dreams

Poor, neglected blog. Time to check in.

I wish I were hoverboarding right now above the river, the wilderness, and the Rusty Ruins just like Tally, the protagonist in Uglies, which I am currently reading (my first Scott Westerfeld novel).

Sometimes life gets so crazy busy that even things that are important to me, like blogging, have to get shoved to the side for a while. There are so many things I want to do in life. Unfortunately, a day job is one of them. I like being a teacher, but I’m in a place right now where I truly, honestly feel that writing full-time is what I need to be doing. But tell that to my bank account. 

The good news is I continue to grow and learn as a writer. I’m still mastering the art of completing a polished novel, but with every novel I write I get better and closer to proving to myself (and hopefully to the world) that I have what it takes to make it as a professional writer. I’ve made friends in the writing community, people so far removed from my daily life it’s kind of funny, like I have an alternate life. Which I guess I kind of do. To the rest of the world I’m mom, wife, teacher, friend, errand runner, whatever. But then there’s this inner world apart from all that in which I’m the chick who’s busting her tail to become a successful published author. There are lots of dues to pay.

I try to squeeze in writing 500-100 words however I can each weekday and then several thousand more on Saturdays and Sundays. A full-time teaching schedule, then a part-time job after school (teaching at a private school and Southern California’s cost of living do not see eye to eye), then tending to family and home doesn’t leave time for hobbies, except for reading, which of course is like calling breathing a hobby.

TV? What’s TV?

One of the only TV shows I have time for is Broad City, which is an effing hilarious show. Genuinely funny women being bawdy and crude makes me happy.

My husband also recently turned me on to a show on Netflix called River, which is pretty great.

All the characters in the series look like real people–a television trend I adore, and it has an intriguing paranormal theme, too. Detective River talks to ghosts who help him solve crimes, kind of like a darker, much more British (it’s set in London, yay!) Medium (remember that show with Patricia Arquette?) The acting is excellent. The writing is, too. In fact, one scene brought tears to my eyes, when River, the downtrodden, ghost-seeing, expert detective says:

“I’m a good officer. But, in this world, that’s not enough. In this world you have to be able to nod and smile and drink a pint, and say, “How was your day?” In this world, no one can be different or strange.  Or damaged. Or they lock you up.” [River (2015), season 1, episode 2]

What was it about this line that got me so choked up? Of course, there was something about what he said that I related to, as in we have things about ourselves that we know are smart or clever or special, but people don’t always see them. The charming people who walk with the most confidence seem to get a lot. People like me who bust our tails don’t necessarily get recognition unless we also know how to play politics. That exhausts me.

Give me writing, reading, and talking to people who love those things, too. And a hoverboard.

–Eve Messenger

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What I Learned as a Writer in 2015 #writerslife #amwriting

In pursuing my ambition to publish great YA novels, here are some things I learned over the past year:

