Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Let's Play the Yay-Boo Game

Well, on the plus side, I did write something this week. Yay!

On the down side, it was Wednesday, and I haven't written anything since. I also again neglected to chart the hourly breakdown of what I did this week to know what I was doing instead of writing. Boo.

On the plus side, I was busy at work - cutting down on my available writing time there - didn't have a second day off due to my coworker's quitting, and had a TON of chores I needed to catch up on to prep for Ronoxym and Cyhyr again visiting with their daughter. So, at least I had a "valid" excuse for not writing? Also, I don't have a chart, but I more-or-less know what I was doing? Yay?

Down side was that most of the hecticness at work was for naught. A lot of energy for not as much pay-off. That, and Ron and Cy only managed to hang out for about 2hrs.
Knives from the Scott Pilgrim comic books
by Bryan Lee O'Malley
At least my house was much less of a baby death trap for those 2hrs. Worth?

I didn't even really have the time to read much more this week. I think I got a chapter or two further in? Yay and boo?

I bought us a new sofa table to better organize the increasing number of table-top games Hubby keeps accumulating, I also bought a second chest of drawers to make up for the fact that we apparently found the only apartment on the planet that doesn't have enough closet space. Most of the week was spent reorganizing to utilize the new furniture. I'm hoping it also means it will be easier to keep the house organized so I don't have to have these whirlwind cleaning weeks about once a month.

I know. I fail every time I write that phrase in this blog but ONE OF THESE TIMES IT HAS TO BE THE TRUTH! Some day I WILL keep this place organized. And that will alleviate so much stress. And I'll be able to focus on writing instead of vacuuming, or dealing with laundry, or cleaning an imposing amount of dishes, or clearing off the dining table so we can use it for more than dump-storage, etc.

On the plus side, I didn't really have "dead time" this week. That time when I should be doing something like reading, writing, cleaning, exercising, etc, but instead I'm mindlessly on the loveseat scrolling through Facebook while vaguely watching something on TV with the husband. So, a drop in "dead time" is a plus, right? Yay again?

I'm going to see if I can keep the momentum of eliminating "dead time" while also adding in "writing time." In the meantime, I do have another old writing practice up.

"Icarus"

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bleeeck. Sick.

It. Has. Not. Been. A. Good. Week.

Wednesday - Wanted to kill my coworker. Vegged on the couch to prevent myself from punching things.
Thursday - Spent all day of the gorgeous weather doing as much super delayed Spring Cleaning as possible.
Friday - Coworker I wanted to murder just decides not to show up to work. It's more involved than that, but that's the long and short of it. Had to call my manager in from her day off enjoying the weather riding her horse and visiting with her daughter who drove 8hrs to visit her mom for Mother's Day weekend. On top of that, I got hit with a bug and ended up passing out at about 8:30 while reading in bed. Yes, I FINALLY got around to reading my next book.
Saturday - Still sick and just dragged all day. My head was too in a fog to write a cohesive sentence.
Sunday - Lethargic at work. Manager again had to give up a day with her daughter because coworker no-call/no-show for the third day in a row. No customers even showed up, because, ya know, MOTHER'S DAY. Had a house-full of guests the rest of the day when I got home.
Yesterday - Still drained from this blasted cold. I spent the day, both the downtime at work and after I got home, reading to play catch-up on my reading challenge. Quickly typed up and edited one of my January writing practices.

I've been so out of it, I didn't even think about my "keep track of your hours" project I talked about last week. At least, I didn't think about it until I went to type up this blog. Whoops.

Tuesday started promisingly enough. Sorta. I wrote my blog post. I did my normal errand-running-around and cleaning for my day off. I went to writers' group a bit bummed about not having anything new. I decided to read my first story about Jynna: The Future is Bright.

I think I have a true fan in my group. I know that most, if not all, of the members enjoy my stories, but one in particular always seemed especially satisfied after my readings. She talks about chills and asks about my characters and the worlds. She's just amazed with my fantasy writing. I threw her off the previous group because I read a slice-of-life story. She enjoyed it, but it was unexpected for me to read something realistic. When I read about the Numenera she just was like "That's you. We're home now." Which is cool.

