Failure Confirmed

I never once in my adult life ever thought that my parents found me to be a disappointment, something that shamed them. Every teenager thinks that about their parents, that they’ll never be good enough. But when you mature and realize that they were just trying to mold you into the best you that you could be, you get over that. But when it was suggested that I may be a disappointment or embarrassment to them, I crumbled and I crumbled really freaking hard. Even as an adult, no child wants to hear that your parents are ashamed of you.

I was weak enough to ask the question to my mom. I don’t normally give in, but I admit my mental state is always shakier around Christmastime. She scoffed and was genuinely offended at the notion that she would be disappointed in me when I dropped off the kids so I could go Christmas shopping. I was on a tight schedule so I didn’t get around to hear her finish her statement. My father wasn’t in the room at the time, but I have a feeling the idea was just as silly to him as it was to my mother. I wish I could say that made me feel better, but I spiraled. I spiraled hard. I thought about about giving up. I thought about settling for a life that would have made me miserable. Was I doing everything wrong in my life? I questioned every single decision I have ever made.

I quickly started alternating between what I could only describe as blind rage and rock-bottom depression. Normally when I discuss feeling like a failure, it isn’t an actual feeling. I use it in a derisive manner. I don’t really think I’m failing, though there are brief moments that I do blame myself for things I have no control over. But this was different. Maybe I wasn’t doing everything right. Maybe I was a disappointment to everyone in my life. It was hard. It was very hard to deal with. I didn’t cry though. I think I have successfully went full ice-queen.

What made me a failure? The decision my husband and I made for me to stay home and be there for the kids while doing something I loved to do. Something my husband fully believes I can do. My husband thinks I’m immensely talented and honestly, that should be enough. He thinks I’m talented enough to support me through this journey. My “doing this silly writing thing” and “staying home” was what my family was disappointed in me for doing. How ashamed they must feel to have a daughter like me, squandering my intelligence and abilities in the way I have chosen to. As if I’m the secret daughter my mother doesn’t talk about because I have shamed her so. I brought the plague upon my family because I was such a failure in life.

I wish I could say that I was feeling okay about this now. That it still didn’t sting. That I didn’t hear those words swirling about my head as I try to move forward, doing whatever I can to further my career. I can’t. But I can say that it won’t break me and that’s really enough for me today.

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The Feeling of Impending Failure

Life happens. I just wish it didn’t happen right smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo. At the beginning of this, despite a strong start, I battled with an unbeatable bout of writer’s block. Then that faded into the first plague of the season hitting our house. Then it went into our furnace dying and not having heat for nearly a week. It was one thing or another that seems to be interfering with it. Admittedly, I have been my own worst enemy here. I went in hesitant about the story. Not that I don’t believe that it’s a good premise or a great way to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to my other novels. I doubt myself.

I never wrote in the horror genre because I’m not a huge horror person. I love thrillers. My favorites tend to be in the Japanese horror genre, especially “The Ring”. I have the 3 books and they were fantastic. Aside from those, I have read horror novels since I was a kid where I loved reading Lois Duncan or the “Fear Street” series. Somewhere I lost my passion for that genre. Even today, I enjoy a good psychological thriller sometimes. I don’t want to be slapped in the face with the gore of someone’s intestine being ripped apart or people’s faces being sewn to another person’s butt. I want to be scared because the movie got into my head, not haunting me with disgusting visuals.

My husband is my biggest supporter. Even as things look grim for me completing this year’s NaNoWriMo, he keeps picking me up. “You’ve beat worse writing deadlines before… like every other year you compete.” He’s the forever optimistic, always looking at the positives even as we’re bundled in our winter clothes in our house hoping that a miracle will happen. Me? I’m the forever pessimist that gets enough of a wind from him that ends up pushing me through because for a few brief moments, I feel unstoppable because of him. When I’m not cursing him for suggesting this topic and pushing me to finally write a horror. He isn’t the only one of my family and extended family pushing for a horror novel from me. They believe that I can write something that isn’t total crap. I’m not sure I do.

We have 10 days out for NaNoWriMo. Fortunately with the holiday, I’ll get at least 2 solid uninterrupted days of working on this. If I manage at least a few thousand words each day, I can absolutely do this with time to spare. I just need to push through and hope for the best. Or at least come out with some of my remaining sanity.

