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…

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…

Weekend Coffee Share: Spontaneity on Spring Break

Good afternoon,

First of all, sorry I wasn’t here yesterday. I was in Savannah. I got home late last night. So I’m a little tired still. I need some coffee and more. I have to go to work later today, so the visit is going to be short. 

Like I said, my family and I spent the weekend in Savannah. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I got half of the week off for Zoe’s Spring Break. So Colleen thought of the idea to pack some things and go down to Savannah. I had never been before, but there was talk within my family to do it.  We decided to go for it. 

On Friday morning, we left. I drove five hours. Not long with refueling and bathroom breaks. When we arrived, we passed through a poor neighborhood. It reminded me a lot of parts of Atlanta, Chicago, and pretty much all of East St. Louis. A lot of houses boarded up. Once we passed through, I felt like we entered another city. I saw housing and business unlike anything I’ve seen in Atlanta. I saw stores I didn’t expect, like H&M. Businesses only found in Savannah. When I finally found a parking garage (after traveling narrow one-way streets), we took in the sights. (I’m sorry I don’t have pictures. Colleen does most of the photography.)

We checked into a hotel (again, spur-of-the-moment) and got a little rest before traveling to Statesboro to meet up with Colleen’s brother and his wife. We had Olive Garden for dinner. Colleen and Philip talked about old classmates while his wife, Rachel, and I talked about books and writing.  My brother-in-law paid for us. That was nice. 

Saturday, Colleen planned the day a little better, but still spur-of-the-moment. We met up with a friend we knew from church at The Foxy Loxy, a very nice coffee shop. I explored a little while the women talked. It has an upstairs seating area. (Again, I apologize for not having pictures.) After spending some time with her, we drove about two minutes to a park to meet Colleen’s friend from school. I looked after the kids while they caught up. Colleen’s friend invited us to stay with her the next time we come down.

After the on-the-fly reunions, we went to Tybee Island, just outside of Savannah. It was the only thing that was planned. I was surprised that I had to pay for parking, no matter where I went. But it was fine. Manageable. For Zoe and Jaxon, it was their first time. It was a little chilly with the wind. She didn’t want to leave, but she shivered a lot. Still, it was a fitting end to a wonderful trip. 

We enjoyed our trip to South Georgia. Very exciting. I look forward to next year, when we’ll have a better plan. But even then, we’ll have room for spontaneity. 

Until next time…

Weekend Coffee Share: Lights, Camera, Action

Good morning,

Good to see you. I apologize for the scattered mess in my kitchen. Colleen started selling makeup a couple of weeks ago. I’ll get into that in a minute. In the meantime, I’ll get the Keurig cups. Let me know what you want. We also have orange juice and milk and a couple of protein shakes. I’ll wait…

Okay, settled in? Good. 

First of all, it’s good to see you. I know last week, I dropped a lot since I missed the week before. We’ll I’m happy to report we’re in the clear. We’re getting back into our routine, somewhat. It’s going to take a little while.

Yesterday, I bought a book written by my old professor from Georgia State. Being that he taught a thesis on Creative Writing, it made sense that he would have a published book. I bought “Luminous Myesteries.” He has another book that I’m going to hunt down. I think it’s a collection of short stories. I’m going to look it up today. Colleen thinks I should shoot an email to him, catch up on old times. I don’t know if he’ll remember me, and I’m a little ashamed that I don’t have anything published since graduating. Still, it can’t hurt to reach out to him. He may be the mentor I’m searching for.

Now, as I mentioned before, Colleen is selling makeup for Younique. One of her friends sold her on the idea. It’s been a few weeks now. She’s posting Facebook Live videos, demonstrating some of the products. I was in one of her videos, where I put on a cleansing mask as well as a couple of other products. Truth be told, it felt good to have that spa-like treatment. I should do it more often. As far as her business goes, she’s gotten a few customers. She wishes more leads would bite. Like anything else, it’s going to take time. I imagine this is what marketing looks like. 

Seeing Colleen post videos on Facebook, marketing herself, has me thinking. Though I don’t have a manuscript in the works, it’s never too early to showcase your talents. I have other Facebook friends who share their personal opinions on different subjects. I have opinions I want to share. Opinions on writing, personal care, politics ( though I try to avoid them), etc. My problem is that I tend to ramble, which is odd because I write stories where there’s not a lot of room for fluff. I’m a scatterbrain when it comes to speaking. Now I’m not saying I need a script. It’s live, so there’s a level of authenticity. I just think I need to reel in the randomness.

Well, that is all for today. I know I promised a quarterly assessment of my writing goals for the year, but I’m saving it for my next Insecure Writer’s Support Group coming this Wednesday. So stop by my blog Wednesday if you feel up for it. 

Until next time…