Seen

I’ve wanted to be seen

for such a long time

that I beg for attention

work myself to death

push myself to be

perfect for everyone’s every

millisecond of the day

 

I’ve wanted to be seen

all my life

that I never stopped to

see myself

know myself

to be myself

new photos 002

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The Writer & the Interview

So after weeks of sending out resumes and expecting it to take weeks, I finally got a response from two principals in my district.  Ten years at the same school. Ten years knowing the boundaries and pushing them. It is time to push new boundaries and serve new students. Two interviews, two chances. Two opportunities to venture down new pathways.

Or in my case, new characters.

Keep pushing for your dreams, Keep pushing for something that fits better and as always ….

Keep writing.

 

The Writer and the Day Job Myth

My last post about my current work situation, which is still pretty messed up, but it wasn’t really focused on the ups and downs of  being a writer and the need of a day job.  There is a myth that if you only had enough time you would be able to get your next book done and that book will bring an end the day job.

It is a myth. Not sure a dream.

The idea of being a writer who is able to rely on  their works as your only source of income is both a fantasy and a nightmare.   A fantasy because many of us firmly believe that if we just had more time to write then we would be able to accomplish our goals. John Green, the author of Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns, found that more time he had the less productive he was at first.  Eventually, he found a community of people who helped provide him with the interactions he needed.

To make money as a writer, you have to write.  Write, edit, publish repeat.  It is easy and nearly impossible all at the same time. Yet, people do it.   Just not as many as you may think do it without a day job.

Writers have to hustle to make a living. They don’t just spend their days on their next great novel. They are writing articles, critiquing movies and play and generally doing whatever they need to keep a roof over their heads.  Most don’t write full time at least not in the way we like to think they do.

They bust their fingers day and night to make things happened for themselves and their families. They write for magazines, blogs and any outlet that they can.  They do talks, pick up gigs here and there and I am sure more than a few can be found behind the wheel driving for Uber.  They update their Patreon page and communicate with readers.  (Engaged readers are more likely to become fans. Fans buy your books and tell their friends.) They create their stories late at night and in the moments in between whatever they have to do to put food on the table.

In the next couple of weeks or months depending on how it goes, I will be looking for a new day job.  I can’t live without it.  I need insurance and having rent money is a necessity as well.  I will dream of not going back to work after the summer. Dream of spending my days at my writing desk and  three hour workouts.  Although, truthfully when I have a lot of time to myself I don’t get much writing done. I am, however, willing to try and see what happens provided I win the lottery or my book gets a mega movie deal.

In the meantime, I am going to work harder at making the time I do have count and use my day job as inspiration for my writing.  There are numerous characters  rambling around my school everyday begging to find their way on to the pages of my next book.

A day job doesn’t need to be a hindrance.  Use it as a source for your next work. Write what you know.  Take inspiration from all around you.

And as always keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

The Writer and the Day Job.

Last week I had some out-patient surgery.  (No worries, I am fine and back at work.) The same day, it was announced that the BETA Center would be closing its doors in June. I have been a teacher there since 2009.

My day job for the last ten years as been as a teacher of exceptional students in Orlando. No, I don’t teach at the gifted program. My first assignment was at a mental health facility.  I was there for ten years.  And my students, all young woman, were there as a result of trauma.  I loved them and they loved me.  They learned and so did I, but it wasn’t until BETA that I really began to develop as a teacher and a writer.

Teaching me

Take in 2006 when I first started teaching.

BETA, my current assignment,is part of a private public partnership that provides for the needs of teen mothers.  There is a day care on site run by the agency (BETA). They also provide counselors for the students and help with everything from diapers and food to career counseling.   BETA also houses a residential program.

Combined with the school, we have one of the highest graduation rates in the county.

My students aren’t statistics. They are real human beings who are working for a better future for themselves and their children.  They don’t need to “close their legs” as one commentor to the Orlando Sentinel article on the closing responded.   They need compassion and the one and one attention that BETA gives them.  They need to be seen a real  whole people not “breeders”.

My first year there one of my students was a victim of abuse.   She was nineteen.  A mom working her way to graduation.   When she was eighteen, she came home to find her apartment vacant.  Her parents had left her and her baby. They moved without telling her.   She didn’t let that stop her.  She continued to come to school.