The Writing Process

When you work as a writer, everyone expects you to be on all the time. You’re not. At least I’m not, but the thing about writing is that you have to keep doing it anyways. Eventually something is going to stick and work, then you can run with it.  Not everything you write is going to be great. Even George RR Martin had “A Feast for Crows”. In fact, a lot of it will suck. As a writer, you may think more of your work sucks than your fans do but that’s just the nature of the job and who we are as people. Every artist struggles with that and the creative process. It’s not an easy business to be in, especially when you aren’t making any real money doing it. It’s a disheartening job. It’s a job that isn’t for the weak.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge that I attempt every year since I first discovered it. I like challenges. I love writing. It made sense. I’ve even completed it a few times, usually within the last few hours right up to the deadline. That’s how it goes. I never went in with an outline because my tendency is to just let the stories tell themselves. I think of each of my works as a living thing. I’m here to provide the guidelines, give it some bones, advise it as it goes along. Otherwise, I just let the words take off for themselves in the hopes that it comes up with something at least readable.

Then there are the walls. I hit an impressive 10,000 words over the first weekend, giving me the false impression that I was going to crush NaNoWriMo this year. That this was the year I wasn’t having an anxiety attack and working while one eye fell asleep to get those last few words in before the deadline. Then, the wall happened. My body is already craving sleep despite me being very sure that I have slept an acceptable amount. My body is shutting down in fear of failure. Because if I fail at writing, what do I have that I don’t fail at?

I’m a confident and capable person, until I’m not. I have days where I have a meltdown and want to just give up because I don’t think I’m resonating with people. I don’t care if I become rich as a writer. I’d be more than happy just making enough to help out a lot more with the bills. I want to reach people. I want to have people read something I write and think “I’ve definitely been there and I’m glad someone else has too”. I view writing as not just a way to inspire the masses but also one that will help at least someone else realize that they’re not alone. “My kid has anxiety and social development issues too. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling.” Just hearing something like that pushes me to go forward. I love what I do.

It’s a process. My process involves eating a ton of junk food and hoping that it will kick something into gear. I’m a burst writer. I have days where I can crush 6,0000 words without batting an eye. Then I go a few days where I can barely write 1,000. Some exceedingly awesome days, I can get to 11,000 in a day without even feeling tired. Someone else’s process is to go in with a plan and an outline. I realize, maybe from all of my years “momming” one thing: Nothing goes as planned. When my friends first mention a birthing plan when having a kid, I told them they may as well throw that out the window because it’s not happening unless you’re an incredibly lucky person. Most of us aren’t. I went in with an outline and I strayed from it the first day because the theory didn’t fit the reality.

Until then, I hope that I can get through this wall and get back to creating. I’m already on shaky confidence ground writing in a genre that is way out of my comfort zone because my partner in life and my business really thought I should go for it. Here’s to hoping me and every other writer participating in this challenge makes it through.

And She Said, “I Refuse to Change”

I typically caution anyone who interacts with me that I am who I am. If that’s an issue, it doesn’t bother me; that’s not my problem. I wish I could say that this was because I’m 34 and I’ve learned who I am. No, I’ve known who I am for a long time. My epiphany came at some point in high school when I just decided, “who really cares?” I said whatever I wanted, and if people didn’t like that they could choose not to hang out with me. I refused to change. Correction: I still refuse to change.

The belief that I have to fit into some ideal norm bothers me. This takes any autonomy away from me. Just assuming that you are one way and I have to be that way too is a terrible assumption. I’m never going to fit in at any office place. I may never fit in outside of the house, working in my own little corner of the world. I’ve always been much more successful at things when people just let me be and do things my own way. More often than not in those cases, I exceed expectations. I don’t fit into any normal box. I can’t manage a store or an office. Hell, half the time I can’t even manage my own household and I’m supposed to be a “supermom/stay-at-home goddess”. My house never looks like a museum. In fact, I can guarantee that even if I do clean it to the best of its ability, it will still just look like a house that has 2 boys and a man-child. Part of being confident is knowing these things and being okay with it. My house isn’t a museum; it’s a home where my boys and dogs run around and play, leaving a trail of Legos, candy wrappers, and chip bags. Yes, my kids eat junk food. I’m a terrible mother.

I’m okay with it. I’m okay that I just turned around to see 100s of Nerf bullets on the floor. I’m okay that my teenage son wasn’t listening to me so I shot him with a Nerf gun to get his attention. I’m okay that I’m 6-year-old spent an hour screaming about how I was the worst mother on the planet because despite my telling him not to do something, he did it 5 more times and he ended up losing his computer time. I’m okay that people lecture my parenting or decide that just because I can’t keep a house clean after the tornado and hurricane known as “my children” come home, I’m somehow less than. I’m okay that people think because I stay home that I’m not actually working. That my streaming video games is just me playing around, not as part of a way to build up my brand because it’s not easy being noticed as a writer and you need every little bit of attention that you can get.

