Wednesday, October 4, 2017

All Apologies

I'm sorry to anyone here to read about the music in my life. I was excited about this topic. Like I said last week, I've wanted to write about it for a long time. I've half-written several of the posts and others are a full rough draft, they only need a spit and shine. However, the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas on Monday has my heart and soul in a place that just can't even.

It sounds flippant but I don't mean it that way. It's 100 percent accurate. I'm out of words.

Except why. Why can't we find a solution to this type of mass violence? What's the root of the problem? If we want to say it's not guns or easy access to guns, then what is it? I'm open to ideas because I have none.

Our hearts and prayers. Are we not praying hard enough? Right enough? To correct god enough? What god would allow this to happen? For what purpose or reason? I'm open to answers because I have none.

I know we cannot stop all violence in the world. In our country. In our state. In our city. In any population, there will be outliers, no matter how 'right' we do everything or try to do everything. But there has to be some tipping point when we've gone from not this, to this. And there has to be a way back or forward that can reduce the amount of mass murder or attempts at mass murder that America encounters on what feels like a daily basis. I'm open to solutions because I have none.

Or maybe there's not. Maybe this is just America now and the future is only more and worsening of this and this helpless, frustrated, enraged, hurt, horrified, sad, sad, sad, sad feeling. I'm open to hope because I have very little left.

Friday, September 29, 2017

First Draft Friday: Consumption Divine, Chapter 5 + 6

First Draft Friday is a more or less regular series where I share my parts of my first draft, usually whatever I am working on at the time. General writing advice tells us to keep our first drafts for ourselves, they are always horrible. I want to share my first draft and so I do. Maybe it can inspire other writers who think their drafts are too horrible to ever see the light of day but mostly I think it keeps me writing.

 Consumption Divine is the story I've been writing since the very beginning. Before that I was thinking about it. More than 25 years. I've written so many first draft versions, it's ridiculous. Currently, there are over 100,000 words written in this project. None of it is cohesive, complete, or very much usable. A lot of it is repetitive. I've given up on it many times but I literally feel haunted by it. I can't stop trying to write it but I also can't seem to write it right. I'm trying again. I'm trying for the last time. If I can't write it now, I have to give up. I can't keep writing something if it is impossible. So, this is the last first draft of Consumption Divine.

Read past posts: Chapter One. Chapter Two. Chapter Three. Chapter Four.

Consumption Divine
first draft, incomplete, 2,924 words
By Stephanie Thompson

Chapter Five

She slept. Thanks to the alcohol she couldn’t wake up from her dreams. She followed them through to the end and woke in the morning feeling sick.

Not hungover sick. Anxiety sick. A sort of dizzy wave mixed with a surreal disconnection. When she stood up and looked at her feet, they didn’t look like they belonged to her and the ground wouldn’t stay still. When she made it to the bathroom and looked in the mirror the face of some other woman looked back at her.

The woman looked remarkably like she once did. Bedraggled nape length hair and questionable bangs, sleepy gold and green eyes, full lips, and smooth toasted skin. The woman looked good which was why she didn’t think they were one in the same. The woman looked no older than 30 tops, far off from the 100 years and more Chrys was (she stopped counting in those catacombs) and much less than the tired millennia she felt. She couldn’t believe she still looked the same.

She drank cold water from the bathroom faucet and submerged her face in the stream. She ran her wet fingers through her hair and sobbed. She wasn’t expecting that. The strangled short cry, the trickle of tears took her by surprise. She turned off the faucet and leaned on walls to make it back to bed, deliberately avoiding the mirror.

She laid in bed and stared at a wall. The walls of her bedroom, in her whole home were blank. There were no loved ones in her life, no memories she wanted to keep, no places she wanted to revisit in pictures. The white blank walls brightly reflected sunlight, the opposite of the walls where the Council would put her again for failing. She stared at the walls like some answer, some solution would materialize there. But nothing came because her mind was numb and walls are dumb.

