Tag Archives: writing

Anxiety, My Dear Friend.

nyc

So, as I’ve stated before, I’m living in New York City and have somehow stumbled into the beginnings of a writing career…Something I never thought would happen.

It’s sort of like the beginning to every cheesy chick flick ever.

For real…

Chick Flicks that I know of where the lead character is a writer/works for a magazine: 13 Going on 30, The Devil Wears Prada, You’ve Got Mail, Ugly Betty, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Sex and the City, Morning Glory….. The list goes on.  Anyways, moving on….

The point is, things are…going well.  People may even think I have talent. A recent article I wrote got picked up by Newsweek, The Miami Herald, Philly Magazine, Houston Chronicle, Yahoo News, MSN, Fox News, and tons of local CBS and FOX stations…it even aired on the news, like, on TV! 

On top of that, I was sent on assignment to Mexico early this month, and have a trip to London in June.

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? 

real?

 

If you need some context as to how crazy this is, go back and read my posts from 2013, 2014, 2015, even 2016! I was agoraphobic. I was working in retail. I felt like the ugliest failure that ever existed. I always felt like I had talent. But I also felt like nobody would ever want to hear my voice.

I felt that I was an eternal failure destined to be the outcast until I died.

Ok look…I’m still the outcast and probably always will be. BUT, I’m an outcast who is becoming successful.  And that’s worth something, right? 

jstifler

 

But, despite the growing success, I still feel anxious. And I’m starting to understand that the feelings of anxiety may never go away. I still have moments where I go “I really hope they like this article, cuz I don’t want to lose my job” or “I wonder if I’m going to lose my job someday because of the way writing careers are going…”

But, such is life in this industry.

Triumph normally requires risk. If I wanted career security, there are a lot of boring jobs I could have. I could go back to working for a phone company…cuz that was fun….(rolls eyes so hard they hurt)

 

But with accepting my anxiety, it also seems to help. Whereas I used to be convinced my life was falling apart, now I have moments where I get anxious and I feel the dread and fear that comes along with it. Then, I take a breath and remind myself that I’ve already been through hell. I’ve already felt what it’s like to have nothing. I’ve already been in a situation where I was having sex for money. I’ve already been completely alone.

I’ve already lived the life that I fear I’ll have to live if everything falls apart.

So what am I fearing?  I survived it once, I could do it again.


 

But I don’t think I’ll have to.

I have a feeling…

good

A good feeling.

A feeling that things are working out. I think maybe it’s a mixture of hope and confidence…two things I’ve lacked in the past. The more stuff I get published, the more people want my writing, and the more people want my writing, the more secure I feel in my writing, which makes my writing better, which makes more people want it, which…

you get what I’m saying. It’s a positive feedback loop. 

 

So, I guess the point is this – I felt that I was a failure FOR YEARS.

Again, go ahead and read this blog if you don’t believe me. I spent way too much time hating myself. I spent way too much time believing others that I was worthless. I spent too much of my life not living my life.

And while I still feel anxious at times, I’m not letting it control me. Anxiety is a fucking joke – it’s a cunt that will try everything it can to fuck you over. Don’t listen to that bitch.

If you need help because you’re feeling depressed, anxious, have PTSD, or any other issue – call your local lifeline (here is a list of all the crisis lines around the world)

And whatever you do.  Don’t give up. You’re better than that.

Rock this shit out y’all! 

nick

(Who is this? Is this Nickleback or something?  Hoobastank perhaps? Good lord…)

 

~ The Dark Horse

(No this wasn’t proofread. #SozBro!)

 

 

 

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TRAVEL>>> There Really is Nothing Better

mig

Next month I’m being flown to Mexico to write an article.  This is going to be the first time I’ve been paid to do travel writing. It feels like a complete dream come true!

I honestly don’t have words – what is there to stay that could possibly capture how accomplished I feel?  Growing up, watching the Travel Channel, dreaming of escaping my hometown in Ohio… and now, I somehow have one of those jobs that everyone going up told me wasn’t real.

