An Apology to All the Friends I’ve Failed

I’ve been writing a lot of deep posts lately and this one definitely falls into that vein. It’s something I’ve been contemplating about writing for quite a few weeks now yet have always found other posts to write, instead.

Well, here goes nothing.

Some backstory is in order before the actual apology happens. I’ve always been the introverted extrovert/extroverted introvert juxtaposition, where one day I am completely re-energized when I have ten events planned and am surrounded by hundreds of people, yet the next day, the very thought of interacting with another person makes me want to crawl further down into a hole where hopefully no one will notice me. I think both sides of my personality are awesome and I embrace them. I love getting to know people and having hang out sessions where we talk and snack for hours on end. Chilling like this rejuvenates me. Yet some of my all-time favorite things–reading, writing, playing videogames–are all very solitary activities. And I’ve found, as I’ve grown older, that I am more prone to leaning towards my introverted side than embracing my extroverted side. I’m not sure where that switch happened, or why, but that’s true now. And it’s important to recognize, especially as I think about the friends I’ve had and the ones I’ve lost.

You see, I’m at a point in my life right now where I really don’t actually have that many friends. And that sort of scares me. I’m 23, graduated college a year ago and just started a new job, about to move out of the ‘rents house and into my own apartment. It’s not like that is a recipe for not having friends, but the friend groups that I did have–and I was lucky enough, in most stages of my life, to be part of an actual, close-knit group–have all sort of fallen apart, for various reasons (the usual culprit is us moving on from one milestone in our lives to another). And I don’t think, in many of these situations, that I am at fault or they are at fault for the friendship to sort of dissipate away. It happened and that’s okay.

But I do want those people who have impacted my life so deeply to know why, at least on my end, the friendship disappeared.

And the reasons I’m writing this out and posting it on my blog instead of reaching out to these individuals falls into my veins. I have become way more introverted. It’s more comfortable to stay in my own shell and write this to a wide audience and then those who want to talk about it can reach out to me. Is that selfish? Perhaps. But it’s also a protective thing. Because as I start writing out my apology to each group of friends, there are specific people I have in mind; specific people I wish I was brave enough to reach out to and, in the frankest sense, ask them if we could rekindle our friendship. But I also fear rejection. I fear that they might not miss our relationship as much as I do and thus are okay with just being acquaintances like we are now. Because there are also people who will fall into these apologies that I am actually totally okay with not renewing our closeness. Because sometimes, friendships do fade and there are no hard feelings regarding that fading. And that is totally okay. Yet I feel like all the friends I am talking to below deserve an explanation and an apology for why my switch to being more introvert than extroverted might have cost us our friendship; or why I think our friendship ended and yet I’m okay with that fact.

That explanation is here.

High School Crew: Damn if we don’t have some amazing memories. I can’t listen to Tobuscus’s LITERAL trailer for Assassin’s Creed without thinking of us singing it all from memory at the zoo. I still have letters you wrote me saved in a memory box. You guys were some of the first real, true, raw friends that I ever had. Our group started in middle school and expanded as we grew older and I loved you all. Once we got to college, we all pretty much went our separate ways and had our separate adventures. And the group fell apart naturally, despite remembering how adamant I was to my Mom, a few weeks before high school graduation, that we were too strong for that. We’d beat the odds and stay as close as we then, forever. That didn’t happen. And that is okay. But there are a few of you, in particular, that I wish I would have tried harder with; texted more often, wrote more letters when I said I would, commented on more photos, anything to keep that friendship truly thriving. Three of you, in particular, I wish I still had as a constant presence in my life, to this day. You are such amazing and inspiring women that I look up to, still; women that I compare myself to and find myself wanting, and not in a bad way, but instead, I want to improve myself and be the inspirational, Godly women that you all are. And I wish I would have given you more priority, when it really mattered, so perhaps that closeness wouldn’t have been lost during our new adventures.

To all of you, however: the memories I cherish, the friendships were some of the best of my life and I wish you nothing but happiness, always.

 First Year of College Quartet: You four were lifesavers freshmen year. People say they have friends they couldn’t have survived without and you four were it. I struggled a lot that first year of college, between figuring out who I was, dealing with an alcoholic roommate and trying to adjust to the coffee life. And you guys were there for it all. You let me come chill in Ellsworth so I could escape from my own dorm. Meeting up for dinner and catching up on the day’s events together are some of my fondest memories. I’m not sure why I let you all drift away; why I didn’t hold onto you tighter as we moved up the ranks throughout college. And again, I regret that I didn’t do a better job balancing everything and keeping you four a priority. I miss you guys, but I know you all are doing well and doing great things and that is enough.

My RA Circle: So many people made my three years as an RA an amazing time. I miss all of you a ridiculous amount, especially as I’m back working at KU and many of you are gone. It doesn’t feel right. But oh man, the memories. The late night basketball-court-soccer-matches. The rant sessions regarding our residents. Study parties, movie nights, dinners at E’s and college basketball camping. My college experience was great because of you all. Again, I follow the trend of letting friendships slip away instead of putting the work into them that I should have. But as we got older, I started valuing my writing more and started putting that first. And I didn’t always do a good job explaining why that was so much more important to me than going to watch a movie with everyone. Or why I had to get eight hours of sleep and go to bed at midnight instead of going to that study party that lasted until three a.m. Usually, everyone was super understanding, but friendships were also lost because of these–and other–quirks and choices of mine. And I apologize for not communicating well enough to make you understand my choices and still keep our friendship intact.

