Author Attacked by Ape!

I recently visited Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a UK territory attached to the south of Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is home to the Barbary Macaque Apes.

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I’m a person who likes a challenge; I crossed the highest, longest suspension bridge in North America, I swam with sharks. But, moreso, I like to explore; I saw a grisly bear in the Yukon, held a Koala in Australia, traversed the catacombs in Paris, etc.

So, I was there on the Rock of Gibraltar to get a peek at both Spain on one side and Africa on the other all the while standing in Europe. Pretty freaking cool.

The apes, which look more like monkeys (and are referred to as such), wander free there. They hang out on the patio of the visitor’s center, play in the trees and bushes, and hang out on the roads.

I did get close enough to one to have a photo. But I know better than to attempt to feed a wild animal. I did see four young women getting their picture taken by a park ranger while they fed one of the adult Macaque’s not far from the “Do Not Feed” sign.

From the visitors’ center, you can hike to other views, other places on the Rock and even all the way down. There’s another shop on the Rock where you can see a cave and buy trinkets, which is what I did. When I travel, I like to buy holiday ornaments for my tree as a remembrance.

I have the Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, a Santa Star Fish from Hawaii, and even a Santa Chili Pepper from New Mexico to name a few.

I hiked back up to the center to grab some water and lunch before taking the cable car back down to the city. ape.png

I’d been warned not to take a big back pack or food with me. The monkeys, they said, will jump on you. I heeded these warnings, had only a small pack/purse and no food.

But approaching the visitors’ center, one of the juveniles (juvenile delinquent!) jumped on my back. I raised my hands in surprise and she bit me. She then opened my bag, took the ornament, and hopped off. (This is the picture of the monkey as it tried to eat my ornament! Thank you, Geoff)

I’m okay. Maybe “attacked” is a strong word, perhaps assaulted is better?  She left a dental impression and some scrapes on my hand. Yes, a little blood, swelling, bruising. My doctor is a little vexed with me.

But what does this have to do with writing?

We must challenge ourselves, we must overcome, we must use incidents such as these as inspiration or fodder. I feel all of these adventures make me who I am and my writing what it has become over the years.

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I’m not suggesting you put yourself in harm’s way! I am suggesting that once in awhile get out and face your fears, do something new, experiment, explore, learn something new – this will create fresh shifts in your writing (and in yourself)!

The whole incident has me thinking of a half a dozen stories!

What makes good literature?

An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” parrot.jpgConsidering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?

This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.

Read The Great Silence here

What’s So Scary?

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“Don’t be afraid of failure.  The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”

From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.

I started this to say – what are you afraid of?

Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?

I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?

 

Writer Wednesday: Writer and Writing is a Relationship

heartI know people say writing is a commitment, but it’s more than that. Writing isn’t “like” a relationship, it IS a relationship. A writer must be involved with the whole process of writing, must love it, need it, want to continue to work to make it better. It takes commitment, time, dedication, and the desire to move forward in life with writing.

A few years ago, I was at a conference where the main speaker (don’t remember his relat 1name) said, “You have to be selfish. You must take the time for yourself, for your writing.” He went on to say he spent every Friday at a hotel with his writing. (are you picturing him checking into a seedy, no-tell motel with an old typewriter?;-)

My friend joked, “Noreen does this thing where she actually spends time writing.” My regular action became fodder for humor because he is a writer, but he falls under the category of non-writing writers like many others.

Life happens. We have families, pets, jobs, homes, tons of responsibilities. But notice that list – I put family first. People we love comes first. This is why a writer might consider writing as a relationship – so they give it priority.

I schedule things around my writing whenever possible. I will make doctor appointments, meetings, and everything I have power to plan secondary to my writing by scheduling them before or after my planned writing time.

Once a person considers themselves in a relationship with their writing, they may relat 3naturally form relationship goals! If writing were a romantic relationship, how would you handle it differently? Would you want to go to sleep with it or wake up with it or both? What would you want to give it? Would you spend more time with it, going over the details, working it out so it was just perfect, going over it and over it again to work it out nice and smooth? What do you do for your significant other? Take it out to dinner? On vacation?

