- You don’t have to turn your favorite thing to do into a career just because that’s everyone’s best case scenario. Your passion is still valuable if you don’t make money from it. You need a way to make money, and you also need a way to be fulfilled and happy in life, and those two things don’t need to come from the same source.
- If you're mother asks you what "FML" means, say "Um... Eff my life?" She'll get it.
- Embrace the confusion of life, and remember we’re all in it together. I can overthink myself into an existential crisis ever other week. But it’s okay, because I’m not the only one who’s confused, and when I return to who and what brings me joy, it’s a lot easier to lighten up and laugh at the confusion.
- Even if no one saw the two of you kissing last night, everyone will know the next morning.
- Don’t ignore your dreams (at night) because they’re “not real.” Who cares? They’re fun. Enjoy them. Better yet, learn to lucid dream. We spend so much of our time asleep, lets have all the fun we can.
- And of course, don’t ignore your life dreams because they’re too big, out of reach, whatever. Find small ways to get closer. Do what you can in the moment while planning for the future.
- Music makes everything better. Always have a playlist of “pick-me-up” songs.
- Don’t put the future too far in the future. Like, don’t be one of those people who says “we’ll do that someday” all the damn time. Someday never comes. Get your schedule together, plan for the thing, and do the thing.
- Never trust your brain when your body feel like crap. If your sick, injured, have a headache, stomachache, even just sore muscles, do not listen to all the negative crap your mind might tell you. When those thoughts come, check in with your body first. How much sleep did you get last night? When did you eat or drink last?
- Don’t be miserable in your teen years just because you heard your teen years are supposed to be miserable.
- Try not to get too wrapped up in emotions from other emotions, like feeling bad about feeling bad. Asking yourself, “Is it okay for me to feel this way?” or wondering if your anger is justified, isn’t helpful or productive. The answer is yes. Feelings are feelings, and it’s okay to feel them. You don’t control your emotional responses, all you can do is choose what to do with those emotions, and what you act on. Instead of wondering if it’s okay to feel that way, think about what to do about it.
- When you get excited over things, nerd the hell out 100%. Does it really matter if people are giving you crap for having too much fun? They only wish they could be that excited. Plus, this will draw the right people to you.
- Don’t waste your time with negative people. Don’t let someone who is dead inside try to tell you how to live.
- Never be the person who shuts down someone else’s dream. However silly it might sound to you, it might mean the world to them.
- There’s no perfect life path for everyone. We’re all driven by different things. If you’re a writer, just think about the main goals for each of your characters. Is it success? Happiness? Money? Love? Power? Wisdom? Someone’s life isn’t worth more or less than yours if their focus is different than yours. We all find fulfillment in different ways.
- Mess around with your physical appearance every now and then. Not necessarily in drastic ways, but try out different hairstyles, new ways to do your makeup, different styles of clothing. I was discouraged from dying my hair in high school, but I really wish I’d done it more before entering the corporate world. Do it while you can, because someday it won’t be allowed. Just watch some Jenna Marbles for inspiration. You’ll build confidence in loving what looks right, and even more in deciding not to care about what doesn’t look right.
- Notice your judgements. When I was in a group dynamics class in college, one of the girls in my group looked like a complete stereotype to me. Blonde and tan with a full face of makeup, I thought FAKE ALERT! I mean, she had “girl-you-hate-in-high-school” written all over her. But I noticed that judgement, realized it was 100% based on appearances, and moved forward from there. She was actually a really cool person, and not at all “fake.”
- Don’t ever let the thought, “I won’t be good at that,” keep you from trying something new. I’m a terrible artist and I draw anyway. Also, I used to think I couldn’t sing, but I did it anyway. Actually, I probably couldn’t sing back then. But I can now, because I practiced. Do things for the fun of it rater than to impress.
- Don’t hold things in. Say stuff. Even the hard stuff. Maybe you think you’ll feel bad/awkward/whatever for saying it, but you’ll feel so much worse if you keep it inside.
- Notice when other people are having those “I need to say this to get it out” moments with you. It may be hard to hear, but try to appreciate that it was also hard to say. And most of the time, they’re saying it because they care enough to. The alternative is they keep their mouth shut and give up on you changing. So, even if what they’re saying hurts, listen (as long as they’re saying it in a caring way, of course), reflect, and try to respond with compassion.
