In yoga, we talk a lot about a sense of just "being," of just being present in the moment. Letting the thoughts and emotions rise up and fall like waves against the shore. And not having stories or expectations about the moment, but just observing. Setting a writing intention is another way to help you on your journey. The idea of just being is difficult for me. I'm genetically and behaviorally trained to plan everything. To try to figure out what's a good thing and what's bad, maximizing the good, minimizing the bad. Every movement, every word, every second of every day must be towards some "goal" or "objective." That pressure is what drove me to "snap" during my quarter life crisis, and I'm starting to see that same level of pressure in the publishing aspect of writing. I've talked a lot about the two "people" in my mind, and how each "person" takes a piece of the business. Suni takes care of the writing and the personality. Whit takes care of the business stuff. Unfortunately, Whit has been pressuring Suni to produce more, to go faster, to do more. So far, Suni has been able to block out this pressure, and simply give Whit a pat on the head, then do whatever the hell she wants to do. She still comes through on time with whatever it is she needs to do, breezing over the finish line like a gazelle. This is where the whole "writing intention" piece comes in. In Yoga, often we'll set a focus for the practice. It can be either relaxing or focusing on a posture that gives you trouble. Sometimes yogis dedicate practices to others. The idea is when things are hard, you return to your purpose for being on your mat. Obviously, a one-hour yoga session is a bit different from a writing career. But the same idea applies. Setting an intention for your writing will help you return to it when you get off kilter. Namaste. Do you try to let things happen as they will, or do you try to plan everything? Sound off in the comments!
My parents are downsizing and selling the house I lived in from ages ~12-20 (although I was mostly at college for the last 3 years of it). So, Terry was all, "MEH YOU NEED TO CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET!" And I was all, "Gull Mah, just get rid of it, yo." And she was all, "MEH!" And we're going to be living together. In any case, I set out to pulling down the plastic bins in my closet and rummaging through them. Predictably, I found a bunch of American Girl dolls and Beanie Babies, some of whom I hope are going to be worth just a little bit of money. I also found some of these bad boys: Besides all of that and some teddy bears, I also found reams and reams and reams of spiral notebooks and literally EVERY PIECE OF HOMEWORK I EVER COMPLETED (thanx mom). But within the pages, the very beginnings of all of my novels. Scenes, thoughts, backstory, all of that that will eventually be turned into the novels you'll see over the next five years, and some that you'll see in different forms (such as Empath). Flipping through the pages and pages of my high school handwriting, seeing my familiar characters splayed all over the pages.... I found an entire notebook - complete with dual-color pens for each person talking, where Suni and Whitney are having conversations. Metallic pens FTW #Imissthe00s (In case you were wondering, I still journal in this way. But I'm not going to share that with you, cause that's personal!) From what I can tell, I spent most of my high school writing career oscillating between Anime fanfiction, a YA Contemporary Fantasy titled "Spells and Sorcery" (to be renamed and probably published in 2017 or 2018) and also a little bit of Razia. Even my homework was littered with writing notes, such as the below: (This was from my advanced vocabulary notebook) I can't believe I was so focused on writing and then just...GAVE IT UP. What the hell was wrong with me? I also can't believe how much I have reverted to the person I was in high school. This realization couldn't have come at a better time, either. Yesterday, I had a mini-existential-crisis on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I couldn't help but feel like a bit of an imposter and perhaps [...]
