Gratitude: #Amwriting Community

My therapist’s recent suggestion to help me fall asleep is to list off things I am grateful for each day as I’m falling asleep (instead of letting all my negative thoughts take over). Sometimes I feel like I’m reaching for things, but I made an important discovery last night.

I am grateful for online writing communities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t exactly participate as much as I could, but I am still grateful that they exist.

I am grateful for Twitter, and for the interesting people I follow.

I am grateful for the agents I follow, who offer insights into the publishing industry.

I’m grateful for hashtags like #tenqueries, #askagent and #pubtips, for advice and knowledge that I would otherwise not know.

I’m grateful for the #MSWL hashtag (and the website), for giving me a glimpse into what agents are looking for.

I am grateful for the fellow authors I follow, who tweet inspiration and support. Sometimes even the smallest tweet can be meaningful!

I’m grateful for the editors I follow on twitter, who also offer writing and support.

I’m grateful for authors who tweet about their writing process, their celebrations and their frustrations, letting me know that I am not alone in the process.

I’m grateful for wordpress and blogs that I follow, for the guidance and support, for idea sharing and advice from the #amwriting community.

I’m grateful for websites like Nanowrimo, Reddit, AbsoluteWrite, and QueryTracker for constantly providing content for me to read.

I’m also grateful for Goodreads, for helping me discover new books to read, and to discuss recent books I can’t stop thinking about.

Even if I’m never published, I’ll always keep writing, and participating in this online writing world really helps me on a daily basis. If you’re part of it, no matter how small a part of it, I am grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Match.com Event

A few weeks ago my friend dragged me out to a Match.com event with her. Since I’m forever single, I figured I should really go and try and meet someone.

It was held at a Brewery. I love beer, so of course I’d love to meet someone who loves beer as well. And if I didn’t meet anyone, at least I’d enjoy some good beer, right?

The day began with a hilarious Uber ride in a swank Mercedes, quite possibly the nicest car I’ve ever been inside in my entire sad life. Of course, the driver got lost in the wilds of Etobicoke. Then, to make things more complicated, the entrance to the brewery was hidden in the back of the building, and we had to cruise around a strange industrial area until we found it.

We walked inside, arriving ten minutes before the event was supposed to start. The email said to be there right at 2 p.m., because the brewery tour would start exactly at 2!

Wrong.

There was nobody there. I was expecting someone from Match to be a host greeting us at the door and telling us what to do. But there was nobody there. So we went outside and hung out in the parking lot for a bit.

We decided to go back inside after awhile, and suddenly the bar area was packed! We had been sitting near the front entrance, so how did these people get here? Apparently they also got lost, and entered through the back door. Hilarious.

We stood by the back wall for a few minutes trying to figure out what to do. Eventually we put it all together and went up to the bar to get a name tag and our complimentary beer sampler. We took a seat at the large table in the middle and two men joined us. We introduced ourselves and talked about which beers we liked best. As this was our first Match event, we asked if they’d ever been to one before. They both said they go to Match events often when they don’t have any plans.

They were nice enough and I’m glad we managed to mingle a bit, which is the whole point of the event. I thought it was kinda sad that other people were just sitting alone. Trust me, I am the shyest person ever, but the whole point is to try to meet someone at a Match event.

romantic date night GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon-source

Eventually a brewery worker gathered us together and took us on a tour of the brewery. To be honest, I’ve toured a few breweries and they’re all kinda the same. This one was interesting though because it’s still an independent brewery and the small team share duties, everything from front desk admin stuff to sticking the labels onto the beer bottles. The tour guide was really cool and fun to listen to. (Was he single?)

After the tour, the group gathered again at the bar for another drink. Me and my friend hung around the bar and chatted with one of the guys we met, and then another guy joined our group. The conversation bored me as the men started talking about condo construction, and then I had to use the restroom.

When I came back, everyone was gone!

Everyone!

Ok, not everyone. But practically everyone from the event had left. The two guys we had been chatting with had also left. The only people left were my friend and another guy. Who somehow invited himself out for dinner with us.

Which fine, I was okay with. The whole point of the event was to meet someone. He had driven into the city from another suburb, so he probably didn’t want to go home right away.

He had a car, but we called an Uber to take us to the Bier Markt. Which ended up being only a short walk away. Really, we could have either used his car to drive five minutes over, or we could have walked.

We all ordered some food, had more drinks, and discussed how complicated dating is.

