Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Words are the Worst

I’m cranky. And if you’ll allow me a small moment to have a little pity party, the crankiness is all because I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. So, like I said, you have to allow for the part where I’m all ‘woe is me’ because I’m fully aware I brought this pain on myself.

According to my page, this is my fifth time participating in the challenge. That equates to (as of today) two wins, two losses, one in process with potential to win, and, are you ready for this craziness, 176,266 words. So far. If I happen to pull off the win, add another 24k to that figure for a cool 200,000.

Since 2009.

And that figure only accounts for the words written for NaNo. Toss in anything I did for clients, blog posts, articles, everything else and no doubt I’ve written well over a million words in my lifetime as a professional writer.


So it goes to reason that some days, no matter how badly I want to shape any combination of the available words in the English language, I just don’t have the creativity to form sentences.

Fun fact? When I looked up how many words exist in the English language it turns out the Oxford Dictionary says there are 171,476 available for use.

Less than the number of words I’ve written over the course of four and a half NaNos.

Again, damn.

Anyway, today is one of those days where I have time to spare, nothing to do but write. But something inside tells me I should be penning words for anything other than my book today.

That something is one of two things: fear or exhaustion.

I’m going with exhaustion and here’s why.

Back in 2009 when I sat down (on my mom’s suggestion, BTW) to tackle the motherfucker that NaNo actually is, I had no clue how to write a book. I’d never finished one before. So I opted into the challenge just so I could finally say I crafted a long form fiction story and typed The End for the first time.

Goal achieved.

And then some. Because, since that month seven years ago, I’ve finished and published seven titles. Five fiction, two reference.

Some of those titles came out of my NaNo experiences. One of them in particular, Reckless Abandon, came out of a Camp NaNo in August. A year I actually lost the challenge.

But I won my own challenge.

As a kid I was always a procrastinator, floating aimlessly along some vast ocean of possibilities and never wanting to choose a path. How limiting, I always thought, to pick just one thing to be. Couldn’t I be anything, everything I wanted to be like everyone told me back then? Sort of.

Wheee! Never settle into anything! Stay in the background of life so you never really need to commit to anything! Skate by! Hooray for choices! So many shiny choices!

And then I woke the hell up. Because no matter what I’d ever done to “pay the bills” (or more accurately, what I did for work and play without a care in the world for the future) it didn’t matter to me at all. I met some terrific characters at all those jobs, in all those clubs, at all those parties, but the only thing that stuck with me before, during, and after that time in my life, was writing.

There are few months, let alone years, in my past where I didn’t write. If I let myself dwell on the number of trees killed and ink expelled for my love of words over the years, it would scare me on an environmental level.

Bottom line, no matter what else was in or out of my life – love, money, work – I always had writing.

Right before Matt and I got together in fact, I was dating a guy who asked why I was home on a Friday night, writing, when I could be out doing whatever was cool to do back in those days.

We broke up shortly after that question arose.

Because if you don’t get why I’m doing that then you don’t get me. And I don’t need to waste my time being with someone who doesn’t get my love-hate relationship with words. The place inside me that is words.

Once I finally found myself able to say The End on a long story I knew it was all I would do for a career for the rest of my life.

I got over the fear of turning my deepest passion into a career years ago. That’s an entirely different blog post, one I’ve probably already written so I won’t write it again. But, suffice to say, the fear is long gone.

Honestly, I think that moment came when I finished NaNo in 2009 when I came away with the rough first draft of a finished book. It all became clear, I realized I could actually do it. Not just dream about being an author but I literally just made it happen.

With a shit ton of support, love and encouragement of course but in truth this is a very solitary profession.

I don’t get to take vacations while other people pick up the slack. I don’t get co-workers unless I decide to write a book with someone else. And even then, it wouldn’t matter because words are constantly forming in my head. Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, I’m always working.

Last night a friend came over to give me a haircut and we got to talking about jobs. Matt mentioned how crazy his work is while he’s at work but that he gets to leave it behind at the end of the day.

I had a bullet of emotions pass through me. Jealousy being the predominant feeling. A little bit anyway. Because I’m never “off” in this life. I am my job and vice-versa. Every conversation I have, class I take, person I meet, job I do, everything in my life is tied to the work I do. Because how else am I supposed to create fictional characters that feel real without soaking in all that life shit from actual real people?

And that’s the hate side of things sometimes. I can’t just go out every Friday, sometimes I need to slave to the words because I’m already at capacity. Instead of overflowing from collecting, I need to drain a little off the top. Or the bottom I guess.

Either way, it’s like a sick form of bulimia being a collector of information from the world and then using it to inform an entirely new world. Binge and purge.

People who get me understand when I disappear that binge-purge is likely the cycle I’m going through.

So now I’m in NaNo and I’m not sure I really need the word-count accountability anymore. I love my process. I like taking a day off to refill the cup then shoot it down the next day only to vomit it all out onto the page in grand fashion the next.

Writing everyday isn’t a problem for me anymore. But sometimes I need to mix up what I write.

Once I broke through my own proverbial glass ceiling – finishing just one - there was no stopping me to keep going. Using NaNo like I used to seems unnecessary. So I’m flipping it over to the B side and using the challenge the way I need to in order to type The End once again.

Character and story development has me just over halfway on word count. Funny. Even though I’m not thinking I need the NaNo challenge with this book I might just harness my third win anyway.

But I’ll never get to that point unless I force myself to love words today and go write some about my characters.

You bet your ass that means I’ll be copy-pasting all 1350ish words from this blog in at the bottom of my manuscript. December is for edits!

