writing

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I’ve Moved!

Published Sunday, August 24, 2014 by Chasing Neptune

Hello, everyone!

As the title of this post states, I have moved to a new blog. It is Kate M. Colby, and it will be the “home base” for my social media platform as I begin crafting my brand as a writer and author.

If you have come here from The Broke Ass Bride, I appreciate it! Click on over to the new site for a more in-depth look at “Real Bride Kate” — or feel free to browse around here for a look at my university writing and musings.

If you are one of the many people who followed this blog, I invite you to make the transition to my new one with me. I promise it will be much more frequently updated (and much more interesting – if that’s possible!). Seriously, though, I would appreciate you taking a look.

For all of you who randomly landed here and prefer other social media outlets, you can find me here:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Linkedin

Instagram

Pinterest

Google+

YouTube

All right. That’s all I have for you all. Thanks for the ride, and see you soon!

Brisbane

Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 by Chasing Neptune

The first of a few pieces from last semester’s fiction writing class.

BRISBANE

“I tell you what,” Harold groaned, pulling himself out of the taxi, “Once I get home, I’m never flying in one of those glorified sardine cans again. I still can’t feel my damn feet.”

“Yeah, it’s a long flight, Mate,” the taxi driver said. He handed Harold his scuffed leather suitcase. “You from Canada?”

“America, thank you. And I tell you what, if I didn’t have to be back there in a week for my grandson’s wedding, I’d go home stowed away on a cargo ship.”

The driver laughed. “Nah, she’ll be alright.”

“Who? Who’ll be alright?”

The driver was pulling away from the curb. Harold gripped his suitcase and looked around. He gazed out over the Brisbane River, counting the bridges. Four. He could see four just from Kangaroo Point.

During the war, they had never used the bridges. There were only a handful, and when a man was bleeding out his ears, it was better to zip across in a ferry. There were still a few ferries on the river: red double-decker ones with kangaroos on the side and slim white ones bearing the name City Cat. But they were for tourists and commuters and were vastly outnumbered by yachts and sailboats.

Harold moseyed along the river, feeling the warm breeze on his leathery skin, remembering the way it rustled Gisele’s skirts, the way she would pat down the hems, her fingertips brushing against her nylons. Every time they walked, they would end up at Jubilee Bridge. They would stroll out into the middle, and Harold would stop, spin around to face Gisele, and kiss her lips. Gisele, looking up at the matrix of steel beams, would blush and say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful city in the world?” And Harold, always watching her bright green eyes, would say, “Yes.”

But that was nearly 50 years ago, and they had changed. Even the bridge had a new name now – Story Bridge – honoring a public servant who dedicated his life to the city. When he first learned the name, all Harold could think was, “That should have been me.”

As Harold reached Story Bridge, he felt eighteen again. It still arched up to two high points; its beams still crisscrossed like a steel spider web. There were lights now, outlining the bridge’s silhouette, and he had heard they glowed red and green at night.

He walked out to the middle of the bridge, fingering a bundle of envelopes in his inside jacket pocket. He remembered the words of the last one: I’ll be there.

And then he waited. He waited until he began to worry. Maybe he had gotten the date wrong: with the time difference, he could be a day early – or worse – a day late. Maybe he had misread the letter. Maybe she had lied, played him for a fool, revenge for breaking his promise all those years ago. Maybe she no longer loved him.

Then, as the sun dipped below the city skyline and the green lights lit up, he saw her walking towards him. She looked exactly the same, but instead of a pencil skirt and flowing blouse, she wore tight jeans and a striped sweater. She had the same hourglass figure, the same curly hair, the same green eyes – only, it couldn’t be her. As she reached him, she crossed her arms to shield herself from the breeze.

“Mr. Matthews?”

“Yes?”

“I’m Angela, Gisele’s granddaughter.”

“You look just like her,” Harold said. “I thought you were her for a minute.”

Angela smiled. “Thank you. Nonna told me I would find you here.”

“Why didn’t she come?”

“She couldn’t, she wanted to, she…” Angela looked up at the beams. Harold noticed that her eyes were puffy, red. He followed her gaze up to the beams.

“Isn’t this the most beautiful city in the world?” Harold asked.

Angela looked down at Harold. He saw the recognition in her green eyes.

“Yes,” she said. “Yes.”

 

Writing + Fear

Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 by Chasing Neptune

There’s an idea in the creative writing culture that fear must be overcome, that you must be fearless to write well. I have a lot of fear, and I’ve pondered this a lot. And I’ve decided it’s bullshit. Okay, conditional.

