Living Life

I could think of life as a series of to do lists that are waiting to be checked off. Or I could think of life as an adventure. There are about as many ways to think of life as there are books in my house. (hint, a lot) It almost seems impossible to think about life without correlating it to something else.

‘This great journey I am on.’

‘The adventure we call life.’

It could also be the ‘bucket list’ some are trying to accomplish before they die. *raises hand*

Or perhaps there is a great goal that a person is reaching for, everything in their life is aimed at the great goal. Whether it be finding love, owning a company, or landing a dream job.

Along those same lines, life could be a great quest for something. Like my quest to find out how to make the words on the page match exactly the sounds that come out of my mouth when I am upset or excited.

The point is, life is always something. In an attempt to explain what you and I are doing at this very moment. Are we on a journey? Have you been placed in an epic quest? Is doing laundry an adventure? (I mean, it is when your little boys fill their pockets with everything) What exactly are you doing right now as you are reading this blog post? Breathing, your heart is beating, your eyes are moving across the screen. You are living right now.

Isn’t that crazy? You and I are conscious beings that choose what to have for lunch every day. The more I think about it, the more life seems undefinable. I know we can scientifically prove what is living and what is not, but when I really think about what living means, the more I am in awe. What do I call this mere act of thinking and asking questions? It almost blows my mind that we can actually think about living, and even think about thinking.

There are so many ways I could define what I am doing right now, I could be on a quest to finish this blog post, or be on an epic adventure and this is only a pause in the action, or I could be working on my dream to be an author, or all of it!

Yet in the end, it all boils down to one thing. I am living. No matter what I correlate it to, I am living life. Even if I sleep all day and procrastinate on doing the dishes, I am living.

Which is pretty cool, now that I am thinking about it.

Shaina Merrick

Bookshelves and Ramblings

I just bought another bookshelf. Supposedly it is for my movies and other odds and ends. We all know it is going to house the books spilling over from my other bookshelf. Why else would I buy one? It is very pretty (thanks dad for putting it together). It will be even prettier when I have books on it. Obviously.

Somehow, somewhere in the back of my head, I was convinced that moving to this house would make me a better writer, a more organized person, and less stressed. Feel free to laugh all you want, I know it is ridiculous.

I leave dishes in the sink all. of. the. time. Sometimes I forget to switch the laundry and end up with damp clothes in the morning. It is a constant battle to keep my room clean, something I don’t remember dealing with quite so much before I moved out.

I don’t know if I thought I would have more time, or if I thought living alone would kick start those creative juices. Either way, I was wrong. Writing is still hard. I probably have less time for it than before, since there are dishes in the sink and school to do. I am the exact same person I was before I moved, just in a different location.

The same woman who forgets about the tea bags in her mugs until they dry and scatters books around her whole house in various stages of completion. Like supposing a new bookshelf will change how I organize my house but really won’t, I supposed a new location would change me.

My whole life I have wanted to be different. I figured that if I could only wear the perfect outfit, move to a different town, or switch churches, I would be different. That somehow I could escape the things I didn’t like about myself if I just moved far enough away. What if I went to England? Obviously I would be more confident, prettier, and a better writer there. It’s England for crying out loud! Well, I feel bound to inform you that I did not swap personalities just by crossing the ocean.

It kind of sounds depressing, doesn’t it? Here I am. Wherever I go, I come too. It doesn’t matter where my desk is, the same insecurities will show up whenever I start writing.

I could stop there. Live my life moping over the fact that I can’t change who I am because I put a new dress. I don’t want to do that. Life is hard enough without crying over the impossible.

Here is my thought, if moving won’t change what I want changed, what will? Unfortunately, the same thing that has been staring at my face for the last four years. Hard work!

And everyone makes a face.

If I want to be an author, a fancy desk and a library will not make me one, a book will. A book that I wrote. If I want to be healthier, getting a new fridge or a new cookbook will not automatically make me so. Healthy eating and exercise (blech) will.

This isn’t to say that moving out didn’t change me at all, I am much better at cooking now (I think), and way better at sticking to my to do list. I am a better person for all these experiences, but not necessarily a different person. If I want to change things about myself, I will have to put in the work to do it.

