Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?

bigmacI almost closed/deleted/whatever my blog yesterday, which I’ve kept since (I think) May of 2007. Anyway, it’s a pretty long time. It’s just getting to be like FaceBook to me, which is why I mostly stay away from FB these days. FB is all about the houses to me. The big ones, the prettiest ones, the ones with adorable kids on swing sets in the backyards, handsome couples walking hand-in-hand down the neighborhood for all to see. Most of the rest of us stand there and admire, whistle, and applaud. Oh, and we can’t forget the likes. The more likes you get, it means more people like hearing about your pretty house, husband, wife, kids, pets . . . and not simply friends but total strangers. Someone you have never ever met in your entire life likes your dog, Fido. :/ What, and now there are love buttons, in case one can’t like the person enough. Am I the only living soul who finds this a little surreal? No, you needn’t argue with me about the difference between liking the poster and liking what the poster posts.

Anyway, blogging is getting to be like that, like FB. It’s been that way for a while for me. I just don’t “like” myself waiting and worrying over . . . likes. If you know me at all, I don’t need to explain that sentence to you, and if you don’t know me, there’s not enough time to educate you.  I suppose I could keep writing, for myself (it’s the only time I write anymore), while disabling the likes and comments. That way I might wonder who would’ve liked it, but I don’t have to torture myself over why no one liked it.

Nobody realizes the power they wield. I know I don’t have any power. I’m nobody. But not you, nope, not to me. Okay, there’s a lot more rolling around in this old head, you know, but I’m going to stop now. See you. okay

A New And Exciting Adventure

challenge-accepted-meme-dumpaday-17I am one of, as of right this moment (but that can change quickly), 1166 people signed up for the http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/.

Some people have what’s known as “themes,” where all their blog posts are tied together by a specific thread or idea. Others simply go by the seat of their pants and write about whatever moves them that day. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world, especially at A-Z blogging time!

I’m a theme person, and I’ll be blogging about mental health as it relates to social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you think of anything else you might want to know about and I don’t know anything about it, ask anyway. I’ll try to find out everything I can to help you.

I’m excited about this challenge. I think I’ll be learning as much as you, and I’m hoping it will be both interesting and fun. Onward!! I can hardly wait until April 1st! 😀

Your Call Is Very Important To Us

pleaseholdcover James bumped right into Patsy’s head, who had been helping him with decorations, when the phone rang. He dropped the Happy New Year banner, so that it swung precariously from one taped edge.

“Patsy, it’s the phone.” He tripped over a blue balloon, caught his hand on the corner of his desk, and landed in the chair, which sent him spinning into the corner. The phone rang again.

“James, the phone!” Patsy rubbed her head where it had collided with James, and paced back and forth, her poodle skirt making quiet swishing noises with every move. Patsy refused to update her wardrobe to the 21st century.

James pulled his chair back toward his desk. The phone rang a third time. He sharpened his pencil and pulled a book open to a fresh, clean page, flattening it with his hand. The phone rang a fourth time. He wrote the date.

James punched the blinking line, the only blinking line on the phone, and picked up the receiver.

“You Matter Crisis Hotline. Can you hold please?” Before waiting for an answer, he put the caller on hold.

James returned to the book. He wrote the day next to the date, looked at his watch and noted the time, and also wrote that down. Then he returned to his call.

“Thank you for holding, and Happy New Year. This is the hotline where you always matter. How may I help you?”

“My girlfriend left me on New Year’s Eve. Said she was reassessing her life and I wasn’t in it. Oh, and my dog died. I don’t see any reason to go on.”

“Can I please have your name, so I know what to call you?” James adjusted his paisley tie and wrote down in his book the phrases “girlfriend left” and “dog died.”

“Fred. My name is Fred. And – And I feel so alone. Everything is meaningless. There’s no point in anything.”

“Well, Fred, things’ll look better in the morning, after a good night’s sleep. That’s what I always say.”

“I’m an insomniac.” Fred’s monotone voice did not deter James from his mission.

“It’s always darkest before the dawn, Fred.”

“What does that even mean?” came the reply over the phone, which now sounded a bit more annoyed than depressed.

“Well, I think it means things are never as bad as they seem, and we should always keep our chin up, buttercup.” James wrote in the book “insomniac, aggressive.”

