An Update

Hello everyone. Long time, no chat. I know, I really should post more often but I did post a warning about my time being eaten by school, work, and kids.

So remember when I said I was going back to school in hopes that it would help me improve my writing? Well, I have managed to learn a few things.

  1.  I prefer writing for myself instead of my class and my teachers.
  2. I have to unlearn how to simplify.
  3. Teachers seem to want long exploratory paragraphs and information dumps rather than just sticking to the point.

Number 3 somewhat baffles me. I mean, part of me understands. They want to A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsknow that you really know what you are talking about. Maybe I have learned to simplify too much? I used to read books that warned against information dumps in stories. I am beginning to fear I fixed something that wasn’t broken and now I have to unfix it.

I have to go to work in a few minutes and I have an exam tonight so that’s all for now. I just wanted to let people know I am still alive and my hiatus from my blog is only temporary. My posts may be irregular but they will still happen from time to time.

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To write a book…

charlie-chaplin-392926_1280When I was in school I hated American History. I thought it was boring. I thought that since other countries had been around so much longer, they were obviously much more interesting.

Now that I am older, I am no longer so excluding. For the past few weeks I’ve been focused on the American Civil War. My attention was peaked last year when I did some family history research. It was more recently that I received a book of local ghost stories that pinged that interest again.

Then I spoke with another writer who I greatly admire. I told him that I had been thinking about writing a book that takes place during the civil war. I recounted what I had found out about my family, and he said: That sounds like a good place to start. Why don’t you?

That “Why don’t you?” Has been echoing around the empty cavern of my skull for weeks.

I tried to use the excuse, “Well, life has so many changes going on right now, with the new job and going back to school…”

My inner writer answered with, “You don’t work on the weekends and part of your degree is going to be in History anyway.”

Then the dragon of self doubt raised its head and said, “Do you really think you can find anime_dragon_1024x768-634320the time to write a book? Look how well that has worked in the past. You have three unfinished novels sitting on your computer right now. And remember that rejection letter. The one that hit the mark so well.”

The dragon almost got me. Then I remembered the rejection letter it was reminding me of was the catalyst I needed to pull up my boots and march back to school. The three unfinished novels reminded me that my current way of writing isn’t working very well and I need to try something new. (Not that those three will never be finished. Two are honestly in a rewrite stage but I changed things and got stuck in the muddle in the middle. Then proceeded to wallow in the muck.)

So now, with so many things already on my plate and with so many new challenges to face, I find myself stacking yet another task on top. I’m going to write a book. Sanderson Quote-800wi

The Only Constant Is Change

doctor wibbilyThe only constant is change. I am sure that is a quote from someone much smarter than I am. I cannot recall who it may have been. It is a truth that my life feels like it is trying to prove these last couple of months though.

I lost the best boss I’ve ever had, but was able to reposition her into a ‘awesome friend‘ slot. So she isn’t gone from my life, just from that one spot. I left the job I have spent nearly 7 years of my life at. The place that ate up half of my nights every year. I left behind good friends and routine. I even stopped writing for a period of time.

I had a moment of evaluation and came to the conclusion that things were not as they indianashould be and that I was not happy. Then I came up with a plan to fix that. It sounds easy but it was not. It was terrifying. It was a doubt filled tangle of What if’s. It was a massive black hole of: But how do/will I…

Then I took a step. And then another step. I am still scooting along, one step at a time. The ground still feels unstable beneath my feet but that hasn’t stopped me yet. The changes are probably not all over yet either. I am in transitional limbo. In September or October things should feel more solid.

hobbitI have a new job now. I am still in training and have five more weeks of it to go. I love it so far. My kids are signed up for a new school. I signed up to go back to school and my classes start mid August.  I no longer work nights. I no longer have to drag stacks of totes larger than I am. I started writing again.

I have no doubt that my writing will be the slowest thing to advance simply because of all the other obligations. Not because it isn’t important, but because it is. I have to learn patience with my writing.

I get in a hurry and I often don’t do the best job I can. I want the story told. However, I also Writing-furiously[1]need to tell the story right. I need to let go of the rush, rush, get-it-done and just tell the story. It’s like turning the oven up as high as it can go. Yeah, it will cook the pizza but it probably won’t be very tasty. I want to make tasty pizzas…er stories. (I am writing this too close to dinner time.)

Anyway, the point is I am taking more time with my writing and therefore I will hopefully be churning out a better quality of fiction. As a result of this and my other obligations I may not be updating my blog as often. My normal routine has been to post once a week on Mondays. From now on it may be once a month or once every two weeks. I am not sure yet.  I will try it until I decide that the schedule doesn’t work, and then change it again. Or life will change it for me.