Maybe I won’t like every step of the journey, but I know I will like the destination.

Hello me, are you ready?

Shaina Merrick

February (Febrary, Febraury, Febary???) Fantasy Month!

How is this gloomy month treating everyone? February is my least favorite month. The holidays are over and I am just soooo ready for warm weather, but I still have to go through February (and March because I live in CO, but hope spring eternal). Blegh. At least the month is short!

To lift the gloom a tad bit, I am joining Jenelle Schmidt’s Fantasy Month challenge! It is all about fandoms, which is always fun to discuss (and scream and flail over). Though, I am not usually a fangirl. *hidesface* I enjoy things but it takes a lot for me to obsess over it. Though I may find out just how many things I do obsess over in this post… (I think my family is snickering at me right now)

And on we go to the questions!

What was the first fandom you fell into?

Uuuuummmmm… Narnia I think. I remember being obsessed over the Prince Caspian movie before it came out. I would stare at a little article I had clipped out of a magazine for hours. Then I was disappointed when I finally saw it, but don’t judge too harshly guys, I was, like, thirteen. And the battle scenes were scary for my wee little self.

Image result for the lion the witch and the wardrobe movie

My introduction to Narnia was my parents reading them out loud to us. My mom loved them as a child, and as soon as we were old enough she introduced them to us. There are many fond memories of sitting cozily on the couch with my siblings and listening to the adventures of the Pevensie children. I may have had a crush on Peter at the time…

What is the most recent fandom you’ve become a part of?

The Mandalorian! I was absolutely obsessed with it as soon as I saw the Child’s face. I love the characters, the plot, and just everything about it! I had always liked Star Wars (it’s hard not to when your dad loves them), but the Mandalorian is just amazing. One of my favorite shows. As a plus, any reference to another Star Wars show or movie in the Mandalorian is fully explained to me by my geeky dad and sister. So I don’t have to go watch them to get the reference.

Image result for the mandalorian

So I don’t know if the Mandalorian on it’s own counts as a fandom, but we are going to pretend it does. Cool?

Star Wars or Star Trek?

I think the above question answers this question. Definitely Star Wars as of the moment, mostly because of the Mandalorian. Though I do like both. Funny story, my dad is a Star Wars fan, but my mom is a Trekkie. And yet they still have a great relationship. Miracles still do happen guys.

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Marvel or DC?

Definitely Marvel. I am a fan of Captain America.

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Endgame ranks among my top movies. (though do I even have an official list?) I loved it so much, even though it is one of the very few movies I have ever cried during.

What is a fandom you love enough to want to live in that world?

Perhaps we should rephrase this question to what fandom I think I would survive in. The answer would be, hm, well? My survival skills are very sad, so perhaps we shall go with the Mandalorian. I would really like to hang out with him (really I just want to hold the Child) and if I was next to the Mandalorian I have a very good chance of not dying. Right?

Image result for the mandalorian

If you could hang out with a character from one of your fandoms, who would it be and why?

I reaaaaally want to hold the Child, alright? ‘Nuff said.

(yes I am refusing to say his name on purpose, I don’t like it)

Image result for the mandalorian the child

Unknown fandom (something you love and no one else seems to have heard of)?

*clearsthroat*

*unrollslongscroll*

Ready?

The Last Unicorn

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Royden Lepps’ Rust

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Hamlet (shshshsh, it is totally a fandom)

Image result for hamlet david tennant

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I know you have heard of it, and then outgrew it, but I never outgrew this fandom…)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles

The Prydain Chronicles

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Those are the top ones. I like things no one has heard of. Which means I spend a lot of time trying to convince my friends to read things…

Well that was interesting, and slightly embarrassing… Your turn! Please tell me your fandoms (cool and embarrassing)! I wish to know, and to not feel quite so embarrassed over here.

Shaina Merrick

New Year Resolutions (or not)

Any one want to go time traveling with me? Yes? Well then, let’s all go back one month to January so I can properly write a New Years Resolution post. Ready? Here we go!

