Weekend Coffee Share: Writing Like a Madman

Good afternoon,

Nice to see you all today. Pardon me if I’m a little distracted. I’m at the gym right now and I’m focusing on my steps. As such, I just have water. If you want to jump on the treadmill, by all means join me. 

So, if we were walking—running—on the treadmill, I’d talk about school. It’s in full speed ahead. My wife and I went to Curriculum Night this past Tuesday. I got a lot out of it. I learned about what will be expected of the first graders this year. Long story short, it’s going to be a challenge. But I know Zoe will be up to the task. Also, the teacher spoke to the parents about volunteering opportunities. This is a big deal for me because I don’t get to be with Zoe a lot because of my schedule. But I’m hoping to be more involved in her studies. And I found an area where I can help the students. They have a writing session before lunch. It’s great because I write, obviously.

Little known fact about me. When I started my college career, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I love being around children. And I thought I would be a good role model. Then, when I took a Creative Writing course, I thought it would be a good way to introduce writing to students as a way to express their creativity. But I decided against pursuing that avenue. I kind of regret it in some ways. But I’m happy that I have to way to make that ideal a reality. 

Speaking of writing, I have spent the last couple of weeks writing flash fiction. This has been exhilarating. For a long time—before July—I didn’t have a lot of short fiction to share. But since the Flash Fiction Hive was created, I have found myself writing more. The prompts presented offer a welcome challenge. It’s got me thinking about and actively writing more. My goal is to start posting longer works. I think I’m in the right direction. 

Speaking of short stories, I got an email from The Write Practice about a new writing contest for the fall. I get so nervous about these contests. I feel like I’m out of my element with these contests, so I don’t enter them. But when I read about the theme, I thought it could be possible to create a story. I don’t plan on entering the contest (entry fee too high), but I want to write that story anyway. My goal is to write, edit, and publish a full story by the deadline set by the committee. I might post it on my blog or submit it to another contest where the entry fee isn’t so steep. Wish me luck. 

Well, my time on the treadmill is wearing down, so I’m going to bid you farewell. But I want to hear from all of you. Send a reply in the comments and let me know how your week has been. If there’s any way I can be of encouragement, feel free to let me know. Maybe we can encourage and spur each other on. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Off the Ground Running

Good day, everyone.

I hope everyone had a good week. I’m out of the San Francisco Bay K-cups, but I do have Folgers. As for me, I’m having a Monster. I know it’s not the healthiest thing, but after waking up at 5:30 in the morning to take my sister-in-law to work, I need something. I did have some coffee, but it doesn’t always work for me. 

So, this week has been a busy week. Zoe started school this Thursday as a first grader. Wow. That’s still hard to process. Zoe, a first grader. Her open house was Tuesday. Unfortunately I was working so I couldn’t partake in the “festivities.” I did get to meet the teacher the first day of school. And like last year, we drove Zoe to school and walked her to class. I think it’s important to savor these moments. One, when she gets older, she won’t want us to walk her to class. And two, she’ll be going to a different building where you can’t walk kids to their classroom. So, I take it all in. 

I must say I am more concerned than last year. The obvious being, like me, she doesn’t do well with change. (Then again, who does?) While she has a couple of kids from her kindergarten class joining her, she’ll have to make new friends. She has a new teacher, which was highly recommended by fellow parents. Two, the class is not as diverse. She’s basically the only Black person in the class. There are a couple of Hispanic students, but that’s as diverse as it gets. But I think she’ll be fine. We’ve taught her as much as we can to respect people different from her. She has a caring heart for people. And that’s something I hope will stick with her. 

As far as the curriculum, there is one change I like. They will be teaching Spanish. It’s believed that the younger you learn a skill, the more likely you’ll retain the knowledge. I wish when I was in elementary school, they taught Spanish. Back then, it wasn’t a big deal. There wasn’t an emphasis on being able to communicate in languages other than English. At least, that was the case with my upbringing. Even when I was in middle school, it was more of an elective than mandatory. So I’m glad they’re instilling the fundamentals into the students at such a young age. 

So, as school has started, that means getting back into a routine. For Colleen and I, that means getting up before Zoe does. That’s not always easy with all that goes on in a day. So, I have to get up even earlier in order to get to the gym and get in a workout. And that entails making a schedule on what days I want to work out. I need to get back the zeal of putting in the work to keep losing weight. 

