Escape

So I took the week off from work without any real plans to do anything or go anywhere. High as gas is, who can afford it, amirite?

I don’t think I even wanted a “vacation,” as none of the options suggested to me really stood out as something I would be willing to spend money on.

Honestly, when I decided to take the week off, it was because I didn’t feel like working anymore and I didn’t want to quit. Two and a half years working from home, the unending feeling of existential dread, and no end to this pandemic in sight (and I’m not just talking about COVID; this country is sick with more than just “flu-like symptoms” these days), I find myself lacking motivation more than ever. I find it harder and harder to focus on or even want to work, especially when it feels like the world as we know it is ending—like I’m just sitting here waiting to die. The expectation to maintain that same level of productivity we had at the beginning of this pandemic is beyond unrealistic at this point. It’s as if we’re all in denial of the inevitable.

And I know what you’re going to say. “Nortina, you need to get out of the fucking house.” I agree. And I at least try to make myself go on a walk every morning (rather than doom scroll Twitter when I wake up—even though I still do that). And since it’s finally started to cool off (we’ve reached that time of the year we here in North Carolina like to call “False Autumn”), I’ve been taking longer walks and sitting outside on my balcony. It’s been nice, but it’s all I’m willing to do right now because I don’t really feel like going out.

You can call it lazy or boring, call it depression, call it needing friends. Honestly, I couldn’t explain it to you even if I tried, but everyone’s definition of this funk that I’m in is wrong, and everyone’s suggestion for how to fix it is wrong.

I don’t want to go anywhere, but I don’t want to feel empty either, like I’ve wasted the week the way I’ve wasted the last few years and return to work having accomplished nothing from this break and feeling that same lack of motivation to do anything. And I really should get a therapist; I’ve been telling myself that for months now, but then the old-school Christian in me is like “Girl, if you don’t get on your knees and pray.” But what I’ve been doing instead is listening nonstop to Michael Jackson and imagining a fantasy world where he’s still alive because…because…I don’t know, I want to Xscape this reality?

Yeah, I’m definitely on the verge of a mental breakdown, I fear…

Music was his escape though, right? And I guess writing would be mine, although I haven’t written anything in months. So here I am, typing up what is essentially a diary entry for strangers on the internet. But at least if I put it out there, then maybe I can hold myself accountable.

So this week, I am going to write, and I’m going to try to not let the perfectionist in me kill whatever ideas I have that are scratching toward the surface. And maybe I’ll finally finish editing the book everyone’s been waiting on. You know, that story you’ve all read on this blog and enjoyed, but every time I try to sit down and edit it, I feel like it’s total shit.

Perfectionist at her finest.

And maybe by the end of this week I would have escaped this funk and found my drive, my motivation, my push again.

But let’s be realistic here. I’m never gonna stop listening to Michael Jackson.

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 14 | Thoughts and Prayers

Recent events have reminded me of a little work of fiction I wrote that was meant to be dystopian. With each new day, it feels more real, less imaginary. When will enough be enough? I woke up tears this morning. How about you?

Lovely Curses

After thoughts and prayers didn’t work, the state decreed the nonexistence of God. As proof, they declared terrorism no longer a threat. “For what god do you strap a bomb on your chest and take the lives of the innocent and able-bodied?” The Cross-bearing political zealots accepted this, not realizing their God too was rendered an anachronism, and they were swiftly liquidated for their attempts to merge church and state.

With the death of God went all morals. Mass shootings increased. Gun reform was abandoned. Immigration was outlawed, and anyone who couldn’t prove citizenship by birth or command of the English language was shipped to whatever shithole country their skin complexion or dialect most resembled. Public health was sacrificed for strategic business plans. It was decided that court hearings were a waste of time: if deemed of no use to the state, one was shot on the spot.

The faithful…

View original post 206 more words

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Daddy’s Girl

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

February 2 question – Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

If you’ve ever submitted a short story or poem to a literary magazine, you’re familiar with writing a short, 3- to 5-sentence third-person biography about yourself. Nothing too detailed. Just a few fun facts about yourself—your interests, your hobbies, what inspired you to write, a list of previous publications (but not too many; we don’t like a brag). If your work is accepted, this biography will appear alongside it in the published issue of the magazine.