Last year I had a looong list of resolutions that covered everything from habits I wanted to break to writing goals I wanted to achieve. Some were from the year before, most were new ones I wanted to tackle in 2020. Looking back, I am really not sure how well I did because, well, somewhere along the line I lost the list.

Oops.

At this point I can only remember one of the things on the list, and I didn’t do it. So did I fail? Or did I do amazing and not even know it? We are going with the latter one. Okay?

Since all my resolutions went over so well last year, I decided to try something new this year.

See, ever year I make a set of resolutions. Sometimes it is more like a glorified to do list, sometimes it is things I want to work on. Like exercise more, or finish all the books on my shelf (both Herculean tasks). Things get repeated year after year and sometimes, eventually, it happens. But this year, I had enough to do lists on the brain. I work, I go to school, I write, read, and occasionally I squeeze in a movie or two. There are enough lists to follow, I don’t really want to make yet another one.

So I decided to try something else. A Happiness Project.

What is a Happiness Project? The whole idea was started by Gretchen Rubin. It is kind of a to do list, kind of a new years resolution, and kind of a habit chart. Basically you break your life down into sections and then decide what you can do to make that area of your life better or happier. Like the title suggests, the whole idea is to bring more happiness into your life. (to learn more you can follow this link)

I decided to section my life off into 5 core pieces that I really wanted to work on this year. The first one was health. Surprise surprise. Isn’t that the most popular resolution? In that section I stuck my desire to meal plan better and to go off sugar for a while, among other things. Did I do it all? No. But I did most of it, and I did become healthier and that leads to being happier.

It is kind of a long list of things I want to do and work. But instead of a to do list that I-must-get-done-at-all-costs and stresses me out when I don’t do it, I have a sectioned list of ways to make my life better and happier. Thus far I have learned how to meal plan (well, better anyway), updated my closet, and started drinking more water. Each of those things have made my life better, and happier.

Isn’t that what New Years Resolutions are supposed to be about anyway?

Shaina Merrick

I’m baaack.

Hello!

*And I explode back on the scene in a cloud of cosmic dust.*

Well, *brushes the dust off my shoulders* it has been a while hasn’t it? Two months?!? Yikes.

Sorry.

What on earth have been doing in that time?

Reading. Obviously. Lots and lots of interesting books. I think I finally crawled out of the reading hole of meh I had fallen into last year.

I finally finished the Mandalorian (let all my family rejoice). I thoroughly enjoyed the ending. Then I dove straight into Downton Abbey which I am also completely enjoying. (I never actually thought I would like tv shows so much, so this interesting)

But all the reading and the watching had to come in between two rather important things. Work, and school.

Yes I said school. I have fallen headfirst into the world of homework and papers and tests. It was a long time in the works, and I am excited about this decision. When I am not wracking my brains over a math problem that is.

Don’t worry, I am not about to announce yet another hiatus. Two months was enough for me, I am ready to write again.

I think the biggest reason I took the two months off without even meaning to was Nano. Writing 50,000 words in one month is nothing to sneeze at, and finishing the novel I have spent years on is no mean feat either. After that I was creatively dry, so dry I didn’t realize till later how bad it was. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, there were no words with which to write. I had used the last ones up. Perhaps I would have been afraid if I had known what was going on. There is a creepy crawly fear in the back of my mind that eventually I will run out of things to say. But I was so busy starting school and working I didn’t even notice.

All I knew was that I was tired. So I didn’t write. And thankfully, my income does not depend on my writing, so I was able to do that. Instead I read good books and I watched good movies and I talked with good friends. I dabbled in short stories when inspiration struck and journaled my thoughts and frustrations. I knew there was a whole world of stories waiting for me, I just couldn’t drum up the energy to dive into them again.

In the meantime, the well I had drank so dry became filled again, and now I can look my stories in the eye and tell them I am coming back. Sometime very soon, I will pick up a story and begin it.

Anyway. Hello and welcome back to the blog everyone! In the near future expect a long overdue new year new resolutions post and more book reviews.

Anything exciting happen while I was gone?

Shaina Merrick

The Story of My Life

Warning. Introspective post ahead.

My entire life revolves around story. The stories I tell others, and the stories I tell myself. From the time I was little, I was telling myself stories. The settings changed, and the side characters. However I was always the main character, the one setting things in motion and leading the plot forward.

