About cindyanajones

Writer, publicist, creative entrepreneur and mom. I help people bring their stories to light

Fragment Friday – Cats and Dogs

Happy Friday Firefans!

In the spirit of a late summer weekend…

Today I decided to share something that I wrote simply because…are you ready? It makes me happy. Yes. Writers can be happy too.

I don’t think this story is epic. I don’t think have any delusions that the writing here is stellar. The plot is light and probably predictable. And I haven’t spent hours obsessing over it or become an existential train wreck because of it or its origins.

I started it as part of a prompt for a short story contest. I ended up missing the deadline, but was so in love with the premise that I decided I’d keep it on file and go back to it someday.  I love the characters and the possible scenarios of what might happen between them. I love the setting and the story and the animals and the slightly askew yet amiable small-town ideals.

This story is something that I often forget writing is supposed to be: FUN. Yes! Did you know, our group has lots and lots and lots of fun? We do! Even though of late, we haven’t shown that side of ourselves here.

And yes, you called it. You know me well. There is, of course, music that goes with this scene. See? More fun!  Unfortunately this artist is so up-and-coming you can’t find the song on YouTube. So you’ll need Spotify to play it. (Emerging writers supporting emerging artists. That’s how we roll here at WTF.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

~C

(here’s the song)

* * *

Cats and Dogs ~ Chapter One, Opening Scene

Lizzie sat on the window ledge, pulled back the lace curtain and peered outside. Squinting, she surveyed the contents of the black convertible in the driveway next door: A camera, a map, and several brown boxes filled with books. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that satisfied any suspicions of either normalcy or scandal.

Gracie, with her little orange tail pointed straight up, jumped onto the window ledge and boldly nosed her way through the curtain. Lizzie took the kitten into her lap and pulled back the lace. She didn’t want to be accused of spying. And anyway she wasn’t spying, really. That would be perfectly ridiculous.lace curtains

Mary, the librarian was the first in town to spread the news: Nathan McDaniel, the famous and recently divorced romance novelist was moving to the seaside town of Trinity Cove. Lizzie couldn’t have cared less about it, until she heard Mary casually mention that he was buying the house next door.

She’d had to sell literally hundreds of her murals to save for the down payment on her 1906 Victorian cottage, and in the three years she’d lived there, she’d been working her fingers to the bone to restore and maintain its charm.  She was near certain a celebrity author was not going to appreciate the historic character of the neighborhood. Nor was she sure that she wanted an egotistical, overpaid, overindulged, celebrity romance writer living next door.

She had read a few of Nate McDaniel’s books, or she’d tried anyway, and she couldn’t help finding his writing bland and overly cliché. She’d rolled her eyes at the way his books followed such a formulaic plot, young Caucasians in love and separated or unrequited in mind-numbingly stereotypical ways. She was sure he hadn’t a clue the way people really felt, or talked, or acted when they were smitten over someone. And maybe she was no expert, but she was pretty sure that real people didn’t act like the cardboard cutouts he seemed to use as inspiration for his characters.

moving truckShe straightened her spine and watched cautiously as a slender man with tousled, walnut-colored hair appeared behind the truck with a handcart, wearing a dress shirt rolled to the elbows and loose-fitting jeans. He pulled a few medium-sized boxes down and stacked them on the cart, then put his hands behind his head, stretched and gazed with a warm smile around neighborhood. Lizzie ducked behind the curtain.

That’s Nathan McDaniel?” She said out loud without meaning to. Gracie mewed in response, butting her head against Lizzie’s arm. She stroked the kitten’s soft fur absentmindedly and peeked out again. The man was effortlessly lifting giant boxes down and stacking them in neat rows. Strange. She had pictured him older, heavier, messier, more… bookish: Sweater cardigan, squishy abdomen, double chin, withered cigar hanging over a five-o-clock shadow. Not that she’d spent any time thinking about it, but wasn’t that what middle-aged romance novelists usually looked like? She pulled back the lace again and leaned forward slightly to get a better view.

After a long bout of silent staring, a horrible thud, followed by a clawing, scratching noise brought Lizzie back into focus and painfully aware that she’d been resting her forehead against the glass. Damn. She was caught. The man in the driveway jerked his head in the direction of Lizzie’s front window.

Gracie dug her claws into Lizzie’s thighs and before she had a chance to cry out in pain, a giant, jet-black, slobbery face appeared at the window. The horrible creature barked so loud, Lizzie felt the window vibrate. Gracie clawed her way across Lizzie’s right arm and dashed under the sofa.

“What on earth was that awful thing?” Lizzie whimpered, rubbing the tiny scratches on her thigh.The doorbell chimed.

She froze, thinking briefly of her ripped shorts, paint-splattered shirt, and the dirty-blonde strands of hair falling out of the messy bun on top of her head.  She closed her eyes and hoped that the quiet meant whomever was at the door had gone. But a friendly knock- with a little more-than-the-usual enthusiasm broke into the silence.

Lizzie took a deep breath and made her way to the door, opening it with slow trepidation.

