Can You Vague That Up For Me?

Bronwyn Green's Random Thoughts

Favorite Writing Advice

#writelifeapril

Advice is a lot like music. Or styles of underwear. Use what works for you, and leave the rest behind.

Obviously, I can’t tell you what’ll work for you, I can only share what’s worked for me, but look around. You might find something you like. Try it on. See how it fits. If you like it, it’s yours.

So, these are my favorite bits of writing advice.

Emotional Meat Grinder – The first book I ever finished had zero conflict, and my very wise forever-friend, Alex Kourvo told me that it doesn’t matter how much I love my characters, I still have to grab them by the back of the head and shove them face-first into an emotional meat grinder and make their lives hell. Then, when it’s really bad, I need to make it worse.

Write What You Love – There are some people who advocate writing whatever’s popular in hopes of riding genre coattails to fame and fortune. Here’s the thing about that. If it’s not a genre or subgenre you truly enjoy, it’ll show. I saw it often in when I edited for small presses, and I still see it now with my editing business.  If you’re writing something in hopes of a paycheck instead of writing it because you love whatever it is, it’ll never be as good or satisfying for you or the reader than if you’d written something you were passionate about.

Who Has the Most to Lose? – Someone in a long ago and far away critique group had some brilliant advice about POV (point of view) that’s stuck with me to this day. When you’re writing a story with multiple narrative POVs, you’ll have to decide whose POV each scene should be in. Ask yourself who has the most to lose. Who has the most to lose physically? Who has the most to lose emotionally? (Especially emotionally.) Nine times out of ten, the character with the most at stake (in the moment) is the POV you’re going to want to write that scene from.

If You Want to be a Writer, You Need to Make Writing a Priority. – (Full disclosure: I can’t remember who said this to me–in reality, lots of people–but I have to remind myself of it on the regular. Sometimes daily. Sometimes all day long.) This isn’t to say that life–the busyness that comes from living and interacting with other people, a day job, and the world at large–can just be ignored. But if you’re finding it hard making time to write, you may have to take a long hard look at how you’re spending your time and decide where you can cut back to make room for more writing time. Also, make use of whatever tiny pockets of time you have.

Please note, I’m not including depression or other illnesses in the list of busyness. Those are a whole n’other ballgame. But as someone with multiple mental and physical health bullshit going on, I’m reminding you to be gentle with yourself. Constantly beating yourself up isn’t going to suddenly make you more productive. Trust me…I know intimately of which I speak. Be gentle with yourself. Accept help when it’s offered. Ask for help when you need it.

Trust the Story. – Background to this. It’s a paraphrased Neil Gaiman quote. More backstory. Jess Jarman, Kris Norris and I have had a three way text chat going on for almost four years, now. It’s incredibly rare that a day passes that we don’t text each other. I came across this Gaiman quote: “Trust dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.” and shared it with them because I loved it so much.

While we were all working on newer to us genres and sort of stepping into the literary unknown (for us anyway) of self-publishing, we were having a lot of of doubt. Certainly, self-doubt, but also story doubt. We’re all mostly pantsers as opposed to plotters, and we’d often find ourselves second-guessing where the characters and the plots were heading because it wasn’t where we’d thought they’d be going. When that happened (and still, today, when it happens) we always tell each other, “Trust the story.”

Thus far, trusting the story and going with my gut has worked beautifully, and it’s brought me to places I hadn’t had any intention of going, but the books are better for it. I’m sure that one day, it might backfire and I’ll end up with a mass of revisions, but so far, this works for me, and I’m going to keep doing it.

Do you have any writing advice you swear by? What is it? Be sure to go check out the other bloggers’ favorite writing advice. Jess, Gwen, Jessica, and Deelylah.

Musical Musings #3

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It’s time for another Musical Musings, and this month, the subject is songs that remind me of my parents, my sibling(s), and my childhood. This should be fun! Also, I’m guessing it’ll be long. Because music. And family. You’ve been warned.

