Podcast Frustrations and a Flashback Friday Episode

Alright so I have to be honest. I’m reconsidering this podcast idea. Because this episode, which is just under three minutes, took entirely too long to create. Six freaking hours to be exact. For a podcast episode that’s two minutes and 28 seconds.

Between apartment noises at inopportune moments (leaf blowers, trucks revving their engines, dogs barking nonstop, and neighbors dropping things and slamming doors), fumbling over words and struggling to read my own dang writing, and realizing the story desperately needed editing (because it was written at a time in my career when I thought lots of pretty words equaled great writing), what was originally supposed to be a “Throwback Thursday” post is now going up on Friday, and I’m still not 100% happy with it.

Plus, that is six hours of writing and editing that I won’t get back. Six hours I could’ve spent on writing a drabble for the day or editing my novella (which I’m determined to finish by the end of December).

But as frustrated as I am, after all this time I spent trying to perfect this episode, somebody is going to listen to it dang it!

So, a couple things to remember before I attempt to record the next podcast episode…

  1. Nortina, you are a writer first. Don’t take on any more endeavors that’s going to further distract you from your writing, especially after you’ve been away for over two years.
  2. The podcast should be a special treat for your blog followers, not another job. You wanted it to be fun, right? So keep it fun, but understand your limits. Weekly episodes? Not feasible. One episode a month of a top post from the previous month? That could work. Getting frustrated to the point of mental breakdown over a story written seven years ago. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

So, although I’m not going to give it up completely, for the sake of my own sanity, it might be a few weeks before another episode goes live. While you wait, here’s “A Cold, Gray August,” an eerie story that was originally published on this blog January 9, 2014. It saw a few revisions as I was working on the podcast, so if you’ve been here since the beginning, why not have a revisit?

If you don’t have Spotify, you can also listen to the full episode here.

What are your thoughts on this new podcast feature WordPress has? Me, I’ll remain optimistic, but to be honest, I prefer typing to speaking.

Flashback Friday: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Happy Friday! Finally, we’ve made it through another tough week, and to reward you, here’s a treat for this Flashback Friday.

(I’m glad to know “Flashback Friday” is still a thing, at least in the blogging world, thanks to Fandango. I was worried I was forever doomed to always be a decade behind).

A few years ago, I started a series on my blog called 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans, where throughout the month of December, I would post holiday-themed (hooligans optional) stories and poems. Here’s one that was published December 3, 2015.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…

McDonald’s is closed on Christmas, so the bitter loners come the night before.

They bear the frigid wind as they walk to their driveways, skid across icy roads to the closest McDonald’s in cars that have yet to kick on the heat.

But it’s too cold to go inside, so they order their ice cream cones from the drive-thru, require that their French fries be cooked fresh, park in front to the pick-up window and demand to see the manager after the young cashier, three years post college graduation, who unsuccessfully searches Indeed.com for jobs in her field when business is slow, tells them that it’s 32 cents extra for barbeque sauce because they didn’t order chicken nuggets.

But the manager is too busy sipping sweet tea from the 12-ounce kiddie cups, meandering through the lobby that has been cleaned twice-over, looking for specks of dust to instruct idle crew members to wipe. He tells her to just give them the sauce because the cars behind them are waiting on double quarter pounders they ordered for their dogs.

But he forgets he sent the veteran on the grill home early to lower the labor, and the food is coming out much slower because the acne-prone teenager left alone to make the burgers only started a week ago.

So the dog lovers bark that it isn’t steak and if they wanted to wait, they would’ve gone to Outback, which closed their doors two hours earlier. The only lit signs for the next four blocks are the golden arches and the white-faced, redheaded clown beckoning weary travelers into the parking lot.

Now the college graduate is crying because this isn’t the future she saw for herself when she declared English Literature as her major, and maybe she should have gone into teaching even though she hates kids, but surely she can handle snot-nosed brats, better than hairless Grinches commanding their snarling German Shepherds to jump through the drive-thru window and bite off her hand in lieu of two greasy, freezer-burned patties.

This isn’t worth $7.25/hour, she thinks, but teachers make considerably less, haven’t received a raise in the last six years. So she slams the window shut, locks it, closes her job search app, and dials 9-1-1 for more underpaid aid.

The flashing blue lights reflect off the snow like glass ornaments hanging from an artificial tree as the officer sits in his cruiser and eats the free dinner of an off-duty police dog, waiting for the troublemakers to return.