There is another group, within this group, that actually inspired this post in the first place. I’ve always wanted to apologize to you all and make it clear that while we are no longer friends, there is no hard feelings on my side. I still appreciate all of you and I still cherish the times we did have as a group. I have also recognized that it is over. The drama of my senior year was something I didn’t expect and didn’t know how to handle. When one group split into two and you want to stay impartial and still be friends with both groups, that’s hard. It’s even harder when you’re freaking out about graduating college and realize you have no plans after walking down that hill, despite preparing for that moment your entire life. I tried my best to split my time between both groups and stay friends with both groups. But, at the same time, when one group has a new nickname that consists of a number that represents the number of people in that group–and I realize that number isn’t large enough to include me–it’s hard to keep putting in that effort. Instead, it was easier to just let go and avoid the drama. I was just so tired of drama. So that’s what I did. I never explained my rationale to any of you and I should have. I should have communicated why I suddenly stopped communicating. Why I stopped hanging out or going to events with you all. But in the moment, I was tired. I was struggling to figure out where to go next in life and I couldn’t do both. I just couldn’t. And I’m sorry. But I also hold nothing against any of you. I’m glad you have each other and I’m glad you’re still surviving as a friend group. That is awesome (and I know this is through writing, so it’s tone deaf, but I mean that). I wish you all the best.

The Friends That Have Stuck It Out: And finally, the few brave souls who have stuck it out with me. My longest friendship (whaddup 3rd grade). My truest soulmate (I love you, girl. You’re everything). The few gents I became friends with in college and for some reason, still put up with me. I admit this upfront: I’m not an easy person to be friends with. I’m weird. I have weird quirks. I’m nerdy. I’m emotional. I’m wishy washy, meaning that sometimes, we can go days without talking and I’m totally cool. Other days, I need you to text me multiple times a day to ensure that everything is okay and I’m not suddenly going to be friendless and live the rest of my life alone. I have close ties with my family, which is obviously not a bad thing. But I swear to something sacred, within this group (who are all pretty much separate people whom I hang out with individually, not as one collective group like the groups above), no matter what, when one of you asks to do something, so has everyone else. Or I have an event with my family. Or the one day of the week that I have actually made plans is the same day everyone else wants to hang out. This won’t stop happening, which makes me feel like I am shortchanging all of you, by constantly responding to invites with, “Sorry, I can’t, X, Y, Z EXCUSE.” Also, not going to lie, sometimes, I just can’t socialize when you ask me to. I have to be alone. And that’s not you. It’s totally me and I will try to be better.

This group, I just have to say thank you. Thank you for sticking it out with me. Thank you for inviting me to things that 90% of the time I can’t/won’t go to. Thanks for being understanding when I choose to write instead of be with you. Thank you for not taking it personally. Thank you for talking to me. And please, please continue to do these things, despite my difficulties and my failures as a friend. Continue to text me, talk to me, check up on me. Continue to invite me to hang out. Please, continue to let me be a presence in your life and you will still be a presence in mind (though I do need to amp up my game in that department).

Because looking at the past, at all the beautiful friendships I’ve been blessed to have, and looking where I am now, I’m scared.

We’re in the stage now where careers are starting. Engagements and marriages and, dare I say it, kids, are becoming more the norm than the rarity. This is the true moment where friendships are tested, as we move away from one another, get “real” jobs and start families. Just like I wish I could bring some people back into my life, I don’t want to lose the people that I have managed, somehow, to keep. Despite how busy we are. Despite how much everything is changing and how stressful this new stage in our lives are. I may be an introvert. I may cherish alone time and be counting down the days until my schedule switches to where I will be completely alone for longer than I am with people each day. I may be difficult, confusing, bad at communicating and fail often.

But dammit if I don’t need you.

Cheers.

PS: I know there are many of you who don’t fit into any of those categories. At the end of the day, if this apology touched you and you want to talk about it–whether you’re angry about how I’ve treated you or want to reconnect–don’t hesitate to reach out. My number is the same as it was in high school (though I’m definitely lost yours) and I check Facebook regularly…ish. Thank you for reading.


Weekend at WorldCon

I went to my first convention this past weekend and have spent every minute since wondering why I waited to long to do so. I mean, holy smokes, was this past weekend awesome!

I discovered WorldCon really late into the game (like, only a week before pre-sale memberships were no longer on sale) because an author who I had connected with on Twitter asked if I was going to be there. I frantically looked into it and couldn’t believe it was being held in Kansas City, only an hour away from home, and all of the apparent awesomeness that awaited. How did I not know about this!? What rock had I crawled under? Despite membership prices being a bit more expensive than my budget allowed, I bought one. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet that author and any other authors or agents that might be there, bank account and adulting-financial-responsibilities be damned!

