Being In College

As long-time readers know, I spent two of the last three years studying at a community college. I really enjoyed that time, I learned a great deal not just about the subject matter of whatever class I was in (I should hope I learned something in those classes!), but by interacting and listening to the man students around me from a variety of backgrounds. Working in the Writing Center taught me an amazing amount as well in my every-day interactions.

Being in college also showed me I have a brain. We all do. And the more discussions I was participating in, the more interactions with those around me I had, the more notes I took and the more books I read, the smarter I felt. The better grasp I felt I had on the world.

This gave me some ego.

I took this ego, happily, with me to Wales. I continued learning during this last year off, listening to news podcasts, philosophy podcasts, participating online and so on. However, I wasn’t actually interacting with those around me, not in real life. I was around people, but no one wanted to talk politics, despite all the upheaval going on with the British government. No one wanted to discuss human rights, racism (which I was told just wasn’t here (never mind the prejudice against people who might be Muslim, apparently)), or anything of any depth. So, I found myself in a digital echo chamber.

queExcept I was getting left behind. Because none of my discussions were with real live people outside a digital box, I was missing out on nuances, I was missing out on certain details because there was time for edited responses. I found that the holes I was developing in my understanding of certain issues were growing deeper, and wider. So I began trying to use rusted logic to fill in those holes, which in theory is fine, until that logic stops evolving and then is expressed in the big ol’ world.

There were a few times I spoke without thinking, without being aware of my audience. My ego told me it’s fine, I’m a smart cookie. And then, when the responses came in, I recoiled in horror at my own words. I realized that I didn’t know what I was talking about, I didn’t have the agency I thought I had developed. I was just another person putting half-conceived notions into the world and just making an ass out of myself.

So, for a while, I’ve been afraid to blog. That’s part of the reason there’s been a lapse as well. I stuck to my website (writing fiction and book reviews is pretty safe in that regard), and to my travel blog (also safe), but neglected this one. Aside from the IFTTT problems I was having, I was afraid of putting my thoughts and views out there because I didn’t trust that I didn’t have developed enough ideas, and that I was just creating content for content’s sake, which is only contributing to the utter crap out there–which, I suppose, anyone could argue that everyone is doing that, depending on the angle you loI know nothingok at it.

What’s worse, is that feeling of ignorance on my end was also keeping me from deciding to go back to university. What if I completely lost how to write an essay, or what an essay is even compiled of? What if I don’t actually know anything (which I don’t), and I’m unable to do well in this new, strict setting? What if I’m a complete failure, and all the money spent on tuition is just a waste?

So I hid. I’m really good at hiding while I sort my head out. And that’s what I did. I still think that I’m pretty ignorant. But I also think that I pick up on formulas pretty quickly, so I think I’ll have university figured out fairly well. BUt as far as my general understanding of the world around me?

There was a time that I felt this before. It was the first time I lived in Wales, and I didn’t think I knew anything. I was fresh out of high school, and cocky as all hell, and when I came here, I just knew nothing. So, I kept my mouth shut. I watched. I listened. I read. I reflected. I learned. And really, that’s something I should be doing now. If I want to be able to gain the most out of life, and being the biggest support to the communities around me, if I want to be the best ally I can be to anyone suffering an injustice, the best thing I can do is listen and learn.

but I learn

The paradox (ok, perhaps too strong of a word, but gets the idea across) is that now I’m a blogger. Twelve years ago, I was just a kid who was lucky to get online once a week. Now I’m a blogger with an audience, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, a website, and all the rest. How do I remain silent and listening while still trying to get my voice out there? Only write what I know? But if I’m at a point of admitting that I know nothing, then what do I write about?

I suppose I’ll share my answer when I come to it. In the mean time, enjoy the rest of my ponderous meanderings, and please, correct me when I’m wrong, engage me in discussion. Challenge me! How can I be a good human being if I’m not challenging my own ideas?

 

Dividing Projects

As mentioned last week, I managed to succeed in CampNaNoWriMo. I know-I know-I know, I keep going on about this. But honestly, for some reason, this month really taught me a lot.

I’ve always enjoyed the competition, so to speak, with myself, in trying to reach that word count goal. However, I find it’s easy to get stuck. Having a bunch of different projects that I wanted to get so far in, or to wrap up entirely in a month really helped me out. Once I had my list made, it was easy to divide up my time. What’s more, it was fun ticking things off my list. Then it gave me a word count to aim for as a whole.

I know, this is sounding like regurgitated information from the post at the beginning of the month, but I do rather think it’s worth regurgitating.

