Category Archives: Writing

When Blogs Go Silent

As a blogger, at some point you realize it’s been a few days since your last post. Maybe you’re strapped for time, or your creativity is on vacation. Either way, that need to publish something worthwhile sits on your shoulder like a tiny little troll, reminding you on a daily basis that you’re not writing.

Klout score 2

(Extra points to anyone who recognizes the font in this graphic.)

Yes, blog troll. I’ve noticed. Thanks for rubbing salt into a gaping, open, “Trauma in the ER” type wound. Ow.

Eventually a week goes by. Two. Maybe even three. You’re out living your life, spending time with friends, paying bills, going to the gym, doing whatever it is that you do that keeps you away from your keyboard. But every time you have a free minute to yourself, that troll starts speaking up again.

“You’re losing readers!”

“You haven’t had any page views since May!”

“C’mon, there’s bound to be SOMETHING you can write about! Sit down and do it!”

And then, inevitably, at some point in your blogging career, you will look at your last “recent” post and realize it was published almost two months ago. You’ll realize it’s been a few weeks since that troll grumbled something in your ear about “practicing your craft.”

That’s when you realize that if writing is like exercising a muscle, then you must be this guy:

how-to-gain-muscle-for-skinny-guys-1060463-flash

(Awwww…he’s a-DORK-able!)

Now look here, readers. (Or should I say, crickets?) I don’t mean to make light of a bad situation. I’ve had creative droughts before—some of them disguising themselves as writer’s block, others just blatant distractions like beach time and ‘Friends’ marathons–but I’ve never had one like this before.

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have tons of them. I’m jotting them down on my phone every single day.

It’s not that I don’t have the spare time to write. I do, I’m just using it to watch reruns of Parks and Rec instead.

My drive has put itself in park. My gumption has dumped me. My ambitions went on vacation then forgot to come home. I used to be driven, and now I’m just stationary.

Somebody stop me.

Or, don’t stop me, but cheer for me to continue rambling in a disconnected fashion until I have a blog I can publish!

In all seriousness, I feel the call to get back to that part of myself that feels most complete when I’m writing. It’s time for me to carve out that time every day to dip my toes into the creative pool inside of my brain. (No, it’s a sparkling pool of creativity, not a gross pool of brain goo.)

I’ll find my way back to it, with posts like this one. It may not deserve the Pulitzer Prize of Bloggy Awesomeness, but it’s a start. And everybody has to start somewhere.

Even glasses-wearing weight lifter guy.

You’ll Think This Post Is About Kittens (But It’s Not)

I spent the morning playing with our kitten, Fitz.

Fitz BnW small

He is darling, and hilarious, and the most loving little kitten we’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing…but that’s not what this post is about.

As I waggled his chicken toy at him, and giggled like a maniac as he pounced, a conversation I had with a friend recently popped into my brain. I’m not sure what caused it–the conversation had nothing to do with kittens–and yet, I heard her voice in my head, clear as a bell.

“You deserve to have whatever you want. Don’t let anyone else influence you
to the point that you give up on your dream.”

I watched Fitz wiggling his bum, preparing for another pounce, and let those words reverberate around in my brain. You know, that friend of mine makes a really valid point. We live in a society where it’s as easy as a few key strikes to shout your opinion from the social media rooftops. There are some topics of conversation that bring out the opinions quicker than a horse at a hay party—like politics, religion, sporting teams, and parenting.

Who knew adoption was on that list?

We’ve heard a plethora of comments from strangers, acquaintances, and friends alike when they learn of our choice to adopt. Most of them are normal questions filled with curiosity about the process–all valid and easily answered. Others are honest questions that people don’t realize can have a touch of ‘judgey’ to them — “Oh, well, didn’t you look into In-Vitro?” (Yes.) And “Oh, I’ve heard that’s expensive. On your salary?” (Yes.)  And “You should adopt from Africa/Germany/Haiti. They have a lot of kids that need homes.” (So does America.)

