Tuesday, April 17, 2018

WEP: The Road Less Traveled

It's time for more fun with Write . . . Edit . . . Publish!  Thank you to Yolanda Renee, Denise Covey, Olga Godim, and Nilanjana Bose for making this event possible!

The theme for this month is Road Less Traveled.  Let's get to it.

Transcript of Graduation Speech

Robert Frost High School

May 27, 2018

Good afternoon graduates, family, and friends.  When I was invited to be the guest speaker, I didn’t know what to talk about.  I’ve become well-known for being a bit of a rebel.  I got my big break because of a viral YouTube video, which to be honest, showed me in a bit of an unflattering light.  Talking about how to make a name for yourself professionally after being caught performing acrobatic feats in a shopping mall while intoxicated may make for a memorable speech, but it’s hardly appropriate for a high school setting.  It was wicked fun, though.
To help me come up with ideas for an appropriate speech, I looked to your class motto “The Road Less Traveled.”  It makes sense given the name of your soon-to-be alma mater.  I’m betting this theme has been touched upon by numerous classes that came before you and will continue to be used long into the future.  You may even be sick of hearing it after all these years and chose it out of a sense of obligation.  It pays tribute to your school, after all.  It also fits the theme of the day. 
Graduating means choosing a new path to take in life, and this is bound to be the first real decision in that regard most of you have made.  Up until now, you’ve been at the whim of your parents.  That helplessness may have come with a sense of frustration as you yearned to spread your wings and soar, but it also brought with it a sense of security.  You’ve had people to catch you when you fall.  You knew which steps to take next.  You’ve gone from one grade to the next, safe in the knowledge of what you needed to do.  Go to class.  Get good grades.  Choose an extracurricular activity or two.  Find an after-school job.  There were elements of choice sprinkled throughout, of course, but failure didn’t necessarily spell disaster, no matter how much it may have felt that way. 
Gearing up to go into the larger world, though.  That’s when consequences really start to feel real.  When I was your age, I was shaking in my shorts with anxiety, though I played it cool.  The sheer number of options and lack of guarantees seem daunting.  Still, you can look to others and seek advice from the adults in your life.  You’ll hear plenty of people suggesting you attend a certain college and study a certain field that has proven to be lucrative.  Others will suggest studying a trade or following in the footsteps of family members.  Which path should you follow?
People always suggest out-of-the-box thinking, but they usually want you to do it within the confines of a normal, comfortable career.  Maybe you find that path appealing, or maybe it seems too confining for you.  Perhaps you hear the stories of successful entrepreneurs who bucked the system and got mega rich, as I unintentionally did, and feel inspired to go that route.  And why not?  The comfortable, safe careers are still subject to economic downturns and shifts in consumer demographics and moods.  The safe careers can also result in you being kicked to the curb with little warning, which runs counter to the reasons many give for choosing those career paths in the first place.
So yeah, why not get onto the road less traveled and hack your way through the underbrush to create a life for yourself?  I’ll give you one good reason not to do it.  It’s hard.  Really, really hard.
There’s a reason the road less traveled is designated as such.  It’s a desolate place to be.  A dangerous place with even less guarantee of success or safety as the more stable, so-called respectable career paths.  This road less traveled is overgrown with obstacles that can twist your metaphorical ankle and leave you hobbling and at the mercy of vultures who would happily pick the flesh from your bones.
Great imagery, right?
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go that route if you feel you must.  It still might be the right option for you.  Not all of us fit happily into the molds well-worn paths would have us live in.  Some of us royally suck at being normal.  I know I do.  However, if you’re going to take the road less travelled, you need to be prepared for failure. 
Failure is not an abstract concept in the real world.  It’s a legitimate, and even likely, possibility with painful consequences.  Everything costs money, and when you run out of money, needless to say, it can put a crimp in your life.  You need to embrace the possibility of massive failure and everything that comes with it.  You need to be ready to push through terrible circumstances and learn from them so you can stand on your own two feet again.  That failure can be a badge of honor if you’re strong enough to bounce back from it.  Sure, it feels crappy and makes you want to quit, but that’s part of life.
So yeah, do what you think is best for you, and be prepared for life to chew you up and spit you out from time to time.  Does this count as an inspirational speech?  Probably not, but I never aspired to be an inspiring person.  Shi . . . I mean, heck, I used to be the cautionary tale parents used to keep their kids in line.  Look at me now!  Don’t let past screw-ups keep you down.
Bearing that in mind, what do you think the odds are of me being invited back to speak next year?

Word Count: 960

Friday, April 13, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-April 13, 2018

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  I am her co-host.

