Tag Archives: State of Mind

IWSG 71: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Co-Hosts

Diane BurtonJH Moncrieff | Anna @ Elements of Emaginette | Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter | Erika Beebe  | Lisa Buie-Collard!

I started to write another post all positive and sparkly, then my sister texted me and not for the first time. Here’s the full reversal: the fear mongering, gossip, and death threats are ridiculous in my world. I feel myself folding under the enormous pressure of speculation and stupidity.

I’m not saying don’t be careful. All of us need to use diligence.

Here are my numbers and no doubt they’ll be different when you read this:

Canada: British Columbia: Population 5 million

covid-19 Pandemic as of 2020 03 31

      • Active Cases: 435
      • Recovered: 606
      • Deceased: 25

When you compare them to the numbers worldwide, what do you think? Right, me too. For the few of us that haven’t lost someone, can we please stop freaking out?

The flood gates will break in BC soon enough and the only way we can fight back is by social distancing.

Stop Panicking

Being upset doesn’t keep us safe. I know emotions can come on really, really strong. I have them too. As someone with depression, I get it. Strong emotions make me careless; and worse, I live in a black hole blind to everyone else.

Not thinking straight will be our undoing worldwide, and we can’t afford to make a mistake. Our friends and family are depending on us.

We’ve been following these rules (if they’ll  help):

  • Stay 10 feet (3.05 metres) away when talking to anyone.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wash your doorknobs and fridge handle regularly.
  • Stay at home, without visitors.
  • Contact friends and family through email, text, etc.
  • Buy gas at the pump.
  • Buy food and supplies (when possible) online.
  • Go out only if you must.

I’m going to take a chance that I’m not the only one facing constant bombardment with warnings and testimony about a friend of a friend of mine.

Sorry for the rant, I really am, but I’ve had enough. Try not to drink their frigging Kool-Aid.

Panic is our enemy; following protocols is our defence.

What have you been doing to stay calm and stay safe?

Writers: Can You Make Fear Work For You?

We all know, the greater the emotion, the more we feel alive. It may start deep down, but as the emotion builds, it’s near impossible to ignore. I chose the emotion fear because it’s the easiest to relate to. Everyone has been afraid at least once.

Why drag you down this rabbit hole?rabbit-1

The writer’s job is to tell a story and to evoke emotion. If done just right, the story becomes larger than life and the reader has a great experience. Amazingly enough, some readers, me, want to be frightened. Even if it’s from the safety of their bed. They read horrors and hear every bump in the night. hehehe

Using fear, let’s open a window

Think back to the worst thing that ever happened to you. Imagine it and let that moment become intense. If you’re having trouble, try one of these examples:

  • you’re in a dark room and something uninvited is there with you
  • you wake up trapped in a coffin
  • alone in the wilderness and you’re being stalked by a hungry animal
  • you realize you’ve infected your family with a deadly disease
  • your doctor tells you, you’re going insane

After a moment or two, offer yourself a possible escape. Hold on to those feelings and align them with what your character faces when their story begins and their stakes if they fail.

Stakes and Suspense

Anyone can build suspends as long as they understand where the fear-1940184_1280character’s fear originates and then let it increase a degree at a time.  The more they hope for success; the more they may lose. If they have a natural deadline, the more they’ll push. The more they push; the more likely they’ll make a mistake and lose ground, increasing the stakes.

Do you have other techniques to enhance emotion and raise the stakes?

Submitting Without Fear

Rejection is subjective.

Rejection is part of the craft of writing.

Rejection hurts.

I’ve lost two contests and I’m going for my third.

My question is, how do I submit as if I haven’t been rejected? How do I write my best work without being afraid I’ll fail again?

sk-on-writingThe answer for me was going back to the beginning. To refresh my memory of why I am here and why I am doing such a silly thing like submitting at all.

The first book I read was Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.

Here’s a quote:

“The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story … to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all. The single-sentence paragraph more closely resembles talk than writing, and that’s good. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction. If not so, why do so many couples who start the evening at dinner wind up in bed?”

I’ve not thought of myself as a seductress for a while now. But I’ve heard it’s like riding a bike. This round I think I’ll use my purple pen to polish my entry.

Wish me luck. I hope you beta readers are ready. I’m days away from sending it out.

Readers: What do you do when you need to find your writing magic?