But the judgement doesn’t stop there. Nay. I have MANY mommy friends who have already started preparing me for the stern faces I will get when I ultimately choose formula over breastfeeding (sort of a necessity since, you know, adopting), public school over home school (I have to work, sadly), and Huggies over cloth diapers (because poo is gross.)

I’ve been so desperate to pledge the Sorority of Mothers that this side of the sisterhood wasn’t something I was prepared for. I always thought of it as a large group of strong, independent, thoughtful women who supported each other in this quest of raising kids to be prosperous, helpful, kind adults.

As it turns out, apparently moms are more interested in policing your child’s grooming habits, party etiquette, and food choices than being all “Kumbaya” about parenting.

judgey mom

Since I’m already getting hit with that judgement, and I’m still only pledging said sorority, it makes me wonder just how much worse it can get. And since I’m a newbie, I tend to want to take everything a Mom shares with me about her journey straight to heart.

Ultimately, here are the bullet points I want people to know:
We chose private domestic adoption. It wasn’t something we decided to do on a whim; we researched and discussed and soul-searched, and it was the best fit for our family.
We chose to pursue adopting an infant. Yes, I know they cry a lot, and I won’t sleep at all, and I’ll pray for the days when they’re old enough to tell me they want juice rather than just raising their voices to the sky in the hopes that I will understand that WAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL means JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUICE. But I want a baby. I want to experience it ALL. And why shouldn’t I get what I want just because my body won’t make a baby on its own?
We did NOT choose to be infertile. So no amount of offering to pray for us, or asking us about our sex life, or questioning our choice of adoption over fertility treatments isn’t going to change the fact that we probably can’t get pregnant. At least without a doctor’s help. And even with that help, we have less than a 30% chance of conceiving.

So when my very wise friend made her very valid point the other day, while she was talking about our decision to adopt an infant, it could really be applied to all facets of parenthood. Hell–it SHOULD be applied to all facets of LIFE.

If you DREAM of getting rid of all your worldly possessions in trade for an RV so you can travel the country like gypsies—don’t let your paranoid and clingy best friend change your mind.

If you DREAM of quitting your day job so you can open a tiny pizzeria—don’t let something as trivial as ‘expectations’ change your mind.

If you DREAM of being a mother to a squalling, incontinent, impossible-to-please tiny human being—don’t let anyone else’s opinion about children change your mind!

After all, the other piece of advice this wise friend gave me? “You deserve to be just as miserable and exhausted as every other new mom in the world.” And she’s right. I totally do.

Path To A Happy 2015

Guys, my holidays pretty much sucked. There was no Christmas spirit. There was lots of crying and “woe as me.” There was a WHOLE LOTTA forced merriment. I took my decorations down the day after Christmas, and as each bauble found its way back into storage, I felt a little bit happier, like I was packing away the source of sadness that had plagued me since just after the turkey went cold.

Considering the fact that, in years past, I have been accused of being as jolly as Buddy the Christmas Elf, this is some pretty serious news in and around these parts.

The reason why doesn’t really matter as much as finding my way back to happiness. What’s done is done, the past is in the past, and I’m ready to move forward into a happier, healthier, shinier new year.

Since my day-to-day life has been pretty colorless lately, I pointed my browser over to my favorite blog, Heck Awesome, written by the lovely and talented Carrie Baughcum. She is a daily source of inspiration for me, and though she doesn’t know it, I think of her as the Creativity Queen. And just as she has in the past, with one adorable and heartwarming post, she inspired me to try something new.

Art Journaling.

Finally, a way to combine my “artwork” with my words. (Note the quotations. Perhaps “cartoons” would be a more accurate description?) I’ve found a way to fully express the ideas in my brain. And use my awesome multi-hued felt-tipped pens. It’s brilliant.

And colorful. Did I mention art journaling is colorful? <—-COLOR IS GOOD.

So I decided to start my journal with that nasty holiday depression in mind. What can I do to ensure that my path in 2015 is filled with light, and humor, and happiness? I can accomplish the goals I’ve set forth for myself. I can exercise and let the sunshine in. I can write more and whine less. I can start every day with a positive thought. I can hang onto hope, even when hope seems fruitless. I can smile. I can laugh. I can draw and write and paint and doodle. I can create my own sunshine. I can be ME.

