing the “Good Night Moon” book to an adult. I need to get some meaty selections on my shelves! Some current events or some mysteries at least. I have all of my mother’s Lee Child books and picked up nary a one to read. So I’ll be working on that. 30% employee discount might help 😀

Another thing that has humbled me is looking at all the successful authors that have made it to the shelves. There are hundreds of thousands of authors at BnN. They’re the ones that have done the hard work and bled all over their manuscripts to make their dream come true. They WANTED it. They didn’t give up. What kind of writer am I to stop when the going gets tough? A punk ass one, that what.

I know that paper books are somewhat of a dying market. E-books are convenient, cheaper, environmentally friendly blah blah blah….I still don’t own a nook or a kindle or whatever. But I have a job at a book store. And I want to be traditionally published. I can only feel that me getting the job at Barnes and Nobles is a step in the right direction. I get up front information about what kind of genre and books each publisher is looking for. I can jump on trends and I can find endless inspiration on the shelves.

I am a blessed person. For all the shit I’ve been going through since the beginning of the year, I’m grateful I can still find blessings and my eyes are still opened to them. I’m excited for this new chapter in my life, even if juggling everything has been difficult. I’ve dropped a few balls but they’ll be in the air again. Once such ball has been my blog. I’ll be getting back into it again. I need to.

I’ve managed to manifest my dream retail job into my life so I can do the same with my truest and biggest dream as well.

I WILL be published. I WILL!

Take care everyone. Don’t give up. Find the blessings ❤

Split Personality: lexicon Sabotage

Dr. Jessica and Mrs. Hide-the-beiotch psycho Jess. This has been my life this month.

I was set to do a challenge: 52K in May that my bestie Owen generously crammed into my busy stay-at-home-mom schedule. It was only two thousand words a day. Seemed easy enough. Even challenged myself to try to finish a rough draft.

You may have noticed I was speaking in the past tense. Yeaahhhhhh. I haven’t even hit the 20K mark.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming, especially given the life-changing events that happened in the first week of May. Plus I just know me. I did tell Owen I would start strong and peter out. I haven’t developed that fine skill called “discipline” yet. I write my blog posts because I must but I have about 7 half-finished Mother Project stories and uncategorized fiction pieces. My story has one and a half scenes done in it.

I tried many days to sit and force myself to write at least 1000 words. Then it was 800. Then it was even 200. I was slipping away from reality.

It was overkill. Emotionally strapped. Mentally tapped. Physically exhausted from the stress. Happy Pinkie Pie Jessica was gone. Mrs. Hide-a-beiotch came out to glare. There was no way I was going to write another damnable word until I was good and ready. This started a downward spiral of “not caring”. This was different that the “take a break and come right back” situations. This was a full-on “I EFFING HATE YOU GET AWAY FROM ME” situation.

Boycott for three days.

I did nothing except the basics. Fed the family. Got the kids to and from school. Fought off the outbreak of the Norovirus going around. There was a cease-fire in my life.

Normal Jessica could only sit and watch helplessly as one, two, three days went by with no progress. She watched as Black Jess moved listlessly from activity to activity, trying to find something interesting to do. It was just too much to even do those things. Lots of naps were taken.

Congratulations are in order though, for the part of me that’s developed enough to recognize the urgency of needing to write. That was something I hadn’t been able to cultivate before. I sat within my own skin and as my deadline got closer and closer, the more I pressed against the skin of my Stubbornness to try to break free. I am sabotaging myself and I can see it. One step forward, two steps back.

“WRITE!” I screamed to unresponsive fingers. “Write anything! Just put words down!”

Black Jess summarily ignored the pleas and proceeded to eat a second brownie.

This post is the first thing I’ve written in four days and it’s only being written because I’ve trained myself over the last year that Monday Blogs are Necessary. Yes, it took a whole year of consistency to get this small victory locked in and it’ll take even longer to move past the other barriers keeping me from being a successful writer. I AM proud of it. I can give myself credit for this. But…

How does that saying go? “Leo the late bloomer…?” AKA extreme procrastinator. I’m the Queen of it.

You see, my split personality sabotages me. Black Jess is very much a self-satisfier; child-like and demanding. She will absolutely refuse to do anything that doesn’t please her. Nothing will shake her out of this mood until she’s good and ready to be shaken. I believe this will be the biggest stumbling block of mine. Publishers and agents won’t take tantrums as an excuse for unwritten manuscripts. They don’t got time for that. Time is money and they will cauterize any leaks the suspect will be a long-term problem.

