The Word Muse

I have had a hard time thinking of what to write lately. I try to avoid writer’s block and write even when I don’t know where I am going with it, but for a few weeks I wasn’t able to. My journal entries became tedious, ideas weren’t coming to me. I let it be. Kept up the journal anyway, and waited for the muse to return.

I have had a few more life problems/events to deal with, so that might have been a factor.

I wanted to finish the novel I was working on before the computer crash. However, I was too upset. I write spontaneously and was not able to recall all that I lost. Thousands of words turned into hundreds that didn’t compare.

I watched tons of movies, pondered, worked on feeling better (I needed to heal for a couple of weeks during this time), talked to friends when I could, and there was a county fair.

I waited and waited, and you know what? I think the muse is coming back to me. The journal entries are more interesting. That was the first clue. I don’t have my next story fully formed, but I think it’ll come to me. For NaNoWriMo I am writing whatever comes to mind. I hope it turns into a story. I am happy ideas are coming back to me.

Being a writer is about sitting down and writing the words. Most days that’s all I need. However, the inspirational word muse is needed for new stories and moments of brilliance, and she shouldn’t be underestimated. That being said, don’t be afraid to pursue her diligently until she comes back.


Guest Post

Almost a year ago, I joined a writing challenge, which involved writing every, single day. Each day was a new link; if I skipped day, I’d have to start over. It’s called The Write Chain Challenge.

A couple of months ago, I was asked to do a blog post about it. I accepted, and wrote my first guest post. I was happy to be asked, and excited about writing it. Being a part of the writing community is a lot of fun, and I feel like more of an “official writer” when opportunities like this arise.

It launched last week. It’s about how to stay motivated while writing every day. It includes what keeps me inspired, and how I made writing a habit. I will expand on some of the points listed in a later blog on my site. Until then, here is the original post.

Hope you enjoy it!


Where Have I Disappeared To?

I am sorry for not blogging these last few weeks. It has been a crazy time. This blog is going to be an update and explanation.

I have been absent because my life has been throwing me curve-balls. First, my car battery died. I wasn’t sure what to do. This was not in my budget.

Then, when I finally got some alone time, my computer’s hard drive crashed. At first, I thought I could replace the hard drive, and felt it was the best option cost-wise. After three trips and three calls to Best Buy, and one very useful call to Fry’s, I found out this was a horrible option. HP put the old model hard drive in my new computer. This model has been officially discontinued. To add insult to injury, the HP representative said this would be easy to purchase in any store. Complete malarkey. It can only be found refurbished on sites like eBay and less reputable sites. Moreover, this has happened to be three times in the last three years. Previously, I kept sending the laptop to HP. Now, that’s it is no longer under warranty, I am on my own. I have to say, I will never buy HP again. They knew what they did, and didn’t care. They continued to fix the problem cosmetically, not permanently.

Anyway, after several more phone calls and store visits (Best Buy needs to get their act together too, or I have had really bad luck), I ended up purchasing a new laptop. The warranty and Geek Squad protection was just was much as the computer. Hrm.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, my Microsoft Office wouldn’t upload. After spending hours on the phone with technical support, I needed a break. I decided to use Libre Office for now. I want to try out Scrivener before the end of September. As soon as I get a chance I will deal with it as my story is not yet over.

I tried to fix my old website using a FTP site and got a virus. I hope I have fully removed it. Also, I need to contact my host once again as I don’t have all the information I need to fix the website. I hope I hear from him soon. Additionally, Windows Update won’t work because I need Windows 8.1 not 8. Yet, I can’t get 8.1 until all the updates are installed. Of course. Therefore, at some point, I will have to go back to Best Buy for a sixth, yes sixth, time.

However, the Geek Squad said it wasn’t urgent and I want to catch up on my work. Especially since I lost six weeks worth with the hard drive crash (something I am mourning deeply. I am surprised by how deeply). I can’t be without my laptop again. I need it. Did I mention it has my movie and music accounts on it? I felt lost without it. (Thank goodness for my Kindle). However, I am trying to get back to my regular schedule and life, so this will have to wait.

