Splitting the Seams

Why I Love Fall

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(Dedicated to my mom, who apparently likes my writing and wished for more.)

People always told me California had the best weather. It was always sunny. I remember not noticing the seasons changing when I was younger, only that one moment it was a hot summer day, and the next it was a little cooler. Once a year I might don a thicker winter coat and be able to see my breath curling in the air. Sometimes I would pretend like I was smoking a cigarette. After all, it was the Nineties and smoking was still considered a hip thing to do.

I never actually wanted to smoke, I just loved being able to see that thing in me that was so often invisible: my breath. My life. I loved seeing the intangible become more tangible in the starry night sky. Now that I’m in Washington, I can see my breath almost every night. My co-workers think it’s cute or funny, my excitement over something so small. But my life is built upon small things and I have a tendency to focus on the negative.

So being able to see a sign of my life floating momentarily in front of me brings me joy. It is a small joy in a world of small fears and anxieties, of self-loathing and doubt. Like the pattering of rain on a window, it is a force of nature which somehow makes me feel lighter and smaller, but smaller in a good way. It feels like the world is not so big, that it is only me in my world and that I can do anything.

I love feeling that crisp air biting at my cheeks, swallowing it as I breathe, feeling that frosty shiver run through me with the desire for a fireplace. I love it. I love finally being able to experience a seasonal change, seeing the leaves on the trees turn from green to yellow to red to amber and, finally, brown. It is sad and wonderful to see this kind of death. Soon the trees will be barren–the ones that like the warm sun more, anyway–but I will be full and decorated with their colors. Muddy boots, maroon sweaters, green scarves, golden purses.

Pumpkins will line the streets with their eyes aglow before we feast on stuffing and turkey legs. Coffee mugs will rest warm in hands and soothe our aching fingers from a long day at work. Clouds will roll in and drench the roads with reflections that put the sky on the ground. Candles will be lit and that amber light will radiate a warmth that the eternal Californian summer cannot match.

I will be missing my family this year. We would carve pumpkins together and partake in those pumpkin spiced goodies and drinks from our local coffee shops. We would surround ourselves with family and friends and laughter. So though this year I am blessed with being able to see my own breath and watch the seasons change as they should, the greatest warmth I am missing will be that which comes from the love of my family and friends.

 

A Rambling

I’m only slightly delirious right now, pretty certain that this sinus infection–if that is what it is–and a great lack of sleep and large amount of stress are the things that all contribute to this, but here I go anyway.

What the fuck am I even writing right now? Really, I have no idea. I’m just letting this thing flow out of my like a huge, gushing river. My vocabulary had diminished so much, either that or I’m no longer impressed by the amount of large words that I used from a day to day basis. I want to do something with my life already. I’m 23 and all I’ve done is break my back working and going to school to try to do something, to try and live and instead I’m just stuck here hiding in other worlds through books and movies and dreading the time I have to clock in. I love making drinks, don’t get me wrong, and I love helping people find the books they want–so long as they’re nice about it–but sometimes I just want to do it on my own time, when I want to do it. That’s why I want to own a place like that, a nice little coffee shop that lends out books to people who want to expand their minds. That’s my dream, really. I don’t actually want to teach. I mean, I do, but, again, I want to teach what I want to teach in the way that I want to teach it, and I feel like that will be highly unlikely or impossible if I stay in America because this school system is pretty fucked in most areas around this “great nation.”

I want to live beautifully. I keep writing down this scene in my head and it varies from time to time, but I keep writing it because it’s the best way I know how to make it real for the time being. I’m getting a little bit closer to my dream, and to writing more. I haven’t had much time for it because I’ve just been trying to survive in this cruddy world. I want to study linguistics, not literature. I want to learn and master multiple languages to the point where I dream in those languages–that’s how you know it’s stuck. I want to relearn French, I want to learn Korean, maybe even dutch or Russian, definitely Gaelic and Irish, probably Italian and, as an offshoot of that, Spanish. I want to discover new words and use them. I want to memorize the dictionary, multiple dictionaries. I want to memorize thesauruses so I can have and hold and utilize every word in my growing arsenal. I want to be able to speak as eloquently as I sometimes write. I want to finally have my words on the outside match the words I hear on the inside.

