September Writer’s Life: Hurricanes & a real vacation [#yearofwriting]

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What can I say about the month of September? To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. The truth about this month is that I almost didn’t work. First of all: I had a pre-planned vacation for a good chunk of the month.

My fiancé Adam and I had been planning our trip to Europe ever since I surprised him on his birthday with concert tickets to see one of his favorite artist who was going to be giving a once-in-a-lifetime concert in Tilburg, The Netherlands in September. We decided to visit Amsterdam for a week and pair that trip with two cities in Germany: Cologne and Frankfurt.

Other than that, however, Hurricane Irma struck our hometown in Southwest Florida and threatened not only our home but also our travel plans. Thankfully, our home was mainly unscathed and we made it to Europe as planned. The only problem came in that, because I was so busy and overwhelmed by hurricane prep, I had no time to do any kind of writing in the week and a half before our trip. And, of course, the two September days after we got back were primarily spent catching up on everything.

So what I am saying is this: Excuse me if this month seems less-than-ideal in terms of my #yearofwriting progress.

What was published: 

Basically, all of the pieces that were published under my name this month were all things that I wrote the month before. But that’s okay. When you’re faced with a hurricane and a two-week vacation, life happens. And it’s really important to let life happen, I think.

I did write one piece, the 12 Foods Every Cuban Grew Up Eating for HipLatina, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15-October 15). Definitely proud of that one!

How much I wrote: 3,749 words

How much I made: $100

The one great thing that came out of writing this month is that, encouraged by my incredibly supportive partner and fiancé Adam, I made some real headway on my memoir, Moscow Chica. He basically forcefully encouraged me to spend Labor Day weekend on the project, which I did. Happy to report that my book proposal is close to being done. And I definitely could NOT have done it without his not-so-gentle nudging.

Pitches sent out in September: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0

Obviously, since I had NO time to write, I also had no time for pitches this month. Oh well. I think I can just shrug this one off and tackle some SERIOUS pitching in October, which will be my first full month of being back on the full-time writing horse. (Um, is that a weird thing to say?)

Quarter 3 totals: 

How much I wrote: 61,336 words
How much I made: $3716
Pitches sent out: 4
Pitch acceptances: 1

Here’s to the end of the year going MUCH better than Quarter 3!

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Introducing Moscow Chica – now a blog, book and newsletter [#yearofwriting]

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As you’ve probably noticed right above this sentence, there is something new in my life – and that is that my in-the-works memoir, Moscow Chica: How Growing Up Russian and Cuban Made Me an American, is now also being joined by a brand-new Medium blog (or publication, as they call it) and a newsletter… all basically in service of my writing about multiculturalism, Russia, Cuba, being American today, immigrant issues and rights, and more.

Here’s the thing I realized recently: Writing a memoir takes TIME. So very much time! One of the commitments I made to myself during this #yearofwriting is that I was going to be doing #52essays2017, all of which are in service of my memoir and writing about how my immigrant and multicultural upbringing has affected my American life.

And it’s really exciting to write about all of that but, to be honest, with everything going on in the world right now with President Cheeto (I’m sorry, I just can’t say his name) and the Muslim travel ban in the first few days of his being in office… and everything that has happened since with immigrant issues and rights (including the recent raids which our so-called leader is calling “a military operation”), I feel the need to do more.

And so I started the Medium publication, Moscow Chica: Half-Russian, Half-Cuban, All-American. In fact, my very first post was about the “A Day Without Immigrants” protest and how I personally am choosing to honor it (hint: it has to do with the new blog!).

What’s coming up on the Medium publication/blog will be primarily topics and issues surrounding immigrant rights today and multiculturalism in general. I will also be sharing things I have published in the past and some of my writing that is being published elsewhere (all related to immigration, being Russian/Cuban/American and growing up or being multicultural).

And, of course, I will be continuing the #52essays2017 challenge (which is, as you already know, about the memoir and my past) and how all of that relates to my upbringing as an immigrant in a multicultural household. These posts will also now live on Medium, since I want to talk about all of the things that relate to being “Half-Russian, Half-Cuban, All-American”.

Meanwhile, the newsletter is primarily a vehicle for me to be able to easily share updates with those that are interested in the things I am writing about. So if you’re curious about memoir writing as a topic, multiculturalism and/or immigration rights (or if you’re just a big fan of me, haha), then you should definitely subscribe.

At the end of the day, though, this isn’t just about me or my work (though I hope you like what I have to say) but about what’s going on in the U.S. today.

It’s no understatement to say that we’re in a bit of a dumpster fire at the moment. Just this week alone, things haven’t been good for immigrants (duh), Native peoples or trans kids. And that really hurts me deep down because I love America. Or at least I used to.

These days, to be honest, I struggle with my (former?) pride in the country my family decided to make our home and my disgust at what is happening today. But I firmly believe that it’s in the power of the people to create change. And as a writer and journalist, my power lies in my words.

