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The 73 Questions
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I was nominated by my writer friend Tammy for this challenge inspired from a Vogue Magazine Series which interviews celebrities and other public figures. The questions are designed to allow you know more about my likes and lifestyle. Who doesn’t love to answer fun questions?

1. What’s your usual Starbucks order?

I like to change it up, so I usually try out all the seasonal drinks. When I have tried them all, then I got back to my vanilla latte with coconut milk. 

2. What does your workstation look like?

I have one of those desk cabinets from the 90s with doors. It usually has my computer and stack of books and papers I am working on. 

3. Favorite food?

Sushi is the best thing ever!

4. Favorite authors?

Two favorites this week are Davis Bunn and Pam Jenoff.

5. What do you think of open relationships?

I think they are not for me. 

6. What is your favorite video game?

Duck Hunt!

7. Guilty pleasure treat?

Cheesecake

8. Favorite movie?

Pride and Prejudice the 2005 version

9. Favorite book?

Children’s: The Story of Ferdinand (always)

Grownup: Educated by Tara Westover (this year)

10. Twitter, or Instagram?

Twitter

11. Desktop or laptop?

Laptop or paper.

12. Best advice you’ve ever received?

You can do whatever you set your mind to. 

13. What project are you working on right now?

I am working on short stories that are sci-fi.

14. Favorite color?

Purple

15. Did you get good grades in school?

Yes, I did.

16. Dream job?

Writing full time

17. Play any sports?

No, I used to play basketball and danced.

18. Do you have a degree?

Yes a couple

19. Nationality?

German, Irish, and French. 

20. What is your favorite kind of blog post?

A day in the life or list.

21. What do you like to collect?

Marbles, books, and purses. 

22. Describe yourself in three words?

Honest, quiet, student

23. If you were a rapper, what would your stage name be?

Smilie Geez

24. Who was the last person you DM?

Someone about blogging for a website I run. 

25. What’s on top of your wish list right now?

A writing retreat 

26. Sorting house?

Ravenclaw

27. How many tattoos do you have?

Zero

28. What are you most grateful for this year?

My family, job, and home. 

29. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this month?

I got to spend some quality time with my family.

30. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?

I laughed so hard at work. 

31. What’s the best thing ever?

Love

32. Favorite season?

Fall

33Favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving because I like all the food and there is not the pressure of gifts.

34. What fictional character do you relate to most?

Whichever one I am reading — I am always looking for similarities to myself.

35. Do you like surprises?

YES!

36. What’s the biggest surprise you’ve ever had?

Finding out I was going to be a mom. 

37. Which surprise made you cry?

Being a mom because I was excited and terrified. 

38. What’s the best surprise you’ve given somebody else?

Surprising my family with a takeout meal. 

39. Do you like muffins?

Yes, blueberry. 

40. Do you cook often?

I do not cook often, but I like to bake a lot. 

41. What’s your favorite dessert?

Chocolate covered strawberries. 

42. Is there a dessert you don’t like?

Haven’t met one yet. 

43. Cake or pie?

Pie

44. What’s your least favorite food?

Spicy because it doesn’t like me. 

45. What’s your favorite condiment?

Ketchup

46. It’s 4 am on a random Saturday. What are you eating?

I cannot eat that early, so I drink tea. 

47. If you could teach a college class, what would it be called?

Apocalyptic Fiction 

48. Best animated film?

Everafter

49. What has a guy done or said to impress you?

Bought me lilies and took me out to eat. 

50. The best thing to do on a first date?

I love long walks and coffee.

51. The worst thing to do on a first date?

Hanging out with a ton of people at a bar.

53. Best comic book character?

Wonder Woman 

54. Name three things which can always be found in your purse.

Pens, book, notebook.

55. Favorite drinks?

Water and Dr. Pepper

56. If you could play a historical character in a movie who would it be?

Catherine the Great I did a paper on in college she seemed interesting.

57. Kittens or puppies?

BOTH!

58. Favorite sushi roll?

Kissy Kissy roll 

59. What lipstick do you use?

Lip balm that is a light shade of pink.

60. What foundation do you use?

The Body Shop

61. Blow-dry or air dry?

Air dry every day. I will even wake up sooner to air dry.

62. Who is your fashion icon?

Katherine Hepburn always 

63. Favorite Disney Character?

Cinderella 

64. What are you doing tomorrow?

I will work and write. 

