Changes

I composed my very first post on this blog on January 24, 2015. The post was entitled, “…What Shall We Name It?” and it was meant to be the anchor for the content that would follow it. Unfortunately, since that date, my blog has taken many dips and curves in quality content. I found myself focused primarily on myself and my wants and desires, detailing things I wanted to do with little to no action of actually doing them, and succumbing to my emotional fits as I saw best- in lengthy unedited blog posts with more than its share of grammatical errors.I will admit when I first created this blog, I was ambitious. I had high hopes and aspirations, many of which fell flat the moment I took conversation of this blog and made it a reality. 

I’m not sure when I lost all sense of direction, but the assumption is it came from trying to run from my responsibilities and wanting to justify the running away from them. I mean, most of the content of this blog has focused on my struggles with parenting my daughter effectively, my ineffective communication in my relationship, and my overtly lax attitude in accomplishing my goals. 

Just thinking about some of my earlier posts has me cringing in my seat and wondering if I should just delete them. But I won’t. 

The issue I’ve been unconsciously dealing with has been acceptance of my younger and naïve self; the girl who was so ambitious that she would throw money at the wind thinking that it would manifest into millions. I used to be a firm believer that the more I complained, degraded, and beat myself up that somehow things would turn around in my favor. I honestly believed that in doing those things I was being modest about my talents and abilities.

But that’s the beauty of blogging, it’s meant to be this physical copy of your thoughts as you had them on this journey that we call life. So no matter how much I cringe at my novice posts, I know that I have since grown and that I am no longer that same naïve little girl. I have grown up. I have matured and I am much more composed than she was. I’m accepting of her character flaws (or at least trying to learn to be) and know that a flaw is only a flaw if you let it be. 

With all of that being said, I’m announcing some major changes that will be taking place over the course of this month. For starters, I’m in the works of obtaining my own domain (yay!) and twitter account (double yay!). It has been a long journey of doing research and trying not to overwhelm myself, but this process has also been very rewarding.

So what does this mean to you, my faithful readers and those who are simply stumbling across this blog for the first time? It means that you can expect much better quality posts in these upcoming days and months. That instead of a confusing maze of topics, things will be much easier to sort through and decipher. 

When I first created this blog, I intended for it to be the launching ground of the business I wanted to start and be the element that I can use to convince an admissions board to accept me into their doctorate program. That sentiment hasn’t changed, but what has changed is how I plan to execute all of that. So be on the lookout for updates. I’m finally stepping my game up. 

Writing Challenge 2016

When the Barnes and Nobles, next to my job, was still open, I had ventured inside for the sake of indulging in the smell and feel of a bookstore. It had been years since I had entered a bookstore and perused the shelves without much purpose. Usually, I was in there in search of a book for my mother or sister, or a study guide for myself. But this day, in particular, I had no purpose to be in there. I wondered into the store because it would be closing soon. I scanned the shelves for a good read because I couldn’t remember the last time I picked up a book and actually read it. I had become so consumed with motherhood and work, that leisurely reading wasn’t a thing anymore. Even writing, my favorite pastime was no longer a thing. 

I picked out the book “Love” by Toni Morrison, out of principle (I’m determined to read all of her work), and then found myself in the study guide section, looking at the titles of books meant to help you become a better writer. I plucked a few off the shelf and rushed to the checkout line to avoid spending more money than I should on books that I would probably never get around to reading.

One of the books I purchased, “How to Be a Writer with a Day Job” hung out in my purse for months, as if through osmosis I would have read all the information inside of it. Finally, after my bag started getting too heavy, I removed it.

One of the parts I read in the book was about how a man had written an entire novel using nothing more than his lunch break over the course of several months. After reading it, I spent the next month, skipping out on a meal at lunch and sitting in the park with my Kindle and the Word app opened up on it. I remembered using my entire lunch hour typing something and then deleting it and repeating, until after a month, I had nothing more than a potential title and concept for what I wanted to write.

I quickly realized that I wasn’t one of those writers that could write in a timed environment. That scheduling my creativity just didn’t work. When it was time to write, it was time to write. It didn’t matter if I had just spent the past hour twiddling my thumbs and staring at a blank Word document. It didn’t matter if I was in the middle of a phone call. When my hands were finally ready to compose the creative thoughts that were looming inside of my head, I had to let them.

