Weekend Coffee Share: I Need a Sounding Board

Good morning. 

I meant for you to come yesterday, but there was a lot going on. But I’m glad you’re here. And to be frank, I need your ears on this one.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about my latest short story. Yes, my Valentine story was put on hold for another story, which is the issue. It’s not the story, per se. It’s the reasoning behind it. I wrote it to please someone. The person gave me a setting, a barber shop, and I went for it. I wrote it to show that I could. I’m currently writing the second draft for someone else to cast it out. 

This is a recurring issue. Letting someone else tell me what I can and can’t write. Kind of like the “write what you know” syndrome. I don’t think this person understands that I want to write something other than General Fiction. But therein lies another problem. Because that quote is so ingrained in me, I’m paralyzed to try something else. I worry that because I haven’t read in genres outside my realm, I don’t know the rules. I fear I’ve lost my imagination. I feel trying a new genre will not go over very well with the people who know me. 

I shared this dilemma with one of my Facebook writing groups. Two things resonated with me from the responses. One, I struggle with confidence. I don’t have confidence in myself, so I let others choose what I should write. It kind of makes sense. Lately, I’ve created Twitter polls on what I should write and how certain things should play out. Instead of listening to the story, I listen to outside forces. That can only lead to dissatisfaction. 

Second, in order to overcome the lack of confidence, I need to write the story the way I want. This sounds easier said than done to me. I have an issue of making things more complicated than it has to be. But they’re right. If it’s in my heart and soul to write that fantasy story or science-fiction story, then I need to jump in. Take that leap of faith. It’s the only way I’m going to grow as a writer.

Thank you for listening and being patient with me. I know it’s a lot to take in. I hope the weekend has gone well for you all.

Weekend Coffee Share: Rest Time

Good morning,

I’m afraid I don’t have much to talk about today. You might have noticed that the house feels a little more spacious. That’s because we’ve been purging the past few days. We’ve been clearing out the clutter, getting more organized. I have to say I feel a little calmer after the purge. At least, I can sit at my table without having to move stuff around.

So, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you about finally pulling the trigger on joining LA Fitness. The representatives were kind enough to give us guest passes until we were ready. We’ve been taking advantage of it, going whenever possible, which was just about every day. So last night, after work, we signed up and became full-fledged members. Now, the question becomes finding days to work out. With the schedules I have and one car between four people, it’s hard. So the next thing to get is a calendar so we can plan out the days for us to go to the gym.

This week has been somewhat stressful. There was the stress of coordinating doctor’s visits with both of my jobs. And then there was the stress of keeping up with this writing club I’m in on Facebook. I vented some of my frustrations this week, from not being able to write what I want to getting burnt out on writing just to meet word count goals. I wasn’t someone who really cared about meeting word counts. Since joining this club, that has changed. I know it’s not about meeting the goals every day; it’s about developing the habit of writing every day. But there are days when it’s hard to sit down and write something.

A lot of people suggested taking a day off writing once in a while. It’s one thing to take a day off writing, and another thing when you’re too occupied to sit down and write. The latter is usually the case with me these days. But there have been days where I stepped away from writing. But there were times were days became weeks and weeks became months. I definitely don’t want it to get to where I don’t write for an extended period of time.

If we were having coffee, I’d show a book I started reading. I bought it years ago at a local bookstore, but never read it through. It’s a collection of short stories written by African-American authors. It’s two volumes worth of stories. It touches on a lot of different subjects. Most of them relatable and could transcend into what African-Americans face today. I am going to try to read one story a day, which I’ll probably do right before bed.

Well, that’s all. Take care.

“I Pledge Alligence…”

It’s been over 24 hours since the Atlanta Falcons gave the Super Bowl away to the New England Patriots. I’m still trying to work through the heartbreak, so I thought writing about it would be of some help. But I’m actually not going to talk about how they had the game and how they let it slip away. This post is about something a little more pressing.

When the Falcons won the NFC Championship and the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, the city of Atlanta came together and rallied behind this team in a way I haven’t seen since the ’95 Braves World Championship team. I listened to sports talk radio throughout the weeks, broadcasting from different venues hosting pep rallies and send offs. It was surreal. It made you proud to be a Falcons fan. But like anything else, there are the deterrents, the critics, the naysayers. It wasn’t so much about the team as it was about the Georgia sports fan. 

