Monday, December 29, 2014

Resolve the New Year

I've never understood New Year's resolutions. I mean, I get it. The very definition of a resolution is to make a firm decision to partake or refrain from a behavior or action. What bothers me is people make them (including myself), but they're not very firm decisions since the  majority of people never actually stand by these decisions. You may have resolved to exercise, diet, drink less, quit smoking, etc. By March or April (sometimes sooner) life and stress become hectic and your "firm" decisions turn to putty and slip through your fingers. Next year, you make the same vows to yourself, yet they fall to the wayside.
Last year, I made a major change. Instead of resolutions, or trying to change a part of myself or my behavior, I set goals for myself ranging from easily doable to dreams. I can say that by viewing them at the close of the year, I've done pretty well. I've completed a couple short stories, finally feel as though my novel is good enough to share with a test group, at last found a decent balance between motherhood and work, learned to judge people less and accept them more, relaxed more as a parent, and cut out/limited the stressors in my life. All I can say is that I've never been happier. Work seems easier, my son more manageable, people aren't as annoying, and I feel more confident in myself and my abilities as a parent, professor, and writer. Even though there was still plenty of stress with papers, potty training, a son that rarely naps (who has an unlimited energy supply, and wants to get up super early), not to mention a knee injury, deaths of loved ones and pets, and much more that went on, it was a great year despite the hardships. What was the  difference this year from the one prior? Nothing really but my mindset. A positive mindset, even through the worst experiences, makes life so much easier and rewarding.
Were all my goals accomplished? No. They are goals, things to strive for, not to resolve to do and be disappointed by letting them go. I didn't put a time limit on  my goal; I didn't say, "This year, I must..." I said, "This year I will attempt to start..." By qualifying the statement instead of using such limiting language, I open up for the possibility of not fulfilling them. In a sense I cannot fail if I make some kind of attempt at my goal. Therefore, there are no disappointments just celebrations when I succeed and when I do not fulfill a goal, there's always more time, always next year. As long as I "start" my goal, I've succeeded. It doesn't seem that difficult, yet I've done so much more without forcing myself every Dec. 31st to force change. Positive reinforcement is proven to work for people, and if you start small you'll eventually accomplish big goals. My largest goal is publishing a book, and for a couple years I tried getting an agent thinking it would just eventually happen. I kept saying to myself "I have to get published this year!" Then I ended up depressed each New Year's when that didn't happen. Instead, I now don't resolve to do anything but strive for my goals. If you have issues sticking with resolutions each year, then think about viewing next year with a different, more positive, mindset. Don't resolve, strive and attempt. That way you'll always succeed. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Take a Break

Mission Impossible

"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer" (Thoreau).

Yesterday I was making pancakes for my son in the kitchen while he was drawing at the table. I paused, turned and took a sip of my tea, and met my son's gaze. He smiled and said, "my mommy," with all the enthusiasm and admiration only a child can muster. My heart swelled and I thought to myself, "how could it ever get better than this?"

Feeling more than satisfied with life, I took another sip of tea and looked out the window. What I saw could hardly be properly described in words and give it justice. I simply saw the rich blue cloudless sky through the trees that seemed to be dancing in the wind. It was nothing more astounding than the beautiful sight nature gives us if you have the time to stop and observe it. I rarely have the time. No, what was profound about it was my perception of the view. It wasn't just a picturesque scene. It held so much more. I was almost overwhelmed with a feeling of greatness, beyond contentedment and joy. I felt positive and unstoppable. I'm not a spiritual person normally, but the feeling I had went beyond rational feelings. The transcendental poets studied in college came back to me and their enthusiasm for nature inspired me all over again. I suddenly had an epiphany: my dreams will come true one day. That's what the sky told me. Maybe not today or tomorrow but one day.
I'm not a hard person to please. I like a simple life, don't care about the Jones's gadgets, am not traditional or conforming in any way. You could say I go to the beat of my own drum and that has gotten me what I want in life. I never have wanted what the Joneses have; I make my own definition of success. I have everything I want in life--almost. I have a loving husband and son, a job I love, great coworkers, family, friends, but I want to publish books and have moderate success doing so.
I often lose faith in my writing abilities and self, but yesterday it was as if something beyond me (the fates, God--insert your ideology here) was telling me to have faith in myself. My mind transcended as these poets often described and I rarely grasped until now. The last time I had such profound feelings and inspiration was in Scotland and Wales where the picturesque scene demands your attention. One visit to Edinburgh was enough to show me how JK Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter. What transcending does is more than a spiritual message through nature; it makes you realize things about yourself. I realized that I had lost faith in myself as a writer.