The result was my work notes being mixed with creative ones. That on the same page I had written the opening scene to a piece was my scribbled handwriting denoting a work related task that needed to be completed, or a shorthand note from an earlier telephone conversation. 

It was obvious that working a 9-5 and trying to be a writer had serious time conflicts. And I had no idea how to work past them. 

Honestly, I still don’t, but the hope is that sooner rather than later, I will no longer be subjected to such work constraints thus inhibiting my writing. But in the meantime, my goal is to challenge myself to get on a semi-regular schedule of writing that will train me to be prepared to write around a set time every day. And hopefully, it will encourage regular writing.

So my challenge for myself over the course of the next month (last day being June 11) is to write every day starting at 9pm. 

Yes, there will be incidents. Yes, I will forget some days. Yes, I will stare at a blank page. But the goal is to get myself into the habit. Unfortunately, I’m not blessed like other writers who have the ability and flexibility to hibernate as they write a piece. I’m a mother and I have a full-time job. I have to pick a time and just go for it and that’s what I plan on doing. 

For the next month, I plan to chronicle my journey, but don’t worry, I won’t bombard you with posts every day providing you with updates. I will make one post on Mondays (with the exception of today since I’m just starting the challenge) and update it throughout the week. 

I’m actually very excited about this challenge and getting started, but I will tame my need to write and reserve it for the 9pm hour. 

Wish me luck!

Let’s call it what it is- a fear of flying.

Earlier in the year, I had read this article about a single mom on the edge of poverty, who had turned it around and becoming a self-made millionaire. I remember clamoring to the article, trying to draw similarities between me and this woman, when I read about how she had begun to sabotage herself as she approached her first million. I remember feeling flabbergasted at how she could do such a thing. A woman, a single mother, who was so close to having the ultimate Cinderella story, just admitted that at one point, she was trying to avoid it.
As I continued to read the article, it explained why she had been so willing to sabotage her growing business, albeit not fully comprehending why. To put it simply, she just didn’t believe that she was deserving of acquiring that much wealth. She became consumed with the thoughts of why she didn’t need to continue to grow her business, despite the obvious need for it. 

It wasn’t until today, as I drudged out of bed, got ready for work, and unhappily rode the subway, that I got it. 

Just like the single mother in the article, who ultimately overcame her thoughts of not deserving the wealth she was acquiring, I am sabotaging myself.

For an hour after clocking into work, I sat at my desk wondering why it is that I haven’t finished that story yet or written my first novel. Why that business plan of mine hasn’t even begun to come into fruition or why I’m still only thinking of what I will do in regards to this blog instead of actually doing it. I realized, that my fears of actually turn any of these things into reality outweighs my ambition to do them, thus leaving me in this unsatisfied limbo.

Truth be told, as much as I’ve reasoned that nothing would make me happier than to be an entrepreneur and doing all the preliminary research to see just how to start my business, the thought of succeeding at it scares me. There is this overwhelming fear that not only will I successfully start my business, but that it just might take off. That people will actually clamor to what it is I’m doing and want to invest in what I’m offering. 

For so long I’ve daydreamed about having multiple businesses and not worrying about money, that the mere thought of it being a reality, has sent me running for cover in seeking employment as a run of the mill middle class citizen and plan for a small home and school that offers a latchkey program. The thought that I would be able to drop my daughter off at school and pick her up in the afternoons, be involved in her school’s parent committee and after-school activities scares me. And I can’t quite explain why.

All I know is that my fears are growing at the same speed, if not more, than that of my dreams and ambitions. As a result, it is preventing me from making much of anything a reality. And when I finally do make something a reality, I do it half-heartedly, telling myself that at least I did it.

But how do I overcome this fear and take that leap of faith? Honestly, I’m not sure. The woman in the article finally realized that it was more important to continue to provide a service to different communities with her business than assert that perhaps she needed to slow her pace down. She recognized that a change in pay grade didn’t mean she was no longer allowed to be the person she was prior to her first million. She had to come to terms with the fact that her ambitions didn’t undermine her as person.

So I’m guessing I have to come to the same realizations as well. 

