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I Hope You Dance– Inspiration from my Grandmother

Our lives are easily lost in the hum-drum shuffle of every day life. The most casualties occur, not in actual death, but when we march along mindlessly, unhappily, making ends meet and tying up loose ends; finishing this, and finishing that and just trying to make it to the weekend.

I Hope You Dance

Was my grandmother’s favorite song. I broke down in the shower thinking about her. Thinking about the way she surrounded me with love, the way I felt as a child. I like to think that I was her favorite. I was the first baby girl, for her, as she had bore only sons. She made me feel as if anything I wanted was possible because I was amazing, and smart, talented and creative.

Experts are saying that us millennials and gen x’ers  are getting too much of that superficial, ego-inflating confidence (not based in reality) from our parents and grandparents. If that’s true than why do I feel like sh*t? Why do I believe that the most basic things many people accomplish is beyond my grasp. I’m wondering now, if I have enough support. Who is cheering in my corner, selflessly, to help guide my missteps?

The last good conversation I had with my grandmother was in 2009 (maybe 2008, can’t remember). I was self-loathing because a college graduate like myself couldn’t find work… couldn’t write… couldn’t pursue my dreams… and I called her up, because I remembered feeling surrounded in her love and I knew she could provide that for me. Writing this now, I feel selfish, for calling her, looking to feel loved.

That’s why I broke down in the shower thinking about her. Right now I need to feel her love around me, cheering me on, telling me that I can do it, no matter the circumstance. That I will write that novel…

…if you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance…

I haven’t been dancing everyday, and Mamo would love to see me dance, see me happy. She knew I was capable. I just have to tap into her everlasting love… she is a part of me, you know? She is in my DNA… the question is, how do I feel her?

I want to remember that song because it helps me remember what she’d hoped for me…

I hope you dance.

6-Black Owned Book Publishers

6 Black-Owned Book Publishers

This is what I’ve been looking for!  I’ve been trying to spend my money in the black community, so it’d only be natural for me to want to seek a black owned publishing company for my novel, when its finished in June.  I haven’t researched them yet, but if you’ve heard anything about these guys, let me know.  I’ve looked into a variety of publishing options. I like the idea of self-publishing, but everybody does that, and there is a certain notoriety that comes with having someone else publish your books.  I also want to maintain some control over the image that is on the front of my novel. I don’t want want it to be grouped into the “Urban Fiction” category in bookstores, where you’ll see predominately gansta/sex lit.   My novel may have a sexy part in it, but it doesn’t define my novel. I am not Zane. My book will have a more Fantasy/Urban Fantasy feel to it. I digress… Check these out and let me know what you think.

My Writing Schedule

Now that I’ve finished my graduate school education, I can take some time to really focus on my own writing projects.  I’ve done like most bloggers have suggested and created a blogging schedule.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I decided to go at it 4x a week.

Monday and Thursday- I post on my Slow Paced (Living) in the United States blog. I have created a writing schedule for the next 5 weeks.  On this blog, I’m currently doing a series called What You Should Stop Worrying About Right Now; it will be 10 posts.

Tuesday and Friday- I post on this blog. I think I’m going to continue to post poetry on Tuesdays and post about writing or the writing process on Thursdays.

So far this week, I’ve met all of my blogging deadlines, but it seems rather ambitious. If working on my graduate thesis has taught me anything, it’s that my independent study skills need some improvement.  I work better when I’m accountable to others. Since I’ve told my readers when they can expect new posts from me, I have to be strict with my deadlines.  I don’t want to disappoint you all.

Still, for the last two posts that went up, I was sitting at my computer at 10pm still writing them. At least they went up on the days that I intended.  The idea though, is to get a week or two ahead with my blogging so I’m not posting at the last minute.  Hopefully this weekend I can write all of my posts for next week. To be a writer, you actually have to write, and with all this blogging, I can say that I’m a writer.

