July Writing Projects

FireworksSo, the novel fell apart spectacularly, but I can strip it for parts. And I did finish the 99 novella. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It may end up being one of those personal writing projects, something I needed to do just for me. And that’s cool. I do not mind those sorts of projects because they free up brain space. June wasn’t a total waste.

This month I’ll revise Open Christmas Eve. And by revise I mean make it longer because it is really short for a script. All part of me feeling less like a fraud about my contest entry that will probably not win anything.

Speaking of contests, the short story I entered into a contest earlier this year did not win, so I’m going to put that loser to the side and do something else with it later. But still, buy my stuff and tell me I’m pretty because my ego hurts.

And speaking of short stories, that’s going to be my main objective this month. I have an idea for a new short story collection, so I’ll be writing and revising with the aim of starting that. I’ve also go another idea for a different short story project that I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull off, but hey, I gotta try. That will be mostly revising short stories that I’ve never been able to find a home for.

July looks to have a whole lot going on.

Who needs summer vacation?

Self-Care When You’re Lousy at Self-Care

peaceSelf-care is important. It’s how one can maintain a happy existence even when life turns into a pressure cooker and your juices are threatening to boil. For some people, self-care comes so naturally that they don’t even have to think about it. They take time out to recharge their batteries, make time to do it. They take care of themselves with no problems. They relax without guilt. They don’t even think about not doing it. It just happens.

I am not one of those people.

Hell, I’m not even exactly sure what self-care really means. I know for some people it’s a reminder to take care of the basics because they get so wrapped up in stress that things like eating and drinking and sleeping and such get neglected. For me, self-care is more of a reminder to just take a break. To leave whatever stress or turmoil or work or whatever where it sits and walk away. Leave it alone, let it rest, and go soothe my soul with some kind of peace.

And I am garbage at that.

I’m one of those people who never works hard enough, is never good enough, and could always have done more. I’m one of those people who never deserves a break, never earns one, and I feel guilty if I even consider taking one.

For me, self-care is a struggle. Not only do I battle the inner narrative that I’m being lazy if I’m not being productive, but I also live in a world in which my attention is demanded. Alone time is hard to come by. I’ve learned to work through interruptions for the most part. Now I’m learning to self-care through them, too.

I’m learning to self-care, period.

As much as I long for a day (or a week, sometimes) of peace, I’ve learned to take it where I can get it. When I’m actively practicing self-care, like I did this past weekend, I accept that out of a day, I might get a broken hour or two of peace. Asking to be left alone for a while is not an option. The request either isn’t respected or if it is honored, it comes with hurt feelings because opting out of being someone’s personal audience for a day is considered a personal affront. So, I’ve found that it’s in my best interest to make the most of the time I can get. Little sips of peace. Not exactly full-on refreshing, but still nourishing.

As for the actual method of self-care, I relax best by doing something I really want to do that isn’t related to work. This past weekend, I did marker art. Sometimes it could be finishing a book. Other times I’ll dedicate my peace pursuits to studying some subject I’m interested in for an hour. It could just be a twenty minute dance party. For me, doing nothing is hard. There’s too much guilt and anxiety that comes with me doing absolutely nothing. If I do a little something amidst the nothing, then that lazy narrative has nothing to say. A gentle mix of productivity and rest.

I have found that, with continued practice, I’m getting better at this whole self-care business. I’m recognizing when I need to take these breaks and then I’m taking them. Before, I’d run myself into the ground and then run myself into the ground a little further before making the very slow climb out of the hole and feeling like a lazy fuck every inch of the way. Now I’m refusing to let myself get to that point.

Slowly but surely, I am getting the hang of this whole self-care business. I can’t say that it’s becoming more natural for me.

But I can say that I’m doing a much better job of including it in my world.

When We Talk About Orlando

pulseI went on two Twitter rants about the Orlando mass shooting since it occurred and what I’m going to do now is reiterate the three points I made in those Twitter rants for posterity (and with fewer “fuck you’s”, but they’re still implied).

When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the politicians that offer their thoughts and prayers while they continue to take money from the gun lobby. We have to talk about how they value their nickels and dimes more than common sense that could save lives. We have to talk about how they are so thirsty for votes that they will sacrifice whatever morality they might have on that altar made from spent shells and innocent blood. We have to talk about how they are so keen to protect the status quo, to protect their status in the hierarchy, that they will let people die so they can remain at the the top.  When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the price that has been put on our lives.

