Then Vs. Now: Once Upon a Time...

5.12.2015

Once upon a time, at 14 years old. And then I kind of just...stopped. Maybe you were here then. Probably not. But I'm 19 now and (obviously) a lot has changed. I just thought it'd be kind of fun to think back on all the things I did when I was younger, and how it's so different from now! (Read: Fun for you. Embarrassing times a thousand for me.)

This post is probably way too long and uninteresting, so thank you if you read it! (It gets kind of personal and totally unrelated to books a few times, so if that's not what you're here for, sorry!)

Then. . . I wrote about werewolves.
I was a member of the writing site Inkpop (which no longer exists). And I wrote the most cliche story on the planet about an orphan and werewolves and a lot of stuff that just makes me want to cringe now. And let me tell you, I was such a little shit when I was part of this website. I was so obnoxious about shoving it in everyone's faces and didn't listen to half the advice people gave me. But I learned an incredible amount from that site. It's where I learned about dialogue tags, where I began to learn how to write up helpful critiques. I made friends there. I got a review from a HarperCollins employee there. I started countless novels (None of which I ever finished). It was a pretty good place to be, if you ask me.

Now. . . I write about nothing. Except maybe some high fantasy.
And that's a big MAYBE. I have an idea. I have like, one page written and four pages in a notebook with some plotting. But this is the first thing I've tried to write in YEARS. So I don't really expect anything to come of it. It's an idea I really like, but I have a history of giving up five or ten chapters in. And on top of that, I've lost that kind of place where I could go to work out plot issues and brainstorm ideas with people. And on top of THAT, I'm about ten thousand times more self conscious about my writing now. And basically afraid by the time I finished no one ever would want to read it.

Then. . . Emails didn't scare me.
I could send a publisher an email requesting an ARC, no problem. (Okay, not no problem, but I just obsessed a little over wording before I hit send.) Interested in interviewing an author? Sure. Had a question for an internet friend? I'll just go type up an email!

Now. . . I freak out at just the thought of sending an email.
It would be silly of me to email an ARC request considering I've only been back for like, two months. But let me tell you, when the day comes that I want to do this? It won't happen. I can't do it. I feel too exposed, too open for judgement, like I'm being irritating and an inconvenience to them. The same goes for ever emailing authors. Ever. It's a very deep fear in me these days - that I'm being an inconvenience.

Then. . . I wanted to be an editor.
For YA novels at HarperCollins, obviously. Or Bloomsbury. I was 15. I was allowed to dream. But I thought it was totally what I would be good at. Critiquing, helping shape manuscripts. I even got to help out someone at Entangled Teen with their slush pile for a month or two. Ha. Haha. I realized junior year of high school that I absolutely DID NOT have the people skills for a job like this. And I definitely don't think I could have handled being an English major.

Now. . . I want to be a vet? Marine mammalogist? Why doesn't professional Netflixer exist?
I don't know. I want to work with animals. I'm really interested in zoo medicine and conservation breeding programs, but the money and time it takes to get there is absolutely awful when compared with the salary. Zoo med is one of the most competitive sectors of vet med and there's 0 guarantee I would ever get a spot because you're basically sitting around waiting for someone to retire or die. (Also, this job! Requires! More people skills! Than you could imagine! I know all jobs do but there's no way I can lead a team of 30 people to help get a dolphin to the human hospital.)

Basically, I have no idea what I want to do. What's new there?

Then. . . I really loved JLA, The Mortal Instruments series, etc. Lots of paranormal romance. I didn't like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE or THE NIGHT CIRCUS.
I was into really cliche stories and paranormal romances that would make me gag now. I liked simpler writing and simpler plots that were very heavy on the romance, and I mostly read first person novels. I VERY rarely read contemporary. THE NIGHT CIRCUS and DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE were too heavy and too descriptive for me to enjoy.

Now. . . My tastes have basically done a 180.
I've reread the beginnings of the Lux series and TMI so that I continue the series, but I basically hated them. I reread THE NIGHT CIRCUS and DoSB and LOVED them both. I discovered that this is the kind of reading I absolutely love now. And I often struggle to get through first person narratives. High fantasy is currently my favorite genre, and I need rich worlds and elaborate building of those worlds. I still don't read a whole ton of contemporary, but I definitely find ones that interest me. Now I'm really put off by the simple and cliche stories I used to love. And I've tried to reread The Lux series and TMI so I could continue with both series, but I couldn't get through the first books for either of them. Definitely not 5 star reads for me anymore.

Then. . . I tweeted others all the time.
I participated in conversations with dozens of people. I tweeted authors. I probably awkwardly butted into conversations all the time.