It was, and is, second nature to create a story about my friends and I. Or about strangers. I watched people in the parking lot and made up lives for them, and places for them to go.

When I got older, those stories tended to take a romantic bent. It was not uncommon for me to make up a love story between two friends, two strangers, or more often between a friend and myself. Sometimes those stories were just for fun, an exercise in imagination, sometimes they were more serious. I made up a story because I wanted the story to happen.

All of the stories that I thought up for my life, then and now, they have all been upended. The story I am living out is not the one I dreamed up so long ago.

Still single. Who would have thought? Not me. Perhaps there was a friend who foresaw my lack of romance, but I didn’t. My family didn’t. And now, I don’t know what to think of it. The story writer, surprised by her own story. A year ago I would have laughed at the thought of me being surprised by anything. I found stories and patterns in the ring of a bell, in a robins twitter. Yet I can’t find them in my own life.

What kind of story is being told in my life? I still haven’t decided whether I am living a comedy or a tragedy. Perhaps it is a piece of literary fiction, beautifully written but sitting on a dusty shelf.

I haven’t decided what it is yet. But do I get to decide the story? Or is it merely my circumstances that decide it for me? I can make all the fuss I want, but a relationship is not entirely up to me. Other people will help decide that. (unless I go all psycho and kidnap someone, but that would just be weird.)

Do any of us really know what our story will be beforehand? We can make all the plans we want, but in the end, our story follows along different paths. A death of a family member, a wedding, or an unexpected opportunity all play into our stories. It is not as clear cut as at least I thought it would be when I was young and staring into the night sky.

And it isn’t even over yet. I have the rest of my life in front of me. At least 50 more years of living and laughing and adventuring. I have plans and hopes, but who knows what will happen in that time.

My story is still unwritten, for the most part. I am curious to find out what the rest will be.

Shaina Merrick

Hello World!

Well hey guys! Did you miss me? (for my sake just pretend you did) I didn’t mean to have such a long break. But I went to the virtual Realm Makers, directed Vacation Bible School, and moved. I am still recovering.

But I have my own house! With a gorgeous view of the mountains that already has my imagination stirring. There is nothing like eating dinner with a view of a mountain range to get your story whirring.

Speaking of. I have a New Story Idea. It be amazing. And it has things that are near and dear to my heart. For now, I will be referring to it as COD. For reasons that make me laugh, and unknown to you. For now anyway.

So what is the point of this post? I dunno. To say hello to all my blogging buddies? To tell you all I moved and somehow figured out electric bills and setting up wifi all by myself?

Oh yeah. Realm Makers was amazing! Even though it was virtual, I still felt connected to all my writing friends. The classes were spot on, and the best part is, I get to listen to all of them!! I have the classes for an entire year, so instead of agonizing over which ones to go to and which ones to skip, and I can watch them all!!! Yay!

And because of all I have learned during Realm Makers, there may or may not be changes on the horizon here. Or at the very least a better blogging schedule. (shame on my procrastinating self)

Anyway. I will get out of your hair now.

Shaina Merrick

Grown Up Christmas List

Since I grew up, it has become harder and harder to find things for my Christmas list. My mom, or grandparents, tend to start asking me around the end of November, and my mind always draws a blank. ‘Um, clothes? Money? I dunno…’ I like what I have, and there isn’t too much that I need or want. Which is good I guess? But it can be hard when all your relatives are staring at you, waiting for you to reply.

Perhaps it is so hard to think of things because the things I truly want for Christmas can’t be bought, by any average income anyway. But if I could write to Santa and ask him for something, this is the list I would give him.

  1. A months worth of gas in my car. Do you know how much money I would save if I didn’t have to fill my car?
  2. A new computer. One that doesn’t die as soon as I unplug it, or warn me about imminent death as soon as I turn it on.
  3. To eat anything I want during the holidays and not gain any weight. I may have had a few too many cookies…
  4. A walk-in closet dedicated to books. My bookshelf is overflowing, and so is the box in the closet.
  5. An unbreakable phone screen. My poor phone, that is all I have to say about that.

