Quote Monday

A few weeks ago, I mentioned how I had felt this mental shift towards my writing. I suddenly felt this desperate need to get my work out into the world. Maybe it’s because I’m in a terribly monotonous, uninspiring kind of job, and at my age, I thought I’d be in a different place on so many levels. Maybe it’s because I feel another birthday looming on the horizon, and again, I thought my life would be different at this point.

I have long struggled to maintain focus and momentum where my writing has been concerned. I think this was a byproduct of my youth – thinking I had time. Another one – believing I had to be inspired to write.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, doing things in my own time. That’s why, after so many years of aimlessness, I think it finally clicked. I had to get here to know it’s not where I want to be.

I feel it. It’s different now. I’m different now.

After I pulled myself out of the mild depression I was experiencing from finishing one of my stories, I turned my attention to the troublesome 3rd Act of one of my screenplays that I have labored with many, many times. This is the act I didn’t know how to finish, for some reason have never known how to finish, but came to me during the quiet, meditative state I was in during one of my yoga practices recently.

It’s flowing, and I’m feeling satisfied with it, for the first time. Now that’s a feeling to relish.

So many things had to happen for this to come about. I had to meet a certain writer at AFF who gave me sound advice. But I had to be at a particular point in my life to be able to attend. And he had to be standing in front of me while waiting for our coffees so that I could be bold enough to speak with him – something I may not have been brave enough to do had I not taken the soul-sucking job that helped me develop certain skills.

I had to experience more of life because this isn’t a story I could have told in my twenties.

I had to realize that saying I’m a writer doesn’t mean as much as being a writer because it was just lip service for a long time because I was embarrassed about whatever job I had and it was a way of making myself sound better.

Some of this is for one particular story, but it all boils down to this:

I had to finally decide that my writing matters.

You don’t have to wait until you’re in your forties to come to this realization, but as I mentioned, I’m a late bloomer. This is my journey, and goodness, has it been a long, rough ride at times. I think, for those of us who struggle, we just have to come to this conclusion for ourselves, and I believe much of this comes down to timing. No matter how many quotes your read or pin to your wall, or how many experts tell you the same thing, we have to make the decision, when we’re ready.

It’s a state of mind. It’s perspective.

Some people are fortunate to follow their path without much hesitation, while others have to find themselves in a low place, maybe even a place of desperation to discover if their passion, their art matters. However you come to the conclusion, I hope you grab it with both hands and run wild!

Best of Luck! And Happy Writing!

Another Year Already?!

About nine years ago, I had been out of work for a year, had applied for probably 75 jobs or more (I used to remember the exact number) to which I only received two responses, and found myself terribly depressed (and not writing).

Finally The Sis encouraged me to just focus on my writing and build up my career, she would take care of the rest. It was a hard pill to swallow, letting my much younger sister carry the burden of our expenses, but I was no closer to getting a job, and at least I could write.

I had been reading articles for years, knew what I needed to have in my portfolio, and so basically, I started from square one. I wanted to create a pseudonym, create a new identity for the writer side of me, and actually started creating social media handles and a blog under the name Caedan Marek. I liked the name (and spelling of) Aedan, but so did everyone else, and cadence is the flow of sounds, and I’m a writer, hence the combination and eventual conclusion to the first name.

After some time, I realized it didn’t work. At least not for me at that moment. I didn’t want to be in meetings or what-have-you and not hear my given name. My real name is Rachael. Hi! But I would keep the last name. It held special meaning to me and I had decided upon it pretty quickly. I took it from a character in Michael Crichton’s book, Timeline. When I read it, I sort of fell in love with him, Andre Marek. I identified with him. And then stole his name.

If you’ve been with me for a while, you know how I’ve struggled from time to time with my writing here and for the career I desire. Life often gets in the way of the pursuit of a dream only we can see.

So it’s now been 8 years. 8 years?! ((sigh)) I’m not sure if I should be proud or you know, not.

