Beginning Again

I tend to use Disney.

Disney would have been amazing. I should have thought of that. Instead, I basically cried myself to sleep lol and woke up this morning all about the self care. Yoga, peppermint tea, and singing out to the best music. #almostbetterthantherapy
 
I read fast. It’s a problem. But here be a few notes on this challenge. Imma gonna be doing another challenge right away, this really helped me bounce out of a slump that I’d gotten into.

1. Set in a neighbouring country- The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

This was challenging to read, I had a hard time connecting to the main character. But ultimately I don’t regret it. It gave me a good glimpse into the mindset of someone coming to terms with the end of their life and the regrets that can come with it.

2. Re-read a favourite- Midnight Purgatory and Midnight Sanctuary by Nicole Fox

Phenomenal duology. Seriously. Not an actual re read because these are new from this author but a beloved author.

3. Set in space- Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

This was actually really good. I was very surprised by that since I’ve never been a sci fi fan. I might have to check out more sci fi in the future, or at least this author.

4. A book that your favourite author would read- Savage Little Games by Lane Hart

This is . . . I’m not sure what to call it. I’ve read a lot of Lane Hart and I find her motorcycle club books to be written much better than any of her others. This one feels like it could be the first book she’s written even though she’s put out well over 40 books.

5. A cover you hate- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Omg I hated this. I tried. I really, really, really tried. But I quit at 30%. I just couldn’t take anymore. I think partly because it’s in third person, which I already struggle with, but it’s soooo freaking long, so meaningless in its scenes, just ugh. And I don’t want to be insensitive to the nature of what I know is contained later on this book. But I couldn’t even make it that far.

6. An award winner- Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

This was offensive. Full stop, this book was offensive to me as someone who grew up poor and rural. Hillbilly Elegy is a miles better representation. I quit at 30%, I refuse to spend more time on something I viscerally hate.

7. Published the decade you were born- The Secret History by Donna Tartt

So, I don’t know. It was okay? But I don’t quite understand the hype around it. The hype being multiple YouTube book reviewers raving about it and considering it a modern classic. I just, again struggled to connect to the characters and was just bored out of my mind.

8. Originally published in another language- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I want to try this again but in paperback and maybe an annotated version. I'm interested, I'm just struggling. So I wrote that and then went to Half Price Books where I found this in paperback. Almost bought it and then was like eh hang on, let me sit here and try to read it while I’m here and see if the experience is actually different. No. Nope. Not one bit. So I put it back on the shelf. Maybe another day. Granted, that version was not annotated and maybe that would be the difference?

9. Set in a city you've always wanted to visit- The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

This was. . . I don't even know how to describe it. It's weird and I don't know which way is up, but I like it and want more? Or do I? Because I also did a fair amount of skimming in parts as well.

10. One word title- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

One word- fantastic. Seriously, this was great.

11. Poetry- Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Oh man, so wordy. I liked most of the poems, in the very first page of each. Literally lost me after that. I feel dumb. Maybe poetry just isn’t for me.

12. Based on a true story- Room by Emma Donoghue

Holy hell this book is amazing, why has it taken me so long to read this???? This is probably easily one of the best books I have ever read.

13. Listen to an audiobook- Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Good, but probably only good because I like him.

14. Has been on a banned book list- Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

This was really good. I did find it triggery for some very specific reasons and the ending, I don’t know. I know it’s realistic enough in that situations *do* conclude that way, but it’s so far from my own experience that that part felt like a fake stand in for the rest being very real. I’m not sure where I stand on the repressed identity part, because again that’s very different from my own experience. But overall, a great book that shouldn’t have ever been banned anywhere.

15. A debut- Up Home by Ruth J. Simmons

From a purely writing criticism- it’s not bad, but it’s not great. Which is okay, of course, it’s debut and not everything is going to be great to everyone. But so much of it is a lotttt of info dumping and feels like you’re reading the begots section of the Bible.