“She took all my Bruce Springsteen records.” Fred sobbed.

“You were too too good for her, Fred. And there are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

“If I was so great she would have stuck with me. And I don’t want a fish, I want a girlfriend. Do you actually get crisis training?” Fred shouted.

“Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we just have to look for the reason.” James flipped through the allowed response book and desperately searched for something more to say. He wrote down “girlfriend took Springsteen records.”

“I had the best dog in the world. Snickers. A yellow lab. He used to be able to get bottles of soda for me from the fridge. Do you know how amazing that is?” Fred’s sobs were bordering on hysteria.

“Fred, Fred, you know-you know can always get another dog, just like you can always get more Springsteen records.”

“Oh, oh, dogs are so replaceable, aren’t they?”

“You know, God never gives us more than we can handle, Fred.”

“What?! What the heck does that mean?”

The phone rang.

“Fred, I’m going to have to put you on hold. Your call is very important to us.”

James punched the next line. “You Matter Crisis Line. Can you hold please?”

THE END

620 words

My blog is participating in the Forward Motion Flash Friday Blog Group, a weekly flash fiction exercise (that I may or may not manage weekly!). Check out the other participating blogs for more flash.

Peace out.

 

Insecure Writers Support Group – Bouncing Back From Rejection

“I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.”
― Billy Joel

A lot has happened since I last wrote here in August. September 5th I celebrated my 50th birthday, and so was out of town for the Insecure Writers Support Group. I hate missing it. I enjoy reading others’ blogs, and being able to share my own insecurities and fears.

Well, last I shared I had submitted a story near and dear to my heart to Glimmer Train Press. Usually, when I’m rejected from them, it happens quickly. They get something like 40,000 submissions and have two people who read them, so they have to be fairly speedy. But two weeks passed by and I still hadn’t heard anything, my story was still “in process.” (Yeah, I checked the status every day – lol.)

Finally, one day I checked, in a hurry and not even really thinking. It had been at least a month and I was getting my hopes up. When I read the status as “complete,” which meant basically “thank you for letting us read your story, but it’s not what we’re looking for at this time,” I felt . . . numb. I didn’t cry, I didn’t shout, curse, or any of those things. I felt really numb.

I posted on Facebook that my story had been rejected and many friends came forward to commiserate and to encourage me to resubmit the story immediately at other journals, other magazines. One offered to read it and make suggestions. The outpouring of support shook me out of my numb state and helped me see different perspectives.

It was, after all, one journal. Glimmer Train Press itself admits that it usually rejects people many times before it accepts something from them. They are not an easy journal. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad story.

I’ve already submitted it to two other magazines, and I’m thinking about looking at addiction journals, since it’s based on a true story.

I hope you are all doing well. Write on.

Peace out.

Feeling Terrified But Doing It Anyway

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, folks, and that means it’s time for a gathering of my friends in the Insecure Writers Support Group. Here we share our fears, our anxieties, our hopes and dreams. If you would like to join, just click here: Insecure Writers Support Group. We”d love to have you!

I did something this past month that terrified me. I submitted my short story, “Damaged,” to Glimmer Train Press. I wrote it, rewrote, cut some, rewrote it, and cut some more, until it was about 756 words (It was an entry for the Very Short Fiction Award, which tops out at 3k, but can be any length shorter).

Then I gave it to a good friend of mine, Bonnie, who will be forever in my debt, to crit for me. She told me what would work even better, and what didn’t work as well.

By the time I was finished, it was still flash fiction, and I was a little worried about submitting flash to a literary journal, you know? But here’s why I stopped being afraid. The story is the story. To add to it falsely just to make it fit into a mold you think it needs to be, cheats the story, and – that’s not right. Not right for me, and more importantly not right for the story.

I had shared the beginning of the story here with you all last month. It’s fictionalized, based on a true story. So I thought about using a pen name. Then I got braver and decided to use my real name when I submitted.

It’s been a full week and the status of my submission is “in process,” which means it hasn’t been rejected. In past experience, if Glimmer Train flat-out rejects a story, it gets done within the first few days. They’ll notify us by Oct. 1st, unless we’re one of the 1st,2nd, or 3rd place winners, in which case we’ll get an email or phone call the week before that.

