Category Archives: Series of Sorts

Those “Repeat Features” that show up from time to time

Get Outta My Way! Pushing Past Amazing

I already knew that I was my own worst critic, but recently I have realized how much I can get in my own way.

An upcoming deadline to submit a piece of writing is a great example, making me realize the layers of the challenge.  I’ve known for a month that I wanted to write something for the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology.  Yet, here I am at the edge of the deadline with nothing written, struggling to find an idea.

I’m not just struggling for an idea for the one project, but for any of my writing.  The struggle is contagious, or perhaps just builds on itself.  For the first time in months I am sitting down in front of my Work-in-Process and having NO ideas.  Sure, I’ve struggled before with a character, found myself edging up self-set deadlines unsure if I’d make them.  But this is different.  This time it feels like all my ideas are hiding, running from me as fast as they can.  It’s even spreading to my job — basic language to convey basic information that, on a normal day, would be simple for me to write becomes an all-consuming challenge.

The reason, I think, is the pressure I’ve started putting on myself.   I see an opportunity, something that would be excellent (and so cool) to be a part of.  Which means, of course, that whatever I put together for it would have to be AMAZING.

There it is.


My own version of “perfect.”  I’m fine sweeping away the idea of perfection — I know that is something that can’t be achieved — but AMAZING…. that should be attainable.

But, what is amazing?  It’s a high-bar to reach, and it means every single idea and every single word gets super-analyzed.  It means NOTHING is good enough.  Nothing is original enough, nothing will do.

As long as I hold myself to an expectation that is undefined, and unattainable, I set myself up to fail.  Which then destroys my sense of being able to accomplish things, which feeds into over-analyzing all the writing and so on and so on.  A vicious cycle.

Sometimes I have to just get out of my own way.  I have to let go of this idea of “amazing.”  I have to just write.  No matter how stupid the idea might be, write it.  Editing can happen later, but if I don’t get anything on the page I end up with nothing at all.

This time, though, I couldn’t quite get myself to put words on the page.  Perhaps (hopefully) recognizing the challenge will help open the floodgates.  Though I do find myself wondering how many times I need to be reminded that I have to get out of my own way before it starts to stick.

So this months post, basically, boils down to explaining why you won’t find an article by me in the Insecure Writers Support Group anthology (though when it is put together I most certainly will be spreading the word to everyone!)

I hope I can start pushing beyond that block.  Stop holding myself to some huge “amazing” expectation, instead recognize that simply writing in the first place is pretty awesome.

[Edit:  Thanks to all the support below, this post has been revised and submitted for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group anthology.  Thank you all!]

IWSG badge

 This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.
There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG.


Strong Female Characters!

Things Matter, the awesome blog of Hannah Givens, is hosting “Strong Female Characters Week” this week!

Check out the first two posts in the series — and be sure to visit the comments where there are even more great ideas.

Where to Find Strong Female Characters in Movies.

Where to Find Strong Female Characters in Books.

Anyone else writing posts about Strong Female Characters this week?  Let me know!

The Season continues 🙂

Banning, Books and Community, Oh my!


I counted this week as the start of “The Season,”  and I think it was a great start!  A week of MANY posts about banned books and censorship and just general connections!

Thanks to everyone who wrote insightful posts, and shared their reflections and memories!

Hannah over at Things Matter hosted the Banned Book Blogparty, and Sheila at BookJourney hosted Celebrate the Banned.  I’ve tried to re-blog as many posts as I could, and put together a Pinterest Board with more.

I also wrote a few of my own reflections (more than a few?), including a longer post about To Kill a Mockingbird.  And, unintentionally, I finished the week off with reading another Banned Book.  A coworker lent me “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” yesterday and between some time in the morning, one the bus, and before bed, I ended up reading it all the way through.  Good book!  One of those books that caught me a bit by surprise, and one that I, clearly, couldn’t put down.

The Season Continues!