Path to a Happy 2015

It’s not as impressive as other art journal pages I’ve seen as I’ve perused Pinterest, looking for ideas. In fact, it’s downright amateur-ish. But it’s a start. And it made me happy, which was the whole point of the exercise anyway. So I’ll move forward. I’ll draw a doodle every now and then, and add the page to my journal. I’ll draw out my feelings when I can’t find the words to express them. I may or may not share them here, depending on how proud I am of said doodles.

Either way, my toes are off the starting line, and I’m moving up that path to happiness. I know it’s there, waiting at the top of the hill for me. It may be an uphill climb, but I’ll make it. And I’m taking my art supplies with me, because…

crayons

(Or, in this case, felt-tipped pens.) (But use whatever works.) (Heck, fingerpaint with pudding if you want to. I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me while I’m licking the paper clean.) (Great, now I want chocolate pudding.) (Mmmm. Pudding.)

To Carrie: You are my sister in creativity. Thank you for continuing to inspire me. XO

My Recent Life As A Blogger

I had a friend tell me last night that he misses my blog.

“You need to get back to it,” he said. “I only follow one other blog. I miss Abby Gabs.”

I was humbled, flattered, and left feeling guilty for letting my readers down. “Truthfully?” I replied to my friend and reader, “I miss it, too.”

I don’t have many excuses for you when it comes to not writing here on this space I carved out for myself. I look back at posts past and wonder how I managed to pull out so many different blog ideas back then–humorous or thoughtful, commentary or comedy, I managed to find things to write about on a nearly daily basis for three years. Then, all of a sudden, it was like someone turned off the creative water faucet. Just like that, the words dried up in my mind. Occasionally, something funny or wonderful or goofy would happen, and I’d think to myself, “I should blog about that.” But I never did. And now those moments are lost forever, a myriad of memories locked away.

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When I lament the loss of my blog to my mommy friends, they all say the same thing. “You have Baby Brain.” It’s true. I eat, sleep, drink, obsess, and think about the adoption every single waking minute of every day. But while my life has been consumed with All Things Adoption this year, it hasn’t changed so drastically that I couldn’t sit down and write a blog every now and then. The honest truth of the matter is that most of those unwritten posts would have likely been about adoption: about the fundraising, and the constant worry, and the waiting, and the sorrow, and the excitement, and the anticipation—all the things that make this process what it is. There was a part of me that wanted to chronicle this journey here on AbbyGabs, but it became so intensely personal, and I worried I’d never be able to capture the emotions we’ve gone through in the form of the written word.

And so I just avoided the blog. I’d open my browser every morning and click anywhere but on Word Press. I’d spend hours on Pinterest, or play games on Facebook, or research  a new and different facet of adoption or parenthood, all in the attempt to avoid the fact that I wasn’t blogging. Not only wasn’t I blogging, I also wasn’t writing. At all. My enthusiasm for writing and getting published went up in a puff of smoke as soon as our home study was completed.

We have had a full year–one filled with friendship and support and laughter and tears and hope and failure. We have built friendships with people who have become more like family. We have planned and saved and dreamed about the baby we so desperately wish for. We lost a beloved pet, and gained a new one.

Pip and Fitz

There’s a small tug of regret for not documenting it here, as I had done so diligently for so long. But there’s also a small nugget of gladness knowing that I was just…living.

My hope is to find my way back to this space, and to the groove of blogging again. I know it’s still in me, somewhere. The creative spark reignited during Nano last month, and I’m hoping to tend to it, baby it, and turn it into a flame. And perhaps in the new year, I’ll be able to rebuild that roaring fire that took me flying through the first three years of Abby Gabs history. Until that happens, I’m going to keep living. I’m going to snuggle our new kitten, Fitz. I’m going to laugh with my friends. I’m going to keep dancing and striving for better health. I’m going to spend time with my family. I’m going to keep loving as big as the sky. And I’m going to write. Because, ultimately, writing is a part of who I am, and when I’m not doing it, I feel like a piece of me is missing.

Here’s to a renewed creative spirit.

