Random Wednesday: Dealing with Writer’s Block

I know what writer’s block is in theory but it’s not something I have really struggled with. Honestly, I’m full of bullshit 90% of the time. I can always write something down on a page. Perhaps this is where we break it down to a more specific discussion:

Good Writing vs Word Vomit

Good Writing:
Highly subjective and mostly planned. The decision of whether or not what you have written is passable. It’s more of a “feel good” writing in that – it moves your story forward, it’s hitting the points you want to hit, or it’s a good base to work with. Beta read, edit, whatever you want to do with it later, what you wrote is what you are happy with to some extent.

Word Vomit:
My flash fictions. No seriously. I just smash my face into the keyboard majority of the time I write those things and hope something semi-coherent comes out. Word vomit is just typing. Set a timer and type because you have to. Type non-stop until that timer goes off. If you don’t find a rhythm then take a break and try again after say 15 minutes. Otherwise, keep writing. You might end up with a short story about Thor breaking a juke box after being offended by a Nickelback song.

So how does good writing and word vomit relate to writers block? Well, that’s simple.

Vomit.

If you have writer’s block you are too afraid to word vomit because you have set your expectations too high. You feel that everything you write is going to be, or should be, “good writing.”

Let go. Just type.

It might not make it past the first draft. The story may sit unfinished forever. I know, I have started stories and then completely abandoned them after getting a better idea the second day. Hell, you should see the outline for my first manuscript from where it started and where I ended up. Simply because there were days I didn’t know what to write, felt completely stuck for one reason or another, and I just wrote for the sake of possible progress. The thing is, some of that word vomit, is in the manuscript I am sending out to agents. I was most flattered when one of my beta readers came to me and highlighted a scene they had read. They liked how real it made a character feel and how sad the reader felt for them. That scene was a “you are tired and you need to make word count before the day is over” moment. I just typed. I had no muse, no plan, and let me tell you, I really wanted to go to bed. But, after blindly typing for a half hour I came up with “something” to put on a page. That something ended up working. Who would have thought?

The bottom line is don’t be afraid to write and let it be crap if it’s crap. But, it might get you over the hurdle on to something else or you might actually surprise yourself and like what you wrote.

Hope this is helpful to some of you out there and please, don’t forget to check out the lovely ladies!

Bronwyn Green

Kellie St. James

Random Wednesday: When I’m Sick – Remedies and Whatnot (Migraines)

This week we’ve decided to discuss what to do when you sick. What works. What doesn’t. And the first thing that came to mind was migraines. I have some strong views on this topic and batten down the hatches because I plan to write about it.

Jessica Headache Level aka the For Fucks Sake Scale:

FFS-1: A mildly annoying heachache. Can be easily distracted from and forget it is occurring. Over the counter meds can assist.

FFS-2: An annoying heachache. A dillhole variety. Distraction is successful if it is distracting you from caring but it’s still there. Abuse of over the counter meds may assist. You know “take two” but you say screw it and take four.

FFS – 3: The schedule changer. “I can’t do :insert activity: because I have a headache.” You then order food instead of cook and watch Netflix. You whine a lot. Nothing works but you still maintain some energy and a small sense of humor.

FFS – 4: You’re not dead yet. But all of the above has happened with no relief and you wish you were. Glasses are off, eyes are closed, lightening strikes of pain when you roll over in your bed. The neighbor mowing the lawn outside has a death wish.

FFS – 5: Vomit happens and the bathroom floor is relaxingly cool.

And my personal opinion: Migraines change your life, not your schedule. 

Migraines rob you of freedom. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve cried to my husband because I don’t want my children to remember me for having headaches. Not being able to sit at the dinner table, forcing them to tip-toe around the house quietly, and why I was not there to read the bedtime story and tuck them in.

Time and time again I hear people refer to having migraines and are still functional. Either they continue to work, play, socialize – and just whine – or lay down for a bit and become their normal chipper selves the next day.

If you do this, you are full of horse shit and those who actually suffer from real migraines are taken less seriously because you’ve help set the example that migraines are not as severe as they actually are.

Headaches happen.
Severe headaches happen.
Don’t call it a migraine unless it’s actually a migraine.