Because of all that’s been going on, writing has taken a back seat. But not before I accomplished my goal of writing every day for a month. After that was done, I willingly took a day off to collect myself. In the span of writing in July, I wrote drafts of three new short stories. I aimed for four, but fell short. Still, I’m proud of myself. Two of the stories, I wrote in genres outside of what I usually write.

When I wrote those stories, the last thought I had was to edit and revise them. But now, I want to. Being a better writer requires it. Besides, the drafts were kind of all over the place. Nothing really coherent in the overall sense. So, I’ll be working on them as well as some flash fiction this month. The Flash Fiction Hive on Twitter is back with a new set of challenges. I will be participating in them a lot more than last time. The goal is still the same: to showcase them on my blog. When I do, I hope they will be well-received. 

So, that’s all for this week. But don’t let me do all the talking. Please feel free to share what’s on your mind. I would love to hear from you. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: The Last Moments of Summer

Good morning,

If we were having coffee, we would be at Starbucks right now. Thought it would be nice to have a change of pace. I usually get a frappuccino whenever I’m here. 

I’m still a little beat after yesterday. Actually, the past week. Kind of a last hurrah before Zoe starts school this week. We entertained some of the neighborhood kids. And one of our friends’ daughters visited Zoe and spent the night for a couple of days. Tuesday, we took a trip to downtown Atlanta to visit the Children’s Museum and Centennial Olympic Park, where she and Jaxon played in the fountain. Yesterday, we had a neighborhood yard sale. Didn’t make any money. It’s not like people didn’t know, but it was last minute.

Work is work. Walmart has been kind of stressful. Not only because it’s the back-to-school season, which is the precursor to the holiday season, but we’re having inventory. That’s always a stressful time. For the managers at least. I’m grateful I’m not in that position, but it seems like they pass the stress to us lowly associates. Doesn’t seem right, but what can you do?

I am reconsidering my second job. Delivering pizzas has been a nice change of pace, but it’s not working out as I hoped. The pay has not been contributing to increase the income. But part of that is because of the payments I’m making on some of my bills. Right now, I’m making payments on my new car every two weeks. I have to keep it up for a couple more months. And I’m not getting the full forty hours at Walmart anymore because they’ve changed the operating hours in my department. So I’m looking for another part-time job. My wife suggested Lyft. It would be no different than what I’m doing at Pizza Hut, except there’s no food involved. And I would have more flexibility. I can set my own hours. At least that’s what I’ve been hearing. I’m going to look more into it. 

My writing has been wonderous. I set a challenge to write every day this week. Saturday, I almost broke the streak. Not that it would be a bad thing, but I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible. I may take a small break from it once the first of the month rolls around. Between the posts on my blog, writing in my journal, and the short story project, I’m a bit tuckered out. Speaking of the short story project, it doesn’t look like I’ll make that goal. The science fiction story took almost two weeks to complete. But to be fair, I had trouble writing a story I liked. I went from a military operation to a tree in a space colony and back to the military thing. The third attempt was the charm as I brought back a character from my first foray into writing. Gave him a real name and added a ton of new characters. 

I wrote three stories this month. The most since I don’t know when. Granted, they’re first drafts, but still, I’m proud of myself. When writing them, I hadn’t thought about editing them, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ll read over the stories and pick which one to edit and rewrite first. In the meantime, the Flash Fiction Hive is starting a new month of challenges in a couple of days. So I’m looking forward to it. And hopefully, I’ll be able to add more stories to my blog. And maybe not have the whole “Happily Ever After” thing go on. 

Well, it’s time to wrap things up here. Have to get to work. Glad you guys could meet me here. Please let me know in the comments how you’re week has been and what you’re looking forward to as the start of the school year closes in. 

Until next time, take care…

Growing One Follower at a Time

This is indeed a joyous occasion. This week, I reached a milestone. I have 200 followers on my blog. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of a big deal. I understand if I reached 500, I’d be raising banners or something. But I’ll take it for what it’s worth. 200 followers is something I didn’t think would happen. Hell, I thought I would never reach 100 followers. It’s been a slow process. And I’m sure along the way, I lost some followers.

I don’t really track statistics on my blog. I don’t really pay attention to when I get the most views at a certain time, or think about when is the best day to post something. Or which post has the most views and comments. While it is interesting to see what the stats say, none of that really matters to me. I went into blogging to share what I know about writing and my works. And I’ve been doing this for two years now. And I have to say, I’ve had a lot of fun with these posts.

