writing

Dream Catchers: A Nightmares Excerpt

 

The only furniture he kept in his apartment was a mattress in the corner that he picked up from the side of the road, a mostly broken mini fridge for alcohol, and a single chair in the middle of the floor that was used to hold more of the supplies that were scattered around his room. The materials he used to make his Dream Catchers, the Angel feathers in locked boxes and the jars of figurines he sculpted from the wax that caused the countless drips on the floors.

He’d harness the energy from the feathers, the good, pure energy, and merge it into the figurines. The figurines would burn with a light unlike any seen before, until Owl used his Widow energy to mold it into a Catcher, just like the other Widows would use the dark energy in the world to mold into Nightmares. Only Widows could bend and use energy like that. Only they.

Once the Catchers had taken the shape of whatever the figurine was, now large and alive, then he’d take them to a house so laden with Shades and Bees that it threatened to become a patch of Nothing all on its own. There he’d let the Catcher loose, and almost instantly, the house would begin to lighten, as the Shades and Bees were burned and destroyed, just like the Angels should have been doing all along.

~

Elliot Orion, Excerpt from Nightmares.

writing

Bring It On, Novel

With finals week and the prep before it, I have had minimal time to edit or work on my writing. Even this weekend, I was busy studying and working hard on a million and one things other than my novel. Add in dysphoria, mental health, and therapy, and I’ve barely had time to do anything I enjoy.

Well, not anymore. Today begins the day that I really crack down on my editing. That means I finish extending the parts that need to be extended. That means I print it out to catch what needs to be caught. That means I crank out the edits to Part One so I can move on to Part Two.

It means I take this more seriously. I know that I want A Star Has Fallen to be published. Preferably in physical book format that I can hand out, but given my age and my lack of experience, I’d settle for a few comments on WattPad. To do that, I need to work on the editing. I’m not going to have any more time this summer than I do right now, given how busy I will be at CCY, an intensive writing program I’m attending for four weeks this summer (Don’t worry, I’ll be blogging about it frequently!!). I’m not going to get any more time than I will have during the next two half days and one week off from school before CCY.

So I’ve got to get to work.

Bring It On

Gender

I Look Cute??

My gender exploration  has been a very long, very tiring trip. But If I’ve learned anything in three years, it’s that I like pretty things, and I like feeling pretty. I really like it. Like, a lot. I love the skirts and the dresses and people complimenting me on my appearance. I’m done hiding in oversized, sloppy masculine clothes. I’m comfortable in that stuff, sure, but more like you are comfortable in the holey sweatpants that you wear around the house after a hard day at work. I don’t feel good in them. They were just clothes that reflected my bad mental state.

And once I realized this, I began to work. Not at a job, no, I began to work on accepting this part of me. I had to learn how to accept and embrace what made me confident and happy, and how to balance that with my social dysphoria. And guess what?

I have not succeeded. Not yet. I still feel incredibly uncomfortable when I wear a skirt, or when I try and explain this to someone, because I know it will make people view me as a girl. I know I cannot wear a skirt and have people believe I am genderless like I truly am. I can’t have both. I can’t. Realizing this has been one of the worst things I have ever realized. I’ve cried so much over it that I could fill a lake.

And then… And then today happened. Today, I wore a dress. I wore it over pants and under a tee shirt, so all you could see was the skirt. But I wore it. I wore it to school, where everyone saw me in this slightly strange, certainly different outfit. I was uncomfortable as hell, trying to balance the strangeness and newness and the knowledge I was outright breaking gender norms.

But now? After getting home and reflecting a little?

I feel hella confident. Because I didn’t look feminine. I didn’t look masculine. I looked nonbinary. I may not have passed as a typical androgynous person, but who cares? I may not have had people looking at me trying to figure out if I was a boy or a girl because I look like a boy with a feminine face. I had people looking at me trying to figure out what the hell was going on. I broke gender norms, and in doing so, I broke the machine. They still had no idea what gender I was, even with me wearing a skirt.

I may not be the traditional, prepubescent boy, type of nonbinary. I may be fat and feminine and like to mess with things. But I realized today that there is more than one way to appear nonbinary, and I have just found the way that works for me. I found my own slightly feminine, mostly confusing way to be genderless.

So you know what? Wear what makes you feel confident. It’ll be hard at first. It’ll make you cry as you try to figure out exactly what pretty means to you, and it’ll make you self conscious and uncomfortable at first. But do it. Find the clothes that make you happy. Play with your closet. Mix and match what you have until you find you, buried within the things you no longer love. Move past the uncomfortable, and be you.

You dress for yourself. Remember that.

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School

Surviving Finals Week Without Ripping Your Hair Out

It’s the final countdown… To the end of school!! One week and two days left before I get to relax, write, and most importantly, sleep in. No one likes waking up at six, especially not when they have to do advanced math within the hour, and your resident night-person is in total agreement. With the end of the school year, comes the end of school year stresses. Final test, final projects, final meetings of clubs… Everything is changing, which in itself is a stressful thing. It kind of, sort of, really sucks.

