Letting Go….

Letting go of someone you love is never easy. It is probably one of the hardest parts of being a human, coping with the death of a loved one. I am not going to pretend to be an expert on this subject, I have never lost a family member who I was close to, or I was too young to remember the death. In the near future it seems I will be facing the inevitable and saying goodbye to my maternal Grandmother.

My Grandmother is the only grandparent I ever knew. My father’s parents passed away before I was born and my mother’s father was never around. As for other deaths in my family, my step father passed away a few years ago, but we never got a long and though I sympathized for my mother, it was not emotional for me. Last year my mother’s sister passed away, and though losing an Aunt is typically a sad thing, I never really knew her. My mother had a lot of siblings and I was only ever really close to one of them. So again, I sympathized with my mother, but I was not too emotional over the situation.

Which brings me to now. No, my grandmother has not passed away yet, but early last Friday morning my Grandmother woke my aunt up having terrible chest pains and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My grandmother is not the picture of health, so the phone tree started and soon I found myself being the one to call my mother and tell her the news. I waited patiently for any news they had, and was upset to learn that my grandmother would need a quadruple bypass surgery. Heart surgery is a MAJOR thing, even if WebMd and other articles say that it is a routine surgery with low chances of complications, to preform the surgery they stop your heart and lungs and use a machine to pump blood and oxygen to your body. My first thought of course is what happens if they go to restart the heart and it doesn’t work?

None of this mattered though, the day after hearing this news I received a distressed phone call from my mother informing me that the surgery had been taken off the schedule. When admitted to the hospital, my grandmother underwent a series of scans and her CT scan showed a large amount of nodules in her lungs. Once a specialist had reviewed the scans he informed my family that my grandmother would most likely only live for another month or two, so to do the surgery would mean she would spend her remaining time alive bed ridden and recovering from surgery instead of enjoying her days with family. It was revealed that my grandmother has a severe and advanced form of lung cancer. 

The amount of feelings you go through when you hear this kind of news is overwhelming. It probably took me a good fifteen minutes to regain the ability to speak. From there, it ranged from feeling completely numb to wanting to curl into a ball and never venture back into the world again. I finally settled on distracting myself for the rest of the day until I was ready to face the emotions I as going through. The emotion that hurts the most is the guilt I feel over how little time I have mad for my family over the past few years. I moved away from where I spent my entire life back in 2007 and my last visit there was in 2009 when I was going on a trip to Ireland with a friend and we departed from there. Since then, I have completely devoted myself to my education and career.

My grandmother is proud of everything I have done with my life. I would never for a moment doubt that she is fully okay with how I have chosen to live my life, but the feeling of guilt is so horrible to deal with. It is almost paralyzing in a way, I don’t want to do anything. I do not want to eat, I do not want to sleep, I do not want to work, I do not want to write. All I do is stare blankly at a wall pretty much asking myself why I did not take the time to go visit more often. Why, every year, did I say that I would visit the next year and then never go. For about two years, I would visit my grandmother every day after school (this was after I had turned 16 and received my drivers license). Then I moved away and never looked back. It is a terrible feeling. It is terrible talking to her now and hearing her say that she misses the days when I would just drop in to see her every day and how she hopes I come visit her soon.

I will be visiting my grandmother soon, but knowing I will see her soon does nothing to alleviate the guilt I have that it took a dire diagnosis for me to finally book a plane ticket. I have never lost someone who has truly occupied a large part of my heart. Just the thought of losing my grandmother makes me feel like I am going to break into a million pieces, but it does serve to teach me a valuable lesson. Never take for granted that there is always another day. I assumed that I had time with my grandmother and that I could always visit her, I assumed that she would be sitting at my wedding next year and would be taking photos with me and future husband. As my heart breaks, my eyes open and I see that I can no longer put off tomorrow what can be done today.