Now. . . I second-guess myself all the time. 
This is pretty similar to the email thing. Don't get me wrong, I clearly still have conversations with people on Twitter. But the number of times I hold myself back is astounding. If someone asks a question or I see a conversation going on that I have something to add to, I really struggle to say anything. Sometimes I just can't make a sentence form. Sometimes I feel like I'm interrupting/butting in where I'm not wanted. Sometimes I feel like I'm just being a huge bother. Sometimes I feel like what I say will be taken the wrong way, or I'll be judged for it. And on and on and on. So I typically tweet people I'm a little more familiar with. And still, when I do that - especially to authors - it takes a tremendous amount of effort. I have more to say on that, but I'll be talking about it Thursday if you're still around.

Then. . . I never even considered Wordpress. 
When everyone started making the move to Wordpress, I happily sat with Blogger. Because, first of all, self-hosting? Yeah, no. I was like, 15. I didn't have a bank account to pay for a domain. And it all just sounded very difficult.

Now. . . I regret that decision every day.
Mostly because of the Wordpress plug-ins that I WANT. But about 97% of my followers are through GFC. And although I'm pretty sure about 2% of those people actually look at this blog sometimes, I just can't do it. I CAN'T. I CAN'T START FROM SCRATCH. Also, I am still not any better at coding or anything than I was when I was 15. Nor do I understand anything about SEO, no matter how many times I read about it.

Then. . . I sought my father's approval.
He's the only parent I have. Whether sober or drunk, I wanted him to be proud of me. He was an asshole, and he made the entirety of my childhood miserable, but I wanted to please him. When mother's day and father's day rolled around every year, kids got their parents presents and said things like, "We all need to appreciate our parents more!" I was told I was lucky to have even one parent. It didn't matter that he'd been put in jail for an entire year when I was in the second grade. It didn't matter that after that, he didn't have a license. No one in our house did. I was supposed to appreciate that he'd stayed. That he wasn't physically abusive. I was supposed to appreciate that he loved me. And because I wasn't good at very many things, I focused on my grades. This obviously wasn't a bad thing, but it started an unhealthy mentality. When I came home with A's and an A-, he'd ask why that A- was on there.

People praised him for "raising me on his own." (He didn't. We lived with my grandparents, who paid all the bills. We still live with my 97 year old grandfather. He pays for our food. He pays for my (insane) dentist bills. He pays for 60% of my phone bill and I pay for the other 40. My grandpa isn't all that saint-like when it comes to emotional abuse, either, but I still appreciate everything he's done.) And so I felt bad for not loving and appreciating my father like most kids seemed to.

Now. . . I recognize that I am allowed to hate my father, and no one can tell me otherwise.
I can also recognize that maybe I would have ended up in an even worse situation if my father hadn't decided to make care of me after my mother left before I even had my first birthday. But that doesn't mean the situation I had was okay. I still hear the terms lazy/ungrateful bitch a lot. But now, instead of wanting to fix it and make my dad believe different, I just hang up. Or leave the room. Sometimes I get angry and yell. He finally got his license back in August of 2014, but he still drinks. And I will fully admit - I hate him. I hate talking to him, I hate listening to his constant yelling, and he is the sole reasons I don't want to go back home for the summer. I hate the way he makes me feel about myself.

And now, I'm more scared than ever for the future. Because when my grandpa dies, we have nowhere to live. My dad has no job. Hasn't since he went to jail. Never tried to look for one. Without my grandpa, we have no house, no food. My dad won't be able to afford car insurance or gas and I'll have to find someway to still move in and out of college. We already have no health insurance, but at least I know if I have a serious problem and need to go to the doctor, my grandpa can help me pay for it. But he's 97. That safety net isn't going to be there for very long.

And now, I think I have an unhealthy grade obsession. I'm never happy with an A-. I got a 4.0 last semester, and it's absolutely not going to happen this semester. I'll probably still have a 3.8, which I rationally know is still great. But in my head, I still can't shake the feeling that it isn't good enough. 

Moving on to something a little lighter...

Then. . . I was a dog person.
I liked a lot of animals, don't get me wrong. But DOGS.

Now. . . I really fucking love cats.
Like, really. In case you couldn't tell. Especially Norwegian Forest Cats. Sometimes I sit on the #catsofinstagram tag and weep because I don't have a cat.

Okay, so this post was way too long. I'M SORRY. I honestly could have gone on for like five more hours.

Basically, things are a lot different than they used to be. Which is to be expected, of course, because no one wants to be 14 forever. Though I've (expectedly) grown up over the years, it seems to have resulted in the loss of some of my sanity.

(We're going to pretend expectedly is a word.)
I'm curious. Do any of you share similar stories? Have you grown more reserved over your years as a blogger, or have you been able to branch out more?