The next year she had moved in with her boyfriend trying to finish school when things turned violent.  He didn’t care if the bruises showed or not.  He didn’t care.  She was his and he could do anything he wanted with her and to her.   BETA helped her get out.  She is alive today because of BETA.   She wants more for her life because of BETA.

Her daughter is in the second grade because of BETA.

She wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last teen mom to face emotional and physical abused.  Every year students come into my classroom having faced horrors that no teen should ever have to face.   It isn’t just bullying that these young woman face.  Any parent can tell you how hard being a new parent is.  No image being a teen mom without the ability to provide the basics for your child.   Many of the students work and go to school at night.  One young woman, I taught for two years was worked until two in the morning at cleaning service.   She came to school and fought everyday  to stay awake.  She didn’t graduate with honors, but she did graduate.

BETA helped make that happen. My day job does this. Helps young woman find their voice and direction and beat the odds.  It is more than just a job. More than a career.  It is part of what makes me a good writer. My students aren’t one dimensional people.  They are amazing. They inspire me. And they all have stories.

My classroom for the last seven years.

My classroom for the last seven years.

Yes, there are other places that can serve the needs of the community but none of them are like BETA.  BETA is a place that saves lives and gives hope.  I have had students who have survived domestic violence and homelessness.  The BETA  serves as an emergency shelter and is currently the only local shelter that can provide shelter to  a minor with a child. My heart breaks for my students and their children. It is also breaking for the community as well.

There are efforts underway to try and keep the doors open.  If you can, I encourage you to donate by following the link.  Every bit helps.  It really does.

P.S.  BETA also helped make me the writer that I am today. It was working with my students that pushed me from just talking about writing to actually writing.  My students overcome so much just to get to school some days to reach their goals, how  could I complain that I didn’t have enough time to write? So I did and I keep doing it.

The Day with Verbs

Up with the throbbing  head again

No wine to blame

stumbled out the door

into the world

locking myself out

meandered my way back in

set to work

putting things here and there

walked the dog

recycling to the bin

errands ran

dishes to the sink

clothes to the hamper

litter to the bin

walked the dog again

finished the dishes

three pills

then off to bed

little moments building a day

a life

Back to the Work

When I posted the Work, I didn’t mean to come across as complaining and I wasn’t really in a bad place.  I was attempting to express what that one moment was screaming at me. I was just tired of feeling like I am trapped on the giant cosmic hamster wheel of tedium.

Things never seeming to get better. Just one day after another and no visible end in sight to the dilemmas and conundrums.

Things undone and needing to attention. Things that need to be seen.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I am being seen.  Like my problems and issues are too mundane. Too first world to count.

I know I am lucky. I know that I have been blessed with more than two decades of continuous employment. I have been everything from a model to a legal secretary.  Since 2006, I have been a teacher.

It was my dream job.  The dream that I let myself have.

The one that was acceptable.  Honorable.

But for the last thirty years of my life, there has been another dream.  The writing dream.

Many of us have it.  Many of us give it up to find things that pay the bills. Dreams are pretty good at not paying the bills.

Life shouldn’t just be about paying bills. It should be about living. It is easy to get caught up in the things that we do to make the money to live.  It is even understandable.  The electric company won’t take a free copy of my last book as payment for next months electricity.

Paying the bills is a necessity.  But, the life you choose to live doesn’t have to all the bells and whistles.  It just has to have the ones that matter to you.  Not to everyone will understand.

And they don’t need to do .

You just have to get to the work that makes you happy.  That work that feeds more than the bills.

 

A Break From

Sweet Spring Break.   You will mostly be a break from my day job although I have work to do there for which I will be sneaking into school and completing later this week.  Not that I really want to, but lesson plans have to be written and prep.  Such is the life of a teacher.

The life of a writer is also similarly never ending cycle of work.  This week, I make no promises on what I will be accomplishing on various writing projects.  I will be writing, but school breaks tend to be horrible times for me to write as everything I put off during the school year gets shoved into a break.  I do promise to do a lot of reading.

Recently, I finished the “Art of Asking” by Amanda Palmer.  I own both the book and the audio book.  I can’t recommend the audio book by enough.  It is like having Amanda Palmer speak directly to you.

Currently, I am listening to the audio book of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and narrated by Scott Brick.  And reading the Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession, and the Everlasting Dead by Heather Pringle which is an invigorating look into the lives of the preserved dead.

