Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Grade school was tough for me. I was horribly bullied. I was a shy, quiet, small child who did not speak up for herself at all. When the kids at school began bullying me, I retreated into myself. I tried a couple of times to stand up for myself. All attempts ended disastrously.

That’s not to say I didn’t have friends. I did. Two good ones that I am still friends with today.

Still, the bullying was brutal and affected me deeply for many years. I spent many years wondering why me? Why wasn’t I popular? Why did they torment me? Why didn’t they like me? What was wrong with me? What could I have done to make them treat me better?

There are many answers to these questions, none of them have anything to do with me. But the truth is that their bullying had nothing to do with me, but had everything to do with them. The “strong” put down the “weak” to make themselves feel better, to draw attention to themselves, to revel in their own sense of self-importance, to stand tall on the shoulders of those under their boot.

By the time I got to high school, I was doing better. I was not popular, but I had friends. I valued and cherished them. The two biggest bullies in my past did not go to that school and I created a new life for myself.

I eventually learned to stand up for myself. Some of my friends in high school helped. One girl I went to high school with decided to start harassing me. We had been friends and I did not understand the change in her. She was too cowardly to bully me directly. She manipulated a younger boy into doing it for her. She would sit back and laugh.

One time, he came over to my lunch table and tried to pour a can of coke on me. I pushed him away and told him to leave us alone. My friends were furious. “You don’t have to take that from him!” One girl took a sip of chocolate milk and made a face. She plopped the carton in front of me and said, “This is sour. I can’t drink it.”

Everyone at the table egged me on and followed me over to his table. He was sitting next to my tormentor and they were laughing. I walked up behind and poured the container of chocolate milk over his head and said, “Two can play at that game mother fucker.”

My tormentor stood up and looked absolutely shocked and said something like, “How dare you!”

“Be careful,” I replied to her. “You might be next.”

A table of senior boys watched what happened and stood up and started whooping and cheering. The entire cafeteria broke into laughter and cheers. My friends and I ran towards the exit to get out of there before we got detention. I saw the freshman English teacher cheer and clap and laugh. The hard as nails history teacher turned on her heel while covering her mouth pretending she didn’t see me.

I turned back to face the room at the doorway. I took a bow then fled.

Standing up for myself was exhilarating. I did feel badly that the kid had to go through the rest of the day wearing a sticky wet chocolate milk covered shirt. But none of them ever bothered me again.

There are times I definitely wished I had given the grade school girls a good sock in the face. That may not have changed anything, but maybe it would have given them pause the next time they tried to torment me. Maybe I would have felt better. Maybe not. But. I never did.

Yesterday, a friend of mine from grade school shared an article on Facebook. One of my tormenters from grade school was in the paper. She had done well for herself over the years. But now, she is facing grand jury charges for corruption on multiple counts. And more people are coming forward to file complaints against her.

A very small part of me felt gratified by this, I’m ashamed to say. I am not a bully. I do not revel in the pain of others. At least, I don’t like to think that about myself.

Another part of me actually feels sorry for her. If the allegations against her are true, that says to me that she did not grow at all from the angry young bully I knew in 8th grade. Instead, she learned all of the wrong life lessons from her behavior and let that infect the whole of her life. What a sad way to live.

If the allegations are false, she is having done to her what she did to me, but a hundred times worse. If she is acquitted of the charges, they will still taint everything in her life from this moment onward. And that is also very sad.

Maybe she had it coming. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe it is not my place to pass judgment. But the news articles I read got me thinking and I wanted to write about it.

If I had known then, what I know now, how differently I would have lived my life. I don’t think it would be very different than it is now. But maybe I would not have given the bullies so much of my own power. They did not deserve any part of me. They are no better than I am. And they were not worth the effort I was putting in trying to be friends with them.

These are some lessons I’ve learned over the years about myself, but also about the other people, specifically, people who have put a lot of energy into making me feel that I am not good enough.

  • Everyone is insecure.
  • Everyone is afraid.
  • Everyone feels they are not good enough.
  • Everyone finds it easier to believe that bad stuff about themselves than the good.
  • Everyone is trying to make people like them.
  • There will always be someone who is smarter, prettier, richer, taller, and seemingly better than you in every way.
  • The people who you view as better than you are not.
  • Beauty fades.
  • Money can be lost.
  • Health declines.
  • Character matters.
  • How you treat people matters.
  • Everyone has worth.
  • People who do not appreciate you, are not worth having in your life. Stop fighting for their approval.
  • People who appreciate you and love you, cherish them.

