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Thunderbolts and Firewires: The Year That Was 2016, #Farewell2016 #Writing #Podcast

I am feeling a little like I am frozen, and I’m warm while I say that. I don’t need to be out in a snow bank to say it. It is January, a new year, and I am frozen by many fears. I am afraid I will accomplish nothing, that this year of 2016 will be empty and a blank void in my life. I feel frozen by indecision and by uncertainty, but I hope I can find a way to thaw from that feeling of being frozen by all of this, that I can find the courage to take risks and keep moving forward.
I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.
You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

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Here I am, a year on from the fear and those remarks I made on my blog at the start of 2016, and a good year for me personally and creatively, trying new things, all by deciding to focus on myself is how 2016 actually turned out.

And now, I end 2016 and begin 2017 by looking back, at the year I’ve just had and ahead to the year to come.

I did it at the end of 2015 with:
My Top Spills and Thrills
of which there had been enough of both to go around.

What a ride! Would 2016 be anything else?

And so, I give you – 2016!

JANUARY

As the January 2016 quote from my blog showed,
I began my year afraid and uncertain and on a bit of a lower note,
with a little
Just Jot It January fun.

Then, to kick things up a notch, I thought the best way to focus on my writing was to take a writing workshop with a Canadian writer I’ve admired since I began blogging and seriously writing.
Carrie Snyder – Obscure CanLit Mama
Her style to creative work was just what I needed and it made me open up and here I am, one year later exactly, off to broaden my writing workshop horizons.

In reality, my brother had just come off a close medical call and was becoming himself again. I had lots to be
thankful for.
I just needed a bit of a push,
some creative inspiration,
and a path for a new direction in my life.

The year 2016 would, by many, be labeled “The Year All the Greats Died…the cursed year” even if you look at that with perspective from other years, past or future.

It began with David Bowie, but for me,
it all started with Snape,
as Bowie hadn’t quite meant to me what he’d meant to many others who felt his loss.

A new year maybe, but a new month meant another
#1000Speak,
focusing on the subject of forgiveness.

With the start of 2016 I decided to start a new Friday tradition.

Thanks to Kristi from
Finding Ninee
I decided to participate in a new blogging exercise
for the first time.

Another first included
Dungeons, Dragons, and Sorcerer’s Spells
but, in the end, it wasn’t for me.

Turns out, the magic of this month has been that I could just write, jot really, and I started to see that I didn’t need to have the rest of the year all figured out in the first thirty-one days.

FEBRUARY

This second month of the year is designated for a cause I know well. It ended up to be my chance to speak my mind about my personal cause and became my first published article of 2016:

To the People Who’ve Never Heard of My Rare Disease – The Mighty

February would end up being a month of
mindfulness and music.

Ten days in, I turned thirty-two and decided to check a big one off of my
bucket list,
and so I went out and rented myself a violin.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I turned another year older.

Harper Lee dies

MARCH

This third month of 2016 would bring more music, as I would discover my theme song for the year and forevermore:
Scars – Emmanuel Jal Feat. Nelly Furtado
and I would officially begin to learn how to play the violin, with lessons that would challenge and reward me, in both big and small ways.

Then, in honour of International Day of Happiness, I wrote a piece for
March’s #1000Speak
about how music makes me happy.

By this point in the year, I decided to cut back on blogging and write more of the memoir I’ve always planned for.

This was the best I could do.

I will keep at it.

March brought with it guest blogging spots and more opportunities for publication, other places than my own blog,
with my second attempt at the #BeReal challenge.

Following this, feminism seemed to be the topic of March as a month.

An interview I’d done with
a proud male feminist
and then a piece I’d written on
International Women’s Day
were both picked up by
The Good Man Project.

As for those we lost in the month of march:

Rob Ford (former mayor of Toronto)

and

Patty Duke, at the end of Women’s History Month, March.

APRIL

I got myself a writing mentor and my lyrics were finally heard.

Don’t Look Back

I was trying to focus, to look ahead, and to plan for what I wanted.

Why Oh Why

The writing mentor was a big deal, for that, as great and knowledgeable as she is and as much guidance as she’s been so far, but it was a sign that I could make writing my future – only I could do that.

April’s #1000Speak was all about vulnerability.

Once again, like during the spring of 2015, I was losing my tool for communication and self expression. This makes me feel vulnerable.

So I appreciated
the share from a friend
and another
guest posting opportunity
from a blogger, a young woman I really admire and have interviewed here before.

Spotlight On Single Strides

The end of April brought with it the death of Prince.

It also brought with it
the death of the loner laptop I was using
and a beautiful gift from a stranger, one which would allow me to write another day.

MAY

Back And Better Than Ever

I’d been pondering the idea of doing a podcast for a while, but couldn’t figure out how to make that work. Then, I brought up the idea with my brother and an idea, our idea, was born.