But if you think that a junior who spent a year and a half teaching themselves as a home-schooler doesn’t have a few school tricks up their sleeve, then you’d be wrong. Here are my favorites.

  1. Khan Academy: If you haven’t heard of Khan Academy, than please tell your teachers they are fired for failing to do their jobs properly. Khan Academy has a ton of classes, from art history, to biology, to US history, to any and all math classes available. They have videos teaching you and tests to quiz you. You can also connect Khan Academy to your College Board account and get a personalized study plan for the SATs. Oh, and it’s free.
  2. Crash Course: Crash Course is a YouTube channel that has a ton of videos on a ton of subjects. They’ve got astronomy, history, mythology, film history, economics, and a ton more. It’s produced by John Green and his brother, and let me tell you, these videos are immensely helpful. My tutor told me that she studied for the US History AP test using solely these videos and she got extremely high marks. So like, they are pretty dang helpful. And again, free!
  3. Tumblr: Okay hang with me. Obviously Tumblr is a social media site and is horribly distracting and all that fun stuff. But there is a part of Tumblr called Studyblr. This part of Tumblr focuses solely on being productive and studying. While much of it is aesthetic pictures of bullet journals and work spaces, they also have a ton of great organizational resources, inspirational quotes, and study tips. My favs? Look through the Exam Tips tag, and check out avocadocollege, and collegeife!! Some advice though? Only look here when you have down time, because if you are in a study session, then you will definitely get distracted!
  4. Final Grade Calculator: This thing has saved my life lately. All you do is type in how much your final is worth for your overall grade, what you currently have, and what you want to have, and it calculates how high you have to score to get that grade. It’s amazing, and really removes a ton of stress. Did you know I only have to get a 69% on my math final to get my ideal grade? I didn’t, but now I am so much calmer. The site also has other questions that you might have, for more specific situations. And again, free!
  5. Have a final essay? Try Purdue Owl. This is another situation where if your English teacher hasn’t shown you this, then fire them. This writing lab has a million different tips, including extremely detailed ways to site in a ton of different formats, including APA and MLA, English as a second language, and job search writing. It’s great, and free.
  6. Need more citation help? Try Easy Bib. Easy Bib is a site where you can paste a website and it will automatically give you a citation in MLA. It also does magazines, books, and other publications. It lets you plug in any information it missed, too! This saves a TON of time on essays, especially research papers with a lot of citations. Also, free! You can even get APA, Chicago, and Harvard formats if you pay for membership.
  7. Don’t feel like paying Easy Bib for APA citations? Check out Citation Machine, which is exactly the same as Easy Bib, only for APA.

 

I think that’s enough to get you all started, right? I hope so!! Good luck everyone!!

writing

“I Hate My First Draft.”

In other news, “Water is wet.” Because if we are being honest here, who doesn’t hate their first draft a little? It’s always so rough and undeveloped and it seems like every other word is spelled wrong. You read through once and realize that this scene needs to be removed, and that chapter needs rewriting, and this whole section just needs to burn in hell, it’s so bad. It can be overwhelming just how many things need to be changed. It gets even worse when they are large, god forbid, repeating parts of the story, like a theme or a joke or a name. You might think, “The only way to fix this is to scrap it and start again.”

But don’t let hating your first draft be the only deciding factor in a rewrite. Because when you hate your first draft, you won’t be able to see the positives it has, even if they outnumber the bad. So try this before you decide to throw in the towel and start again.

  1. To start with, stop saying you “hate” your novel. You don’t hate it. You hate parts of it. Maybe large parts, but it’s still just parts. Instead, reword it. Rewording your thoughts is like rewording a sentence: one small change makes the whole paragraph have a different meaning. I like to say I’m “disagreeing with my novel.” Even just changing it to “I dislike my novel right now” could be enough. Make sure to keep the right now bit, though.
  2. Take a break. Unless you’ve got a tight deadline, take a break from the novel. Take a break from writing all together. Instead, paint, read, go outside, or do some arts and crafts. Try and pick something that is either creative or that you know will stir up those creative feelings again. Maybe even talk to a friend about your novel, just to try and jump start the same passion you had for it when you began writing.
  3. Write down what you do like. Be specific. Whether you like the wording of this one sentence on page fifty, paragraph three, or whether you like how you wrote this character, write it down. Make as big a list as you can. Do this when you are feeling positive about your novel, because otherwise, you won’t be catching all the good stuff because you are too distracted by the bad.
  4. Then write down what you don’t like. Write down what is causing this argument between you and your novel. Do this when you really hate your novel, but be sure not to get overwhelmed or make any rash decisions. Today, you are just writing the bad. No throwing in the towel yet. Be as specific as physically possible. “This sentence here pisses me off, but I don’t know why.” “This word is wrong and I don’t know the right one.” See? It doesn’t matter if you can’t figure out why you don’t like it yet, or how to fix it. It’ll come to you. That’s why you write it down, so you don’t forget. Or, worst comes to worse, that’s what a beta is for.
  5. Do all this in the comments section of your doc. There you can attach the comments to the section of the story. This will keep you organized, and help you see the things that are wrong, and right, as you work. Seeing the wrong things will help you know what to fix, and seeing the right things will help give you a little boost when you see it. Even if you dislike the part now, you did like it, and that will help force you to see the distortion of your thinking. And the opposite is true with the bad comments. You once didn’t like it, but as you improve the story, you will see that it was just your stupid argument. Also, beta readers will be able to reply to your comments on the doc, saving you a lot of time and getting super specific answers to things you worry about.
  6. Finally, save the original, unedited version separately from the edited one. When you finish the editing, or maybe after it’s published, look back at the unedited version and see just how far the story has come. See all the good work you’ve done, and most importantly, see that even the crappiest novels can become a work of art, with enough work that is.

