writing

We Three

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It’s nearly Tuesday, but I’m going to treat this like a Microblog (it’s technically still Monday so…). My mother turned 70 recently and the girls and I painted this series for her. We chose the same colors for the background and picked the sea creatures we wanted to paint. I think we did an amazing job. I’m constantly impressed at the creativity and talents my two daughters possess. To be a witness as they blossom and grow continues to be the highest honor.

They are away visiting family and return in a couple of days. Time and space away is good for any relationship. There are outside stresses that have made this distance quite difficult at times. I know we’ll all be glad to be back together again. This triad of canvasses reminds me so much of us. We are all unique and different, we are our own, independent beings, yet when placed together, we flow beautifully.

I have so much to write about. Some time to myself helped nourish my creativity, as well as provide me with free time for some fun and to do some much-needed organizing. I do plan to be back here more regularly. I’ve been writing about cool things over at Nerdy But Flirty, check it out!

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Back from the depths…

meOWLHello there. Yes, it’s really me. I hope I’m back more regularly, we’ll see if the universe behaves. The past few months have been hectic, emotional, and tiring. I’ve learned just how strong I am, and how resilient those closest to me are. Through health crises, long nights in the ER, and downs outnumbering the ups, we are all still here.

I haven’t written for two reasons. The first is the time and energy required to make it through the past few months left me with little left to sit down and compose my thoughts. The second, and truly the biggest reason I haven’t been writing, is because I write my life and I just couldn’t share this part of my life on here. In time, I may find a way to share it. Partly, it’s not my story to tell, though I can share it from my perspective. I feel it is important to write it, not only as a form of catharsis, but also to help others. So, in time, you may learn more about my absence. It is a delicate balance to keep when sharing someone else’s health and life.

While I sort out how to express myself, while keeping those elements close(r) to my chest, I will be writing again. I hope to get some more material on BlogHer, I have my first post up at Nerdy But Flirty today, and I’ll be sharing a new chapter here as well. We are having a go at homeschooling. I’ll explain more in my first post–I plan to write at least once a week about our trials and errors, and our adventures too! It’s possible I’ll start a new Tumblr or use another blog for that, but for now, those posts will be here. As we sort out curriculum and hammer out details, I’m going to trial Time4Learning. Here is the disclaimer:

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Stay tuned!

Also, thanks to everyone for sticking around, and for those who encouraged me during my absence. It meant so much to know my writing, my voice, was missed. xx

I’m A Writer, A Real Freaking Writer!

I did it. I jumped. Well, dove head first without checking to see if there was 20 feet of water or a puddle below. I first learned about NaNoWriMo years ago and thought what a massive project that was. Why would anyone want to torture themselves like that? And yet, here I am.

In the past several years, nearly all my writing has been non-fiction. The thought of writing fiction felt too difficult and too time-consuming. It’s just so free and full of possibility–how frightening. Then I did fictional writing for video game narratives a couple of years ago. That was fun. Maybe I could attempt some fiction. But a novel? An actual book, like that may one day be read by an agent and an editor and then published and I could call myself an author and have fancy book signings and my book would sit on shelves in libraries and be bought by people at The Strand and… As exciting as that sounded, I was quite sure it was something I was not capable of. I mean, books are magical, authors are legends. As I found myself spending more time with writers, it helped me realize that they are actually human beings. They have faults like me. Some have faults that are way worse than mine even. Those names on my bookshelves are not the gods I’ve made them out to be in my head. So maybe, just maybe, I could write a novel.

In the past year, I’ve been working on a collection of personal essays. Most are still in progress. Many are stories I’m afraid to tell. I get to them when I have time, and when I’m feeling particularly brave. There is one I’ve been wanting to tell for years. I’m not sure the moment I decided I needed to tell this story, but it’s been at least 10 years. I began writing a personal essay about it, and I had so much to tell I realized an essay could never contain all of my story.

After BinderCon, I was full of vigor, inspired to write and write and write. I felt capable and brave. I was ready to rip off the chains that have held me back and fearlessly put myself out there. I’ve been submitting to publications and reaching out to editors. I’ve been doing it. I saw NaNoWriMo come across my Twitter timeline about two weeks before November 1st. I decided to at least check out the website, for future reference. A few minutes later, I found myself signing up for it. I kept it to myself for a few days. I felt embarrassed. Who was I to write a novel? What a fraud. I am not a real writer.