Top Ten Prompts to Inspire Creative Writing

If you’re a writer, an artist, musician or creative soul of any kind you’ve probably had those days when you just can’t produce anything worth… anything. The harder you try, the less effective you become and you get yourself into a ridiculously concrete mental block. It’s tough to pull yourself out of this phenomenon, and many times the feeling has negative effects in the rest of your life too.

As writers, we’ve found that completing writing prompts not only helps us get a fresh perspective in our writing, they open our minds in a myriad of other ways. The mental fog clears, and suddenly there are windows where there were once only walls.

These prompts our a few of our group’s favorites– and a few have even turned into some of our most beloved pieces. Give them a try, let us know how it goes, and we might even feature your response as a guest post!

Happy writing,

~C

10- They told her not to open the box…

9- You’re walking along a crowded street and an old woman hands you a brown paper bag. You take it from her and feel that it’s slightly weighted by whatever is inside. She smiles and disappears into the crowd. What is inside the bag, and what does it mean to you?

8-  This picture:

St. Etienne - Muse

7- Think of a character, either from a story you’re writing or a book you’ve read.  He/she has a favorite pair of shoes. Why are they special? Where did they come from? Where does he/she wear them? What stories go along with those shoes?

6- You wake up locked inside a closed coffin. Explain your initial reaction, how you attempt to escape, and what you remember about how you got there.

5- Find and buy (or take a picture of) an object at a thrift store, and write a short story or a scene around it. Below are some examples of objects we’ve used:

Vintage radiovintage gray tub

red high heelsrose colored glasses

4- You and your friends take a three mile hike up to a campsite and you’re sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows. Out of the blue one of your friends reveals a secret that turns your pleasant camping trip into a total nightmare…

3- Write a few paragraphs explaining how this picture came about, or what it represents:(image courtesy of www.vladstudio.com)

2- Write a story from the perspective of the family pet. The family is bringing home a new baby, going through a divorce, recently lost a loved one, the children are starting school, or they are moving across the country.

1- As a person or thing that inspires all your creativity and new ideas, your muse has been trying to contact you. Write a conversation between you and your muse. There are no limitations as to what he/she/it is, appears, or looks like. What does your muse want you to know? What is your reaction?

Guest Post- Poetry by April Stromberg

One of our loyal readers and friends experienced a painful and sudden loss in her life about a year ago. Though she hadn’t thought much about writing before, she turned to guest-postingwriting to help work through some powerful feelings about what happened.

Many times, writing is a tool to help us express words we can’t say, shed light on true emotions and set our hearts free. We here at Writing the Fire feel a kinship with those who are led to writing this way. We are honored to share April’s beautiful expression of love and loss and growth in her poems. We hope you enjoy them too.

***

The Last Time

Cold, only your face showing.
The last time I hugged you,
You weren’t alive.

Hard, speaking in short sentences.
The last time I saw you,
You were alive.

Aprils guest post

Warm, your voice was inviting.
The last time we spoke,
You were alive.

Soft, your ashes on my fingers.
The last time I touched you,
You weren’t alive.

The End

What have I learned?
Life is really too short.
Love doesn’t always last.
No one’s opinion matters.
I survived this.  I am strong.

About April Stromberg

April - Copy (2)I grew up the 5th child in a family with 7 kids, in Northern California.  After meeting my husband and dating for only 5 months, I moved to Salt Lake City and married him.  Three apartments, two houses, several jobs, two kids, one dog, several fish, and thirteen years later, I’m finally finding myself.

I never gave writing a thought until last year when my older brother died by suicide.  Not always wanting to burden my family with extra sadness, I took a pen and let the emotions flow.  It has become my therapy.  I’m allowed to say what I want without worrying about what other people think.  Most of them are sad because, well, grief is sad. 

I love to read like it’s nobody’s business.  I bake like a madwoman.  I eat until I’m full and love every bite.

I listen to happy music when I’m happy.  Sad music when I’m sad.  Melancholy music when I’m in a funk that I can’t get out of and dance music when I feel like dancing.

Only a Glimpse…

“Sweet dreams,” I said kissing the wisps of blonde hair on my four-year-old’s head.  I padded barefoot out of her room, quietly closed the door and leaned against it with a sigh. It had been one long day, week, month…summer. I was in some kind of foggy murk and had been for more than a week. I just wanted to collapse into my bed and, like every other day that week, forget that the day existed.

But my husband was waiting outside with the telescope. So I trudged downstairs.

Actually, it was my idea. Earlier that night I heard the words come out of my mouth, heard my own ask him to set it up, because it was the first clear night we’d had in awhile. They were my words,  but sounded so far away and unfamiliar, nearly unrecognizable to the weary soul inside. My husband was kind enough to take heed and trust them. And so I had no choice but to trust them too.

night skyI poured myself a glass of red wine and left the tepid warmth of the kitchen, stepped out on the deck into the night. It was warm, but a soft breeze was stirring the branches. The coolness of it lifted the heat away from the warm wooden planks of the deck floor. Rhythmic chirps of a hundred crickets sent a pulse into the night like a summer heartbeat. My husband, sitting at the telescope, looked up and smiled at me I closed the door.

“You…” He said, grinning, “are going to love this. Come on.”