Over the years, I’ve spent time perfecting my bio, revising it as I discovered my voice and my creative niche. The final product sums up my life, my style, and my influence quite nicely:

Nortina Simmons has been writing since the age of three, inspired by her songwriting, guitar-playing father. Her stories and poems never quite fell into the category of ‘love.’ Love in the real world has restrictions, is wrapped in pain. Through her writing, she explores the characteristics of love the hopeless romantics remain ignorant to. Every ‘love story’ has a curse within. Nortina has stories and poems published in Agave Magazine, FishFood Magazine, Ceases, Cows, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, fēlan, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and Minerva Rising.

As the bio says, my biggest inspiration was my dad. He died of lung cancer when I was 18, but his influence lives on in my writing. My dad was a triple-threat artist. He was a painter, a songwriter, and a musician. My earliest writing memory was writing a ballad called “Oh, Desire” and singing it for him as he played his guitar and my little brother smacked his tambourine in the background. I still faintly remember the lyrics.

Oh, desire for my heart forever.
Will you love me if we're not together?
Do you want to have dinner at a table to love each other?
Do you want to have dinner at a table for two?

At one point we recorded it on cassette, which may still be somewhere in my childhood bedroom. I found it once, several years ago, and listened to it repeatedly—immersing myself in the memory, rewinding the clock—until the cassette player chewed the tape (did I just reveal my age?). The next time I go home, I may look for it again.

In addition to writing music together, we also wrote stories. Often times I would do the writing, and he would do the illustrations. Memorable titles include “The Junkyard Kids” and “Children’s Island.” There was even an intergalactic space odyssey, but I think that was more his idea than mine.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were of us creating together. I owe so much of the writer I am today to him. Unfortunately, our real-life story didn’t have a happy ending. Life happened, and he moved across country with a new wife and family when I was barely a teenager. His diagnosis came a few years later. I saw him just once after that, and the next month he was gone. But those few nostalgic days we spent together, when we were reminiscing, and writing, and singing, and playing music, I will cherish forever.

After all these years, I still miss our collaborations. Even though he’s not here anymore, I read those lyrics from our song, specifically the first two lines, “Oh, desire for my heart forever./Will you love me if we’re not together?” and imagine younger me saw a glimpse of a future when I would have to write without him and thought to remind me, his love and support is always here, in my heart.

Tennis and a Movie: Thoughts on the 2022 Sundance Film Festival Premiere of ‘Alice’

Good evening to you! I know, I’ve been away for a few weeks—up all night watching Australian Open tennis, which has been full of drama this year! And that’s excluding the fact that the number 1 player in the world (on the men’s side), defending champion, and holder of 20 grand slam titles was (not so) swiftly deported from the country the day before the tournament for not being vaccinated. That whole ordeal by itself was an epic saga. One that may or may not happen again at the French Open… TBD…

But you’re in luck tonight! Because there is no late-night singles tennis scheduled, so I may actually sleep (but Lord help me on semi-finals night tomorrow).

While I have the time, I thought I’d give you a follow-up to my post about the premiere of the film Alice in the U.S. Dramatic Competition of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which stars Keke Palmer and Common. I watched the film earlier this week (though I almost missed it, distracted by so many exciting sporting events happening at the same time—NFL playoffs divisional round, tennis—I had games playing on my phone, my computer, my TV…it was a wild night), and I must say I really liked it, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

If you recall, I found the plot to be eerily similar to my story “Runaway,” which was written as part of my Twilight Zone New Year’s marathon. Although the film was definitely Twilight Zone-esque, it wasn’t the time travel sci-fi flick I was expecting it to be. And, in hindsight, I realize the synopsis pretty much told us that, I just overlooked that part entirely.

Alice (Keke Palmer) spends her days enslaved on a rural Georgia plantation restlessly yearning for freedom. After a violent clash with plantation owner Paul (Jonny Lee Miller), Alice flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering that the year is actually 1973. Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned Black activist named Frank (Common), Alice uncovers the lies that have kept her enslaved and the promise of Black liberation.