Bullies will always try to make you feel bad so that they feel better. They are manipulative and mean. Chances are good, they are only trying to cover up the ugliness they feel inside. Or maybe they have just embraced and accepted that ugliness as their truth. Who knows. Until they are ready to do some soul-searching and figure it out for themselves, it is not your job to feel their pain.

But I have to end this on a positive note, because the bullies in my life have actually taught me a great deal about myself and about life in general.

  • I know my worth.
  • I know what I can do and what I’m capable of.
  • I’m a good person.
  • I’m caring and loving and optimistic.
  • I have not let them change who I am at my core. And that makes me happy.
  • I stand up for myself and the things that are important to me.
  • I have a voice and I use it to speak my truth.
  • And I can spot a bully a million miles away.

If I could share anything that I’ve learned over the years with the shy, young girl I was all those years ago, I would tell her to believe in herself despite the haters. They are wrong and small and ugly on the inside. She is stronger than she can imagine. And one day, she’ll know that for herself.



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Well, I did it! I forced myself to stay up last night and finish, and about 1:00am EST I crested the 50,000 word mark.

So, I am officially done!

But here’s the thing, I’m not really done. Not by a long shot. I completed NaNoWriMo, yes. But the novel itself is not quite completely written. I still have a couple-three chapters to write somewhere in the middle. And then I have to start re-writes and corrections.

I also did stupid things like when I would get lost in a scene and not really know how to fix it, I just made some notes at the end of the scene of what I should probably fix and then I moved on to another scene.

I wrote things like:

“I hate this scene. This person cannot be here now. Find a way to fix it later.”


“Dialogue too cheery! These people hate each other. Fix later or delete scene?”


“Video of this person’s death released. This is how he died…describe in detail later.”

Then I would just hop to another scene or chapter.

Some of it I wrote sequentially. Some of it I did not. A lot of it I did not, actually. One great feature of Scrivener is that you can jump from scene to scene or chapter to chapter pretty easily which made bouncing around easier.

There is something to be said for just pushing yourself through to just write as much as you can of your story without really stopping. It is not perfect, but no first draft ever is. I feel like I have a solid 125,000-ish outline of a story. It is more than that, I know. I have the bones of a good story in there…somewhere. I have to find it, re-write it, refine it, polish it, then polish it again.

Bottom line, I have a lot more work to do before it is an actual novel. But as far as NaNoWriMo is concerned…I am DONE!













































































“Dialogue way too cheery! These people hate each other. Fix later, change scene or delete?”




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Naomi plotting world domination.

Good-bye November! Good-bye NaNoWriMo!

Hello rewrites!

Tomorrow is the end of NaNoWriMo! I am about 1,300 words from finishing!

Well, 1,300 words from writing 50,000 words in one month. I may still need about 5,000-10,000 more words to finish the shitty first draft of my novel. Now that I’ve written the main storyline, I am very aware that I am missing a couple of important chapters in the middle. It’s not a lot of information, just a few key points. I can probably do it in 5,000 words, but we shall see.

I cannot believe I did it. It was a lot of work and took a lot of focus. Two things I’m really not good at. At all.

A couple of things helped, though. One, I really wanted to finish this book. I’ve been working on it for over a year, and I just wanted to get it out already. I mean FFS Colleen, just write the damn thing.

The other thing is just before NaNoWriMo began, I joined Patreon to contribute to one of my favorite podcasters. I listen to Mur Lafferty’s podcast, I Should Be Writing. Her podcast really helped me push myself over the past year to keep writing. I started contributing to her Patreon account, which gave me access to her Discord channel. Discord is a chat program that some gamers use. She has allowed her contributors to use the channel to talk about NaNo.

We used the channel to talk about writing and push each other with writing sprints. This helped me a lot. If I was doing a writing sprint, I was less likely to wander to the kitchen, fuss with the cat, play Facebook or phone games. I would write. Then I would get myself on a roll and keep writing. It has been very motivational.

So, that’s it. I’m nearly done. I’ll probably write the two or three chapters I need to write over the next week or so. Then I will set the book aside through he holidays and just relax.  But in January, the rewrites shall begin!

Just keep writing…

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My First Critic

I have fallen behind and I’ve lost track of my word count. Not unexpected with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and my crazy work schedule, but I am stressing out for sure.

Midnight Friday. That’ is the deadline.

Current word count 40,994.

I am over 4,000 words in the whole. And I have to write almost 9,000 by Friday.

The race is on!

Bad news, I work a lot between now and then. And this past weekend, I had to pick up two extra shifts I was not planning on working.

Good news, I did some writing this morning. I have tomorrow off.

I work today, but I have some time to get writing done tonight. Between tonight and tomorrow, if I focus, I feel that I can not only get caught up, I can maybe get a little bit ahead.

