The New Year Is Coming

Hello, hello!  The new year is almost upon us.  Unlike a lot of people I know, I have to say that 2016 wasn’t a bad year for me.  Personally, it was a quiet and uneventful year.  Yeah, bad and scary things happened in the world, but good things also happened.  For example, Spinraza was approved by the FDA as the first therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (which was one of my diagnoses over the years, but I was assured 7 or 8 years ago that I actually have Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy).  Also, a lot of people were lost this year, including icons like Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, and Carrie Fisher.  But we’ve survived.  We’re still here to make 2017 a better year.  To make ourselves better people.

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R.I.P. General Organa

 If we want the new year to be better, we have to start with ourselves.  Many people make New Year’s Resolutions, which are great if you stick with them, but most of us don’t.  A week into January and that resolution to exercise more flies out the window with that first pulled muscle.  That resolution to be more positive disappears with the jerk who dents your car in the grocery store parking lot and doesn’t bother leaving a note.  It’s hard to change our habits.  And that’s okay.  But if you really want the year to be better, you’re going to have to make an effort.  That’s why I’m making a goal for myself for 2017.

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That’s how it goes.

 For 2017, instead of trying to change my habits (which is what resolutions usually entail), I’ve decided to pick one area of my life that I want to advance in and create a high (but reachable) goal for myself.  Right now, I’m mostly concerned about my career, so my goal is to find an agent by the end of 2017.  Hopefully, it won’t take an entire year, but it’s a goal I’m comfortable with.  If I were feeling courageous, I might go so far as to make my goal having my first novel published, but that takes time and requires an agent first (okay, so I don’t technically have to have an agent and I could go the whole self-publishing route for those who want to argue those points, but I don’t feel comfortable with those options for myself, so an agent I shall search for).

So, that’s my one big goal for 2017: find an agent.

I simply feel that if we aim to improve one part of our lives at a time (whether it’s our career, personal relationships, health, or whatever) with a concrete and reachable goal, we’ll have a better chance of achieving it and thus improving our year.  By all means, make some resolutions or extravagant goals.  Aim to change the world if that’s what you’re into, but remember that change starts at home.  By improving yourself, you’re improving the world.  Don’t let anyone tell you different.

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Exactly.

 Do you have any resolutions or goals for the coming year?  What area of your life would you most like to advance in during 2017?  Leave a comment here or on my social media pages to share your plans for the year.

See you next year!

The One Who Got Away: A Christmas Flash Fiction

Hello, hello!  It’s almost Christmas, so I thought I would give you a little flash fiction that I’ve been noodling around with.  Feedback is always welcome.  This is just something I threw together real quick, so don’t expect perfection.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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The One Who Got Away

By: Shawna Borman

Her voice had the sweet ring of silver bells and wrapped itself around the mind like garland around the tree. It drew people to her. Hanging thick in the chilled December air, her presence lingered long after she disappeared into the night with her prize. It kept the others warm and coming back for another chance. They never noticed that the ones who went with her never came back. At least, that was how the rumors went.

On Christmas Eve, I made the mistake of cutting through the park on my way home from my parents’ party. It was late and I was drunk. Alcohol was the only way I could stand the façade my parents required. I wasn’t who they wanted me to be, so I hid behind suits and ties when I was with them.

According to the legend, she should’ve been gone hours earlier. But there she was, singing to the crowd of men stupid enough to wander into her path. Singing to me. My eggnog-soaked brain vaguely registered the song, I’ll be Home for Christmas. It was a lie. The man she chose wouldn’t go home ever again. My steps faltered, steering me away from my path and right to the front of the group.

Men fell to their knees at her feet, tears streaming down their cheeks as they pled for her to choose them. Her pull was strong. I felt it somewhere deep in my soul, like a star being dragged into orbit. It was something I had never felt for a woman. Disconcerted, I took a step back. The star dimmed and her voice gained a jagged edge, like a broken ornament. I wanted to run, to break away from the group, but my feet remained frozen in place.

She turned her attention to me, causing the star to flare bright once more. I swayed, refusing the urge to sink down in front of her. Her fingers, icy cold, brushed my cheek and trailed down my arm into my palm. Green eyes, like holly, stared up at me. A mischievous smile crossed her poinsettia red lips.

“Let’s go home,” she whispered.

I followed her deeper into the park, down paths I never knew existed, until we came to a house made of snow. A door of bleached white bones stood ajar, exposing the inky blackness inside.

“You must come in and warm me up.” Her skin glittered blue in the silver moonlight. “We can be together forever. What more could a man ask for?”

The word hit me like a thousand reindeer. I was a man to her, to everyone. The suit suddenly felt like wrapping paper, hiding the gift inside me. It was a gift I believed no one would actually want. The tie tightened around my throat, choking me. I tore my hand out of her grasp and clawed the tie away from my neck.

“What’s wrong, my love?” she asked, her voice nothing but shards of broken glass. “Let’s go inside and talk about it.”

Her beauty melted away like snow revealing a muddied mess underneath. The vibrant hue of her eyes drained until all that was left was the same creamy shade of that evening’s nog. I wanted to scream, but only a whimper escaped.

“Get in the house, before you ruin everything, you bastard.”