Taking A Chance

Next, it’s the month to celebrate mothers.

Solid As A Rock

I couldn’t do this without thinking back twenty years.

Frozen In Time

For May’s edition of #1000Speak I focused on
Loving My Self-ish.

The end of May and onward to June always causes me to pause and reflect.

Born Again and Forever Grateful

This time these thoughts would grow to become my next piece to be featured on The Good Man Project.

JUNE

My first Song Lyric Sunday on more than just any old Sunday day.

Following “the month of the Mother,” –
Her Dad Gave Her New Life and Rebirth–Where’s the Father’s Day Card for That?
June will always be a month for me and my father.

Electric Blue Compassion, #1000Speak

JULY

We started with a Facebook page,
and soon that followed with
Episode 1 – Intro To Us
with Ketchup On Pancakes.

On top of the release of the podcast, I jumped at an amazing offer, an invite, which would require a whole lot of planning and a wait of nearly six months.

Would the moment ever get here?

I bet my sister was thinking that same thing, we all were, but her good news was finally a dream come true.

A chance at independence and a new life for my writing and for me and a second child for her.

And so I applied for a newly updated passport and began to count down the months.

I read and wrote one of my rarer than I’d like book reviews.

Then I was approached and invited to write another
guest post
about my life and my day as a blogger.

What is courage anyway? #1000Speak

AUGUST

More lyrics for a second song written and, in celebration of and motivated by that accomplishment,
I decided to return to the visual art of my childhood and an old, familiar kind of creativity.

Up next, speaking of being reminded of being a child,
I reviewed a movie about motherhood,
that I’d gone to see, with my newly pregnant sister, in our own empty theatre.

Weeks before, at the end of May, the lead singer of Canada’s own Tragically Hip announced his fight with brain cancer and all his fans of Canada were listening, especially all across the country, one night in August.

The World Can Learn a Thing or Two From Canada – The Planet D

One beloved Canadian spoke up about his oncoming struggle and we lost someone in our family. I’m glad I got to meet Gerti, at least once that I’ll always remember.

As August came to an end, I made a few hard choices about my writing and what I wanted done with it.

If I made a mistake somewhere in there, I guess it will be mine to make and to own and to learn from.

The questioning would and will continue, no matter the month or the year I’m in.

SEPTEMBER

The first day of this new month was one I’d been waiting for, with the release of a new publication, focusing on what travel should be, the kind I’d like to see.

Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel

I remembered what it was like, moving into my house that I bought with my sister, ten years ago.

Collecting Furniture, Memories, and Emails

Ten years later, my nephew started school and my niece began the first grade. Another loved one passes away. RIP Erica.

I got to feature an interview I’d done with one of my favourite editors/writers.

The Other Awkward Age: My Interview with Jennifer Niesslein

This felt like a giant win and one of the best things to ever happen to this blog.

OCTOBER

Episode 2 – Ingredients Listed with Ketchup On Pancakes

But we weren’t the only ones with the idea of doing a podcast. Apparently, the idea had spread.

The Brevity Podcast

I took an autumn trip, to say goodbye,
with more than just the fall colours
as backdrop.

NOVEMBER

The U.S. makes a big mistake and it’s time to get writing – all the more reason to write.

Nano Nano Nano

“Regarding the influence from his poet-balladeer father, Cohen has said, “He’s tremendously helpful. Forget that I am his son. I was tutored in lyric-writing by Leonard Cohen and I had his sensibilities to draw upon. And I’m not just talking genetically. I could literally talk to the cat and he could lean over my notebook and point to a couple of phrases and say, ‘These are strong, these are weak.’ How can I consider myself anything but incredibly fortunate.”

Canada loses a great artist and the world all feels it, a distraction, in the form of
RIP Leonard Cohen,
just following the chaos in the United States.

Stalemate, #1000Speak

Could this possibly spell the end of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion?

DECEMBER

Canada announces the first woman, other than the Queen, to appear on Canadian money.

Black rights activist Viola Desmond to be 1st Canadian woman on $10 bill

One month after November’s U.S. election, we share our Canadian perspective.

Episode 3 – The Great Gong Show of 2016 with Ketchup On Pancakes

I focused on my own personal growth for a greater part of 2016, but managed to fit in a little, last minute dating during the final days. Also, I made new and face-to-face connections with a few local women writers. So, a balance of personal and social, for good measure.

A few of the final famous deaths of 2016 would include daughter/mother pair Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but for me, it was the loss of this guy that brought me back twenty or so years:

I watched Days of Our Lives multiple days a week, while I was sick at home from school or stuck on dialysis. It was my favourite soap opera of the late 90s, as ridiculous as the storylines always were.

Joseph Mascolo, ‘Days of Our Lives’ Villain, Dies at 87 – New York Times

No villain was ever more evil than Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo).