From a personal level- I have weird feelings about this. Jealousy? Kinda. But also, just being a white person it’s assumed that I have this immense amount of inherent privilege. Being an African American it’s assumed that she has an immense amount of inherent disadvantage. On the surface if you use that as your basis and compare our accomplishments, I’m lower than low. But she had this huge, loving, supportive family who would do anything for her and I didn’t. I had a family who was tiny, isolated, and hurt me repeatedly in multiple ways. I don’t know, I have very mixed emotions around this topic.

16. Nonfiction- Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

I wanted to learn more from this but the hate spouted towards a political party as a whole rather than as individuals shuts the conversation down for me.

17. Made into a movie- Atonement by Ian McEwan

Eesh, this was kind of a mind f_ck, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t particularly like it either.

18. Has a food item in the title- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I don’t actually know what to say here. It was . . . a lot. Just, ya, that was a lot.

19. Has a rural setting- Real Queer America by Samantha Allen

The title of the first section already pisses me off. I don’t know if I will continue. But, then I read that section and I’m coming around. This is written much more in the middle than it was appearing. Now that I’m finished, all in all I did appreciate it. I always like getting to know perspectives that aren’t my one and this one was particularly interesting given my own experience around transgenderism and with how heavy Mormonism is in this book and my own experiences with that religion. Not to mention currently living in a red state.

20. A short story- The Joy of Funerals by Alix Strauss

Eating your dead spouses photos after burning them into your cereal . . . was a beginning I never thought I would ever read. Also, this is strange but grief is strange so I guess it fits.

21. Recommended by a friend- Carnage by Shantel Tessier

This is hard. I think I’ve fallen out of love with a favorite author and it breaks my heart. I just, I’m not as into the shock value for the sake of a fun story anymore. Not like I used to be.

22. A nonhuman narrator- Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

This was very, very cool.

23. A genre you rarely read- (Gothic) The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins

That was brilliance and way too short.

24. A cover you love- Once You’re Mine by Morgan Bridges

That cover is so damned pretty. The story unfortunately was rather lackluster. Not bad, not bad at all. Just. Bleh.
 
Can there be too much of a good thing?

One of the ways I actively work to avoid bingeing on food is to make sure I have plenty of decent food throughout the day. Especially hard days. And I discovered the awesomeness of bento boxes because I love having a variety of things to choose from and they make that easy.


But my fat girl self worries that I’m packing too much food and should be cutting way back. Problem is when I’ve tried cutting back, it makes things worse mentally. There’s this actual agitation at not having enough and then I’m extremely hungry even if I’m not, I don’t know if that makes sense. But bingeing is real bad on those days.

I justify the amount of food by the fact that it’s a lot of items, but the majority of those items are less than a palms worth of a portion. I have unpredictable lunches and and breaks and they are easy to eat something from it here and there throughout the day.

To give a more definite example of what I’m talking about this is what I’ve prepped for the week, just for the lunches/snacks:

Main portion which is the size of a small bowl is chili, rice, and shredded cheese (beans included).
Carrots
Cherry tomatoes
Bit of ranch dressing
Dragon fruit
Nectarine
yellow squash
Zucchini
Blueberry donut holes
Seed granola
Mixed nuts
Popcorn
Cheese stick

Like it’s a lot right? But psychologically if I don’t have all the spots filled then I’m feeling like I’m starving. If I do have all the spots filled, then I often don’t finish it unless it’s a particularly hard emotional day. Which does happen. Breakfasts are usually a bagel, maybe an egg and dinner is either finishing up whatever I didn’t finish during the day or ramen (not the fancy kind, the $0.30 kind).
 
Well this was the biggest bullshit of a f*cking day.

Had a bad banking error on top of a shitty day. But they’re happy to fix it and even give me an extra $20 for the trouble. Hell ya. For that at least. Still not great after therapy though. We’re diving hard into shame and we hit on a particular memory that is soooo permeated into everything. Just a sliver in time of my abuser having me naked under him pinching at my baby fat complaining that the fat is making me less attractive to him. Me roughly 10 at this point. Him mid fifties. Spiraled into me having an eating disorder, some degree of body dysmorphia, CPTSD, reckless sex, and so much intense shame from so many angles.

