IWSG – I Guess This Post is a Win

Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is a monthly blog hop for writers at all levels to share their fears and insecurities in a safe and encouraging place. Please drop by and say hi to Alex Cavanaugh who started this nifty concept in bringing us all together.

I had a bad day last week.

The funny thing was nothing terrible caused it. I didn’t get a bad review or rejection or someone pull me aside and gently suggest I get my shit together and do something else with my life. Nothing like that. And actually, it was a pretty great day. Work was slow. Weather was nice. Absolutely nothing awful triggered the emotional breakdown I had while throwing the ball around with Appa. Each day after work I set aside some time to play with the little guy and that day, for whatever reason at all, the fact that I was releasing my fourth book had me in tears.

So often I focus on the positive, on the optimism and good in every situation that I forget there’s a flip side. Or maybe I just ignore it. Eventually, though, it catches up with me because I figured that if I had three works out there and nothing was changing—nothing was getting better in my writing career, did that mean it never would? Did it mean I lacked the talent/skill/ability? Did it mean writing wasn’t ever going to work for me? From here—today—those questions sound silly. Whiny, even. I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life. I went to school for it, worked in the evenings after day-jobs and on the weekends for it, and haven’t given up yet. So why wouldn’t I be able to make a successful career?

But I’m thirty. I have three books out. Nothing (that I can see) is changing. And so I cried. I cried because I was disappointed in how things were turning out. I cried because I saw so much success in my friends, in the families they’ve created and the accomplishments they’ve carved into the world. I cried because I’d had other dreams for myself, other goals, that I pushed behind writing, that I sacrificed to be able to focus on the only thing I’ve ever (truly) wanted to do.

And I’m still not there yet.

Any kind of creative pursuit is torment. And most of it, self-inflicted. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. It chants through each risk we convince ourselves to take when we find the courage to do so. Every blog post for me is both exhilarating and anxiety-ridden. I love it and I hate it. I look forward to it, and dread it. I do my best to focus on the positive, always knowing the negative is a shadow’s length at bay. And sometimes, especially recently, I’ve watched the shadow grow larger. Stronger.

That’s why I find myself flirting with the idea of giving up. It feels good. It feels good in the way it shouldn’t, like I’m committing the crime without having to deal with the repercussions. So I revel in it. Just for a moment. What if I never wrote another blog post? What if I never ignored the torment to focus on the pleasure again? Would that make me happy? Would that fix things? Or would I only make it worse?

It’s a constant battle and one I don’t think will ever really go away. But I’m posting this, so I’ve convinced myself to try at least one more time. And that’s something. Some little win when I wasn’t sure it made sense to keep posting on a site so rarely visited. Like I said—it’s a constant battle, and I’ll probably go through this every month for every post if I (hopefully) continue to blog.

Oh, and someone else in the group must have been experiencing similar questions and feelings because I saw a post about doing other things with your life if writing falls through. One of the commenters suggested watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Pray, Love) Ted Talks.

I did, and it helped. It’s definitely worth the watch:

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

And if you’re the curious type:

Appa, after a nice long game of fetch.

Appa, after a nice long game of fetch.

Don’t Get Fooled by the Bad Days

Like Stella, I got my groove back.

Well, sort of.

I took a look at the last draft of the fourth book in my series and realized I’m not a total piece of shit writer. And that was very encouraging after last week which, can we all collectively agree, kind of sucked?

I wrote a really emo post about how unhappy I was (whilst sipping my fireball and diet coke and eating frosting out of a jar), and then decided not to post because I wanted to retain the little bit of dignity I still had. I’m still between jobs because apparently, I’m un-hireable, except for evil corporations like insurance and sales and I’d rather continue being broke ass poor than sell my soul to get screamed out about things that I don’t understand myself. So it’s been weird. And depressing. And kind of unhealthy which is unfortunate since I don’t have money to buy bigger clothes. BUT I have been rereading my last draft and I realized I’m not so terrible. I’m in no way great, but at least I’m not as retarded as I had myself thinking last week when it was pointed out to me—on more than one occasion—that I misfiled. MISFILED.  (I’m not really working, but I’m helping out around Batman’s parents company to earn a few extra dollars since I’ve grown quite fond of eating during these past thirty years.)

I think the universe was on its period because EVERYTHING was bumming me out. (Not the only person who felt this by the way). I couldn’t get a positive thought in about myself which is really dangerous for artists who, as a group, are known to be quite drastic during dark times. Fear not, both my ears are still securely fastened to the sides of my head, but I hail from a family of artists (couple generations back) that decided making an exit was easier than staying to fight. I would never do anything like that. I don’t think. But when you get in that mindset and you’re like I’M THE BIGGEST FUCKING FAILURE EVER IN EXISTENCE and someone points out that P comes after O in the alphabet, you seriously consider your merit and your contribution to the world.