Reflecting on all these years of blogging, my first full year, 2014 was my most productive and most interacted with year. 2015 and 2016 were also pretty good, but then I took a sharp decline in 2017. That’s when I started working at the country club, and I was generally exhausted all the time. 2018 was worse, and then got slightly better in 2019. All while still at the club. Ugh. That place was like an energy sucking vampire. We all know what 2020 was like, and I’m already doing better this year, so there’s that.

Pinterest is my biggest referrer. Ah, thanks Pinterest! You know I love you too! And the writing prompts are my most often viewed posts. I’m glad they’re making themselves useful.

There have been a lot of things I’ve learned and discovered since I started blogging, and I have to thank The Sis for her encouragement and support all these years. We all need someone in our corner, and it is because of her that I will succeed. I felt this shift in my mentality recently. I must be more dedicated to my career goal, as it would basically be an insult to her belief in me otherwise.

So, Happy Anniversary to A Writer’s Discrepant Memoirs & Other Tales! And a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you for your continued support! This has been a place of refuge, where I can geek out, and keep track of my progress, and hopefully, in the very near future, it will be a place I will share the highs and lows on the actual journey to reaching my big dream. Wish me luck! 😉

xx, Rach

A Reason to Celebrate

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Honestly. I feel this sense of sadness at the completion of the first draft of the story I’ve been working on. While I continued to make comments that I was excited to be nearing the end, so I could work on other projects, when I finished writing a few days ago, I didn’t feel that moment of bliss at its conclusion – you know the one – instead, I felt sad.

I’ve been lethargic and had this sort of blah feeling ever since.

I could feel myself dragging my feet a bit a couple of weeks ago, my pace slowing as I knew the end was nigh. It meant I would have to leave the comfort of that world I was so thoroughly enjoying, and I would have to dive into something different and acclimate to the change.

Yes, there are still a few scenes to be fleshed out, and of course, a rewrite or two, but that first draft is you telling yourself the story. You use your heart and feel the emotions, you let the characters be who they want to be. It’s play time. The subsequent work is much different. You use your head and logic, and have to be merciless in cutting away the fluff.

Art in any form is a strange endeavor. We get emotionally tied to our work and then have to look at it as though it’s some sort of creature to be wary of. It’s taken on a life of its own and it’s up to us to rear it. We have to split our creative personality to achieve a better end result. It’s like tough love.

So I’m a mixture of emotion at the moment. I do feel the pride that comes with finishing something, it truly is a reason to celebrate, and I will, in maybe another day or two. This was advice I came upon years ago. When you complete a goal, do something to mark the occasion. Have a celebratory drink, splurge a little, give yourself a pat on the back in whatever form that may take.

And if you’re sad about its end, feel that too.

Writing is one of those outlets that so many people think they can do. How many of us have heard people say that they “have a great story idea” or that they “want to try their hand at it”? As if it were so easy because they can string two words together. Now how many people actually do it?

Be proud of your accomplishments. We’re doing something that makes us happy, often times at the expense of sleep or some other enjoyable thing, and while sometimes maddening, I know that most writers wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s why we keep at it. We can’t help it. It’s who we are. And I know for myself, it was what made me excited to get up in the morning these last few months. Something I never thought to say.

So, it’s decided. Today will be my last day of wallowing. It’s literally time to turn the page on a new adventure.

How do you mark the end of a project? Do you celebrate or mourn? A little bit of both? Commiserate with me. And Happy Writing! 😉

Quote of the Week

July 2nd was the halfway point of the year, so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on where we are with our goals.

I have set goals for myself the last few years because somehow, one time, the whole year had passed and I hadn’t read a single book or watched more than half a dozen films. Who knows what that meant for my writing…

What happened that year?!

When I came to that realization, I started to create a list of goals I wanted to accomplish each year. Call them goals or resolutions or even part of your “to do list”, but without some sort of structure, a clear path to follow, it’s easy to allow them to just remain an idea, a figment, a wish.