Then, with a couple minutes left before the library closed, DFL pitched a writing prompt to us. Write something to do. Anything. Doesn't have to be writing related. Go on vacation. Clean the house. Go grocery shopping. Read that book finally. Binge watch a show. Whatever. Then write something NOT to do. Gain weight. Skip leg day. Binge all weekend long. Stay inside on a sunny day. Avoid the dishes. Anything. Next, write something you love when it happens: Hubby cleaning instead of me; a warm, but not hot, sunny day when I have it off; my favorite treat being on sale; finding lost change; the Muse strikes when I have free time to write; etc. Finally, write something you hate when it happens: I'm sick on my day off; I spend the whole day cleaning instead of hanging out with friends; it's rainy on a day I want to do things outside; I try to meet up with people because I'm actually free, but now they're all busy; etc.

After writing out your To Do, Do Not Do, Love When, and Hate When, you're supposed to pick one of them and write a short story about it. Bonus points if you somehow bring in elements from the other categories. DFL said "go" and I was flying. Sadly, I only got about five sentences in before we were told that the library was closing and we had to leave. I meant to keep going with it once I was at the laundromat, but the magic was gone. Hubby and I watched our weekly shows instead. That was the last and only time I attempted to write something this week.

It's been a bad week.

As I mentioned, though, I did finally crack open my new book. I'm twelve chapters in. I'm still not loving the Trials of Apollo series as much as I do the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, but it's an enjoyable series nonetheless. Plus, one of my favorite characters from the Heroes of Olympus series is back as a main supporting character in this second book. He just doesn't seem to have that same "OMG, I want to hug him so tight" factor though. Not sure where the magic went. He's still adorable and fun to read, but... I dunno. Maybe it's the cold. Maybe he's just not as enjoyable because I'm so "meh" myself this week.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I also typed up another prompt. I'm 15 writing practices in. Only kept me the first 136 days of the year.....
"Price of Memories"

Now to try to rest up, get better, and at least do my hourly tracking if I'm not going to do actual writing. Finally, a quick shout out to Mouse for poking me throughout the week and at least attempting to push me back onto the writing path. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Aaaaand Then I Fell Back Off

What the heck happened to me this week!?

I was so excited last week. I was energized. I was ready to attack my writing. I was ready to jump with both feet. I was going to finally get some momentum. My writing funk was over.

And now I don't even really remember what happened this week. I was at work. Friday, Hubby and I spent the better part of three hours at the hair salon getting our hair cut and dyed. Well, I took about three hours. He was done a little after one.... Last night we hosted game night again. The rest of the week? What filled the void that prevented me from writing? The reason why I didn't read a single page of the new Rick Riordan book I was so excited to pick up last week?

Not a clue. Not one. I can't recall what I did. I don't remember sitting on the couch and binge watching anything like I did over the winter. I know I cleaned my home, but it didn't take up that much time. I'm clueless.

Which is why I'm going to spend the rest of May using a technique Ali Luke has talked about before. One that is also touched upon in "A Writer's Book of Days." I need to start writing down my daily schedule. First, I should probably write one up based on what I THINK my schedule is and/or what I WANT my schedule to be. Then, each day, I need to write down what I actually am doing. This way I can get a better grip on where I'm spending my time, because this is getting ridiculous that I keep losing weeks like this.

AWBoD goes a step further, Judy Reeves suggests writing on the calendar exactly why I missed a writing session, or simply, why I didn't write that day. What was my reason? What did I do instead? At the end of the week or month or however long I'll give myself to collect this data, I can look back and truly see where I've been wasting my time. I could see what I'm doing instead of writing. I'll see my "avoidance behaviors."

I can tell you right now, "Watch TV" or "Scrolling through Facebook" will pop up far more than I'd like. The weather has been chilly again this past week, so I haven't been able to escape to the front porch. I again lost a comfortable spot to just hide away and write. The only really comfortable spot to sit upright for a long period of time is on our loveseats, which is right by the TV, which Hubby keeps on continuously while he's home for the background noise, which then distracts me. It's a bad spiral I knew I've been stuck in for a while. I really REALLY need to figure out how to climb out of it.

