A Bit of Writing: May 16, 2014

Opening Scene    Long and cumbersome were the swaths of silk, satin, and lace her handmaidens and servants reverently stuffed into the carriage, tears streaking their faces as they sobbed their las…

Source: A Bit of Writing: May 16, 2014


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Survivor’s Guilt

Survivor’s Guilt is a serious condition and I’m not even sure it applies to this. It is similar, yet different. I have to deal with Survivor’s Guilt with other instances, and what I’m describing is close to the same feeling.



Throughout our lives I have always been the healthy, athletic one, while my sister has always been the sickly, bookish one. There’s nothing wrong with being athletic, and there’s nothing wrong with being bookish. That is just how our social roles seemed to be defined at the time.

While she had asthma, I played little league sports. While she would rather read and write, I hated being inside. I remember a childhood filled with wanderings in the woods and rollerblading or cycling down city suburban sidewalks.

She was diagnosed with Thyroid problems when we were in high school. I remember it was a big ordeal, but it didn’t bother me. As soon as I knew that Drs. Could handle it, I quit worrying. It wouldn’t affect me personally, so of course, I was as callous as a younger healthier sister could be.

I don’t remember flaunting my healthier status in front of my sister, but I’m pretty sure I did. I was not a humble child, at all. I wasn’t a malicious, sociopathic child, but I was quite arrogant and proud of my health, beauty, and intelligence.

I have to admit that after my sister went off to college we fell out of touch and she was no longer an important part of my life. I had high school and a part time job to worry about. Living alone with our mother didn’t help, but that’s a whole different story. There are various things that I remember about her health from that time period of about ten years. I’m pretty sure she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression (trademarks of our family), cholesterol problems, and I’m almost positive that she had surgery on her knees, or at least one of them.

All of these didn’t concern me. They weren’t exactly life altering or truly fatal. And they didn’t directly affect me. Yes, I was, and can still be, quite self-centered. Yes, I’m working on that.

Then my sister was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. At first I firmly planted myself along with all those who believe that it’s not a real illness. I was sure that she was just being a hypochondriac. She’d been sick almost all her life, and now that she was thirty-ish, she had to pull something that didn’t even exist. I had no idea what it even entailed, nor did I care.

It actually took a twelve hour long conversation with a friend online to convince me. My friend suffers from Fibromyalgia. During that twelve hour time period I could see the changes. I could physically see the brain fog while she was typing words. I could see her struggle and her frustration and her shame.

Needless to say, I felt like utter shit. Truly. I had dismissed my own sister’s suffering for so long, and here was tangible proof, at least to me, of this affliction.



Wikipedia states:

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure.[1] Symptoms other than pain may occur, leading to the use of the term fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Other symptoms include feeling tired to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some people also report difficulty with swallowing,[2][3] bowel and bladder abnormalities,[4] numbness and tingling,[5] and cognitive dysfunction.[6] Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder.[7][8]

I spent a whole weekend researching Fibro. I literally researched it to the point to where I wondered if I had symptoms. No, I don’t have Fibro. I’m still basically healthy.

Now, on to the Survivor’s Guilt. I’ve apologized and have somewhat forgiven myself for being a jerk kid. It’s in the past, and I know I have to let it go. I’m pretty sure that my sister is dealing with it, in her own way, as well. I bet it felt pretty good when I acknowledged what a brat I was.

What I have trouble dealing with is the fact that I’ve always been the healthy one. I have the family curse of anxiety and depression, but that stems from nurture, not nature. Every female in our genetic maternal line has thyroid problems except for me. Every person in my entire family has an illness except for me. Granted, the elders of our family have typical elderly illnesses. I feel like Arnold S. from the movie Twins.

I am horrible at being politically correct. When it comes to attempting to be inoffensive, I’m like a bull in a china shop. Try as I may, I have a really hard time relating to someone who is sick all day, every day, and that’s what Fibro is. It is an all-consuming illness. She doesn’t ever Not deal with it. I’m not very good at dealing with that or emoting or anything like that.

I don’t know what to do or say, so I usually end up washing her dishes every time I go over there. It’s how my mind wants to fix the problem. I know she can’t do a lot of housework. I know her significant other works a lot and takes care of a lot. I know I can wash the stupid dishes while I’m visiting. It seems very practical to me. The dishes need to be done and I’m perfectly able to do the dishes. This is actually a really big deal in my head. Almost OCD level.

I’m pretty sure they hate me washing their dishes. It’s only happened twice, so far. I have this feeling that I’m really offending their pride by washing their dishes. In my head, I think, “Well, it’s not like I’m touching their dirty laundry.” Although I would do that too, as well as clean her house, if she’d let me. I’m not sure she would.