I’ve lived in Georgia for over twenty years. I’ve seen some good teams, I’ve seen bad ones. Regardless, the criticism is the same when it comes to their fans; there aren’t enough die-hard fans. Quite the opposite. They’re fair-weather fans who settle for futility; they have a “there’s always next year” mentality. They’re quick to blame a player, coach, or person in charge for the decline of a franchise. And ultimately, they will disassociate themselves from whichever team they rooted for and side with another. 

The reason being is that Georgia teams have struggled to reach the pinnacle of excellence on a consistent basis.  The last Georgia sports team to bring a world championship to the state was the ’95 Atlanta Braves. They failed to repeat since losing to the Yankees in the ’96 World Series. And this has been the case with all the professional Georgia teams. Now there have been flashes of hope and promises of improvement, but they’re fleeting at best. And the fans are sick of it. So much so that it’s gotten to the point of they’re cynical of any glimpses of success; they have the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now there are fans who will look at their teams and be honest with others and say that their teams are not performing as expected. But they will also be the ones who will defend their teams to the end, never wavering in their loyalty. That, according to many sports journalists, is what’s lacking in Georgia. And I imagine it’s not just Georgia that suffers from this lack of support. And I imagine it’s one or more franchises in a given city that gets this criticism. I only highlight Georgia because I live in Georgia and that’s what I’ve heard, especially the week before the Super Bowl. 

While hearing this news is disheartening, I have to admit that some of the points are valid. And I’m one of a lot of fans who adopted the “wait until next year” mentality. I have faith that whatever Georgia team I root for will do better. But I’m not one that is quick to see anyone leave without first examining their body of work. That is what I believe a true fan should be. That is what I strive to be. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Delayed While Preparing

Good afternoon,

If we were having coffee, be prepared for company. I’m having a pre-Super Bowl party since I have to work that day. There’s chili, chicken, and root beer. We have family and friends over, and they will be happy to meet you.

So while they’re occupied, let me share about my week. If we were having coffee, I’d share about how this week has been a week of delays. I attribute it to working such weird schedules. Monday was my anniversary. I’ve been married twelve years to a wonderful woman. Unfortunately, the date had to be delayed because I worked both of my jobs. The good thing is that we have an understanding. We schedule a day that I’m not working both jobs for a date. As far as gifts go, we usually pick one gift and that covers all the big moments.

 

While I wasn’t able to take my wife out to dinner, I got Friday off so I could take my daughter out for Daddy-Daughter Date Night at Chick-Fil-A. I did this last year and had a great time. This year was just as fun. They decorated a section of the food court like a fancy restaurant. We ate Chick-Fil-A, of course. And they gave us sheets of questions to ask and a sheet where we created our own story. We enjoyed it very much. 

If we were having coffee, I’d share about my writing. I wrote a draft of a Valentine-themed story. I pulled Characters from a previous story and brought them here. I finished the draft Monday. I started typing it out yesterday. There is another story I started, but I’m putting it on hold until I figure some things out. And besides, once I’m done with my Valentine story, there are a couple of new stories I’m anxious to start writing. I’m excited because they’re going to be outside my genre, which is a goal of mine for this year. I already have casts and beginnings of outlines. Still working on the plot line for one of them.

Well, that is all for this week. Feel free to partake in the food. There’s plenty for everyone. Fair warning: the chili is a little spicy. 

Until next time…

How Writing Has Shaped How I Read: An #IWSG Post

Hey there, readers and bloggers.

In case you don’t know, I’m one of many bloggers who write for the Insecure Writers Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month, imparting our wisdom and offering support to fellow writers. I don’t have a particular topic for this month’s post, so I’m going to respond to this month’s question.

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Before I started writing, I read simply for entertainment, even though I didn’t read that much. Then, as I went through school, I learned about how stories are broken down. There’s the five-act structure, of course. And there are other aspects like symbolism, point of view, style, dialect, theme, and so on. It was simpler back then. 

When I started writing stories, I learned to go beyond the simplistic. I learned that some research is necessary to make a story as authentic as possible. I learned the age-old adage of “show, not tell.” I learned to delve deeper into characters; that their motives aren’t always black and white. But I think the biggest thing I learned from being a writer is how stories can break the “traditional” and redefine what society deems as “normal,” no matter the genre.