Lastly, I am hoping and praying my car doesn’t have an oil leak too. It might as a kind gentlemen pointed out to me while dealing with the car battery.

As an update to the One Year Project, this is not encouraging. Yet, it’s all a part of life. I shall continue on and hope for better luck and prosperity, and view this as positively as I can. I was able to deal with all these problems reasonably, and maybe this can help me with stress management.

I will be blogging more frequently now. Catch you next week!


Depression: A Post Inspired by Robin Williams

I cannot express how shocked I was when I heard of Robin Williams death. In the wake of his death, tons of GIFs, tweets, and statuses have addressed depression. It has not been definitely determined, but the rumor going around is that he committed suicide while battling with depression. The thought is almost unfathomable. Robin Williams was beyond successful, loved, and admired by many. Who could ask for more? How could he still be unhappy?

This is the place where we enter the world of depression. Believe it or not, it’s a whole world. An inaccurate, irritating, misunderstood world. First, I want to state not all depression is the same. Some people may have the mental illness of depression whereas others are depressed due to circumstance and reason. Both instances are greatly misunderstood, and I want to say I don’t know it all either. I heard of the first, and experienced some of the latter.

Well said Robin Williams.

My problem was with people thinking I had some sort of mental illness. No. I don’t. I’m a healthy person with issues I have to work out as my depression was caused by my past, present situation, and lack of ability to create a new future for myself. I have reasons for my sadness; it’s not inexplicable. This is why I don’t like to tell anyone. I don’t want to be lumped into a group I don’t belong in. I’m misunderstood enough.

From what I understand, there are people who are depressed, and it is a mental illness. Maybe they don’t know why, maybe nothing can solve it, maybe they don’t know what to work on. I wish I understood it better. I have no deep knowledge of how this mental illness works. These people may not talk about it because it is defined as a mental illness. I wonder if this is good or bad? Does there need to be further differentiation considering that psychopaths, pedophiles, and sociopaths are defined as mentally ill? Or is there another reason they are keeping quiet?

The articles/tweets/GIFs I read online are putting Robin Williams in this mental illness category. There has been an outpouring of support for him and his family. It’s amazing to see how many people have been affected by his death.  I’m also saddened by this outpouring because I know it will pass. As all outpourings do. Has this knowledge changed anyone’s life? Are people thinking differently? Or this another flash in the pan sympathy rise? He died on Monday; it’s Thursday and he’s already at the bottom, if not off, the trending list on Twitter. Of course, it’s implausible to think he’d be on there forever. Yet, is four days enough to learn, experience, and grow?

I may not know about the mental illness and depression, but I do know about the sort of depression a less than stellar life can cause. It’s boring. Sure, there are good days. However, friends won’t always notice. I start off feeling great, we get to talking, then all of sudden I’m complaining, whining, sad. It comes over me when I get to talking because I end up talking about my unhappy life, feelings of failure, and lack of love. I can’t seem to escape it or escape the situation I am in. Of course, there’s the “change your mindset” advice. Wonderful yet useless advice. I have changed my mind and how I view things significantly, but it does not erase all the pain and anger. I cannot erase bad habits and ingrained reactions if I cannot find a way to move on with my life (or more accurately–just move).

It’s one of the reasons I stared the One Year Challenge. I live with family, and I believe I need distance from my family. I need time completely alone. The past pain is not going anywhere, the present problems still sting. Absolutely no problems have been resolved. However, I can’t just pick up and leave. I need money. I need a career. I’ve been struggling just to pay for my things while living here. I’m trapped. Both grateful for a place to be (better than homelessness), and scared (I could get kicked out, or never be able to find enough success to move on).

Regardless, I’m going to do my best and publish my work. I hope I have what it takes to be successful. That’s my solution: get out, grow on my own, develop new relationships. Step 1: Be successful. People say money isn’t everything. Well, it most of the thing because we need it to do almost anything.

