Black Mage Yuna - shuijingling

September 2021 Favorites

My stress levels have been high, my energy has been low, and yet I somehow have been writing again. Which has been like a breath of fresh autumn air. Here's what else I've been into this month.

Linger: I'm continuing to love The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. It took me a while to get into the additional PoVs in this book, particularly Cole's. And one of his chapters was pretty upsetting (at least to a vegetarian like me). But he grew on me towards the end. I also found the... lore? Science? Of the wolves to be quite interesting this time around. And of course, I continued to love Sam and Grace's story. Their tragic soulmate love keeps me obsessed with this series. Only one main book left to finish, and I'm excited and sad at the same time.

Once and Again (Again): I cannot quite describe the intense feelings this often somber and beautiful show gives me, and I hate that I'm hurtling towards the end of it now. But some of my favorite episodes are here, near the end. I'm picking up on just how much the different characters are tied to each other. Lily's warmth has reached out to all the other characters by this point in the show. There's a found family aspect to her love that goes beyond her new stepchildren. To her ex's baby's mother. To her husband's ex-wife. Her compassion is lovely. And as my therapist pointed out based on my description, the show really covers a lot of mental health issues in a vulnerable and authentic way.

The HotSpot: So, back in '05-'07, I was hugely into GameSpot's podcast, The HotSpot (as well as their weekly video stream, On the Spot). I often revisited my favorite episodes over and over again. And while a lot of the guys ended up moving to Giant Bomb after Jeff's firing, and I love the video content on that site, I was never as into the Bombcast as I had been with The HotSpot. Something has been pulling me back to my old favorite video games podcast. Yeah, the content is super old and sometimes shows its age, but my favorite jokes are still funny, even if no one still cares about them except me. "But don't let Dietrich drive it!"

Music Favs: Wasted Daylight (Stars), Bad Habits (Ed Sheeran), Heartstrings (Leighton Meester), Awake (Lovelast), Backslide (Lemolo), After (MUNA), Nothing Ever Changes (Donna Lewis), Come Closer (Acceptance), Linger (Jonatha Brooke).
Pretty Hachi - girlgamer

Painting with Words

When I was a teenager, I told my friends I had visions. Because I did. Just not the kind they were thinking of. They didn't believe me. 😅

At some point over the last few years, I learned that not everyone has a constant running monologue in their heads, and it, well, blew my mind. I've always heard my own inner voice... or voices? I sometimes describe it as my mind, heart, and soul constantly debating with each other. Maybe that's why writing out characters' thoughts has always come easily to me.

However, I also have bursts of visual inspiration. Colors flowing, images interspersed. Usually, it's triggered by music, like my own personal music video. Often, it leads to ideas for writing. But sometimes, it's just a mess of pretty visuals. Golden feathers. Raindrops suspended in the air. Broken necklaces falling into the water.

Being totally unaware that this was just another way for the brain to process, I really thought these were visions. Secret predictions sent to me in an abstract or surreal form. And they were, in a way. They showed me what was possible. What magic I could someday paint with my words.

Are you more a verbal or visual thinker? I think they're both beautiful in their own ways. And yes, you can be both! 💕

Don't forget: daydreaming is part of creating! Go ahead and let your mind wander! 💖
Firefly - ohdelights

Fireflies of Inspiration

This week, I've been wrapped up in Book Three for the first time in a while. Reading things over, editing a bit, then finishing up a chapter I hadn't touched since 2019.

I started writing Book Three in 2018, while I was waiting for Book Two's cover to be made. And it was such a freeing time for me creatively. The weight of Book Two had been lifted temporarily, and I was enjoying writing again. But not long after the year crossed into 2019, I decided I needed to re-edit and re-release Book One. Which is something I am so, so glad that I did, but it took over a year and gave me so much anxiety.

After that, I spent another year giving one last edit to Book Two, before releasing it this past March. I'm proud of all the work I did on those books. I feel completely satisfied with what I've created and put out there, really for the first time. But all of that editing left me drained and creatively unfulfilled.

And now, I'm free again. To write. To work on multiple stories. It's as scary as it is exciting. And when you've been away from writing for so long, you worry that you'll never be able to do it again. That you'll never catch those fireflies of inspiration in your hands.

