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Real Life Struggles Of An Author

Often times, the struggle isn’t writing a book. Often times, the struggle is being an author who needs to write a book. I don’t really have a choice–writing is a part of who I am and I just need to do it. It’s a love-hate relationship. And unfortunately, this is where the struggle begins.

If you’re an author, I’m pretty sure you can relate with some of my struggles. If you’re not, here’s an insight to the tug-of-war between me and myself. These struggles make writing both enjoyable and dreadful. Yes, I know it sounds strange. The practise of writing is often like having a sibling you fight with but still love. It’s like owning an old car that keeps breaking down but you can’t sell it off. It’s something or someone you’re stuck with for life–something or someone you don’t necessarily like being around, but you’re too attached with to let go. And thus why the struggle is real.

So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to…

#1 Wait, what’s going on? I think I forgot something. Did I spell his name correctly? Was it fourteen or fifteen feet? Which chapter was it that I mentioned her age? Why on earth didn’t I note any of these down?

#2 I’d rather stare at a wall than do any form of writing today. Heck, cleaning the house sounds so much more fun. Should I volunteer to do all the chores? Yes, yes I should– I’ll do anything but write today.

#3 This wasn’t part of the plan, but OK. I’ll just run with it. It seems to be going somewhere better. It’s not like it matters anyway–the time I spent trying to plot the whole thing. Wait, does this mean… Does a story actually write itself? Did I just…. unlock a philosophical thought that I should totally blog about?

#4 The ending is going to be so awesome. I can see it in my head. It’s so freaking cool! I’m so tempted to write it now. I just need to write another ten chapters first though. Ten… not so cool… I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing chapters.

#5 Why did I even start? Why did I think this was a good idea? Why was I so ambitious? Was I even in the right state of mind? I actually have to finish this now. I have to put another idea on hold for a story I’m no longer as passionate about as when I first started. What was I thinking?

#6 Google, ‘types of eye shapes’. Google, ‘shades of blue’. Google, ‘east Europeans’. Google, ‘name of skin colours’. Google, ‘the different parts of a merchant ship’. Google, ‘medieval commoner clothing’. Google, ‘what is ‘magic’ in Latin’. Google, ‘pariah definition’. Google, ‘best TV series to binge watch’.

#7 I’m tired. I should go to bed. But wait, why do I have this sudden urge to write? Why now–when I’m brushing my teeth? Why couldn’t this strange, uncontrollable desire come when I was bored out of my mind five hours ago? What is wrong with me? I’m going to sleep.

Indeed, the struggle is real. Out of these seven points, how many can you relate with? And, if you’re a creative of another form, do you face similar struggles? Or, are your struggles a little different?

I’d love to know the challenges you face in your craft, so list your struggles in the comment section below. Let’s share our love-hate relationship with our passion. Sometimes, admitting that it sucks–being aware that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine–helps us to keep our end goal in sight. And that’s important–in the pursuit of our dreams, we should never lose sight of the finish line.

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Posted by on July 19, 2018 in Original Works

 

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So, What’s Next?

Recently, I’ve been asked this particular question by almost everyone I meet, “What’s next? Are you writing another book?” So to answer everyone else, who may have this question in mind, I thought to share my response here.

The next, after The Slave Prince, is the Raindrops trilogy.

Or, at least, I hope it remains as a trilogy and not become a series. Why? Because trilogies and series aren’t really my thing. I’ve discovered, through writing Book 2, that writing a trilogy is quite a challenge for me. As Book 1 was completed–sent to beta readers–in April 2016, a handful of story facts have gotten lost in time. I’ve misspelled some of the not-so-important character names, I’ve confused certain plot lines, and… I’ve forgotten how some of the places actually looked like. I had to reread Book 1 before writing Book 2. And yet, even after doing so, I’m still making mistakes!

When I think about it, a trilogy is just a really long book. It shouldn’t be too difficult to remember what I, myself, have concocted. Alas, I’m better suited writing standalones of 60k to 70k words–my sweet spot. And funnily enough, I’ve only just learned this fun fact about myself. However, I am going to complete this trilogy. With Book 1 done, how can I not write Book 2? It would be silly to stop a story when I’m this far in. I just have to tough it out and get it done–you have no idea how many times I’ve coaxed myself to keep going. Why did I even think writing a trilogy was a good idea? This writer, right here, had no idea what she had gotten herself into.

With that said, I plan to pitch Book 1 to agents once I finish the first draft of Book 2–it should be done by this year despite the turtle pace. I also plan to spend a good amount of time next year rewriting Book 2. Honestly, that is about it with my plans. All I can do as a writer is to keep writing–to keep running the race. I don’t know what will happen along the way. I might not find a publisher even after I’ve completed the entire trilogy. Or, I may land a publishing deal next year. Anything or nothing can happen. But, I do know what’s next.