This is something so many of us forget about. We believe in higher powers, our friends, family, but we rarely have time to believe in ourselves. Sometimes, when we do have a crowning moment of achievement it is destroyed by others who see confidence as a negative attribute. There's no sin in loving and believing in yourself unless you leave no room for others. I'm often so hard on myself that I don't need others to criticize me, my life, or my writing. Often others hinder me from attempting my dreams and no one should ever let that happen. There's a fine line between constructive criticism and dashing someone's dreams that many people cannot navigate. We are our own worst critics, so when someone adds a scathing review to the pot, my confidence is in shambles. I'm much too hard on myself.
I often feel like I'm juggling and afraid I'll drop all the balls if something in life is out of balance. The metaphorical balls in the air would be mother, wife, homemaker, professor, social media writer, novel writer--probably in that order. When I have to grade and I do well doing do, my son feels slighted and begs for attention; if I put the papers down to play with my son or chat with my husband, I feel I'm now a bad professor. When I'm writing a blog as I am now, I'm thinking of the cleaning, novel writing, grading and other things I should he doing instead. I feel as if a ball will drop and I'm terrified it will be writing and that I'll never pick that ball up again. Then I realize that I need to give myself a break. My son won't be scarred for life because I ignore him now and then to grade. My students won't suffer if it takes 2 weeks to get a paper back rather than 1. My husband won't be upset if we have to get delivery instead of a home cooked meal. And I won't die if I don't publish something immediately.
Looking out the window with a feeling of great things to come reminded me to give myself a break, literally and figuratively. If all I have left is one dream to fulfill, I have plenty of time to try to accomplish it. Nature's beauty reminded yesterday to believe in myself and to make my dreams happen. So today, and one day every week, give yourself a break mentally and physically. Stop criticizing yourself, taking on too much, worrying about all your roles in life. Stop following society's drummer that tells you you must be perfect. Go beat your own drum. Stop and look at the window and enjoy the view because "troubles are just the shadows in a beautiful picture" (Voltaire) and that glorious picture is life.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Character sketch: Zombies and the Regime

 I threw yet another shirt onto the ground. It wasn’t the paint splatters on the sleeves that bothered me. All my clothes were covered in paint—the hazard of being an artist, I guess. What bothered me was the largest, most grotesque, bulbous object that God spurned me with—a bubble butt. There was no way to hide it, especially in leggings. I contemplated changing completely, but the digital clock on my dresser scoffed me; I was going to be late if I didn’t haul ass.
I threw on a bright green sweater-dress that I knew would cover my butt, and Chucks that once matched the sweater, but again, covered in paint. I grabbed a cookie and a coke can and ran out the door—breakfast of champions. I almost made it to my old beat up Ford Escort, when the Wicked Witch of the West stopped me in my tracks. She also went by the term “mother.”
“Seriously? Look at the state of you! What that adorable boyfriend of yours sees in you, I don’t know. You should take better care of your appearance. And that paint…”
“Can’t this wait mother, I’m late,” I growled throwing my backpack into the car.
“The paint is atrocious.”
“Why because it is a reminder of what you hate most about me?” I shot out the accusation. I don’t know why I did it at times; I guess I sadly still hoped she would comfort me and show me some love and respect, but there was no touching this ice queen’s heart. I braced myself for the upcoming sting of whatever she would say.
“Hate? No, that’s not right at all Ria. The correct word would be…disappointment.” Her eyes were soft, as if she really believed she was complementing me, that disappointment was so much better than hate. Didn’t she realize it hurt so much more?
“Well, get used to it. I’m double majoring. Make me mad mother and I swear I’ll go to an art school.” The threat usually made her back off. I figured if I threatened to limit myself to only art, then they’d condescend to let me double major in business and art. It would be the lesser of two evilsfor them. After all, they were forking out half my tuition, so I had to somehow manipulate them into giving me what I wanted.
I climbed into the car and slammed the door shut as she said something along the lines that we’d talk about it when we got home. My father, Hitler, and mother hated the fact I wanted to be an artist. It wasn’t practical; it also wasn’t practical that I hadn’t been a boy and that my birth robbed her of her chances to ever have that prized boy or any other child for that matter. They wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer and proclaimed to all that would listen that I was wasting my brain on “scribbling.” I could not wait to get out of their house, to leave them behind, to start living my life. Graduation seemed like a winning lottery ticket and I was oh-so-ready to cash it in.

