Learning Never Stops #Write28Days

Okay, here’s my post for #Write28Days for today. I know I already wrote a post today and at first I wasn’t inspired to write another. The prompt word for today is “Learn”. This at first didn’t inspire me, until I read Carrie Ann’s response. It completely resonates with me!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I did college for one year in 2006-2007, doing an orientation in psychological and social studies. I only passed the year because the communication skills instructor had given me a passing grade on the condition that I never continue into this field. I was diagnosed with autism a few weeks before the dreaded communication skills exam. Now I did poorly on the exam and don’t really want to use autism as an excuse. Other autistics, in fact, can become social workers or psychologists or work in other such fields the program would be training me for. But I cannot.

Then I transferred to university to become a linguistics major, only to drop out two months in. I took a few psychology classes at Open University in 2009, of course skipping the practice ones and doing only theoretical ones. I think that instructor back in 2007 was right, after all.

Despite the fact that I haven’t been in formal education in over eleven years, I however still learn. At times, it feels like I don’t. I mean, I am not in any type of training or education.

The last time I was in formal training, was to learn to use the iPhone in 2017. I fully expected I would no longer be capable, but thankfully I was.

And now, having become a Christian within the last two months, I am trying to learn all about the faith and memorize scripture. It’s hard, but I trust that with God’s help, it is possible.

Carrie Ann truly motivates me to keep trying to learn. I really want to learn to write better. I also still want to take some free classes. I mean, ideally I’d sign up for some university courses in education or psychology, but these usually require a prior college degree. Maybe I can use FutureLearn or the like. In any case, I really hope that, like Carrie Ann says, learning never grows old even when I do.

#IWSG: Bloggy Friendships

IWSG

Hi everyone again. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I must say I did pretty well with respect to my writing over the month of January. I wrote a blog post almost everyday. Of course, at the beginning of the month, I planned to do even better. That’s usual for me. I hope with #Write28Days in February, it doesn’t go in the same direction.

For those visiting from the IWSG who don’t know what #Write28Days is, it’s a kind of restart of the original #Write31Days October challenge, in which you pick a topic and write about it for the entire month. Thankfully, randomness is a topic too and we aren’t currently required to even have a topic. The idea is just to write everyday. Hence, this post really counts for #Write28Days too. I may or may not write another one this evening.

In addition to writing pretty consistently over the past month, I also took some steps outside of my comfort zone. I wrote two pieces of flash fiction. Both were extremely short, under 100 words each. I’m not sure they count as actual pieces and not just exerpts. In that case, there is no broader story as of yet.

Now on to this month’s optional question. Today, the IWSG crowd talk friendships and relationships developed because of blogging. I don’t honestly think I have any though. That is, I consider carol anne from Therapy Bits and Emilia from My Inner MishMash my friends, but I can’t remember whether I first “met” them through blogging or through E-mail lists.

Maybe though, I can count my husband. After all, though we met via a message board, one of the reasons he contacted me to meet up was that he’d read my blog. This blog, I’ve since made private because of the spammy visitors.

Other than this, I don’t think I’ve developed any bloggy friendships. I also must admit I’m horrible with reciprocating visits. I just realized, in fact, that, in general, I’m not that good at keeping in touch with friends, be it through my blog, the rest of the Internet or in real life. I really need to improve on that.

Flash Fiction: ER

I look(1) at the patient and notice(1) she’s cyanosing(2). I check her pulse, which is very faint(5). I tell my colleague in a whispering)3) voice: “Please get the doc. I don’t know what happened, but she has to come through.” I lovingly(4) stroke her arm. Despite being a nurse, I can’t act. I can’t imagine my own daughter is in such a feeble(5) condition.


This piece of flash fiction was written for MindloveMisery’s Menagerie’s Saturday Mix for this week, which was Same Same But Different. The challenge is to write about the five words provided, but not use them. The words were: see, blue, soft, kind and weak.