When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the breeding ground for hate. This was a hate crime. Nobody muttered the word “terrorist” until it was found that the shooter identified as Muslim. If this shooting had been perpetrated by a white Christian male (and when the news broke in the early morning hours, that’s exactly who I first thought the killer would be), he would be a “lone wolf” shooter. He would have been another Dylan Roof, but for the LGBTQ crowd. We have to talk about how so many “good Christians” are remaining silent about Orlando because they want to blame the victims (“I’m sorry it happened, but God says that homosexuality…”), but they can’t because that would align them with the shooter and more importantly with a religion they abhor. We have to talk about how many politicians have lobbied for bathroom laws, for sodomy laws, against marriage equality, against gay adoption. We have to talk about the preachers that use the pulpit to spread the message that being gay is an abomination, that we should “love the sinner, hate the sin”, that God can cure them of their homosexuality. We have to talk about how this shooting will be used to fuel Islamaphobia by both the politicians in their pursuit for votes and by the “good Christians” in their pursuit for conversion. We have to talk about how this fuckhead will be held up as an example of an entire religion, a lie that will be repeatedly told and with fervor. We have to talk about how millions of people are called upon to denounce this one fuckstick’s actions, but are still demonized. When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the casual way our society makes us less than.

When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the fact that the victims were gay. The media is glossing over this fact. People are taking to social media to ram home the terrorism part of the rhetoric, to ram home the fact that these were AMERICANS killed and that is more important than the victims being gay. No, it isn’t. We have to talk about the fact that before they were dead AMERICANS they were living GAYS, living with restrictions, being denied rights. We have to talk about how when they were living gays, YOU put the gay first, well before you even considered them being American. We have to talk about how you want to obliterate the victims’ sexual identity so you can condemn one religion without betraying your own. When we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about the fact that these people were targeted because they were gay and this sort of “terrorism” is something those of us identifying as LGBTQ have been living with and experiencing for decades.

Love winsWhen we talk about Orlando, we have to talk about caring, about support, about empathy, about tolerance, about understanding, about hope, about revolution, about worth, about humanity, about equality, about justice, about freedom, about help, and most of all, about love.

Love is love.

Love wins.

 

Ways to help.

Writing–When It All Goes to Concrete

Rainbow paperI wanted to write a novel this summer. I had the idea all ready to go. I was going to do it the same way I wrote an impromptu novel last summer, just a thousand words a day, a very loose outline. I even mentioned it in my writing projects post, that’s how sure I was that Suicide Paris Green was going to be a thing.

Forty pages in and I realized, that no, it’s not going to be a thing. Well, not a novel thing, anyway.

I’ve written first drafts before in which I could easily look at it and say, “This is fucking garbage”, but then I’d say, “It’s okay. I can rewrite it.” I looked at this first draft and went, “Nope.”

I can’t say how I know that something I’m writing is just not going to work. It’s actually very rare that it happens. I usually finish the first draft of most things and it may be after I’m done that I look back and go, “No, it’s not worth the effort to fix”. And that’s fine. I don’t think everything I write is meant to be finished to ultimate completion. Sometimes I just need to get the idea out of my head and once it’s out, I’m done. I’m cool with that. I don’t consider that in any way to be a waste of time or effort because in the end, I’m practicing my craft.

But there are those rare occasions when I’m writing something that I just know it’s a lost cause, that it isn’t worth pursuing. It’s definitely an intuitive thing. The only way I can describe it is that the idea, once fresh and new and liquid, now feels like old, set, scarred concrete in my head. There’s just no life to it anymore, no movement.

That’s what happened to Suicide Paris Green. I was working on it yesterday morning, typing away, and I realized that it was concrete in my head. I know what I wanted from it, but in the act of actually writing it I realized that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted. I was going to end up with an unreadable mess that I’d never want to look at again.

It just killed my mojo.

I hate it when that happens to my ideas and I’m happy that it happens rarely.

But all is not lost, at least not in my world. Not long after I called TOD on this draft and decided not to write another word, my eyes lit up at the prospect of stripping the draft and the ideas I had for the story for parts. What might not work as a novel may just work as some short stories with a similar theme. And maybe I’ll write enough of them to put together another collection.

And I’ll save the title for a living manuscript, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, maybe instead of a writing a novel this summer, I’ll just write some short stories instead.

