Laying to Rest

When I moved to Wales this last time, it was rather tumultuous. While I’m really grateful to those who helped me, it was still quite difficult. A massive part of the difficulty was when my grandmother died. For those of you who don’t know, she was very much a passive part of my motivation to apply to university in the UK. I wanted to be near her in her final years.

Well, she passed last November, only slightly over a month from my arrival. And yesterday, we laid her to rest.

She was of course cremated in November, with the family there  to say their words and spend time remembering her. But yesterday we scattered her ashes. It was really a fantastic day for it. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and the bay was calmly excited.

There weren’t very many of us, and looking back on it, I’m quite glad for it. There was a close friend of the family who was kind enough to take us out into the bay on his sail boat, my mom, and me. There was Prosecco and wine and sun waves and islands.

We took the boat out along the usual race course, for “Mrs. T’s final race,” as friend put it. We made it around the buoy, something that I, myself, haven’t done in at least twenty years. As we came up alongside the island, under the watchful eye of the abandoned cabin, we sprinkled Granny in the sea.

I suppose this is the part where I reflect, but in all honesty, I don’t know what to say. I can say that she’s the closest person to me to have passed on, and that it’s a loss I regularly feel at random times. I feel it when I’m driving to Blaenau-Ffestiniog, somewhere I don’t think I went with her. I feel it when I’m making instant noodles. I feel it when I smell the plants after it’s rained.

And while those times I feel sad, and that I’m missing something now, I know I’m not. I know that I’ve had the chance to experience a really wonderful person, and that every time I miss her, I am breathing life into who she was, and I know that she still has a presence.

I suppose that would be my reflection on the matter. As for yesterday, it was an experience, but not something emotional. It was a beautiful day on a boat.

Being a better reader

While I’m working hard to get get my writing out there, trying to create more fiction for the world to read, trying to prove my professionalism, and just trying to get known as a blogger (ha!), I have to remind myself that it is a two-way street:

I have to read.

That’s not to say that I don’t like to read, because I absolutely do dig it. I’m posts of the past I’ve made vows to read x amount of books in x time because I just don’t do it enough. In fact, way back when I started this blog, in the before school times, I said that I wanted to go for an English degree in part because it would make me read more.

I wonder what it is that has deterred me for so long?

This is in part the reason why I’ve committed to writing bi-weekly book reviews. Not only am I now held accountable for reading, but I’m really looking into what I’m reading and I have to be kept to a schedule. It’s a good thing. I thrive on deadlines.

But there’s something more important that I should be doing that I’m not doing nearly as much: reading fellow writers’ blogs. I subscribe to so many of them, but I rarely actually go through my WordPress reader feed and click on the entries. How can I expect to learn and grow as a writer if I’m not reading the work of my blogging peers as well?

This is something I intend to work on. However, it’s finding te time that I’m struggling with. I’m so busy trying to be supportive on social media, the online writing groups, the newly published authors whose books are recently released, the news, and writing my own things and participating in self promotion, as well as working full time, entertaining family while they’re visiting, and the rest of life–where do I find time to read and support my fellow bloggers?

As I stand in the ice cream shack that I manage, scrolling numbly through my Facebook page, I wonder what on earth i can give up to make me a better reader.

There’s an obvious solution here, you know.

So! Instead of scrolling through Facebook while waiting for customers, I chose to write this post on my phone. See what I did there? An ample opportunity to be reading and instead I’m working on my own thing, complaining about how I’m promoting the work of others!

I promise I am going to change this, hopefully.

Hold me to it! Make me accountable!  A slacker, poke me with a hot stick and tell me to knock it off! You have my permission.

Impulse

I got a little weird earlier. Ok, not in a way that should be worried about, mind you. But just wait and hear the story, or read the story, rather, and then make the distinction of weirdness vs. good business choices.

As regular readers might have picked up on, I’m a little addicted to podcasts, especially as of recently. I mostly listen to philosophy and writing podcasts, but recently I’ve been trying to branch out, take recommendations of other people. And in doing this, I got the idea that my friend should do a podcast on tarot and that I would help her with it.