I’d like to fill the other three days of the week with fiction writing. I’m not sure I’m ready for that though…

So what I’ve done is turned my day-planner into a writing scheduler.  I’ve had the pink planner all year and have barely used it for my to-do lists.  For each Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, I write down the blog and blogging topic. And underneath, I have plenty of room for notes and ideas that come up before I have a chance to write the post.  Usually what happens is I get random bursts of ideas, and I can’t always get to my blog to write a draft. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a draft right then, and that awesome sentence I thought of while in the shower needs a place to be jotted down– hence the day-planner. 

The only issue that remains, is when exactly do I write?  I would love to make a consistant time every single day. I love writing early in the morning when my head is clear and I’m relaxed, but I have a job where I work early in the morning.  High school starts at 7:20am people!  Maybe I can figure something in a couple weeks because summer camp starts an hour later.  Right now, I write whenever I have time, but I think having a schedule would get me into a routine and I could write more.

How do you organize your writing or blogging schedule? How do you fit in writing with a full-time job?

Goodbye… For Now

ImageIt is with sadness that I write this post.  I’ve decided to take a hiatus from writing this blog. I know I’ve been hit and miss with posting, but I’d like to do much better.  However, I can’t do better until I get some things settled. Currently my priorities are out of alignment and I need to spend some time getting them back on track.  Less stress is the doctor’s orders.

I will, however, still be working on my thesis.  I figured that blogging about writing my thesis isn’t quite the same as actually writing my thesis.  But when I come back I will have plenty to talk about in thesis-land.

Of course, I cant stay away from blogging entirely so I will be focusing on Slow Paced (Living) in the United States.  I’ve just started that blog, but it his helping me adopt a minimalist, slower paced lifestyle.  If you are interested in doing the same, please join me there.

Thank you for tuning in, and I will be back in 2013.

Writer Confidence (or lack thereof)

I am an insecure writer.  99% of the time, I think whatever I come up with is crap, especially in terms of creative writing.  I bought a new notebook (with actual paper) this week and I haven’t used it because I  know, unequivocally, that anything I try to come up with will be awful.  After updating my personal homepage I sorted through pages and pages of poetry I’d written in undergrad.  I got so excited, that a friend suggested that I get back to what I love.  So recently, I’d been feeling inspired to write again.  However, I can’t bear to put pen to paper again.  I want to write poetry so badly. Yet I don’t want to reveal to myself, or anyone else for that matter, how unpracticed I am.

Here’s the thing about writing.  It’s an art that must be practiced.  If you don’t do it, you are going to suck.  If you haven’t done it for a while, whatever you come up with is probably going to suck. And when you first start doing it again, you are going to suck.  But the only way to get past the sucking part is to just do it and suck at it, until you don’t suck any more.  Got that? If not, all I’m trying to say here is that practice makes perfect. So for me, the only way I’m going to get past that place where anything I come up with is awful, is to first come up with all the awful, cliched, and corny sounding crap I wrote when I was 15.

To overcome this, here are some things to consider:

You aren’t the only person who thinks that everything they come up with is crap. What I’m saying is, most of us writers think that our writing sucks.  When I’m sitting in a peer review session in class, I may be commenting and making suggestions for other students, but I’m usually quite preoccupied with what people are going to say about my work. I have a lot of anxiety about my own work that I’m not concerned with yours.   And even if other people actually are concerned and serious about making critical observations and suggestions in reference to your work, remember

Not everything you write is pure genius.  And if you think it is, it’s probably pretty crappy. There are so many ideas and thoughts that bombard our conscious and subconscious mind day in and day out.  Every book you’ve read, television program you watched, and advertisements you’ve seen, flood your brain with information.  When you first start writing again, your brain is clogged with all of this crappy information. Are you writing too many cliches?  Stop watching TV!  Television is so formulaic and cliched, it is only natural to replicate this. It is a socialization machine. That’s why I’m a huge fan of free writing; we must get all of this information out so we can get to the good stuff.