I went to meet Brian by his car as usual. He was the boyfriend my mother was oh-so in love with. It was ghastly how she flirted with him. My father loved him as well. He was the like the son they never had: football player, on the honor roll, never did wrong, and was planning to major in pre-med. He was average in everything though, and certainly he wouldn’t get into medical school or even through a pre-med program. He was kind of intelligent but a very lazy student. I liked him, but I wasn’t blinded to his faults as some girls get, or my parents for that matter. He was cute, a great kisser, and had nice eyes. We had been dating for almost six months, like marriage for teenagers, but he was more of a friend than a lover.
“Hey,” he said quietly, shuffling his foot and not meeting my gaze. This did not bode well.
“What’s wrong?” I asked. He didn’t seem particularly sad, like a death in the family occurred, but just a bit put off.
“We’ve got to talk,” he sighed.
“I thought that’s what we’re doing,” I mocked. I knew where this was headed, but I needed to wrap my mind around how I felt about it.
“No, like a serious talk, Ria.”
“So talk,” I prompted. I wasn’t going to say the words. I wouldn’t make it that easy for him.
“We’re graduating in two weeks, going to different schools in the fall. I just think it will be easier to cut loose now, you know, instead of in August.”
“Easier?” I asked. I’m not sure why. I tried to think of something to say to get him to change his mind, some way to get him to stay with me, but none came. And then it dawned on me: I didn’t want him to stay with me. Otherwise, I’d find the words to fight for him. Why not break up? I didn’t love him. I’d never marry him. We were headed in completely different directions in life, geographically and figuratively, and we wanted very different things. He didn’t even fit into my plans.
“This is hard, I know…” he scrambled for words.
“No, not really.” I cut him off.
Brian looked as if I slapped him across the face. He was stunned.
“You’re completely right. We’re not in love. We never should’ve even bothered to date really,” I mused aloud.
“It’s impossible to love you Ria,” he said suddenly full of anger. “You never let anyone in! You never feel anything! It’s like dating a zombie! And you totally over rationalized everything until it’s rancored useless!”
I bit my lip trying not to laugh at his blunder.
“And you laugh? You’re crazy, you know that?!” Brian kicked the bumper of his car and stormed off muttering curses at me under his breath.
“Brian!” I called before he could get far.
He stopped and peered over his shoulder at me.
“It’s ‘rendered useless,’ by the way,” I corrected him.
“Ria, fuck you.”
Then he stormed off.
As I walked to homeroom, I wondered why he was so upset and angry at me that I agreed a break up was a good idea. I must’ve wounded he pride. If he had expected me to cry and beg for him to keep dating me, then he didn’t know me at all. He was probably just lashing out because he was upset, but the things he said weighed heavily on my mind all morning. Was I impossible to love? An emotionless zombie? Did I really have trouble letting people in? He was right in that I was rational, but was that really a fault?
In art class, I tried to concentrate and pour my feelings out onto the canvas. There it was, my emotions for all to see, reds and blues of anger, frustration, and sadness. I could feel and I could show my feelings. So what if my medium was artwork rather than sobbing in the halls like some of the really silly girls in my school? Half the time I swear they cried just to get attention from people.