A 15,000 word week

With only about another 40,000 words to write for my novel at the beginning of last week, I was surprised to look at the word count yesterday to realize that I had managed to write 15,000 words last week alone. It is pretty rare that I have enough time and enough focus to get that much work done. Something last week clicked though and it all started when I took the time to write out the full character plots.

When you write a story with a lot of charcters and character twists and about characters who have more depth than 90% of the people you have met in real life, it can be really confusing. I have a list of 7 main characters. These are the characters that the story focuses on and revolves around. If you take any one of these characters out of the story it will dramatically change the entire story line. I had been putting off doing this step because I had not made all the final decisions about my characters. I hate feeling like I am committed to a character story line when all I want to do is write a story that is organically flowing from my mind as I write.

The whole process took me under an hour to do. I simply started by listing the characters who I thought could not be taken out of the story without having to rewrite the entire story. I then wrote about that character up to the point in the story I had completed. After this step, I simply continued with how I wanted my characters to end the story. The different twists and turn each character would take, the secrets that each character held and if those secrets would be revealed by the end of the book. It was like a million lightbulbs were turned on inside my head at the same time. I could not even remember writing as much as I did that week. I know I had written about how much I hated outlining chapters in my Writers Block post. I still hate the idea of outlining so much that I have restricted my own creativity, but there was something about putting all my ideas about the characters on paper that opened my mind to the point where I wrote without effort for hours upon hours each day. 

With my story nearing completion, I am also looking to the next phase, finding an agent. As my research into different agencies has shown me that each has varying submission processes, most do require not only a synopsis of the story, but also a character description list. Taking the time to write these descriptions then became beneficial twice, it helped push my story to the next level and past two-thirds of the way done and put me one step ahead in trying to find an agent hopefully.

Being a Storyteller Could Be Your Greatest Asset

By my previous posts, it is easy to see that I enjoy writing. Though I have mentioned it in passing, I have not fully explored my love of digital media marketing or how my two passions combine. Blogging is a part of what I do for a living, and no, this is not about to turn into a “how to be a better blogger” post. This post is to fully explore the connection between my job, my love of writing, my success in academics with my writing and my ability to keep an audience compelled during a speech. You see, it all comes down to one thing, my ability to tell a story. With my degrees in Communication Studies Rhetoric, I have basically been trained to be a polished speaker and writer, I even taught Public Speaking at the University level while in my Graduate program. I heard speech after speech after speech and though my students and peers were very good at following the templates that they were taught and could easily follow to pass the class. Problem with these template driven speeches? Even as the instructor it took every once of self discipline I had not to lose focus during all 75 of my students speeches. Mind you, I love listening to speeches that are done by famous politicians, writers etc… I rarely remember what the speaker says (besides maybe one or two key phrases that the speech is designed around) but I always remember that distinct feeling I have when I walk away from listening to a speech. Why is this? Why do I never fully remember what was said, but I remember how I felt and the feeling that I needed to take some kind of action. It is a very simple trick used by well practiced speakers, writers and even marketing professionals today. It is the simple art of storytelling.

Storytelling seems easy on the surface, you have a beginning a middle and an end. Simple right? Not so much when you realize that it is not just a simple story anymore. The princess can not just meet prince charming and run off into the sunset anymore. There needs to be drama and intrigue and mystery and action. There also needs to be imagery, metaphors and hyperboles. Without these things and much, much more a story is just a sequence of events that occurs. The dull transmission of information from one person to another is not very valuable anymore.

The ability to tell a story has taken me very far. In academics I was able to turn dull 25+ page papers into compelling, intriguing rhetorical analyses without even batting an eye. I passed through my speech classes, debate classes and argumentation classes on sheer ability to make my audience remember me with my story telling abilities. As this ability carried me through undergraduate and graduate school, I was also secretly working on my novel. My novel has become my hobby and passion now that I am out of school. It is probably the one thing that keeps me sane after I work a fourteen hour work day I always know I can go home and escape into the fantasy land of my story. As frustrating as it is that my story is still only about three-fifths of the way done, it keeps me going during a hard day knowing I have something enjoyable to go home to work on.