After that, I am not sure. I have a lovely stack of to be read books waiting for my attention.  Although, I expect to be distracted by the latest offering by Edward Medina. Bones, Crowns and Gaman is the second novella in the Adventures of the X Pirates series.  The first book is the Demise of Foxy Jack which is available on Amazon Kindle. There is also a prolog entitled a Murder of Crows.

Alethea Kontis will be releasing the next book in her Arilland series on the 28th.  Sadly, this is the day that I go back to work so I will have to wait to dig into it.

If you need something for your reading list, check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

The Work

The work is hard, but I do it. I try to complain less and listen more. I try to do my best.

I try and do my best.

But, lately the work of my life seems to be bring me down. One of my students confided in me today that she just wanted her struggles to be over. I didn’t want to tell her that they were only beginning.

She is about to graduate from high school.  Things are about to get real for her.

My students love me.  I know this to be true. They may not always like me. Once or twice a year, a student will come in to the classroom and announce that we are no longer friends.  That’s ok, I respond. I am good with being their teacher.

The one thing that bugs me. The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that they don’t see their teachers as a success.

All the complaints made by teachers (including myself) and the media about teacher pay have led them to believe that teaching isn’t a good career choice.  The thing is even with a budget I am struggling  to make ends meat.  There are no summers off for me.  I have to find work or go deeper into debt.  Most of the time both things happen.

In the meantime between lesson planning  and general life maintenance, I write. Lately the maintenance has been taking more and more of my time.  The cold, I wrote about over a month ago never really went away.  It is now a sinus infection.

My body pleads for sleep and my mind denies it.

The work has gotten muddled for me in politics. The politics of having male bosses with a mostly female workforce.  Being denied a promotion because the principal likes people he can talk to.  Not even granting me an interview for the position I worked so hard for.

Everything has gotten lost in my  inability to find a way to make all the things work.  Maybe I need to get a roommate again and give up the office that I took so long to create for myself. The office whose door is still undone.

IMG_0389

Maybe it is time to give up writing and worrying about making it a career. I have my book.  It has been moderately successful.

Maybe it is time to retired to an ordinary life.  Not the one I attempt to live.

Maybe, but let’s be honest. I have never taken the easy road. I have been back down from a challenge without a plan to regroup.

This is where I am now.

Here in the muck.

And that is ok.

Writing is hard.  Really hard. But it is always something that fills me with joy when I am not indulging  the fraud police (thank you, Amanda Palmer for that and so much more).  As does teaching.

Ignorance has I tell my students is not cute. You will learn things in this class whether you like to or not.  It is a lot like life.  You are going to learn something whether you intended to do so or not.

Good night all. Good luck in your work what ever it is.

Love,

Lu

P.S. . Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.

Writer and the Cold

Writing was slow this weekend. Not because Captain A returned, but thanks to a lovely winter cold.

I spent most of Saturday in a hazy followed by a nap. Then another nap.  I did make it in to the land of the cognizant for a couple of hours to watch Deadpool with a friend.  (Great movie, but please don’t take your kids. Seriously, don’t do it!)  I thought about writing, even opened the notebook to begin writing.  It was a fail.  I ended up crawling into bed and staying there.

Sick Lu

Sunday wasn’t much better.  Although I did watch two more movies while I was at my sister’s house enjoying some homemade treats and doing pretty much nothing.  (Thanks, Zee-Mama)  I came home and went straight to bed.

This writer has been laying in bed all morning trying to summon the energy to get into gear.   And you know what it isn’t happening.

The dishes aren’t going to get done.  The laundry will stay slightly stinky and I will spend most of the day drifting in and out of napping.

And that’s alright. It is ok, to take care of myself and not to push myself.  It is ok to let my house get a little messy.

It isn’t a permanent state.

12744122_10153985437359917_2939983936358604927_n

What I can do right now is get some rest and take care of myself.  Burning the candle at both ends won’t help the next book get written or grade the student papers. All it will help do is give my cold a lease to stay longer.

Taking care of yourself isn’t a waste of time. It is necessary.

So, it is back to bed for me.

Love and Sneezes,

Lu

P.S. Check out my book, Blood Child, on Amazon.  It is only .99 cents for the month of February.