Thanks to a childhood of bullying, I've got a predisposition to thinking that everyone secretly hates me. I'm also rarely honest with people - including and especially myself. But there's a small group of people (read: less than 5) who I consider my "circle of trust," my people to whom I always can fall. Or so I thought. But it actually turns out that while everyone in my circle loves me, it's actually not enough for me. And it's been the source of my unsettled-ness for a long time. Let's examine further…. This chain reaction of truth bombs happened when someone that I love a great deal made a comment about my book not being "deep," like Cormac McCarthy or Toni Morrison. I reacted pretty emotionally, and began writing this long vitriolic journal entry (therapeutic only, and not to be posted) about what constitutes a young adult book, why my book is not, and why this particular person's comments cut me so deeply (because this person is someone I consider to be in my inner circle). And that's when I stumbled upon this little nugget of truth: There's so much criticism, anger, hatred, vitriol and meanness spewed in my direction all day, every day. This business is hard, it's difficult, and you need a thick skin to survive. I am a consummate professional when it comes to dealing with the unprofessional behavior of others, and I - outwardly - let it roll off my back. But that doesn't mean I don't need a set of people to talk with and let it bother me - a circle of trust, if you will. Sometimes I just want to call someone a fucking fucker who can fucking fuck himself in the ass until he fucking dies, and I want to have someone to nod and agree with me that he is a fucking fucker, and they're sorry that he decided to shit all over me. I need someone to create a safe space where I can let off all my steam built up from my Professionalism. But that safe space needs to be exactly that - safe. When I bring the hurt and pain from the outside world into my circle of trust, the last thing I need them to say to me is "Get over it." Even worse - when those I consider my inner circle start with the criticism, even [...]
At my age, all of my girlfriends have babies and boys. (That is, they're all married and pregnant) Five years ago, I thought at 28, I'd be married to my ex and preggo with my first kid. I was so sure that's what I wanted, because it was what everyone else was going to be doing. I'd benchmark with other people, comparing where I was in my project schedule to theirs. And now that I've abandoned my own project, I'm still watching them hit their milestones, and it's sort of this weird sad-but-not feeling. I'm really excited for all my friends and family who just had babies, or who are about to have babies, and who are married and in love with their twue wuv. For me, I met my soulmate this year too - her name is Suni, and she's the only person I know that always has my back. And she and I (mostly her) put together this book called Alliances, and we're really proud of it. And I can't actually picture myself sharing my life with anyone else at the moment, because we are finally getting along. The truth of the matter is, I'm almost thirty, and I've never actually been a twenty-something. Right after college, I jumped into being an adult, taking care of my ex, the dogs, the house, the bills, the mortgage, the investments. And now that I've shaken off my old anxieties about the things I'm "supposed" to do, I was itching to just be selfish for a change. Instead of worrying about what someone else wants to do with their life, just worry about me. And it's been quite liberating and illuminating. Six months ago, I intentionally removed myself from the dating game (read: Deleted Tinder from my phone). But the other day I got the strangest urge to reinstall the app, essentially putting myself back out there. It wasn't out of fear or desperation, my gut was telling me that "It's Time." It's kind of funny to me how different I am this go-round. I'm very specific about what I want and what I don't want. I'm myself - the same chick you see on social media and here on the blog. I'm no longer walking on eggshells that everything I say or do is going to scare someone away; I am finally comfortable enough in my own skin to withstand [...]
I admit it: I have a fear of running. This is an odd statement to say, considering I've run 5 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and countless 5ks and 10ks and 10 milers. But running causes me severe anxiety. It probably started when I was in 4th grade, when I ran down the hill and my best friend Valerie came up to me with the stinkiest of stink eyes and said, "Whitney, you need to wear a bra." So I've always been self-conscious about the way I look when I run. After that came asthma, and the feeling like I couldn't breathe. One of my biggest irrational phobias is the fear that I will stop breathing, and so, obviously, getting an asthma attack exacerbates that fear. And, of course, I'm always getting asthma attacks when I run: When it's cold, my lungs seize up. When it's hot, the ozone here in DC gets so bad that my lungs seize up. In the fall, allergies. In the spring, allergies. So there's about 3 days out of the year when I can run and asthma isn't an issue. When I started dating my ex, probably even before, to be honest, I got healthy at the university gym, but I never quite was used to running. It was always some unattainable goal, watching people fly down the side of the street like they were having the best day of their lives. I wanted to have that freedom to just be able to lace up my sneakers and go where I wanted, when I wanted. I was 23 or 24 when I got on a regular allergy and asthma medication and was told I could run outside (or that I was using asthma as an excuse and could do everything anyone else could). I began on a cold winter's day and came back in after a quarter mile because I couldn't breathe. But I kept at it, put together a training schedule, and soon enough, I was able to run a mile. Then two miles. The Pressure I ran my first 5k in 2010, my first half marathon in 2011, my first marathon in 2012. The last two came because I started running with a group who accepted and kind of liked me, and I wanted to hang with them (read: I only ran because they ran and I wanted to be accepted). My fun [...]
