Keeping Calm While Querying

It’s not an easy thing to do. Querying, I think, is a highly stressful experience especially when you made a thing and have a dream and you’re fighting for it. You’ve put so much time and energy and heart into this thing you’ve made and now you want to get something out of it on the professional side rather than a few beta readers and/or critique partners who have loved it. It’s both terrifying and exciting, maybe even exhausting if you’ve been at it long enough.

After DVpit, I sent out a rush of queries. Some of them were full requests from the pitch event, others were partials or just the query itself depending on the agent’s submission requirements. My heart was pounding the whole time and I scanned every email looking for a flaw. Sometimes a mistake even managed to go through and, while my first instinct was to get upset about it, I tried not to dwell on it.

Am I calm? Not at all.

But I’m trying to be. I’m in a much better place than I was the first round of querying I did last year.

1. Prepare

Know your book. Know your pitch, your comp titles, your aesthetics. Know the writing, the characters, the themes. Know your book from back to front and prepare to gush about it to gain interest. Know what is or isn’t working (and fix the latter). Go through your book as many times as necessary until you are satisfied with the draft, that it’s as polished as can be based on your own revision notes and the notes you received from others. Don’t expect agents to offer feedback with rejections. They deal with so many queries, there’s just no time for it! But don’t take that personally.

Write a query—or even several versions! Write a synopsis. Practice doing Twitter pitches. Get your materials ready to go. The more prepared you are, the less scary it could be (though my anxiety is like LOL NO IT’S STILL SCARY).

2. Get Feedback

Let others rip apart what you pieced together so you can see the loose threads and stitch it more securely. At this point, I’m not talking about the draft itself. I’m talking about your query and synopsis. Those are likely going to be the things that agents look at first. Some agents will ask for a synopsis, others might not. But your query needs to be perfect.

Look for feedback from those who are willing! Beta readers, critique partners, other writers looking to help, writers who are offering pitch and query critiques. Check forums or Twitter events. If you have the means, there are always people who offer critiques for a certain price! There are websites and newsletters that offer information about writing queries and places online where you can get your query critiqued. It’s hard to throw it out there, but it will definitely help to have others (including both those who have read and haven’t read your book) look at your query and help you figure out what is and isn’t working.

3. Edit

Edit them over and over again until you like the way they sound and can’t find anything you don’t like. Take the notes you’ve received and/or made yourself and put them to work. Make your query shine so that it’s easy to understand and the premise of your book is so exciting that it gets hearts racing and inspires those *grabby hands* gifs. If you’re still uncertain about your query, check the writers and authors who have blogs posts about getting an agent! Some might even have their query up so you can see a query that worked for them.

In my first round of querying, I sent out different versions of my query. I could tell immediately which ones worked and which didn’t. It wasn’t exactly the ideal way to figure this out, but it was information I stowed away from my next round. Having others look over your query first is prooooobably a better idea. *shrug*

4. Support System

Querying can be extremely stressful. Go into the #amquerying and #ontheporch tags on Twitter, maybe connect with some writers there. Participate in Twitter chats. Meet up with other writers in your area. I keep mentioning beta readers and critique partners and having others help you out. It’s such an important part of the journey because it changes it. My participation in writer Twitter only really began in December but the difference is monumental. Seriously. Reach out. Participate. Meet other writers, especially those you admire AND those who are in the same place as you in their career.

After #DVpit, I connected with some of the other writers who received lots of interest in their pitch. I thought I could lend support as someone who might understand what they’re going through. Doing so has made a huuuge impact on my experience. It’s made it less lonely and terrifying, though it’s always scary to reach out to people you’re not already close with. If I haven’t reached out to you, my DMs are open, especially if we’re mutuals!! If we’re not mutuals, we CAN be. I prefer some interacting (i.e. replies/likes) first but listen, I fully believe in boosting voices, especially marginalized voices. Bonus points if you’re a Filipinx artist because I am biased and want more art/stories from my culture.

Also, shout out to the Toronto Writer Crew! You guys have been so generous with your knowledge and support and I appreciate it so so so much.