The First Draft

One of the reasons that I haven’t completed a piece, to date, has been because I do this thing where I try to write my final draft as my first draft. The backspace button has become one of my favorites, along with the key command of Control + A. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I have sat down to write and found myself composing something, only to stop midway and erase all of it in favor of a different approach. 
The importance of the first draft is getting it all down on paper. It isn’t about perfecting dialogue or sentence structure or even spelling and grammar. It is about creating something tangible that you can work on. The second draft is about fleshing out what is written. It is adding the details that the piece needs and providing the necessary structure it requires. The third draft is when you start the editing process, but through a critical lens. It is where you start to look at the piece as a whole and see what fits and doesn’t fit and what makes sense and doesn’t make sense. And then you have your final draft, which is essentially where you polish everything off, checking solely for the grammatical and spelling errors and correcting them.
Since I’ve started writing, I have cheated myself out of the first, second, third, or how many ever drafts that a writer should compose before having the finished product. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m an impatient writer. I want my first draft to be my final draft. 
For years, in both academic and creative writing, I have maintained a one and done policy. I would compose the text in one sitting if possible, quickly read over it for obvious errors, fix them, and then hand the piece in. I have never spent more than maybe 30 minutes editing any one of my pieces, which is an issue. A big issue. Yet it is a habit that I didn’t even know I had, until last night.
Last night, I found the much needed motivation to get started on my book. In the process of writing out what would be the fulfilling content of it, I found myself hitting the backspace button, deleting all the text, and essentially starting over, trying to find the right way to begin. That’s when it dawned on me that I’m not publishing this book tomorrow; therefore there is no rush to get it done right the first time I write it. What is important is that I write. 
I found myself swallowing a difficult pill as I put unnecessary breaks in dialogue and felt like I was hopping around and just putting everything in my head onto paper to be rearranged and edited later. I’m actually cringing as I write this in anticipation of rereading what I had written last night. But last night taught me the importance of drafts.
I have a folder on my desktop that is filled with nothing more than bits and pieces of works that I have started and stopped throughout the years. Most of them are nothing more than two pages long in length, the result of a perfectionist wanting to get it done right the first go around and not have to be subjected to looking at it again. I mean, who wouldn’t love to be the writer that can write a piece in one sitting or only needs to write one draft to have a quality piece ready for publication. The truth is, I’m not that writer. As a result I’ve been doing myself a serious writing injustice. I’ve been scrapping precious work for the sake of perfection, not knowing whether or not if that scrapped material would have been vital to the piece.
Among other things, I began to realize what separates a writer that can crank out novel after novel versus the individual who keeps talking about writing a book. The first draft.
There is even a plethora of information that focuses on taking the individual just talking about writing a book to the writer that can crank out novel after novel at their choosing. Almost all of that advice revolves around the creation of a first draft and writing with careless abandonment the first time you put pen to paper or your fingers to a keyboard. And as much as I spend my days on Pinterest, pinning these assortments of tips and tricks, I have still actively chosen to ignore the importance of the first draft in preference for the final one.
But that stopped last night. At least, I hope it stopped last night. Now, my only goal is to create the first draft.

It’s Spring!!!

Spring is here!
Okay, it’s not, but with it under 12 days away, it might as well be. Already, I’m seeing the Easter decorations everywhere. I’m watching as some people gather up Easter eggs and baskets and piles of candy and little trinkets, while others peruse the premade baskets deciding which one is ideal for their child. I just completed my Easter basket shopping and am more than ready to get started on putting it altogether, excited about the face of my daughter, nephew, and friend’s kids when I hand them theirs. 
But aside from the excitement of Easter and making Easter baskets (something I look forward to every year) I’m enjoying the fresh air and the warmth of the sun. 
In January, my optimism was at an all-time high with me declaring that this year, I would obtain everything it is that I wanted. And for the most part, I worked really hard to ensure that everything was at least properly planned out for execution. By the time February came around, I found myself feeling slightly jilted, with a waning optimism, as it felt like I couldn’t keep the momentum I had in January going. By the time March started, I found myself dealing with a serious bout of stress and anger. So to be here, right now, feeling optimistic once again and not overwhelming myself with the details like I had in the past couple of months, I can’t help but want to celebrate.
A part of me just wants to go into a store and buy myself a brand new wardrobe, while the other part of me is reminding me of this contract fee that I need to pay if my daughter’s assessment goes well on Friday. A part of me is screaming, let’s begin, while another part of me is saying let’s just enjoy the moment. As torn as I am regarding what I should be doing right now in this moment, it hasn’t stopped me from smiling and inhaling the fresh crisp air.
I feel like now my hibernation is over, it’s time to get serious and actually get to work. I’ve been putting off a lot of things, promising myself that “soon” I would get to them. As much as I want to work out and whip my body into the shape that I want, I have been lackadaisical in my approach. And as much as I have argued that I will finish one project and not jump around, I’ve been bouncing around and keeping myself unfocused in the process. 
Spring, or rather the eve of it, has brought about this new surge of energy in me. A newfound motivation and desire. But instead of me focusing on getting it all down on paper and making sure my bases are covered, I’m ready to just do it. That is a new phenomenon for me. I have grown so used to essentially sitting around saying I want something and not doing anything about obtaining it, that now that I have the urge to do something about it, I’m not sure if I know where to begin. Thank God for those months of nothing but preparation and planning, cause now I know where I should be starting and what the end product should look like, even if I don’t have the logistics of how to get from point A to point B. But what’s most important here, is the fact that I’m ready to do more than write and talk about my plans. I’m finally ready to execute them.
So Happy Spring! And here’s hoping that the start of this season brings about just the right surge of energy to help get you up on your feet as well.