As I waited the three weeks between purchasing my membership and the actual event, I started doing a bit more research about what I was getting myself into. Hint: it was awesomeness. When the panel schedule came out, I sent my sister–who I roped into going with me–a list of all the panels I want to attend and am overwhelmed with excitement and with the inevitable truth that it will be impossible to attend everything I wanted to. There were panels about writing. Oh, so many panels about writing, from working with editors and agents to dealing with rejection and staying inspired despite life. And there were panels where I could nerd out entirely (e.g., the Lord of the Rings hero debate, which was fantastic), academic panels (e.g., using linguistic to form new fantasy languages), video game panels (e.g., hello Dragon Age!!!), amongst hundreds of others. With so many options and so many things I wanted to do, I itched to plan out exactly everything I was going to do, to the hour, before I arrived.

So I didn’t do that.

This was my first con. I didn’t know what to expect. But I didn’t want to be bound by the stress of following a schedule. Instead, I went with the flow and did want I wanted to, in the moment. And it was fantastic. There was amazing cosplay (my favorites being the Princess Anastasia and Ned Stark ((with his head, of course)). The booths were ridiculously awesome and terribly dangerous for my wallet (which actually fared slightly better than what I was expected afterwards). The people were super friendly and welcoming and helpful. One gentleman even told us about the “First WorldCon” ribbons to put underneath our badges that I am so glad we got. And I got to meet multiple authors whose work I respect and admire, plus two dream agents who I embarrassed myself in front of the entire time (why I couldn’t function while being flustered, I don’t know, but that happened), but that’s okay. The entire experience was amazing.

And then I came home and realized that it was actually even better than I realized it was while I was there.

I also have this on a T-shirt. *boom*

Let me explain with an example. I bought a shirt that had a dragon on it, surrounded by a horde of books, with the phrase “Book Wyrm” written on the top (I know, amazing right?). I wore it the next day to work, because obviously when you buy a new shirt, you gotta wear it immediately after buying it. I was so excited about it. Yet while I was wearing it and walking across campus, I was self-conscious. What were people thinking? Where they judging me? Did they understand it? Did it change how they viewed me?

While I was at WorldCon, I was in awe and trying to soak everything in, both the knowledge and the experience. And I submersed myself completely. I hardly texted anyone. I wasn’t checking social media (aside from posting Tweets about the latest BAMF panel I went to and connecting with authors). I wasn’t stressing about my financial situation or the fact that I am moving this weekend. I wasn’t concerned about how people would view me, because I knew I would be accepted and welcomed automatically. Better yet, I would be accepted at my core: a nerdy, curvy writer who is overly passionate about books, my fandoms, tattoos and living inside of my own head. While I was there, no one questioned if I was a writer. There was no “if,” but what: What do you write? Where are you at in the process? Found an agent yet? No one asked what my “real job was”. No one thought my ideas and dreams were foolish. No one blamed me for being willing to turn anything and everything (and anyone) away to make room for writing; for putting my writing first in my life, above everything else.

That’s not the case after I left WorldCon.

There, I found an acceptance that I don’t always find so naturally. There, I found a confidence that I hardly ever feel otherwise. There, I got a taste of what life might be like for a published author and had my desire to pursue that field renewed (despite it not even needing rekindling). There, I let go of all my stresses and burdens of the world and simply admired, thought, questioned and learned amongst colleagues and creators. There, reading and writing and creation were paramount. There is an environment I wouldn’t mind infusing into my every day life, where I can be unapologetically, unconsciously myself.

So thanks, WorldCon, for fueling my creativity, accepting me as I am, allowing me to embrace my nerdiness openly, inspiring me to better myself and put my career as a writer in the forefront of my life and for all the awesome souvenirs. I do not, however, thank you for the smaller bank account.😉

Cheers.


The Balancing Act Called Life (Or: I Still Have A Lot To Learn)

It’s been a while. Goodness, has it been a while.

I’ve missed writing on my personal blog a lot. I don’t even think it has been that terribly long, but I do know that when I log on, I open WordPress, check any notifications and then close right back out of it for enough consecutive days that it’s got me bumming hard. Especially as I still have 12+ blogs in my drafts folder I want to write. Of course, I didn’t choose one of those to get back into the swing of things but instead decided to write a post about why I’ve been so absent:

Life.

I know, not the most exciting answer. And not surprising, either. How often does life get in the way of what we want to do, forcing us back into the mundane and the routine? Yet I’m in a weird position right now where it’s not only the mundane aspects of my life that are getting in the way–like adulting responsibilities–but the things that I want to be doing are also getting in the way of doing other things that I want to be doing, like writing and blogging.

Let me ‘plain.

For the past few weeks, I have felt constantly behind; like I’m always making excuses or apologies to others for my tardiness, my slowness or my inability to keep up with a schedule. Most of that time, I was stressing out about securing a job before I move into my apartment on the 27th. Thankfully, I have one (though due to pay miscommunication, I will most likely have to search for a second one before too long) and can move into my apartment without feeling like I’m going to vomit because all my money disappeared; which I have continually felt in waves, one day feeling financially stable and confident, the next, staring in horror at my bank account and all the looming bills waiting to take a stab at me. Now I’m slowly going through the process of purchasing furniture, figuring out utilities and internet, getting renter’s insurance, all the aspects of actually moving, et cetera.