I know P comes after O. I may have to sing the alphabet to remember, but I understand this. I also understand that maybe I should’ve gotten myself an actual skill like carpentry or understanding computers or learning how to control a room full of children, but I didn’t. I majored in Creative Writing because there was nothing else I wanted to do. I gave no thought to supporting myself because that was something adults did and I will inherently be about sixteen. Or maybe ten, because I still retain that childlike innocence (ignorance) that one day I’ll be able to write full time because that’s what I want more than anything. More than a new laptop that doesn’t crap out on me every five minutes. More than the castle-mansion Batman and I design on a daily basis while skimming pintrest and watching House Hunters. More than a magical wedding in the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam which, by the way, you need to visit. Because it’s fucking unreal.

I’d be willing to be broke ass poor for the rest of my life if it meant I’d be able to barely survive on writing because…

…because that’s all there is. To me. For an occupation. For a passion. For a way to spend my life. And maybe *just maybe* that’s possible. Because my last draft isn’t this garbage piece of shit story. It’s actually kind of… awesome. And I can’t wait to keep writing it. So that’s what I’m going to do.

So fare thee well, good people of Planet Earth. Things may suck at times, yes, but they’re only temporary.

Just Remember: Don’t get fooled by the bad days. You’re better than that.

 

New Year, New Goals?

Can’t believe it’s here, but the first Wednesday of the month has arrived. And you know what that means: time for IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group)! Being a writer is challenging enough, but finding others who share the same hardships and difficulties, who understand the struggles, fear and doubts, can be  oddly comforting. You’re not alone. You have a whole family of us out here. Come see.

This post, I’m focusing on 2015.

Every year I make the same resolutions: eat better, exercise more, get a better hold of my money. Get a dog.

The last isn’t really a resolution, but I throw it in there as incentive. Do better and reward yourself. But it’s 2015 and I’m still overweight, poor and puppy-less. On the 1st, I was treated to a delicious meal by my mother who suggested making goals rather than resolutions. Resolutions are easier to shrug off sometime in late March and try again the following year. But a goal is a finish line. It’s something to aim for, to work for, to send a ripple through your life for a positive end effect. What’re my goals?

Work smarter, not harder.

Emerge myself further in the writing environment.

Attend a writing conference, like the Writer’s Digest one in NY.

Get a dog.

Truth be told, I’ve been struggling.  November and most of December knocked me down. Hard. Through work and in my writing goals. Writing expectations and realizations. I’m almost thirty and I feel like a failure. Everyday I ask myself what I’m doing with my life. If I’m doing anything at all.

This is not what I had planned. This is not where I thought I would be by this time. I thought I would be highly popular with an active, loyal audience and able to support myself on the craft. That was what was going to happen. And here I am, typing this from a computer where I work with numbers all day. And I’m still dreaming. With no dog.

But I’m going to change that this year. I’m going to write even MORE, go to a damn conference and visit a shelter. This is a new year, after all.

And tomorrow’s not guaranteed. So best get shit done today.

What about you? What’re your 2015 goals?

 

Arizal Wars Kickstarter

I’ve decided to do a Kickstarter campaign.

Yes, the excitement here never ends.

I’ve been going back and forth on it for a while. Mostly because I wasn’t sure that I could, which, taking a step back, I realized was simply fear. It’s not that I couldn’t do it. It’s that I was afraid of doing it. And what’s there to be afraid of? Not being funded? Okay, well that leaves me with no money, just like now. So, failing at Kickstarter means being in the same place. But succeeding would bring a change. Possibility. And hopefully funds, which is what I need to get Escape in paperback and Crusade in ebook. I’m really excited guys. I’ve been meaning to advertise but then I get bogged down with the whole writing thing. Most nights when I open my laptop, I think, “I’m going to research marketing. I’m going to look at Goodreads advertising and study my self-publishing sites and figure out what to do next!” But then I reread what I wrote the night before and a better sentence forms or a new idea pops in my head. “I really should say it this way. And I didn’t do a great job at describing XYZ…” I think it’ll be a quick edit and then forty minutes later, I’m working on the manuscript when I should’ve been learning how to sell it. But what can I say? I have a compulsion.

So Batman asked me what my plan was. He wants to get to the Castle-Mansion already and spend his days golfing and fixing me gourmet meals that can ONLY be cooked in a gourmet kitchen, apparently. Uh-huh. And, an avid South Park viewer, he mentioned Kickstarter. If the four Colorado kids could raise some ridiculous amount of money by claiming the name “Red Skins,” why couldn’t I reach a plausible goal of $3,000.00?

