Pulling My Head Out of the Electric Oven

Top Left to Right: Adela Florence Nicolson, Alejandra Pizarnik, Alfonsina Storni, Amelia Rosselli, Ana Cristina César, Anne Sexton, Beatrice Hastings, Charlotte Mary Mew, Deborah Digges; 2nd Row Left To Right: Inge Müller, Ingrid Jonker, Gertrude Bell, Jane Aiken Hodge, Elise Cowen, Katherine Lawrence, Penelope Delta, Robin Hyde, Pamela Moore; Bottom Row Left to Right: Helene Migerka, Sara Teasdale, Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva, Sarah Kane, Rosario Castellanos, Sylvia Plath, Veronica Micle, Victoria Benedictsson, Virginia Woolf

Writing; Death As A Possible Side Effect

“Natasha, you’re a crybaby!”

My cousins would tease when I was little. Running to take refuge in the arms of my aunts, I cried until hiccupped sobs only remained and fat tears streaked down my face. I was rocked in the comfort of their arms, quietly being assured everything would be okay.

At the time, I was the only girl in my extended family. My cousins ensured I was subjected to the random taunts most little girls at the age of seven have the pleasure of bearing. I was teased for everything I did and couldn’t do; crying only made it worse but I couldn’t help myself.

In my young mind I couldn’t understand and always wanted to know “How could they be so mean to me?” After all, I hadn’t done anything to them but trip on my own shoelace or couldn’t draw as well as Daniel. But in one thing they were right—I was a crybaby. And 30-some-odd years later I still am, sort of.

Today, I am a combination of being innately sensitive and slightly insecure. Each trait is mixed with a certain ‘awareness’ of brutal truths life imparts. In some ways because of this I do not differ much from that tanned Puerto Rican girl of my past. Creatively speaking the petri dish of my life has, at times, created a crippling affect in my ability to cope with the disappointments most of us can face. But more than that it has helped me become an intuitive person to life and people.

This complicated mix has been a curse and a blessing, both in my writing and understanding of others. For so long I felt alone in this acute knowledge. I was the only one screaming in a room of silent spectators. However, in becoming the writer I strive to be I’ve come to comprehend (some) artists and writers swim within the same realm of sensitivity, awareness and creativity.

DEATH BECOMES HER

“Artists are so sensitive.”Perhaps. And while there are many deeply rewarding aspects of being creative and highly sensitive person, it seems to me, this way of being, way of perceiving life and people can take an emotional and mental toll on writers, fine artists, actors, singers and comedians.

Each of the women depicted in the image above are Pulitzer Prize Winning poets, authors, story tellers and creators of real and imaginary worlds. They took their own lives (violently and otherwise), and the stories that still lied within them to the grave..to be forever untold.

But what makes us so different? Are we more susceptible to Mental Illness like the doctors and scientist try to correlate? Why are some of us pushed enough through the threshold of hurt, pain and disappointment to want to end it all? We want to stop asking the questions of why or looking for hope, however small it may be?

Demons.

As a writer I will take a biased stance. It seems some artists such as painters and sculptors can utilize their medium to exorcise their internal demons. The monsters they wrestle with can be force outward on a painted canvas and given a physical so that the creator can be relieve of the their burden. Writers however, can grapple with their monsters internally and dwell within this chaotic world for long periods of time before they can expulse the heaviness away from themselves.

When I write, I am always asking the question why. Why is love often pushed away? Why do parents turn a blind eye to their children in need? Why do we fail even when we work our hardest?

At times I use portions of my life to help ask and answer these questions. This seemly simple act requires me to relive some of my most hurtful life moments again and again. I do it once as I outline and another hundred times as I write and then edit. Play, rewind and repeat. Play, rewind and repeat.

The constant sourcing of one’s own life becomes taxing. It can wreak havoc on any writer’s emotional state, especially if you are close to the work of which you are writing about. It’s an issue of reliving and revisiting the monsters that have been tormenting you either consciously or subconsciously.

This is not to say all writers and artists are tormented creatures seeking the answers and meaning to life. But one cannot deny the many instances where the pain of a writers life translates on the written page affects not only the reader but writer themselves.

Take Dorothy Allison, author of ‘Bastard Out of Carolina’. Writing late nights after working all day on legal pads, writing the story of her life, and the abuse she experienced. From it came the semi-autobiographical book that became pivotal to her life and work as a writer. This constant revisiting can be overwhelming for a writer. Even Stephen King wrote a large portion of his most infamous works, while high on cocaine and alcohol. Was ‘Cujo’ a written manifestation of his own internal monsters?

Awareness.

Certain gifted writers can have extraordinarily high standards for themselves; they have low tolerance for mediocrity and develop a strong level of frustration during the execution of their work. They can have acute awareness of life’s complexities and consequences while having a strong need for self-determination and self-actualization; each ideal applying a level of pressure on them. In some cases this weight is enough to push an artist to extreme measures of abuse and suicide.

I Am Woman, Hear me Roar.

What is it about the inherent demands on female writers that lead to so many deaths of women writers? Is it the clashing of who we are as caregivers, lovers and strong holds in the home front all the while grappling with our identity and self-worth, a convergence that leads to disaster? From Anne Sexton to Rosario Castellanos, each creative maverick taking their own lives while coping with loved lost, death, abandonment and abuse; each having an “acute awareness” leading to distress over their own personal and social conditions. Quite possibly an existential dread creating depression causing their own death.