Goals do not have to be secured at the beginning of the year, we can create a new one anytime. We don’t have to wait for November to power through a writing challenge. Every day is a chance to start. Each day is an opportunity to get a little bit closer to where we want to be.

So whatever goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year, check in on your progress. What adjustments need to be made? If you want to create a new goal for yourself and/or your work, do it. Make a step-by-step list of how you can and will accomplish this task. What do you need to do? Who can help you? What is a realistic time frame? Are there tools that would better help you if you had them available? Set a deadline for yourself, or find an external one, like a contest entry that will keep you on track. What steps will bring you closer to achieving your dream?

Write it all down. Make it visual. Sometimes seeing a large goal is overwhelming because there is a vagueness in how you might get from A to Z, but when it’s broken down into more manageable steps, the objective doesn’t seem so unattainable. Also, small steps toward the larger goal can help maintain your positivity and momentum as you see yourself checking off those tasks.

I am in no way always successful, but I’ve come to the conclusion that by at least acknowledging the things I’d like to accomplish, it gives me something to strive towards, even if I sometimes fail.

I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors, and if you ever need a cheerleader for a bit of encouragement, you know where to find me. 😉

Writing Tip Tuesday #2

I write sci-fi and fantasy. I remember hearing people say that there wasn’t any “truth” to be found in such genres. This always confused me, and I presumed it was said by people who didn’t enjoy those types of stories. They are among my favorites which is why, after some time, I embraced it.

When I was younger and first starting out, I was drawn to historical romance because in an effort to get me back into reading, my mother introduced me to the genre. Somewhere between middle school and junior high, the forced reading assignments had turned me off. So at fourteen, fifteen years old, I’m reading these sweeping, epic romances and falling in love with these fictional men, to whom no real man could ever compare, and I thought, “That’s what I want to write.”

Ridiculous, I know.

My circle consisted of high school boys and they were no inspiration.

And back then, I didn’t discover any hidden “truths” in such stories, and so it became this sort of elusive idea. What books consisted of it? How would I know when I found it? Until I wrote my own story, and then, not until years later, was I able to see that my tale of a woman kidnapped by pirates was really an allegory of my secret hope – that one day, my “real” father would come rescue me.

It’s easy to glorify the idea of someone you don’t know.

I never finished the story. Sometimes I think it would be fun to revisit it now that my writing has changed. And that’s because as we continue to evolve and experience new things, experiment with our creativity, that we discover our voice, our truth.

I don’t know who said this quote that I have above my desk, but it changed a lot for me when I first discovered it.

Fantasy insists that the writer address the cultural, societal, and political times in which they live.

It took some time to understand that I could incorporate all the things I loved – period pieces, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, art, music – into my writing while subtly using it as a vehicle to explore deeper meaning. I could include my concerns about the environment in a story about fairies. I could blame the state of the world on the past mistakes of the Greek gods. I could use a spy story as a way to convey worry over the machinations of men and technology.

I still wonder sometimes what the “truth” is that those people thought I wouldn’t share by writing in magical worlds. All writing is magic. We create people and places from our imagination. We share in their triumphs and their losses. We cheer them on. We love to hate them. If that isn’t some sort of truth…

So I suppose the tip I wanted to convey today is…write what you want. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s supposed to be this way or that. Writing is a freedom and you don’t have to conform to anyone’s ideas of what it should be like. Let it be a mashup. Let it be weird. Let it be whatever you want it to be. It’s your story.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

As creatives, we give ourselves a hard time. Whether it’s in regards to our craft, our feelings of self worth, our motivations, or life in general, it takes a lot to maintain any sense of balance and feeling of positivity. Many of you may recall my idea last year to schedule my days so that life stuff didn’t interfere with writing stuff…yeah.

I had willingly quit a job, just months before the pandemic, and writing felt like a guilty pleasure. And that old adage really started to wear on me as time drew on – a real writer writes every day. I couldn’t. For months I was a dry well. All these writers kept posting things like, “We’ve been given all this extra time.” Blech. People were being productive, and it was making me feel even worse. There were more pressing matters to attend to, there was stress and worry, and my writing wasn’t paying the bills so…after suffering in that dry spell for far too long, I chose to try something new. I created a schedule.

