Having to Slow Down

Honestly, this week I’ve been so tired and busy that I haven’t really sat down to think about what I should write about. So I’m following my own advice and just putting words down until something clicks.

So here we go.

I’ve been trying to write new things more. Very shortly after a previous post about how well I was doing with my new writing schedule, I stopped following my writing schedule. I haven’t been very productive this last month and my self-imposed deadlines have gone out the window. Now I’m left with some bits and pieces of flash fiction and a few random poetry ideas that aren’t going anywhere.

I’ve got notes in my phone from the past month and who knows what other tidbits I’ve tossed around on my laptop. There’s a murder mystery idea (probably because I’ve been watching way too much Columbo and Murder She Wrote), one about a person getting a pet from a shelter (probably because of those kittens), one about video games (no clue really where that one came from), and several more. They all seem vaguely promising but at the same time I have no interest in writing them.

The worst part is that I was so proud of myself for getting into a great schedule. I felt like I was producing work and was moving along with my plans. Now I just feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time getting almost nothing done. Yeah, I’ve got those notes and some scattered thoughts but before I really felt like I was doing it. I was doing what I want to do with my life.

Now I feel like I’ve gone adrift again and I’m back at square one. This is pretty ridiculous though because if I really started listing things I accomplished since coming home then it would be a good amount of stuff, including starting this blog!

I feel like these last few months have just been insane ups and downs in my mood. One week I’m super psyched about writing everything I can then the next I don’t even open a document because I have zero interest in it. I have to build myself up to consistently working on things and it’s difficult to make yourself stop procrastinating. So I often choose the path of least resistance which is not how things get done.

So. I’m starting over. Sort of.

I’m setting new deadlines and goals for myself. All the old daily routines are out the window and not coming back. I’m going to start a little slower this time and build it up. Maybe I was just a bit too ambitious and optimistic before. Eh, not really. Although perhaps it was not my ambition with my time and ability but my thoughts that family and other responsibilities wouldn’t get in the way as much as they have.

Either way, I’m gonna be working on it. Not sure I’ll ever get my life completely in order but I can keep trying.

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Don’t Tell Young People They’ll “Change Their Mind” About Life Choices

“I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have children.”

*GASP OF INDIGNATION* “BUT CHILDREN ARE PRECIOUS ANGELS SENT FROM ABOVE! WHY WOULD SOMEONE OF CHILD BEARING AGE EVER THINK THEY DON’T WANT PRECIOUS ANGELS???”

“I just don’t want to have any.”

“Oh come now dear, it’s worth it! You’ll change your mind when you get older.”

Pretty sure I know several people in their thirties who haven’t changed their minds yet but please, continue to make my life choices for me.

I am not vehemently opposed to having children in the future but I’m also not all for it. But right now, I know I SHOULDN’T have children. I’m 22 years old and for some reason, people feel like that gives them the right to decide that I’m wrong about choices I’m making for the rest of my life when barely four years ago I was thrown into adulthood and told I had to start making choices for the rest of my life. Now that I’m “of marrying age” and “childbearing age” I’m expected to get married, settle down, and have children sometime soon.

Happily, my parents do not do this to me so I only deal with it when I’m not at home. My parents are far more concerned that their children are financially stable and healthy rather than pushing out grand-babies and adding in-laws to the Christmas shopping (Side note: My parents love my brother and sisters in law very much! They are zero hassle and 100% part of the family!).

So I’m asked about future children and family plans and marriage and it’s annoying because if I share my actual thoughts then I’m wrong. Not just me though, my younger sister has decided she’s not interested in having children (she’s 19) and she was told by a 13 year old girl that she was crazy.

It’s not even just talking about children. It’s about boyfriends, future husbands, what profession I’ve chosen, how I’m spending my time, when is the rest of my life, etc.

