That moment I let words hurt more than violence…

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me….

Yes. Yes they can. Especially when flung at you by family. Yesterday was a really hard day for me. As many of you know, I: 1) homeschool my son and, 2) published my first book at the beginning of this month. These two topics are seemingly unrelated if you were not in my home yesterday.

I homeschool my son. Though we’ve been doing this for years, I quit my full time job in October and took over the homeschooling from my mom. Truth be told, I sucked at getting it all done everyday until recently. I let my semi-failing health and the confusion of life get the best of me and my son’s education suffered. Thankfully, we go year round, so the time off was counted as his break. However, I set myself up for a rough time schooling him now. He’s autistic and, while he is brilliant at overcoming some of those obstacles, change is crippling for him. For me to be so casual about his schooling and then crack down, means his world is wrong and he’s angry. He’s also 13. He hangs out online with a group that is angry and depressed because they’re teenagers in a world that is angry and depressed. Unfortunately, he’s picking up on those habits and it’s making his world harder. Yesterday, we came to verbal blows about the attitude I’m getting when I try to do his schooling. Especially when it comes to writing papers. He said some mean things in a mean tone. With everything going on in my world, I let it hurt me more than I should have. He’s a teenager. They say things they don’t really mean when they’re angry. I did….

The second part of the breaking of me involves publishing my book. I wrote the book. Two people edited the book. I made changes. They reviewed. I sent it to the publishing company with which I was working. They sent me back developmental edits.  I worked on those. I sent it to another paid editor. I fixed what she found. THEN I decided to self-publish after the publishing house with first rights of rejection rejected it stating they were taking the company in a different direction moving forward. Which, looking at the titles they’ve released this year, they have. Totally different direction than my book. So, I self published, because I’d already put a huge amount of time, energy, and money into the manuscript. On February 3rd, it was birthed. It’s beautiful. It’s mine. I was talking to my mom yesterday, in the midst of the struggle with my son’s paper, about how much editing it took. I mentioned finding a typo on page two and how that still bothers me. That’s when another relative spoke up stating that there were many more typos than just that one. AFTER ALL THAT EDITING!

And that’s when I broke. I started to cry. I felt ashamed of my book baby. I felt like I was a crap mother and a lousy teacher. What made me think I was smart enough to be a writer in the first place? How could I think I could teach my son when I’d produced a load of crap that PEOPLE WERE READING?! Y’all, the embarrassment was huge. It took several hours of feeling like a failure to get through the depression into which I spireled after those two things broke me.

BUT, I learned something important… What we say and how we say it has a profound effect on the people around us. My son loves me. I know that. Yesterday was a hard day for him and he was taking it out on me. My relative is often snarky and mean. They don’t look for the joy in the day, nor do they ever look for things to praise. That’s not on me. That’s on them.

Today, my son dove into his schoolwork. I argued once with him because his assigned reading book is boring him to pieces. That’s ok. He still has to read it. It’s required. I reminded him of that and he’s smiling and happy again. My relative sat down with their copy of my novel to go through and find the typos. I’ll revise the manuscript and release a second edition. It’s not the end of the world. Danielle Steel is wildly popular and her books are filled with many more errors than mine is.

From this moment forth, however, I will take a moment before criticizing anything, saying anything judgemental, because yesterday literally broke me and I had to put the pieces together. I am a puzzle fitted together with glue and patched with tape. I don’t want to be the one that breaks anyone else like that and I will continue to teach my son how to be someone who offers glue instead of using a hammer.

That moment I decided to piss people off…

I read the article about Micheal Weatherly this morning after my best friend mentioned it. Let me preface this rant with, I am a survivor. I was molested at a very young age. I have been sexually harassed for most of my teens and my adult years. One boss called me Sugarfoot. I was the only female on the security team. I handled it. One of the store managers at the same job called me Officer Hot Body. I laughed and told him he was a jerk. I’ve been groped, I’ve been kissed by people I had no interest in and really thought I hadn’t led on, I was set up to be raped and thankfully couldn’t show up that night. I get it. It’s a really tough world in which to be a woman.

However, the bullshit about Mr. Weatherly annoys me. It belittles the true agony that we, as women, experience. Yes, he was a dolt. He made a couple of jokes in very poor taste. IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. Ms. Dusku had the ability to tell him that she found his jokes lacking in couth. And you know what he did. HE APOLOGIZED. Immediately. In his public statement he says he was mortified.

This story should not be the one causing buzz. In my opinion, it shouldn’t even be a story. They were two adults. Adult man said something stupid. Adult woman told him he was being stupid. Adult man realized he was being stupid, apologized, and respected her through changing his actions. The only story here is that he did it right. He showed her the respect that is afforded to her through her circumstances as a human being. YAY! A positive example!