I didn’t think about Brian again until I saw the back of him in Trig. It was strange. His appearance didn’t bring anxiety, nervousness, or even regret. I felt…resolved. Things were over and that was that. I felt relieved. We would’ve wasted each other’s time if we continued dating. The only thing I lamented was losing the friendship. He was obviously angry, upset, and ignoring me now. The friendship probably wasn’t worth salvaging either; by the time things would stop being awkward, we’d be parting ways for college.
My thoughts drifted off to my overly strict father and what would await me when I got home. Another “pep” talk about how I’d fail as an artist and he would not financially bail me out of my mistakes most likely. He was a hard man, who worked hard at his car sales job, who never amounted to become the Wall Street stock broker he dreamed to be. He tried, but just couldn’t cut it. And mother was a failed ballet dancer, and even stopped teaching lessons when I was little to become a paralegal. My friend Matty said once that they might be dashing my dreams to protect me from experiencing the difficulties they had, and he was a smart cookie, but he gave them too much credit. They wanted my life to be stable for the self interests, so that they wouldn’t need to spend any money on me outside of college and so that I would be successful enough to take care of them when they were old. My mother told me as much once. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt that they loved me, just indifference and annoyance. I felt as if I interrupted their perfectly happy lives.
“How’s your day?” Matty asked me at lunch. We had a strange lunch table, a hodge-podge of different people from different cliques that was glued together by Matty. He was one of those guys, not super popular but able to hang out with just about anyone, very likable.
“Well if you’re referring to the heinous fight with my mother or the very awkward breakup with Brian or the fact upon self-reflection I find that people see me as an emotionless, pathetic, bitch, I’d say not such a good one. Do you think I’m a zombie?”
“Huh?” Matty looked at me as if he just realized I was there. Apparently, the greeting was merely a rhetorical question. He was obviously preoccupied with something. “What were you saying?”
“Nothing, just rambling,” I told him. I shifted my gaze down at the cafeteria pizza, no longer wanting to eat. I’m not sure if it was the cardboard consistency that ruined my appetite or the fact one of my only real friends could care less about what I was going through. Probably a bit of both. The fact Matty could care less hurt even more than Brian’s accusations. I felt suddenly so small, like Alice in Wonderland when she shrinks. No one could see me or care to do so. I was as insignificant as an ant.
Matty, my best friend, was staring at the cheerleading table, staring at Jenny Hapner, his obsession and reason for living since the first grade. He spoke to her twice, about homework. Since the first grade. It made me pity him. When he found out she was a vapid, cold-hearted snob and not the romanticized vision he fabricated in his imagination, he'd be broken hearted.
They made me sick, even Matty. Brian had accused me of being an emotionless zombie. Well, they were the zombies. Oh they felt things, things about themselves. The kids in my school, my parents--everybody--they were all after their own self interests. My best friend ignored my plight readily because I got girl was across the room. They were the zombies and the adults were the regime. I was getting out as soon as I could.
That day was they day I began my countdown to freedom.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Love is Immortality"