My blog has spent a great deal of time focusing on my writing endeavors and not much discussing my actual work. Marketing, specifically digital media marketing. Though I can do traditional public relations and communications work, I so much prefer the realm of digital media and especially content marketing. Content creation is the simply the act of writing copy for a multitude of mediums. I have done everything from running Facebook and Twitter accounts to creating, designing and creating the content for entire websites. I even blog for a lot of my clients. What does all this have in common with my novel, my academic writing and speeches? Simple, storytelling is again key in content marketing. Just like in academic and creative writings my content creating needs to tell a story. Whether it is about the brand I am writing for, a product or service they are selling or about one of the employees for that brand, it is essential for me to evoke my talent as a story teller to make sure anyone who reads what I write for that brand goes away with a definite (and hopefully positive) feeling about that brand. A feeling that will drive them to do business with that brand as well. If I simply convey information about the brand to its audience, it is does not have that great of an impact. I need to make the person reading my content feel a desperate need for the product or service of the brand it was written for/about.

I think my entire life has been leading up to being a digital media public relations professional. My speech background, my writing experience and my overall passion for storytelling have set me up for success in my chosen field. Being a storyteller expands beyond just books and speaking. It encompasses almost every aspect of every day life. Movies, music, TV shoes, commercials, advertisements, tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, newspapers and much more are all examples of how storytelling is used to entertain us on a daily basis and make us feel certain ways about the world around us. Stories are meant to have us sympathize or empathize with certain people, places and things. If you can master the art of story telling, you can really master the world.

The Pressure of Writing….

As my novel inches closer and closer to completion, the more I wish I had never really told any of my friends and family that I was working on it again. I love my writing, I love my story, what I do not love is the pressure that is being put on me to actually go beyond just finally finishing the story. I always assumed I would try to have it published, whether or not it is good enough to be published will be left to an agent and/or publisher. Everyone putting this pressure on me to get a move on the story so that it can be published though is more than a little annoying. 

I have looked into having my novel published, for the type of novel I am writing, it is best to have it completed first, so everyone putting pressure on me now is just delaying the completion of the book. The more pressure, the less creative I feel. It is just how I am. I have always had one crazy, over active imagination, until someone starts putting the spotlight on me and pushing me to take my creativity to another level. It was the same with art and music for me. I love to draw and paint, but the second people were like “Oh! You should try to become an artist,” and started putting pressure on me, I became less inclined to draw because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. The moment anyone said that I should try to do more with my musical talent it was the same story. I become less motivated when people start to have expectations of what my talent will amount to. I said in a previous post, I do not expect to be the next J.K. Rowling. That kind of fame and money and success from being an author is not easy or really normal from what I can tell. I like the idea of having my book published because it is something that has been a huge part of my life and I want to see something come of it, but I do not like the pressure being put on me to actually get it done. 

Having my creativity feel stunted is not a good feeling. I have been staring at my novel for the past few days with absolutely NO motivation to continue writing at the moment. I want to, but it just isn’t happening. The worst part is everyone asking me how much progress I have made when I have literally made no progress at all. At what point do I stop being polite and saying that they will have to wait and see and just tell them to f*** off? 

In the meantime I am going to try and write parts of my story that I know are going to happen, even if I have not reached that part of the plot yet. Maybe if I go to the parts that I am still excited about the rest will start flowing again soon enough. 


Balancing act

I remember my parents always telling me that life was a balancing act. I never really understood it until the past few months. I guess I was spoiled by the fact that I never really had to work that hard other than in school. My parents were cool enough to always support me when I needed to focus on school and could not work. Do not take this as I never worked, trust me I worked as much as I could, but when you are going to school for two different majors, two minors and then go into graduate school where you end up teaching at the university (for a small amount of pay each semester), a full time job just sometimes is not an option. 

