Writing: The Art of Romanticizing Life

I’ll be the first to admit that my life is, by no means, glamorous. I am in, in no way, the best at anything. I have many talents but am a master of none, as the saying goes.

But when I tell people stories of my life, they listen. Or they read, because I am a writer and all. I lived a life that was very clumsy, but for that I have stories to tell. I did not live them so that I could make a profit or for the attention. Many of the stories I have to tell about my life, I truly wish I could take back and never live through again.

But why do you even bring them up, if you wished they never happened?

I am who I am today, because of those events. Because of my mistakes. While there is a teeny bit of satisfaction from people being interested in what I have to say, I honestly want people to learn from my life.

How do you get people to listen?

As a writer, stories are told in a way that place people in the moment. I put them there with me in the emergency room in Baghdad, in the concrete shelter of a bunker in Talil, in a helicopter over Mosul, on the seas of the Persian Gulf.  They listen as if they were on the receiving end of the phone call, the bad news, the heartbreak, the fear. Things that they have felt before but claim “I can’t even begin to imagine.”

Oh, but you can. And I will help you.

Writing is taking my day, mundane and routine, giving the details of what would normally go unnoticed, and changing the perspective of the person reading (or listening. I tell a lot of stories, too).

Writers church up the details, regardless of their intent. We make things darker, bolder, sexier, more precious. We put makeup on the pig, and fool them all.

This is kind of embarrassing but I’ll admit to it:

I have a habit of commentating my life as I go through my day. It makes me more conscious of my emotions, easier to control because I imagine people are listening to my thoughts and watching me throughout my day. This exercise also helps me to search out those romantic details of my day, and explore them.

Disclaimer: By romance, I am not referring to any type of relationship with people. I am referring to the ability to make something ordinary or otherwise a footnote and showing it in a light that makes it appear desirable.

Example: I have recently resigned from my job. I will, more or less, be a stay at home mom. For those who live there, they know it’s not as exciting as it sounds. But the writer in me divulges more, because heaven forbid anyone think my life is boring or mundane. I’m quitting my job to write full time and focus on my children. My book is finally finished and I have begun seeking representation. I should be published by the summer of 2018.

See how romantic that sounds? Not once did I mention dirty dishes or poopy diapers. Scrubbing the toilet or folding an endless pile of laundry. My hope was that you would imagine me, in my business casual, typing in my home office while my children play quietly on the floor in their clean day clothes (I just laughed so hard I snorted).

So you, writer, can you “church up” your day to day? Can you paint a sexy picture of your #bedhairdontcare? Can you fool us into believing Beyonce ACTUALLY woke up like that? That is my challenge for you today. Tweet it, FaceBook it, Instagram it.

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#myromanticlife

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What I Learned Writing My First Draft

I have spent 26 months, off and on, writing my novel. So many things happened in my life in those two years: a new baby, a ton of loss, a new job, a promotion, a couple personal crisis, a bout of postpartum depression, a year of college, and ultimately growth.

Though I really want to rest on my laurels, I know that it is not finished. I know that there is sooooo much editing to do and it is killing me to take a break from it. One piece of editing advice I received which was by far the most discouraging but made the most sense, was to rewrite the entire thing from scratch. To print out my existing content, finger paint all over the pages, and type it from there. Only then can I ensure that I did not lazily skip over details that need to be added (Writer friends: thoughts on this process. It makes me want to cry but I am also seeing where I need to do this).

So onto what I have learned:

  1. Keep writing when you are stuck. If it’s too hard, then you need to go back and change something to help you move the story along. I killed someone and was stuck writing for MONTHS! So I brought him back to life and that was that. It added a dynamic to the universe that I built and was helpful down the road.
  2. Have a writing routine. Whether you spend every Sunday morning writing, an hour a day, or a specific word count per day, week, etc, just have some sort of consistent and sustainable goal to write. Once you set these goals, make them a priority.
  3. Join a network of follow writers. I personally enjoy the fellowship and talents at ChapterBuzz . Run by a self-publishing coach, it gives you encouragement, monthly challenges to help you create writing routines (See #2) and also comes with a social network on FaceBook. You can also follow Tim Pike’s blog at What Inspires Your Writing.
  4. Do NOT edit. Lawd. Some days, in the very early stages when I was not feeling motivated or otherwise creative, I would go back and edit previous chapters. Now I can see that even then, and probably less now, I had no idea what I was doing. Before it fully developed into what it is now, my writing sucked. Just wait til it’s over to edit.
  5. You can have a working title, but chances are it wont stick. I created a word to describe a main puzzle piece in my book, but after much thought I knew that if I saw a book on the shelf with that title, I’d never pick it up. It was awkward, was made up, and no one could relate to it. So thank you, Google, for helping me brush up on electrical vocabulary. I stumbled on something ironic, easy to pronounce, and relevant to the story.
  6. There is absolutely NO reason to pursue representation from an agent before your word is D.U.N. DONE! Thinking about it is going to stress you out. Instead create a realistic timeline to completely complete your work. And then MAYBE you’d be brave enough to begin the query process. So if there is less than a week from the time you type THE END, until your dream agency hosts a Twitter Query Session, you should just patiently and painfully stick to your REASONABLE timeline. Do not try to edit your first 50 pages in a week. It’s unrealistic and will not be your best work. Then you run the risk of being rejected by your dream agency. No one wants that.
  7. TAKE A BREAK WHEN YOU ARE DONE!! I had planned to finish writing on June 30th then jump right into editing on July 1st. Little did I know, the book would be done two weeks early and 15,000 words short. But the story is written. I have given myself a month and a half to edit and bring up the word count. I need a break anyway to focus on things that have been neglected like my blog, and every other social media account I have as a writer.

 

So there you have it. Wednesday is that twitter pitch for my dream agency, in case you wondered. I’m chewing my nails wanting to try my queries, but I’m scared of what happens if they love it and want more. Should I ignore them and just rest assured that they would at least want to hear it at some point? Like August 15th when I had planned on being done? Or should I just watch and see what kind of pitches they picked to check out.  UGH!!!

Hope you enjoyed. Do you have any advice to add?

Not me. Not this time.

HappyBirthdayMy Love

I have never been the one to mess with. I have either always knew the rule or researched it enough to know whether my stance on the matter was right or wrong. Health/ dental insurance don’t mess with me.  I know my contract in and out. I know what I am “entitled to”.

“But Dacia, you’re a millennial, you’re not entitled to anything!

I am a ten year Army veteran. I have earned my health and dental plans. (But really they are my husband’s work’s so shut up. Yes I have ‘earned’ them)

So let me tell you women something. You do not have to agree with what they tell you.

You don’t have to go along because you don’t know any better

You can learn negative and detrimental things of you own past that bring to light something you held at high regard.

You can learn that ‘”protection” might not have actually saved you from the danger of your own family.

You can learn that after 32 years of existence, what you thought you had built your own foundation  on was a lie or was kept a secret from you, in hopes that it would go away.

I feel ashamed and defensive. I feel like I am owed the truth on the matter before I go chiseling at the details.

I feel that being so comfortably removed from the situation has, yes, saved me from the physical hurt that others have experienced but also left the remaining victims silent in their recovery, personal remorse, and unable to anonymously share their side of the story.

Ladies- You are not alone. Many have felt this pain. It is not my story to tell, but if you can help others by stepping up, then maybe it’s worth it.

It is time that you have felt this validation. That YOU know that you are loved despite the things that happened to you.

I grew up so far removed. My memories are locked in the photos I own. I try to apply principles to my own little family that has very different dynamics.

If you can please help me to understand why women lay so vulnerable to men;   not allowing their own voices to be heard. Why do you place your husband above the love of your children? Then I may be able to sleep tonight.

10,000 March Writing Challenge.

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After two years of writing, I have finally decided to join a writing challenge to catapult production on my book. I’m scared that my writing is crap, but I am excited to finally share it with people in digestible chunks. It’s called 10K Word Count Challenge.

Because I have not worked on it in almost 18 months, I really feel like I am starting over. I have better developed the science of it and have a more clear understanding of where I’m headed and am able to sprinkle a little more foreshadowing into the beginning.

With college, practice, and reading I know now what works and what is boring. I am hoping this translates into the final-ish product.

If you are sick and tired of hearing about my book and would like to read along, I welcome you along for the ride.

First, you create and account and  log into www.chapterbuzz.com
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Then Click on “Stories”
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My story is currently the one at the VERY bottom on the left. Click on “+Add to Bookshelf” under the cover picture. Then click on the title and it will bring you to the book.
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This is where you can read the chapters and leave your feedback. You can “Buzz Up” the chapter if you like it, I’m not quite sure what that does.
Again, I am so excited to spend this month sharing this story with you. It has been a long time dream to get this out of my head and into the hands of readers. You all are the BEST!!!
Dacia Arnold

100!!! -I’m doing a Give-Away!