I sat next to him on the chair he’d pulled over, squinted one eye and pressed the other softly against the lens. A faint blur of golden light streaked upwards, then disappeared.

“I don’t see anything,” I said, lifting my head. “There was some light, but it faded.”

“It moves fast.”

“What? What is it?”

“You’ll know when you see it. Here, let me find it again.” We traded places and he peered in, barely moving the lens around. “Here. Here it is.”

I sat again in the chair, moving slowly as not to bump the telescope out of place. This time when I squinted and looked into the lens, A reddish-orange circle appeared at the bottom corner. I moved my hand up carefully, turning the focus knob to sharpen the image. The circle became redder and clearer, and the outer edge was surrounded by two, rust-colored ghostlike rings, only they were circling the shape vertically instead of horizontally.

Saturn.Saturn

I held my breath. It was only in my vision for a half second before it rose to the top of the lens and out of sight. I sat up. My husband was sitting next to me, watching and waiting for my expression. We smiled at each other like we’d just uncovered some kind of ancient secret. We traded and he found it again, and eventually I figured out how to move the telescope so I could follow it myself. We took turns taking half-glimpses of it like little kids peeking through a doorway at Santa Claus. After a short while, it sunk below the trees on the horizon and we could no longer bring it into view. So we sat silent in the soft, late-summer night, thinking about our discovery.

We, ourselves had caught sight of something we’d only heard of since we were young children. We’d seen photographs of it in books, watched documentaries about planets on PBS, but now, with a hundred-dollar telescope we had seen it for ourselves. The events of the night had changed my perspective, and the murk I had been maneuvering through cleared, if only slightly.

In my desire to become my best possible self, to find purpose and Grace and enlightenment, I see Saturn too. I get short, vivid surges of knowing what I am born to do, and it’s so powerful I feel like an unstoppable force moving toward it. There is no question. There is proof. It simply is. For a half-instant, I am all powerful. And then it moves out of my peripheral and I am sent searching through darkness again.

Sometimes, I can’t find it on my own, and I am blessed enough to have people in my life like my loving husband to help me catch sight of it again. And sometimes I find it myself, without even trying. It is there, a constant, even when the murk of life prevents me from seeing it.

The vision of what we are meant to be is Saturn in the telescope. We chance upon the vision sometimes and for a few fleeting moments, what is within us is clear and true. But because we are human, easily distracted and set off course, it moves away from us. We must keep searching, sometimes led only by blind faith in possibility.  But it is there… we know it in our hearts, and every time we catch a glimpse of it that knowing becomes just a little stronger.dreams27f-1-web

If we hold a desire in our heart to one day, reach out and touch those lovely rings of light, i.e. live the dream we’ve been dreaming, we must keep searching. We must surround ourselves with the people and things that will help us reach our truest selves. And most importantly,we should never give up believing in things we can’t necessarily see.

They are not only possible, they are certain.

So keep searching. I will if you will.

-Till next time

~C

PS: This song goes with this post beautifully, if you’re inclined to read to music like our group. We like to connect songs to stories, of all kinds. 😉

Moxie Monday- The Summer of Letting Go

My turn for a Moxie Monday post is long overdue, and there is a good reason for that. I’ll do my best to explain.

I’ve been referring to this three-month stretch of sun as the Summer of Letting Go, long before I had a grasp on what that would mean. But somehow, in spite of my ignorance about it, those words have proved themselves inside and out. This summer:

I discovered, relived, and let go a small piece of my history.

I let go of regret at things undone, unspoken, undreamed.

I let go of thinking that any human being understands love, in it’s fullest. We are all just trying to love with the tools we’ve been given. Sometimes that is nothing at all.

I let go of the notion that magic does not exist. It exists with our without us believing in it. All we have is the decision whether or not to let it in.

 

I let go and let go and let go, until I was empty of all feeling. And then I rose up and did it again. It’s not over. This is likely to happen again and again until there is nothing left to confine or define me. Only then will can I say I have once and for all let go, and be free.

It has been a beautiful, unthinkable, boundless summer. And it has been a heartbreaking, weepy, arduous one as well. It is for this reason that I’ve been avoiding talking about my goals, my strength, my strategy. At times, I literally had none. And you know what? For the first time in my life, I’m okay with that.

I say this to the world with more intent in my heart than anything I have ever planned to do or be.

Today, I will follow my heart.

 

Till next time,~C

 

Top Ten Tuesday- Ten Signs You Might Be a Writer

the-writer2

10 -You notice all the things

This means you not only take interest life’s little details, you relish them. You appreciate sunrises, full moons, the smell of coffee percolating and the sound of your feet crunching on gravel. You don’t simply move through life in a happy blur. Rather, you get intoxicated in all the sights and sounds life has to offer:  Watching a bumblebee light on a lily, noticing the sticky yellow on the fuzzy surface of its back as it dips between blooms. Hearing the high notes of a classical prelude or the low notes of a Red Hot Chili Peppers ballad and finding the song reaches depths of your soul that can’t be named.

