It’s Okay to be Sad 

“I’m sad.” Go ahead, let yourself say it. Say it out loud to the world you’re surrounded by. How often do we actually allow ourselves to admit that we’re sad? “I’m fine,” “I’m just upset,” “Don’t worry about it” are all just substitute that mask the real emotion we’re feeling.

Why are we so uncomfortable with sadness? When someone is angry we tell them to calm down or take deep breaths or go workout. When someone is happy we tell them we’re happy for them, or that their smile is contagious. But when someone is sad we try to stifle that emotion. Of course we don’t want to see our loved one crying, but they’re crying for a reason. We say, “I’m sorry…” But why do we use the same words to comfort someone when they’re sad that we use when they’re angry?

Why is sadness so often viewed as weakness? If you’re mad at work it shows you care and you’re passionate. If you’re sad, it means you’re emotional and weak. Our society is just not okay with sadness.

So what I’m here to tell you today is let yourself be sad. Let your head fall. Let your eyes close. Let your chin quiver. Let your tears fall. Let your heart feel. Give yourself a break. Cry until your face is scrunched up, your eyes are red, and your breathing is labored. Cry until you fall into a deep sleep. Cry until you fall on the floor in fetal position. Cry until your tears are all dried up because you deserve it. And you need it. Cry because it’s okay to feel sadness. The fact that you’re feeling at all makes you alive. And it’s even okay to ask for help. The fact that you’re asking at all makes you brave.

Once all your tears are dried, and you’ve run out of tissues, and your eyes feel so heavy you can’t help but close them, pick yourself up off the floor. Stand up. Hold your head high again and remind yourself that this too shall pass; that you survived that storm and you’re stronger on the other side of it. Be brave enough to face the world that tried to break you. And when you’re ready, smile again. And breathe easier knowing that you are strong enough to allow yourself to feel. 

A New Generation of Lovers

Every generation seems to love differently. Our grandparents married young, and for many, divorce wasn’t an option. Their love was disrupted by wars, famine, and economic downturn. They only knew hard work, so a marriage wasn’t any different. They worked hard in life, and in love. They fought in wars, and for love. Many of our parents were the products of war-torn love. And our parents loved a little differently than their parents. Divorce was more acceptable, so many of them fought and fought, and forgot what they were fighting for, or why it even mattered, and so the fights ended the marriage. Some, of course, still fought for the love they saw in their own parents. Our generation are products of blended families, second marriages, and still, a lucky few, of a love that endures all other hardships.

Our generation loves differently. We hardly even acknowledge love. We stare at our screens when we should be staring into each other’s eyes. We don’t even look up enough to see a certain someone cross our path. We refuse to label anything so we wander around, unwilling to just commit. And we say it’s because we’re scared of getting hurt. That too is just another mask for us to hide behind. A label-less love can be just as hurtful, if not even more so, than a love that is clearly defined. We say we’re scared of someone leaving, but we don’t do anything to keep them around. We use all the excuses we can to justify bad behavior, even when we know we deserve better.

We avoid awkward conversations, or moments of silence by just pulling out our phones and entering our own world. Family dinners have become collective electronic time. We face so many distractions that we fear missing out on something, so we stay distant. And then we complain about our anxiety and depression and wonder why we don’t feel whole. Because we’re scared. And while we have good reason to be, with all the tragedies we’ve seen in our lives, we’re the generation that won’t face those fears. Because we don’t have to. We face our phones and our false sense of importance through social media. It’s so easy to hit a button to show that we “love” something that we don’t understand why real love isn’t that easy.

I don’t think it’s easy for our generation to find love. We have all sorts of apps and websites and hang outs designed specifically to help us find people, and feel connected. But what do we do with them? We take them for granted. We take each other for granted. And that’s why if you’re one of the lucky few to find a true, meaningful love, you fight for it. Things get tough. In today’s society, the distractions are seemingly endless and it makes it easy to be distracted from our love. But we fight through that. We fight for what we want and what we deserve because we don’t want to go back to swiping through images that have been edited to show our best selves, or going on more terrible first dates, or trying to decipher emojis and text messages from someone who won’t even tell us how they really feel. So when we find our someone, our generation fights. And yes, we take longer than our grandparents to find someone, and no, we’re not as traditional as our parents in the way we find and keep someone. No, we may not do everything in the “right” order, or even handle difficulties in the best manner, but we fight for love, just as much as we yearn for it. We don’t care what society tells us to do, or who to love, or how to meet someone, we do it our own way. And we love in our own way.

 

Give it a Try

This quote is the only way to describe the process I’m starting.

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As of today, I have sent my children’s book manuscript (unsolicited of course) to three publishers. My goal is to send the manuscript to all the publishers on my list before the first rejection letter can come in. The act of placing the envelope in the mail, is not nerve wracking, even the waiting isn’t nerve wracking yet. It’s the first envelope that comes back that will be nerve wracking. But hey, I can’t complain about the way things are going in my life if I don’t at least try to change them.

I’m trying to figure out what caused this big push to send out the manuscript. Sure, I want to change my career path and get my writing out there, but I think it was more than that. I think I just got tired of hearing the negativity surrounding this industry. I’m aware that it’s a tough industry, and it’s even tougher to try and break into it as a new, unknown writer. And I’m also aware that even though I did my research and revised and tailored each query letter I sent with my beloved manuscript, I will still almost undoubtedly get rejected. I get it. I hear you. But just like that quote, my heart is whispering “Give it a try.” And my heart is whispering, “What if they love it?” and “It only takes one.” So I’m sure I will be cursing myself and my hope once I read that first, second, or fifteenth rejection letter, but for now, I’m going to take a chance, and give it a try. I listen to my head over my heart far too often anyways.