All of this means to me that because I can’t deal with emotions in a healthy way, I have to solve the problem in a practical manner. It feels a lot like Survivor’s Guilt, and I have no idea how to handle it. It’s not going away. I’m not giving up my healthy status as long as I can help it. She’s not getting any better, and as far as I know there’s no cure for Fibro.

Source: http://vickiesfibromyalgiablog.blogspot.com/2013/08/13-things-you-dont-want-to-say-to.html


I have looked up ways to deal with Survivor’s Guilt.

WikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-with-Guilt

Healing Hearts (Religious): http://www.healingheart.net/articles/grief_stages/stages_guilt.html

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_guilt

Psych Central: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/11/27/5-tips-for-dealing-with-guilt/

Darlene Lancer JD, MFT: http://www.whatiscodependency.com/ho-to-overcome-guilt-and-forgive-yourself/

This is an ongoing situation that doesn’t have a simple answer or an easy ending. I wanted to share how I feel as someone who is healthy trying to relate to someone who has Fibro. In short, I have no flippin’ clue. It’s not the flu. I can’t empathize because I’ve never gone through it. I can’t even pretend to empathize and give empty platitudes. I just hope that this helps someone else going through the same thing.

Here is my sister’s blog, Lavender and Lemons:  http://carpens2.wix.com/lavenderandlemon

Image Source: ThinkBrilliantly.com

Image Source: ThinkBrilliantly.com

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When TO Use an Outline

Cinemagraphic Writing

To use an outline or not to use an outline? Which should it be? All your life you’ve heard both arguments but no real direction, so you can’t decide. Let’s discuss two terms you may hear: plotters and pansters.

Plotters: writers who outline, structure, and plot out their story before writing the actual story.

Pansters: writers who have an overarching idea for the story, a general idea where it’s going and how to get there, but they don’t outline it.

Is one way right and the other way wrong? No. Truth be told, a lot of writers switch between the two. For instance, normally I consider myself a ‘plotter’, but with the book I am currently writing, I’m a panster, but before we discuss being a panster and not outlining, let’s explore reasons why outlines are valuable to a writer.

Outlines are like the roadmap to your stories…

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A Bit of Writing: May 16, 2014

Opening Scene

   Long and cumbersome were the swaths of silk, satin, and lace her handmaidens and servants reverently stuffed into the carriage, tears streaking their faces as they sobbed their last farewells to the little princess who was little no longer. The sun was shining, the open carriage laden with heaps of spring flowers, golden daffodils and royal violet pansies contrasting beautifully while sending sweet aromatics skyward, not dissimilar to the incense burnt with the sacrificial lamb on the Vernal Equinox in the villages surrounding her father’s keep.

The spiritual grove lay only miles into the North Wood; she could walk the path blindfolded, and, indeed, could find her way without nary a path, having spent many holidays in her youth; first playing among the ancient oaks and benign Will-o-the-wisps, growing older and wiser to sit near the elders, silent throughout their dances and rituals, and as initiate into the wyld faith of the North. She could recall where the carriage would stop just as it had for her two elder sisters, excepting this time it would be she who walked the dogwood path alone; the narrow trail covered with petals of half decayed flowers, the sweet aroma mingling with the tiniest scent of death. There would be a death of sorts once she crossed the petals and reached the bare circle under the oaken branches; she would stand there, before the eyes of man, gods, and earth, no longer a child, yet not quite a woman, and a small part of her soul would mourn the death of her carefree days as a child, days spent as the apple of her mother’s eye.

She would mourn the grove, her home apart from the children’s quarters in the keep, the clean, moist air that ever lingered after the morning’s mist had been banished by the forceful rays of the sun, the cool shade of the afternoon, and the wind whispering sweet nothings as she followed the trail of some hart or hare. The feel of the wyld between her toes, in her hands, tangled in her hair she would miss more than all the silken petticoats, pearl broaches, and satin slippers combined. She may have slept, fed, and studied within stone walls covered by ancient tapestries, and warmed with brilliant fires in hearths as great and tall as the king, himself, but her heart and soul thrived in the quiet bustle of the wood, among the gatherers and hoarders for winter, the pollinators buzzing about on their queen’s errand, and the chirping discussions of migration, family, and perhaps even love.

