What’s In My Bag?

img_8014Every now and then, when the brain machine is not turning out blog ideas, and I’m stuck in one of the inevitable holding patterns that is the writer’s life, I find myself looking for ideas for blog posts. Of the lists of blog writing prompts I have read through, I rarely find ones I actually want to pursue–after all, the problem with prompts is that they often force a story or a message where there is none. That’s not always a bad thing, but sometimes it can be hell on natural inspiration.

Still, this was one of the fun ones. Here’s a list of what you can find in my bag, my essentials for a day out of the house, and why.

  1. My headphones. I’d like to share a truth with you that is somewhat personal. I don’t like to be alone in my own head. When I’m spinning out threads of a story, or thinking about a pointed topic, the space in my head isn’t all that bad. However, when my thoughts are roaming without direction, and anything can come to the forefront, it often turns out to be something I do not want there. Because of this, I like to keep music around at all times–because, if my brain is focused on music, at least it’s focused on something. Plus, music has the bonus of helping me brainstorm. So it all comes back around.
  2. A cleansing towelette, hand sanitizer, band aids. I have a hyperactive eight-year-old son. I think that more than explains that, although those things would be good to possess for just me, as well. But I can’t claim to have been that responsible pre-Logan.
  3. My migraine pills. I’ve been suffering from migraines for as long as I can remember. At their worst, I would get three crushing headaches a week. Though preventative medication, taken daily, has mostly kept this issue under control and brought the average number of migraines I have down from 3/week to 3/month, I still keep my breakthrough/rescue medication with me daily. As a matter of fact, I just took one now, since today’s rain has my head misbehaving. Taking one of these as soon as I start feeling pain is the difference between an hour of discomfort, and a full day under the covers avoiding the light. They are a necessity.
  4. My phone. I grew up in an age where payphones were on every other block, and if you needed to reach someone who wasn’t home, you either called and left a message, or you beeped them. Even so, I have definitely become that person who is hyper-attached to my phone, and I’m on it all day. I rarely, if ever, use it for its actual phone function. Mostly I text and email. My handy little gadget provides me with a way to reach others and to be reachable, so I can always be working, since a person who divides her time the way I do needs that. It also provides me with games so I can relax and be silly, and access to social media so I can market and connect. All necessary gadgets for any working woman these days, but especially for a writer.
  5. My iPad. While the iPad serves somewhat as a backup to my phone functions, it also has one thing my phone doesn’t–ample screen space for reading. So, that’s what I mostly use it for, which means I need it at all times, because I’m always reading. Also, in times of long car rides or long restaurant waits, it’s nice to have a few games to fall back on.
  6. A Magazine. In case of long stretches without a recharging station for my electronics, I always try to have something manual with me to read.
  7. A snack. I always have something with me, in case I get super hungry. Sometimes all that’s around are unhealthy options. Sometimes there’s nowhere to buy anything. It’s good to have a quick, easy, neat, and healthy snack with you, so I’ll usual pack a granola bar.
  8. Pepper Spray. Because I live in Bronx, NY and nobody better f*&$% with me.
  9. 3 different pens. You never know when you’ll need to write something down…and you never know when your pen will run out of ink.
  10. A small notebook. Same.
  11. Wallet and Keys. Because duh.
  12. Work ID on its awesome retractable belt clip.
  13. My special necklace. This year, on the first day of summer camp, Logan made me a beaded necklace. Our previous school year was spectacularly explosive, and we discovered that our son’s questionable behavior did not involve a need for discipline, but was actually because he was suffering from a combination of ADHD, anxiety, and depression. A large trigger for his anxiety involved any situation where either me or Ismael weren’t around. After a year like that, when your son makes you a necklace and says it’s a way to communicate with you and to know you are always connected, you keep it with you. Everywhere you go. I like to think it helps out some.img_8015-1

It’s funny. When I started this challenge, I thought it was a fun, silly little exercise, but it’s amazing how much you can tell about me from the contents of my purse. Almost all of the pieces of the puzzle are represented here in one form or another.

Now it’s your turn. Come on, play along with me. What do you carry along with you that tells us the most about you? Let me know in the comments.