In her debut feature, writer-director Krystin Ver Linden spins a modern liberation fable that is equal parts earthy Southern Gothic and soulful Blaxploitation. Inspired by true accounts of Black Americans who were kept in peonage for more than 100 years after the end of slavery, Alice is an audacious mix of grim historical fact and exceptional fiction. Moving from a purgatorial plantation overgrown with Spanish moss to the lively landscape of urban Savannah, Ver Linden traces Alice’s breathless journey down the rabbit hole and into the turbulent wonderland of the post–Civil Rights South.

2022 Sundance Film Festival

The twist (and this is not a spoiler because it’s right there in the synopsis—I was just a little slower in catching on) is that the year was always 1973. Alice didn’t jump through time when she ran from her tormentor through the woods and emerged on a highway, nearly getting run over; she, the other slaves on the plantation, the plantation owner, and neighboring plantation owners and their slaves were all anachronisms, living in this surviving pocket of the antebellum South deep in the backwoods of 1973 Georgia.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Eliza Morse

And there were hints of this sprinkled throughout the first 30 minutes of the film: Alice’s husband’s grandfather telling the story of a man “like us” (Black) he once saw fall from the sky (paratrooper) who could make fire with his hands (lighter), the foreshadowing that there’s something else out there beyond the woods, the elderly mistress recalling that she was once a dancer in Chicago (presumably during the roaring 1920s), the owner’s son returning home (I originally thought from boarding school, but it was actually from his mother, who has divorced his father and is now living in the real world, but is still an overt racist) with some new toy that makes this strange static sound (a radio), and the fact that the slaves are never actually referred to as “slaves” but as “domestics” (something the writer and director said was intentional).

But what I found more sinister was that this film is actually based on true events! Now, I know what you’re going to say. “Based on true events” is a phrase used loosely in Hollywood. A movie or series can profess that it’s based on a true story, but in reality, 0.0025% of it actually happened.

Again, because I overlooked this revelation in the description of the film, I thought “true events” might have been referring to the true stories of brutal mistreatment of African slaves by white slave owners, which is not a secret in our country’s history (even if our government is trying to ban it from being taught in schools today). So after the movie, I decided to tune in to the live Q&A with the film’s writer and director, Krystin Ver Linden, producer, Peter Lawson, and lead actor, Keke Palmer, to see if they would provide more details on these true events that apparently inspired the film.

The answer, again, was not what I expected, and is truly spine-chilling. It’s true, there were pockets of slave holders throughout the Deep South who continued to own slaves well into the 1960s, one hundred years after slavery was abolished—though, I don’t think these people were as dramatically frozen in the 1800s (period clothing, lack of electricity or plumbing, etc.) as the characters in this movie were.

I’ll save you the trouble of having to look it up (because the director literally just said, “Google it” 😂) and link the Vice article here. It’s a fascinating history lesson, but one that is also tragic, especially when you think about the story behind Juneteenth and realize there were countless others who had to wait even longer. Generations!

Now, I’m not naive. Forms of slavery still exist today, as the author of the above-mentioned article points out, the “school to prison pipeline and private penitentiaries.” Others that come to mind include sex trafficking, sweat shops, child labor. But something as blatant and defiant as the continuation antebellum chattel slavery when the rest of the world has progressed a century is abominable.

Thankfully, our titular character, Alice, has emerged in the era of Blaxploitation films—as was explained by Krystin and Keke in the Q&A, in that lull period post-Civil Rights when hope feels lost after the assassinations of leaders such as Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr, but there’s still a desire to bring progress and freedom to one’s people—and she quickly (perhaps too quickly, though it helps that she can read) realizes she’s been lied to all her life and returns to her personal hell donning an afro and black leather pants with fire and fury to “stick it to the man!”