Okay so here you go:

  1. Not interested in boyfriends right now (so no future husbands)
  2. I KNOW THE PROFESSION I CHOSE IS DIFFICULT TO GET INTO AND I KNOW IT TAKES TIME TO BUILD A BASE OF READERS STOP TELLING ME THIS AS IF I DIDN’T SPEND FOUR YEARS FIGURING OUT WHAT I WANT TO DO
  3. How I spend my time on a daily basis is my business, not yours. I know you’re curious and you ask because you sincerely want to know but don’t condescend if YOU think I’m wasting my time.
  4. The rest of my life is here and now. If you haven’t noticed, point B from birth is death, and I’m going to get there the best way I can, trusting God and following Him. My time is not being wasted because I haven’t made a 50 year plan yet.

The problem is not asking a 20-something human being what they’re doing with their life, the problem is acting like whatever they say is either unrealistic or stupid. If a 20-something tells you that their plan is to spend the next 3 years in Asia feeding homeless people then that’s a great plan. If their plan is to spend the next 3 years building a video gaming Youtube channel to try to break into professional gaming, that’s a great plan too. And if they have no plan, don’t suggest one unless you REALLY believe it fits their personality and life (it probably won’t so maybe ask about that plan before you decide that it’s stupid). So if I say I want to live off my writing and am working on building readers, don’t ask when I’m going to “get a real job” because you don’t think that writing will pay the bills.

If you care, ask. At the same time, don’t tell me I’m wrong just because you think I could or should be doing something else with my life. It’s not wrong to decide in your 20s that you don’t want children. I’ve thought very hard about my reasoning behind my choices. I know myself and I know I’m not suited to raise a child right now. I know myself and I know I’m not ready to enter a romantic relationship right now. Maybe I’ll be ready in a few years, maybe I’ll never be ready for these things. That’s my decision, not yours. Just because you think your children are the best decision you ever made, doesn’t mean they would be the best decision for me. Just because your marriage is wonderful and fantastic, doesn’t mean marriage is the best thing for every person on the planet.

Consider this post a PSA to everyone who knows a 20-something millenial: feel free to ask about our lives but analyze your own motives before you criticize our decisions. Is it really about helping us make better decisions? Or is it about us doing what YOU would do in our situation?

Consuming Garbage

Getting a degree in Creative Writing gives you a lot of perspective on what the masses enjoy:

Garbage.

They enjoy garbage.

It also gives you a lot of ideas of what you can do as a newly graduated human being writing only high quality literature in search of a publisher and/or agent:

Cry.

Cry a lot.

Then write more and content yourself with the knowledge that while you may never be insanely rich and popular, at least you write real stories. You’re not like the sellouts.

Newsflash!

Those authors aren’t sellouts because they write what people read. It may FEEL like that to people who’ve spent the time to learn how to really tell a story but that doesn’t make it a thing. People like things that are bad. Sometimes that’s because they don’t know any better. Even with the insane saturation of media we have in the US, people don’t seem to look at entertainment critically. They consume without question, leaving those who make it a point to analyze scratching their heads in bewilderment.

Part of me says, “Have at it. Entertainment is entertainment. Why should you have to think about it?”

Then the other part of me says, “Everyone’s trying to sell you something so you should always know what you’re buying.”

For the most part, the masses don’t care what they’re being sold. Critics care. They have their own preferences, sure, but they also pay attention. Every movie, book, TV show, magazine, news program, poster, and flyer is trying to tell you something. If you can’t figure out the message then you’re probably swallowing that message without question.

Can you imagine if someone came up to you in the street, handed you a burger and without a single word you just ate it? Now imagine that happens hundreds of times a day. Not only would you be blindly consuming burgers from who-knows-the-source-of-that, you’re not even questioning what’s happening. If you don’t analyze what you consume through media then you’re eating burgers from strangers.

All this to say that’s why I think the masses like garbage. I don’t think they know any better. We’ve been trained to consume media with little regard for what that media is. So the art of story suffers. Really good authors can surely make it big. There are many great authors who have huge followings and there are many great authors who have few followers. But there are also many authors who write garbage for the masses. They do it because it sells and I honestly don’t blame them.