Maybe I really should start making "writing dates" with myself and just run away to the library up the street. I'll squirrel away in a corner of the building, have my earbuds in, and just write.

My earbuds. Those and my kitchen timer should be my best friends until I get into the habit. I keep neglecting them though. I don't know why. I don't know why I'm not putting in the work I know I need to. This week will have to be me attacking these questions and trying to find the answer.

Sorry I don't have anything new for you this week aside from another old writing prompt typed up. Hopefully it is enough to appease. Those of you who know me personally, poke me. Prod me. Push my nose to the page. Make sure I'm doing my exercises. Remind me how much I love writing. With any luck I'll get over myself and put something new to paper this week.

"Thrust Upon Them"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Trotting Around a Bit

While not as fully back on the horse as I'd like, I have the saddle on and trotted around the yard a little bit. As I mentioned last week, the clean house helping relieve some stress at home, as well as finding my free-time rhythm again at work, has really helped open me back up to writing.

In truth, I spent most of the week just reading as fast and as much as I could to try to finish "Heat Rises" before the end of the month so I could be back on track for the reading challenge. Managed to read the whole thing in about 11 days. Still fairly slow for most people, but it got the job done.
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
As I've mentioned a few times already in regards to this list and the Nikki Heat books, each book title is purposely a play on the detective's last name. So, I caved and finally put the third book in the series in the "name in the title" slot. There are 8 books to the series thus far, and an ninth one apparently dropped today! Also available today are two of Rick Riordan's latest works. "The Dark Prophecy", the second book in the Trials of Apollo series, along with the companion book "Camp Half-Blood Confidential." So, it's both a great day for me in Book World, as well as a crappy day for my wallet.

I'm most likely going to jump off the Nikki Heat train for a little bit as I switch over to "The Dark Prophecy" for this month's read. I'll drop that book either in the released in 2017 or favorite author category. I also have my father-in-law's copy of "Atlas Shrugged" that he wants me to read. On top of that, I've become so addicted to "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix that I feel I should give that story a read. Then there's an even longer list of "to read" backlogging, as virtually every person I meet demands that I "need to" read this book or that one. I'm not even touching my already extensive home library anymore!

I really need to get more reading time in, but I'm fairly slow at reading as I try to fully absorb the story. With my already limited time to read as is, plus not having much spare time to write, clean, or even touch a video game in close to a year, I really don't see myself reading any faster than I already am, nor do I see myself having more time to read. The world is just going to have to live with the fact that, aside from a few author's I'm dedicated to, such as Riordan, I'm going to be years behind the reading curve with new stories.

Kind of pathetic, though. I want to be a writer. I want people to read my stuff. Yet I can only do so well with reading what others have written. Oh, the great ironies that rule my life.

Speaking of my writing, ya know, the reason I'm sure you all are here, well, as I mentioned at the very beginning, I'm doing better.
Month didn't start off great, but finished fairly strong.
Look at all those smileys - or sorta smileys - that last week! YAY!
I didn't manage to do any further writing or editing on Please, Let Me Explain, so when it came to writing group, I went back to reading one of my polished writing prompts. Ended up reading "Nature Can Bite Me." People seemed amused by it. I threw most of them off though because I wrote a slice-of-life story instead of something fantastical. I just chuckled and reminded them that I can write non-fantasy as well.

As per usual for me, since I had a once-and-done instead of an on-going project, not much was said about my story, how to improve it, what was great about it, nothing. While I understand more and more each go that we probably should dedicate more time to the people with ongoing projects, it still irritates me slightly. I mean, these writing practices are just that: practice. A way for me to hone my skills so that I'm a better author when I am working on my WIPs. Yet, if I don't get any praises for a particularly good turn-of-phrase, nor am I critiqued on something I should improve upon, then what good are the practices? How are they helping me do more than simply fall into a steady writing rhythm? I don't know if I should start going into group with a small questionnaire to encourage feedback, but I feel I need to do something. Otherwise I'll only get assistance when I bring in on-going projects like everyone else.