For me, it will always be the next word, the next sentence, the next chapter, and the next book. It’ll always be one story after another. Despite how tiring it may be or how unmotivated I sometimes feel, I’ll keep writing. Stopping midway in this journey is, and never will be, an option.

PS, if you’re curious what Raindrops Book 1 is about, let’s just say it follows the tale of a teenage king in search of his father who many believe to be dead. With the magic in raindrops, this youthful king leaves home to travel to other realms. From the hazardous trip behind enemy lines to the festive East Asian-esque Meihua; from the kingdom hovering above the clouds to the military-driven Bevattna; from the heterogeneous society of a tunneled realm to his duel with the heir of Tentazoa, every step in his adventure uncovers a gem of his past, present, and future. And in one foresight, this young king learns the daunting fate of his own realm. That… is all I can say. Hopefully, you’ll get to read this book one day.

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Cologne | Magnet | Banana

There it was again–the smell of his cologne–a subtle blend of citrus notes with a mild woody undertone. He had just walked by. His light footsteps drowned by the chatters of the afternoon crowd. If only it wasn’t routinely busy at the hour of his arrival, I could, possibly, point him out. Alas, such was rarely a case in this joint.

Just like me, he frequented the cafe every Saturday. But while I clocked-in in the morning, he visited only by noon. I speculated he enjoyed the midday set meals. My favourite waitress once told me that their lunch sets were very affordable in this expensive city. So perhaps I would give them a try one day. But as for now, I preferred my regular order of plain banana pancake with a side of freshly brewed black coffee–those two made great companions to whatever book I was reading. They were all I needed, until he appeared.

That Saturday, I was pages away from completing The Magnet & The Mouse when I caught his scent. I was drawing close to the conclusion of the acclaimed philosophical book–how the mouse found its magnet after the thunderstorm–but loss all concentration when he walked by. I’m not one to be easily distracted. The noise in the cafe never once bothered me–my focus never disturbed by the yapping children, boisterous students, hollers from the kitchen, and hissing of the coffee machine. The smells of this establishment had not once drew my attention elsewhere–not the homely waft of fresh waffles, and certainly not the deep, soul-pleasing aroma of a dark brew. But, he was different.

What was it about his cologne that stole my senses? Why was his light, almost indistinguishable footsteps so aurally pleasing? I’ve never seen his face nor heard his voice, but I’ve yet to fail at sensing his movement–his presence. Oh, how I wish I knew more about him. The strange desire to speak to him–to learn about his past, present, and future–could not be shaken.

“Is this seat taken?”

There it was again–the smell of his cologne now stronger–as though he was the one who spoke. Then, there were those familiar footsteps as he moved to stand before me.

“No,” I replied, gesturing for him to take a seat.

Was the cafe busier than usual that he had to share my table? Or, did he notice me like I noticed him?

“Good book?” he asked.

“I’ve yet to finish.”

“What’s it about?”

I briefly contemplated about sharing the whole incoherent plot, but settled with, “Life. It’s about life.”

“Life,” he echoed.

“Sounds boring, I know.”

“No, it actually sounds interesting. What is life like for you?”

What is life like for me? Life was once bright, colourful, and beautiful. Then life became dark, lonely, and disconcerting. I didn’t know what to expect the moment I rose from my bed. I could no longer predict what would happen, or avoid–what was once avoidable–misfortunes. I was lost. I had to try harder at discerning the world around me. That was life.

“Ordinary,” I replied. “What is life like for you?”

“Scary,” he said. “How do you make life ordinary?”

I didn’t. I wasn’t. I lied. “I adapt.”

“Do you believe life can be exciting?”

I hoped–I wasn’t reading The Magnet & The Mouse because I enjoyed philosophy.

“Yes,” I said.

“You see, I-” he abruptly halted. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to be insensitive.”

“Words are just words. What do I see?” I prompted.

“You see,” he continued. “I’ve been noticing you for awhile now, and I’ve been wondering how you do it.”

“How I do what?”

“How do you smile and laugh without a care in the world? How do you pardon the intrusive nature of your surroundings? How do you enjoy just that–a pancake and a coffee?”

“I read good books,” I replied with a chuckle.

“I thought so too, but there’s more than that. And I want to know what it is.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about. There wasn’t anything more. “Honestly, I just read really entertaining and engaging books.”

“Or, you just don’t realise how un-ordinary your life is.”

Yes, my life was indeed un-ordinary but in the bad kind of way. Did I miss the memo on how my life should be? Was my current predicament a celebration?

“I know I sound rude,” he added. “It’s just… I find hope in you.” I must have wore bewilderment, as he continued, “I… well… I’ve been told I won’t be able to see for very much longer. So with the days counting down, I’ve chosen to look at what gives me hope. And, you’re one of them–hope.”

“Me?”