June Writing Projects

Yellow flowersLast month I finished the first draft of Open Christmas Eve, which makes me less of a cheat in terms of the script contest. It’s really short (too short), so I’m thinking a revision will definitely be happening at some point to reduce my feelings of being a cheat even more. But that probably won’t happen until later this summer.

More importantly, I finished the last revision and polish on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys and, after days of agonizing, finally put together the ghost story collection lamely titled Ghostly. It was the best I could do which is probably why I’ll never make a living doing this. But, so long as self-publishing can be done, I’ll at least be making some change. So this is all a round about way of saying that Ghostly will be out at the end of the month.

For June, I’m going through with my plan on writing a short novel for the summer. It’s called (for now) Suicide Paris Green and it’s quite a bit different from the stuff I’ve been writing (read: not horror, not paranormal, no fantastical elements). It’s kind of dark, so to counteract it, I’m going to be writing a fun story at the same time as a kind of palette cleanser. I have no idea how long this story is going to be, but it’s also VERY different from what I’ve ever written in terms of original fiction. Right now it’s called 99 because even my fun stories aren’t immune from my shitty titles.

At any rate, June should be a good month for some laid back writing in terms of deadlines and demands and bottom lines and I sort of need that kind of thing right now.

Let’s do this, summer.

Sew Many Bits and Pieces

sugergirl skirtLast month I went through my sewing drawer and bin, trying to figure out what I could get rid of because I have a plethora of fabrics and remnants and clothes that I thought I’d be sewing with and so far haven’t yet. I really can’t keep hanging on to these things if I’m not going to do anything with them. And it’s been far too long since I’ve actually sat down and stitched on a project.

So, while going through things, I found a couple of panels that I could try to sell on eBay and maybe later I could try selling some of the remnants I probably won’t use, but I also came up with two projects I could work on that would use up several bits and pieces and shirts. My dumbass thought I could get both of these things done in a day. In reality, it took me about two and a half weeks, give or take me not paying much attention to days of the week.

supergirl skirt 2I made the skirt from a pair of jeans that lost their life to the curse of friction, an old t-shirt, and the leg of a pair of pajama pants. Probably the easiest thing about this pieces was cutting the legs off of the jeans and ripping the seams out of the shirt and the pants. The actual piecing and sewing (remember, I sew by hand) turned out to be much trickier than I anticipated. In fact, I ended up having to do one of the cheetah print panels twice because I screwed it up the first time and had a weird bulge in it.

The skirt turned out pretty well, I think. It’s light enough to wear in the summer, but long enough to wear in the fall and spring. Versatile. Also pretty damn unique.

handkerchief tankThe other piece I ended up doing is a handkerchief style tank. I sewed together to different ribbed tanks to get the color block effect. I then split the lower tank up the side and added in the plaid panels. Turns out that was the hardest part, trying to get the angles just right. That and all of the sewing because of the angles and the hems I needed to create.

And in the end, it doesn’t work for me. I don’t like the way it looks on me. However, I do think it will look quite fetching on my middle niece who likes this sort of style. She’s shorter and smaller than me (obviously), so I think it will hang better on her than on me. In the end, it won’t go to waste.

So, I’ve made some progress in cleaning out my sewing stuff and got some cute things in the process.

I have to remember that’s how it works when I actually sew.

Fear the Bathroom

toilet“OMG! They’re letting MEN use the GIRLS room! What is this world coming to?”

Hopefully, a quick and painless end via meteor, but I feel like we won’t be so lucky.

That quoted nonsense above is the rallying cry of the pearl clutchers on Facebook as of late. The idea that *gasp* transgender people might need to pee while out in public is apparently cause for great concern. The need to pee while out and about is a great concern of mine as well, but only because public bathrooms have a tendency to be fucking gross.

It seems that people who have never met a transgender person, never educated themselves on transgender people, and therefore have no fucking clue how it works are convinced that the ONLY reason a transgender person would go into a public restroom is to commit heinous acts of violation against others and not to, ya know, take a piss.

First, let’s clear up a few things and do a little education here. Here are some definitions you need to know.

A cisgender person is someone whose gender corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth

A transgender person is someone whose gender identity doesn’t correspond to their biological sex assigned at birth or someone who does not conform to societal gender norms or roles.

A transvestite is a person, especially a male, who assumes the dress and manner usually associated with the opposite sex.

A sexual predator is someone who would dress as the opposite sex for the specific purpose of entering a bathroom for voyeurism or to commit sexual assault.