The strange thing is that there are one or two other authors in the group that purposely only do short one-offs or personal essays. There is no intention of doing a long, on-going project that needs help. People seem to comment on their particularly good phrasing, or where they could strengthen something.

Wonder why I'm so different within the group....

Anyway. Still no progress on PLME, although Ronoxym did make a... few... comments in response to my multitude of notes. It's not much, but it's a start. Silly goose didn't comment on the stuff towards the start of the story though. So there goes editing.

I've filled my time though with reading, as I mentioned, as well as trying to at least not fall further behind with the writing prompts. Last week I wrote four prompts. Two of which were on the same day, which was exciting. I also started the week with my edit notes to Ron about PLME - the "smiley" on Monday.

Monday must be "bring netbook to work so I can edit" day, because I did the same thing yesterday. DFL was concerned about a choppy start to a scene she read to us. There were a lot of critiques and suggestions for improvement, but I feel the poor woman was overwhelmed. She ended up emailing us her slight update of the scene opening and asked for thoughts. Well, given that I was purposely waiting for the books to drop today and I had finished "Heat Rises," I decided I'd read other people's works to fill the void.

Besides, I've failed at virtually all of my other New Years Resolutions. I was going to hold firm for my beta reading one. I ended up giving her notes on her page-long rewrite. I hope I didn't overwhelm her. I tend to do that in group without meaning to. I give her a different perspective on her story, but I don't know if she takes my suggestions. I might not be the demographic she's looking for. It's her story, and it's her prerogative to decide whether or not to take my suggestions to heart. For all I know, she won't even look at what I sent back to her. Still, she asked for thoughts, and so I was going to give mine. Take them or leave them.

I also did some beta reading for ChibiSunnie. She's in an animation class, or something to that extent, and so she is using the class assignments to finally make headway on the cartoon she's been playing with over the past two years or so. For her final project, she had to sketch out the storyboard for an episode, or something like that, so she decided to tackle the hardest episode she's had in mind over the past few years. She didn't have the time to give me a polished version of the story prior to her needing to start storyboarding it, so my insight isn't going to help much on her final project. Still, I wanted to give it a read, if she wanted me to, so that she could take my critiques along with those of her classmates as a way of better improving the episode for when she can make it an actual show.

I cut it close on that week deadline though. She gave me the script last Tuesday. I gave her my notes last night. Still. She appreciated my effort, is pondering over my questions, and I kept true to my resolution to get beta notes back within a fortnight. I'm proud I actually managed to give notes on two projects back within a week! Granted, both were short reads which made it easier to go through them.

Going back to my writing though, I'm still not past the January prompts, but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I also managed to type up and edit one of my past prompts prior to this morning! Yay, progress! Still forgot to upload the darn thing until this morning, but as long as I can get this blog done on time I guess I could let that slide.

I went back to my Numenera character Jynna for this prompt. I also fell back into scenes instead of stories. I'll figure this out eventually.

"Pressing Forward"

In all honesty, I don't foresee myself doing much more with PLME until Ron's done with school at the end of this month. Might surprise myself, but it's a long shot. Instead, I'll have to pull myself away from my latest book long enough to continue with the writing prompts. At the very least, I could type more than one up a week for your reading pleasure. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Game Night!

Well, seems my thawing isn't quite complete when it comes to breaking out of my Winter Writing Freeze.

To be completely fair to myself, though, it was largely in part to an overwhelming amount of socializing this week. Last Tuesday was one of Hubby's work friends' birthdays. So, after our normal Tuesday-run-around, which included a Walmart run during laundry to save time instead of me writing during laundry like usual, we spent the late afternoon until close to midnight hanging out at his friend's house. Table-top game nights are such a great thing!

So great, in fact, that Hubby also hosted his own gaming night this Thursday. Another coworker of his, her boyfriend, along with Quarthix and his fiance, all came over to hang. Another really fun time, but also another night going until close to midnight. If that wasn't enough, Quarthix and his fiance had asked Ronoxym to officiate their wedding. Since their apartment is far from being kid-friendly, it was decided that Ron, Cyhyr, and their daughter would come to my place for a mini-meeting about the upcoming nuptials for the future Mr. and Mrs. Quarthix.