5. Distractions

Keep yourself occupied. Pick up a new habit or reclaim an old one. Learn to knit, pick up an instrument, practice some dancing, go bowling or skating or something! Treat yourself to keep yourself happy and excited. Read lots of books or write a new one. Meet up with friends! Make NEW friends! Maybe do all these things! Stay busy so you’re not constantly checking your phone notifications and emails in hopes of getting something good.

I’m too overwhelmed by querying to do much writing at the moment, so I’m taking the month to catch up on as much reading as possible and meet up with writer friends whenever I can!

6. Positive Affirmations

Remember that you wrote a book and that’s not easy to do. Remember why you wrote that particular book and why you love it. Remember the best, exciting things about that book. Look back at old work and look at how far you’ve come. Look back at your life and your accomplished goals and dreams.

You’re here! You’re writing! You’re creating something beautiful and valuable and worthy. Remember that, always!!!

 

At the end of the day, I find that there’s one thing to remember:
if it’s what you want, it’s worth it. 
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April 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES

  • Paneling/Signing + Meeting Toronto writers
    • This past month, I got to meet some amazing people in person! There’s a group of writers in Toronto who are incredibly talented and kind and welcoming. I hadn’t met any other writers in person before, though I have met authors. We met up at the panel and signing at Chapters Brampton with authors E.K. Johnson, Julie Dao, Rachel Hartman, and Morgan Rhodes! It was an exciting day of a brilliant panel with amazing questions and gorgeous answers. We had drinks later and talked about various writerly things that drew some strange looks from our server. I was so nervous but so excited and it was all so worth it. Writing is a solitary experience, but having this wonderful people in my life now makes it much less lonely and terrifying.
  • TAKING A BREAK FROM NOVELS
    • So, April was the month of getting things done. In order to accomplish that, I had to set the books aside for a while. It was a tough choice considering how many books I have set for my reading goal, but a necessary one. I reached a point where novels weren’t quite right for me. You’ll see what I managed to read this month and most of these books were poetry! I try to read as much poetry as I can these days to work on my voice and improve my prose. Not that I’m copying lines or phrases of course, just grabbing inspiration to pull together words in ways I hadn’t imagined before. Seriously, poetry helps.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo
    • I was very ambitious this month, desperately trying to get out this story that’s been in my head and growing and growing for several months now. I planned and plotted and expanded this little idea into something real. I had an outline and character bios and themes to touch upon. I did my research again and again until I figured out all the details of this book. It’s the first contemporary I’ve written, this #BakingFigureSkaterBook, and that proved to be a real challenge. With DVpit in the same month, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to accomplish both books. Annnd unfortunately, I was right. It was fun getting to play around with this book though! I didn’t win Camp NaNo, but that doesn’t mean I won’t finish this book.
  • Revising WHEN THEY BECKON
    • This was the other book that occupied my time. I’d planned on finishing revisions in February, but uh… things didn’t go as planned. So I wanted to get it all done in time for DVpit. 14k words scrapped, rewritten chapters, countless tweaking and polishing… A lot was accomplished! I focused more on that than my YA Contemporary. It’s the book of my heart, the one that I couldn’t not write, the story and characters filling my head for over two years now!
  • DVpit
    • I did a post on this pitch event because it was pure ridiculousness and nothing like I imagined, especially since I’d participated in DVpit last October with less than 10 likes from agents in total. Anyway, that happened. That was surprising. I’m still dealing with the aftershocks of that event, but hopefully I’ll have some news on that in the near future! Who knows!

BOOKS I’VE READ

  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ★★★
  • Sweet Persuasions by Rochelle Alers ★★★
  • Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics ★★★★★
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay ★★★★★
  • Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire ★★★★★
  • Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook ★★★
  • A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver ★★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED

  • Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
  • Risen (2016)
  • Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
  • Berlin Syndrome (2017)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED

  • Timeless (2016-)
  • Once Upon a Time (2011-)
  • New Girl (2011-2018)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Imposters (2017-)
  • Into the Badlands (2015-)

Post-DVpit and Pinching Myself

Uh. So. Things happened on Wednesday when my tweet did much, much better than I had ever anticipated or even imagined. Last year, I got less than ten likes from different agents in total across six tweets.

