Poetry Instagram – LIVE

Hi folks! As many of you know, I was working on a book at the beginning of this past summer. That book is now complete, awaiting my final read-through and responses from agents. I will keep everyone updated about that process, but to be frank, it’s a little disheartening. It’s so much work. Query letters and summaries and resumes and cover letters…I just want to get that story out there!

A piece of excited news — I have launched my first writing Instagram, where I’ll be posting lots of poems and allowing my most recent wave of creative energy to take over. Follow me @littleerinbigworld on Instagram! I am in the process of compiling a collection of poems that focus on my experience with seasonal depression, of which I’ve deemed “cyclical.” I will be posting bits of those pieces to my Instagram and on here as well.

Thanks for sticking around! I’ll provide a longer update when I get around to it! For now, go hit that follow button!

SHORT STORY: Depression’s Apology

I was there when Cynthia’s mom died. She was only seven. She didn’t know who I was, or what I was, but she saw me. She felt me there, I think. She didn’t want to see me, though, so she closed her eyes and I hid. I stayed hidden for a while after that. Always there, but hidden.

I watched when the kids on the playground would tiptoe around her. They could all see me there, standing, hovering…watching. The visible, painful sadness, always in the room. But Cynthia? She ignored me for as long as she could.

I was there the day that the teacher with the long nose and messy hair called her out for being late. Cynthia hung her head and tried to ignore me. When the long-nosed teacher passed back her math test and Cynthia saw that she got a D-, she stuffed the test into her backpack and glanced up at me. She knew just where to look, which makes me think that maybe she knew I was there the whole time. When she got home, she let me hold her, and she cried so hard she threw up. I don’t think she was crying about the math test. Not really.

I was there when she got cut from the soccer team. The coach said she was too distracted, she wasn’t there, she didn’t get along well with the other girls. She didn’t connect. She let me hold her that day, too. I think it was my fault she got cut. I was always in her way. But she blamed herself.

I was there each time she felt a rush of emotions, waves of pain and sadness and anxiety that would suffocate her. I saw the looks her friends gave her – some furrowed their eyebrows and twiddled their hands nervously, worriedly, others rolled their eyes and snickered. “Is she crying?” the boy with the square-shaped head whispered to the freckled girl sitting on his lap. The girl shrugged and rolled her eyes. I held Cynthia’s hand when she cried alone in the bathroom stall.

Eventually, she looked at me. She looked at me for longer than a glance, she stared at me, she let me enter in through her eyes and travel down to her heart. I latched on, I made her heavier, and I held her tight. She let me wrap my arms around her each night and she let me tag along behind her at school. She let me whisper in her ear. “Worthless,” I told her, “There’s no point.” I didn’t really think that. I’d become quite fond of her, actually. But it was my job.

She let me consume her. I loved her and I think she loved me too, in a messed up sort of way. I couldn’t help it. I needed her to feed, to drain her, to fill her heart with my darkness. And she needed me to hold her at night. I think I made it all worse, but she didn’t have anybody else to hold her, not even herself. So I did my job.

The kids on the playground used to see me following her. They would look me in the eyes. They would point to me and they would hug Cynthia, thinking if they held onto her, I would go away. I never did. Eventually, they all stopped seeing me there. Stopped noticing. The more and more Cynthia gave herself to me, the more invisible I became. Cynthia didn’t see me then, when she was a wide-eyed, pig-tailed girl on the playground. But she sees me now, and nobody else seems to. Funny how that works out.

This is my apology, I guess. I know that I’m just doing my job. But I can still apologize.

I’m sorry,

Depression.

SHORT STORY: Steel

Hello all! Please enjoy my first short story that I am posting to this blog – a departure from my regular, and often heated, personal accounts and opinion pieces. Please leave comments!

My walls are bursting with people. A little girl leans against me, tracing shapes with her fingers. Her name is Ana. Her sister, whom I have not heard the name of, is asleep on Ana’s shoulder. Ana is careful not to wake her sister as she draws shapes upon my walls. I know that I am cold to touch, but she barely flinches when presses her little fingers against my steel. Their father stands beside them because there is no room for him to sit down. His eyes are closed but I do not think that he is asleep. I have heard that it is impossible to sleep while standing up, but I am not sure. I wouldn’t know.