I blame the people who blindly consume things their entire lives. They treat every book and movie as if it’s the same. Whatever vague feeling of satisfaction they felt at the end is their entire basis for whether or not they liked it. I can’t stand it. I just want to scream that they should pay attention. But when you tell them everyone’s trying to push a message they look at you like you’ve got a tinfoil hat.

Don’t be like the masses. Be an individual who thinks about what they consume. You liked that book? Why? What did it teach you? What about it made your heart skip a beat? You liked that movie? What about the characters struck you the most? Which scene was the turning point for you? But most importantly, for everything, ask what it’s trying to tell you. What is the message? Why did someone make this?

Thinking You Want to Run an Animal Rescue

Last weekend I accompanied my sister as she was checking on job applications. Our first stop (which ended up being our only stop) was the ice cream joint down the road from our house. As we drove into the parking lot I noticed several cats hanging out on an old trailer at one end of the lot.

“That’s a lot of cats,” I astutely observed. It wasn’t a surprise to see five or six feral cats in our neighborhood. There are enough abandoned houses and patches of forest for them to hide in and not many people care to do anything about it. After a moments pause I added in my most dignified high pitched fangirl voice, “Oh my gosh there are babies!”

Thus the adventure began. Joanna inquired at the ice cream shop if anyone  was laying claim to these cats and, now well informed that they were feral with no human caretakers, we set out to catch them. We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we had taken the time to sit down and figure out a plan of attack. Because an hour and a half later we were both covered in mud, grass stains, and what was left of our dignity after grabbing for, coaxing out, anIMG_20160702_084259401d diving after three kittens. We caught two. One escaped.

With one kitten in our grubby mitts and the other two hiding under a shed and the sun sinking lo
w on the horizon we broke for the night, hoping that the mama cat wouldn’t move them by the next morning. We wondered if mama cat was missing her baby that night.

The next morning brought hope as we found that mama cat had not moved the kittens and they were in basically the same spot. This time we easily grabbed the two remaining kittens (they were probably still exhausted from running around the previous night). So now we had the whole litter. Mama cat didn’t do anything to stop us although she did come and eat the salmon we had put out as a lure. There were two other young cats that were hanging out and we think they were part of a previous litter.

The kittens tamed down in a few days. They didn’t fight back a lot to begin with but stopped hissing at us entirely after a couple days. After a week they’re pretty much normal house-cats. They seem to like it in here where the belly rubs are a lot more than outside huddling under an abandoned trailer. Although the pulling of ticks off their faces was not their favorite thing (I had to pull, collectively, eight ticks off them because my family is made up of wusses who wouldn’t do it). But they’re adjusted and adorable.IMG_20160702_174510750

We can’t keep them though.

Which is where the title comes in.

As we searched for a rescue to take them we very quickly realized that although there exists many dog rescues in our area, there are few places to take cats and fewer to drop off kittens. We made phone calls, sent out emails, and asked around but not much came back to us positive. I now understand why there are so many feral and stray cats in our area. There is a Humane Society not terribly far away so I think we’ll end up there when we can. We’d like to wait a couple more weeks before dropping them off anywhere.

Thinking about gIMG_20160705_103100867_HDRiving up these kittens though, is hard. I already don’t trust people in general and now I’m going to hand off living, innocent creatures to complete strangers and just hope they care for them. I don’t know how animal rescues do it. Obviously they have a process to weed out the downright horrible owners but in the end, there’s no absolute guarantee that the person won’t abandon the animal on the side of the road one day.

I’ve always loved animals and I don’t want any to go hungry or homeless (especially cats, I love cats). The reality is that too many will. I’m really glad that we could save these three kittens from a feral life. But the fact that there isn’t a cat rescue in an area with such a high feral/stray cat population makes me want to start one.

I have fantasized about running a rescue. SAVE ALL THE ANIMALS would be our motto and we would rescue everything from dogs to goldfish. But when I really think about it, running a rescue also means making a lot of really hard calls and you have to see animals in really bad situations. It’s amazing to bring them out but not if you have to bring them straight to euthanization. My oldest sister is part of a dog rescue and I think instead of getting really sad for the animals she gets really pissed off at the people responsible. Which seems like an okay coping mechanism if you ask me.

