Category: writing

Writing, Parenting, and the Struggle for Self Improvement

Well, I am feeling increasingly like a real writer, mostly because I spend most of my free time (when I’m not chasing Amara, cleaning house, doing laundry, running errands or just sleeping) writing.

While writing the story, “Under the Shadow of the Moon”, I went through my usual process:
1. Wrote the story, feeling absolutely brilliant and clever.
2. Edited immediately after, still impressed with my own cleverness and astounding writing acuity.
3. Waited the requisite minimum of three days (I call this the “Three Day Rule”) to let the story sit.
4.  After the minimum of three days passed, I began the real round of editing. At this stage, I usually question my sanity – I mean, how on earth could I possibly have thought myself incredibly clever having written the drivel and inanity that streamed across the page? 
5.  Waited the required time it takes me to remind myself that there must be some merit to the story, if I took the time to write it (and enjoyed the process).
6.  Final step? I rolled up my sleeves and finished editing it to the point I was happy with it again.
Even after the editing process is complete, I usually have a number of improvements to make, but that’s actually awesome. It means I’m improving, and really, isn’t that the goal of being a writer? Heck, being alive?
Part of my renewed vigor at writing is because I enjoy it and, even when I’m not writing, I feel like I am a writer. I owe it to myself to do something I love, to hone this skill, and to show Amara that it’s okay to follow your dreams, even if it takes you a long time to get where you’re trying to go, or maybe never get there at all.

Sometimes it’s just about the journey.

And that really cuts to the crux of it. The other driving force behind my renewed vigor has a lot to do with my goal as a mother. To show my daughter that it never hurts to put yourself out there, even if the criticism can be stinging. When it comes down to it, we do have some choice in how we respond to those negative voices outside of our head. We can grow from it, or choose to let it stop us from being who we want to be. 
We actually had a conversation about this a while back with Nick’s folks. Times change, and each parent tries to do their best raising their children. I know I will (and probably already have made) many mistakes, as all parents probably feel like they do.  My story as a parent is still being written, but I hope in the end I will succeed at my primary goals as a parent:
1. Love.  My primary goal is that Amara know she is fiercely loved.  I want that love to carry her and fill her with confidence, because in being loved and in loving, she can go anywhere and be anything, with a happy heart.

2. Confidence and Fearlessness. I want Amara to grow up unafraid. I don’t mean I want her to ignore danger or the wisdom being aware of your surroundings brings (see the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker). I want her to have the courage to be herself, in spite of the many obstacles life may throw at her. I want her to know that fear should not be a driving factor in her life choices – whether it’s the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of your own voice, or fear of breaking the mold. Fear shaped my childhood, and grappling with fear has shaped my adulthood. If I can give her the confidence to follow her dreams and the ability to recognize the inhibiting effects of fear, well, I’m on my way.

3. Compassion.  Compassion is a difficult one to teach, but it really starts with recognizing your own feelings in every equation, then adding empathy to the mix. Everyone is fighting their own battle. It’s easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day struggles, and to fall into the “This is so hard.. Why did x do y and hurt my feelings?” We live in our heads, experience our lives through “me-centered” lenses, and we have to acknowledge that our experiences factor into who we are and how we see things. But we also have to realize that we are just a small piece of the equation. To really experience empathy, you have to break out of your own head, and imagine what it’s like to shoulder someone else’s burden for a while, and see if we are still upright.  Everyone crashes. Everyone hurts. Everyone laughs. Everyone cries. Everyone has someone who loves them, and everyone loves someone so much it hurts. If I can help her see how connected we all are…
4.  Let her be her. I don’t want Amara to be some “better me.” Mostly, I want her to be her. I want to let her discover the world, enjoy it, feel the grass between her toes, and show the world who she wants to be. Does she want to dance? Then, by god, I will move the world so she can dance. Does she want to sing? I will do what I can to make that dream come alive. Does she want to do martial arts? Soccer? Write? Whatever path those two little feet take, you can bet I will do my best to clear the way – but not stand in the way. Nor will I turn into a “helicopter parent.” When it comes down to it, she’s the kid and I’m really along for the ride.