I actually think I’ll take into practice what I did for the month of July and try to apply it to every month. Part of that will be tracking my projects each month, how many words I write in a day and so on. Most of the time, when I do NaNoWriMo, I’m only recording the words that I’ve worked on for one project. I always manage to get to 50,000, but just not of the one project. I work on other things, including my blog. I think that if I look at how many words I’m writing for each thing I’m working on, then I’ll feel better about how much I’m writing.

That being said, even this month I’ve written more than I’ve recorded that I’ve written. For one thing, I’m not including journaling to myself, which is all hand-written. I’m also not including the expansion I’m doing with my novel. I’m going through and adding detail and expanding scenes to make them clearer, as well re-writing the ending. Because I have a novel which, in the last draft was hovering around 54k words, it’s difficult to keep track of how many I’ve increased vs. scenes or paragraphs or sections I’ve deleted. Perhaps during those times I should look at the time spent writing as well?

I’ll let you know how it goes.


What do you like to do to keep track of your goals? Are you good at sticking to them? What kinds of regular goals to do you set yourself?

Writing Horror to Music (and other playlists)

I’ve never once wanted to go as deep into my characters’ brains as to know what kind of music they would listen to. However, as I go through this last pass of my current work in progress, I am finding that I have to write a few extra chapters, and it’s forcing me to delve into what it is that they would be listening to.

While I’m still compiling playlist on YouTube to help me, I’m actually, as I edit, falling back onto something I was listening to more during the winter, and I think maybe in the fall? But it’s an hour of ambient haunting music–and I just love it. It’s subtle, it’s quiet, it blocks out the background noise of wherever I am, and it puts me in a fantastic writing mood.

The only problem is that it puts me in the mood for writing horror–which is fine, that’s not to say at all that I don’t write horror. But i’ts just a little too over the edge for what I’m writing now. As a result, my characters are slowly getting creepier.

However, I actually just wanted to share this track, because I just think it’s so great.

Haunting Music – 3 Hours 
Haunting Music ~ inspiring, motivating music for reading, writing, drawing, painting and art
Posted by White Noise  Relaxation

It should also be noted that White Noise Relaxation also posts happy music for studying, chill out lounge, morning bossa nova, ukulele, Christmas music for children, and so on. I make mention of this so that you know that this particular YouTuber is quite eclectic, and if you don’t need horror-type music, then you can still find something that might suit your needs.

 

I would love to know what music you write/study to. What genre do you write? What topics are you studying? Do you do something else with certain types of music?

MyHorrorLives.com Blog

A very good friend of mine writes horror. You can find his work in Carpe Nocturne Magazine, HorrorAddicts, and his website. He’s recently expanded from beyond writing horror to compiling a blog. I’d like to share one of his entries, for those of you who are horror movie addicts–feel free to visit his site and argue or agree with him! 

Best Horror Movie Deaths

I went to Durham Again!

A very quick entry, mostly to express my excitement. I went to Durham again today. This is no easy feat. It’s quite a trek there. And, unlike the last time I went, I was able to spend a little more time there. And all I can say is:

I’m Home.

Read about it here: Durham and It’s County

Lessons From Losing  A Car Key: Part 2

To revisit lessons 1-8, visit Part 1 Here.

We left off with wined-up me losing contact with reality in my flat on Sunday, the 16th, and pick up again two days later on Tuesday, the 18th.

Lesson 9: Drive Your Car More Often

It took me a full 36 hours to notice that my car key was missing.

It was a lovely morning, bright, and early, and still before the tourists woke up and left their dwellings. I decided I would beat them to it and go get me some breakfast. Unfortunately, the village I live in doesn’t allow for early morning breakfasts, and I have to go to Pwllheli. I got dressed, teeth brushed, and even brushed my hair!

But then there was no car key. Nowhere. Not a sighting of it.

I searched the clothes I thought I had worn over the past two days. Nothing. I searched every piece of dirty clothing I had. Nothing.

Lesson 10: Don’t Give Up Looking

I gave up for the moment, and decided not to worry about it too much. I’m pretty good at losing things and then finding them later. It’s a well-crafted skill of mine that my mother can attest to.

However, that didn’t stop me from mentioning it to Mom yesterday as she made her way to the Yacht Club, that she should ask the bartender if he had a key turned in. No dice on that one. The loss was beginning to buzz in the back of my mind, but nothing dire. Just a minor worry to keep in mind for when I got off work.

When I finished work, I had another look in my room, and still couldn’t find it. I got ahold of Mom, who was out having dinner with said family friend and other friends, and asked if she could ask family friend if he’s going out on his boat later on, and if he could have a look. She said she would.

