I planned to write this post about a week ago, but I fell ill with the worst flu I’ve had in my adult life. My love even said this is the first time he’s seen me knocked on my ass by the plague – normally, I’m back to myself within a few days. Whatever this was, it sucked a week of my life away. But now I’m back in action, and I have wonderful things to share!
As you may (or may not) know, last year I became involved with a local writing group/collective: The Geeky Press. I joined mainly because of the monthly Downtown #WritersHack, which helped me better manage my time set aside to write. To say it has helped my writing is an understatement; it has done so much more, like helping me connect with other writers in Indianapolis, for which I’ve been desperately searching since graduating college.
In February, the two partners of The Geeky Press (Brad and Amber) approached and extended me an offer of partnership, which I graciously accepted. I am happy to announce that I am officially a partner of The Geeky Press! I will take over the organization and planning of the #WritersHack events, as well as assisting with other literary events the collective hosts. Soon, I’ll be putting together a little event of my own to get more writers in Indianapolis together, so stay tuned!
The other piece of news to share… over the last few years, I started exploring the world of podcasts (if you have a podcast you think I’d enjoy, please tell me about it – I’m always looking for new things!). Recently, I discovered something right up my alley: THE BEVS, co-hosted by Ariana Madix (yes, of the hit Bravo reality TV show Vanderpump Rules) and one of her good friends, Meredith Kate. The Bevs cover many things, like politics, current events, pop culture, friendships, and feminism. I found the podcast through a couple of others I listen to, and also because I’m shameless fan of #PumpRules on Bravo.
After getting hooked to Bevdom, I sent the ladies an email and shortly after became good old fashion (email) pen pals with Meredith, a move inspired by Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast (see Episode 1: Friendship with Ashley C. Ford to see what we mean). After sharing emails about intimate parts of our lives for a month, we began texting and I offered to help out with some behinds the scenes work of the podcast so Meredith and Ariana can focus on creating episodes with fabulous guests and building the Bev Empire.
I’m thrilled now to share that I am officially the Bev Behind The Bevs – I joined the Bev team at the beginning of March and now assist the ladies with various work behind the scenes of the pod, from website shenanigans to other online initiatives. I’m so excited to be on board! Here is some shameless plugging: Subscribe on iTunes | Listen on Soundcloud | Follow on Social Media: Twitter – Facebook – Instagram – Tumblr – Spotify
Now, hopefully the next exciting piece of news I share with you, faithful readers, has to do with personal writing projects! With that said, I better get back to it. Lots of great things are in store – to say I’m eager for the exciting next chapter of life is me just playing it cool. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with both of these ventures and bringing lots of good stuff your way. I hope you check out The Geeky Press if you’re local to Indianapolis and see what The Bevs are all about. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about either. Happy Sunday!
We have officially entered the year of the next Presidential election in the United States. While I tend to keep my political thoughts to myself or only share with a small group of friends/colleagues, I feel it’s important to share some information with my friends, family, and readers.
If you aren’t sure of who you will vote for, that’s just fine – especially considering the field of candidates has yet to be narrowed down for the actual election later this year. If you’d like to get a head start and begin your research now, go for it. I highly recommend two websites to help you become a more informed voter: ISideWith.com and FactCheck.org
ISideWith.com is a wonderful resource, especially if you are very unsure of where you stand or which party/candidate you want to support. Don’t be sucked in by the evils of media; rather, take your time and answer the questions on this website. Their tagline – “How do your beliefs align with the potential candidates?” This is important… it focuses on YOUR beliefs.
My advice: be honest and answer the extra questions. It may take a little while, but it’s worth it. The last time I filled it out, I think it took about 30 minutes to complete with me answering each question in detail. Always select the position on the scale of if that issue is more or less important to you, and definitely expand the “Other Stances” option on each question to get more specific. Sometimes, a simple yes or no doesn’t suffice on the issues at hand. Here’s an example question:
Dissecting the features, there is a spot for the user to select how important that issue is to them. It’s a scale of Less to More, with Somewhat being the middle of the road. Next to the actual question, there’s a button for you to click to learn more about the issue, in case things aren’t immediately clear. That brief description will sometimes even offer why some are against and why others are for the particular issue. Below the Yes or No option, there’s another for Other Stances. Once you click that, more options appear, allowing you to get more specific about your personal belief on the issue. If you click Add your own stance you will be given a text box for you to type how you really feel. Note that your response in that area is added to the database and other users can see it when they browse through the website.
When you finish the quiz, you’ll be given a breakdown of who you side with, which party fits your views, and a ton of other features including how others in your location/demographic feel about the issues.