- Always remember to do basic things to take care of yourself, and try not to get too caught up in whatever your doing to put them off. Cold? Put on another layer. Thirsty? Hungry? Take a break to eat and drink some water. Take time to talk to your friends. Get outside every now and then for some fresh air and exercise.
- Notice the people you want to be like to learn from their example, but also notice the ones you don’t want to be like. I’ve never known how valuable this perspective could be until meeting an actual real-life narcissist. Since then, I’ve been more aware of myself in conversations with others, and if they’re actually balanced. How much am I talking about myself? Have I been interrupting? Am I actually listening, or just thinking of a way to draw what they said back to something in my own life? I don’t know if I fully believe the “people come into our lives for a reason,” philosophy, but it’s helped to get something out of bad situations.
- If you’re an introvert, learn how to manage extrovert-friendly situations, like, practice small talk, etc. It’s a skill like everything else. However, don’t let anyone convince you to try and change your introverted nature. Introversion is a personality trait, not a character flaw.
- For the most part, you will regret the things you don’t do more than the things you actually do.
- If you’re not good at something, notice the way you talk about it. Like, don’t just say “I’m bad at that,” because you’ll never get better, but don’t say “I used to be bad at that,” because now you’re complacent. “I’m working on that,” is always best.
- Remember you never really stop growing—at least, you really shouldn’t. Often times we’ll have growing pains, or go through a mini personal crisis, and think “this shouldn’t happen to me, I’m (however many) years old!” But what happens if you stop growing? Ever met an old person who acts like a child? Ever met someone who thinks that because they’ve achieved a certain age, status, whatever, that they’ve got everything perfectly together and now they’re the ultimate thing? What happens to those people? They stop trying. They stop learning. They become narcissistic grown-up babies who can’t take direction, criticism, or anything that doesn’t align with their worldview. Self-reflection really sucks sometimes, but it’s so necessary it’s not even funny.
- On the other hand, don’t let anyone tell you not to do something they find “childish” just because you’re a certain age. I mean things like tea parties, cartoons, and coloring books, not anything that’s going to hurt others. You know how when you grow up, you think you’re “too cool” for kids stuff for a while? Then when you hit your twenties you rediscover all of it, and it’s amazing? Suddenly stuffed animals and Disney movies are awesome again. Some people might laugh at you for loving them. Don’t worry about those folks. They just aren’t grown up enough to have re-discovered their childhoods.
- Never forgive someone unless you’re actually ready to mean it. They say forgiveness is for you personal good rather than the one who wronged you, so make sure you’re being honest with yourself first. Real forgiveness heals. Lying to yourself makes everything worse.
- Remember what your parents told you every time they dropped you off somewhere, or left you home alone: “Be good! Have fun!” I wonder if they knew they were giving us the top two rules to live by.
I turned 29 on Monday, so for my birthday, I'd like to do a Jenna Marbles inspired blog about what I've learned over the years.
Okay, I get to post silly nonsense every now and then, and yesterday was my birthday, so this is a perfect opportunity. My tip for you this week? Don't be a stereotype. I don't mean your characters, I mean you as a writer.
I’ve never identified as “a writer,” and the main reason I give for this is “I’m Crossworlds.” I’ve never been good at pulling ideas out of the air, and just writing about anything I’m prompted to write about. When people say I should be good at so-and-so "because you're a writer," I'm guaranteed to be terrible at that thing. I’m Crossworlds, that’s all I know, that’s all I can do.
But the other reason I’m not a writer is because, well, I just don’t want to identify with some of the stereotypes associated with us, and there are some that I’d really like to disprove/tell other people to stop doing. By the way, I’ve done (almost) all of these, I just try not to do that many on a regular basis.
Correcting other people’s grammar. This is usually the first thing people think of when the stereotypical writer comes to mind, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it. I just don’t care. It’s all about context. I don’t care if you use the “wrong” words in casual conversation, or if you misspell things on Facebook. I mean, if you ask me a grammar question, I’ll certainly do my best to answer, but I'm not going to give unsolicited opinions. If it’s not formal writing, it just doesn’t matter to me. Writing that needs to be done for school or business, or of course, if you want to publish a book—that should all be properly edited. But in ordinary life, who cares? Do you really? I mean, really?