Happy Birthday, Blood Child

Signing a book for the lovely Squeaker.

Signing a book for the lovely Squeaker.

One year ago, Blood Child was officially released.   It has been a great year.  Thus far, little Blood Child has earned 8-5-Star reviews and spend sometimes on an Amazon top-ten list.

Thank you once again.   Enjoy chapter 1 of Blood Child.  The complete novella is available on Amazon for only .99 cents.

Chapter 1

“I am not drunk enough to talk about it now.”

The interview I had lobbied over six months for just turned on her heels and walked back into the shadows of the house, leaving the door wide open and giving me an excellent view of her curves. My appreciation for them was short-lived, since cool air slapped me as I hesitated on the threshold, trying to take in the house’s details. The ten-foot walk from the car had broken me out in a sweat, making it difficult to concentrate. It wasn’t even May, and already Florida was managing to melt British tourists and small yippy dogs into smelly, sticky puddles. Since I was British born myself, it was only being raised in the United States that kept me from disintegrating.

As I watched the current Countess Bathory return, it occurred to me that she was nothing like her infamous blood-bathing ancestor. She had no aura of power or authority. She was, in fact, a wino, judging from the bin overflowing with bottles on the front porch. Albeit, an incredibly attractive one.

Technically, she wasn’t a countess, having renounced the title but keeping the money she had inherited along with it. Only people in fairy tales give up both, and usually for love. As far as I knew, Ms. Bath was single.

Nothing about Emily Bath made sense. She was richer than Donald Trump and had more degrees than Neil Degrasse Tyson, yet she lived in a tiny orchid-colored house in a mismatched Orlando neighborhood. She taught high school—not even a regular high school, but an alternative one for students who had been kicked out. She could have done anything and willingly chose to work in high school hell.

The interior was incredibly modest, if not a little old-fashioned for a thirty-something heiress or anyone in her thirties. The floors creaked with each step. There was no TV in sight, just bookshelves and seating. All the furnishings looked like they were hand-me-downs from someone’s long-deceased grandparents. The sofa engulfed me in patterned floral pillows. The countess smirked as I struggled to right myself. At least she had a sense of humor.

Still nothing about the home spoke of the mounds of wealth she had; it was all understated and sadly normal. I expected more—craved it, to be honest.

Emily Erzabet Bath was the survivor of a modern-day murder mystery. Nine years ago she and her three older brothers spent the weekend at their late father’s estate for his funeral in upstate New York. Her brothers died, along with twenty other souls.

The manor had been drenched in blood, literally. It dripped off tables, pooled in puddles on the floor, and had unartfully spattered the walls. The first officers on scene inched their way around the edges of each room as they searched for survivors. They weren’t trying to preserve evidence. No one wanted to step in that much blood. It was inconceivable that anyone could have survived the carnage. Pieces of victims were carried out bit by bit for nearly a week. The local police chief was one of the dead, along with his wife, so state police were immediately called in. They in turn called the FBI. It was a forensic nightmare. It took years for them to sort everything out, and then the picture that the evidence painted didn’t make any sense.

People were found at nearly all the exits, but no one made it outside before being killed. No one tried to call for help. All the phones at the estate were working, yet no one used them.

The officers who found Emily broke into her room after following a blood trail, only to find her cloistered in the back of the closet beneath a bunch of old musky coats stained with her blood. The combination of the smells—musky fur, stale blood, and human excrement—remained with the two men. Their stomachs emptied upon seeing Emily broken and begging for help with her eyes. Ten years later, even mentioning her or her condition made the two turn green. They thought she was dead until her bloodshot emerald eyes opened. She was severely dehydrated, with deep bloody scratches that had turned her flesh into ribbons; her wounds would seep blood for days after her rescue, confounding the medical staff. It was months before she was released from the hospital.

Emily allegedly had fled to her room and remained there the entire weekend. She couldn’t explain how she had gotten there or what had happened. Her story just didn’t hold up. Many believed she was at least partially responsible for the deaths of the twenty-three people in attendance. Maybe she really didn’t remember? It was possible, but why did she hide instead of calling for help or attempting to leave the estate? There were more questions than logical answers in the bloody tale of Emily Bath. The tabloid media had attempted to keep the story alive, supposedly to get answers, even after the relatives of the deceased pleaded with them to stop. A couple of lawsuits, combined with the complete unwillingness of law enforcement officials to contribute to the macabre circus surrounding the case, finally brought things to an end after about three years.

