On Self-Doubt

I had a meltdown about writing—the process of—this morning. Simultaneously, my son, a recent BS degree graduate, did too—about job hunting.

His email to me while I’m melting down:

I’m applying for jobs and contacting these people but when absolutely no one contacts me back I feel like I’m just sinking. I’m just looking through meetups thinking that no one will ever want to continue a relationship. I just feel like a fucking failure.”

I emailed him back:

The only thing i know that works for me to shed these feelings is WRITING them to dad, or myself. i am doing that now. literally. i had meltdown this morning so i’m journaling. i will for a page or so, then get on with watching youtubers gaming to educate myself before i continue writing the power trip—which is what i melted down on this morning. from my journal:”

The absolute hardest part about writing fiction is shutting out the voices in my head that tell me I am not good enough to write this:

I’ll never get this right.

It’s too complex.

It’ll take too much research.

I’m too fragmented.

I’m not focused enough.

The subject won’t be topical if it takes too long to write.

I can’t DO this.

I keep losing the string.

I can’t hear the characters even after profiling them.

I get too wrapped up in superfluous details.

I don’t get to the point quick enough.

I don’t make it exciting, engaging out of the gate.

I’m too heady.

Too technical.

Too too too…

Give it up.

Too much work you’ll never finish anyway.

This is stupid to pursue.

You are wasting your time, not living your best life.

You’ve been working at this too long and are still nowhere…

His email back:

This is exactly what I freak out about as well. Just replace writing with coding.”

Me:

thing is, you have to combat the bullshit voices in your head.”

they are half-truths. not lies, cuz there IS truth in our fears, but only HALF truths. i can counter every one of the voices i just wrote in my journal…

Him:

But there’s always these looming feelings that I’ve accomplished nothing, done nothing. Am nothing.”

Me:

it’s not true. that’s fear—like you are a failure—because you’re scared you will be. And while the fear is valid, real, true, because there is a vague possibility you won’t find a job you want, the WHOLE TRUTH is you are virtually 100% guaranteed to find a job if you keep looking for one, and likely a coding job you’ll like.

Another truth is you’ve proven you can code as a straight As graduate with a CS degree, which was your primary goal the last 4 years. and you did it. Well!”

Him:

I seem to be unable to compartmentalize my feelings.


Me:

this is LEARNING, em, applying for your first real job that isn’t a part-time gig. you WILL get this. guaranteed, IF you keep working at it!! just like i’ll get the power trip written. see, i’ve already proven i can write with 7 books out, with mostly good reviews. and still i hear the voices of doubt as i write the lines to you above:

yeah, you’ve written 7, but they were all crap. 

and the good reviews, well, they were just being nice. 

the bad reviews are the truth about your writing. 

so GIVE IT UP, BITCH. you will always fail at this. 

and so on…

but again, em, i can COUNTER ALL OF THEM.

yeah, you’ve written 7, but they were all crap. BULLSHIT. MANY PEOPLE GAVE MY BOOKS REALLY GOOD REVIEWS.

and the good reviews, well, they were just being nice. BULLSHIT. JUST BULLSHIT CUZ THIS IS SUCH A STUPID THOUGHT.

bad reviews are the truth about your writing. NOPE. THEY ARE HALF THE TRUTH. OR A PERCENTAGE, BUT GOOD REVIEWS ARE THE OTHER PERCENTAGE AND IN MOST CASES THE GREATER PERCENTAGE ARE POSITIVE.

so give it up, bitch. you will always fail at this. FUCK OFF BITCH OF DOUBT.

His response:

Emoji smile. Clapping hands. Thank you hands.

Food in Fiction

Ever had a blind date?

While women are worried the guy is a psycho-killer, most guys are worried the woman will be fat.

I’ve always had a…complicated relationship with food. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when heroin addict thin was trending chic. My mother’s favorite actress was Audrey Hepburn, because she was, “So beautiful and thin!” The perfect woman when I was a kid had a 36” chest, a 24” waist, and a 34” hips. A 24” waist is a size 2, in women’s clothing. How many women do you know who wear a size 2? Not me!

