I just had to share how fun the Superman Festival in Metropolis, IL is. It’s a smalltown affair, but they have a large variety of yummilicious food carts, oodles of superhero collectibles, a myriad of costumed characters, and of course the Superman Museum where I took this picture of Delilah’s superhero friend. #DelilahTales
My mannequin needs to get a cape now 🙂
And what were my superhero duties you may ask?
This was my boyfriend’s surprise birthday getaway. We drove 5 hours there and 5 hours back all in one day. Because it’s in the middle of absolutely nowhere, he didn’t know where we were going until we took the exit. How perfect!
So if you’re looking for a unique and geeky event, check out the Superman Festival for smalltown charm and super activities 🙂
It takes very little to incapacitate me – about 3 minor inconveniences, sometimes 2. But I have my liquid calm, and it’s not alcohol and it’s not coffee:
If you see me holding a chai, you can bet I’m in a situation prone to panic attack. Crowds or stressful days or interacting with strangers. I call chai my liquid sanity. And of course there’s the occasional time I just have a chai tea latte because it’s a cup of dreamy sweet joy 🙂
So one day I was on my way to work and had an urge for chai. But I hadn’t expected a bad day; I’d be fine, skip the chai, and save money and health. Then I remembered the last time this happened:
The Last Time
I craved chai, but resisted the urge because there was no reason for it. I had a no-stress day ahead of me, likely. I’d save money and health. So I drove right past the Bux, got to work to find out I’d sent – the horror – an email to 60,000-ish people that said “Dear FirstNames”… Like it said “FirstNames” instead of “Joe and Sue” or “Dear Mikayla”. I WANTED MY CHAI!!!!! 🙁
Back to This Time
I remembered that instant and thought, “Maybe I’d be wise to have a chai, just in case.” But I reasoned, don’t be silly. This isn’t some magical potion that you have a deeper connection with that warns of doom to come. It’s just happenstance. So I resisted, again.
What was I thinking? Life was kicking my patootie.
A friend had given me a mug from Scotland that says “Scunnered” on it. It’s a Scottish word that means “seriously pit-oot, awfy fed up, and greatly unamused” all in one. I dropped it in the parking lot and it broke. And guess how I felt? Definitely scunnered.
I went home after work and thought “Ya know, I’d rather not have a panic attack soon. I should relax. I should take a bath with a nice bathbomb.” But ohhh no. I relaxed for about 5 minutes before my skin and my tub looked like it came from the Cat in the Hat book:
And it wouldn’t come off with just water, it took a lot of scrubbing and cleaner. I had to scrub my tub instead of relax! Can we all agree it’s one of the worst chores for even the best of days, and here I was doing it on a rough day.
And then, I was like “I’m gonna be healthy and eat those green beans I bought yesterday.” Because I’m trying to be healthy and not let life get me down just because of inconveniences. Sure, I wanted the junk food from this insanely unfortunate day (Yes, it counts as insanely unfortunate from 2 inconveniences, I know, first world problems….), but I’d resist the junk food and eat healthy! But noooo, the green beans were all brown and gross WHEN I HAD ONLY BOUGHT THEM YESTERDAY.
End of day: I threw a fit, ate french fries, and gave up on making the evening worth anything.
And I learned a lesson: maybe chai actually IS a magical potion that I have a deep connection with to know of doom to come, and MAYBE I just need to BUY THE CHAI. If I feel the urge, BUY THE CHAI. No dilly dally over money or health when SANITY is involved! Am I right? 🙂
Buy the Chai!
After sharing this tragic story with my coworker, she laughed, said it was hilarious, and then said I should post a blog about it to make the day worth it. So I hope you laugh enough to make up for my pain 🙂 please laugh!
Plan A was to write this blogpost about Plan B. Then my boyfriend said, “Not like going to the pharmacy for Plan B?” and then Plan B was to preface this blogpost with this paragraph. No, it has nothing to do with pharmacy plan B! Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up…..
