Tag Archive | fear

First Draft Blues

As a writer, I’m just not in a great place.

I’m working on completing the first draft of a story that has turned into something completely different than what I originally intended

As I’m writing this book, I’m reminded of my younger years when I began a story and became so discouraged that I could never see it through to completion. I’d write a few chapters and then give up because I knew it sucked. At that time in my life, I didn’t realize that first drafts are supposed to, so I just surrendered to the suck and gave up. I know better now, but the feelings remain.

I’ve often struggled with the story for months at a time. Leaving Eva took about a year to complete. When I became frustrated with the story I simply walked away from it for weeks at a time. As I try to hone my writing skills, I find now that walking away simply makes me rusty. When I pick it up again, I have to sharpen those skills all over again and I just feel as though I’m trudging in knee-deep mud, unable to move forward. I’ve been more committed to writing regularly, so walking away from the story this time, isn’t an option.

Writing this story is so difficult that I want to pull my hair out. I know… I believe… that somewhere in there is the beautiful story of a young woman whose past is dark, but her love for her husband and children changes her. These are the stories that I love.
I’ve also been experimenting with my medium. This is also the first book that I’ve written mostly by dictation, so instead of the words flowing out from my fingers they have to come out down from my brain and out  of my mouth. The connection has often been fuzzy and the process, difficult. Although my brain is often racing as the words hit my mouth I often want to take them back, the moment I hear them come out. The biggest difference is that with dictation there is no backspace. I often find that what I’ve written is unintelligible and as I go back to reread, I struggle to try and figure out what the hell I was thinking.

Still, I am tenacious.  Although it’s been a struggle and I’m convinced that this is the worst story I’ve ever written, I’ll press on because I need to see how it ends. While, dictating has given me the ability to write thousands more words faster than I might normally have time for, I know I’ll send up cutting many of them. The heart of the story is somewhere in the mess of  extra words and tangled chapters; I can feel it. I just have to find it.

I know that in the characters of Liv and Danny, there is great love and passion. However as with many couples, there is also deep conflict which is all I can share right now. Will they end up together? Will they be happy? Even I don’t know the answers yet. I do know that the characters love one other deeply but as with most of my stories, and much of life, it’s not always about love. It’s about so much more.

This books is about love, betrayal, and deception. It’s about lives ruined by selfishness and indulgence, neglect and  regret. The dynamic between the characters is heartbreaking and strong, and I can’t wait to flesh it all out. In many ways, I know this will be the most challenging first draft I’ve ever had to pick apart. I would love say writing gets easier; instead it seems to get harder. I’ve expected that the story will fall into place faster but it has eluded me.  There’s something magical about the moment when a story clicks in place, and with this one it hasn’t had that moment yet.

I am happy that I’ve dictated this book despite the challenges and frustration. The importance of learning a new process and sticking to it has taught me that there are other ways to be productive. With limited time as a wife, mother, and a full-time career, it is often impossible to put pen to paper. Dictating has become my saving grace and I am committed to becoming more skilled in this process

As I struggle with this first draft, I am in a place where I am also wrestling with self-doubt. It’s the moment when I question my ability to write well at all, which is a common fear for many writers. I imagine that if the process was easier I would have already written a thousand books already, so I am trying to remind myself that I can do this. I am going to pull myself up by the collar, kick myself in the butt, and tell myself to stop whining. 

I know that I’ll make it through this somehow. I can feel it in my heart and deep down in my bones. I’m searching for the story and reminding myself why I love to write so much. Through this journey, I’m sure I’ll find what I’m looking for … those two beautiful words …

The End. 

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Little Fish, Big Pond

My first BIG book signing is a month away and I’m totally freaking out, inside.

I’m excited, exhilarated, motivated, but I’m also petrified.
I’ll be at a signing with amazing, best selling authors… and then there will be little old me. I almost feel like I’ll be the ugly duckling or Cinderella before the epic transformation.

As I look back on the last year, I’ve been able to accomplish quite a bit. And a lot of it has absolutely terrified me. I released two books, started a blog, and then launched head first into social media which forced me to expose myself in ways that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I even had my own little solo signing at a lovely Italian restaurant, Spennatos, two months after my first book released.

Now, almost exactly one year after I released my first book, I’ll get to join some talented writers at the Cleveland Author Event. Since it’s my home town, I almost wonder if I magically got in by default 😳. But regardless of how I squeaked in, I’m so excited that I’ll get to be there surrounded by such creativity and talent. The thought of it makes me giddy.