“Honestly, I don’t come here for the food. I actually come here for you–the stranger with the book, coffee, and pancake.” He chuckled.

“I… didn’t know I made an impression.”

“Well, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean you don’t.”

I never thought that me being me could ever make a difference in someone’s life. How could someone so broken be a bringer of hope? Was I truly capable despite my disabilities?

“Thank you,” he added. “I truly hope, that one day, you’ll see what everyone else sees in you.”

Me too. “I hope so too.”

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Cologne, magnet, and banana were words given by Wei Keat on Facebook–I never knew one could actually bring these words together in a story until I actually tried. And boy, was I surprised at what came out of them.

Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And, if you’d like to throw a challenge my way, leave your 3 words in the comment section below! To be honest, I’ve almost used up all the past comments, so your 3 words will help keep this streak alive.

*To download the banner, left-click then right-click to save.

3 Words, 1 Story © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2018 in Original Works

 

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5 Ways To Become A Bad Writer

Why do we strive to be a good writer, when we can be a bad one? Here are five things for you to work on if you want to become a bad writer in no time!

#1 Don’t Write, Just Talk About It

Go ahead, talk about the stories you want to write but don’t actually write them. Tell everyone you want to write a book–that you have this fabulous idea– but don’t bother with taking it one step further. Don’t actually sit down and try to devise a good plot. Don’t turn on your laptop for anything other than non-writing activities. Buy a fancy, overpriced notebook but leave its pages blank. Don’t write, just talk about writing!

#2 Always Blame Your Lack Of Talent

You suck because you have no talent. You’re not gifted with words, thus you’re a bad writer. So why bother trying, am I right? If your story needs improvement, it’s probably your lack of talent. If your characters are dull, it’s probably your lack of talent. If your world-building is flat, it’s probably your lack of talent. You don’t have talent, thus you’re a bad writer. The easiest way to excuse your shortcomings is…you know it… your lack of talent!

#3 Hate On Your Critics

These people don’t deserve you or your work. After all, their mission in life is to critique you and everything you do. So, in return, you should hate them . Discredit everything they’ve done because they say your story is boring. Curse at them because they criticise your writing. Take it one step further and hunt them down, because the only way you can change their minds is to make them actually dislike you.

#4 Give Up Because It’s Taking Too Long

Wow, it’s been a year since you started writing and you haven’t accomplished anything. What are you doing? Clearly, writing isn’t for you. You should stop doing it all together. Go and find something else to do. But, if that new thing is taking too long for you to see success, make sure to stop doing it too. After all, time is of the essence! You need to be gratified like… right now! So if you don’t see immediate success, it’s a waste of time.

#5 Play It Safe

Do you have a crazy idea that may ruffle some feathers? Don’t you dare write it! Always play it safe–always write to please the masses. After all, you’re not writing for you. Your goal in life is to write stories that makes everyone but yourself happy. Your words are not yours. Your words are dictated by what your readers want to read! So lest you offend them with unconventional characters and controversial plots, it’s better to stick to what they ask of you.

There you have it–five easy ways to become a bad writer! But just in case some of you think I’m actually serious, I should clarify that I’m being sarcastic. No, I don’t want you to become a bad writer. In fact, I want you to be the best writer you can be! I want you to believe in yourself–yes, you do have talent. I want you to actually start writing, because your story is actually worth telling. I want you to be kind to your critics, because criticism will help you grow. I want you to be patient–to keep persevering because the journey brings more fulfillment than the end. And, last but not least, I want you to write without restraints.

Don’t let these five points dictate your future, your dreams, and your passion. Rather, stay clear of them because, by default, you have the ability to be an amazing writer! Remember, the only person that has the power to sabotage your greatest achievements is yourself.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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This Story Begins In 2005 [#TRUESTORY]

I scrolled through my blog recently and realised that I don’t share enough personal stories. I do address certain topics based on experience, but nothing from, ‘hey, I was once an annoying kid,’ to, ‘wow, I said the cringiest things on Facebook.’ So today, I thought, let me share a #truestory.

This story begins in 2005. It was during those formative years in secondary school that I began exploring other forms of writing aside from short stories. I would write scripts for my school’s drama competitions, and I would write poetry–a whole lot of poetry. I thought I wasn’t good at short stories because I never won any writing competitions. So, I tried poetry instead. But even then–churning out both story-based and self-reflective pieces–I knew nothing about the rules and the mechanics of this art. I just wrote. And whenever I wrote, I would submit my poems to a local newspaper in hopes of being featured in their Wednesday student column.

Then 2007 rolled around. It was my final year in secondary school and I experienced the loss of two family members in a single week. My maternal grandfather passed away a few days prior to my paternal aunt. I wasn’t close to either of them as I can’t speak mandarin or hokkien–two of the few Chinese dialects in Malaysia. And, I only saw them once a year during Chinese New Year. So the loss was a strange kind of loss. I was sad–I cried when I heard about my grandfather, while I was unexpectedly called out from school–but… I didn’t know why.