Aside from adulting, I am trying to balance a couple main things: reading, blogging, book reviewing, editing (personally and as a CP), writing and gaming. Most of these things are normally considered hobbies. But I feel like some of them have transitioned for me to be less hobby-like–though still as enjoyable–and more like jobs in their own rights. And I’m slowly figuring out that I must figure out (ha) how to balance all of the commitments and personal goals that I have relating to these things, on top of other responsibilities in other aspects of my life. Because I don’t want to–and don’t plan to–give any of them up.

In regards to writing and editing, I’m really excited where my life has turned to, as a year ago, none of this was happening. At the moment, I’m working (and getting paid) to assist in editing a client’s manuscript. I’m beta reading a friend’s manuscript. I just turned in a Readers Report on another manuscript for an agency I’m hoping to remotely intern for throughout this semester. I’m also reading another manuscript as part of a trilogy trade (and oh so excited about it *squee*). Not to mention that I will be forever editing Darryn’s trilogy and still have to finish my first round of edits on Grayson’s story before September. I’m so excited to do all of these things, but they are all going on at the same time.

And that’s not all.

I have two books one publishing company sent me to read and review. I just received a box of eight books my dream agent sent me to also read and review. Not to mention the five books I have from the library and the nth number of books on my never-ending To-Read list. I have three letters that are still awaiting replies. And I haven’t even gotten to my own writing I still need to do. I have written in almost a month, so consumed have I been with editing my own work and the works of others. And not creating something new is taking its toll on me. I’m itching for it. Not only to finish Artemis’s story, which I have fallen in love with and miss terribly, but also a new story that I came up with on the drive home from work one day and can’t get rid of. Like Artemis did while I was writing Grayson’s story, this story is starting to knock on all the walls of my brain while slipping sneakily between the crevasses of my heart, trying to pull me away from my current WIP so I can learn about her. I don’t know her name yet, but I can see her face. I am dying to meet her (which, of course, requires me to write). And then I have the short story I want to edit, the other short story I want to write and the premise of another story that I’m not sure what to do with yet, but I know it is worth exploring. And I really want to return to writing my novel-length video game fanfiction.

But that’s not all.

Then we move into other aspects of my life that also take up time. My dog and I have one more week left of our 12 Week Walking Challenge (and then another week before I move out and my brother takes over the helm of walking the 90-pound Golden-Behemoth 2 miles around the neighborhood daily). Once I move out, I want to set up a fitness regime that I actually stick to. I really want to put fitness at the top of my priority list. I want to finish some TV shows I have been putting off for years. I have a family I’m close to and friends I want to hang out with. I have projects at work I need to complete. I’m also part of an international mentoring program at work that starts on the 22nd. Plus things like showering, sleeping, cleaning, cooking, driving; you know, back to the mundane.

Where do you find the time?!

So I’m busy. I have a lot on my plate, most of it self-inflicted since I have a hard time saying no. But I want it like this, oddly enough. Despite the feeling of craziness and being slightly overwhelmed; despite feeling like I’m always behind and that there is never enough time in the day, I love it. I love being so involved in the writing and editing community. Only a year ago, that part of my life was practically non-existent, even on my personal writing side. I love making a schedule and having almost every hour of my day filled with goals and projects. And at the moment, I don’t so much overwhelmed, like I did earlier this month, but moreso like I’m just never going to get caught up. But I try, anyway, and enjoy the ride, as frantic and busy and rewarding as it is.

And I think that’s okay.

Cheers.


The Crave for Conversation

This blog could also be titled, “The Life of the Luddite”. I’ve had a hard time choosing which one, because both incorporate themes and issues that tie together, regarding real conversations, technology and the growing struggle–or perhaps simply a struggle I’ve noticed–regarding communication. It’s something I’ve personally been struggling with for quite some time, yet because of my own ineptitude to communicate, have been unable to express what I’ve been dealing with to those it relates and matters to most.

I have to clear up a few things before I get to the root of what I’m dealing with. First off, as we all know, I’m a writer, a storyteller. So when you ask me how my day is, the answer usually isn’t going to be, “Oh, it was fine.” It’s going to be a fifteen minute tirade describing all the ups and downs of my day, including fine details, retelling of conversations I had and will probably be ten minutes too long, because you didn’t care to know all of those details.

I remember when I was in middle- and high-school, my Mom would ask that daring question: “How was your day?” Literally, it usually took about 45 minutes to an hour for me to answer it, as I had to describe not only my mood, but also what happened during each class, any drama that was going down, what assignments were due, how I barely survived the multiple miles ran during soccer practice, et cetera. I know, my Mom deserves an award for putting up with that every single day. While all of those details may not be important to the unfortunate listener having to listen to it, they were–and still are–important to me.