My one tiny hope is that someone comes to my table to see ME too. If not, I’ve already decided that I’m totally stalking the fans of TH Snyder, my lovely table mate. I just hope she doesn’t mind.

In this past year, I’ve been encouraged by how supportive, positive, and wonderful oter authors, bloggers, cover artists, designers, and readers can be. I’ve never asked someone a question to be turned away or scoffed at, for my ignorance. I love the genuine support that everyone gives, even though I have yet to meet many of them in person.

I know I’ll feel like a little fish in a huge body of water. But I’m excited and thrilled because I love getting to write and getting to be a part of it all.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until this past year that I was able to share it. Perhaps that has been the most difficult part of it all. I’m not a person that typically worries about what other people think. But when it comes to my writing it’s completely different. Because when I write, I am bare, and I am vulnerable, my soul exposed.

In preparation and anticipation of the CAE, I’ve decided that for the next 30 days, I’m going to blog one thing about myself, every day. I’ll use serious, frivolous, and random topics. I’ll even leave it open to the floor if there are any suggestions for topics.

If you’re at the CAE, please don’t hesitate to come say HI! I’ll be the one fan-girling TH Snyder or photo bombing Tara Sivec. ❤️

Leaving Eva by Jennifer Sivec “Chapter One”

Stupid Girl

Daddy No!

Daddy, please stop!

Daddy, you’re hurting me!

She never saw it coming. She didn’t even know he hit her until her right cheek and eye were exploding. There was so much rage on his face and his anger was emanating toward her, dangerous and hot.

She’d never seen Daddy so angry before, not even with Momma.

She was stunned, her feet frozen to one spot. She wanted desperately to run but was unable to move. It was almost as though she was trapped in a bad dream and couldn’t wake up. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest and her mind was racing. Daddy’s massive body was blocking the way and she thought wildly that if she didn’t move, he wouldn’t hit her again.

She was wrong.

He smacked her again, hard across the mouth and she could feel blood pouring from her bottom lip. The saltiness of it made her want to gag. He reached out and grabbed her small thin arms and squeezed them so hard they felt as though they may break in two. He picked her up until her feet were dangling off of the ground and threw her down, hard. Her head snapped back and hit the wood cabinets. The cracking sound resounded in her ears and there was instant blinding pain.

She knew that she was crying, but couldn’t feel any tears. She was afraid, and it was a strange familiar, haunting feeling that she knew she had felt sometime before in her 7 ½ years. Daddy was never overly affectionate or kind, but he had never hurt her. She had been with them for 3 years, and during that time he had barely ever touched her, good or bad. But now, he was intent on hurting her for reasons that didn’t make sense.

She begged him to stop, trying to come up with the right words as they tumbled out in between the sobs. “Daddy, please! I-I-I-I’m sorry. I’ll be careful, I’m s-s-s-orry.”

“You should be sorry! You need to be more careful, damn you. You ruin everything you touch with your filthy little hands! ” He growled, grabbing hard at her long dark hair, pulling some of it out sharply at the roots. He yanked on the pony tail as she reached out blindly trying to get him to ease his grip.

Daddy’s blue eyes were dark and full of something that she didn’t recognize at all. His face was distorted almost trance-like, looking through her like he wasn’t seeing her at all. She struggled away but his grasp on her hair wouldn’t let her escape. She felt trapped and helpless, like a mouse in a cage. Without any effort, he grabbed her again and threw her back down to the ground.

The girl was crying hard, her small body trembling in fear of what would happen to her next. “No, no, no, no,” she cried over and over. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it.”

She crouched down tight against the cabinets, and she pulled her body in, hoping to shrink. Maybe if I’m small I’ll be hard to get and he will stop. Maybe Daddy will stop!

He kicked clumsily at her sides with hard steel toed work boots. “Damn stupid kid! Why do you have to be so clumsy? Jesus Christ, you’re ALWAYS spilling and dropping things.” His voice was so loud and he was spitting as he hovered above.

The girl was trying to remember why he was so mad and then she remembered the spilled iced tea all over the floor, soaking into the beige carpet like a sponge.

“I’ll be more careful. I’ll be more careful! PLEASE DADDY, you’re hurting me!” She was screaming, but he didn’t hear.

“I work my ass off to provide for you and your mother, and this is how you repay me! I should never have let your mother convince me to buy you, you stupid Bitch!” Daddy’s voice was ugly and full of hatred. The girl didn’t know if it was the pain of the blows or the mean words that hurt the most.