We’ll start with my dad. When my parents split, there were the weekend visits with my dad, and that meant car rides with the radio tuned to one of three things. Lions football, Tigers baseball, or country music. He’s a big country music fan–but you know, only “real country–not this new horse shit they have nowadays”. (Random thought alert: having spent many of my formative years surrounded by cow shit, I always wondered why he seemed to consider horse shit so much worse. I’m gonna have to ask him one of these days.) 

And while there are a ton of songs that remind me of him the biggest are probably The Gambler by Kenny Rogers and Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash. They always make me smile. Oh! And Delta Dawn – the Tanya Tucker version. I bet I can still sing that. Not gonna try, though.

There are so many songs that remind me of my mom, I don’t even know where to start, after all, she’s the reigning queen of Wildly Inappropriate Bedtime Songs. For instance, we got a lot of protest songs as lullabies well as other songs you wouldn’t normally sing kids like Brandy or The Eagles’ Take it Easy, Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, The Beatles’ Lady Madonna and Eleanor Rigby, Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, pretty much all of John Denver, Carole King, and Simon and Garfunkel, but especially Cecelia. My brother, Tim, loooooooooved that song. But the two songs that probably most remind me of my mom are the Peter, Paul, and Mary covers of Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Blowin’ in the Wind and Don Mclean’s American Pie. You know…for those feel good bedtime vibes – lol. But, I think I get my love of sad songs from all of our Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies. And you know what? I’m good with that.

I have four siblings, so buckle up.

My brother, Tim, is closest to me in age, and when we were younger, we fought. A lot. But when we got along, we had some music in common. Like, I bet if pressed, we could both still sing the entire libretto of Jesus Christ Superstar. (Random side note: Probably the best birthday present I ever got [even better than the signed Brian Froud print] was when Tim surprised me with tickets to a really great touring production of JCS in the early 90s.) But without fail, the song(s) that always make me think of Tim, without fail, is the entire Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction album.

When it first came out, I loathed it–probably just to be contrary because he loved it so much. Fast forward to me moving 500 miles away, shortly after getting married. My husband was finishing up his final year of college, and one night, we were at the bar where he was on a pool league. Some bastard started playing Mr. Brownstone on the jukebox, and I was suddenly so homesick and missing my brother so much, I went into the bathroom and cried.

I’m gonna wait here a sec while that sinks in.

I sobbed overfucking Mr. Brownstone. In a super dodgy bar bathroom. In the U.P.

After that, I may have gotten my own copy of Appetite for Destruction. I am nothing if not nostalgic. You guys oughta know that by now.

I’m happy to report that Tim and I still have some music in common–like Hamilton. We went to go see it in Chicago with our kids (and our sister) a couple months ago. And in theory, we’re going to see Les Miz this year, too!

Next up is my brother, Martin. Now, Tim and I are a bit older than our younger siblings, so sometimes, when our mom was teaching night classes, we’d be on deck for singing Wildly Inappropriate Lullabies at bedtime.

I’ve got several songs that remind me of Martin. Puff the Magic Dragon is a big one. One night when mom was singing it to him, he started wailing. Sobbing like he’d lost his best friend. He realized at that point that Puff is a fucking depressing song. He started sobbing for my mom to fix it. So she had to make up a new, happier verse to finish the song with. Poor Cait was in high school before she realized that no one outside our family knew there was fourth verse.  My kids think there’s a fourth verse, too.

All the Mumford and Sons songs remind me of Martin because he’s the one who introduced me to them. (Yay, Martin!) But the song that always makes me smile and think of him is Turn Down for What. The year that song came out, he was constantly in my face shouting, “Turn Down for What!” He’d begin or end phone calls that way. It was constant. And annoying. But like most things, Martin, it made me laugh.