I think that if you do not have any stress, any apprehension, any fear – whatsoever – while you’re writing, you must be doing something boring. I’ve written plenty of pieces with which I’m perfectly comfortable. The topic is approachable, the reader is well-defined, the purpose is clear. But it’s also boring. I can write about school and horses and nature all day long, but those subjects are safe. Too safe.

The true fun comes when I take a risk. By definition, a risk involves a hazard, a dangerous situation, the chance of loss. If I take a risk when I write, if I write about something personal, intimate, or metaphoric, something I know the reader will not understand properly (or maybe understand too well), I feel a bit of fear. While I write, my stomach turns and my lip curls and my fingers tap the keys quickly, as if they are burning coals. I like it. It’s fun.

Fear during the act of writing is positive. It’s energizing, validating.

But I’ll agree with the culture on the other point: the fear of starting to write is paralyzing.

This is my biggest obstacle as a writer. When I’m under obligation to write, whether it’s a deadline or a class or a promise to a friend, I can always get started. I’m one of those people who feels obligation much too strongly. But when I’m trying to write for me, I always let myself off the hook. Oh, you can totally play video games or hang out with a friend or throw the ball for the dogs – the writing will be there when you get back. But it’s never there, because I never start.

So what do I fear?

  1. Failure
  2. Sounding like an idiot
  3. Realizing I’m a horrid poet/fiction writer
  4. Losing my passion for an idea
  5. Ruining an idea with my clumsy writing

I could probably go on, but I like the number five.

I’ve tried different ways to get over this fear. I’ve made fake deadlines (but I always justify ignoring them). I’ve asked friends to pressure me (but they always fall for my justifications). I’ve tried to write crappy prose on purpose, just to start something, (but I can’t turn off my internal editor THAT much).

Once upon a time, I told myself that if I could just find out how my role model, or should I say idol?, did it, I could copy his methods and follow his advice. Well, I met my idol, and I asked him how he overcame the fear to begin writing. He told me that you just have to realize that you can do it. He said that if you can communicate, have a conversation and tell a story vocally, you can do it on paper. Logically, I realize this, but it doesn’t work for me.

I think I like the romance of  “suffering artistry” a bit too much. Many years ago, my idol also said that he found something romantic about self-destruction, or something to that effect. I can agree with him on that point, sometimes it’s kind of fun to watch everything, even yourself, burn.

But…eventually, the suffering artistry will turn to ash, and I’ll either have to pick up a pen or find another passion.

For now, I think I’ll cozy up next to the fire and write pointless blog posts.

Pretty, Pretty Princess

Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

This is a short that I wrote for my Creative Nonfiction writing course and never used. The topic was childhood game, and it describes a board game that I used to play with my older cousins.

“I’m gonna be the prettiest, pretty princess of them all!” Adam declared, cramming a blue plastic ring onto his pinky finger.

“Nuh uh!” I protested, clipping a purple earring onto my left ear.

We must have looked ridiculous: a teenage boy and a five-year-old girl, arguing over who would be the ultimate pretty princess. Despite our bickering, my cousin Adam remained my favorite playmate at family functions. We spent countless afternoons playing movie freeze tag, Monopoly, and Chinese Checkers. During these games, he would run slowly and overlook obvious moves to give me a fighting chance. But when it came to Pretty, Pretty Princess, Adam showed no mercy.

The objective was simple: claim two dangly earrings, one thin bracelet, one long necklace, one ring, and ultimately, the crown. Once you adorned yourself with all of these fine jewels, you won. However, without the crown, a beautiful silver circle encrusted with tiny jewels of pink, blue, and yellow, you couldn’t be the prettiest pretty princess.

I remember how eagerly I flicked the spinner, hoping it landed on a piece of jewelry that I had yet to claim. I remember how my hands trembled as I placed each ornament around my wrist or neck or finger. But most importantly, I remember how the blood rushed to my head, how my foot stung as it stamped against the floor, when Adam beat me to the crown. Every single time.

Week Five: “Art”

Published Monday, April 16, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

I use the word “art” theoretically, for fear of attack from artists. You see, I am not an artist in any capacity, but I really wish that I were. I mean, it must be the most empowering feeling in the world — to sit down and put brush or pen to paper, to put the tips of your fingers on strings or piano keys, and have something tangible and beautiful and inspiring come out. I would argue that writing, the craft that chose me, is an art form. However, it typically does not produce the same visual/physical experience that visual art and music can create.

