Facing The Blank Page

So, I got an email about a group that published a couple of my short stories in 2018 and 2019 being open for submissions again.

Ugh.

Writing has been a struggle for me. Blog writing, aside from mostly boring life recaps, has been difficult. Attempts at coming up with anything creative to post — or even finishing some of the creative ideas I had in the past — have been fruitless. Ditto with my fiction efforts.

Rarely do I sit down to write fiction and have a concrete idea in mind. That isn’t usually how my brain works. My ideas start off as bits of conversation. Some faceless character will say a sentence or two and another faceless character will respond. I’ll sit down and work on it, and before I know it, I’ll have a couple pages worth of dialogue, an idea of who my characters are, and I’ll know where I want to go. Now, just because I know where I want to go doesn’t mean I’ll finish it, but still, that’s how I work.

I don’t think I’ve sat down and outlined a book from start to finish more than a couple of times. My husband, son, and best friend half want to beat me now because I won’t work on an outline I showed them last year. I wrote 30 pages and stopped. They know how it’s supposed to end and want the rest of it, but it hasn’t happened. I’m just not built for writing anything longer than that fiction-wise (at least at this point in my life), regardless of knowing how it will end.

I don’t suppose I’ll ever teach a writing class.

The dialogue hasn’t been coming to me as much these days. My brain has been in a slump, which is so frustrating. Most of y’all reading this know how it is, because it gets that way for you, too. (And if it doesn’t, don’t tell me.) Whenever I get writer’s block like this, I always wonder how much of it’s me (and the normal ups and downs in writing) and how much of it is the mood meds holding me back. There’s absolutely no doubt that there is a huge drop-off in creativity with meds. So that, on top of the unpleasantness I wrote about in my last post, has been sucky. I talked about this with my psychiatrist last week, and he mentioned there being drug trials with LSD and the such. He joked that if he got to prescribe that, I’d have an abundance of creativity.

So, you’re suggesting I obtain illegal drugs to fix this? (Just kidding, of course.)

I took my laptop to my daughter’s occupational and speech therapy appointments yesterday. I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy lady, because I was doing some hardcore staring at a blank page on my laptop. One of the therapists asked if I was okay, and I gruffly said yes, somewhat annoyed by her intruding on the thoughts I wasn’t having. Ha.

(I’m tempted to rename my blog using the title of this post.)

I came up with nothing yesterday afternoon. I tried again last night and came up with a few lines that I hated. More trying this morning. I came up with some dialogue I liked and wrote a few pages, but had no idea where I wanted to take it. (It was some funny shit, though, about some old ladies at a senior circle, and it made my husband literally LOL. So yay for that.)

After lunch, I sat down yet again. And then a thought turned into almost 4,000 words and 10 pages, beginning and end. (It’s a suspense-horror deal, a genre I’ve never touched, and certainly a far cry from funny shit at a senior circle.) I’m not terribly pleased with it, because I don’t think it would be accepted after cleaning it up, but it’s progress. (And hopefully that idea will lead to another, ideally a genre I’m more comfortable with.) I’ll sure as shit take that right now. And I didn’t even need LSD!

I relate to this so hard.

Image result for the office i'll start talking gif

I guess the non-pharmaceutical solution to writer’s block is simply writing, as silly as it sounds. One thing leads to another and hopefully you’ll get something you don’t totally hate.

Now, watch me jinx myself with that and go back to the blank page later night and not be able to come up with anything.

Last Day of the Year Brain Dump

Hello, last day of the decade. (You’re either #TeamDecadeIsEnding or #TeamAnnoyinglyYetPerhapsCorrectInSayingThereIsAnotherYearToGo, and I’m the former.)

As far as 2019 goes, things were pretty good. On a personal level, I made some progress on my weight. Lost 40 pounds, but gained back 10 unfortunately, but I’m ready to keep working on that. That is probably the extent of my personal wins for the year, off the top of my head. I didn’t make much progress on the writing front. I had a short story published, but that wasn’t exactly what I was shooting for in 2019. Oh well.

I’m going to try to minimize distractions in 2020 to help with that. I don’t even care if I publish anything in 2020 so much as whether I actually make progress on some writing projects that I desperately want to finish, but have sucked at sticking with. And in minimizing distractions, hopefully I’ll read and blog more than last year, too. (Writing is writing.) I’ve deactivated a few social media accounts, but am keeping Instagram. I took the Facebook app off my phone, so I’ll only browse on there when I get on my desktop. And by doing that, I’ll reduce the mindless scrolling and seeing all the nasty posts that bug me, huge positive.