Bonus points if you not only notice the  details, you assign meaning to them, i.e., the patterns in the shadow of leaves remind you of a lace runner on your Grandmother’s kitchen table. This is obviously a sign, so you drop everything and call her.

9- You create alternate endings for…everything

You know without a doubt what should have actually happened at the end of The Notebook. You’re sure you know the missing answers in all the episodes of Lost. And you dream of what could have happened had Daisy never married Tom in The Great Gatsby…

You find yourself asking “What if” for things outside of movies too. Past relationships. Friends career choices. The road you took to work this morning. Each of those choices might have lead to alternate events, and you can’t deny you’re intrigued by that notion.

8- You regard reading as a near spiritual act

Every dedicated reader knows it’s bliss to get lost in a good book, but to a writer, a good book is a revelation. Pick up any of your favorite novels and you start finding truths on every page, parallels that speak to your life and what you’re navigating through at that very moment.You find signs in the dialogue, answers to all your big questions in the narrative.reading-a-book

You read and feel that life has new meaning. And sometimes, what you’re reading starts to make more sense than reality. Yep, you’re probably a writer.

7- You people-watch with a passion

Linger at a coffee shop or a city park and you instantly find yourself lost in the people around you. Wonder what she’s going to name her daughter, how she met her husband. Wonder why he’s red-eyed and puffy-faced, and yet breaking up with his girlfriend via Skype.

Your watching and wondering quickly heightens to the next level, in which you answer all the questions in your mind about the people you’ve been watching. She’s going to name her daughter Nina, after her sister. He can’t stand to break up in person because deep down he still loves her. Then…you create imagined scenarios for these people you’re watching.

You’re casting characters my friend. Your soul is trying to put them inside a story.

6- You daydream about fictional characters

Speaking of characters…Ever thought it would be titillating to have tea with Mr. Darcy? Yearned to forge that horrible, dark void with Frodo?  Or compared your current love-interest to the main character in the novel you’re reading…once, twice, a dozen times?

Yeah. Us too. You aren’t weird. But it’s a good sign there are probably characters in you waiting for the chance to be written into existence.

5- People say you’re a dreamer

But you’re not the only one… Head in the clouds, scatterbrained, wanderlust, or preoccupied. If any of these names have ever been cast at you, chances are your imagination is working at flittle_dreamer_wallpaper__yvt2ull capacity and creating something beautiful.  You have a literal art factory in there, stories waiting to find their way into the universe.



4- You’ve ever thrown a book across the room

Books are sacred, yes. But when they are bad, you take it personally. Poorly written, overstated, or books that take cheap shots at unsuspecting readers send you reeling, and that book flying.

We feel ya. Bad writing is like an insult you can’t shake. You have to do something physical to the book to feel even slightly satisfied.

3- Blank notebooks excite you

Simply put, something about all those blank pages is intriguing. The open possibilities of what might come to life in those lines…

2- You like big words and you cannot lie

You enjoy language, and sometimes use unusual words, just for thChild reading a dictionary in school uniforme sheer joy of their weight on your tongue. Imbrication. Unencumbered. Labrynthian. Mellifluous. You wonder why your friends don’t understand that words like these are music.

And…if you read the dictionary for fun as a kid, you most certainly belong in a writers circle. It’s the only place you won’t be referred to as a nerd.

1- You write to resolve

You have a fight with your best friend, and instead of calling her up to sort things out, you write her a novella-length email. When considering whether to take a new job, you write down all the reasons you might be in love with it, and all the reasons you might regret leaving your current employer. Yes, part of this is a natural and organized way to discover feelings and weigh options. But not everyone’s mind works this way.writing on notebook

If you can come to major conclusions in your life through a sharpened pencil, your favorite pen, or a keyboard- you probably have a knack for writing. It’s not only the process, it’s what happens between the lines. Insight. Creativity. Epiphany. Written to life.

We hope you decide to join us.

Til next time,

~Cindy

Fragment Friday – The Yellow Balloon

“It’s okay, baby. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Through the rear-view mirror, Julie could just see a corner of Lily’s tiny red face. The baby’s hands trembled, irate at being trapped in the confines of her car seatbaby crying rear view.  Julie inhaled slowly and made a soft, rhythmic shushing sound at her daughter’s cries. She slowly turned up the volume on the car’s CD player.  The deep, lilting voice of a cello sent notes of Bach’s Prelude in G Major over the beige leather seats.  Julie rolled her neck around slowly and it snapped back at her with angry tension.  She’d never expected her first day back at work to have gone so terribly wrong. She’d walked into a raging wildfire- one that had been going on without her for months, one that Jason Hunt fully expected her to have solved in the first few hours of her return. And then on the phone, in tears, in the parking lot she’d snapped at Gabe, for not understanding the absurdity of it all. Thirty minutes later she’d walked into the sitter’s to find her baby crying furious, and hungry.  She’s been like this all day, the young blonde had said, trying to disguise the potency of impatience in her voice. Julie rubbed at her temples as she slowed the car to a stop at the intersection. Lily’s screams had subsided and were replaced by intermittent, exhausted sobs.