Also, know that your first draft, isn’t your final draft. Know that when starting a writing project, the words that you initially put down on a page aren’t the final words that people will see.  The first thing you come up with isn’t going to be good.  The second thing you come up with probably isn’t good either. As writers we have to work through many drafts before we even consider calling something “good.” Please just accept this.  How many times have you written an email and gone back, deleted a phrase, and rewrote it differently? That’s the whole point of writing.  Getting your words to a place where they are acceptable to the general public.

Don’t become attached to any words or phrase on a page. They may be best taken out  There is probably a paragraph or stanza you think is so awesome, but it longer fits in the context of the whole piece.  Who cares if it is beautifully written and edited to perfection?  It will be awkward, clumsy and bulky if it doesn’t belong.  I had to take some clever phrases out of this paragraph right here that I really didn’t want to remove, but had to for the sake of the blog post.

That being said, when a teacher asks for a first draft, turn in your second or third draft. You won’t be as self conscious about your work if you know it isn’t the first piece of crap you pulled out of your butt hole  second and third drafts will be slightly more polished, they won’t be the ramblings of a hurried first (brainstorming) draft. You’ll have some confidence about your work, and you’ll probably get more positive reviews, too.

If you want to feel better about your writing, check out some of my earlier blog posts.  I’m mostly just complaining about stuff.  I have to say, they are pretty darn crappy. They are littered with grammatical errors, cliches and stupid ideas.  I get embarrassed if someone tells me they read them. But we all have to start somewhere, and that was my start. Check out some of your favorite bloggers’ early posts as well.  Unless they’ve gone back and re-wrote them, chances are they aren’t as good as their new material. We all have to face that learning curve. 

Back to Basics

It’s hot and very humid. I’m drenched in sweat and have only been sitting at the train station for ten minutes. All the busyness of the world stopped the moment I sat down. I used to take public transportation everywhere when I didn’t have a car. First, there would be the rush of not knowing whether I was going to make it: hurrying to the ticket counter, digging through my purse for a dollar or bus pass or a few extra quarters to pay the fare. Then, I had to wait, in the heat, where I am now, savoring slight and few breezes that brushed my cheeks. I never cherished the moments in which I waited for the bus to get to work.

Now, I feel relief and yearning as I sit on the hard-metal, pale-teal bench. Owls’ hoots and motorists’ engines, in the distance, fill the hum of the silence Everything I could possibly need in the next four hours is crammed in my purple, grey and white backpack. Sometimes I forget to enjoy these moments.

I used to write during these moments. I could organize the the thoughts that I’ve been fumbling around with. Life made more sense when I set my thoughts to paper. I’ve lost those moments, so I stopped writing; writing for me, anyway.

School has started again. And of course, the only writing I’ve been doing is for my grammar history class. And any writing where I don’t thoroughly enjoy the subject, is not really writing. Now, I’ve begun a fiction workshop class. I have to write more frequently, and I’m quite out of practice.

I feel that my strength is in the manipulation of language. Writing pretty sentences comes easily enough to me. Thank you many dark, emotional years of poetry writing. However, my weakness is in the nature of what I write. Really, how does one write a story? How does one mold characters? How do I make a complete person out words?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know (soon, I promise). I’m signing off for now. Good day!

Reviewing What it Takes to be Badass

Title: Badass: A Hard Earned Guide to Living the Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude
Author: Shannen Doherty
Publisher: Random House 2010
Pages: 256
ISBN-13 978030759152
List Price: $25.99

As a general rule, I am highly skeptical of books written by celebrities. Ms. Doherty’s expertise is not in the field of psychology or any other subject that would lead me to believe that she would be qualified to write a book. The only references she makes are of those in her own life, friends, family, colleagues and other celebrities. This is not a book based on what we traditionally think of as scholarly research.

Even if it was, would readers really listen to the advice of some Ph.D. on how to be badass? What would the good doctor know about what makes a true badass? It takes real life experience to gain that type of knowledge. I think Ms. Doherty’s got it.