65. Movie you laughed the hardest through?

The Book Club

66. A movie that made you cry?

Avengers Endgame

67. If you could sing a duet with anybody who would you choose?

Frank Sinatra 

68. If your life was a song, what would the title be?

Don’t Worry Be Happy

69. What’s your favorite animal?

Llama and tigers

70. Favorite artist?

Claude Monet 

71. The person you want to have coffee with?

Jesus

72. What country would you like to visit?

Germany 

73. Best way to decompress?

Cleaning

Thank you!

Writing What I Felt
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I needed to write, but I was experiencing blah. Was that an emotion? It was my form of exhaustion in every way, shape, and form. I am not proud of it, but I have found a lot of my days lately have overflowed with stress. I sat in the morning pondering if I was going to write anything because I have been in a funk. I didn’t feel like writing at all, and I was not sure about the extensive project I promised myself I would finish.

So, what did I do when I didn’t feel like writing? What every good writer does surf the net. I realized email was an excellent place to start my procrastination. I was sent an email for Camp NaNoWriMo, and it was very inspiring for my moment in time. Write what you feel email  by Kat Yeh said: “Some people say write what you know—I say write what you feel.” 

 Through my academic circles, I had studied plenty about writing what I knew, however writing what I felt has been felt out.  I had not heard someone approach writing what you feel this way before. When I have been looking up ideas about character emotions, I have come across a lot of writers and artist taking a sharp memory and writing from the feelings you had at that moment — this type of writing I can do with ease. There are days, weeks, and sometimes months when I have struggled with writing. When the thought of a book came up, it felt more like a chore than something I wanted to do. The writing honeymoon was over, and it only took three years. 

I am not ready to divorce writing or my muse. However, I needed to know how to work on my relationship when I didn’t feel like being in it.  I heard from people give up writing and do something else with your life. What people have not witnessed was how great writing had been the one thing that had carried me through the darkness, and joy I felt in creation. I was at least staring at my screen, I got my butt in the chair, and I continued to watch the blinking curser. How in the world could I write what I feel when I didn’t even feel like writing?

In these moments of blah was when mind dumping and free writing were my lifesavers (suddenly have a candy craving). The email I had read said to take a few minutes to just writing whatever it was you were feeling. Sometimes I need to vent, and there was no one else to listen. So, I vent to the computer screen. With the beautiful world of dictation, I can yell at my device, and it will record every word I say. However, just like humans, it has continuously got some of it wrong. 

I decided to do a little therapeutic writing, getting all of these emotions and thoughts onto a page for about 5 minutes. This was when a light bulb turned on for me. I have heard many times from many people, even in my academic writing circles to write what you know but what I knew at that moment was what I felt. 

Then from the instruction of the email, I began to write a character in a funk about life and feeling in some way, it will never get better than this. This woman couldn’t see the future for all the things going on in her life right then. They couldn’t see the joy of the light or the relief of the rain. They stared off into the darkness, and it consumed this character like a moth to a flame. And just like that, the main character for my next book was born. 

The moral of this story is to just write.

Do You Call Yourself a Writer?
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Have you ever given much thought to your name? I hadn't until I was older except that my name was hard to pronounce, and I ended up spelling it to everyone I came in contact with. There would be times I was asked what country I was from because outside of my small community, it is not a common name, and on rare occasions, I was asked what it meant. It never offended me that people thought I might be from another country or that they couldn't spell my name I just thought of it as the facts of my life. 

When I was in college, I was asked and told what my name meant over and over again. I finally looked up my name meaning so I could recite to anyone else who asked because I did start to get a little annoyed. I had never gone by any nicknames or some altered version of my name. It was always lovely to hear my name properly pronounced without having to correct someone, but it was rare. 

There have been other names I have been called like fat when I was a child because I wasn't as slender as the other kids in my class. I don't ever remember being called smart in school though I was called a good many times, I never could understand what good really meant. I was called quite a lot more than I have ever been called anything else in my life. But then I was called weird, crazy, or strange when I started to open up to others and stopped being quiet. 

Life changing events call for name calling too. It was fun to be called the girlfriend at times, and it was better to be called the ex. I love being called a mother and a parent. I hoped to be an aunt one day, but sister had a beautiful ring to it too. An employee was also a beautiful name when the paycheck came from it as well. 

My favorite name didn't show up until the last year, and it was one I didn't think I would like as much as I did. It was important to me and was solidifying the previous three work and devotion. It was a writer. I can remember the first time I was referred to as a writer friend in a blog, and it was absolutely fantastic. My heart leaped out of my body into the upper atmosphere and back again in a second. 