It’s That Time of Year Again…

November 1, 2014—a day writers around the globe wait for with baited breath. We don’t even bother putting away the Halloween candy. Nay, we will need all that sugar in the coming days. Instead, we grab our notepads, our laptops, and our flash drives, and we psych ourselves up for THE Writing Marathon Of The Year.

Banner

Thirty days. Fifty thousand words. A novel in a month.

Let’s do this.

Preparations come first. We gather the tools of our trade, preparing our space for the ultimate exercise in creativity. Coffee mugs are filled. Dictionaries are dusted off. Our favorite pens are located and put somewhere safe. We neaten our work stations, clear our minds and our desks of detritus that will keep us from our goal. This is NaNo prep at its finest.

Nano desk

The idea we’ve been marinating on for weeks, or days—or for some of us, minutes–begins to take form in our brains as we open that blank word document. It’s a clean white slate. Zero words, zero expectations, zero thoughts expressed. The time to start is now.

…But first, a selfie…

Nano selfie Day 1

…not just because you’re having a particularly good hair day, or because you happened to be wearing the same color as the prominent shade in this year’s banner. No. You take that selfie because it is commemorating the start of something great. Something amazing. Something AWESOME.

Plus, it’s probably the last time you’ll look this good for the next four weeks. Let’s be honest, here. By day 2, you’ll probably look like a zombie.

Now we turn back to that waiting word document. The cursor flashes expectantly, and the protagonist of your story surges forth with a tale to tell.

Oh. Wait. You forgot to update your Facebook profile pic. And your Timeline cover. OOH–and Twitter. Twitter is important, too. So you head over to the NaNoWriMo website–your home base for the next thirty days–and download your inspirational photos for your many social media sites. You might as well go ahead and create your novel while you’re there, too. I mean, now’s as good a time as any. You may have to do a little research to figure out your working title—that’s ok, you’ve got time. And your profile needs some updating–this is your FOURTH year, not your third. Oh hey, look—you have new messages in your inbox! YES—-a link to the Blue Book you’ll need for the meetings!!….

You chuckle at yourself because, minutes into your first day, you’ve already found yourself sucked into the time honored tradition of procrastination. Well, no more, writer.

NaNoWriMo 2014

The time is now.

Writing, Again.

Joss

It comes to me in fits and starts, at first. Flashes of a scene; bits of errant dialogue; a character’s face, even if the features are still a bit fuzzy around the edges.

My desk fills with bits of scrap paper and post-its: names, places, plot points.

I find myself experimenting with conversations in the shower, talking out loud as I flesh out who these characters will be, and what their histories have been.

It’s not a book, or a blog, or a short story yet. It’s all abstract. Ideas. Snippets. A sky in shades of blue, an oak tree dripping with Spanish moss, a creaky front porch with a screen door falling off its hinges. A woman with a painful past coming home to lick her wounds, to find herself amidst the overgrown hydrangeas and too-tall crab grass of her home town.

Will it turn into another novel? I don’t know. Maybe.

But for now, my creativity begins to spill out again. I relish it; I close my eyes and let my mind wander as the story sews itself together. Something deep inside begins to glow again, and I wrap my hands around it, warming my hands on the hope of something shiny and new.

Yes, it’s true, I haven’t written anything in quite a while. Quite a LONG while. But that doesn’t take away from who I am, at my core. I am a writer, a creator. I am a weaver of words and a chronicler of stories.

I may have taken a sabbatical from the thing that I love most, but it doesn’t make me any less of a writer–despite what Pinterest and Twitter and other writers might say.

“Writers write!,” they proclaim. “Even without inspiration a writer should be honing her craft, without fail!” Their vehemence sends me cowering. And that’s no mind frame for healthy creative thinking. At least not for me.

writers write

For me, when inspiration wanes, and creativity wanders, I need to “refill the well.” And so I spent my summer reading, observing, experiencing. Living. Scrubbing all the cobwebs away from the recesses of my brain. And as the weather begins to change, and the rain patters softly on my window, I find the desire to write is slowly returning. For that, I am thankful. For that, I am excited. I am no longer cowering.