I have to write like my life depends on it. My happiness certainly does. It’s my biggest dream after all and it deserves every effort from me. But I don’t know how to force myself to write when Black Jess comes out. I don’t know how to do ANYTHING when she comes out except sleep. I’m genuinely concerned about this Mr. Hyde quality in myself. Is it manifestations of the stress I’ve been feeling? Is it the culmination of a lifetime of being sheltered and spoiled? Do I just wait it out and come back when I can? Do I schedule “writing vacations” so this doesn’t happen randomly?

I have no answers for these things and I know I’ll have to figure it out before I start to seriously query agents.

How do you deal with these types of things? I sincerely want to know.

52k in May: We will writes the nasty wordses—

And so it begins.

I’m going to run the gauntlet. I’m going to do a trial by fire. I’m–going to write. And I will hates it.

I was challenged to do a Camp NaNoWriMo this month by my bestie Owen. I think it’s because he loves me and wants me to succeed but it might be a little bit because he’s tired of hearing me whine. “I want to be a published author wah wah wah! It’s hard to write waaahahhaah!!” Poor guy. He’s my unofficial editor (and psychologist) and he only gets paid in gratitude.

“SO WRITE.” <–passive aggressive voice of Owen.

Wha…? His demand startled me out of my latest tantrum.

“You’re going to do another NaNo in May.”

“Whoa wait! What?!”

“Fifty two thousand words. Thirty one days. NO complaints. NO getting out of it. DO IT. (Rewards and punishments to follow).”

Owen doesn’t make demands. Ever. So of course I had to do it. And it will indeed be a trial by fire because on top of this I have to deal with deep emotional crap from just about everyone I know AND allergies AND my exercise routines. Yee haw. I’d better come out of this rock hard and ready to be a savvy published novelist .-.

LETS DO THIS THING!!!!

As I thought about this challenge though and May 1st was drawing nearer, I realized that as simple as the challenge was, basically 2k words a day, I wasn’t going to be satisfied just writing short stories or flash fiction everyday. I mean, it would definitely give me a leg up on my blog but it wouldn’t put a stop to my whining. I needed to complete something; beginning, middle and end. So I added the challenge to my growing list.

As we all know, however, first projects are usually crap. There are a few exceptions that have published best sellers right out of the gate but so many authors I know have misses because it’s their first. They haven’t found their voice yet or locked in the secret to a  successful plot arc. Whatever the case. I kept this in mind as I perused my story ideas and realized I didn’t want my first rough draft, the one that would be my first guinea pig, to be a story I cared deeply about like Silver Sun or Hourglass.

Okay, I care deeply about all my stories. Don’t get the wrong idea.

I care enough to want to write them, after all. This was different. The stories that have stayed with me for years I wished to give my best and most honest effort to. I want them to be the best versions I can make them and that requires more practice from me. So I chose something instead that I haven’t outlined to death but has a good strong foundation. (I’m a pantser at heart. My best work comes out of that.) It was a plot bunny story that wouldn’t leave me alone a few months back.

So far, I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear, this has been working for me! Within the first two days I wrote 5K in this plot bunny story and I like the hook. It starts out with drama and eases the reader into the strange world the book takes place in. (Apologies for being vague. It’s still an ugly baby story and I must protect it!)

Day three I finished a 4K blog post short story

Day four I had four different visitors to my house and wrote in between conversations.

Day five I had…a very big development in my personal life that confounded me so I only wrote 600, understandably.

Now it is day six and I am trying my very hardest to get back on track, in spite of my turmoil. Because that’s what writers do, don’t they? Which brings me around to the title of this post.

This is perhaps the first time in my writing career that I have forced myself to write when I didn’t want to. Yep. I’m pretty much the adult version of a child throwing down her toys and declaring in a screechy voice that I WILL NOT be doing my chores today.

C’monnnnn we’ve all been there! There’s shopping to do, cars to wash, kids to wrangle, toe nails to clip…no time to write! Or we’ll use one of those excuses given to us by the writers that have come before us. “Yes, it’s okay to take a little break. Recharge your brain. Go relax and come back when you’re ready.”

Yeeeep. Legit “get out of jail free” cards from the Pros. BYE! Netflix and popcorn. Just one or two episodes….or binge watch 13 Reasons Why. It’s okay. Go for it.

AS IF!

Writing is hard. It’s especially hard when inspiration has left you and you have to pound out one word after another, hating every damnable letter. These are the moments where authors have to dig in deep. You and your novel are married. You have to sit down now, have a long talk, and muscle through it. You have no other choice because this is your dream.