This year, things were much different.

dvpit tweet

I didn’t go viral. I didn’t get national celebrity status. I didn’t make the news. But I did get all this attention for my little book. In general, I like to think that I’m a humble person, dreaming big but being realistic. Though I dream about working full-time as an author, I don’t expect to be raking in the big bucks, swimming around in cash, or having enough to throw to charity and still live more than comfortably. No, that’s SUCH an impossibility and it’s a joke for me to even consider that.

All I want to do is earn enough as an author to live comfortably. That’s it.

Sometimes it feels like a big dream because, while I’ve been middleclass and even close to upper-middleclass at one point, my family has had its ups and downs. We have debt piling up, emergencies taking away what we’ve saved, things that always got in the way of making the most of what we have. Sure, who doesn’t dream about being filthy rich?

I’m a daydreamer.

And yet I don’t like getting my hopes up.

The thing about DVpit is that it’s an amazing opportunity for marginalized creators to have their voices heard. While I wasn’t about to scroll through the tweets much, it’s clear that it is a very active. A lot of writers participated, as did agents and editors. I fully expected mine to get hidden beneath it all, just as it did before. I’ve never made it into contests or had thousands (or even hundreds) of followers to support me. I don’t have the mental and emotional capability to reach out to people every day.

My phone went off all day. Retweets, likes, comments! Agents, editors, friends, other writers, bookbloggers, and so many others! I checked my notifications briefly while I was at work, unable to fully process what’s going on aside from seeing the numbers rising. Because I work in a patisserie, I don’t have much time to use my phone and I definitely can’t ever use my laptop there. So, as all this attention was happening, I was working and thinking, No, this is ridiculous and NO FREAKNG WAY.

I didn’t fully process it until tonight when I was showing my mom what happened.

This pitch existed in several different forms since last October’s DVpit. It’s been tweaked and tweaked until it came to this version and I still wasn’t entirely happy with it but I threw it out there. I guess it worked? Over 60 agents expressed interest, over a dozen editors did as well.

What did I do? I waited until I could breathe and the names and numbers weren’t blurring from my anxiety. It felt like there was so much pressure on me, that my book was getting so hyped and didn’t even deserve it. My book? HA. My book would never be so hyped—but I was wrong.

I only hope I deserve it all.

Once I calmed down, I wrote down the names of the agents and editors by hand. I organized them alphabetically by literary agency/publishing house. And then I started plugging all this info into a spreadsheet, keeping track of what they wanted from me. And then, I decided who I wanted to query. Just like regular querying, I’m doing these in batches, but also making sure the agents I’d love to have represent me are the ones who get it first.

Now, some queries and materials are out there.

It feels like I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. Through all this, I’m relying on my friends to help me figure out my thoughts and reminding me of how amazing this all is. They’re all seeing it, so it must be real, right? It’s not a dream. Something I joked about—wow, just wait, I’m going to get SOOOOOO many likes—became real.

This happened.

I can hardly believe it.

Fingers crossed for good news to come!

