Q&A Series: Take One

So, the other night, I thought, “You folks have no idea who I am.” Well, alright, I guess you do. But, only through the stories I write. I haven’t *told* you who I am, like…directly.

Not to mention, my About Page is not only poorly written, but it’s also painfully vague and boring. Hah! Yikes! Honestly, I suck at bios. I never quite know what I should be saying about myself, what’s relevant, or what’s interesting. It’s strange to live in a time where so much of ourselves exists online. It’s difficult to know where to draw the line — if there is even a line, at all.

Naturally, I went to social media for a bit of help, specifically, to Twitter. I was prompted with the idea of posting a Q&A. Then I wondered, how can I make this even more interactive?

I want to start a series of Q&As to connect with other writers and bloggers, not only to share more about myself, but perhaps to learn a bit more about you, too. So, each time I am asked a question from the community, I will feature that author, blogger, or artist on my blog with hopes that we can get to know each other a little bit better.

What’s your best and worst bit about blogging? — Katie Lauren

By far, the best bit about blogging is connecting with other people in the community and discovering new and exciting talent among artists, bloggers, and writers. I love content creators, and even more so, I love to discover them — from slam poets to Twitch streamers — I love them all.

Do you. Do you so hard. Do you even when the world doesn’t want you to. I want to see your best work. I want to see you grind. I want to see you in your element. I want to see you SHINE.

The worst bit? Well, it’s work! Even if you love it, and that’s why you do it, you’re still doing it for very little to no money at the beginning. It’s an investment of time, effort, ideas, sweat, and tears. In my opinion, you should do it anyway, whatever *it* is, if you enjoy it.

Honestly, I truly believe the world needs it. The world needs your art. The world needs your writing. Someone is always benefiting, more often than not, in a very big way.

All I can say is this: Just do your best, because your best will always pay off. Perhaps you will make a friend, build a stellar portfolio, or EVEN, god-forbid, make a few bucks.

FOLLOW KATIE ON INSTAGRAM!

What prompted you to start blogging? — Stewart Bint

Like everyone else, I simply felt like I had something worth saying. I had something beneficial to share. I had something to teach. I felt I could help, heal, and change people with words. I wanted to be an influence. Still do. We all do. More importantly, we all can.

As much as I wanted to tell my story, I really wanted to hear yours. I hoped that, by taking the stage, using this platform, I would reach the world, and we would talk.

That conversation I want to have, that message that is worth sharing, of course, has evolved over the years.

When I first started blogging, I was really interested in sharing what it’s like to move from a small town in Hawaii to New York City. I miss home. But, this city is the best city in the world. I can’t explain it. You just have to experience it yourself.

It’s kind of like always existing at the beginning of the future. Being able to witness societal change and innovation in my backyard…it’s really something else. I am humbled to have been able to move out here at age 20 to study. I’ve met people from all over the world. It’s amazing.

Today, I write a lot more about the world around me, and the lessons I’ve learned through adversity. Scar Tissue is a good example of this. While all those wonderful things happened, I also fought a tyrant landlord in court for 8 months, and then lost — not only my case, but also my apartment, which prompted my husband and I to becoming homeless. After a year of hopping from one homeless shelter to another, we finally have a roof again!

I also write quite a bit about writing. Writing is my life, both in a personal and professional sense. This is what I’ve studied extensively for nearly 10 years. I’ve also worked as a research writer and writing instructor. I’ve written for several online publications through the Hub Pages network, as well as others. I am very passionate about writing, so much so that I dedicated an entire corner of this blog to it: the Writer’s Corner!

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Sunday Scribbles — April 15, 2018

Before I jump in,

Can I just give a quick shout-out to Chloe over at Curiously Chloe!? A big, humble thanks for her mention of How to Accept Rejection — Or, Better Yet, Learn to Love it in her latest post Sunday Catch Up #8! Definitely give her a follow if you haven’t already done so. She recently wrote a fantastic post, Your Tribe – Having a good group of friends, which explores her experience with forming and maintaining long-term adult friendships, or as she puts it, your tribe.