I’m from trash-bucket Ohio. Once manufacturing died, so did my hometown. The mentality of my hometown isn’t “Work hard, you’ll go places!” Instead it’s, “The world will eat you alive! Ohio isn’t that bad! Do you know what your chances are of actually being successful? You’re just going to wind up back here with your tail between your legs!”

Like they say, misery loves company. 

mex1

 

And let me make this very clear —–> If you’re the kind of person who enjoys coming home from work everyday and sitting in your Lay-Z-Boy to watch Real Housewives….THAT IS TOTALLY OK! I have nothing against you! The problems arise because most people who live their lives like are also the types to who hate the idea of others doing something else. That hatred is the problem. 

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It almost seems like they are trying to keep others down. Like they don’t want to watch others do more with their life. That is what I hate. You should never have to be surrounded by people who clearly don’t want to see you succeed.

Mex2

 

Ah, but bitches, let me tell you….

Once you escape that cycle, life can get good. It can take a while, and it can be hard (well, it will be hard, unfortunately) After years upon years of having people shit on you, change doesn’t come overnight. The journey to happiness is surely an uphill battle.

 

But it’s totally worth it.

Trust me.

IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT.

 

mex4

 

Ah Mexico… on someone else’s dime.  Me, writing the night away.

Oh , god it’s almost orgasmic…

mex5

 

 

I may be pushing 30…but I’m finally starting to feel like my life is starting. My life is 1/3 over…and just beginning. But, better late than never, right?

Plus, I remember Steve Carell has that line in Little Miss Sunshine, where he says something like, “Your struggles are what end up making you good writer.”

So hopefully I have lucrative writing career ahead!

Hi ho!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ho

 

 

I’m Getting Paid to go to Mexico!

mex

So, major, major things are happening! 

I moved to NYC recently to start interning, and since moving here, everything is just booming! One of my internships is at a travel magazine. In February I started blogging for them, which turned into writing articles for the website, and I helped edit the last issue, which means my name got printed in the magazine’s Masthead…That’s right, my name…..IN PRINTIN A MAGAZINE! (Can I officially start referring to myself as writer now?  Have I “made it” ? )

And now, I’m working on my first feature article to get published in the print magazine, AND I just found out I’m taking what’s called a press trip to Mexico.

I never knew what a press trip was.

I never knew how much money could be spent by companies. It’s literally mind-boggling.  As someone who has spent my entire life bored out of my mind working in restaurants and retail, working 9 hour days only to have a 30 minute break, just to make 8 dollars an hour…. It’s seriously fucking crazy. Our magazine is sent gifts ALL THE TIME by places and companies wanting us to write about them.

And a press trip is where a tourism company, hotel, or airline, PAYS REPORTERS TO TRAVEL THERE in exchange for having an article written about it.

mex1

So….

I get to travel.

AND GET PAID. 

Is this even real life?

 

People around the world, listen to me. Hard work actually does pay off. I spent so many years thinking I’d be bored and miserable forever. Thinking I wasn’t good enough for a job I loved. Thinking I wasn’t smart enough to make my dreams come true.

I didn’t start grad school until I was 27. I won’t walk and receive my diploma from Harvard until I’m 30.

And up until I got back in school, my life was a raging shitshow (as any of you will know if you’ve been reading my blog before then)

I was a late bloomer. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt, and self-hatred controlled my life since I was 10 years old.

…since my life went to hell.

mex4

But you know what, I didn’t give up.  And if any of you out there feel like you’re the outcast, or feel hated, or even if you hate yourself – It can get better. 

Hope is real. And hope can get you through.

And I know it’s hard. I fully understand that believing in yourself, when all you hear your entire life is how shitty you are, is basically fucking impossible. It takes so much strength. So much hardship. So much perseverance.

But it’s so worth it.

You deserve happiness. You deserve success. You deserve it all.

 

So the next time some bitch comes along and tries to put you down, rock some hardcore Miranda Priestly realness…

mex5

 

And remember…

mex7

You’re better than them.  You always were.

