Random Wednesday: Thanks for Stuff

Things I’m thankful for.

Well let’s make this obvious shall we…

I’m thankful that I don’t have to work tomorrow.

Now Jessica, you are suppose to write about things you are thankful for like family, friends, good health, or maybe some goals you accomplished and other good things that have happened.

And I bet you want me to go on Facebook and find some artsy picture with inspirational text layered over about thanking one another and love and what not?

Well, no. It’s not about the picture. It’s about the message.

How’s this?

No. I don’t think this is a “thankful” message.

Oh. You know, I would still be cool if we just settled on the “I’m thankful I don’t have to work tomorrow” thing.

You’re missing the point of this post.

I’m thankful Doctor Who is on Netflix?

What about being thankful for your family?

I’ll be thankful the year I don’t have to lie to my mother-in-law what time dinner is so she shows up on time.

OH MY GOD MINE TOO!

Really?

Really.

Heh…mother-in-laws. Let’s all be thankful for little white lies that get things done.

Deal.

Here is to my post! -raises glass- Let’s all be thankful this year for getting shit done! Except for work…since I don’t have to work tomorrow.

Cheers.

Cheers.

And here’s to my other ladies who are thankful for stuff:

Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Kellie St. James

 

Random Wednesday: Mistakes From My First Manuscript – How I’ve Grown as a Writer

I’ve made mistakes. I’m sure I have. There is no question in my mind, my first manuscript is littered with them. But, I don’t know what they are…yet. Because I haven’t gotten over the hurdles that are simply part of the process. To answer the question, “How have I grown as a writer?” the answer is, “I’m not so sure on my actual writing but my habits are what I’ve learned that make a big difference.”

I’m my own worst enemy. I can re-outline, rewrite, re-evaluate, re-plan, rewrite again, re-research, and then rewrite again. I can send out to beta readers, I can stare at the same page for hours, I can find excuses not to write or approach my own self made impending doom and edit more.

I guess you can say when it comes to writing, the biggest asshole is me. I create my own grief to achieve a “possible” reward that even I’m pessimistic in obtaining. I’ve got a manuscript I think is a little too short, a story that may be slightly too dull, and a rejection list that is a bit too “Thanks but, no thanks.”

Where then, have I grown as a writer?

I look at my peers and the success they achieved through hard work.

I look at my finished manuscript.

I look at my beta readers who say “Yes! Keep going!”

I look at how I typed “thing” instead of “think” for the millionth time.

I look at my list of agents who I’ve submitted to.

And I look at the uphill battle of coming up with a concept, executing the concept to a manuscript, smashing that lump of coal to a pawn shop diamond with editing, and submitting to agents while all the giant ass boulders of self doubt come rolling down to knock me off my little Writing Goals Hill, to which say…

Suck it self doubt.

There will always be room for improvement. Always. And I accept this first manuscript might not make it anywhere. I’m actually okay with that. This is why I’m now working on a second. I’m going to keep practicing, learning, growing, and one day I’ll hopefully reach my goals of being published. Until then, it really doesn’t matter. I know, now, that I can write a novel and if I can do it once, I can do it again and again and again. Even if no one but my beta readers read them. It doesn’t really matter to me.

Because right or wrong. I’m happy when I’m writing. No one is obligated to enjoy my work, it’s my work and it makes me happy. Now I can tell my asshole self to shut the hell up but, published or not, I’ve been able to do something extraordinary. I’m now not afraid of writing but, really rather proud of it. This is how I’ve grown as a writer.

Please read my other fantastic friends:

Jessica Jarman

Kayleigh Jones

Bronwyn Green

Gwendolyn Cease

Kris “Honey Badger” Norris

Random Wednesday: My “Favorite” Things About Social Media

I read the topic for today and I cringed. Favorite things on social media whether it be instagram, twitter, pinterest, facebook, tumblr, whatever is out there.

And here is my rant:

I don’t enjoy social media.

Hell, you should see me text. As of this writing I have two texts from Bronwyn Green I haven’t looked at yet. She texts like a woman with a mission. I send one text and she can send eight in reply. I’m not sure if it’s her or the way texts come across between our carriers but, she puts my social skills to shame.

If you are stranded on an island and you need to pick one of two people to be social with, pick Bronwyn. I’d be able to reach the coconuts over her t-rex arms but I’d probably resort to using the coconuts as a weapon later on to avoid conversation. And by avoid conversation I mean, permanently. So seriously, pick Bronwyn.