Plan A was to call this post “The Beauty of Plan B” and it’d be like that inspirational basic chick type post. Plus there’s the alliteration of “The Beauty of Plan B.” It flows off the tongue so nicely.
But Plan B doesn’t flow so nicely. It’s more like “The Blehhhh of Plan B.” It’s inconvenient. It forces ya into going its direction when Plan A was all meadows of daisies, and Plan B is a little prickly and a little messy.
Two roads diverged and I….I was incessantly pushed away from the road less traveled and fell into this second path that just wasn’t it, grrrr, why can’t I just go this epic less-traveled dream life way?!?
Oops, end rant.
But seriously, I am the poster child of Plan B.
I was going to teach English until I realized I didn’t want to teach in a structured classroom setting, so I dropped the Education part of my degree and landed with an English Lit degree. What am I to do with that, right?! I didn’t know either, I just knew I liked what I was learning.
At the last minute, I decided that Amy’s Big Plan for Her Life was to become a copyeditor at a fiction publishing company to support writing on the side. In case you missed the memo, full-time writer isn’t an instantaneous career and the publishing industry isn’t exactly prevalent in central IL. I fell into – would ya know it – teaching.
And I fell in love with that job – Youth Education Specialist at the Red Cross – until that job ceased to exist and I had to reevaluate my life. And I fell into the role of Executive Assistant, where I loved the people and certain aspects of the job, but I still heard the writerly life calling. I was tinkering with my novel with what spare energy I had and searching job sites for a copyeditor position at a fiction publishing company.
I vowed for years that I wouldn’t get swept up into this local Christian job vortex called Samaritan Ministries. I had a number of friends working there that every time the above plan A’s didn’t pan out, they’d tell me I should apply for a job at Samaritan. But noooo, that’s not a fiction publishing company copyeditor job. I wasn’t gonna “settle” for “less” than my dream. But I was also feeling stuck. I just wanted to be writing and editing and be paid for it. And so I fell into Plan B – copywriting and copyediting for Samaritan, a Christian approach to health care. Not quite fiction publishing, but at least I got the first half of my dream job description right 😉
Plan B is a little frustrating. The pharmacy kind and the life trajectory kind. It’s not The Plan, but it just keeps coming up anyway. Sometimes destiny knows what it’s doing though. It might be a little like Kuzco’s trip instead of like Izma’s, but don’t we all wanna be the pseudo-good guy anyway?
I’m not saying let’s do Plan B forever. I’m just saying let’s try to enjoy the detour a bit. Maybe relax on the trek with Pacha while trying to avoid being murdered, maybe enjoy the weirdness of being a llama and try not to eat the disgusting bug but enjoy the fun disguises. That sorta thing 😉
I had to say no to alot of things and find the right things to say yes to. I’m still learning that, and you probably are too.
All that to say, it’s been a journey. One that obviously isn’t done, because I don’t have a novel out yet. But I *am* now published. You heard that right! I had my first paid gig, that is to say, my dayjob paid me to write an article. It’s a step in the journey I am thrilled to have taken.
I’ve been inducted into the Outcasts Bloghouse and dubbed the Guardian of Ever After. No cool kids allowed!
Also, I’m pretty sure this is our theme song:
Or is it this one:
We’ll have to create a soundtrack 🙂
Join the adventure and expect crazy mad times in the treehouse…we’ll be Pan & Tink & Swiss Family Robinson & nymphs & woodcreatures & pirates. And now excuse me while I CANNONBALLLLLLLLLLL out of this treehouse into Mermaid Lagoon 😉
(Speaking of pirates, stay tuned:
my next 4 blogposts are about how pirate-y us creatives are.)
I finished the first draft of my quirky meta murder mystery!
Honestly, it happened so fast. I thought I’d be agonizing over the last couple scenes for days. And I just whipped them out and suddenly that was the last sentence and I felt like there should be so much more time in it, but nope, that was definitely my last sentence of the story.
Murder doesn’t take as long as you’d expect.
So I was on a celebratory high. For about 2 hours.