Fast forward to that summer, he and he’s awesome fiancée were getting married and asked me to officiate the ceremony. So, I got my internet minister’s license (like you do when your brother asks you for a favor) and helped plan the wedding. His wife didn’t know what music to pick for the recessional, so I said, “We could always do, Turn Down for What.” Because she’s awesome, she thought it was hysterical, she also wanted to keep it a secret from Martin. So we surprised him with it at the end of the ceremony. The look on his face was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. He recovered nicely, though, and danced his way back up the aisle.

Then, there’s Andrew. When he was little, he looked and acted so much like Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes that I bought him a stuffed tiger.  He had asthma and had to have nightly nebulizer treatments–so many, that he burned out a nebulizer. And like all junk in our house, it ended up in the garage where he cracked the casing off it and attached jumper cables to it and a car engine and jump started it.  He was that kid.

I have a couple songs that remind me of him. One is John Denver’s Country Roads. He loved that song and wanted mom to sing it to him every night. Or me. Or Tim. When he got married a few years ago, he surprised my mom by having the DJ play it for their mother-son dance. It was the greatest thing ever–even though I suspect most of the guests were confused. Especially, when the rest of us got up and sang along. Then, he also had the DJ play Carole King’s Tapestry so we could dance to it. If I was putting him to bed, he always asked me to sing that to him. And yes, I cried my eyes out when he wanted to dance with me to that song. Incidentally, I now sing it for his daughter when I babysit her.

That brings us to Cait (of Texts from Cait fame). Trying to narrow Cait down to a song or two is going to be next to impossible, but I’ll give it a go. Meatloaf’s Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad will always remind me of Cait. And Tim. Because when it was his turn to put the kids to bed, he’d rock Cait to sleep, and I’d hear him singing Two Out of Three to her. And it was honestly the cutest thing ever. And it was just as damn cute when he sang it to his own kids.

But there are so many songs that remind me of Cait, like Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid, because she thought the line bright young women, sick of swimming was pregnant women, sick of swimming for years. And sometimes we still sing it that way. And nobody karaokes Janis Joplin like my baby sister. Cait’s Piece of My Heart is amazing.  Then, there’s the entirety of Fleetwood Mac musical catalogue. Not to mention all the 60s girl groups. And literally everything Cher ever sang. Also, Cait does a brilliant Cher impression. Jess Jarman was treated to this phenomenon once upon a road trip. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention her love of Bowie. But I think I have to go with ABBA’s Dancing Queen for Cait. She adores all the ABBA, but Dancing Queen is her go-to song forever. It cheers her up when she’s in a bad mood. It makes her even happier when she’s in a good mood. And whenever I hear it, I think of Cait.

Okay, the last topic is childhood–which is tough since, with the exception of Part of Your World, all of the songs here remind me of my childhood. But…if I had to pick just one, it would be Sonny and Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. I know – wildly inappropriate on so many levels, but when I was little, it was my very favorite song ever. And also, I wanted to be Cher. Never was a little pudgy blonde girl so disappointed.

I realize this was probably far more than you bargained for when you started reading, so…sorry? But anyway, if you’re still with me, what songs remind you of your fam and childhood? Share!

And be sure to check out the other bloggers’ song memories. Deelylah, Kris, Paige, Gwen, oh, and my friend, Amanda, likes to play along with these Musical Musing prompts, so she blogged, too.

Flash Fiction #58 – When the Wind Blows

 

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This month’s song fic is When the Wind Blows by The All American Rejects. Here are the lyrics and the video if you want to give it a read and/or listen.

I stood in the middle of the living room and stared at her. She was playing with the dog. It was always the fucking dog. I didn’t have anything against dogs–even small, yappy ones like that–but the dog had become her way of brushing me off. Any time I brought up something she didn’t want to discuss–or even hear–she’d start playing with the terrier.  Like now.

“Does Bella want a treat? Does she? Does mommy’s baby want a treat?”

Predictably, Bella began dancing and yapping at Shellie’s feet, drowning out everything else in the room, and our conversation would be conveniently forgotten. I turned and went into the bedroom. I knew when I’d been dismissed.