But what I've found, and I speak only to my own experience here, is that trying to capture inspiration, trying to force fireflies into a jar, trying to make yourself produce work, only sustains you for a while. Fireflies can't live in a jar for very long. You have to set them free before their lights die out.

What you can do, and this is how it often works for me, is to offer your hands, open yourself to inspiration, and let the fireflies land on you. Because they will, if they know you won't crush them. If they know you'll let them fly freely.

Book Three has been almost begging me to work on it this week. There's been concentrated effort, but no forcing, no crushing, no suffocating. The writing flowed, and I hope it continues to do so. But I'll try to give it that freedom to come and go as it pleases.

Because aren't fireflies more beautiful when they are free to fly?
Jane (Book One) - fireflys_locket

Lost in Time

23 years ago, I embarked on my first day of fourth grade.

11 years (and some months) ago, I began writing Jane's journey with that scene.

6 years ago, I released the first book in Jane's story.

1 year (and some months) ago, I released the new and (hopefully) definitive version of Book One.

In 11 years, it will be the year Jane starts fourth grade in The Timeline.

I have this uncanny ability to be deeply connected to so many points of time all at once. When I was a child, I felt like adult me stuck in a child's body. I called out for future me (Gina) to save me from the life I was living. But also, to remember, to save forever what was important to me then. I was only able to do one of the two. But oh, did I. More than I ever imagined at that time.

Now, I feel like I could blink and be back in school. Even though it's been half my life since I dropped out due to intense panic attacks. The things that happened back then still feel so fresh in my mind. And seeing the lives my former classmates are living - with relationships, kids, and careers - is often jolting to my core. How can things have changed so quickly for them and so slowly for me?

Sometimes, I feel like the life I've been living the past sixteen years is just a dream, not a life at all. At the same time, I feel like maybe I dreamed my former life. That it's just a story I created for myself.

"Was she dreaming? Or rather... which part was the dream?"
Pooh & Friends - dusty_memories

August 2021 Favorites

Lately, I've been in the destruction phase of the rebirth cycle. That hasn't been pleasant. But at least these favorites have kept me company this month.

Words on Bathroom Walls (Book): The writing and style of this book were sometimes too edgy for my taste. But there were parts that resonated with me so deeply. I related to Adam's fears of losing control of reality and being a burden on those he cared about. Sections of the book hit me straight in the heart and shook me to my core. Voices he heard felt so familiar to me in their violence and self-hatred. I couldn't help relating to this character who otherwise was very different from me. That's the magic of fiction.

Wolves of Mercy Falls: I fell in love with the first in this series pretty much instantly. The premise of a werewolf guardian hooked my heart, the writing was very much my style, and the characters and their relationship were easy to fall in love with. Sam, especially, drew me in with his soft sad boy vibes, poetic internal dialogue with lyrics interspersed, tragic past, and pained future. The way the two shifted so quickly into a romance might be off-putting for some, but to me, their bond had been quietly building since they were children. And with so little time to share with each other before Sam's last change, the desperate and emotional way they held onto each other was heartbreakingly real to me.

Once and Again: This beautiful show with its emotional vulnerability has been my therapy this month. The many feelings it evokes have been one of the only things to distract me from my own sadness at its worst.

New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh: I finally started rewatching this childhood favorite. Aside from the nostalgia tears, this series provides some lovely themes and "lessons". Donkey for a Day is a beautiful episode about being imaginative while depressed. And the episodes with Rabbit and Kessie are so heartfelt. (Watch on Disney+)

Music Favs: Destroyer (Phantogram), Dancing in the Dark (Madi Diaz), Hold My Hand (The Fray), Through to You (Glades), Love (Lana Del Ray), Strong & Hey Now (London Grammar), Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish), Easy (Camila Cabello), You Haunt Me (Liz Longley), Never Dream Alone (Ashlee Simpson).
Hachi's Mom Smile - fireflys_locket

Creating Community

I've made my struggles with fitting in no secret. In fact, you could say I'm writing a whole series about it. My classmates rejected me. I've never done well working in groups. I have trouble with labels and rules and fitting into boxes. I've always longed for community, but it's been nearly impossible to find.

When I discovered the online writing community, I thought maybe I had found my place. I expected any group of writers to be full of eccentrics, doing their own thing, just with support from each other. Instead, I found, at least at first, a lot of sameness. A lot of similar rules and advice. A lot of "do you fit into this box or that box" kind of posts.