Lady Lazarus herself, Sylvia Plath, not only tried once to end her life, but it was on the dreadful third attempt did she finally succeed. At approximately 4:30 am, Plath had sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with wet towels and cloth, placed her head in the oven, and turned the gas on. They found Plath dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 30.

Although not suicidal, there are many times I feel the world I live in is not meant for me. When I know the heart I have easily breaks when the hope I have fails. Sometimes my active awareness is good but many more times I wish I wasn’t so sensitive. There are days, weeks and months that go by where I don’t want to understand the unspoken actions and behaviors of people or the inevitability of our lives. At times having the distinct feeling of not belonging, of feeling too different.

By no means am I comparing myself to Woolf, Hemingway, Burgos or any of our past writer heroes, but even at my level, swimming within the waves of awareness, sensitivity and creativity, has not always been easy to navigate. It has caused me to see life with a sense of futility as well as hope. And instead of taking refuge in my writing I at times become stunted. I stop completely, letting the weight of my pain, personal setbacks or hurt take over.

It isn’t until I read the work of others or speak to a caring friend do I remember what I had forgotten, that there has been and will hopefully always be calm under the words and in the worlds I’ve created within my stories. Although trudging through the unpleasant actions of my characters, mulling through the muck of the repercussions is not easy, I try to push through, always seeking out the reasons why.

Now, far from the tender age of 7; my life and its hurts have become more complex and colored within many shades of gray. Yes, it often does lead to some tears shed. I also realize my willingness to give has left me opened and exposed. I’m exposed in my writing, exposed in this post and in my love for others. In the end all I can be is myself and use my openness to help me become a better writer while hopefully achieving some internal peace.

Virginia Woolf,  Died March 28th, 1941- Drowning

** Note: This particular post was inspired by my sense of feeling overwhelmed and pulled in by the tide of the story I’m creating. At times the need to source deep emotions and feelings from my own life makes it hard to stick to the narrative thread of my story and even my blog. It’s during these times I need to pull away and regroup. This is where I’ve been the last couple of months regrouping. I now find myself in a slightly better place. A space where I can push forward with research, writing and blogging. Fastening my seat belt and turning on the ignition I’m moving forward with my narrative for the next steps towards completion. It’s my hope that this post and my blog itself helps others not feel so alone as they may go through similar experiences, because you never are.

1:20 am -When Music Mirrors Your Story

Every once in a while a really great song will play from one of my Pandora stations, and when it does it triggers me to stop what I’m doing, close my eyes and listen. This doesn’t happen often. Most times the music I listen to becomes white noise as I write, but when a good one streams in, I ride the wave of the song and carefully listen  to the lyrics. Both the sound and words create a scene, a feeling and an emotion, a lot like a story.

Tonight, when this  particular song came up it reminded me of my protagonist and the internal struggle they are going through. Whenever this happens, music mirroring an aspect of my story, it feels really good. It reinforces that I just may be  capturing an idea, a feeling or an emotion in a way that is universal to a reader or group of readers that may also connect with the story I am creating…. at least that’s my hope.

Its a great song by funk and soul singer. It originally came out in 2001. I hope you enjoy  it.

‘Push & Pull’  -Nikka Costa

Mr. Nothing’s got a lot
He’s got a lot to say
He’s good at being what he’s not
Gives nothing away
Another day goes on by
And he never speaks his heart
He takes his chance with what he’s got
It’s too late now to stop

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round ’till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’ into your lie

Mr. Nothing is late
He’s running out of time
He questions whether chance or fate will ever show a sign
Looks to the sky above
For a glimpse of what it means
And never never never make
Make no sense to him

You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’
You give and you take and take what you got
Round and round ’till it breaks and
You push and you pull and struggle with the knot
It’s tying you up while you’re fadin’ into your lie

You push and you pull it

Random Information About Me

Brought To You By: Versatile Blogger

I was nominated and given a new Versatile Blogger Award!!! A bit chain letter like but still very cool for a newbie like me :-)

Thank you Lillie McFerrin at Lillie McFerrin Writes, Jayrod at The First Original Garrett’s Writing Blog and Steven Watson at Stuck in My Own Mind for nominating me. You are awesome writers!!

MY (15) NOMINATIONS

OK- These are bloggers that I’ve come to respect their advice, love their sites, am grateful for the comradery. Honestly they are some of the best writing buddies to have.  Follow them on Twitter, they are really great people to connect with.

  1. Jayrod- The First Original Garrett’s Writing Blog
  2. Steven Watson- Stuck in My Own Mind
  3. Lillie McFerrin- Lillie McFerrin Writes
  4. Eden- Many Worlds From Many Minds
  5. Sarabeth- Confessions of a Thirty Something Teenager
  6. Melissa- The Undeveloped Story
  7. Gene Lempp- Gene Lempp Blog
  8. Jason Runnels- The Puzzling Mind of Jason Runnels
  9. Nubia- Unicorns Are Real
  10. Kate Spenser- Sordid Details
  11. Carl Brand- My Vogon Poetry
  12. Ian Carter- Fictian
  13. Dana- The Daily Dose
  14. Jeremy Kerr- Cur Made
  15. Megan McGibney