March 2018 Reflections

LIFE UPDATES

  • Nonfiction piece on Ruru Reads
    • ICYMI: I had a nonfiction piece about first love and being fetishized on Ruru Reads that you can read here! I also wrote an open letter to go along with the publication in case people I know in real life read this piece and have some thoughts, which you can read here.
  • Working on Multiple Projects AT ONCE IS A LOT OF WORK WHY DID I DO THIS
    • So I’m trying to be ambitious and get a lot of things done. There are so many ideas in my head and so little time to get them all down. Sometimes I just start projects and let them sit for a while now that I’ve got some words down for them. At first, I was beating myself up over the fact that I did this with both RivalAssassinsWIP/B&B and BakingFigureSkaterBook/RFRE, but I realized I did this before. I wrote the beginning of WQC while I was drafting WTB because I needed to get that opening scene out so I can focus on WTB. And then as I was doing revisions on WTB, I started THTS because I had the beginning perfectly formed in my head.
    • So basically, I realized I’ve been doing this multiple times. Start, get the voice, and return to the main thing that I get done. It’s not always novel-length stories either. There are some short stories in my folders that are incomplete or in  need of serious, little things the size of a chapter or two in my novel-length projects that flow out in the moment so I can silence all the noise.
    • Maybe I’ll write a full post on that silencing-the-noise thing. I was telling someone the other day that I don’t have characters speaking to me or imagine worlds first like they do, I’m one of those writers who has an idea that’s like a seed and it grows and grows – or ideas like a web that’s constantly expanding. One small point that grows and expands until it’s this whole thing. And, sometimes, the starting point just needs to get down before I start building it, just so it feels like it’s getting the attention it demands.
  • No longer the New Girl at work
    • I’m adjusting to my job well, I think! I’m getting the hang of things to the point where I’m being allowed to help train the new person at work. It’s a little stressful because I don’t do things perfectly and there are still things I’m uncertain about, but it’s nice to look at it as seeing all the things I have learned and can do. That’s kinda why I like my accountability threads on Twitter – being able to visualize my progress and look at how far I’ve come.
  • Struggling to enjoy books
    • I do read a lot lately, but I might be burning out. Last year, I had a goal of 50 books. This year, my goal is 100. It’s a big jump and who knows if I’ll actually accomplish it. I don’t have as much time to read anymore because my commute to work isn’t as long as my commute to school. And books lately haven’t been as good as I hoped they were. I’ve been losing interest. Maybe in April I won’t strive to read as much as I planned (8-10 books per month) and just focus on my WIPs.
    • In trying to combat that lack of interest in novels, I’m trying to read more poetry! It’s an interesting adjustment and it does help me work on my prose and vocabulary so my writing isn’t repetitive or dull. That’s not to say that people who don’t read poetry write in repetitive or dull ways, but my writing gets that way. It’s my extra boost of inspiration especially since my writing often stems from a single line that’s beening playing over and over again in my head until’s written down.
  • Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo
    • this is part of my ambitious streak! So, in combination with working on multiple projects at once, I’m trying to get a schedule together to accomplish my goals. In the mornings, I’ll be writing. In the evenings, I’ll be editing. Since I do want a life outside writing, however, that means I won’t be cramming in edits every night which is fine with me. Who knows if I’ll win Camp NaNo? I’m still going to try and use this month as motivation to be productive. Hopefully I won’t get stressed out and hate myself if I don’t accomplish that 60k word count I’m aiming for.

BOOKS I’VE READ

  • Everless by Sara Holland ★★★
  • A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole ★★★
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton ★★★
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory ★★★
  • Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest ★★★
  • This Impossible Light by Lily Myers ★★★
  • Easy by Marie Ponsot ★★

FILMS I’VE WATCHED

  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Love, Simon (2018)
  • Tomb Raider (2018)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)
  • Expedition China (2017)
  • When We First Met (2018)

TV SHOWS I’VE WATCHED

  • This is Us (2016-)
  • Black Lightning (2018-)
  • Gossip Girl (2007-2012)
  • Versailles (2015-)
  • Timeless (2016-)

Working Hard or Overexertion?

There are a lot of creatives who talk about pushing themselves really hard to get their projects done. It’s things like waking up early, doing the day job, and then spending the whole night writing with very little time left for sleeping. It’s hard work, it’s impressive, and it’s not an option for everyone, including me.

What works for someone else doesn’t have to work for you.

It’s a simple statement but one that I find myself often forgetting. Someone’s work ethic doesn’t have to be yours as well. It’s one of those things where you need to consider your own situation, your own capabilities and limits. Can you handle having less sleep? Can you manage churning out a couple thousand words tonight? If you can’t, do you beat yourself up about it? If you try anyway, is it really worth it or are you just hurting yourself?