For a while, this was a constant pain and pressure on me. Something was wrong with me that I couldn't fit in again. Even in this one most relating concept of my life. The thing that brought me through my schooling years. My escape. My sacred calling. I saw this as a flaw in me. My brain told me I was at fault. But my soul knew better.

When I started going my own way again, leaving all the well-meaning but stifling advice behind, I began to find other creatives that I resonated with. I curated my social media feeds with content that was inspiring over motivating. People who made heartfelt content. People I geniunely resonated with. And even more importantly, I was making (and sharing) the content I most wanted to see.

I'm still searching for community. But I'm going to try to build my own this time. I think that's really the best path forward for me.
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Free Falling (Serah) - whispyr

Broken Birds

Things feel strange right now. Like looking around at the edge of a cliff I've just slid partway down. Unsure if I should try to climb the precarious path back up, or leap into new heights, trusting invisible wings to carry me.

I'm hoping this breakdown will turn into a breakthrough. I have a sense that it might. That maybe I needed this violent storm to release something in me. To shake me awake like an earthquake. To uncage some of the broken birds inside of my chest.

My worst panic attacks feel like dying. Like pure torture. Like losing all control of yourself. I wouldn't wish one on anyone. Each new crash feels like every crash before echoing inside my body at the same time. And I think... I can't take it anymore. This one will definitely kill me.

Even when I'm somewhat stable, I still worry that will be my ultimate end. I think I always sensed a black hole on the path in front of me. Waiting, restless, to suck me in one day in the future. But sometimes, sometimes the destruction is actually part of that rebirth I was talking about.

Releasing my second book with huge fears of how it would be received, letting go of the end of Magic Inc.'s first arc, the sixteenth anniversary marking half my life since dropping out of school, and the tenth anniversary of my Grandmother's death. These were all this year. Each one, in itself, a possible trigger for one of my emotional crashes. I tried to stuff the pain of them down. Tried to be "professional". Tried to keep it together. But when we don't allow ourselves to mourn the losses and changes in our lives, the pain will eventually catch up to us. Our bodies and minds will scream at us if we don't listen the first thousand times.

Right now, I'm trying, trying to be gentle with myself and my feelings. Maybe this broken bird will fly again soon. But I'm not going to rush her.
Anguished Reira - shihitsu

Emotional Pain

I've been going through a bad phase. Where I feel so depressed, so desperately sad, so terrified of the future that I can hardly function. This seems to happen to me about once a year, usually in the summer. So, it's nothing new, but I feel like every time it happens, I carry the weight of more pain with me. And I feel so hopeless.

I had a big panic attack last night. Crying and gasping for breath. Finger nails biting into my skin. I'm telling you all of this not for sympathy, but simply to acknowledge that anxiety is a real and debilitating thing. Trauma sometimes lives within you for your entire life. And it sneaks up on you. Knocking the breath out of you. Forcing you to curl into yourself. Wailing with pain. Begging for the agony to stop.

Emotional and mental wounds are just as real as physical ones. And everyone carries some level of pain with them. That's why it's important to try to meet people where they are with empathy. Some issues can't be fixed. Or reasoned out of. Some things we just have to go through. But having that compassion from others does help.

If you ever need to reach out to someone, I'm always here. I will try to always meet you with compassion. ❤
Lovely Reflection - amethystia

Craving Vulnerability

This month has been pretty intense for me so far. A lot has happened, good and bad and complicated. And I'm just feeling a lot at once right now. My heart hurts from so many emotions and memories and regrets. But I've also sold some books, done a giveaway, and printed bookmarks.

I've also (in a very small way) returned to working on Book Three. Mostly making some some small edits in the chapters I've written so far. I can't help but be afraid of moving forward, when the last book took so very much from me. But that's part of the process for me. I pour every emotion, my whole heart and soul, into everything I write. And I wouldn't want it any other way. Art and story always have worth, but part of my work's purpose is to dive into the deepest, truest emotions within me.

That openess and vulnerability is something I constantly crave. Something I need to feel alive. It's a natural inclination for me to share, despite being afraid. But that doesn't mean it's easy. It's terrifying sharing your most vulnerable, broken shards of heart with the world. And so exhausting. I have to learn to be more gentle with myself during this process. Because it's hard and it hurts. Even as it often also heals.