The end of March and the beginning of thunderstorms

It’s that time of year again, dear readers. Spring has mostly arrived, signaled by my least favorite day of the year(April 1). I know Indiana has a habit of returning to Winter even on the warmest of Spring days, but I’m praying that the random snowstorms have called it quits for a few months.

Usually this is the time of the year when I get that itch for spring cleaning, and I spend half of my week cleaning. The other half is usually spent regretting the tornado I’ve started. At this time last year, my cleaning was going full force because of my plan to move to Pennsylvania. I had high hopes for my year. I’m pretty sure I tossed half of the stuff in my apartment to make the move. The weeks leading up to my move were rough, and the months that followed were even worse. I’m still unsure if I made any good decisions last year.

This year, so far, has been different. There has been to itch to clean, to rush to toss out what I don’t need. I came back with so little that I’m wondering when I’ll recover. I finally have a toaster (yeah, toast!) but I still can’t find my iron. I have my dishes back so I can cook, but I can barely afford real groceries.

Part of me feels more mature this year. I’ve been more aware of the state of things in my life. Keep up with the dishes, pick up the living room before bed, fold my clothes when they come out of the dryer. But then there’s the part of me that’s just like, “I don’t need to be an adult today. I’m just going to eat frozen burritos all week.” It can be conflicting.

Weather and depression aside, things are going better. I’m pushing through my reading challenge, finishing three books this month. The fourth will probably be done in the next few days. I’ve only had it for eight years. It’s probably time I finish it.

I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve read, even the ones I wouldn’t normally pick up. My favorite one for this month was published only a year ago. The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble was a quick and fun read. If you’re looking for an escape to a slightly magical world, I definitely recommend reading it.

Next month’s reading challenge might prove to be more difficult. April’s challenge is books from a local author. Any suggestions for an Indiana writer?

This month I’ve also gotten a chance to work on my editing skills, thanks to my amazing writing buddy. She has given me another story to edit, and I gave her a list of notes. It was a content edit, as opposed to my usual “tear this apart” edit. I enjoyed stepping into the story, and talking to her about the world she had created. This woman doesn’t half-ass anything. Seriously, check out her blog.

That’s all the updates I can share at the moment. Time to get back to burritos and writing. Thanks for reading! And if you have any suggestions for an Indiana writer to read, please leave a comment!

-JBL

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On the upside of January

In my mind, winter is almost over. I’m tired of the bitter cold and icy roads. A winter scene may look beautiful, but I have an irrational fear of driving in the snow. I’m trying to forget that sometimes it snows all the way until April in Indiana. What a lovely state I’ve chosen to return to. But enough of the weather-rant.

In keeping with my last post, I have been pushing myself to accomplish more. To be the person I’ve been pretending to be. I have successfully finished this month’s reading challenge, which was a book that has been made into a movie. I read Water for Elephants, Divergent, Gone Girl, and The Hobbit. 

I feel silly for being proud of myself, but I can’t help it. I read Divergent in only a few hours, and Gone Girl over the course of a few days. Part of me feels back to normal again, reading all three books before they’re due back at the library. It feels good to get lost in stories again. It reminds me of what I’ve always loved. Stories.

I’ve also managed to keep up my goal for writing each day. My plan has been to get at least an hour of writing done each day, which for the most part I have. I am back to work on my novel, but I am also working on a short story. I’ve restarted my journaling again, which has given an outlet to some of my stress. I tend to have more bad days than good days, so keeping a journal helps me work through those feelings. Once I get all that negativity out on paper, I can start looking at the good things that are happening as well. It reminds me not to give up.

The new goal for February is to have something solid to edit. I am doing an editing exchange with a writer friend in the middle of the month. I’m excited to read her new work because she has such a unique voice. Now I just need to make sure I have something for her to edit.

The reading challenge for February is a book that’s been recommended by a friend. So far I have a few ideas, but if anyone out there wants to throw out some suggestions, be sure to leave a comment below! And if anyone else is on Goodreads, be sure to look me up!

Things seem sort of bumpy right now, but I’m trying to remain steady. I have my books and my journals and enough coffee to get me through the next snow storm.

Thanks for reading! Stay warm out there!