Wish me luck!

Just keep writing…


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When will this month be over??

By the end of today, I will be 2/3 of the day done with NaNoWriMo! I will have over 33,500 new words written in my novel! 

This is by far the largest project I have ever worked on. Before NaNoWriMo, I had well over 74,000 words written. And I wanted to use this month to finish writing my book. I can’t believe I’m about to write this next sentence, but I just realized I have written over 100,000 words!


Just Wow.

I am almost done. And I will have the rough draft complete by the end of November. I’ve written some pretty fun scenes.  I’ve written myself into holes and had to find a way to write myself back out.  And sometimes I didn’t write myself out. I just skipped it and went to another section. I’m not too worried right now about fixing things. That’s what the re-write phase is for. 

My cat might need some therapy after this is month is over. She is decidedly unhappy with the amount of time I have spent on my laptop.  She has been finding ever more creative ways to keep me from writing and refocus my attention on her.  Poor thing. I’ll let her have the final word on this post!

OK, that’s enough computer time. Now pet me dammit!

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Saturday, November 17, 2018 Anne Arundel Mills Mall 3:00pm

Yesterday was the half-way mark of the month. I have over 25,000 new words to finish up my novel written. I marked 25,000 on my NaNoWriMo page, but I know I have more than that done. I was just up late last night making sure I met my half-way goal, so I kind of lost track of my words. But I figure whether they are counted towards my total or not, they are still words written.

I’m kind of writing different parts of the novel and not really proceeding chronologically. I am using Scrivener, so I’ll just move and reassemble later. I know I have a lot of editing and rewriting to do once I’m done with this draft, so I am not so concerned with making sure everything is perfect right now. I am just concerned with getting the story written. I’ll prettify it later.

On another note…this Saturday I am going to Books With A Past Anne Arundel Mills mall to see one of my favorite podcasters. I listen I Should Be Writing by Mur Lafferty. She has written a number of books including the novelization of Solo.

I am very excited about this event.  I love going to see fellow writers who are successful. I have a lot to learn from them and I will take all they have to teach me. Plus, we will have the opportunity to do more writing!

Just wanted to give a quick update! I’ll continue to keep you posted throughout the month!

Just keep writing…

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Are you done yet?

I announced a few weeks ago that I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year to finish my novel which I have been working on for just over a year. I just wanted to give a quick update as to my progress.

Before NaNoWriMo I had about 74,000 words written and had reached some pretty crucial parts of the story, but just could not focus to really write them. I had a few setbacks, like when my laptop died a week after I bought Scrivener. September and October were busy times at work this year, which kept me very busy. But really, while some of my setbacks were legit, most of them were really just excuses to justify not writing.

I think the idea of finishing this book kind of scares me. I’ve never written anything this big. Or more to the point, finished anything this big. It is a daunting thought to think I’ve written a book. I am friends with a lot of writers who write many, many books. They write articles, short stories, novels, novellas…I could go on. I’ve written short stories and essays. I have blogged. I have started novels. I’ve gotten over 25,000 words into novels and then just stopped writing them. Finishing a novel? I never have.

Novels are big and scary things to write. I said it was a daunting task. It feels like an insurmountable goal. Improbable even that I could write one. An unattainable goal.

But once I had my story firmly in mind and I made some basic notes on it. I slogged away at it several times a week until I had written 74,000 words, suddenly finishing it felt…possible. And that is an exciting feeling.

Over the course of this past year, I have been listening to podcasts about writing. I listen to Grammar Girl, The Writer Files, The Moth, and my current favorite, I Should Be Writing. I have read books about writing and listened to a couple on Audible about writing. My favorite is of course the classic On Writing by Stephen King. And I’ve made attending my writer’s groups a priority. My work schedule makes going to them difficult sometimes, but I change my schedule or do a shift trade so that I can make it more often than I had in the past. I have even joined another writer’s group that meets once a month to discuss long-form writing. That group is really just me and one or two other friends, but it helps keep me motivated.

Basically, I have fully immersed myself into this project by thinking about writing, talking about writing, strategizing about writing, and finally sitting down and doing the actual work of writing.

So, the promised update on my NaNo progress…

We are 11 days in. Just over the 1/3 mark. My current word count is 17,828. I still have a little over 500 words to write today, but I will get that done. I began the first week of November a little bit in the hole. But I wrote my way out of it and caught up. I try to stay a little bit ahead of 1,667 daily word count. I have the day off today, so I am going to try to get a day ahead so that I do not lose my momentum.

By the time I finish the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, I will have written right around 125,000 words. My goal is that the first draft of my novel will be done by then.

Then the fun begins…rewriting!

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