I have to put my big girl panties on in times like these. I need to get serious. Think of it as practice for when I have a REAL deadline form a REAL agency. Getting paid to write books. Have to develop good habits now while I’m still a tender young thing, ready to be molded and taught. I know this now so I’m going to force my way through it. Even if it takes many shots of alcohol, three walks a day and a full hour of exercise to get my frustrations out, I will write gawd bless it! I can always go back and edit the crap that I wrote but I can’t edit NOTHING.

So I will writes, but I will hates it. One step closer to the big leagues. I hope.

You too! Keep going!

Conquering biblio-phobia, one afflicted at a time

(Image is Maka Albarn and Soul from the anime “Soul Eater”)

“I blame you, you know.”

This statement was directed at me three times this week from three different people. (When it rains, it pours, no?)

“Oh lovely. What for?” I ask with trepidation.

In a fraction of a second I’d listed ten possibilities for deserving blame. What a guilty and skittish conscience I possessed!

“I didn’t like reading before you. Now I can’t walk into book stores with money or I become the proud owner of section four.”

*Blink Blink* “Oh.”

HA.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Double HA! <–this is the sound of my soul laughing gleefully and with much sadistic pleasure. Truly, is there any greater blame to shoulder than that of “forcing” books on people? I’m happy to be guilty of this. It’s shaped my life really. My mother read to me every night before bed when I was a kid and she was always reading herself.  Then I entered school and had the pleasure of choosing my OWN books from the library. Wonder of wonders! It took off from there. Words became my life.

I was the weird kid that wanted to go to the library instead of the park when we had a choice. I was only allowed to take out three books of one subject at the time, which was fair for most people. Three books in three weeks. HA. More like three books in two days. Mom started having to check out extras for me to last me the week until we could go back. Finally the librarians threw up their hands and let me get as many as I wanted. I was on a first name basis with everyone.

My sister was not this kind of person and it was through her I saw the other side of things. She was an action person. If she had a choice she would Energizer Bunny her way through everyday, eating on the go, sleeping on the go, going on the go… She had no patience or time for books. She got frustrated with the words she couldn’t pronounce and couldn’t understand and she was embarrassed to read aloud. She grew to hate it. When there were books as required reading for school she would have to seek out the large print editions to help her focus better and mom would have to sit for a grueling hour to get through one chapter. It was the most difficult task to sit, read and absorb. I felt sometimes she was Golem from Lord of the Rings:

“We will reads the books, but we HATESSS ITTTT!”

Complete with hissing and spitting.

Such an alien concept for me. She lived for reality and I lived for my imagination. Once my sister was out of school and she was free of books she ran away and didn’t look back for many, many years. Meanwhile, I was filling my shelves with paper goodness and plowing through my first writing endeavors.

She was one of the people who laid blame squarely on my shoulders this week for turning her into a book eater. She found a book at one of my library sales and she liked it so much she got the second one. And then the third. My sister willingly BOUGHT a book. With her own money. And then, be still my heart, she asked me for recommendations.

Yep.

*blink blink* Wha….?

I think I marked the day on my calendar. August something or other two years ago. (It was also the day my radiator cracked. It was a yin/yang day.)

The other two victims were no less shocking to me although in different ways.

One was my long time friend from middle school. She was much like my sister; always go go go! She wasn’t as averse to books as my sis but she found most of them boring and predictable. If she was going to read something cover to cover, it had to be something beautiful and challenging, like Shakespeare or John Milton. She aced book reports and read perfectly outloud but there were much more interesting things to do for her. She teased me, ever the book worm, for always having my nose in a book.

We parted ways for a long time, going to different High Schools and then life taking us to different cities. When we reconnected later though, well into our adult years but still ‘forever’ friends. (One of those friends that, no matter how long you go without seeing, will always feel like no time has passed at all when you see each other again.) We set a date to meet up for dinner and drinks and after the shock of seeing each other fatter and wiser, we got to talking. As per usual with me, books had to slip into the conversation.

“That reminds me, ” she said. “While we’re here I need to try to find the last book in a series I’ve been reading. They don’t have it in the store near my place.”

*Blink* “Really?!”

I felt my ears grew like a cartoon character’s, engulfing our booth with their keen awareness of the words “Need Last Book”. MY friend. My PICKY book friend wanted a book. Joy of joys! I threw down my napkin and asked for the check. We did indeed find that book for her and we both left feeling satisfied. When she returned years later (under less auspicious circumstances) her visits became a regular occurrence at my house and she snorted at my “hoarding”. By this time I had three tall shelves double stacked with books and a pile waist-high on the floor, also double stacked. (Shhhh.)