To help her design the podcast, i decided that I needed to research similar podcasts, which, of course, makes sense. I started listening to a few, but there’s on in particular that I’m fond of called “Rune Soup“, which a guy interviews authors and the like who are participants in the occult. The most recent one was interviewing a couple who started a publishing company in Northern England.

It was the weirdest thing: The more and more I listened to it, the more and more compelled I felt to get in touch with them. So I did. I just sent off the email, explaining to them exactly what I’ve explained here, and said that I was moving to Durham in less than a month, and that they should consider me for an internship. main-qimg-8fd7d9897448e44c84865aaa4dd64ee44

yep. that’s what I did. it is either weird or charming and bold. Either way, it’s an experimental first. I’ve never been so arrogant as to ask for an internship0–no, that’s not true. I asked for one when I was 14 at a local tea shop because I wanted to be an herbalist. They were rather rude about it.

Making Independence Day About Me: A Writer’s Declaration

With all my time off, I’ve been able to focus on my writing, which has been a really productive thing. I’ve been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, setting my own goal to be 50,000 words in July, and writing 15,000 in two days.

And today, as it is Independence Day, I’d like to celebrate not by chugging beer and barbecuing things and causing things to explode, but rather by focusing on my writing and celebrating my own Independence.

When I decided to go back to school, it was because I was tired of being laid off from jobs because I was disposable or the business flat out died. I also wanted to get out of video production, since that was just not my passion. I wanted a job that revolved around what I love: writing. So I disguised my education as something thoughtful and smart: a very useful and versatile English degree. But really, I just want to write, and have something to help me get my foot in the door of a publisher.

For two years I worked hard in school and took on two jobs outside of school. All my time went to studying and working. Sure, I wrote, and tried to participate in any of the NaNoWriMo events. But it was an activity divided between other obligations and distractions. As soon as I graduated from the community college in December, I picked up a job as well as kept my other two jobs, giving a grand total of 70 hour work weeks, leaving me too exhausted to even contemplate writing of any form.

Now I am down to two jobs again, one giving my only 4 hours a week while the other job is just on weekends. This has left me with ample time to think and discover what it is I really want. The answer to that is simple: to write.

And I have so much time to do it!

So this is my writing Independence Day. It is the day that I know my life needs to revolve around writing to get to be where I want to be. It’s the day I make sure to schedule time for my writing every day. It’s the day that I know that it is what is important for me to grow and to put that growth first. It is the day that I separate myself from the working world and the obsessive manner to which I participated in it. I am a writer, and thus my life will be about writing, from here on out.

Being Still

Sitting on my ten minute break at the coffee warehouse, I’m indulging in the excitement that my first cup of coffee in three days is bringing me. In theory, today is my last day here (though I volunteered to work on Monday, due to scheduling conflicts, if they need me), and my manager asked me what it is I plan to do during the summer now that I’ll actually have days off.

I’ll still be working my farmers market gig, and putting in a very few hours in the Writing Center, but over all, my plan is to learn how to be still again.

A few weeks ago, I was attacked by anxiety. I couldn’t sleep, I was in pain from my warehouse job, and I knew I had to go in the next morning at 5 a.m.. I ended up taking the day off, though I was still riddled with anxiety of not being productive. I was hurting, couldn’t walk very well, and yet I scolded myself vigorously for not utilizing my time off in a productive manner. It prompted further anxiety until I was in a full blown panic, from which my boyfriend had to calm me down (and did a remarkable job, I might add). After talking for a long time, we came to the conclusion that I have been so stressed for so long that I don’t know how to be still any more.

So this is my goal for the summer: stillness, though still meeting my productivity standards. 

I want to do yoga in the morning, to strengthen my core, help my hip and back whose pain has been brought on (again) by the repetitive motions of my warehouse job, read two fiction books (at least), finish writing my novel and editing it. Also, go dancing least once every other week. 

It’s shocking to me that I can’t get through fiction any more. The only time I’ve completed a book has been if it was assigned to me. The last fiction book I read on my own was The Exorcist, two summers ago. I’m currently reading Watership Down with my boyfriend, but I’ve already read it. I think that allowing myself to read fiction has gone against my definition of productive, and thus hasn’t been done. If it’s homework, the  I have to read it. Butts it’s lesurely, then I could be doing something that needs to be done.