I refuse to change my shortcomings. In most cases, there’s nothing that I can even do about them. They are part of my personality. I’m sarcastic and abrasively rude. I go crazy if I’m not using my mind to create something. These are things that make me who I am. And I’m not that bad. Maybe.

My Latest Project

I am so overwhelmed with how well my latest project was received. Last year, I wrote this blog. It was painful to have to write it. Immediately after I wrote this blog, I wrote down the words that I wanted to say to my son afterwards. I wrote the words I did get up the courage to say to him. He was oblivious to what happened; the harsh reality of what that moment really was and what would likely happen in his future especially since things don’t seem to be getting any better. I wrote down the words and thought “these are words that we all should say to our children”. Children are going to get bullied. And they need to know that they are bigger than those words.

The book itself took as long as it took to type the words out as I thought them. Maybe the process only took about 4 minutes. It was simple to write them. It was simple. It was driven by the incredible and special love that a mother has for her child. Illustrating the book, the was a different story. I had trouble finding a program that I felt comfortable using. I had trouble coming up with the pictures that I felt were worthy of these words. My biggest hurdle was myself. I can sculpt things. I’m pretty crafty. I can sew and knit. I’m confident in my artistic abilities except for drawing. I was told by some that my drawing skills are lacking. They are, I will certainly admit that. I was embarrassed about it and hesitated illustrating the book. I didn’t have the money to just hire someone to do it.

Finally, I took my words to heart. People are probably going to laugh at the artwork. I came to peace with that. It’s a children’s book. I wrote it for children because they need encouragement. Okay. I wrote it for my child because he needed those words. But what kid doesn’t need to be reminded that they are special? That the world can be cruel but they doesn’t have to break them? Any self-consciousness I had about my skills had to stop holding me back. You could say that I needed those words too.

The problem with writing is you are putting yourself out there. You are letting people critique you and tear you down. It’s really scary to write and have everyone hate your work. I fear that with every book I release and every blog that I post. I promise to be better.

I want to thank everyone who has purchased this book. I’ve run into some technical difficulties in releasing the paperback version, but I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I can approve the proof and get a physical copy of the book out. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey. Maybe I will start pursuing more children’s books in addition to writing novels. But this past week, I have discovered a level of confidence and pride in myself that let’s me know that maybe I’m doing the right thing staying this course. I look forward to sharing my projects with you all in the future. I have some exciting things planned out and I can’t wait to move forward with it.

When It’s Over

As a writer, there is no other feeling that can match when you finish a project. There is a sense of pride in your work. There is trepidation, worrying that your project was terrible and no one will like it. There is hope that this one is the one that gets you to the point of “making it” so that you can tell everyone who doubted you or called you foolish for pursuing your dream that you are good enough. Validation lets you know you’re talented, right?

The truth is that there is a lot of fear as a writer. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. You worry that you are wasting your time, and the time of everyone who supported you on this journey. You are even afraid that the book will make it. Then you have to face the harsh criticisms of faceless internet people. What if it does very well and you can spoil yourself? There is so much to be afraid of.

The fear isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that feeling of emptiness when you finally complete the project. You spend so much time stressing over getting it completed on whatever deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, that you have to beat. Then, when it is completed, you have that “now what feeling”. The book is up for sale and you just have to hope. But you dedicated so many months or years on a project only to have it finally be done. And there is emptiness that does make you feel a little depressed. Even if you do have projects on your “queue” waiting for your attention.

“A Special Place for Noah” will be up for sale on 2/15. You can pre-order it in ebook format prior to this date by visiting my Amazon author page (or if you follow my author Facebook, the link will be there). I have yet to approve the copy for the paperback version as when I got the first proof, it was 3x the size that I wanted it to be. I’m not very tech-savvy and forgot how to change the page sizes for proper printing since my last paperback was released. Oops.FB_IMG_1518529971930.jpg

As for what’s next? There is still my children’s book that I want to finally finish, which has been on hold because I’m a perfectionist and I need to brush up on my drawing skills. That will be my first goal. Once that is completed, I will be working on the project tentatively titled “Project Team LaRochelle”. My husband, as well as some others, have been trying to get me to write a thriller/horror for a while now. My husband came up with an idea that he was very excited about, so we have decided to collaborate on that. Between his love of horror and my storytelling skills, this should be interesting. If we end up divorced though, you know why.

There is a lot on my plate, including my focus on growing the blog, but I am very excited to keep moving forward. With hard work and a positive attitude, you can do anything. At least that’s what I’m told. I have the hard work down, so let’s see if that’s good enough.

It’s Been a While, Random Rantings

Random Rantings is a segment on this blog where I briefly discuss thoughts and topics that do not warrant a longer 500 words or more post. Today, here is a look at some topics from various subjects that I just felt like talking about so feel free to bring in your own thoughts here.