Then came the pits. It wasn’t the murder part. I can kill off characters okay, with maybe a teardrop if I’m super attached. It was the writing part though. Suddenly I wasn’t sure I could ever make my writing what I wanted it to be.
I was worried I would be the writer that wrote but never got good enough to publish.
Or worse, I published and everyone would hate it and I’d regret having that in my publication history.
Or worse, I published and think it’s awesome and people are too nice to tell me that I just added to the public slushpile.
I’m discouraged. Kinda terrified really.
I’m thinking of edits and beta readers and ways to put my story out there in the world for all you lovelies, and it’s like THE REAL DEAL.
So if you could send some encouragement my way, I would be so appreciative.
Now back to editing so you all can enjoy the fruits of murder 😉
Julia. I have neglected Julia far too long and she’s appearing everywhere. Haunting me in the people I meet, the clothes I wear, the stories I hear. It’s funny how the pieces of a person just fall into your lap when you’re busy attending to other things.
It started with Julia. No, not my character, a real person. She was sitting just a couple rows in front of me and I wanted to take a picture, because it was her, it looked just like my Julia. But it’d be weird to sneak a picture of a stranger in such a small room where it’d be noticed, even weirder to explain my stalkerish tendency. So I resolved to simply catch her full name during introductions and look her up on Facebook or Instagram because all the modern teens have those. And then it happened: she introduced herself as Julia. This really was my girl! Scarless, no blemishes to be seen, but a Julia that looked exactly like my Julia nonetheless.
Then the moment of truth came: Julia had left the building and I went to look at the sign-in sheet (which was available for all attendees to email each other. I wasn’t a total stalker. Others were copying the list as well.) And darn it! this girl’s name may as well have been Julia Smith. I searched Facebook and Twitter fruitlessly, for there were thousands of results and no mutual friends to bump the right one to the top. I’d lost her!
As a side note, I totally hope I encounter her again this year at the same lecture, and then I will fiercely force my friendship on her by taking interest in her work or something. And hope I don’t get a restraining order as I all too quickly ask for a group selfie 😉 I’m not a creeper really!
Sigh. This is what happens when a writer encounters their character in the real world. As if I’m not mad enough without this pull towards insanity…
Next came the story. There’s a book already out that sounds scary like my character, only with real life happenings and not paranormal urban fantasy. Some sort of teen angst Julia drama book. And I suddenly worry that I’m losing my chance, that someone will take her story from me and publish it so much faster than I ever could. Sure, every story has been told and it’s just a retelling, but Julia’s story is all mine and I don’t want to share.
Then came the Julia. Not my Julia or the Julia lookalike, but another Julia, one looking to join our writer’s group. How would this Julia take it when I read a story about her namesake falling to little bits in front of her? I don’t quite know, but she shockingly seemed okay with it when I summed up the story in forewarning. But with the name Julia semi-regularly on my tongue and referring to someone other than my character, it hearkens me back, back to the Julia I’m supposed to be living life with, or writing life with I suppose. Julia doesn’t like to share my attention, and her name is her name and my lips can’t utter it without regarding her specifically. My stories don’t deal in the most self-denying characters.
Most recently, it’s shown up in clothes. What would clothes have to do with Julia? But then there was the LuLaRoe craze. The outfits with names of people – Carly, Joy, Irma, Randy, Cassie, Ana, Nicole, Mimi, and – you knew it was coming – Julia. And suddenly the Julia is covering my newsfeed, as if my real-world encounters weren’t enough. Social media brings up Julia like the plague, only a plague of fashionable comfy clothes (Woot woot!).
And once again, I feel the beckoning. I could wear her clothes in honor of her. But I have to sit with her too. I can’t just have her in my everyday life without taking the time to chat and tinker and understand what’s going on in her head and in her world. Her story needs to be out there for the world to see, like all the other Julias that are invading my life. I have to share this space with my Julia, the one and only most important Julia. Characters don’t want to share with the real world. Authors are demanded to live in the fictional universe until the character releases their grip, and balance is not something my characters will understand. Would yours? Does anybody understand balance when it comes to someone else’s life?