They told me that I was built for a purpose. My walls are red and painted, and my wheels are brand new and turn smoothly against the tracks. I have yet to rust or grow old, but I am already tired of the tracks. I thought I would see the world, but I have seen the same thing over and over again; the same green fields, similar towns, and similar faces. The same brick walls and metal gates and men in uniform. My wheels are tired of the tracks that always lead back to the same place. I try to find something new in the people, because maybe I was not built to see the world, but to see the people of the world.

The first people I held were very loud. I opened my doors widely, ready for my first journey. There were a lot of them, and I was afraid that my walls were not strong enough. Yet they were – I was built for this. The first people were all talking, introductions and greetings. I remember a man, whose name I never caught, talked the entire time. He kept telling everybody that things were changing; that he was heading somewhere great. Nobody else seemed to share his enthusiasm.

None of them talk very much anymore. Sometimes, they fight it, but they always end up within my walls. By my fortieth trip, only the children sounded hopeful, while their parents wept. I wanted to hold them and comfort them. But my walls are made of steel, and it is far too cold outside.

The night is cold and dark. Their eyes are closed, but I do not believe that they are all asleep. My walls are far from comfortable. The children breathe steadily and the old snore loudly. The adults close their eyes but I know that they are not asleep. They are trying to stay awake. I wish they would sleep, but I suppose I cannot expect them to.

This lot came on with bread in their hands; one slice of bread per person. This happens on days when the uniformed men are feeling particularly charitable. They never leave anything on my floors; not even a crumb. Little Ana’s father pulled an onion from his pocket when they stepped into me, something he had brought from home. He split the bread and gave it to his little girls so that they would have extra. When he bit into the onion, tears began to pour down his face. Ana and her sister laughed; Ana grabbed the onion from his hands and shoved it towards her sisters’ face, threatening her eyes with the sting of the onion. Their father smiled at them and took it back, shaking his head. But when he finished eating, the tears didn’t go away. Ana laughed, thinking it was still the onion, but her sister took his hand in hers and understood something that the little one, Ana, didn’t. She has been silent since. I think she is asleep, but I am not sure. Perhaps her little mind is wide awake. I know where they are going and I wish that she would get some sleep.

Ana is tracing the shape of a dog, I think, against me. That’s what it feels like; the outline of a little puppy, repeatedly, against my cold steel. Snow falls on my roof. I worry because none of them have thick coats. The sister stirs, and Ana whispers to her: “Do you think they’ll have dogs?” Her voice carries in the silent compartment. The sister does not say anything back, but their father leans down and tells Ana: “We’ll see Rudy again.” She nods her head up and down very quickly, her lip quivering just slightly.

I don’t like to watch what happens when we arrive. I stopped watching that part many trips ago. I saw a dog bite off a man’s arm. That’s when I stopped watching. I feel the familiar tracks against my wheels and I want to stop; I want to pull myself off the tracks. I’ve tried so many times and it never seems to work.

I hear men talking about not having enough space. I hope that they will keep the people on here, with me. I like the feeling of Ana’s hands on my walls, and her father leaning against me, and the little boy in the corner who picks the bread crumbs off my floor, and the old man against my wall, who breathes so slowly I am afraid he will stop.

We stop anyways when we reach the brick walls and the metal gates. There is so much snow on the ground and in the air that nobody can see further than a few feet in front of them, not even me with my big, fancy headlights. I prepare to stop watching; I prepare to shut down. But this time, it is different.

They open my doors and stand in front of them, stopping the people from exiting. The men hold sticks in their hands and raise them to stop the people who try to jump down. I cannot hear everything because of the yelling and the screaming, but I hear one thing being said over and over again: “Men and women: come. Children: stay.”

Ana and her sister grab their fathers’ legs, but he tells them they must stay. “You will be safe,” he says. He grabs both by the shoulders. There is hope in his eyes. “Stay, stay, please.” The sister does what she is told. She grabs Ana around the waist to stop her from following. Ana punches her sister and screams, but once they close the doors, she is stuck inside of me. I hope that I will take her somewhere safe.