 She tried to visualize data on them like they were the digital ones at HQ yet instead of intelligence and maps she saw the images from her dreams. Heard the growl of the wolves ripping away her limbs, gnawing at her, each bite like a lash in her flesh. She saw the lake of clotted blood and the dismembered body parts pulling her beneath it’s fetid surface. Tasted the putrid mix choke her. And she saw Jack.

Her sword slid from his chest. He steadied himself on a stone column. Blood poured out of him. Too much blood. She felt that hand around her throat, the powerful hand that chokes her before she can say I’m sorry. Before she can I say I love you. The strong hand of her true target. She heard that familiar voice twisted with hate.

“Now he knows who are you are.” Will says. “Now he knows what it is to be loved by you.”

Then the sword piercing her heart.

Another sob threatened to break free. And she’d had enough. Enough of being haunted. Enough of crying. Enough of chasing. Enough of running. She got up from the bed. She went to the garage, grabbed a stack of empty file boxes, and went into her living room office. She started with the oldest portfolios and began packing.

It took the rest of weekend to bundle her past, William’s past. She didn't sleep. She moved boxes from the garage to the living room and back to the garage. Then she cleaned. Not that anything needed cleaning but she scrubbed anyway.

She poured the full reserve of the council's synth-blood «get a better name» down the drain, then washed the sink again.

Then she laid out her weapons. She didn't have many. She shouldn't have any. The council would only let her have a dull pair of scissors. She managed to get and hide two hunting knives in the beginning though, when she refused to be defenseless.

She also had lighter fluid from who knows when and where and a hammer. She didn’t know what kind of good lighter fluid would do without a lighter or match but it made her feel better having it on the table. A hammer is always a good idea, so it was on the table too. No matter the plan. Which she didn’t exactly have.

Then again her plans had led her to where she was today, looking at a dining table topped with instruments of destruction, so maybe no plan was the best plan. She put the armory in a bank box with some other items the didn’t fit in the with papers and books in the other boxes. She could at least get them in the building that way.

Chapter Six 

Monday afternoon her heart pounded. She’d smuggled her tools into the office in the box she’d called evidence. One of the hunting knives was tucked in the back of her waistband, beneath her shirt. The other she slid in the upright of her right boot. Both were unsheathed and their sharp edges threatened to slice her skin before she was ready. She risked the injury.

And she waited. She waited for the meeting to start. She waited for her doom. Because she wasn’t going to do anything drastic until she knew for sure. She had to be certain that there was no other choice. She already had too many regrets to count, she didn’t want to add another one unnecessarily.

The time of the meeting never seemed to come but like all things inevitable it did.

The set up was the same, Simmons and West sat at the main table, Chrystal off to the side. Gareth was on the wall screen and shared it this time with Petran. The fact that this was the first time the High Councilman had joined any meeting in visual form cemented her fate in her mind.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen. Ms. Voss. We have to say, given the reports. We cannot see there is much more to be gained here,” Gareth was straight to the point.

“I agree sir. Despite the aggressive tactics of the last month, there’s been no sign of the target or new intel. I doubt the validity of the task force approach at this point,” Simmons said. “I suggest a more targeted and discreet tactic. A one on one deep cover assignment for new operatives.”

“I’m sorry I have to completely disagree.” West chimed in. “We’ve conclusively proven Lapointe is not in Europe. If we continue the intense grid search on other continents, we are sure to smoke him out.”

“Mr. West, the EU cannot maintain the level of security required to make your suggested grid search possible. The French especially are unhappy, it will be a short amount of time before they start denying requests of cooperation. In which case the Coexistence Ms. Voss and Mr. Lapointe set out to destroy may very well disintegrate as they wished it.” Petran leaned forward, his face filling his half of the screen. “I have to say, it was very clever plan, Ms. Voss. Much more clever than I would have credited to you. Or was Lapointe the tactician and you merely the weapon?” The bastard actually smiled.

“Sir, specialist Voss has worked harder than any of us on this case, if you’re implying that she’s somehow been misleading the investigation, then you’re mistaken. We’ve followed every lead, every piece of information . . .”

“West. . .” Simmons interrupted.