So on that note… World, meet Julia. My Julia. You have all your Julia’s out there, and they’re just wonderful and I like encountering them. But there’s my Julia too.
She’s a little broken, a little unsure. But she’s got a story she’s ready to tell. And I’m busy writing it.
Today I am stoked to welcome my creative friend Maggie to the blog. Enjoy her post and share your own storyteller journey with us in the comments 🙂
The story of how I became a storyteller goes all the way back to when I was in first grade. Life was easy back then. Days were filled with coloring book pages and thinking blocks, both which helped light way to my passion for creativity. It didn’t take much to amuse me in those younger years. I would sit in front of the doorway of our house, battling harsh sunlight and racking my brain for the perfect solution to an imperfect array of building blocks. It was there where I constructed the first of many masterpieces. And it was there where I used to proudly gather pastors and patrons under the safety of makeshift sanctuaries. When I was not playing church, I could be found scribbling away my free time. Occasionally, if the mood and temperature was just right, drawings of helpless horses and terrifying wolves would come to life.
These are my earliest memories of visual narration. While there inevitably must have been more instances in-between, it was not until my fourth grade year that I really reunited with my roots as a storyteller. In a new town with some new friends, I strung together countless episodes of a recess superhero saga. I was featured as “Ice Princess,” a kick-butt heroine who welded magnificent powers similar to that of Disney’s Snow Queen.
Later that year when my days were not as filled with Frozone imitations, I found myself able to pursue other activities such as jump rope and church picnics. This is how, in short, I met one of my long-term running best friends. We instantly bonded over Littlest Pet Shop, and together configured names for hamsters and lizards alike. It was not long before we decided to take this obsession with small animals to a whole new level. Together, we crafted a story inspired by an episode of Pet Stars, one of the most interesting and entertaining shows at the time. Perhaps even more unique though, was the story we produced as a result of the series. It centered around a dog who could do math and used his abilities to tutor those in need. One of his primary pupils was his owner, the ever-troubled and renowned actor, Josh Hutcherson.
Fast forward a year or so. I had dropped stories of ridiculously cute celebrities and division-doing dogs. I exchanged them for two starkly different twin sisters and a set of handsome, case-cracking brothers. Crime-fighting protagonists and justice-serving plots came easy to me. All-too-easy, if you ask me. Considering my obsession with Franklin W. Dixon at the time, it was really no wonder. His writing was fresh and cool, and I was young and naive and didn’t care much if my stories were just like his.
With my writing skills in check, I took the liberty to adopt yet another form of storytelling. In the simplest sense, this medium was play acting. My co-writer and I found ourselves continuously drawn to the idea of hashing out different scenarios in real-life. It was through these exercises that we were able to establish most of the credibility for our story as a whole. It felt risky and unnatural to embody the live’s of other characters. However, I found peace in knowing this was exactly the sort of thing the March sisters did in Little Women.
After a while the theatricals lost their touch as did the stories that formed them. Eventually, I let myself venture onto “greener pastures” (if you could call them that). It was here where I allowed myself to experiment with other fables; but they only managed to hold my attention for a small time. I struggled with developing full-on plots and fleshed-out storylines. For this reason I once again turned to a new medium. The philosophy I soon adopted read as follows, “If I couldn’t tell a story with words, I would do so using pictures.” As a result, photography became my new and improved mode of storytelling. Through the medium, I discovered editing as a niche of mine and used that skill to create fantastical images of my little sister performing mundane tasks.
I came out of the phase with a few mentionable awards and direction for my life study, but this was not enough to dampen my desire for the mastery of new things. In the spring of 2014, I put my thoughts online for the first time. Thanks to some pretty effective feedback, I have been an active part of the blogosphere ever since. Over the years, blogging has taught me an enormous amount, but I would argue that storytelling as a whole has taught me even more. If it wasn’t for long afternoons spent with friends on the playground, I would have never learned the value of imagination. If it wasn’t for mishaps in writing, I would have never discovered my love of photography. It was through these experiences that I realized the importance of not limiting yourself to one specialty. With constant experimentation and the desire to learn, one can readily produce items of worth. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t stop trying. Live vigorously. Accept failures. And maybe just, maybe you’ll create something amazing along the way.