Special Snowflakes and Safe Places – Wham! Bah Humbug! Whoosh! #10Thankful

I featured a George Michael shoutout, in my final 10 Things of Thankful post for 2016 and this was before the Christmas Day announcement of his passing.

I am no fortune teller, but some of my predictions did happen,
as I sit with what did indeed come to pass and look back on what 2016 became.

Ketchup On Pancakes (the podcast) had a final episode for the year, a catch up on all that was 2016, by a cozy fireside.

Episode 4 – Farewell 2016…By The Fireside with Ketchup On Pancakes

And now, here I am, and another January is upon me.

It is a bit of a contemplative month, with the new year so new and fresh, but I value it for its melancholyish quality. It is a quiet time of reflection and so much possibility ahead.
As a new year begins I search for the motivation I see all around me, the kind that is going to get me to the places I strive to get to. I feel the blueness of January and hope I can find some momentum in the months to come.

My 2016 Resolutions were:
I want to make more connections with writers, creative and smart women, and I want to keep writing. I want to not be afraid to keep putting my words out there, even though the fear of more rejection is a lingering one.
Some make resolutions, others pick one word for their year, but I resist doing both. If I have to choose one word though, I suppose I will go with “Adventure”. I do want more of this, as I believe life is one giant adventure, all the years we get to live it.

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TToT: Utility Muffin Research Kitchen – Comfort and Courage, #10Thankful

So much going on in the world, so much that I can’t write my way out of. I know what I am thankful for, as always, but recently my stress has been building and I couldn’t bring myself to post anything about gratitude last week.

I wasn’t even going to be back now, but I am one of those who believes both these are true:

“The only thing worse than knowing the truth is not knowing the truth, and yet, “the only thing worse than not knowing is knowing.”

By next Sunday we will know, not all “the truth” really, but the reality.

I don’t like where the world and more specifically the US is heading, but I am, in this case particularly, unable to do anything directly about it either way. Emphasizing what I am thankful for is the least and the most I can do now and we will face next week when we get there, like a rickety bridge, but I don’t speak of burning anything.

Those familiar with the stylings of Frank Zappa, you may recognize the stringing together of those four words in my title. I didn’t know of his recording studio and the rather odd name it possessed, until I heard an interview with Lady Gaga, who has purchased the house and now makes music there and shares it with other musicians. I liked the random word choice and thought it fitting for things at the moment.

For a little Halloween fun, with October behind us and November, the US election, and the holidays still to come this year, I begin with this here tale of terror.

Click Clack the Rattle Bag

Beautiful storytelling. I wanted to remember it.

Here is one song I came across this week that had the sort of feeling I am experiencing right now. I have the one picked out for next week, if a first female president is elected that is. If the worst does happen, the following song feels fitting, for my mood.

O Children – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

I heard it in the final Harry Potter movie (well, Part One of it anyway). It felt sombre. Lots of people feel this added scene (not found in the books) was awkward and unnecessary, but I felt the opposite, that sometimes the movie takes a gamble on a little something extra and it touches a viewer like me.

So, Ron had just run out on Harry and Hermione and the mission they were on to defeat evil. Hermione was devastated and Harry suddenly gets her to dance with him, to this song, and something feels optimistically hopeful, for their friendship and humanity, like not all hope was lost.

Somehow, I felt a connection here, to the current climate. I don’t think I’m wrong.

I am thankful, first off, for small favours which are really just what ends up happening, but sometimes they can prevent something much worse from occurring.

My brother had a seizure this week, but he is fine now.

He has had several since he fell, last December, and hit his head. He had a few last summer and then not until the other night.

The worst part about them, like what I say above, is you don’t know when they will come, but yet would knowing really be easier?

I guess because you could plan for the most optimal situation. If he is in the wrong place, doing the wrong action, it could be worse for sure. If he’s out in the street. If he’s in a place where a secondary injury could cause more damage. It’s scary because he is so smart and so much of what makes him Brian is his amazing mind. He was, only a few hours before, playing the most beautiful music with his band in my basement. Each time they play I change my mind and a different one of their songs becomes my favourite.

He is himself still, thank God, but my fear is that something will change. Seizures are hard on the body and on the brain, obviously. He was alone, but he was sitting down, we believe. He will be okay. My heart stops each time I hear he’s had another.

I am thankful for those little Facebook reminders of what happened exactly one year ago. Well, okay, not always, but this time for sure.

This happened.

One of my better/best decisions ever. I am thankful that I have a place where I read my writing out loud. It is excellent practice.

I am thankful for a fun-filled writing group this week.

November first was the start of a month of non stop writing, for some, as it’s National Novel Writing Month once more.

Only two of our group are doing it this year and I’m not one of them, but we had a party of sorts, while we chatted, wrote, and read our stories out loud. I know how much I can handle and how much I can’t. I hadn’t had that positive breakthrough with my violin yet and I knew I couldn’t add anything more to my plate right now.

