I hurt

I don’t want to rise
I don’t want to work
I just want to stay inside
Because I’m so tired, I hurt

Just a few more minutes
Let me steal proper sleep
I’m nearing my limits
Then harm will I reap

A thankless job
So physically exhausting.
Like fighting a mob
It’s overwhelmingly daunting

A hundred kennels to be cleaned and scrubbed
In front. In back. Then the drains there too
So your muscles will feel pummeled and mugged
And the energy is drained right out of you

Day in and day out
Not a break to be set
You’re too spent to pout
And hobbies undone leave you with regret

Give me a reason
The pay isn’t enough
Give me a reason
So I’m not tempted to bluff

I could call in
Say I’m sick
I could commit a sin
Then sleep in bliss

There aren’t enough days to fight this fatigue
PTO is all spent
There’s no such thing as ease
And let’s not forget the rent

But heavy muscles don’t care
Heavy eyelids just close
Why should I go where
I have to fight with a hose?

So, I don’t want to rise
And I don’t want to work
I just want to stay inside
Because I’m so tired, I hurt.

The Life of a Writer

Awesome! I have some free time!
I’m going to pump out 30 pages!
*Gets distracted by Facebook chime.*
*Ends up scrolling for ages.*
Hm…There’s still time left.
I can break out the pens
Reviewing old scenes will renew my deft.
But what now that I’m at the end?
Stare at the blank space at the bottom of the page.
Does this sound right? Maybe it shouldn’t stay?
Maybe there’s a better way to write this scene?
If I write it and change it and write it again?
Oh good grief! It’s never going to end!
Who am I kidding? This story’s going nowhere!
I give up! I quit! There’s no point out there!
But I do love that scene and that action there is GOOD.
And let’s not forget the love that should but never could.
I’ll write a word. Some dialogue. A sentence or two.
Wow! Look at that! A paragraph just grew!
Let’s amp up the torture. What pain can I cause,
To my beloved character by displaying his flaws.
It’s not thirty pages, but there’s something there.
Some progress. A step forward–even if just by a hair.
This is good! I’m satisfied. Let’s take a break.
Wouldn’t want to keep going and make a mistake.
I hope I get more free time soon.
So I can exceed my expectations!
I’ll write from here to the moon!
But first and foremost. Before I forget.
I’ll silence notifications so my hours don’t get spent.

Writing Prompt: I’m Offended.

I don’t get offended easily–or at least, I like to think that I don’t. So, when considering the writing prompt: what’s the most offensive thing you have ever heard anyone say? Not a lot comes to mind. Sure, I could talk about something some political person or sports person or media whatnot said or I could delve into the unjust reasons people aren’t being kind to each other, but there’s enough of that whatnot out there that I don’t want it on my website. So, allow me to share with you a time where I found something that somebody said to me–said to his platform–very offensive.

A few years ago, I took Organic Chemistry and lab as a summer class while pursuing my bachelor’s. Organic Chemistry…really sucks. It’s one of those classes where you think you have it all down, but you take the test and you bombed. Then, you find out that not only you bombed, but the entire class did as well. And, when the class keeps bombing, you know something must be wrong with the way things are being taught. A wise professor would start asking questions to figure out where knowledge is getting lost in translation. My professor? Well, he blamed us, his students.

I remember multiple times throughout the summer my professor would tell us it took someone special to understand OChem. It took grit and it wasn’t for everyone. Only the brave will master OChem. These are all valid points. I mean, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a subject where it’ll take grit for them understand and everyone has their top subjects and their not so top subjects. OChem just happens to a subject that is difficult for more people than most. I gave my professor the benefit of the doubt at the start. Maybe in his own way, he thought he was encouraging us to be that someone special he always talked about. I certainly didn’t want to be that someone special. I just wanted to pass the class. What did annoy me, though, was that my professor started saying things like he’s “awesome because he can do OChem. Only awesome people can do OChem.” He would butter himself up all because he was good at OChem. Look. I get being excited for your subject and confidence in yourself is a must when teaching, but he was getting arrogant and arrogance isn’t flattering. Yet, I was stuck with this professor for the whole summer and I needed to pass the class. So, I did my best to ignore his arrogance and focuse on the knowledge.