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5.12.2015

Then Vs. Now: Once Upon a Time...


Once upon a time, at 14 years old. And then I kind of just...stopped. Maybe you were here then. Probably not. But I'm 19 now and (obviously) a lot has changed. I just thought it'd be kind of fun to think back on all the things I did when I was younger, and how it's so different from now! (Read: Fun for you. Embarrassing times a thousand for me.)

This post is probably way too long and uninteresting, so thank you if you read it! (It gets kind of personal and totally unrelated to books a few times, so if that's not what you're here for, sorry!)

Then. . . I wrote about werewolves.
I was a member of the writing site Inkpop (which no longer exists). And I wrote the most cliche story on the planet about an orphan and werewolves and a lot of stuff that just makes me want to cringe now. And let me tell you, I was such a little shit when I was part of this website. I was so obnoxious about shoving it in everyone's faces and didn't listen to half the advice people gave me. But I learned an incredible amount from that site. It's where I learned about dialogue tags, where I began to learn how to write up helpful critiques. I made friends there. I got a review from a HarperCollins employee there. I started countless novels (None of which I ever finished). It was a pretty good place to be, if you ask me.

Now. . . I write about nothing. Except maybe some high fantasy.
And that's a big MAYBE. I have an idea. I have like, one page written and four pages in a notebook with some plotting. But this is the first thing I've tried to write in YEARS. So I don't really expect anything to come of it. It's an idea I really like, but I have a history of giving up five or ten chapters in. And on top of that, I've lost that kind of place where I could go to work out plot issues and brainstorm ideas with people. And on top of THAT, I'm about ten thousand times more self conscious about my writing now. And basically afraid by the time I finished no one ever would want to read it.

Then. . . Emails didn't scare me.
I could send a publisher an email requesting an ARC, no problem. (Okay, not no problem, but I just obsessed a little over wording before I hit send.) Interested in interviewing an author? Sure. Had a question for an internet friend? I'll just go type up an email!

Now. . . I freak out at just the thought of sending an email.
It would be silly of me to email an ARC request considering I've only been back for like, two months. But let me tell you, when the day comes that I want to do this? It won't happen. I can't do it. I feel too exposed, too open for judgement, like I'm being irritating and an inconvenience to them. The same goes for ever emailing authors. Ever. It's a very deep fear in me these days - that I'm being an inconvenience.

Then. . . I wanted to be an editor.
For YA novels at HarperCollins, obviously. Or Bloomsbury. I was 15. I was allowed to dream. But I thought it was totally what I would be good at. Critiquing, helping shape manuscripts. I even got to help out someone at Entangled Teen with their slush pile for a month or two. Ha. Haha. I realized junior year of high school that I absolutely DID NOT have the people skills for a job like this. And I definitely don't think I could have handled being an English major.

Now. . . I want to be a vet? Marine mammalogist? Why doesn't professional Netflixer exist?
I don't know. I want to work with animals. I'm really interested in zoo medicine and conservation breeding programs, but the money and time it takes to get there is absolutely awful when compared with the salary. Zoo med is one of the most competitive sectors of vet med and there's 0 guarantee I would ever get a spot because you're basically sitting around waiting for someone to retire or die. (Also, this job! Requires! More people skills! Than you could imagine! I know all jobs do but there's no way I can lead a team of 30 people to help get a dolphin to the human hospital.)

Basically, I have no idea what I want to do. What's new there?

Then. . . I really loved JLA, The Mortal Instruments series, etc. Lots of paranormal romance. I didn't like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE or THE NIGHT CIRCUS.
I was into really cliche stories and paranormal romances that would make me gag now. I liked simpler writing and simpler plots that were very heavy on the romance, and I mostly read first person novels. I VERY rarely read contemporary. THE NIGHT CIRCUS and DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE were too heavy and too descriptive for me to enjoy.

Now. . . My tastes have basically done a 180.
I've reread the beginnings of the Lux series and TMI so that I continue the series, but I basically hated them. I reread THE NIGHT CIRCUS and DoSB and LOVED them both. I discovered that this is the kind of reading I absolutely love now. And I often struggle to get through first person narratives. High fantasy is currently my favorite genre, and I need rich worlds and elaborate building of those worlds. I still don't read a whole ton of contemporary, but I definitely find ones that interest me. Now I'm really put off by the simple and cliche stories I used to love. And I've tried to reread The Lux series and TMI so I could continue with both series, but I couldn't get through the first books for either of them. Definitely not 5 star reads for me anymore.

Then. . . I tweeted others all the time.
I participated in conversations with dozens of people. I tweeted authors. I probably awkwardly butted into conversations all the time.

