Essays, Parenting

Dear high school graduates

With high school graduations coming up, I have a message that I’d like to put out here for any high schooler who desperately wants to go to college but believes they can’t afford it:

Just get there.

I know you’re looking at those student financial aid packages and the amount of money you still have to come up with on your own, and you’re thinking it just isn’t possible. But I’m telling you it is.

Just get there.

Take whatever free money you can get. “Free” meaning you never have to pay it back. Take only what you need in student loans to actually pay for your tuition and dorm room (if you need one,) and then start looking for a job on or near campus. Ask the financial aid office to set up a payment plan. Work your ass off this summer and save up as much money as possible to help pay for that first year of school. Don’t worry about the second year yet. Just figure out how to pay for that first semester.

Just get there.

Continue reading “Dear high school graduates”
Essays

I’ve been struggling with race: Inclusive writing for the white writer

I’ve been struggling.

I know my struggle as a white person pales in comparison with the struggles of People of Color in the United States and other parts of the world. But I am struggling. Because I know I’ve been brought up in a racial world, and I want to be a good person who treats all human beings as if they are equal. Because I know – intellectually – that we are. However, it’s hard to know the “right way” to go about this when you’ve been steeped in racist messaging your entire life.

I want my writing to be inclusive, but I don’t know how to accomplish this. I’m trying to learn how. I’m reading lots of non-fiction books on the subject and fiction by people of color (see brief list of recommended reading at the bottom of this post). I’ve also watched in horror as other white writers have been ravaged on Twitter for doing it wrong. What if I mess up, despite my best efforts? What if that happens to me? Or worse, what if I unintentionally hurt people with my ignorance?

Continue reading “I’ve been struggling with race: Inclusive writing for the white writer”
Essays

To wear a mask, or not to wear a mask? That is the #COVID-19 question.

To wear a mask, or not to wear a mask? That seems to be the battleground on which so many Americans appear to be ready to die during this COVID-19 crisis. Why are we battling each other? Are the heated arguments with the people we love really worth it? Is this pandemic making us all feel so helpless that we just need to feel like we’re doing something, even if all we can do is either try to enforce mask-wearing on others or try to preserve our right not to wear a mask?

Homemade masks for the pandemic
My mom and Aunt Becki have been cranking out masks like you wouldn’t believe the past several weeks to make sure everyone that wants one can have one. These are some my mom sent me. Strawberry Shortcake, yeah!

I mean, you should probably wear a mask. That’s what the doctors and scientists are telling us to do, and it seems legit to me. But what if it doesn’t seem legit to you? I mean, yeah, you did wake up an American citizen this morning, so you do have a right to do whatever you want to do, as long as you’re not infringing on someone else’s rights. Continue reading “To wear a mask, or not to wear a mask? That is the #COVID-19 question.”

Domestic Violence, Essays, Memoir

Single, Never Married

I’m a dedicated Swagbucks addict, which means I participate in online surveys on practically a daily basis. As most surveys do, these usually collect your typical demographic data, such as sex, race, gross annual income, and marital status. These should be relatively easy questions to answer, but I’ve often hesitated when I came upon the marital status question. I know what the technical answer is, but I have strong feelings regarding what I feel is my “real” answer.

The marital status question typically gives the survey respondent the options of married, divorced, something regarding living with someone you’re not married to, and single/never married. Technically, I was legally married at one time, and I was then legally divorced after about ten years of said legal marriage. However, when I look back upon that marriage, I don’t feel as though I was ever actually “married.” Continue reading “Single, Never Married”

Essays, Illinois

Don’t tell me how to feel about the weather

I deeply resent being told how to feel about the weather. The weather man tries to tell me how lovely it will be with the sun shining all day, but all I want is fog and rain. The earth is so dry, and so are my patio planters.

I borrowed this photo from Google images to use as my desktop because this is what beautiful weather looks like to me. But now, I can’t remember where I got it, and I’d really like to credit the photographer. I’m quite certain I got it on a royalty free site (because I always go royalty free.) Anyway, before I write a photo caption that’s longer than my blog post, I just want to say that if this photo belongs to you, please get in touch with me so I can link to your website!

