Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Review - The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

Hey there kids. I finished this book about 15 minutes ago and felt compelled to review it, as well as talk it up at work before I've even finished it. My friend gave it to me as a birthday/christmas gift right after I left my husband... This book review is going to go a little past the book itself, and I'm going to dive into my personal life a bit. I feel like honesty is important, and being honest with you means I reveal I am a human, not a typing machine (though sometimes I wish I were ^_^). I'm a wobbly, emotional, scared sack of meat (and a bit of poop and water and other stuff).

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck is the last "self help" book you'll ever need, other than something like "How To Do The Best Chin-Up That Will Leave You Ripped"... in seriousness though, let's begin. I'm going to reveal personal bits about me (I know I already warned you), and if that makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to read on anyway. Get uncomfortable for once in your life... a lesson brought to you by TSAONGAF. That's really long. SANGF... better.

I was with my husband for ten years, and we had a four year friendship before that which was sparked by a two week-ish teenage romance ending in, "You're nice but there's a lot more to experience out there and I need to go do that."
Three days before the emotionally incomprehensible departure from the life that I knew, my stomach was wrapped in an iron snake, constantly constricting and forcing me to experience the pain I'd harbored mentally, all over my body. I realized I was at the precipice of a decision that there was no going back from, one that I'd ignored in waves, and brought up in waves, that came and went as I decided to be complacent with the fact that things weren't great, and it was my fault. That's not to say everything was my fault, because that would be entitled, but of all the choices I had available, I chose the easy ones most of the time.
It was finally time for a hard choice.
The book discusses a wide variety of reasons as to why we're little shits and avoid the hard choices, or speak dishonesties, or indulge in random sex, drink too much, not ask that pretty girl out, get complacent at our job, avoid writing... so on and so forth of easy choices. But most of it comes down to our core values, and what we really give a fuck about.

Onto more of the book reviewishy stuff... The first 40 pages were, in my opinion, not super helpful. They were things I'd already learned through my last stint of emotional development from ages 24-28 and so it was just a bit of reinforcement. "These things that I've learned in the past 4 years seem to be 'not bullshit'." It was a good feeling knowing I hadn't wasted my time learning something incorrect, but I already knew that, because it felt right.
In any case, the first 40 pages of the book drops the F*Bomb about 20 times a page or more. That gets a bit exhausting and I honestly wasn't that interested in all the fucks. They were fluffy page filler that made me grumpy about trudging forward, but I was promised a chewy caramel center, so I went on.
Chapter 3 was where we broached a topic I was very familiar with, but not quite on board with or had some other reservations about it. It was where the meat of my literary adventure began. Somewhere around the mid way point, we came to the chapters talking about "Why you always feel like shit." and somewhere deep in me I knew why, but luckily there was someone there to say it. There was a mismatch in my perceived core value, and the life I was living.

Loyalty is one of my core values. I'd left my husband. Loyalty + Leaving Husband = Mismatch. I hated myself and I hated that I hated myself. Why? Why am I so angry? Why am I destroying myself physically and mentally?
After a lot of self destruction and torment and intense loathing (all while in the midst of reading the book over a few month period) I finally sat myself down for a talk. By that I mean I got high and took myself for a walk (it's ok it's legal where I live).

"Why do you feel you've been disloyal?"
"Because I left."
"But why does that make you disloyal?"
"Because I hurt him."
"Hurting != Loyalty breaking."
"Why not?"
"Because pain does not mean you broke trust, aka, disloyalty."
"But he thought he could depend on me, and now I'm gone. That's not loyalty."
"And you thought you could depend on you, but you couldn't, so how could he ever? That's not loyalty, either."
"So... I was never loyal?"
"Correct."
Indeed.

I realized that I'd never lived my core value. Or at least, never fully lived it, because I wasn't loyal to what I wanted or needed. How could I be what someone else wanted and needed if I wasn't first what I wanted and needed to be?

Ouch.