Resounding moment
"Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." --Emily Dickinson
Recently, I lost my uncle to Parkinson’s. You’d think having 20 years to prepare for death that it would make it a bit easier, but it doesn’t. We weren’t particularly close, not like some families are, and when we moved down to South Carolina, he was only able to visit a few times due to his illness. My father, who is retired, went to see him a few times a year. My lack of a close bond with my uncle doesn’t make it any easier. 
I’m not sure any of us can imagine how hard it is to live with a disease like this. I am an empathic person and can see beyond the surface to see, or perhaps assume, someone’s suffering. Even as a child, I worried when others felt bad or something happened to them.

Wayne Borne
Suddenly, mortality is staring me down in realization that loved ones, old or young, are in fact mortal no matter how much we love them. A new anxiety fills me and my incorrigible imagination ventures off on planes of horror seeing or envisioning my loved ones dying and I physically almost retch at the thought. I. Just. Can’t. Deal.
Dispelling these images, I try to digest this awkward grief, of losing someone you know well, someone who is family, and of course I’m sad. But not seeing a loved one for years on end seems to soften the blow for me, yet I don't know how to deal with my grief, searching for a way to come to terms with it. My troublesome imagination casts out a net, looking for a way to feel bad, so that I can break through the numbness in my heart. What I mean is I think of my father having to watch the life leave his baby brother, my aunt dealing with watching his debilitating state day after day, year after year. I try to comprehend their pain, but then it becomes my own—the power of empathy knows no bounds. Then the dreadful imagination substitutes the scenario and I’m burying my brother or my husband and then the grief hits me like a brick and I have to dismiss the thoughts before it becomes too overwhelming. Why would I do this? Is it masochism? Not exactly, I’m looking for a way to break through this barrier of emptiness I feel. I’m trying to blast through the five steps of grief at once to come to terms with things. Yet, it does not make me feel better. I feel like I'm still trying to digest the fact my uncle is gone.
I still felt numb after the memorial service. I saw my dad's sadness, my mother's stoicism, but I couldn't fully let go of the idea that my uncle was gone until two weeks later. My cat helped me grieve as strange as it sounds. She had stopped eating and lost a drastic amount of weight over the last month. Off to the vet I went. After two trips and increasingly bad news, we were told she was dying. They let us take her home and told us to call if her condition declined, which I knew I wouldn't call until it was time to let her go. As I watched my once fat cat, now a mere skeleton, struggle to walk more than five feet before needing a rest, her short deep breaths, and her desperate sudden need to be held and loved, even around a rowdy toddler, I realized I was being selfish. It dawned on me while I held the syringe of food to force feed her again, that I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep her around for my benefit; it tore me apart to admit I needed to put her down, but it opened up a gaping wound that this was the exact situation my uncle went through, and my aunt had to watch it. His living will said no force feedings and as a man trapped in his broken body, I could see why he wouldn't wish to continue that way. Seeing the cat struggle made me realize how hard it was for my uncle and his wife. My imagination tied the two events together and every time I saw the cat's sad weak eyes, I thought if my uncle and the years of suffering he went through. My grief overwhelmed me and I finally broke through the numbness and felt.
Fatty Boom
When I said goodbye to my little feline child, because as every pet owner knows, they are our children, I said goodbye to my uncle too. My empathy for others has prepared me for the worst and facing death, although hard, doesn't break me. I'm strong and stoic and can bear the burden of grief, yet the imagination never shuts off constantly wondering--no fearing--what my loved ones' last moments were like.
If only I could turn this imagination of mine off and stay in my own head…regardless, I’ll take the bad with the good. My imagination allows me to be creative, to write, to truly understand other people and connect with them on a level that they may not even be aware of. To see one's struggle in the end, the determination to live, and the sadness when that person or animal gives up, is part of the human experience that we must all face. If I must feel the raw human emotion of grief, even through imagining what others feel in order to get there, then I will gladly step up to the plate because an imagination, a true human connection, is a bad thing to waste. And I would not trade that for the world.
I press forward no longer numb but now feeling great sadness, but part of me is glad they no longer suffer. They are released from this life but not from my heart. As Dickinson famously stated, "Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality." Although they are gone and I won't see them anymore, my love for them, all my lost loved ones, will live on.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Throwing in the Bar Mat


A crisp cider--sweet, tart, and strong.

I looked to my blog lineup and saw my upcoming post should be a barfly. To my astonishment, I didn't have one. I wracked my brain, contemplating heading out to the bar to find one, but I didn't feel like it. Between work and being a mother, I'm just plain tired. I don't want to go out and the last time I did, it was such a novelty that I paid no heed to strangers, only to my friends. Therefore, I forgot to espy a barfly. The problem, if you view it as one, is my friends. No, there's nothing wrong with them. They have just "grown up," being pregnant, having kids, career jobs, etc. and so have I.

Instead, I’d rather enjoy a cool beverage at one of my friend’s homes, while the rugrats tear apart the house. I’ve learned the perks of drinking home instead of out: cheaper, no driving involved (if at my house), socializing without random strangers who ask for lighters or nonchalantly try to hit on us, and I get to recycle the containers that I drink from.
So here in this blog, I bury my partying days with a bittersweet sorrow. Sure, I’ll get out for birthdays and other special nights, but I’ll pay for it the next day. With age comes hangovers and ever since my hiatus from drinking while I had my son, I’ve been unable to drink like I used to. There’s no getting back on that horse but I’m glad.