The evening carried on, and I had some odd news of a publication I was in, which ended up sending me into a dark dwelling of panic, that was only perpetuated by my state of stuck-ness. I don’t do well being stuck. And not having a key to my perfectly well-working car was a good way to agitate my psyche.

Lesson 11: Get Creative in Searching

My usual co-pilot, as referred to in my travel blog came over and helped me search my fault again. Between the two of us we searched every piece of clothing I own, two-three times, un-made the bed, took out the duvet from its cover, pillows from their cases, rummaged drawers, picked through make-up and various other toiletries, searched the fridge, the staff room, the freezer, the cupboards, the pub, the pub kitchen—only to have very little luck. I began rummaging purses, my backpack, shoes, books, pen cases, hats, only to begin the cycle again. No luck whatsoever.

The following morning I called Mom, asking if she’d spoken to Family Friend. She hadn’t, and didn’t know if he was out golfing or not, which did me no good at all. I walked the road to the Yacht Club, retracing every step I could think of. I Facebook messaged the owner of First Light, who referred me to Jack Wills, which had nothing. The Garage hadn’t had a key turned in, nor had Londis. I made my way up the village to the police station, only to find it unoccupied.

I went back to the pub to look around my dumb locked car all over again. There was nothing on the ground. I looked under the staircase leading up to my flat, below which is the slide that gets the beer barrels to the cellar. Nothing. So I went back to the flat, and repeated the rummaging of the night before. I dragged out my suitcases and searched in them (though I did find my cable to charge the keyboard to my iPad), and looked in pouches of crystals I hadn’t touched in months. Nothing.

Lesson 12: Be Humble

I finally flung my hands in the air. I wasn’t about to resolve into calling a locksmith. I wasn’t about to try and get a copy made from scratch. That wasn’t going to happen, not when it costs several hundred pounds. I’ll say that again: Several Hundred Pounds to have another key made.

It was time to ask. I sat down on my bed, looked down, knowing whose mercy I was at.

“Please, elves, give me back my key. Give me a sign of the offering you wish, and if it’s in my power I’ll make it. But please, give me back my car key.”

Hey, don’t knock it. It’s totally worked before. The elves and gnomes are tricky with what they take from you and when. Sometimes they just want to be acknowledged.

So far, I’ve heard very little from them. But you know, sometimes they need time.

Lesson 13: Be Thankful For Those Who Help You

By this time I needed to go to work. It had been a long morning, and I needed to seclude myself in my little ice cream shack. The weather was just terrible, something that had been building up for days in humidity. From my little nook I watched the early afternoon sky darken. If I didn’t know any better, I would have assumed that it was dusk.

Then, it happened. The clouds could stand their moist (that’s right, I said it) collection no more, and let it all fall, with booming laughter. The storm hit, with a pleasantly heavy downpour.

I personally love a good rain, especially when it’s been warm for so long. In fact, I filmed it (which, if you’re that interested, you can see on my Instagram) while customers huddled in my small space for shelter.

After the worse of it, in trudged my mother, the remnants of the storm dripping from her hood, her shorts soaked through. She relayed to me how she had dutifully taken the launch out to the family friend’s boat to search for the key and was caught up in that fantastic thunderstorm.

Apparently, “Yeah! Wasn’t that an amazing storm?!” wasn’t the best way to greet this news. My personal debt to her I think doubled with that comment. Either way, there was no key on the boat.

She left, made her way to the police station, and later returned, having been caught in the second onslaught of downpour (I think I owe her a grandkid or something for this feat). No key. However, the police person she spoke to said to just call Peugeot and they would be able to replace it.

Well, I couldn’t call them since I was at work, but thankfully my co-pilot was in touch with me about the whole thing as well. In that moment, he was at home researching what could be done to replace the key (he is so awesome like that). I relayed the info to him via text, and he tracked down the number. What he, in turn, relayed to me after speaking to four different people was that yes, they could do that. However, It would cost £226, take seven days, and I would somehow, magically, have to get it to Bangor (an hour drive away when your car door isn’t locked with the parking break on while in first gear, and when you have the key to drive it there). So, given then I have no way to get it to Bangor, that isn’t an option.

Many locksmiths either don’t go to Abersoch, want upwards of £300 (AA quoted £387).

This is the unfortunate position that I’m in at the moment. Which brings me to

Lesson 14: Be Patient

I spent the remainder of the day just trying to have faith. I’m not religious by any means, but I just had to know that I had been logical, I had been active in my search, that the damn thing was somewhere, and just not in the sea or in the bins that had been taken to the dump that morning.