Upon leaving graduate school, I thought it would be easier with school out of the picture. I was done, I was out and I no longer had to worry about if I read the 100 pages my professor assigned for that week, or if I had a test or paper due that week. How hard could work be with the headache of school out of the picture? Yeah, I was definitely wrong about that. 

I wasn’t even out of graduate school when I met Jesse, the boy of my dreams. We dated for 1 month and 1 week and he asked me to marry him, a year later I am in the midst of planning a wedding, working fourteen hour days, writing my first novel, cooking dinner most nights for him and trying to find time to play with our two adorable dogs. I can’t remember the last time I worked a normal 40hr, 5 day work week.

I probably put in a good 80-90 hours of work each week between my jobs. Freelance is NOT easy. It is so up and down that it can be impossible to keep up with my half of the bills and pay for a wedding. Solution to this problem? Take on a supposed easy job that would allow me plenty of time to do my other work while earning a steady paycheck. Enter, nannying. How terrible could that be? I have to say, the kids are sweet and I adore them, even love them. The parents are a headache, demanding and just do not pay attention to half the things I say most of the time. If the mother had her way, I would literally live at their house and would not have my own family to attend to. I do have a high respect for anyone who does do live-in nannying. Doing live-out takes a huge chunk of my day away that I wish I could be spending with my family. Live-in nannies I feel are literally giving up their own lives to do their job. 

My novel is making progress, which is good, but at the same time, if I could I would spend the whole day laying in the most comfortable place in my house or by the pool writing. Maybe I will get to that point where I am literally paid to write books. That is a dream come true, but let us face it, the odds of me being the next J.K. Rowling is pretty slim. Do I want to publish my book? Absolutely! It would be a dream come true! I’ve wanted to be an author since I was little, but I know it is a long shot. 

My freelance work is tedious at times. I do Digital Media PR. Basically I control company social media pages. I run ads, write posts, write blogs, maintain websites and interact with fans on behalf of the company. Which also means my computer is constantly dinging at me and I constantly have people who want questions answered, responses to comments and retweets. That is not even going into the meetings, proposal writing and the best part about any sales driven job, the rejection. I do not even react much anymore when a potential clients decides to pass me by for a giant corporation. 

Then there is my family. I have an amazing fiance who understands that I am only doing this all until I am really established in the digital media PR world. Does that mean he doesn’t miss me when I do three overnights in a row at my nanny job because the parents are both in Europe for work? No, he misses me terribly, but he allows me to do my job and earn my paycheck. I am not sure my dogs are as understanding. I have an amazing three year old Husky/Chow mix that is my entire world. I have had that dog since he was just three weeks old and to him, I am god. My other dog is a two year old pomeranian mix that my fiance and I adopted a year ago. Rescue dogs are hard, they don’t fully trust you all the time and when I go missing for days you can bet my dogs know it. 

Somehow in all the chaos I find time for me. The ten minutes I spend writing blogs, or doing my morning yoga is pretty much what I live for. My fiance and I have taken to sitting on the balcony off our master bedroom and drinking our morning coffee out there before I go to work and he rests up for work (he works nights). It is a crazy life, and I would in no way say I have it all balanced out all the time, but that is how life is I guess. No matter how hard you try one part of your life will always push everything else out of balance, and once you get that figured out another aspect of life is pushing you over the edge. There are always those small moments, nanoseconds really, when everything balances and comes together and you find yourself in pure bliss. I call these moments, bed time. 



Writers block

I am sitting here staring at a story I have been writing for four or five years. You figure I would have it all figured out by now right? That I would know every twist, every turn and every detail that was possible. Too bad that  could not be further from the truth. I know the beginning, I know where I am currently at and I know the general path I want my characters to take. The specifics are happening just as I write them though. This allows me a lot of freedom in my writings of course. If I had everything planned out my writing would be robotic in a way. First my characters did this, then the did this and finally they did this. Since I do not have such a road map my story is more organic, I am growing and changing with my characters as I write them. The organic element is nice, but at the same time since I do not have a road map, it becomes difficult at times to figure out what my characters should be doing. 