The first draft of WTB took me a month, but it wasn’t just any month. It was the end of a semester when I had very few exams left that I’d been studying for the last few weeks. It was a quiet month for me, for the most part, with time to write between classes because I had my laptop with me all the time and no job demanding my time outside of school. Because I had no classes, I was able to read books in the morning and write in the evenings until midnight. With my day job and having to commute back and forth, I don’t have time for that kind of schedule anymore. My mental health won’t allow me to work like that anymore because I’m often exhausted after work or waking up to go to the gym instead of writing. If I do, I’m overworking myself and putting my mental and physical health at risk.

These days, I’ve been drowning in guilt that I haven’t worked hard enough, that I’m falling behind, that I’m failing myself in not writing every day. And that’s just not fair to do to myself. I should ont exhaust myself trying to get the words out. I should not force myself to write when all I want to do is lie down.

Some days, it’s easier to just relax. Some days, it’s better to just rest your mind and body so that you’ll have the energy to put your full effort into something you care about. It’s ableist to consider that the best method is the hustle of squeezing in time every day and night, even when work wears you down to aching muscles and bare bones. It isn’t kind. It may even be cruel to inflict such harm on yourself to force that work.

Recently, I’ve started accountability threads for the new first drafts I’ve been working on: #RivalAssassinsWIP and #BakingFigureSkaterBook. Both of them show my word counts and will eventually include my novel aesthetics. These threads aren’t to brag about how much I’m writing. In fact, you won’t see me writing consistently. I go back and forth these days, working on whatever I’m motivated to work on. I will not be writing every single day and, if I am, it won’t always be high word counts.

My accountability threads are definitely not to keep myself on track to write all the time. They’re really about seeing my progress, checking my consistency, and sharing that progress with others to excite myself and maybe them as well. It bruises my ego and dulls my competitive edge to see that others are further in their drafs than I am, that they’re writing and sprinting every day and I’m just opening my laptop, swiching around words, then going to bed.

Listen, I don’t work a lot but my job is exhausting for me. I have social anxiety and I am constantly on interacting with others for several hours at a time and trying not to be affected by other people’s negativity or even their rudeness. It’s exhausting. I barely want to speak to anyone after work and so my interactions are limited. And to write after wearing down my brain? Nearly impossible.

Do you know what it would be like if I was having a bad day? Nothing gets done. No one will get to talk to me. I’m trying not to hate myself for it or even beat myself up about it because – guess what – it’s not healthy to for yourself into those kinds of routines.

I treat my writing like a job some days. Other days, I treat it like a volunteering experience. It depends on my mood and my energy. I push myself and sometimes I push too hard. It’s important to learn your limits and stay within them. Work hard, but don’t overexert yourself.

Your book doesn’t need to be written in a month, or written every day. Play around with aesthetics or playlists or anything. Keep up your interest and excitement for your projects. Sometimes I just scroll through my Pinterest boards if I don’t have enough energy to write because it makes me feel like there’s something happening or, in the very least, something to look forward to work on eventually. I think that counts as working on your projects. That’s what I tell myself at least.

Take it easy. Don’t rush yourself because others talk about how they get words in every day.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t push yourself so hard that you’re physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted. Don’t make yourself resent your capabilities or even your project.

Do what you can do. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

You’re going to get there at your own pace. However you get there and however long it takes doesn’t discredit what you accomplish. And if you’re not yet where you want to be or done what you want to do, having those ideas and dreams and goals is good too. It counts. It matters.

So, work hard but don’t overwork yourself.

 

 

 

Looking on the Bright Side of Writing

Writing is hard work. The journey to traditional publishing can be agony.

Is it worth it?

I’m sure it is, especially if that’s what you want to do.

Personally, I can’t tell you if it is because I haven’t been traditionally published. I haven’t gotten a book deal or even an agent. I haven’t even received an offer of representation from an agent at this point. You know what, though? That’s okay. I don’t need to rush. I want these things to happen and I want to make a career out of it, but I don’t need to hurry to get there or stress about not being there or let it get to me.