She grabbed my wrist, pulling me toward the open door. Part of me wanted to let her take me, to let her extinguish the life of the man I was supposed to be. That was when I understood what needed to be done, what I needed to do in order to be happy.

I yanked away once more, shoving her across the threshold. She teetered, as if on the edge of a precipice.

“I’m a woman,” I said out loud for the first time in my life.

With that, she fell and the house collapsed into a pile of snow and human bones.

I left my small town that summer to transition fully into my new life as a woman, but I never heard rumors of the singing woman again.

Accountability: Like Due Dates But Different

Howdy, howdy!  I was really having a hard time deciding what to write about when a friend sent me a text thanking me for being the voice in her head asking if she was at least thinking about writing.  It gave her the nudge she needed to stop at a place after work and take a little while to have a cup of tea and write some words.  She hadn’t written in a while, but she wanted to, so I told her I’d pester her every day or so until she started writing.  The second day of pestering and she’s already making time for it.  That’s what happens when you’re held accountable for things like this, you make time for them.

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I know, Cas.  I know.  I’ll go do that.

 I don’t know about you, but I always work better with deadlines in place.  At school, I could knock a ten page paper out in one night if I had to, as long as the research was done ahead of time.  Deadlines meant grades.  In the real world, missing deadlines affects the pay from the day job.  In other words, deadlines carry the threat of consequences.  But what’s going to happen if you don’t finish a novel?  Unless you have a contract with a due date, nothing will happen.  So, how do writers overcome this lack of a threat and finish things?  We hold each other accountable.

In the beginning, I didn’t really understand how holding each other accountable would work.  After all, if I don’t push myself to finish something, why would someone judging me for it be motivational?  Turns out that guilt is a powerful tool.  If I set reasonable goals with people and don’t reach them, I feel guilty.  I don’t care if the end of the world pops up, if people know I planned on doing things and failed, it sucks.  It also helps that I’m mildly competitive, so failure and losing are not an option.  I won’t be the only one to not meet my goals.

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Mixed signals achieved.

 According to people I’ve done this whole accountability thing with, it also works by legitimizing their craft, especially when they have jobs.  They have trouble taking time out of their schedules to write because they feel like it shouldn’t be a priority even when they secretly (or not so secretly) want it to be.  Having someone who will pester them and encourage them gives them an “excuse” to make time for writing.

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You can’t keep waiting when there’s no last minute.

 So, even when deadlines aren’t an option, we can still motivate each other by holding each other accountable.  We might not receive any real negative consequences if we don’t meet our goals, but we’ll have to live with the shame of disappointing our friends.  Who has time for that?

Do you have any friends who pester you about your creative outlet?  Does accountability work for you?  How?  If not, what do you do to stay productive and motivated?  Leave a comment here or on my social media pages to share your thoughts!

Until next week!

A Writer’s Tale

Hello, hello!  I was at a loss over what to write for today.  My usual plea for topic ideas proved unfruitful this time.  Then, I realized that I have never shared my journey to writerhood on here.  At least I don’t think I have.  Feel free to stop reading if you’ve heard this story before.

I’ve always written.  Stories, poems, the occasional attempt at a comic strip (but my drawing skills failed me there).  I never really wanted to be a professional, though, so I’m a little different from my friends and fellow writers who have wanted to do this forever.  My crazy job goal was always a fashion designer, but when I figured out that wasn’t going to happen, I set my sights on more obtainable professions.

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Dallas Hall at SMU.  This campus is where my plan tumbled down.

 I went through most of my time at college (both community and university) waffling between psychology and English.  With psychology, I could help kids like myself.  After all, all the psychologists I saw walked into the room and presumed to know how I felt.  It never seemed right to me.  At least I would appear a little more relatable than they did to me.  I also kept returning to English because it was easy and I enjoyed it.  In fact, by the time I transferred to SMU (I went in as a Junior), the only degrees I had time to finish were psychology and English.

Since I had a semblance of a plan with psychology, I initially decided to go with that major.  It was going well.  I passed all my classes with fairly high grades (never less than a B).  I really got into abnormal psychology, especially the class that focused on disorders in children.  I aced my research class paper.  But I still kept taking English classes as well.

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Try having the debate with yourself.  I still secretly prefer APA.

 Then, that fateful day came.  Dad was walking me to class after a stop at the campus coffee shop and we were talking about majors and what I was planning to do, when he asked the question that shattered my little plan.  “How’re you supposed to be a psychologist when you don’t like people?”  He was right.  I’m not a people person.  I don’t like to pry.  I’ll offer advice when asked, but beyond that you’re on your own.  What kind of psychologist would I be?  I could go into research, but I don’t even like that.  Thus, I became an English major.

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Don’t fall for the hype!

 What was I supposed to do with an English major?  I had zero desire to teach.  So, I took some creative writing courses, found out that I still enjoyed writing, and dipped my toe into the big bad world of writerhood.  And that’s how I found myself on a path that would take me to Stonecoast and onto a place where I could live with the voices inside my head without having to worry about people.

How did you decide to pursue the path you’re on?  Did you always know you wanted to do it or did it spring itself on you?  Tell me your story in the comments or on my social media pages!