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feeling like a real writer at YALLSTAYHOME a.k.a. YALLWest

I have not felt more at home than I did this past weekend during YALLSTAYHOME. It is normally called YALLWest and would have taken place at Santa Monica, but due to the coronavirus, it became YALLSTAYHOME in the format of several consecutive Zoom meetings. Attendees could pick and register for the specific meeting they wanted to attend and registration could include entering to win some of the fun book giveaways if so desired. YALLWest is the sister festival to YALLFest and both festivals are celebrations of the reading and writing world, with a focus on YA authors. I registered for as many panels I was interested in, but due to my schedule, I was not able to attend all the ones I registered for. However, cross my fingers that because I registered, later I will get a link to each recorded session. Hoping for the best here, guys!

Anyway, the whole festival ran from Friday, April 24 – Sunday, April 26 and here are the panels I registered for: Fierce Friday: Create Your Own Fantasy Story, I Read YA@Home, Opening Ceremony + Keynote, Creativity in the Time of Corona, Modern Magic Worldbuilding, This American Experience, PM Keynote with Brandon Sanderson, YALLSTAYHOME Smackdown, Suckage is Part of Writing, Remember High School?, and Writing Empathy. There were so many others as well that I did not register for just because I did not have room in my schedule! There were so many authors there including Marie Lu, Julie Buxbaum, Leah Johnson, Marisa Kanter, Bill Konigsberg, Alex London, Samuel Miller, Zan Romanoff, Tara Sim, Angie Thomas, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, and F.C. Yee.

I have got to say, I want to read all of their books!! And…I felt like Belle when she opens her eyes for the first time inside Beast’s library. With each panel I learned all about each author’s background and writing journey and in the case of Brandon Sanderson, got to meet his pet macaw as well. With each panel I learned the struggle is real during this pandemic. Many authors feel that it is harder to write staying inside all the time. I learned stuff like you can build a world based off of your main character’s needs and it’s important to write your truth and teens go to novels as a form of escape, some making more friends with the characters in the books than in real life and there is a now a lot more representation from Asian authors to Muslim authors to queer authors to biracial authors. A lot of times someone becomes an author because they weren’t reading books with their race or culture represented, so they became the first to write that representation. That is awesome!

It was also awesome to finally experience the Smackdown. I had read about it beforehand and I really looked forward to it. The Smackdown did not disappoint: Dumbledope and Snape Dog were there for starters, and it kicked off with a Cards Against Humanity type of game and I only just learned how to play this game a couple months ago, pre-coronavirus and a Harry Potter version, no less. Let me tell you there is nothing more LOL than this game. There was another segment a lot like MTV Cribs and then a Pet Roast and finally a dance party at the end. Once coronavirus is over this festival is definitely on my top ten list of places want to go to for real.

Finally, noticing there are a lot more Asian authors out there now made me feel comforted and happy and giddy. I seriously could not stop smiling. Then I noticed how welcoming and inviting and safe these panels were. It didn’t matter what someone’s background was, everyone was open to listening to everyone’s stories and where they came from and how they got into writing. I realized writing = life. There’s going to be racism, suicide, queer life, privileged life, and everything else in between in stories and everyone accepts this as is. Many of the authors mentioned inspiration can come from anywhere and even talked about how writing can get so hard sometimes you end up playing a video game instead of writing sometimes. I could not agree more. I love how relatable each of the panels were and I truly felt right at home. I left the festival with a feeling I’ve known all along and just needed a little reminder: This, reading and writing and talking about reading and writing until the cows come home, is the community I belong in.

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NaNoWriMo 2019

I just wanted to say I haven’t been that active on here lately because I am currently participating in NaNoWriMo 2019. For those of you who know what that is and/or have participated, good for you and I hope you the best in your word count keep up. I know it’s taken a toll on my sleep. For those of you who do not know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a non-profit organization, short for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November. The challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is my third time participating and my goal this time is to simply crank out 50,000 words. I am not worried about how good my novel is. I want to get in a good writing habit, starting with this challenge so I will be happy if I just write 50,000 words. I can always edit the story later, but for now, just getting the words out.