 

Travel on my friends,

The Dark Horse

 

(This was written out of passion, not logic! So, no, this wasn’t proofread)

I’m Getting Published!

write

So, I received an email from a literary magazine the other day, and it seems that the Dark Horse is finally about to get published! (Confetti falls from the ceiling and there’s much fanfare throughout the entire human population… Or… well, really, I called my mom and she was proud of me. But it feels like fanfare I say!)

 

Anyhoo, that’s all beside the point. The point which is this: I have been working my ass off, and it’s finally started paying off!

If I were to flashback to 2 years ago, when I first started my masters program in writing and literature, with nothing on my resume besides retail. Or to 5 years ago, when I was stuck in my Melbourne apartment, agoraphobic, and miserable. Or if I flash-backed to 6 years ago, when I arrived back to Ohio after undergrad, feeling like a complete failure because I didn’t make anything of myself in LA. I never would have thought that any of this would ever be possible.

 

write1

 

I’ve spent most of my twenties feeling like a failure. Feeling like life wasn’t wroth living. Feeling like I would never ever make anything of myself. The spark of hope was the faintest flicker, off in the distance of some cold dark foggy night.

Writing is what got me through it all. I’ve journaled since I was 7. And I started this blog in 2013, back when my mental health was so poor that I couldn’t even leave my bedroom without feeling weak. Writing. Venting. Creating. It was what kept me going.

 

 

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When I was a kid growing up in Ohio, I knew I wanted to tell stories. I was the lone gay kid lost in a sea of uneducated, hateful trash. Movies and books were the only things that ever gave me inspiration and showed me that life could be worth living. I always knew I wanted to give that to other people.

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out it would be my story I’d be telling. The stories of growing up in Ohio. Of being a lonely sex addict in Los Angeles. Of suffering from depression and anxiety. Of collapsing all over Australia. But most importantly, of never giving up. 

I’m so excited to see the the future has in store.  Did you hear that? I’m excited for my future. That is a very recent feeling in my life. I’m looking forward to what’s next. I’m excited to see how the publication process works. I’m excited to see what people think of my writing. I’m excited to write more! And above all, I’m excited to have an adventure. Because isn’t that what life should be about?

 

rock

 

Rock on bitches, rock on!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

The Best Memoirs About Overcoming a Crappy Life

THE BEST MEMOIRS

(And no, Mommie Dearest isn’t on the list. That’s the kind of book my mom would read.)

So, as I’ve stated numerous times before. I love write because it helps me talk about my life. I’d love to publish stories about what I’ve been through, and not surprisingly, I love a good memoir that does just that.

My criteria for a great memoir about overcoming a crappy life are as follows:

1.) It needs to be an interesting story. I’m sorry to all you 50-year-old women out there who want to write about your divorce…nobody cares.

2.) There needs to be humor and honesty. The second I start reading something that reeks of desperate and trying too hard for the drama, I’m done.

3.) It needs to be a story. I hate those memoirs that just turn into a rant about the philosophy of love and life and whatnot. I came to read your story, not your ill-formed journal entries.

**Special note** There will be no spoilers here!  I hate when “reviews” basically go in and tell you the entire damn plot-line of the story. 

Alright, here we go!

 

WILD by Cheryl Strayed

wild

An incredible story for sure. After her mother dies when she’s in college, Strayed falls into a deep spiral of self-destruction. The story takes place as Strayed hikes the Pacific Crest Trail, while weaving in flashbacks about her life that are heartbreaking and eye-opening. But her bad past only makes you root for her journey on the trail even more!

 

I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

not

Josh is living in NYC working in an ad agency. However, he leads a (sort of, but not really) secret double-life as an alcoholic drag queen Aquadisiac. However, one night, Josh gets not1caught up with a crack-addicted hustler and his life spirals out of control. Please note – I actually think that Josh is a complete piece of crap human. And there’s a few things that happen in the book where I’m like… I think you literally could have gone to jail for that… But it’s a very gripping book.