Then, a day came when my professor said something that if my roommate hadn’t been there, I would’ve caused an uproar. It was a typical day. My roommate and I sat in the front row like always. The professor had his whiteboard with chemical bonds on it, but before starting lecture, he was going over the quizzes…that everyone failed. Instead of being a wise professor and figuring out what went wrong and helping us understand, we got a lecture from him over how OChem takes special people and hard work and we’ve got to put in the hard work to be “awesome” and “OChem isn’t a subject everyone can do like art.”

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard my professor say that last line. I even looked at my roommate to confirm that he actually said it and she was giving me a warning look to keep my mouth shut. He seriously said that! He said that art is a subject that everyone can do! And his tone was so downgrading! It was like he was some king spitting upon a peasant! If you’ve explored my website, you know I’m an artist. I share my paintings, pastels, and pencil drawings in my Art Gallery. I even doodled in all class because it helped me pay attention. But for my professor to have the gall to imply that OChem is the superior subject because not everyone can do it and even say that everyone can do art–I’m sorry. Did he paint the Mona Lisa?! He did paint Starry Night?! Has he ever tried to capture the beauty of the sunrise or the pattern of a blue jay’s feathers?! What about the sheen of water? Not everyone can do that! Sure. Art is subjective. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. You could put a smiley face on a stick and call it art, but not everyone can make a living off of it. Not everyone can make someone feel something when they create art.

I still can’t believe my professor disrespected another school subject like that just because it wasn’t “awesome” like OChem (***Disclaimer*** OChem is not awesome. In my opinion, OChem sucks). I wanted to call out my professor. I wanted to argue and defend artists everywhere. I wanted to walk out of that classroom and never come back. However, my roommate–being the ever dutiful Ravenclaw that she is–kept me in my seat and convinced me to survive the class with my mouth shut so I wouldn’t have to push back my graduation date by taking OChem again. I put up with my teacher for the rest of the summer–though I may have given him quite a few looks that proved my disapproval of him. At the end of the semester, I wrote a strongly worded and rant-like review about his arrogance, accusations, and his disregard for other subjects–specifically art.

Everyone is built different. OChem comes easy for some and it’s difficult for most. Art is easy for some and difficult for some. We all have different talents which is why human beings need to be interdependent on each other. I don’t believe any school subject should be considered greater over another and yet, the world views them that way. People are praised for going into sports, law degrees, or the sciences and yet an artist is just an artist and other smaller subjects don’t get mentioned so a lot of people don’t even realize they exist. Why can’t people be praised and rewarded for doing what they love and making a difference instead of winning a rusty trophy or making the big bucks? The world may never know.

So, my professor downgrading art as a subject is the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard. Compared to most things, I think I have a pretty solid reason to be offended by the things he said. I don’t know where he is now. I don’t even know if he’s still teaching, but I do hope he got a little bit wiser for his own sake.

Now, how about you? What’s the most offensive thing you’ve ever heard?

Capture the Flag Poem

Written in 2013

Hidden, I plot my course.
Anxious, heart-pounding,
My team undergoing cunning force.
Their flag, our flag, the sun grounding.

A shout, a call, I’m seen.
Panicking, I flee to the enemy,
“Wrong way!” my team screams.
But a thought, a plan, a hole’s my remedy.

He fell, it worked! To my base I bolt.
I ran, my team protected, victory was near.
Few more paces, almost there, every step giving me a jolt.
“Time’s Up!” the buzzer’s call, worst sound I’ll ever hear.

Oh, To Be…

Oh, to be needed.
Oh, to be wanted.
Oh, to be something valued and spotted.
But, not to be, and in misery
Not a treasured part of the team.

Built frustration.
Lost connection.
Everyone keeps you in isolation.
Who to reach out? Who to care?
Who to stop you from losing air?

There’s complaint.
There’s discontent.
There’s a talking to that makes you feel spent.

What effort do you give?
Should you correct yourself?
Should you do better despite what you felt?
What about them? Why should it be you?
To bridge the gap with sticky glue.

What’s the point?
You disappoint.
Too much learned behavior you can’t exploit.
Try if you’d like. See how it goes.
Perhaps the chaos can turn into a rose?