Now, as the ten-year anniversary approached, interest in the case was reemerging, making this interview priceless. And I was the man who landed it—the first and only person to speak to the reclusive Ms. Bath on the record. Persistence, charm, and just a bit of cyber stalking had won the day; being unemployed finally had a benefit.

No evidence was found linking Emily to the deaths, according to the investigator’s report in my satchel. No evidence was found linking anyone to the crime. The report had cost a pretty borrowed penny. Now I was wondering if the expense had been worth it. She was just so ordinary. So painfully ordinary.

Emily returned from the kitchen carrying two glasses of deep-red wine. When I started to protest, she informed me that I would need it.

“Mr. Clark, please…humor me.”

“All right, Ms. Bath. Do you mind if I record this conversation?”

“Not at all. I would appreciate a copy. Also, my attorney, Mr. McNeal, would like you to

sign this disclosure agreement prior to us continuing.”

“I don’t think my editor would approve any agreement that limits or restricts the content of the article.”

“Let’s be frank, Mr. Clark. You don’t have an editor. And you haven’t had one for the last six months. Your freelance opportunities have dried up, along with your hope and savings.”

I wanted to protest, but she was telling the truth. I had been let go from the Times six months ago. Budget cuts or some other bureaucratic nonsense was the official reason; sleeping with my editor’s grandson was the true cause of my separation from the nation’s foremost paper.

In my defense, Philip was twenty-one, and I had no idea that he and my editor, Ashley, were related. She wasn’t amused to find us cuddling in the afterglow on her $1,500 sofa. It probably didn’t help that I was also sleeping with her and was too intoxicated to notice where I had passed out. In the paper’s defense, I was only great at my job when I was sober, and I was rarely sober. Drunk, I was just OK. Sad, but true; I could do my job intoxicated and get away with it for the most part.

Looking over the agreement, I was surprised to see that it didn’t restrict what I wrote—only that I share any new information I found with Ms. Bath and her attorneys, as well as proofs prior to publication. If I had an editor or had been attached to a company, I would have had them research it before signing, but I didn’t, and Emily had called my bluff.

“Why do you think I have access to information that you don’t have?” I asked.

She sighed, reaching for my satchel. Before I could protest, she pulled out the investigator’s report and tossed it on the ottoman.

 “You purchased that from Detective Anderson two months ago. My sources weren’t able to get a full report. They didn’t think to approach him directly, a misstep on their part.”

Her smile was the first hint that she wasn’t entirely innocent; I didn’t think she had killed anyone, but that still didn’t make her guilt-free. She just didn’t seem capable of mass murder. Still, everyone is guilty of something. It just might not be illegal. “Of course, your copy doesn’t include all the crime scene photos. I am willing to share if you sign.”

“Touché, Ms. Bath.”

“Sign and you can call me Em.”

I shook my head as I signed it, just to be dramatic. The wine was beginning to look more and more appealing.

“Anything else, Em?”

“No, the floor is yours. Let the inquisition begin.”

I had to glance down at my notebook to be sure where to start. Em had thrown me off more than the past six months without meaningful work. Or maybe it was everything that was riding on this interview going well. I was pretty sure Ashley had started to use her connections to blackball me when I didn’t appear to be suffering enough to satisfy her. Even Cat Fancy’s editor refused my calls. Pulling off this story would make me instantly marketable again.

Looking at Em, I realized she could have been her ancestor’s twin, except she was most definitely curvier. She had the same delicate almond-shaped eyes, china-doll skin, and brunette hair so dark; at first glance it appeared black. She leaned back into the plush sofa as if she were having a conversation with an old friend. Smiling, I began…

Five hours, two bottles of wine, and ten pages of notes later, I departed the tiny orchid house, making it back to the hotel as quickly and safely as possible. Luckily, I had experience driving during these conditions. Becoming inebriated in the course of an interview is never recommended or suggested, but Em had been right; the wine was necessary even for this seasoned drunk. I knew I could count on the recording to help me where my notes trailed off. Experience had taught me well to always have a backup plan.

If you’d like more information on Lucinda’s work subscribe to this blog, follow her on Twitter or like her page on Facebook.  Her new novella, Blood Child is available on Amazon.