Of course it still does. I whine, I complain, I mope about, I’ve even cried. Staying positive in this journey is difficult. There’s a lot of rejection involved and even more envy along the way. Talented writers are everywhere. Writers spending more time doing writing than you are everywhere. It’s easy to fall into a place where it all feels hopeless and worthless and absolutely awful. What if my hard work means nothing? What if I’m just imagining my talent? What if my stories are awful? What if no one cares?

At the end of the day, I try to remember that my dream isn’t to have fans or get rich and famous – it’s to write books for a living. Literally a living wage. Money to sustain me, maybe money to spare for luxuries like shopping sprees or even vacations. I’m not dreaming big here. I’m just dreaming about doing what I love for a living. It’s as simple as that. To get there, however, there’s a lot to do and a lot to endure.

Here’s what sucks:

I don’t have time to write between classes or during classes like I did while I was in university. I don’t have the energy to write thousands of words every night like I used to. Sometimes I can’t get more than a thousand words a week. My job takes up so much of my time and I lack the motivation to work on my WIPs a lot of the time.

I received over a dozen rejections and at least another dozen more queries unanswered. I didn’t receive more than ten likes on tweets in DVpit, the only Twitter pitch event I participated in. For the queries I did send out, they were all rejections or no answer whatsoever.

I didn’t get into any mentoring contests I entered. I didn’t receive any special feedback. I didn’t participate in YA Twitter until late last year. I barely had any writing friends and hardly anyone I could talk to who could understand what I was doing and what I wanted to do.

Even though it took me a month to churn out the first draft of WTB, it’s still being polished up nearly two years later. I don’t have several critique partners or beta readers. I don’t have people raving about my book. I don’t have friends freaking out about what’s going on. I don’t really feel like it’s Some Amazing Big Thing, even if I do think it’s good. I don’t have the confidence to ask more people to take the time to read it because it is a full-length novel and people have more important things to do. I don’t even have the confidence to show it to friends and family even though it’s something that makes me proud.

Every other draft has taken me much longer to finish. WQC went through multiple incomplete drafts, rewritten until I found a draft I liked and finished and I’m still uncomfortable thinking about sharing it. THATS took a few months but a year of brainstorming and lots of crying and the first draft feels like it’s awful. #RivalAssassinsWIP has maybe 12k words so far while #BakingFigureSkaterBook has maybe 5k. I am no even close to finishing either of them.

That’s a lot of bad. That’s a lot of things to be upset about. Putting it all out there is like finally exhaling, like uncurling a fist and removing my nails from my palms, or getting off my feet after spending hours upon hours on them. I don’t dwell on every single thing all the time, but I do think about them often.

Lately, I’m in a slump. I’m still trying to get used to work because it’s not consistent and I’m often closing the store, which is a lot of work. But writing makes me happy. Writing is something to look forward to at night. I am regaining my focus and feeling more motivated and getting excited about my projects.

I go on a lot about how it’s garbage, it’s the worst, my writing sucks, etc etc. I apologize for the state of it. I don’t expect people to rave about it. The truth is that I LOVE MY BOOK. I LOVE MY STORY. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s so interesting. The characters are intriguing, the plot is thrilling, the magic is so SO COOL. Maybe other people won’t agree with me, but I’m happy with the way it’s coming along. I am KILLING these revisions. This new draft is going to be awesome and I can’t wait to send it out to agents, to show them how much I’ve changed and improved.

Those are a few good things. Here’s some more:

Within all the agent rejections, I did get relevant feedback from interested agents. They told me that they liked the premise, that my query letter was great, but they also gave me a heads up on what wasn’t working: too many words, a slow start, too much exposition in the beginning. And a couple of them asked me to revise and resubmit to them. And while one agent did end up rejecting me, she said she took some extra time because she really liked the premise. AND THEN I got a very delayed full MS request from a query I sent in October and had marked as a rejection (which has been super encouraging and provided extra motivation).