A silent and solitary tear escaped and slid down her face, hidden under a veil of lace which pooled in her lap as the carriage rolled over the dirt road. Her fingers idly toyed with the embroidered flowers in the veil and those matching on her ivory dress. Her hair, which she had been warned countless times throughout the morning not to fiddle with or even to touch, had small white flowers braided within, through, and atop her long, dark tresses to the point of causing such a weight on her head she worried of moving about lest she tip and fall, crashing down to the detriment of her reputation and to the laughter of any and all who saw. Such embarrassment would fill the gossip mongering old ladies who traded such news about, as merchants would trade needful bits such as string and soap, for years to come traveling down the generations until she was only remembered for an awkward moment in time. “Princess Caiomhe,” they’d say, “Indeed, a true beauty with a stone’s weight of flowers in her hair, that is, until she looked to her left, leaning a bit too much, and fell in the mud like a pig in slop, unable to stand until those around her finished their snickering and pulled her to her feet.”

Too soon the carriage stopped, the driver turning about, offering a sad smile and a hand to help her down to the soft dirt covered with even softer petals. She stared, unseeing, at the path before her, a flowering tunnel. Hearing the murmurs of those gathered, she froze, unwilling to take the first step. After spreading her train behind her, the driver, whom she’d known from infancy, laid a hand on her shoulder and met her icy blue eyes with his own of honey brown, offering a steadfast faith in her that she didn’t have for herself. He spoke; she watched his lips move, but her ears and mind were in the near past listening once again to the overheard whispers of anger between her mother and father. Her mother, her champion, the sole heart who would dare speak for her against the king, arguing against all reason for him to delay the union, she was too young to marry. All knew of the king’s temper and wrath, yet she alone braved the tempest for her daughter, knowing the cost might well be a communion with those who adorned the spikes above the main gate.

Since then, her mother had only subdued smiles and glances full of pity and shame for her. Her cause was lost like a fallen leaf torn from the ground in a harsh autumn’s gale. She did her best to smile in the present, yet she had never learned to school her features, her emotions and heart plastered on her face and in her eyes for all to see. Thinking if only she could bare her feet to the ground, she might be able to glean some amount of strength of her beloved earth, she took her first hesitant step into the tunnel and on towards fate.

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The Manic Month of March

While taking notes in March for a long writing goal in April, for both NaNoCamp and LeFiWriMo- an extended challenge on Legendfire.com – I decided that along with my notes, I would keep a note-diary. I really should keep doing this. I learned more about myself this way, most importantly that I’m crazy. Ahh *sigh* oh well. Right now I’m thinking of trying this again for April and posting it at the start of May. We’ll see.

My Personal Thoughts


This part is going to be my personal thoughts, obviously, about what I’m working on and the various dilemmas that I will find myself in.


3/4 – 11:30 – As the plot to this starts to unfold in my mind, I wonder if this might actually be bigger than one novel. I could technically draw it out into a trilogy as Ragnarok has three winters and a final battle. Maybe I’m thinking too much about this, but my mind has been churning non-stop. Yes, I can get obsessive as a writer.


3/4 – 13:07 – I do believe that after March is over I’m going to put all these thought on my blog. I think it will be a mini-LeFi-diary, and it’ll be fun, of course. I had to take a break from character creation and clean my house because I’m over thinking, over analyzing, and self-doubting my characters. Are they too stereotypical? Do I have too many? I think I’m just going to make myself stop worrying about it so much and make them how I feel I should. If needs be, I can change them later; it isn’t April, yet. Forging onward to battle note taking.


3/5 – 07:22 – I have to do some more research today. I know Ragnarok has three winters, but since I didn’t write them down, I don’t remember them. I would like to incorporate them in somehow. I should also go back through old photos from when I lived in New England as that is where I want my beginning setting to be. I can’t very well have them all come from Florida, eh?  I may not have had access to my laptop last night, but I had a small notebook, and was able to work on my characters. This time around has been really different in my approach to notes and writing. I’m really aiming for a character driven novel/novella. And I’m insanely gracious for all the encouragement I’ve gotten from LF, FB, and the hubz. Of course, he has grand dreams of this turning into the next “Twilight” or “Divergent.” Not that I would mind, but I doubt it.


3/5 – 10:44 – I wonder if this rabbit hole of research even has an end. It’s not bogging me down yet, so I have no worries. I’m still really excited about this, and I hope my writing does it justice.


3/6 – 16:09 – After completing an in depth character sheet, I now wonder whether previous character I’ve written have fallen flat. Before I would always worry more about plot than characters, but with this one I’m making the main focus on the characters. It’s definitely a learning experience.


