The Between Space

Hello, hello!  I hope those of you who had a long weekend for President’s day got to do something fun.  My weekend was quiet.  Anyway, you know that space between being awake and being asleep, where you’re never sure if you’re dreaming or if something is really happening?  That’s what I want to talk about today.  It’s the place many of my story ideas come from.  It’s not an entirely pleasant place, but it’s useful.  Sometimes.  Often, it just likes to scare me silly.  I’m really curious about other people’s relationship with this space as well, so think about sharing your own experience with me.

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Either I’m not innocent or my stuffed animals are slacking.

First, I should probably mention that I’m not a visual thinker like a lot of people seem to be, I almost exclusively think in words.  People will ask me to picture something in my mind and I can’t.  The only time I can think in pictures is when I’m super tired and drifting in and out of sleep.  When that happens, I usually start out thinking in words and they gradually morph into a kind of dream/mental movie.  I guess that’s part of my attraction to this place.  It lets me work through things differently than I normally do.

I suppose the reason that I credit this space with a lot of my story ideas is because it’s a lot easier to remember details from these half awake dreams than it is when I wake up with an idea from a normal dream.  Those ideas tend to be vague scenarios that may or may not be interesting.  They’re good story seeds, but the ideas that bloom in that weird little realm between worlds are the ones most readily written.

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And that place certainly is dark enough.

Granted, my time spent in that realm more often than not leads to nothing other than a few scares (those stupid jolt awake moments) followed by my mind running through all the horrific scenarios of what could have possibly woken me.  It’s usually noises.  There’re the bumps and thumps of zombies trying to get inside.  Werewolves are not an uncommon expectation.  The train horn usually conjures thoughts of serial killers and creepy clowns jumping off the train and murdering their way through town.  Most people (at least according to TV and movies) wake up assuming the wind or something equally as mundane unless they hear something after the initial jolt.  Not me.  My mind automatically goes to death and destruction and knows the only reason I’m not hearing anything else is because the culprit is luring me into a false sense of security.  I might’ve watched and read too much weird stuff as a kid.

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These types of thoughts usually follow the paranoia.

So, whether I’m just hanging out in the middle of random thoughts waiting to be jolted awake or having a story bloom in my head, I have an odd love for that space between waking and sleeping.  I like seeing my thoughts unfold rather than just telling myself things.  What about you?  Do you enjoy hanging out in that little realm?  Does it let you see everything differently?  As always, feel free to comment here or on my social media pages!

Happy Excuse For Chocolate Day

Howdy, howdy!  As I write this, it’s Valentine’s day.  I’m not going to go into some rant about how it’s all just some corporate holiday thought up by “Big Chocolate” and the greeting card companies, because it’s not (and even if it is, who cares?).  I think it’s nice to have a day set aside to celebrate love.  Yeah, we should express our love every other day of the year as well, I know, but there’s nothing wrong with going a little above and beyond one day if you want to.  By all means, send someone a candygram.  Give someone that gaudy pink heart card.  Have fun with it.  Or, if you’re like me, use the day as an excuse to eat more chocolate than usual and show yourself a little love (on a second read-through of this, I must say I wasn’t being perverted, but I can totally understand if that’s where your mind went).  So, for this week’s post, I think I’m going to give you a list of my top five favorite chocolates (in no particular order), then go watch Netflix on this love-filled day.

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Hope you had a wonderful day, whether you celebrated a special someone, yourself, or just another Tuesday!

1. Ghirardelli squares.  This one is a little unfair, because it’s a broad category.  I can’t pick just one flavor.  I’m the kind who likes to pick up a few different bags (read: who likes it when Dad surprises me with a few different bags) and mix things up a little bit.  Though, I will say that you can never go wrong with milk chocolate caramel or dark chocolate raspberry.

2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  I fully admit that I’m not usually into peanuts in my chocolate (whether it’s M&Ms or Snickers or whatever).  It’s just not my favorite combination in the world.  But I totally love peanut butter with chocolate.  I don’t know why.  It even extends into sundaes.  I don’t like crushed peanuts, but peanut butter sauce is amazing.  I’m just a weird person, I guess.

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Be more like chocolate.

3. Kit Kats.  Actually, I like pretty much anything that adds crispiness to chocolate.  This includes Crunch bars and Krackles.  But Kit Kats are still higher up on my list than those two.  Their crunch to chocolate ratio is the best.

4. 100 Grand Bar.  This particular candy bar takes my love of chocolate coated crunchies and adds caramel.  You can’t go wrong with caramel and chocolate.  Rolos and Caramellos prove that point, but 100 Grand Bars up the ante with the addition of crisped rice.  What’s not to love?

5.  A regular old Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.  Sometimes, you just want regular chocolate.  Sure, the fancy stuff is delicious and the other stuff is satisfying in its own way, but Hershey’s is the taste of childhood and nostalgia.  It’s a special kind of treat.  There’s nothing wrong with savoring a piece or two every now and then.

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Change wine to boozy coffee and it sounds like an awesome day.

So, even though this is a day late, I hope your Valentine’s day was filled with love!  What is your favorite chocolate?  Not a fan of chocolate?  What do you treat yourself with?  Leave a comment here or on my social media pages with a response.  I’m off to spend the evening watching Netflix and TV!