So, those are my four primary goals. Who knows what the future will bring. I just know I’m a pretty lucky mom.

-The Rambler 

News! Stories to come!

Whew, it has been crazy busy in this Rambler’s world, and will be for the next few months, but I’m beginning to get a pattern down for this whole mom/writer/career person/wife/runner thing. I think. We’ll see what new ailment throws a wrench in my plans of productivity!

I do have one new announcement. After much thought, I have decided to make my short stories and other creative endeavors available on this blog. I will label each short story, so you should be able to find them easily, if you would rather get straight to the fiction.  I will also set up a paypal account. If you like what you read and want to see more, feel free to donate (although, you are under no obligation to do so!). Time is short, but if it looks like people want to see more, well, I’ll carve out the time and write more! Otherwise, I know we’re all scraping by, so just enjoy. 
I will publish the first story in the next few days. As always, thank you for reading!
– The Rambler

Editing, Queries and other Torture

So, I have two beta readers attacking, er, reading the current draft of Waking Dreams (WD). This is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. On the one hand, their thoughts and comments will most likely (1) enlighten me to  all the things that seem so clear in my head, but maybe didn’t make it to the page; (2) perhaps identify any character or plot weaknesses; and (mostly) (3) Just give me perspective on the book from unbiased eyes.  On the other hand, the whole process is terrifying as I wait to see just how awful people think it is…

But being me, I’ve already started mapping out my next project (with the tentative title “Shieldmaiden” or “Chooser” – I tend to wait until the work is done before I really decide on the title).  You know the saying “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” – so, moving forward while I wait for my amazingly wonderful beta readers to slog through my draft.

And, since my thoughtful husband reminded me that I should probably begin mapping out my submission details for WD before rushing full throttle into Shieldmaiden/Chooser, I’ve started a laborious spreadsheet that includes all my agent research. After reading the 2012 Publisher’s guide (an absolute MUST), and selecting the agencies likely to be open to a work such as WD, I began my online research of those agencies. Holy crud. I have my work cut out for me. After a total of three hours, I have 6 agencies on my list, with all submission requirements, contact info, etc. My goal is to complete my list within the week, and then, by the end of February, begin sending queries. We’ll see how that goes!

Happy 2013?

-The Rambler

Update

While I am blogging a little bit more than I did in this blog’s beginning (one entry in two years), once a month is a little less than I had anticipated!

So…… Interesting news? None really to report. Drudgery? Sure thing! Draft two has been making remarkably slow progress. I’m in the process of editing Chapter Three, and it just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m going to start bringing my laptop to work again soon, so I can write on my lunch break, which should speed up my editing. It’s exhausting work to get home and think about doing anything aside from chilling with my family and getting ready for the next day.

I’m slowly prioritizing my life to make sure I make the time for the things that I care about. I definitely need to give my family (mostly my poor neglected spouse) a little more TLC. Then I need to focus on Waking Dreams, because I am dedicated to finishing this novel and polishing it to where it needs to be. Then, I need to make sure to fit time in with my friends, since I’ve somehow become something of a hermit!

Once I finish Waking Dreams, I can finally work on a couple of other writing projects that I am excited to start! Including, a project that I will only call TBC Retold.

Hopefully I will have more to report in my next entry!

Content

Sooooooo, it’s been a while. Sorry! (Not that those who read this are generally missing much.) Sickness has plagued my house, but we’re finally through the colds, ear infections, then repeat of the colds. Oh my, is being sick tiring! I haven’t been this sick since, well, I don’t know. I guess when I was pregnant and had kidney stones. I’d like to not repeat that. It was akin to the pain of labor, but without the joy (or the constant uncomfortable feeling that a BM was nearly imminent, which to me tipped labor into being a little more unpleasant).

