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Posts tagged ‘Fear’

Mid Summer Update 2020 – I’m Okay and I Hope You are Too

It has been a while since I posted here. To be honest, I did feel like posting much. This year has been tough for so many and the last thing I felt like doing was adding to the noise. I felt like being quiet, still, and reflective. I live alone, which is great for the most part in a non-pandemic, but it can be problematic. By living alone, I am the one be to seek out human interaction. I make the effort to call, drive, fly, or any other kind of interaction with the world outside. The pandemic has severely curbed that. Six months ago, I saw my co-workers, family, and friends on a regular basis. Now, mostly Zoom, or email has been the norm. I have gone to see my parents and a few other family members. I am sure to mask up and stay a safe distance away. (Side note: My mom had a tested negative a few weeks ago. She had no symptoms, but needed to get one before she could go to the doctor. So, it seems following the rules of masks in public and social distancing have kept her and by default, my dad, safe. Yay!) But it’s not the same.

Back in March, I couldn’t write. Fiction was a luxury. I recorded no fiction writing that month. The guilt for wanting to do something so frivolous made me freeze in my tracks. Everything kind of stood still. I was aware the seasons were changing. I stopped wearing my winter coat and broke out my spring one. The cherry blossoms appeared. The days got longer.

It wasn’t until April 4th, the day before my birthday, that I really woke up. It was Saturday and I had plans to dash out to the grocery store early. I reached for a tea cup and my back seized up on me. I was bent over in agony, my back spasming several times, trying to reach for the pain killers. A few hours later, after the drugs had kicked in and had a ice pack on my back, I vowed to myself that I needed to take better care of myself.

First better physical care. I never really healed all the way from my surgery in 2019. I dropped a lot of weight, but it came back due to stress, new medication, and a job where I sit all day long. I may not have been able to get to a gym, but I certainly had more time (no two hour commutes anymore) to do something at home. Also, no more stress eating. I tried to clean up my diet, drink more water, and figure out how many calories I should be eating. Things are not perfect (when is it ever), but I’ve lost weight, sleep better, and no back pain.

Second better mental health. I realized that my feelings toward fiction writing were my ego talking. Not writing depressed me. I beat myself up for not writing. Then I asked myself, what good does that do? How does my guilt make anything better. So I started to write again… and I haven’t stopped. Lately it has been everyday, but I started with just a few times a week. At least this way I feel productive, hopeful about the future. I believe my better attitude helps others. Now when people ask how I am, I can say I’m pretty good. And by me talking about how I stay sane and strong, other people start to think about what they can do. My mom has taken up weaving. My brother is going back to school (on-line). Maybe folks are realizing that life is short. Time to start exploring interests and aiming for life goals.

I also started to mediate daily. A few minutes a day to remind myself what/who I am grateful for has done wonders. Like most people, I had been focusing on what I don’t have in life. Now l still have goals, but I also take a time out to remind myself, that I do have a lot that some people don’t have. I still have a regular paycheck, a place to live, people that care about me, my health, and a thousand other things that I take for granted. That daily reminder keeps my ego in check. No guilt anymore.

The novel progresses. I’m deep into it now. Dare I say more than half-way? It feels like a real story now, with multiple characters, setting, dialogue, etc. Moments that were only in my head are now on paper. I hoped to be done by the end of the summer and that is possible. For reference, I haven’t written anything over five thousand words in over a decade. This is the biggest project I have worked on since GW Bush was in office! Yep, it’s been a while. I didn’t even know if I had another novel in me, but here it comes. Flowing out everyday like a steady stream.

I’m doing my best, and I hope you are too. I hope you are taking care of yourself in every way. Even after this pandemic ends, I hope you continue to live your best life. Times are hard right now for many and there is a lot of fear. I don’t have the answers, but I do know, for me, that making my little corner of the world the best it can be makes all the difference.

I’ll write another post sooner than 6 months — I promise.

Don’t Make Decisions Out of Fear

We’re halfway through the year.

And what a year it has been for me! I started off getting major surgery and recovering from it. Now, I’m figuring out what the next step in my careers is going to look like. I say “careers” because I have two.