My idea of how my week should look went something like this:

  • Monday – clean
  • Tuesdays – write
  • Wednesdays – Etsy shop
  • Thursdays – write
  • Fridays – explore other enjoyments: piano, sew, bake, etc.
  • Saturdays – write
  • Sunday – blog

As a gamer, having a list detailing my daily goals seemed like a good idea, in theory but in practice, I was trying to schedule my brain into thinking about writing only 3 days a week. I was expecting the muse to show up on this strange itinerary I had created and thought I would make great strides in progress?! It’s one thing to show up everyday even when you’re not inspired, it’s another to think you’re going to create magic/gold/award winning work on a limited timeline.

Also, I had been, and still am, in rewrite mode on all my scripts, so I had forgotten that not all days are actual, physical writing days. When you start a new project there are those imagining days, research days, character creation days, plotting days, naming things days, so when I saw this quote I found myself dumbstruck. How could I have forgotten something so simple?

Remembering this would have helped me to not be so hard on myself during that time in the desert, and that’s why I decided to share this tip today, for those of you who have found themselves similarly marooned. If you’re reading anything, if you’re taking personality quizzes as your characters, if you’re coming up with story lines, snippets of dialogue, and what-if scenarios, it’s all writing. Not every day requires words on paper (or screen).

Sometimes we need to explore other options to discover what works for us, and my schedule idea was an attempt at that. It didn’t work because I was expecting too much from a structure that was not ideal for creativity…and it compounded my negative feelings when I was already weighed down. Side note, it wasn’t like I wasn’t thinking about my writing every day, it’s not something I can ever escape, but I felt guilty when I was writing and when I wasn’t. What a vicious cycle we’re a part of.

Remember that this path we have chosen is already a difficult one, so be kind to yourselves. Try to be creative in some capacity everyday, but give yourself a break if you aren’t. Don’t feel guilty if you watch a movie, take a walk, skim Pinterest, or just stare out the window because you never know when inspiration will strike.

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I have been struggling to reconcile having a mundane job that offers me the freedom to write or finding a new job that challenges me and potentially leaves me little time to chase my dream.

Either choice is exhausting nonetheless.

The monotony of my current job leaves me tired out of sheer boredom but it’s a job I don’t have to think about when I leave and it offers me a lot of time to think on my stories while I’m there. Actually, most of the time I just sing to myself because my trains of thought are usually interrupted a dozen times by customers asking if I work there. No, I just have OCD and need to rearrange this store’s shelves. ((face palm)) I often have time before and after work to write most days, and lately my writing has been all consuming. I make notes while on lunch. I’ve made notes on my phone at stop lights. It’s like a faucet has been turned on and left running.

Not a bad problem to have.

Obviously my concern about looking for something else is that a more “serious” job may take priority leaving me with little time or energy to focus on that which truly matters, and given this new river of inspiration, I don’t want to sacrifice one for the other.

And this is where continuing in menial work leaves me questioning my life choices. I know I’ve discussed this before – probably more than once, so apologies – the mediocrity before success. It’s hard not to want to feel fulfilled by the day job, we spend so many hours there, but if it pays the bills (hopefully) and allows us the freedom to pursue our passion, then isn’t it worth enduring? To some degree, I suppose it is.

It’s a catch-22.

The Sis keeps reminding me of the pros, and most days when I know I have time to write and do some yoga before going in, I feel like I’m already off to a good start. And that probably helps to get me through the monotony.

I truly look forward to the days when writing is the only “job” I have to worry about. ((sigh)) Can you imagine?!

If you’re in a similar position, how do reconcile this disparity? Let’s commiserate together.

The Burden of Waste

The big thing I learned on this last move was how much waste is involved with just living, especially when you stay in one place for an extended period of time because regardless of your best intentions for living simply, you discover how much you can actually accumulate and what you truly need.