“It’s okay, Lil,” she made her voice low, intentional and calm, mimicking the cello. “Everything’s going to be okay.”  Did she keep saying that for Lily, or for herself?  She gazed at the faded red of the stoplight. Filtered sunlight beamed across the gray asphalt and reached across the sidewalk, toward a row of red-brick, 1920’s bungalows. Drifting above the delicate leaf patterns on the street, a wraith-like shape drifted into the scene. A small yellow balloon floated into the intersection, pulling a tattered white string behind it like an unwilling captive.

Julie stared, entranced by the movement of the balloon- the way it swayed and dipped serendipitously. It moved across the street in almost deliberate motion. The stoplight changed. Julie did not move her foot from the brake. She kept staring. Somewhere in her mind an alarm 1920s bungalows live oakswas going off.  Something inside her was urging her to take action.  But the movement of the balloon had become so intensely clear that she could scarcely realize any of her other senses. Having seen the balloon float across half of the intersection, her eyes drifted to the far corner on the opposite side. A young Hispanic man and a tiny, brunette toddler girl stood at the street sign. Julie studied the pink and white pinstripes on the girls dress. The child’s cropped brunette hair swept across her chin when she turned her head.  Julie noticed the soft smile that moved over the father’s lips as the child pointed to the balloon. And the blank absoluteness of the change that came over his face when the child dashed into the street. She wanted to scream out. But as if trapped inside a dream, when she opened her mouth she had no voice. She watched, struck motionless in disbelief. A giant, white moving truck moved under the stoplight opposite her. Blurred streaks of white, red, silver and black flashed into the faded sunlight. The smoking rubber of tires smeared a horrible, black streak across the asphalt. A fringe of brown hair swept across a heart-shaped face. A red hand jutted into the center of the chaos. The demon screeching of metal into metal. The eerie, rain-like shattering of broken glass. Julie stared, frozen into the disaster, frozen into time. She felt a surging heaviness in the atmosphere- time being heaved to a stop. Like when Lily was born.

Julie loosened her hands from the steering wheel and stepped, trembling into the street. Her heart pounded loud in her ears. The back end of the truck had completely taken out the front end of a blue sedan. The driver sat motionless in his seat.  She couldn’t remember getting out of the car,  but felt herself moving toward the collision. She stared at the space where she’d last seen the balloon. And then…a sudden movement came from beneath it. An arm reached out onto the street. Life. Limbs. Hope. Love. Noise. A cry.  A child’s cry. Suddenly Julie could feel herself breathing, her heart pulsing out blood to her fingers and toes, the tightness of skin around her cheeks, the way her tongue felt against the back of her teeth. It was the first time in 34 years she had ever been aware of being inside of her life.yellow balloon in trees

The yellow balloon bumped across the rounded curb and upward into the low crooks of a towering live oak, tangling its captive string into the reaching arc of branches.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media

Now, before all you SocMed-junkies wearing Team Zuckerberg t-shirts go all getting defensive, let me explain.

I am as big a Facebook fan as the next girl. I post pictures of my kids. I share funny anecdotes. I repost quotes that inspire me. I make all the comments and  insert all the sad smiley emoticons in all the right places…

When I joined Facebook, it put me in touch with friends I had not seen in years, gave me glimpses into people’s lives I would have never otherwise seen. A new, technological intimacy. It’s all very intriguing. In a way the progressive leaps and bounds of social media has made us feel connected to the free world in a way that nothing else can.

And in another way it disconnects us from all that is real.

Lori and I recently became aware that we were headed for the dead zone known as writers block. Feeling foggy, irritable and misdirected, we decided that checking Facebook umpteen times a day was only exacerbating the situation. So we underwent a social experiment and decided to avoid Facebook altogether for 48 hours. The results were promising, and afterward, we both came to the conclusion that social media is slowly pilfering away our souls.

Here’s how:

1-  Comparison

Facebook_like_thumbEvery person reading knows what I’m talking about: You see a picture of your best friend drinking a milkshake with her kid and you feel guilty you aren’t doing that with yours. You read your sister’s poetic post about the sunset and wonder why you can’t turn words into art that way. Your friends from high school share pictures of all the places they’ve traveled and you hate yourself for never leaving your hometown.

It’s said that comparison is the thief of joy. If that’s true, Facebook is it’s loyal accomplice.

2- Misrepresentation

This is partner in crime with number 1. You know that picture of your best friend and her kid drinking a milkshake? What you didn’t see was her son’s tantrum and her yelling in the car for 10 minutes straight before she took the photo. Social media has made exaggerating, even downright lying a perfectly acceptable way to gain attention from our peers.

And even when we don’t intend it to be, the way we represent ourselves to the world through social media is a falsehood, a filtered version of reality. What we see in a few lines generic fb picof a post, or what was captured in the split second a picture was taken could never illustrate all the light and dark points that make up a human being’s life.

3- Disregard

How many times have you messaged someone and found yourself thinking horrible thoughts about yourself and them because they didn’t message back? (Maybe he thinks I’m weird…then again maybe he just went for a sandwich.) Or, you post something straight from your heart, expecting a wealth of support from your friends, and you get zero comments. We’ve all been on the receiving end of this- and yet none of us can claim innocence to doing the same to our friends either.