I have my records management career that I’ve stuck with for almost twenty years. Ever since I graduated from undergrad school, I’ve been involved one way or another in this field. I enjoy it and it feeds a particular part of my personality that enjoys planning and organizing.

My other career is the fiction writing. I’ve been lucky enough to be published a few times, but I really want to do more. I’ve been using my time in between jobs to really focus on writing and submitting more. I’m currently on chapter four of the novel and I have nine submissions out.

Through this whole year, I’ve been trying to focus on how I made big decisions in my life. So many times I’ve been pushed into a corner and had to make a decision because, if I didn’t, I thought things would get worse. One big moment for me was back in 2014. I had planned to take some of my savings and pay for my last class outright, instead of borrowing the money. As soon as I pulled the money out of my savings, I got furloughed. Worried I might lose my job, I stuffed the money back into savings and went even further into debt. If I had just taken a few weeks and let the fear go, I would’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars in interest.

Sometimes it is hard to know. For me, I’ve tried to set myself up so that I don’t have to make decisions out of fear in the first place. When I lost my job, I had enough savings that I could take a breath and figure out what was next. With my health, I plan on never going back into surgery like that again, so I will be much more vigilant and take better care of myself. Sometimes emergencies can’t be helped, but health issues of my own making should be stopped. I knew about a year before surgery that something wasn’t right, but I ignored it and told myself it was not that serious.

With my fiction writing, I think I’ve done better. I try not to self reject. If I see a open call and I think my work is a good fit, I send it to them. I try not to let the fear of putting myself out there hold me back. It’s easy at times to talk yourself out of submitting. You tell yourself, “It’s not that good.” or “I need to rewrite it again for the hundredth time.” or “I’m not important and this place only publishes famous writers.” That is fear telling you this.

The best advice I ever heard was from a video. The speaker said that no one can see the future (at least as far as he knew). When you talk yourself out of things, or make decisions out of fear, you are predicting the future. You already know that the outcome is going to be bad, so why try? Truth is, YOU DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE. You can’t predict what is going to happen. All you can do it make the best choices for yourself to your benefit. Fear is a lie telling you the future. So ignore it and try anyway. You never know what is going to happen.

As I put down more and more words for this novel, the fear comes on strong. This is a long work and part of me hates to work on it, only for it to fail. So I have to keep telling myself that I don’t know whether it will fail or not. No matter what has happened in the past, I don’t know the future. I have to trust in my ability as a storyteller that this manuscript will be successful.

I have to trust myself.


Keep Going!

Today I was reminded that it has been a year since I put a down payment on my first home. Two years ago, I lived in a different place and was plugging away at my goal to save up money. Time seemed to move much slower while I worked toward my goals. The days repeated over and over.

I felt like I would never get there.

I feel like that now. I’m plugging away at my novel and stories, but not really making any progress. Things are still unfinished. I know that I will be done one day. But that day seems so far off.

I have to remember that sometimes when you are in the middle, it is tough to see the end, but it is there. There is an end. You have to keep going and trust that you will get there.

I’ve done it before. I’ve gotten degrees, paid off lots of debt, saved up large sums of money, and written novels (and lots of short stories). All long-term goals I achieved. This should be a familiar thing to me.

And it is, but sometimes I need to be reminded. I need to keep going and until I get to the end.

Don’t Wait For Permission

When I was in my twenties, I was an insecure writer. Just starting to form my voice and style, I wasn’t sure people would get me. I wasted a lot of time wondering what people would say about my writing. Whether I was good enough.

The thing is, everyone around me was encouraging. My parents, my friends, and others were nothing but kind when I would mention that I wanted to write fiction. Still there was a voice in the back of my mind that kept telling me I wasn’t good enough. Instead of plowing ahead towards my goal of getting published. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote my stories. They were never finished.

I would go to work shops to get critiques and even there, with people saying I how talented I was, or how unique the story was, I still shied away from putting myself out there.

I was waiting for permission.

Permission to be a writer, even though I already was one.