I know things out of my control should never stop me, if doing something like writing a novel were what I really wanted to do, but this just isn’t the time and I know it. I sometimes trust my instincts to show me the way forward.

I do have a story I’m dying to tell, but not yet. This doesn’t mean I must wait a whole other year, for NaNo to come around again, but we shall see.

I just need to see what happens in the US on Tuesday and the aftermath of that. I need to get a year of violin practice under my belt. I need to focus on my goals for at least the next three months. That’s what is most important to me right now.

But back to writing group. The stories, minus my own, were unbelievably satirical and hilarious. We had to roll a pair of giant dice and we received a matching setting and character description for both the numbers we rolled.

Mine was: “beach with a prudish dress code” and “woman who is upset because her imaginary friend dumped her for another woman”.

Maybe I will share that story one day.

I am thankful that NaNoWriMo exists.

It got me writing back in 2013 and I wrote the quota of fifty thousand words in thirty days that year.

I achieved what would have seemed and sounded impossible to me at the time.

I fear I lost that beginning to a story, but even if I did, I now know I can do it again and I will. I now have two novel ideas to choose from when I do.

I am thankful I got to hear my violin teacher performing live with her fellow musicians. Brass, wood winds, strings, and percussion. It was a remarkable thing to witness, so many performing in unison and the pieces played were introduced by professors of the music school at University of Western Ontario, in London. The quote about comfort and courage was from one of those introductions and I made a note of it and liked the sound of it when I heard it.

I am thankful for a better week with the violin.

For the last few weeks I’ve felt like I was not making enough progress with the song I’m working on. I worried I was wasting everyone’s time and money and belief in me, especially my own hope, with all I’ve put of myself into this dream.

This week something began to make more sense I suppose. I felt better, walking out of that practice room, than I have in a while. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but definitely one of the more rewarding things I’ve attempted in my life.

I am thankful for family to hang out with when I need to smile and distract my rushing thoughts.

I watched the final game of this season’s World Series with my parents, brother, and uncle. I’m glad I got to think about baseball instead of world happenings, even if Toronto had lost out days before, for another year. These two teams deserved a shot.

I had to spend this past weekend around one who knows nothing about politics, elections, or world events yet. He is only four, so plenty of time to face these things, to learn about them, but I wish he never had to.

I feel the need to phone and speak to other children in my family, as I did after my aunt died, even with my feelings of not wanting to bother people, with their busy schedules and hectic lives. I know I should not ever allow that to hold me back. It’s silly really.

I am thankful for a ride home from my uncle after we couldn’t quite hold out past the rain delay to go home and call it a night.

My uncle is someone I can talk to about the struggles and the thrills of learning to play an instrument later in life because he plays and he gives it his all when he does.

He introduced me to another violinist from Canada on the brief drive home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ehnes

I am thankful for the baby kicks I’m not certain I felt.

My sister has felt them for a while in her second pregnancy, but getting over my weirdness with such contact, I tried for really the first time this time round. I felt nothing really, but it’s still early enough, and as long as the mother feels them I am okay to wait.

It really is miraculous and to think of that baby growing and moving is one of the best things in a mixed up, topsy-turvy world.

I am thankful for comedians to make me laugh about the things that, if I don’t laugh about, the only other option would be to cry.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a brilliant actor and Jimmy is hysterical with a good guest.

I am thankful for the vast array of autumn weather we’ve been having.

It was so nice to step out my door the other day to bright sunshine and warm temperatures, for November anyway. I stop, on the stairs, multiple times a day, in my favourite place in my house. I stand and take in the view, with my remaining senses of smell and hearing. I loved the cooler weather of Halloween. I loved the dank and the rainy and the better days as we fell back one hour, ushering in darkness earlier and earlier going toward December, and we’re on our way toward winter. Glorious that I live in Canada and get to experience all four seasons.

Okay, so perhaps a couple additional TToT items this week, to make up for missing a few recently. I needed to write and find all the ways I possibly could to keep my mood from crashing. On into another week however.

And, with that I conclude by saying, America, please be careful.

Here is a post I wrote almost exactly one year ago.

Good luck to all my American friends and to all of you from this here TToT, for the week that’s ahead of you. We, the rest of the world, will be praying and crossing our fingers and watching closely.

Utility, muffin, research, kitchen. And comfort and courage to us all.

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NaNo NaNo NaNo, #NaNoWriMo #SoCS

I want to write a novel and
this
is a small bit of what it will be about.

tMSZXZo.png

Three years ago, this very month of November it was, I took a stab at writing my first
novel.

I took part in
National Novel Writing Month
because on their site it said: “The world needs your novel.”

Really? Mine? Hmm.

I had an idea for a novel in my brain for several years. It was a family story about how three generations of a family deal with losing someone they love.