Ironic, that the medium that has made us all so utterly connected has also given us the means to treat one another with such cold blasts of indifference.

4- Narcissism

Basically, what comes out of the code and onto your news feed as narcissism is actually people trying desperately to prove their worth.  Friends posting how many times and what kind of exercise they’ve done all day long. Dieters posting photos of everything they eat. Mothers relaying everything their toddler has said since he uttered his first words three years ago. Status updates from the same person three, five, ten, sixteen times a day. It’s not that people don’t care about this stuff…

girl with iphoneOkay, yeah, it is that people don’t care about this stuff!! But you know what? That doesn’t disprove a person’s worth. We’re just trying to find it in all the wrong places. It’s so very sad, that we are so blatantly crying out for each others approval in such a superficial realm.

5- Piggybacking

This one was the kiss of death for me, the one that sent me on Facebook sabbatical. A big political event is in process and suddenly everyone’s on the bandwagon, choosing sides. Starting ridiculous arguments with all who oppose. The sad and obvious fact is that most of the people who use Facebook to prop up their soapboxes have no freaking clue about what it means to be in the middle of any of those causes. They aren’t black. They’ve never fought in a war. They aren’t gay. They don’t have school-aged children. They have never so much as looked in the direction of a classic novel or pondered a work of art.facebook causes

This is not to say that there aren’t honest people out there trying to propel worthy causes on through social media. But what’s absolutely sickening is the way people jump behind big controversial causes in order to gain popularity, (and fake popularity at that.) The little profile pictures we see- they aren’t real people. Just representations.

We are REAL. Lets stop feigning persuasive power in tiny comment boxes and actually get out and support the things we believe in.

6- Unwanted Advice

We’ve all been here. Try to be honest, throw something real out into cyberspace and post that you couldn’t sleep or that you yelled at your kids. Suddenly everyone’s an expert how you should have handled it. Suddenly everyone knows better or has something to compare it to. Again, the thought you typed out is only a tiny sliver of the real situation, something no-one but you can possibly understand in whole. You might even think you want advice- but you can be sure as the sun if you ask for it on Facebook  you’re going to get some you didn’t.

This works in reverse too. Probably, our hearts are in the right place and we want to help. We offer our friends suggestions of what we’d have done. Post links of potential solutions. But this is a prime example of how our uber-connectedness has actually made us less in tune with one another.

What ever happened to the old-school picking up the phone for a one-on-one conversation? What about meeting for tea or coffee and a quiet chat? Those things seem to never occur to us anymore. We offer up all kinds of advice without actually needing to know how the person- the real one behind the profile picture- is actually feeling.

7- Substitution

Hands down, the biggest reason we need to start cutting out Facebook time. Like it or not, we are becoming some slightly-more-quirky version of The Matrix. Living counterfeit lives through a technological platforFacebook deserted by millions of users in biggest marketsm.

Social media is slowly becoming a substitute for real relationships. Of all kinds. Period.

So why do we do all these things to ourselves? Because we are human. We need to feel. Something, anything, even if its arguing with people we barely know over a cause we could never understand or incessantly posting what we think and what we’re doing every two minutes.

But what about eye contact? Hearing your best friend’s voice on the phone or watching your neighbor’s new baby smile? The power behind actually touching another human being? We need this stuff to exist, and we’re slowly abandoning it to live feigned lives inside a digital realm.

So, does this mean I think everyone should stop reading right now and delete their Facebook accounts? That social media is the root of all evil? No, not by any means. Like all technology, social has its place and obviously its benefits.

No, but what I am saying is that we need to look at how communicating through social media is shaping us, our thoughts, our choices, our everyday lives. Like anything else that humans encounter, it needs to taken be in moderation. It’s like a vice–we need to put its power into perspective, and the only way to get perspective is to step away from time to time.

And while stepping away…why not go outside, breathe in some fresh air and smile at people passing on the street? Sit on the grass with a neighbor and have a heartfelt chat. Look, listen, feel.

For a little while, be you instead of a feigned representation of you.

Thoughts?

Guest Post- Jenny Shaw

This is a story about a girl who loves a lost boy, very, very, very much. She knew he was guest-postinglost but loved him anyway. He never returned her affections until one night right before his 28th birthday.

She knew it would never last. And it didn’t. But, these are the words that will remained burned into her heart for the rest of her life.

-Jenny

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On a Wednesday night, the last week in May

 you started saying those words.

 I thought it was absurd, surely I misheard…

 You asked me to come back to you after I had gone away…

 So, come back I did, to reassure your soul.

 As you fell asleep, I went to go.

 Told you that I loved you so…then…you started talking too.

It started with “I love you Jenny”

followed by “Goodnight”

I didn’t believe my ears, I couldn’t have heard right.


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 Two days passed, and then,

 I found myself once again

alone with you in your room

 where you were trapped in your spiral of doom

 trying just to keep yourself afloat…


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 “Don’t leave me”, you pleaded

 my bleeding heart went out to you

I held you in my arms as you cried

“I’m so sorry, Jenny. So very sorry…”

For what, I didn’t know…


“I broke your heart so long ago…”

 That simply wasn’t true, this is what I told you

 I’m tougher than I look & stronger than I seem

 I saw in your eyes then a hopeful gleam

 “I’ve always adored you, I care for you so much

 I was just too afraid to ever let you know.