I was waiting on the writing gods to bestow upon me some benevolent sign that I was ready to be published. I did submit here and there, but not with any gusto. Basically, I was sitting on the couch waiting for life to happen to me. I was waiting to be discovered, instead of trying to make my voice heard.

It took me a while to realize that I didn’t (and shouldn’t) need anyone to tell me that I was a writer. I had to get over the self-doubt, the fear, the anxiety, in order to get to the place I am now.

What’s the saying? Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

Once I moved past the doubts and started to re-imagine myself as a writer, I realized I no longer needed anyone’s permission to be the person I wanted to be. I didn’t wait any longer for someone (like a famous writer) to put their arms around me and say, “Hey I think your talented. Let me show you the ropes.” I was too busy doing to wait for that conversation.

If you are someone who is waiting for that permission (whether you are a writer or not), I’m giving it to you now. Be that person you want to be. Go after that dream. It’s not silly. It’s not wasteful.

Do It.


Final Post for 2014

Last post for 2014. What a year it has been. As I write, my last story is almost done. I still need to write the ending, but I have one more day left in the month, so time is not up yet. Barring any serious distractions, I should be done by tomorrow afternoon. So finishing 12 pieces for the year completes one goal I had for 2014. This doesn’t even count the numerous short critical essays, fiction, and analyses I did for class. Plus the posts I did for this blog. At last count I wrote about 8,000 words this year for the blog. All that stuff is just bonus material. Who knows when I will have to whip out my thoughts on Chekhov’s Gustav.

Anyway, let’s review the goals I had for the year.

Goal #1 – Finish 12 short stories for the year and one long piece.

I have 12 (or 11 and ¾) pieces finished. I say “pieces” because I did write some personal essays and submitted them for publication. I figured essays took just as much time as a short story, so they should count. My longer piece I did stall out on, but I will get back to it sooner or later. I have a lot on my plate right now, so I’m not in a hurry to get back to the story. It can wait.

Goal #2 – Sell one short story.

Done and Done. Saw my first story in print this year.

Goal #3 – Read at least 25 books this year.

Got through 16 this year. Considering that I only read one while I was in class last semester, I think that is pretty good. My last class was purely on short stories and I read 100-200 pages a week. There was just no time to read stories for class and other books.

Goal #4 – Buy no new books, unless I get gift cards.

Yeah, that goal is a bust.

Goal #5 – Get my credit card balance down.

Truthfully, it is only a little higher than it was last year. I pay down the balance, just to see it go back up again with my school tuition. But I don’t have anymore classes to pay for, so I should see some real progress this year.

For 2015, I have some new goals:

Goal #1 – Write 2 new pieces a month.

I managed to write about one a month, so I can up my game and make it two. It will be tough come spring because of thesis, but I’m going to try. Maybe more flash fiction…

Goal #2 – Finish a longer piece.

I have a lot of other projects I need to get to work on. If I really want to scare myself, I write them all down. I have ideas for days. But because of school, I have to put them on the back burner. Hopefully after this spring, I can really devote some time to these longer projects.

Goal #3 – Teach myself how to format, design a cover, and upload a book for self-publishing. This is something I’ve been thinking about over the past 6 months. I’m really curious about self-publishing and would love to give it a shot. Might be fun.

Goal #4 – One Year, One Hundred Rejections

I’m going to try this challenge. I goal is too get 100 rejections over the course of one year. Even if I don’t hit the number, that is an insane amount of submissions for one year. Way more than I did in 2014 and 2013 combined.

Thoughts on Rejection

One thing you get used to as a writer is rejection. Exactly, one year ago I got the harshest rejection letter I have ever gotten. Over the years I have gotten every kind of rejection: a form rejection, a nice, well meaning letter, a detailed, helpful note, and finally nothing at all. But I never got anything mean.

That was hurtful and something I consider unprofessional. I don’t think I will ever submit to that market again (And no I won’t name them. People change frequently in publishing, so I don’t want a publication to have a bad reputation from my one negative experience, esp. if that reader/editor is no longer there). It depressed me and you can see the results. I didn’t post here for months. I loved the story and to have it and myself insulted was tough.

