On Writing

I love stories. True stories, made up stories, sad stories, funny stories. I love to read them and I love to tell them.

There is just one problem. For years now, when I have sat to write a made up story, nothing comes. And what does come through feels too familiar as if I’ve somehow heard it all before.

But I still find myself wanting to create a fantasy, a world of make believe. I don’t know why, except that I do. Of course, November is approaching at a steady, and brisk pace. Most writers, I think, know where I’m going with this now, right?

November is National Novel Writing Month. I have never written a novel, not even something close to one. I did attempt NaNoWriMo once upon a time and didn’t finish, not by a long shot. And because of the job I’ve had the past few years, it’s been easy to not give NaNoWriMo more than a passing thought.

My conference is October 31 – November 3. Starting a novel that time of year?

Well you see, the thing is this time I actually have an idea. I actually have a concept buzzing in my brain. It’s this idea that I am really starting to like as it keeps unpacking itself like the world’s largest matryoshka doll. It’s the kind of concept that I’m pretty sure I could sit and discuss endlessly.  It’s the kind of idea that I’d actually like to bounce off people’s heads. The sort of story that’s fun to conceptualize. So maybe… maybe this time… perhaps…

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Spotlight: Daily Plate of Crazy

There are two things I love equally about blogging– my blog and your blogs. With that in mind, once a week I’ll be devoting some space to one of the blogs I read. Prepare yourselves to be introduced to the gazillion facets of my personality because the scope of the blogs I read is vast, wide, and assorted like a jumbo box of chocolates.

This week’s blog: Daily Plate of Crazy

I’ve seen many blogs attempt daily posting. They almost always fail miserably or they generate some pretty silly posts that are just all-around weak or over time they become increasingly repetitive (like where I feel GRS is lately). This is not a problem over at Daily Plate of Crazy who manages to generate quality posts every single day. I’m totally jealous. But more than that, I’m totally grateful.

Her subjects are varied: dating, single motherhood, empty nest, midlife womanhood, gender issues, raising teenagers, self-esteem, and on and on. But the essays are all well-written and carefully thought out. She often elaborates or provides commentary on interesting news pieces. And sometimes, she just lets her emotions take the lead– frustration, loneliness, confusion, humor, whatever. Nothing seems off-limits– even her own doubt on whether writing daily accomplishes anything, affects anything, makes a difference.

It’s refreshing to read her writing because it flies in the face of so many other blogs (not all, of course)– the vocabulary is eloquent, the essays are long but concise, and she does a great job of pointing a reader to other very intelligent and worthwhile reading as well.

Have you discovered Daily Plate of Crazy? Do you try and write daily?

Happy Friday, indeed!

I’ve mentioned before how there are moments in your life where you just really plow ahead. Every step feels right and it’s like the path is trying to unfold before you as quickly and beautifully as you’re walking it.

This week has turned into one of those kinds of weeks. Everything just feels so right.

Yesterday was my 31st birthday. I had a very lovely and low-key dinner with my family and friends at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Miami– Mi Rinconcito Mexicano. You may remember it from my Forbidden Wedding post as my ideal place to host my post-wedding-that-will-never-happen-dinner. I got showered with lovely presents including some clothes and purses and roses and a gift card and tickets to Cirque Eloize’s iD show this Sunday night. I was very overwhelmed with love and happiness and everything wonderful.

And today, I’ve been finding out good news, on top of good news, on top of more good news.

It started this morning when someone congratulated me on Google + for winning a Donna Freedman giveaway. Moi? No way! But, I looked and sure enough– I was a winner of a $20 Amazon gift card in her most recent Swag Bucks Sign-Up giveaway! Yay!

And then, I logged into my Swag Bucks account and wouldn’t you know it? I earned my 450 SB. For those of you who don’t know, that meant I was eligible to redeem enough Swag Bucks for a $5 Amazon gift card.

That sound you hear is my happy dance of awesome.

But wait, there’s more.