If I had to pinpoint one contributing factor to this growth, I believe it’s because I am writing more. And one reason I’m being more active is the themed entries from the Weekend Coffee Share and the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I think these posts have given readers some insight into my life as a person and a writer. And then, there’s the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I did it for two straight years. I didn’t this year because I needed a break. And then there are random posts like this, where I kind of rant and ramble about whatever comes to mind. Those are the most fun because I’m writing stream-of-consciousness. 

I am grateful for the 200 followers I have. I don’t think I would have kept up with this blog if I felt I wasn’t getting any support. I’m definitely looking forward to doing more with this blog, and as such, gain more followers. Regardless, I’m happy to share my passions with all of you. Thank you. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Life in Progress

Good afternoon,

It’s nice to see you again. It’s been very busy around here. We’re counting down the days until Zoe goes back to school. She’s been having friends come over lately. I’ve been busy with both of my jobs, as well as maintaining the yard. It’s nice to get a little break. I picked up a Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks this morning, so I’m not really hungry. But help yourself to some coffee, orange juice, water. Whatever you want. 

So, if we were having coffee, first thing to discuss is the living situation. There’s nothing new to report, which could be a good thing. We’re still working out the financial details. In the meantime, we had an associate from one of our friends come by and look at the house. I know there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, but we’re going to tackle it one at a time. And like I said, we’re working on yard maintenance. Tomorrow morning, probably, I’ll be mowing the back yard. Best time to do it before it gets too hot, or before it rains later in the day. (It’s been like that for the past week or two.)

I’m really hoping that we get the house. We’ve been getting to know some of our neighbors better. Last night, some kids came over to play with Zoe. They just moved into the neighborhood. I got a chance to meet the father. He and I have a lot in common. We like playing video games. We’re into Pokémon GO. He’s a wrestling fan, too.

I don’t get as many opportunities to meet kids’ fathers as much as Colleen meets the mothers. But sometimes, I’m nervous meeting the fathers because I feel out of their league because some work corporate jobs, and here I am struggling to make ends’ meet with two jobs. It’s not to say that they’re not struggling with the same thing. I have to put those fears aside and be more open. 

Last week, I mentioned—or I think I did—that I made goals to 1) write every day in July, and 2) wrote a short story a week. So far, I’ve been doing well. But it’s hard meeting the word count goal I set for myself. As far as the story a week goal goes, I’m in the middle of writing a fantasy short story. And it’s taking longer than what I anticipated. I’m more likely an not going to finish it today. (It’s my fault because I spent too much time planning.) But I will keep plugging away at it. And the next story I write will be a sci-fi story. I had written one before, so I’m looking forward to what I can whip up next.

So, that’s been my week. I hope yours has gone well, too. Please feel free to respond. I love reading what you’ve been up to. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Moving? Not Moving?

Good afternoon. 

How is everyone? Sorry for being absent the past couple of weeks. It’s been kind of stressful. But more on that in a minute. Meanwhile, help yourself to some coffee. We recently restocked on San Francisco Bay K-cups. They’re very good. And we have almond creamer. 

Now that we’re set…

Like I said, we’ve been going through a lot these past couple of weeks. About a month ago, we received an email from our landlord that he was going to sell the house we’re renting and that we had 60 days to move out. As of now, we’re making plans to move into our old apartment complex. And we’ve adopted a minimalistic lifestyle. A lot of stuff we weren’t using, we’ve thrown away or donated.

But my father-in-law has a friend whose willing to help us stay in the house. The process has been going pretty slow thus far. Meanwhile, we’ve been cleaning the place up. We recently had an inspector come and tour the property. He noticed a few issues that we already knew about. And it seems like we’re finding more as we clean to show our new potential landlord that we’re being proactive in maintaining the house. And at some point, we want to have a mortgage—weird as that sounds—so that we can be in control of the house. We can get certain benefits and bring in the help we want to make this place better. 

This has been very stressful. I don’t do well with a lot of change. It’s kind of traumatic. So my wife has encouraged me to talk to people about the house. To write in my journal. The journaling I’ve been doing, but not the talking to people. It’s like I hate talking to anyone about my problems, but I end up talking about it anyway. It’s maddening. But I can’t keep pushing this issue down. I have to let it out somehow, in a healthy way. I’ve been “stress-eating” the past week or two. I haven’t been proactive in going to the gym. But thankfully, my wife has been pushing me to do so. I think she sees my bad habits better than I do. And because she hasn’t been able to make it to the gym, she doesn’t want the membership to go to waste. 