Staying up all night/being a night owl: This is fine, and I’m not at all bothered by people who do it. I personally, cannot. Part of me says maybe I would if I didn’t have to work early in the morning, but then again, I really love sleep. So, maybe there are writers who get inspired by that late at night mindset and inspiration thrives on lack of sleep, and other writers who sleep a ton and get more inspiration from dreaming. Let’s just stop saying all writers do things one way. You're not better or worse if you enjoy sleep.
Talking about your book way too much: Okay. Most of us don't do this because we're scared of being annoying. To the people who let us go on and on, we love you. We appreciate you. We only want to talk a lot because we love what we do, and we're really excited to share. Your feedback matters to us. Seriously, thank you, because not many people understand how much it means to be able to have someone to share with. But there are writers who have given the rest of us a bad name, and ramble on when someone clearly doesn't want to hear it. Why do you think most people think writers are annoying, and immediately roll their eyes and say "oh, that's um... interesting, I guess," when we say we're writing books? Be self-aware, please.
Calling your work in progress "my novel." Okay, this is just a weird pet peeve of mine that probably makes zero sense. But when we first start writing, if we're truly carried away in a story and not just trying to cross something off our bucket list, we don't know where the story will go. Before I self-published, I called my stories "my stories," because I didn't know if they would be short, long, or anything. Now that I've self-published, I call them my books. I don't know what it is about hearing an aspiring writer say "my novel." It just sounds self-important and pretentious. Like you care about status more than passion.
Telling the same writer jokes over and over. I used to post statuses on facebook like “Here’s what I did today instead of editing,” or “This is terrible! This is fantastic! No, this sucks… Wait, it’s great again!” about my book, the writing process, etc. But I got annoyed seeing other similar posts. No more of that, it gets old really, really fast.
Being crazy, talking to imaginary people, being a shut-in, etc. I'll freely and shamelessly admit this is 100% me. But I'd also like to put it out there that not all writers are going to be this way.
Reading all the time: Let’s all keep this up please, this is the only stereotype that should be true for every last one of us writers. This has zero negatives, and I'd love it if not only writers would embrace it.
Second reminder that this is all for fun. Please don't be offended if you do any or all of these. Everybody's weird, and everybody should be.
It's my birthday, and I can't think of a single more appropriate song. Let's party!
Well hello. It's been a while.
I did mean to return to the blog sooner, but I have been so sick lately my brain just couldn't do anything normal. So, happy super late New Years!
I've been wanting to post about something I write about a little bit in the later Crossworlds books. I figure it's a good thought for the New Year, and may be something you need to hear if you're going through a difficult time right now. So... what exactly is "The Lost Girls' Philosophy"?
Here's a clip from Acapella Angels:
“How do you do that?”
“Make me smile.”
“It’s all thanks to Tally, and her family’s lessons. Drain the poison, make the light, and when you’re in pain, just be proud you’re still carrying on. It’s the Lost Girl’s philosophy. Look at you, standing as tall as you are, even as hurt as you are. That’s something, isn’t it?”
When we're going through something difficult, the emphasis of the Lost Girls' Philosophy is on going through. Even if you've only taken one step, you're better off than you were before. Being in it means your closer to the other side of it.
Recognize how strong you are for any forward motion through what your going through, and take more strength from the fact that you've already been strong. Everything around you might be insane, and you might feel stuck in the dark, but just by moving forward and realizing you're still carrying on, you are creating your own light. Which gives you strength to keep going. Which makes your light brighter. Which gives you more strength to keep going.
This doesn't just apply to extreme situations. Here's an everyday example of how the LG Philosophy might help you:
Let's say you have a tough day at school ahead of you. You might be in your first class of the day thinking, "this is a nightmare, and it only just started, how am I going to get through the rest of the day?" But then you realize you already got the worst part of it out of the way. You already dragged yourself out of bed, got yourself dressed, left home, and made it to school. Look how far you've already come. But it's only been twenty minutes! But... It's already been twenty whole minutes. You've survived up to now. You can do more.
I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of explaining this. So, while this next thing isn't exactly a work of great, classic poetry (it's embarrassing, actually), I think I have to post it. Because even though it does come across as a bit "I'm 14 and this is deep," I feel like it gets my point across better than speaking conversationally. Which is why poetry exists, right? To show the things you can't really tell.