When I started the quiz, I thought (without a doubt) I’d be aligned with a certain candidate and party. At the end of the quiz, I was surprised to see my top candidate and party. Reading through my answers, it made a lot of sense. This is how we should begin making our voting decisions. Not only will you solidify your convictions, you’ll be able to find the person who aligns the most with your personal views. Then, you can make the decision if that person is indeed the best person to run our great nation. Keep going back too throughout the year to see if anything changes, especially when the candidates have been narrowed down. I will be visiting this site often over the next several months to ensure I vote with intelligence come November.
FactCheck.org is a fantastic resource that helps us cut out all the crap said in the heat of the moment or in an effort to earn a vote. I could give endless examples with this, but just consider the recent debates and statements some candidates are saying about each other. It’s a fact – some will say and do whatever it takes to get you to be on their side, regardless if it’s true or false. This unfortunately leaves it up to us to do more research to verify what is true or not. In the end, it at least makes us more informed.
I love this site simply because it is dedicated to presenting the facts and no party/candidate is safe. You can trust if something is said in error, this site will be quick to correct the inaccuracies and provide detailed information on the specific topic or issue. Their mission is to increase public knowledge through journalistic and scholarly principles. This site makes it easy for a citizen to find the truth among the mess that is modern politics. They have a great section titled “Viral Spiral.” This is dedicated to helping people sift through the rumors. If you’re on Twitter, go ahead and follow – no bias, no bullshit.
In closing: please do your research and don’t just blindly vote for a party. Don’t vote for someone because your parents or friends would. Get educated. Be informed. Take your time and really look into the potential candidates on your own. Don’t rely on media to tell you for whom you should cast your vote. Don’t let your friends and families tell you what you think. These two websites are just some of the few out there that will help you begin your research, help you form your own opinion, and then you will be able to be an informed voter. It’s your vote and yours alone. Make it count!
Stuck in a rut? Not happy with how things are going in your life? It must be time for a change! Speaking strictly on my own personal experience, I have found happiness by doing a few little things – get rid of the negative influences and alter some things. I’ve changed where I shop for groceries. I bought the lip gloss I had eyed for some time, ignoring the past reservations I had about it being the “right” shade for me. I called an old friend and caught up (yes, I actually picked up the phone and dialed her number instead of writing her a short message on Facebook). I dabbled in yoga and meditation (and still do). I surrounded myself with positive energy. I opened myself up to new experiences (no matter how challenging they might be). I tried to look for the positive in every single situation.
I realize this can be hard – I really do. It’s important to remember the big picture here – you only get one life, and it’s up to you how you want to live it.
It’s quite simple… and it starts by making two lists. (If you know me personally, you know how I love to make lists!)
LIST #1: List All the Stuff You Love. That’s easy enough, right? Just make a list of everything you love about your life. If you find this hard to do because of your situation, make the list be everything you want to love about life. It doesn’t matter how long or short this list is, it’s meant to give you clarity and direction to get you where you need to be. Once you have your list, look for patterns. If you see a yearning for artistic activities being a theme, you might be looking for a way to be more creative.
Now to throw a curve ball – start thinking about what makes you green with envy. It’s helpful, I promise, because jealousy can direct us to our deepest desires. You might be jealous of a friend who seemingly has it all – how did she get to where she is now? Then ask yourself… do I really want _____? How can I make this happen? In the end, it all comes down to this – look for something you love, think about what you want to change, and focus on what you need to do to get there.
LIST #2: Create an Achievable Action Plan. Now that you have the list of what you love and where you want to be… how do you get there? It’s changing the small things that will help you obtain your goal and achieve ultimate happiness.
Let’s go back to the example about artistic activities. Say you love art, but you need inspiration. Hit up some local museums, art galleries, or travel to the next big city and check out their art scene. Or take a road trip by yourself. Not only will you refresh your soul and concentrate on what you want, you will get to see something new and (hopefully) exciting. A change of scenery and surrounding yourself with new people is always a good way to dive head first into making life changes.
Write down what you think are the necessary steps to make your life better. If you’re going to spring for the road trip, map out where you want to go, what you wish to accomplish, and some goals on which you can concentrate. Not only does it get you excited about where your life could turn, it will help you stay organized and on track to making the most of your life.
Now that you’ve made those two lists… it’s time for you to live by my personal motto: just make it happen! Accomplishment is an amazing feeling. I recommend starting small – the less on your lists, the more likely you are to cross items off quickly. Then, continue building your lists. The idea is that these lists will never be complete, so long as you have the drive to build a better life and become a better person. And I know you do!