But what do you do if you actually have a headache in the severe or migraine category, we’re talking FFS-4 and FFS-5? Well, there isn’t actually much help unfortunately. Not joking. There is no magic pill or shot in the ass (seriously, they do give shots and they are a little stingy) that cures a migraine. In my road to migraine management I’ll share with you what worked for me and what didn’t:

Triggers: Stress and hormones i.e. birth control (pill form).
Stress creates tension, tension can trigger headaches of varying degrees including migraines. I’m one of those tension headache to migraine people and this was discovered with help from regularly seeing my doctor and concluding pain medication had no effect on my headaches and there had to be something else going on. I went an entire month with a headache that varied in intensity but never went away. I suggested we take a stab and try a certain treatment method (get to that later) which worked and took a note that stress tension was the #1 trigger.
Birth control pills usually have an off week of sugar pills which allow menstruation. The sudden drop off of hormones can trigger headaches which isn’t unknown. It’s almost always listed somewhere in the side effects. But if you are sensitive to headaches to begin with, this can be a big deal. Luckily, there are ways around this and several forms of birth control pills and other methods that do not have a drop on hormones. Yay!

Headache prevention: When I first started actively pursuing something to solve my headaches I was given pain medication. Then more pain medication. And more. Finally a shot at one point. None of it worked. Not even a little. I was honest with my doctor(s) (I was going so frequently for check ups I did not always see my own and had a little team helping me.) Until one day one of the doctors did a physical exam where she inspected my neck, shoulders, and back. She concluded my muscles were extremely tight and the headache was a tension headache. I am already active in yoga and use meditation techniques. I tried to take it a step further and find other ways to stretch, walk away from work, be more mindful of my posture, etc. These things do help in the short term but not enough for me. The end result was less pain medication and more tension/anxiety treatment which meant antidepressants.

Headache prevention end result: Antidepressants didn’t work either. Rather, they made me feel very groggy and I still had headaches. Less severe but more frequent. Finally, I had enough and suggested we treat my muscles rather than stress and pain when we came up with a winning combination. A low dose muscle relaxer taken at night when I feel excessive amounts of tension. This option worked the best. I take it only as needed and does not give me a morning groggy feeling but rather I feel well rested. It’s not a cure all, severe headaches and migraines do still happen but it is by far the most successful method of prevention I have encountered.

Headache management: Now, there are still medications out there when a severe or migraine headache occur. I do have a prescription to help when a headache of this magnitude is present. I find it doesn’t cure the headache but does help lessen the severity, shorten time span, and assist with what I call the “headache hangover” the next day. Headache hangover: All life is drained from you and while you are still in pain you’re just happy to be alive.

Ways I make my self comfortable when I’m down and out include the following:

– Cold beverage: Ice water, slurpee, ice cold glass of coke, really anything cold.
– Dimly lit room: A dimly lit room creates a “light pollution” in a sense. Flashes of light from passing cars through the window, people milling about the house outside the bedroom, or having to leave the room for one reason or another, like say, go to the bathroom. My eyes are already adjusted to some level of light and I don’t feel that light-shock pain from going from a dark area to a lighted area.
– Sleep mask with cold wet wash cloth combo: I take a wash cloth soaked in cold water, fold it, and sandwich between my eyes and a sleep mask. This helps so if I lay on my side or toss and turn, the cool cloth stays in place. I’ve tried chilled masks, ice packs, ice packs wrapped in a towels, etc. This is the one that works for me.
– Heated rice bag: You can buy these or make your own. They are fabric bags filled with rice designed to place in the microwave, warmed up to your liking, and placed over sore muscles. I will place one of these on my shoulders and neck to help tension. I don’t know if it actually helps that much but it does feel nice and I like to think it does.

I don’t wish this on anyone. Headaches suck balls. But most of all, if you are like me, seek help. Talk to your doctor. Don’t be afraid to be an active part in your treatment and tell your doctor what does and doesn’t work for you. I know I’ve spent time talking to people and scouring the internet to try and find answers. There are no simple answers or solutions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a solution for yourself simply by knowing yourself.

Please visit the other girls pages and see what solutions they may have on when they are sick!

Bronwyn Green

Kellie St. James

Paige Prince

Flash Fiction (Song): The Guardian

Hello people! Today is another flash fiction based on a song picked by a member of our blogging group. Today’s song is Alanis Morissette, Guardian.

“Write about Dogma!”

If you haven’t seen the movie, Alanis is God in Dogma. And Alan Rickman is in it too. He is an angel. FYI, angels don’t have junk. It’s a topic covered in the movie.

No.

Thanks for the suggestion though.

Here we go, my song flash fiction for the month. Enjoy!