As a writer, food plays a huge role in every story I weave. Often, as in my novel memoir, DISCONNECTED, it’s a main character. Rachel sought what most women did—to be successful, married and in love, have healthy kids. It was hard enough attracting a man when she wasn’t heroin thin like most Hollywood women. But in the 1990s, finding a man wanting an equal partner instead of an arm piece, a woman beside him instead of behind him, seemed the impossible dream.

Then along came Lee…

And Lee was an overweight, weed addicted gambler, who devoured food like he did most of life. Modeling Rachel’s father, Lee ate every meal as if it were his first, and last. He took her to great new restaurants, and late night cafes where they got intimate over fritters and pies. Flattered by his interest, and enamored with his charm and wit, she indulged with him. But Rachel was always fighting her weight, mindful of every calorie she ate. And it didn’t take long for her to figure out they’d be a train wreck together. But by the time she did, she was in love with him.

In every novel or short story I write, food is described intimately for the reader to partake in the eating experience. Readers smell each dish placed in front of the characters; feel the heat, or cold on their lips and tongue; then savor munching chewy, crunchy, or smooth blends of flavors and seasonings.

Consuming food is probably our most communal activity. Meals are often shared, as are treats like ice cream, and popcorn. And holidays are all about eating together. I write character driven stories. And sharing a meal is a great stage for revealing intimate details about the people at the table.

Writer’s Block

…or The War Inside My Head

fhji

I have time to write the 2nd draft of PT. Or, at least, I can make time. But I’m NOT WRITING it.

Why? WHAT IS THE FUCKING PROBLEM?

I CAN’T THINK OF STORY. HELL, I CAN’T THINK other than about my fucked up sitch, in the REAL WORLD, outside of fiction!!

So, what to do with that. I’m thinking enough to write this, right?

Yes.

Then write something else.

Like what?

PT.

Fuck off. Are you NOT hearing me?

Yes. I hear you. OK…so you can’t write PT. Can you write something else in fiction? Non? A blog?

I don’t want to write a blog. I want to write PT, but I can’t THINK!

Hmm, we went over that. You’re thinking right now. Just not about the right thing. So, lets break the problem down. You say you need story for PT. OK. Make some up.

But that IS the problem. I CAN’T THINK OF ANY. Are you deaf, can’t hear me screaming at you? Stupid? What’s your deal?

You. You’re giving yourself no out, no way to hear your muse, let alone create with her. You’re back in algebra, the gates of your brain shutting down, like the steel doors on the Get Smart opening.

Thanks, for stating obvious. You’re not really helping me here.

OK. so, you want ideas for PT.

Yes. Please. Now would be good.

Hmm…dystopian, right?

Yeah, but on the verge. Just a bit forward.

Pitch of important points, in order: Predictive modeling gone wrong; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yup. But I got that bit. And that’s not story. It’s exposition.

OK. OK. Chill! Jeez. Give me a minute…

40 years later.

If you don’t shut up, it will be.

So, what happens next…

Storytelling is Truth—Tweaked

Way before writing novels, I was a storyteller. As a little kid, before I could write, I used to come to breakfast and recount tales of going to Disneyland and other elaborate adventures I had during the night with my stuffed dog, Checkers. The purpose was less to entertain then to garner my mother’s attention, a precious commodity given mainly to my manic depressive brother and coiffed sister. The stories I chose to relay often had a point—either I was saved from some peril by a kind stranger because my parents weren’t there to help me, or I saved the day when I climbed the Matterhorn ride and fixed the car engine, rescuing the children stuck at the top to illustrate my prowess and kindness was beyond the pretty face of my sister’s benevolant facade.

Like most writers, I’ve written since learning to write, at first in diaries and journals, now articles, blogs, short stories and novels. Writing, for me, isn’t so much about entertaining, but more about getting my feelings and thoughts out of my head and in front of me to help me decipher them. Sometimes I have an idea or notion I’m convinced is true, then write it down and see the flaws in the logic. Writing about events, interactions, relationships, abstractions, helps me figure stuff out.