Don’t Get Discouraged. Start at the beginning of your list. Read through it and ask yourself… what can I eliminate today? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? This will help you organize your goals and make them more attainable. These things take time, so work on your patience. Some things can change overnight, but the majority of the life changes you’re seeking will take some serious time to tackle. Once you have a timeline created, you can begin to…
Make the Changes. TODAY. Right now. Stop wasting time! Simply start attacking the list, one line at a time. You’ve already gone through and figured out what can be done immediately, and what will take a lot of time to do. Like I said before, start small. Work your way through the list. Be patient. If you’re putting forth the effort to make the changes, they will come. Whatever you do, don’t give up. You can do this!
I am a firm believer that people are in control of their own happiness. You have to be willing to go to the distance to make the necessary changes for improvement. It’s not up to anyone else, just you. And you can do that – I believe in you. Get excited and make those changes you’ve been thinking about for some time. After all, life is what you make it – awesome, miserable, or just plain old average. It’s in your hands!
Me? I feel like I’m a shitty journal keeper. Personal journaling, that is (unless you count Twitter). I’m pretty consistent when it comes to jotting down my thoughts about my writing journey. I opened a journal I started last September. I’ve barely filled a third of it with personal notions. In fact, most of the entries end are about writing (which is great). Some of my personal life seasons the pages, but not enough. But who really decides what is actually enough – the journaler or the possible reader?
The term journaling can be used loosely, meaning anything from penning some brief thoughts to writing down daily gratitude and grievances. A lot of well-known authors have kept journals about their writing process while working on a project (or just in general). Teenagers begin with their diaries, working out their angsty or whimsical points of view (hello, this was totally me as a kid). Some continue into adulthood recording every detail about their lives for their own benefit, and others find their passion for writing and use it as a tool to keep them going or better understand their personal writing process.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. With that said, I don’t really know what holds me back when it comes to writing about my personal life. I have an empty journal on my bookshelf just waiting for me to write in it the story of my life. There, I could write about all the things I don’t want to talk about with others (although I know I should – honestly, it’s just easier for me to bottle it up, place it on a shelf, and move the fuck on). Maybe I will soon, but maybe I won’t just yet. While I like the idea of a great-grandchild finding my diary several years after I’ve left this life, I’m so undisciplined about writing every detail down in my journal at the start or end of each day. It’s all in my mind, but that’s lousy for those I leave behind after journeying toward the great unknown. I also fear there is nothing exciting about my low-key, fairly drama-free life, but I guess that isn’t up to me to decide in the end.
One thing I know I will do is continue to write about my writing process and journey down this long and crooked path. My struggles with writing fiction as a bred nonfiction writer and poet at heart (even if it is shit) have been a big focus as I’m working on my first serious attempt at substantial piece of fiction. I actually enjoy the complicated process of crafting a well-written story. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment… I’ve much room to improve, especially when it comes to structuring the story. My biggest issue is wrangling all the random ideas I have about the project on hand and getting them on paper. I just have to suck it up and try my best to make it happen.
I feel I am becoming better at the fiction writing process. I owe that to the story I am writing and the copious amounts of fiction I read. I think about it all the time’ it needs to come out. I’m desperately coaxing it out of the dark corners of my mind. Some days, I have major breakthroughs and I feel as though nothing can stop me. Other days, life happens and I am at a standstill, which can be discouraging.
I keep writing and I keep reading. Even when I don’t want to, I do it. I feel guilty that I don’t write more; however, actually sticking to a writing schedule is helping ease that guilt. Keep pushing. You’ve got this. Work this story out – it could be really great – just something I tell myself almost daily.
This isn’t a resolution to be better about writing about the everyday. It should be, but I figure if I’m writing something every day, I’m on the right track when it comes to polishing my craft, regardless if it focuses on one genre or another…
…Because writers actually write – every day.
They move their pens, they type on their laptops or typewriters, they push the pencil, and they write shit down every single day. Some have a purpose when they journal and others just free write. Some start with freewriting exercises (writing prompts or whatever they can pull from their mind at the time) and it turns into something profound. That’s me, minus the piece turning into something profound! Pages of prompts could eventually turn into great stories – flash-fiction, a memoir, a novella/novel, poetry, or even online serialized literature. That’s my hope, anyway – it’s enough to keep my pen pressed to the paper.
On Labor Day weekend of 2009 my boyfriend and I took a trip to Washington, D.C. when we had only been together for six months. It was our second out-of-town getaway together; I was excited to show him our nation’s capital, as he had not visited prior to us meeting.