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 7

Good morning! Rise and shine! May I borrow a minute of your time for some quick inspiration?

I’m all out of ideas. It’s been one of those weeks. An endless parade of bad news, sad stories, and anxiety-inducing updates regarding the pandemic.

But at least my Cowboys won last night. And at least today is Friday. So I think I’ll splurge…

Today’s Prompt

Diet


My Inspired Story

“She’s on a diet,” he says jokingly when the cashier asks if I would like fries or an apple with my avocado, tomato, and bacon club burger.

Let’s see how quickly that smug grin disappears when I tell him I’m eating for two.


Time for Yours

Now it’s your turn! Use your inspiration from either the word or photo prompt (or both) above and write whatever comes to mind! Fiction, poetry, prose, random ramblings—you pick! Drop it in the comments below or post on your own blog and link it back here. I hope you’re inspired!

Realities of Long Distance

Weekend parents can’t raise kids.

And a weekend lover can’t fix a marriage.

Maybe it’s my unresolved daddy issues that’s kept me in this relationship three years with a man who barely pays attention.

“I know I said I was coming—I’ll make it up to you.”

“You haven’t even made up for the first, or second…”

Or third or fourth…

Fifth.

“But you understand I have work.”

I’ve reached my wits’ end, and I doubt he knows. No matter how many times I complain, nothing changes. I still feel neglected.

“I promise.”

Empty words. Broken promises.

I hang up.

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 6

Good morning! Rise and shine! May I borrow a minute of your time for some quick inspiration?

It’s been a week since Thanksgiving, and I have just one question for you. Have you thrown out those Thanksgiving leftovers yet? No? Well, it’s time sweetie, past time.

Today’s Prompt

Garbage


My Inspired Story

When he said, “Plan on getting dirty,” I honestly thought he was referring to something else.

Cleaning out the gutters? Not my idea of a first date, but we’re supposed to hang the Christmas lights after, so the night could still end…magically.

He balances on the ladder, fourth step from the top, and I remain grounded, holding out the black garbage bag to catch the leaves he tosses below, clumped together by time, rain, dust, and God knows whatever other particulates in the air our government tries to convince us isn’t polluted.

As I wait for the next delivery from above, my eyes drift from his shoulders, past his fleece jacket, down to the denim jeans that hug his curves just right.

Never thought I’d be attracted to a man with a big butt. Then again, who wants a man shaped like a twig? He’d break right under me. But that ass? That ass can carry some weight.

Ugh, forgive me for being single for so long. Even as he cleans the gutters, my mind is perpetually stuck there.


Time for Yours

Now it’s your turn! Use your inspiration from either the word or photo prompt (or both) above and write whatever comes to mind! Fiction, poetry, prose, random ramblings—you pick! Drop it in the comments below or post on your own blog and link it back here. I hope you’re inspired!

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Writing Stress

Good evening, Dear Friends, and welcome to another Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday!

I’ve been away for a while, for reasons I kind of half explained in a previous post. But I’m back now, and hopefully to stay, and this month’s IWSG question seems perfect for my return.

December 1 question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

So what stresses me the most? Easy. Sharing my writing with other people. Now, I know what you’re going to say. “But Nortina, you’re a blogger. It kind of comes with the territory.” I know. When it comes to sharing with total strangers, I have no problem, because if they don’t like it, they can just leave, and if they drop a nasty comment, I can just block them. It’s the people I know who give me pause.

Maybe I just have a very judgy circle of family and friends. They love to define my character by the things I write. As if everything I publish is somehow an autobiography because I prefer to write in first person. Although I do draw inspiration from real-life experiences, everything should be presumed fiction unless stated otherwise.

There have been times (and when I say “times,” I’m referring to a very specific incident) when I’ve written about, or in the voice of, some very morally questionable characters and have gotten panned for it. As if these were my actual thoughts and opinions and not a commentary on the state of society right now. In the age of quick conclusions, out-of-context screen shots and quotes, and cancel culture, fear of misinterpretation (whether intentional or unintentional) forced me to take the posts in question down.

Slapping a disclaimer at the top of such controversial posts for those people who can’t seem to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction is always an option. But here’s the thing. I HATE having to explain myself. If common sense doesn’t tell you that this is just a story, and I have no immediate plans to go off and commit accessory to murder after the fact for a boyfriend, then I can’t help you, friend.

So I just don’t share.