I’m proud of my accomplishments, yet it’s not over and it was all hard. I’m less interesting and fun than I use to be (poor can be just as much of a buzz kill as depression, combined it’s a discouraging situation). Counselors and doctors are not always helpful. I hate medications for depression because they are a cop-out, and not necessary. A pill can’t change what I’ve been through. A pill can’t create a novel. I was happy a long time ago when I spent two weeks in Europe with a friend–no stress, new location, different sort of company. I won’t claim that I was the happiest person on Earth, but I got a lot done and I was happy.

Medication says to me “You’re not normal; you’re broken.” I resent it. Anyone who has been what I’ve gone through would be unhappy, scared, dissatisfied. It’s like when victims of a horrible crime (even as horrible as genocide with dead friends, propaganda and lies) are diagnosed with having “trust issues.” OBVIOUSLY, but I don’t think it’s because they have a “mental illness.” They’re human, and are coping as humans cope. Since when is it wrong not to be happy, perfect, energetic and productive all of the time? Is it so terrible to have to heal?

We live in a world where it is not okay. Where a pill is required to “fix it.” I’m acting in a way I feel is perfectly reasonable and being told I have a “problem.” I’m not okay with this. I actually have thought of not posting this because what will future business partners or employers think? How will I be judged? Am I, all of a sudden, less than? Worse, due to lack of knowledge of the breadth of depression, people don’t perceive me accurately either. Not to mention, this is embarrassing.

I graduated at the top of my class, I have changed myself in huge ways and continued my education online, and I have used my reading and movie watching to hone my craft. I learned about the publishing business and will learn more. I’m competent and, quite frankly and not so modestly, amazing (because I worked hard to be, not just because I exist).

Regardless of his depression, Robin Williams accomplished a lot during his lifetime. In a way, he’s an inspiration. He made it all the way to 63, and built a great career. It’s sad to know he’s gone, but it does not negate anything he has done. His work did not suffer, and he means something to many people worldwide.

I loved Aladdin and The Genie as a kid.

Maybe a pill would have helped Mr. Williams. I don’t know, nor would I ever make that call for someone else. What would feel like a cop-out to me, could feel like salvation to someone else. This is where the different type of depression comes into play. I would like to know more, but people tend to skip over details in this area. Therefore, I only know what others have told or described vaguely.

It might be difficult for people to differentiate because the symptoms are eerily similar from what I have heard.

What I want people to know is that depression is not like the flu. It lasts longer, has many shades, colors, scales, and contains multiple solutions. For instance, I never abused substances, nor have I participated in disgusting behavior (paraphrased from other depressed people describing their experiences). We are all different and should be judged for who we are and what we can do, not solely on what we have survived. We should be able to talk about ourselves publicly. I feel the employer market alongside judgmental friends and family are crushing this freedom. Secrets perpetuate problems. Not just depression either. Abuse, misery, loneliness all thrive due to the secretive nature of their existence.

What would our knowledge be like if we could all feel safe speaking about our problems? How much more could we know about the vastness of depression and human condition? One of the worst things about depression is how little is understood. I can confide in someone, but sometimes it feels more lonely when they don’t get it. It’s why I value knowledge and accuracy.

What would the world be like if we could be free to be ourselves regardless of what that is? What if anything negative wasn’t termed “airing dirty laundry” as if we are running around with poop stained briefs on our heads claiming aliens did it, or worse–that we’re bad people?  I’m not saying we should all love everything about everyone. People are diverse. All I want is tolerance, for people to be able to judge on skill when hiring, and everyone to have the right to be who they are without extreme backlash (firing, derogatory tweets, bullying, insults, etc.). This includes the freedom to write negative tweets. People rain down hell on others who disagree with them, and claim certain opinions are “wrong.” It doesn’t matter what side of any issue you’re on, why can’t everyone be free to have an opinion including unpopular ones?

I recall a lynch mob attacking someone for having an unpopular opinion (a man saying being gay was unnatural in this instance) claiming the first amendment didn’t protect from backlash. Well, they were right. I ask you, how did being right help their cause? How did it spread peace? I learned that no one is safe. That even people claiming righteousness encourage lack of freedom to speak. Without this freedom and lack of safety, how can any of us speak out?