Now. . . I second-guess myself all the time. 
This is pretty similar to the email thing. Don't get me wrong, I clearly still have conversations with people on Twitter. But the number of times I hold myself back is astounding. If someone asks a question or I see a conversation going on that I have something to add to, I really struggle to say anything. Sometimes I just can't make a sentence form. Sometimes I feel like I'm interrupting/butting in where I'm not wanted. Sometimes I feel like I'm just being a huge bother. Sometimes I feel like what I say will be taken the wrong way, or I'll be judged for it. And on and on and on. So I typically tweet people I'm a little more familiar with. And still, when I do that - especially to authors - it takes a tremendous amount of effort. I have more to say on that, but I'll be talking about it Thursday if you're still around.

Then. . . I never even considered Wordpress. 
When everyone started making the move to Wordpress, I happily sat with Blogger. Because, first of all, self-hosting? Yeah, no. I was like, 15. I didn't have a bank account to pay for a domain. And it all just sounded very difficult.

Now. . . I regret that decision every day.
Mostly because of the Wordpress plug-ins that I WANT. But about 97% of my followers are through GFC. And although I'm pretty sure about 2% of those people actually look at this blog sometimes, I just can't do it. I CAN'T. I CAN'T START FROM SCRATCH. Also, I am still not any better at coding or anything than I was when I was 15. Nor do I understand anything about SEO, no matter how many times I read about it.

Then. . . I sought my father's approval.
He's the only parent I have. Whether sober or drunk, I wanted him to be proud of me. He was an asshole, and he made the entirety of my childhood miserable, but I wanted to please him. When mother's day and father's day rolled around every year, kids got their parents presents and said things like, "We all need to appreciate our parents more!" I was told I was lucky to have even one parent. It didn't matter that he'd been put in jail for an entire year when I was in the second grade. It didn't matter that after that, he didn't have a license. No one in our house did. I was supposed to appreciate that he'd stayed. That he wasn't physically abusive. I was supposed to appreciate that he loved me. And because I wasn't good at very many things, I focused on my grades. This obviously wasn't a bad thing, but it started an unhealthy mentality. When I came home with A's and an A-, he'd ask why that A- was on there.

People praised him for "raising me on his own." (He didn't. We lived with my grandparents, who paid all the bills. We still live with my 97 year old grandfather. He pays for our food. He pays for my (insane) dentist bills. He pays for 60% of my phone bill and I pay for the other 40. My grandpa isn't all that saint-like when it comes to emotional abuse, either, but I still appreciate everything he's done.) And so I felt bad for not loving and appreciating my father like most kids seemed to.

Now. . . I recognize that I am allowed to hate my father, and no one can tell me otherwise.
I can also recognize that maybe I would have ended up in an even worse situation if my father hadn't decided to make care of me after my mother left before I even had my first birthday. But that doesn't mean the situation I had was okay. I still hear the terms lazy/ungrateful bitch a lot. But now, instead of wanting to fix it and make my dad believe different, I just hang up. Or leave the room. Sometimes I get angry and yell. He finally got his license back in August of 2014, but he still drinks. And I will fully admit - I hate him. I hate talking to him, I hate listening to his constant yelling, and he is the sole reasons I don't want to go back home for the summer. I hate the way he makes me feel about myself.

And now, I'm more scared than ever for the future. Because when my grandpa dies, we have nowhere to live. My dad has no job. Hasn't since he went to jail. Never tried to look for one. Without my grandpa, we have no house, no food. My dad won't be able to afford car insurance or gas and I'll have to find someway to still move in and out of college. We already have no health insurance, but at least I know if I have a serious problem and need to go to the doctor, my grandpa can help me pay for it. But he's 97. That safety net isn't going to be there for very long.

And now, I think I have an unhealthy grade obsession. I'm never happy with an A-. I got a 4.0 last semester, and it's absolutely not going to happen this semester. I'll probably still have a 3.8, which I rationally know is still great. But in my head, I still can't shake the feeling that it isn't good enough. 

Moving on to something a little lighter...

Then. . . I was a dog person.
I liked a lot of animals, don't get me wrong. But DOGS.

Now. . . I really fucking love cats.
Like, really. In case you couldn't tell. Especially Norwegian Forest Cats. Sometimes I sit on the #catsofinstagram tag and weep because I don't have a cat.

Okay, so this post was way too long. I'M SORRY. I honestly could have gone on for like five more hours.

Basically, things are a lot different than they used to be. Which is to be expected, of course, because no one wants to be 14 forever. Though I've (expectedly) grown up over the years, it seems to have resulted in the loss of some of my sanity.

(We're going to pretend expectedly is a word.)
I'm curious. Do any of you share similar stories? Have you grown more reserved over your years as a blogger, or have you been able to branch out more?

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