My other big goal for the year is to implement strategies from The Explosive Child in my parenting. Baby Girl’s meltdowns aren’t as extreme, but they still happen frequently. Little Man’s behavior is worsening. So what we’re doing now — at least with LM — isn’t working too well. Time to try something new, and I’ve read that the strategies in The Explosive Child work fabulously with oppositional kids. It will take some time and a lot of work on my behalf to change how I react to these stressful situations that come up, but if it helps make any improvement, it’ll be totally worth it. (Here’s a link to some of the strategies used with that method if anyone wants to check it out.)

Improvement is the name of the game in 2020.

In other interesting 2019 things, we got Baby Girl figured out.

As most of y’all know, she was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder back in June. That was (and remains to be a relief), knowing what’s behind some of her behaviors. Ditto with the boy. She also had her tonsils out after being diagnosed with sleep apnea, and while we haven’t seen as much improvement in behavior as we were hoping for (or progress with speech), she is mostly sleeping through the night, so yay!

And I think that about sums up 2019. I thought my last brain dump of the year where I reflect on 2019 would be longer, but it’s not. Not a whole lot about the year really stands out. It was full of answers for the kids, millions of doctor and therapy appointments, and some good times as a family. It was probably the busiest year we’ve ever had in terms of being on the go, so maybe things will slow down a little in 2020. I may do a post reflecting on the decade later, which should be more interesting.

What goals do you have for 2020?

About Anxious Mom, As Narrated By Morgan Freeman

While updating my About Me page, I decided to have a little fun with it. And since there has been an influx of new followers, I thought I’d share that page as a blog post. Welcome aboard, new folks.


Per the blog post title, you should read this in Morgan Freeman’s voice. 

Anxious Mom, who is known as “Mommy,” “Mom,” or “Momo” by her children, is a 30-something woman who resides in the Deep South. (And by “resides,” we mean “suffers” due to the unbearable heat and humidity.) She has two heathens — a son in middle school and a daughter in kindergarten. When the children aren’t busy tormenting each other, they torture their mother in ways only children can.

There are many things Anxious Mom enjoys doing in her spare time. If you ask her directly, she’d probably tell you that she loves reading and doing intellectual activities such as going to the museum. If you observe her in her habitat, however, you’ll find that she mostly watches shows on Netflix and plays games in her downtime. She is particularly fond of comedies, including The Office, Parks and Rec, Friends, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She has jokingly said that liking one of those shows is required to be friends with her, but through careful observation, we have learned it is not, in fact, a joke.

If you asked Anxious Mom about her background, she’d tell you that she did a brief stint as a teacher before becoming a stay-at-home-mom. Since then, she has done freelance work part-time, including providing content writing and editing services. Her primary job, however, is working as a chauffeur. This is where she truly excels in life, as she has a penchant for punctuality (as long as her children and husband don’t intervene) and safety. The mother, who we suspect was a hall monitor in another life, is proud of having never gotten a speeding ticket. She does, however, fill her swear jar every other day thanks to her time on the road, so she isn’t as goody-two-shoes as she seems.

As you can see, Anxious Mom is a blogger. Some people call her a mommy blogger, and that irritates her greatly. “I am a mom who blogs,” she maintains, as though there is truly a difference. She has blogged for five years and writes about herself and her family. When she first started blogging, she wrote a lot about her mental health, and it’s suspected that she’ll do so again. The rapidly-approaching-middle-age mother is also fond of writing blog posts where she rants about meaningless topics.

This concludes our glimpse into the life Anxious Mom. You can read her other blog posts or follow her on Instagram for other mundane insights into her life.

30 Minutes In The Life…

I need to start keeping a list of blog topics again. An idea popped in my head while I was in the bathroom earlier, and I thought it’d make for a decent blog post. (It wasn’t about anything bathroom-related.) So, I made my way into the living room and sat down at my computer and got a notification that I needed to take medicine.

Reminder: medicine 10:00, daily

It was more than an hour past when I should’ve taken it, so I got up. Once in the kitchen, I saw that the eggs were left out that I brought in this morning from grocery shopping. And by grocery shopping, I mean that I ordered a bunch of stuff on my Walmart Grocery app and picked up everything before I dropped off Baby Girl at school. I hate going in Walmart with a passion, plus they remodeled the damn store and moved everything around, so I’ve been using the app. The app came in especially handy this week since I’m dealing with a cold-sinus thing. When I got home, I put away everything but the eggs. Dammit. Back to the computer.

How long do eggs stay good when left out?

Google said eggs can stay out at room temperature for two hours. Seeing how I got a notification that my groceries were ready at 7:45 and it was past 11:00, things weren’t looking good for the eggs. I put them in the refrigerator anyway and will let my husband test them out. I can’t throw away 18 eggs unless I know for sure that they’re bad, and he’ll taste test anything. (Seriously, though. I told him the other day that I don’t know what I’ll do if he dies before I do, because then I won’t have anyone to check to see if food is still fresh.)