I don’t want my depression to be politically correct; I just want to be able to talk about it.

That sort of world sounds wonderful. And much healthier.

Lastly, I want to briefly address suicide. I’ve been hearing my whole life how “selfish” it is. Wrong. People say “I have no responsibility to make someone else happy.” This is true, but along with this comes the notion that people can’t demand others live when that person feels they cannot go on any more. Suicide may be sad, but platitudes won’t fix it. I get annoyed with those stories stating, “What if I called at the right moment?” Or worse, the stories where someone did and saved someone else. Taking a life is hard. It takes a lot of guts and hopelessness to make it happen. I’m not suicidal; I think my life is worth all my current troubles. I want to try really hard to be a writer and make a new future for myself. However, I won’t judge anyone with a differing opinion. How would that help? It’s not what I would want if the roles were reversed.

And FYI, not everyone has “loved ones.” Being deeply loved and receiving love is not easy. It is a scary and lonely world.

A lonely place with a beloved bear who would never judge.

A lonely place with a beloved bear who would never judge.

Update: Robin’s wife also stated that he was in the early stages Parkinson’s, which adds another layer to the story.

 

*I do not own these pictures. Credit belongs to the Flikr artists, and links have been provided to their work. The captions were created by myself, not the artists.

 


Word Sprint Challenge

It’s almost half way through August, and I am not loving my progress as of right now. I want to write more, but it’s hard to get motivated enough to write thousands of words a day. I have ideas; I am working on one novel and a couple of shorter works. However, I have doubts which cause procrastination. The daunting nature of my task does not help. As I said before, I like breaking my goals into smaller bits. If I just look at the whole mountain of work I need to do, I get discouraged.

Plus, I love studying art by reading and watching, and find it more soothing than writing at the moment because the pressure is on someone else. Not to mention, the unbelievable joy of consuming wonderful works of art. With all the stress, it’s easy to want to be soothed, entertained and amazed by someone else’s work. It’s a great bonus and privilege that I get to learn from it too. I’ve learned where to improve my book, and am studying dialogue.

Time to put my knowledge to good use, and overcome any obstacles. I am determined to meet my goals.

word sprint challenge

I thought about what I could do to push myself into increasing my word counts, and landed on word sprints! I have a tendency to randomly sprint, but I have decided to commit to regular sprints for at least the next month. Starting tomorrow, August 12, I will be sprinting for two hours for at least 5 days a week. I am going to start by sprinting from 8-10 PM EST. I plan on keeping this time slot for awhile, but any change will be updated on this blog and announced to my followers via my social networks. Everyone is welcome to join me. If you’re not at the writing stage, you can edit during the sprint as well. I will be using the hashtag #writingbash for my sprints.

I found out when I host a sprint I can’t very well not show up, or there won’t be a sprint! I take my responsibilities seriously, and sprinting is a way for me to hold myself accountable. I can’t wait to see what this new adventure brings, and to report my progress.

Happy writing!

 


CampNaNoWriMo: July Edition

The emails have stopped; the camps are closing. CampNaNoWriMo is over. For those of you who don’t know, CampNaNoWriMo is a writing competition. Anyone who reaches the goal number of words wins. I’ve been participating in various CampNaNoWriMo events for the last few years; however, this was the best NaNo experience I’ve had.

First, I love the freedom of CampNaNoWriMo versus NaNoWriMo. I picked my own word count, and I got to have a cabin with various participants. This year was also different because users were able to choose what cabin to join. On a whim, I decided to join a cabin created by a fellow Twitter user. It was a wonderful decision.

This was the first time I got really involved with other NaNo members. The first two weeks of July were hectic, so I was too busy to drop in often. However, when I did, there were 77 new messages! I had never seen so many messages before; in previous cabins, there were only 5 or so. I got more involved during the second portion of the month and it was a blast! We had sprints, short conversations, and our word counts grew. I also was introduced to Google Hangouts.