Personal Essay #7 — Asking for Autographs

Personal Essay Button I’ll be writing and posting Personal Essays on the last Tuesday of every month. They will be honest, sometimes vivid explorations of my life.

I’m writing them for two reasons: to help put my experiences in perspective and to purge myself of any residual compost.

Since it is good therapy, you are invited to join me, post your link in comments and I’ll be sure to drop by.

Let it begin:

banner wicked truck 1a

I’m looking back at an episode of extremes. I love live theater and have for years. So when Wicked, came to Vancouver my sister and I decided to go. While there my behavior did a quick flip—excited by the performance became too shy to approach the cast. I don’t expect to ever have a crowd of fans flocking around me, but if I ever do I hope I remember this moment.

My love of musical theater began long before I lived in Vancouver. I had seen The King and I on television several times throughout my life and never expected to see a live performance. But Yul Brynner came to the Queen Elizabeth Theater months before he died of cancer. The only sign of illness was his heaving chest after a lengthy song and dance. I still regret not trying to get his autograph.headshot anna 1a

No surprise then, when the musical, Wicked, came to Vancouver Queen Elizabeth Theater; my sister and I jumped at the chance to go. I decided before we took our seats that I was going to get autographs. So during intermission, I asked about what I needed to do. Full of bravado, I would have gone up on the stage and, chased the cast to the dressing rooms if that was what it took. As soon as the curtain calls were done, I did as I was told and rushed outside to the stage door pen and program in hand.

The first face I recognized I rushed toward; she smiled, signed and thanked me for coming. The next person that came out I’m not so sure of, my bravado slipping, and I asked them if they were in the performance, feeling quite rude. How could I not recognized them, but they were dancers that were in full flying monkey make-up and gladly signed. Another pair of women came out, looking very much like the two stars (but maybe not), and they asked us how we liked the performance because they were new to the troop. I still got their autographs, but was slowly losing my confidence which made no sense.

Days later and I’m haunted with the fact I was overwhelmed. I have always believed that anyone putting themselves out there deserves acknowledgment and we should never be afraid to share something positive with them. How would it have looked for them to come up to me asking me if I was waiting for an autograph—egomaniac on a stick—that’s how. I’m so glad I’ve had this moment of enlightenment; and I’ve promised myself if I ever go back to the theater to get autographs, I’ll be sure to ask everyone. Fan, headliner, supporting cast member and backstage grunt—I’m asking them all.

The Stitch Project

I’m happy to say that I eventually got my floss, but the story isn’t over yet. If you’ve not read about my cross-stitch project click here. This is turning out to be a saga of Viking proportions. I may say this with a smile, but I know I’m being tested.

A while back I checked to see why my floss had not arrived. There must be a reason. After what I paid for delivery my package should have been in my hand within two-four days. Two weeks later I’m going over my order form, and there it is like a giant wart on what could have been a beautiful face. I used the shift key when entering the digit of my box number so there was a hash mark (#) instead of the number three. My typing skills are great, as long as I’m on a computer and can use the backspace button freely.

I know this and yet I still don’t proof everything I type.

Whoa, now what am I going to do? The floss should have been at my local post office last time I visited, but wasn’t—hence all the whining. Breaking out in a cold sweat, wondering if I’m ever going to get this masterpiece finished, I rushed down to my local post office ready to beg for help.

In a small town there are things I’ve learned to live with. For example, I’ve returned post that was put in my box in error. As I’m standing there waiting my turn, this very thought occurs to me. If it landed in the right box with the wrong name, would the owner of the box return the floss unopened, saying it was some kind of mistake.

When my turns comes, I sound more like an insane woman than a customer in need. Thank you Grand Forks Post Office representative for sticking to your guns, getting the story and making sense of it all. She finally asked me to write a note saying where the package was coming from and what address I accidentally put on it. She also reassured me that she knew the owner of that particular box, so there was no need to worry. Like me, the owner was very honest.

Customer service is not dead. And I have a rep to prove it.

Weeks go by and I’m starting to lose my faith, but I shouldn’t have. I found the packet in my post office box with the note in my handwriting taped to it. Yes, I did do a happy dance. Yes, I raised the packet skyward and thanked the big guy for making such nice people in the world.

Sadly I’ve done nothing with my project since. I’ve lost my motivation to stitch, but I feel it rising again now that I’m written this post. Excitement is in the air and it feels good. I Promise a picture will soon follow. 🙂