So I love to have in-depth conversations. Yet when it comes to confrontation or trying to express something that is bothering me, I can’t begin to even form words to describe what’s the matter. I close up, I shut people out and I avoid confrontation like it’s the plague and I haven’t been infected yet. Instead, I write my complaints, fears or stresses down. The amount of letters my parents or friends have gotten when I want to talk about something that is bothering me–whether it is a personal matter, something going on between us, something I am concerned about, whathaveyou–is ridiculous.

I’m not sure what causes this barrier. Perhaps it is because I am overly emotional and whenever I am stressed out, frustrated, nervous, overwhelmed, my instinct is to cry. I’m not overly ashamed of this, because I can’t control it. It’s just what happens. So by writing out my complaints or whatnot, I’m able to express myself and cry in the comfort of my own time and then usually, the correspondent is kind enough to write back in return, instead of having the conversation I don’t want to have, yet needs to happen. Oftentimes, a conversation still happens, but it always turns out better starting out through the letter or writing than if I approached them directly.

To sum up: I really like to have deep and meaningful and long conversations. However, I struggle to communicate regarding delicate topics or topics that will turn confrontational, so I write those out, instead. Kosher so far?

Next element: technology. I’m a self-proclaimed Luddite. A Luddite is someone who is against technology and the advancement of it. Of course, I’m a Luddite with an asterisks next to it. It’s not that I’m against the advancement of technology, completely. I just don’t want to it rule my entire life and be present in every aspect of my life. I love my laptop. I’m a huge gamer. I love having a phone that I can pull up a GPS and figure out where I am going, because I am directionly-challenged. I love that I can use websites like Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact with those I otherwise couldn’t or connect with other writers and authors that, otherwise, I would never met. So obviously I’m not on the “Destroy All of the Technology!” train (but that picture was too good to pass up). However, there are obvious choices that made my claim of being a Luddite stand out. I deleted all the social media apps on my phone so I wouldn’t be so attached. I can’t read ebooks and refuse to buy a Kindle. I just can’t do it. But the main reason, I have realized, is this:

Technology and media are exactly what I have to compete against for another human’s attention. And more often than not, I lose.

And finally, we reach the truth; the problem that I am dealing with yet don’t know how to deal with it. I crave communication. I want to have in-depth conversations with those I am close to, regarding little things that I turn into big things, like how my day–and also theirs–went, and the actual big things, like milestones and major events in our lives. And I want that on a regular basis. Daily, if I even dare.

But I’m finding myself, more often than not, going to bed irritated, frustrated and, quite frankly, feeling unheard. And a lot of it is because I am competing against the technology and the media that surrounds us all, and no matter how interesting a storyteller I am, I can’t compete, not against the distractions that prevail. But that’s not even the main problem. The main problem is I don’t know how to tell those who I feel are doing this to me that they are indeed doing this.

Smartphones are my biggest competitor. With so many apps available and with the stigma that you are expected to see and respond to everything–Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, emails, texts, calls, news articles, Pokémon Go–immediately, it’s hard to have a human interaction when your companion is always craning their neck down staring a palm-sized screen, thumb constantly scrolling. If it isn’t a smartphone, it’s definitely a television. They are always on. Whether it is just there for background noise or there is a movie or TV show playing, the television is always on. And I’m not saying in order to have a meaningful conversation, you have to sit with another person alone in a room with complete silence. That’s not it at all. It would just be nice to be able to have a chat with someone with feeling like I’m competing against a pretty metal box. Or nice to walk into a room or have dinner and not have the TV on, automatically discouraging me from attempting to have a conversation, in fear that the same pattern of me–or them, as I am not above distraction at all–not being heard will emerge.

 :

I know that I ask a lot in regards to conversation. I say that because traditionally, “normal” or everyday conversations aren’t long-winded and detailed and in-depth. Yet mine are. So I know it is a lot to ask, to ask those I’m close to, to be available and attentive and distraction free at some point, every day, so that I can have these conversations. But I’m also tired. I’m tired of feeling second to technology. I’m tired of having all of these conversation topics sitting inside my chest and never getting the opportunity to voice them. I’m tired of being in the middle of a story and watch as someone is messing around of their phone during it; or turns their head to look back at the TV, their attention divided; or, worse–and it has been happening more and more lately–slowly trailing off in my own story and my listener not even realizing that I had stopped talking and never realizing that I didn’t finish my story. Showing that they weren’t invested enough to listen to it. Even if it is just a too-lengthy story about what happened throughout my day.

I want to feel important and I want to feel heard.

Yet, here is the other caveat: I know the people who do this to me the most aren’t doing it maliciously or purposefully. Hell, they probably don’t even realize that they are doing it. And I know that, if I point it out to them, that they are going to feel guilty or ashamed and will do their best to change that behavior. And though I really don’t think this would happen, I have a small fear that my request–to have an opportunity or a time to catch-up on a daily basis without distractions–could be turned into a joke, with someone dramatically turning off the TV or pointedly making a show about their phone being turned away before we chatted.

