Feb.16

My Birth as Constant Reader…

I have spent a good portion of my reading life thinking of myself as Constant Reader; as a lover of stories.  It is within the context of this label that I first identified myself and where my writing-self was born.

“The glory of a good tale is that it is limitless and fluid; a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way.” –Stephen King

I write as Constant Reader.  I write with the mindset of one who desires to read a great story that will linger long after the last page has been turned.

What brought all this to mind was finishing Joyland by Stephen King.  I enjoyed it as I have so many of his novels and it took me back to being 12 again when I first discovered his books.  Back then I couldn’t wait to tell someone about the stories I read.  His books left me mesmerized and afraid to go to the bathroom late at night.  After reading his novel It, I have never looked down a storm drain or at a clown the same way ever again.  I loved it.

Even more importantly, it was within these novels that I first identified myself as Constant Reader.  In many books, either in his foreword or afterward, Mr. King addresses them to Constant Reader.   In reading them I felt as though he was speaking directly to me and reshaped my way of thinking of myself.  Who was I if not the epitome of the Constant Reader?  I lived with my nose tucked in books.  If there was a great story to be read I was in search of it.  This great author was writing to me, giving me insight into the magical worlds he let me slip into.   His stories, so vast in range of characters and storyline, were all so very real to me.  I was able to see them so vividly in my mind’s eye.  It was also within these books that I felt the first stirrings of wanting to be a writer.  I wanted to create stories just like Stephen King.  I too wanted to write for the Constant Reader.

Finishing Joyland reminded me of all this and more.  So I ask you my fellow Constant Readers…What was the last book you read that you couldn’t wait to pass along or talk to someone about?

Self Discovery,Motivation,Novel,Quotes,Constant Reader

Jan.31

The Octopus Lives…

“You are going to need to grow an extra brain and arms.  You wanna be an octopus.”

That was the advice my husband gave to me recently as I relayed my frustrations over trying to figure out a game plan to get more done within a day…week…month.  I was so serious and intent in my angst that his response took me completely off guard.  His beguiling West Indian tone and deadpan delivery had me laughing for at least 10 minutes.

The Octopus Lives

But in all seriousness, his comment does beg the question that many of us who are in the throes of trying to build our dreams into a reality are faced with…Am I trying to accomplish more than is humanly possible?

I seem to constantly grapple with the question of whether my overreaching and overzealous ambition has become the equivalent of a subversive self-sabotage.

The truth that always sets my mind at ease is remembering that this is all part of the journey.  Frustration comes when my desire and drive are moving faster than everyday life. The struggling and fighting for my dream is all part of what comes with creating a life where I am able to live out my passions every day.  This is about commitment and my commitment to myself can never be wrong.

My ambitious nature, which I held silent for so long, has now surged forward.  With each accomplishment the list of things that I want to undertake continues to grow.  Each goal surpassed sets my eyes to the horizon for greater and grander peaks to reach.

At the beginning of last year my only goal when it came to art (because I did make a list) was:

By Summer 2013: Have a completed a painting and/or drawing

After not painting for 7 years that was a big hurdle to cross.  I was not even sure I knew how to paint anymore.  But once I started again and rediscovered my passion, I not only completed a painting but I exhibited in 6 different galleries and venues within the course of the year.  Tooting my own horn…your damn right I am.

My passion, ambition and drive got me there.  And I’m sure there were times over the course of last year when I may have seemed like an octopus.  But as I write this I stand confidently in knowing this is the truest version of who I am.  Not having multiple wheels rolling at once makes me anxious.  If I know there is more that I could and should be doing and instead I find myself sitting on the couch watching TV…that is the self sabotage.  It may seem like too much to some and over the top to others, but  I can’t and don’t want to change.  This is me.

So for now the octopus lives on….I’ll let you know when I finish growing that extra brain.

Self Discovery,Challenges,Motivation,Quotes

Jan.14

Hard Roads…Pursuing the Dream

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

-Steven Pressfield

The War of Art”

Whether you are a writer, artist or entrepreneur we’ve all had times when our momentum has waned; when our mojo is just tapped out.  The path it seems is littered with missed steps.

I’ve recently felt myself faltering.  I’ve lost my stride and catch myself stumbling more often than not.  It is disheartening.  It is lonely.  Friends and family sometimes understand and can help get you back on track, but there are also the well-intended responses of “relax”, “take a break”, or my favorite, “it’s not that serious.”  In the midst of struggle these words become dismissive of what I am feeling and offer little comfort.  But to their credit it is not their journey.  It is mine and mine alone.  And regardless of what others have to say, either good or bad, the perseverance and drive will live and die within me.

One of the hardest things to do, second to getting up the nerve to follow your dream, is to keep your momentum going once you’ve started.  The pursuit of your dreams is a slow and arduous road and is by no means for the faint of heart.  Much is sacrificed along the way but there is even more to be gained.

My passion fuels me but it also keeps me up at night when I know that I’ve half-heartedly accomplished something.  Self-doubt can cripple in the wee hours of the night while everyone else is sleeping.  But for all my uncertainty, I am still confident that this will pass as long as I keep pushing myself.  If I’m consistent the ideas and inspiration will come.  I will not lose faith because I know in my core this is the path I was meant to follow.

So what’s my point in writing this?  It is simply this, I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.  There is a Dreamer, a Believer, a Hustler, and a Grinder all out there struggling.  So to you, my fellow warriors, keep your heads up and stay the course.  These difficult times will test your resolve, but will only break you if you let it.  Remember why you started.