I used to think we’d get back to our discussions–that she’d get a handle on her distractibility. Instead, Shellie would navigate around whatever we’d been talking about in the first place, avoiding it like it was quicksand. Then, she’d just act like nothing had ever happened and expect me to play along. I eventually realized that this wasn’t markedly different than the rest of our relationship. Bella had just made it easier for Shellie avoid stuff she didn’t want to deal with and made it more obvious to me. I supposed that little mutt had done me a favor.

I unzipped my backpack and started packing. It wasn’t like I had a lot there. One drawer in the dresser and half a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Unplugging my laptop and phone I shoved them in my computer case and grabbed both bags.

Shellie looked up at me as stepped into the living room, and her brow furrowed. “Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“I thought we were going to watch a movie.”

I grabbed the bag of dog treats off the end table and shook it. Bella danced around my feet, putting her little paws on my thighs. “Does Bella want a treat? Does she?”

“Karen? What are you doing?”

“I’m giving Bella a treat,” I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the dog. “Aren’t I, girl. Yes, I am. I’m giving the puppy a treat.”

I gave her two. I figured owed her for being instrumental in figuring shit out. Tossing the bag back on the table, I pulled open the front door.

“When are you coming back?”

The dog darted for the open door, but I gently nudged her back. “Who’s a good girl? That’s right, Bella is,” I crooned to her in that same annoying voice Shellie insisted on using.

From the corner of my eye, I could see that she’d stood. “Karen?

“Bye, Bella.” I shut the door and walked down the front steps.

I could breathe again.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to see what the other bloggers came up with. Kayleigh, DeelylahKris, and Siobhan.

Promptly Penned: Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

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Heads up, guys. This promptly penned is probably going to to be super short. I’m heartsick (and terrified) at the latest (continued?) political shitstorm facing this country. But I’m going to give this a go anyway.

Prompt: Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For example, there are 20 spells for making tea but none to save yourself from falling off a cliff.

I stood in the richly appointed penthouse office, my feet sinking into carpet so plush, I wasn’t sure it wasn’t the entrails of enemies or something, and forced myself to maintain eye contact with this guy.

He laced his fingers together beneath his chin and stared up at me–charming smile firmly in place. “I’m surprised to see you. Our business has been satisfactorily concluded.”

“Maybe for you. I want it back,” I choked out.

He leaned back in his chair. “You know the rules: no refunds or exchanges. All sales are final.”

“You misrepresented the product.”

He smiled. “That’s called advertising.”

“There’s a difference between advertising and lying.”

“Tomato. To-mah-to.”

I sighed. Magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “There are twenty spells for making tea but none to save yourself from falling off a cliff.”

“So, stay away from cliffs.”

“Funny.” I glared at him. “That was just an example.”

“Look, you sold your soul. You got the ability to do magic. I don’t know what else you’re expecting.”

“I expected to be able to fix the government. I thought I could make all this,” I gestured toward the morning’s newspapers spread across his desk, “go away. I thought I could make things better for people.”

He was laughing before I’d even finished speaking. Asshole. “There’s not enough magic in the world for that.” He made a shooing motion with his hand. “Off you go.  Why don’t you go make yourself a spot of tea.”

He burst into another fit of laughter as I stalked from the  room, stepping aside as his assistant headed toward him carrying a cup of coffee. I muttered a spell under my breath as she passed. I may not have been able to save the world from certain destruction, but I’d managed to manipulate a couple of the tea spells to include coffee. I hoped he had a padded toilet seat. He was going to be there for a while.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out Jess, Siobhan, Deelylah, Kris, and Gwen’s stories, too.

Top 10: Lessons I Learned from My Parents

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I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all learned things from our parents–some intended and some…not so much.

10.) If you want a piece of machinery to work better, you need to swear loudly and profusely at it. I’ve seen this demonstrated with boat motors, tractor engines, combines, arc welders, and gas grills. I’ve used this technique myself with cars, computers, and sewing machines. Dad was right. Machines respond better when they know who’s in charge.

