So here's the thing. I've had some definite writing setbacks over the past few weeks. I wouldn't say any of them were unexpected, but I don't know, things don't really hurt me less just because they didn't surprise me. It's a different kind of pain I guess, like another bag of bricks added to an already heavy load.
But despite that, I am trying to focus on the positive. I'm strong and I'm healthy, so I can carry those extra bricks. I have a new nursing job which admittedly is extremely stressful and probably not a good fit for me, but it allows me to be a positive force in the lives of mentally ill people and addicts--many of whom are often surrounded by negativity. This job also pays enough so that I can donate to hurricane relief and GoFundMes and buy books to support my writer friends (even if I have no time to read the books--I am sorry, writer friends!) These are all things I was not able to do for years when I was struggling to survive as a full-time writer, and that weighed heavy on my heart. So trade-offs, right?
I also have an amazing volunteer position with Transition Projects, a local homeless-to-housing charity here in Portland. Between work and volunteering, I spend a lot of time listening to people who are often disparaged or ignored by the public. There is something powerful and life-affirming about validating the very real struggles these people go through every day. I am constantly awed by their strength and inspired by the solidarity they show to each other. So yes, I am feeling kind of beat down, but I am also finding peace and hope in the world around me.
In the interest of finding even more peace and hope, I've decided to take a bit of a break from social media for the month of September. I'm going to concentrate instead on improving my mental and physical health, becoming a better psychiatric nurse, being more aware of the world around me so I can better help people in need, and revising a "book of my heart" that was passed on by my publisher. [Gentle reminder that unless you self-publish, the only guaranteed time you can write ANY story you want is before you get an editor and a publisher. I actually had two projects rejected by publishers in the past two weeks and both of them are over 25% written. So please, please, if you are pre-published, do not squander that magical time by being sad about not having a book deal. Book deals are great. So is the freedom to write wildly and freely about anything inside your soul without being constrained by editor preferences, profit and loss sheets, sales figures, acquisitions teams, etc.]
I'll be reading email and logging onto Twitter every couple of days to read my @ tweets because my readers matter to me and I will always have time for you <3. Other than that, my Twitter and Facebook posts are scheduled and I might pop onto Instagram if I find something magical I want to share with everyone. I wanted to leave you guys with a giveaway, so I decided to create something kind of fun that encourages other people to also go in search of peace and hope :)
Below is the You, a Friend, a Stranger giveaway. International. One winner receives $100 in prizes as follows:
- Winner gets $25 transferred to a PayPal account or paid out via a bookstore, grocery store, department store, or gas station gift card. It's about you and what you need <3
- Winner's friend also gets $25, paid out via any of those gift cards. Sorry, no cash. [Int'l winners will have a limited selection to choose from.]
- Winner gets $25 in credit to contribute to any GoFundMe or YouCaring (or you can split between two campaigns) during the month of October. I am registered and I will give the money in your name.
- Winner gets a $25 gift card to Kiva.org. If you aren't familiar with Kiva, it's a micro-lending website where you can help finance a business loan for someone on the other side of the world. Then they pay back the loan and you can re-lend. It is literally the gift that keeps on giving.
- Because I'm an author and I have lots of free books to give away, I'll throw in a copy of any of my Paula Stokes books, either for you or your friend who gets the gift card. [I won't judge if you keep it for yourself. My books are awesome, after all ;D]
I know that's technically you, a friend, and two strangers (or two friends if you know someone with a GoFundMe) but that just didn't sound as good ;) The Rafflecopter activities are a mix of self-care and helping friends and strangers. Most of them cost absolutely no money and don't involve driving anywhere. I tried to make them as inclusive as possible so that everyone could participate in whatever they wanted. Please use common sense when completing the activities and enter at your own risk. They're not particularly dangerous things, but most of them involve more than clicking a link, so I'm erring on the side of caution.
I created this contest so you could technically do one activity every day in September, but if you want to crush them all out in a weekend marathon of kindness, empathy, and introspection, well, that works too :)
Can you cheat? I mean, yeah, most of these are "on your honor" activities. But this specific contest was created to help people feel better about themselves and the world. If you cheat and win, you might not regret it now, but chances are at some point you're going to feel a little down on yourself. I don't want to do that to you, so how about you don't do that to yourself either? Have fun with this. If you have a really meaningful experience doing any of these activities, be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Happy September. Best of luck in whatever goals you are pursuing this month, and as always, thanks for everything that you do <3