This happens everywhere, in each cabin; screams of children and pleading parents. A few children are beaten because they try to follow. I want to stop watching, but I can’t. The men and women are separated, as usual. I do not see more than that because, with my walls much less full, holding only the small bodies of the children, I am moving again. I am going somewhere I have never been before, and I think about Ana and his sister and hope that I am taking them somewhere where they will be much warmer. My steel can only do so much.

The children are very loud, and many are screaming. The older children hold the babies, not sure of what to do with them. “We are safe! We are safe!” A little boy cries, a boy who had arrived without parents. He does not have anyone to miss; nobody to be scared for. I’m sure he did, before, but they are gone now.

The chatter does not stop for a long time. They talk amongst themselves, they spread out, they take turns trying to calm down the screaming babies. Ana’s sister holds one in her arms, wrapping it in her shall. Ana has returned to tracing shapes. This time, I feel her draw a bunch of stars, up and down my walls. An entire galaxy upon my steel, full of planets that I will never see.

The chatter does not stop until my walls fill with gas and silence fills them all.

Soon my walls will be bursting with people again. I keep going because I cannot stop. The silence speaks louder than all the voices I have ever heard, and Ana’s hand is still against me. My walls get colder and colder as the night passes. As does her hand. I wish I could make them warm again, but there is only so much that I can do. I am only made of steel.

 

 

I’m Writing a Book!

Hello WordPress universe, and anybody else who comes accross this post! I have been talking a lot about my writing with peers, on Facebook, and on my Instagram, but have yet to properly enter the world of branding and marketing (because, quite frankly, it confuses & terrifies me — I don’t want to sell myself!). This post is my first step into marketing and putting myself out there into the writing world — that’s right, I’m writing a book!

I suppose I should begin by introducing my book, but it’s nearly impossible to do that without spoiling things! It’s a wild ride to read, and it’s been even wilder to write. As an overview, it’s a story about loss, mental health, friendship, and change. It follows the life of a girl named Jamie Madison, who picks up from her small town home in North Carolina to move to a boarding school, leaving behind her father and her little sister. I obviously won’t give anything away, but that’s the premise, and I can tell you that the story ends in a very different place than it begins, as with most stories. Oh, and I suppose I should give you the title: Chasing Lightning.

So, where am I at? Well, awesome news – I’ve just finished my THIRD round of re-writing and editing! I have to go through another time for typos, but for the most part, the content part is DONE (awaiting commentary from a few more readers, that is). I am so excited to begin this scary process of attempting to find an angent/publisher (side note: if anyone reading this has connections to a young adult genre publisher or agent, help a girl out).

The writing process has been hard. People have asked me if it’s harder to write the first draft or edit the third, and honestly, it’s equally hard. The first draft is hard because you have to get the ideas from your mind to paper, but the third draft is just as hard because you KEEP FINDING TYPOS and it takes so long to get the story to feel perfect…!!!

I’m planning to start posting more updates, and possibly a video, about all of this soon. Yay for marketing!? Anyways, if you’re interested in learning more about this and staying updated on my process, please please please follow me and sign up for my mailing listIf you are a personal friend of mine, I fully expect you to do this, okay?!

Thank you for reading this!! Although the publishing process is terrifying because 1. Beaucracy, 2. Literally putting my SOUL out there to be judged, and 3. Marketing said literal SOUL, I am doing it!! My amazing room mate (shoutout to Mary, if you’re reading this) not only read draft two in five hours, but afterwards sat down with me for five more hours and went over everything she loved & her suggestions, said something that made me hopeful for the process just the other day — the conversation went something like this:

Her: So what are you planning to do with this?

Me: I mean, ideally, publishing would be amazing. But it’s so hard.

Her: Well, my gut is always right, and I have this gut feeling that your book is going to be on the shelves one day. Next to John Green and Perks of Being a Wallflower and all of those young adult books.

Here’s to making her gut feeling come true.

(Below are some pics of my process, for those of you visual folks)

My view while editing outside

An old draft, editing in a coffee shop. I guess this is a sneak peak…
 

 

An Ode to the Girls Who Watched Me Grow Up

The older the get, the luckier I realize that I am. I am lucky to have met my best friends at such a young age, to have picked the right girls from the handful of awkward elementary and middle schoolers. I am lucky to have girls that have been by my side through the years, who still take weekend trips with me and understand my weird quirks and laugh about how weird we were.