_______

I don’t like this part of town. The houses must have been amazing in their prime but the houses are now usually full of transients who have no obligation to keep up appearances and landlords who really don’t care to make more than the minimum investments. It has a run down feeling. An uncared for feeling. A rotten feeling. With a day full of cold wind, gray clouds, and the smell of car exhaust, it was exceptionally rotten.

Parking a few houses down on the street I pulled out my bag and inspected it’s contents out of habit. Presentation material, extra contracts, my calculator, a few pens, business cards, a sticky note pad, and a planner. Today was my only out of office appointment and I was prepared for at least five. Typically a week consisted of ten appointments at most. Bad for business but, good for families who are in need to see someone like me. I flip down the visor and take a quick look at myself, wiping some makeup fall out off my cheek before applying a light lip gloss. Stepping out of the car I smooth down my trench coat and take a large step over the grass patch before reaching the side walk so my heels avoid picking up dirt. A few houses down two older woman sit on their porch and watch me intently, they both wear their hair pulled back, one in a bun, the other in curlers. Gossiping with coffee cups in their hand and wearing lazy comfort clothes. The one with curlers takes a long drag of her cigarette and does not break her stare when I catch hers. I’m sure I look out of place for this neighborhood and really, I look out of place almost every where I go. Important enough to look professional but not professional enough to be important.

My clients house is kept up reasonably. The siding could use a coat of paint and empty planters sit strategically around the porch. The home shows evidence of love but no energy. I knock the front door a young man answers. He is wearing a uniform for the grocery story a few blocks down with a name tag showing his name to be Ka’vonne. His dark eyes judge me quickly and he straightens his stance, lifting his chin up in an attempt to seem bigger but the boy is only a teen and still has a few inches to go to be taller than me even without heels.

“Hi, I have an appointment with Penny?”

“Yeah?” He pushes out his lips and looks me up and down before closing the door all but a small sliver and disappears. It’s only a quick moment before an elderly woman appears with a bright friendly smile on her face but happiness is absent from her eyes.

“Penny Hayworth?” I hold out my hand to her. “I’m Gail from Greer Memorial Gardens. We talked on the phone.”

“Yes, yes sweet darlin’. You just come on right inside. W’all just sit in the dinin’ room if you don’t mind.” I attempt to kick off my shoes as trained but Penny stops me. “Nah darlin’ that ain’t necessary. Floor’s cold.” And cold it was. The whole house smelled of stale air and where the weather didn’t allow a window to be open, stubbornness or money kept the heat from being turned on.

At the dining room table I open my bag and pull out a brochure but hesitate to open it. “I understand you are looking to preplan your husbands burial? Is he here?”

“Nah. He has Alzheimer’s. I lost him yah see?”

“You mentioned something about losing him on the phone but I’m sorry, I didn’t fully understand. Can you explain. He is still alive, yes?”

“Oh.” Penny smiled a little and itched her dark hair in a way the movement gave away it was not her own but rather a carefully styled wig. “I can explain. See my husband is a wanderer. He just gonna walk out of the house and he don’t know where he is and sometimes I ain’t sure he know who he is. I lost him. My neighbors, God bless em, they brought him home. But it just too late ya see? I lost him that day in ways. He ain’t here mentally and I can’t keep pretendin’. I just can’t care for him no more. I’m too old myself. Not only that but I’ve got the grandchildren to care for. Them good kids but I can’t keep up with it all. The grandchildren, I can manage the grandchildren. They smart. They manage themselves. But my Henry, I can’t live with myself if he done hurt himself or I lose him again. He needs nurses. He needs a safe home.”

This is a story I’ve heard before and I nod along as she speaks. I know where the conversation is going.

“We can’t afford care. And I was told about our options.” Penny smiles her empty smile.

I sit back in my chair and open up my brochure of memorials and vaults before reaching over the table and taking Penny by the hand. “I understand. You need to liquidate enough assets to go on medicare for you to afford care for Henry. We do this all the time. But trust me, you aren’t just taking care of him but you are taking care of yourself too. This is for both of you. Trust me when I tell you, you are not alone. And we’ll find something nice for him. A place you can visit to remember all the days when things were a little bit easier.”

Penny smiles. And for the first time during our visit her eyes smile too. “I love him you know. This ain’t easy. Nah. Not at all easy. But, I know what I have to do. Even if it be tough decisions. It’s all for the best.”

“You are doing a great job taking care of him and making sure he is being taken care of.”

“Darlin’ I try.”