I’d had these same feelings a few weeks earlier at BinderCon. I nearly convinced myself to skip the speed pitches with the editors. I told myself I had no talent, I was not a real writer, and I was wasting their time. I had no business being there and my pitches were awful. I worked for a while the night before, tweaking my pitches, choosing some writing samples, and freaking the fuck out. I finished up and was still considering my options. I could cancel now and let the BinderCon organizers know so they could open up my appointments to others. That would be a nice thing to do. I imagined myself telling everyone I felt a little ill. I can’t admit I’m scared shitless or that I think I’m worthless. I’d have a bit of a headache, and pass on an opportunity to someone more worthy than me. That would be for the best. Thankfully though, instead, I took some slow breaths. I read some inspiration. I went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning, and somehow felt ready to take on the world. I had a couple of hours to get ready, washed away all my doubts and self-depreciation in the shower. In line before my speed-pitch, I met others who were just as nervous. They had never pitched before. They were sure their book was nowhere near ready to be seen by an editor. They had thought of skipping too. I felt enormous relief.

I walked into the room and found the first editor I was to meet with. I admitted I was nervous, stating I’d never done a face to face pitch before. She smiled and said, “I know, it’s really odd. I don’t even know exactly how this works.” And then I felt okay. We went over my pitch and she liked my ideas. The next publication I met with had recently shifted their format and my pitch would no longer work. However we spoke about my experience and other writing, and came up with several other pitches I can research and get back to her with. I will hopefully have relationships with both publications going forward. I walked out of that room feeling like a rock star. I am a writer, dammit.

With all that negativity and self-doubt once again creeping up on me after signing up for NaNoWriMo, I reminded myself that I am a freaking writer. I also told myself anyone can write a book. I’ve spent enough time in bookstores to know that is true. I revealed the fact I’d signed up on my 5 Things post a few days before NaNoWriMo kicked off. I was afraid to say it aloud. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I was afraid I’d be made fun of. I thought people wouldn’t understand. I’d hear it was a waste of time, that this would get me nowhere. I can hear a certain someone asking me, “aren’t there better things to do with your free time?” Silently putting the news out there in a Tumblr post and then connecting with fellow Binders and others who had also signed up made me feel more confident. I wasn’t foolish. This is a thrilling endeavour I was embarking on. In a month’s time, I will have a rough draft of my first novel. That is a massive accomplishment. The next day I spoke to TK and the girls about it, they were all stoked. I then told my close friend who has been nothing short of supportive. I’ve yet to tell my family. There are some things that require a lot more time and energy, things I’m short on these days. I will tell them eventually.

My friend and I were just discussing serendipity. I can’t help but think the timing of BinderCon, some small writing successes I’ve had, and an essay by Sara Benincasa all came together to give me a much-needed kick in the ass. I have decided to do it anyway. To pitch to as many places as I can. To reach out and ask for a gig. To write a freaking book. To call myself a writer, a real freaking writer!

Good luck to everyone else who has stocked up on caffeine and candy for the month. Extra good luck to our loved ones who will have to put up with us during this time. Feel free to find me here so we can be buddies and help each other through the inevitable hurdles to come. I have made a Pinterest board for NaNoWriMo & writing, full of inspiration and tips that I’m frequently adding to.

I leave you now with a bit of wisdom. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said:

“It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the writers gonna write, write, write.”

Happy #NaNoWriMo to all!

5 Things – October 2014

oRANGEbLACKpURPLEIf you haven’t seen it yet, I do a weekly 5 Things post on my Nerd Grrrl Island tumblr. Here is the collection for October.

10/5: Finding inspiration, dusting myself off & dancing to Joy Division

10/12: #BinderCon edition, need I say more?

10/19: Peculiar pig sculptures, aging myself, & reading

10/26: Being good to myself, changing my last name, & signing up for #NaNoWriMo

There is a Tina Turner song embedded in one of them. Go ahead, click & seek!