There was a time, a long time ago, where Facebook was a lot of fun. My friends were actually my closest friends and if I wanted to see what they were up to I had to visit their page. It wasn’t public, there was no news feed. Co-workers, clients, family members, acquaintances you only accepted the friend request for because you didn’t want to seem rude and they aren’t your favorite people but you don’t necessarily hate them – didn’t exist. Facebook was among a certain demographic and there was no fear of social suicide should you be Sergent Secretary Stems and Seeds of the Auxiliary #420 Club, a group of your friends made up at a party that was viewed by invite only.

Now I see a post from someone I worked with over six years ago for less than a year, “OMG! I’m having such a bad day!” and then a sea of “likes” and “praying for you” comments. When I see someone comment, “praying for you” I think the following:

1 – If the holy of holies is getting a few memos from Facebook, some serious shit has gone down.

2 – So what is this shit?

3 – Why do people like negative status updates? Does anyone else find that counter productive? Or are they having a bad day too? What’s the prayer list up to? How many people are on it at this point?*

4 – I thought we were friends, why the cryptic message?

–and if the friend does post what’s so bad–

5 – Sorry sweetheart, I got bored with your whining, what were you saying again?

6 – And now I remember why I have so few friends…

*Note: I went to parochial school which required church attendance. If you were the dick that put names on the prayer list of minor importance like, “Please pray for Edith who is suffering at home with a broken foot…” and you are the culprit who dragged on the prayer portion of the service for a half hour longer than necessary. Add your name on the list so the congregation can pray for you to be less of a douche canoe. Nothing makes a child more angry than waiting to eat breakfast, stomach rumbles echoing off the stone walls, and we’re praying for old people with first world problems. SHE DOESN’T NEED A PRAYER! WALK IT OFF EDITH, I’M STARVING!

I purge my Facebook “friends” often. I’ve removed my profile picture and never post other than the birthday wish “thank you” I send out once a year to the people who use facebook in lieu of a phone call or snail mail card. Which I’m actually okay with. I would delete Facebook completely if it weren’t for it being the only source of communication for a large number of people. Such as, now that I’m a parent, teachers. The teachers I have encountered are still pretty good at posting information in the classroom or daily handouts but I have met a few that rely on Facebook for information. Where is the waterbottle I sent to school with you? Oh Frank’s mom accidentally took it. She could have just left it in the classroom with the teacher the following day but nope – Facebook status update: I HAVE YOUR WATER BOTTLE!

Thank you. I was about to put out an Elsa alert for lost, stolen, and exploited Frozen themed water bottles.

Due to Facebook ruining my already skeptical image of people I didn’t really want to get to know, I have avoided Instagram because I don’t need a photobook version of irritation. Tumblr always seemed geared more toward the younger generation. Get off my back, I’m not super old. It’s popular with my nieces and nephews and I just felt like it was their space. People ruined Facebook for me, I’m not going to destroy Tumblr for them. Though, I do know many people who enjoy Tumblr and are my age or older but, it has an adult-in-Chuck-E-Cheese feeling to me I can’t shake.

I have no idea how Pinterest works. Honestly, haven’t the faintest.

Twitter however, Twitter I do enjoy. I read more than I tweet and I find it a hodge podge of “That’s funny”, “That’s interesting”, and “Really? 50 chicken nuggets in one sitting? That’s disgusting.” It seems I find a different audience and entertainment on Twitter and it’s more enjoyable. It’s hard to annoy people in 142 characters and I never see the “I’ll pray for you” comments. Though I did see someone comment on Chris Evan’s twitter, “I want you to come in my mouth.” Like whoa. Pump the brakes there chica this is Captain America you are talking to. Then again, a lot of people complain, “I don’t get Twitter.” Which is fine. Stay on Facebook where you belong then.

End rant.

Here is a list of less ranty people:

Jessica Jarman

Gwendolyn Cease

Bronwyn Green

Flash Fiction: Old Barn

Photo prompt day! Please enjoy some flash fiction from myself and these wonderful ladies:

Jessica Jarman

Bronwyn Green

Kellie St. James

Paige Prince

Kris Norris

11-2015 - AbandonedBarn

She use to keep clydesdales here. You know, the really big horses with fuzzy feet. Draft horses built for working and pulling heavy carts of soil and coal, or beer if you believe the commercials. They were always my favorite. Majestic and friendly with velvet noses that bopped up and down when they chewed carrots or the hay I slid through the slots on their stall. I miss those horses. They’ve been gone for years but I still come here looking for them hoping one day I’ll see them milling about in the pasture. The foals balancing on oversized legs and the breeding stallions flicking their tails aggressively in their own fenced in quarters away from the rest.

The horses were always money to her. A financial livelihood and nothing more. She made her income “breeding” them. Creating and selling with some wheeling and dealing and a whole lot of dog hair. So much dog hair. Mary never bred dogs but the woman had so many of them it was a wonder why and how she accumulated such a large herd. On occasion when I would come to see the clydes I would stop in her home to visit. If there was a place to sit on the couch that was dog free, you were guaranteed to be picking dog hair off your ass for the remainder of the day. I don’t know if she let clients in her home or if all business was done elsewhere but I could never help but wonder how odd it was to feel cleaner and more comfortable in the barn with massive horses than in the home with a horde of dogs.