I had been hesitant to refer to myself as a writer, and it sounds like I was an impostor because I couldn't answer the questions of where I had been published at or when my book would be out. When I found other writers, there hasn't been a question about validation with writers in my community. You write; therefore, you are a writer; it does matter the frequency or how long or what you are writing, you just write. 

When Writing Helps
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I grew up in a place where my closest friends were imaginary because there were no kids around in the country that were my age. My home life had its ups and downs, just like everyone else. In my darkest times, I started to write. When I was young, I remember how cool it was that I could have a diary, but I never really wrote in. I didn’t have siblings trying to get it, but every time I started to write, I kept thinking how dumb it was to write all these things in here. 

I played imaginary games with made up people a lot. I played Thunder Cats a lot and X-men when my little brother wanted to play with me. When we played X-men, he was always Wolverine, and I was Storm. On my way out of town, there would be little creatures I made up that would run alongside the car. No, I wasn’t really seeing these things it was all in my mind, and they never became more to me than my present reality. They were a way for me to process being lonely and the case of isolation. 

As I grew the stories about these places poured out of me, and the life I was living was hard. Many times, while I was taking care of cattle stories, would just come into my mind. There were no notepads in the slop with the cattle, so I would use word association to remember until I could write them down, which was always before I went to bed. 

I wrote on a lot of school bus rides to and from school. Which I hear now you can’t even do. I scribbled in my notebook about my crushes and how they never knew me. I wrote about being hurt by friends. I wrote poems about things in my life that I couldn’t understand. I cried a lot when I wrote, but I didn’t have people to talk to so I turned to the page. I spoke to the pages when no one was there I wrote to get through things. 

In college, I wrote to process the death of family members. I wrote to be creative too. I opened the doors of my mind to things in the world I had never been exposed to and ideas on the darker side of life that I never explored in stories because I was living it. I thought the writing might too closely intwine, but I found it helpful in moving forward in my life. 

I started to do morning pages later in life as a way to empty out my emotions on the page after beginning to read the Artist Way. It was a great way to mind dump my feelings that had been building up again. This was caused by living a life much I did as a child in isolation. It is not my purpose to live this way, but it just seems to be the season I am in.  I have used this journaling for positive self talk though it looks like a lie at first there is something to be said about writing in that way. It has changed me and moved me to a more positive place again.

I have also felt a sense of peace after having sat down for a session of writing. It is almost as though it a religion, but it is not for me. The type of paper doesn’t matter if it is just a journal entry, free writing for 5-10 minutes, or maybe I work on my book. Another significant benefit for me it that it is moving toward the things I really want in life. I want a place where writing is part of my future, and to be a positive person. For me, it is more about allowing myself to finally spending time on myself and allowing me to be who I was always meant to be ultimately.

On the days I don’t write something I feel like I’m off that day. Sometimes I am a little irritable and not easy to get along with. There is something I think to what everyone does in life if they really love what they do. It doesn’t seem like work, and sometimes it becomes the thing that makes life a little easier to deal with. 

How to Deal with Writing Fears
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I wouldn’t be here talking to you now if I had not overcome some of my biggest writing fears. These top two fears kept me at a standstill in my writing process. I would stare at the page and get so frustrated. I couldn’t even allow myself to begin to write because I thought I had to be perfect when I started. For those friends that stayed with me during the fear stages, I thank you, and for the others well you are missing out on the most exciting years of my life so far.

Not everyone will be able to handle you talking about your fears and insecurities as a writer, I will tell you that up front, but give them a chance to try. I would advise getting involved in a writing community. You can check out why that is important here.

The two biggest fears I had were.

1. I am not good enough to write.

2. No one is going to read my work.

I am not good enough to write stemmed from having a hard time with grammar and teachers putting down my writing. Not all of my teachers were discouraging, but many of those negative voices still linger in my mind.  They would say my ideas were good, but my grammar was terrible. It was hard not to take it to heart because at that time my teachers were the encouragers of my academic life. My family didn’t understand my choices. I was told I have the grammar level of a fifth grader, and I also had a professor refuse to pass me unless I sore I’d never do anything in English. I did not have the polished and refined writing I should have by 20. Now, I will admit some of this was my fault because I didn’t always edit my work well before I turned it in, but it was clear I had some things I needed to work on.