Since Ron and Cy live a little out of the way compared to everyone else, it always ends up a big thing when we know the two of them are coming to visit. So that meant that Shadow came off his mountain to also hang out.

Now, our house was clean for the Thursday game night - sorta - but we slacked on putting the games away, which snowballed into the rest of the house just being a wreck. On top of which, I needed to figure out how to baby-proof as much as possible. You never realize how many small things - and how short all your shelves are - until you try to baby-proof.

It was a full-weekend experience. If we weren't at work, we were cleaning the apartment. Really no down time for writing.

People left fairly early in the evening Sunday, about 7 or 8 at the latest, but I was so exhausted that Hubby and I just crashed on the couch, caught up on Facebook, and watched TV.

I wanted to get SOME writing done this week. Especially with writing group tonight. So, I figured I'd go back to Please, Let Me Explain. Everyone likes the story thus far. They like that I'm sticking with something, I'm even getting critiques on it. The change is probably the thought process of "why critique a one-off? Save that for something that is going to be a project."

All-in-all, it's really driving me to actually FINISH a longer writing project. Still a bit stuck since my co-writer Ron is finishing up his semester of college while working full time so Cy could stay home and raise their daughter. Doesn't exactly leave time to get writing done for either of them.

So I'm trying to do as much as I can while Ron is still on writing hiatus. I thought, Maybe I could write a prologue, or a flashback nightmare to let the audience know the details of Devon's leaving. That way it doesn't need to be explained via dialogue. I mean, sure, I'd like to think I did a good job at letting the reader know everything via dialogue without it seeming too heavy-handed. The problem, though, is that it's a bit long-winded instead. They just talk for PAAAAAAGEEEEEES. I need a way of tightening it up, and I can only do that if the readers know what the background story is.

I have two ways of doing that: prologue leading into Devon in his cell, or Devon having a flashback nightmare. The problem with the latter is that the audience might be a bit confused during his and Willow's argument, but that should be fine since it's all better explained about three pages later, right? The second problem is that it will all be from his POV, and most of the dialogue is Willow letting him know her POV.

So, maybe the flashback nightmare should be Willow's? Her driving force to see Devon in the holding cells? But the rest of the story - outside of Devon's head - is from his perspective, so starting the whole thing with Willow having the nightmare might be a bit jarring.

More jarring than neither POV for a prologue? Just a straight omniscient third-person narrative before giving the story over to Devon?

I was so stumped as to how to put in the backstory, and where, that I instead went back over the first two scenes that I already read at group and just tore it apart. This is just the first eight pages of a currently twenty-seven-page story. Anyway, I sent Ron the editing notes last night. Nearly every paragraph has something.

The problem is that the bulk of the story - pages nine through twenty-three - just go on forever; obviously, it's an argument that goes on for over fourteen pages! Granted, there's movement - from the hallway into Willow's room, back out into the hallway, back into Willow's room, things are thrown, people calm down - but it's still friggen FOURTEEN PAGES!

Any long-time readers of this blog know that I've been fighting with this section for about two years or so. I don't think I want to read it off to the group tonight. Just reading and discussing all the ways I should tighten it could take up the entire meeting. Yet, I also don't have any edits actually done on the first eight pages, and I don't have the prologue/nightmare written yet.

So, much to everyone's dismay, including my own, I guess I'm going back to reading off more of my practice writings. Reading them, along with typing them up to share with you guys each week, might get me back on the ball. I'm still back in January's prompts and it's nearly May!

Anyway, below is January 11th's prompt. A coworker of mine had recently told me an office anecdote, and I couldn't resist recreating it with some creative-licensing flair for this prompt. Thanks to that coworker, I was able to do an actual flash fiction this time. I think. I feel like it's a complete story and not just a scene....

"Yawn Immunity"

I DID IT, RON! I HAVE A STORY UNDER 1000 WORDS! That's what? My fifth successful attempt since last October? I'm so good at this.