I saw that many participants used synonyms for “blue” such as “sad” and “moody”. For me though, immediately, words that convey the color blue came to mind.

Obviously, this piece is entirely the product of my own imagination. I have absolutely no idea whether there’s any realism about this tale, but I loved trying to come up with it.

#IWSG: Turn-Offs in Other People’s Writing

IWSG

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s (#IWSG) meeting day.

I did pretty well in the writing department over the month of December and early January. I in fact am feeling very motivated to write. That being said, I do feel disappointed about not having realized my bigger writing dream of 2020, which was to submit another piece for publication in an anthology. It’s probably due to fear of rejection. I mean, blogging is a relatively safe way of expressing one’s writing abilities, in that it doesn’t really come with rejection. I mean, if I start a blog and it’s a total failure, I just won’t attract any readers, but no-one is going to directly tell me.

For 2021, I once again aim to submit at least one piece for publication. I just can’t bear to say for another year that I’m a published author because of that one piece I had published in 2015. I can’t control editors’ selection criteria, but I’ll have to at least try one more time.

Now on to this month’s optional question. The question is what, as a writer, turns you away from other people’s books, makes you not finish a book or frustrates you about other people’s writing.

The first thing that came to mind, is not a style issue or a writing flaw, but factual errors in the story. For example, in Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, one of the characters’ mother and sisters have sickle cell disease and the characters keep talking about how this character didn’t inherit “the gene” and how another disease is recessive, as if sickle cell disease is inherited via a dominant gene. Well, I am no geneticist, but I am pretty sure it’s recessive.

It isn’t that such an error stops me from finishing a book altogether if it’s an otherwise good story. I think I even gave the aforementioned book four stars on Goodreads and I definitely did finish it. It was the thing that kept me from giving it a five-star rating though.

In a similar way, I am usually slightly annoyed when authors invent things into their otherwise-realistic stories. For example, I didn’t like the fact that John Green invented a cancer drug for the purpose of the story in The Fault in Our Stars. I did feel better because he admitted it at least.

The one thing that does stop me from finishing a story, is an unrealistic portrayal of certain settings in a story that’s supposed to be realistic. For example, I stopped reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork as soon as I read that the character got daily therapy sessions. That’s not happening in any psych hospital. That is, it might’ve happened in the times of psychoanalysis in the 1950s, but currently there’s no money for that.

I think I really need to get more flexible in my approach to fiction. It is, after all, fiction.

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

IWSG

Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

How I Spent My November

It’s already almost 9PM and I haven’t written anything today, but really want to. One of the end-of-November prompts I received in my mailbox from the International Association of Journal Writers (IAJW) Museletter was to make a list of all the things you spent time on in November and to reflect on what you’d like to change. Here goes.

1. Worrying. And acting out. Particularly early in the month, I was very much overwhelmed. I landed in crisis within the first week of November. I could’ve attributed this to it being the anniversary of my major crisis in 2007, but I know it wasn’t. Finally though, this crisis helped me realize I need more support and actually request it.

2. Walking. I broke my step record three weeks in a row this month. Today I feel almost disappointed for only having gone for short walks in the evening, because it was raining.

3. Faith. I had a true leap of faith this month, which I’m so grateful for. I’m pretty sure that, without God, I wouldn’t be where I’m now. I mean, I truly feel blessed to have come to realize I am beloved. It’s still pretty hard for some of my parts to believe, but we’re getting there.

4. Relaxing. I truly feel blessed to be able to have quiet dinners in my room for now and also to be able to relax more in my bed. Early in the month, I was so worked up that I couldn’t relax. My nights were regularly disturbed by nightmares and, though they still are, my days are calmer.

5. Writing. I’d really like to do more of that in December, but I still managed okay.

6. Talking to my staff, husband and others. I really feel this helped me open up more about my innermost struggles. I sometimes throughout this month have felt a compulsion to perseverate on the same topic over and over again. This is an autistic thing of mine that plays up particularly when I’m experiencing strong emotions, be they positive or negative. I’m glad my staff and husband are okay with it though.