9.) Knitting is cheaper than therapy (unless you buy really, really nice yarn, and then you probably still break even). I don’t know that this bit of wisdom was ever verbalized, but it was certainly demonstrated on the regular. Thanks for teaching me the art of therapeutic knitting! (Full disclosure: sometimes I swear loudly and profusely at my knitting, too.)

8.) You can always use a good piece of rope. This is one of those things I remember hearing all the time as a kid. Literally all the time. And my dad always had various lengths of rope or baling twine to fix stuff. And he wasn’t wrong about that advice, either. This is a link to a thing I wrote for his retirement party a few years ago…involving a good piece of rope.

7.) Do what it takes to follow your dreams. This is one of those double whammy kind of lessons that I got from both sides–from both the parent who did and the parent who didn’t. My dad grew up on a working dairy farm and he was a journeyman welder and did maintenance on the kinds of machines you find in metal fabrication factories.

My mom grew up on a small sustenance farm and became am OR nurse. However, she realized really quickly that wasn’t what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. So she went back to school and double majored in psychology and philosophy and graduated at the top of her class. Then, she went on for her master’s in psych and her her doctorate. She ended up becoming a psychology professor and a leading expert in child development.

Just a few years ago, I found out that what my dad really wanted to do was teach history and write westerns. I wish he would have. I think he would have been happier.

6.) Life is too short to stay married to someone who isn’t right for you. This right here was a huge gift. I was sad that my parents divorced, but it was truly the best gift they could have given us kids and themselves. Everyone was happier, and I learned that it’s crucial not to sacrifice your happiness for anyone else and not to allow them to sacrifice theirs for you.

5.) It’s possible to be so tired that you can do some really fucked up stuff when you’re exhausted. That shit will become family legend. My mom once washed a load of clothes with maple syrup. She also once made quiche with spearmint instead of parsley. It was the literal. worst. (My brother Tim still ate about it, but he bitched the entire time.) I shaved a big chunk of hair off the top of my head thinking my razor was a comb.

4.) Wildly inappropriate lullabies are the best lullabies. My mom rarely sang us traditional lullabies. We got a lot of Simon and Garfunkel, Beatles, Carly Simon, Carole King, and John Denver and the occasional Bob Dylan and Gordon Lightfoot. I kept up the tradition with my kids with a lot of Dar Williams, Tori Amos, Kate Rusby, and other fantastically morbid Celtic folk songs.

3.)Once upon a time” are four of the most powerful words in the world. Both my parents were (and are) huge readers. And my mom always read to us. I loved story time, and I loved it even more with my own kids. Some of my favorite memories involve cuddling up with my kids and books.

2.) There’s no such place as “away”. Stuff doesn’t magically disappear when we get rid of it or throw it away. Donate what’s still useful and recycle everything you can. Yeah, mom was/is a bit of a hippie. And I’m okay with that.

1.) Unconditional love is everything. It’s the best thing my parents taught me, and I hope that it’s the best thing I’m teaching my own kids.

What kinds of things did you learn from your parents? I can’t wait to check out the rest of the parental lessons, and you can too by clicking on the bloggers’ names. Jessica, Jess, Kellie, Paige, and Deelylah.

Flash Fiction #57 – Avebury

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05-2017

“Maddy!” I hollered. “C’mon! We have to go now!”

I stopped moving to to listen. There was nothing. Well, there were a few birds singing somewhere in the distance, and the scrabble of claws against rough bark. But there was nothing to tell me which direction my little sister had headed. No cracking twigs or rustling leaves or muffled giggles.

“Madeleine, this isn’t funny.”

Something that might have been a laugh sounded from the right. It sounded again–this time from the left. It could have been a laugh,  but it also could have been rusty bedsprings, tossed out in the woods with the rest of the forgotten junk.