The Sis and I have been long time renters. It offers us the freedom to leave at will and explore new places. We have moved a lot in our 15 years together, and each time we’ve donated, sold, or (unfortunately) tossed quite a few things, and I always find myself surprised by how much remains…but this last move had me really looking at the whole situation differently, which is why I was compelled to write this post, to share the lesson we learned.

When the pandemic was in full swing and we were all locked down, people started to “spring clean” and empty out their closets. We had already done the same because a year ago last December we were considering our next move. This is when a lot of people realized they had a lot they didn’t quite need.

What I realized was I was just scratching the surface.

For the last couple of years I’ve limited Christmas and birthday shopping because “we don’t need all that frivolous stuff”, and with the ups and downs we’ve experienced with work and finances, I’m always a bit wary of spending too much money but it also, initially, boiled down to this – I know we’re going to move again, at some point because it’s what we do, and I don’t want to have more things to move.

But it boiled down even further as I continued to think on it – about what we leave behind – our footprint.

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

We were initially looking at moving overseas, and the cost associated, so we had to consider either selling things, storing things, or moving them, and that changed our perspective on what we considered to be of value and how we spent our money in the future to accumulate more stuff.

Some of you may have seen that I started an Etsy shop to sell all the vintage collectibles we had either been gifted or inherited. We gave a few items to friends as gifts. We donated multiple boxes of books, movies, and music to the library. I sold some geeky items to a resale shop. I used an app to sell other random household items. A number of things still found themselves in the garbage. And our moving truck, which was advertised as one size but was truly another, left us with not enough room to take all of our belongings, and so a few things found themselves left on the curb.

As I considered all of this, I realized how much money and time was invested in obtaining those items and how much we were losing in the end, let alone the consequences of where some of those items would find themselves.

Even living in our last place for as long as we had, we didn’t bring in everything that was boxed in the garage, again, because we knew we’d be moving soon so why…and that made me reconsider what was truly of value to me as well. If something could spend upwards of 10 years in a box, why was I holding on to it? It served no purpose except to add to the burden of moving it.

This is how we approached everything in the end. For weeks we looked at the things in our house and not only asked if it “brought us joy” but also what purpose it served if we never saw it but continued to place some sentimental value on it. We got rid of a lot, some items better than others, and there is still more to go. We did move things we shouldn’t have – so. many. books. that I thought I needed – but it’s all a learning curve.

Then there’s the continued development of new technologies which is making so many things obsolete, like cds, dvds, and books. I won’t give up holding a book despite how many I’m trying to get rid of, but I am going to utilize the library a lot more, like I used to. My car still has a CD player, and I have movies that I can’t find on streaming services, but I’ll reconsider all those types of purchases moving forward.

Moving into a much smaller space has been eye opening as well, and that will help, I think, in determining further what is truly of use to us.

There are a number of resources to utilize if you’re looking to downsize – Facebook groups, community exchanges, and all the above mentioned in order to find your items in a new home versus a landfill. So that’s what I took away from our last relocation. And it was Earth Day ten days ago, and we all have to do our part. So if you have any resources or tips to share to help lessen this burden, please comment below. And good luck!

Quote Monday

This week’s Quote Monday is more an interesting tidbit that we, as writers, can all understand. I enjoy meeting other writers and being part of a community of interesting, creative, unique individuals who see the world differently. Only another writer can understand the struggle, the isolation, the never-ending pull to create, and the strange idea that our characters tell us what they want.

I recently shared with a writer’s group how two of my characters had a mind of their own and continued to put themselves into a situation I didn’t want them in, yet. Obviously, I have control over it all, and yet, it was something they clearly wanted to do. I love when characters take control, but only another writer truly understands what this means. So when I saw this quote from Mr. King, which sums it up perfectly, I thought I’d share.

Since the release of my pup health scare related stress, I got my flow back and have been consumed with all the stories that require my attention – a much better stress to have.

So here’s to a productive week! Happy Writing!