I have been writing more these past few weeks. On Twitter, I came in on a challenge to write every day. I decided I throw my hat in as an accountability partner. It’s worked thus far. I also set another goal for myself: to write a short story every week. That almost didn’t happen the first week. I had a lot of writing I was doing. But I made time somehow. A couple of days ago, I posted a poll on Twitter on what my next project should be. By that, I mean what genre my next story should be in. Right now, it’s tied between fantasy and sci-fi. I haven’t had any experience in either. But that’s what makes a good writer; being open. In fact, one of my Twitter friends challenged me to participate more in the hashtag games. Especially the ones that appear geared toward a specific genre. It’s an exercise to unleash my creativity, something I feel is sorely lacking in me. (I won’t go into the details.)

Anyway, that’s what been going on the past two weeks. Feels longer somehow. Anyway, I hope to be a little more consistent in these meetings. And hopefully, we’ll be one step closer in knowing our living situation. In the meantime, I want to hear from you. How have things been? Let me know in the comments. 

Until next time, take care…

Weekend Coffee Share: Happy Father’s Day

Good afternoon.

Nice to see you guys. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting company, being that it’s Father’s Day and all. But I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some coffee pods and some almond creamer. It’s very good. 

Settled in? Okay…

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting a lot of company for Father’s Day. And to be honest, it’s kind of hard. And what’s strange is that I am a dad. I have two wonderful children, and I am so proud of them. I love seeing their eyes light up whenever I come home from work. And just yesterday, I shared some bonding time with my daughter at her karate school. It was fun. Exhausting, but fun. I wished I didn’t have to work right after. Oh well. 

So, back to my point…

The reason why Father’s Day is still hard for me is because of my dad. Before visiting him in 2012, I hadn’t seen or heard from my dad in a long time. Days like these, I cried because I saw friends with their dads. I felt alone. I felt unloved. I felt like someone drove a dagger in my heart so deep, I couldn’t recover. It was worse whenever I attended church services. When pastors talked about God as a father. That only fueled my anger and reopened the wound. I was mad at God, but even more at my dad because I felt like he didn’t want us anymore; didn’t want me anymore.

There were so many things I missed out on because my dad wasn’t there. And as much as my mom—bless her heart—tried to teach me and my brother, there were some things I believed dads could better explain. Like changing flat tires, shaving, tying neckties, dating. Things that I believed dads passed on to their sons. I missed out on those times. And I hated him because of it. 

I tried for many years to reconnect with him. Before the 2012 visit, I tried various ways to connect with him. Calls and letters mostly. He didn’t have a computer (and probably still doesn’t.) I sent pictures to my grandmother’s house, knowing that my dad frequently came by to check up on his family. He called at least once a month. Twice, if I was lucky. Then, the calls stopped. I remember getting a letter from him. I don’t remember what he said, but I felt it wasn’t enough to erase over twenty years of frustration and animosity. Then, September 2012, I made a stop in East Saint Louis to visit some of my relatives, including my dad. I wanted them to meet my wife and daughter in person. There were opportunities to confront my dad about feeling abandoned, but I chickened out. I didn’t want my visit to be spoiled by one moment of anger. I regret that decision.

I haven’t heard much from him, if at all. I tried everything I could to find a way to communicate with him. I asked anyone remotely related to him. I kept hitting dead ends. This “obsession” affected my own life, my own family. Until one day, I came to the realization that I couldn’t make this better. I couldn’t form a relationship with someone who didn’t want one; who wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to make a relationship happen. That day, I cried like I had never cried before. The dagger became a double-edged sword, driving through what place in my heart I reserved for my father. It was that moment where I decided that I was going to be the father I wished I had. I was going to treat my children better than my dad treated me.

Being a dad is hard. Maybe not as hard as being a mom, but it’s not to be taken lightly. There are so many children growing up without a strong father figure in their lives. Fathers to teach them what it means to be honest, trustworthy, persevering, respectable, upstanding, empathetic, caring. Basically, everything that is the opposite of media-driven “fatherhood.” Everything that society mocks and deems as “weak.” For a long time, I bought into those lies, and it nearly cost me the people who love me most. Those who say I am a good father.

Father’s Day is not as hard since I have kids of my own and vow to be there for them every day. But the scar is still there. In time, it will heal. In time, I will forgive my dad for all the wrong he’s done. I don’t know how he is or where he is. And perhaps, it’s not my place. But wherever he is, I hope he’s well. 

So if you’re here visiting me, and you have a dad out there, take a moment or two to let him know how much he’s loved and how much you care. If there’s any issues, don’t shy away from them. Make the decision to resolve them.

And to those who are dads, know that your family loves you and believes in you. 

Until next time…