My sweat-damp hair clung to my neck and moisture trickled down my spine, but I shivered, anyway, goosebumps peppering my skin. Whatever the noise had been, it definitely wasn’t a seven-year-old girl.

I crept slower now, moving quietly through the trees, following the barely visible deer path and searching for any sign of Maddy in that ridiculous red and white polkadot dress she’d insisted on wearing. The one with the red satin sash around the waist. Instead, all I saw was an endless sea of green and brown. Trees and bracken. Leaves and brambles.

I was far enough away from town that I hadn’t stumbled across any other trash piles. And I hadn’t seen an empty beer can or liquor bottle for what seemed like ages. The forest was darker here, letting in very little light through the shifting leafy canopy above.

Movement up ahead caught my eye. Movement and a flash of red. “Madeleine Margaret, get yourself back here right this instant, or Mama’s gonna ground us both!”

I moved faster, breaking into a run, as the trees became sparser. That creaking laugh that might have been a person or might have been the scrape of rusted metal sounded again as I emerged into a clearing.

An old woman, tottering on a rickety wooden ladder was stretching up to reach a branch in the tree above her. Now that I was still, I could hear slight flapping sounds. Ribbons of every color and length, snapping in the wind. My gaze drifted back to the old woman who was humming to herself.

Dread crept over me like a shadow, chilling my blood as it moved sluggishly through my veins. She was tying a knot in a long red sash.

The woman stared down at me, eyes milky blue. “And what have you brought for my tree?” she asked, her voice like scraping metal.

That’s it for me today. Be sure to check out Jess, Deelylah, and Siobhan’s stories, too!

Texts from Cait – Part Twenty-One

Apparently my plans for August 26th are all set.

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Happy accomplishments to me! And to you, too! (Giveaway)

This post is a bit late. My actual ten year publishing anniversary was on March 30th, and I’d planned to do a giveaway to celebrate. However, my mother-in-law died the day before, and understandably, I just didn’t feel like celebrating anything. I was just trying to make it through the visitation and funeral and hold it together for my husband. And though we miss her, we’re comforted by the fact that she was ready and she’s no longer in pain.

While my MIL wasn’t a romance fan–she prefered “spy thrillers”–she was very proud of me. And my husband pointed out recently that she’d be pissed if she knew I was blowing off my anniversary, so here I am…with a celebratory giveaway.

On March 30th, 2007, Ellora’s Cave (before it became the utter train wreck it was to become) published my first novel. And now, ten years and twenty-eight days later, I’ve had 32 published novels and novellas, 72 flash fiction stories, and 988 blog posts (not including guest posts).

I know I’m not as prolific as some, but I am pleased with what I’ve managed to accomplish in the last 10 years. I think that women are sort of societally programed to downplay their accomplishments. (See? I did it right there in the opening of this paragraph. Damnit, Bron! But you know what? I’m leaving it, because it proves my point.)

We’re conditioned not to be too proud of things we’ve done lest people think we’re bragging or too full of ourselves. But fuck that! Women’s accomplishments are just as valid as men’s. No offence to any men who might be reading this, but this whole downplaying of accomplishments definitely skews toward women.

So, to celebrate ten exciting and tumultuous years in this business, I’m going to give away my four print ARCs from the Bound series  that I write with my girl Jessica Jarman, as well as some swag, to the grand prize winner. I’ll also be giving away a few other print books and more swag to other winners. All you need to do to enter is comment on this post and tell me about your accomplishments that you’re most proud of–no matter how big or how small. Let’s celebrate each other!

Please either leave your email address with your comment or email me at bronwyn@bronwyngreen.com with a copy of your comment so I can reach you if you win. Everyone has an equal opportunity to win, and winners will be chosen old school (my kids picking entries from a hat) because rafflecopter hates my blog. Contest closes at 10 PM EST on May 1st.

So, c’mon! Tell me what you’re proud of!