RANDOM INFORMATION ABOUT ME

  1. Although born in New York City, I was raised in the suburbs of Dutchess and Ulster County (Upstate New York). You know, its the kind of place where summers are filled with county fairs and teen flings. All the swimming was done within the cold mountain waters of Lake Minnewaska and Bear MountainIts the kind of place were high school rivalries against neighboring districts are taken very seriously only to be settled on the Basketball courts and Football fields (most times).   I was there during a time when most of my friends hung out at the local Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall, snuck into the movies and worked at The Gap & Express. Overall it was a great place to grow up in. Looking back now, had my family stood in NYC I think I would be a different person; not necessarily bad…. just different.
  1. My most favorite sound in the world is the sound of Cicadas singing during late summer nights in the country. The sound can instantly take me from an irritable or depressed mood to camping with my parents; to nighttime drives while coasting down the back roads of Route 32 with the windows down in my 84 Corolla; to being kissed by my teen love under the stars in Bowdoin Park. (Weird I know, but they said random information)
  1. I am a horrible, speller. I mean really bad. So much so that even when I tweet I try to make sure I am spelling everything correctly. And even then I miss a few and when I find out I go back and erase the Tweet praying no one noticed.
  1. I love to swim… or at least stay in the water for long periods of time. When I was younger I would swim at the local beaches and lakes until all my fingers and toes would wrinkle. Usually by that time I would be suffering from a leg cramp but still refusing to get out until my mom would yell at me. Even now as an adult I’m the same. My mother used to say I was a guppy in a previous life, I think she was right.
  1. I’ve come to dislike the City in a real way. The hustle, the overcrowding, the need to work in places where your salary anywhere else in the country would be enough to provide for a small family, but in New York City you barely get by. In Spanish they say “Nueva York es una bruja, cuando vives aqui no te suelta” Translation: New York is like a witch, she beckons you in with the allure of big city life but once you are here you will never leave.
  1. I really do love music. It helps me get through really bad times, celebrate good ones and often makes me think of the people, places and experiences that at times hurts to relive, but also feels good to think about during a 4 min song
  1. I have rather large feet and tiny ears. Feet not that big, but big enough to match my 5′ 10 1/2″ height LOL!!! Sorry, I couldn’t think of anything else in this moment.

She Had Given Him Her Entire Life In Those Final Moments…

(Snippet Of My Novel- A Work In Progress)

The game was running into overtime as his mind wandered. There were moments that seemed to blur. His thoughts, reality and not, all jumbled into one very real alternate universe. It was sometimes difficult to discern time.

“Look there, my son” he thought.

Seeing him now, a young man of fifteen. Fifteen? Juan shook his head as if to rewind back time. It was impossible to escape the ever lingering sensation he felt when looking at his son. It was the sense of accomplishment and one of awe. His son on the soccer field was the same 7 pound 5 ounce baby that once entered the world from his wife’s body to then be placed into his arms—both warm and small.

And now here was, his son gliding across the vast expanse of the green field and blue sky, confident and strong. Juan reminds himself how fortunate he is. He had finally brought something good into this world, uncorrupted and untainted.

Robbie had been born during a time when fathers had just been allowed into the delivery rooms. He could recall the mosaic of sounds that beeped from the many machines monitoring her and the baby’s heartbeat. The piercing smell of bleach and blood that seemed to linger in the air fueling the thought of life and death. Giving and taking, both intermingled together in one place.

It was their third try. It hadn’t been easy. She didn’t want this. He knew it. But he pushed just like he always did. They both believed they needed this to mend a marriage; to consummate something beautiful and permanent despite the obvious seams that had been fraying at the edges.

In some ways he knew it was over. The last battle for their love was won and lost by his wife Rosaline. Juan felt the moment during his son’s birth when she broke away from him. She was there, she was smiling, she was holding his son, but she had already left him.

She had given him her entire life in those final moments; each year passing with every push.

As she grasped his hand to bear down for the final time, out came the last string of love that lied between them both, now beating in the soul of his son.

Robbie was the last gift of her youth, her independence and her innocence, all given to him. Just as he had always received everything he had asked for, whether given freely or taken by demand.

Now, looking at the face of his son as he kicked the black and white paneled ball in mid-air, it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t mean anything but what was in front of him in these moments.

Music & Writing

The Push Pull of Love

Within my novel I’ve been  attempting to show the universal experience of pain, regret, love and family. Suffice it to say, far too often  these topics tend to drudge up my own personal experience with these same issues.  Essentially, this is where I use my poetry as a cathartic process of releasing the things that weigh heavy on me.

So, in between my novel-writing I’ve been working on one particular poem that speaks of my own intimate experience with the push-pull of love, anger, longing and desire. Honestly, I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with it. My words have been feeling like a tangled web of hair, unable to comb through. This is where music often helps me…it puts me in the right mindset.

Pandora, my iTunes and CD collection are always on or within reach. I’ve even gone as far as using my Sound machineapp on my iPhone to use as I write. Depending on the particular scene I’m working on (hospital setting, outdoors in a park) I pick from the various sounds they offer. There I have a sampling of thunder storms, forest sounds, rain falling on a tin rooftop, traffic and distant train sounds. It may be a bit weird but for me it helps.

For my novel and this particular poem the song below is always looping in the foreground. I feel like the music embodies the idea of  leaving behind while moving ahead. You can almost sense the movement as you listen… well at least I do :-)

I hope you enjoy it.

“Untitled #4″ (a.k.a. “Njósnavélin”)  -By Sigur Rós
The song had a Hollywood debut in the movie ‘Vanilla Sky’ during the final scene.