I am not sure where you are at coming into this if you have had people say these things to you maybe people you trusted, loved, or held their opinions in high regard. It is okay to come to writing with fears because it is by writing each day you overcome them. All you have to do is put one word after another. I had to learn to let go of what other’s people’s opinions were of me and my work. I had to replace their words with positive words of my own. I kept searching for what I thought good writing was.

After a few months of getting words on a page or in my case on a screen, I began to wonder if anyone was even reading this. Did it really matter if my blog or my story was only enjoyed by me? This fear is a little different because it is about failure for me. If no one is reading it, then I wonder why I am continuing to write it. I have dealt with this fear often so as a way to battle it I wrote out on index card taped to my desk the reason why I write.

I found out it wasn’t about other people reading my work at all it was about writing for myself and how it made me feel when I gave myself the time and put in the effort to write. I wrote to think clearly again because there were so many things going on in my head. I wrote privately to dump all of these thoughts out of my head. I wrote just because I enjoyed it throughout my life. It was fun to create new worlds and different characters to interact with.

I also realized that if I did want people to read any of my stories I do actually have to put them out there.

My thoughts on overcoming fear are to figure out what your fear statements are and write out the opposite to be true.

I am not good enough to write.

  • I am an amazing and successful writer.

No one reads my writing.

  • Everyone reads my writing and wants more.

It seems like a lie at first and like you are trying to pull one over on yourself, but the truth is it can change your future by believing in the positive things instead of letting the fears control you. If you don’t think that works for you then I would say write anyway for you and you never have to show it to another soul if you don’t want to, but do it for you and your own joy if for no other reason.

The Importance of Writing Communities
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I would like to share my journey with writing communities over the last year. I have always loved the idea of community, but my real life practice of it has not always been what I was expecting. I find it hard to connect with others at times and enjoy my time alone. I have had the challenge of living in an area where there are not many writing groups. These circumstances led me to start looking into the online world of writing groups.

The first thing I found was NaNoWriMo which is writing a novel in November. It was a 50,000-word challenge that I thought sounded terrific, but without an actual steady writing practice in motion at the time, it proved to be complicated. 

This organization has a branch called Camp NaNoWriMo. Where the options for goals were more flexible, and the writing groups (cabins) were smaller. It was easier to find writers I had things in common with such as the genre of writing interest or I found writers who wanted to read what I was writing. 

This organization had functional groups, but I wanted more. I found Facebook groups were becoming the trend for those communities. Many of the NaNo communities had their own Facebook groups that I was added to but after a month or two after the challenge talking fades. I did have a good camp session where there was a lot of talking on the actual site, but I later found out they had been doing camp together for quite a few years. 

I wanted something more out of a group of writers. I knew I needed more time to get to know people. A community that would be devoted to writing and communication for more extended amounts of time. I was convinced at the time I wanted to write a novel, but upon further reflection of my college years, I remember how much I enjoyed short stories. 

I began googling about short shorties where to find them and who was writing them. I came across this site called Story A Day. It seems interesting there were a lot of prompts that I loved, and a challenge to write a story each day for May. They also had a private group called Super Stars. It was a chance for me to take to have community and to meet a challenge head-on for writing. 

So, I began trying my best to put myself out there and become part of the group. It was hard at first because I had not had a lot of communication with writing circles for the last few years. However, I continued to put myself out there and kept trying. It was a significant risk for me to take, but it was so worth it in the end. 

Over time I have gotten to know a lot of people and feel comfortable sharing my work again to get feedback on it. This was a huge stepping stone in the right direction for me. I opened up and let these people in. They have been there through some of the hardest writing days I have had so far. It is lovely to hear from them and get to know them.

I don’t get anything out of sharing this with you. I just want you to know there are communities out there that can meet your needs. There are places you can go and find the writing support that you have longed for. It may not be Story A Day or NaNoWriMo maybe it is a different community I have never heard of. 

My Top Three Reasons for Getting in a Writing Community are:

1. Writing communities give you a place to go when you have questions.

2. They are encouraging when you are having a hard time with your pages.  

3. It is more fun to do things as with a friend than it is to do them alone. Yes, I’m talking to you introverts. 

People who are interested in the same things can be critical to our future decisions and the road we choose in life. I am part of the Story A Day community again this year today is the last day to sign up if you are interested. I just finished Camp NaNoWriMo for April. I am taking the risk to get to know new people and to build new relationships with others.  I can’t wait to see what will happen.