Without further ado, I’m removing the Barflys from my blogging lineup and will be replacing it with character sketches and prompt challenges. "Stay thirsty my friends" on Facebook to give me a challenge and I’ll write according to your suggestions. My barfly seems to be my sober self, my drink of the moment apple cider. It is a fitting drink for this post and for life in general: it is sweet, at times tart, and always has a strength hidden under its sweetness.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reading Smut

Mission impossible: Reading Smut

So, I haven't been happy about the response to my novel three years ago and have been working on expanding my horizons. The YA world was smothered with paranormal romances involving vampires, werewolves, shifters, angels, fairies, and so on. Next, distopian literature took over with apocalyptic worlds, survival of the fittest motifs, and struggling to keep one's humanity. I was riding this one out. I mean, I can be dark, but not that dark. During all this, fantasy has always stayed strong so I dabbled in that. This manuscript needs work, but I feel I was able to write fantasy almost as well as paranormal romance. In fact, the only major differences in my series are including magic and another world. At 33, I fully know myself, but how am I still lost as to what my niche is, my calling? I must write; it's never been a choice but a kind of affliction, yet I still cannot find what really calls to me. Fantasy, realistic drama, coming of age stories, paranormal romance, horror, adaptations, suspense, romantic comedies-- the list of what I've tipped my pen to goes on. All I've done, I consider decent but nothing stands alone as the opus of my life. So I started many different projects this last year and abandoned them, which is unlike me. I want to write something publishable which had taken the fun and art of writing out of it for me. So I read instead.

Then I stumbled across New Adult fiction. Now this intrigued me. Having characters only a couple years older than my previous ones could allow many more, rated R actions granted, things to happen to them. And then I accidentally read smut. I'm not a goody-goody scared off by a little sex in a novel, but by no means am I your avid Fifty Shades of Grey fan. When younger, we used to read these books aloud at the pool I was lifeguarding at in order to laugh at the terrible and cheesy wording: "he slayed her with his flesh sword" and "he pierced her with his engorged member," for example. So the genre was only bait for mockery to me.

How do you accidentally read smut? I downloaded a free novel that was labeled as YA and clearly was meant to be labeled differently. It was hard core sexuality, graffically told, and the only thing that kept me reading was trying to see the plot out, which was a cliffhanger and not a good one at that. I did not want to continue the series, nor did I find any quality to the writing besides seeing it out. Grammar issues, awkward metaphors and bad analogies, no character development, and a terrible POV made it weak. I mean, don't write in first person if you reveal other characters' thoughts, unless they're literally mind readers. Of course, being an aspiring writer, I deplore those that ruin the self published venue. Not everyone is meant to be an author (maybe myself included), but this novel did something to me. It made me realize that even the most widely published and purchased genre still had room to grow. Maybe I should "sell out" and write a romance novel. Only now I'm thinking it's not selling out, but instead opening my repertoire, my portfolio to include this genre. I tell myself it needs to be done to improve myself as a writer, but really I'm thinking that I need to try to find my niche. I'm scared that if I never try writing everything, I won't find what best suits me and then I will never be successful. It is the blessing and curse of being the renaissance woman--well rounded and knowledgeable in many things but never the best at anything.

Now to make a real attempt at writing a good romance novel, I must do my research. After reading a varying amount of free novels, mostly terrible but what do you expect when they're free? Problems that arose were flat characters or well rounded unlikeable characters, skewed or inconsistent point of views, extremely predictable plots or plots that made absolutely no sense that were just a bunch of sex scenes strung together that got really boring after a while. By far the most annoying aspect was a lack of vocabulary or variation in word choices. This made every romantic scene play out exactly the same. On the other side of the spectrum was the horrific use of cheesey innuendos; I really had never heard of some of these quips authors used for the male genitalia before. In between these spectrums of awkward books were some good ones; sadly some of these just lacked in plot--too realistic and most of us can get realism at home. Romance is intended to allow the reader to escape into a fantasy. One thing I dislike about it is that most fall into a formulaic helpless heroine must be saved by strapping hero, a plot that is supposed to kindle our primitive Neanderthal roles (see above photo). I read one where a sex slave, although he never used her that way, stayed a helpless sex slave and was reprimanded for attempting to escape. That was all. She didn't grow as a person or become free; he didn't learn anything either or set her free. The feminist blood boiled in my veins. Surely he should realize it's wrong, she that she can overcome adversity. This was one of the worst, since I got absolutely nothing out of it--meaning, entertainment, or an inkling of any use of my brain. 