The Quest Stands Upon the Edge of a Knife…

FINDING A FELLOWSHIP OF WRITERS

A New Year as I Identify My Goals


In my cramped New York City apartment the clock hit 12am. As the seconds ticked down, all the images and sounds, tastes and smells of 2011 fought for a space in my mind and heart- each taking refuge.

On the first chime I attempted to drive out the not so great memories of the year that past while on the second I savored in the good ones. By the twelfth chord my thoughts blended harmoniously on the people I wish to think of while recalling the ones I didn’t, often the same between the two.

Thankfully the war that was waging in my head and the tears that began to swell was interrupted by the sight of my self-absorbed Major kissing Lady Gaga, by the embrace of Dick Clark and his wife and finally in the vain of Alfred Eisenstaedt infamous V-J Day photograph, I watched as Jenny McCarthy made-out with a NYC Police Officer.

The last two years had been hard ones, plagued with a few of life’s hardships including the death of two family members and ending with a broken heart. Suffice it to say 2012 couldn’t have come any sooner.

I immediately began to wonder what the New Year would bring while seriously contemplating what I wanted to make of it. Above everything writing was and is going to be at the forefront of my goals. At the risk of sounding cliché my story…this story will be told and I’m going to kick ass at it.

So, during one of my many late night writing sessions I had the movie Lord of the Rings playing next to my Word document. I briefly glanced at the minimized screen just as Cate Blanchett spoke these words to her ‘Ring Bearer’

The Quest Stands Upon the Edge of a Knife. Stray but a little and it will fail.

– Galadriel

Almost instantly, I realized that I am the Ring Bearer in my own life. No, I’m not trying to defeat the Dark Lord and save Middle Earth. But in my own way (perhaps you as well) I am traveling and living within my own quest. Attempting to accomplish something I never thought I would.

But with that we sometimes need a little help. A fellowship perhaps. A fellowship of writers and artists alike.

More than anything, what has helped in my writing has been the connection with others. It started with creating my blogs and signing up for Twitter. Then National Novel Writing Month arrived and I participated fully. Each provided the push I needed each day to write.

Now that NANOWRIMO is over I went scouting for other challenges to connect with. In doing so I found A Round of Words in 80 Days. Unlike National Novel Writing Month you set your own writing goal for the 80-day stretch as you connect with other writers. You identify what you want to accomplish and post it. Fellow #ROW80 participants will connect on your blog and Twitter to see your progress and give a hand of encouragement. Sounded great to me so I started.

However, this had me thinking…how many other writing/ word count challenges are there? Quite a few (I’m sure many more that I’m missing)

  • National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO): Quoted from their site “Its a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.”
  • A Round of Words in 80 Days (#ROW80): Run by Kait Nolan. Here you set your own writing goal for the 80 days. There are 4 rounds a year, each running 80 days. Thanks @JayrodPG for this one!!
  • 250, 500 or 1000 Words A Day: In this challenge you try to write 250, 500 or 1000 words a day (pick one of these goals), at least six days a week. Their website is also a great resource on Word Count meters to place on your blog no matter which challenge you participate in.
  • 100 Words: In this challenge you set out to write 100 words a day. A fellow blogger just informed me about this one. Since the word count is so small you have the time to really take a close look at what you are writing, how it is said and determine if what you have written is actually moving the story forward. In other words, does it have purpose. Thanks Nancy at http://wordsforgotten.com/ you rock!!!
  • May Novel Writing Month (MayNoWriMo) : The rules are simple: Name your word count goal for the month, begin writing at 12:00 AM on May 1st and reach your word count goal by 11:59:59 PM on May 31st to be called a winner.
  • Academic Book Writing Month (AcBoWriMo) Writing for an academic audience. Total word count goals you set – journals, book chapters, books, doctoral thesis, or academic reviews.
  • Six Sentence Sunday (SSS): BRILLIANT!! Its a way to share a tiny portion of your work with other writers, authors and readers as a means of gaining interest in your work or for feedback, support and encouragement! The idea of Six Sentence Sunday (SSS) began with Sara Brookes. Participating is easy. Pick any SIX sentences from your work from any genre, whether WIP or published (you don’t have to be published to participate) and post them on your blog on Sunday before 9 AM EST.

So, with my new writing schedule in one hand and a growing fellowship of writers in another I saddled up on my horse as I make my way to complete my ‘precious’…novel that is. ☺

A 9mm Stored In My Underwear Drawer

FOR THE LOVE OF RESEARCH…

OK, to better learn about my characters for my novel- being that my main character is a former Marine & now Police Officer, I’ve done the following:

Interviewed (2) Marine and know another

Visited a recruitment office

Read a crap load of materials on them

Studied countless Marine videos ( Discovery Channel stuff, personal blogs & journals)

Watched Marine themed movies including ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and I HATE war movies !!!

Facebooked I “Liked” the United States Marine Corp on Facebook including their Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego (Where my fictional character will be trained at)

Shooting I’m even going to go rifle and pistol shooting in the upcoming months

Spoken with Family- Even though he isn’t a Marine I sat down with my father and spoke to him about his experience in the Army and why he joined. When I asked him why the Army and not the Marines he said “I didn’t  join the military to go fight and kill someone!” CRACKED ME UP!! But it says a lot about the roll and perception of the Marines in our armed forces.

I’m about as liberal as they come. I used to be afraid of guns and I didn’t know or think about the difference between each of the armed forces. Outside of knowing why my own family, friends and community members join the military (ie. A way out of bad neighborhoods, career/school opportunities or a need for strong support and guidance) I never really understood why anyone would put themselves in harms way for our own government that has demonstrated time and time again how they ALWAYS need to be reminded to give back when our soldiers return from war and are in need.