3/10 – 11:46 – I have my main characters mapped out and I think I now know them better than half of my family.  I’m going to work on some of the plot/outline today and I have written a Blurb. After working out some of the plot in my mind, this has gotten much larger than anticipated. It might actually end up as a trilogy of novellas. I have no qualms about this, and if once I start writing I need more plot, well, I can always squish them together and rename the whole thing. I’m still in love with this story and the characters and that’s all that matters right now.


3/11 – 11:31 – What a funk I am in today! Completely scrapping my plot out line and starting anew, just not right now. To help me get out of my funk I’ve decided to write today on a previous project. At least one thousand words and not a word less. I’m already about 50 words in and I already feel a little better. I just seem to get really depressed when I don’t write. Is that weird? Probably not for a writer, eh? Who knows, maybe after 1,000 words I’ll have some new ideas about how to go about this novel/story. I just feel that A LOT of people like the concept and I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I feel like this has the potential to be great and I don’t want to screw it up. After thinking that I have to give myself the same advice I give others, “But that’s what first drafts are for! A big slap in the face saying, ‘you got it down, now make it better.’ You can do this.”


3/12 – 10:05 – After writing 1400 words yesterday on something unrelated, I feel much better. I have some new ideas and am beginning to think more in a linear fashion. For me it’s hard to write without knowing how to connect A to Z, if you know what I mean. I like writing from beginning to end. Other ways haven’t worked for me. I’ve begun to think of what Ragnarok would mean for the Earth after the nine worlds merge. I’ve thought of various situations such as super volcanoes or having the western border of North America drop in the ocean, but I think that’s a little drastic. I don’t want to kill off the entire world, just hurt some people. Gosh, that sounds horrible. (Look at me, I’m a terrible person, but in the name of writing!) Enough for now, back to work.


3/22 – 12:29 – So I’ve been really stressed about this piece. I really want it to be something special, and it’s like I’m cock-blocking myself. I’ve been having issues with what I want to be as my catalyst to get the plot rolling. Now I’m of the mind of just introducing all the characters and letting it organically flow. Maybe because I know what’s going to happen at the end I’m repeatedly running into walls? Maybe I should just forget the ending and …. I have no idea… having a lot of issues with this, but I’ll figure something out. Of course, real life stress doesn’t help. I’m not giving up on this, because that’s not who I am. I’m more likely to beat it to death with a stupid-stick than throw my hands in the air and say, “eff it.” I think I have my characters planned well, so that will help. I just hope they are deep enough.


3/25 – 17:00 – Today I have compiled notes on various scenes I would like to include. I also did myself a big favor and got Scrivener to see if it would help keep me organized. So far, I love it. I love outlines to begin with, but it’s so much more than that. The characters within my mind are finally interacting and I’m excited to see where this goes. I told myself in the beginning that I wasn’t going to put a love triangle in, but I did. Oh well, it was bound to happen. Well maybe it isn’t so much of a love triangle as an affair. I just hope it makes things more exciting.


3/26 – 10:13 – Woke up early this morning and plotted out a few more scenes. I feel like I’m finally starting to get the puzzle pieces to fit together. Of course, Facebook came along and I puttered around for an hour. I’m beginning to wonder if Facebook is draining my muse. Well, I’ll just have to stay away from it for awhile. I should just stay away from internet all together for awhile. I feel good about what little I have accomplished though. Maybe I’m just trying to keep my head up? I feel like I’m dangling above a precipice with this WIP.


4/1 – 17:05 – Over 2500 words written today on an opening scene I didn’t think of until last night. I love it! Of course, the writing’s crap and the grammar’s probably atrocious, but it’s down. I have a spot to move forward from. 🙂 Now on to meeting other characters then comes the romance, death, and end of the world- maybe not in that exact order.

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The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch

Caracas Chronicles

San Cristobal ayer San Cristobal on Tuesday night

Dear International Editor:

Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and  storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.

People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street.

And that’s…

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Writer’s Block

Yes, I am stuck on the proverbial dead-end of writing. I veered away from my original outline for my novel and now have to either back track or maneuver my way back to the main plot line. I am in no way, shape, or form saying that writing is a dead end. It’s not.

I personally have come to a spot that some writers call a block. I have been advised by many peers to either push through it or go back and edit, restructure, make more notes, etc. There are tons of things to do if you have writer’s block. I am doing none of these.

Instead, I have decided to stop for a day or two, and just read. I’ve been so caught up in my writing that I haven’t had time to read. Reading is my therapy for all things. I love it and writing equally.

Rather than berating myself for not reaching my daily writing goal, I’m going to relax and indulge my flights of fancy. 🙂 Besides, as a writer, reading counts as work too, right? 😉


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