I am a Lost Girl
And I have a Lost Girl’s dream
And this journey of wandering
Is my Lost Girl’s journey
I celebrate this feeling
This scared uncertainty
I embrace the knowledge
Of this scared child in me
I may be lost in the dark
But my voice can make the light
It is my guide, my power
When I look around I see the dark behind
The dark ahead
And the light that I create
To be Lost is to be in the dark
But to know you are still standing
To know you’ve come so far living in the dark
We make the light
We sing to celebrate
And we celebrate all of it
The frightened child
And the strong, proud woman
We have nothing to be ashamed of
For being Lost, we know we can survive
Creating our own lights
Celebrating our strength
And when other lights catch our eyes
We know we are not alone
There is another light, another dream, another Lost Girl on her journey
And when we come together, we can light up the dark
And celebrate our journeys
Because everyone has been Lost
Side Note: This philosophy knows no gender, despite being called the Lost Girls' Philosophy. "Lost Girl's" is just an acapella choir in the other world who came up with this way of thinking. Men, women, and everyone in between can be part of this, "because everyone has been Lost."
This year, I want to review a wonderful book on writing called “How Not to Write a Novel," by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. I’ve read this hilarious book several times, and it really gets me thinking about what the best writing tips are. I'm not going to offer the tips the book already discusses, just the thoughts and tips it inspired for me. I'll be giving some extra tips, some ways to fix the common mistakes described in the book (as it doesn't always offer solutions), and very occasionally, some exceptions to the rules.
We'll start where they start: Beginnings.
Several of the ways not to open your story listed in "How Not to Write a Novel" are various forms of the same thing: too much description delaying action. Too much backstory, too much time spent setting the scene, info dumps, etc. When I'm reading a book that doesn't have a strong beginning, it feels like I'm watching the writer warm up.
This is a weird pacing issue I find pretty often in self-published books (and yes, some traditionally published books, too). The beginning, no matter how big or small it may be, is overflowing with description. When very little is going on, it makes the book boring and dragging. When there is action, it’s turned into a weird, slow-motion movie scene, where sometimes it does add drama, but often falls flat. The strangest thing about this is, the pace changes after the first page or so of super drawn-out description.
It’s like the writer is trying to tell the reader, "look at my beautiful writing! I know how to write!" and they do so by attempting to "show off" in an inappropriate place, for example, "watch how beautifully I can describe a character taking a shower!" What's really going on is a desperate attempt to beat the blank page, and that's what shows. Once the story actually gets going, the pace picks up a lot more—again—completely regardless of what’s actually happening.
It makes sense that we, the writers, don’t always hit the ground running with perfect flow. Learn to notice those places where it took you some extra time to find your voice, and smooth them over later. Recognize how you sound when you’re “warming-up” vs when you’re in the middle of a “flow” state. The best way to do this, and to minimize how much time it takes you to “warm-up” is to write more often.
So, are there exceptions to this rule? Maybe you've read books that open with lots of description, and it's praised by your English teachers as beautiful. Personally, I feel like there's nothing more dangerous to young aspiring writers, because they will try desperately to imitate it. Don't fall for it. Did you really enjoy wading through such thick descriptions? Are those really your favorites to read, or were you sitting in class feeling frustrated and bored? Consider your genre, too. Don't compare an old classic work of literary fiction to a modern, young adult fantasy novel. You don't have to "show off" that you know how to write. Sometimes it helps to forget about "writing," and focus on telling the story.
Monday Music: Feel It Still - Portugal The Man ('60s "Mr. Postman" Style Cover) ft. Joey, Adanna, Nina Ann
It's been longer than intended, but we're back! Happy New Year, and happy Monday! This song is another brilliant transformation by Postmodern Jukebox. I can't stand the original, but this is wonderful.
We're taking a holiday break, so please enjoy The Wishing Star! See you in 2019!
We're taking a little Christmas break, so there are no tips today except to enjoy yourself with the people you love! There won't be a new Wednesday Word tomorrow, just links to the Wishing Star if you wish to read it again!
Merry Christmas to all!
Merry Christmas Eve!
