Weekend Coffee Share: Questioning My Writing

Good afternoon,

Welcome to the house. Glad you can make it. I have plenty of San Francisco Bay K-cups. So help yourself. My wife likes this brand a lot. I also have almond coffee creamer. Kind of a nice alternative. So let me know what you want. I’ll wait. 

… …

Okay. Let’s talk. 

I don’t have too much to share about this week. We’ve been counting down the days until Zoe finishes kindergarten. We’re so proud of her. In the meantime, we’re making plans on what to do over the summer.

I wanted to talk about my writing. Rather, my writing woes. I’m in a slump. I’m not writing as much as I had in the past few months. I haven’t written in my journal as much. I don’t have any ideas for my next story. And I lost interest in finding a contest/magazine to submit my barbershop story. It’s just been a flat month thus far. I can count it up to being burnt out. But that’s not much of an excuse, even though it happens. I’m not “inspired” to write these days.

But the more frustrating thing about writing is that I wonder if social media is right for me. The writers and hashtag games I follow on Twitter. The Facebook groups I joined. The multitude of writing prompts I collect on the Internet. I feel like they focus on writing novels in the sci-fi/fantasy genre for young adults. Don’t misunderstand. They’re wonderful genres. And that’s the trend these days. I’m just wondering if there’s room for the kind of fiction I write: short stories in Mainstream Fiction. 

I expressed my grievances on Twitter and Facebook. About me not writing as much and about the lack of support for my genre and format. I even tweeted a call to find short story writers. I received random statements of encouragement from both platforms. Someone asked on Twitter why I put the call out for short story writers. I just know they’re out there. And I understand that short stories are a hard sell. Even the anthologies, as good as they are, don’t translate to best sellers. I feel chided and shunned, but I can’t be the only one that feels that way.

But regardless, this is the path I’ve chosen. This is what I believe my calling is. And I love the short story format. So make fun of me all you want. I don’t care. 

Sorry for the ranting. That’s what I’ve thought about this week. Maybe next week, I’ll have more to talk about.

What about you? How was your week? Anything exciting planned? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care.

Weekend Coffee Share: Celebrating Mother’s Day

Good afternoon,

Welcome to my home once again. You’re in luck because my mother is here with us. She says “hi.” We just finished lunch. We made street tacos. They were small, but fulfilling nonetheless. Unfortunately, you missed the tea party with Zoe, but we have K-cups with tea. Help yourself. 

So, this week hasn’t really been eventful. But I’ve been looking forward to spending time with my mom. It’s rare that I get time with just her. Most of the time, when we come over to her house, she’s got company. There’s my grandmother, who lives with her. That’s fine. But sometimes, she has other people over and that time goes out the window. Which is why today is so special. I won’t be able to spend Mother’s Day with her or Colleen because I’m working. (Presents are already taken care of.)

So, next to Colleen’s birthday and our anniversary, Mother’s Day means a lot to me. Reason one, which is obvious, is my wife Colleen. She does a lot for Jaxon and Zoe. She runs the household like a well-oiled machine. She’s very organized and detail-oriented. She makes sure everyone has everything needed for the day. And she’s a go-getter, never settling on anything less. She’s not afraid to speak her mind; to expose the “pink elephant in the room.” And she helped me to come out of my shell and speak up more. Colleen is the best mother around, and for that, I am grateful. 

The second reason Mother’s Day means a lot is my mom. She raised my brother and I on her own. For a long time, it was the three of us. My mom sacrificed a lot—time, finances, social life—to take care of us; to make sure we had everything we needed, and some things we asked for. She was Mom and Dad. She was hard on us when she had to be. And at the same time, she was nurturing. My mom did everything and then some. And there were days where I was ungrateful. Now, being a parent myself of two wonderful kids, I understand what my mom did for us.

Those two women, I am grateful they are a part of my life. I don’t think I would be the husband and father I am now if not for their encouragement and support. And I think the same can be said for all the mothers out there. On my behalf, thank you for being “Mom.”