Other than a surplus of animals with an equal amount of animal knowledge, Mary was, as politely as I can put this, very strange. A heavy lisp, greasy hair, and could talk faster than anyone I ever knew. Even when she was flat out wrong about a topic she had a demanding aura that made you listen. Partially because she was covered in dog hair all the time and looked a little homeless or crazy and mostly because you couldn’t really understand what she was saying which added to the intimitation. Was she talking about the atrocity that is whatever-doodle designer dogs or gelding a horse in the back stable? I never really knew and often I was too afraid to ask.

I never considered her my friend but a friend of a friend. She was someone I had met through an acquaintance at a horse show and come to find out, Mary happened to live not far from my own home. Even then, I wasn’t comfortable with the association. It wasn’t because she was odd, dirty, a little crass at times but because of intuition. I loved the clydes and I could sense she didn’t. I was put off by it, from the day I met her, I knew she didn’t really care about them and for some reason I did. I was young and knew very little about horses but there was just something about them that I felt affection for. Almost like receiving a teddy bear as a kid or picking up a stone at the beach. Keeping the stone in your jewelry box for no other reason other than there was just something about it you liked. They weren’t my horses. I never owned one. But I got to know them, made my own nicknames for some of them, and felt like they were my own. When I saw them I believed they were just as happy to see me as I was to see them.

Mary had been told a thousand times to fix the fence. I was there. I knew. Even I mentioned it again and again until her hostility grew and I was afraid to ask anymore. The horses were getting loose and the property owner next door did not like the clydes. They were big and scary. Their hooves were massive and a kick was eye level. If a clyde was spooked, a well placed kick would be deadly. The mustached and severe looking man one house down was very firm, the fence needed to be fixed. I never knew his name but whenever he came around to complain he would look me deep in the eye and give me a look of stern warning. I wished I had asked his name. I wished I could have told him he was right, the fence needed to get fixed but, I didn’t know how to do it myself and it wasn’t my property or place to intervene on the war of wills.

It was only a day or two later a foal was caught in the fence. The sound a horse makes in distress is one that is no one will forget. It hurts your mind. Freezes all your muscles but your heart and makes your skin cold. The mom could easily step over the slacked barrier. The foal, I’m not sure what happened, but he was tangled in the wire, a leg clearly broken. Almost as if he tried to jump and got his leg caught resulting in panic and injury. I had heard the screams, or what you could call the noise, from the barn and ran out to the back fields. The muddy earth making sucking sounds on my boots. This is where I found them, lost and looking for help. I never said a word the entire time I was there. Before I could even turn or call for help Mary was behind me, rifle in hand, expressionless. She handed me a dog hair covered blanket which had been draped over her shoulder.

“Cover the head. Let’s see if we can shake it loose first.”

I did as I was told. Placing the blanket over his eyes, whispering, soothing as best I could. “It” I thought, She just called him “it.”  I had a name I called him. One I came up with myself but I could not repeat it now. I don’t think I could ever say his name again.

As soon as she placed her hands on him, he bucked and let out a sound I never knew a horse could make and different from a cry. I soon learned it was a warning cry as I watched his mother who had been standing by run. Run with all her strength. Running from fear.

The bone broke through the skin then. He still cried, bucked, and fought against us both. Later that night I would find fragments of his bone, blood, and tissue in my hair. I remember letting go the foal. Running back toward the barn. Mary fired the rifle immediately after and the world became quiet.

I wish I could say that was the end but it unfortunately wasn’t. She left him there tangled in the fence. His lifeless body covered with a tarp stayed out there for weeks, months, would have been years if the severe mustached neighbor hadn’t complained. At least I assumed it was him because it wasn’t me and I’m not sure who might have known the foal was out there. I should have done something and I didn’t. I was old enough to know but, too young to say anything. It’s a horse, I told myself. She knows more about horses than I ever will. She will bury him soon. I’m sure she will. 

The clydes were taken. The dogs too. Once the authorities saw the foal, the condition of the barn, and a few other violations, they did not hesitate to take every last animal from her property. Eventually she left as well and unable to sell her home, the property went into even further decay. Though it’s only been years the property looks like it has been dying for decades. And maybe it has been and I was just too young to notice before. I’m not sure why I still visit. Maybe it’s because I can still smell them. Hear their heavy sighs and remember the feel of their breath on my hand, rooting for treats.

The clydesdales once lived here in this barn. I miss them.

All of them.