Beyond a writer, I’m still, and will always be a storyteller. I use tales as parables, to teach with, to communicate thoughts and feelings, not only to myself, but my kids, my husband, my students, basically most anyone I interact with. I’ve always related stories of things that happened, or, more precisely, elaborating on things that happened…OK, fabricating truths, to communicate, or to fit the lesson. Long time ago, I was told the best way to pull off a lie is to keep it as close to the truth as possible, just “tweak the truth.” It’s easy to pull of a realist tale this way, since most people aren’t paying that close attention anyway. We take what is said at face value, only questioning its validity if it’s too far out there. I find I need to tweak the unvarnished truth more often than not to be heard or believed, as truth is either too boring, or too bizarre—truly stranger than fiction so much of the time.

Fiction is the truth, tweaked. But so are blogs, memoirs, non-fiction, even ‘news’ articles—they are all simply the point of view of the writer/storyteller trying to communicate a feeling or message. Fox News is the Republican point of view, and will give you a completely different take on ObamaCare, then say, CNN. But Truth Tweaked, goes far beyond the news media. Even the most far out fiction like Twilight or Hunger Games resonates with us because they communicate real, true feelings that are familiar to us all. They exploit the truth of our hopes for a better world, a more just society.

Storytelling is the foundation of human communication. Before written languages, sharing stories was how we passed on our history, learned from our experiences, instilled morality into our communities and advanced our race. We all elaborate on our stories, writing them down or recounting an event in our day. We all tweak the truth to serve us, to present an image, teach our children, or convey our fears, desires, dreams.

For as long as I can remember, most every time I tell anyone I’m a writer, they respond with, ‘Oh, I write, too,’ or, ‘I’m going to write my novel one day.’ Used to bug me, spending most of my time and energy honing the craft of writing, I felt dissed by their self-proclaimed association while they invested little to no effort in my chosen, but challenging profession. And while most will never actualize their writing ambitions, the fact is, they too are telling a tale to communicate an image to me, to themselves, that their stories are valuable, their life meaningful, tweaking the truth to serve their needs. We are all storytellers indeed.

Writer’s Block (War Inside My Head)

writers blockI have time to write the 2nd draft of PT. Or, at least, I can make time. But I’m NOT WRITING it.

Why? WHAT IS THE FUCKING PROBLEM?

I CAN’T THINK OF STORY. HELL, I CAN’T THINK, other than about my fucked up sitch, in the REAL WORLD, outside of fiction!!

So, what to do with that. I’m thinking enough to write this, right.

Yes.

Then write something else.

Like what?

PT.

Fuck off. Are you NOT hearing me?

Yes. I hear you. OK…so you can’t write PT. Can you write something else in fiction? Non? A blog?

I don’t want to write a blog. I want to write PT, but I can’t THINK!

Hmm, we went over that. You’re thinking right now. Just not about the right thing. So, lets break the problem down. You say you need story for PT. OK. Make some up.

But that IS the problem. I CAN’T THINK OF ANY. Are you deaf, can’t hear me screaming at you? Stupid? What’s your deal?

You. You’re giving yourself no out, no way to hear your muse, let alone create with her. You’re back in algebra, the gates of your brain shutting down, like the steel doors on the Get Smart opening.

Thanks, for stating obvious. You’re not really helping me here.

OK. so, you want ideas for PT.

Yes. Please. Now would be good.

Hmm…dystopian, right?

Yeah, but on the verge. Just a bit forward.

Pitch of important points, in order: Predictive modeling gone wrong; Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Yup. But I got that bit. And that’s not story. It’s exposition.

OK. OK. Chill! Jeez. Give me a minute…

40 years later.

If you don’t shut up, it will be.

So, what happens next…

Ever Fall For Someone You Knew You Shouldn’t…

20 yrs to write, and 20 rewrites to get it right–Disconnected is the evolution of today’s modern women…

New Release

Disconnected is FINISHED!!

This novel is a woman’s read and modern literary historical fiction chronicling L.A. in the early 90s through the Rodney King riots. It comes out mid-March, but get a sneak peek of Ch 1-5 on Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/doc/27888896/DISCONNECTED

edgy read

5 Kisses for Reverb from Read Our Lips Book Reviews!!

#fridayreads New #bookreview for Reverb from Read Our Lips: 5 Kisses!! http://readourlipsblog.blogspot.com/2014/01/review-giveaway-reverb-by-j-cafesin.html

5 Kisses