I do have a Facebook page, where I post all my latest writings (though in a recent insecure writer meltdown I cleared it out and started over because I didn’t like how it looked *sigh*). But my personal Facebook feed? Full of memes.

The last time I shared with people outside the blogging word, my mom’s coworker politely asked her, “What’s wrong with your daughter?” after reading a poem inspired by Fransico Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son. She called it deeply disturbing. Um, have you seen the painting? It’s meant to be deeply disturbing.

Available in US public domain

I also have uber-religious family members who aren’t too keen on me writing about sex all the time. To which I respond, have you actually read the Bible? I mean, one story that always tickles me is that of Judah’s son, who died on the spot for pulling out. Then Judah’s daughter-in-law dressed as a prostitute, slept with him, and got pregnant. And you wanna know who came out of that seemly dysfunctional family line? Jesus. So if God can use that and so many countless other “bad” things for good, why can’t my sex scenes serve a specific purpose in my writing.

Okay, maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but it’s not like I’m out here writing porn. And I have toned down some details as my writing has evolved, preferring to leave some things up to the reader’s imagination. Plus, there’s only so many words you can use to describe the actual act before it starts to sound nonsensical.

But I digress. I’ll end this post by saying I do understand that my writing only gets noticed when I share it with others, good or bad. And I’m often delighted when people tell me how much they love my writing and wish I’d share more. So I will try to get out of my own head and give you guys the benefit of the doubt.

Insecure writer signing off.

The Boyfriend

Friend zoned for a dude that beats her. Can’t say it’s unheard of, but I wasn’t waiting around for her to change her mind.

Her message this morning had me shook. He’ll do it this time. Got me thinking homeboy done graduated from domestic abuse to first-degree murder.

The cops arrived ahead of me. One by the door, the other peaking through the window.

“No answer.”

No sign of life whatsoever.

“The text should be probable cause!” I’m ready to break in when the boyfriend pulls up in his pickup. The stained blue tarp in the bed makes me sick.

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 5

Good morning! Rise and shine! May I borrow a minute of your time for some quick inspiration?

Feeling stuck? I’ve been there—I still go there sometimes. Been living the same day on repeat since March 2020? Right there with you, hon! These last 2 years have been tough; finding the inspiration to write, even harder. And the holidays can easily be the most depressing time of year for some. But I’m here to lift you out of your funk, because as hard as it is to start writing, once those creative juices start flowing, it’s quite therapeutic! You can do it!

Today’s Prompt

Here’s to hoping for a brighter tomorrow with today’s prompt:

Horizon


My Inspired Story

The ocean is bluer than the sky.

I could get lost in it—

Lost in your eyes.


Time for Yours

Now it’s your turn! Use your inspiration from either the word or photo prompt (or both) above and write whatever comes to mind! Fiction, poetry, prose, random ramblings—you pick! Drop it in the comments below or post on your own blog and link it back here. I hope you’re inspired!

Double-Checking

I can’t hear him breathing on the monitor, so I tiptoe down the hall to the nursery and lower my head over the crib rail, SIDS occupying my mind.

The quick, shallow breaths—the tiny squeak at the end of each exhale—lull me. Satisfied, I return to my room and find my husband sitting up in bed.

“When will you sleep?”

“His little snores are so adorable!”

He flips the covers back, and I snuggle into his body like a spoon. “You should have a listen.”

“Shhh, later.” He wraps his arms around me, kisses my ear.

Lulls me.

Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 4

Good morning! Rise and shine! May I borrow a minute of your time for some quick inspiration?

So, when is it appropriate to begin decorating for Christmas and playing holiday-themed music? If you’re in the retail business, it’s the day after Halloween. If you’re my grandfather, it’s the day after Thanksgiving. Most people like to wait until at least December 1. Me? Well, last year my tree went up two weeks before Christmas and never came down, so technically, I was very early this year.

Obviously, it’s an artificial tree, otherwise it’d be crispy as a chip!

Today’s Prompt

Now for today’s prompt. Whether you’re hanging lights outside or a wreath on the door, buying a real or artificial tree, or turning your kitchen into a bakery full of yummy treats, how will you be inspired today?

Decoration


My Inspired Story

Powdered sugar snow on my nose and on my lips.

“One more cookie,” he says.

“One more kiss.”


Time for Yours

Now it’s your turn! Use your inspiration from either the word or photo prompt (or both) above and write whatever comes to mind! Fiction, poetry, prose, random ramblings—you pick! Drop it in the comments below or post on your own blog and link it back here. I hope you’re inspired!