Here’s a snippet of that fabulous post:

It’s during times like moving away, finding a new career, or big life upheavals, that you realize who your real friends are. It’s often during these times that you discover your tribe: the group of friends who you know you can always rely on. Your tribe will stick around through thick and thin, through living down the road or living 60-100 miles away. 

Um, It’s LATE.

I’ve gotten a lot of late night scribbling done tonight. Am I the only one who finds themselves the most alert, the most productive, in the wee hours of the morning?

Who else suffers from intrusive thoughts before bed or before coffee? I know I am not the only one with a compulsive need to get these thoughts on paper before I can rest, or do anything else. It is the writer’s curse, isn’t it?

This past week has been all about adjusting back into a routine of work, write, and rest. Both Thomas and I are back into the groove of things. Although he suffered a mild case of food poisoning in the middle of the week — poor thing!

Classrooms are on the horizon for us all, and, for those who know me well, I love the classroom. Either side of the desk, I find myself to be in my element.

For students living in New York, the Excelsior Scholarship application is now open for the 2018-2019 school year! How lucky are we to live in the most progressive state in the nation where tuition-free education has become a reality? Not only for us, but for millions of people who call themselves proud New Yorkers. Both Thomas and I will be sitting down to fill out these lengthy applications this week.

The sun has been teasing me. I spent most of Saturday running errands. I had to make some time to get out in that beautiful weather. Of course, all of that warmth is gone now. Will Spring ever, well,…spring? I’m starting to think we’ll skip right to the dreadfulness that is a New York City summer — stickiness.

The exterminator came by on Tuesday. We had a long conversation about the history of the neighborhood while he sprayed every corner, every nook and cranny, of our apartment. He grew up here in Bay Ridge, when the neighborhood was still primarily Irish. The bars, the beer, and the corned beef haven’t gone anywhere, and, yes, I am gladly taking part! He and his large family moved out to New Jersey after being priced out of Brooklyn. It’s become all too common. Between gentrification, rising housing costs — I wonder, how long will New York City remain New York City – if we all, you know, move to Jersey?

If there is one thing for sure, he reminded me of my enormous blessings: These people who have shown me such grace this year — from my social worker to our real estate broker.

I can not ignore the fact that any other apartment on this street would be priced at double, if not triple, what we were offered.

I prayed for this. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed.

I have something that would best encompass the week I’ve had. Let me share a bit from an entry I wrote in my journal:

April 12, 2018

I don’t think I have fully-realized the magnitude of my blessings — the divine touch that is present in my life. Sometimes, when I feel myself transgressing, this kind of light pulls me back. I feel the lingering darkness being illuminated each day. This all probably sounds pretty absurd. It’s all just observation. Mental illness, God, and all that. It’s pretty obvious there is something present in my life. Something that is a little big bigger. Something that believes in me.

What’s on the horizon?

1.) Another installment of Scar Tissue should be posted by the end of Wednesday. I will be tackling Pass The Mic Pt. 3. This will require some editing of old writing (journal entries — that sort of thing), a little bit of new writing, and a shit ton of emotional turmoil.

2.)  I’ve been considering posting a Q&A under my About section. I figured this would be a fantastic way to share a bit more about myself, while directly engaging with you all! Also, I am eager to feature some of you here as well. Drop me a comment with any question you’d like me to answer either here, or at any of my social media accounts. Don’t forget to include your blog and social media links, as well!

3.) Sage Editing: Commissions are still open for April! If you or a friend are in need of writing consultation, tutoring, beta-reading, proofreading, drafting, or editing services, feel free to get in touch!

I’ve got to get to bed!

Tomorrow, I have places to be, people to see, books to read, and…tacos to eat? I do have a pineapple that needs slicing!

Until next time~

 

How to Accept Rejection — Or, Better Yet, Learn to Love it.