Next week Hannah will be doing an informal “Strong Female Characters Week.”  I’ll try to share what I can from her posts, and encourage everyone to check out what she has to say, as well as sharing your own reflections and thoughts (and favorites) for Strong Female Characters!  I’m looking forward to it!

This week will also see a post about the events coming up in October — I’m looking forward to the Masquerade Ball at the end of the month, and hoping that many of you will be up to participating!

It’s also the start of a new month, so I’ll have my Insecure Writers Support Group post on Wednesday!  I’m also setting some writing goals for myself for October… which includes getting a bunch of writing done before October…so I’d better start putting this last day of the weekend to use!

If We Were Having Coffee (7)

Today I’m fitting coffee in, just barely.  Long and crazy week feeding into short and busy weekend….

Honestly, I hardly remember the start of the week anymore.  I know that it was kind of rough, that I’ve been tired, and a lot of little annoyances have happened at work (mostly dealing with people asking questions that they would know the answers to if they stopped being lazy and actually looked at the information they were provided).  Yeah.. challenging.  Every day I’ve wished was Friday.

I had a friend over Monday night which was fun, we had a good visit and some much needed laughter.

I haven’t been making much progress on my writing… I’ve been exhausted when I get home and it’s been challenging to focus.  I had some real solid goals set for this weekend but… the weekend is looking like it isn’t going to have a whole lot of time in it.

But this was Banned Book Week — and that was kind of cool.  The first event of “The Season,” I did my best to promote what posts I could, to read and respond where I could, and have compiled a Pinterest Board with a bunch of the posts.  I’m starting to get a feel for how this whole “Season” thing will work and am rather pleased with it (and still looking for other events to put on the schedule!  Do you have any ideas?)

What’s on the docket this weekend?  Well, this morning was getting up and out of the house earlier than normal (6:38 bus instead of 6:50) so that I could proctor for the GRE subject tests… fun times let me tell you.  Though, I do prefer being on the proctoring side than the taking side of these.  It’s just a few hours of sitting in a room watching people take tests….

Soon I’ll be off to my Mom’s to clear some space in the room that holds some of my stuff (and on occasion me) for storage purposes.  I haven’t seen them in a while, so it’ll be nice to catch up with Mom, my Grandma and one of my brothers — even if it is a brief visit.  Because my plan is to be back home again before bedtime, so that I can hopefully get one good-nights-sleep in this weekend.  Sunday morning will be writing time… Since next week marks the week where I run out of my buffer both here and on Disparate Threads.  Then I have my regular Game Group Sunday night.

Next week is the start of the year, student’s return to campus… so it’s sure to be a busy time.   Next weekend, though — I promise you, next weekend I can linger longer, because I plan to schedule ABSOLUTELY NOTHING next weekend.  It will be much needed.

Banned Books Week: Pamela

Great reflection, and a new book on my “I should read this” list. But then, I’m a sucker for reading anything that ended up on one of the Pope’s “forbidden reads” lists…. 🙂

Hannah Reads Books

Pamela Samuel Richardson coverPamela, or Virtue Rewarded is a novel from 1740 written by Samuel Richardson, and the subject of my undergrad thesis. I’m studying its cultural impact. Pamela doesn’t stir up much controversy now, it’s not generally assigned to anyone to read, but when it was first published it was a pretty big deal! A debate raged over the appropriate content of reading matter, and indeed over whether reading was an acceptable pursuit at all. Pamela was quickly placed on the Pope’s Index of Forbidden Books, but that didn’t stop all and sundry from reading it.

Pamela is the story of the titular young servant fending off her employer’s sexual advances, until eventually he’s won over by her titular virtue and reforms his rakish ways, whereupon she agrees to marry him. It’s remarkably graphic, for what I was expecting. Basically it’s one long content note for attempted rapes and slut-shaming — worse even than the…

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Banned Book Week: Yup, More Favorites!