You Have a Memo, I Have a Memo, We All Have MEMOS!

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That’s right. It’s like Oprah in here right now. I read the Republican memo and then I realized that it was just one guy writing his thoughts like it was the law of the land that we should all obey. If it were that simple, maybe I should say that my blog matters and will really be groundbreaking and everyone will just believe that I am right and awesome just because I said so. Is this really what we have come to today? Where a guy creates a memo that may or may not be factual and sends it out to be released as some sort of vindication? This concerns me. Is this a distraction because Mueller found something and they needed to pull something out of their behinds to distract us from it? Or is it just because people are upset that we were talking about the Super Bowl or the fact that the president may have cheated on his wife Melania. (Shocker, I know. What in his history would ever give us the impression that he would cheat on his wife? Except for every other time he has cheated on a wife…)

Now the Democrats want to release a memo, that in the grand scheme of things will be just as (ir)relevant as the Republican one was. If we really take a logical stand point here, ignoring party lines, are these unofficial documents worth more than the paper they are written on?  The answer is “no”. The memo is set to be decided by the president if he wants to release it, but he needs to. Because transparency. Because you can’t just allow one side of the aisle to do it and not the other. Because if you do let one side of the aisle do it and not the other, there’s a level of censorship there that we should be concerned with. Because if the president only wants us to see one side of things, other questions should be raised. Is there truth to it that he doesn’t want released? Is it just that his precious little ego will be hurt with its release? Does he just want to prove a point that American’s should only see things his way and not the whole picture? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then we have bigger issues to worry about.

The New Book

Now, I probably should have put this above the more controversial political commentary above, but I felt that was a bit more important. My latest work, “A Special Place for Noah”, is a piece that I am really excited for. The story is about a family who is trying to help their son overcome his speech delay. It is told in 3 different viewpoints: Callie, the mother; John, the father; and little Noah himself. I hope that people love it as much as I loved writing it. It is expected to be up for sale on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. You can pre-order now as well. Just visit my Author Page on Amazon, which is posted on the sidebar of this blog.

The Pretty Super Super Bowl

In what was one of the most exciting games in a long time in the NFL, my beloved Patriots fell to the Eagles. Why did this happen? How did a backup beat the GOAT? Well, there are a few simple answers to why it happened. You could point to the missed field goal and extra point by Stephen Gostkowski, though this would only account for 4 points. They lost by more than that. You could say it was because Cooks was taken out of the game for a head injury after a nasty hit. Sure, that hurt but Playoff Amendola was clutch and Gronk finally hit a groove where he was on fire. Here’s the hint: it wasn’t the offense that wasn’t doing their job.

Their defense was horrible. Horrendous. Any awful word that you could put there would be an accurate statement for what happened here. They could not stop anything. Nothing. Were those two touchdowns a little bit questionable? Sure, but I’m not well-versed in the rules even though the casters seemed to also think those were bad calls. But that was 2 touchdowns out of how many other times they scored. It didn’t matter. We couldn’t stop them anyways and I bet that the next plays would’ve ended up touchdowns anyways because of how awful they were playing. Did I mention that their defense was awful? Philly is a hard team. They were good. They were communicating and doing well. Why wasn’t Butler playing? His season may not have been his best this year, but he was always known for his clutch plays.

The better team won. There is nothing more to that. There was nothing controversial about it. The refs didn’t hand them the game. The Patriots didn’t give them the game. They won it and congrats to them. No salt here and I’m not even really mad about it. The Patriots got the loss they deserved and that was that. I love great games, even if my team loses.

The Stock Market

Yesterday the stock market eventually dropped a significant amount. Who’s to blame for this? It’s probably just the predicted market correction that we were told to watch out for despite other people saying “everything’s good”. Is it the president’s fault? Probably not. But just like I said when talking about President Obama taking victory laps when the economy was good, you can’t give the person the blame when it is bad and not give them credit when it is good. The same applies here. You can’t give President Trump the credit for the stocks doing well without giving him blame when they go down. That’s the nature of it. You cannot take credit when things are good without taking the blame when they aren’t. That’s not how it works. Should he have taken credit when it was good? I don’t think presidents really have the much to do with stocks going up or down, so no. But you cannot logically think that there isn’t some level of hypocrisy going on. “Of course the Dems are blaming him for the stock market dropping. They just want to see him fail. He’s not to blame. But he’s totally responsible when stocks are up.” It’s not logical. Both the left and right are guilty of this. Maybe we should all start using a bit of common sense, because then 90% of political arguments would never happen.