This sentiment isn’t directed merely at our beloved writers, but also towards all artists, all visionaries, all dreamers. However, we scribblers know that rejection is simply part of the gig. It’s all rejection, folks. Over, and over, and over, again.

We all face rejection. All of us!

But, you know what? That’s okay.  Let me give you two big reasons why:

Rejection pushes us in the right direction.

Last year, and the year before that, I endured the most rejection — more than at any other point in my life. While my husband and I fought tooth and nail for our apartment, for our rights, against a rent overcharge, against a tyrant landlord, against a literal slumlord, we were rejected time and time again. From all angles! Hundreds of times, we were chewed up and spit out. Literally, it became us against the world, because it felt, for the first time, that the entire world was, in fact, against us.

Yet, through this inescapable rejection, a new path formed — a fork in the road on it’s way to save us.

Although that did mean homelessness and everything that comes with it, it also meant a way out of a impossible situation, and finally, towards some kind solution, some kind of light. It meant, finally, we would move towards a place of acceptance, growth, and healing. And, eventually, a new project, Scar Tissue, a new purpose.

Rejection makes us better.

Sometimes, we mistake constructive criticism for rejection, as it often feels a lot like it. And, in a way, it is. Criticism is not acceptance, after all. But, it is still a path towards it.

Learning to love rejection is knowing that rejection will always lead us to something better. Loving rejection is about loving ourselves and loving the work we do — enough to move forward, enough to improve.

We often hear both artists and writers express distaste for the workshop, or the classroom, because of the criticism that will inevitably take place in these spaces. Yet, criticism makes for better artists, better writers.

All artists, all writers, experienced rejection in some form or another. Believe it or not, my writing used to be garbage. Heck, to some, it may still be hot garbage, but it’s certainly better hot garbage than it was five, even ten years ago. And, hell, I’m proud of that.

Furthermore, once you face criticism the first time, it becomes easier. By the time your workshop meets for the last time, you won’t be taking that criticism to heart anymore, but instead, be applying it directly to the page, where it belongs.

Each time you react positively and productively to that criticism, you are not only improving your work, but you’re also that much closer to your future self and your future audience.

What kind of rejection have you faced in your life? How have you turned that rejection into something great?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Scribbles — April 08, 2018

Today marks the end of Spring Break. Tomorrow, my husband also returns to work where he serves as a counselor to inter-city kids in Manhattan. Because we’ve had more free time this past week, we’ve been able to explore more of Brooklyn and our new neighborhood. I can’t help but fall deep, deep, in love. I discovered yesterday that we have a botanical garden near us that is also a native plant preservation. We took the bike path, along the Hudson river. A sunny afternoon made for rosy cheeks. I’ve been cooped-up indoors, away from the elements, for quite some time. Soon, I will start to regain my color.

It’s been a long winter.

It is nice to see the sun again.

I’ve had this idea of posting content on a schedule. This would not only help me stay disciplined and on top of things, but it would also give you folks an idea of when you can expect a post from me. I will do my best to stay on schedule and provide you new content at least twice a week. Right now, although this is not yet set-in-stone, I plan to post a new installment of Scar Tissue (or another writing project — I have many WiPs, you know!) every other week, interchanged with a Lifestyle blog post, or something for the Writer’s Corner.

Sunday Scribbles will be a mix of weekly recap, journal entry, and shameful brain dump! These posts will be purposeful, at least that’s what I hope! Not only will these short and sweet Sunday posts act as a way for me to capture and reflect on life, but it will also be a place where I can provide announcements and notify followers and subscribers of anything new that’s coming to the blog.

Although this isn’t the first blog I’ve scribbled, I am taking a fresh and different approach here. Not only is Soul & Scribble going to be a place where I showcase my writing, but it will also act as a safe space for baring the soul and growing the spirit. It will be both a journal and a portfolio. I hope to share with you what I’ve learned on my journey through life as a writer and human being. I hope to see you all in the comments as I continue to make sense of this thing we call life.