I wrote fifty thousand words in thirty days. The website that year wasn’t all that accessible and so I did not get much farther off from registering. I did not keep track of my word count like everyone else online. I did it on Twitter instead. It didn’t matter that the website for the organization was a bit of a nightmare. All that really truly counted would be the words I would write.

No flashy completion badges for me once I crossed the finish line. I knew in my heart that I’d done it and that was all that mattered.

Three years later and I haven’t done it again, but I did buy the t-shirt.

I did not take a month or two, Christmas off, before returning to my first attempt at a novel like is suggested. I did what they said. I wrote to get to fifty thousand. I would edit later.

Or would I?

I have the words somewhere, I hope. I don’t keep track of all my documents on all the laptop switches since 2014, oops. I emailed a copy to myself, but that may be gone.

Was this one more in a long line of mistakes, failures, and regrets from my writing journey thus far?

I sent it to a friend, even as rough as it was, whom I trusted to give it her honest opinion. Maybe she has a copy still. I wouldn’t count on that.

I was not a planner, as is the case many times in the rest of life. I was a pantser. I didn’t have a plan. I just started to write from my themes of family, loss, grief, and resilience.

I can’t let that idea go, but a novel is such an enormous task to take on.

I would have loved to participate again this year. I have faith that the website has improved for visually impaired and blind users. I now know someone locally, one who is from my local writing group and is in charge of support for writers doing NaNo in our immediate area. My writing group is talking mostly all about NaNo all month.

I would have abandoned my first novel, still in progress somewhere, to try writing this newer idea which has shaped and formed in my mind in the three years since that first attempt.

This one is historical fiction, unlike that first one which took place in a more contemporary setting.

This one will be mostly fiction, but loosely based on family. It takes place in Europe during World War II. It’s about a woman who is a mother of three small children throughout the war. There is struggle and bravery all around her. Her decisions aren’t easy ones.

We who study history know all about the Holocaust, about big events such as D Day, which are both important, but what was life like for other people who were going about their business and living their lives when war broke out?

***Just practicing with early versions of my elevator pitch.

I would have taken a crack at this, but apparently I can’t handle a project of this size and my continual violin lessons at the same time. I haven’t got the brain power to muster for both.

Maybe next year, once I’ve been playing violin for more than a year. Maybe.

So much going on. World events are wild, whether it’s war in the twentieth century or world upheaval in the twenty-first.

My brain is full near to capacity at the moment.

When a story sticks in the head like this one and the one before have, I don’t think I will be getting them out of there anytime soon.

NaNo, NaNo, NaNo sounds like a taunt to me, that I couldn’t hack both writing and music lessons, but this isn’t your ordinary, everyday writing. This week is a tense one, and who knows where we’ll all be next week this time. Hopefully all those brave enough to take on writing fifty thousand words this month will still be writing. I do think it makes for an excellent distraction.

Now I stop writing and it’s time to practice my violin. I just like to do an update on where I am, with every passing year, as November and NaNo again rolls around.

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Contagious

Welcome to April!
Okay, so maybe a joke or prank of some kind is expected at this juncture. Perhaps I should claim I just can’t handle the pressure or I have run out of things to say here, as my little contribution to today’s occasion, but I just can’t do it.
🙂
April Fool’s Day and I don’t understand. It’s fun for some and more power to them.
I don’t ono what it is in me that, even for a split second, I believe whatever someone says on this day of High Jinks and mayhem.
I will be the first to admit that I am highly gullible. Perhaps I have more of an autistic tendency in myself than I thought, as I am the first to believe something when someone says it, but on closer inspection I pick up on the irony, sarcasm, or total implausibility of a certain situation I know couldn’t possibly be true.
Laughter is important and I applaud anyone who can make a joke today, but we should all see it coming and I am surprised this day hasn’t lost its allure.

It’s funny how the term “going viral” has become the new thing, as far as things catching on.
There’s no rhyme or reason why one story goes viral and why so many do not.
It feels like a strange term to me though, as if the virus that travels is such a good and positive thing.
Since when is viral a thing to be sought out?
In today’s age of social media it is the thing to strive for.
I still want to wash my hands of it all, as a germophobe, and avoid catching the fever.

Today is also the start of a new month, just so happening to be April, and there are three pretty widely talked-about things going on in the blogging/writing world over the next thirty days.

NaPoWriMo/About
Following World Poetry Day last week, April is National Poetry Writing Month, an extension of National Novel Writing Month. I struggle to write one poem, let alone one for every day of an entire month. I love to follow along.

November has passed and until it comes around again there’s:
Camp NaNoWriMo/About
This happens again, as camp should be, in July.

And last but certainly not least, there’s:
A to Z April Blogging Challenge
I don’t know how I missed hearing about this one, not until over the past few months I heard about it all at once.
I am not participating. I have a lot of other things I should be focused on. I do hope to try it next year at this time. I already have a topic picked out, although I am sure if I Googled it I would find that I was not the first to think of it.
Shall leave that for now.