Gina had packed up a good amount of food and water for Janet’s next journey, up the mountain to the witch’s house. She’d also provided her portal stone with water, and now, all it needed was some catalyst magic.
Janet went up the mountain feeling lonely but hopeful. Every now and then she’d stop to rest, to eat, and sometimes, even to practice with her sword. Animals occasionally crossed the path, or stared at her from beyond the trees, but never threatened or bothered her. Janet thought about what she might need to do if Gina hadn’t provided her with food, but the idea of killing one of those animals was nauseating. How could she kill a full grown human person? Even if she was evil, Janet didn’t think she had it in her.
While she didn’t feel like she was in any danger, these woods weren’t as pretty and welcoming as the enchanted forest near the fairies Water Circle. They were thicker and darker, and it grew colder the closer she got to the top. She was thankful for her new winter clothes. Not only was it colder, but there were fewer and fewer animals about, and no song of birds. Janet knew instinctively that no wildlife was out to hurt her, the only danger she might face lay at the top of the mountain, at the house of the evil witch.
At last, it was in sight. A large log cabin with smoke coming out of it’s chimney, and strange plants growing all around. She scanned the house for entrances. The front door was probably locked. She might be able to crawl in through a window, but they all seemed too small. Then she heard a door swinging open and closed, and a cat ran outside. The back door was open! But where was the witch?
The day was growing darker, and she decided it might be best to wait for nightfall, and after the witch had gone to bed. She hoped witches did go to bed. What if they ran on magic only, and didn’t need to sleep? Well, then she would just have to be brave, like the heroes in her story.
She watched for the witch inside the house while waiting for darkness to fall completely. She didn’t see her, but there was no turning back. With the night as her cover, she quietly slipped inside through the back door.
The house was a mess. There were books and papers scattered everywhere, spells, Janet thought. There were also bottles of potions, most of them stacked on shelves or tables, but plenty on the floor as well, some of them broken. It would be awfully difficult not to make any noise here.
She kept her hand on the handle of her sword, hoping the threat of it would be enough to scare the witch away if she saw her. All she had to do was get to that fire…
“Who’s sneaking around in my home?”
Janet jumped at the voice behind her, drawing her sword. Before she could move any further, a force knocked her backward, into the opposite wall. The witch had a magic wand, and her sword was no match for it. She pulled herself up again. “I just need fire and I’ll leave, I promise!” she said, “I can trade for it, too, I wouldn’t steal!”
“But you would break in, and you would bring a weapon? No, no, no, no, no… You’re a magic thief if I ever saw one, girl!”
Janet ran at her, jumping out of the way of the next blast of magic from that awful wand. They both toppled to the floor, crashing into tables and shelves, crushing more bottles, releasing potions that made strange hissing sounds as they emptied. The witch tried to knock away her sword as Janet was trying to knock away her wand. Though she wrestled her with all her strength, Janet didn’t strike with her sword. Instead, she fought to keep her weapon away from the witch’s prying hands, while struggling to free the wand.
It didn’t take long for Janet to realize the witch was afraid of her sword, perhaps even afraid of her. There was something strange in her dark eyes, something Janet thought was only fear. Maybe the threat would be enough. She knocked the witch hard to the floor, and pointed her sword at her hand, motioning like she was going to cut it off unless she released the wand. To her surprise, the witch did so. She dropped the wand and lay motionless, completely at Janet’s mercy.
Unless it was a trick. Janet didn’t dare turn her back, even though she only wished to light the portal stone in the witch’s magic fire and get home. She was sure she could do all of that quickly, but this old witch might be playing with her, pretending to be helpless. She pointed her sword at the woman’s chest, threatening to strike.
“They told you to kill the evil witch, didn’t they? Go on then. Do it.”
Janet’s hands were sweating. Her whole body was shaking. “I just want your magic fire. Then I’ll be gone, poof, I swear. I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“You want more than that, girl. What did you wish for?”
“What? How did you—?”
“Be a hero, Janet. Kill me.”
Janet was speechless. Not only did she know her wish, she knew her name. “I’m not falling for your tricks,” she whispered. Something in those eyes was trying to speak to her, she just didn’t understand.
Is this what heroes are all about? She didn’t feel heroic at all, pointing that sword at that old woman. And that’s all she looked like right then, a poor, crazy old woman. Janet could barely move. She couldn’t kill her, couldn’t even hurt her, and especially not on Christmas.