I actually got through to someone at the Miami-Dade County’s clerk of the courts’ Child Support Division (holy mouthful). Getting through to them is sort of like those little wooden triangle games at Cracker Barrel with the pegs– you get close, but never actually win. They’re only available from 9 AM to 12 PM and the automated system doesn’t really work properly either. But today,  it worked for me and I even spoke with a real live person who was amazingly helpful and sweet and huggable.

Do you know what she told me?

They mailed my child support check yesterday. And she directed me to the website I could fill out a form for direct deposit. my very first child support check as a result of the Income Deduction Order is on its way to me!

Ok that sound is my rendition of Hallelujah.

But wait! There’s a little tiny bit more!

I came to my WordPress site to write a new post for today and noticed an interesting referrer. I clicked it and discovered this blog, my fourth baby if you will, has been selected as a finalist for CBS Miami’s 2011 Most Valuable Blogger Award in the Lifestyle category.The voting has opened and runs until September 9 allowing one vote per day in each category.

You might not be able to actually hear the sound that I made when I saw that but I can assure you any and all animals with keen senses did.

If you have found this blog because of that nomination, I’d like to say– Welcome and thank you so much for coming to see me! You can check out my Re: Mutant Supermodel page to learn the facts about me. Or you can see my Single Mom Resources that includes my favorite Single Mom posts, my growing collection of links to other single mom blogs, and other single mom resources. And if you want to get a great idea of what this blog is all about, you can see my recent 7 Links Project post that links you to some of my most popular content.

And if you’re here because you’re a loyal reader, I just want to thank you again for being part of this amazing community and for always encouraging and supporting me, my writing, and my mission. I see any nod to this blog not as a nod solely to me, but a nod to this whole community which you are very much a part of.

So, here’s wishing everyone an amazing, magical, confident, smooth weekend!

I sit here blogging

Monday through Friday, with the exceptions of sick days, vacation days, and holidays, I sit here. I eat breakfast. I do job-related work. I drift through Facebook. I eat lunch. I check news outlets. I read blogs. And I write my blog.

It’s as an ideal situation as it isn’t. As much as I look forward to my breaks from job work, it’s sometimes hard to make the transition. Also, I work at another office twice a week with a much less private setting. Sometimes I’ve blogged from there but it’s not enjoyable.

My stress levels, I’ve noticed, have been coming down recently. I know a huge chunk of it has to do with an increase in income from Ex. It’s sad that connection still exists. I’ve tried legal measures to have it resolved but apparently his employer is ignoring the Income Deduction Order.

I think another thing is the summer. The longer days mean later bed times. I’m just not as rushed and pressed to cook and get everyone to bed. They’re not waking up much later than during the school time, but for some reason I’m not as crazy about it.

The decrease in stress levels is freeing up certain parts of my brain which is also causing a jam of different sorts.

I’m overwhelmed with ideas.

So, many times my experience has been that I sit right there, and don’t know where to begin. I idle. I make things up. I think of new things. I do something half-heartedly and have another flash of inspiration.

Something’s brewing in me and I need to get it out. I’m destined for something bigger than what I’m living. I feel it moving in the current but can’t exactly pinpoint it.

This post has been inspired by Calliope‘s Blog Summer Camp. I’m not sure if I’ll be participating all summer but today’s prompt resonated with me. If you’re here from Summer Camp, welcome to the blog. Here are a few of the more recent posts readers have been enjoying:

Words of Gratitude

It’s Friday, and before I get to the usual Friday blog stuff I do, I want to say something very important—Thank You. When I first started this blog, it was because I felt single moms were very under-represented absolutely everywhere. Maybe it’s because we’re really busy or don’t usually have much money to burn or maybe we’re pretty intimidating as we manage entire households without the help of a man. Either way, we’re not a demographic that gets much attention yet when we do, it’s rarely of the positive variety.

Another reason I started writing was sheer loneliness. Not really knowing anyone personally that had been through what I experienced made me feel a strong urge to reach out and say, “Hello? Anyone out there?” Lo and behold, there are indeed signs of life—vibrant, intelligent, strong, creative, compassionate life forms at that.