Humble the shame. See what you need.
And apologize for slamming things.
Take a breath. Look ahead.
And grow into what your God intends.

Every hardship.
Every trip.
Is there to be sure that you’re equipped.
Every darkness can have redemption.
There’s nothing that is an exception.

Let floodgates open.
Let truth spill out.
Go beyond and past the doubt.
And someday you’ll be what is intended.

To be needed.
Wanted.
Valued and spotted.

Breaking the News to Your Characters

So, how many of you writers out there like to view your characters as alive in their own right? You know they’re not real, but you still do exercises like having conversations with them to figure out what they like, how they grew up, or you even straight up ask them what they’re going to do next in the situation you’ve thrown them in. I like writing this way because then I’m even surprised by the plot twists and it makes me feel like the story is more alive than just some story map on a page. There is a downside to writing this way, though. Sometimes your characters will tell you plot twists too late and you have to go back and rewrite the beginning of the book to compensate. That always makes the book better, though.

Then, there are the times where you, the author, decide that the book needs a revision and, as for me, I’ve done it a lot. So, how do you break it to your characters? You can’t just blame it on one character by pointing out their plot twist so all of them are mad at that one character. You could just start doing it and hope they don’t notice. I always try to bring it to their attention, because then they might tell me other things that need improvement.

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’ll know that I’m doing another revision on my novel. I’m trying to decrease word count, figure out if I’m telling and showing the same thing in one scene, and make the main character’s feelings more prominent. It’s a slow progress, but I’m making a lot of improvements and my goal is to have the draft completed by the end of the year (I know, it’s a long timeframe, but you never know what can happen in a year–I’m looking at you, 2020).

My characters knew I wanted to revise the story. I mean, something wasn’t working and we couldn’t figure out what, but thanks to a writing workshop, I know the direction we need to go and I’m excited to get there. So, when it came to breaking the News to my characters, I imaged it went something like this:

“Alright, everyone, gather around!” I waved my hands in the air to herd my characters closer. Looks like everyone was here, but…wait… “Justin!” I turn to my main character. “Where’s–” He cuts me off with a shake of his head. My spitfire girl isn’t coming. Why am I not surprised?

“Ok!” I smile as I look everyone over. Looks like everyone is here except my spitfire girl. I’ll track her down later. “As you all know, Justin and I just attended that writing conference. We’ve got a whole notebook of ways to improve our novel!”

“So, what’s she saying,” Justin crosses his arms and frowns at me. “Is that we’re going through another revision.”

Groans echo from the crowd. My chestnut centaur tosses his hands up. “What’s in this one?”

“I think it’s rather exciting!” My old chef smiles at the others. “I saw some of her notes! There’s going to be some heartfelt changes!”

“And probably some not so heartfelt changes.” I have a tanned lieutenant that gives me a very pointed and angry look. “Let me guess, something else is getting destroyed?”

“Calm down, it’s not as bad as you think!” I frown back at the lieutenant. “This is for the best and you know it! Word count is our biggest issue and I have some news way to shave it down. Not only that, but I’m changing up some scenes to draw in the most drama and anticipation! It’s going to be better than before! Just like every other revision!”

Muttering continues amongst my characters. Some of them don’t quite believe me, but others know I’m right. My dark-haired knight just turns and leaves, but he’s never been one for words. My chef is trying to explain some of my notes to my centaur, but those notes don’t actually effect the centaur, so he doesn’t look interested. Eventually, all of them just mill away. Some of them ask me questions and I let them know of any changes to their fate. I’m glad most of them are taking it well.

Justin’s remaining where he was. He stares at me with arms crossed and discontent on his face.. He’s waiting for everyone to leave. So, I can guess what he wants to talk to me about. “What’s on your mind?” I ask him.

“I don’t like some of the changes you’ve come up with.”

This doesn’t surprise me. “Why not? They’re helping the story. More tension, more background, more accuracy–”

“More revealing.”

I sigh. “Justin, you’re the main character. People have to know what’s going on inside your head.”

“No they don’t!” He snaps at me. “The older version was just fine! People don’t need to see…” He trails off with a deep breath. I know exactly what’s bothering him. I rewrote the beginning of my book to include a scene that was once a memory he didn’t want to relive.