Now I have all new friends, and thousands of more words. I feel another step deeper into the writing community. It’s a good feeling.

And this is the first year that I won! Woo! *Happy dance.* It feels good, and a wrote almost twice as much as I did in April (the last CampNaNo event).

2014-Winner-Vertical-Banner

I have a choice of prizes. I’m not sure if I will use any. I downloaded two trial programs, but I haven’t been using them. It’s hard when I’m in the middle of writing something. Hopefully, I can explore them more in the coming days. Learning new programs isn’t always the most fun for me. It figures that Facebook apps force me into learning their ways, yet actual software comes with long, boring tutorials over a fun, quick start guide. Still, it’s amazing how many partners NaNo has, and it’s cool to be able to pick a prize.

Inspired by this experience I created a Facebook group for writers with word count or editing goals. It’s a place to share and chat. I enjoy the other groups I’m a part of, but they tend to be dormant or have thousands of members. I thought this would be fun, and more close knit like camp. Feel free to join.

Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/708743069161265/


Book Club

A few months ago, I joined a book club. It’s part of my local library. They read very different books from what I would normally read, but I felt like I learned something new and liked the company.

Unfortunately, I got an email today that I found insulting. Of course, I know sometimes I’m easily offended. Therefore, I thought I would get other opinions.

Here’s a part of the email sent by a librarian:

“The book club is meant to be an outlet for group members to read new things and branch out from what they normally read and hopefully enjoy in the process. With that being said, I would like to remind everyone that this is a book discussion group and not a political group. Everyone has their own opinions and we hope that your opinion is about the book and leave politics elsewhere. Also, please be mindful of not dominating the discussion, we want to give everyone an opportunity to give their input. Thank you. Happy Reading!”

Now this was said after we read books including but not limited to: the IRA during the war (book 1), government agencies MI5 and MI6 during the 70s (book 2), and a mail order bride (legal but suspicious immigration-book 3). My group had to explain a few things to me for the first two books as I did not know a lot about those time periods. The third was more modern. How can there not be political discussion when this is what they pick to read? They’re political books! The last of which as been a HUGE issue in the last THREE presidential elections. That’s like saying “I don’t want to bring up vampires” while reading Twilight. Or “Lets skip the sex parts” in 50 Shades of Grey.

What’s worse is the new list STILL featuring these sorts of books.

Even more offensive is the inclusion of a book about a woman being brutally attacked. I don’t know how that would qualify as appropriate.

Also, the group members, excluding me, are retirees. With the maturity of the books–sex and violence, I would think anyone who had the above opinion (the email) would mention it during group instead of having the librarian (who was also in group) send an awkward email like a disappointed first grade teacher.

Moreover, with the almost unlimited book options in the world, I suggest picking different books! Political, Middle Eastern, and/or war books are not the only ones out there. There are books which are meant for literary discussion, and involve less controversial topics. Why not picks those? I didn’t pick these books! They did. I rarely read such vulgar and/or controversial stuff purposefully; I just wanted to be a part of a group. And they must know what’s in the book because one has to read it before recommending it. Plus, the descriptions make it clear given it is what the WHOLE book is about.

I don’t know what to do. I think I’ll be skipping a lot of these “discussions” in the future, which is sad because I liked it until now.


Website Woes

I had a plan. I was going to update, upgrade, and redo my website. Then, on Friday night, it was gone! I got the white page of death. I have been unable to fix it as I have not heard from my host (an old acquaintance) yet. This got me thinking about a lot of things regarding my website, and I wanted to gather information. Reader, I ask for you help.

I am currently using this (WordPress.com site) as a temporary website. However, I am finding it immensely easier to use! What took hours in WordPress.org, takes far less time in WordPress.com. Have I been doing something wrong? Widgets frequently go out of use; it’s hard finding replacement. The constant refrain gets old.

Search plugin

Download plugin

Activate plugin

Appearances—>Widgets

Drag and drop

Refresh

Most times the plugin fails and I must start over (Use my memorization of the steps as evidence of how many times it has failed). It’s exhausting. I have left the WordPress.com website alone for THREE years, and the Facebook box still works.