 

Scar Tissue | 12.) Pass The Mic Pt. 2

September beamed through small barred windows. The smell of booze crawled up red brick, and made it’s way into our nostrils. It was about 10 o’clock. I was lying on the floor, trying to shake off yesterday’s sorrow. Then I heard a knock at our door. Our neighbor stood there with a trash bag in hand. It was full of bagels.

She said, “We just got back from the food bank. There is no way we can eat all of this, so I’m going around and knocking on people’s doors.” Not even five minutes later, she returned with another trash bag of zucchinis, onions, and apples.

Franky smiled from ear to ear, with her loose salt and pepper curls held up tightly in a top bun.

“We’re about to go see my daughter. She’s finally getting clean. Mama is so proud of her.”

Franky lit up on Sundays. She goes to church. She prays. She distributes hope – to me, especially.

She tells me I still have time. That my life is not over. That I am not her and won’t be. That I won’t die here. That this, this moment, is not forever.

After pantry hopping all over the city, Franky distributes her bounty. A few times a month, she takes her car and drives to several food banks in Manhattan. Sometimes she goes into Brooklyn. This is no easy task. It is an all-day thing. In fact, you end up sitting outside, on blistering concrete, for 5-6 hours. You don’t always walk away with something. Sometimes you have to leave empty-handed.

Community efforts are vital. They keep us alive.

In places where society fails, we suit up, we arm ourselves, and we take it to the streets. Well, let me rephrase that — what we actually end up doing is fulfilling each other’s needs — those same needs that would have otherwise been neglected. For a homeless individual, that need is often a basic human right; and that basic human right is often access to food.

When we first arrived here, we had nothing. My entire life could fit in a gym bag. We were unable to cook because the shelter requires you to provide your own burners, drip pans, and dials for the stove. Then Franky came along. She lent me hers.

We sustain each other, you know? I serve these people. They’re my tribe, and my tribe sustains itself. When the outer world, what exists beyond shelter walls, cannot and will not allow us to exist, we allow each other to exist. Through this process, we restore hope and dignity among each other.

Sharing food then became a very symbolic and significant act.

When we offer each other food, we are simply saying this: You matter. You deserve this. You deserve life.

The very people who have least to give are giving so much. Why do we do this? Because we know, at our very core, we have nothing, nothing at all, without each other. You have to understand that, by the time you end up here, the world has already failed you. Now, we’re compelled to take matters into our own hands. We fix an issue, such as access to food, by doing one very simple thing: sharing. And, sometimes, trading, selling, and bartering. For some, the elderly, the disabled, the lost, they are alive because the tribe, because Franky, makes sure they do.

Author’s Note: This one was hard to write. Every time I work on Scar Tissue it all rushes back to me. I wish I could put to words how I am feeling. Maybe in time I’ll be able to. Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city. Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another. I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Sage Editing | Commissions Open For April!

Sage Editing provides affordable editing, proofreading, beta-reading, tutoring, and writing consultation services for students, authors, and professionals!

Not only can I provide a variety of editing services, but I can also join in at any point during the writing process to brainstorm and provide feedback!

 

Line Editing

Last-minute polish?

  • Improve sentence structure and tone.
  • Check for consistent style and format.
  • Correct grammar and spelling, while also monitoring word usage, meaning, and voice.

 

$5 per page, Time-frame: 14 days

$13 per page, Time-frame: 48 hour turn-around

$5 minimum order

 

Developmental Editing

Need conceptual input? Advice on direction? At any stage, from brainstorming to full draft, I can provide assistance in:

  • Development of concept, outline, and draft.
  • Provide suggestions about content and organization.
  • Identifying problems of overall clarity or accuracy: organization, focus, redundancies, tone, wordiness, and unsupported claims.
  • Ensuring thesis and key topics are thoroughly developed.
  • Identifying missing transitions, confusing concepts, extensive description, over-quoting, etc.