Well. One thing led to another and soon her tote bag was heavy with inked dead trees full of awesome. I couldn’t help smirking. Two for two. We didn’t have the same tastes and that’s okay. I was at about a 50% approval rating from her but she managed to find her own interests amongst my shelves. Still a win. I deserved that smirk of triumph, dammit!

Last to lay blame was an unexpected person. He’s a very mature and learned guy. Well-traveled thanks to being in a military family, an Online School honor student most of his life, knowledgeable and healthy and active. He seemed to have the whole package from my point of view. But he had a fatal flaw. Yes, you can probably guess.

He was book poor. Owen, my darling, I love you but you’re on this list.

*GASSSPPPP!*

I KNOW! How does such a smart guy become this way?! His reasoning was entirely different from the other two afflicted and probably baffled me the most. His reluctance for literature was more that “he chose bad books.”

*Blink blink* HOW THE FU**——?!

AHEM.

I am ever a student of life. This was news to me.

Yes, he somehow managed to choose the exact wrong books for himself. Frugal to begin with, the thought of spending money had to be a careful decision for him. Then insert the millions of titles out there to peruse and no wonder my poor friend felt like hiding under a rock! And then finally to have the bad luck to choose novels that let him down…

Well. As a connoisseur of fiction, I offered to him the gentle hand of friendship and made him a list of my most favorite books. This seemed an acceptable form of research for him. He could do his own contemplation on them via the interwebz and decide for himself if it was something he wanted to buy in his own time. To further ease his anxiety about spending money on books I recommended he first try Second Hand stores. They were about half the price or cheaper for books at a chain store and there was less pressure from the sales people to make a purchase or push their recommendations on him. It was endless books and peacefulness with the smell of dust and old paper in your nose.

HEAVEN.

Much to our mutual delight, the first trilogy on the list was a success. I rejoiced with him for weeks as he delved in and grew more interested. We talked and laughed and shared quotes back and forth. It was a beautiful feeling. Not only did I have a new person to talk about my favorite books with but he now had a positive experience with a book! THREE of them!

It didn’t stop there, much to my delight. My second and third titles also caught his interest and he began to actively pursue acquiring them in preparation for reading. After this happened, he then had the confidence to purchase, of his own accord, an entirely new series I had not even heard of. He purchased them on Amazon and they came to him in the mail. He thus got to experience the agony of waiting and the mini Christmas celebration of getting packages in the mail.

~Deck the halls with books and shelves, Muahahahaha hahahahaaaaaaa…~

I’m 3/3 curing these beloved afflicted of their Biblio-phobia and I could not be prouder of us. There’s a great joy in sharing interests with people who are receptive to them. You create a rapport and a new thread of trust is formed, adding to the rope already connecting you.

I don’t mind giving myself a pat on the back for this. My purpose on this earth is to inspire and create. They are a living manifestation of my dream.

*PAT PAT*

To hopefully further this dream, I’m going to include a brief list of the books I have recommended to my family and friends that we’ve mutually enjoyed. These recommendations are  mostly fantasy based with some sci-fi and romance thrown in. Big thanks to Goodreads for providing summaries for these 😉

“Sabriel” , “Lirael”, “Abhorsen” (The Abhorsen Trilogy)–Garth Nix

“The Belgariad”–composed of 5 books–“Pawn of Prophecy”, “Queen of Prophecy” “Magicians Gambit”, “Castle of Wizardry”, “Enchanter’s Endgame“–David Eddings

“Daughter of the Forest”, “Son of the Shadows”, “Child of the Prophecy” (The Sevenwaters Trilogy)–Juliet Marillier

“Iron King”, “Iron Daughter”, “Iron Queen”, “Iron Knight” (The Iron Fey Series)–Julie Kagawa

“The Unexpected Dragon”–Mary Brown

“The Wee Free Men” (Discworld #30)–Terry Pratchett (READ ANY AND ALL OF HIS BOOKS!)

“Archangel”, “Jovah’s Angel”, “The Alleluia Files”“Angelica”, “Angel Seeker” (The Samaria Series)–Sharon Shinn

“Neverwhere”–Neil Gaiman

“Men in Kilts”–Katie MacAlister

“The Devil Wears Prada”— Lauren Weisberger

“Eat, Pray, Love” –Elizabeth Gilbert

“In her Shoes”–Jennifer Weiner