After putting the eggs away, I noticed the gallon of bleach on the table. I bought it because there’s a stain of some sort in the toilet and I’m hoping that will take care of it. I poured a cup of bleach in the toilet and then realized I didn’t know how long I can leave bleach in the toilet before it eats a hole in the plaster or whatever.

How long can I leave bleach in the toilet?

And then I noticed the notification in the top corner of my screen was still there reminding me to take my medication.

Reminder: medicine 10:30, daily

So I took it.

And after I took my medication, I cleared off the kitchen table, wiped down the table and the counters, and contemplated folding one of the baskets of clothes by the back door. I decided against that because nothing looked too wrinkly.

Back to the computer desk. The Google tab was still open from my bleach search, and I saw that it’s recommended you leave bleach in the toilet for 10 minutes. Okey-doke, timer set for 10 minutes. And then I got to the reason I sat down at this computer desk in the first place — the post.  I opened up WordPress, ready to write about the topic I was excited to write about earlier, but then my brain totally blanked. I hoped that by writing all of this out, I would trigger something and the idea would come again, but it didn’t.

Oh well.

And now you know how I spent the last 30 minutes of my day.

In case you’re wondering, I actually did flush the bleach on time, but it didn’t get the stain. Yuck. Google tells me that it’s probably lime build-up, so I guess I’ll buy something for that later.

Tuesday Brain Dump

“I bet you’re getting a lot of writing done now.”

Three people have said this to me over the past week. Each time I smiled and nodded enthusiastically in a way that indicated I was indeed working on the next big thing. Look at me, with all my free time, being productive! My stepmom, who never takes an interest in anything I do, took an interest and asked what. Dammit, woman. I told her about an outline for a YA novel I wrote several months ago because I wasn’t admitting to working on nothing right now and sounding lazy. I don’t know why they expect me to be writing so much in the week the kids have been back to school.

In reality, I’ve written nothing more than some blog stuff. I’m sure I’ll get around to working on that outline or some other outline that probably won’t go anywhere, because my ability to finish a writing project that is longer than 20 pages doesn’t exist it seems, but right now, nada.

So, I didn’t get the Big Job, it appears. I wrote about being sent a contract for a writing job and then not hearing anything back after signing the contract. I went against my husband’s advice and reached out and heard nothing. I’m not sure why you would send someone a contract and then not give them actual work, but whatever. I’m equal parts bummed and relieved because with riding all over the country for these kids’ schools, BG’s therapy, and other crap, I’m not sure where a fullish time job would fit right now. Okay, maybe it’s not equal parts anything (I’m 90% bummed), but I guess it’s sort of a silver line? Hmm.

I whined to my husband about it. He told me not to worry and that I didn’t need to move into something so quickly anyway. I ignored him and whined more about wanting to make money and feeling like things don’t ever work out, which made him roll his eyes. Mr. Corporate America himself told me I shouldn’t be selling myself out for corporate America in the first place. Okay, then. I’m allowed to be disappointed. 

Yesterday LM asked me for some needle-nose pliers and wire cutters. I gave them to him, happy to see that he was building something. And then I asked what he was making.

“A lock-picking kit for school.”

I asked why.

“In case I forget my combination. There’s a place for a key in the back. I could whip out my lock-picking kit and get in.”

Oh boy. I told him nope because the school has a master key for those locks, and I was pretty sure that they’d frown on a student being able to open every locker in the school. Also, carrying around a bunch of wires in his pocket would not be good. He didn’t understand why. Really, son? You don’t know why poky wires in your pocket near your junk isn’t a good idea? Hmm.

He decided that he’d continue with his set anyway so he could open any door in our house. He wanted to be able to get in the front door if we got locked out and couldn’t find the spare.

First, you really have no concern for the poky wires, do you?
Second, you are so not fucking with the door that is already fucked up. I can barely get in as it is.

The kid ended up locking himself out of the bathroom in an effort to show off his lock-picking abilities. The bathroom has an exterior door on it for whatever reason, so it has a real lock. One that we don’t have the key for. LM offered to kick down the door, noting that it’s possible he’d break the wood but that the hinges would probably be okay. My husband got it open.

Whew, BG was a mess to get ready for school this morning. She refused to open her eyes, because if her eyes weren’t open, then she wasn’t awake and couldn’t go to school. That’s how she explained it, anyway. I got the pajamas off her little stiff-as-a-board body and dressed her. After getting her shoes on and telling her that she really need to stop messing around so I could brush her teeth and hair, the waterworks and kicking and screaming began. After I got her calmed down, I carried her out to the bathroom and found LM dancing while drinking a Capri Sun. He wasn’t fully dressed, of course. We got out the door on time, though, and LM didn’t forget his backpack like he did yesterday.

I took BG for breakfast at the place with the legit best chicken sandwiches. She did not eat, but at least we got a picture of her favorite stuffie of the day.