As for the viral stuff, so many things catch on and travel all over the Web and from blog to blog. It’s crazy that these bloggers are taking part in something that makes it a point to blog every day, except Sundays, for the entire month of April, but it really is, in a lot of ways, a bigger deal than NaNoWriMo.
As if there weren’t already enough blogs.
Not that I am complaining or anything.
🙂
I love to blog and would be a hypocrite if I were to say otherwise and I can’t wait to see what is produced.
As for my own stuff…I must make it a point to stay as authentically me as possible, to do what’s right for me and not to be tempted to follow what everyone else might be doing, in blogging and in life.
My first day of April I will not be playing a prank, but if any of you think you can get me with one, you are probably correct.

No. I am going to speak, as it is Wednesday, on a few news stories that have me thinking and pondering why people do what it is that they do.
I had a list of topics for Wednesday’s In The News And On My Mind posts, but I have not been sticking to that original schedule.
Oh well.

First there is the terrible story from last week about the plane crash in the French Alps.
This adds to my fear of flying, however remote the chances that it could be me on one of those doomed flights.
Everyone has been speculating and demanding to know what was going through that co-pilot’s head when he made that choice to end so many people’s lives and his own.
Innocent babies and young students with their whole lives ahead of them were taken way too soon and nobody can dispute that.
Mental illness has been pushed back out into the forefront of our consciousness. Why did he do something so cruel and senseless?
What could have been done to prevent this, in the chain-of-command?
We can dig and dig into this disturbed man’s past and life as far back as we want, but it won’t bring those people back and it won’t explain it all away.
All we can do is keep talking about how mental illness affects us all.
Of course, do what we can and put as many safe-guards in place for more screening of pilots. Of course.
Just don’t obsess over the why’s and the what-the-Hell’s and forget to focus on remembering the victims, while allowing anger and hatred to overwhelm.
The pilot, right now, is probably feeling like he could have or should have done more to break into that cockpit. The powers that be must be under a whole lot of scrutiny. There is a way to take preventative steps in future, without losing sight of the fact that anyone so desperate and fatalistic as this guy must have been in a whole lot of pain.
Why should we care you say? Because we are all humans and anyone can suffer. Compassion must be muster, somehow.
Were I one of the members of the lost passenger’s families, I would probably be writing some very different words, but perhaps not.

Secondly, on a slightly less serious note, there is the resignation of one of the members of a popular boy band.
This, on the surface seems much less important, but I took a second look at the situation.
“Kids these days!”
I find myself thinking that, if not saying it, at the ripe old age of thirty-one.
In the 60s there were The Beatles. In the 80s it was New Kids on the Block.
I just missed that craze myself.
Then the whole hype of The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and others in the early 2000s.
I never screamed uncontrollably at a concert or had these band’s posters plastered all over my bedroom walls like other girls.
I listened to other music that wasn’t,perhaps, so clamorous.
This kid, from One Direction, he is young and may have gotten lost in the madness of fame and celebrity. He may just need a breather. He may soon realize he made a big mistake. He may soon realize he misses the attention and the spectacle. OR he may not.
I heard such things as a cry to cut on Twitter.
Personally, I hope this is some sort of early April Fool joke because the idea that a bunch of girls cutting themselves, as is the serious mental illness that exists, is utterly ridiculous.
Cutting, as brutal as it sounds, won’t bring this guy back into the group.
I am not so old. I know how important music can be.
How it speaks to your soul and soothes a broken heart.
Nothing is worth hurting yourself.
Girls will be girls and they certainly love their boy bands, but there are other ways of better expressing oneself and always another song to speak to your soul.
It’s important, however, not to downplay the importance this one band might play in even one girls’ life, if she feels she is understood nowhere else.

And finally…

There’s the existence of the shirt made entirely out of hair.
This is disturbing to me on many levels, but none of them have anything to do with the fact that the hair comes from the heads of gay people.
Sometimes people try so hard to make a statement, their statement, that they end up losing all hope of sensibility and the message becomes lost in the mix.
I don’t want to think of a sweater made out of hair from anyone.
The fact that one “lucky” person can now walk down the street, sporting a sweater made entirely out of gay people’s hair is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard of in a while.
I am not one of those people who walks around calling everything “so gay”. I have never had the urge. I can see how that might grow tiresome to hear.
Yet, sometimes, as with things contagious, the cure winds up being just as radical as the disease.

And that’s my somewhat random, welcome to April, In The News and On My Mind, contagious themed post for your mid-week reading/scanning pleasure.
Any virus can and will catch on and latch on. How many of us will catch it?
I try to remain immune to the pressures and writing this blog helps a lot.
If I haven’t yet gotten my point across, it’s to A:
find compassion
and B:
to listen to what you like, to not be afraid to live because every day might be our last, to watch what we say and how it affects others,
but to please…oh please, never make a sweater out of human hair.