Writing, like a lover, needs constant attention and nourishment. Placing it on the back burner means we may never get to it. It’ll be there, but not as warm and flush as we’d like. Being in a relationship with writing means the needs of both are fulfilled. Writing is fresh and flowing and continually improved and the writer is happier, more productive.

We do this because we love it, we are driven to do it. Treat writing like it’s important to you.

Think of writing before you fall asleep, when you wake up in the middle of the night just to say one more thing.

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Random facts stalkers don’t know…

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I grew up in a tough neighborhood. (don’t stereotype me)

I was in a band. (for about 5 minutes)

I was in a few movies. (another 5 minutes)

I wrote my first “novel”at the age of 11. (an angst ridden piece about a girl who is kidnapped because she witnessed a crime)

I was actually kidnapped. (not at 11/that story is waiting for publication)

I always have wanted to own a Munster-like house.

I’ve gotten lost in every major city I’ve ever been (including abroad. Trust me when I say every country/every city has neighborhoods you don’t want to be lost in at dusk)

I keep a lot of random facts as well as insignificant details in my brain. (jokes don’t stick tho)

now the stalkers know – don’t be a stalker….

Writing Wishes and Publication Dreams

I’ve been working on a new story – not only working – OBSESSED!  I don’t think I left the house for most of January and part of February until the first draft was done. I’m currently working through it again and again.  I’ve begun to gather my beta readers, and I’m quite excited.

Weekly, I spend time submitting. This is what a working writer does. Writes and submits. Rejections are no fun, and I get plenty of them. I read one statistic that read, “a writer gets an average of 26 rejections for every acceptance.” Not sure how they came up with that… I feel like it’s three times that much; however, things change!

Malcolm Gladwell, estimates it takes 10,000 hours to master any one thing. I feel like I should have reached those hours long ago; but, maybe, it takes some of us a little longer to get it. (That’s the story of my life!)

So – I have to update you.

My poem, “All At Once”, was a finalist in Medusa’s Laugh NanoText Contest. I didn’t win, but it’s still to be published in their anthology and in an e-book version. This should be available soon!

My poem, “I’ve Never Looked So Beautiful” has just been accepted by Mother’s Always Write. Before you start thinking I’m quite full of myself – the poem is about my lovely daughter! This should be available in the next month.

My story, “How to Throw a Psychic a Surprise Party” has been accepted by The Oleander Review. Sometimes, I write something and I think, this is pretty damn good, and I think this story says a lot about our humanity. I’m so happy that it will be published. It will be available mid-April

Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Writer Advice has just notified me that my story, “Memorial Day Death Watch”, has been chosen as a finalist in their Flash Memoir Contest!

We must have a purpose – I’ve always wanted to reach people, tell them they’re not alone. I think I’m just beginning to do that.

Live an Inspired Life!

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The Corner of Bitter and Christmas

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I went shopping last week. It was earlier in the day, around 11am, on a weekday when stores aren’t usually busy.

I sat on a rather large bench to try on the shoes. It could have easily sat four people, but the sales person set the shoes on the bench next to me leaving room for at least two other people. I tried on a pair. A woman came up, she was lingering around, looking at shoes. I wasn’t paying much attention to anything other than the comfort of the shoes I was trying on. The woman set down the box of shoes in one empty space, set down her large purse in her other empty seat, and continued to stand.

When I got up to walk over to the mirror and examine my shoes, she pushed my shoe boxes further over, said something to her husband that I did not hear, and took my seat.  I didn’t say anything, assuming she’d be gone by the time I returned anyway.

She tried on the new shoes, changed back into her shoes, and stood up just as I imagined. I went over, sat back down, and tried on the other pair of shoes. I got up again, expecting she’d take my seat again, but she did not. She grabbed her things, looked my way, and said something like “what’s wrong with some people?”