She raised her hands over her head futilely as a shield. I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m so clumsy and bad! Please Daddy, please. Her head was pounding and there was pain everywhere.

One, two, and then three more times Daddy hit her. There were so many that she lost count. His hands were open one second and closed the next. There were blows coming from every direction, first hitting on the head, then the arms, both sides, and occasionally the face.

The smell of whiskey was hanging above the tiny girl in a large cloud, curling her nose with its sweet insipid smell. She was gagging and crying at the same time, and it was hard to breathe. She was choking on her own stupidity and carelessness. Mommy keeps telling me to be more careful. I’m a bad girl. I’m too loud and stupid and I always spill. Mommy will hate me now too. I’m a bad girl!

She dared a glance upward and could see that Daddy was starting to pant, his face red, while sweat poured down his forehead. Please God, make him stop. Please help me be more careful! Why can’t I just be a better girl?

“Please stop, please”, she cried desperately, in a small frightened voice that she hadn’t heard before. Daddy doesn’t love me because I’m stupid. Daddy hates me. I hate me too. I’m so stupid!

He looked at her, his gaze slicing through her. “You’re the reason your mother hates me! It’s all your fault you stupid useless Brat!”

It was true. Mommy has me so she can’t love Daddy. She told me. It is my fault!

It felt like he had been hitting her for so long. But after only a few minutes he was spent.

He finally staggered backwards clumsily, not looking her way at all. Daddy didn’t look well, his skin pale and wet with sweat, the rage replaced with confusion and shame.

“Go to your room, right now, Brynn!” His voice was barely audible as he looked away.

Brynn stood feeling unsteady for a moment, her body shaking uncontrollably as she willed her legs to move. I’m going Daddy. I’m going!

Daddy turned and staggered out to the porch and lit up a cigarette. The cool night air came in with a welcome gust soothing her burning face, and she forgot about the pain momentarily. The danger was still palpable in the air, and Brynn realized that she needed to get to her room.

The journey up the stairs was difficult but she finally made it, falling onto the bed with relief. Brynn buried her face into the pillow smearing bright red blood and tears on the white crisp pillowcase.

He hates me! He hates me and I’m so stupid. It’s my fault. I’m so clumsy and stupid. If I run away, maybe Mommy will love him and then he will love me. I ruined everything! I wish I had never ever been born!

After what felt like hours, she stood up and carefully walked into the bathroom and locked the door. Brynn looked in the mirror and searched all over for bruises. The right cheek and eye were swelling and turning purple. The split in her lip was also swelling at an alarming rate as the blood was starting to crust and dry up. Her eyelids were swollen from crying so hard and there was nothing but pain in her ribs, back, arms, and legs from all of the kicking they endured.

Brynn wished Mommy would hurry home. Mommy, where are you? Mommy, I need you!

Daddy had never been this mean before. He was to Mommy, but not to Brynn. He yelled occasionally, but had never kicked, hit, or swore at her. Daddy never kissed or hugged her, but Brynn always thought he loved her. After all, he bought her things from time to time like big lollipops and candy from the store. He gave her presents for birthdays and on Christmases. My Daddy hates me! He wishes I was never adopted. He hates me more than anything in the world.

What if Daddy hits me all the time? The thought struck suddenly. I should run away.

Brynn knew Mommy couldn’t protect her. Mommy couldn’t even protect herself. While Daddy had never hit Brynn before, he hit Mommy. He even shook Mommy hard making her flop all over the place like Brynn’s favorite doll, Betsy. Mommy said it wasn’t Daddy’s fault. She said it was only because of the alcohol. Today Daddy was drinking a lot of alcohol and Brynn noticed that it was a lot more than usual.

The “special” glass was filled up 5 times, full to the top. Usually, Daddy only had Brynn fill it 2 or 3 times, and then Mommy did the rest after bedtime. Daddy never filled his own glass because he said it was their responsibility. “I put a roof over your heads, and give you food to eat, and clothes to wear. I buy everything!” he reminded them often.

Even though Daddy was mean to Mommy, Brynn still loved him. You’re supposed to love your Daddy. That’s what happy families do. They love each other. She wanted to have a happy family more than anything. Even though her only friend Stacy had a sad family too, like Brynn’s, families were supposed to be happy. Mommy didn’t like Brynn to have a lot of friends because she didn’t want her away from the house much. Mommy always made her come home so she could spend time with her. Mommy said that she missed Brynn her too much when she was gone.