Maybe I should stop checking my status every day. 😉

This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Check some of the other writers out there, too. We’re a great group of people! And join us if you like. 🙂

Peace out.

Steps to Success; How Sweet It Is!

How sweet it is, indeed!!

Sunday afternoon I went to something called The Irregular Writing Meetup of the Mid-Michigan Prose and Writing Group. It was called Irregular because it normally meets on Tuesday nights in Ann Arbor.

A factoid about me: I have a touch of social phobia. So lots of times, I desperately want to do things, but I find myself unable. So far, there had been three times I keyed in yes I would be to the Tuesday night meetup, and hadn’t showed, out of nightmarish fear.

What changed this time?

1. I asked for help. I told my friends on FaceBook and my therapist and my super sponsor, and other friends about the meetup. I TOLD them I was scared, and what I was scared of. They wrote back encouraging words, told me things they know to be true about me and other writers, and made it seem a lot less scary.

2. I prayed. If you pray, of course, pray. I used to think it was silly to do this, because God already knows everything about me, so He would already know I’m terrified. But – it keeps me humble, and it also brings me closer to God at the same time. It helps me feel that conscious contact with something greater than myself. And I know He’ll be right there with me.

3. I saw it going well. I pictured it in my mind. I saw myself walking in the Cafe Ambrosia door, NOT tripping and falling flat on my face, sitting with the other writers, having intelligent discussion, laughing, supporting each other in the loneliness that can sometimes grip us . . . Try that the next time you want to succeed.

4. I left early enough to feel calm when I got there. Or – I tried to. It was my intention. But I left the house at 1:10 without checking my laptop for the address to input Stella, the GPS. So then I thought, “Well, I’ll just check at the 7-11 when I stop and get an iced tea for the road.” DUH. Last time I looked, 7-11 does not have Wi-Fi. So I had to hop back to my house and check it in the drive way. By the time I REALLY left, and was on the highway, it was 1:25. Stella informed me it would be 1:58 by the time I got there. It was 1:57. 😛 So there, Stella. But really, try to leave early enough so you don’t feel rushed – so that you even have time to settle in, by a coffee, set yourself up, the usual.

5. I relaxed and had fun. I really did. I don’t know how that happened, but – I thought the writing group was scheduled from 2-4 pm, but then when the group’s founder told me they all actually stay until 5:00, I ended up staying too! Usually, I’m the first one out the door.

Those are my steps to success. They worked for me, and I hope they will work for you. I truly had a blast, and I would be going tonight, but they are setting up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair tonight, and I would have to be crazy to go. The several people that ARE going maybe should be checked out. 😉

Have a great day everyone. Peace out.

 

 

Insecure Writers Unite!

Often I wish I were already famous, like Hemingway, or Fitzgerald. I wonder how they would have dealt with family problems. Would they let it stop their writing cold, or would they just plow full steam ahead, as if nothing had happened?

Last month was a difficult month for me. I got zero done on my WIP. I did start a new story. It’s based on truth, fictionalized of course. I’m including the very beginning of it here for your perusal and, of course, critique and comments.

Barter for a glass of vodka is like a highly-skilled hostage negotiation. I have nothing tangible to offer, no currency. There is nothing more valuable than what she clutches in her hands.

She looks up at me from hooded lids, slumps against the back of the couch, sits on a carpet stained with wine spills and holes where cigarettes have missed their ashtray. 

“Here’s the thing,” I venture. “How about I hold your glass for you just until we can get you on the couch and off the floor, then give it back to you?”

She mumbles something unintelligible but I think I hear the word “okay” somewhere which I mistake for compliance.

As I reach for the glass, she bends forward with it awkwardly, like a puppet on a string, careful not spill a drop.

“Julia, I promise to give it back to you. I promise.”

She still holds on. I know EMS will be here soon. I sit down next to her on the floor. 

That’s it. That’s all I have so far. Tear it up. Be as critical as you can. I am subbing this to Glimmer Train hopefully. It won’t have a happy ending, but I don’t think they always expect that.

I hope you are all doing well. Peace out.

~~~~~

This has been a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, which meets the first Wednesday of every month.