Plus, he lives on a farm now raising goats or something, so I guess he’s not anywhere where ha can cause more havoc. Also, I’m pretty sure they still see their goat-milk soap and stuff. You can buy Beekman products for your home and tell all your guests, “You know, this was made by a man who used to do drag and potentially killed a man!”  

 

 

WISHFUL DRINKING by Carrie Fisher

drink

Hilarious and jaw-dropping. It’s amazing to see the world that Carrie Fisher came from. It’s obviously fun because she’s a celebrity, so you know who she is, and you recognize all the names she mentions because they’re all famous too. It’s kind of like the best high school gossip you’ll ever get. But what really sets this apart from the other Hollywood gossip fluff reads, is how real and honest Carrie is. She doesn’t just talk about the funny stuff. She takes responsibility for her actions. She shows her scars. She shows you both sides of her life, and that makes it a fantastic read!

The highlight? When she creates the “Hollywood Incest” family tree she comes from. It’s truly laugh out loud.

tree

 

 

RUNNING WITH SCISSORS

by Augusten Burroughs

running

This poor kid… Oh man. A young Augusten is sent to live with his mom’s therapist.  Because that’s totally normal, right? And the therapist is just as crazy as his mom is. Watching Augusten navigate such an unconventional life surrounded by people who deserve to be institutionalized is mind-blowing. But he writes about it all with such a welcoming, open, and hilarious viewpoint, that you find yourself laughing, when in reality, we probably should be contacting Child Services.

What’s even cooler is that the entire family wrote books! His brother ended up writing a bestselling memoir about their fucked up family titled Look Me In The Eye that was wildly popular. And then, not to be outdone, their crazy mother tried her hand in the memoir game and wrote The Long Journey Home, where she desperately tries to defend how she treated her children.

 

 

PARTY MONSTER by James St. James

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Another book on our list where the author should probably actually be in jail right now.

Party Monster tells the story of club-promoter Michael Alig’s rise to fame in the New York club scene. Luckily, James was Michael’s best friend, giving us a firsthand look through it all. From his arrival in New York, to his rise to power, his spiral into the world of drugs, and ultimately, the grizzly murder of his drug dealer that later would send him to jail.

One thing that makes Party Monster so amazing is that, because they were all famous by the end, there’s documentation everywhere about the events. Articles in the Village Voice. Videos of them appearing on The Joan Rivers Show, and other books about them such as ‘Clubland’. But what really makes Party Monster so amazing is that its fucking hilarious. You will never in your life laugh as hard while reading about a murder, I guarantee it! 

 

 

Special Mention: David Sedaris

sedaris

Not quite on the list… but Sedaris writes some great stuff about his life. However, some of his writing can be a little boring. And I’m pretty sure everyone on Earth has already read him anyways.

If you haven’t read him yet, what you need to do is buy Holidays On Ice, and read Santaland Diaries.

 

Get Reading!

~ The Dark Horse

Crossing The Sea: Finding Your Way In Dark Times

 

sail2

So, I’ve recently started submitting my writing to literary journals and publications.

So far, I have received nothing but a lot of rejections.

I even applied for an internship at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was rejected. However, their email said, “Although we’re impressed by your credentials…”

Maybe they say that to everyone? Or maybe not? Who knows? 

Point is this: The more I write about my life, the more confident I’m becoming, despite the rejections. I’m realizing that I’ve actually been through stuff. Stuff that’s worth of being written about.

sail1

 

I intern at two literary journals right now, and for one of them, I’m helping with editing. AND I TOTALLY DON’T SAY THIS TO BE MEAN, BUT…. Some of the stuff we publish is mind-blowingly uninteresting. Especially in this 2018 environment. The amount of stories I get that are like, “I’m a woman and one time in 1972 A man grabbed my breast (shirt still on) and It’s destroyed me ever since and it’s ruined my entire life, and I don’t know how I’ll ever recover…

Literally, we’re about to publish a story right now about a woman who claims that, back in the day when she was a young beatnik, she hung around the dirty art-scene bars in NYC. And at one point she saw a semi-famous artist there. She approached him and flirted. Then he smacked her ass, and she claims, art was forever ruined for her. Like… a guy touching her somehow destroyed the entire concept of art. She claims she couldn’t even look at paintings for over forty years. And not just paintings by this artist who touched her, but any and all paintings by any man.