Courtesy of Sundance Institute/Eliza Morse

Alice’s triumphant words to her former owner, “I am freedom,” in the final act was the culmination of a phenomenal performance by Keke Palmer. Common was a bit lack luster, unfortunately, but I think that had more to do with a weak script; he really didn’t have much to work with. The most I got from his character, Frank, was that he was a disillusioned ex-Black Panther who was still grieving his mother who had died alone in a sanatorium, and his brother, a Black Republican who owned a farm and employed poor, underpaid Mexican immigrants, was a source of great shame to him. For the most part, he merely served as a supporting character to Keke’s more dominant Alice (despite her meekness in the first 2 acts), which made some of their dialogues underwhelming—another possible reason for why it took me so long to figure out that she didn’t in fact travel in time.

This film will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the 2020 film Antebellum (which is valid, though the brutalization of Black bodies is not as graphic as in Antebellum), and some will wonder why stories like these still need to be told. Are we as Black people not sick of this constant bombardment of our traumatic history being glorified in movies and television? Why must they continue to trigger our PTSS (post-traumatic slave syndrome)? And while yes, I agree that I am tired, the reason why I believe a story like Alice is necessary in cinema can be summed up in the words of the Vice article’s author, Antoinette Harrell:

However, I also believe there are still African families who are tied to Southern farms in the most antebellum sense of speaking. If we don’t investigate and bring to light how slavery quietly continued, it could happen again.

The truth behind those words is haunting. There is so much more we just don’t know.

A 2022 Sundance Film Festival Discovery

Today a coworker was kind enough to share that this year’s virtual Sundance Film Festival is offering $20 tickets for single films. I decided to browse the website for any movies I might be interested in paying $20 to see. One particular movie caught my eye: Alice, staring Keke Palmer and Common. Here’s the synopsis:

Alice (Keke Palmer) spends her days enslaved on a rural Georgia plantation restlessly yearning for freedom. After a violent clash with plantation owner Paul (Jonny Lee Miller), Alice flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering that the year is actually 1973. Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned Black activist named Frank (Common), Alice uncovers the lies that have kept her enslaved and the promise of Black liberation.

Okay, am I crazy or does this sound a lot like my story “Runaway“?? What are the odds that I would write a story with almost the exact same premise of a feature film premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, right?

Let me be clear, when I wrote “Runaway,” I’d never heard of this movie, so let’s not throw around the “P” word. Besides, I was high on caffeine and 10 hours deep into a Twilight Zone blogging (and watching) marathon, so any creator not named Rod Serling was far from my mind at the time of writing.

In any case, time travel is not a novel trope in fiction, nor is time travel to or from the antebellum period, for that matter. One book that immediately comes to mind is Octavia E. Butler’s Kindred (high on the recommendation list, if you haven’t read it already). And “Runaway,” specifically, was inspired by a Twilight Zone episode. So, while I can’t call my idea 100% original, it still fascinates me how I and the movie’s writer and director, Krystin Ver Linden, had the exact same setup for how our stories would begin.

Great minds, huh?

Anyway, I think I may buy tickets for this one. Maybe I’ll get ideas for an extended version of this Twilight Zone “episode.” But more than likely, I’ll just relish in the belief (now proven) that my stories are fully capable of becoming Hollywood feature films.

I just gotta write and publish them faster.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Quiet that Inner Critic

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

January 5 question: What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

Well, this is somewhat of a difficult question to answer, because at times, I don’t feel my “writing career” has started. Sure, I have a few short stories and poems published in literary magazines, and of course I have multiple books’ worth of content on this blog.

But when I think “career,” the first thing that comes to mind is making money, and although the time and effort I put into the maintenance of this blog, from the posts I publish to the look and feel of the page layout, often feels like a second job, currently, the only check I’m getting is from the 9-to-5.

One thing I do regret—as I believe it has, in a way, derailed my progress to publishing that first book and, as a result, stalled my writing career—is being too critical of my work.

You know how the saying goes: You are your biggest critic. Well, as a perfectionist, I’m ten times worse.

I have left so many stories unfinished because I feared the first drafts sounded too elementary, or the plots I’d outlined too unoriginal.

I write, and rewrite, then rewrite the rewrite, then delete everything and start over. (Prime example: there are currently three versions of Love Poetry on my computer hard drive as we speak.)

I’m constantly ripping through the thesaurus because I don’t feel my vocabulary is diverse enough.