Obviously those disorders come from years of similar moments. It wasn’t just one sliver of time. But at the same time, that one moment represents so much of everything that had gone on.
 
I’m going to do the reading challenge again, but I tweaked/added/subtracted some of the prompts. I’ve looked at other challenges but this one seemed to be the most broad and challenging before the tweaks. Since I’m back at work full swing I *shouldn’t* get through them as fast. Actually, that should really be part of the challenge is to read slower.


1. Set in a neighboring country- Send More Idiots by Tony Perez-Giese

2. Re read a favorite author- End Game by Serena Akeroyd.

3. Set in space, underwater, or in the future- Sphere by Michael Crichton.

4. A cover I hate- I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue.

5. An award winner- His Name is George Floyd by Robert Samuels.

6. Published the decade I was born- The Giver by Lois Lowry.

7. Originally published in another language- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata.

8. Set in a country I’ve always wanted to visit- The Slaughterman’s Daughter by Yaniv Iczkovits.

9. One word title- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

10. Poetry- Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.

11. Based on a true story- Spilled Milk by K.L. Randis.

12. Has been on a banned book list- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

13. Nonfiction- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe.

14. Made into a movie- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

15. Has a food item in the title- The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen.

16. Has a rural setting- Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.

17. A short story- A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor.

18. A non human narrator- The Pages by Hugo Hamilton.

19. A genre I rarely read- A Million Little Choices by Tamera Alexander.

20. A cover I love- If We Were Villians by M.L. Rio.

21. Has a number in the title- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

22. Holiday themed- F_ck Valentine’s Day by C.M. Stunich.

23. A memoir- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy.

24. Set in school- Heartless Savage by Ivy Blake.

25. Has a color in the title- The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

26. The title starts with “the”- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

27. Historical fiction- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

28. Has 2 or more authors- Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings).

29. Set near my home- No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.

30. Based on a fairy tale- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas.

31. The author shares my initials- The Eight by Katherine Neville.

32. A biography- Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.
 
Let’s talk writing.


Another thing I need to go over in therapy: my writing.

I’m an author. I’ve published 16 books.

. . . and then pulled them all down. Suppose the author title no longer applies.

I want to write, I have so many stories in me. But I’m having a very hard time being okay with writing out what I want and my own morals. I love the dark side of romance. Dark, kinky, toxic, bully, abusive, dangerous romance books are where my heart is for both reading and writing.

I’ve tried so hard to read things that are “healthier” and I’m so damned bored by them every time. I like the safe drama of exploring so much that I could never do in person.

The problem is that there are people who use the things they consume as a roadmap for how their relationship should go. It’s actually been interesting to watch that. I was a big dark romance reader long before it became popular, at least 10+ years now. But then it started to slowly increase in popularity, then TikTok was created, then in the last couple years- TikTok found dark romance and the whole thing has taken this weird turn. I hate when the masses take a hold of anything I love because they distort it into just something wrong.

I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do. I pulled my books down, partially because of that and partially because I want to rewrite them. But I haven’t rewritten them because I have this thought that I want to just completely reboot with new pen names and only healthy depictions. But I know I would be forcing myself then and would grow to dislike writing altogether.

I could just write what I want and try to convince my brain that it’s okay to be a part of an actual problem in this world where we do glorify the darker, sicker parts of humanity in the name of safe fantasy. No romance author writes these relationships as blueprints for reality, it’s fantasy for a reason. But they get blamed for that anyway. They get blamed for creating a culture of normalizing terrible things and encouraging people to participate in those dynamics.

But seriously, that’s not the case. It’s strictly fantasy and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with exploring that. We all know that actual mafia bosses look like bloated and balding fish, not the six packed guy in his early 30s. But a social responsibility is created when the masses get a hold of things.


All of what I wrote here before has been weighing on my mind with us coming into the end of January already. I need a summer income and the writing I had done before was doing a fair job of producing that.

Then, I freaked out, removed them from publication, and vowed that I would have something better back up in just a couple of months. That was fall. And here we are mostly through winter and I’ve done nothing.