I finished the first draft of WTB less than two years ago. I hadn’t written seriously in several years before that. I now have several upcoming projects in various stages of development and two complete first drafts of exciting stories. My writing has improved substantially. I’ve developed my voice, my style, and maybe my brand of YA fantasy stories with criminally-inclined heroines who do what they want to get what they want. I’ve started writing #ownvoices stories and do it (most of the time) without shame or uncertainty.

I now have writer friends. I communicate more with others about writing. I have CPs and new eyes on my MS. I hope to obtain more readers before I start querying agents. I’m excited to have people read my work and I know there will be someone who will feel passionately about it.

These days, my mental health is much improved. I have some money now to buy things here and there that I wasn’t able to buy before. I have a job that is fun even if it is challenging and even exhausting sometimes. I have a significant other is everything and more than I wanted in a partner. I have my best friends and a belief in the stability of our friendships. I have a wonderful relationship with my mom. I am gaining confidence in myself and what I can do.

It’s hard to stay positive, but every day I start faltering, I start thinking about what I have done so far and what I have yet to do. I will accomplish what I want to accomplish. I’ve come a long way. I have further to go. It won’t be easy, but I know I’ll get there.

Seeing the good between all the bad doesn’t come naturally to me. I still see the worst in myself, the things that could be better, the things I need to do and haven’t done. The bad thoughts come in all the time and it’s never really easy to flush them out. It is possible though, and that’s what matters. At least, that’s what I’m focusing on.

Find the good stuff. Hold on tight. Stay positive. Keep going.

The journey will be bumpy, but it’s going to work out.

Counting: A Non-Fiction Piece on Ruru Reads

You can find the non-fiction piece referred to in this post here on Ruru Reads.

Non-fiction has always been terrifying to me. Writing already makes me feel so bare and vulnerable. Having this piece out there means so much to me, I can hardly explain it. With that said, it’s important to acknowledge that others might be affected by this piece in some way or have opinions. Feel free to email me about this if you must, but please do not discredit how it felt to me. Your truth might not match mine, but it is still my truth and experience.

To my ex-boyfriend who inspired the piece:

Know that I am not holding this grudge against you. We were young. I know I hurt you and, if you read this, then you know that you hurt me. The problem about our relationship was that we weren’t suited for each other. We also didn’t understand the complexity of each other and what we were together. I hope you’ve grown as a person, that you understand what you made me realize was wrong and that you showed me what I could or couldn’t bear. You taught me so much about myself and what I want in a relationship. You taught me to think about others’ happiness in addition to my own.

But bad things happened during our relationship, things that didn’t happen because of you or because of our relationship. It was not a good time for me. My mind was dark and my heart was broken and my life didn’t seem worth it. I wasn’t capable of handling a relationship while navigating my sadness and trying to adapt to my changing life after serious mental health challenges. Maybe, at another point of time, we could have tried to make it work. I don’t regret that it ended and I’m sure you’re much happier now with someone else, just as I am. I’m sorry I hurt you. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, or to inspire such anger and resentment. We didn’t understand what we were doing or what was wrong. We were never meant to be.

To my high school classmates who didn’t understand why that relationship ended after so many were rooting for us:

The fear of disappointing you all stopped me from ending it sooner. The fact that so many people loved and cheered for this relationship made me feel like I was the villain, that I hurt this by who loved me so fiercely. The truth is that I didn’t feel loved, I felt like a piece to collect. This piece might shock you to know how I truly felt and you still might not understand what was so upsetting or what was wrong with what happened. I hope that you’ll eventually understand. I was a highly-visible minority and I felt the implications of that every single day. When it was highlighted even more, it hurt. I wanted to be more.

To other POC who faced similar circumstances:

I know it hurts. I wish we didn’t have to endure it. I wish it wasn’t so dehumanizing and belitting and painful. I wish we could be loved as individuals, that we didn’t have to realize that the person we loved treated our race and/or ethnicity as a commodity. It’s not a selling point on a person. It’s an identity, but not the only one that matters. I deserved to feel loved as a whole, not for pieces of me. We deserve that. Even if it’s not what they intended or they don’t realize what they’re doing, intent doesn’t erase the effect.