Being a writer has changed how I read. It has taught me to be a critic, dissecting stories and judging whether the author has applied the techniques well. But it’s kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, learning about how an author writes is useful when I discovered my voice and style. There are plenty of references, thus many styles to learn about. As such, I’ve taken what I learned and applied certain characteristics to develop my own style. In doing so, I discovered my voice. On the other hand, I’ve become more critical of myself, especially when I try to emulate someone else’s style and voice. Writers are unique. Their style and voice are unique. Therefore, it’s impossible to emulate one writer completely. It’s only going to lead to depression and failure. And that’s a lesson I’m still working on applying.

So, that’s my two cents on how writing has changed how I read. I would like to know how writing has changed you. Feel free to respond in the comments. Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Celebration of Me

Good morning.

Let me first off say that it’s not easy being a morning person when you have to be. It might have been slightly easier in your younger years, but it’s different when you have to force yourself to get up before everybody else.

Now that I’ve vented, let’s drink some coffee and talk.

If we were having coffee, you might have noticed something different in me. Then again, maybe not. I celebrated my birthday this week. Technically, it was Monday, but I had to work, so I celebrated the day after. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I was surprised at what I got. I got a new journal, for starters. It’s a nice one with some encouraging advice. I filled a few pages the day after I received it, but haven’t done much writing since. (We’ll get to that in a moment.) I got some other nifty stuff like a check and some gaming socks. But perhaps the best present I got happened before my birthday: the Atlanta Falcons beating the Green Bay Packers and going to the Super Bowl. I was so ecstatic. I can’t wait until February 5th.


This past Friday, another celebration took place–at my daughter’s school. Friday was Dad’s Day. Dads played dodgeball, ate donuts, and received presents from their kids. It was awesome. I felt bad, though, for hitting my daughter. I was hoping she would catch my pass. But I did get hit and had to do exercises before coming back in. I apologized to her before we ate donuts.

If we were having coffee, I’d talk a little bit about my writing. Or lack of, recently. Trying to develop a habit of anything healthy is not easy. Writing is no different. Especially this week. I posted zeroes on the 365 Monthly Club three days this week, including back-to-back at the end of the week. I feel so disappointed in myself. Here I am saying that I’m making more of an effort to find writing time and I slacked off this past week. It’s not worth beating myself over it; I just need to get back on the horse. 

I will say that on one of the days I did write, I started a new story. A Valentine-themed tale, pulling characters from a previous story I posted on my blog last year. In addition, I took some time to outline new stories. Time will tell if and when I’ll get to write them. It is possible that I’ll lose interest in them beforehand. But I’ll worry about that later. 

Well, that is all for this weekend. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, my next IWSG post is coming soon. So keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, take care and God bless. 

Digging Up the Past

I have a bad habit of lying things haphazardly. It’s a wonder I’m able to remember where certain things are. One day, I found an old journal stashed in my closet. I opened it and just started reading random pages. Some were journal entries, venting sessions about whatever drama was happening. One page was full of writing quotes. And some were exercises, though I forget where it came from.

About three-forths of that composition book is full of writing. The fact that I had so many entries and notes made me nostalgic. I do regret not stamping the entries with the year, but I can gather those from some of the entries. 

Anyway,  it got me thinking about how many notebooks and journals we have lying around. Or how many files we have saved on flash drives and laptops. And what’s in them. Clips? Flyers? Notes? Stories? I remember one notebook where I had just about all those things and then some. But then, when it came time to make more room, I saw my notebooks as obstacles to the ideal “work environment.” The same can be said for computer files or notes on smartphones. If I didn’t see them as something I could use in the immediate future, I threw them out.

I felt no need to keep old notebooks after I filled them, which rarely happened. And I wasn’t refining stories I kept on my desktop, so I deleted them. But after picking up that old notebook and browsing through it, I thought about the journals, notebooks, the computer files. All those documents that mapped my writing journey up to this point. I regret throwing them away. Maybe there was a story ideas tucked within them. As far as those stories on discs, I would need some sort of disc reader and Microsoft Word to even look at them. 

If I could change one thing about my writing journey, it would be to hold tight to those books and files. And therein lies one of the wonderous things about writing. There’s no telling where the next idea will come from. A note describing a man who smells like he bathed in Old Spice. A rant about how family drives you crazy. Who knows?

The past is past, I know. But it’s not so much about living in the past. Rather, it’s about the memories and experiences that make a writer’s journey unique. And having those old journals and stories are our markers. I wish I kept all the stuff I wrote in my early writing years. It would be interesting to see how much I’ve changed with my writing. 

What about you? Do you have old notebooks and/or files? Do you throw them away or delete them to make room for something new?