Totally turned off romance novels, I borrowed a Nora Roberts novel, Charmed. After all, she's a best selling author, rich as sin now, and sells books before the ink dries. Surely this had to be good. All I can say is, it wasn't bad. It entertained me, engaged my attention, and was a quick read. I enjoyed her much more than a Nicholas Sparks novel I put myself through--too sappy, I was quagmired--because it wasn't over killed with cheesey unrealistic dialogue. The writing was good, never did weird innuendo appear or tacky euphemisms assault me and remove me from the moment. In fact, she's a very poetical at times. She even interweaves fantastical elements of witchcraft into a realistic love story. However, I was awaiting a twist or turn in the plot that never occurred. I knew exactly what would happen throughout the novel on page 20. Considering it was over 250 pages, it was a bit frustrating that everything I thought would happen did. Second, the characters were well-developed in that their stories were fleshed out, pasts explained, families included, etc. But something was lacking. I didn't feel connected to then, sympathize with their situations, or care much about them at the end. I almost wanted to just get the extremely predictable book over with. I found it distracting that she changed points of view between the characters constantly without much warning--an extra space (but this was probably publisher's doing). Also, I find it difficult to believe a male's perspective written by a woman ;and vice versa); attempting to do it myself, it's very difficult. Roberts's attempt was the best I've seen but expressions like, "I'm a guy, what can I say," after a description of her breasts seems weird to me. Not being a guy, I wouldn't know, but I doubt men prescribe themselves as being males when having lewd thoughts, much like us girls don't really cry at a sappy movie thinking, "oh, I'm such a girl."

Clearly, I'm not a Roberts fan, who is one if the best out there. So does that mean I shouldn't read or write romance novels? I mean, I don't like what apparently so many millions of women adore. Yes, I hated The Notebook movie (predictable, poor acting in places, and full of melodrama); I loved the old people's story and Gosling's physique but that's about it. So yes, I'm weird when it comes to what I think is actually romantic. What I've learned from researching smut is that even though there are tons of these books from the good to bad, flops to successes, it is one of the biggest industries that seems to have room to grow.

In summation, I think I will attempt either a romance novel or New Adult romance over the next year. I'll see where this road takes me. Perhaps I'll learn a bit more about writing at the least or sell a book at the best. You never know where each decision you make will take you...maybe to your niche in life.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Breaking Down the Confident Woman

This title is two-fold. First, it can be taken as breaking down the modern confident woman. Second, it can be how society attempts to undermine womanhood by attempting to make a confident woman literally break down.

Being a confident woman in society is difficult, maybe even as difficult as it was during the Suffrage movement or before women fought for equality. The main enemy doesn't seem to be just men, but other women. Both slgenders together have reinforced throughout society that being confident is actually a bad thing, when in reality it is far from. Some of the most successful women in history put aside their insecurity demons, ignored society, and accomplished great things.Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth Cady Staton, Susan B. Anthony, Madame Curie, and many more women have tackled so many feats during a patriarchal reign. Despite the astounding history that proves to us that a healthy confidence level equals success, society attacks the modern woman. In fact, there are many negative myths created about them that people buy into. 

Debunking the myth: a confident woman...

1. Is a hard core chauvinistic feminist.
A lot of people still cringe at the word feminist, since in our modern age it has taken on a negative connotation. Feminism actually means to believe in the equality of men and woman socially, economically, and politically. No where does its definition say that women believe in the inferiority of men. Society really wishes to say a woman is a chauvinist if she looks down on men, but we misuse the word chauvinism, much like our misuse of feminism, and apply it only to men: chauvinist pig (another sexist crime). Chauvinism actually is "excessive or prejudiced loyalty or support for one's own cause, group, or gender" according to Google's dictionary. This is really what people mean when they use the term feminism in a negative way. So yes, most confident women are feminists (in the true sense of the word) and proud of it. They believe they have the right to be equal to men if they so choose (you can be a feminist housewife if it is a choice to be so). However, rarely have I ever come across a chauvinist woman who is truly confident. If she must put down men (even if she is a lesbian or asexual), she has a bounty of insecurities that attack another gender; sometimes she has been burned or treated poorly by the opposite sex--this would indeed take her confidence away. Therefore, most confident women are not axe wielding man hating beasts. They simply see men and women as equal autonomous beings that cohesively coexist.
Feminist Ryan Gosling - feminism Photo