Brynn was sad because Mommy didn’t love Daddy. Mommy told her time and time again even if Daddy was in the room. She always whispered it loudly, pretending that it was their little secret. Brynn knew that Daddy could still hear. But Daddy was quiet like he didn’t care, even though he had a funny look on his face. Mommy and Brynn were best friends and Mommy told her everything.

“We only stay with him because he takes care of us Brynn. I only love you,” Mommy always told her. Brynn thought that maybe Daddy loved Mommy, because why else would he take care of them? Maybe Daddy will stop taking care of us now that he is hitting me too. Brynn was afraid of what would happen to them.

There must have been something wrong with her or Brynn’s real Mommy would have wanted her. Brynn picked up the picture of her and Mommy Rose that sat next to her bed. It was a picture of them right after her “Gotcha Day”. Brynn looked very different then, so skinny and scraggly with a permanently sad expression on her face. She thought about her real Mommy and once again wondered where she was and why she left her. Brynn wondered if her real Mommy ever thought of her and what she looked like. Would my real Mommy care that Daddy was hitting me? Would she save me?

Brynn reached up carefully, touching her cheek. It felt big and was throbbing and stinging. She felt hot. She lifted up her shirt and saw the skin on her sides turning red and purple. Her arms were tender and painful to the touch and there hand prints bruising her skin.

She moved slowly to her bed and waited for Mommy Rose to come home. Every part of her face was burning and her lip kept bleeding. As hard as she tried she couldn’t stop crying, salty tears burning the open wound on her lip. How could Daddy be so mean?

Mommy!! When she finally heard the car in the driveway her heart leapt for joy. Brynn dared not leave the bedroom for fear Daddy would see her.

Mommy will come kiss me good night. Brynn waited for Mommy to come up. When Mommy saw her face she would know what Daddy had done. Brynn was ashamed that Daddy had to punish her.

Maybe Mommy won’t love me anymore either, she thought suddenly. She’ll think I’m too clumsy too. She hates when I spill things because he always yells at her. Maybe she will hit me too. Brynn was suddenly afraid. She hadn’t thought of that before.

She waited anxiously. When Mommy’s light footsteps echoed in the hall Brynn held her breath and waited for the door to open. Did Daddy tell her what I did? What if she hates me too?

The door opened slowly and Mommy walked in looking like an angel. Mommy’s brown eyes were very serious as she looked at Brynn. She didn’t say anything but instead walked over to the bed slowly, and hugged Brynn. Brynn held her tight and sobbed into her chest.

“Oh Brynn,” Mommy said in a soothing voice. “What did you do? Why were you so clumsy and why can’t you just be more careful? It will be okay.”

Brynn couldn’t speak. She couldn’t say anything between the sobs.

Mommy gently touched Brynn’s swollen cheek, tears forming in her own eyes. She started to reach toward Brynn’s cracked lip and stopped before touching it.

“Brynn, you have to be more careful. Daddy doesn’t like messes. You can’t spill because he gets really mad.” Mommy scolded gently. Mommy didn’t look angry like he had; instead there was a different look on her face. It was a look that Brynn didn’t understand. Brynn breathed a sigh of relief. Mommy didn’t hate her like Daddy did.

She held Brynn close. Mommy smells like flowers. Sweet.

For the first time that night, Brynn felt safe. Mommy went to the bathroom, got a washcloth, ran cool water over it, and washed Brynn’s tearstained face. She wiped Brynn’s swollen cheek and gently swabbed her bloody lip. She was careful as she tried to clean up the crusted blood. Mommy spoke gently, soothing, like she did when Brynn was much smaller. Then she tucked Brynn into bed and kissed her first on the forehead and then on the cheek. Brynn winced in pain and then smiled weakly, relieved that Mommy was home.

“There will be no school until your lip and face looks better, sweet girl,” Mommy said attempting a smile. “We’ll stay home and do puzzles together all day and drink hot cocoa. We’ll have a ‘girl’s day’.” Mommy stroked Brynn’s hair lightly, “But you can’t tell anyone about Daddy hitting you. If you do, they will take you away from me.”

Brynn didn’t want to be away from Mommy. She loved Mommy.

“I promise Mommy, I won’t tell,” Brynn said, her voice small and serious.

“You’re a good girl, darling,” Mommy said looking at Brynn with adoring eyes.