I don’t want conversations to turn into big deals or cause problems with other people. I want them to be natural. And I don’t want to make people feel bad or guilty, which is the main reason why I haven’t brought this up to anyone. (Aside from my best friend, whom I have expressed all of this to. And she does a fantastic job of balancing technology and our conversations, often giving me the attention and conversation that I crave. Unfortunately, due to conflicting work schedules, I hardly get to see her, so our chances to converse like this have become rarer occurrences than they once were, which might also be a reason why these other stilted conversations are so jarring, because I literally have no other outlet).

So, this is me, writing about what I am going through. I posted it on the blog in hopes that readers may have advice about how I could approach this with my family and friends that I feel this happens to me with. Because of my fear of inflicting guilt or shame, I haven’t even gotten the courage to write letters to present my feelings, like I usually do. So I’m looking for advice, from anyone whom is willing to give it. Or feedback, if you think I am being too overly needy or demanding, because I also worry that I ask too much, in wanting consistent, longer, distraction-free conversations with people. I’m just not sure, at the moment.

Cheers.


You Can’t Please Everyone

This realization, in relation to my writing and future publication, has really freaked me out lately. I don’t know why, considering I’m nowhere near close to publishing anything, as engrossed as I am in the editing and writing stages across multiple books.Yet I can’t shake it. Someday, once I’m published, someone is going to read my books.

And they are going to hate them.

And not just hate them. Some people will think they are poorly written. Some people will believe I am making political statements that were either unintentional or unrealized. Some may be offended. Some are going to be aggravated at how similar one book is to X while another book uses the same trope as books A-Z. Some will hate how I incorporate romance. Others will despise how I kill my characters. People will label me as unoriginal, overdone or nothing to get excited over. Suddenly, stories that I have slaved over for years will become nothing more, to some people, than a rating of stars or the latest thing to get pissed off about.

And that scares me.

I’ve been a people pleaser since…gosh, I don’t know if there was ever a time when I wasn’t. I want to make those around me happy. I like to make others lives easier or more enjoyable, even if it is at my own expense. I hate it when others are angry with me. I avoid “getting in trouble” at all costs. Goodie-two-shoes and people pleaser, yep, that’s me. So the idea that my novels, the stories of my heart and soul, which I write because I must, are going to cause unrest, dissension and anger in future readers, inevitably, freaks me out. Obviously, I don’t want people to hate the books I write. I don’t want them to think my stories are overdone or ridiculous or “just another same ole fantasy novel.”

You see, this whole “realization” has been hitting me hard lately as I’ve started reviewing books, over at Erlebnisse. I don’t have too many reviews posted and all of them are positive. It’s really hard for me to read a book and not like it. Occasionally, I’ll pop over to Goodreads and read the reviews posted there about the book I’m currently reviewing, to see how others are feeling. In my latest review, all of the feedback was surprisingly negative and followed the same trend: the entire review would bash the book, about how it started slow or followed this trope or had this character flaw and then at the end, in a single sentence, it would be like, “Oh, don’t get me wrong. I liked the book and it was a good read. It just could have been improved exponentially.”

Um, what?

Then, of course, I loved the book. Upon reflecting what these reviews were saying, I understood where they were coming from, but I didn’t notice these issues whilst reading the book. I was too busy enjoying the story to nitpick all the potential problems. Perhaps these reviews were nitpicking. Perhaps they genuinely had conflicting feelings about the book that I had enjoyed so thoroughly. But then, I started to question if the book was really good as I thought it was. How could it be, when everyone else had so many issues with it?

I stopped myself, went back to my review, and stayed true to my reading of it. I really enjoyed the book. I’m really excited for the second one. My opinion, my reading of it, is just as valid as those who hated it. And those who hated it? Yes, just as valid as my love for it. Our opinions are valid, even as different as they are. And that will still be the same when my books are published. Those who hate them have the right to do so. They will probably find valid reasons to do so, despite my passion for my works.

I don’t have any grand solutions to this, if any solutions are meant to be found. It isn’t even a problem, really, recognizing the vast opinions of my future readers. I’m simply realizing that being a writer, so much is out of my control. I don’t write stories to be loved, though I hope readers will love my stories, one day. I write because I must and I will continue to write stories that I want to because I must, regardless of this fear; regardless that I know, years from now, when I read that first review of how shitty my book was, it will break my heart. My skin isn’t nearly as thick as it needs to be to make it in this business unscathed. My heart hurts knowing, with so many people with varying tastes, moods, backgrounds, experiences and lives, that I can’t please them all. That some people will hate my books, get offended by them, get bored by them or refuse to read them.

These reactions are inevitable. You can’t please everybody.

Yet my heart soars at the possibility of reading a positive review; at the idea that someone missed their alarm clock the next morning because they stayed up too late, living the mantra “only one more chapter.” I crave the day when I can connect with someone online or meet someone at a book signing–hell, to have a book signing or talk would be incredible–and to have someone look up to me and claim, “Damn, you’re my inspiration” or “you’re my favorite author.” Those moments I will cherish beyond belief. And those negative reviews? Those nitpickers? I’ll read them, probably cry a bit because I’m an emotional wreck in every regard, eat some ice cream and then I’ll learn. Perhaps my stories will improve and change for the better from their feedback. Perhaps they won’t.