What say you? How has your mother shaped your life? Let me know in the comments. 

Until then, take care and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the world. 

Weekend Coffee Share: Pushing Through the Doldrums

Good morning,

Nice to see you again. Please forgive my yawning. I woke up early to take my sister-in-law to work. Pick out your K-cup of choice, and I’ll get it ready for you.

……

Now that we’re settled, let’s get to it. 

I’ll be honest, I really don’t have a lot going on. But I did want to share something. Since joining the gym three months ago, I lost over forty pounds since last year. The best part is that I can fit into clothes that before, looked so bad on me. I can fit into size 38 pants again. It’s been two years since I wore anything size 38. But I’m still working to lose more weight. But I slacked off with going to gym every day. I need to get that energy back. I’m working on sculpting my chest. Maybe not to Mr. Olympia-like standard, but to where I don’t feel like they’re drooping.

The school year is down to the last few weeks. (I know the teachers are excited.) I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Zoe will be in first grade three months from now. Colleen put in a request for teachers. One of them was Zoe’s kindergarten teacher, who is moving up to first grade next year. So for the next three months, we have to come up with some activities. I’m trying to find some time in between where I can get a week off to enjoy the summer, but it’s not looking rather glum. I’ll have to be creative.

As far as my writing goes, I’m at a lull. I haven’t touched my story since last week. I’m still trying to find a writing contest or magazine accepting submissions. My writing friends gave me some suggestions, but they haven’t panned out. I haven’t done much writing in my journal and I haven’t done much in terms of planning future stories. I’m sure most writers go through these periods. At the same time, I don’t want to get too complacent. So I’m going to work on pushing through the same way I’m going to work up the energy to get back into my workout routine. Especially with summer fast approaching. I usually don’t do a lot of writing in that time. There’s usually too much going on.

While I’m on the subject of stories, I searched YouTube and Pinterest on writing good short stories. I watched videos and read posts from pins the past week. Most of the advice I know already, but it’s amazing how much I haven’t utilized. I felt like as much as my writing and non-writing complemented me on my stories, I felt like there’s something missing. I believe I can write better. I can be more creative. I need to take a day to sit and brainstorm. Maybe by the end of the session, I will have the building blocks for my next barbershop story.

If I may, I want to take you back to a few weeks ago. (There’s a reason for this.) When I was at work, I helped a customer with loading bookshelves into a rental truck. Casually, I asked the purpose for the shelves. She said it was for her office where she writes. That piqued my interest. We chatted about what we wrote and how we go about writing. I was happy to meet a fellow writer.

Fast forward to this week. One of the assistant managers at my store told me she writes. She had some poems published in magazines. It surprised me. But it goes to show that you never know who you’ll meet unless you get to know someone. I made a deal with her to exchange our works in the near future. I knew I liked this manager; now I know why. 

Well, that’s all for this week. I’m sorry I don’t have more to report. Maybe next week. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. What happened to you this week? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time…

An IWSG Post: What Motivates You?


Good day.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for the The Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. The first Wednesday of every month, bloggers from all around write posts designed to encourage writers of all levels. We share our progress throughout this writing journey. We express our fears and share our joys. If you wish to join in the fun, click on the link here.

The A to Z Challenge wrapped up a couple of days ago. This year, I declined to participate. There are a few reasons. One, in the two years prior, I was disappointed in the lack of responses. I felt like no one cared about what I had to say. Two, coming up with random topics for two years was challenging. Brainstorming a new set of topics was near impossible. Three, my experience was limited, at best, about certain topics. I feared what I wrote would be taken out of context. And four, with all that’s going on now in my daily life, it wouldn’t be easy to set aside a set time to write and post something. Valid reasons, all of them. But the truth is, my heart wasn’t into it this year. I didn’t have the motivation to take the time out of my schedule to write anything. 