“No one is going to think lesser of you.” I smile softly at him. “People read books to relate to the characters. To feel what they’re going through and see them overcome it. You’ve got what it takes, Justin.”

He doesn’t look at me and I see the doubt in his eyes, but instead of admitting it, he stiffens up. “You better make it worth it.”

“It will be.” I have to say those words strong enough for the both of us to believe it. “The story always gets better after a revision. Remember the hope we had when we first thought of these changes? We can’t lose it! Our dream will come true..”

Writing Prompt: Best Compliment

What’s a compliment you’ve received that really made your day? And I mean REALLY made your day. Maybe your mind goes to one specific thing or maybe you think of something you wish someone would compliment you on? Either way, let us know!

For me, well, I’ve got a pretty specific memory that comes to mind with this question. If you don’t know by now: I’m a geek. I play video games, watch movies, read books, and all. And the first compliment I think of when considering this question comes from all the way back when I was in junior high. It was probably 7th grade. My friends and I are sitting around the lunch table. I have no idea what we were talking about, but one of my friends–one of my preppy type of my friends–looks at me and says: “you know, if you had pointy ears, you look like that princess from the video game my brother plays.” Naturally, my interests were peaked and my first thought was that she meant the Legend of Zelda video game series. However, I always hid how much of a geek I was way back when. My friends didn’t know I played video games and was into all the stuff that society would frown upon. You know how it goes: “Oh, you’re a geek? What a nerd. Video games rot your brain. Play a real sport. Etc. Etc. Etc.” I hid all that stuff so that I wouldn’t get picked on or look down on. So, when my friend told me I look like some princess from a video game I tried to hide the fact that I probably knew exactly what she was talking about. I awkwardly shrugged and asked: “which game?” She just shook her head and said: “I don’t know. I don’t remember.” I tried to pry: “was it the Legend of Zelda? I’ve heard there’s a pointy eared princess in that one.” She shrugs and says: “probably.”

Given the fact that Princess Zelda from the Legend of Zelda series is my all-time favorite character, I was feeling pretty good after that compliment! I know she could’ve been thinking of a different video game and I know she was just trying to pry my geekiness out of me and prove that I’m not as preppy as she is, but there was a chance that I got compared to Princess Zelda so I didn’t care one, stinkin’ bit!

Things have definitely changed since those days. Princess Zelda is still my favorite character, but nowadays, I hope to be complimented on my writing over my looks. I would especially love to get complimented on when it comes to my book. It would be nice to hear: “hey, Nikki, your book was fantastic! I can’t wait to read the next one!” Being a writer, people compliment you all the time on your writing whether it’s a blog post, a poem, or just a note in a card, but for non-published authors, it can be hard to find someone who will read your book all the way through and honestly tell you they really liked it. If beta readers (other writers) read it to help with feedback, they might hold back their opinion because they’re intimidated or they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Beta readers know how much heart gets put in a book, and no one wants their heart crushed. Then, if family members read it, they often soften their opinion. Tell you its good just because you’re family. Hopefully, one day, my book will get published and I’ll be able to look online for that one review that says this book was really good.

So, that’s my best past compliment and hopeful compliment for the future. What about you? What unique compliment have you been giving? And, what about your neighbor? Your sister? Brother? Mother? Friend? What unique compliment do you think they would like? I dare you to share your stories either in the comments below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages. Oh, and I double-dog dare you to give someone the best compliment today. Let them know something that they’ll be smiling about when they remember it years from now.

Make someone’s day.

Like Them

May I be honest? Something’s been bugging the back of mind for a while now and I’d like to just write it out. Allow me to share my thoughts and I think everyone will find that they can relate.

Have you ever met someone who is just awesome? You introduce, become friends, hang out, laugh, and just have a good time together. Then, as time goes by, you realize you’re friend is really good at stuff. Whatever they set their mind to, they accomplish. Whether it’s learning something for the first time or doing typical tasks.

Do you have a friend like that? Maybe it’s a family member or a coworker, or someone you met one time? They can be kinda intimidating. You see their accomplishments, hear what others say about them, and suddenly you find yourself having a conversation with comparison.