On the super plus side of all the baby-proofing, the house is still fairly clean. It's a lot easier for me to keep up with everything now, as long as I don't slip. With a clean house, I'm also less stressed. I don't feel so guilty reading and writing instead of cleaning. This might be the key. I may actually have my head uncluttered with my house. If it still doesn't work, it's at least nice enough weather to start some official Spring Cleaning. I'll just keep cleaning to clear my home and my head.

Plus, it's starting to be beautiful and pleasantly warm outside. I sat on my front porch yesterday, enjoying the air and typing up my editing notes for Ron. I'm going to love being able to do that again, as well as maybe getting back into exercising. Between a finally clean living room and being able to walk around outside, perhaps I can refocus on being healthier once more. The exercising last summer/early fall really did help me become more energized and excited to write.

I'll keep trying things out until I find the key. I am determined to figure out what exactly I need to do to stay on top of my writing!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thawing the Last of the Winter Freeze (Hopefully)

It's been a sad, pathetic road the past month or so, but I finally did it. Aside from this blog post, the new D&D sessions with Bear, and the one time I updated on the now-dead X-Future boards, I finally wrote something! It was only yesterday, but it was still something! The non-writing streak is over. And I hope it stays that way.

Things have finally leveled off at work, and I'm getting my down-time again. Still need to sort through home-life some more to get back on track there, but one step at a time. I plowed through my third book of the year, and I hopefully have enough time to get another one in before the end of the month to get back on track.

So, before I go any further, let's catch up on that reading challenge, shall we?
Challenge by Reading Books Like a Boss
I already have something for either "outside comfort zone" or "recommended." When I visited my father-in-law for Easter he handed me his "lending copy" of "Atlas Shrugged" and told me he expected it back, and read, in about two months.

I doubt I can charge my way through that book before the end of the month, so I think I'm going to purposely avoid it for a few more days. We'll see if I can manage to get through it in the 31 days of May, or if I'll have to ask Professor FIL for an extension.

That does mean that I need another book to finish this month off with, though. Perhaps keep going with my Nikki Heat series? I still have the "name in the title" book to read, and the Heat Series are all titled with a play on word of her last name, which was why she was given the last name Heat.

OK. So, I finished reading the novel I started mid-March. I've written something quick - like, forty-minutes off-and-on quick. As per usual, I don't have it typed up to share, but it is the January 19th prompt, and I do have the January 10th one to share this week. So, I'm catching up. Would be nice if I could actually do multiple prompts in order to get back on date, so that the prompt is actually written on the day listed. Maybe next year I'll get the rhythm to do so.

Anyway, without further ado, my January 10th prompt. It's super short at under 800 words. I wasn't really sure where to go with it, and I wrote it while waiting for my clothes to dry. Going from complete zero and only allotting myself about 40minutes to write seems to be the key to me getting short stories out.

Still haven't made it into an actual flash fiction skill level yet. I'm still pretending with these vignette scenes. Sure, there's dialogue and minor action, but there's no beginning, middle, end or character arc, so they aren't really stories, are they?

*Ahem* So much for "without further ado," I'll just let you read....

"Seeing Stars"

I'll probably fall behind again, because I really want to work on Please, Let Me Explain before my next writer's group meeting next week. I know the next section is both mindnumbingly long and oddly interesting at the same time. There's arguments and character advancement and it seems to at least keep me and Ronoxym drawn in, unable to break away from the drama. Therein lies the problem. We can't find a clean break. So their argument just goes on and on and on forever!

I need to figure out a way to tighten it up. A way to break up the action. Maybe have the arguments sprinkled within different interactions throughout the weeks since Devon's return? The problem there is that neither of them want to let the other have the last word. They chase after each other to explode more and try to guilt the other into shutting up. If either of them succeeded in walking away, would a conversation continue? There would have to be some sort of inciting incident. Would it get too boring for the reader to see them blow up at each other. Then do so again. And again. And again. All before Devon FINALLY convinces Willow to use her powers to get past their communication barrier; seeing things from his POV to better comprehend his pain. Maybe even have her leaving some of her POV for him to understand her too?