But that’s not how it’s being portrayed and that pissed me off. It pisses me off because there are millions, yes, millions of times each day that women throughout the world are forced into situations where they can’t speak up for themselves. They are raped, they are assaulted, they are groped, they are fondled, they are made to feel worthless through the actions of others. THOSE are the situations that need prevention.

As a society, we seem to be able to survive as strictly puritanical or strictly hedonistic. Speaking as a survivor, as a woman, as the mother of a teenage boy, I hate the puritanical bent we’ve now shrouded society in. I don’t want to live in a society where my male friends are afraid to tell a dirty joke around me. Chances are, my mind is a lot dirtier than theirs are.

So there it is. I expect I’ll get a lot of backlash from this post, but I’m mad. I’m mad that the men in my life walk on eggshells every day to avoid accusations that can literally end their careers. I’m mad that my teenager has become afraid of meeting new people because our society is so touchy over everything. Make one wrong move, and it’s splashed across the media.

I am in no way saying that harassment is ok. But I think we’ve taken the idea of harassment too far. What ever happened to sitting down, as adults, and speaking about our boundaries? It will not work for true harassment. But the Weatherly story? That goes too far.

That moment I decided more changes were coming…

As I walk through my last week at my day job, I’ve discovered that my dreams keep growing. While I’ll be sad to leave my co-workers, especially my partner-in-crime and co-coordinator, I’m excited to start the next phase of my life. Which brings me to the part about my dreams growing…

I posted on Twitter tonight, asking my followers what they thought of the idea of starting a book review blog. It led me to an amazing conversation with KT Daxon. We’ve experienced some similar things through both our writing paths and life paths and chatting with her is always enlightening for me.

I’ve decided to start blogging my book reviews. So, how will that work, considering I only have one blog? Here’s my plan:

  • All personal blogs will be titled as “That moment I…”
  • Book review blogs will be titled as “BR: Name of the book
  • At some point, I hope to add author interviews as well. Those will be titled as “Author Interview: Name of Author

I’ve always been an avid reader. I recently started reviewing ARCs, though I had little time to read them as quickly or thoroughly as I wanted. I’m lucky, now that I get to focus on parenting and writing, that I’ll also have time to read. I’ve spent years sharing my reviews with friends and family, encouraging book sales for my favorite books, and warning people about scenes and themes that could be difficult for them to read. I’m excited to start sharing those with my followers as well.

As my future continues to grow and change, I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me. And reading a good book or two along the way!

 

That moment I decided to change my life…

It’s amazing how life has a tendency of opening doors when you’re ready. Yes, it’s a cliche. But cliches become cliches for a reason.

A couple of weeks ago, I started putting more energy into my creative side. I’m writing more, book coaching for a couple of clients, and spending time participating in writing challenges on Twitter. Yesterday, I quit my job. It’s been a long time coming, but it was messier than I’d anticipated. No, I didn’t fall apart. I didn’t cry, didn’t get angry. My tone was never abrasive. But I did maintain a cool distance while I spoke with my manager. Today, I turned in my letter of resignation.

I feel as though I’m free. Fifty pounds lighter and able to breathe after an extended stay in purgatory, paying for sins I wasn’t aware I’d even committed. Then an amazing thing happened. Doors began to open. Creative opportunities started popping up. I GET TO WRITE!!!!

I know things won’t be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. That’s not the way life works. But I will get time to pull everything back together. I’ve been working over 40 hours every single week for years now. I put my heart and soul into my program… Not because I loved the program, but because I loved my inspectors. They’re amazing people that deserved the attention to the program that a program coordinator should be willing to give.  In the process, my home suffered. My relationships with family suffered. The only friends I have in this town are related to my work life; save one or two exceptions.

In two weeks, that all changes. I will have time for my son, who deserves more than I’ve been able to give him. I’ll have time for my home, to finally clear the clutter of years of neglect.

I have several chronic illnesses. I wake up with less spoons than most people. By the end of my workday, I have only two or three spoons left. If I’m going to shower… that’s at least one spoon if not two. The rest of my spoons are dedicated to my son. It will be nice to allot my spoons to things about which I truly care.

That moment I decided what I want to be when I grow up…

I recently discovered the most perfect job on the face of the Earth. For many years now, I’ve worked with my best friend, my editor, and my fellow writer, Jen Ownbey. We toss ideas back and forth, help each other out with plot holes, and basically make a mostly solitary career/pastime into a companionable activity.

A new Twitter friend was having trouble with her book. I offered to help and Jen jumped in with praise for my ability to see the next step in a story. I gaffawed, pleased that my bestie thinks so highly of me, but rather sure that the 18 or so years of friendship and our telecommunication was the reason I was good with her stories. But, I’m never one to turn down the opportunity to read something new and I thought maybe I could help a fellow author get over her writer’s block.

It was AWESOME! I loved her story, I could see the way the different plot options could work with the rest of the book, and I could hardly wait to send back my comments so she would write more (selfishly because I really want to read the rest of the book!). Her response made what has been a bit of a shittastic week so much better.