40 Reasons Why I Write


Relatively recently, Bryan Hutchinson issued a challenge on his blog, Positive Writer – list 40 reasons why you write. You can see his answers here. When it came about, I was in the throws of Camp NaNoWriMo. As that is now complete, and I’m taking a small break from the novel so I can attack it again in July’s edition of Nano, I needed this challenge. It’s been difficult to stay motivated, because the hits just keep coming in both my personal and professional life. So, I’m going to take some time to remind myself why I write. I hope you find my answers either interesting or inspirational. Also, I am so incredibly late to this challenge.

  1. Writing keeps my brain busy. With my ADHD, my brain is always spinning anyway, so this gives it something to work on in the background.
  2. Stories haunt me, and I have to get them out.
  3. I have had a lot of trauma and strange events in my life, and I need an outlet.
  4. Sometimes, I like to live vicariously through my characters.
  5. Sometimes, I like to bury myself in my characters so I can forget life.
  6. My son looks up to me for creating whole stories all by myself, and there’s no beating that.
  7. Writing is a strong bond I share with my husband, as he is also an author.
  8. Writing is a strong bond I share with my sister-in-law. She is also an author.
  9. Writing has helped me make amazing friendships, some that are sure to be lifelong.
  10. I like how writing makes me feel, like I am weaving worlds from my imagination.
  11. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I finally get something right is amazing.
  12. Rewriting has taught me all about perseverance. Frustration, but perseverance.
  13. I like to read things I love over and over again, so this was probably a fitting career choice.
  14. I love to paint with words.
  15. I love to listen to music, and music always inspires me to paint with my words.
  16. Clever dialogue is all around me. What would I do if I didn’t jot some of it down and use it for my own benefit?
  17. My best friend has yoga. I have writing.
  18. The creative people on my journey with me are the best people.
  19. My characters tend to be stronger than I am. Or at least, than I was. These days, I seem to be taking a page from my own book. Writing has encouraged me to be stronger.
  20. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I won’t get anywhere in this business, or something is wrong with the core of a particular story, etc. I intend to prove them very wrong.
  21. When my anxiety disorder, my depression, my PTSD rears up, writing helps me cope.
  22. Because, as a woman, and as a woman with physical and mental health issues, my voice and my individual experiences deserve to be heard.
  23. I love reading so much, and I know how it feels to really connect with a character. I would love to be able to provide that for someone else.
  24. I’ve always loved playing with voice and word choice, seeing how different an outcome I can create just by finding a more exact bit of syntax.
  25. Writing often helps me to put feelings I’m dealing with into words, to tell truths through my characters that I can’t articulate properly in reality.
  26. I honestly don’t know what I would do with all the spare time I’d get if I didn’t write or plan to write.
  27. When I’m writing I can temporarily put off other, more important chores. But not the most important ones, of course. 😉
  28. I still believe in magic, and sometimes, writing feels like magic. Like when something inexplicably comes together, and it feels like destiny, that feels like magic. That is the rare moment where I become a believer.
  29. How else can I justify talking to the people who live in my brain?
  30. I’m stubborn and I’ve said I’m going to do it, so damn it, I’m going to do it.
  31. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met write, so I hope some of that rubs off on me.
  32. Sometimes, I’m not all that adventurous, so I need an excuse to try new and interesting things. Research gives me that excuse.
  33. I was already a fact hoarder. This gives me a reason to hoard facts.
  34. I hate waste, and I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and random experiences that just kind of sit around in my brain and go to waste. I want to give them some use. Like my two years working at an ice cream shop. I’m using that in my latest book.
  35. There are tons of stories that I want to read, that I don’t find out there. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak. They say, if you want something done, do it yourself, right?
  36. I’m getting to a point where rejections mean almost nothing to me. I’m numb to rejection.
  37. Unless, they come with constructive criticism, at which point I am disappointed, but I have learned to love constructive criticism and view it as encouragement and help, rather than an insult. I think writing has helped to improve my personality in that way.
  38. I have also become able to tell the difference between constructive knowledgeable criticism and insults, being led astray, and jealous attacks designed to keep a person below them. That lesson has helped me in all areas of my life.
  39. I have a side gig as an editor, and I’ve always believed that, if you are going to manage people, you should be willing to get your hands dirty. If I won’t get my hands dirty with words, why should I tell other people to do so?
  40. I love to geek out. It’s my life’s mission to make other people geek out as much as I do.