Peace x

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Crazy Writer Time #5: Confession

I haven’t been writing a lot lately and it’s my own fault. Sometimes it’s because of my schedule, but mostly it is because of lack of record-worthy inspiration. I say this because I don’t find it hard to get inspired by something, but I do find it hard to write it down. I don’t even know if that’s normal for a writer or if it’s due to pure laziness, but I’ve resolved to get better at it this week. I can’t be like this anymore. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t even have writer’s block, it’s simply feeling tired at the end of the day and not feeling like writing, unless I’m blogging about One Tree Hill. (And ironically, I am thinking of Brooke Davis prepping for her presidential speech and she tells Lucas, “I am who I am. No excuses.” That resonates with me right now as I am owning up to my laziness to write.) I think I’ve avoided writing publicly almost because I’m afraid of failure. When I’m afraid of failure, I watch my comfort shows because it takes my mind off of the task at hand. And in true procrastinator style, it lets me put off my task at hand. But lately, it’s getting out of control for me. I find myself not able to write anything on a certain day unless I’m getting the chance to watch “One Tree Hill.” That show motivates me to write. That is the ugly truth about being a crazy writer. As much as I love writing and telling people that is my number one passion, it hurts when I think about the days that go by and I don’t write anything worth posting.

One thing that has helped me stay on track though or rather, help myself keep myself accountable is my quasi bullet journal I keep at the back of my Erin Condren. There’s a section in my planner at the back where there’s a lot of dots in a sort of graph paper layout, so I turned it into a bullet journal to quench my desire to start a bullet journal when I don’t need to add yet another notebook to my gargantuan pile of notebooks. (That’s another fun problem of being a crazy writer. Am I right?) I make two boxes for every day, one for reading and one for writing. If I read something that day, I color the box blue. If I wrote something that day, I color the box red. If I didn’t do something that day, I color the box yellow for incomplete. Whenever I flip to that page it is a visual reminder of where I’ve fallen short or where I’ve made progress or where I’ve kept up with my writing and reading habits.

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High-strung

That was one of the words my ex-boyfriend used to describe me. He was wrong about a lot of things, but he was right about that one and that one right thing was what I hated the most about him and me together. It’s funny it sometimes takes a romantic relationship to learn who I am, but that’s what happened seven years ago. To me, being nervous and easily upset is the worst thing in the world. I don’t know why I feel that way or where the feeling comes from. I just do. But more specifically I hate the word “high-strung.” I don’t even like saying it. It’s like if I’m thinking about saying it I’ll have to pull a Harry Potter and just call it a “you-know-what” instead. Like, my ex-boyfriend used to call me a you-know-what. That doesn’t sound right either so that’s probably why it never became a thing. Not that I hope it does because that would be weird. I just think “high-strung” makes me think of “crazy” and while I like being called a crazy writer, I don’t like being called “crazy.” Is that so crazy?

 

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Math

Writer’s block is a terrible condition. It makes you sniff your nails and try to clean them if they smell off. Distract yourself by watching random music videos. Scratch your hair. Adjust your glasses 531 times. Pick at your temporary tattoo. Pick up hair from the carpet one strand at a time. Fold 1,000 paper cranes. Wait…I don’t think I’m quite at a thousand…

Clean your pencil sharpener. Check Facebook and Twitter. Take out the trash. Fill in your planner for next week. Floss your teeth. Shower.

And then it chases you back to your seat where butt + chair = write.