And then, that was it.

My verdict?

I don’t know. Was it worth it? Sure? I mean, it wasn’t super horrible. Nothing super awkward happened. Maybe if it was more organized, like with some ice breakers, it would have been easier to mingle? Although I guess the whole point of an unstructured event is for us adults to introduce ourselves.

But I found it weird that some people were just there, and just left so easily when it was over. Maybe they just didn’t see anyone worth introducing themselves to?

I still haven’t joined Match. I really should, but UGH dating is so hard.

Me and my friend made plans to attend two other events in March, but then she broke her arm and I sprained my neck.

Date Wan GIF-source

Conclusion: dating is HARD.

Result: I am STILL SINGLE.

 

How running commentary helps me with anxiety, driving and writing

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Running commentary is an amazing tool, not just for life, but for writing as well. I can’t remember who taught me this or when I started, but it’s something I do on a daily basis.

For Anxiety

I have this problem that my mind tends to wander and focus on negative thoughts. This happens when I’m waiting for the bus, walking during lunch, or even while at work! I start thinking about something bad that happened to me 10 years ago and how it’s ruined my life and how I can’t do anything right and it just keeps going and going until I’m all riled up and become anxious. Over absolutely nothing important.

 

One way to stay focused is to remain grounded in the moment. And I do that by observing every single detail around me.

Example while waiting for the bus: The man beside me is old and wearing a tan leather coat. His pants are tucked into his boots. A young woman stands on my other side with the hood of her Canada Goose jacket pulled up over her head. I can hear someone’s headphones blaring music, it sounds like really good techno music. A crack runs across the pavement in the bus platform. The tree across the platform is losing it’s leaves. A red bird sits on the highest branch. It tweets every few minutes. And here comes the bus.

The key is to constantly observing your surroundings. It works to stop my mind from wandering towards miserable thoughts.

While Driving

My driving instructor taught me running commentary to help me calm down while driving. It’s the simple act of observing everything around me in the car and keeping me focused on the cars around me. Instead of being a passive driver, I become an active driver.

Example: I’ve turned into the street. I am in the left lane, now I am switching lanes into the right lane. I glance into my rearview mirror and there’s a red car. He accelerates and I signal and merge after he’s passed. As I approach the intersection the light is green and the way is clear. A pedestrian stands at the corner but doesn’t cross. The car in front of me is slowing down, I might change lanes. Check the left lane but no, it’s full, I’ll just stay here.

And Finally, Writing.

Using running commentary keeps me always observing my surroundings. This helps while writing to ground a scene with key details. You don’t have to throw in every single detail about the bus platform, but one or two main details will help the reader visualize the scene in their minds. It’s also really helped me while describing characters, whether it’s the tan coat or the socks being tucked into the socks. Key details can say a lot about a character’s personality.

I know that I need to stop overthinking, and I’m working on it through positive affirmations and mindfulness meditations, but in the meantime, I’m trying to use it to my advantage.

These Things Only Happen to Me #8756 aka There Must Be A Story In That #4445

When someone asks me to list the weirdest thing that happened to me and I’m taken back to the time we had multiple spies working in our office and our boss left and we went out for drinks and he was Irish and obsessed with Whiskey shots and we sat there doing whiskey shots and then my coworker noticed that one of the guys from our department kept tossing his shots over his shoulder instead of drinking it…

Cheaper Gas: Is it worth it?

I was driving in an area I don’t usually go to (Weston/401), and stumbled upon a gas station with prices listed a full 4 cents below the usual gas station I fill up at.

My reaction:

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I know it’s only 4 cents. But since the price of everything else is starting to creep up, I’m slowly learning that every penny counts. My heartbeat accelerated and hope surged through my veins. Is this it? Have I found the glorious secret gas station that has actual cheaper gas?

I get out of my car and start filling up my car. As I’m standing there, a giant SUV pulls up to the pump beside me. A woman gets out and starts pumping her own gas. All normal, right?

I thought so. Until I heard shouting coming from a truck driver who was parked off to the side.

“Hey, lady! What are you doing???”

Completely oblivious, I glance around. Me? Is he talking to me? I’m just pumping gas. Am I doing it wrong?

It takes me a few seconds to realize he isn’t shouting at me. He leaves his truck and starts waving wildly at the woman across from me. “You can’t do that, are you crazy?”