I received a cordial email this week from the guy I broke up with almost sixteen months ago. I had posted on LinkedIn (the only social media that survived the connection-severing spree when we first broke up) that I had started a new company, and amidst the flurry of congratulations from former clients and colleagues, there it was, an email from him telling me that he was very happy for me and my new endeavors, and inquiring about our children the dogs, hoping I was doing well, etc. Cue anxiety. I fumbled around for a while, waffling between telling the alert it could go fuck itself and trying to catch my breath from the panic-induced chest-constriction. I did respond, passing along my plans for the year and sending my good thoughts to him and his parents. But then, still waffling and unable to breathe, I sent a text to Lizbeth Carter Pookie and told her about the email and how I hated him for emailing me. In her infinite wisdom, she responded with the perfectly rational idea that it was quite lovely of him to reach out to me, and that it should make me feel good. She continued with her crazy talk that I should be changing my mindset to realize that, far from him not "loving me enough," we simply needed to go on different paths. Also that I would not be sitting here, blogging to you right now, had we not broken up. It should come as no surprise that did not help. Soon enough, I was sitting in my house, crying and wondering why I was still a mess. But then, I had an idea: So I did. I sat down on my OneNote notebook and I wrote every single damned thought that came into my mind when I thought about this whole...thing. When I wrote something down and it didn't elicit a hugely emotional response, I deleted it - it wasn't true. I asked myself questions about what I was afraid of, what hurt, why did it still hurt, what was the cause of it all. When I actually think about the facts of the matter: him as a person, him moving on, him with a new girlfriend etc. I'm strangely unaffected by it. In fact, I'm oddly happy for him if he's moved on and found happiness (I even asked myself that question twice, [...]
I had a bit of a reversion today in the form of a panic attack. Full-blown, "Oh-my-god-I-can't-breathe" panic attack. And I could not figure out what was bothering me. Yeah, that's right. I can have a panic attack and analyze it at the same time. Because I am batshit crazy #duh. I won't go into specifics, but the gist of it was that I was afraid I was going to get in trouble for something and it made me panic. I've gotten lots of criticism and "redirection", and for the most part, I've let it roll off my back. Ignore the noise, course correct where needed, and move on instead of drowning in it. The most effective method for controlling this anxiety is actually apathy. If I no longer care about the thing/person that is disappointed in or criticizing me, then it no longer has power over me. I can react to the situation normally (Oh, I've misspoken, my mistake) versus having a complete and total meltdown over it (Oh God, please don't fire me). Part of that therapy is to vocalize what the worst possible outcome could be, and to recognize that even if that were to come to pass, it's actually not the worst thing in the world and I would adjust accordingly. Another tactic I use is to return to my "intention" - remembering that my life goals have changed and I no longer want to be an executive at 35... of a consulting company ;). Today though, none of those techniques were working, and the answers that I was coming up with weren't ringing true in my soul. Which usually means that I'm worried about something else. It took me a while and a few anxiety-related Google searches, but I figured out what caused my panic attack. Yesterday, I dropped around $400 on LegalZoom to set up SGR-P LLC, and then another $150 for some professional banners for the upcoming Baltimore Comic-Con, for which a table cost me $250. I also haven't been selling as many books as I thought I would be (although I haven't been going as hard and fast with the Double Life advertising). As you can guess, my little fledgling business is already in the red after being alive for 24 hours. Intellectually, I knew that I wasn't going to make tons of money on Double Life. First book in a series [...]