And so, a new project begins.

A Study in Patience

Waiting.

My alarm goes off and the first thing I do, before I’m even fully awake, is reach for my cell phone. I never used to leave it on overnight before…but I do now. I don’t want to miss that call. You know…THAT call. I wipe the sleep from my eyes as I scroll through the messages that came in while I slept. Junk emails, news alerts, a few stray comments on Facebook and…nothing. I toss my legs over the side of the mattress, make my way to the shower, and scrub it all from my memory banks.

Ten-Thirty A.M. I’m in the throes of checking my work email, perusing the internet, or playing Farmville, when my phone sounds. “DING!” It’s the sound I’ve designated for an email coming through. I close my eyes for a millisecond and wish. Hope. Then I reach for my phone again, swipe with my thumb, and guide my operating system to the email folder. When I see it’s another promotional email from this company or that store, I send it to my trash folder, sigh, and go back to whatever I was doing.

Lunchtime, and my four cats are not-so-gently reminding me that they’re hungry. I fill their bowls, and they follow me to their spots, meowing the whole way. Scooter goes on the dining room table, Pip to the bathroom, Dizzy to the master bedroom. Harry goes last, and follows me into the guest room. I pause after setting his bowl down; he doesn’t see me well up as I look around the room that will eventually, hopefully, become a nursery. For now, it is just where he eats lunch, and he goes about the task with gusto. I pull the door closed and dash the unshed tears from my eyes before Brian can see.

As the clock ticks on toward five o’clock, I know that the likelihood of an email, or a phone call, becomes slimmer. I begin to relax. Brian turns to me and says, “What’s wrong? You have your sad face on.” I brush it off. “Oh, it’s nothing,” I say. But I’m sure he knows. I see the same look on his face from time to time.

I stand at the kitchen counter, chopping onions, and the thought occurs to me that somewhere in the world, you may be brand new. The woman who carries you, who will eventually choose us to be your parents, may not even know about you yet. But there you are, waiting to come into the world, our world, to fill that void. I smile as I have that thought, and the excitement quickens in my heart. But I shut down the thought process when I start to wonder what your face will look like, what color eyes you will be, what your voice will sound like. It’s too early for that sort of wondering, just yet.

Dinner is served, and we sit and watch the television, enjoying our meal in silence. A commercial comes on depicting a couple who have finally put their children to bed. She offers him his favorite fruity cereal, and they celebrate their victory over parenthood by playing old school video games. Brian turns to me, a huge grin on his face, and says, “That will SO be us soon.” And there it is. I can see it in the glimmer of his eyes, in the smile on his face–his love for you. You’re not even here yet, and we already love you.

As I climb into bed, I check my phone one last time, setting it to “Do Not Disturb,” but leaving it on. Just in case. I dive into my book, or into conversation with Brian about our plans for the weekend, or a chore we need to accomplish, or a fundraising idea to add to the list. After awhile, my eyelids start to get heavy. I turn off my light, kiss my husband, and snuggle in to sleep.

Just as I begin to drift off, I think of you again. I whisper the words into being, so they have a life of their own, “tomorrow. It will happen tomorrow.” Only then do I allow myself to fall to sleep.

Waiting.

waiting

Inevitable Changes

Twenty-two days.

I’ve never gone so long without writing. No since I started up Abby Gabs, anyway.

It isn’t as if I haven’t thought about it. I have. Every morning, as I’m singing away in the shower, I have the same thought. “I should write a blog today.” And then, as the soap washes down the drain, I wrack my mind for a topic to write about. And quite frankly, for the last three weeks, I haven’t been able to come up with a single one.

bang head here

Click for source

Well, that’s not entirely true. I could tell you all about the success I’m continuing to have with my weight loss. Dazzle you with before/after pictures, and regale you with tales of the gym. But the truth is–the weight is coming off slowly, there’s no major number or picture to share, and it’s just part of my daily life now. —>Don’t get me wrong, that’s a wonderful thing! But I’m not so sure it’s “blog-worthy.”