7. Eating. I totally planned to go on a diet in late October, but by early November, this had more or less gone out the window. I do try not to snack too much, but I’m really not in the mood for dieting right now. Hopefully I won’t fully slip back in December.

How did you spend your November?

#IWSG: Reasons for Writing

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I did pretty well in the writing department over the past month, although not as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I didn’t write a blog post for #Blogtober20, or at all for that matter, everyday. Particularly towards the end of the month, I was less and less motivated to write. Let’s hope for a good writing month for November then.

This month’s optional question is why you write what you write. Albert Camus is quoted as saying that the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Such a fitting quote on the day after the fiasco that is U.S. election day. I don’t usually share my political views on here, but let me be very clear that I don’t support Trump. Now I must say that Biden is pretty far from my ideal president too, but at least he isn’t as much of an idiot as Trump. But I digress.

Flannery O’Conner, an author I’ve never heard of, is quoted as saying: “I write to discover what I know.” This resonates more with me than Camus’s reason. I mean, like I said, I don’t share my political views on here much. In case Camus means that the written word is everlasting, I doubt mine is. Though I’ve been able to conserve most of my writings from the early days of my online journal and before, I’m not sure they’ll last forever or even close to it. The Internet evolves faster than we know, after all. WordPress may not be here for the rest of my life, or even the rest of this decade. With its stupid decision to enforce the block editor, who knows how long it will be able to survive?

I can, in a way, relate to O’Conner’s idea of writing for discovery. Or self-discovery, in my case.

However, I don’t just write for myself. In fact, I cannot keep myself from writing with an audience in mind, even when I write in my own private diary. It’s been this way even years before I knew about the Internet. In a sense, I write to discover what I know, but also to share what I know. Maybe that’s a bit snobbish, but oh well.

Things I Want to Buy Someday #Blogtober20

Hi all on this late Thursday evening! I’m very late to write my blog post for today, but better late than never. Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “All That She Wants”. For this topic, I’m going to list some products I’ve been oohing and aahing at but haven’t bought (yet).

1. An Apple Watch. Okay, I just ordered a Fitbit Inspire 2, so I cannot say I need the Apple Watch for the fitness tracking capabilities anymore. However, before I finally decided to order the Fitbit, I had been gazing at the Apple Watch. What kept me from buying it, is the fact that it’s incredibly expensive. I also was held back by the fact that the watch’s wristband contains a small amount of nickel. In fact, that’s what kept me from buying any fitness tracker until now. I know, the Fitbit wristbands contain nickel too, but I’ve decided to just take the risk and maybe nail polish the wristband clasp. The Fitbit costs €99,95, whereas the Apple Watch is over €400.

2. Airpods Pro. Yeah, I’m an Apple product fan. I already have bluetooth headphones with noise canceling, but mine don’t work with Siri and I can never be sure whether I have noise canceling on or off. Airpods, being in-ear, are also much easier to wear while lying down. I may purchase those next month or maybe I’ll wait till I’ve saved some money at the end of the year.

3. The advent calendar from The Body Shop. This is a less expensive product – the ultimate one costs €130 and the regular one is €50. However, I still think it’s a bit of an unnecessary purchase, so I’d rather just look without buying.

4. A writing course. I did at one point look at Writer’s Digest and Writers Write. Both have pretty cool courses, but they’re priced at like €300 each. Similarly, I’ve always looked with delight at the International Association of Journal Writers (IAJW) coaching programs, but even if you’re a member (which I was for a while), they’re still pretty expensive.

What things are on your wishlist for when you have more money to spend?

#Blogtober20

What I Wanted to Be When I’d Grow Up #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “Wannabe”. I originally had no idea what to write for it, until I saw Mandi’s own post mentioned writing about what she wanted to become when growing up. Mandi chose against this theme, but I’m going with it. I can’t remember whether I ever covered this topic on this blog – I’m pretty sure I did on one of my older blogs, but it might have been here too. Even if I did cover the topic here, I have a lot of new’ish readers, so it may still be interesting.