-JBL

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January explanations

New Years usually calls for resolutions and newly announced goals. Since I haven’t posted anything in almost four months, I think I should probably explain what’s been going on.

Last year I talked about making big changes in my life. I (briefly) quit my job and moved two states over. I was excited for my new life and anxious to get out of the Midwest.

My new life in Pennsylvania turned out to be more difficult than I could have imagined. Work was not going smoothly, and I was making significantly less than I’d hoped. Actually, nothing about my move went smoothly.

My plan was to do a bit of traveling in that part of the country, maybe make a trip up to Canada, and save up enough money to move again in a year. Things went from bad to worse after the first month, causing me more stress than I could deal with. I found myself sinking faster than I ever have before. It was time to make another move.

In the middle of October I decided to move back to Indiana. It was something I never thought I’d do. I wanted to get out of this state, thinking that anywhere would be better than this cornfield. I quickly realized how lucky I had been in Indiana. I had friends and family that supported me no matter what.

I cried when I told my mom I was coming back. I felt like a failure. I made such a big deal about making my own decision to move away and it blew up so horribly. My mom didn’t scold me like I thought she would. She was happy for me. She told me to do what I thought was best, and that she’d support me no matter what. I really do have the best parents.

So, in the middle of November, the day before my birthday and four days before Thanksgiving, I made the 7 hour drive back to Indiana. The cats cried, and I cried, and it snowed while I was moving my stuff in to the apartment I hadn’t seen before signing the lease. It was an emotional week.

I started work the next day, then cried when I got home. I came back with nothing. I used all my money to put a deposit on the apartment. Half of my kitchen stuff had been packed away at my parents house or tossed out in July when I left town. My toaster and blender both broke down. My bookcases had been tossed when I moved out in July because there was no space in the truck to put them. Three quarters of my books are packed away in boxes somewhere.

I haven’t been able to replace any of the things I lost when I moved. I’m barely making it now, but I know in a few months I’ll be fine. I’m just lucky that I have the support of my family and friends. I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful.

I’ve realized that my happiness starts with me. I was tired of how things were going in Indiana, so I moved. The problem wasn’t Indiana, though. It was my attitude and my constant excuses for not getting any thing done. My life in Pennsylvania was even worse. I wanted to do so much, but I found myself restricted in the strangest ways. Part of the reason I’m so happy to be back is that I have my independence again. I have the freedom to do whatever I want in my apartment, and a spacious bedroom to retreat to when I need a break from everything else. And, I’m happy to report, my cat is eating his food again. The last few months in PA he was barely eating anything. I could tell he was stressed out, and I knew the only way to help him was to get him out of that environment. He seems more comfortable in this apartment than he ever was in PA. He’s back to being a happy, plump kitty now.

I normally wouldn’t share this much of my life, but I’ve decided to take a new approach to things. I was frustrated and angry when I decided to move away. I was letting a bully ruin my work, which I used to enjoy. I was making excuses and not doing what I needed to do.

I’ve decided that the best thing for me to do is be positive. I am enjoying my job again. I no longer dread going in each day. I get along with my coworkers, and try to brush off any negativity. I’m writing again, and plotting and planning my moves for this year.

I bought myself a planner this week, for the first time in a few years. I loved having a planner and writing down what I need to do and making notes of things. I don’t know why I stopped using one, but I’m excited to keep myself organized now.

I have started a small reading challenge with a few of my friends. This month we’re going to be reading books that were made into movies. I picked “Water for Elephants”. It’ll probably end with me in tears, but I think that’s part of the challenge.

Thank you for reading this long post. I hope everyone had a good holiday, and I’m looking forward to all the great things we’re going to accomplish this year!!

 

-JBL

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I’m not ready to be a digital writer, but I guess I’ll start trying

The people that know me know that I like my books the old fashioned way, hardcover books filling up every free space in my home. But, that’s the problem with living in the modern world(you should know that I sighed when I wrote that sentence). The world is going digital, a fact I’ve been fighting since I first learned that you could read the newspaper online.

I always wanted to be a writer. I dreamt of going to the bookstore and seeing my books on the shelves. I wanted a bookshelf at home, full of copies of the books I’ve published. I was a weird kid. It took me a while to come around to the fact that more people are turning to digital platforms such as Amazon, blogs like this, or websites like Thought Catalog or even Cracked.