Oh, hey, were you one of those guys that made a joke that you’d totally dress up as a chick so you could go into the girl’s bathroom because your working knowledge of life apparently comes from repeated viewings of teen sex comedies? Congratulations! You’re a sexual predator!

“But I was just joking! I wouldn’t actually do it!”

I don’t give a fuck. You’re part of the fucking problem, Beavis.

There is a HUGE bathroom problem. The problem is that men will gather their torches and pitchforks to protect their womens from the big, bad trannies lurking in bathroom stalls, but at the same time would scrutinize every detail of a woman’s account of actually being sexually assaulted by a cis male because this sort of accusation could destroy a man’s life, you know. The same man rending his clothes about the idea of a transgendered person peeing in the stall next to his wife at Target will automatically say that any woman accusing a celebrity of rape is lying and only doing it for the money. The men outraged about a trans woman needing to pee while out and about in public are the same ones that will tell you that “boys will be boys” and “she shouldn’t have drank so much” and “if you don’t want that kind of attention, don’t wear those clothes”.

Am I singling out the men here? Yeah, but I’m going to admit that there are women that feel the same fucking way and shame on them, too.

There’s another BIG bathroom problem that’s hardly getting a mention at all. You’re all so worried about what’s going on in the women’s room, but what about the men’s? What about the transgender women that would be forced to use the men’s room due to their sex assigned at birth? What about them?

That’s a rhetorical question because I already know what you bathroom defenders would say about them. You’d say, “Fuck them. They get what they deserve if they go into a men’s room because that’s what happens when you’re a freak.” My pants aren’t on fire, so you know I’m not lying.

And that’s just it, isn’t it, kids? Trans folks are more likely to be sexually assaulted, more likely to be physically assaulted, more likely to be murdered by cis folks than the other way around.

Because this battle of the bathrooms isn’t about protecting women from sexual predators. If that were true, if that were really the endgame, then public bathrooms would not be your chosen battle ground. College campuses and right inside the home would be the places to start.

No, this isn’t about protecting women from sexual predators. This is about protecting your ignorance, protecting your narrative, protecting your view of the world. The idea that someone exists outside your scope of understanding makes you uncomfortable, threatens you, scares you, and therefore, must not be allowed to thrive, to exist.

This isn’t about keeping women safe in the bathroom. It’s about keeping transgender people out of society, out of view, to make it harder for them to exist, to be normal, to be like everyone else. Because that’s what they really want, you know. They don’t want to destroy the sanctity of the public bathroom (God, if that were only a real thing, then maybe they’d be cleaner); they want to be treated with the decency and respect you would treat any human that needs to go the can when they’re out running errands, that you would treat any human anywhere, regardless of circumstance. They want to be like everyone else.

Guess what? They are. You’ve probably already interacted with one. You’ve probably already peed next to one. And you didn’t know it. Why? Because the transgender folks are trying to protect themselves from YOU.

And in the end, that’s what this whole fucking debacle is about, isn’t it?

You.

You and your ignorant bullshit (courtesy flush that deuce, if you please).

If you’re that concerned about the inner workings of the women’s public restroom (Seriously, what the fuck do you think happens in there? What are YOU doing in there that’s so goddamn interesting?), maybe YOU should only pee at home.

The rest of us, trans and cis, are happy to pee together in peace.

So long as you don’t piss on the seat.

 

*Definitions for cisgender, transgender, and transvestite were taken from dictionary.com. The definition for sexual predator was created specifically for this post, but still pretty accurate, no?

May Writing Projects

pinkflowerApril turned out to be quite a productive month for me, quite unintentionally really.

I finished the latest round of revisions on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as well as the first drafts of all five of the potential script contest entries (first fifteen pages and one-page synopsis) before I left for Chicago. Part of the purpose of going to Chicago, besides seeing friends and eating orange chicken, was to be able to work on my writing without interruption or distraction. I found myself in a hotel room with no major writing project demanding my attention as I was still undecided what script to do for the contest. I ended up polishing “What You Don’t See” and “Short Hallway” (I polished a haunted hotel story in a hotel room while watching 1408 because my commitment to a theme cannot be denied) and got about a third of Voice polished before I left. A productive short trip despite the anxiety troubles I had.

