What’s Up Wednesday: Sep 5

Oh hi blog world!

So I’m a bit out of practice when it comes to this whole blogging thing. But here’s what I’ve been up to since we last spoke:

1. Still not dead. Yep, alive and kicking

2. I finished a major rewrite of a YA Thriller that takes place in Tokyo. My writer’s group’s frequent feedback was it wasn’t following enough of a thriller track and after some hard looks I had to agree with them. So I pondered and pondered for months. Part of my process is basic outlining, because then I know where the paths lead and if that’s the path I want to take or not. I feel like it’s a combo between plotting and pantsing.

It didn’t turn out exactly the way I had thought, which was fun. And I ended up creating a new character because of it, but I think it made sense. Plus I seem to have a habit of creating characters and then not really using them, but in this draft I brought an underutilized character to the forefront. I understand the appeal in imagining you can get it right the first time, but when you realize that writing is a journey and rewrites are going to happen if you want a good story, you sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Well, okay, most of it. There are those moments where you want to pull your hair out because the rewrite still needs some tweaks. But overall, worthwhile.

3. Finished a short article for a magazine. Another writer friend of mine said she thought it was the best thing I’d ever written. I’m going to submit it to the magazine this week and see what happens. Fingers crossed. And of course I’ll keep you updated.

4. The hubs and I are trying something called My Miracle Tea which is supposed to be like a major detoxifier. What does that mean? You get to poop, a lot. But it’s supposed to help with your liver and kidneys which, if too junked up, may contribute to stomach weight gain. We both feel like our stomachs could use a little extra help. I’ll let you know more about that as we go along. Why did I even get on this tea in the first place?

5. Foot zoning! It sounds like witch doctoring, but I feel like it’s legit. What is it? Someone gives you what is likely the most painful foot massage of your life and is able to tell you what’s going on in your body. I might still be skeptical of that much, except she knew stuff I hadn’t even mentioned. But to add to that, I also went to see a hormone specialist and they pointed out and recommended the same things.

Now granted, I’ve only been one time, so I can’t attest to the validity of all of it. But the friend who recommended me has personal stories of migraines going away after drinking teas this lady recommended, as well as discovering the lactose intolerance of a kid that doctors hadn’t pointed to. You can still skeptic away if you want, but I’m keeping an open mind after hearing and experiencing all of that. Besides, I’m more of the homeopathic mind when it comes to health these days.

That is NOT to say I think all pharma is bad. Some people really do need the medications they are on. Are we overprescribed in general? I think so. But does that mean all pharma is bad. Nope.

And that about covers it. I’m letting the rewrite of item 2 get cold before editing it. So in the meantime I’m kicking around another idea. I don’t know if you’d call it urban fantasy. Or steampunk futuristic, but it’s more of a middle grade story. And it’s weird. But I’m really liking it.

Okay, that’s what’s up with me? What’s up with you?

Not Dead!

Hello blog world! As it turns out I wasn’t face down in a ditch. Or dragged into the sewers with IT. Or blew a secret ninja mission and ended up in North Korean prison.

prison

Yeah, glad I’m not there.

No folks, I’m alive and kicking. But it has been a busy (glances at the last post entry date) uh, yikes, three years. Really?! Three years? Sheesh. Okay, so yeah, a lot going on.

What Have I Been Up To?

Welp, a lot, actually. Let’s see, 2015. Wasn’t the best of years. But it did end on a higher note. My sweet mom was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s in 2010. The decline was steady, but tolerable. But from about Christmas 2014 to June 2015 things really took a nosedive into bad.

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Mom in her twenties

I know there are a lot of strong feelings about this subject, but after she grew really bad we decided to put her in a care facility. I used to judge people who seemingly “dumped” relatives into facilities, but now I definitely don’t. It’s a painful decision, but often it can be the right one. My dad, as the caretaker, was looking worse and worse and his health instantly improved once we moved her. Plus, she didn’t look at him as the warden, but as her husband again.

From there things got progressively worse until she fell and broke her hip and it only took a few days from there until she passed. A line from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events came to mind over the next several weeks:

If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels; and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it.

How true that is. I’d lost friends and grandparents, but never someone seemingly before their time who was that close to me. The only thing that kept me going, and keeps me going, is knowing she’s not suffering. Do I wish she was still here? Absolutely! But would I bring her back in that state? Absolutely not. I can’t say after three years that it doesn’t still hurt, but it does get a little easier to bear.

Along with this I had a cyst I wasn’t sure whether it was cancerous (it wasn’t, thankfully), lost my job, and endured several months of unemployment.