As a writer, I need to remember that reading fiction needs to be done! It is productive! And it’s also important for me to allow myself that enjoyment as well. 

If One Door Closes, Build Another Door

So I guess I can announce this now that we’re a little more in the workings.

Last December or so I began really questioning what it was that I’m doing. I was wondering whether or not all this school was going to land me a job, if it was worth it, and so on. Given that my degrees are so obscure (well, English and Philosophy), I wondered if they would actually guarantee my employment as I had been told by my English and Philosophy instructors.

When relaying my doubts to a friend of mine in Wales on Christmas, he simply said that if I don’t get the job I want in publishing, I can just create my own publishing company.

It was brilliant. However, one needs printing equipment for all that, but not for a magazine. A magazine you can send off to get printed and bound. So, I recently got together a cracking team, and we have been working to start up our very own student-run magazine. I am so thrilled for this. The idea is that it revolves around creative writing. We have a featured writer, a featured artist, and a few other short stories as well as a poetry section, and we also have a couple of articles in the back revolving around publishing, editing, and so on.

Because of the local call for writers and students, we wanted something local in the title. We also wanted to expand to another county, for the moment. Who knows, it might take off and we can expand further south again. We also wanted to acknowledge the area that we live in and its history, since it’s so beautiful and rich with culture. So we settled on the name of the Kulshan Digest, after the mountain that sits on the boarder between Whatcom and Skagit County. The mountain is commonly known as Mount Baker, but it’s indigenous name is Kulshan.

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We have launched our Twitter and our Facebook Page as well, please be sure to follow it! Soon we’ll have our webpage up, as well as an exact date for launching our prototype. We are aiming for mid June to early July, with the actual Issue I to be launched in September, then quarterly from there.

I know, I know, I’m planning on dashing off to the UK in September and going to school there. However, that’s part of the plan. Obviously, none of us can be students forever. This is designed to be passed along to each “generation” of students, and as a result, is a non-profit. The idea is that as we are learning our leadership roles, we are constantly training new people, which also keeps us humble.

I am so thrilled for this. I’ll keep the updates coming!

The Self Becoming [Smug] – First run at publishing

noisy waterToday I begin something I have only dreamed of experiencing, though on a smaller scale than what I’d like. The other day I received an email from Whatcom Community College’s online magazine publisher stating that they wanted to publish one of my essays that I submitted to them in the 2015 edition of the Noisy Water Review! I’m
extremely excited, though I’m trying not to allow myself to become too elated (it is just a community college publication, but still, publication nonetheless).

one-upThere is a huge one-up in this as well. The essay that was submitted is also the one that was submitted to the teacher I butted heads with during winter quarter, that questioned whether or not I had “ever even written an essay” and told me not to go to the people in the Writing Center because they don’t know what they’re doing. So there is a very definitive air of smug about me in regards to this selection.

Because I’ve been house sitting, and my laptop has died on me (the one I just got in December, brand new), and my car has died on me (It’s still in the shop waiting for me to figure out how to get $1300 to repair it), I have been without computer access aside from my phone for a couple of weeks now. This evening I decided to spend the evening at home, and have a look at the revisions being required of me.

All the suggestions I completely agree with. Some of it is formatting, some of it is need for further explanation, and some of it is need for clarification. I wrote the 11 page (single-spaced) essay in ten hours, completely throwing away all prior research I had done for my essay before, and starting from scratch. I wrote it for a very particular teacher in mind that disagreed with the way I formatted my essays – which is to use headers to let the reader know when I’m switching gears. This will allow me to go back through and do with it what I initially wanted to do.

What’s more! This will also give me the opportunity to see how the real publication process is done. I’m comfortable working with Whatcom and their students/staff, and so it’s not as intimidating as a publication company with whom I’ve never interacted. As a result, I can see this as a far more relaxed means of the publication process, which will hopefully give me more gumption to submit other pieces of work to other companies in the future.