And so did Petran. “I am not interested in your opinion, young man. I’m interested in the evidence. All this task force has achieved is to let William Lapointe run free while delivering a fairly insignificant rebellion group who had all turned against him regardless. And while it is noble that you defend her, you do not know what she and the man she claims to hunt are capable of doing.”

“Gentlemen, there is no need to continue arguing.” Gareth interjected. “Clearly Specialist Voss was a valuable asset at one point but she is not any longer. She will be returned to our custody and we will consider a new tactic for tracking the target.”

Returned to our custody. He said it so casually. Like it was a normal prison. Like there was nothing cruel and unusual about those earthen caves, built of bones, blacker than pitch, and manacles of spikes, chains so heavy she couldn’t move. And conditions far worse when they wanted something.

She leaned forward, almost ready to grab the knife from her boot. Every muscle tensed. Her heart stepped up a beat. She could free the blade and force it through her heart in under minute, before the men would notice she’d moved.

“Sirs, I must strongly object. . .”

“Obviously, she has clouded your judgement with her wiles.” ----not this but something like this----

“Give it up, West. It’s time to cut bait,” Simmons said.

Her fingers gripped the knife hilt and paused. She remembered something. The men kept arguing and she remembered seeing something in a dark bar over someone’s shoulder. A brightly feathered lure, trailing through the water. It looks like what they want, so they go after it. Can’t help it.

“There’s something we haven’t tried,” she said more to herself than anyone since she assumed everyone was ignoring her.

“What?” Simmons said, he was closest to her.

“We’ve spent all this time chasing after him when we should have been drawing him out. Baiting him, luring him from hiding,” she said. She released the knife. She moved to the end of the table, center view of the cameras.

“Use me to get him to poke his head out. Leak my wearabouts, let him find me. Then we can grab him.”

“No,” West said.

“That’s ludicrous,” said SImmons.

“This sounds like a desperate plan” said Gareth.

Silence came from Petran.

She spoke as the ideas came rushing to her. “It can’t be too obvious, he has to know I’ve been working to bring down the rebellion just based on the arrests we’ve made but he doesn’t have to know my full role. Fabricate a record, a timeline, my affiliation. Leak them to the dark web as recently uncovered documents, so he won’t be as suspect about the information suddenly coming out. I’ll have to move…”

“Move?” Simmons was indignant.

“Will believes that vampires are a superior race and that he and I are were meant to rule like gods, putting humans in their rightful place as cattle. If he finds out that I’m living in a cheap apartment in a shabby complex as a low level civilian asset to a human military, he will have to gloat. Lord over me. He won’t be able to stop himself.”

“You can’t make yourself bait, it’s too dangerous,” West said.

“No more dangerous than going undercover. Much less dangerous than having some unknown attempt an approach. More potential to work than scrapping the task force.” Nobody else had anything to say, so she continued. “I can be implanted with a tracker, for long distance, discreet surveillance. I can make myself more visible, some how. Like I think I’m safe, like I think he’s not a threat. That will really get him angry. He is very reckless when he’s angry.”

“Your dedication is admirable but Specialist...this is not a sound course of action.”

“I agree with Ms Voss.” High Councilman Petran’s statement brought the room to silence. “I would like to see the action plan by the end of the week, Ms. Voss.”

She nodded as she couldn’t bring herself to say yessir to a man she hated just as much as he hated her even when they were in agreement.

He ended his part of the call.

“Ah, well, then gentlemen, I guess we are adjourned for today. Ms. Voss.” Then Gareth disconnected as well.

“What the hell are trying to pull Voss? Made us look like a bunch of idiots.”

She had five different response to that question. She chose the shortest. “Just trying to do the job sir.”

She hoped his teeth would be sore later from the force with which he was grinding them now. “This is you final shot, do not fuck it up. This has been an embarrassment to our special forces for long enough.”

When he left, Chrystal let out a long sigh. Her breath shook. The blades hidden on her body seemed hot and dangerous now. She leaned on the table and took another deep breath.

“What are you doing, Chrys?”