BUT! My Dad and I were going to be the only ones around for Christmas and rather than sit at home missing my mom, we thought we’d do something amazing. We headed out to New York City. I’d been several times before. My dad went once when he was 18, but that was a looooong time ago, so some of the city felt new to him. And we had a blast. Plus the weather was unusually warm, so we didn’t have to trudge through the infamous New York slush.

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Rockefeller Plaza was PACKED! But worth it.

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Coming On Strong, Going Pink

Recently I talked about being an introvert. Which I am. But being an introvert doesn’t mean you hide in your room all day, reading books and watching Netflix (though it does have its appeal at times). It just means after a certain period of time I have to return to a place where I can recharge internally, which often means hiding in my room reading books and watching Netflix.

I remember in college I took one of those personality tests. The most popular iteration at that time being the Red, White, Blue, Yellow color test. I scored a majority white, but second place yellow. White and Blue are the more sensitive types. Reds are the power executive types, getting it done. Yellows are the fancy free and fun-loving types. This test tries to claim you’re always the color you were as a child, but I’m a firm believer that a person can change, especially since we’re constantly exposed to stimuli that can change us.

I used to live with a girl who was a strong Red personality. She couldn’t see the sense in worrying about the tender feeling stuffs. Just get it done. Upon first glance, one would think that’s not the best personality to have, but I’ve come to find that each personality has its strengths. And again, we are all unique human beings with differing personalities that are allowed to and do change.

Point being, I feel the red in her rubbed off on me as the white in me rubbed off on her. Now I think of myself as a pink. White most of the time, red when I need to be.

In social situations, having been the quiet, shy reserved type, I saw the value of red getting things done. So even though I may be exhausted when I get home, I let red take control which transforms me from introvert to perceived extrovert stage.

Point being, I tend to come on strong. Which I often forget can freak some people out. I’m more like:

And less like:

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Introverts Unite (At Your Own Separate Locations)

I have a man who is in charge of recruiting at a college frequently complain to me about Facebook and how he doesn’t like/understand it. I find this extremely amusing and somewhat tragic as he’s a recruiter at a college. Since 99.9% of all college-going kids are going to be on Facebook you’d think he’d be learning all he could about the elusive Facebook on the ever more elusive interwebz because it is a tool that can help make him look better at his job.

Alas, he is ever stubborn about refusing to participate in that fad the kids call the Facebook. It doesn’t stop me from reminding him how ironic it is as a recruiter that he refuses to use a powerful recruiting tool.

But I digress.

What I set out to talk about was Facebook. More specifically how I appreciate Facebook for linking me to article I would never have sought out on my own. Take a recent article on the HuffPo about how to interact with introverts.

It includes a neat infograph/comic that describes how to understand introverts and being an introvert myself, I jumped for joy. Plus I felt like it gave me a lot of insight into how I deal with people.

The gist of the article, which is info a lot of you probably already know, is that extroverts gain their energy being around people while introverts generate their own energy being alone. So an introvert values that energy as precious and doesn’t want to waste it on unnecessary interactions. One of my favorite parts of the infograph.

via Huffington Post (Roman Jones)

via Huffington Post (Roman Jones)

When I’m in a conversation I feel like is a “just to talk” and not that the person actually cares that I listen to the words they’re saying, I do feel this angst/anxiety to exit quickly. It does wear me out to have these interactions. Not that I don’t want them. But I think understanding this about myself can promote a better relationship between those friends of mine who are extroverts and me.

If you have introverts in your life or are one yourself, I highly recommend checking out the full article, especially the infograph.

That’s not to say I don’t like extroverts, even though they do steal my energy. For me it’s usually a mostly equal trade off. Extroverts help me get out of my shell (or hamster ball) a little bit and typically allow me to be a little more silly and goofy with them. That’s particularly why I like the variety of personalities and people in the world. It would be too dull if we were all the same or even similar enough.

My own two cents to the extroverts is to be cool if us introverts just don’t want to chat. It’s not that we don’t like your or want to hear about your stuff, but we may be low on energy and need to recharge.

So are you an introvert or extrovert? Did you find the article helpful? What advice would you give to an extrovert dealing with an introvert or vice versa? Especially you extroverts. What advice do you have for us introverts? Let us all know below.

You’ve Gotta Work At It

I work at a business college of sorts when I’m not gallivanting off to take people on vacations, so I’m around a lot of 20-somethings. And these 20-somethings are the might-still-be-18 or just-turned-20-somethings. Young is my point. Sometimes they seem really young.

But as I writer I think it’s supremely important to eavesdrop on as many conversations as you can, more especially when they occur in your vicinity and you didn’t even have to seek them out. This particular conversation wasn’t hard to eavesdrop on, not only because it was happening behind me prior to the beginning of a forum, but also because they were loud talkers.