With that in mind, my ongoing process of learning and listening to the experiences of others I’ve come to respect and admire the strength, courage and stamina found in each of these Marine men and women, truly amazing. For that I am grateful to everyone I have spoken to and what I have learned.

However, in the process of researching I think I’ve come to learn way too much about hair cut regulations, rankings, The Crucible, and even BCGs…… that would be ‘Birth Control Glasses’ (military issued glasses).  And now my friend (The Marine I interviewed) was so excited that I was writing a story about a Marine he went out and bought me a T-shirt, coffee mug and my favorite, a Marine fatigued mouse pad!

Now if I can only get all my NYC Police family members and friends to get me stuff. I will be well on my way to become a card carrying NRA member with a 9mm stored in my underwear drawer and shotgun in my imaginary pick-up!! :-P

My Soundtrack To Falling In Love

Another late night writing session…Pandora is on and this song comes in my queue.

When I first heard this album ‘ComeFromHeaven‘ I was falling in love with the person I would then go on to be with for the next 13 years.  Alpha, Fiona Apple and a few others provided the soundtrack to  some of the best moments in my life. I hope you enjoy.

‘Sometime Later’ By- Alpha

I’m Not Quite a Loser

WHAT 38,344 WORDS LOOKS AND FEELS LIKE……

November 30, 2011- I didn’t even leave my desk at work because the ½ hour commute home meant I would lose more than 1,000 words in my writing. But by this point I knew I wouldn’t make the full 50,000, and honestly, it didn’t matter. What mattered was finishing and trying my best to the very end. I did just that.

Corny as it may sound….. I feel like a winner, kind of. I won’t lie as my phone alarm went off 11:59 November 30th I did feel like a loser- a big one.

But just as a fellow NaNoWriMo writing buddy said “Get as many words in as you can, especially in the beginning because life happens”. She wasn’t kidding. My ‘Life’ happening came in the form loosing a close family member 1 week before the Thanksgiving holiday. My 1,699 word per day goal was the last thing on my mind; my small world was temporarily turned upside down.

Breaking through the loss, I returned a few days before 30th determined to write until my fingers dropped. In the end I achieved something that may be small in some eyes but great in mine. I flexed a muscle I didn’t realize I had.

  • I didn’t go back to edit, edit again and re-edit the sentence I just wrote, thus wasting time and getting side tracked.
  • I didn’t stop and spend an entire day looking up a name for a character because it needed meaning in that very moment.
  • I didn’t spend hours and days researching the police radio codes for dispatching an officer to a crime scene.
  • I wrote even when I didn’t want to write.
  • I wrote when the small voice inside me said my story will never be seen or heard…I wrote.

In the end I pushed through. I made due with the temporary names, the fake dispatching codes. I made due and in return I have a story.

I’ve read countless blogs on winning and losing to National Novel Writing Month. Each an inspirational tale of late nights, blue computer screens, constant word count updates, music playlists, outlining gone wrong, story lines changed or chucked all together. I even ran into a site that blasted National Novel Writing Month. Calling it out as a dangerous community of ‘Charlie Nobodies” calling themselves authors.

For me it was one of the best things I’ve done for my novel. As I said it wasn’t a loss at all. I learned, I met great people along the way and above all I wrote. Now I need to continue….

THE BEST OF MY NANO EXPERIENCE

Some of the Best Writing buddies

@JayrodPG
@so_she_writes
@KateSpencer2go
@lumos_nox_
@raineerose
@MiykieQ
@ParentheticaLex

Best Online Writing Tool (Kicks your ass to just write)
Write or Die: http://writeordie.com/#Web+App

Best Post NaNoWriMo Blog
http://blog.deannaknippling.com/?p=3687#.TtVF_9Vksn8.twitter

Best Post NaNoWriMo Image
From @JasonRunnels http://pic.twitter.com/gWwJjNi7

Untitled

By: N. Guadalupe

Falling deep, falling hard
I’m losing all sense of me
This adult version of she

College educated, career oriented
I’m losing the jaded most part of me

This teen is falling deep and falling hard
Becoming the younger version of me

Filled with insecurities and exposed virginity
I’m losing sight of me

Naïve in the language of surface truths
Unrevealed and uncertainties she wades the deep

Watching the slow tempering of real and make-believe
These stiff brick walls remain unrelenting on me

I think I’m losing all of me

Money & Fellowships: Creative Writing

Hi Fellow Artists, Writers and Creators!

As I mentioned before, I’ve been trying to transfer my skills as a 8 year grant writer and non-profit fundraising veteran to help myself obtain grants and find unique learning opportunities as I continue my path in becoming a professional writer.

Well, it hasn’t been easy. Give me 2 hours and a computer I can find a $500,000 grant for a youth program, domestic violence support services and even find donors for a community arts program; I could write the entire proposal, draw up logic models, breakdown process/ outcome objectives and create a full budget – but finding grants in the arts for individual people, well… it’s a B*#&%

In any case I found some great fellowships for Creative & Screen Writing. Why should I keep this information only to myself but share with others and save you some time? Just because they don’t work for me, they may help you.

I’m only posting updated and more comprehensive programs/ grants that I would want for myself and others. Submission dates may have passed but ALL the websites are active and grants are still being awarded. I went through each and tried to summarise to save you time.