She’d forgotten West was there.

“Why are you taking this risk?”

She said nothing.

“There has to be another way.”

“There’s not.”

She left the conference room going in the direction of her office where the sheaths waited.

“You do not have to do this.” West followed her out again, struggling to keep up, like a puppy who’s legs are too short. “Or are you bluffing? Just trying to buy some time?”

She didn’t answer him until they got to her office. A small room, about the size of a storage closet. There was a desk and three chairs and a bookcase. She rarely used the room and it was mostly a holdover from when she was first assigned to the task force. When West shut the door behind them, a torrent of words tumbled from her.

“What do you think was happening in that meeting? Did you think your three superiors were going to listen, act on your say so? Did you think when Councilman Crannach said I would return to custody that I’d go some place like a human prison?” She stopped for a deep breath, to steady herself, to stop from yelling. She moved to the edge of the desk, gripping the edge, like holding it would ground her again.

“Please, tell me because I want to understand,” he said.

If she talked, she would say the truth. An ugly truth. But in less then ten minutes she’d gone from the edge of suicide to a glimmer of some kind of hope. It was dizzying and put her in a confessional mood. She couldn’t not talk about it.

“I don’t think like Will. I don’t think vampires are better. I think we’re worse. We look like humans, we act like humans but there is a streak of brutality in us. Petran and Crannach like to pretend that Will and I are the only monsters but The Council has had thousands of years to perfect punishment and they do not hesitate to use their impressive skills against transgressors.”

She pulled up her sleeves, revealing the white hatch marks of scars encircling her wrists. “I was not going back.”

 “I thought,” he stuttered. “I mean I thought you guys healed. . .”

“They’ve learned how to leave marks. Reminders. Warnings. All over.” She tugged her selves back down.

“Why didn’t you tell me? We’re partners, you can trust me.”

“You have to stop telling yourself that. It’s not about trust. You can’t be loyal to me and the military command.” Here was the ugly part. “They would’ve had you make the arrest, put me in cuffs. You have to know that. You would have to take me to the brig until a council representative could arrive. Would you have thrown away your career, your freedom to disobey those orders to have my back? To stop something you didn’t even know would happen?”

He looked down.

“And I’ve told you I wasn’t going back, right?”

He still didn’t meet her eye. She reached her hands around to the knife at her back, under her shirt. She put the bare blade on the desk right where he was looking. Now he met her eye again.

“I brought it to the meeting for me, to die before. . . but you would have tried to stop me and I was. . . prepared to do whatever it would have taken . . .to never return to their custody.”

She sat in her chair, exhausted. She took the second knife from her boot, there was no point in hiding it anymore. He sat across from her and was silent for a long time.

“You know, it’s not the way I would have imagined it but when I say I’m your partner, that we’re squadmates, it means I’m willing to fight beside you, to die with you, to die for you. If that meant dying in that conference room then that would have been my hill, you know?”

This time she was silent for a long time. She was still trying to catch up with with had happened. The adrenaline coursing through her was still telling her to run. Her mind was telling her that this plan was insane and would fail too. Her emotions were uncomfortable.

“That’s very noble of you but. . .” She reconsidered. “Thank you.” Her cheeks burned hot, her eyes were wet, and now it was her turn to look away.

“Luckily, we didn’t have to do any of that but I’m not as sold on this bait idea as Petran.”

She was still trying to get her embarrassment and releif under control, too emotional to speak. “I bet Simmons is pissed he even mentioned bait.”

 Chrystal laughed. “Thank god he did though or. . .” She cleared her throat. “Now we actually stand a chance.”

“Do you really think Lapointe will fall for this?”

“It might take some time but yes. He will not remain hiding and miss his chance at revenge.”

“And you don’t mind putting yourself in danger?”

“It’s better than . . . the alternative. And to be quite honest, it will give me a chance for revenge too.”

Thanks for Reading! :D

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What I Listen to While I Write (#AuthorConfession Day 27, part 2)

When it comes to what I listen to while I write, I probably spend too much time thinking about and building project-specific playlists, usually on Spotify. But having the right music is important when it comes to my process.