Okay, so it’s Wednesday and I am a bit all-over-the-place, and that is exactly why I’m not adding my own brand of madness, by attempting any of the above blogging/writing challenges. It just wouldn’t be the best idea right now.
Goodbye April fools’ and hurry up Easter weekend.
Chocolate is the only cure I need.
Here’s hoping the Easter Bunny will bring my nephew a tricycle and my niece and other nephew lots of treats.

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Fiction Friday, NANOWRIMO 2013, NANOWRIMO 2014, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

NANOWRIMO 2014: Priorities, Goals, and Motivation

Okay, so in case it has skipped anyone’s notice, we have arrived at the end of November.

This means that the month of NaNoWriMo is nearing its finish.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this either, but I missed last week’s Fiction Friday, my usual post here and I did it for a reason.

Not for the reason I wrote about in my previous NaNoWriMo edition of Fiction Friday:

Rebellion.

Not for the cool, wild, hip concept of being a rebel.

🙂

But more like avoidance…avoidance of returning to the place I was at last year at this time.

The reason why I avoided writing any sort of update last week was I knew then and I certainly know now that I will not be reaching fifty thousand words on any novel, not this time.

I did it on my first try, but I guess I’ve learned that, in writing as in life, my priorities can sure shift, only one year on.

In author/writer Alana Saltz’s latest blog post,

What NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me About the Writing Process,

she writes about her own experiences, over the past handful of years with this writing challenge.

It is a helpful thing to me, to read about someone as successful as her, and how the same ups and downs (although not wanted or welcomed) can happen to anyone.

Alana says the two things that made the difference for her, the year she completed the challenge, were focus and a lack of distraction. these two go hand-in-hand, in a big way.

Last year I had distractions, sure, but I was highly focused on getting the novel I had been storing in my head for years down in actual words.

I don’t know where to go with it next and I do know I love the writing I am doing now. this means I didn’t want to give up all the focus I use for blogging multiple times a week, for this huge novel, that has not moved out of the first draft stage since I wrote it one year ago.

Will it have a sequel or will I keep writing?

What do I want it to be and to mean?

I definitely have my share of distractions at this point.

I have discovered that I love blogging, that I find it highly therapeutic in my life right now. I can’t say I feel that way about my novel-in-progress at this time.

In this day of technology and with the advent of ebooks, I hear authors saying all the time that it does no good to have one book, but what counts is to write one and then another and another, until you can build momentum.

As for the points made by Alana, this is my take on it:

1.
Motivation

I am motivated, but apparently not to grab the reins of the story I started last November, and run full-speed ahead.

I am motivated and I set goals all the time with my blogs, every week and month. I keep a fairly steady schedule of posts, present and future. I live by certain deadlines all the time with a blog and now a second one, especially when I am guest posting and hosting guest posters. It is imperative. People, not only me, expect this.

2.
Community

I do not have this, quite as much, with NaNoWriMo. There are no local NaNo groups, at least none I have discovered readily.

As for a community, I have found this in the blogosphere and I like it.

3.
Distractions

I am distracted constantly, my mind constantly wound up. I feel a sense of focus and calm when I am blogging that I couldn’t give up nearly enough to return to the novel that I started while still a part of the life I used to live and am not living in the same way anymore.

4.
Determination

I am determined to make something of blogging and more recently, with travel blogging. This is where I am right now and, although I may regret putting more and more time between myself and the novel I started, right now I must live in the present and future and not allow myself to return to a past I can’t afford to reexamine at this time.

The problem, for me, is that I don’t know if I have more than one novel in me, if I even have this one and the ability to finish it to any real end.

In an extremely uplifting video I came across earlier today, as I was thinking on how I was going to end off my lack of a completed NaNo goal for the month, what I wanted to say here, author Alina Popescu made some valid points:

NaNoWriMo14 – The Deadline Menace – Video on YouTube

I am a writer, like she discusses, whether I write novels, short stories, memoir, reviews and interviews, or travel articles.

I AM A WRITER.

I have discovered I like writing, in a way I did not understand one year ago, and I will follow this path, wherever it may take me.

All I know, at this point one year on, is that I have things inside me to say: about love and relationships, about heartbreak and moving on, about the movies and music that are my inspirations, and the people and places that move me and teach me so much.

Now that I have discovered this world of blogging, and most recently travel blogging, I needed to put all my focus on these things because they are getting me through.

I guess I didn’t really think anyone who might happen to read this would really care that I could not pull off fifty thousand words in a month, two years in a row.

Really, I am the only one I owe any explanation to, whether in my own head or heart. This post just helps me lay all that out, for the record, because maybe next year I will return to this post and start again with Till Death…

I am not giving up on that dream of publishing a story of fiction, but perhaps I am not meant to be mainly a writer of fiction at all.