 

$14 per page, Time-frame: 14 days

$32 per page, Time-frame: 48 hour turn-around

$14 minimum order

 

Beta-Reading

Need a pair of eyes on your finished manuscript? I can provide developmental feedback on your finished manuscript for a fair price. Please contact me via my Contact page for rates.

 

Students

In the middle of a research paper? I can provide a variety of tutoring and editing services for your academic paper or college essay. Whether you’re in the process of gathering scholarly sources, or you’re unsure of structure and formatting, I can intervene at any point in the writing process to provide assistance. Please contact me via my Contact page for rates.

 

*FAQ

  • How do I order a service?

    Once you have decided which service your work requires, please contact me via my Contact page. There we can discuss your project and establish exact fees and availability. Once everything is confirmed you will then receive an invoice through PayPal. Once the invoice has been paid and project received, I will begin.
  • What happens if I don’t like the edit? Can I get a refund?

    Although I will always make it a goal of mine to be on your side and follow the truth of your story or academic idea, sometimes you might not be happy with the feedback you receive. My advice is to put it aside from now, and return to it at a later time. Sometimes putting some space between you and your project can provide a fresh perspective.
    I am also happy to offer further feedback and clarification if needed. Unfortunately, no refunds can be given once the edit, proofread or analysis has begun.

 

The Art of Storytelling

Some of us are born with it. The rest of us? We learn how to do it. The ones who work really hard, get damn good at it too!

At the center of all good writing, that stuff you just can’t put down, is always careful storytelling.  This is true for the blog post, the news story, or full-length novel.

If you’re like me, the pen started as, well, just a pen! Not a magic wand. It started with a desire to tell stories. I was bad at it, too. After several caffeinated nights at the keyboard, and a heavy dose of passion, and persistence, I learned how to tell a story. You can learn how to tell stories, too.

If you need a place to start, stick around. Here are six storytelling tips:

The 5 W’s & H

WHO is involved? Who are the main characters? Who are the supporting characters? What are their passions? Peeves? How is their relationship with their parents? Can you describe their personality?

WHAT is at stake? What is precious? What can be taken away?

WHERE is the story taking place? Look around you. In your mind’s eye. Are you surrounded by brick? Is this an urban oasis?

WHEN and WHY did certain things happen? While the when is important, and you’ll want to get that right, it’s the why that you need to be careful of.

Storytelling is about speaking the truth. So, when you begin to answer the why, think of real life. Consider real life conflicts and the reasons we face them.

HOW did a situation come about? HOW did matters get resolved?
Again, this is where you’ll want to think of real life. How do real conflicts come about? How do real conflicts get resolved?

What Was, What’s New, What Now

Be consistent about cause and effect. This is what moves the story along. At the end of each paragraph, at the beginning of each page, ask yourself:

What just happened?

What changed?

What happens next?

Show Don’t Tell

This is classic advice. This is neither the first time, or the last time, you’ll hear it, either. There are numerous benefits of showing, and not telling. Paint a picture for your reader. Let them in.  You want them to see what you see. Don’t tell the reader your character is devastated. Show them tears. Show them despair. Show them real life.

Quotes Bring The Reader In

I can’t stress this enough! When you quote your characters, you make them real. Again, when you quote your characters, you make them real. When you introduce dialogue into your scenes, you’re bringing your reader into the room, you’re bringing your reader front and center of that conversation.

Condense, Condense, Condense!

Say just enough. Not an ounce more. I know, this is hard. We just love to go on and on and on! However, you want to describe your story in a nut shell. Remember, if a story does not move along at a steady pace, our readers will fall off that rhythm, and they will lose interest.

Write tight! Concise is key. 

For most of us, we’re accustomed to over-writing. More often than not, students are tainted by Research Paper Writing Syndrome where we fluff our writing with filler material, fancy words, and blah-blahs. Don’t do this.

Rule of 3

Three is just enough. In fact, it’s the perfect amount! It forces us to simplify. It forces us to be deliberate about our word choice. Three defining qualities about a character. Three words to capture an object. What about the taste of that perfect slice of pie? Just three words.