Getting from point A to point Z in a fiction story can be super easy if you want your characters to have no depth to them. Instead you have to have all these points where your character grows and changes and develops over the course of the story. Without these points your story is just dull and has no life. Each step of the story has to be for a reason, A to B has a different lesson to learn than B to C does and so on. 

The other downside to writing a fiction/fantasy book is keeping things slightly believable. An alien just can not pop up in someone’s backyard and they are suddenly okay and accept that there is life beyond Earth when they did not believe in it before. There needs to be some transition period where they are in denial, even if in the end you plan on your earthling becoming best friends with the alien. This is difficult because typically the transition period is hard to write. I am over half way through my story and I know I have to go back and put in more of a transition for my main character before she accepts what is happening in her life. It is hard though, I want to write the riveting and exciting parts even though I know that my focus should be on the down moments just as much as it is on the high energy points. 

I get writer’s block quite often if you could not tell by the fact I have been working on this novel for four or five years. In the end I think it makes my writing better though when I walk away and do not look at it for a few days. For the last few weeks I had been trying to figure out how to link two parts of the the story I was sure I wanted to happen, but could not figure out how they were going to connect. After a week of not thinking about it, an idea finally came to me. Now my story is moving forward full speed again. Hopefully it will not take me another four or five years to write the second half of it. 


Writing is not always that easy….

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I was writing in cursive before I even started first grade, and I learned to read before I was in Kindergarten, so that tells you that reading and writing are kind of things I have been trained to do with my life. In elementary school, I remember making my parents edit and re-edit a two paragraph story I had to write that was entered into a grade wide contest to be displayed in the entry of the school. I do not remember what the story was about, I just remember not caring what my classmates thought of my happy dance when mine was picked to be displayed. A few years later, my fifth grade class participated in the D.A.R.E. program. Once a week two police offiers came to our class and taught us about the negative effects of drugs. Part of the program was to write an essay about an article we read about drugs. Most of the people in my class wrote two or three page typed essays. I used a pre lined page out of our D.A.R.E. handbook that if typed would probably be half a page if I was lucky. Needless to say, my jaw dropped when one of the officers announced that I would receive a medal for my essay and would read it in front of an audience at the D.A.R.E. awards for my school. 


I always did well in school, but my teachers always seemed to adore my writings, be them creative or academic. In my last semester of undergraduate studies I took my first rhetorical criticism class. We had to write a serious of papers that all led to one cumulative project at the end of the semester. After my second paper received the highest grade in the class my professor had a talk with me about going to graduate school and really putting my writing and research talent to use. I did not have any thing else major planned so I applied, submitted a few writing samples and was quickly accepted into the graduate program. For two years I added on to the paper that I originally wrote in undergrad. 


Writting is not always easy for me though. One day when I was looking through an old file my father had sent me that contained every milestone of mine from K-12. In the file was a short story I had written in kindergarten. Suddenly, I had a reason to write. I was going to turn that story into a book. I was going to write a book. Well, it has only been about three or four years and I am STILL working on that lovely book. In academics I could write a twenty page paper in under two hours if I really put my mind to it. No matter how hard I put my mind to writing this book, I seem to always get stuck, or think of an idea to improve a part that I had already finished, which means I have to redo parts again. Editing is even more of a headache. Editing around dialogue is ridiculously difficult at times, trying to use some from of proper grammer outside of dialogue while keeping the dialogue sounding like normal human speech, rather than like robots speaking in perfect grammar. 


Writing is not always easy, it is a total pain in the ass sometimes actually. The more I work on my book, the more I find there is a ton of work to do that I have not even started on yet. I will not give up on it though. As frustrating as it can be, as much I am pretty sure it will never really go anywhere, (though getting it published would be pretty awesome) and as much as I think I will never actually be fully happy with my work I would not walk away from something that I have poured my heart, soul and creativity into for years.