Most of the time, when I sit to write, I don’t really have a goal, objective, or even a topic. Sometimes, I just write because I absolutely have to but I’m not even sure where I’m going to start, much less end up. I never expect a response either but, admittedly, often desire one.

So, that’s where you all and the thanks come in. Over the past few months, so many of you have felt inclined to respond to my words. E-mails and comments have come my way in so many shapes, sizes, and styles. You have shown me so much support and encouragement—more than I imagined and in ways I couldn’t have fathomed.

I am so very grateful. I know my blog’s a bit scattered breaking that supposed blogging golden rule to streamline and stick to one overall topic. I talk a lot about money but I wouldn’t dream of pegging myself a Personal Finance blog. Crochet? Ditto. Books? Ditto? Mommyness? Ditto. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I have commitment issues and that invariably extends to the topics my blog touches upon. I do find it quite remarkable then, to have such a diverse group of readers who remain interested and involved.

Needless to say, what you bring to this blog is very much appreciated. I really love meeting each of you who venture from the reader shadowlands. Even those of you who stay silent observers mean so much to me simply because you come and read my equivalent of therapy sessions—and you return for more!

Giving me a moment of your time, a word of kindness, or even a little link love gives me a lot of strength and confidence. Every time you share a similarity, I’m pleased to know I’m really not alone. Those of you with advice open my eyes to another view. Any small praise builds me up a little bit more. And every vote of confidence you place in me is a reassuring pat on the back.

Life is not a smooth, straight path. It’s not the type of thing you really want to go at alone. And even though it’s quite small, I’m so grateful to all of you who make up this little community. So thank you, thank you, thank you. For those of you who come here to find someone who can possibly encourage you and help you through your personal challenge, know that I really hope I can give you even just a tiny bit of the support I’ve received here.

Even though I’ve done a lot of gushing, I’ve not forgotten what day it is—Friday. Nor have I forgotten that Fridays are for showing off. So today, I present to you my first little Panda bear made from Milky Robot’s pattern. He was great fun to make and I’m happily working on two more projects from her patterns that I will hopefully unveil next week. I think you will find her patterns very simple and clear and with lots of room to play with and make your creation your own. I’m working on finessing my sewing abilities but that’s a comment on my ability instead of the pattern’s. No matter how good her instructions are, it’s still up to me to piece the little guy properly. Enjoy the little guy and did anyone find my special hidden message?

Monday = 10 Days in 2011

JOURNAL WRITING

“Journal Writing” by GregoryHogan on Flickr

It’s cold in my office. Ridiculously, numbingly, painfully cold. I have a jacket on and it doesn’t matter. My feet are freezing. I’ve tried socks but they’re pretty useless against the frigid air conditioning. I’m supposed to be changing offices to a much warmer one with a big window. I don’t even care about the view anymore, I just want the heat.

I’m having a weird Monday. The weekend went by way too fast and I was completely unproductive as far as home things go and even crochet. I was more productive on the social set of things, I guess you could say—but not in a super exciting way like you may be inclined to imagine. I am incredibly boring, I promise. I prefer living room sofas to night club dance floors.  I was also very good at catching up on sleep and pigging out. But, the kids come back home today and I’m completely unprepared. My kitchen sink is overflowing with dirty stuff. My dishwasher is full of clean stuff. The playroom looks like a riot area. I think I made my bed this morning—and dumped a pile of laundry on top of it. There’s cold, wrinkled, clean laundry in a basket and cold, wrinkled, clean laundry in the dryer. There’s dirty laundry in the hampers. Christmas stuff is still hanging out waiting for my lazy butt to bring in the other bin and boxes from the closet so I can stash what remains and finally get rid of all concrete evidence of the crazy holidays. Both kid rooms are messy as heck with toys on the floor and clothes on various surfaces in various states.