I second guess whether I’m showing rather than telling.

I worry about my pacing in some scenes. Is it okay that I have a page that’s 90% dialogue?

I question if I’ve provided enough details in the narration for the reader to visualize the story:

  • How many ways can you say it’s dark outside?
  • Does every detail in the room need to be meticulously sketched out to set the scene? I mean, I’m not a screenwriter here.
  • Can I just say, “She got in her car”? Do I have to write every step? She grabbed her purse, walked out of the front door, descended the porch steps, walked (is there another word for “walked?”) across the yard to the driveway, and got in her car.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that you don’t need a million pretty words to be a great writer. I’ve read books like that, and they were BORING! You also don’t have to be the next great American novelist to produce stories that people will still love and enjoy and want more of. That’s the one downside of taking those university literary courses. They assign you the wordy stuff, the dated stuff. Although classics, not many in today’s Internet age (the era of instant gratification) have the attention span to read them. Well, let me speak for myself, I don’t have the attention span to read them. Not anymore. So why am I trying to write like them?

Writing the drabble, the 100-word story, has helped me to eliminate those inessential words and descriptions that, although great for atmosphere, don’t necessarily move the plot along, so that all I’m left with is a story. Because that’s why we read, right? We want a good story.

On New Year’s Eve, I embarked on an ambitious challenge to write a marathon of Twilight Zone-inspired stories every hour, midnight to midnight. While I wrote some stories that were pure gems (I smile and get giddy every time I read them), there were others that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. But I had one particular fan (okay, it was my mom) buttering me up the entire time, encouraging me to keep going, saying that she was enjoying the stories more than the actual marathon on TV. It was a great feeling, and I definitely want more of that.

So my goal for this year is to not be so critical. Don’t worry so much about the details. Perfectionism is an enemy of success, and do you really want to deprive your biggest fan?

Hi, mom! 🙂

Wrap-up of 2021

As we wave goodbye to 2021, I have one request of 2022:

Please be nice to us.

2020 was rough. 2021 literally started with a bang, and not in a good way.

(I’m still holding my breath for what chaos may erupt on Thursday…)

But I remain hopefully for 2022, despite all the doom and gloom, and I attribute that hope to how I ended my 2021…

Returning to writing!

I wish I could pinpoint the exact cause of my loss of inspiration over the last few years. Look, 2020 was a horrible year, for everybody, but truthfully, I started to fall off around mid-way through 2018, which is funny because 2018 was actually a good year for me. I’d just gotten a new job, moved to a new city, started a new relationship. I was feeling myself and finally feeling like a grown woman.

And maybe that’s why… I couldn’t think of any cursed love stories to write, because I was happy. I was in my Taylor Swift cycle.

Then, without revealing too much, 2019 came with a lot of hard decisions that, in hindsight, began a very long period of depression and then denial of said depression. By 2020, I was on the verge of a total meltdown. At some point, toward the end of 2021—when it started to sink in that 30 was quickly approaching and baby fever was coming down hard—I realized I needed to get my stuff together. Because no man would be happy with me if I wasn’t first happy with myself. So I turned to the one thing that’s always brought me peace and solace and picked up the pen again, metaphorically speaking of course.

In that last month and a half of 2021, I published 82 posts, garnered 1,446 views and 341 likes, and embarked on my most ambitious blogging challenge yet: 25 Twilight Zone-inspired stories in 25 hours, midnight to midnight, leading up to the New Year (technically 24, because one of the stories was a short film I reshared).

Though the stats aren’t close to the numbers I had three years ago, I’m hoping this upward trend is a positive sign of more to come for both myself and those of you who follow or choose to follow as the year progresses.

So let’s look at some of your favorite posts since the comeback:

  1. Parting Gift
  2. Get Lost with Me in the Twilight Zone
  3. Hello Stranger
  4. Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 17
  5. Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 24
  6. Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 1 | Hell
  7. Realities of Long Distance
  8. Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 15
  9. Therapy Session
  10. Morning Inspiration: Writing Prompt No. 2

Going into 2022, I hope to bring you more 100-word stories, more poems (including Black Poetry Writing Month, which according to blog stats, continues to live on despite my absence), longer stories, a new serial story, THAT ONE BOOK(!), and last but not least, your Morning Inspiration.