Anyway, draft two of Waking Dreams is coming along. Slowly, but coming along. My writing group is kicking back into gear for the school year, so hopefully the final draft of Waking Dreams will be polished by Summer of 2013. *fingers crossed* Although, this is a hobby, so my general rule of thumb for the things I enjoy is pretty simple: Don’t set strict timelines for the things you enjoy – they quickly become an obligation and lose their sparkle. And if you know me, you know I like me some sparkle! It’s funny – I like shiny things, I just don’t like wearing shiny things. I’m the magpie that collects shinies to look at.

Life is going really well. Grampa Phil’s health is improving after a post-op scare in the hospital, Hubby is enjoying his new job, I’m enjoying my work, and I’m enjoying my favoritest job of all: being a mommy. It’s amazing how being a mom has completely changed my priorities. I don’t mean to sound cheesy (although I realize that’s impossible to avoid), but it’s absolutely true. I don’t stress about work (as much), I don’t worry so much that people may not like me, or fret that I suck at the greater part of social niceties. Because, frankly, who gives a s&*t? My little girl is happy, healthy, and growing into a sweet, beautiful, laughing little girl. I love visiting her on my lunch breaks because it just lifts my mood the rest of the day. If I succeed in that one job, then life is golden. That being said, I’ve been given a temporary little promotion at work that is also amazing. I had forgotten how much nicer it is to do slightly more complicated and varying tasks.  It makes work much more enjoyable, so I’m going to savor every single moment of this temporary position!

I’d like to say that I didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about sucking, but, well, I’d be lying. When you feel like you’re the odd duck all the time, it’s much easier to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. I used to feel like if a group of my friends arranged a gathering without me, that that reflected poorly on me – that there was something wrong with me that they didn’t want to hang out with me too. Now, I realize, it’s okay not to be invited to everything. There are different vibes to every gathering, and small gatherings allow for a greater intimacy. If we invited all our friends to every gathering, well, we’d never get to actually find out what’s going on with folks!

Of course, as a mom, I’m still finding that balance of me-family-friends, oh my! I think my sanity is finally coming back, and a lot of that is, as I posted previously, just letting go.

As it stands? I couldn’t be happier with life. I am an incredibly lucky lady.

Gratitude

Thank you everyone who read and commented on my last blog. It was very difficult to post (somehow, it was easier to write than I would have thought… It was pressing the “Publish” button that was the hard part…That part took a few days…but I am so grateful I did). Each response, both online and off, touched me. I continue to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and hope that there are others out there who were hurt, but, like me, are finding not only their footing but also their voice.


There are so many things that amaze me in life, but the human capacity for kindness is one of the many things that continues to give me hope. To have such kindness, even from people who do not know me, well… It blew me away. And the love from the people who do know me? There are a couple of people out there whom I have to mention. I will simply call them the “Darths.” They continue to inspire me with their kindness, genuineness, compassion, and love. They are not your average fair-weather friends. They are (and really, since I met them, have always been) family. There’s that quote that says “Friends are the family you choose for yourself”, and it’s true with this couple and their family. I hope everyone can have Darths in their life – the people who may breeze in and out for a whirlwind visit, but leave you with a smile on your face and lighter feeling in your soul. People who have so much love to give, that it ripples out and touches everyone they meet. They take the time to say the things that friends so often leave unsaid. And that touches us all the more. Their response brought tears to my eyes, and made me feel so loved – well, I had to write about it! If they read this, they’ll know who they are. Darths? You inspire me. I will be happy in life if I can be half the parents you are and a quarter of the friends you have proven yourselves to be. Thank you for being in my life!

Also, I have to apologize if my response to comments seemed unoriginal.  I felt like a little bit of a broken record – I was just speechless and touched. I will continue writing and the response made me all the more committed to writing a memoir for my mom with my sister. 

There is one comment that sadly, while fighting a fever, I tried to hit “publish” on my cell phone, and my big fingers hit “delete” rather than publish. So cosleepwalking? If you don’t mind re-commenting, I would love to post your comment! I tried to retrieve your message, to no avail. I can copy it from my email and publish it with a link that it’s from you, but I didn’t want to do that without your permission. Thank you so much for sharing. As my mom taught me – no matter how dark the tunnel gets, or how long it feels, there is always light at the end of it. For her, that light was us kids. 