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Unique Anticipation

There’s a feeling you get when you know something is about to happen. But then again, something may not happen. So you question it, back and forth like a pendulum. It’s a little like nervousness and it’s a little like throwing up. I know I’m not describing this feeling very well, but I don’t think there’s a word out there for it yet. I guess you just have to be in my body feeling what I’m feeling to really know what I’m talking about. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You’re not going to ever feel exactly what I’m feeling. But it’s okay because I’m not ever going to feel exactly what you’re feeling either. There’s not another person out there exactly like me and there’s not another person out there exactly like you. Isn’t the world a wonderful place? So knowing this it makes me sad to think someone would feel so unworthy to be in existence they end their life by their own hands. Or someone would cause physical harm to themselves. People have seriously made life a lot more complicated than it is, but then again, maybe the way I experience reality is different from the way you experience yours so who am I to judge you for how you live? But if I don’t voice it out loud, I’m still going to do it in my head whether I notice it or not. You know what I mean?

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The origin of the diary

After I come home from work, my mind is usually a blank slate. It’s the worst time of the day for me to write because all I want to do is dump all the thought garbage out. I remember a Joel Osteen sermon about negative thoughts vs. positive thoughts and how he compared negative thoughts to carrying around trash in your head all day. This analogy always stuck with me and I’m thinking of it now. As a result, I take a long time to come up with a topic, but once I come up with one, the word vomit just starts pouring out.

Sometimes I really do like how things flow in my brain. I can come up with some really weird ideas when I just let loose like I’m Eminem or something. Especially when I’m in the shower. (I don’t know man. What is it about water flowing down your skin that just relaxes you and almost makes you feel like every little thing you have been worrying about is going to go away because you are in the shower?) But other times things that flow in my brain drive me crazy. (Hello, Britney Spears!) When this happens I just need to let them out somewhere safe. The tricky part is figuring out where that safe place is. And this is where pen and paper come in handy.

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Crazy Writer Time #4: The Delete Button

Sometimes I’m writing and the only good words I’m getting I’m deleting. And that feels good.

OK, so to an outsider that may sound weird. I mean, who writes seriously, deletes words, and feels good about it? Let me tell you why. In my wee days as a writer, I was afraid of deleting anything. I would just write things down, compiled into a blog post style, and then either post it as is if I was writing by typing or leave it on the page and not type it up to be posted if I really didn’t like it. I guess, now looking back, maybe the second one is a form of deleting, but to me, unless it was something I was typing up and physically pushing the delete button, it wasn’t counting as an act of deletion. And I’m talking about pushing the delete button as something that feels good.

I think this fear of removing words just came from “oh, what if I want to see what something originally looked like, but then I deleted it and I’ll never get that first version back?”:O But then after some time, I realized deleting is a sign of a maturing writer because there is no way something sounds right the first time you write it every single time. Not deleting would be like not editing and editing is a crucial part of writing. So now that I actually like deleting, I guess that means I’m accepting my flaws as a writer and understanding that it’s not always going to sound right the first time I write it and that’s OK. Not that every time I didn’t delete anything I thought the post sounded right. I think sometimes I’d just be in a hurry to post something so I’d just post it without thinking too much about it.

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It all connects if you really think about it.

I actually like the pep talks in every Halls drop. They are supposed to make you get better faster, but wouldn’t it be cool if there was a hidden pep talk in every little thing we picked up? Like if we saw a penny on the ground, we could pick it up and there’d be a pep talk hidden on one side of the coin. That penny would be worth more than one cent in my opinion.

Winning the lottery would be like me getting to go to Victoria’s Secret and splurging and not feeling guilty about it. Wait, if I won the lottery, I could do that. (Oh YuMin. You are a genius.) Wait again. Isn’t part of splurging not feeling guilty about spending the money? (I’m redundant.)

I can’t believe there were examples of girls in “Mean Girls” where they wore lingerie as part of their Halloween costume. Well, it is a satire. At least, that’s what I like to call the movie. I laugh in my head every time I see the word “lingerie” because I used to pronounce it “lean-jerry.” (Am I using my quotation marks right?) Is it a French word? It looks like it is French.

The little bit of French I know I learned from Michelle Branch. Well, not directly from her, obviously, but from listening to her records.

Urban Outfitters carries vinyl records and every time I see them I think of how cumbersome it must be to have those around, but how nifty they look.