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There have been a few events that make me feel like a legitimate writer. This is one of them. I have reached 100 followers on my Blog! I know a lot of you read from FaceBook, but if you’d like to contribute to my following click the “+Follow” button at the bottom right side of your screen and follow me via email.

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In honor of my HUGE milestone, I would like to offer a give away. I will do a random drawing for a custom artsy fartsy project handmade by yours truly. I haven’t quite put my finger on what it will be, but I promise it will be made with love. ❤ There will be 3 winners, so your chances of winning something are pretty high. I will also ship these items, so please do not feel limited by miles. For an idea of the kind of crafty things I do, you can check THIS  out.

How do I enter??? 

First- Follow my blog! lol Then you have a few options:

  1. Reblog your favorite Britestfyrefly post on your own page and link it back to me so I know who you are.
  2. Share the link to one of your favorite posts on Facebook and tag me.
  3. Email the link to your favorite post to a few people and CC me.

 

You may share as much as you want. Each link shared will get you an entry into the drawing which will happen Live on Facebook on February 28th and be posted and shared later that day.

Thank you all for all of your support through the last couple of years. A writer is nothing without readers 😀

Poet and Didn’t Know-et.

Aside from class assignments, I cannot currently write poetry. But there was a time when I could. When my adolescent and young adult demons where well fed and I struggled to find myself. This past weekend, my husband and I went through our basement and years of boxes we have packed around our adult lives from houses, cities, states, and failed relationships. I stumbled upon letters from my father (another post for another time), letters from my husband when we were deployed to two different countries, and old poems I had written many lifetimes ago that I would like to share.

I am not sure who this poem is about, but goodness I was in a horrible place.

“Showcase”

I hate the way you love me

The way you feed on my misery

Thirsting for my tears and sweat that fall to the ground, watering the garden of your ego

I am your accessory

I smile for your convenience

Standing on a pedestal you placed me on to drink freely on the attention from other men.

I cannot leave you.

You have taken all from me.

I cannot breathe without you.

Yet when you sleep, I am alone again.

You hurt me when you tore down my walls

I cry when you touch me.

I kept you at arms length, but you still broke through.

It’s not okay. I’m not okay.

What you have taken from me, I can never give again.

But still you ask for more… more…

I only have but one soul.

Now I am a ghost who sleeps in your bed

A memory of who I used to be and who you tell people I am.

Recovery

It is time for me to start writing again. This is important to my sanity and in preparation of starting school later this month. In conjunction with blogging, I will also pick up on my novel. Though the story has sat on the burner for a while, its my story, it’s exciting, and I really want to see what happens next. I will also eventually pen my delivery story. Some have heard it but I think the only person who knows the true emotions I went through is my mister and even then only in part.

I struggle daily with a lack of routine. There are so many variables but it mostly depends on how much sleep I get and if my mister is home to help, which is inconsistent and unpredictable. I am lucky to have outside support on the week days just in case I find myself overwhelmed. I am hoping that incorporating writing back into my life will help in this aspect.

I am not accustomed to the sedentary lifestyle. It drives me mad. I fear this might have already caused an extended recovery time. I am trying to be better about limiting my activities. Housework and raising a three year old are still priorities as they go hand in hand. I guess I am just avoiding long walks and working out of any kind. As most new moms might, I find my postpartum body disgusting and have started honing in my nutrition to at least feel productive in getting my body back.

Breastfeeding my newest little is a life in itself. Typing one handed at the moment while she sleepily nurses is both a struggle and reward. My little miss gets more chunky everyday and it warms my heart that she is so healthy.

My oldest struggles to find his place in this new normal and in his role as Big Brother. Some days are good and he is super sweet and loving to his sister and other days he lacks the patience to wait for mommy to finishing caring for Sister. This has caused me a lot of guilt and if I had to admit it, difficult for me to adjust to as well. I love my son so dearly that I hate to see him struggle so much. I am generally happy, but this one subject pulls tears to my eyes every time.

I am lucky to have a very patient husband. I want him to be happy but if he utters the words “I’m tired.” around me one more time I might very well make his life the equivalent to what I experience daily, including the chronic pain of being post op.

There are many other subjects that I plan on focusing on in the future like preschool, what’s for dinner, new short fiction, and book updates. My goal is to write 4 days a week at least while my son is in preschool. I appreciate everyone that reads as this is my support system  and motivation, so please let me know that you do.

My newest addition:

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