 I thought I would destroy you, I never wanna hurt you…”

 The sad smile on my face was matched by your own

 when I told you I loved you & I always would…

 But it was time for me to go.

 “No! Please, don’t leave me?

 Don’t leave me; I’m begging you Jenny-Bird.”

 As though your life hung on every word, you pleaded with me to stay…


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couple holding hands

 So, I stayed.


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 But the pleading didn’t stop,

 if anything it got stronger & more desperate.

 “I couldn’t stand it if you left, I think I might die if you leave…”

 Then you started to cry…


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 “Oh, Peter Pan,” I said to you, so worried for my friend.

 “Are you talking about when I’m done with school?”

 I felt so foolish. Why should you care if I leave or I stay?

 I didn’t know what to say…

 “I couldn’t bear if you left,” you said in a rush

 Then with your voice quite hushed, through your tears you whispered

 “I think I would die without you here…”


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 My heart stopped

 Tears filled my eyes

 I tightened my arms’ hold around you

 “No matter where I go, no matter what I do

How far away I am… I will never, ever leave you.

 I’ll always be right here for you, Pan.”

 You didn’t like that answer.

 You shook your head; you growled & said,

 “That’s not the same.

 You’ll be gone, I’ll be here…

 You’re leaving in a year.

 You’ll be with what’s his name who does the stuff.”

 You tried so hard to sound tough…

 I laughed,

 you frowned

 I turned your head around

 Took your face in my hands & I said,

 “Adrian. I think you have been misled.

 There is no what’s his name, not now at least

 and if you wanted to…

 You could come with me.”

 Your eyes, how they lit up,

 your smile brightened the room

 I saw you come out of your spiral of doom… and then…


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love in the shadows

 The kiss.


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 The thing I never knew I would miss

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 exactly as I’d always imagined and better at the same time.

 For those minutes, for that hour… You were mine.

 But I knew it wouldn’t last

 the sun would rise, oh so fast…

 And with its rays your words would fade

 Disappearing in the light of day.


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 You felt my hesitation,

 you asked me why?

 So I addressed the situation…

“I’ve loved you for so long,”

 a tear sliding down my face

 “It was always wrong… Wrong time, wrong place…”

With a deep breath I explained…

 “Tomorrow this will be over.

 You’ll wake up, you won’t remember.

 I know you too well, Peter Pan,

 More than anyone else, I understand.”


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 Another growl then these words,

 “MURDER.

 I’ll do whatever it takes Jenny-Bird,

 to prove to you how much I care

Even if it takes forever, you’ll see just how much you mean to me.

Everything I’m doing now, everything I’ve done was to be the man you deserve to have;

so I could deserve you, too.

 I just can’t get rid of you, Jenny-Bird.”

 “Get rid of me?!” I cried, “If that’s what you want, I’ll leave right now,”

 Only half joking, I pulled away.

 You pulled me harder to your side,

 you kissed me long and hard, you said,

 “This connection that we have, it just won’t go away.

 I don’t want it to; I couldn’t imagine life another way.

 I’ve missed you Jenny, so much,”

 You showed me with your touch, the passion in your heart…


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 As you drifted off to sleep,

 I wouldn’t let my eyes close

 I wanted to remember everything from this night

 So that when the sun rose and you forgot I would know…


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 You told me that you loved me

you said how much you cared

 more than I had ever dared to hope for

 you showed me in one bittersweet night…


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 It hurts but I know I’ll be alright

 now that once more you’ve gone away…

At least, for just a moment

 you found the courage to say what was in your heart.


 And now, just like we knew you would,

 this night has disappeared.

 It didn’t happen if I don’t remember…

 But I will always remember.


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  Though our story may be over,   crush couple silhouette

 I will always be grateful for this one fateful night

when our paths met along with our lips

I’ll consider it our farewell kiss

before we embark into our new lives…


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Goodbye Peter Pan.

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About Jenny Shaw:

JennyI grew up in a rural town in northern Utah. My life wasn’t particularly exciting, no grand adventures or epic love stories. The oldest child of a middle-class American family, homeschooled and the only non-LDS family on the block, I didn’t have many friends growing up. So, I made them up. Writing became my escape, my way into the life and friendships I only dreamed of having. 

I’d been singing since before I can remember and writing for almost as long. Eventually, the two merged into angsty teenaged poetry which then evolved into something almost called real music. At this point in my life, my music and my writing are my ways of expressing myself, reaching into the world outside of me to add to it, make it more beautiful than it was before…and it is much cheaper than therapy. Ha!

Top Ten Ways to Romance A Writer Girl

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Awhile back I read a post over at Elephant Journal titled How to Love a Girl Who Writes. I showed it to the WTF group and we all had a version of the same reaction, ranging from:

“Oh. My. God.” to

*Sigh* to

“Now I finally understand what’s wrong with me!”