I Figured It Out

It hasn’t been a month yet since receiving that rejection letter. It hasn’t even been a month yet since deciding I will just move forward with my goal of pursuing my MFA instead.

For the past week or so, I have been trying to carve time out of my hectic schedule to get in some good quality writing time. I’ve been meaning to complete this one piece that I think would be a great addition to a collection that I haven’t quite started yet, but remains at the forefront of my mind. I’ve also been meaning to getting around to sitting down and doing some freewriting in the hopes of creating a quality writing sample to include with my MFA application.

Today as I sat at work, busying myself so that I wouldn’t have to notice how slowly or quickly time was passing, it dawned on me that I didn’t need to write 20-40 pages of new work when I had plenty of work that I haven’t touched since I completed my portfolio back in high school, but even more recently, when I created a single edition book of my work for my boyfriend. I can easily grab the best from these and compile them together to create a writing sample that will very well encapsulate everything that is required to showcase my style and work.

Aside from that, I have been doing my fair share of indulging in following the accounts (mostly on Instagram) of people who turned their dreams into realities and are making money off of it. I realized that just like the people I’m following, I’m very capable of turning my situation around in such a way that I can breathe easily and live the life I’ve always imagined. It’s just a matter of getting down it. Which I am more than ready to do.

And with all that, I’m finally take some time out to deal with my emotions and stress.

I’m hoping that very soon that I will have something I can share with all of you, but more importantly, that I’ll be well on the road to mental and emotional self recovery.

 

 

Rebranding. Renewing.

When I first started this blog, I wanted to present a more professional version of myself. I wanted to eliminate the personal and focus on my ambitions and working towards those ambitions. I had asserted that this blog would have helped push into my grad school goals and ultimate admission into the doctoral program.

Now, with a rejection letter in hand, weeks and month long hiatus from this space, I’m realizing that maybe, it’s time to rebrand it’s purpose.

I think I’ve shared before that usually when it comes to this stage, I’m ready to scrap everything I’ve done up until this point and start fresh, but I don’t want to do that. I want to build on what I currently have. I want to continue to grow as a writer and the only way to really do that is to stick it out, instead of abandoning project after project when it doesn’t turn out as expected.

Saturday, I began my rebranding efforts. I even decided to give some of my published pieces a facelift and in the process, I discovered an unsatisfying review. One of my more recent publications got a one-star review and the reviewer warned all against purchasing or even indulging in the tale. Almost immediately I felt disheartened and upset that I had missed this review in the first place. And before I knew it, I was ready to scrap the notion of rebranding and reimaging and curl up into a ball of despair.

But something inside of me told me it wasn’t worth it. After all, it was one review. Maybe the issue was that I was selling false promises of what the piece would cover instead of facts. The piece is a short story. There aren’t chapters, but sections. There is little character background, because it isn’t the premise of the piece. I had marketed the piece all wrong. I’m sure the reviewer thought she was about to enjoy a full length novel detailing the inner workings of a relationship, than quick anecdotal memory clips that progressed the story along to showcase how a friendship had changed over the course of time because of some romantic tension.

And perhaps, I also should have done more in providing context for the piece, but who said first pieces are immediate best sellers.

Regardless, if anything, Saturday night proved how vital rebranding is for me. So that’s the path I’m on, especially as I’m beginning to recognize my distinct writing style and realizing that isn’t for everyone.

Cause let’s face it, everything isn’t always for everyone, so it’s important that I make sure I’m addressing the right audience at all times.