Ninety+ degrees. I’ll complain about the heat if I like. Don’t tell me I can’t just because it will be cold soon. I’ll take twenties over nineties any day. I’m chunky, okay? Hot weather isn’t fun when your body parts stick together, and you no longer wear shorts because you’re just not comfortable showing quite that much skin. Continue reading “Don’t tell me how to feel about the weather”

Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Publishing

How to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer

Hitting a writing milestone is one of the greatest feelings for a writer, especially when you meet your own self-imposed deadlines early. This week, I finished writing book two of my Valley of the Bees novel series and am now working on my second draft (my goal was to finish the rough draft by the end of March). I also just ordered the second proof of an essay collection that I am editing, titled, As Good as a Feast: Essays on Enough. Once I have reviewed this second proof, the book should be ready to go to print!

As Good as a Feast - Print Cover Image

Yesterday, an article popped up in my newsfeed. The title caught my eye, but I decided not to read it. The topic was on how to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer. I didn’t need to read it because I feel like I have already made it. Continue reading “How to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer”

Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Writing Prompts

Freewriting on freewriting: A writing exercise

writing notebook
This is my writing notebook for the semester.

One of my assignments for this week was to use one of the “Ways In” exercises from chapter 2 of Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction. I ended up taking the lazy route and just did a freewrite, but I was kind of pleased with what I ended up with:

I was going to write a Springboard line, but I couldn’t find a line that appealed to me, so I’m just going to freewrite. Except, it’s hard to freewrite when you know there is a good chance that you might have to read it aloud to your classmates. The filter is automatically switched to “on,” so it almost defeats the purpose of freewriting. To me, freewriting is all about giving that inner censor a break and getting to your creative side. It’s hard to be creative with the little voice inside your head criticizing your every word.

When you freewrite, the inner censor says, “Oh, you’re sitting down to write garbage on purpose? Well, I’ll just go take a nap and rest up for next time when you sit down to write your “Great American Novel.” And of course, she laughs at you as she walks away. Continue reading “Freewriting on freewriting: A writing exercise”

Domestic Violence, Essays

Cross Cultural Perspectives on Family Violence: A Reflection

My summer course has not yielded quite as much writing material as I had hoped it might. I have entered the final week of class and have submitted all coursework as of this morning. All I have left to do now is take the final exam, and I can put one more course behind me! Today I would like to share my weekly reflection paper to give you an idea of some of the more important issues discussed in this course.

Why doesn’t she “just leave?”

My understanding from all of the readings and other materials from this course is that it is very rare for batterers to ever change their behaviors, let alone as a response to court-ordered interventions. A batterer has to honestly admit to his wrongdoing, be held accountable for the damage he has caused, and make a personal commitment to change in order to stop his abusive behaviors.


Embed from Getty Images

Most court-ordered treatment programs are frequented by batterers who are only doing what they have to do to meet the court’s minimum requirements. It is highly unlikely that the batterer will stop abusing his victim under such circumstances. In most cases, the best possible outcome for the victim is to successfully leave the relationship for good. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as “just leaving.” Continue reading “Cross Cultural Perspectives on Family Violence: A Reflection”

Essays, Writing Prompts

Call for submissions: As Good as a Feast

I am currently seeking submissions for an essay/poetry anthology that I am compiling titled, “As Good as a Feast.” I will be paying for up to ten of the essays that will appear in this collection. Any additional accepted submissions will still be eligible for publication in the anthology. However, there will be no monetary compensation for these.

typewriter

I am currently accepting submissions via eLance through July 25, 2015. If you miss this deadline, you may still submit via the Elderfly Press website through August 30, 2015. However, monetary compensation is available only for those essays submitted via eLance.

Submission Requirements

Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie book series will no doubt be familiar with the expression, “Enough is as good as a feast.” Ma Ingalls often uttered this phrase as a reminder to her children that as long as they had “enough,” they had all they needed. Continue reading “Call for submissions: As Good as a Feast”

Essays, Writers on Writing

What if writing full-time isn’t right for you?

How often have you thought about quitting your day job and writing full-time? That’s what we are all supposed to be aiming for, right? Someday, we think, we will make enough money writing that we can tell our employers to take our crappy day jobs and shove ‘em where the sun don’t shine. Anyway, that’s what we’re supposed to want. But what happens if it turns out that dream isn’t right for you?

Take this job and shove it. writing meme
Take this job and shove it.

I spent a few years freelancing, and let me tell you: It was not what it was cracked up to be. I had to really hustle to make a living, and then the self-employment headaches ended up being more trouble than they were worth. The line between my personal life and my professional life blurred to the point where I felt like I was working 24/7. Continue reading “What if writing full-time isn’t right for you?”