Living in the present of November 2014 I am a blogger and I like that title and the feeling that gives me.

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, NANOWRIMO 2014, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

NANOWRIMO 2014: End of Week Two, Rebellion

Welcome back to my weekly Fiction Friday post, all the month of November dedicated to National Novel Writing Month, 2014 and we have arrived at the close of Week Two.

Last week I spoke about the somewhat hesitant decision to take part for the second year,

Here.

This time I will explain what I mean by the title of today’s post: Rebellion.

Yes, I am a NaNoWriMo rebel.

What does this mean?

Writer Alana Saltz writes an excellent blog post about this and I wanted to share it here, before I explain how I fit into this category:

How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel.

Now, anybody who knows me knows I am routinely known as a rebel anyway. This is, therefore, not all that far off.

🙂

Actually, I like to follow rules, when I can. It’s the OCD in me that prefers this.

So last year I wrote my daily word count, writing one novel, and it was only a frustration with the site that was so bothersome that I resorted to Twitter to keep track of my progress.

I felt I did everything I was supposed to do, according to,

NaNoWriMo.org.

This year I thought I would give it a try once more, but from the beginning I did not feel like following any rules, whether this might disqualify me or not.

I did not have a new idea for a story. I barely got to editing after last November and I never did finish last year’s story.

I had that one floating around in my head for several years. There was no way I was going to finish it in one year or even to put it aside and focus on a whole new story, but I did not want that to disqualify me from participating this year.

My novel “Till Death” is a story of great love, the hardest of times, and finding one’s way through grief and loss.

I thought this year I would continue the story of three generations of a family: a teenage daughter, her father, and her grandfather.

I wanted to answer the question: how does death affect people at different stages of life?

I thought, why not? Why couldn’t I continue that story this November?

Who says it has to be a brand new story?

Who was going to stop me?

I will use the motivation, but not necessarily stick to the rules others are following for the month.

When I heard Alana speak on how she wasn’t following the rules either, I felt a freedom and like I had been given some invisible marker of permission to be the rebel I always wanted to be.

Next week I will write about setting goals and meeting them.

What do you think of my themes and storyline?

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Fiction Friday, NANOWRIMO 2014, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

NANOWRIMO 2014: End Of Week One

November is here again. I can’t believe it.

Last month, every

Frightful Fiction Friday,

was set aside for phobia stories, all Halloween-based because it was October.

Last Saturday was the start of a new month and I couldn’t believe it was time for National Novel Writing Month yet again. It’s amazing how fast a year goes by.

Every Fiction Friday for the month of November I will be posting an update on my progress with writing 50,000 words in the thirty days of November.

Last year I only just found out about this huge initiative at the last moment. I dove right in and managed to reach the goal, by writing a first draft of the novel I had had rolling around in my brain for several years.

The site

http://www.nanowrimo.org

Allows you to make a profile, keep track of your daily word count, and to speak and connect on the forums and through local writing groups.. People come together with a common goal and support one another in meeting the challenge, through American Thanksgiving, work and school, and more and more holiday and family gatherings.

Unfortunately, I found their website, as a visually impaired person, overwhelming and tricky to navigate. this time I got a little farther, but on entering my word count I must have done something wrong. I want to write, but instead I am messing around with numbers.

I would rather go to

https://twitter.com/KKHerheadache

to keep track of my own word count.

As much as I love the idea of writing all month long, I don’t like that attached to the term “word count” there just so happens to be the word “count” because that means numbers and math, two things I hate just as much as I love words.

I HATE MATH!!!

This year, once again, I signed up on the site in the hopes that I would find it easier to work with. No such luck. If I am going to focus on writing thousands and thousands of words in such a short time, I am not about to fiddle around with something that only brings me frustration, when I could be writing.

Also, it is a bit of a drag that there aren’t really any local chapters of writers in my area who are participating. This takes away from some of the community feeling of NaNoWriMo for me, but the isolation still seems to be low enough. I guess it’s all in the mind, but I could write a novel any time. Why do I need a specific month to do it?

On this second year I started off on a great foot, beginning immediately at midnight on November 1st and writing fiercely into the early hours of last Saturday morning. This resulted in several thousands of words from the get-go, but who knows if I will make the goal at the end of the month. I have to be okay with it if I don’t. Who else would I be letting down?

Unfortunately, I did not keep this momentum up every day this past week. Every other day is more like it, and I still haven’t hit 10 ,000 words.

I can offer only this excuse to myself or anyone of you: last year this time I did not have one blog, let alone two. I may be writing more this year than I ever have, but my time is more divided than ever.

Week One: 8731 words

Next week I will talk about what I am writing.

Are you taking part in National Novel Writing Month this year? Have you taken part before and have decided not to be a part of it this year? Is it your first time?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this growing movement.

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