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Monthly Goals Check-In: April 2017

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Man… this has been a month. A long, weird, disquieting month.

Sadly, my mother-in-law died recently, so much of this month has been dealing with grief, and frustration, and anger at a certain family member on that side who needs to be throat punched. But that’s life.

Weirdly, I managed to accomplish quite a few things. This was my list.

Finish the client edits I have scheduled. (Yep. Scheduled 3. Edited 6.)

Complete all April blog posts. (Yep.)

Finish up work on 2 of the (now) 5 websites I’m working on. (Finished one, progress on two and waiting for client response on both.)

Knit 3.5 pussyhats (Yepper.)

Progress on new book and Mist & Stone. (Progress on new book. Zilch on Mist and Stone rewrite.)

Continue with the Organized Home Challenge (Yes and also no. We’re still cleaning and purging but not in order of the list.)

Finish sorting stuff for donation. (Still sorting. Still donating.)

Sew more journal covers and open Etsy site. (Nope.)

I also completed a bunch of things that weren’t on the list.

I proofed, reformatted, and reuploaded 6 of my books.

I did a podcast with Focus on Fantasy Romance about editing.

I updated my blog links.

I cleaned up my blog tags and categories.

I also read 6 books from my TBR pile.

All things considered, I did pretty well this month.

Okay, so…my goals for May are:

Revise and re-release at least one of my stories that I have the rights back on.

Progress on RP.

Progress on TFAD

Complete 7 client edits.

Complete all May blog posts.

Progress on 4 client websites.

Complete the 7 sewing projects I owe people.

Begin deconstructing and reconstructing wedding dress.

Read some more.

Be sure to see how the other bloggers did. Jess, Deelylah, Torrance, and Gwen.

I Wish I’d Learned This Earlier Than I Did

Lessons-Learned

Welcome to another episode of Therapy with Bron. But hey, I figure if I struggle with this shit, some of you might, too.

I try really hard not to live my life consumed by regret. There are too many other things I’d rather be consumed by–laughter, love, a good story, kitty and kid cuddles, nature, music, etc. But even though I try not to dwell, I do have some regrets about things that I wish I’d learned earlier in life.

Like…

1.) How to say no. 🎼🎶🎵 Lord, show me how to say no to this. I don’t know how to say no to this.🎶🎵 (What? You thought I’d pass up opportunity for a Hamilton reference? Foolish mortal.) This is one of those things I’ve never been terribly good at. I’m not saying that I go along with everything that’s ever suggested to me, but I’m often overly concerned that me saying no to someone will hurt their feelings. In the past, I’ve found myself agreeing to projects or taking on obligations that I didn’t really want to do. Weirdly, these boundary issues have never really extended into my relationships with my husband or my kids or my daycare kids. I don’t even know what that says about me.

2.) Asking for what I need doesn’t make me selfish or weak. I’m not sure why this is such a damn struggle.  I mean, it’s really common sense, right? If you need help or you need a hug or whatever, just ask. I think that societally we’re all under the misconception that need = selfishness/weakness – both of which are heavily frowned upon by western society. While I’m clearly not a professional psychologist or a sociologist, it seems like most women skew toward selfishness (particularly older generations) though, with younger generations, I feel like they’re pretty equal. And the majority of men seem to lean toward weakness. Of course, neither of these things are true and most of us are more than willing to cut others slack we won’t cut ourselves, and that’s not healthy.

3.) Self-care is necessary and doesn’t make you selfish (there’s that word again) or lazy. Self-care is any activity that you choose that helps you relax in order to maintain your emotional and physical health and helps you feel able to continue to function. Currently, Parks and Rec and all manner of crafting are self-care go-tos. I think I must have internalized a lot of weird opinions about selfishness and laziness, and TBH, I’m not even sure where they came from. Catholic school seems the most likely place, because it wasn’t from my mom who was my primary parent/caregiver. I mean, she’d encourage “mental health” days from school when we needed them, and trust me, very few school age kids in the 80s had any kind of grasp of mental health.