This got me thinking about what motivates us to do what we do. We set goals in every facet of our our lives. Career, financial, relationships, whatever.  I believe motivation—the reason(s) behind what we do—determines whether we succeed or fail. And many ideals factor in what motivates us: morals, lifestyle, finances, etc. 

For example, many writers, including myself, have a goal to write a novel. Here’s where motivation kicks in. If I say I want to write a novel because I want to be published, that’s fine. But if I write a novel just because I want to make money as a best-selling novelist, chances are I will be disappointed. Having a novel published are slim because everyone has the same goal in mind. Even with putting in the marketing work, researching trends, and receiving reviews, odds are still unlikely that hordes of readers will run to bookstores just to buy my book. And what if my book is not a bestseller? What if I don’t receive positive reviews? What if I’m too late latching onto the trend? Then what? What will motivate me to write another book? Possible answer: nothing, if my motivation is to make money. 

On the other hand, if I want to write a book because I want to tell a story. If I want to share an experience or address an issue through the written word, then more rewards are possible. It’s more likely I will be satisfied with what I wrote. It’s possible that I will enjoy and appreciate the process, not matter how long it took to write. It’s possible sales and reviews will not be the driving force—not saying that they’re not important. Bottom line, there’s a greater feeling of satisfaction, even if it’s the only book I write.

Now these situations are hypothetical. Everyone’s writing journey is different. Some writers might not want to write a novel; they feel more comfortable writing short stories or memoirs. Some might not go into writing looking for a big payday; they want to write as a hobby or an opportunity to challenge themselves creatively. Regardless, the motivation behind writing will determine whether or not your journey is worth the hard work. Now this is not meant to sway your thoughts on why you write. What I will suggest is to take some time to learn about your motivation, especially if you’re feel disconnected with your writing.

What say you? What motivates you to do what you do, writing or otherwise? Feel free to comment. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: New View on Life

Good afternoon,

Thanks for taking the time to come by and visit. My wife’s birthday is today, so give a shout out before you leave. We have a lot of coffee choices today along with some teas, so dig in and I’ll brew them with the Keurig. 

A month back, I went to the optometrist for my latest checkup. Not surprising, he says my eyesight is getting worse and that I need a stronger pair of glasses. But we decided to go a different route. We decided I would try contacts. Understand this. I wore glasses since I was four. Going from that to having something deliberately in my eyes is a huge step. So we put in an order for a trial set. I got them this past Monday and started trying them out this weekend. (I’m taking a break from them today.)

In the three days I’ve been wearing contacts, I noticed three things. One, like any other change, it takes some time to adjust. Like I said, I wore glasses for most of my life. It’s taking time to get adjusted to the strength of the contacts, too. But it’s why the eye doctor insists on making a follow-up appointment.

Two, there’s a mental game that ensues. Putting something in my eyes terrifies me. But it’s why the doctor says to practice putting your fingers in your eyes for just a few seconds, so you can used to the feeling. But even then, it’s not the same as the real thing. It took a good amount of time to get my contacts in the first time. I psyched myself out more times than I can count. But as Colleen says, I just have to get them in there. Don’t think about it too much.

And three, having contacts is not enough for everyday life. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the past couple of days wearing my contacts. Received some flattering comments from co-workers and friends. Colleen wants to go shopping for sunglasses with me. But when it comes to reading anything with contacts, it’s not so easy, especially in low light. But the doctor told me reading will be an issue. He suggested buying reading glasses from the pharmacy. So I’m looking for a pair with the right strength I need.

So with the adjustment to a new form of corrective vision, writing has been hard, but somehow I made it work. I finished what I now dub “Story 1” of my barbershop series. I sent emails to writing friends. Overall, they enjoyed the short and feel it’s ready to be posted on my blog. One of my critique partners suggested, however, that I try submitting the story to a writing contest. That is one goal I want to accomplish this year. She gave me some links to websites that are accepting submissions. So now I’m torn. Do I take a chance in submitting this story? Do I go ahead and publish it on my blog? Decisions, decisions. Definitely need to mull it over. 