I want to create characters and worlds and put them down on a page and tell their stories because they’ve been trapped so far inside of me for so many years. I want to go back and edit my first five novels that I wrote before the school system stole my creativity. I want to learn, but I don’t want to learn in school. I want to teach myself and be able to call it enough, to just take a test or write a dissertation afterwards and have it be so great that they just give me my freaking Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

I want the fog crawling across the green ground, flowers in the window, grey skies, rain on my roof, chunky sweaters and long skirts and furry Sherpa boots and big fuzzy blankets and cuddly cats and a library that takes over my house and paintings on the walls and pictures of me and Michael in our house and a simple layout where I can do yoga. I want to be able to eat healthy and know what healthy is. And I want to be creative again.

I want to rid my life of everything unnecessary, declutter it, and feel good about myself again. I hate who I’ve become because I’ve become someone I never wanted to be. I want to reach back inside of me into my roots and speak from my core and not be shamed for being myself and speaking my mind and doing things my own way, for not always conforming to societal standards. I want to be able to return to the kind person I once was, to be unafraid of talking to people or being judged by them. I want to learn to love myself as I am now and love myself always as I am ever changing. I want to become better. I want to move forward and not be stagnant. I want to enjoy listening to music again and make playlists for my friends. I want friends again. I have no one, no one but Michael, and I love him, but sometimes I need others to talk to. What if I need to talk to someone about him, who could I turn to? I have no one.

I want to be alone, but I don’t want to be lonely. And I want to have company when I’m ready to have company and I want to be able to make people happy again but I don’t know how because I can’t even make myself happy. I want to stop being depressed and guilty and I want to stop having these thoughts of killing myself that I’ve had since I can remember. I want to be able to be close with my family again, but I don’t know how to fix the damage that’s been done in their lives that affect our relationships with all of us, I don’t know how to fix our own damage. No matter how I might accept it, we butt heads too often. I want to sleep, and I don’t want to sleep because there aren’t enough seconds in the day to see all that there is to see, to hear all that there is to hear, to learn all that there is to learn. There simply isn’t enough time, and sometimes there is just too much time. But lives are short and I’m a quarter of the way through mine, if I believe that I might live close to one-hundred.

There’s this song that gets me every time called Late Bloomer by Allie Moss and I think it gets me because I relate to it so greatly and so deeply. I always thought that I was a late bloomer, and technically I was and I still am, but the song is about how she has always been a late bloomer, not because she lacked ability, but because fear stopped her from blooming on time and how she’s sick of letting it stop her. She gives the image of herself being able to walk and then hiding it because she was afraid and how she reverts to just crawling, but that she really does know how to walk and was always too afraid to. “Always been a late bloomer/ And I know the truth hurts/ I knew how to walk/ But I was afraid to fall/ But I don’t want to crawl anymore.” A lot of her music speaks to me because I can relate on every level. Her words are human experiences and I am a human. I want to have this kind of impact on someone someday, to make them feel like they’re not alone, to save them from destruction. I want them to read or hear my words and be alright for another day. I don’t want to crawl anymore.

Best-Seller

They say I’ll make a best-seller out of you
As I sit here, I can see it now
Sitting at a wooden desk
Planning every move each person would make
Seeing their stories unfolding before me
Tea in a mug steaming at your side
Paper notes dampened with ideas, unsolidified
My masterpiece maker
You and I creating a best-seller

My Favorite Books About Writing Nonfiction

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

41lhhayQO9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I always love reading about writing. I caution students about spending so much time reading about it that they never actually do it, but these books in particular have been invaluable in shaping my own approaches to writing. Some of them focus on nonfiction specifically, while many are great for any kind of writing:

The Artful Edit, by Susan Bell: I use this every time I do a self-edit on a manuscript. It’s also a fun book to read straight through. She uses the editing process for The Great Gatsby — detailed in letters between Fitzgerald and his editor — to show how editing makes everything better.