CHECK OUT:

-QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Although I am not an expert creative writer I am however, rather good with grants and soliciting for funds, so leave a comment or send email, I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

-

I WILL BE UPDATING THIS EACH MONTH SO COME BACK !

-

Put a Fire in My Belly

By: Natasha Guadalupe

Craving violence
No more complacent me
Understanding and peaceful talks has made this me

Put a fire in my belly
Fill it with the instability and unpredictability of it all

The feeling when first strapped to the chair
Heart racing with the clink, clang of the worn track
Gripping the bar as you anticipate the decent

Swooshhhhh
Down the windy slope, stopping midair, upside down, only to be whipped whipping around
Right-side up

Unforeseen curves,
The weight and push of the bends
Exhilarating!
Until the end

Creeping to the place where you began,
Unstrapped, released, and shaken
Left with only the echo of ride

Killing Off My Main Character…..

I guess this is a spoiler alert.  However, by the time I edit this crazy draft, find & get an agent, then  with some luck have it published you would have forgotten any of this. Why? Because I’m very sure it will be many years from now that any of this will happen  LOL!!!

During a recent NaNoWriMo write-in I met a fellow writer who asked me why was I going to kill my main character. In so many words she asked  if I was killing him because he was a ‘bad’ person.

I smiled inside because it couldn’t be further from the truth.  He is a ‘good’ person, a man deserving love and a happy life, but in this case not an ending one would expect or want in a story for their main character.  Sometimes things are too broken to be fixed.

Life and the choices we make as individuals often leads us down a path to the inevitable, in this case death.  My character’s hurt has corrupted their ability make the change needed to do more than survive—to truly live. Allowing the pain to be the only thing that defines them. It may sound harsh, perhaps it is, but it is the one truth I know in the story’s outcome I created.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life meeting all types of people from all walks- off the beaten path so to say.  As a psych major, I choose a field of study that would help give me the tools needed to empower individuals enough to help them make the choices that would improve their own lives. This lead to a 12 year chosen career path as a counselor to teens, parents, alcoholics, heroin addicts, and HIV/AIDS patients. In that time, even as I looked at my own life, I began to understand there comes a point in a person’s life where the window for change becomes narrower and narrower.

Once a person passes that “Fork in the Road” and neglected to make the proverbial correct turn,

  • not taking that Leap of Faith and trusting even when others had shown them otherwise,
  • not embracing the love they found in a place they weren’t expecting,
  • not leaving the job that has caused them more misery than the security it provided,
  • not leaving that relationship,
  • saying No instead of Yes,
  • saying Yes instead of always No.

If we didn’t step into the unknown rather than settle for the familiar, it can become too late, as in the instance of my character’s story arc.

We are creatures of habit and within that there is a layer of fear of the unfamiliar and unknown.  I believe this fear leaves us in the soppy mess that we often find ourselves in. A dirty, unhappy but very comfortable place. Why?  Because this is what we know, what we are familiar with—it therefore becomes the only truth we believe in, because anything else, anything better, is not possible or to be lived by others.

By no means am I trying to simplify our lives and say that we are filled with a multitude of  choices by which we always turn a blind eye to.  What I do believe is that there is always a moment in our lives, however small or large that we do have an opportunity to choose; a decision that can either let the door crack open just enough to let the breeze in or simply see and experience something different.

I am not an blind optimist but I am always hopeful. Innately, I have always been a person that listened and cared when others don’t. I’ve often been let down or consumed with the pain of others—of individuals when they themselves don’t seem to be aware of or want to think about what they actually might be facing. Even with this, I remain ever hopeful.

Within the story I’ve created, it is my hope through witnessing my protagonist’s death the ones closest to him will value life and learn the lessons that needed to be learned. I see the main character of my story as the visionary—the poet and the one that needs to die.

I think it was said best by Michael Cunningham in his book The Hours-

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast”  – Virgina Wolf

-

Novel Research: Women’s Police Locker Room

RESEARCH: I couldn’t wait to share it.. Its a mini clip of me in a women’s Police Precinct locker room.  (Although I took this video last winter- I just edited it for posting) Note: its a tiny piece. I had to edit it down for obvious reasons (women were changing into their uniforms! Ha!)

MY OBSERVATIONS:

  • Dirty
  • Unmaintained by cleaning staff (lack there of)
  • Peeling paint
  • Mold
  • A foul smell I couldn’t tell and didn’t want to know where it was coming from.
  • (1) Shower and (1) toilet for over 40 women (That work 8-12 hour shifts….or more at a time)
  • A report that there were bed bugs (Thus why most of the women kept their uniforms in plastic bags)
  • Bullet proof vests that looked way too small and too uncomfortable for most of the women there.
  • Their Lockers: Pictures of their children.. husbands..wives..boyfriends and girlfriends taped up.
  • A feeling of comradery despite the circumstance they worked in….Absolutely yes.

My Body Betrayed Me

By Natasha Guadalupe

My body betrayed me
Of course not before my mind gave way to sentimentality
Independent thinker it is, although I never knew she was.

-

I Wonder What People Think About When They Write

44,683  Words Left

Watching the tweets come in one after another.
600 words,10,000 and even 20 thousand words!
I check on my NaNoWriMo buddies ….the same.