So are you ready to have a brighter future in 2022? I know I am!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 8 | Prince Charming

In the fifth and final season of the Twilight Zone, the series breaks from its usual format and presents the French short film “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” based on the short story by the same name. Though not an original Twilight Zone production, it has all the haunting and mysterious characteristics of anything Rod Serling could have written.

At hour eight of my Twilight Zone-inspired blogging marathon, I’m following suit and presenting to you a short film from Pakistan whose final twist has all the qualities of having its origins in the Twilight Zone. Starring Mahira Khan and directed by Sheheryar Munawar, a SeePrime original, here is “Prince Charming.”

English subtitles available.

Get Lost with Me in the Twilight Zone

Hello, folks! Can you believe we’ve reached the end of the year? It came so quickly!

(And yet, so much has happened that January feels like three years ago. Quite the conundrum…)

To close out this very long year—which feels like a continuation of 2020—I’m going to try something a little ambitious in an effort to continue to push myself to return to that prolific writer I once was in 2015–2017.

And hopefully I won’t talk myself out of it…or burn myself out…

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you know I absolutely LOVE The Twilight Zone. And no, I’m not talking about Jordan Peele’s short-lived reboot, but the original series from the 1960s. And I don’t want to hear that I’m too young to know anything about The Twilight Zone. Sure, my mom may have been a little tot when the series first aired, but I promise you I have seen every single Twilight Zone episode there is at least twice.

Here are just a few Twilight Zone-inspired stories I already have published on the blog:

Some of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes include:

From The Twilight Zone episode, “When the Sky Was Opened”
  • Time Enough at Last
  • Perchance to Dream
  • When the Sky Was Opened
  • The Hitchhiker
  • The Last Flight
  • Mirror Image
  • The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
  • Long Live Walter Jameson
  • A Stop at Willoughby
  • The Howling Man
  • Nick of Time
  • Back There
  • The Odyssey of Flight 33
  • Shadow Play
  • Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up
  • The Arrival
  • The Mirror
  • The Grave
  • It’s a Good Life
  • The Midnight Sun
  • Still Valley
  • In His Image
  • The Thirty-Fathom Grave
  • Death Ship
  • Passage on the Lady Anne
  • Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
  • Living Doll
  • Night Call
  • Spur of the Moment
  • Queen of the Nile
  • I Am the Night, Color Me Black
  • Stopover in a Quiet Town
  • Garrity and the Graves
  • Come Wonder with Me
  • The Fear

The Syfy channel has definitely spoiled me in that every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I am glued in front of the TV watching the annual Twilight Zone marathon! This year will be no different, but I’m going to take it a step further…

While I am watching The Twilight Zone episodes, I will be writing them as well. Yep, to ring in the new year, I’m going to have a Twilight Zone marathon of my own right here on the blog.

As you may have seen, since returning to the blogging world, I’ve been challenging myself to write at least 100 words a day (check out the A Drabble a Day tab)—or if not 100, at least something (see Morning Inspiration). This will be similar, except instead of a drabble (100-word story) a day, you’ll get a drabble every hour for one day only!

Whew! Can I do it? It sounds easy enough, but creating a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end in 100 words is actually quite challenging! Maybe I’ll give myself some wiggle room—100 words, more or less, depending on where the story takes me. Thankfully, I’ll have an endless stream of inspiration coming from my television set. Add to that the fact that we’ve been living in the twilight zone for the last 2 years, I think I’m covered as far as ideas go!

So, starting at midnight EST on December 31, I’ll be giving you a marathon of Twilight Zone-inspired 100-word (more or less) stories every hour, on the hour, taking you all the way up to midnight January 1, 2022! Twenty-five stories in all! Some based on my favorite Twilight Zone episodes; others, creations of my own.

A massive conquering, but with your support, I think I can do it! See you New Year’s Eve!

 from The Twilight Zone episode “The Hitch Hiker”

Are you a fan of The Twilight Zone? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe I’ll feature one of your favorite episodes in a story.

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.