That part was stressful. I was stuck at work, without any idea of what to do.

Finally, I decided that I would wait until the tide went out. Perhaps–just perhaps, the key had fallen out of my pockets at the Yacht Club on the steps and gone between them, falling into the cave below. However, low tide wasn’t until midnight. That meant more waiting.

Lesson 15: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Once I was off work, I found a good aid for waiting was wine. So I drank a swig of that, straight form the bottle, because I’m classy like that. It went down so well that I had another…and another…until half the bottle was gone.

No, I didn’t repeat Sunday night, don’t be silly. I learned my lesson. No drinking at the Yacht Club.

I wasn’t about to wait until midnight though. I went at nine thirty so that I could at least access the cave, though the tide was still reaching toward my toes. I retraced my steps in the dusk, waving my phone and my co-pilot’s head light along where I might have woven my path on Sunday evening.

Nothing.

My co-pilot, ready to turn back as we approached the gates to the Yacht Club whispered, “It says members only.”

“I know.”

“We’re not members.”

“I know.”

“We don’t look like members.”

“I know.”

I pushed through the gate and marched right through anyway, passed the bar, down the steps, passed the loos, and down the steps that stood watch over the dark cave. At this point it was darker than preferred, and the rocks were looking pretty slick. Thankfully my co-pilot is gustier than I am, and managed to get down onto the sand and into the cave for a little bit of a beach-louse-ridden search.

Nothing.

Do you know how tired I am of typing that word????

So I retreated back home, defeated.

Lesson 17: Mom Always Has the Magic

Mom never believes that I’ve thoroughly looked for anything. So far she had been urging me to let her have a rummage through my room and my flat. Finally, I gave in. She came around in the morning, after I gave a last minute run-around of tidying (not that it was needed) and threw a small stash of underwear and shirts in the wash.  Once she arrived, I followed her around picking up little bits of garbage that were completely invisible to me until mom’s shadow passed over them. And here I had boasted that my room was clean!

She yeilded just as much nothing as I did, to my relief/dismay. It was nice to know that it wasn’t just me, the damn key wasn’t there. But part of me had hoped that it was just me, in fact a large part of me had hoped that. I need my car key! I don’t have £300+ to be flinging at locksmiths!

We were figuring out what our next plans were, what it was that we would do over the weekend now that my driving was out of the question when I heard the clunking.

Clu-clunk. Clu-clunk.

 

“That’s in the washing machine!” I exclaimed. I imagine myself much like an excited GIF of Ren and Stimpy in that moment (though I’m sure mom would disagree).

“No, that’s the dryer.”

“Heck no it’s not!” (That’s not quite what I said)

I ran to the washing machine–which is a torturous device. There was my key, stuck against the glass front, begging for me to save it as the suds mixed in with it’s plastic exterior.

“I’ll save you key!” I declared, tugging with all my might at the door. It, being a torturous, front-loading device, locked its hinges against me. I began fiddling with the nob, trying to force it into a spin cycle, a drain, a rinse–anything!

Alas, I was powerless. I had another 39 minutes to wait.

Either way, my key was found, which brings me to my final lesson:

Lesson 18: Pay Tribute to the Elves and Gnomes

Mom may be magic, but it was the gnomes who decided to give the key back. So later this evening I’ll find some offering to them for their kind return.


If you want my advice in regards to the realm of key-losing–just don’t do it. It’s rather stressful and you just won’t have a good time with it. That’s my sound advice. Just don’t do it. Say no to key-loss.

Writing Achievements (this month)

Hurrah! I did it! I managed to make my word count goal for this month’s CampNaNoWriMo. My goal was 24,200 (the number for which you can read about here), and today I reached 24,537 – and just 19 days in.

Though I should note, that I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped to be–I wrote more than enough words, but I didn’t complete the projects I’d hoped to complete. I wrote lots of blog entries, but I fell short with my interview I needed to write up, I only got two pieces of flash fiction done, and got half way through the two series I hoped to complete. However, it was a learning experience, something I’ll write more on, later.

Also, the digital edition of the Summer 2017 issue of Carpe Nocturne was released, with three of my pieces came out yesterday. It features the debut episode of my horror series, “The Wall”, my article on the Denbigh Asylum, and I also have a tarot/astrology as well. The digital copy is available on Magzter, though the print copy takes a little while to be available. However, when it is, you can find it on Amazon, Barns & Noble, and Waterstones websites. You can also keep tabs on the magazine in general at www.CarpeNocturne.net.

Denbigh Asylum sUMMER 2017