The speed of which everyone is writing….so fast. From afar it seems like each 1,000 word threshold is  filled with a secure plot and eloquent language to follow.  Watching the counts come in, I’m not wondering what the story is about but what is going through the mind of the author as he/she types.  Besides the obvious… your story. What are you thinking about as you go through your process of writing?

For me it is a combination  of a few things:

Self doubt like: “Boy that was a bad sentance….What am I six years old?”  to  “He would never say that, its not part of his character”

But mostly its a stream of consciousness, one of thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions.  All in the mind of my character, my main character- the hero embarking on his journey.  I feel like I’m just along for the ride.

Now I have to pull back from the police station he works in, stop thinking about the weight of his vest on his chest as he sits waiting for role call.  I stop listening to the jokes he cracks with his fellow Police Officers.

I stop to look at the word count below my screen.  1,800 down another 44,683 to go…assuming that’s where my story ends.

I’m beyond new at writing …creative writing that is.  I’ve written for years as a grant writer but this is very different. As a first time writer with no real “Schooling” I know the 1800 words I just spewed out …..you know, the same ones that are now staring blankly at me, lifeless- SUCK…..bad.

I joined National Novel Writing Month to help me get through a first full draft of my novel.  Knowing the daily word count goal would force me to stop going back and correcting and rewording my sentences. Stop me from picking up thesaurus to find a better word for ‘stubborn’.  Frankly I did it so I wouldn’t  re-read my paragraphs 10 times and more fixing and mending my language.

Well it’s helping, but it is also creating a new  level of stress for me. It is leaving me to wonder what my ‘final’ page will look like. Gibberish perhaps? Will I have to rewrite it again? Most likely.

In the end I don’t care. I care more about my story, the lives I’m watching within the novel. I have to care more about the prospect that I just may have a few sentences out of many that maybe good enough to stay…..

                      Here’s to a Shitty First Draft!  Rock on NaNoWriMo!!

Day 1 NaNoWriMo ……1,603 Words Down

My first 5 observations entering NaNoWriMo Day 1

(Note: Music Song Selection @ bottom of list)

1. CLEANING:
Do all your laundry & clean most of your house

2. FOOD:
Have quick and easy food to prepare. Also try to have ‘Healthy snacks’ around.. I say this because I just bought a bag of Oreos…not cool man.

3. REALISTIC SCHEDULING:
Create a daily or weekly schedule; and for those who are more ambitious you can do the entire month. But like a budget you need to account for the unexpected…you know, the things that will take you away from your writing.

4. WRITE A LOT:
I meet a 7-year veteran (Find her on Twitter @so_she_writes) of NaNoWriMo and she said to get in as much as you can the first week because life happens and there will be days that you won’t get the word count you scheduled.  Like exercising if you miss one day of writing it becomes that much easier to miss another…another.  I guess you can look at it like the treadmill will always be there-  but NaNo is only once a year.

5. WORD COUNT:
She also said some writing platforms count hyphenated words as two words but NaNoWriMo verifier will count it as 1!

MY MUSIC SONG SELECTION FOR

(Midnight Hour)

WRITERS LIKE ME..ENJOY!!

http://youtu.be/_WjeWsiujmU

‘Hayling’ — By FC Kahuna

50,000 Words in 30 Days!!

Up until 4am last night/morning writing…..
Woke up at 12pm to start again.

Feeling like I’m about 4 weeks behind schedule and 9 hours too late. But I made it through the ugly NYC snow…. found a seat.. sipping a hot coco, and prepping for  NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH    http://www.nanowrimo.org/

-Beginning Nov 1st- November 30th

My hope is that this blog will be another tool to hold me accountable to something other than the sad looks I get from my dogs when I cop out of writing that day; but to also obtain some encouragement from seasoned professionals and newbies like me.

But above all, I want to share my experience as a new writer and soon to be author. Everywhere there are artists asking each other for advice and support in their field of work. Each guarding their “process” in creating and developing their craft but secretly wondering how others do it.

WHAT THE HELL….. being new I’m happy to share a little while hoping to gain some knowledge  as I make my way to the last word on the last page.


http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/music-always-helps-me-write/

Music is one of the most important things I love and need when I’m creating.  So I listen to a lot of it as I write.  I will share one or two songs as I am actively listening to them  in those moments.


http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/the-world-within-the-story/

I do a lot of research, and in doing so I find some really interesting things. So you see how I obtain the info I get while learning about some of my characters- I will post some of this information to the blog



http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/novel-snipets/

After long week of writing…IF, I find a passage from my novel that makes sense & is understandable I will share.


http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/me-in-action/

Because sometimes words are not enough


http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/si-me-ves-llorrar/

Essentially, this is where I use poetry as a cathartic process of releasing the things that weigh heavy on my chest and grip my heart


http://natashaguadalupe.wordpress.com/category/tools-of-the-trade/

Because we (writers/ artists) all could use a little help… I will post resources, links, NaNoWriMo info including grants and fellowships.


Why I Write….

Because as I see and feel both pain & love, I want and need my experiences to become words that exemplify the beauty in both - 

- Natasha Guadalupe

The Guilt I Feel

By: Natasha Guadalupe

The guilt weighed heavy on me
One of desire, the craving of love,
and the need for normal.

It pulsated hard through my veins and bled to my lips.
Now swelled and stained from each pull and tug.

Now aware.
How do you explain the guilt that you feel?

Detach, disconnected
not related to me.

The disrobing of my dress, and revealed face
how do you explain the guilt that you see?

Awakened.

Opened wide, ready to give and now receive
how do you explain the gentleness and desire in front of me?