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This is for Mary, who I met in the fourth grade, who bonded with me over sleepovers, ChatNows, and lost walnuts on the playground. For Mary, who never left my side, who laughed with me at the strange shape of Avocados and the boys who we had crushes on, who never feared to point out the obvious and awkward (i.e.: “Erin, you have a pimple on your face.” *poke*), who’s face is sprinkled throughout old pictures of awkward selfies and Listerine commercials. The peanut butter to my jelly.

And of course, there’s Abbie, the far-away friend who I met in the fifth grade. The boy-crazy, hamster-loving, Japanese-obsessed ten year old with the blonde hair and the cute hat. Abbie, who although she was always far away, first home-school and then Arizona, will always be in our hearts because we know that we are in hers. The girl who I watched grow up into one of the strongest people I know, suffering through the heartbreak with her head held high. The girl with the coolest basement and the weirdest taste in music, with the best sleepover parties and the best of laughs.

This is for Kaitlin, who I became friends with at the age of eleven, the day that Abbie invited us both over, the girl I had heard stories about but had never spoken to. Kaitlin, who bonded with me over a strange story about a witch and a knight and odd Japanese Hamtaro music, who danced with me to weird songs, who poked fun at all of my crushes, who stayed up late writing and color-coding scripts with me. Kaitlin, who let me put my head on her lap the night that I cried and I didn’t know why, who was always there with her goofy smile and awkward dancing, the Harry to my Hermione.

This is for Natalie, brought together through Kaitlin the infamous day of the “period rock,” a friendship full of sleepovers and weird pictures and bickering over things that don’t really matter, like the chocolate that dropped on the floor that she wouldn’t pick up, or the correct pronunciation of the word “bag.” For Natalie, who was always there for me, who I aspire to always be there for as well. From playground adventures to coffee dates (where we both order tea, of course), Natalie will always be there to laugh at our pasts and hope for our futures.

This is for Manasa, who I met in the seventh grade, brought together in an awkward homeroom full of cool kids and weird kids. For Manasa, who braved the waters to talk to me – I was the quiet girl in the corner of the classroom who would read and ignore everyone during every homeroom session. That is, until we became friends, a friendship beginning with imaginative soap operas that soon led to stories and novels about dreams and reality and friendship and loss. The one who always knew what to say and how to help, even if she didn’t think she knew what she was doing.

This is for Grace, who bonded with me at the age of thirteen over our fondness of British words and our mutual stubbornness. For Grace, who I watched grow up, who always cared and looked out for each of us. The late night skype sessions wearing Harry Potter merchandise, the debates over fictional characters, the midnight premieres, and the meddling with our friends. The screaming Taylor Swift songs in the car over boys who were oblivious to our feelings, having her by my side as I fell in love for the first time. For Grace, the one who I know always believed in each of us, even when we didn’t believe in ourselves.

 

flowers

When I watch old videos and look at old pictures, it’s as if we are all characters in an old show, each of us portraying a different character-type. I cringe at the videos of us in the ninth grade, but laugh all the same. Abbie, always the dramatic one who thought our shenanigans were strange but played into them all the same, the one who always had a new and exciting story to tell. Grace, the one behind the camera, the quiet one with the eye for beauty and the heart to hold us all. Manasa, the adventurous and reckless type, yet behind it all there lies a mom-like nature, always looking out for us like we were her babies. Natalie, the goof-ball, the one who doesn’t give herself enough credit for her bravery and huge heart. Kaitlin, the spaz, the star of our parodies and videos, always dancing and screaming and confusing us all. Mary, the one who was always in every shot (somehow), dancing and laughing and making fun of us, the one who was always poking us and annoying us but we loved it all the same. And of course, me, the high-pitched nagging, bossy voice directing everyone around, striving for perfection but never seeing that it was always in front of my eyes, in each of them.

The older I get and the more wonderful friends that come into my life, the more I realize that I will never meet another group of girls like these. I am lucky to have met these girls as a kid, and to have grown up so well alongside them. Few people have this kind of connection with a group of girls, and we are as lucky as they come. I swear, our group would make a damn good sitcom…but not one of those boring ones, one with dragons and magic and also normal things, like falling in love and laughing until we cry and stressing over homework.

This is for the girls who watched me grow up, long live our friendship, until the very end.