Janet’s heart was beating so hard she felt something banging on her chest with every beat.
“What are you waiting for, girl? Go ahead. Be a hero.”
Those eyes… Could it be? Gina’s voice echoed in her mind. “Remember her face.” Something hitting against her chest… The vile! The fairy dust! “Stay where you are!” Janet said, “I’ll show you what heroes do!”
“So be it,” the witch muttered, and closed her eyes. Janet grasped the tiny bottle of fairy dust, and popped the cork over her.
A cloud of glittering dust enveloped the old woman, and she shrank before Janet’s eyes. When she sat up, her face was different. Younger. Still a grown-up, and maybe still a witch, but… No, just a confused, harmless woman.
“What’s happening?” she whispered, looking around as the dust slowly cleared.
Janet knelt down beside her. “Sierra?”
“How do you know my name?”
Janet pulled out the picture Gina had given her. “This is you, isn’t it?”
Sierra’s eyes filled with tears. “Yes, it… it was.”
“I… I came here the same way you did,” Janet said. “I think… I think you were cursed.”
She sat up slowly. “You wished on a star?”
“Yeah,” Janet said, holding it out to her.
“I remember now!” she cried. “I found this, I wished for magic, I…”
“You’re from my world?”
“Yes! I came here as a little girl! The fairies said they’d try to make me a portal stone, but I waited for years without seeing any progress. I was desperate, so I… I started gathering magic on my own. All the magic I could get my hands on… I didn’t realize it was so dangerous. I didn’t know how to use it. It was all too much, put together in so many different ways… I didn’t know. It’s been so many years…”
“It’s okay!” Janet said. “They finished the portal stone for me! Well, it’s almost finished, all we need is some of that fire to complete it, and we can both go home!”
She shook her head sadly. “I’m afraid a portal stone will only work for one person. You should go. It’s too late for me anyway, any life I had in your world is over. At least now, I’m free from all this mixed up magic.”
“But the portal stone will return you to the time you left, and you won’t have aged! I think… I think you should take it.” Janet let the words fall out of her mouth without thought, just feeling. She missed her home so terribly. Her parents, the stories… She so badly longed for a cozy Christmas morning, waking up to a house smelling like pancakes and bacon, and digging through a full stoking of gifts… But they always said Christmas was about more than gifts, and this was a chance to give Sierra something she couldn’t get in a box.
“Please, take it,” Janet said.
Tears were streaming down Sierra’s face. She reached for the stone with a trembling hand. “Are you sure?”
“Completely. Go home.”
Sierra embraced her. “T-thank you, child… Oh, thank you…”
Janet just nodded as Sierra pulled away, lit the fire, and watched the stone begin to glow.
A window opened in the wall, and Janet saw a room not unlike her own. A little girl’s bedroom. She watched Sierra the woman, formerly the evil witch, step inside. Years melted away from her body until she was Janet’s age. She watched her face light up like Christmas as two figures entered the room to greet her, and she ran into their arms. The window slowly closed, leaving the image of the child Sierra, reunited with her family at last, burned into Janet’s memory.
Then she was gone, and so was the portal stone. Janet sat down in the wrecked room, held her wishing star, and started to cry. “I did what heroes do, I think,” she said. “I just wish I could go home now…” Her tears fell on the tiny wooden star. How did something so small and ordinary teleport her here, and why wouldn’t it work again? And why was it suddenly… glowing?
“I wish I could go home!” she said again, picturing her bedroom, her parents, Christmas morning… Light enveloped her, powerful blinding light, and she remembered one more important thing she had to do… “Go to Gina next, little Wishing Star,” she whispered. The star vanished from her hand as the light grew brighter than ever, and she squeezed her eyes shut as her body lifted off the ground, or maybe the ground was falling away beneath her… Then, everything was quiet.
The first thing she was aware of was a warm, familiar scent. Pancakes! She opened her eyes to find herself in her bedroom. She heard Mom and Dad’s voices from the kitchen, chatting quietly.
“Yes!” she shouted, and sprang out of bed. “Mom! Dad!”
They smiled at her. “Merry Christmas, baby.”
Janet pulled them both close. “Merry Christmas!”