Friday, February 24, 2012

As Versus Is

I've noticed a lot of published novels using sentences like this:

She smiled as if she were happy.

This sentence would be perfectly fine if the individual being discussed wasn't happy. Such as:

She smiled as if she was happy, but I knew the truth - behind those bright eyes burned hatred.

It's not accurate if the context is this:

I gave the little girl a lollipop. She squealed and smiled as if she was happy.

The reason it's not correct is because words like "as if" or "like" are comparing two things, but saying those two things aren't the same. So she may smile similarly to how she'd smile if she was happy (according to this sentence), but she's not happy.

So instead, it should be either changed to . . .

She smiled because she was happy. (Because she IS happy. It's not "like" she's happy. She truly is happy.)

Or even better . . .

She smiled.

Because writing about someone's facial expressions without actually saying the emotion behind them is a good way to show and not tell emotions.

I hope that makes sense. It's just a little pet peeve of mine that's been showing up in a lot of novels.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Mother Makes Me Laugh

I wish I could write a character who thinks like my mother. The problem is, I've known her almost 26 years (as of next month) and still don't fully understand how she thinks. She's always saying things that surprise me.

Last year, my cat, who was my first pet ever and beloved by my entire family died when we took her to the pet groomers. (She died of cardiac arrest because she was too frightened.) And my Mom has missed her ever since.

I have two dogs. Both of them are part rottweilers, a boy and a girl. The boy dog is also part lab and the girl is part pitbull. When my house burned down and my parents let us move in temporarily with them, we brought the two dogs with and at first she hated it. She's always insisted that the house was too small for a large dog to live in and now she was stuck with two!

So she used to pet the dogs and tell them,"If only you were a cat."

Izzy, the girl dog, has breathing problems or at least I assume she does because she wheezes all the time. My mother was petting her, while she was wheezing, and said,"Look, ever since I told Izzy to become a cat, she's started to purr."

It makes me laugh and smile whenever I think about it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Haven't Given Up

Today, on facebook, I found out that one of my friends in high school has become pregnant with her first child. Since friending her, she's graduated from college, gotten her dream (steady) job of working as a teacher, gotten married, and now is pregnant. There's a reason that psychologists say that facebook gives people depression.

I am not trying to say I have nothing in life. I have a boyfriend that I love dearly and think is the greatest guy in the world. Two parents and a brother who have been here for me and loved me more than a lot of people get from their parents, but I also don't have any of the things I just listed that she has. In fact, I'm completely unemployed (other than writing, which so far hasn't paid me even a cent) and my last job was working at McDonald's. I'm still homeless since a fire burned down my house last September killing my boyfriend's mother and one out of three of our dogs (which I linked to a blog about in my first post) and my health is quickly deteriorating away.

The illness started in December around when I was sending out my first query letters for my novel that I recently finished. I noticed that when I was chewing certain foods, my jaw would start aching, but after a few hours, it would go away. A few weeks passed and I gave up those foods, I began to have pain after almost every meal, but a few advils took it away. I went to my family doctor after the dull pain became a constant ache. He sent me to a TMJ specialist and the two of them told me to eat only soft foods. I was given a mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth at night, had my face massaged twice a week through small electrical pads and a ultrasound wand, but the pain wouldn't go away.

In fact, it has steadily gotten worse. As of three weeks ago, my face has now started to constantly spasm. My lips twitch on the left side and I my mouth grimaces in a way that makes people ask me if ,y lips are swollen and if I am angry. The pains have become sharp, shooting pains that are so violent that I can't do anything while I am experiencing them. I haven't been able to even dress myself most days lately. All I can do is scream on the floor and throw fits as what feels like a radiating electrical spike is drilled through my ear and out the front of my mouth. The doctors have given me strong pain relievers to try to help me cope with it, but they do nothing. When the pain comes I feel it no matter how many pills I take. I've been in and out of doctors offices and so far, they're all stumped.

While this has been happening, in the moments when I am coherent enough to check my e-mail, I've received rejection after rejection from the agents I have queried. Totalling over sixty rejections now. At first, I was crying over them, but after the first few, I toughened up. They became a routine. These agents have no obligation to accept me. For whatever reason they feel my story isn't good enough and just because I'm in a lot of pain doesn't mean I deserve more leniency from them than anyone else.

I've so far stumped both my doctors when it comes to what is wrong with me. They've referred me to a neurologist because there's nothing left that they can do or prescribe. Some nights, I've just been crying for hours. My boyfriend tries to take me to the hospital most nights, but I refuse, which isn't surprising, since I almost didn't go to the hospital when I had my kidney stone, which a lot of people say is the most painful experience in their life (and honestly, this pain is about as severe as that.)