Our first stop of the trip was to tour the United States Marine Corps Museum in the town of Triangle, just south of the District. Being the Friday of Labor Day weekend, we figured it would be packed shoulder to shoulder, but to our surprise, it was nearly empty. Snagging a spot on the next available tour, we ended up being two of seven people in the group. We got lucky too – our tour included a Korean War veteran, who was there visiting the museum with his family and was happy to share stories of his own while we walked through the museum. It was so surreal, hearing stories about places memorialized in the museum straight from one of the brave men who happened to be present during the historic events and standing right next to us.
After the tour, we headed for the city to check into our hotel room and hang out for the night. We ordered room service and watched Metalocalypse on his laptop. It was a perfect start to our trip.
The highlight of our visit was exploring the National Mall the next day. While walking around the Washington Monument, he put his hand on my shoulder, stopping me from walking forward, and said “hang on a second…” He starts to get down on one knee and I see a couple in the distance stop watch us. The woman slaps her man’s arm excitedly and starts pointing as us, with a wide grin. I remember my mind started to race with thoughts like “oh my god is this the moment, this can’t be the moment, we haven’t been dating long, what do I do, oh my god!”
You think you know what’s coming next, but you don’t. (more…)
Holy shit, it’s been a while. When I realized I hadn’t posted all summer, I couldn’t believe it. It’s all good though – it’s been a very busy summer for me. Here are some highlights…
- Traveled for business to Savannah, GA (a city I wanted to visit for the past 15 years and finally had the chance);
- Visited Washington, D.C. (and got engaged! More on that later.);
- Saw my favorite band and had a blast with my best friend (Panda), her daughter, and all our girlfriends who came to town to celebrate summer with DMB;
- Traveled around Indiana for business;
- Worked on my book (no seriously, I’ve finally made some progress!!); and
- Enjoyed some amazing R&R and great family time.
And summer isn’t over yet! That thought alone is making me smile. Now for some randomness about my writing adventures this summer… I mentioned I worked on my book this summer. At the beginning of August, I wrote out a writing schedule, to which I promised I would commit. I’m so happy to report that I’m 100% committed and I’ve made some awesome progress. I finally feel like this story is coming together. As someone who primarily writes nonfiction and poetry, with some prose sprinkled in, I honestly had no idea what I was in for when I just suddenly decided to write fiction. I read a lot of fiction, so I figured I could try my hand at it and give it an honest effort.
My biggest hang up in the beginning?? Making shit up. Oh man, I love making up a good story, but I have always been an honest writer. I finally made myself move past that, though. I literally gave myself a pep talk that went something like this:
“Nicole, you can make this shit up. It’s okay. Let your imagination take over. It will be okay. I promise. Just fucking do it and stop making excuses and make something up. What do you want to read? What kind of story do you want to hear? Write it… now, not later. Polish it later. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? DO IT!”
(Cue that viral Shia LaBeouf video that hit the ‘net earlier this summer).
And it worked. I kicked my ass into gear and I committed to my writing schedule. I’ve solidified my outline and have key plot points ready for chapters. I even have a handful of chapters ready. I have a feeling though, with my planning process complete, this book is going to take a while to complete… but I will make it happen!
I also joined a writing group, thrown together by The Geeky Press. It’s laid back and a great group of people. We just meet up on some pre-scheduled dates (#WritersHack) and hang out for a bit, eat, talk about writing, and write. We hosted our first one-day retreat in July and I think it was a great success. We’re doing another one on November 7 and hosting a weekend retreat in December. My favorite thing about these retreats and hacks is that we actually freaking write. We write whatever we want. The goal is to get words on the page. If you’re interested in joining our shenanigans or want more information on events hosted by The Geeky Press, just check out their website. You don’t have to attend every event nor do you have to pay any dues (the day or weekend retreats have a low cost, though). We just are a group of people who want to write and connect with others who want to do the same.
I have to say, it’s awesome to be back in a community of writers. I’ve missed college mostly for that reason, and now I’ve finally found another place to nurture my talent. I finally stopped procrastinating and became a member of the Indiana Writers Center. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of their member discounts and getting to know the folks there in the coming months.
Speaking of writing communities… this thought brings me to the topic of serialized, web-based literature. Have you heard of websites like Wattpad or Channillo? From what I understand, these sites help you build an audience and network with other readers and writers. You post a chapter at a time. This could be a good thing to do, since I’m getting my feet wet in this category and not quite ready to publish a book just yet, even though I have a solid story plan/outline. I’m considering this route with some of my other fiction (short stories, flash fiction, etc.), but can’t decide if I should with this story or not. If you are familiar with either of these platforms or know of others I should be considering, please let me know in the comments. I want to weigh all my options and could really use some advice!
That’s all for now, folks. I won’t be gone as long as I was before this time… I promise. Peace!