#MicroBlogMondays: What I Learned at #BinderCon

#BinderCon

Believing in myself is the biggest barrier to my success.
Initiate it. Be assertive. Be persistent. (#OnlyGirl panel)
Need a mentor & a solid support system for my writing.
Develop your beat, know your stuff, take classes, study structure, be efficient. (Laura Shin)
Embrace my talents, respect myself and my expertise, remember I have a voice that needs to be heard.
Report, report, report. (Jill Abramson)
Claim the things you’re most ashamed of, put them out there, be fearless. (Lisa Selin Davis)
Own it! My work, my words, my worth.
Never work for free.

❥❥Thank you Leigh Stein and Lux Alptraum for putting together a phenomenal event!

❥Join in on #MicroBlogMondays!

Please Help Me Get To BinderCon!

Help Me Get To BinderCon!Hello.

I’m in need of some help. I received a scholarship to BinderCon. I still am in giddy disbelief to have been awarded one, and I’m anxious to see all the conference has to offer. There is one bump in the road, and that is money. Unfortunately, I’ve had some extra expenses and issues going on that have dried up my bank account. I need to raise enough money to cover travel, food, & other expenses for the weekend. It is fast approaching, I need to be in NYC in a little over a week.

I have a fundraiser page which details more about the conference, why it is so important to me, and the breakdown of the funds I need. If you are able to give any amount, I’d greatly appreciate it. I will return my gratitude and will not ever forget your kindness.

I have rewards for certain donation amounts and I will be blogging and tweeting about my experiences at the conference. I’d love to make this an interactive fundraising. None of this is possible without you, I’d like you to feel a connection & know your money is being put to good use. If you are leery of a fundraising site, I get it. I gladly accept donations on PayPal (link is to the side or via butterflyxart (at) gmail). If you are interested in the social media mention(s), bookmark, artist tile, or virtual assistance work, you will still be eligible for those awards if you donate through PayPal. Just make a note at checkout or send me an email.

Please reach out if you have any questions: comment here, use the contact page, or find me on Twitter. Thank you for your support. I’m off to work on my speed pitches!

Have a great day.

 

5 Things – September Edition

2014-09-06 22.05.05I’ve been spending my Sunday evenings writing 5 Things over on Nerd Grrrl Island. I was feeling less than inspired for much of September, and tackling a lot of personal issues, but I promised myself to do 5 Things each week. It gives me a sense of achievement, and it’s wonderful to wake up on Monday morning knowing I’ve already gotten some thoughts down for that week.

My hope is that my 5 Things takes a more creative turn, as that was my initial intent with it. I’d like to have fun with it and write about elements of my life that I may not otherwise share. I’d like to tell stories.

At the end of each month, I’ll share my 5 Things posts over here for those who are not on Tumblr. Don’t forget you can also follow me on Twitter (@4lala) & find me on Facebook as well.

5 Things – 9/7/14

5 Things – 9/14/14

5 Things – 9/28/14

#MicroblogMondays: The Perfection Monster

Tea Bag Wisdom

Ah, the wisdom of tea bags. I need to write this quote on my wall so I see it throughout the day. The Perfection Monster sneaks up on me, prevents me from calling a new piece of work (whether visual art or writing) done. I’m constantly seeing something else that could be added or tweaked. If I let the Perfection Monster get to me, I’ll never get anywhere. (Yes, I just looked over at a painting that took two years for me to call “finished” and contemplate what lurks in my drafts folder…) Sometimes, we just have to say “DONE!” (or, alternatively, “fuck it!”) and sign that canvas, hit the “publish” button, without criticizing every last brush or key stroke.

I have found a couple things that help keep the Perfection Monster at bay:

1. I read major publications or other works I respect, and find typos. The grammar nerd in me is aggravated by any error I find, from dinner menus to magazine articles, I’m often appalled that something made it past editors paid to check for mistakes and hit the printer. However, if I pull back for a second, and simply acknowledge we all are just humans doing this work, none of us perfect, I realize my writing never needs to meet the infinite (and ever-climbing) bar I place upon myself.

2. When I head to a museum or gallery, I seek out pieces I’m attracted to or works by artists I have deep respect for. I stand in front of the picture and stare, looking for the mishaps, seeing where paint never hit the canvas, where a line was accidentally blurred, where a touch-up calls too much attention. I see that even the Masters, artists I look up to, aren’t perfect either. It’s an important acknowledgement: we aren’t machines. We breathe, we feel, we create. We make things, and a lot of times those things are flawed.