Well, that is all for today. Don’t forget to wish Colleen a happy birthday. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Time to Mourn

Good afternoon,

Forgive my yawning, first of all. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. And probably won’t tonight. Oh well. At least I have K-cups. Help yourself. 

Now then,

I hope you don’t mind, but I want to address something that happened while on vacation. I asked on Facebook if anyone heard from my dad. This time last year, one of my aunts passed away. The family felt the loss in many ways. I assumed my dad did the most. Anyway, I posted the question in hopes that members of my family respond with something positive. I got a lot of criticism instead because I used my dad’s first name. Some took it as a sign of disrespect. I meant none, but such is the issue with social media. I removed the status last night. 

As I think about it now, I should have asked certain members of my family through Facebook Messenger. But you know how hindsight is, right?

I asked about my dad because I don’t hear from him for long periods of time. There was a moment where he called me once a month. Twice, if I was lucky. Then, he stopped calling. He wrote a letter to me once, but nothing more. The last time I saw him was in 2012. I passed through East St. Louis on a trip to visit one of my grandmothers. I wanted him to meet my wife and daughter in person. Truth be told, though, I felt a need to talk about how the divorce affected me. The day before I left for Chicago, I rode with him as he ran errands, but didn’t share. I wanted to talk to him about how I tried to build a broken relationship for years, only to be shot down. I didn’t. I regret that decision. 

Now whenever I think about him, there’s no love. No compassion. No chance for forgiveness. But I need to let these things go. My family suggested I write a letter and send it to him. I hesitated for years because I had no clue what to say. But as I think about my dad and the Facebook status I posted, the more I feel the urge to write it. I feel the words coming to me. How long it will be? It doesn’t matter. I just need to pour my soul into it. I need to express how much disdain I have for him. The letter needs to happen. I need to “bury” him and what’s left of my relationship, which is nonexistent.

I’m sorry for bogging you down with my issue. I know that’s not what you came for. Still, I’m glad you stuck around. I hope things went well for you. Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time…

Cutting Edge: An IWSG Follow-Up

Good afternoon,

I want to share a little something about what I’m writing right now. In my last IWSG post, I evaluated some goals for this year. One is to start a short story series. I tried the past couple of years to get the ball rolling, but I hit dead ends. Regardless of reasons, I failed to meet this goal. But this year, I believe I am on the verge of something. 

It started with a dare. My wife challenged me to write a light-hearted story set in a barbershop. I laughed it off, but wrote it anyway, thinking it was a waste. But I showed it to her and one of my writing friends on Facebook. They enjoyed it, much to my surprise.

I wrote the first draft three weeks ago. I’m on the fourth draft now. It’s much different than the first draft, including a new title (still temporary). I’m on the fence on whether or not to post this story on my blog. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing, so I want everything to be perfect. (I’m working on purging that mentality from my thought process.)

While writing drafts on this story, I thought about this as the first of a short story series. If I do post this story on my blog, the series will be exclusive. I have a title for the series, Cutting Edge. (The idea came from the name of a barbershop I visited when I was younger.) I’m brainstorming characters and storylines. I created a Pinterest board for the series, pinning hairstyles, models, and barbershops of course. (It’s a secret board for the time being.) And I spoke to a couple of friends on their experiences with the barbershop institution. I gained a lot of insight from the conversations. Insights that can lead to potential conflicts in and out the barbershop.

As I mentioned in the IWSG post, I am particularly passionate about this goal. I hear it’s better not to share your progress on a project. I know this to be true because I shared goals on this blog before and I felt disappointed when I failed to meet those goals. Too much pressure on myself, I suppose. But I learned another way to look at it. I believe seeing my goals on my blog gives me something to strive for. And, if other people see my goals, it can lead to accountability. So I’m taking a chance.

Until next time…