Thank you so much to everyone out there for your positive comments and feedback. Each one of you are an inspiration and have made me feel so grateful to have decided to join the online community.

An eternally grateful Rambler

When you know a friendship is toxic

Now that I have just one short week until I can begin editing Waking Dreams, I have been musing on a friendship that recently ended after quite some time. I have really struggled with this decision, and it did not come lightly.

Over the weekend, I was on a hike with an amazing new friend and we began to talk a bit about our pasts. Something this new friend said really hit me. She talked about how funny it is that we women are always so concerned about the effect our decisions have on the social group, that we often sit back and take a lot of BS for fear of rocking the boat.  A light went off in my head. I have been angry at this other former friend for quite some time and my fear of “rocking the boat” in my social group has had an effect on me. I sat silently and then reacted poorly to a lot of things, but now… I just don’t care. My family is more important. And I want it to be extremely clear that I do not condone the behavior of this former friend (hereafter “NPD”).

I struggled for a while wondering why NPD had behaved in the way he did. Why did he continue to harass my husband and I, in spite of my repeated requests that he stop? Why could he not go a single conversation without implying that my husband had terrible clothing choices, was inept at taking care of himself, and me and was going to be a terrible father? Why did he think it was appropriate to then turn to making fun of my daughter, who had yet to be born? Why did he think, even after we asked and told him to stop, it would EVER be funny to joke that he was going to have sex with our daughter? And when we responded with a “WTF?! Don’t EVER say that again” – why did he laugh at our response and say “What? I’ll wait until she’s 18”? And when we said that was still inappropriate, why did he continue and say “What? I”ll have had a vasectomy by then!” Apparently our horrified response was exactly what he was looking for, since he continued to make the joke another two to three times. Maybe he would have made it again, but we stopped seeing him by then.

I will not stand by and tolerate someone who takes me aside to tell me what a horrible wife I am (while I was pregnant!), and then makes me listen to him complain about how his wife is a psycho bitch. Then, when I defend her, have him rally and tell me I am being mean. At the time, I was boggled. I had no idea what end was up or down with NPD.  Sometimes he was so nice and charming, that I forgot about all the other crud. Then it would resurface and I would feel like crap all over again. When Nick pointed out that he thought our daughter came early because of all the stress of dealing with this person – well, that highlighted for me just how unhealthy the relationship had become. Now, I just don’t care. I am still a bit angry at NPD and partially at myself for being so slow to realize how toxic the friendship had become. Better late than never, right?

I do not know if NPD behaves like this with other people, but I know that this is how he behaved with us. Given how he’s twisted what I’ve said and what others have said to suit his own version of the truth (i.e. whichever version makes him out to be the good guy), I can’t trust him.  I do not know what’s real with him, or what he says just to get attention, since he seems to want attention all the time.

Mostly – I will not gamble my daughter’s emotional or physical safety on what I already know to be an emotionally unsound person. I will not have her think it is okay to make fun of people in the way this person thinks is okay.  I have already placed my friends in the awkward position, and I am truly sorry about that. I will see NPD at social events, but that’s it. Our interactions will be minimal, and I will never leave my daughter alone with this person. Ever.

The epiphany was that I do not need to hide my feelings. I am happier when I am open about who I am. I want to put my foot down now and let my daughter know that it’s okay to cut people out who hurt you repeatedly. I hope she would have the strength to walk away if she’s ever in a relationship with someone who abuses her emotionally and/or physically. Cut and run, because YOU are more important than any potential social fall-out.

So, what do you do when you know a friendship is toxic? If it can’t be repaired – accept the loss and move on. Profit from my experience! Don’t spend months mourning the loss and wondering what went wrong! Accept the fact that just like all those other vices (junk food!), they may make you laugh or feel good every now and then, but overall, if they make you feel crummy, you should probably leave them by the wayside.

Thanks for listening, and I apologize for the high drama content of this post!

-The Rambler