So, there are my 40 reasons! Do you need to remind yourself why you love something? Share your reasons in the comments, and thank you for being one of the people I’ve encountered on this journey, the people I write for. Thank you for being one of my reasons. ❤

Organized Chaos – Writing with Mild ADHD

“Oh, you’re a writer!  What are you working on?  Can I read it?”  Said every person ever when I told them I was a writer.

My response is always, “No, you can’t read my work – because none of it is in order.”

I have a very mild form of ADHD.  When I was a child, I used to do my homework in spurts.  15 minutes devoted to Subject A.  15 minutes devoted to Subject B.  And on down the line.  It worked for me from my younger years all the way through college.  The reason for my odd division of time was that, if I worked on anything longer than that, I stopped paying attention to it.  Which meant I stopped caring about it, which meant I lost the ability to retain anything.  Dividing things up in the way I did kept me interested, which kept me in A’s and, later, a 3.95 GPA.  Had I not done this (and, I can’t for the life of me remember how I figured out this little method of mine), I probably wouldn’t have nearly as good grades.

I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood and this strange pattern has followed me there.  If you ask my husband what it’s like to clean our apartment with me, he will laugh.  The reason for his laughter is to hide how infuriating the process can be. Because he’s a nice guy like that. I clean each room in the same way I worked on each homework assignment.  Everything gets done, but the order is confusing and my pattern is not something that can be pursued in pairs.  My husband can never follow what I’m up to, so he cleans on his own, ignoring my weirdness in favor of a more organized tract.  In an hour, he cleans the living room.  I have touched upon every room in the house, but with only one task per room.  This means that when I inevitably run into something I need his help with, I will pull him from his work to help me with mine.  By the end, I’m sure he is plotting my demise.  But most times, the house gets clean.  Even my work life gets the same treatment.  Only a hard and fast deadline that I am attempting to meet can somehow give me all of the focus that I need.

When I ended up with three ideas for my first novel, I didn’t even blink.  I’d just work on them all at once.  When I had trouble working on the first scene – no problem!  I’d do that scene in the end that interested me.  Couldn’t think to write?  I’d refine my outline. What I now have is a collection of three outlines that are approximately 200 pages apiece.  I am well aware that these are not outlines.  These are more like bibles for my books. Writing three books at once requires an intense grasp on the voice of each of my characters, built and perfected so I wouldn’t lose one and go sailing off into another depending on what I was writing.  Writing my stories according to what scene strikes at what time requires a detailed knowledge of the path of my story, so I don’t mention things in scenes that haven’t yet occurred in the story or change something and cause a plot hole.  When things are changed, I spend my time refining my outline to make sure things flow smoothly again and that no statement made in a scene belies another. There’s a lot of mental hurdles being jumped over in my head, which explains that far away look in my eyes whenever I’m walking somewhere and I didn’t expect to see you – and it takes a few slow moments for me to go, “Oh hi!”  Because I’m not here.  I’m in my books.

In the end, while it sounds like a crazy way to write, it has a lot of positive sides to it. Because I am choosing what scenes I want to write and when, writer’s block seems to be a much more rare occurrence.  When I get stuck, I work on it, but I try to choose the scenes that I am currently eager to portray, so it makes it easier to get into the right frame of mind.  When I finish a scene I just plug it into my outline, in the place it belongs in my story, replacing the outline text that had portended it.  Outline text is in bold. Scenes are in plain font.  So the less bold I see in a certain section, the closer I know I am to being done, and this can be done at a glance.  This is inspiring when I am trudging through a scene or when I am trying to select a new one.  It keeps my goals in check and it helps me to see the story’s potential.  And that helps keep me writing.

The big downside to it is that I have Chapters 1-3 of one of my stories done.  Then, I have the back 25% of the story done.  I have scraps in the middle.  I will have to fill those in.  On another one of my stories, I have none of the beginning done most of the middle and some of the end.  Another one has a full beginning and chunks of the middle and end, but that beginning is starting to feel like it’s going to need a pretty decent edit. All in all, it becomes impossible to hand a person something to read, because it’s all over the damn place.  It’s becoming easier, but as a girl who manages organized chaos as a constant, I can very clearly tell that it will be awhile before anybody has much of my work to read.

That’s okay though.  I don’t really like to perform on demand.  But that is another blog for another time.