Shameless Self-Promotion: CNF Edition

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Hello, hello!  I didn’t really plan on putting this out there, mainly because Creative Non-Fiction (CNF) isn’t my forte.  But then, I wondered why not?  Yes, my life is boring.  No, I don’t particularly enjoy writing about it.  But, a while back, I wrote a short essay about my feelings toward doctors (one doctor in particular, actually).  I’ve been submitting it places with little hope of it finding a home.  Anyway, I recently found out that it’s a finalist in the Pen 2 Paper writing competition.  It’s called “Wrap Me up and Tie it with a Bow” and you can find it under Non-Fiction in the link above.  Names have been changed and I’m sure some of the details are off (who can clearly remember that far back?), but the gist is true.  Feel free to take a look.  And keep all appropriate appendages crossed for me when they announce the winners.

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Pen 2 Paper is the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities’ annual creative writing competition.  It has been around for at least nine years now and currently has four categories in which people can enter: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and comics.  You don’t have to be a Texan to submit.  You don’t even have to be cripple according to the guidelines.  But disability does have to be a main theme of the story/poem.  The goals of the competition are to give writers with disabilities a forum where they can share their work; bring awareness to disability issues through the arts; and challenge all people of all ages to think, rethink, and express their stories, perspectives, fears, and discoveries about disability.

I think what they’re trying to accomplish is interesting and I’m proud to be a small part of it.  With more than 400 submissions this go around, it’s obvious they’ve built a strong competition over the years.  Plus, it’s one of very few writing venues where I don’t have to worry about being the token cripple.

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Happy dance!

Anyway, I think I’ll leave it at that.  Please do check out my essay, “Wrap Me up and Tie it with a Bow.”  Feel free to let me know what you think of it here or on my social media pages.  Also, check my publication page on my website to look at any of my stuff you may have missed.  I’ll be back next week with my usual randomness!  See you then!

The Tendency To Assign Blame

Hello, hello!  Last week, I had a really good writing week, despite having a day of errands (after which I wrote a book review blog post even though I didn’t want to/have to) and taking a day off because I felt crappy.  I met all my goals and even had time to watch some anime along the way.  But looking back, I realized that I never really took credit for my productivity (not last week or ever, that I can remember).  At least, never for the little every day things.  I have this weird tendency to blame inanimate objects for my success, like taking credit for it will somehow ruin it.  Or maybe because inanimate objects have awesome powers that make me productive.  I don’t know.  I’ve just always done this.

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I do that too.  You’d think they were people.

I’ve seen a lot of people do this.  Instead of saying they rocked that day, they give all the credit to some good luck charm or special t-shirt or whatever.  And I totally understand the compulsion to have something tangible to blame for things that otherwise seem to come from thin air, because it’s easier than acknowledging that it’s all you (especially if you’re terrified of failing and need something to blame for that too, just in case).  But I sometimes think I’m weird because I don’t have just one special item I blame for everything, good or bad.  I use whatever happens to be handy.

For example, last Saturday I was feeling particularly procrastinate-y (I don’t know how else to describe it), and a neighbor brought over a little rubber rat for me as an early Halloween gift, so it sat on my computer watching me while I worked.  At the end of the day, when I gave Facebook my boring little update on what I did that day, instead of saying that I fought off my procrastination and wrote the words, I said that I wrote because my new friend was keeping an eye on me.  I’ve blamed shirts.  I’ve blamed pictures.  I’ve blamed dolls.  The more I think about it, the stranger I think I am.

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My little rat friend.  His name is Yuki Sohma, like from Fruits Basket.

Part of me thinks it’s because I’ve always been easily annoyed by people who brag too much, so I don’t want to become one of them.  Ooo, I wrote words and did all the other stuff I needed to do… big deal.  Right?  But at the same time, I like seeing my friends celebrate all their accomplishments, no matter how small.  So, why shouldn’t I celebrate mine?  Probably because it’s a super thin line between celebrating and bragging and I don’t want to cross it.  I guess blaming inanimate objects makes it feel less like bragging and more like praising whatever inspired my productivity that particular day.

But screw all that!  Some days, you need to own your accomplishments, even the tiny ones.  Especially when people act like you aren’t doing anything.  Stop blaming inanimate objects for your successes.  You did it.  You rock.  And it’s okay to pat yourself on the back once in a while.

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We could all be a little more like Barney.  Just a little, though.

What about you?  Do you blame your successes (or failures) on inanimate objects?  Do you have a lucky item that lends you its powers from time to time?  Or do you take all the credit for yourself?  Feel free to comment here or on my social media pages!

On Accomplishments and Regrets

Howdy, howdy!  A friend recently sent me a questionnaire she received from a career coach, so that I too could experience the equal parts torture and enlightenment (her words).  I fully admit that I’ve never been able to take things like this seriously.  My answers always range from sarcastic to literal (and occasionally both).  For instance, one of the questions is “what would you do if you knew you could not fail?”  My initial reaction was “Walk!  No, wait… telekinesis!  No… take over the world.  That’s my final answer.”  I mean, if I can’t fail, why not aim big?  But anyway, one of the questions actually managed to get to me: “What accomplishments must, in your opinion, occur during your lifetime so that you will consider your life to have been satisfying and well liveda life of few or no regrets?”  So, I thought I’d answer it here since I don’t know what else to ramble about today.

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If that’s not achievement enough, I don’t know what is.

I suppose this is the kind of question where people write down things like having kids or becoming a CEO of some big company or founding a charity or whatever, which are all  wonderful goals to have, but I don’t think they’re musts.  I actually don’t believe any accomplishment is a must in order to lead a fulfilling life.  For me, that kind of thinking is sad.  I mean, do I hope to publish a bunch of books and become a famous author?  Hell yes.  If I die tomorrow without achieving those goals, does that make my life any less well lived?  No.  I’ll be dead.  I won’t care about that kind of unfinished business.  So, why should I put that kind of pressure on myself while I’m alive?  If I fail, I fail.  It’ll be disappointing, but ultimately, it doesn’t make my whole life unsatisfying.

The accomplishment itself is just the reward at the end of a very long journey.  I believe that journey, with all its little setbacks as well as its forward momentum, is more important than being able to point at a finished project and say “look what I did!”  Don’t get me wrong, achieving a goal feels great, but when you look back at it, you remember the path you took to get there more than the moment of completion.  At least, I do.  As long as the good parts outweigh the bad and as long as I know I’m trying, then I consider my life a success whether I have anything to show for it or not.

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Success is awesome, but don’t forget the rest of this stuff.

As far as regrets go, I think they’re useless and that’s probably what bugged me the most about the question.  I’m not going to have a bunch of regrets simply because I fail to accomplish my goals.  If I’m trying my best, why would I regret that?  I suppose when most of the things you would change about your past are out of your control, it puts all potential regrets in perspective.  Are there things I wish I could’ve done differently?  Yeah.  Would I have actually done them differently?  No, because then I wouldn’t become the person I am now.  Plus, my experiences that led me to those decisions would be the same, so the likelihood of me making different choices even if I had a do-over are slim to none.  So why worry about it at all?  Regrets change nothing.

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Because Uta no Prince-sama.

I guess maybe I’m weird to not worry about big accomplishments.  Or maybe it’s part of the whole cripple privilege thing that I can focus on other things without people judging me and making me feel like I’m wrong (not that I’d care what they thought anyway).  Or maybe I just worry more about the every day stuff than I should.  But to me, being happy, enjoying life, and knowing that I’m trying my best are more important than actual success (not that accomplishments aren’t exciting and fulfilling).  What about you?  How would you answer the question?