I think how we redo the opening will help a lot. How do we inform non-X-Future players the background of Devon's "defecting"? I am, supposedly, seeing Ron this Sunday. However, we're doing so to discuss him officiating a wedding for a friend, and I kind of don't want to hijack that conversation to bug him about PLME. Maybe I'll just do that online.

I think what's holding me back lately is an unclear direction of where to go with my writing. I have so many different paths I could travel, and I'm stumped.

I could edit the main body thus far written for PLME. I could redo the opening so I know how to better condense the dialogue. I could write the next part of the story since I have Ron's outline. I could update the outline so we don't have to do so many revisions.

And that's just with PLME.

I could also say "screw it; I'm playing catch-up" and just tear through multiple writing prompts. I could finally write out Jynna's backstory. I could figure out the backstory for my new D&D character Gevin. I could deal with the first major trauma that Jolene had to suffer and write the next chapter of "Lost Loves and Paramours." I could go back to "Ready. Set. Novel!" and work out more plot for Jolene's post-LL&P story. I could focus on finishing world building for "Glitches." Figure out such things as Cody's connection to the orphanage, or even what to call the damn place! I could even put in some "Hey, Arnold!" DVDs and get back to my post-college roots: finally finish, or at least write the next chapter for, What Is Truly Meant To Be.

There's so much I could do. I'm so overwhelmed by options that I think that's what's been shutting me down. I have no direction, so I wait to see which of my WIPs grabs me and goes "Work on me! Now!" yet none of them do. Without a demand to work on one project specifically, and without the desire to work on one project specifically, I'm frozen.

I need to become unfrozen. I need to pick a direction. I need a drive.

I need a fire under my butt. I preemptively apologize to my future agent/editor/publisher, who is/are going to have to really keep on me to keep going with my project in order to finish it.

Easter: yet another chance for new beginnings. Here's hoping my writing yesterday proves fruitful this time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Much Needed Discussion

I've completely fallen off the horse. I thought I got enough of a fire lit under me to charge forward, and yet nothing happened. The week was such a blur, I don't even really remember what I did instead of writing.

The one thing I do remember? Watching the latest Netflix "it show": "13 Reasons Why"

While it's not quite perfection, it's pretty darn close to perfection. It sucks you in with a mystery: high school junior Hannah Baker just committed suicide, and no one knows why this formerly perky and crafty girl would do such a thing. This opening shock is quickly followed by the main character Clay - played by the same kid who was Percy Jackson in the two movies, and I have to admit, he's the main reason I wanted to watch the show - receives a series of cassette tapes. The tapes were recorded by Hannah as her version of a suicide note, stating that each side of each tape is dedicated to a different person who created yet another reason why she decided to commit suicide. Then comes the gut-puncher for the viewers, who have already taken a liking to Clay so early in the show: "if you are listening to these tapes, you're one of the reasons..." Hannah dictates at the very start of her recording.

The viewers are instantly dragged into the mystery of Hannah's downfall, as she seems quite the happy, albeit loner, teen when we first meet her. We are also nervously curious about what Clay could possibly have done to be on the tapes, how his mysterious friend Tony is involved, and who is the mystery trustee of Hannah's second set of tapes - a blackmail guarantee that the teens play along with her game of listen-and-pass until all thirteen people have heard her full story.

The show has funny moments to lighten the load of watching. Sweet moments that make you scream at Clay for being an idiotic, dense teenager. Frustrating moments when you realize that the socially underdeveloped brains of teenagers just made the situation so much worse than it needed to be; in fact, if people were just open and honest most of the issues wouldn't even have occurred.

Then the second half of the season begins. Things get massively intense and uncomfortable; purposely and masterfully so. The show doesn't let up. It doesn't allow you to come up for air until the end of the episode, and even then, if you're like me and Hubby and you binge watch it, there's no escape. Your heart breaks. You want desperately for Clay to save Hannah, and are just as devastated as him to know that there's no way he can. Most people will probably be like me and Hubby and run for the tissues, or at least tear up, as you watch the downward self-destructive spiral that not only Hannah, but most of the main cast goes through. You feel the anguish and confusion of Hannah's parents, more importantly, Hannah's mother, who is desperate for answers that Hannah, unintentionally cruelly, neglects to leave behind for them.