Regardless of the response I receive one day as an author, I hope my audience and readers know that I’m trying. I am trying to write the best stories that my soul can produce, while staying true to myself, my craft and my passion as a writer. I hope you enjoy them, future readers. And if you hate them, that’s okay, too. I simply thank you all for reading them and allowing me to live out my dream. Now all I gotta do is make it there.

Cheers.

 


Scores!

I have sort of an obsession with cinematic scores. Sure, I got a film minor during undergrad, but I did that because I was hoping to learn more about screenwriting (not learn all about theory, which is exactly what happened). But I don’t think that background is what inspired my in-depth obsession with a fantastically composed score, for films, television and video game soundtracks. It is directly inspired by the amazing ability scores have to invoke emotion that stays with you, even when removed from its natural setting.

For example, every time I hear The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm, from The Fellowship of the Ring, my eyes tear up. When the drums beat and the chanting of the all-male choir solos, I get goosebumps all over and my heart starts to race, because the pace is constantly picking up, reflecting the mad rush out of Moria. And my heart begins to grow heavy, as I know what heartbreak this mad pace is going to be broken up by, through the wip of a Balrog of Morgorth.

You see, I felt all these emotions when I first watched this scene, yet even listening to this track right now and writing down these words, the same emotions are happening and I’m not fully focused on these words. As the track progresses, I picture the Fellowship running across the bridge. I can see Frodo’s face as he cries out in anguish, hear his heartbreaking cry echoing, even though it isn’t featured in the track. I even stopped writing as the pace was broken in the track, literal goosebumps on my arms, as my eyes welled up with tears, as I pictured Gandalf’s fall. I didn’t continue writing this until the track was over, my emotional experience, well, experienced.

I’m not making this up, people.

This happens to me all the time. These scores are more than instruments and beautiful or harsh voices creating music. All combined, scores are the literal materialization of emotions and experiences. Once heard and associated with an experience–blowing my nose after my favorite character died–or a scene–the final killing blow–or an emotion–getting goosebumps regardless how many times I’ve heard such haunting music–that connection last no matter how many times I listen to the score, how many times I watch it within the film or video game it belongs to.

It just blows my mind how powerful scores are yet how underappreciated they are. Half the time, I’ll go see a film I know nothing about simply for the promising score. Or, a film I saw that I was thought good, was only good because the score wasn’t up to par. My favorite film class, I remember watching a documentary where they had a segment showing scenes with the music and scenes without it. The difference was fantastic, because some of the strongest scene are made not because of the performances or what is happening in regards to the plot, but by the music that complement and completes them.

So, because I want to nerd out and I want to share some of my favorite scores with you. I’m going to simply list out some of the most powerful ones that pop into my head at this moment. I’m sure I’ll have more posts in the future that are just lists of scores that I love and have been affected by. I’d love to hear some of your favorites, too, and why!🙂

Simple and Clean: This song is my childhood. It’s the title track for the first Kingdom Hearts installment and honestly, how can you not sing along and just want to go hang out with Donald and Goofy forever after hearing this song?

Everything Skyrim: I will forever worship Jeromy Soule for the music he has brought to this game. The amount of times I’ve listened to this soundtrack boggles my mind. My favorites, in particular, are Skyrim atmospheres (which you know is impressive for a score when I want to listen to the atmospheres) and Sovngarde. The pure manliness in the latter is just fantastic.

Speaking of manliness, if you don’t get chill listening to The Misty Mountains Cold, you aren’t doing it right.

The heartbreak that is Mass Effect: If you’ve played the games, you know how traumatic an experience that is. I listen to Leaving Earth on repeat often, because I enjoy pain, apparently. It is just so haunting and literally hurts my heart to listen to, but also, just freakin’ moves me. An End Once and For All is very similar. Or I’d Be Lost Without You. Gosh, ALL THE FEELS.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations: I’ve only played the first game, but my brother introduced me to this theme song and it is the sole reason I want to play Revelations.

EVERY FREAKIN’ THOMAS NEWTON SONG: I have a bunch of favorite composers. Howard Shore. Hans Zimmer. Philip Glass. Jeromy Soule. But Thomas Newman absolutely takes the cake. Finding Nemo? American Beauty? A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS!? Favorite track is definitely The Letter That Never Came.

Theme Music: There are quite a few theme songs that, when I hear them, it feels like a warm blanket wrapped around you on a really cold day. Or a embrace that whispers, “Welcome Home.” Some of these include Sherlock theme, the Mass Effect theme, Dragon Age theme and a bunch of others I can’t think of right now.

Oh, and the entire Pride and Prejudice score. I bought the CD, I am so in love with every aspect of this score. It convinces me I was born during the wrong era.

I know I am forgetting so many of my favorites. I know that will lead to multiple posts in the future, some that could be as short as, “Oh, and don’t forget about X track by Y composer from Z film. It’s fantastic.” But there is a reason why my favorite category to watch at the Academy Awards (aside from Best Screenplay) is Best Score. Music is so powerful and the emotions I feel regarding all of these tracks, amongst thousands of others, is why I am so thankful for the composers out there that work the magic that they do. Sincerely, thank you.