See you next week!

Plotter Vs. Pantser

Hello, hello!  It’s been awhile since I’ve really written something writing related, so I thought I should probably get back to that.  After a long day of errands and asking people what I should blog about, a friend brought up the question of whether I’m a plotter or a pantser.  Basically, do I outline my stories or do I let them grow organically.  I’m sure I’ve at least glanced over this at some point in the past two years (I’ve kept a blog going for two years???  Who’d’ve thunk it?), but I decided to take a minute to dig deeper into this seeming dichotomy.

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From So You WriteI still don’t know all the abbreviations, so don’t feel bad.

First, let’s take a look at plotters.  These are the people who get a story idea, then spend hours or days or weeks or longer plotting out all of the details and creating outlines and character bios and the like (and even charts or graphs for the hardcore plotters).  Some of them plan every little thing ahead of time.  Others write out the broad strokes (major plot points and characters and all of that) but leave connecting the dots until the actual writing process.  This works really well for some people, but it’s not the only way to write.

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Just one example of plotting, courtesy of J.K. Rowling.

On the other hand, you have pantsers.  These are the people who get a story idea and just go with it.  Characters and adventures come and go organically as the story unfolds on the page.  Many of them have no notes beyond the story itself.  Some take notes as they go, so they don’t have to keep scrolling through their story to remember what someone was wearing or whatever.  Others plot things out in their head as they go, but allow the story to ultimately dictate what happens.  They aren’t afraid of getting sidetracked by a character who refuses to do what was planned.  In other words, they fly by the seat of their pants.

As different as these two things are, I think they’re more two ends of a spectrum than separate identities.  I certainly know people who are strict plotters and others who refuse to even attempt the restrictions of planning things out, but I prefer taking the middle ground.  I fully admit that I have more pantser tendencies than not.  I’ve always had trouble creating (and adhering to) outlines.  All of my stories start organically and I prefer to let them unfold on their own, but I do get stuck sometimes when I do it that way.  That’s when I switch to plotter mode.  I write a rant (I literally whine and complain and generally grump during this whole process) to myself figuring out where I want the story to go, then once I get back on track, I switch back to pantser mode.  There’s no shame in swinging both ways.

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How most pantsers feel when dealing with unruly characters.

There’s no one right way to be a writer.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a Liar McLiarson, so don’t listen to them.  Don’t be afraid to try plotting if you’re a pantser.  It can really help things flow better when you’re stuck.  Also, try flying by the seat of your pants occasionally if you’re a plotter.  It can be freeing and new, exciting things could happen.

What are your thoughts on plotters vs. pantsers?  Which one are you?  Or do you dabble in both?  As always, leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

Until next week!

Words For A Young Me

Hello, hello!  I didn’t really know what to write for today, so I asked around, and a friend suggested that I share some advice that I would give to a younger version of myself.  I think she meant like one of those open letter posts.  This isn’t really going to be that.  I don’t even know if this is technically advice, but I thought I would share some words.  I can guarantee that young me wouldn’t have listened to any of it, though.

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Okay, super young me might’ve listened, but not teen me.

I suppose the first thing I would say is that you’ll be okay.  Life is fluid.  It’s always changing and it will shape you, eroding certain things away while building up others.  You will grow to be cynical and dark and quiet before you figure out that the world is generally good.  You will learn early on that life isn’t fair.  People will tell you that you can do anything.  A staircase to a second floor with no elevator will prove them wrong.  Most of the time, you’ll find a way around the obstacles presented to you or you’ll move on to something else.  You’ll take these experiences and find your reality within them.  You’ll find yourself.

A lot of the time, you won’t like who or what you are.  You won’t be able to change the things you want to, so you’ll accept them.  A morbid sense of humor will help with that.  At some point, you’ll even realize that a lot of the things you don’t like about yourself aren’t as bad as certain people make them out to be.  You do have feelings.  Your capacity for love and caring is greater than most people will ever know.  They will tell you differently.  You’ll even believe their words for a while.  But that will pass.  You’ll never be the kind of affectionate and sentimental person they wanted you to be, but that’s okay.  That’s not you.

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Most of my high school years were spent looking like a boy.

People will come and go as well.  The toxic people who drag you into the darkness won’t always be there.  Sometimes life will take them away and sometimes you’ll decide you’ve had enough.  Yes, you’ll be strong enough to tell people to go.  Even people you love will leave.  It’ll hurt, but you’ll be okay.

You will eventually surround yourself with people who have wildly different world views than you do.  You will care about them even when you disagree with them.  And most of the time, you’ll keep your opinions and beliefs to yourself so you can keep the calm.  Occasionally, you’ll pose a question to stir up debates among your friends when you’re bored.  Then, you’ll sit back and watch the chaos until you get bored again.  Mostly, though, you’ll try to keep things peaceful.

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Twenty-one was a lot longer ago than I realized.

Like I said, you’ll be okay.  You’ll be dark and cynical and quiet and loving and sarcastic and weird and so much more.  But most of all, you’ll like who you are.  You’ll still struggle with what you are on occasion, but everyone does.  You’re not alone.  Life, like the world, is generally pretty good.  So, even when it seems like you’ll never be happy again, remember that the good will always come back around eventually.