Therefore, I figured…Hey, I’m “creatively inclined,” why not crack open a coloring book for an artistic release? Thus…Week Five: “Art.”

Rule: Create one work of “visual art” each day. This is just for fun — I’ll know it’s not Picasso worthy, but I’ll give myself a break from the pressure from writing and just be ridiculously silly.

Saturday (to compensate for slacking on Week Four’s Music Challenge): One scrapbook item in my Bucket List Scrapbook

You can see in this picture my superb brush work technique and fantastic lettering skills.

Sunday (again, to make up for missing music): My Chemical Romance themed cup cakes

The credit for half of this beautiful craftsmanship goes to my dear friend, Typewriter Moon.

Monday:  I began painting a My Chemical Romance shirt, and also began a jigsaw puzzle about my life for a class, which I finished…

Tuesday: Jigsaw puzzle for class

Just a little background here: The goal of this project was to make a puzzle about yourself, in which you represented characteristics or symbols depicting how you will be a confident, competent, responsible contributor to society. Fifty points to anyone who can figure out how my brain works. My class couldn’t. Hell, I can’t.

Wednesday & Thursday: Coloring book pages

Fun note on Mr. Raptor here — I colored this in the middle of the floor. One of my roommates walked in, asked very bluntly, “What are you doing with that coloring book?” And then, when I replied that I intended to color, said, “Fuck yes you do” and walked out. She’s my kind of person.

While I was coloring Ms. Pony here, a different roommate, as well as a non-roommate walked into the room. Now, let me set this scene for you. Here I am, at my desk, coloring in a pony coloring book and watching “The Secret,” A Dark Horse Motion Comic. Ironic horse references? Yes. However, that is not the point of this caption. My roommate and the other person had no idea how to react to a sorority girl coloring a pony and watching a very creepy cartoon about a serial killer…late at night, by herself, no less. I wish I had the linguistic power to explain their faces, but know that it was a mixture of judgment, confusion, amusement, envy, and terror. I’m still laughing at them. And if either of you read this, know I mean this in the kindest way.

Friday:  Another Bucket List scrapbook page.

Saturday & Sunday: Designing and beginning a new project. I will post results if I am successful.

Results: I loved this week. None of my creations were artistic genius; my Art major roommate would probably laugh my ass off of WordPress for them. However, I derived the most indescribeable sense of satisfaction in taking time to rest my academic brain and just…be. For anyone considering therapy, I highly suggest going out and buying a coloring book instead. Not only will you save butt-loads, yes butt-loads, of money, but something about returning to such a simple, childish task just thrusts your mind right back into Kindergarten, where your biggest problem is the bitch that stole the red purse during dress-up. Seriously people, just take a few minutes each day to let go of exams or work or dieting or bills or relationship drama or perfectionism or whatever-the-hell-else your problem is and just do something creative, just for fun. You’d be surprised at how much better your soul will feel.

Next week: I’m thinking I’m going to take my well-rested brain and figure out what the hell I’m going to do with my life. Or I might go play Powerball so I don’t have to worry about it at all. We’ll see next Monday.

Week Two: Compliments

Published Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

Date: Monday, March 19 to Sunday, March 25

Rules:

  • Must compliment at least 3 people every day
  • People can never be repeated (at least 21 different people over the course of the week)
  • Must be genuine and not “I” focused (“I” like this, “I” like that…)

Reason Why:

I undertook this challenge, because I thought it would help me deal with some of the issues that I am going through right now. I’ve heard many people say that “you get into relationships what you put out.” Therefore, I thought that making a conscious effort to appreciate the people in my life would be a good way to remind myself of their value and feel more connected in my little bubble of the earth. Also, despite popular belief, I’m not totally heartless. I like to make others feel good about themselves and recognize their own beauty, creativity, intelligence, etc. I guess that I thought that by helping other people to see these qualities in themselves, I would feel like I was doing a valuable service to them, and thus, making a difference from this little bubble.

Results:

Overall, I really liked doing this challenge. When I was constantly hunting for compliments, it made me shift my focus from myself onto others. Also, I admit that I got a selfish kind of joy for being the one to make other people smile. During the middle of the week, I felt proud of myself. I felt connected to people. I felt like for once I wasn’t being such a self-focused bitch, not that I’m a completely self-centered/ungrateful fiend, but I have a tendency to bottle up my emotions and completely internalize all my energy…which doesn’t exactly read as pleasant to other people.