Well, one thing. I did spend some time the other day outlining a short story interconnected series exploring the healthier kinks within healthy dynamics. Part of me doesn’t think I can do it. Because when I write, the dark comes out. But I need to try. There are 10 and I want each to be roughly 10,000 words. That’s doable. Very doable. They aren’t romances, and being short I don’t have to get too in depth into each of the characters.

That was a few days ago that I determined those parameters. Have I bothered to further outline or even start drafting since? No. I’ve hidden behind reading, house work, and yard work. WTF is wrong with me?

I want to write. I want that to be my main income. I want that to be my lifestyle. I ENJOY writing. So why am I avoiding it so hard?
 
I need some accountability. I have several open WIPs that I want to work on even beyond the series I was just referring to. They are all unrelated to each other, different genres, will most likely get different pen names. I want to be one of those authors who stays a year ahead and finishes series before even mentioning them on socials let alone publishing the first. I see so many authors publishing the first of a series as soon as they finish writing it, but then are pressure hard by readers to hurry up and do the next. Which I know doesn’t work for me.

So with that said. I want to see where I am right now. Detail my goals. And then I’ll do my very best to execute. *Each book name is a nickname, not what it will actually be just to keep anonymity*


Kink Series: 0 words currently written, verrrrrry light idea of an outline. Plan is to be 10 books of interconnected characters exploring certain kinks and dynamics at 10,000 words each. Would like to start publishing at the beginning of summer (or earlier) and release one a month.


Project Cigarette: 832 words currently written, majority of outline determined but have certain things I want to change that have stalled progress. Particularly why I wanted to read more in other genres because this is definitely not a romance or spice. Would ideally publish this July of 2025.

Project Dinosaur: 404 words currently written, zero plot outlined. This one, I’m not doing a plot. I don’t want any confinement here, this one is just a fun discovery write. Unfortunately that means it hasn’t had any priority. If I choose to publish, I’d like November 2025.

Project Mafia rewrite/finish: 35,432 words currently written. I’m reworking the plot and honestly most of those words will be deleted/reworked. I’m just not happy with it no matter what I do. *IF* I push for publication, it’d be ideal to releas book 1 at the beginning of 2025, book 2 mid year, book 3 end of year. I don’t know if it will happen.

I do believe I’m going to completely scrap the previous kink books. I’m going to start that completely fresh with the above series. It’s just not worth trying to salvage what’s written.
 
I need some accountability. I have several open WIPs that I want to work on even beyond the series I was just referring to. They are all unrelated to each other, different genres, will most likely get different pen names. I want to be one of those authors who stays a year ahead and finishes series before even mentioning them on socials let alone publishing the first. I see so many authors publishing the first of a series as soon as they finish writing it, but then are pressure hard by readers to hurry up and do the next. Which I know doesn’t work for me.

So with that said. I want to see where I am right now. Detail my goals. And then I’ll do my very best to execute. *Each book name is a nickname, not what it will actually be just to keep anonymity*


Kink Series: 0 words currently written, verrrrrry light idea of an outline. Plan is to be 10 books of interconnected characters exploring certain kinks and dynamics at 10,000 words each. Would like to start publishing at the beginning of summer (or earlier) and release one a month.


Project Cigarette: 832 words currently written, majority of outline determined but have certain things I want to change that have stalled progress. Particularly why I wanted to read more in other genres because this is definitely not a romance or spice. Would ideally publish this July of 2025.

Project Dinosaur: 404 words currently written, zero plot outlined. This one, I’m not doing a plot. I don’t want any confinement here, this one is just a fun discovery write. Unfortunately that means it hasn’t had any priority. If I choose to publish, I’d like November 2025.

Project Mafia rewrite/finish: 35,432 words currently written. I’m reworking the plot and honestly most of those words will be deleted/reworked. I’m just not happy with it no matter what I do. *IF* I push for publication, it’d be ideal to releas book 1 at the beginning of 2025, book 2 mid year, book 3 end of year. I don’t know if it will happen.

I do believe I’m going to completely scrap the previous kink books. I’m going to start that completely fresh with the above series. It’s just not worth trying to salvage what’s written.