At the register, the cashier was ringing out the first person in line. There were two other people in front of me. The cashier had forgotten to take the customer’s return from the final price. The customer was very impatient. The woman behind her turned to her friend and said something, loud enough for everyone to hear, about the customer. Sensing an argument that I didn’t want to be a part of, I checked my phone. The customer having the problem walked away without a purchase, causing more negative comments from the friends behind her about how she’d wasted their time. They turned to me, an attempt to bring me into their circle. I looked at my phone, avoided their gaze.

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After that purchase, I needed to pick up an order from another counter. Another long line, so I waited. Again, more impatient people. The woman in front of me walked up to another sales person, “can’t you get someone else to help?” She returned, looked at me, and tried to bring me into her circle of complaining about the service.

The first thing that occurs to me is: 1. We have become a very impatient society. I remember waiting in long lines with my mother as a child. People waited patiently, because the wait was expected. Today, with our instant society, no one is expected to wait, and no one expects to have to wait.  Does anyone remember the long lines in a Blockbuster video store on a Friday evening?  and 2. The Christmas Season is upon us. The season where, unlike the ideal – let their be peace on earth, people are more stressed than at any other time of the year.

Let’s be honest. Christmas time is not the most wonderful time of the year. ESPECIALLY when you’re shopping.

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Even every day activities, like running to the market for the usual items, becomes more of a chore. The lines are longer, which honestly is NOT the problem. The problem is how the people act in those lines.

At a local  market, I got into the wrong line. I did not see the 15 Items or Less Sign. The person in front of me had a full cart. The man behind me had a full cart. I had probably 20 items. At least two other people in that line waited patiently behind that man without saying a word. But a man walked up to the very back of the line and instantly started complaining. I didn’t pay attention. To hear people complaining about lines is like white noise in the supermarket. But his voice kept getting louder, closer, then he was behind me. He was yelling – YELLING – at the man behind me about having too many items. The man moved his cart and let him go in front of him. The cashier was just about to ring through my things when the man moved his attention to me – “I guess you can’t read either.”  I turned around to see, yes, he was indeed speaking to me. He had two children with him. I had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed out the small sign over the register. He had successfully bullied himself to the front of the line and I was the only one standing in his way to be first. The cashier paused, wondering if I was going to let him in front of me. And, you know what, had he called it to my attention nicely, had he asked me with any decency, had he not just bullied the other people in line and berated the old man behind me, I would have let him go – But, it’d been a long day, I was tired, and this man was an asshole. I told him to take a flying leap – well, we’ll say those are the words I used. And the cashier rang me through. The man was still not satisfied with being next; he continued yelling until the manager came over and took him to another register to wait on him personally.

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These things happen every day around the holidays. People are pressured, stressed, trying to make their holiday the best for their family, try to get things done between work and other responsibilities, and people lose their patience, if not their minds, in the effort to do so.

Welcome to the corner of bitter and Christmas.

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We are supposed to be nicer this time of year, more patient, more beautiful to one another, but so many people lose sight of that.

When I must go out and face the crowds, I prepare myself by telling myself that I must be more patient than those who are not, kinder than those who are not, and I must smile especially for those who are not.

At one sale, my daughter handed me a prized purse; the last of its kind. I wasn’t certain I wanted it but, if I put it down, it’d be gone. I was looking at the purse, wondering if I should really buy it just because it was the last of its kind and everyone else wanted it, when I noticed the woman across the display from me.  I smiled.  She smiled.  “I’m sorry,” she said. “If you’re going to put it back, I’d like to have it.” I handed it to her. She was extremely grateful and happy. I’d made her day. Now, that’s the Christmas Spirit.

I don’t go out on Black Friday. There is nothing I want or need that is worth fighting – literally – fighting for. The stores set things up like a competition – think about it: Competitive Shopping! I say, don’t give in!

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In light of everything that is going on in our society right now, in the world, I say keep your common sense, keep your dignity, keep your smile, and stay patient in the face of those who are not. Do not meet them at the corner of bitterness and Christmas, come on over to the Self Respect Cafe and relax.

Less stress means fewer wrinkles, better sleep, an overall better feeling throughout the holiday season – and you’ll never have see one of those embarrassing pictures of yourself.

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This season – be kind, be happy.