  1. Beyond the thrill of being able to express my passion for writing and books, there are great benefits to blogging, the best of which is getting to know creative, supportive fellow writers and book lovers, many of whom I now consider friends. I see you, Tracy L. Jackson, Beth @ betwixt-these-pages, Kelly Deeny, Elena Johansen, FamilyRules, Wallace CassAnnika Perry,  Pat Sherard, The Glitter Afficianado, Stephanie @ Eclectic ScribblingsMelanie Noell Bernard, Nate Philbrick,  Sabrina Marsi BooksJennifer F. Santucci, Mackenzie BatesStephanie @ yourdaughtersbookshelf Karen @ MyTrain of Thoughts,  Amanda d Bat,  Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand StoriesErica @ Books the Thing,   the bookwormgirls123.
  2. I am better at editing a first draft on the computer than on a hard copy, even though a lot of advice-givers recommend against it.
  3. A style sheet is helpful, especially for tracking important plot dates.
  4. Literary agents are regular folks and book lovers just like us.
  5. To write first drafts without censoring myself.
  6. To create headers for each scene in Word so I can easily find them later using the navigation screen.
  7. To  keep a “book blurb” Word file for when I feel especially excited about my novel and get ideas on how to pitch it in future query letters.
  8. Short stories are not my preferred medium; what I truly love is writing novels (and I’m sort of learning it’s okay to be better at some things than others.)
  9. Flash fiction is fun…and challenging.
  10. Collecting images for novel inspiration boards on Pinterest is a blast and really does stimulate ideas.
  11. It’s still great to be able to hold a book in my hands, but reading novels on electronic devices won’t kill me.
  12. I want to get more into #bookstagram and #booklr.
  13. Saving the previous draft of a story before making editing changes avoids a lot of lost good writing.
  14. All writers, even the most successful ones, find writing novels to be really hard work.
  15. When I stay away from my novel for too long, I forget I’m actually good at writing it.
  16. Even when I’m afraid to work on my novel, I do have the discipline and faith to always return to it.
  17. Daily writing goals and rewards make me a much more productive writer.
  18. My writing really does improve with practice.
  19. Beta critiquing other people’s novels makes me a better writer.
  20. Google Docs is a really handy tool that allows me to work on manuscripts on my phone, home computer, out-of-town relatives’ computers, and hotel lobby computers. . . but I still always keep multiple back-up copies of my work.
  21. A change purse is a great place to keep a flash drive.
  22. I really am dedicated to publishing YA novels and maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of success.

Infinity Dreams Award #writerslife

wpid-infinity-award

Thank you to the ever-classy Caitlyn @ Rhodes of Reading for nominating me for this  Infinity of Dreams Award. Caitlyn is a teacher who adores YA fiction, so of course she’s one of my favorite peeps.

Rules:

1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself
3. Answer the questions that were set for you to answer
4.  Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

Eleven Facts About Me

  1. At major crossroads moments in my life, I’ve had a hummingbird fly out of seemingly nowhere and hover right in front of me, which I see as a sign that “everything is going to be alright.”
  2. As a kid I enjoyed scary stories. I’d save up to buy graphic novels about ghosts and hauntings then moved on to Edgar Allan Poe stories and Stephen King novels. Maybe it’s because of my overactive imagination, but now scary stories freak me out.
  3. I love riding my bicycle, especially through nature.
  4. I am calm in crisis situations. Afterward is when I get nervous and shaky.
  5. Because I’d love to be able to enter them all into Goodreads, I’m bummed I can’t remember all the books I’ve read, many of which were randomly grabbed off library shelves with barely a glance at the title.
  6. I enjoy collecting coffee mugs to commemorate trips I’ve taken.
  7. Before writing fact #6, I had to look up the difference between “coffee cup” and “coffee mug.” If you’re curious, too, here’s the link.
  8. My lucky number is five, so on all the athletic teams I played on growing up I liked having five as part of my jersey number.
  9. Whenever I take left-brain/right-brain tests, my results are always exactly in the middle.
  10. On the rare occasions that I feel overwhelmingly distraught, I drive to the parking lot of a nearby congregation/compound for nuns (though I’m not Catholic), and it makes me feel better.
  11. I love dogs and am like a little kid at the dog park.

Questions from Caitlyn

  1. If you had to choose, would you rather be a contestant on The Amazing Race or The Great British Bake-Off? (Or The Great British Baking Show…depending on where you’re from!) Sorry to say I’ve never seen either show, but I enjoy baking.
  2. If you were on a deserted island and only had one book with you, what book would it be? Moby-Dick because if it’s the only book I own, I might actually finish it.
  3. Cake or pie? Pie, definitely, blueberry or peach, please.
  4. How many different cities have you lived in? Seven.
  5. Hot chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate.
  6. What super power would you want to have? The ability to speak and understand all languages.
  7. Who’s the last person you texted? A friend.
  8. Do you buy DVDs or watch movies online? Online streaming all the way.
  9. Which 3 people, dead or alive, would you want to invite over for coffee? I’m curious about historical mysteries so, first, I’d invite my 5th great-grandfather for coffee and chat about why he assumed a new name at the turn of the 19th century, find out what his real name was and where he came from. Assuming we could understand each other’s languages, I’d also invite one of the last surviving Picts and inhabitants of Easter Island to ask what happened to their civilizations and find what all their cool stone structures were for.
  10. What’s your favorite accent to hear people speaking with? (British, American, Spanish, etc.) The sound of a Scottish brogue makes me pretty happy.
  11. Would you rather have a pet dragon or be a centaur? Both are pretty wonderful, but I’d go with the pet dragon since it can fly me places, which would come in quite handy during rush hour.