I finished polishing Voice after I got home. I then turned my attention to the script contest. I ended up picking one called Open Christmas Eve and did my best to get those first fifteen pages perfect. I hit the “What the fuck am I doing? I can’t do this! I have no idea what I’m doing. This is pointless” wall Friday night, got my “Fuck it” second wind Saturday afternoon, and after a few more tweaks and some polishing, I submitted it Saturday night. I recognize that it’s probably a waste of an entry fee (and only with extreme luck will I even win that entry fee back), but I still did it. There is some kind of accomplishment in pushing myself to explore different forms of writing.

Speaking of, April was National Poetry Month and as an exercise I made myself write at least four lines of poetry a day. They’re just scraps of poems, nothing glorious, and I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll do with them (I posted one on my Instagram at the end of the month to celebrate), but it was a fun little project.

After all of that in April, what’s to be done in May?

I’m going to completely finish The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. It needs a little more revision (just some tweaks), a beta read, and a polish. Once that’s done, I’ll get to work putting together the ghost story collection. I’m also going to work on finishing the first draft of Open Christmas Eve. Now that it’s submitted, the rest of the script should be easy to finish and I’ll feel like less of a cheat having the whole thing written.

I sort of feel like spending the summer writing a short novel. I’ve got the idea (actually, I have two ideas, but I think I’m going to save one for NaNo) and I think I’ll spend some time this month working on fleshing it out.

No worries about getting bored. Still plenty left on my To Do List of Doom.

I Took My Anxiety to Chicago

The frog no doubt was evil, but that's a different story.

No doubt the frog was evil, but that’s a different story.

Anxiety is just another fact of my existence. I don’t talk about it much because I don’t really think about it much. Having a low level of social anxiety coursing through my veins when I leave the house is normal for me. It’s so normal, I don’t even have to think about what to do to cope with it. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s unconscious for me. Most of the time it doesn’t interfere with my functioning.

But, like my depression, my anxiety will occasionally flare up, sometimes for no identifiable reason.

That’s what happened this past week.

I was planning to spend a few days in Chicago. Aside from dinner with friends both nights, I was going to spend most of my short stay in my hotel room, writing. I was going to drive up there, leaving between eleven and noon, making my usual pit stop for gas and food, and get to my hotel right around check-in time. It’s been a few years since I’ve made the Chicago drive, but it’s one I’ve made often enough that I know it pretty well.

I anticipated a little anxiety. I usually have it on the Chicago drive. No big deal. I also anticipated my anxiety to spike when I got into the city, even though I knew my hotel was easy to find, just because driving in Chicago always makes me anxious. It has to do with not being exactly sure where I’m going and not wanting to look like an idiot.

I did not anticipate my anxiety being high when I woke up that morning. Coping slowed me up considerably and I ended up leaving later than I wanted to, but I left, reassuring myself that I’d be fine once I got on the road.

When I got to my pit stop, I still wasn’t fine. Normally, I get gas, go to the bathroom, grab something I can eat while I drive, and get back on the road as quickly as I can. This time, I lingered, eating in the parking lot, reluctant to resume my drive. But, I did, once again reassuring myself that I’d be fine.

By the time I got to Chicago, I was wound up tighter than three-day clock. I know I looked like a complete and total moron when it came to parking and checking in at the hotel, but I couldn’t stop myself from being anything but flustered. Failing to interact with fellow humans like a competent person did nothing to unwind that spring between my shoulder blades and by the time I got to my room, I just wanted to cry and then go home.

Instead, I chanted and coped and journaled and unwound that spring little by little. By the time I left for dinner, I was feeling better. The anxiety still had a weird edge to it, but it was back to what I think of as normal levels. And it stayed that way until it was time to check out.

I found myself once again lingering and I had to force myself out the door to the elevator because my need to not check out late is a serious drive. Once in the car, I programmed my phone’s GPS (even though I really didn’t need it), took a breath, and drove out of the parking lot. Anyone who might have seen me driving those few blocks through the city to I-90/I-94 or on that stretch of Interstate probably questioned my sanity (as well they should; sanity has never crossed my mind) because I talked to myself the whole time. Out loud, telling myself what a good girl I was, how good I was driving, how proud I was of me. A constant stream of praise that didn’t stop until I hit I-55 and felt “safe”.

Crazy? Sure. But it worked. I couldn’t hear my anxiety over all of the compliments. And because I couldn’t hear it, it couldn’t get the best of me. The drive home felt like every other drive home from Chicago, easy peasy.

Anyway, it’s not like my anxiety could complain.

I did take it to Chicago, after all.