“Oh, they’re really good at being a leader. I don’t think I can be like that.”

“Wow, they succeeded on their first try. I failed five times and still never got it.”

“Man, I wish I was as sure of myself as they are.”

“They’ve achieved so much and what I have done?”

“If I were more like them, my life would be better.”

The list goes on and what’s worse is that you start to let that comparison define you. You strive so hard to be like somebody else, you miss the value in just being you. You may have heard this before, but they say “comparison is the thief of joy,” and they’re right. I’ve been there. I still fall into that trap here and there. I compare myself to friends, coworkers, cousins, and the like. And you know what? It SUCKS! I’d go through periods of discouragement and self loathing because I wasn’t on the same road to success as my cousins or because I wasn’t as bold as my coworkers. It’s a dark place and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

So how do you get out? Well, just stop with the comparisons. It sounds easy, but it’s really not. I, personally, try to remember that everyone has different skill sets and that’s a good thing! If we were all the best at everything, we wouldn’t need each other. I’m not bold, but I know people who are, so if I notice a problem that needs addressed, I know who I can tell who will stir the pot. You may not be physically strong, but there are a lot of people out there who can help you compensate. I mean, if you think about it. How many books, movies, and video games have characters of different skills and backgrounds working together? Pretty much all of them. And if you make a team to work on a project, you’re going to pick people who have the skill sets for each task. So, why try to be like someone else on the team when you have your own role to play?

It’s difficult to keep that in mind. Whenever you see that person who’s “better than you” it’s a harsh reminder of the skills you lack, but you have to remember the skills you have. Remember what you contribute and be happy for your family, friends, and coworkers for the skills they have, because even though you need their skills now, they’ll be needing yours someday. So when comparison comes knocking for a nice little chat. Don’t even open the door. Remember there’s value in just being yourself. You’re one of a kind after all. Out of the billions of people in history and alive today, not one is like you. I struggle with comparing my life path to others, especially family. It’s hard seeing their success in finding a spouse, buying a house, or furthering their career when I’m still working on mine. But, that just means my timing is a little later than everyone else’s. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Besides, after thinking about it, I know there are things I want to accomplish before the spouse and the house show up.

Letting go of comparison is very freeing. Don’t get me wrong, I still fall into that trap now and again, but fighting back with truth reminds me of my own worth. It reminds me that the path I’m on has purpose. I’m working on growing confidence in myself and am growing more comfortable relying on others. However, lately, what’s strange is that I’m finding myself on the flip side.

“What do you mean ‘on the flip side?'”

Well…I’ve had some people compare themselves to me.

“Isn’t that a good thing? You should feel honored!”

Uh, no. No. Not at all. It sucks too. I’ve caught snide comments like: “Of course you did well” or people will outright compare themselves by saying: “We can’t all have your abs.” Or “you must have gotten your genes from your mother.” Then, you have the ones who are completely honest and kind about it when they tell you that seeing your success makes them feel insecure. They paint this grand illusion of you that you’re good at everything when you know that’s not true. That grand illusion and those admissions can make you feel many different things and I’ve listed the main ones:

  1. You want to live up to those expectations which you can’t because nobody’s perfect.
  2. You want to avoid the people you make feel insecure all together because you don’t want them feeling that way.
  3. You dial back yourself to make others feel better.

That’s also no way to live. If you try to meet those perfect expectations, you’ll burn out, make a mistake, and people will shame you for it. If you avoid the people you make feel insecure, not only is it lonely, but then others get REALLY insecure by thinking you’re not talking to them because you’re mad at them and misunderstandings lead to dead friendships. However, if you dial back yourself, you’re not being true to yourself and others will receive what you rightfully earn. Plus, you’ll be left out of the group, which is how I’ve been lately with family and with coworkers. I dial back so others don’t feel intimidated, but people start passing you by or overlook you when you don’t shine like you’re supposed too.

So, what do you do? People always say be true to yourself no matter what. But people don’t like it when you’re true self intimidates them. I honestly don’t have an answer. I’ve tried talking to the people who feel insecure around me, but the talks don’t help and I don’t know what more to do. Do you just go about your business? Shine in your own way and let the friendship fall apart because of their insecurities? I mean, I’ve reached out, but when they don’t reach back, how can you help them? I’ve never been in this position before. I mean, I’m always the one doing the comparing not the other way around!