BECAUSE BOOKS AREN’T FUNDED ON KICKSTARTER, BATMAN.

…Or so I thought.

Apparently they can be funded. And loads of them are. And I mean LOADS.

After some research on work breaks and lunches, and an occasional evening when I opted not to open that Microsoft word doc, I discovered you CAN fund a book. And I have three of them. So what am I waiting for?

NOTHING.

I’m planning a sixty day period from the beginning of February through the end of March (you know, when people get money back from overpaying the government) and I’m thinking my goal will be $3,000.00. Maybe $3,500.00.

As excited as I am about my real first stab at advertising and the campaign in general, I’m *really* excited about the Backer Rewards:

ANYONE who contributes will have their name listed in the final print version under a KickStarter Acknowledgements Page. I’ll be doing three designs of shirts, an Honorary Rogue Certificate (signed by Rox) to those who pledge $50.00 (Rogue Backer Reward), note cards, extra scenes, questions to the characters…. Lots of stuff!

I’m really excited. I’m excited for you, I’m excited for me, and I’m excited for the few fans out there because I can’t wait for you guys to see what’s to come.

(Hint—it’s going to be awesome!)

Stay tuned for more information or shoot me an email if you have a question.

And yes, you can come to the Castle-Mansion for a swim in the llama-shaped pool.

That went without saying.

Forever Haunted by the Chicken Wing

So last Saturday, Batman came back from being out of town to pick up his nice shiny new car. On his way home, he purchased a bucket of Publix chicken wings. For those of you who don’t know what Publix is, it’s like the polar opposite of Walmart. Clean. Awesome. And somewhat overpriced. But their deli is amazing.

I’m not such a wing-girl myself, but on occasion, I’ll indulge. I’d eaten a Whopper Jr earlier because I was too hungry and impatient to drive the extra five minutes to the sandwich shop, and being hangry makes you to do things you don’t want to do. Like buy sustenance from a fast-food chain. So, to avoid killing all those on the road with my stomach that sounded like a dragon in heat, I gobbled up the cheeseburger and headed home.

An hour later Batman arrived.

With wings.

I watched him make his plate, adding the buffalo and ranch, and then proceed to the couch to dig into one of Publix’s finest treats. And then, unaware it was going to happen, an intense argument ensued between my stomach and head.

stomach: I want wings.

head: You already ate.

stomach: That wasn’t real food. It was like eating playdoh. It doesn’t count.

head: You’re not even hungry. You only want wings because he has wings and he makes that yummy face so you want to make that yummy face and its really just jealousy. Control yourself.

stomach: I want wings.

head: I thought you wanted to lose weight?

stomach: How are wings going to stop me from losing the thirty pounds I said I’d lose two years ago?

head: You have to start sometime.

stomach: Now is not the time.

head: You don’t need wings.

stomach: I need them.

head: No you don’t.

stomach: Yes I do.

head: NO YOU DON’T.

stomach: Watch me, dick.

“Babe, can I have three wings?

I always feel it’s best to give a good description of how much food I’ll be taking from Batman because I know it weighs heavily on his decision. Normally it’s “can I have a bite?” because I know he’s willing to spare that (mostly because it guarantees him a bite of whatever I’m eating) but knowing his love for Publix chicken wings, I figured I should start off strong with a detailed request before going back and forth on how many I think I’ll be eating.

Even with the amount requested, Batman still took a good ten seconds to decide. YES. TEN WHOLE SECONDS. But finally his head rolled into a nod and he agreed to the three. I get three chicken wings which, according to my stupid head, I didn’t need.

I jumped up and headed to the kitchen, entering the delcious aroma that the BK lounge had nothing on. Grabbing a plate, I scoured the box for the best wings left. Like I said, I normally don’t eat wings, but the few times that I do, I go for the thighs. They pack the most meat and…I don’t know…I just prefer them. Batman, thinking likewise, already selected most of the thighs so I was left with a majority of wings. I grabbed two and was reaching for the third when I saw it.

The unbelievable.

The overly remarkable.

The Holy Grail of thighs.

A boulder of meat piled high, it looked like two thighs–maybe three– converged into one glorious aberration of nature. This chicken must’ve been on steroids; it must have been the Shaquille O’Neal to it’s race; that or pet to the Hulk. I’d never seen such a big chicken wing. I didn’t even know something like it could exist. So thick and meaty… I couldn’t help myself.

“Yes,” I thought, selecting it, “you shall be my final prize.”