Selfish

As the word “Yes” rose through me
how do you explain the things that you need?

All body and no mind.

Detached, disconnected
not related to me.

I’m a Tad Paranoid About Backing Up

DVD....My DVD Back Up of Back Up....My 8G Memory Stick.....My Amazon Purchased External Drive......And My Google Docs

———–

‘Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered my plot and hero’s theory,
Over many a quaint and witty words of fate and lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came an error message zapping,
As of some one gently zap, zapping on my computer door.
Only this, saying it could not restore’

I say this say that I once lost about 5 hours of work  and maybe shed a few tears. Unfortunately with me,  once I write it down I can never really rewrite or capture the same words and feelings the way I did the first time around.
So……

All My Chapters….Main Story Outline: 40pgs….. Character Descriptions & Back stories 80pgs….Pictures: 70 images and a lot of Research is saved on my:

  1. Hard Drive
  2. Memory Stick
  3. External Drive
  4. DVD Disc
  5. Backup of my Backup  DVD Disc I keep at my office (Just in case my house happens to burn down)
  6. Google Docs
  7. Ohhh yeah I have a full printed draft of everything I mentioned above.

What can say I’m a tad paranoid about backing up my story.

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart…

‘The ringing bells of the piragua cart clicked clacked down the cobbled stone streets of Casica Blvd. They chimed the ugly truth that began to penetrate his mind.

It seeped through his skin like the cherry stained lips of school children licking the shaved mountains of ice. Each sparkling flake of snow flying out into the same sun that pressed upon his exposed face- blinding him from focusing on anything other than the past.’
--Sitting in a restaurant on Ashford Avenue, Condado Puerto Rico. I took this picture while writing this passage from my novel. It felt good.

Grants & Money for Writers/Artists

As much as I would like to say that I am full-time published writer, traveling from one city to the next on book tours, negotiating with producers for movie right deals….Alas no,  this is not the case.

I actually work full-time at a university as a grants (federal and private  foundation) administrator.  I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life cultivating private donors, researching and writing many grant proposals; each in an effort to obtain funds for many great non-profit programs I believe in, many of which work with the communities  that mean the most to me… Youth & Teens, HIV/AIDS programs and of course for Artists.

YES, I’ve been able to secure large amounts of funds (yup, a lot of $$) for non-profit organizations and groups over the years.. However, now that I am finally doing what I want to do most I’ve been trying to translate this skill  to help myself as a new writer.

Well, it’ has not been easy to say the least. Competition is high and resources are always limited. So in my research and learning this ‘new’ craft of trying to find funding I thought I share some of the things I have found…maybe something that may not work for me may work for you…..

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS: Leave a comment or send email,  I will try my best to help. OR if you have info to share GREAT!!!!

WHAT WILL BE LISTED HERE? 

  • Info on Fellowships
  • Info on Grants
  • Helpful Links
  • Info on Proposal Writing Tips
  • Info on Free Writing or Artist Contests

STAY TUNED AN UPDATE WILL BE POSTED SOON on the top Home Page!!

My story takes place in the state of Washington

My story takes place in the state of Washington.  More specifically Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.  I wanted and needed a place that could be detached from the world, both with its physical isolation but also carry a sense of beauty.

Each of these things needed to be overshadowed by a big city in its direct view (Seattle).

Having never visited Washington I needed to familiarize myself with the area. I Googled and printed information on the local high school, where the police station was located and visited numerous realtor web sites and identified my main character’s apartment and layout.

After downloading numerous maps of streets and neighborhoods I said to myself….

1) I need to get my butt over there soon and

2) I need more information.

With that, I made up in my mind that this coming year I will fly out to WA for a few days and two, I decided to pick up the phone and call the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce.

I explained who I was and what I was doing (writing a novel that takes place in your neighborhood) and how I needed some information. The friendly voice on the other line replied “Sure! That sounds exciting, I think I can help”.  With that she sent mountains of maps, demographic information, newsletters and special events calendars.  I was so excited to open my mail each day until it arrived.  A little shy and nervous to call…but I’m very glad I did.

Thank you Bremerton Chambers of Commerce!!

Mapping out the Road they meet on…

Writing By Hand

I didn’t have my computer at the cafe last night, so I wrote…..by hand, with my best pen in my worn spiral notebook….

It felt good.

FYI excluding a few cross-outs its a really good way to not self edit (which I suffer from…badly) You can’t really go back and erase…you’ve got to keep moving.

Hardcore baby…. Laundromat and STILL typing! Ha!

‘The warmth of the water….

‘The warmth of the water caused the wet cedar planks to slowly perfume the air with the sweetness of flowing sap. Looking above the clearing of the cabin, the tangled branches seemed to reach up to the distant stars creating a jagged picture- framing both the night sky and crescent moon.

The late hour was made darker by the dense canopy of trees and brush painted deep shades of blue and gray.

Despite the soft illumination of her silhouette he was still able to take in the strength of her quite presence.

Through her shadowed face he knew she was looking at him, just as she always did. What was she thinking? She seemed to gaze at him with both sadness and clear desire.  How can both feelings and thoughts inhabit the same space and time yet separately carry through the minds of both Juan and Adriana.’

………AND SO THE EDITING AND WRITING CONTINUES.

Marine Rites

I’m supposed to be doing freelance now so I can go out to the movies later….So of course what am I doing???? Looking up Marine rite of passages and hair cut regulations for my main character.