Forgot to add Project Sweetheart. Was originally being written for an anthology. The anthology fell through but I have 3,344 words written and a finished outline that I actually like. I should give this more attention and maybe even release it as a novella. It’s outlined for about 20,000 words which would work for that. It’s already holiday themed so that’s perfect.
 
Managed to spend some downtime during work today and fully outlined the series, planned out all of main characters and their dynamics. So that part is done and figured out which does go a long way to giving me solid direction when I sit down to write. I’m hoping to have time tonight but reality is it probably won’t happen.
 
My big homework from T right now, sort of-it was my idea and I have freedom around it, is to write out all the things I feel ashamed of in a list. Past. Present. Rational. Irrational. But I'll be honest, it was my idea, I was all gung-ho and I have yet to write a single thing down. I'm struggling to make myself do it. I don't want her to see those parts of me. She's already seen enough bad parts, more will just completely change her perception of me and I'm not ready for that. I know that's not a completely rational thought, I'm aware that her whole profession is centered on not judging. But hell, this isn't easy.

I'm feeling some type of way at work. I already know there is a stigma around being a substitute instead of a "real" teacher. But the high school I spend all my time at really seemed to not be that way. Sure, there would be the odd teacher here and there who very clearly look down on me. I can deal with that. I really don't care what they think of me.

But days like yesterday and a little bit today really remind me of my place. We had a fire drill yesterday and the system for that has changed. A whole new thing is being implemented and everyone knew about it and were registered into the required program, except me. Thankfully, I have fantastic rapport built with the teachers who were neighboring me yesterday and we managed to make things work. But it reminded me that in spite of the fact that there are at least 3-4 substitutes in this building every single day, it still never occured to administration that we should be added into the app register so that we can count the students on their as well. As it is, I talked to my sub coordinator about it this morning and she had me download the app and start registering on it, apologizing, but then it gave an error because my employee type is not eligible to use it. So that's frustrating.

The other thing is that last year I asked a different sub coordinator if I could have the wifi password because this building is hell on signal and we are not issued our own computers, so I have to sneak an extra Chromebook or just deal even though internet access is needed for a number of things. I let it go, wasn't crazy about that particular coordinator anyway. This year, there is a new coordinator and she's purely amazing. I decided, you know what, I'm just going to ask again and she'll probably be much more willing. She sounded willing, she said I don't see why not. But then, got weird and said she needed to send a few emails to check before she could.

I guess I can understand if they've had problems before. But it makes it feel like we're seen as just one of the students or sub human. Which is ridiculous when you consider we are entrusted to come in with almost no notice sometimes, implement education when there may or may not be plans left, manage behaviors that can be very difficult before rapport has had time to be built, and most importantly here in America- potentially step in front of a bullet for them. I'm not complaining about those things I'm expected to do, hell I thrive on them. I have never had a job I loved more and staying at this one school has done wonders for building such valuable relationships.

But I want, and frankly expect, to be treated with the same basic respect that the other adults get. I expect people to recognize the challenges of this job and treat us accordingly. To be fair, 95% of this school does an amazing job at that. We won't talk about one of the middle schools from last year or even the elementary's which were arguably significantly harder jobs with somehow far less respect. There's a reason I avoid them now. One elementary was so adamant that subs don't get access badges that my class of 24 third graders and I were locked out of the building for over fifteen minutes trying to get back in from recess. No radios, no badges, no keys.

Anyway, I need to stop ranting. This was supposed to just be small irritated quip, not a whole book.
 
I didn’t get around to all the things I wanted to do today.

But that’s okay.

I need to remember that. I need to remember that my good days have been outweighing my bad. I focus so hard on the things I “failed” or didn’t have enough time to do and use them as Louisville Sluggers to myself.

So today I want to acknowledge that it was a beautiful day. The weather was amazing, I spent time getting several seeds started, I spent time premaking good food, and I took care of other things that go into making life just a little bit better.

I also just felt physically good and I want to celebrate that since the last week I’ve been pretty off kilter.
 
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