The New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton: Interviews with all the rock stars of current creative nonfiction — Ted Conover, Erik Larson, Susan Orlean. This is like a fan magazine for nerds like me.

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron: 

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Poet and Beast

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It’s not about dropping words like stones down wells,
Listening to the clanks and clunks ricochet off the walls
As you hover near the edge, pleased with your senseless noise-making.

It’s about dropping yourself down the well.
It’s about human skin against stone –
That warm slap that wakens the blood
And can be heard for miles.

It’s about getting inside, you know?
Crawling into the English language
Like a wounded animal and
Curling up beside its pounding heart.

That’s the music.
The steady thump, thump of it going on
In its endless monologue.
You sync your words with the swelling of its lungs
And hope they sound like keys of an accordion
Breathing in dust and bellowing out clouds.

The beast at the bottom of the well
Has never bared its teeth at me.
At night I bury myself in its fur and
We move as one – a…

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The Plague of Storytelling

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I’m a writer. Oh my gosh no way! Yes way, my friend. Yes way. Anyway, over the last few years I have discovered that I have a knack for creating stories and some kind of roadblock when it comes to actually putting pen to paper and making those words really bleed through.

Due to this, I am technically working simultaneously on five novels at once, a billion poems, and three short stories. I won’t go into their details right now, but I will say that while I love inventing world’s and stories and characters, my tiny little hands just do not work quickly enough to get down all the information my brain is trying to send to it.

Thus, the plague of storytellers is simply that we must have an outlet, a platform, a stage on or with which we can utilize to produce our art for whomever the audience enjoying our spectacle might be. I’m considering publishing serially and producing final products in print form later on right now, but I fear what may become of my writing out in the public eye. Yes, we writers still have a form of stage fright when it comes to our work.

I look forward to my first year in Washington since it will not consist of school getting in the way of my self-education which means I have more time and energy to devote to writing. I back in the flames of Hell until that day comes when I turn away from sunny California and embrace that great, wide somewhere. Where it’s cold.

The Negative Energy Diet

Have you gained weight since getting a boyfriend/girlfriend? Have you grown so confident in yourself at home and at work that it’s like that filter you had before has suddenly shut off? If so, I recommend The Negative Energy Diet. It works wonders!

In the same day that you start the deit, you’ll have turned that free-flowing filter back on and already your body will be craving excess amounts of food. With The Negative Energy Diet your mind is in control! Just tell yourself that no one will love you if you don’t loose that weight soon and BLAM! your body has already begun to change.

Remind yourself that no one really cares what you say and they’ll make fun of you or talk behind your back anyway, so why let them see any part of your mind? And just like that your verbal filter is turned back on and rerouted to fit with society’s standards!

Buy The Negative Energy Diet starter pack–with demotivational cards for reference and a skewed mirror to remind you of the way society sees you–and you’ll save a whopping $50 on your first installment of $29.95 (not including shipping and handling).

Order now and you’ll receive the Extra Negative Energy Diet Pack to really fuel you on those tough days where you’re positively the odd ball out. Call now! 1-800-NEG-ATIV

This is not a real product, in case you haven’t figured that out by now. This is just a creative rant in the form of an infomercial. This is my outlet. I write to let things out. Hah hah. Kbye.

New Year’s Resolutions

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To be honest, this took me a long time to create. I had originally planned on NOT making any New Year’s Resolutions since I never seem to follow them through, but a video by Beckie0 on Youtube sort of inspired me to make one. I’m about five days late, but here we go. My New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Write at least Part 1 of my novel.
  • Save more money; spend less, even if it means less coffee. (I love coffee!)
  • Travel more often.
  • Drink more water and green tea.
  • Keep an orderly room.
  • Be kinder.
  • Make due with what you have.
  • Stay organized.
  • Get back into the swing of yoga.
  • Meet with my school counselor (It’s been 2 years!)
  • Start a savings plan for paying off my school loans.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Take better care of my skin.