Pup Update: Sterile Panniculitis

It started with a puffy face around 2pm on a Wednesday. This was something we had encountered before, an allergic reaction of some sort, so we immediately gave him Benadryl. Some time passes and hives begin to appear along his back. A little more Benadryl.

This continues through the night, and concern keeps us awake until about 4am, when we can’t take it any more because the welts are huge, especially on his tiny body, and we find an emergency vet who will give him a steroid shot to speed up the healing process.

We are told that it could take up to 48hrs to see any result, and so we wait the allotted time, which runs us into the weekend when we can’t take him to another vet, and the hives continue. Five days of Benadryl and watching hives flare up and work their way through his body.

Then new things begin to form.

Thinking he may be fighting off an infection, (what we think is) a gland in his neck becomes swollen almost overnight to about the size and feel of a marble. More cause for concern, but it doesn’t seem to bother him.

We finally get him into the vet and tests begin.

Things happen on a weekly basis, usually on the weekend when we can stress without resolution. Red bumps appear above his eye, on his chin, on the underside of his tail. His inner ears are inflamed. We find out later there are blood blisters and he gets a cone to hinder scratching. He develops a rash in the groin area that feels solid underneath. A spot on his nose develops and, in a terribly descriptive phrase, appears necrotic. Probably made worse because it’s accessible to licking.

And worst of all, as if that’s possible, a consistent breathing issue called a “reverse sneeze” started. It is something we’ve encountered in the past, it was rare, usually from overexcitement, and it is worrying the first few times you hear it, but this was different. It lasted longer, and looked like he was having difficulty breathing.

Immediately back to the vet. More tests. Medications that make him into a little zombie. He has no energy, no appetite, and just wants to be held or sleep. I did not care for that. He looks pathetic and it makes our hearts hurt.

The “C” word is tossed around and the thought makes me sick.

Finally…biopsies. More waiting and rushing test results because it’s been over three weeks and what is going on with him?! He’s given new antibiotics and he doesn’t have to take the zombie-inducing meds anymore, and when he comes home from undergoing surgery, he’s almost immediately back to normal.

He runs around a bit and has an appetite. It was like he had turned a corner.

Within a few days, our wonderful vet calls with resolution. The biopsy results narrow down that he has a rare inflammatory disease known as Sterile Panniculitis. It’s so rare that she’s only seen it once in seven years.

That’s our special boy for you.

He will have to undergo at least a couple more tests to determine the source, if there is one, because apparently this type of disease can just appear. Dachshunds are fairly susceptible to it, it’s hereditary, and although his sister looks more like a little sausage, clearly the Doxie is strong in him.

The Sis, now armed with a name, goes into research mode and into a long conversation with our vet. It comes down to an autoimmune issue. From this point forward, he will no longer be able to receive any vaccinations and can’t be exposed to any situations that might increase his potential for disease.

He’s basically a bubble boy.

His sister is fine, thankfully, and she will need to be kept fully vaccinated for not only her well being but his as well. Such a strange turn of events. I mean, The Sis and I already enjoy our solitude and were pretty socially distanced, even before the pandemic, but this gives us further cause. Oh, how we enjoy being loners.

There was a precursor that we should have paid more attention to but didn’t understand.

When we moved into our new apartment, there was the traditional “marking of their territory” but Loki continued well after. We couldn’t figure out what had happened to cause him to continue having accidents. Maybe he was annoyed that we had moved and his situation had changed. We thought he might be pouting. Because of their size, we’ve always left a pad accessible, and we were taking them outside often, and yet he would come inside and do his business.

This sort of act is actually a warning sign, and a way for them to communicate something is wrong. We learned this a little too late because had we known, maybe we could have had him looked at sooner, circumventing some of his discomfort and prolonging the treatment.

I thought this was an important detail to share. If your dog is doing something out of the ordinary, there may be an underlying reason.

So he’s been sick since we moved. Really reconsidering this whole thing now.

I wanted to share this story because if there’s more information available, maybe it will help other pet parents. As we learn more details, I’ll share an update because…