Challenges,Motivation,Quotes

Jan.01

Finding Me…New Beginnings

As I waited for the ball to drop at the end of 2012, I was a very unhappy woman. I tell you this because as I sit reflecting on all that has happened over the course of the past year it is the thing I remember most.   At this time last year I was shaky with fear of the unknown that the New Year held for me.  I was step one on the path of self-discovery and was scared senseless but determined to break out of my shell.

path

Back then, when I wasn’t working or taking care of my son, my free time was spent either in front to the TV or reading.  Escaping into those TV shows and novels was my refuge.  They were the fodder for daydreams of a different version of my life.  In them I was successful, I was beautiful, I was  admired.  In them I did all the things I’d aspired to be in college, but gave up on somewhere along the way.

I say this in retrospect.  At the time, I was so deep in self-denial, I didn’t know how unhappy I was.  That realization came after I started working toward making a change.  It is only now that I can admit I did not love myself.  Looking back I can see how I would project my unhappiness without meaning to.  How I would make fun of myself in front of friends to deflect the feelings bubbling inside of me.  My self-deprecating humor so vicious, even now I can see their faces cringing as they laughed.

So what changed?  What was the catalyst that pushed me towards a different version of myself? It all started with one person, my son.

My bright and inquisitive son was old enough to ask questions and understand things.  My husband, secure in who he is and his heritage, was able to show and relate to our biracial son what it meant to be of West Indian descent.  When my turn had arrived, I had no idea how I was going to teach him about our Latino heritage.  I looked at myself and realized I had no idea who I was as a Latina, and even more startling for me, as a woman period.  I had nothing of substance to show my son of what I’d done with my days or life.  All I had was an overwhelming feeling that I was forgetting to do something.  My nights were plagued by nightmares of being lost and late for an important event.  In them I would run down winding streets with no means of getting there.  Every turn would lead me down a path that led further and further from my intended destination.

Somewhere along the path of life I’d lost me.  The strength and essence of who I always imagined I would be was gone.   I’d built a cocoon on the sofa and was buried in it.  Once upon a time I was going to be a writer and a painter.  I studied both in college and the greatness I dreamed I would become in those days was gone.

So at the beginning of last year I stood staring down the path toward change completely terrified.  I held in my pocket the realization that I’d not written or painted in a long time (It would take me a few months before I would do the calculations and know that a long time was actually equivalent to seven years).  But I knew I needed to do something and I was determined, not just for me, but for my son.

My first hurdle was that I had no idea where to begin.  I decided to go to a workshop focused on helping you  stick to your new year’s resolutions.  There the life coach spoke about her own journey, of how she had to learn to start to love herself before she could see and stick to any changes she wanted to make in her life.  Her method was writing a love letter to body, apologizing for not loving it the way she should.

Her story resonated deeply with me.  I hated what I saw in the mirror.  And I resolved to find a way to love my body in the hopes that it would be the way to discovering me.  I knew if I had any hopes of making a change I would have to begin there.  I decided to start with setting a goal of completing at least one sketch or painting in 2013.  I asked my husband take a few of pictures of me with which I could work from to paint my self-portrait.  Looking at myself that intently was harder than I thought it would be.  In the first painting I couldn’t paint my face, just my body.  But it was the first step towards loving what I saw in the mirror and once it was complete it made me happier than words could ever explain.

My first painting in 2013, "Waiting in Brooklyn"

My first painting in 2013, “Waiting in Brooklyn”

I have now completed multiple paintings and exhibited them in several galleries and art exhibitions.  I have started this blog and am currently working on my first novel.  I can confidently say I am further on the path of self-discovery than I could have ever imagined .  I have a renewed sense of self.  I am evolving not into the woman I daydreamed I would be but something greater.  And while I am happier than I have been in a very long time I still have a ways to go.  But now my determination is greater than my fear.

Halfway through the summer of last year I met up with a friend who I’d not seen in a couple of years.  As we sat at dinner I told her of the journey I was embarking on.  I spoke about wanting to rediscover and fall in love with myself through my painting and writing.  I showed her pictures of the paintings I’d completed and told stories of the conferences I’d gone to, the people I’d met, and she sat quietly listening. When I was done my beloved friend of over ten years looked me in the eye and simply said, “It is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Self Discovery,Motivation

Sep.14

Why I’m a Multicultural Romance Writer

When I sat down to answer the question of why I write multicultural romance, I drew a complete and utter blank.  Every reason I theorized, did not ring true for me.  The answer came only after I realized that writing in this genre of romance was not my intent.
 
I have been an avid reader since a young age.  One of my most vivid memories is of my parents taking me to Walden Books and scanning the racks for the perfect book to take home.  Even as a constant reader, it was not until my late teens that I read a book with Hispanic characters.  I am of Puerto Rican descent, born and raised in New York, and while urban city life has allowed me to relate to a great many things, I could not find a story that mirrored my life.  I was at a loss to find a story that allowed me to make a direct connection to the world I grew up in.  Though I have found a great many amazing Hispanic authors, the stories of second and third generation Hispanics coming of age in the U.S. are far and few in fiction.
 
Once I discovered romance, Historical to Erotic and Chick-Lit to Paranormal, I added in a whole new world of characters and stories to my voracious appetite for reading.  I couldn’t get enough.  My status as constant reader turned to that of insatiable reader.  While I was thoroughly entertained, I was again unable to find my likeness between the pages.    I longed for stories of strong and confident Latinas with careers, who are not afraid to push to the next level in both life and love; stories of interracial romances, where cultures come together, finding passion and love because, and in spite of, their differences.
 
So my intent was never to write a multicultural romance, so much as to write stories set within a frame I could fully relate to, with characters that reflect me and the people in the world around me.  Whether it is in the form of Latinas or interracial couples, there is a lack of representation within literature.  I feel I can make a contribution to altering that by writing to the changing faces of couples and love in America and connecting with a growing population that also wants to see itself in books, if that makes me a writer of multicultural romances, so be it.

Writing,Romance,Multicutural,Novel