And that’s how I discovered what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a book whisperer. I want to help authors who are stuck, pounding their heads against the brick wall that is writer’s block, overcome the obstacles in front of them so books can be birthed. I loved the feeling! I loved getting to read her story. For the first time in years, I got paid to do something I truly love, that makes me satisfied and made me smile. It was such an amazing feeling.

Check out my link on the navigation bar of my website. I would love to continue helping authors who are stuck. If that’s you, or someone you know, send them my way. I would love to help! And, ya know… read some more amazing new stories!

Writers and their Blogs…

I was on Twitter this evening participating in #WIPchat and one of the questions was, do you blog and why is blogging important in building an author’s platform? One of the other participants said that she did not blog because she didn’t have any writing tips to share and that the advice blogs she’d read for writers cautioned against blogging about random things.

That got me thinking. I hate blogs where all they write about it.. well.. writing. If I wanted to read about writing all the time, I’d go looking for specific advice on writing.  I know that hate is a strong word, but I legitimately find them boring. So I started thinking about the types of blogs I do enjoy. The blogs I enjoy most are the ones where I get to know the author. I have several authors I adore. I follow them on Twitter and read their websites. Why? Because I get to know a little more about them and what they love. Not how they write.

Writing blogs (the ones that focus on actual writing tips) have their uses. I use them when I’m feeling stuck or when I want to try something new. I use them when I feel like learning more about my craft (which is often… but I set aside time to do that). When I go looking at an author’s blog, I’d prefer to catch glimpses of what they like, what they’ve been doing in their non-writing time, or snippets of life. Did they go to the grocery store and have an amusing conversation with the bag boy? Fun! Did they see a movie they really loved and wanted to share with the world? Yay! I love movie reviews. I’d get tired of hearing Stephen King just write about writing. He wrote a book for that. I love that Maggie Steifvater tweets about randomness. These are the things I love to see from blog posts as well.

So what about ya’ll? Do you agree with the ‘experts’ that writers should blog about writing? Or do you prefer to see a varied rambling of topics? If I’m wrong, tell me that! I’d love to hear the opposing viewpoint.

A Broken Society

Last night, my son… My beautiful, amazing, almost 13 year old son, had to learn about life the hard way. One of his best friends tried to kill herself. She’s an online friend and he only knows her first name and the state in which she lives so there was no way to check on her. They speak everyday. They have the kind of relationship where they can tell each other everything they’re going through. He was crushed and heartbroken. He was crying with the guilt of “I should have known” and “I’m always the calm one, why can’t I keep it together”.

Why do we live in a society where children, our babies, have to know the ugly sides of life? Why do we live in a world where our children, our babies, feel as though there is nothing for which to look forward? That at 12 years old, their lives are so bad that suicide feels like a legitimate alternative?

We’ve become a world full of selfish people who do not think about how our lives affect those around us. My son’s friend has an awful relationship with her parents. They do not seem to treat her with respect. They look at her as if she is someone to boss around with no feelings attached…. when they actually bother paying attention to her. I learned all of this last night simply by listening to my son work through the situation. And you know, I’ve heard it before. I heard it from kids when I was teaching. I also heard responses from other adults, dismissing these kids feelings as though they were silly teenagers that didn’t understand. Maybe so, but that’s a pivotal problem with the way we look at kids. They’re feelings are legitimate and, when we take the time to legitimize those feelings, it’s easier for kids to learn to process the feelings.

We look around the United States and wonder why kids are killing themselves and shooting up schools. I truly believe it comes down to allowing kids to have emotions. We need to take the time listen to what they’re feeling and realize that they feel everything we do. They just don’t have as many tools in their toolboxes to help them process and understand what they’re feeling.

My son and I sat for hours last night. I let him cry. I let him ask questions. I let him express his anger toward another friend in their group that was saying it was just for attention and she hadn’t really tried anything. We talked through what defense mechanisms are and how to deal with not knowing what was going on with his friend. We, as a society, need to start listening.

It doesn’t stop with kids. We need to listen to each other. We need to listen to ourselves. Emotions are the sentient way of processing the input around us. They are legitimate. They are important. They are what drives our reactions. Instead of trying to shove them into a corner and not let them affect our lives, we need to start letting ourselves and the people around us process what’s going on. We need to listen to each other. Let me say it again, WE NEED TO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER. We need to stop freaking out if a co-worker needs to cry. We need to stop feeling awkward if someone is having a bad day and, instead, take the time to ask questions… or even just sit with someone who is struggling.

Our society is broken. But, there’s hope. My son is currently on the phone with his friend. She’s apologizing for scaring him. He’s not mad. He’s not upset with her for making a decision that could take her away from him. He’s making sure she knows they all care about her. He’s helping her realize that there is hope. We all need to take a moment to learn from him.

Our society is broken… but it doesn’t have to stay that way.