Just kidding. I won’t even cheat that bad.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This Will Last for 1461 Days, and then a Lifetime

I tried, really hard, to stay up last night until the results came in on the last few states. Instead of making it through, Matt and I went to bed, fingers almost literally crossed, that the outcome didn’t play out as it appeared.

As I slumbered, I dreamed of Wisconsin. Of New Hampshire and Maine and Pennsylvania. I imagined that, when I woke up today, my fears about the state of our union were fruitless.

I was fucking wrong.

But, then, I’m a woman so I’m usually wrong. A liar. A criminal. Right?

For everyone who voted for the Republican candidate for President, congratulations. Your candidate won.

The schoolyard bully took what he wanted, by presenting zero plans for why he wanted it in the first place and even less of a plan for what he planned to do once he got it. Except some vague promise that he would make our country great again.

Because all that mattered to the man was that he won. There was nary a consideration for what would come from the 1461 days the office would be occupied. There were no plans laid out of how to get there (wherever there is). No clear-cut paths to pulling the country out of this hole we’re allegedly buried in right now. Being un-great.

Policy, foreign or domestic? No need to share those plans with the country you’re going to represent because, in your own words, we should blindly “believe me” that it’s going to be “tremendous.”

Life has shown me in my short 43 years on this planet that people who say “trust me” or “believe me” with a level of frequency, generally can’t be trusted or believed.

But none of that matters. We’re going to be great.


And that’s the real issue for me. The writer in me thinks words are the most important form of communication. I also know that nothing said in a presidential race is done without careful consideration. Every word is used to affect/effect change.

So now I sit here thinking of the republican campaign slogan. The one printed up on so many hats, tee shirts, bumper stickers donned across this country. The one that actually managed to get that guy a boat-load of blind sheep following him right into the proverbial gas chamber.

Four tiny words. Ending with the word ‘again’.

To say ‘again’ means that something has already happened and the same thing is going to happen another time. Perhaps multiple times but at the very least, twice. Need more? Here are some examples of how to use the word ‘again’ as we all wake up this morning to hear the news:

- I’m throwing up again (meaning, I already threw up at least once).

- She lost her access to healthcare again (And if she gets pregnant, that lazy bitch had better not try to live off welfare now that we’ve removed literally every other option for her because she can't get birth control OR an abortion. Ha ha!).

- My gay friends are celebrating their anniversary again.

Oh wait, no they’re not.

In fact, after this result, most people I know and spend time with will never be the same.


Because I keep going back in my mind over the last 240 years of history in this country, trying to pick out the time period when we were great for the first time. As a collective nation. As democracy became a thing and hearken back to that point in time when we were all treated as equals.

Like I said, the ‘again’ can only be used if there was a first time occurring.

And truly? I can't come up with one single time period that all people were treated as equals. Let’s consider a brief overview of the base history of this nation:

The world is flat.
The world is not flat.
I can sail to India.
You landed in Florida.
That’s okay, we can send hundreds of people to the place I just "discovered."
Uh, people already live there.
No problem, genocide is cheap!
You want to wipe out an entire population so you can have religious freedom?
Sure but really I just want more than I had before. Land! Freedom from tyranny unless I'm the tyrant!
So, what’s theirs is yours because you have the guns?
And now that you “own” all this land, what’s the plan?
Why, get rich of course.
The homeland wants their cut.

Systematic decimation of the Native people’s entire culture.
Industrial Revolution.

You forgot to include the war on, well, everything (which of course has brought more of that thing into the country) and you also forgot some teeny tiny issues like slavery, literal witch hunts, racial profiling.
Oh yeah but nobody cares about all those losers anyway because us white dudes rule!
Uh, the majority of the population no longer looks like you, talks like you, thinks like you.
Yes. They do. We proved it last night. We win! Again!

So in my very truncated history of time in this country there is one glimmer of promise in what we might see ‘again’ – a time when white, male, aristocrats got rich. er.

Well shit, as a female I can’t wait until all the men make all the money! Take back their formerly great country again!

In fact, I think I’ve been looking at this all wrong.

If the men are the only ones making money we ladies can go back to the days where we had nary a care in the world. Our dinner was always on the table because we put it there. With a huge fucking smile on our face and a bow in our hair. We didn’t need concern ourselves with silly things like paying bills, not desiring sexual advances, having jobs.

Ah hahahahaha!

We don’t work outside the home. That's what men do. We don’t do anything unless it serves our man.

Our rich, white man with the terrific job that is so difficult and complex he needs to have sex with his secretary to take the edge off.

Is this a 1984 comedy flick or the real world? 

Oh, or are you upset because I generalized an entire segment of the population into a stereotype you don't like very much? Wait, that can't be right. Republicans don’t care about that stuff, they have generalized every segment of the populace so saying shit like that out loud definitely shouldn’t bother them. Right?

Then again the bully really hates being called out. And he will make up whatever rhetoric he needs in order to discount every single one of our logic based views. I’ll likely be strung up and burned at the stake any minute now.

So as I consider all of the above facts I want to share three thoughts to conclude this article:

As defined, Democracy - a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges – is very likely over in this country for real because ALL citizens will not be afforded that equality of rights necessary to live up to the term. Don't believe me? Read all about the dude about to become VP.

Get your honey-lemon tea ready Charles Schumer, we really need your long-winded conversational skills now more than anything.

A huge majority of people reading this article will have no clue who Chuck is, why that last statement matters, or how politics actually work in this country. But congratulations anyway because that shit no longer matters. The soon-to-be POTUS doesn’t know either.

Hate breeds hate. And a country driven by hate is where we all started out to begin with. Back in the early days of this country and this presidential campaign.

Now here we are. Again.

Or, perhaps, in this case, still.

• • • • • • • • • • •
In addition to this drivel I also write books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Learn more on my author page.