Can I just say, I actually find it heartening how many of the books on the Top 100 banned/challenged books of 2000-2019 list I really like?

Here are two of them,  two very different kinds of books.

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien

133518This book… I read this book multiple times, in different classes throughout college, that had titles like “Creating a Self”  Classes that explored that junction of memory and literature, that talked about unreliable narrators and crafting a great story.  It was a book I always knew a certain instructor would have on their syllabus, and I always looked forward to the chance to re-read it, with a slightly different lens.  It is an amazing story about war and human nature, and a brilliant exploration of storytelling.

One of the reasons it’s been challenged (and banned) in some high schools is the use of profanity.  I pose this question, I can’t say this for certain but… I would reason that it would be hard to make the same points, to portray anything resembling realistic about the Vietnam war without swearing and… let’s be honest here, the swearing that occurs in this book is nothing more than what most high school students are going to encounter in their hallways, on TV, in media, or walking down the street.

Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park


I had heard about this book from my sister, an elementary school teacher, at some point when she and I were happily chatting away about children’s books (by the way, I LOVE that I have family that I can chat with about children’s books so much).  I hadn’t read them yet, and they were on my “to-read” list for a long time.

Finally the opportunity arrived in the past few years when I was working in the Learning Center at a Boys and Girls Club.  Part of my job was to organize programs that would help engage the kids in learning activities: reading, writing,social-studies, math and science.  Science was pretty easy (Harry Potter Science, Messy Science), Math and Writing I managed with competitions, but reading had proved to be a challenge.  Despite having a fairly decent library (which I did everything I could to make accessible to the kids) very few picked reading when there were computers, art, pool, ping-pong, swimming, basketball and so forth.

So we did “Cookies and Classics.”  Show up and listen to me read, get a cookie, eat the cookie while I read some more, and you might get another one if you stayed until I was done reading.  This was a great success!  But I struggled to find books that were short enough to be read in one or two sessions (beyond picture books), and often kids would come one day and not the next.

Then I picked up Junie B.

It was amazing!  Fun to read, and some of the children who were the most crazy, off-the-wall, “you can’t make me sit still unless you super-glue me to the chair,” kind of personalities not only sat down to listen, and came back the second day to hear more, but begged me to keep reading.  They didn’t care that the cookies were a little stale, or that I ran out of snacks to give them with three chapters remaining.  When someone came into the room being loud, the group of about 12 kids gathered around my desk “hushed” them faster than I could.  They were riveted by Junie B, her way of speaking, her adventures.

Why has it been challenged?  Well, for some of those very reasons my kids liked them.  Junie’s use of language isn’t perfect, she uses poor grammar, sometimes her words aren’t used the “proper” way, and she sounds… well, she sounds real.  And yes, she calls someone “stupid.”  Again… I challenge you to find a child who hasn’t heard worse.  She talks like these kids talk.   She is fun, and engaging.

The New York Times did an article about this matter back in 2007,  and I love one of the quotes that they shared from the author.  On the fact that she has made it to the top 10 frequently challenged authors of 2004 she said, “I’ve never been in such good company!”

Celebrate the Small Things – Banned Book Week Edition

It’s been a rough kinda week, the kind of week when I really really need to take a moment to Celebrate the Small Things (a weekly bloghop hosted by VikLit and others).

This week:

I celebrate the fact that I have been given access to so many great books, that I can’t recall anyone telling me I wasn’t allowed to read a book I wanted (and the fact that telling me I can’t do something, unless I understand a good reason behind it, will likely cause me to try even harder to do just that).

I celebrate the amazing posts I’ve seen around the blogosphere about books that have been banned or challenged, and how influential a good book can be on someone — the lasting impact many of these stories have had is awesome.

I celebrate good coffee, good friends, and the return of the Oregon rain (which I love.  Perfect weather for a light sweater and light scarf, the refreshing scent of rain and the beauty of the clouds).

What small things do you celebrate today?