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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Yeah- I’m into Fitness… Fitn’ess Crazy Schedule into 24 hours!

Geez Louis I have been a busy lady. I’ve come back to work this week after a couple stays in the hospital with my littlest little. Since September sucked so bad, I decided to change a few things. One of these things is my health. After baby number 2 and a long and drawn out Postpartum Depression, I have found myself 20 lbs overweight, and 30 lbs from where I’d like to be. Dammit.

So now I have to try fitn’ess terrible hectic schedule into 24 hours and be successful at EVERYTHING- because what’s the point of all the stress if I’m not?

Just for your peace of mind, there is a list- in order- of the things i do 4 of 5 days a week.

Get the kids to the sitter on time

Get to work on time

Leave 1/2 way through and get my son to afternoon preschool on time

Work on my book

Make 2 calls for sponsorship for the nonprofit I support

Workout

Get kid from School on time

MAYBE go to the grocery store (this is like 3 of 5 days)

Get daughter from the sitter on time

3 different dinners because heaven forbid everyone have to eat the same thing

Feed children and entertain them for 1-3 hours

Bed time for Tiny

Work on book

Bed time for son

More book? Snuggle with the mister (because he needs attention too!!)

Sleep….

Up at 5am and try again

I am constantly moving and juggling. I am hoping to make a few extra changes in the coming weeks, but until then this is my life. I am excited to not be fat anymore, though. So I have that going for me.

A few things that have helped me stay on track with my fitn’ess:

  1. Stick to a strict eating schedule. Even if it’s an off day like a weekend or a Wednesday when I work all day and son doesn’t have school. I also leave most of my eating to the afternoon because I do not like to work out after eating too much and the evening is when I snack. So if I know I have a few hundred calories of food I can eat, I don’t feel as guilty. I don’t eat after 8 because I’m usually dead tired by then.
  2. Giving myself time to get “ready” for my workout. I take about 30 minutes to drink a preworkout magic motivation potion, change my clothes, set up the TV, get my weights out and I don’t feel rushed. When I am stressed, I am completely unmotivated and feel like I can only do so much of the whole workout and I ultimately talk myself out of doing the whole thing. SO… letting myself get ready helps me.
  3. Scheduling the same time to do it! That way I know I have enough time between book and preschool pick up to get ready and do the whole work out.
  4. Friends, accountability and community. I love having people in my corner to pump me up and cheer me on while they are going through their journey as well. I’m a bit competitive so I don’t want to be the one that is slacking. I love the motivation it gives me and could not do it without you guys. (Because I know you love me and read my blogs too).

 

My goal is fitn’ess @ss into a certain dress by a certain date in January. My baby factory is closed and there is no reason for me to ever be fat ever again. Here’s to a healthier and fitter me.

 

Thank October- I’m Awake!!!

September was a horrible month for me and my house and I am thankful that it is over. I had every intention on doing amazing things in September to include pitching my book, but none of those things happened.

I had a slew of family visit me, which in itself is not a bad thing. My sister came to visit from KCMO for a weekend and then days later my husband’s entire immediate family came for my daughter’s first birthday. My dad and his family made it to her celebration as well.

After her party, I rushed her to the emergency room. My poor little girl was admitted to the ICU right away. What my family and I assumed was just a cold, was a virus and pneumonia. She barely skirted getting a breathing tube. After a few days, she bounced back and released after 5 days. A week later, we were back, readmitted but not nearly as bad as the first time. The doctors could not determine if it was the same illness that was complicated by another on top of it, or if she simply caught the same illness again. We were discharged and things are looking up for my little miss.

I had some pretty big personal struggles going on through all of that that weighed heavy on me and my family, but have since cleared up as well. The past is the past and we plan on leaving it there.

What does October bring?

Struggles probably. Final edits. Work with the Ghost Town Writer’s Retreat which I am really excited about. Juggling work and kids. You know, more of the same.

I have quite a few blog posts actually scheduled for the month to keep everyone engaged in what’s going on. Thank you all for your support through these struggles and encouragement to meet my goals.

My hopes that your October is significantly better than last month. Even if September was not all that bad for you. Cheers!

The Mystery of the Disappearing Underpants- A Book Review

This is a middle level reader for 3rd grade and up. You can purchase this chapter book HERE.

I loved this book. It is written as the secret spy log of three neighborhood kids trying to solve multiple mysteries. They end up getting into quite a bit of trouble along the way.

This book brought me back to the days of my childhood and the radical adventures my friends and I would send ourselves on. What I really loved was the ease of reading. The author alternates narrators between each member of the spy team, and it is incredibly fun and easy to keep up with.

As an American reader, I found that sometimes I was having to reread some lines to get a better grasp of what was happening or what the narrator meant, but I would 100% encourage my son to read this to expand his knowledge of English cultures and reading within context. Nothing was far from deduction.

Nikki Young, thank you for writing such a rich adventure for the growing generations. I cannot wait until my children are old enough to devour this book as quickly as I did.

Pitch Wars Update- A Writing About Writing

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” -Mary Tyler Moore

Earlier this month I submitted my very first novel to PitchWars (HERE) in hopes of snagging a mentor that will help me shape it into the master piece that I see in my mind. Well, I did not get in. Which is fine. I am actually in the majority and did not take it very hard.