While I don’t need any more reasons to hate humans, I think that running a rescue would give me a lot. And I don’t think I’m ready to pull ticks out of kittens full time. Snapchat-748944907803431454And I’m not ready to figure out how I would pay for vet bills. Also these kittens are a crazy amount of work. They poop everywhere (even in the litterbox sometimes), they have to be watched all the time, and when they cry all your logic leaves you and you have to do something about it immediately. I’m bonding with these little monsters and I don’t think I can let them go to strangers. I can let them go to a shelter and trust that the process
will be better than one I could come up with but I don’t trust myself to find a good home with my own means. Maybe someday I’ll start a rescue. I could see myself doing it one day. Or at least volunteering and fostering. For now though, once these kittens are out of here, I’ll leave the rescuing to the professionals. (Unless baby cats are dropped in my lap again.)

Write What You Know, Or Don’t

“Write what you know!” Is the simple advice every author receives at least once (usually about 87 times though) in their lives. I’ve always thought this was questionable. “If you only write what you know, how will you challenge yourself? How will you learn?” Plus I didn’t know anything when I started writing. I had few experiences to fall back on and none that I wanted to write about. In retrospect I thought that this advice meant that because what I knew was what it was like growing up in a household with five siblings and going to church whenever the doors were open, that’s all I was allowed to write about.

Screw that because I wanted to write about dragons.

So I ignored this advice for a long time while at the same time, following it. I didn’t follow it to the letter in my dutiful subconscious but I followed it without realizing I was following it. Because I wrote what I knew: dragons and fantasy. Because that’s what I read growing up. I was writing what I knew without thinking I was. I remember being very inspired by Eragon. It’s not a book I like now but when I was a kid, that was my workshop. It inspired my first longer work. I still have it, though it’s not typed so I don’t have a word count. It’s over 60 pages handwritten (and by handwritten I mean really terrible 11 year old me handwriting).

It wasn’t until halfway through high school when I was going through my Creative Writing classes that I heard the advice again. I still hated that advice. So I purposely tried to write things that I didn’t know anything about. It worked out alright because, again, I was still writing what I knew. Or I was able to easily research the details I didn’t know off the top of my head. I wrote about things like mental illness and serial killers. I learned a lot while writing about them. I was writing what I knew but also what I didn’t. I had to do research. *gasp* That seems to scare young authors. Be not afraid, a lot of the time research is simply Googling a few small things. Unless you’re trying to write about something you do, literally know nothing about.

I think that better advice to give budding young authors is “Write what you enjoy.” That’s much more reasonable. Because if you write what you enjoy then usually you also know a few things about it. If you enjoy high-fantasy then you’ve probably already read many and have looked up some lore on your favorite creatures. If you enjoy detective novels then you’ve probably already read many and have a good idea how they work (I do not read anything like that but I watch crime dramas so that’s probably why I get ideas from time to time).

“Write what you enjoy” creates a more passionate relationship between the author and their work. Writing what you KNOW is boring. I’ve tried it because I thought I was supposed to. It did not last long. Writing what you enjoy is about loving your work and caring about it. It also leaves room for change and improvement. If I used to write detective novels but now I’ve grown to love fantasy (sorry I keep using these two genres as examples, I thought they were good) then I can transition to writing fantasy without feeling held back by my limited knowledge of fantasy novels.

I write what I know and enjoy. I don’t get scared away from ideas that I don’t know everything about. But I use those ideas a little more cautiously. I’ve had ideas for murder mystery stories and epic war tales that take place in other countries. Do I write these? Nope. Not only would those stories take months of research that would, let’s face it, absolutely bore me, but because even though those ideas come to me, they aren’t what I enjoy. I know what I like. I try new things from time to time, it’s good to challenge yourself with a completely different genre from time to time, and sometimes great things come from those experiences. Sometimes nothing comes from them.

If you don’t enjoy what you’re writing then your readers probably won’t enjoy it either. So when people tell you to write what you know, take it with a grain of salt. What what you want to write. Write what you enjoy.