2. Looks down on others.
Society tends to jump to the conclusion that when people show confidence that they see themselves as superior to others. They believe a confident woman is a snob. This myth is by far the most ridiculous. A woman can love herself, know herself, and be confident about herself and her abilities. Just because a confident woman doesn't let people's opinions get the best of her and bring her down, it doesn't mean she's ignoring that opinion or advice. It doesn't mean the adviser or critic is beneath her. Usually she is listening, values that opinion, but she just doesn't let what one person says rule her life (like insecure folks do). She most likely values other people as well since a confident woman realizes that a person's worth is completely subjective. Self-worth is easier to measure and understand and she transfers that understanding onto others. Therefore, not many people are considered "worthless" to her (rapists, molesters, murderers, etc.--these she looks down on). She values most people's roles in the world and personally in her life. Those who feel she is looking down on them most likely are insecure themselves. Also, if she does look down on others, she has some deep-seated insecurity issues going on. Because those who truly believe in themselves have no need to disqualify the achievements of others; instead they celebrate their friends' successes.

3. Is a frigid bitch.
This is a tough one. A lot of men and women claim someone is a cold bitch because she has wounded their pride. Perhaps she belittled the guy that was hitting on her and couldn't pick up her cues of disinterest. Perhaps she is harder to get into bed than he hoped for. Perhaps she didn't fawn and empathize over her friend's "huge" problem because she wisely knows that said friend just wants attention or that the problem is minuscule compared to the major issues in the world. Acknowledgement of the flaws of others (like drama queen above) is a cardinal sin in our society but only if the confident woman sees herself as above these issues, which brings us to number 4.

4. Believes she's flawless.

The number one reason people hate confident women is because they're...confident. Society views that as they believe they are perfect. This is far from the truth. A confident woman knows she has imperfections, that there's no such thing as a perfect person, and those that strive to be are headed for a downfall.
She knows everyone of her flaws, and she has embraced them. She doesn't let people pointing them out get to her and she loves herself despite her flaws. We can self analyze, to not do so is being egotistical, not having confidence. Egotism and confidence are not synonyms, which is something people don't understand. Another thing overlooked is envy. Confident women are often scapegoated by those with poor self-esteem. They attack the confident woman because they're jealous, not because she makes more money, her kids are angels, or her husband is a saint (which most likely aren't always true) but because she likes herself. Many women dislike themselves when they shouldn't, so a woman who likes herself is a threat, an outsider, and ergo must see herself as perfection itself. This is not true; she merely doesn't let her flaws consume her. Diets, excessive exercising, the latest fashions, and the hottest trends don't rule her life. She may partake in these things but she doesn't let it rule her. Appearance and material items are only small factors in which she bases her decisions. She rules her own life, not society, and this intimidates and irritates self-conscious women.

5. Has it completely together.
Along with flawlessness, some assume confident women have their shit together, as in everything in life is planned, organized, and goes on without a hitch. After all, these women have less drama in their lives than most. This togetherness, however, is just a facade. Yes, even confident women become unraveled by stress and drama, but they rarely create that drama themselves. They are confident and don't outwardly seek attention through kicking up a ruckus. Instead, a self-assured woman will pick up the pieces of a terrible situation, put it back together, and persevere on. She finds pleasure and contentment in how she handled the situation rather than pats on the back from others. She doesn't whine, wheedle, and look to be saved by an imaginary prince charming. She does it all herself and even has trouble understanding others who let themselves get knocked down and don't ever get up again. But she surely doesn't have it all together; she works hard to keep things stable in life but always knows, and is prepared for, there's a curve ball around the corner. In fact, some thrive on challenges.

Overall, the confident woman is not to be feared, ridiculed, or attacked by people. In fact, she should be revered and we should all desire to become her. There's no better dream than being yourself without the worry of others' opinions and more importantly to love yourself. So learn to be confident...

Love yourself
Be yourself
Don't let anyone bring you down
Cut out poisonous people
Set goals and tackle them
Admit your faults
Celebrate your virtues
Always look for the good
Defeat the bad 
Don't look back
Believe in yourself