Welp, there you have it. Not really very exciting, but these are all things that I used to do two years ago, but since I got a full time job and am also going to school full time I haven’t really had time for or paid attention to. In some ways, I really wish I was still in 2012 before the chaos of the real world and financial strain hit me. Oh well. Time to suck it up and learn how to live. My goal this year is to accomplish even half of these things on my list and I’m going to start tonight, right after I post this. I hope you all have a great year and I also hope to be writing more. Thanks for reading.

Novel Writing Plan

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So I’ve been working on this novel for the last six years. For the most part, it’s been a lot of planning and a lot of thinking. I’m not going to reveal any of the plot on here, though I have thought about releasing it serially like they did in the good ol’ days, but unless I have the right kind of publishing, I’m afraid my story might be stolen.

However, while this story has been thoroughly thought through, there is, indeed, much more research that needs to be done in order for me to complete my novel in accordance to my desires. There are many details I wish to get right and I’ve collected numerous photos as well as written numerous scenes that have no specifically set place in the novel’s timeline just yet. However, I have two notebooks full of notes, all these photos, and all these half-written scenes and I have been wanting to organize them for quite some time.

My plan–and I’m writing it down here so that I don’t forget and so that I can keep a record of this–is to organize everything this winter, starting with buying a nice binder with some of those clear folders that go inside and insert my notebooks, pictures, and segments, as well as the chapters that are already written inside with tabs for more organization. My table of contents will look something like this:

  • A summary of “Story”
  • Character Profiles
  • Fashion of “Story”
  • Notes
  • “Story”: Part 1
  • Chapter 1: “Title”
  • Chapter 2: “Title”
  • etc. until
  • Revision and additional Notes
  • Possible cover art
  • Information on publishing

And thus concludes what I suspect this binder will look very much like on the inside. I am hoping it will be something of a scrapbook format with the pictures though very organized and easy to sort through. I believe in having two Notes sections because there should be one that was written before the novel is completed and one that is written during the editing process so that there will be no mistakes made and so that I can match or cancel out any excess notes that were written throughout the novel.

In addition to this organizational phase, I recently bought myself a nice four door filing cabinet that needs a bit of fixing up, but other wise works very nicely and is something sturdy that I can use for all of my other writing. However, while I am writing this first novel, I have actually been thinking of my second and third novels as well. Perhaps I will also buy two binders for those and organize them similarly, but with my focus on the first, of course. I also have a number of poems that I would someday like to publish and maybe I will also make a smaller binder for those and get them published soon.

Once I obtain enough money, I also plan on retrieving the second novel I’ve ever written from my Mac since it’s been sadly trapped on its hard drive for a good eight years. And with my very first novel–written in pen in a little notebook before I ever had a laptop–I would like to someday rewrite that since I began that novel when I was 13. Each of these novels, with the very second one excluded and perhaps the very last one that I have in mind, are relatively long in length–or at least that’s the way that I’m imagining them–and so I don’t know how long each of these will take. However, I am very happy to say that I have already five novels either dreamed up, planned out, or written down and ready to be edited before being published.

Now I just need to retrieve the information, organize it, and finalize everything. I hope you all will wish me luck on my endeavor as a writer. It is terribly difficult to write while going to school full time and having a full time job. I’m hoping to accomplish more things this winter than I ever have before.