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A rather depressing state

dust-cloud-593091_1920Recently I have been learning a great deal about the American Great Depression of the 1920’s and 30’s.  My grandparents were children during this period and it echoed throughout the rest of their lives. The more I learn the more I wonder if we aren’t heading for another one.

I know, I know, the politicians tell us that the depression of the past few years is over. However, it is an election year so they will say that. It also gives them an easy platforms to preach from because so many voters need similar things right now.

I don’t usually get into political topics because I don’t have the time or patience to make sure the boiling pot doesn’t boil over. I will make some observations though, because I see parallels between what I have been learning and what is going on today. I hear and read people constantly putting down and insulting those on welfare. Many of those programs came to be during the depression era. In pictures, I see the shame on the faces of the adults warring with relief as they wait in commodities lines for food to feed their families. These were people that were proud to worked hard. But at that time it didn’t matter how much they sweated in the fields or pounded the pavement in search of work. The rewards for diligence simply were not there.

Today I think if people look close they will see that same warring shame and weary relief on many of the faces of welfare today. True you still have those that abuse the system and see it as cart to carry them, rather than the hand up to help them stand it is supposed to be. Those aren’t the people the programs were created for.

The politicians will tell you that unemployment has gone down over the past few years. They will tell you hundreds of new jobs have opened up. What they don’t tell you is that many jobs that used to exist have vanished and many of the new positions are part time. With the health care reform acts many companies have been forced to provide insurance for their full time employees. This sounds like a good thing on paper.

However, insurance companies are being forced to accept new rules too. Since no one wants a drop in profits, they raise rates and adjust things here and there to keep their margins where they want it. The companies, who may not have a problem with the idea of helping their employees with health insurance, also don’t want profits to drop so they stop hiring full time employees and find insurance companies who offer lower prices for less coverage. The letter of the law is met and the bottom line protected even as the out of pocket cost rises for the average worker.

Everyone is required to have insurance or be fined, but few can find full time positions. Those lucky few that do, find that the hours they work are just barely enough to qualify as full time. Their take home pay is gouged severely by insurance premiums, taxes, stagnate wages, and minimum hours. Many work two or three part time jobs but still only bring home hardly enough to cover the basic bills.

Some of these employees apply for welfare from the over loaded system. They are working hard but it isn’t enough to both keep the rent paid and feed hungry mouths, much like the dust bowl farmers of the 30’s.  Others tighten already tighten belts until their ribs crack. Morale drops even as stubborn determination sets in. Families suffer under stress. Many are single parent homes, where the parent has to work several jobs and the kids go unattended. The choice these people must make is, Do I want to spend time with my children? Or do I want to feed them?

All of this means that the idea of “disposable income” is a joke. Sure those with the bonuses can buy the new car, house, or bass boat. But the backbone of the working class cannot. Most of them can’t even afford new shoes for aching feet.

The retail worker, the server, the cashier, the teacher,…the list goes on, these people are struggle financially. No one looks too close however. Even those fighting don’t really want to know how close to the edge they are.

If this routine continues, like an inflatable raft with a leak, the economy will eventually sink. The middle class that is supposed to blow air into the nozzle to keep it afloat can’t breath any more. And like dustbowl farmers before the droughts, the big money makers keep trying to increase their crops even though few are buying.

Eventually it will all turn to dust.

Gifts

paper-933661_640A few minutes ago I was standing at the kitchen table re-wrapping Christmas presents for my ex-husband and his wife. I needed to mail them out and the original wrapping job wasn’t going to fit in the box. In the background my mom was watching the world news.

I wasn’t really paying attention until she started complaining about how many shots were fired during something. I still don’t know what happened, but I do know that was the moment I started to hear the words echoing from my television rather than just enjoying it as background buzz.

I was wrapping Christmas presents while the world was falling apart. There were shootings, bombings, deaths, and babies being born addicted to drugs. My hands paused on the brightly colored paper. I didn’t reach for the tape. I just listened and it saddened my heart. It hurt.

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There is so much pain in the world. I stood still thinking about how I would heal it if I could. But what could I do? One single mom on the edge of welfare. The world is so big and there is so much hurt, what could my two hands do to help?

That was when I realized that I was already doing it. I was wrapping presents to my Ex and his wife. I was planning on taking some of money I try to stretch like elastic, and mail their presents across the country to where they now live.