4.) Being proud of yourself isn’t bragging. I think a lot of us, women especially, have a lot of anxiety tied up with any kind of pride in themselves and their work. For whatever reason, it seems more acceptable to verbalize pride in your children as long as you’re not that person and that’s all you ever talk about or the person who takes ownership of their children’s accomplishments as though they’re responsible.

But back to being proud of yourself for a sec. For a lot  of women, (focusing on women here, because there’s a definite gender difference with this issue) there’s a special kind of anxiety that comes along feeling any kind of pride in yourself or your work. And actually verbalizing that pride? Hahahahahahahahaha. No. Even if we’ve worked our asses off, and are genuinely pleased with something we’ve done, we won’t say anything positive about it. We might even speak negatively about it or say nothing at all.

5.) Saying thank you when someone compliments you doesn’t mean you’re bragging. I know I’ve mentioned this phenomenon on the blog before, but dude…still a struggle. And I know I’m not alone. When someone compliments us or our work more likely to say, “Thank you, but…” That “but” is always followed by a variation of the following: “I got lucky.” Or, “I had a lot of help.” Or, “People are just being nice.” Or, “They like me.” Or “They just felt bad for me.” These are things I hear my colleagues say on the regular. These are things I’ve said on the regular. Granted, I’m much more cognizant of this issue now, and I try really hard to just say “thank you, I really appreciate that” without trying to downplay it. But it’s soooooooooo hard.

I know there are people out there who put this behavior down to false modesty or fishing for more compliments, but this is an anxiety-inducing issue for a lot of people.

6.) Imposter Syndrome is a thing that exists. A few years ago, I learned about this little thing called Imposter Syndrome. It, again, predominantly affects more women than men, but men definitely experience it, too–particularly men in academia. The simplified description is basically that you feel like you’re a fraud, you have no business being in your field, and certainly no business calling yourself an expert, and someday, everyone will find out that you have no clue what you’re doing and you faked your way through your entire career. This constant feeling that the other shoe is going to drop is most common when starting a new project, nearing completion on a project, and/or achieving any kind of success with a project. And the more successes you have, the worse this feeling gets. The end result is usually metric fuck-ton of anxiety and it makes sufferers hesitant to call any kind of attention to their work.  It’s fucking bullshit.

7.) That one Maya Angelou quote is 3012% accurate. The quote I’m talking about is: “When people show you who they are, believe them.” I have a tendency to take people at their word. I’m rarely suspicious of anyone’s motives, and if they say something that sounds reasonable, I believe them. Some might (and probably have) called me naïve or gullible. You know what? I’m not even going to argue that. I could have saved myself years of heartache, grief, anxiety, and second-guessing myself if I’d a.) come across this quote sooner and b.) paid attention to it. I think we’ve all had people in our lives who purportedly had our best interests at heart, cared for us, and only wanted to help or see us succeed. Yet, so often, their actions were at odds with what they said. And if questioned, they’d always have a reasonable explanation for whatever troublesome thing they did. If you’re particularly naïve or gullible, that bullshit can turn into some next level gaslighting.

8.) Listen to your gut. No, I mean it. Really listen. If something or someone feels off, even the tiniest bit, pay attention to that feeling. I’m not suggesting that every twinge you get about a person means they’re an axe murderer. But you know how you sometimes meet people and they seem super great, (and some of them totally are, btw–those usually aren’t the ones you get twinges about) but you get this weird little feeling in the back of your mind or the pit of your stomach? Or even if everyone else really likes a person, but some indefinable thing about them rubs you the wrong way? Listen to those things. I’m not saying you need to run away and shun them, but maybe that’s a cue to slow down and observe this person a bit more before including them in your inner circle. Those little twinges are rarely wrong.

Okay, that’s it for Bron’s Life Lessons, today. Be sure to check out what Jess, Deelylah, Kris, and Gwen wish they’d learned earlier.

 

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