I can no longer eat food anymore. Today, I tried to eat some mashed potatoes and kind of regret it since my jaw is now spasming and in some pain (although not the screaming pain I've been in a lot of nights.) Mostly I've only been able to drink milkshakes and eat slim fast. Some days it's too painfully to even slurp out of the straw and I'm forced to directly to from the cup. On those nights, it's usually somewhat painful to even swallow.

The neurologist still hasn't made an appointment with me even though it's been a week since my doctor's declared that I need to see a neurologist. The secretary keeps insisting on receiving certain notes from my doctor before they will see me and throwing me through some (what I deem unnecessary) hoops. I'm about to lose my health insurance on March 18th, my birthday, when I turn 26 and can no longer be on my parents insurance. It's already been a few months and I'm worried I will not be better or even get an appointment with the neurologist before then.

It was very, very hard on me to read about my friend becoming pregnant on facebook today after all my boyfriend and I have been going through. (He's the greatest guy in the world who has woken up at night and suffered through insomnia just to hold my hand through out this entire thing.) I mean, I'm happy for her. She's such a wonderful person and always has been, but I don't understand what's so horrible about me that I can't have the same things. She has a house and a family that loves her so much (I've met them), so she has everything I already have, plus everything I could possibly want.

But I decided something today. Even after all this, and all the rejections I have received from agents, I decided that I haven't given up on my dream to become a writer. I want to self-publish my first book (and when I'm not in pain I'm continuing to edit my second), even though I have no money (so I don't know how I'm going to pay for an editor or for someone to make me a cover.) I'm not really sure when and if I will be well enough to advertise the book like I want to and I'm not sure how long it will take to write my second novel if I don't get better, but I'm not going to give up.

I wouldn't even write this at all because I want to carry on as before as much as I possible can without it being obvious to anyone who doesn't know me in person that I'm suffering. I've given up eating for the most part and so far, as long as I don't eat any food, I'm mostly okay (still some muscle spasms and pain, but its endurable), but I know that I can't do all the things I would be able to do if I was healthy and feel that it's necessary that I give this explanation.

Just know that if I don't read something you wrote on your twitter or your blog, it's not that I don't care, it's that I'm in pain. I deeply care about my fellow writers being a success as much as I care about my own success and would like to read all your blogs, read all your books, and repost/respond to all your tweets if I could, but I do not have the ability (because of lack of money and pain.)

I will do as much as I can. Like I said, I have not given up on my dream and I do not want to lose touch with all of you just because I am going through this. I will not let my body/the universe/whatever is doing this to me win. My boyfriend tells me I am strong and honestly, I do not feel strong until he says that, but because of it, I will be strong. I just hope you will all stick with me and understand that I'm not trying to ignore any of you, while I go through this or trying to give up on my dream just because it's harder to pursue now.

I wish you all success, good health, lots of love (especially on this valentine's day season), and lots of happiness. And also that you all finish your novels quickly and that they turn into the best sellers that you dream of them becoming!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Spread Love, Not Hate

I remember posting on a forum once where a girl wrote about how she struggled with epilepsy. She asked if anyone else on the forum had seizures as well. And in response, everyone posted bright, flashing images.

It turned out that the girl's seizures were not triggered by flashing colors, but I was still so angry when I saw all those posts. Those people had no problem triggering a seizure in a perfect stranger who had been civil and kind to them, even though the event could have killed her or at the very least caused her a lot of pain. And they did it all for the sake of being funny.

When I grew-up, I was bullied a whole lot. It made me stronger in a lot of ways, I can handle rejection better, I'm more stubborn than I used to be when fighting for something I believe in, and care less what people think, but it also wrecked me a lot emotionally. Made it hard for me to grow-up while I recovered from a lot of the mental issues I was given from people and made me incredibly socially awkward.

It's not okay or funny to bully someone. People kill themselves over these kinds of things. It can ruin their careers and their lives, even if it's just online.

That's why I'm participating in the Spread Love, Not Hate event being run by K.C. Neal. (Her blog is found here: ) Because although humanity sometimes amazes me with how cruel it can be, it also amazes me sometimes about how kind it can be, and I'm hoping someday, if more people speak up about bullying and put a stop to bullies that they see, that we can stop this problem completely.

If you have any bullying experiences or if you were a bully yourself and would like to discuss why and what made you change, feel free to leave a post in the comments.