I think the lesson I learned this week is that a lot of the problems that I’m going through are with myself. Am I totally happy with where I live? No. Am I totally happy with my course load? No. Am I totally happy with my skin? No. Am I totally happy with the fact that both of my majors probably won’t lead to prosperous careers? Well, kind of… Is all of that 100% my fault? No. Is part of it my fault? Yes.

The point is: I’m not completely happy with my life, and that’s okay. I’ve been through happy spells, and I’ve been through sad spells several times before. What this challenge reminded me is that I need to get the fuck out of my own head and actively try to make myself happy again. I’ve done it once, I’ve done it twice, so surely the third time will be the charm. It’s too late this week to start my “no complaining” challenge, but I think I will undertake it soon. I need to remember how lucky I am to be living my life. I need to remember how much I love myself. I need to remember how much I love the people in my life.

To those of you affected by my tyranny: I apologize. I’m going to try and be better, but know that some days these demons will get the best of me.

To PP: I know I’ve been a whiny bitch. And I know that you would be disappointed in how passive I’ve been. I’m going to be proactive and try to change – no matter what I decide to do with my life, I’m going to make sure that it makes me happy, now and later. I’m going to shed this scaly skin I’ve grown and do my best to be the woman you taught me to be.

Week One: No Wasted Time

Published Monday, March 19, 2012 by Chasing Neptune

Week One: Monday, March 12, 2012 to Sunday, March 18, 2012

Goal: Do not waste any time. This means that I must find a productive way to spend my downtime. (ie: Don’t spend time uselessly creeping around the internet or vegging out in front of the tv when I could be working on homework, writing, reading, spending time with my family, etc.)

Timing: I decided to do this challenge over my university’s spring break, so that I would have time to devote to whatever I thought would be a productive use of my time. On one hand, I think the timing helped me, as I did not put off anything that I wanted to do for me. On the other hand, without the academic pressure of a normal school week, I put off a lot of the course work I wanted to accomplish over spring break.

Accomplishments:

As you may or may not be able to see, my Spring Break To-Do List is almost entirely accomplished (save for the rather extensive course work section.) However, I did make it to all of my appointments, do most of the tasks for my sorority, and find time for my fun items.

Monday – I dominated Monday. I cleaned the entire downstairs of our house (4 rooms, 2 bathrooms), washed & unloaded dishes, took a walk with my mom and neighbor, worked, played my video game, and did several little tasks for my sorority. I ended the day feeling exhausted, but accomplished and proud of myself.

Tuesday – This was no Monday, but it was still successful. I finished some work, took another walk, went to an appointment, went shopping, and welcomed a new dog to the family. Overall, more personally successful than academically/Greek-ly.

Wednesday – At first I thought Wednesday was a failure, but I actually kind of rocked. I cleaned my own room and bathroom, worked, worked for my sorority, did homework for one of my courses, and worked on my sorority’s chapter website. The tasks were few, but time-consuming.

Thursday – On the whole, this day could only be productive in a subjective sense. I had a doctor’s appointment, went shopping, played with my new dog, and finally watched Dawn of the Dead (albeit the new one, not the original [which is probably better]). So, not the best use of time. However, I did get a tattoo, which will obviously last forever…and that’s a lot of time.

Friday – Personally, I did not waste any time Friday. I spent the day hanging out with my best friend, working a bit, and figuring out my schedule for Fall Semester. Though, I probably could have done more on the academic front.

Saturday – I finished my work for the weekend, took a walk, filled out an application, and spent time with my family. I felt semi-successful, but the end-of-spring-break-guilt began to sink in that night.

Sunday – I took a nap (waste of time or necessary relaxation?), visited my grandparents, played with my dogs, and did work for my sorority. This morning I failed epically, but tonight I made it up.

Overall Lesson: That which constitutes “wasted time” is entirely subjective. From an academic standpoint, I sucked ass. From a personal standpoint, I had a fantastic week. Overall, I am happy with my success. This challenge helped me to think about what I should do with those hours that I feel like wasting. In short, if I don’t feel like being “technically productive” (ie: writing papers and reading journal articles), I should get off my ass and do something for me. Like I said, these 20 weeks are all about being selfish, and I intend to indulge myself in whatever I want.

Week Two: Excessive complimenting or excessive music acquisition? I’ll have to decide when I wake up later this morning!

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