I placed him on my plate and turned to the livingroom. Do I eat him first? Save him for last? Maybe I’ll drizzle him with some ranch and-

I must’ve lost my footing or something because suddenly, my plate bounced and like an acrobat on a trampoline, the holy grail of chicken wings took flight.

Time stopped.

My mouth dropped. My eyes widened in fear. All I could do was watch as the pefect wing soared ahead in slow motion, already preparing for a crash landing on the unswept tile by the garbage can.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” I bellowed, but it was too late.

The thigh landed, proceeded to roll across the floor and then stop an inch away from the dirty trash compactor.

Maybe… maybe it’s still salvageable, I foolishly thought. Maybe I can just wipe the dust off. Five second rule, right? But with a quick calculation of how often I didn’t sweep the floor mixed with all the things I remembered dropping and kicking under the cabinets made me pause. DAMN IT.

DDDAAAAMMMNNN IIIITTTT!!!!!

IT.WAS.SO.PERFECT.

DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMNNNNNNNNN IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Defeated, knowing I lost it for good, I looked up. Batman was staring right at me.

“I was saving that one,” he said.

“It kamikazied.”

“I can’t believe you dropped it.”

“IT KAMIKAZIED!”

He shook his head and turned around. “Now you only get two.”

No, Batman is not a jerk; he’s only being fair. That was my punishment. The punishment I fully deserved because, let’s face it: I failed. I failed on an EPIC level. I let my retardation of not konwing how to walk properly (although I’ve had 28 years to practice) ruin my chances of consuming which was most likely the world’s best chicken wing. Now we’ll never know. I’ll never know. And I’ll probably have to get supervised every time I go to the kitchen when he brings home a treat from Publix.

*sigh*

But even with my punishment of only eating two, it’s been less than a week and he’s brought up that damn chicken wing like five times. “Hey remember you when you dropped my chicken wing? Yeah, thanks.” “I don’t know if you deserve a backrub. You dropped my chicken wing.” “Oh you want to ride in my new car? CHICKEN WING.”

SO, apparently, I will forever be haunted by the holy grail of chicken wings which, ironically, was a chicken’s thigh. No moral or lesson to be learned here. Just be careful with your boyfriend’s shit. And maybe pay attention to your head when it’s telling you to not be such a fat ass.

 

Fear of Failure

I’m afraid of failure.

There, I’ve said it. Or typed it, I guess. Either way, the message is the same. I’m shaking in my boots, hiding under the bed, covering-my-face-with-a-pillow-terrified. Of failure. Something which is inevitably part of life. So… why am I so afraid of it? I’ve failed before. PLENTY of times. But I’ve dusted my knees off, gotten back up, and tried not to make the same mistake again. Or, tried to learn enough not to fall again. It happened of course, on numerous occasions, surrounding numerous things. But that’s okay. The world kept turning and I’m still here. So, again, why am I so afraid? And of something as common place as failure?

I’ve asked myself this time and time again, as I’m sure several people do. My answer might be different from yours, but what I’ve come up with is this: disappointment. I’m afraid of disappointing. Disappointing me? You? Maybe both. It’s like, if I fail, then I’ve let everyone down. And for me, that’s the worst thing imaginable.

I’m many things. A writer, a comedian, a people person… and with all these traits, I want to make sure I’m meeting expectations, keeping up to everyone’s high hopes. It’s like the world will come crumbling down if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I can remember. It probably reaches back to the days of Barbie dolls and playing with the magnets on the fridge. But I’ve been told *countless* times that I should be a comedian. Even today. Today I was told I should make people laugh for a living. Which is an awesome thing to hear, don’t get me wrong. But what if I get up on that stage and freeze? Like I did in my acting class during my monologue? I’m telling you—if I’m ever put into Azkaban, the dementors would be sucking that memory out of me over and over again. It’s the worst. Freezing in front of people, yes, but failing them. I went up on that stage, knowing I could kick ass but then I didn’t. And it sucked. Hard core sucked. And I never want to feel like that again. But yet, here I sit. Typing away a blog that will be exposed to the internet universe for reading and review. And my book, Escape from Harrizel, is out there, up to be torn apart and critiqued. And that terrifies the shit out of me.

But other days I’m a ball of confidence. (Is that the right term? Ball of confidence? Sounds off…) I walk around like I see the paparazzi already and it’s on these days, my shoulders are back and held high. I guess we all have good, strong days where we believe in ourselves and other days where we just want to give up, because that seems the right thing to do. Not because we want to, but because it makes sense. I suck, so I should just give up. For me, it’s that fear of failure. If I don’t exceed, the world will end so maybe I should save myself the effort. And disappointment.

So believe me, I may look confident—and most times, I am—but the truth is, I’m desperately afraid of disappointing you.

And me.