Let's dive back down into indulging in momentary pleasures, and skirting responsibilities, and everything else that people do when they can't make hard choices.
It was time to either abandon loyalty as a core value and make way for whatever had been there all along (I'm not sure what it was...) or adopt it full and true.
I'm right at the edge of that hard choice. I've been avoiding it. Pacing back and forth like a caged animal trapped at her own volition. I don't like being on this side. It's not a nice place to be in where you're constantly living for the next dopamine hit, becoming completely non-functional when you go too long without it. But moving forward is hard, and hardship hurts.
I know from the outside it looks like a simple solution: Being a shit makes me momentarily happy, but persistently unhappy, so I should stop being a shit. I wish the solution was as simple as saying it. I've got this awful tendency to go balls out on something, and then burning myself out on that something. I want to change overnight. I want to wake up tomorrow and find it easy to say no to drinking and say yes to working out hard and eating healthy, say no to laziness and yes to writing more, say no to binging Netflix and yes to reading another book.

Mason (the author) goes on to say "It's better do to anything, rather than nothing." So, I'm going to start with as many little bits of "anything" I can manage in a day. It took me a solid two years when working with my second mentor to stop being so selfish and see that other humans felt too. Two years. I think that's a good benchmark. Afterall, I theoretically have a couple of decades left, so two years isn't really that much time. So, over the next two years, from this night, I'm going to work on being loyal to me, the things I really need, and I think I can make it.

Thus ends my quasi-book review, mostly life-info dump. It was really hard being honest with you guys, but I wanted to be loyal to what I wanted, and I wanted to share an experience with you that is changing me.

Read the book. The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Critique/Writer's Groups - Part 1

HI GUYS! Haven't seen you in a while... sorry about that. Life sometimes turns upside down and you gotta roll with the punches.
I'm preempting this with Part 1 because I assume there will certainly be a Part 2, maybe even 3. There's lots to talk about here, so let's dive into the beginning.

Do I Need A Writer's Group?

Do you write? If yes, then yes. If no... probably still yes.

Picking a Writer's Group

So, you need a writer's/critique group, but how do you find the write(😉) fit? There are many things to take into consideration, but here's the top for me:
  1. Get a writing sample from them, and give them one of yours.
    You need to know if they:
    • Are on the same skill level, above, or below you. You don't want to pair with a group that's full of people below your skill level because you likely won't grow with them. You want a good mix of people below, above, and at your skill level so you can help mentor, and grow, at the same time. Win-win.
    • Write in or around the same genre. You don't need to get into a group that's strict Slipstream Cyberpunk if that's what you want to write, but you need to at least get into a group with a few Sci-Fi people, or else you're gonna have a bad time.
    • Differ in background. You want a good mix of people from different age groups and genders. You want to be able to get at least ONE person in the group to be from your target market, or close to it, so when you bounce something off them they can say if it resonates.
  2. Do they meet near where you live/work?
    This one is important for a few reasons, but mainly consistency. If you have to drive 20 miles out of your way to get to them, do you think you'll be able to stick with it? Probably not. You want a group that meets in a super convenient place so it's harder for you to opt out of meetings. Not just for your sanity's sake, but you want to build a rapport with these people, and if you're not showing up, they're not going to know you (I experienced this one a few nights ago with my group, but I won't cry about it here).
  3. Along with the sample writing, you probably want to get and give a sample critique, or treat your first meetup like an interview-ish. You want to know that the members in the group actually receive criticism well, and if they give it well too. Nothing worse than writing up a thousand words of critique on an eight thousand word submission to get literally nothing in return. It's like a kick to the balls (if I had any), and you always get a bit salty... it's like, "I spent fuckin two hours reading and providing feedback for your work. Even if my feedback is poop to you, at least give me the same effort..." Oooh... am I salty right now? I think I'm salty.
Cutting you guys off there. I've got a fuckin' killer script to be working on right now. Peace out kiddies!