I remember in Kindergaten we had some type of celebration that included a “fortune-teller” with a crystal ball – of course, it was another grade’s teacher. I remember she asked us all what we wanted to be when we’d grow up. Most girls wanted to be a princess, of course. I can’t remember what I said I wanted to be.

When I learned to write, however, I knew pretty soon that I wanted to be a writer. My parents, realistic as they were, told me up front that writing wouldn’t earn me a living unless I was a real good one. So for money I usually wanted to be a teacher.

I originally wanted to teach small children, of course, because I myself was still young. When I got to the later elementary grades, I made up my mind and wanted to become a high school teacher. Or a professor even. I remember proudly telling people when I was twelve that later I wanted to be a Dutch-language linguist. Later, I wanted to become a mathematician.

This was, at least, what I told others when my parents or teachers were present. Secretly, I made plans to become a psychologist. I wanted to help children or adults with my kind of problems, which I was well aware of by that age.

When I was in my later years of high school, the thought of becoming a psychologist remained at the back of my mind. Openly though, I chose to go the “safe” path and applied to become an English major. Then I made up my mind at the last moment and chose to take a gap year to go to the rehabilitation center for the blind.

I got the opportunity to study psychology, albeit not at university, in 2006. I jumped at the opportunity and did eventually earn my foundation (first-year diploma) in applied psychology. I passed communication skills only if I promised that I wouldn’t continue in this field though. I know, psychology isn’t the best major for an autistic. But I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like, so I picked linguistics as my university major with the intent of doing my minor in speech and language pathology. As most of my readers know, it didn’t work out.

I still intend on someday taking some more psychology or pedagogy classes. I will most likely never work at any paid job though. Still, my original dream of becoming a writer, has at least partly come true.

#Blogtober20

#IWSG: I’m a Hobbyist Writer

IWSG

Welcome to another meeting day of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). I wish I could share that I’ve been doing well in the writing department. Well, in some ways I have, but I still haven’t written the story I intended to write for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m not even sure I will, as somehow it seems so insignificant right now that we’re not in lockdown anymore and I can see my husband again. When I had the COVID scare a little over two weeks ago, I did want to write, but couldn’t find the motivation really.

That being said, in other ways I did pretty well writing-wise. I decided to join #Blogtober20 at the last moment. Of course, I couldn’t join earlier, as I didn’t know about the challenge until last week. So far, I’m doing well, writing a post each day. I’m not always sticking to the prompts, but that isn’t required.

On to the monthly optional question. The question is whether you consider yourself a working writer and, if so, what it means. Or if you consider yourself a hobbyist or aspiring writer, what that means to you.

I obviously am a hobbyist writer. I cannot even say that I’m an aspiring writer, because I haven’t submitted a piece in years. In fact, the only piece I ever submitted was the one accepted into the anthology on typed communication by autistics in 2015.

I did at one point list my blog as my place of employment on Facebook. Now I don’t, because I don’t want my family to read it. Not that they most likely will, and of course they can still find me if they truly want to.

Being a hobbyist writer doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I mean, I participate in #Blogtober20 and the goal for that challenge is to write a blog post each day of the month. I also during the rest of the year have somewhat of a rule that I need to post at least twice each week. I don’t have set days to publish a post, but if I haven’t written anything for a few days, it tends to feel awkward.

Being a hobbyist writer also doesn’t mean I don’t care how my writing is doing. I got really excited when, last week, I got lots of comments on a few posts. I also feel disappointed when I get only one or two comments on a post. I love seeing my stats go well. I don’t use Google Analytics anymore, because I was struggling with it and didn’t want to pay the money for having it on my WordPress.com blog. However, my WordPress stats do mean something to me.