You guys, I'm starting a publishing company. Sun's Golden Ray Publishing, LLC* *screams* There's a bunch of reasons for it: separating my personal taxes from my business tax, more legitimacy for my books, a new tag line ("Light up your world.") It will allow me to file all the necessary sales tax paperwork for my upcoming bookselling tour and comic-con appearances. It's also a stake in the ground. I am an Independent Publisher and I'm going All-In-Independent. For this series anyways. Honestly, I'm scared out of my mind. I filled out a bunch of forms and I put my name on them and my new publishing company. I paid some $400 for LegalZoom to file a federal tax number and a license to sell books in Virginia. It's all so official and terrifying. But I see a future where I've got a thriving independent publisher. I've hired a publicist/agent for me and my fellow authors. I've got a couple editors on retainer. Between the group of us, we've got a couple authors (including myself) that we shamelessly promote until they don't want to be promoted anymore. We can have company picnics and potlucks and have a chic office space in downtown Pensacola. We use a SharePoint online site to manage our content. I could totally make this happen, you guys. Who's with me? We will be open to submissions at some point --- *So what's this name about? When I first started writing on teh internetz, I was all of eleven years old and I wanted to have a fun screen name. My awesome cousin Nicole was reading something by a chick named "Blood Red Rose" and I liked the three-word thingy. Same cousin (obviously a huge impact on me as a young impressionable thing) had given me a ring with a sun on it, and hence I became Suns Golden Ray (no apostrophe in the original name). Because meta and feels, I opted to go with the same name. As you can probably guess, that is also were the name Suni came from, as my author muse!name.
I've decided I want to start living intentionally. What does that mean, exactly? I'm on a work-related travel back to the gulf coast, around 2 hours from my parent's house. It's fantastic, and hopefully may turn into something more permanent. It's funny because I can see glimpses of what my life would be like, and I find that it has the potential to stay the same. I'm a creature of habit and responsibilities. I don't deviate off the beaten path, I don't do anything other than go to work and come home. Today, though, I did something different. I took a right turn instead of heading straight back to my hotel and I spent about an hour wandering up and down the beach with my shoes in my hands. No matter that I was wearing my office clothes or that they got wet. I just went with it. And - here's the kicker - I even took a back road back to my hotel. I don't have responsibilities here. I mean, work of course, but I don't have to rush home. Once I'm at the hotel, I can leave if I want. If I move here, my dogs would live with my parents and I would commute Monday mornings and Thursday nights. That means I could be irresponsible and live in a studio condo on the beach during the week, even though hurricanes and whatnot. All of this comes from letting go of my anxieties and letting Suni, the author and fearless person that lives in my head, take over. Her voice was silent for many years, but she's getting stronger. Not bug out and go to New Orleans to meet up with random guys strong. *coughyouknowhoyouarecough* But, "hey, you should go to the beach now. Because why not" strong. Which is surprising progress for me. And good things happen when I listen to Suni.
I come from an abnormally large family that I am actually ridiculously close with. My mom's side of the family numbers around 35 folks between first and second cousins and children of my cousins that are more like my siblings and nieces and nephews. My dad had 8 brothers and sisters, and although the 30 members of that family aren't as close as my mom's side, Facebook and social media have brought us closer together - even though some live as far away as Alaska. So total, outside of my mom, dad, bro, soon-to-be-sis-in-law, and me, I'm looking at 65 family members. Besides blood relatives, I have this entire other family that I grew up with (happens to include my bestie) where her mom is like my second mom and her dad is like my second dad and her brother is like my second brother and she and her sister are like the sisters I never had (It's so bad that I actually kind of feel a bit like her in-laws are my in-laws sometimes). There's a bunch of other families that I grew up with that still live in my teeny-tiny town. The kind of place when you go out to dinner, you always see someone you know. That plus a beach...it's paradise. So basically, Pensacola is one big ol' homecoming party for me every time I step off the plane. They sit around a table and tell me how pretty I am and love on my hair (which looks AMAZING in the Florida humidity and soft water) and feed me food and it's just fantastic. Coming from DC, where it's every man for himself, it's nice to step into such a warm happy place where people actually give a crap about whether you succeed or fail. It's nice to have a huge group of people who I know I can count on to be there for me - which is part of the reason why I'm so eager to move back home. I feel like an island here in DC, and it's so much more striking when I go home how very alone I am up here. (100% by my own doing, I will freely admit). Obviously, I was/am home this weekend, and I found myself surrounded by this warm glow of love and support from my friends and family. I brought 13 copies of the book with me to sell and...I've sold 8 so far I sold them [...]