I nominate. . .

Mary Cathleen Clark
Abbielou @ Café Book Bean
Beth @ betwixt-these-pages
Madi Uram @ Writing Every Which Way
Sumaya @ Sue’s Reading Corner
Nate Philbrick @ You Write Fiction
Jennifer F. Santucci
Josie @ Josie’s Book Corner
Kelly Deeny
Melanie Noell Bernard
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets
Jesalyn @ Life: Books, the Arts, and Nature

 Your Questions

  1. If you had two weeks and unlimited funds, what would be your dream vacation?
  2. What was one of your favorite books as a child?
  3. What was one of your favorite recent reads?
  4. What is your dream/life’s ambition?
  5. What three things would indicate you’ve achieved your dream?
  6. What is your favorite board/card/casino game?
  7. Would you prefer camping in nature or staying at fine hotel in the city?
  8. If you could write like any author, who would it be and why?
  9. If you could visit any historical time period, which would you choose and why?
  10. Romance or adventure?
  11. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Truth

Pain painting - Guzenko

The truth? I feel on the verge of tears today.

Because of a dream.

Or, rather, because of feelings the dream evoked.

In the dream, I flit around the house getting ready for work. From the other side of the closed bathroom door, my mother (the one who raised me from the time I was an infant) says, “I’m here.”

And her voice is smiling.

The realization shocks me awake. I had forgotten my mother’s voice could smile.

Because in my life I have so rarely heard it.

I should call her, I think.

When I was seventeen, I moved out of my parents’ house, and I made it a point to call and check in a few times a year and send my mother a card on her birthday.

My mother has never acknowledged my birthday.

On the rare occasions that I mention to close friends how volatile being raised by a depressed, rage-filled mother could be, they ask me why I’m not more resentful.  (I’m not sure.) If I’m feeling particularly safe and confessional, I’ll reveal my mother’s most extreme behavior: ignoring me for days when my father was away on business; cornering me in a bathroom wielding a knife; dragging me from the house by my hair saying she was taking me back to the adoption agency. And even more rarely, I might tell a friend how, at the age of ten, I broke down the bathroom door to scoop up my petite mother, barely conscious, and walk her around the house like I’d seen people do on television shows when someone attempts suicide through overdose.

My mother lived.

And I continued to cower, or rage silently, or try to be perfect, all the while still feeling compassion for her because, even as a child, I knew how broken and fragile she was beneath her rage. Between bouts of fending off her screams and blows, I nurtured her.

I’ve been told that, as a coping mechanism, abused children develop a sort of situational amnesia, like soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder. I know this to be true.  I block out bad things even without meaning to, sometimes when I don’t want to, and out with bad memories often go good ones.

Like the way my mother’s voice could sometimes have a smile in it, the way that tiny, shiny part of her soul could occasionally peek out despite her own traumatic childhood. Pretty mother primping in her vanity mirror, combing black hair back from her heart-shaped face, revealing her widow’s peak; applying foundation and deep red lipstick. Talented mother singing, dancing. Fiery mother tearing up playing cards when Dad managed to (finally) beat her in a game of gin rummy. And my favorite: gentle mother who sang me to sleep with a Japanese lullaby while stroking my hair.

My dream made me remember good things.

And bad.

The cruelty I suffered at my mother’s hands.

My resentment.

My guilt over only calling her once after she severely injured her knee in a fall a few weeks ago.

So this morning, after the dream, I called my mother: eight o’clock California time, midnight Japan time. A television played in the background, and my mother sounded distracted. But we spoke.

I made my call as the dutiful daughter.

And I still feel on the verge of tears.