 

Hopefully these tips can get you all started on the process of loving your novel again. And just remember, even if it takes time, even if you hate it every step of the way, seeing how far you’ve come and what you can accomplish is a magnificent feeling, and trust me, it will be worth it.

Gender · Mental Health

Thank You, Anxiety. For Real This Time.

I have a very hard time talking about my issues, especially when it comes to gender. I have been by people close to me and my own family that I cannot be anything but a girl, that I cannot change my name, that I can’t be nonbinary. Hearing those things, especially when it’s constant and from people who matter to you, is really difficult. And although I have left some of those people, and my parents are accepting of my gender, I still can’t escape it from my some. Most importantly, I can’t escape the horrible thought my mind clings to that my lack of a gender is just a lie I tell to get attention, and the feeling that I am not allowed to talk about it because I have been trained through experience to know that if I do, I will be shamed for it.

But now, I am going to a group designed especially for those who are trans. In less than an hour, I am going to be sitting with other people like me, who want to hear my experiences and want to help me. This should be something to be excited about, right? I should feel excited!

But all I feel is anxiety. Horrible, gut wrenching anxiety. Because I am afraid to talk about this. I’m afraid that they will laugh and say I am not “trans enough” because I am nonbinary, or that they will say agender isn’t real. I’m afraid I will go there and hear the same things I have heard for the past three years since I came out. Because of this fear, I’m hiding in my room, typing this under a pile of weighted blankets. I don’t want to go.

But I am.

Because I know my anxiety is a liar. I know that this group will be full of accepting, caring, loving individuals who will respect my pronouns, love my name, listen to my story, and will help reassure me that I’m valid. I know I will hear their stories, and that I will be able to help them too, by being an accepting, caring, and loving individual for them. I know that they will be able to understand, and they will help me understand myself.

And I’ve realized, huddling beneath approximately 30 pounds of weight, that my anxiety just gives me an advantage. I know that the people in this group have likely heard the same exact things I have heard. I know they may have internalized it to. So knowing my anxiety, knowing what I fear, I can now know what to say and how to respond in the way that will help the other members. Because of my fears, I know what I need, and so I can provide it for them.

So yes, anxiety sucks. Yes, I’m still going to be a wreck of worry walking into that building, and yes, I’m still going to be worried about the same things I’m worried about right now. Yes, that all sucks. I’m not saying it doesn’t.

But I know how to fix it. I know how to fix it for others, and if I do that, then they can do it for me. So thank you anxiety, for giving me the tools to support others. I’ll appreciate it once I get there.

Maybe.

Mental Health

Celebrating the Little Victories

People might tell you that you need to find the good things in your life, that you have to tell yourself three things you like about yourself every night in the mirror. Which is bull crap. The people who say that might come from a nice place, but that advice is as useful as me when I’m depressed. Because when I’m depressed, how can I think of the good things when I don’t even care about going to an amusement park? When I’m hating my body, how can I look in the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful? It doesn’t work like that. So I will be the first to call it: Bull. Crap.

But that does NOT mean to give up!!!! Just because you can’t think of the good things, doesn’t mean you must wallow in never ending despair. You just have to look for the good things another way.

So read the title. Now read it again. Celebrating the little things. The one, sole thing that might bring you some joy. Celebrate everything, no matter how silly or dumb you may think it is. Celebrate getting dressed. Celebrate brushing your hair. Celebrate a five minute phone call with your mother. Celebrate eating a stick of celery, even if that was the only thing you ate that day.

Celebrate writing fifty words, even if you deleted two hundred. Celebrate jogging up the hill on your way back home. Celebrate asking your teacher that one question, celebrate reading a page of your homework, celebrate taking your medication. Celebrate sleeping 8 hours and celebrate sitting outside for five minutes.

Make a blog and post about every little thing you did for yourself, every little victory. Fill a journal with all the amazing things you have done. Find a friend who will cheer you on when you tell them that you did a batch of laundry. Make it official. Make sure everyone knows that you survived today, and you are proud of it.

Because I’m going to let you in on a secret: Those things, those little things that people who aren’t in your situation might think are silly, those things that you struggle with? They are good things. If someone asked you what was your good thing of the day and you answer with “I took a deep breath,” then that is a perfectly wonderful answer to give. Taking care of yourself is a good thing. You are a good thing.

So yea, maybe you don’t care about anything but going to bed again, and maybe you hate everything about your appearance. But you got out of bed, you made yourself a cup of tea, and you made a microwave dinner. And I can’t think of a single thing that deserves to be celebrated more than that.