I recently downloaded an app on my phone called Wattpad. It’s a cool little place for writers to post stores, chapter by chapter. They offer tips and hints for writing, and readers are able to provide immediate feedback. It’s almost like having an extended writer’s group. I haven’t posted anything yet, I’m just reading and investigating for now.

Some of my friends are looking more into independently publishing. Their goal is to publish and distribute their books themselves. I’m still hopeful for a more classical approach by sending out tons of manuscripts and receiving a few rejection letters in return.

My plan, for right now at least, is to use the wondrous Internet resources to continue to develop my writing. I have several pages bookmarked on my computer to inspire me whenever I get behind in my writing. My favorite is the charts giving you options for frequently used words, like “said”. I’ve joined several other online writing groups that send out weekly email discussions. It’s proved more helpful than I initially thought it’d be two years ago when I signed up for it.

I’m always curious to see what other writers are up to. Do any of you have a favorite app or website that you frequently use for writing?

Thanks for reading!

-JBL

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The seasons are changing (and so must I)

I have lived my whole life in Indiana. I’m used to the Indiana way, how people drive and live. So moving halfway across the country has been sort of strange for me.

The first thing I learned is that everyone runs red lights. And honks if you don’t. Or if you don’t go the second the light changes. Basically, everyone is an aggressive driver, except me. It’s been terrifying.

The second, and most important right now, is that the weather is different. It seems silly to worry about, but my year revolves around autumn things. I’m a November kid, so pumpkin pretty much runs in my blood.

I’m used to Indiana summers, which can stretch all the way to September. But here I am, nestled under a blanket in August, looking at the overcast almost-autumn sky. It was chilly when I went to work. My coworkers described it as gross and cold. But to me it’s perfect. It’s time to get out the jackets and prepare the pantry for pumpkin flavored everything.

I can feel the seasons changed here, before the pumpkin spice lattes are even available. It’s exciting to know that when pumpkin season starts, I won’t be drinking my latte on hot day.

The coolness brings me peace of mind, as well. I do better in the fall. It’s easier for me to take a breath and relax, and get through those rough days when the air is cooler and smells like leaves. I’m more inclined to write when I’m not sweating and uncomfortable.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying the weather as much as I am. Thanks for reading!

-JBL

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August is here

August is here, wether I want it or not

We’ve long since past the halfway mark, what have we to show for it?

On this side of the state, things aren’t quite right

Cats are being cats, friends are being friends,

But nothing else is as it should be.

Work is not what I want,

The food is not what I want,

The changes I’ve made are not what I want.

But it doesn’t really matter what I want,

What matters is what I have.

What I have is the chance to do something different,

The chance to change my own life.

What I need now is for me to shut up,

To get over what I think I should have

and remember that things could always be worse

-JBL

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Moving on

Dear readers,

I know it’s been a while, but I’m back!

I took a brief hiatus to pack up my entire life and move halfway across the country. I’m now living in Pennsylvania, so if anyone has a writing group, let me know!

It was terrifying and emotional, and I’m still not sure if I’m doing the right thing. I guess that’s part of the adventure.

My cat is slowly settling in, and I’m trying to do the same. It’s a nice, centrally located city that will hopefully provide me with some new opportunities. I’m planning trips to Gettysburg, Pittsburg, and hopefully Toronto.

I’m hoping this change will kick start something in me. I will be back to posting regularly, both short stories and essays. I’m making this move my fresh start, my chance to start over and stay positive about my writing.

This move has been really hard on me, even though I know it’s the best thing for me to do. Luckily I have supportive friends who know when to ignore me and when you shake me and tell me to stop being so dramatic.

Like I said, I’ve been on an extended hiatus, so I haven’t gotten much writing done. I have a hard time writing when I’m stressed, and lately I’ve felt like I’m drowning. I’m trying to get better though. Lately I’ve been thinking about fairy tales, but it seems like everyone else has too.

So, let’s try to stay positive, and keep writing. Hopefully I’ll have good things to post soon.

Thanks for reading!

-JBL

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