I feel incompetent. Especially looking at my Twitter friends who have done well in this area.

However, I know I am smart. I have learned all sorts of things throughout life, so what am I missing?

Do my friends secretly know coding, and expert computer information? Is there an awesome explain it all hosting/coding/plugin site no one has told me about? Did I miss the secret society of web information meeting?

I would love any advice on how to run my own, hosted site. I may even have to switch from my acquaintance because I don’t know when I’ll hear from him. He has a life of his own and all. What company do you recommend? (Update: He has gotten back to me, but it takes FTP knowledge to fix it, and I know nothing about it. Honestly, without my acquaintance being very kind and giving me a deal on the price, I don’t know if I’d even want another host. .com is looking easier and easier). Is there a better option outside of WordPress itself?

As a side note, what do you think of staying on WordPress.com? There’s something sexy (and quite frankly–professional) about not having “wordpress” in the middle of my web address, but it has taken all of the fun out of it. I pay money for less fun. Also, I learned something equally important. Self-hosted means I am the customer service representative. Uh-oh.

Thanks in advance,

Kalen


One Year Project

I have set an extremely lofty goal for myself. In one year, I am going to:

  • Write a book
  • Edit, edit, and edit some more
  • Run a Kickstarter (or similar campaign) for funding
  • Become my own publisher
  • A couple more edits
  • Get a cover for my book
  • Format
  • Edit
  • Market
  • Publish
  • Market my heart out

I can already hear the groans coming from certain types of people. I’ve heard it all since I started getting involved in the writing community. I’ve heard negativity inside and out of the industry.

It’s difficult; nay impossible to be an author! This industry is too hard; newbies know nothing of the complicated nature of it. Get a second job!

Well, in my experience, nothing has been easy since high school, and that wasn’t all it was supposed to be either. However, I graduated long ago, and found out an important fact. Nothing in life is easy, not even the “safe” job. If am going to dedicate myself to something and use 1/3 of my life for it, I want it to be for a job I desire and that complements who I am. Besides, it’s not as if I gave up a good paying job, and walked away from a middle-class life. I walked away from minimum wage and a dim future.  Not that it wasn’t a hard decision; a paying job is an important thing. However, I want prosperity. Passion and effort seem to be the correct route, not giving up before even trying.

Moreover, I am the type of person who gets 100% dedicated when I start working whether is for my degree, as a writer, or whatever else I choose. It’s for my future; I don’t want my attention divided.

I understand some naysayers or realists may have discouraging opinions, and that’s great … for their lives. I want to help create a supportive and optimistic community as I believe optimism, hope, and hard work leads to accomplishment and satisfaction.

Plus, I have been acquiring useful skills these last few years to help me on my journey. I will write more about what I have been up to and these skills in my next post, What Have You Been Doing?

Which brings me to why I am writing this blog. I wanted to create a blog series, and I thought it would be encouraging to share my journey with people who are interested. I’ve read many blog posts; my favorites are the emotional, relatable, fun, and/or educational ones, so that’s what I am going to write. The beginning of this new chapter in my life seems like a great place to start.

I wrote this blog a week ago. However, the thought of posting it is scary. Failing quietly seems like a much better choice. Then the only people who would know would be myself and a few close friends. When I think of what I sacrificed to follow this route, the feeling of nervousness and tension increases tenfold as my stomach shifts riotously. I’m queasy and unsure. I have no doubts about my current life path, but plenty of doubts about sharing it. Who would want to fail publicly?

I’ve weighed my options and decided. No artist can be influential and as magnificent as I hope to be without putting themselves out there. We live off our ideas and our vulnerabilities. It’s necessary to give pieces of one’s soul when working as an artist. No one can write about life brilliantly without some exposure.

So, I am sharing with you, dear readers, because I want this to be a good blog post. I do want to create that wonderful community, and what could be a better first step? I hope you can relate; I hope I can inspire you to try or to keep going. Oh, and I have every intention of succeeding.

 


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