When I picked up this Badass, I had no clue who Shannen Doherty was. I didn’t watch 90210 growing up or follow the tabloids in the 90’s. I was solely attracted to the title because I want to be badass, a kick-ass force to be reckoned with. Apparently, I was misinformed of what being badass really means. Ms. Doherty quickly makes the distinction between bad girl and badass.

Ms. Doherty re-defines badass in a way I never considered. She uses her experiences as a measure of what not to do, without lecturing or preaching. Her writing style is easygoing and conversational. She motivated me to define my goals, stop procrastinating, and get things done. What Ms. Doherty’s writing style lacks in wit and creative ingenuity, she makes up in her ability to inspire. She has outlined all right traits, like confidence, integrity, and authenticity, that make a woman a badass.

I enjoyed the Top 10 Badass lists, nature photographs and quoteable phrases. I didn’t even mind the scrapbooky, personal pictures throughout the book. Her photos do a great job in adding an eclectic, unexpected variety. However, Ms. Doherty’s fans may be more appreciative. The overall layout and style was fantastic.

The book lost my attention in the sections on home decorating and party planning. I understand that Ms. Doherty wants to emphasize authenticity in the badass’s sense of style at home, but I did not find anything about this section particularly riveting. Furthermore, the party planning section (and recipes) did not really seem to fit at all. Party planning does not have anything with my personal development as a badass.

I would have appreciated more beauty and personal style tips. Especially how to develop your own sense of badass style. She uses arbitrary categories like preppy, bohemian, chic, ghetto fabulous, rock star, etc., to define style types. She suggests that “The beauty of categorizing your type is that it makes life simple.” While this may be fine and true for some people, I prefer not to categorize myself into any one of these categories.

I also did not expect badass vacation locales, but I understand her reason for including them. She emphasizes stepping off the beaten path: “don’t hitch your wagon to something just because it’s trendy.” And I agree, that’s what makes a true badass.

Ultimately, I would have appreciated stronger writing. Nonetheless, Ms. Doherty understands what it takes to be badass and does a great job conveying that to readers.

I Need Opinions People!

So I wrote this poem about a year ago, it has some cliche parts I know.  I wrote it when I was emotional. Is it any good?  Does it have any potential?

Falling From A Bridge

If I’d only known you’d never come back to me

That lack of any true intimacy

Could melt a solid companionship

 

If I’d only known you’d walk out my door

Without saying goodbye

Maybe I’d never have taken that leap of faith

Into your arms

 

You’re letting me fall to the rocks

Under a waterfall

I thought it was safe to cross the bridge

Into bliss and love

But we were rickety and unstable,

Untwining rope, and splintering wood

In your eyes,

You could only let go

 

You don’t see me,

Still hanging on by a thread

Still looking up at you

Trying to make it safely to freedom

 

I can wait for you:

My prince to rescue me

I’ll be here, when you come back for your woman

as a man

 

But when I can’t hold on any longer

I’ll die a martyr for true love.

No Hablo Español

I am a slow packer, but I suppose that indicates how much I really don’t want to move.  I would like to come back in like 3 months, but I am not sure how likely it will be that I will find a good job.  What I am finding that is distressing, however, is the bilingual requirement, even for writers.  Bilingualism is essential for me.  Do you know how many job opportunities I had to pass up because I wasn’t bilingual?  Way to many.  And it is even more frustrating when those jobs are for writers.   For instance, I saw a posting on cragislist– it was perfect for my level of experience.  The kicker? “Mulit-lingual.”  I could apply anyway, but in Miami, there are tons of people who have my experience, but can speak Spanish, so why bother?

I studied spanish for 5 years, and I can barely speak a lick.  Okay, I can speak some spanish, if I had to: very poorly, with tons of errors, but any spanish speaker could understand me.  I know my pronounciation is good, and spanish speakers are confused when I tell them I dont really speak and am not fluent.  Do you think I could learn spanish in 3 months?  I even have rosetta stone.  Or at least get to a working knowledge of spanish?  I could at least have a knowlege of how the language is put together and thus have a working knowlege. I keep saying that I am going to learn, but since I have to move back home, I am damn well going to try. It will open so many doors for me.