By April, I pulled myself out. In truth, I didn’t really write much in January through April. I didn’t do much at all. But the warm spring days brightened my spirits and I was back at work soon enough. I wrote more stories and submitted.

Nine months after that harsh note, I got my first story accepted.

I write this because I think the worst has happened in my submitting. My fear about writing (that someone will completely hate my writing and tell me so) was fully realized.

And I survived.

If I had given up after that rejection, I would never be where I am today. I wouldn’t have all these new stories written, my story in the anthology wouldn’t exist, and I would probably be an unhappy person thinking that I should be writing and submitting. But now, I am ending this year on a good note. I pushed through the tough moments and was able to experience the good. That is the lesson I take with me into the new year.

I’ll see you in 2015!

The Need for Fear

There is a lot of scary stuff going on in the world right now. In some ways, Halloween seems silly. Why would any one want to be scared on purpose? Why would we want to celebrate this day? There is real horror in the world and no scary movie about a serial killer, or ghost, or other deadly creature is going to capture the real horrors of this world. I believe it was H.P. Lovecraft who said, “The oldest and deepest emotion humans have is fear. The oldest and deepest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

We fear what we don’t know or understand.

I do agree that horror provides a safe environment for us to be scared. Heck, my last post was all about horrific stories and how much I loved them. I can read the story and think, Man that is messed up. But then I close the book and the story stays there in the fictional world. I may think about it, but all the while I know it is not real. Same with movies. I can watch a scary movie and when it is over it stays in the fictional world.

Most of the time.

Every now and then, something will stick with me and I can’t get it out of my head. I have a near photographic memory, so when I remember something, it never goes away. (Blessing and a curse, people.) I can watch hours and hours of Criminal Minds on reruns, but I have never seen one episode of The Walking Dead. I just can’t do zombie stuff. Probably the only zombie movie I liked was Shaun of the Dead, because it was funny. But I didn’t watch it all the way through. I even watched World War Z, but they weren’t really zombies, so I didn’t feel the same. Even so, I watched through my fingers.

Zombies hit upon a real fear of mine. The idea that we are all mindless beings destined to consume. We are all monsters underneath the veil of civilization. Yeah, it gets to me. I know they are not real. I know in all reality civilization is going to last a good long time. But I still can’t put it in the “fiction” part of my brain. There was a really bad Will Smith movie a few years ago, I am Legend. Remember? There is this moment in the movie that I just can’t forget. It’s not the monsters chasing him, or when the dog died (so sad!). The part that sticks with me is early on in the movie. Smith’s character is putting his wife and daughter on a helicopter to get out of the city. Standing in line is a woman begging him to let her go too. She says, “Please. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.” But she is sick and a thin line of blood drips down her face as she begs him.

That denial. That is what scares me.

There could be a monster within us all, and we are in denial about it. So, no zombies for me. Although recently I tried to write through this fear. I tried writing a story that was a post apocalyptic with zombies and everything.

And I failed miserably.

I just can’t do it yet. I’m not sure why, but it’s not in me. I liked the story that came out. It’s a funny, somewhat sad, and a little dark, story set in LA. But society is not gone. People are not gone. Life is different, but the world keeps turning. I hope to sell it one day, but not to a zombie market.

I’ve been in plenty of scary situations. There was that time it was raining and I was going way too fast on the highway. I took one of the most dangerous exits and damn near flipped my car over. (Thank God, they have changed that exit a few years ago.) Or there was the time when I was on campus as an undergrad and a rattlesnake jumped out in front of me. And then there was the time my car battery died in the parking lot after I got out of class… Hey, I’m okay. I made it through all these scary moments.

My point is that fear in real life is okay too. It is a natural emotion and I don’t think ignoring it is healthy. Halloween can be used to sharpen that emotion in a safe way. After all, the world is still turning and there are plenty of things to fear. Screaming your head off in a movie can be cathartic for some. I know reading creepy stories is for me.

So Happy Halloween folks.

And on November 1st, let’s try and make the world a little better.