“No I’m not Mommy, I’m a bad girl. I took your love away from Daddy. It’s my fault you don’t love him,” Brynn cried. She wanted to confess because she didn’t want to keep a secret from Mommy.

Mommy’s face got angry and then she suddenly smiled her teeth pretty and white, “Oh Brynn. It’s not your fault I don’t love Daddy. I never loved Daddy. I only married Daddy so that I could find you one day. Even if you weren’t here, I still wouldn’t love Daddy.”

Brynn was relieved. It wasn’t her fault after all, but then she was sad. Poor Daddy. To not be loved was so sad.

“Is Daddy going to hurt me again? It really hurt Mommy,” she said sadly, trying not to whimper.

“No Brynn! Mommy won’t let Daddy hurt you like that again!” Mommy said. But Brynn was still afraid because Daddy hit Mommy, and nothing could stop him.

Mommy answered without Brynn asking, “I know Daddy hits me, but we can’t leave because he takes care of us. We need him. I’ll talk to Daddy and I won’t leave you alone with him again.”

Brynn was relieved. She wasn’t alone with him much, but if it was never then he couldn’t hurt her again.

“Thank you Mommy!” She loved Mommy so much. Mommy was pretty and nice and Brynn loved her with all of her heart, to the moon and back, “I love you so much Mommy!”

Mommy gave her baby girl a sad smile. She bent over and tucked Brynn in, leaving the night light on.

“Go to sleep sweet girl. I love you too,” she whispered softly.

Brynn closed her eyes and got as comfortable as she could. She moved around trying to get comfortable despite the pain. All of her muscles hurt and her lip was stinging. She didn’t realize how tired she was and quickly started to drift off.

Mommy went downstairs, and just as Brynn fell asleep she was jolted awake by the sound of Daddy yelling. Daddy was yelling at Mommy!

She covered her ears tight. Mommy was screaming and then there was a slapping sound. Something made a loud cracking sound, like the sound of wood splintering and breaking, which made her jump. Mommy cried out loudly.

Brynn huddled up tight in her bed and squeezed her eyes closed as she felt tears running down her face. Daddy, please don’t hurt Mommy. She wanted to run downstairs, but she was afraid. What if he hits me again? Mommy, Mommy! Brynn grabbed her dolly, Betsy, and hugged her until the screaming stopped and there was an eerie silence in the house. She tried to stay awake as long as she could but she was terrified that her door would open and he would come in and try to hurt her again. But there was nothing but quiet. She listened hard for Mommy to make a sound, but she didn’t hear anything in the house. Her eyelids started to get heavy and she finally into a restless painful asleep.

Blog Challenge-Day 4

The question is…What are you afraid of? 

I’ve been putting this one off because I don’t deal well with fear.  I wasn’t sure if I should share a physical fear (i.e. snakes, rats, mice) or if I should share an emotional fear.  I was tempted to cop out and just say that I’m afraid of anything scary and squirmy and leave it at that.  But I thought it would minimize the whole point of what this challenge is all about.

Fear.

I’ve been afraid of many things in my life, and I don’t know that I can honestly share them all.  One of my favorite lines in a song is “Have you ever looked fear in the face and said ‘I just don’t care’?”  I’ve faced a lot of my fears.  And then there are some that I know I will never face.  I will never jump out of an airplane.  I will never volunteer to lie in a plastic coffin and let someone pour scorpions and snakes all over me.  I will never eat a live insect or bite the head off of a mouse.

What I fear the most is….

being Lost.

Mentally, emotionally, creatively, morally.  And yet, it is something that we can’t often control. Sometimes someone loses it for you without your knowledge or  permission. And sometimes you just lose it for yourself without even realizing it until it’s gone.  I’ve had a lot of loss in my life, and the thing I fear the most is what I sometimes can’t control. 

I know that people will hurt me and I know that I will sometimes do things to hurt myself.  There have been moments when I don’t even recognize myself anymore and I have lost that important sense of who I am.  And that terrifies me in the sense of being someone’s most important person, whether it is as a mother, wife, friend, daughter.  I’ve lost myself so many times that I know how difficult it is to find your way again. 

I think you have to sink to the depths to know true fear.  And once you have it you have to make sure that it doesn’t cripple you, which can be a feat in and of itself.  But fear can’t be a factor in living life, especially a life worth living.

So I fight my demons every day and try to look fear in the face and say “I just don’t care.”