And there we sat for hours. Drinking coffee to keep warm, talking about Henry in his prime, and sorting the details of their final resting place. The day came two years later when I saw Penny again but this time she wasn’t coming to see me and I stood in the shadows with the groundsmen. The funeral was small and Penny was the last to leave. I caught her eye only briefly and saw the face of a woman who wasn’t going to give up her guard just yet. Henry might be gone but she will be back and will always be watching to make sure her love rests peacefully even in his grave.

____

Please visit Bronwyn Green and Kris Norris for their stories!

Random (Wordless) Wednesday: Summer

“Cock juggling thunder cunt.”

I’m a lazy follower of Jenny Trout’s blog and I just read her recent post while rocking my baby to sleep. I know. Rocking my little angel, watching his fine baby hair move with the slight breeze coming through his bedroom window. Looking through Google cards on my cell phone and seeing a post titled “C*** juggling thunder c***”. I thought “OH OH OH I KNOW WHAT THOSE WORDS ARE!” and read her post because I was instantly brought back to a time when I was in college. When men were men. Women were women. There was Family Video. And cable was somewhat affordable but it was only good for Law & Order marathons on TNT.

If you don’t know the quote it’s from Blade Trinity. The most special of the Blade movies.

But before we get back on topic, here is another notable movie quote from the same year: “A liger. It’s pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a lion and a tiger mixed. Bred for it’s magic skills.” – Napoleon Dynamite.

Moving on…

A wordless post about my summer. I can do this.

June: I was part of a walking competition which counted how many steps we took during the month. Even while pregnant, I kicked ass.
July: Regretting all my decisions from June. No more walking competitions while pregnant…
And in August we had the baby. This pretty much sums up my summer.

Thank you Leo for your assistance and please see the other non cock juggling thunder cunts for their wordless posts!

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince

Kellie St. James

Kris Norris

Jessica Jarman

Gwendolyn Cease

Random Wednesday: A-Z FOOD!!! And also cookies.

The topic for today is A-Z Recipes that we love or want to try.

Now, I’m terrible at coming up with meals for the week prior to grocery shopping but I can write about food. Food is good. I like food. Food and I are on talking terms. We hang out once in a while. We’re friends. Especially when I’m not the one that is cooking and money or time are not an issue. Let’s good started on this brilliant food conversation:

A – A single cookie
B – Bite of a cookie
C – Cookies
D – Delicious cookies
E – Eating cookies
F – Feeding myself cookies
G – God, did I really just sing the ABC song to remember what came after F?
H – Hell yes I did and…cookies
I – Individually wrapped cookie
J – Jessica, you going to keep this up? Yes, cookies.
K – Keeping up with the cookies
L – Lovely cookies
M – More cookies
N – Never enough cookies*
O – Oreo cookie (shake)
P – Plenty of cookies
Q – *Quantity of cookies: Never enough
R – Reminiscing about cookies
S – Stash of cookies
T – Tummy full of cookies
U – Unlimited cookies?
V – Very nice cookies
W – Woah! Cookies!
Y – Yes, I really did this post all about cookies
Z – Ze cookiez (German cookies)

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Picture and recipe from Hershey’s with Jessica adjustments.
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I don’t actually measure, I use a salt grinder and enjoy the bigger salt bits)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Chocolate Chips (Any kind will do – milk chocolate seems to be the household favorite)

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well…

Show those ingredients who is boss with a dance off if necessary. Wearing your favorite jacket with popped collar a must.

3. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Literally just drop them. Don’t measure out the cookie then roll the crap out of them in your hands like they are balls of play-doh. Just measure and drop.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly (2 minutes for me); remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. Minus the few that will be eaten while baking.

And this is how I’m rounding out this teaspoon sized post. Enjoy the cookie recipe and if you make some, don’t forget about me! I could use some cookies! Hint hint to the following ladies:

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince

Kayleigh Jones

Gwendolyn Cease

Kellie St. James

Flash Fiction Photo Prompt: Key Part One

Flash fiction Monday is back in action. Been a while since I’ve participated but now that I’m back in the game let’s see how this all shakes out. Don’t forget to visit the other ladies, as always, and see their awesome take on this months challenge.

Bronwyn Green

Kayleigh Jones

Kelly St. James

Paige Prince

Kris Norris

09-2015 - KeyInHand

She looked an awful like Queen Elizabeth. Meticulously curled white hair, periwinkle colored skirt suit, judgmental resting bitch face. I was so distracted by the loose skin hanging over her disapproving eyes I missed an available parking spot on the street and embarrassingly had to turn around in the middle of the street to get back to the clearly lived in home with the over grown lawn my new landlord was standing in front of.