I’ll end it here with this food for thought. If you have a story involving comparison whether it was you comparing to someone else or someone comparing themselves to you, please feel free to share! Either in the comments here or on my Twitter or Facebook pages. Maybe we can help each other win the battle against comparison and instead of being more like them, you be more like you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This morning marks the first day
Of 2022
Many jump and shout “Hooray!
Thank God the year’s brand new!”

Now on to good things, hopes, and dreams.
Let’s focus on the joy!
There’s so much opportunity
Like a Christmas full of toys!

So begone the doubt! Begone the dread!
Begone all misery and stress!
Begone dark thoughts inside your head!
There’s no time to second-guess.

This 2022,
Focus on the glee
Make a toast to things brand new
And all the wonder we may see.

Shed no tears for what may end.
Shed no tears at all.
Keep your focus straight ahead.
Let the past fade overall.

One final toast: “fairwell ’21!”
Don’t ever be seen again.
This year, it marks a brand new dawn,
And that deserves an “Amen!”

So, gladness to you
And all you hold dear
This 2022
Why not? Together, let’s raise the cheer
For everyone around to hear.
Shout it out! Loud and clear!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Cross Your Fingers

Cross your fingers and say a prayer everyone. The New Year is right around the corner and, well, who knows what it’s going to be like. Usually, your first instinct is to hope. Hope the year will be better. Hope your dreams will be on your way or just hope that you’ll have a little bit of success. Yet, with 2020 and 2021 and all the COVID whatnot that’s still going on, it seems that everyone’s hesitating into the New Year. Instead of walking right in, we’re cracking open the door to take a peek to hopefully see what we’re getting ourselves into.

Unfortunately, no one can fully predict what the next year will be like. Everyone could have a paradise of a year, COVID could finally go away, or we could all be stung by radioactive bees and suddenly find ourselves in the world of superheroes. It sounds a little farfetched, but at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised. Regardless of what the New Year will bring, I hope you enjoyed your 2021 on some scale. A few weeks ago, I did a post on Where Has the Year Gone? I hope you take a look at it to help reflect on your 2021. Maybe it’ll inspire you to look forward to the New Year?

Allow me to be honest: I’m not exactly excited for the New Year. I want to be that person that stands up in front and says “Yeah! 2022 will be my year! You’ll see! My dream will come true! It’s gonna happen!” But, I felt that way last year and now I’m revising my entire novel…again. Don’t get me wrong, it needs these revisions and I’m excited for them, but it brings up that nagging in the back of my mind that maybe my novel will never be ready for publishing no matter how much I work on it. So, for 2022, I’m not setting high expectations. My New Year’s resolution is to just finish this current revision. I have to balance work and other stuff, so I’ve no idea how long this revision is going to take. Hopefully, it won’t take all year, but I could end up in a car crash and be in a coma for most of it so I’m giving myself plenty of wiggle room to get the draft done.

When it comes to 2022, I’m going to take it a step at a time. No high expectations. No long shot goals. And certainly no stressing over “Where do you see yourself in ten years” questions. I don’t care if that means I’m not ambitious. I’m going to go at my own pace and see where putting one foot in front of the other will get me. 2020 and 2021 have been…strange. So, why tempt 2022 into being even stranger?

So, that’s how I’m hesitating into 2022. You may be wanting to dive right into the New Year and good for you! However, if you’re like me and you’re not sure you want the New Year to come around, don’t feel bad about it. A new year means different things to different people and we’ve all got to go at our own pace. Your dream may come true or you may just be taking the next step toward it. Or, maybe you’re living the dream and you can just cruise into the New Year. Good for you! Well done! I only ask that you don’t judge the rest of us who are struggling to see those dreams come true. Times are…strange these days.

I hope you enjoy these last few days of 2021–may it be kind to you on its way out–and I hope you enjoy your 2022. May your dreams come true. May your health be well. May you read A LOT of good content (hopefully on this website). And may you not end up on the side of the road in a blizzard like I did January 1st, 2021.

Seasons greetings and I’ll see you in the New Year, my friends.