The day after submitting my first ten pages for consideration, I attended a writing conference (which I wrote about HERE). I was able to tweak my in person pitch, tighten my query letter, and found some very GLARING problems within the first few pages of my work and even some throughout.

These are VICTORIES for me. They are not setbacks. I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I also know that it will be worth it to see Apparent Power within a cover and in my hands. My premise sparks interest with agents and now I have to wow them with my hardly more than mediocre writing.

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Though I am so excited about my new book, Apparent Power is my baby and I cannot wait for Valerie’s story to be available to the masses. You can preview it HERE.

So while I balance work, kids, and life, I guess it’s back to late nights in September editing and writing on my lunch break.

If you are a writer and have experienced rejection or are being hard on yourself (its a vicious cycle, we all do it) take a breath and say “I won’t learn if I don’t try. If I fail, I will know why and work to fix it.” You are in control of your emotions. You are in control of your actions. You can be defeated or you can have your beverage of choice, maybe cry a bit if that’s your thing, and then you suck it up and drive on. Your writing goal is not stupid or unrealistic. It takes a special person to keep going, and I think you’re pretty special. Good Luck!

The Condition of the Railroad Wife (But this may also apply to you)…

I talk a lot about Tribe in regards to parenting, wifing, working, writing, etc. It is a very particular group of people that “get” the aspect of your life that is unique to the general population. Of these, I find the railroad wives to be my biggest cheerleaders. An even smaller group (you know who you are because I know you’re reading this), is a handful of women, rough around the edges, that fight like mad to keep their families together in the face of the struggles of being married to a RR.

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What a dummy.. 

I have noticed that on social media there is a small group of ladies that are willing to be brutally honest about their feelings towards their husbands in regards to their profession. If you are not familiar with the dynamics of having a RR for a spouse, you can check these Six Facts (HERE) or this short story (HERE).

There is another group of women that praise every ounce of their husbands being. While I am not apart of this group, I will approach them with sensitivity, as I am sure that a couple of things may be true

  1. They actually found and married that tiny percent of person that has such small trivial flaws and they are genuinely so happy, that they live to make it up to that person for being so perfect.
  2. God tells us to support our husbands 100% as the head of the household. They dare not speak ill of their other half, especially in questionable company.
  3. They simply do not use social media to vent. Period. Fair enough.

Again, I am very much apart of the first group, and they have A LOT to say. The groups I am apart of are a safe place to cry, laugh, ask for advice, or simply just vent about what frustrates us to others that not only understand, but can validate our frustrations. The railroad exasperates every domestic dispute.

There are spouses out there that are perfect, but most are not. I am nowhere near being perfect. But to women, both working or staying home, that fight this unfair battle of equality within the walls of their home. This seems to be a theme of a lot of women I talk to. Smart, educated, strong women. Every person deserves respect but most of all, married people deserve respect for each other. They married forever, and that is far too long to spend feeling unequal, and dependant. It is okay to be financially dependant on someone else, but not to the point where one feels completely helpless without the other.

A lot of times, we are expected to hold things down at home 24/7 while the other person is sleeping in a silent hotel, free of responsibilities, or little people that constantly fight you over the smallest things like putting their shoes on EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING!!! And then, some come home and expect it to continue. Yes, they they brought home the bacon while they slept peacefully in that hotel, but when one has kids, there is no peace. lol

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What I really want to say to you, the one reading this waiting for your RR to come or go, is that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy with your RR. You jumped into this life with them with the intent to get through the hard stuff, and to make each other better people. You deserve to be respected. You are not dumb, useless, horrible, a bitch, or insufferable. You might be a little crazy, because I don’t know one of us that isn’t just a little batty. But getting through this is not beyond the two of you. You just both have to agree to keep working on it, and only give up when you know you’ve reached your limit.

Encourage other RR spouses to join these groups. Please for the love of everything read the pinned posts of the rules and expectations of the page before you post a single thing. All groups are different. Some allow gratuitous cursing, others do not allow it at all.  Find one that suits you and cling to that tribe.

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Lastly, I will leave you with this. Domestic violence is NOT okay. Emotional abuse is NOT okay. My best friend was murdered Christmas Morning 2010 while I was away at war. If you are unsure if you need assistance you can read HERE for Six Facts about domestic violence.

 

Weird Dreams

Some things that comes with a creative mind are crazy dreams. In the light of recent lamentatious posts, I feel a good laugh is far overdue. This dream is going to give away my age.

Soooo… I’m in a house next door to my old home in Louisiana that I have not lived since 1999. I’m in the living room with all five Backstreet Boys (I laughed when I typed that out). Anyway, they are dancing around me trying to seduce me with their harmonies, and sexy dance moves and I am singing along playing hard to get (think every single ’90s pop music video with a ton of black and red pleather).

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Anyway, so it’s over and AJ McLean (oh I’ve had the hots for him since I was 13) propositions me for casual sex. I laugh in his face and say no because I’m like married. So he takes some other girl to a back room and I leave because gross.

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Anyway, I kept thinking about the whole song and dance scene all morning and laughing because that pretty much sums up my every pubescent daydream. Bieber has nothing on grown men. Now if you don’t mind, I think I will spend the day looking at old Tiger Beats on the interwebs. CHEERS!