It was a girl and a guy. The girl spoke of her high school years, which happened waaaaaay back in 2013. She was the star athlete of her tennis team. She had actually transferred to that high school, but because she played tennis so well, they put her on the team and she was the top player.

She mentioned how her school probably, like, totally sucked. Like, they just wanted her because she knew how to play and that made her look good in comparison.

I truly believe she believes she wasn’t that good at tennis in a general sense, but she was probably hamming it up a bit to feign modesty for the guy she was trying to impress.

But it was something she said that really struck me that almost made me turn around and correct her, but a) then they’d know how much I’d been eavesdropping and b) I doubt they would have cared what I had to say anyway.

She said something like:

I’m honestly not that talented. I just worked hard. I practiced like 4 hours a day and practiced really hard and that’s why I was any good at playing. But I wasn’t born with talent like some people.

I won’t do the all caps on you, so just imagine this next bit is me yelling passionately, but I wanted to say to her: talent is nothing without effort. Do you really believe someone like Serena Williams got to where she was today because she picked up a racquet and discovered she was suddenly a pro tennis player. She may have had a natural ability to learn quicker than most, but I can guarantee you she was out there busting her butt, probably harder than anyone before her to get where she is today. True talent comes from hard work. You’ll never be very good at anything if you don’t put in gut-wrenching effort!!!

I know this is an attitude prevalent among our society. That anything you have to make effort doing means you lack that talent. I know for a fact there are many aspiring writers out there who believe they just write and liquid gold pumps out of their keyboards onto the screen. We probably all still have that attitude a little bit when we scoff at editing our work. Even though I know editing has made my writing a bajillion times better than before, both then and now and in the future, sometimes I still just want to be lazy.

But even to get as far as I am today, I had to work hard at it. And the thing is, if you put in efforts to magnify whatever talent you have, you increase the amount of it.

So my dear 2013 high school graduate, the fact is you are talented at tennis precisely because you worked at it.

You’ve gotta work at it. You’ve gotta work at anything you want to be the best at. Many articles say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something, which means unless you’ve already spent 8 hours a day for 5 years of productively doing something, you can’t call yourself a master.

Sure, there are people who haven’t put in this time who get far or in a writing case, get published. But if they truly want to master their craft (and they should) the improvements should continue on. My own personal goal is to always do better than my last project, which is honestly why Book 2 is killing me. But I’ll get there, because I’m working hard.

Hard work is the answer. Hard work gets us there. Hard works makes our talent shine.

Have you noticed an attitude of ‘born gifted’ around you? What would you have said to Miss Tennis Player? Have you noticed your own talents improve because of the hard work you put in? Anything else you would add?

There and Back Again

Seriously I feel a bit like Bilbo Baggins.

The tour company was like the perpetual wizard leaving a perpetual mark on a perpetual door for a perpetual burglar to join a crew of perpetual dwarves.

The wizard was a tour company. But instead of a burglar, they needed a tour guide, and in the words of Justin Timberlake, “iz gonna be mayyy…” So sally forth I went, into the sunset. And as it turns out I found some amazing sunsets.

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Sunset in the Grand Canyon.

But that’s besides the point. Is taking people on vacation for a living fun? Why yes. Yes it is. Does it also sometimes suck? Why yes. Yes it can. Quite a lot. But I figure that’s life anyway. Or as they say, all sunshine makes a desert and all rain makes a marsh. It’s a balance of both that makes a lush garden.

Oh, didn’t I mention another dream I’m currently pursuing is tour guiding? Some of you knew, I think. Now all of you do. I always thought if I could travel and write for a living that would be a good life. We’ll see if that yields true. So far I feel like there’s so much to the tour gig I don’t have as much time for writing when I’m doing it. Though I did think a lot about story and plot. And I really do enjoy thinking.

But having taken quite a long hiatus from blogging, I’ve tried to rekindle my motivation for doing this. And if we’re being honest, I still haven’t gotten to full flame readiness. The thing is I like all of you people and it’s hard to stay away. So I don’t know what the future of Lit and Scribbles is blogwise, but it’s evolving. I may even try occasional vlogging (after all, I have Gloria’s example to follow).

I’ll probably be discussing the six weeks of travel, I’m getting back into Row80, because life feels empty without goals, and I’ll see whatever tidbits I can throw this way, but my current blogging goal is a Tuesday/Thursday post, with a Wednesday Row update in between. That’s all the chunk I can bite off for now.

So what were you up to this summer? Follow any dreams? Accomplish some major goals? What do you do to stay motivated with blogging?