I could write about the silly thing that happened at the grocery story the other day, or the time I walked into an occupied dressing room at the bra store, or the funny conversation I had with Brian in the car on the way to the movies. But those don’t necessarily feel like headlines anymore. True, they were my blogger’s bread and butter for almost 3 years, but as our lives morph and change into something brand new, I’m beginning to wonder if my writing style won’t change with it.

You see, our lives have been totally taken over by this adoption process. It’s all we talk about, it’s all we focus on, it’s all we do. The last couple of months have been dedicated solely to fundraising, and if we aren’t actively making signs, writing up ads, sending out Facebook messages and Tweets, and setting up for a major fundraiser, then we’re actually DOING the fundraiser. (You would be shocked and amazed at how much time and energy it takes to have a rummage sale—especially when you have THREE storage units filled with donations to sell!) While we’ve managed to put quite a nice chunk of change in the bank, I feel like my brain cells are totally absorbed by this whole process. Creativity has been scarce around here, and when I’ve been forced to use it, the entire extent of it goes toward fundraising.

Let’s get to the meat of the issue here, readers (if you’re still even reading…) When I started this blog, it was with the intent that this would be a silly place for you to hang out. Somewhere for you to come to get your daily giggle. I went to great lengths to be the silliest blogger on the internet, to set myself apart from the rest with my weird faces, silly illustrations, and goofy Photoshopped tales. When I can’t think of a topic to write about that falls in that “make ’em laugh” category, I wind up not writing at all. And that’s the current predicament which has left us all without our daily dose of Abby Gabs.

Click for source

Click for source

I think, as a writer, it’s important for me to allow myself to grow and change. I also think it’s hugely important not to put pressure on myself to fit in a “niche.” And so, as my focus shifts, I have to learn how to continue to be a writer as it fits in my new life.

My promise to you, readers, is that I’ll do my best to keep it fun to read. It may not always be funny, but it will come from the most honest part of myself.

And my promise to myself is to keep finding the time, and the inclination, to write: without reservation, without fear of being judged for changing, with the same gusto as before.

Thank you for being patient with me on this journey. I know I’ll find my way back to my creative side eventually. For now, my thoughts are consumed with ‘all things adoption.’ And really? That’s how it should be, for now.

ThatGabbyAbby Goes To PubSmart–A Video Blog


If you can’t see the video, copy and paste the following address into your browser: http://youtu.be/bGY9hlEcgUI

Links of Importance Mentioned in the Video:

PubSmart Writers’ Convention (Or, search the hashtag #PubSmartCon on Twitter)
Hugh Howey’s Website
Laura Pavlides’ website

Encouraging Words

Words.

Words are soothing to me. They make me pause to think. They give me goosebumps. They teach me important lessons like civility, optimism, and grace.

I love to share words, to speak them and write them down, to repeat them over and over till they live on my tongue and in my soul.

It’s more than the writer in me, or the reader in me. Words are in the very essence of me.

I seek them out, actively searching for that perfect sentence.

I strive to string them together beautifully, flawlessly, effortlessly.

I surround myself with words: painted wooden signs, quotes jotted down on post-it notes, doodles in the margins of books.

Words give me power. They can be anchors, or buoys, or vessels. They can be wielded as weapons, or wrought with grief. They can be witty and pointed, or placid and dull.

Words are loneliness, and love. They are epic, and trivial.  Words are limiting. Words are freeing. They are weird and awkward, or subtle and shifting.

Words are romantic. Give me a bouquet of words–well-spoken, meaningful, lovely words–over a handful of flowers any day.

Words are more to me than ink on a page. And that is why, when I find myself on the precipice of something big–a life changing event, a major decision, a situation I know will test me–I turn to words for comfort and guidance.

I will write them down, post them in visible places, and horde them, knowing those words will give me the hope, courage, strength, and patience I need when the road gets harder to pass.

Words

The ink will stay as long as I need it to, until I’ve learned the lesson. Then I will wipe it away and replace it with new ink, and different words, surrounding myself with their beauty and wisdom.

I can relish in the knowledge that they are there for me, to serve as a reminder that the path I’ve chosen, while not easy, will be worth the effort of the journey in the long run.