I cannot write in silence and I can't just listen to any song either. How can I write the very serious love drama of an immortal vampire triad if a 'Weird' Al Yankovich track polka starts playing? What kind of fictional murder has "Fuck You Betta" by Neon Hicks as a soundtrack? No, it's better to have the playlist fit the writing than depending on the iTunes shuffle of my entire music library.

I have 16 novel playlists shared on Spotify. This doesn't count the multiple lists within folders for a few of them. Nor does it count the generic NaNoWriMo lists I have that are meant to be encouraging songs for the first and last days of the event. It also doesn't include the ones in my iTunes library on my computer. Or all the ones I've lost on previous computers. Or the ones I had in my head back in the day when I first started writing fiction. So you see, music and writing have gone hand in hand for me for a very long time. More on that next week when I'll be writing more extensively on music's role in my life. Right now, let's get back to my playlist obsession.

Like I said, I have 16 novel playlists but I don't think I could name 16 of my own novels. I have so many because I sometimes decide that the playlist I made at the beginning doesn't fit the novel anymore as I probably went in a different direction than I expected. A good example of this is my NaNoWriMo novel last year, Write What You Know.

The initial playlist I created for Write What You Know has more party songs and angry hard rock because I thought there would be more clubs, bars, sex, vampires, and fighting then what I ended up with.  The revised playlist, called We've Always Been Crazy, has more of a moody feel with angsty and sad songs instead of fast, driving punk or sensual R+B.

For similar reasons, I have various playlists for my current work in progress, Consumption Divine. Not only have I been working it for so long that a number of playlists are pretty much inevitable but also the different parts of the book contrast greatly with each other. The current part I'm working on is the final section, the end of the entire story centuries in the making. My main character is less angry than in her early years, she feels frustrated and trapped by everyday life but is resigned to it. Then she meets someone who knows will bring disaster and trouble to all of them but not only does she need him for her current mission, she's drawn to him as he is to her. Their love story is one of reluctance but also an overwhelming desire but the other main story earlier in the novel (or its prequel or whatever this ends up being) she is full of fury and rage. Then she meets someone who helps her harness that rage but also fuels it. Their love story is destructive and violent but just as overwhelming and all-consuming. There is no way that the playlists could be the same for both parts.

And while all of this may be interesting (hopefully), I haven't said why I even bother in the first place.

Yes, a huge part of it is that I can't write in silence and yet there's more to it at the same time. Not only do I have a strong attachment to the art form in general (again, more on that next week) but music and lyrics powerfully evoke emotions, mood, and story in a short time and with no effort on my part. In turn, I transform that work's effect on me into my own original creative output. It's like using their creative force to help fuel my creative force. Art feeding art.

For example, the song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler is almost single-handedly responsible for Consumption Divine. When I first heard that song oh so many moons ago, a number of nascent threads in my mind immediately wove together to form the story. But it had a lot of help from Jesus Christ Superstars (Judas), The Phantom of the Opera (Phantom), "Nights in White Satin" by The Moody Blues (Knights), and "Like A Prayer" by Madonna.  And much later, when I thought this story was dead and I wasn't going to work on it anymore or even be a writer, "My Immortal" by Evanescence brought it back to life. And when I wanted to make it something more than my teenage wish-fulfillment paranormal romance, Sweeney Todd and Moulin Rouge! (with its own mixed bag of musical influence), gave meat to the story's bones.

I try to express and give context to the emotions that I get when I hear these songs as well as the power of those emotions when I write my novel. And having the playlist going while I write keeps those emotions fresh in my heart and mind which can often ease my writing process.

Hopefully, that makes some sense. I've never tried to explain it before but music and its importance in every aspect of my life has been in the forefront of my mind for almost three months now. These two posts for #authorconfession is only the beginning.  As I mentioned, next week I will be covering the topic more extensively in a series of posts because it's a topic I've wanted to write about for years. For now, I think I need to tweak some of these playlists yet again.