By now, I’ve filled up my car and am heading into the booth to pay for my gas. That’s when I notice a giant pool of gas collecting under the woman’s car in the gas bay right beside me!

Truck Driver Guy is still shouting at her. She’s shouting back at him. “My gas tank has a tiny hole in it, I just need to fill up as much as I can to drive to get it fixed!”

Lady. That is more than just a tiny hole

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She’s literally pumping gas into a tank that is emptying the gas onto the pavement under her car!

I get inside and the truck driver’s friend runs in, shouting at the attendant. “You’d better get sand out there, this lady’s leaking gas everywhere!” They run outside, leaving me no choice but to toss my cash onto the counter, jump into my car, and floor it before the entire place blows up from a spark.

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Lesson learned: things are cheaper for a reason. And it’s not always worth it to drive ten minutes further just to get cheaper gas if it means having to deal with crazy drama.

Laughter Yoga: Where have you been all my life?

I have just discovered the most incredible thing in the existence of the world.

LAUGHTER YOGA.

It’s where an instructor leads you through a series of laughter exercises. Just forcing yourself to laugh can make you feel that much better.

I am definitely 100% signing up for this. Just watching the video is making me laugh so hard I am crying.

This is definitely what I need in my life.

What I’m reading now

Since Valentine’s Day is approaching and I’m currently planning on wearing all black to celebrate my non-existent love-life’s status on that day, I thought I’d start the week off reading a novel about dating. So I picked up this gem: Match Made in Manhattan.

Summary of what the book sounds like to me: girl joins the online dating woes and hilarity ensues. Does she find her perfect match?

So far: I’m one chapter in and kinda bored.

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It’s taking way too long to get started. So far, the main character has gone on a trip to france with her current beau, come home, gone to work, gone out with friends, and…idk. Where is this going? Why do I care???

Let’s hope things pick up soon!

By the way…one of my new year’s resolutions was to start online dating. And I mean, actively jump into it instead of my passive swiping that I’ve been doing through the past year.

Current status? Not a single date.

Why? BECAUSE I’VE BEEN SICK FOR THE PAST 2 MONTHS!

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Conclusion: one cannot date during the winter. Must wait until the spring. Or at least, after flu season is over.

-EDIT-

The book has gotten better. Yay!

What I Learned from Reading My Old Writing

Home for the Holidays means one thing: going through old clutter and purging. Old clothes, old collectables, those kinds of things.

But then I found five old notebooks. I knew what they were before I even opened them. They were notebooks I used during my time in University where I wrote a bunch of stories. They were a series of stories about (insert cringing face) a series of four friends who play on the same hockey team….that is being possessed by a demon. Unfortunately, the evil demon is the team’s best player, and they aren’t sure they want to stop winning.

Here’s what I learned from reading through it all.

It’s not easy to throw it all out.

I was ready to toss them all out. But as I started reading them, I found myself laughing or turning the pages to see what happens next. Will these stories ever see the light of day or be re-worked to become publishable? Dear god, no. Do they deserve to be trashed? No, not really.

Writing was important to me.

Somehow in the middle of lectures, library research, textbook highlighting, drinking with friends and long essay writing, I found the time to put the pen the paper (yes, these stories were handwritten!) and continuously churned out page after page of story. I even found one chapter that was written very messily, and in the margins I had written: “I wrote this on the bus!”. I am so impressed, looking back on myself, that I was so into my story that I actually pulled out my notebook and started writing a scene while riding the bus. Somewhere along the line, I had forgotten that I have always been a writer. That is something that time, work, and personal relationships can never take away from me.

I was good at characterization.

I’m actually impressed with my ability to create four very distinct personalities, and have them show up on the page. I’ve recently been victim of falling into the trap of writing people who are too similar to one another, or voices that don’t sound unique.

I wrote for myself, not my audience.

I know that’s the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when you’re trying to become a published author, but I guess back then writing was more of an escape for me, and I wrote for myself. In a way, it gave me a sense of freedom. I explored some very dark themes, and some very corny ones. But that was okay, and I enjoyed writing it.

I wrote what I know.

And in this case, I knew comic books. Reading through my old pages, I can see my influences very clearly. Which goes back to the whole characterization thing. I’ve stopped reading comic books, but now I suddenly miss it. The magical worlds really did open up my imagination, and provided a huge escape.

Well. I’m glad I found my old writing. It’s good to be reminded of how writing has played such a strong role in my past.

And hopefully my future.