I also started my second children’s book. I’m about one third of the way through and I’m having to remind myself that the process for writing this one, likely won’t be the same as the first one. The first book I wrote in one sitting, beginning to end. Then, I sent it to a few people, then I revised it based on some of the feedback. This new book I have the beginning, middle, and end laid out in my head, but I’m starting to get caught up on little details. I don’t want this one detail to change the overall meaning of the story. I stopped writing because I had to re-visit those details and decide how/if I wanted to change them.

I want to take a minute and thank all of my readers and supporters. Being an aspiring author is really hard, and I couldn’t continue on this path without all of the support I get. For those of you who read my first blog and followed me here, and those of you who follow me now and knew nothing about me before this blog existed, and those of you who read my posts every time you see them on Facebook, and my loved ones around me who have never once doubted my ability, even when I have, thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, you still keep me going, and keep me writing.

-M

P.S. Meg Cabot responded to my Tweet 😀 (And yes, I know it was probably her assistant and not her, but don’t take this away from me, it’s the most exciting thing to happen on Twitter ever in my mind!)

 

A Someday Novel

My Fellow Writers

As some of you know, I wrote a children’s book! I’m also writing a novel based off my experiences in college. This weekend, I came up with two other novel ideas, and last week I came up with another children’s book idea. (Now, I can’t come up with a blog post, but hey, one thing at a time!)

Writing is a tricky business. This morning I was doubting the entire concept of my first novel, and completely confident in my children’s book. I keep thinking of JK Rowling’s advice:

“Even if it isn’t the piece of work that finds an audience, it will teach you things you could have learned no other way. The discipline involved in finishing a piece of creative work is something on which you can truly pride yourself. You’ll have turned yourself from somebody who’s ‘thinking of’, who ‘might’, who’s ‘trying’, to someone who DID. And once you’ve done it you’ll know you can do it again. That is an extraordinarily empowering piece of knowledge. So do not ever quit out of fear of rejection.”

I’m struggling with my inner doubts and the (maybe overly) confident voice. I keep telling myself that if I don’t believe in myself, nobody else will. I keep telling myself that I should just quit my job and work on all the ideas bouncing around in my head right now (I’m not going to… unfortunately). I keep telling myself to get up early one day and just it at the computer and write, no excuses. Do I finish one book before starting on another?

I’ve also noticed how my writing process has changed since graduating college. I used to sit down at the computer, and write it all in one sitting and then be done. I would maybe re-read it once, move a comma or two, and then call it good. Now, I sit down, write (hopefully uninterrupted) and when I’m done for the day, I’m nowhere near done mentally. After I write something now, I agonize over every little detail for weeks before I can get myself to look at it again. “Is there too much dialogue?” “Is that portion even necessary?” “Should I reorder these events?” I mentally comb through the details of what I just wrote until there is nothing more for me to agonize over. Then I re-read it, and revise. I’m noticing a difference between editing and revising that I rarely thought of in college.

I am currently in the middle of this process after writing a draft of my query letter for the first children’s book. After a lot of research about query letters, what to include, what not to include, what the publishers look for, I wrote a basic query letter to try and pitch my book. Then yesterday I was driving around and I thought, “I need a better hook in my query letter.” Whether I’m in the shower, driving around, or trying to sleep, I am constantly thinking about what I am currently writing or what I last wrote. Are writers ever really finished with a work? Will we ever be fully satisfied?

The purpose of this post is basically seeking answers/advice/common ground with any fellow writers. I would love advice on query letters, first time authors, writing process, etc. If you have answers to one of my many questions, advice, or general comments, please, please, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

Keep Dreaming

Girls in STEM

Recently I saw a commercial about girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). And honestly, I was not a fan.

By pointing out that being a girl in a STEM career is odd, it almost stigmatizes it. It could lead to girls who are already naturally drawn to STEM studies to believe that they are odd, when maybe they didn’t before.

When I have a daughter I am going to try not to tell her that she can be whatever she wants. Why? Because that is a given. Why wouldn’t she already believe that?

And what does this commercial tell the girls who are not naturally drawn to, or talented in, STEM subjects? Am I less important because I have a degree in writing? Should I be ashamed of myself because I didn’t try harder in STEM?

Even my own college has a special scholarship for “First Generation Students in STEM.” I am a first generation student, why am I less worthy because I chose to study something different? I must not have the same struggles as a first gen student in a math class rather than in my English classes.

I know what people are going to say, “STEM is male dominated and we need to try and change that.” Wrong. The National Science Foundation has published a study that tells us that the gender gap in STEM is not as large as we, (especially women) are told. So why are we still making a big deal out of it? Why are women in STEM still seen in such a different light that we need commercials and scholarships for it? I don’t see any big push to get more men interested in arts and humanities, even though according to The Atlantic “The same percentage of men (7 percent) major in the humanities today as in the 1950s.” Talk about double standards.

I am not trying to downplay the importance of STEM — trust me, I know how it feels to have your degree/passion seen as less unimportant — all I am trying to do is make young girls feel like they can pursue any career path they so choose. By having society tell them it’s important for them to pursue any specific career is not doing them any favors.