My Writing Theme Song (#AuthorConfession Day 27, part 1)

This month on Instagram I've been participating in the #AuthorConfession prompts from J. Julien and J.M. Sullivan. It has been a lot of fun meeting and connecting with other writers of Instagram as well as thinking about my writing in all new ways. Normally I post my answer on Instagram but today's prompt is 'What is your writing theme song?' and the importance of music in my life has been on my mind lately. Next week, I will be posting a week of music-related posts but for today I'm sharing two related but separate posts. If you want to know about what I listen to while I write, read Part 2.

My Writing Theme Song

I've talked about my novel playlists before. I've shared the Spotify playlists that I use to motivate writing sprees on the first and last days of NaNoWriMo. But never before have I thought of just one song that I could call a theme song. And it seemed impossible.

From all the thousands of songs in my digital library, from the thousands more available on streaming services like Spotify and Play Music, how can I choose a single song that encompasses all the moods and themes of my various works of fiction? It is an insurmountable task. I do not listen to only one song as I write, not even one type of music. I couldn't. It would be impossible.

However, is there one song that I can say defines me as a writer? One that I could play for someone and would say this is me and this is how I write? Yes, it was possible.

In fact, it is so possible I do not even have to think about it. From the first time I heard this song, I felt it in my self, in my soul, this song is me and my relationship with writing.

here we go for the hundredth time

Do you know how many words I've written in my 20-plus years of fiction writing? My earlier parts of Consumption Divine in Scrivener right now it over 100,000 words, and doesn't include the drafts I wrote in high school or what I've done in the past month. This month for Consumption Divine I've written about 20k. According to the NaNoWriMo trackers, I've written over 200,000 in just for that event. I've written so much more fiction and plenty of non-fiction too between blog posts, college essays, and more.

digging deeper just to throw it away

Of all those words, a minuscule fraction actually sees the light of day. My one published story "Creeper" is only 5k words. Yet, I keep writing knowing very little of it will be seen by the public. I sit in my room every day, dig into my soul, bleed out the words, then save them in a digital file or close the notebook and essentially throw them away. Most of the time I don't even look at them again. This is also true almost every art or craft project I work on. My art journal pages or the things I make as gifts get given away or packed in a box and whether I like it or not I general don't look at it again. Yet I keep on creating.

I bleed it out

I feel like I've said this a thousand times but maybe that's only to myself. I have to write because there is something inside me that needs to get out. I don't know what that is but on every project, I keep getting closer and closer. I don't know what will happen when I finally cut it all out of me or if that will ever be possible.

"Bleed it Out" is the song that best characterizes how I feel about myself as not only a writer and writing itself but also an artist and finished art. It is the only song I can imagine being my writing theme song. Linkin Park is the only band who's music that could even come close to meeting this challenge. But more on that next week.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Social Anxiety on Social Media and/or Personal Brand vs Self Expression

Wow, that's a long title. This may be a long post. This may be one or two or three posts. Let's find out, shall we.

I quit my last real, normal, 9-to-5 steady paycheck job in 2009. I had no real rhyme or reason or plan. I didn't quit my day job to follow my daydream or live my passion of something equally inspirational and indie. Basically, I got drunk one night out with friends, heard a Black Eyed Peas song, remembered what it was like to be happy, and left my job the next day.

Yes, this song. Shut up.

Since then I've embarked on this journey of entrepreneurship in the internet economy. This journey has involved learning trying to learn html and css, attempting to master product photography, learning and practicing half a dozen crafting skills, a foray into videography, and most importantly, becoming a social media guru. Or at least taking a very determined stab at it.

I've read articles, bought books, studied guides to every platform trending at the moment. I've tried to figure out my personal brand and making it consistent on every account that allowed me to upload a profile picture type out 100 characters in an About Me box. I've posted content, tried to vary that content to the various platforms, and tried to interact on those platforms. I've followed, shared, asked questions and blah, blah, blah.

And time and time again I've felt like a failure. I didn't feel like I was making meaningful connections. I didn't feel like I was engaging my followers. I didn't feel like I was selling my self right or maybe my personal brand wasn't something anyone was interested in despite what my instinct told me.