Maggie Schoepke is a Graphic Design Major and bonafide Japan-lover. She spends her time outside, preferably under the shade of a weeping willow and the appeal of a melancholy tale. When not having a good cry, Maggie enjoys pursuing art, writing, and above all, her Divine Creator. When asked what annoys her the most, she will probably reply with the tacky saying, “There are never enough hours in the day, but always too many days before Saturday.”
Have you heard of “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler”? by Italo Calvino. Very interesting book, written in the second person. Saying “You do this, you do that.” Not “I” or “he”, it’s about “you.” And “you” pick up a book at the bookstore, start reading and get enthralled in the tale, then suddenly realize the second chapter is a different story than the 1st chapter, so you return it to the store for a correct copy that doesn’t have the publisher’s error. Only the bookstore accidentally gives you a different book entirely. And so on the story continues with all these story snippets and “you” just trying to get your hands on an actual copy of the original book you wanted in the first place. Innovative story, not your usual thing.
Okay, so I’m not gonna go so far as to compare my own meager writing to world-renowned Calvino. But my short story I’m working on is similar-esque. Very meta like Cal’s… but unlike Cal’s, my story has a narrator that’s a murderer telling the reader how the whole murder went down and “you” have to figure out what happened and who the murderer is. It’s like a quirky meta mystery thing.
Why am I writing this short story instead of my work-in-progress urban fantasy novel? Because I had a murderer stuck in my head, and goshdarnit, a chatty one at that. I couldn’t get quiet all night, furiously scribbling the notes and begging the murderer to shut up. Welcome to writer life! Talk about a sneak peak. So I promised this murderer a short story if I could just get back to my actual work-in-progress soon.
But I will say, it’s exciting to stretch my writing out of my comfort zone, figuring out clues and red herrings and second person and meta story. It’s so fun! 🙂 You’ll hear more about this project I’m sure in the coming months – hopefully to be available for you all to read!
When people talk about “leavin’ the 9-to-5 to pursue your dream”, it’s usually in context to a horrible mundane place, where Mondays are dreaded and dreams are scoffed. But I bet I’m not the only person to say, “that’s not MY 9-to-5. I don’t HATE my job!”
Executive Assistant isn’t my dream, but the company, the people made way for my creative spirit. I emailed the region daily motivational or hilarious memes to start the day off right. I dressed up an office mannequin and gave her adventures and stories (search #delilahtales on Facebook or Twitter). I wrote a Dr. Seuss poem about our work for staff retreat. I didn’t deal with painful coworkers – we were actually a team and even friends and enjoyed being together.
All of these reasons and more made it so difficult to choose to leave.
You don’t hate your job. What all are you gambling away on the elusive hope of finding your calling and destiny?
They say the “dream job” is a myth. You’re just lazy and bored and spoiled first world probz. [Google it: “myth of the dream job” – it’s real.]
But it all started with losing my Dream Job.
Full disclosure: about 6 months ago, I applied for the dream job of all dream jobs – proofreader at a book publishing company. I was ready, I thought. And then I flunked the test. I think it was test anxiety, all the pressure of what this test could mean got to me. But it shattered my confidence. Maybe I’m not all that special. My hope took a beating, and it’s still in recovery.
So what got me to hope again, to take a chance at a step towards my dream?
Friends. Friends who believed in me when I couldn’t.
My past roommate shared the job opportunity with me. My work bestie was genuinely excited for me – probably more than I was – leaving her workplace but to pursue my dreams. My writers group kept my hope alive and pushed me to continue.
I’m not to my dream job yet. But I’ve taken a step in that direction, to learning a career of writing and proofreading. It’s scary and uncertain, but it’s moving forward.