A couple of these may happen someday, a couple of them, not so much. (when will someone invent calorie free sweets that still taste good?) But hey, it is always fun to wish!

Shaina Merrick

Scheduling and ‘Oh hey, my blog post isn’t late!’

Hello everyone!

No, I had not forgotten about my blog. Yes, I will be returning to my regular posting schedule.

In part I took a break to rethink my blog. To decide where I was going with it and what I wanted it to look like.

No, there will not be a massive rebranding here around the corner. Been there, did that, all done.

I am still passionate about story telling, and about creating beautiful stories. However, it had gotten hard to sit down every week and try to think up something else story related. After I had worked all day.

The creative juices were not flowing.

So I came up with a schedule of what I will post each week. I hope you like it, but if you decide you hate it you will have to give me a good reason why I should change it. This schedule took all week to make. I would prefer not to revisit it.

All in all, it is pretty simple. In a four week month I will post a short story, a book review, a history post, and a writing how-to. If there happen to be five Wedensdays… Well, I’ll figure it out when I get there.

A quick note about the short stories. They will all be mine own, and they will all be connected. Not necessarily by the same characters, though they may pop up in multiple stories, but by the same world and the same plot thread.

No, I am not about to tell you what they are about.

*goes to figure out what they are about*

Still not telling.

Anyway. Someday I hope to be so well prepared that I am writing and scheduling posts ahead of time. Today is not that day. I am just content with knowing what I will be writing about next month.

See you all next week!

Shaina Merrick

Why I am Keeping my Day Job

Like many writers living today, I have what is called a day job. A job to pay the bills and support me while I write. My ‘true calling’, writing, will eventually take over and I will stay home and write all day. Spending my days in bliss as I churn out novel after novel. The end goal of almost every writer is to get to the point that their writing is financially able to support them so they can quit their day job and come home to write full time.

Well, the goal of every writer except me. I would prefer to keep my day job thank you very much. And it is not because I am a pessimist who thinks she will never make money from her writing. (only sometimes) Nor is it because I want to keep my writing at hobby level.

I will keep my day job because I like it. Most of the time. Now, being a PreK teacher is no walk in the park. There have been more than a few times that I have wondered why I signed up for this. However, there have been plenty of times that I wondered that about writing too. Why on earth did I think it was a good idea to put the stories in my head down on paper?

I enjoy what I do, so I don’t see myself stopping it any time soon. But even if I did quit and found myself with hours a day to write instead of snatches of time here and there, I think I would still find a job.

Sometimes, I think creative people believe that creativity exists in a vacuum. We are story writers, poets, artists, and musicians who spend hours upon hours holed up in a room pouring our hearts out into whatever medium we have chosen. Creating art is a solitary process, it has to be. But I don’t think our creativity comes from that tiny room. It comes from all around us, from our experiences, our lives, the things we have seen and the things we have heard.

I put this idea forth to you; that the stories we find ourselves thinking about are in a large part influenced by our lives. Who do you know? What do you do? How do you live? Where do you live? All of that will affect the stories you write. Whether you mean it to or not.

Writers are often told to write what they know, and the second best thing to knowing it is researching the stuffing out of it. So many writers spend even more time holed up in their room googling random, or not so random, things because they want to know it so they can write it.

Well, I for one do not want to settle for second best. I would rather do than read. So I have done, and done some more. I have traveled, explored, gotten lost, made friends and lost them, worked for myself, gotten a job, and done lots of random things. I have failed a few times, and done a face plant in life. But hey, at least I know what it feels like for my characters! (my poor characters…)

I fill my life with interesting things and interesting people in part so that my writing will be interesting. I know there are some things that will have to be delegated to research. Like going to the moon and being a prima ballerina. Yet if I can, I do rather than read. I want to know how this world works.

So no, I am not quitting my day job. I know that because of it I will write slower than most. I know that my path will be longer because I don’t dedicate as much time to my craft. But I would rather be slow, and have my stories filling with interesting things, than be fast and have my stories all sound the same.

As a side note, all the aforementioned things are not why I am sometimes late putting up a blog post. Naps are wonderful things that help you get nothing done.

Shaina Merrick