On Being a Writer, Full-Time Student, and a Full-Time Worker

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School starts in just 4 days. I have all 9 of my books for my three classes. Being an English major, I expect to be reading and writing an awful lot, so much so that I probably will be the grouchiest this semester and have absolutely not social life or money. I may as well stock up on the ramen right now, but only the good stuff, the big packs of it from H-mart. Sake too. Lord knows I’ll be needing some of that sweet peach sake to get me through some of the longer night, and I’ll definitely need to invest in some kind of coffee machine that makes good coffee for the early morning I’m going to be having. I’ve got my back pack all nice and packed, my laptop is behaving again, and I’m spending my last few days of freedom with my boyfriend, his friends, and some of my own friends. I’m sure in a lot of ways this semester is going to be really great, and I’m sure it’s also going to really suck, but hey, it’s just another stepping stone to getting my bachelors and masters degrees. More debt in my wallet instead of money. Yippie!

Now my problem is this: all summer all I wanted to do was right. However, I work best in places like libraries, which, unfortunately, happen to be the places that tend to be closed when I’m available. I might also work well in an office area with a nice clean desk and no distractions, but unfortunately I work at a cafe and my room is almost always a mess because, let’s face it, I’ve degraded into a 13 year old who never makes her bed and leaves clothes and food on her floor due to laziness and boredom. I’ve become a slob. As I write, I can look over to my left and see my trash can overflowing, two cups of devours cappuccinos lying beside the base of the trash, and a bag carrying an old box of Wahoo’s burritos about 3 feet from it cause there was no space in the trash and no space around the trash either. I really need to dump my trash. 

My point is that I’ve had enough free time to be writing, but I’ve lost my determination and I’ve had trouble being able to focus. Clutter makes me unfocused and, unfortunately, so does heat. It’s summer in Southern California, and that means that for the last month the temperature has been around the high 80s/ low 90s. I work best in life and in writing when it’s somewhere between the low 50s and nothing past 70 degrees. I really do need to move North. I’m sure right now it seems like I’m making excuses, and it’s quite possible that I might be. The thing is that I’ve had 2.5 months to write, to work on my novel, my poems, and I haven’t gotten much done. I can blame it on the weather, on my work schedule, on my lack of cleanliness, to the fact that my computers love to not work when I need them most, but it really all boils down to me.

If I had my choice of career and I didn’t have to worry at all about money, I would choose writing. If I could choose where I wrote, I would choose in a small house with two rooms–one office, one bedroom–that way my clutter is kept away from my work space, and it would probably be somewhere cold where I can bundle myself up in sweaters and sweatpants and fuzzy socks and knitted blankets with cups of coffee or tea lattes nestled in my cold little hand. Perhaps the lack of clutter frees up my mind to create; maybe the low temperatures stimulate my mind more–I know for a fact when I’m sleepy and can’t sleep that my mind overflows with stories, with words; and if I got a steady sort of income, and one of comfort too where I wouldn’t be stressing about money so much, then I wouldn’t have to worry about going to bed at a particular hour or sleeping in late because time would no longer be a factor. 

These conditions would be ideal for writing, but these are not the conditions that I have. I have the opposite of these, and to top it off I also have a loaded work schedule–and the one dollar pay raise helps, but somehow I’m still lacking in funds because this breaks down along with that and all at once and it drains my bank account and then I have to start saving all over again, ever poor–a loaded class schedule, chores to get done at home, keeping my room’s mess at bay for ample study and writing focus, no sleep, no money for coffee, laziness that accompanies the lack of sleep and fitness due to lack of time, lack of time due to school and work and having a boyfriend and chores to keep up with, etc. 

I always feel like the world is against me, that there are so many other people so much more capable than I am and they’re doing it all. Most of them tend to be single or have a very understanding and supportive partner, but I haven’t got either. I haven’t got anything, and yet I have too much. It’s a difficult situation to explain. I really just want to move North and start all over. Writing while having a job and classes is tough. I’m determined to do it, even if I’m not writing my novel–though that is my focus–because writing is writing. I’m writing right here, right now, and for the last few days I’ve had poems pop into my head and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a pen and a piece of paper around to record them or enough quietness to recite them over and over so I don’t forget them. I am cursed, and I am blessed.

I am a writer.