I’ve read two books this month which count towards my goal of reading 11 books this year. I may post a review about one or both. Most likely, I’ll create some page or something to track them. I’m also 98% done crocheting a wine bag which would be my first finished project of 2011. I did half a row on the cape’s last tentacle. Yes, half. Don’t mock me. I wrote a letter today which is something else I would like to do regularly (subtle hint for those of you who know me personally).

One thing I haven’t done is make an entry in my journal. It’s for a completely stupid reason. I started a new journal last year in April I think it was. It was a pretty brocade type journal I’d picked up in New York at the legendary Pearl River Mart. As far as journals go, I like the big ones that are at least the size of a regular sheet of paper and I prefer them without lines in case I feel sort of creative. One of my favorite journals to paw through is one I kept while I lived in Berkeley that I bought in San Francisco. It was spiral bound, with a lavender brocade cover, blank pages, and big. I love taping things in my journal and sometimes I feel silly and color or write in a bizarre fashion. So, the journal I started last year has little to no room left in it and I feel completely wrong starting a new year writing in a journal that has no room left. But, I haven’t bought a new journal yet either because, I haven’t gone looking for one. So, we’re ten days in the new year and there’s no personal documentation going on. This blog has definitely been updated but, there’s a difference. I’m significantly more whiny, doubtful, and emo in my personal writing, trust me.

What about you? Ten days into 2011, how’s it going? For me, it’s just more of the same—good and bad; however, I’m starting to come around to the belief that I might be able to make this as good a year, if not better, as 2010 was.

By the way, I’ve got a Vietnam Veterans of America pick-up scheduled for this Friday morning. So far, there are three bags and one small box ready to go. I’m aiming to get together even more and am completely stuck on what to do with the big double stroller I have. If I do pull it out, it’s just a handful of times in the course of a year. It takes up a lot of room and I can probably get by with one umbrella stroller, maybe two if it’s a big outing and I have an accomplice. I’m sure I can sell it on Craigslist but I hate having people come to my house, or meeting people somewhere else. And I could save it for a garage sale but I really haven’t convinced myself that I want to do that yet. I’m still heavily leaning to the “No way dude” side of that argument. So what say you– add it to the Veterans pick up?

Poetic

For the first time in I honestly can’t tell you how long, I wrote down some poems last night. This used to be my favorite medium once upon a time. I don’t know when it was I abandoned it and I don’t know why either. I really feel as if the clouds are lifting in a very real way. It being over a year since we separated, I’d say it’s about time. So many books and articles I read about grieving divorce said it’d be at least a year, more likely two, and I never believed them– it felt indefinite. But here we are, and it feels so good. It’s this type of experience that makes me understand, really, why people are fascinated with the butterfly imagery. When you get down to it, it really feels just like you’d imagine the metamorphisis to be. You wrap yourself up in this darkness and stay there for some time. Then, you start pushing against it, breaking it open until you’re out. And then, you’re stretching and testing your wings, your limbs and adjusting your eyes to the brightness you’d forgotten.

The most intriguing symptom has been the re-awakening of my creative spirit. I keep seeing things in magazines and online that I want to make or re-interpret (I can’t find the deer art project I have in mind here, rgh). Even this blog is a manifestation that I’m coming around. I am three-quarters through this little dress and am determined to keep the knitting going, contemplating my next project and keeping the quickly approaching holidays (trust me, they’re coming fast) in mind. Plus, there are visions of paper, glue, and scissors prancing in my head. I have a fantasy of filling my house with art– mine and my children’s plus photographs. I wouldn’t mind if there wasn’t a bare wall in the house to be honest. Maybe then the beige walls won’t seem so boring. If you’d like to get me a gift, make it a frame of any size.

And just because it’s a fantastic Friday, here’s one of the poems I wrote last night. Don’t worry, it’s short and light.

Laundry

She flicked the

freshly laundered sheet

sharply

And a sock sprang

from a pocket

and snatched

 in the blinds

of the nearest window

while a pair

of pink panties

fluttered to her feet