It was a nice day yesterday, so I took my kids to play in the park after school.  It was a rare thing considering how the weather has been here lately.  I think spring got lost on its way here.  Or maybe it forgot to set its alarm.  Either way, it's supposed to snow over the weekend.  Ugh.  Rather than focus on that, I'll try to focus instead on the fact that it's bound to stop feeling like winter here eventually.  Right?

WRiTE CLUB has its first bout on Monday, so be sure to stop by, read some good pieces, and vote for your favorite!

I'd also like to take the time to say Happy Friday the 13th everyone!  Be careful out there, especially if you know anyone who has a hockey mask.

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-April 6, 2018

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain.  I am her co-host.

Today is my son Jude's 9th birthday!  I don't know how he's gotten so big.  It doesn't seem possible.  He's bringing cupcakes to school to share with his classmates, and he's excited about that.  Meanwhile my other kids are hoping there are leftovers to bring home so they can have some too.

I just signed a publishing contract for a short story that was accepted for an anthology earlier in the year.  I also got paid for that sale this week, which was nice.  We need to buy a new tire for one of our cars, so part of the money will go toward that.  We must have run something over while on our way to celebrate Easter, because there was a big hole in our newly-flattened tire.  Oh well.  It happens.

I have a few other exciting things going on in the world of writing, but I'll share the relevant details in the near future.

What would you like to celebrate?

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: April 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group!  Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has rounded up another wonderful group of co-hosts: Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website!

I'm happy to report that I met my writing goal for the month of March, though just barely.  My goal was to hit 80K in my WIP.  I surpassed that by about 300 words.  Going into the month, I was well ahead of the curve, but I got derailed for a little while.  Luckily I was able to get back on track before the month was out.

Now it's time to answer the question of the month.

When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

Given the struggles I had with my writing last month, this is a timely question.  There are a lot of factors that can lead to a lack of writing progress.  Lack of inspiration, stress, issues in our every day lives, and a lack of self-confidence can all take their toll.  The way I try to pull myself out of a slump depends on the cause that lies behind it.

When lack of inspiration is to blame, I try to listen to music or look art.  Sometimes taking a walk and seeing some new sights can help.  If you're not feeling inspired, try to do something that you find invigorating.

I find that setting small daily goals can help when life is hectic or my self-confidence is lagging.  Accomplishing a small goal may not seem impressive to others, but it can be just the boost you need to get back into the swing of things.

How do you keep writing when all seems gloomy?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-March 30, 2018

It's Friday!  Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain!  I am her co-host.

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate the holiday!  I'm taking my kids to an Easter egg hunt tomorrow morning, and they're all excited about that.  Zoe is getting big enough to start participating in such things, so we'll see how she does.

My son Jude turns 9 next Friday, which doesn't seem at all possible.  He asked for an inflatable boat and a fishing pole for his birthday.  That boy is already looking forward to summer.

The healthy eating has been going well, though it's so hard to say no to things sometimes.  So far my husband and I have resisted the temptation of junk food, but it's going to be extra hard this weekend with Easter candy in the house.

The WRiTE CLUB submission period ends on April 1st, so if you're thinking of submitting, it's time to get that done!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, March 23, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-March 23, 2018

It's Friday! Let's Celebrate the Small Things with Lexa Cain.  I am her co-host.

Sorry I'm posting a bit late in the day.  I forgot to write this post ahead of time, and I had a lot of errands to run today.  So the first thing I'd like to celebrate is having a productive morning and getting the grocery shopping done!  Zoe kept trying to snag things off the shelves the whole time, but we got through it without breaking anything.  I'll consider that a win any day!

The next thing I'd like to celebrate is eating healthy.  My husband and I have decided to eat a healthier diet, and I'd like to get more exercise when I can.  Nothing crazy, but I need to get into better shape.  It's a good thing I love eating salad!

I also have a guest post up on the Write . . . Edit . . . Publish blog for anyone who would like to check it out!

What would you like to celebrate?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things-March 16, 2018

It's Friday, and that means it's time to Celebrate the Small Things.  Our thoughts are with our wonderful host Lexa Cain as she endures some heartbreaking personal struggles.

I'm celebrating a chance to do something fun with my kids.  The elementary my boys attend are having a carnival and family movie night this evening.  They're so excited about it, and I'm sure it will be a good time.

I'm also celebrating good weather.  It's been lovely here the past couple of days, and I hope that means spring is truly around the corner.

WRiTE CLUB's submission period is open, and if you want to take part, the deadline is April 1st!  If you've ever thought of submitting, now is your chance!

What would you like to celebrate?