She claims that when she looks at a painting by a man, all she can see now is the destructive angry beast behind it, looking to abuse women.

NOW LOOK: I am a full supporter of the #metoo movement. And I also believe women when they discuss their experiences. Like, Dr. Ford for example, that is fucking bravery. The women who came forward about Cosby, and others like him, also bravery. I fully embrace them.  And I even embrace this woman for having gone through that moment in the bar.

But I also believe in stakes. In writing, we have stakes. Stakes are the what happened and why is it important enough to be telling a story things within a story.

For example, what’s at stake in The Day After Tomorrow? The entire human race’s survival. Get it?

And when stakes don’t match the circumstances, the story tends to fall flat, and die. For example, using The Day After Tomorrow: If the scientist at the beginning of the movie was like, “Global warming has melted a section of the polar ice cap, and within the next year, global sea levels will rise by 1/9th of an inch. ALERT THE PRESIDENT! TELL EVERYONE TO GO TO THEIR UNDERGROUND SHELTERS NOW!!!!!!

That seems like crap right? It’s like, something in your brain goes, YES THAT IS BAD! WE SHOULD WORK ON THAT….BUT THE END OF THE WORLD IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW? BECAUSE OF 1/9th OF AN INCH?

And that’s how I feel with a lot of memoir-type stories I’m seeing these days. I’m like, yes. It’s crappy that the artist slapped your ass… but, then the entire concept of art was ruined for you for 40 years after that? Really? You promise you’re not embellishing a little in the hopes of riding the wave of #metoo and get yourself published? Or perhaps, if this is true…is it possible that you’ve really just let this slap on the ass effect you a little too much? Is this really a #metoo moment story, or is this a mental illness story? Or a story of self obsession, about a women who, if this is the worst moment of her life, is actually extremely privileged? Because the stakes don’t add up. I’m sorry. They don’t.

sail4

 

ANYWAYS, I’VE GONE WAY OFF TOPIC.  POINT IS THIS:

Reading stories like these is really annoying to me. (And it actually makes me a little bit angry too, considering that I think these women are demeaning the #metoo movement by embellishing their stories for attention) BUT, It also gives a breath of inspiration. It makes me want to write and share my stories. And most importantly, I WANT TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.

When I write about the time I spent in LA on the streets, or the my agoraphobia in Melbourne, or being beaten up in high school – I want to write about this with humor and hope. I hate the self-pity and misery that accompanies the modern-day personal narrative genre. (Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a NYT article stating it too…just so you can’t call me crazy: THE PROBLEM WITH MEMOIRS )

I just scrolled ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF MY BLOG, TO MY VERY FIRST POST. (Oh god…THE SCROLLING!!!! THE SCCCCRRRRROOOOLLLLLLIIINNNGGG!!!!!)

My first post was on December 13th, 2013. I was trapped in my apartment in Melbourne with agoraphobia. Completely alone. I had just gotten on the phone with the Lifeline. The woman on the phone told me I should blog. I should have an avenue to vent through. I started this blog that very day. At the end of that post I said this:

oh oh ! Before I forget.  the BIGreason for this blog is because I have HOPE.  I have hope that I can be happy and feel good about myself one day.  And I want you to have hope as well

 

I’ve felt like a lost boat at sea for so long. Like I didn’t know what direction to take or where to go. All I knew is that I didn’t want to die. I didn’t to give up. But where to go? There was no land in sight, and I was lost.

But now, I feel more motivated. More structured. I want to share my stories. I want to inspire people. I don’t want to dwell in self doubt. I want things to be better. I want others to be better. Fuck the self-pity memoir. Let’s all be more like Jenny Lawson, Carrie Fisher, or David Sedaris. Let’s look back at our lives and laugh,

cuz bitches, WE SURVIVED IT!

We triumphed. Let’s remember that.

sail

I think I’ve finally found land.

 

~ The Dark Horse