So I'd retreat back into my self, think about what I wanted to do, what my brand was, tweak my profiles and try again. Rinse and Repeat. Rinse and Repeat.

More and more I've wanted to give up on social media entirely but at the same time I know that as a writer building a platform and audience is important if I want to court publishers and is crucial if I stay independent. Yet I couldn't pin down my personal brand, couldn't name the audience I wanted to reach, and I was constantly afraid of making an internet social misstep alienating any connections and friends I did manage to make.

Then it occurred to me that I am not a brand. I'm not selling my self or anything in particular. I'm not a personality or social media star and I don't want to be. I'm not a charming, sparkling personality. I am a person with an obsessive need or curse to constantly express my SELF. My enigmatic, evolving self.

I don't know entirely what that self. I think it becomes clearer through the expression. What I do know is that the sharing is terrifying. When I was trying to be a personal brand it was scary too because I was worried that I would tarnish my brand or be seen to be as fake as I felt. But this kind of sharing is even more dangerous because it is not hiding behind a facade or personality, it is me and I'm not convinced me is likable.

More than that the connections I want to make is not to an audience but people who will be friends. Who are interested in my expression of self no matter what that might be. People who aren't creeped out if I follow them on every platform or who won't think my comments are rude or mean because my digital tone is off (thus the exclamation points for excitement and emojis and the rainbows of hearts to ensure it's obvious that I'm being friendly, if you were wondering), and people who also expressing a self. This may be an old-school approach to social media but it's what I enjoyed back in the day of Xanga blogs, forums, AIM, and Yahoo! messenger and what I miss today in what seems like a much more complicated internet world.

But here's when my social anxiety comes in. Even in person, I have problems with my tone being appropriate. I have often come off as standoffish and bitchy or rude. I try very hard to avoid this impression. I worry constantly that I will lose friends or make a bad impression when I meet people. I agonize about some stupid thing I said, more so if I was drunk when I said it, even after years have passed. This same anxiety leaks online but like on crack because it moves so much faster. I can say 15 stupid things on 5 different platforms in under 30 minutes. I have a panic attack every time I hit send and my mind won't let go of some stupid autocorrect spelling mistake for the rest of my life.

With electronic communication, I agonize over wording and if emojis or an lol will help clear things up or make things worse because will it come off as some kind of empty annoyance instead of genuine emotion or attempt at communication. I never know when to end the loop of comment or emails. Will I look like I always have to have the last word or is it rude not to say more? Should I say thank you to everything or is a like/heart fine? When does a comment look like a criticism or an argument when I truly want to discuss something? How long is too long for any digital content whether a comment, an Insta caption, or a blog post?

Honestly, I could probabaly make book of unfinished posts, deleted comments, emails, and text messages never sent because I was too anxious about the content to share it. And it takes up so much time and energy and creates so much anxiety for me.

But it's also necessary.

Not because of platform building and audience reach and possibly earning money from it one day but because of that absolute constant need to express my self and connect that self to others. I lock myself in a room all day and write, write, write regardless if anyone is going to read it but I'm not fully satisfied that way. Even if nobody reads it online, I need it to be out there and out of me. That kind of writing happens regardless. So it's not just that.

I need to be a part of something. I need to reach out and touch someone and know I touched someone, somehow. Whether it's through my fiction, art, or something else entirely. And not in an inspiring, life-changing way but just in an 'I'm listening way'....I guess. Maybe that is something else I don't know.

Maybe I don't know what I want. Maybe I only know what I need to do and don't know how to do it. Maybe I've just learned what I don't want to do.

I don't want a FaceBook page. I don't want an Etsy store. I don't want to make unboxing, haul, or narrated videos. I don't want to try Snapchat or Periscope or anything with the word Live. I don't want to be a seller or a marketing guru or a brand.

I just want to be me. My weird, indefinable, dark, hysterical, moody me and get my 'me' all over you. And stop lurking in internet shadows and come into its light. No matter how many panic attacks I have along the way.