Kelly smiles. “You’re an idiot.”

“Shut up. You didn’t tell me she was frightening.” I glared at Kelly before adjusting my car in a parallel park more times than would be passable on a driving test.

Opening up the glove compartment Kelly retrieves the envelope she had placed in there before we started our trip three hours ago. “Come on now. You can’t make much of an ass out of yourself now. You already send in your lease and security deposit. Let’s get this over with.”

As we step out of the car the woman politely crosses her hands in front of her, “It is illegal to make an u-turn on this street.”

“Yes. Sorry ma’am. Mrs. Tate?” I ask, my face getting warm.

“Kelly and Amy? I’m sorry but you are a little late though, I understand you were traveling. I have another appointment I need to get to. Inside on the kitchen counter you’ll find some paperwork. I need you to fill it out and give it back to me by the end of the weekend. Just put it in my drop box outside of my office which is the same address you mailed your leases to. You need to fill out on the forms any damage you find in the house. You will be charged for any repairs when you move out unless it had already been mentioned on your move in form. Here are your keys.” Mrs. Tate pulls a key chain with several keys out of her front pocket and hands them to Kelly as Kelly steps forward exchanging the keys for her envelope.

“Here is the co-sign information from my parents that you asked for. They will be paying you directly and this is the first three months in advance.”

Mrs. Tate pulls car keys from her opposite front pocket and a car alarm is disarmed across the road before taking the envelope. “Thank you. Call me with questions.”

Kelly and I decide not to wait and head straight up the porch and try our keys. Without hesitation we run unceremoniously screaming through the house, excited to start our junior year, and first year, off campus with own house to our name. I had only seen pictures of the house from the online ad and the pictures Kelly sent me when she toured through. Trusting her may have been questionable at times but it was a decent place. Old, drafty but the aged hard wood floors, the 80’s style light fixtures, and the olive green and yellow striped wall paper in the kitchen had a bit of charm.

“Check this out!” Kelly calls from the top of the stairs. In her hand is a key much like a skeleton key. “I found this in my room. It was just sitting on the window.”

“Put that on a chain and you can sell it on Etsy. And wait, your room. We didn’t pick rooms yet.”

“Oh. I did. I picked the room with more windows. You get the room with the walk in closet.”

“What if I wanted the bedroom with more windows?”

“Guess you are shit out of luck.” Kelly smiles and tosses the key to me. “All the rooms have new doors so I doubt it works on anything. Might work on the closet in your room though.”

The key felt heavy in my hands and left the metallic feeling of handling old coins. “Having a key to a closet door doesn’t seem very useful since my bedroom already has a lock on it anyway. If I don’t want someone in my closet I’ll just make sure no one can get into my room.”

Kelly laughs, “Maybe it’s not to keep someone out of your closet. Maybe it’s a key to keep whatever is in your closet from getting out.”

Check back later this week and I’ll continue this post. Unfortunately, mother duties call and I don’t think I’ll be able to wrap this up before it gets too late!

I’M BACK BITCHES! Random Wednesday: Favorite Places to Read

This mamacita is ready to write!

Just kidding. I’m ready to nap.

I’ve also been watching a lot of Dr. Who. And by a lot I mean a lot. Thank you Netflix.

But let’s get back on track here, brush off the dust, new born spit up, and whatever this is. The topic for this random Wednesday is reading places and this is going to be a short post but you know what, that’s okay. I probably only have a short window of time before I’m back on Mom duty.

I can read anywhere and I don’t have a favorite place.

…yup that’s pretty much it for this post.

My least favorite place is a car, I can say that much. Something about reading in cars gives me a headache. I envy people who can read in a moving vehicle. But please, don’t read and drive at the same time. That’s a bad choice.

I wish I had more to say on this one but I really don’t. On second thought, the beach I suppose is a really nice place to read but five years later I still have sand in my kindle.

If you are going to read at the beach I recommend a nice book over electronic devices. Just saying.

Okay – please check out the awesome ladies that I’m about to call out for majorly slacking. If this post ends up being just me and Bronwyn then gold fucking star for us. :virtual high five: WAIT! WE HAVE A LAST MINUTE ADDITION! :virtual high five to Kellie!:

Bronwyn Green

Kellie St. James