Cheers.


Editing: The Never-Ending Story

I have always claimed that editing is the hardest part of the writing process. I think that will always be the case, though I’m sure as I move along in my career, other things will pop up and prove to me that editing isn’t the worse thing. But for the moment, it is what I avoid at all costs, particularly with my first manuscript, which has been edited numerous times.

And I’m almost done editing it again.

I’m doing a book swap with a friend that I am really excited about, as her feedback is going to be invaluable. Plus, it is the first time that I get to read her work, so double the excitement (also double the nerves, as it is the first time she is going to read my work fully and it is so difficult not to get nervous when someone you respect and admire reads a part of your soul). Yet it’s been a while since I’d work on Darryn’s story, so I knew I needed to do a round of edits before I sent it to her. Plus, I was getting awesome feedback from betas about changes I could make, so that also supported the need to edit, even though the last time I went through this with this book, I exclaimed, “This is it. This is the best I can make this story.”

Did I mention I’m editing it again?

Edits are due by August 5th. June slowly faded away and instead of editing like I planned to, I started writing a new story. All my excitement was poured into it and I spent the next two/three weeks making rough outlines and watching as the bare threads of that story came to life. Editing was the last thing on my mind, even though I had a deadline. July 4th weekend comes and goes. Still no editing. I email my friend and get a confirmed date, knowing that it must get to her by August 5th, to fit into her schedule. Another week passes and still, no editing is getting accomplished. And August continues to loom closer and closer.

Eventually, a few days past(this is the end of last week) where I don’t write anything new in my current work-in-progress. Though I knew what happened next, I seemed to be a bit stuck. The excitement of starting a new story faded slightly as the feeling that writing is work crept up on me, so I’m started trying to avoid writing until it feels less like work and more like my life’s passion and enjoyment. Somehow, during this weird process, I find myself opening up the first book in Darryn’s trilogy on Word and finally, with less than two weeks left in July, start editing the beast. Again.

And for the first time in a long while, editing doesn’t feel like work. It feels like the re-immersion into a familiar place, a familiar story, a familiar love. I incorporated a new starting place, chopping out a whopping seven chapters and reworking the beginning so all the important information that was removed is still there, but now, there is much more action and a lot less setting things up. And, I cut out a ridiculous 30K in the process, putting my book at the top edge of the desirable word count range, instead of teetering over it by 25K.

YES.

As I slowly work through the story, cutting bits here and there, making some parts tighter and generally falling in love with the story again, it’s hard not to be awed by the entire editing process as a whole; and hard not to be scared by it. When I wrote Darryn’s first draft, back in 2011-2012, I thought it was amazing. I was so overwhelmed with the fact that I had written an entire book that I didn’t really look at the quality of what I done, but instead was mesmerised by the fact that I had done it. Looking at it now, a dozen edited drafts later, I am so thankful only two other souls read that first draft, because it was absolutely horrid. But also, absolutely necessary to get the draft where it is now; a place that, regardless of how people respond to it if it is ever read widely, that I am proud of. And a place that can still be improved.

That’s the crazy–and also scary–thing about editing. It’s a never-ending process. Honestly, you could constantly edit, constantly change things according to your mood and your growth and your tastes and changing influences over time, and you’d never be done. Every published book now could have something in it changed. It’s just a matter of reaching to a point where you are proud of what you have accomplished and you are okay calling what you are showing off as your finished product–even if it could still be edited numerous more times.

The last draft I wrote, I was so proud of. When I read over it, I thought, “Man, this book is really taking shape. Some of this stuff is gold.” Now, this time around, a lot of the stuff I thought was gold? Yeah, I changed it. I cut it. Though it was still gold compared to what I had first written, I had come up with ways to make it even better. And I think–I hope–that I am really close to the stage where all the editing has paid off and this first book is ready to go onto the next stage of its life, in the hands of agents and editors and publishing houses; that I reach the point of comfort in being okay calling a draft my finished product. I know there is probably another round of edits to go through; perhaps multiple. The second and third books definitely need more editing, as they haven’t been edited nearly as much as the first book. Yet they also didn’t have some of the problems the first book had after the first draft was written, as not only the story had improved, but so had the person telling it.

Currently, I have forty pages left to edit and I’m no longer worried about meeting my deadline. Now, squeezing in a quick edit of books two and three whilst the story and the changes are fresh in my head before that deadline…now that’s going to be a bit more of a push.

But I’m excited.

I’m excited that when writing something new becomes difficult, I can turn to editing something completed (but never truly finished) to continue to keep my creative muscles working. I’m excited to see myself progressing and improving as a writer. I’m excited to have the chance to continue working on stories that are close to my heart; to have the chance to fix them ten, twenty, thirty times, to ensure they get told one day, instead of only having one shot and breaking under such pressure. I’m excited for the work, even if I drag my feet, sometimes. And I’m most excited to share this story with you, one day. Hopefully soon. But until then, I’ll continue to work my ass off to give you the best that I can give at that current moment, so I continue to learn and tell greater stories as time goes on.

Cheers.


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