This show isn't just fantastic entertainment. It is a stark mirror to the tragedies that befall far more teens then should ever have to endure them. The show becomes so much more than a mystery about a girl who committed suicide and the people she held responsible for her decision. This show is about bullying, stalking, a wide array of abuse - from physical to emotional, self-medication, lack of or underdeveloped empathy, opposing truths, the list goes on.

It is intense. It is heart wrenching. It is painful and uncomfortable to watch towards the end, as it should be. It is a show that brings forward so many elements of discussion that should have already been open dialogue decades ago, but still manage to be swept under the rug as "Typical Teenage Stuff" and "Something Everyone Has To Go Through."

So, I'm opening up the dialogue.

If you, or someone you know, needs help, here are some places you can go. I apologize for any international readers I might have, these are all United States hotlines, but please, just do a quick Google search. I'm sure you'll find help. Please, look for it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- You can also call directly at 1-800-273-8255.
Remember, you may not feel it. You may not think it. You may not believe it. But you ARE loved. People WILL miss you. It may take a few years, and that might be a painfully slow process I could never comprehend, but life WILL get better. Your death WILL NOT improve anything. Please, get help.
YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS.

RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline
- You can call at 1-800-656-4673 or talk online.
Sexual assault is NEVER YOUR FAULT. It has nothing to do with how you talk, how you dress, where you were, if you were drunk, if you were flirting, if you've said yes to sex before, NOTHING. Please, talk to someone. Get help. Remember that YOU ARE THE BRAVE ONE. Your attacker is the coward.
YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS.

StopBullying.gov
- You can call their lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The site also gives information on how to prevent further bullying.
Bullying has always been around, but that doesn't mean it isn't cruel. DO NOT let anyone tell you "it's just a part of growing up" or "it means they like you." If you are being bullied, talk to someone, especially with the new, cruel age of cyber bullying. It may not feel like anyone can stop it or make it better, but please try, and if it doesn't get better, try again, and again. You WILL find a way out.
YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS.

For a complete list of the above hotlines, as well as even more places where you can find help, please go to NoBullying.com.


Let's try for a slightly more pleasant note now. But first, seriously, if you have access to Netflix, watch "13 Reasons Why" or at least read the book it's based off of: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This is one of those life-changing stories that really puts a lot of things into perspective, as well as shows people who haven't been through these types of trauma how damaging they truly can be.

*Ahem* OK, for realsies now. Happy thoughts.

I haven't written anything new, but I did manage to hop onto Google Docs briefly yesterday to re-read and do minor edits to the second scene of Please, Let Me Explain. That way I'm set for tonight's writer's group. I can't wait to floor them when I come back with a continuing story instead of another short or the start of another WIP.

I also wanted to give you guys a new piece to read to make up for my fumbling around lately. So I finally forced myself to sit down and type up another of my prompts. Slowly chugging away at January. We're up to January 9th, which proved to be unintentionally impactful for me.

My father passed away 19 years ago on January 9th, and, without even thinking about what date's prompt I was working on, I spent the day thinking about my dad simply based on the prompt itself: "The Sound of Silence."

"Hello"

Hubby and I also started up Bear's latest Roll20 campaign this past Wednesday, and we're continuing on tomorrow night. It was a fun, although slow, game session as everyone tried to get their barrings. I guess it was beneficial to have jumped in on Game Three of the campaign with Jolene; everyone else had the time to get the rhythm of the game and I just fell in place.

Anyway, when we last left off, our characters were all gathered in a tower to have a private discussion about who we are and what our skill masteries are as we prepare for a perilous journey to find a mystical island that may or may not exist.

The key here, is that tomorrow we're supposed to have our characters talk about themselves. Both Hubby and myself have little to no clue what our character backstories are, so perhaps that's what I'll conquer today. Have something ready for tomorrow, as well as pretend to be writing something.

At the very least, I'm going to kick my butt back into gear and start typing up at least one prompt a week again for you guys. Once I start catching up to where I am in the prompts - which isn't that far in the grand scheme of things - maybe it will push me to start doing them more frequently.