With brightly colored paper and clear tape I was wishing them joy. I was wishing them happiness. Even as I wrapped their gifts I was hoping that they were things they would enjoy.a toast

They don’t even live in the same state as me any more. It would be too easy to just not worry about it. To say it is just too expensive to mail the package. Out of sight out of mind. But I didn’t.

I can’t touch the entire world but I can touch little parts of it. I can do what I can to forgive the hurts that touch me and to heal the ones that I come in contact with. I can’t fix everything but I can do little things. Maybe if we all try to do what little things we can, then they will add up to big things.

I can’t fix the world. But maybe if the world tried hard enough, it could fix itself. At the very least it would be a little brighter. hot-air-ballooning-436442_640

Bits of thoughts

A_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_wordsI don’t know if it is because I am a writer or just because I am naturally curious, but I tend to pick up a lot of useless information. I kind of seek it out. Saddly, it isn’t organized in my brain at all, but kind of shoved together like an over full closet that you try to fit just one more thing into.

Right now there is a show on talking about Oracles of the dead. Just that thought is fascinating and will probably have to have a story at some point. I also learn about psychometry and animals in Australia. I am sure it will come in handy some day.

Psychometry actually solves the small pause I just came up against in a current work in progress. The problem is that I can’t read about it right now to see if I can tweak it to work with my main character. I’ve tried but my eyes just glaze over the words.

I see the letters but the words aren’t making it through and my brain isn’t really paying attention. It is days like this I need someone to sit and read stuff to me. My ears are working fine but my eyes and brain are refusing to work together.

I guess I will go work on that scarf I have been crocheting for my son, then try it again. If that doesn’t work, I may just take a nap. Naps are like rebooting a computer, only you are rebooting the person.

Mooch-in-the-Morning…Yeah, a nap sounds good.

A bit of Fiction from a tired writer

Out of the list of things I had planned to accomplish today, I managed one. It wasn’t a blog post. However, it is still Monday so by the end of this my daily accomplishments will be up to 2.

I had over a dozen topics to blog about just a few minutes ago. Then I sat down at the the computer and my mind went as blank as the page I have been staring at. It is a good thing that blog post aren’t viewed in the real time it took someone to write them or I would have lost you all after the first paragraph.

Okay, so here is what I am going to do. Last week I didn’t do a proper post and this week I am struggling. So how about some fiction?

I wrote this short for a writing contest in October but never got to use it because they closed submissions early. It’s not exactly my best, but the few people I’ve shared it with found it amusing.

 

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Lunch Break

It was a dark and stormy night. All I wanted to do was to eat my Hot Pocket before it cooled beyond room temperature but the rain and the full moon, hidden behind the clouds, drove people into the store. Some were on their way home. Some were stopping in before heading to work a swing shift. All had the wild look a full moon, visible or not, brings out. Eyes open too wide revealing more of the white than normal and pupils dilated dark and round.

I just wanted to eat my lunch, but the flood of people ridden by moon madness prevented me. Who really needs a pack of gum at two in the morning?

I felt a growl slip out as I handed the lady chatting on her phone back her change. She snatched it and her diet coke up without ever making eye contact. My hot pocket was growing colder, my stomach emptier, and my temper hotter with each customer.

I finally got rid of the line and sighed as a glance out of the dirty windows revealed no one in the parking lot. Once again I turned to my lunch. Just as I raised the food to my lips a car pulled up and sat idling in front of the building.

I paused before biting into my Hot Pocket as a couple of teenagers hopped out of the car. One stood in front of the door while the other rushed inside wearing tan pantyhose to disguise his face. Any other day I would have laughed, but I was hungry and I had dealt with enough people for one night. Then he did the unthinkable.

Brandishing a gun he slapped my Hot Pocket out of my hand. I watch the flaky crust of my lunch splatter and crumble on the stained tile floor, all of its cheesy goodness leaking out to join whatever people had tracked in on their shoes. I couldn’t hear what the robber was saying over the rushing roar of my anger reaching its peak.

My hands shifted as I reached for the desecrator of my Hot Pocket. My claws dug into his arm as I bent it backwards, bones snapping as the were forced to go in an unnatural direction. Then the idiot pulled the trigger, shooting himself in the chest. His buddy rushed in from outside, yelling profanity as he took in the blood joining my ruined lunch on the floor. I let him jerk his friend free from my grip when he grabbed for him and the two slipped and tripped their way back to the running car.

It spun out of the parking lot in a squeal of tires and I let my hands return to normal. When I was sure they were long gone, I washed my hands in the employee’s only sink, popped another Hot Pocket into the microwave, and went to fetch the mop.