Since the founders of this blog are all writers and (well duh) women,  thought it might be fun to do a top ten list in the spirit of this article. We’re all at different phases of the romantic relationship story in our lives. But when it comes down to it, I think writer girls all really just want the same thing.

 So without further ado…

Top Ten Ways Romance a Writer Girl

10- Give her some S P A C E

For a writer girl, the act of writing is a little like peeing. You think I’m kidding, but seriously. When all systems are in order it flows nicely, it’s a release of sorts, it feels not only natural, but necessary. But it’s private–not something that should really be experienced with another human being in proximity. Respect that not every part of a person should be shared.

And hey guys, reading over our shoulder– whether it’s the last paragraph of an epic novel or a Facebook post, it just gives us the creeps. Just…don’t.

9- Be connected, not clingy

Yes, we want you to be interested in us and the things we love. But if your happiness hinges on ours, well…we’re both in trouble. Writer girls are…uh, emotionally erratic, to say the least. If she’s all undone about the death of a fictional character, or pissy because she has a major case of writer’s  block, hug her. Smile and say you love how passionate she is. And then move on. Offer to give her some alone time, or suggest the two of you go for a drive or see a movie.

We know we are all over the place, and believe it or not, writer girls don’t want someone who’s willing to wallow in our crazy. What we truly need is someone who anchors us to what is real.

8- Go for the quirky over the traditional

When it comes to showing her your love, you aren’t going to get far with the old standbys. The best tokens of affection for writer girls are those that mean something that no-one else would understand. Example: A leaf in a box, from the tree under which you kissed her for the first time. Or an antique key like the one in the story she’s writing.

You know that scene in Stranger Than Fiction, when Will Ferrel’s character gives Maggie Gyllenhall’s character  flours? All the writer girls (not to mention the baker girls) watching at that moment went aaaahhhh and melted just a little bit.


(Not flowers, flours. She’s a baker. See? Quirky and sweet. That’s the ticket.)

7- Embrace her crazy

IMG_1042

Picture of my feet, taken by my husband. No questions asked.

Most likely, if you’re with a writer girl, part of what drew you to her in the first place is her passion. She has the ability to make even the most ordinary moments seem complex, meaningful, and mind-blowing.. (Come on guys, you know this has potential for being hot.) Now, there is the other side of it, when she’s in a dark mood and the fact that you turned on the water while she was talking sends her reeling into the break-up zone. But, instead of being (very, very) afraid- what you need to do is man up and embrace it. Love her for storming off because you brushed your teeth. Go ahead and take that picture of her bare feet on concrete without asking why. Accept her crazy as part of her passion, and she’ll adore you for the rest of her days.


6- Follow your own passions

This one is fairly straightforward. Writer girls believe to the core that everyone should be passionate. Whether its your work, your family or even developing the latest gaming software, you need something that  from time-to-time, pulls you in your own direction. We might act jealous and irritated because you were gone for a day or a weekend…off doing something that doesn’t involve us. But lets face it, a little competition never hurt anyone, and without it, we’re going to think of you as a robot. Find something you love and do it. We’re passionate and we want you to be too.

5-Be Patient

Okay, I’m going to level… Writer girls are constantly being distracted by, well, everything. Probably we’re going to ask you to pull over so we can study the sun streaming through a cornfield, or wait for us while we hammer out a new idea through our laptop keyboard, about a thousand time over the course of our relationship. We need to know this isn’t going to send you through the roof. Which is why # 6 is a great idea. That way, we’re happy, you’re happy.

And we all know what two mutually happy people in a relationship together leads to.

4- Don’t read her writing…unless she asks

For a writer girl, there is nothing more personal than her own writing, especially a work-in-progress.  Don’t invade her privacy without being asked in. And if she truly loves you, she will ask, eventually.

An addendum: If she does ask you to read it, it’s critical that you actually read it. If you pretend that you did, she’s going to know. Don’t fake it, or next time she will. 😉

3- Don’t try to give her ideas…unless she asks

Ditto above, except replace the word “writing” with the word “ideas.” Trying to force your ideas into a writers writing…not to mention into her mind is toxic for a relationship.. Just don’t do it.

2- Be prepared for an epic romance

bare feet togetherI’m going to leave this one to the imagination, which is exactly what writer girls have lots of, which is why you should prepare yourself. For some things, there simply aren’t words.

1- READ.

I chose this as number one because it’s a toughie, and it’s probably the most important. We really, really need to be with someone who reads, and more importantly thinks about what he reads.

Okay, we understand not everyone is a literary connoisseur. You don’t have to read Faulkner novels or Tennessee Williams’ screenplays to turn our heads (Though, I’m not going to lie, we think guys who read Steinbeck and mist up over Of Mice and Men are kinda hot…) Magazine articles, blog posts, even the sports section of the newspaper can offer perspectives you won’t find watching TV.

Bottom line. We’re writers. If you don’t read you’re basically saying you don’t believe in the world that created us. So just do it, okay?

 

Thanks for reading, and hey, if you’re a writer-guy and would like to guest post a Top Ten Ways to Romance a Writer Guy, we’d love to hear from you.

Till next time,

~Cindy