The fact we’ve opened ourselves up to create anything at all, that alone is beautiful, flaws and all.

What ways do you keep the Perfection Monster away? 

Thanks again to Stirrup Queens for #MicroblogMondays. I missed last week, but was really looking forward to coming back to it today. I went over the 8 sentence limit rule, but what can I say? Rebels gotta rebel.

Hello, Again

I took off the summer from writing. This wasn’t planned. Life circumstances made it impossible for me to take to my keyboard and honestly type my thoughts. Partially, because I was dealing with a lot of personal and family issues, things that either are not my story to tell or were too fresh for me to even consider discussing publicly. Around this time, I had nearly my entire family in town. This was a good distraction at moments, a stressor at others. I was happy to have my niece and nephew stay with us in July. I tried my best to entertain and keep up with four kids from age 10 to 13.

I promised myself I would get back to writing in August. I’ve started drafting some things, and let me tell you, pouring my thoughts and feelings out has felt great. So, I’m picking up where I left off: writing about whatever the heck I want. Sometimes silly and random, often times political and personal.

I have attempted to put something together regarding Ferguson. Despite thousands of thoughts swarming in my mind, the words don’t come. Well, they come, just not always coherently. My Twitter feed is indicative of this. I have more retweets this past week than perhaps ever before. I will try harder. I will use my voice to talk about Mike Brown. I realize it’s not too late to speak up for Eric Garner. Or Ramarley Graham. Or Sean Bell. Or Oscar Grant. Or sadly, the names that will be added to this crisis. So I will keep doing my thing.

I saw a few months ago, how my words could be amplified and how they could make an impact. It happened with my piece on the Judge Rotenberg Center, expressing my support for Shanesha Taylor, issues surrounding Autism Speaks and Jenny McCarthy, and even comic books! I saw how people from all over were engaging, sharing, and discussing my pieces and the topics I was talking about. I need to not lose sight of that. Thank you for reading my words, opening up discussions, and supporting me. I always say, if one person is effected by what I write, it is all worth it. So here I go…

sunrise

Things I Miss This Week: writing, video games, tv, gazing into the abyss, my bed…

From May 12, 2014

From May 12, 2014

So, as I’ve promised myself to write here at least once a week, I’m doing a quick check-in. Oh and yeah, I have some BlogHer news, if the picture didn’t give it away. I’ll get to that in a minute. I’ve been spending nearly every waking hour doing some training for an at-home job that would have regular weekly hours and would sure be a help getting my finances in order. Being an unemployed single mom does not have its privileges. Things have been pretty rough lately, so I’m keeping my fingers (and toes!) crossed this gig works out. I’ll find out next week. I’ll take all prayers, luck, vibes, meditations, what have you…

I have a lot of stuff that’s waiting to be written, either lurking in my head or half-drafted. This week is just not one to put much time or energy into writing. I will hopefully return to my regularly scheduled soapboxing next week. In the meantime, if you are new here, hello and thank you for checking my blog out. You can find me on Twitter and (new!) “LIKE” me on Facebook. There’s a bunch of other places you can find me listed over on the side bar as well. Oh and look, you can also help me pay my bills and save enough funds to buy a desperately needed laptop. Sorry, had to mention it!

I was delighted to receive an email last week from Deb Rox, Entertainment Editor at BlogHer, telling me they would be featuring my piece about diversity in comics. If you haven’t read it yet, please head over to BlogHer and check it out. Just as exciting, was seeing my quote and name in BlogHer’s newsletter on Monday. That news surely helped to lift my spirits. And not to be all cheesy by making a pun, but, Deb Rox really rocks. I’ll show myself out now…

More pieces coming next week, including pictures of the zoo cake I made. Until then, be well. Thank you again for coming by!

Some of my favorite pieces I’ve written lately:

Challenging Stigmas & an Imperfect System: My Struggle With Depression

I Am Sounding the Alarm (on Autism Propaganda, Everyday)

The FDA Hearing and the Judge Rotenberg Center: What You Should Know

An Open Letter to Jenny McCarthy