As I look to create more dialogue surrounding multiculturalism and immigrant rights, I will also be seeking out and sharing the stories of others. After all, the only way to fully form a resistance is to use our voices (while we can) and continue to speak out against injustices.

At least, that’s my plan for the next four years… and 40 years, too.

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How do you find motivation when your mind is freaking out?

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I am having an extremely hard time doing anything this past week.

It’s not like I am lying in bed sick or depressed or feeling lazy or something like that. Nope. My problem today is my mind, and its utter inability to quiet the F down at the moment.

Here’s the scenario: I came home last week after my third trip in a month and quickly realized just how exhausted I felt. I couldn’t write anything last week, but I did do my regular editing and also spent some time just reading other writers’ works and focusing on my freelancing. Yes, I didn’t produce words, but I still felt like I did *something*.

I did some really good reading over the weekend and have even established a new morning routine that I am pretty proud of (so far). So, basically, this week was going better until last night, when I was reading something about the different ways that writers can make money (short ebooks, podcasting, seminars, consulting, etc) and started to have an absolute mind meltdown.

Here’s what it looked like: Oh! Okay, I can do all of these new other things. But wait, which ones do I want to do? Do I want to do consulting? I do like giving advice… But is this thing what I want to give advice on for the rest of my life? And what about books? I still haven’t been working on my memoir, but maybe I should do an ebook on this other similar but unrelated topic? Or wait, what if I get bored of writing about this thing just like I got bored of writing about that thing? How am I ever going to build a personal brand or author platform if I can’t find focus? OH GOD, what if I am an unfocused mess? How do I find motivation? What’s wrong with me that I have so many ideas and can’t seem to commit to one for more than a day or two? Am I ever going to finish anything? Am I ever going to be a success? Oh nooooooo… What if in 20 years, I am still here and doing the exact same thing that I am doing right now? It’s not like I don’t love what I am doing right now, I really do, but I want my career to *go somewhere*. How do I figure out where it should go? Or how I should help it get there? What do I do? What do I do? How do I get there? WHAT DO I DO?

This went on in silence for about an hour while Adam and I were watching the Cubs vs. Giants game, until I finally spoke up. It was probably another two hours of intermittent word vomit on my poor awesome, incredibly supportive boyfriend who listened but admitted at the end of the night that he was a bit overstimulated with all of my crap. (He didn’t say “crap”, that’s my word for what was going on.)

I also took some time to re-read my favorite career-ish book, StrengthsFinder2.0. I took the assessment four years ago and it’s still something I go back to constantly because I find it such an inspiring reminder of what I am naturally good at: futuristic (meaning that I am constantly looking to improve and grow or help others or the world do the same), communication (I’m a writer, duh!), competition (guilty, but in a good way?), input (because I love to collect things and information, and this section even recommends an “output” which to me means writing about the things I learn about) and woo (which stands for “winning others over” because, as they say, there are no strangers in the world, only friends I haven’t met yet).

Reading through all of that last night was not as comforting as usual, however, and I went to sleep with the same confusing thoughts running around in my head. What do I do? What do I do? WHAT DO I DO?

I am still having that mind meltdown and trying to figure out where I want my career to go and how I want to get there.

I know the truth: That you can’t know the right path. That there actually is NO right path, especially not for a writer. There’s no guarantee that I’ll ever be famous (I wish!) or that I’ll even be regarded as someone halfway decent in my field. Sure, nobody can ever know that about anything that they do, but I am currently filled with this need to feel as if I am putting my best foot forward and doing everything that I can be to ensure my success.

And I’m okay with failing (I think). I know that I have failed in the past, and I can pick myself up and keep going. And I know that success may take much longer than I wish, and that it may not look like what I think it will look like. I also know that I may change my mind and want to go after something else later on, or that I can change my strategy at any point if I find that what I am doing isn’t quite working.

But currently, I am paralyzed in my writing efforts because I want some sort of direction, and I don’t know in which direction to go.

The funny thing is that I have no problem committing to a single person for the rest of my life. Cause, well, that was a pretty easy choice since he’s the best person I’ve ever met. But why is that SO MUCH HARDER in my career? Why can’t I commit to a writing project or idea or some sort of direction?

Instead, I’m sitting here and word vomiting some more and just at a loss of where to go. And I know that I’m not the only writer to suffer from this. I know that I’ll get over it, feel better and move on. I know that tomorrow or maybe the next day things will be back to normal and I’ll be feeling hopeful or accomplished or maybe even have some sort of idea about where I want to go and how I want to get there.

Then maybe in a week or a month or seven months, I might be back here again… With my brain feeling like it’s melting and freaking out and just no idea of what My Path is, even though I honestly don’t even believe that there is a single path for anyone. But I still want one, damnit!

Where’s my path? How do I find it? And in the meantime, how do I tell my brain to calm the F down because I need to actually do some work now?

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