At their funerals, of which I had to travel from one state to another just a few days apart, I wrote two poems. I used to carry a notebook around for when inspiration strikes, and conveniently, I had my notebook with me that week. Of course, I wouldn’t say their deaths were ‘inspiring’, but it led me to writing a piece titled, ‘Death’ and a piece titled, ‘If’. They were rather morbid pieces if I could say so myself. But it seems… I write better when in unpredictable and uncomfortable situations.

Shortly after those events, I returned to school and my carefree teenage life. Since I had two new poems, I submitted both of them to the same local newspaper. I didn’t expect anything, but twice, my friends hollered at me–after having flipped through their daily newspapers. They came into class saying, “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!” You see, my school allowed students a paid subscription to the daily newspaper. These students would receive their copies every morning. I wasn’t one of these students–my dad would buy the newspaper himself–and thus, I had no idea if my work was published. I had to be told, and on both occasions, the announcement from my friends and teachers were awesome surprises. Alas, it only happened twice. There was no third time, despite the dozens of poems I submitted.

Eleven years later, on May 30th 2018–coincidentally a Wednesday–I received a Facebook message from a friend with a snapshot of a different, but also local, newspaper. I knew I did an email interview. I even chose a handful of pictures to send to the journalist. But, I had no idea when the piece would be out. Being Facebook message–oh, how technology has advanced–brought back that same feeling when I discovered I was featured in 2007. This time however, almost a decade later, it wasn’t just my name. It was an almost full-page spread with my picture. Eleven years later… “Jeyna, you’re in the newspaper!”

If you’ve actually made it this far into my story, or if you follow me on Facebook and Twitter and have seen my status update itself, you might have noticed something. It took me eleven years. Eleven… long… years. Not one year, not three years, not even five years to be somewhat recognised, but eleven years. And I say ‘somewhat recognised’ because it’s only the first step. It’s a small accomplishment in comparison to the dream of having my book made into a movie. But, it’s a success nonetheless–one worth celebrating, just like the time my poems were published.

Now, if you don’t mind me asking, how many of you have been at your craft for almost a decade? If you raised your hand, let me applaud you for your tenacity and passion. Perhaps it’ll take you longer to see the fruits of your labour, but you will see it one day. You already have the drive to keep going and you shouldn’t stop. Don’t waste the years of blood, sweat, and tears. It is all worth it. Your dream is worth it. Your passion is worth it. Your story is worth it.

On the flip side, how many of you have been at your craft for less than a decade? If you’re thinking of giving up, don’t you dare! I cannot say you will achieve something in eleven years, but you shouldn’t give up just because ‘nothing’ is happening. Something is always happening when you invest in your talent. The only ‘nothing’, I dare say, is that ‘nothing’ is impossible. It might take you eleven years–it might even take you more, or perhaps less than eleven years–but nothing is impossible. Every step you take toward your dream is the first step toward something big. It’s just the start! And just like those of us, who have been chasing after the stars for many years, your dream, passion, and story are worth it–every muddy road, narrow trail, and arduous climb. After all, every path you take will eventually lead you somewhere.

This is a true story. This is my story. But this can be your story, too.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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Alexa the Great Explorer [12 Genre Months]

Gunshots were fired. The explosion of gunpowder reverberated through the trees. Rustling the timberland, the intrusion sent nesting birds into the sky and wildlife into burrows. The only two beings unable to hide raced down a slippery path, wet from the midnight showers.

“Do you know where you’re going?” I asked.

“No,” she said.

“What? You don’t know?”

I wasn’t sure if I should trust her or express my concern. But despite my question, I kept my pace. And despite her answer, she kept hers. She didn’t take a single glance behind and neither did I. We already knew who were after us. We knew what they wanted. And though we didn’t know the distance between us and the mercenaries, we could hear them loud and clear.

“Keep moving,” she said, as the trees began to thin.

Not wanting to be left behind, I stayed hot on her heels. I ignored the burning in my calves and thighs. I gave myself no excuse to stop. But then, she did–she stopped. Her shoes skidded across a muddy patch, her arms briefly flailed at her sides, before she halted at the fringe of a cliff. Unfortunately, when I discovered why she had stopped, it was too late. I skidded through the same pool of mud, my arms flailed by my sides, but momentum was against me. I tipped over the edge and lost all hope of survival. I was certain I was done for, until she yanked me to safety.

“Watch where you’re going,” she stated.

“Thanks,” I muttered. It was a close call, but she gave me no room to digest my brush with death.

“Do you see another way?” she prompted.

I took a quick look around, hoping to find another path. Alas, there was none.

“No,” I replied. And instantly, I had a dreadful inkling. I knew what she was going to say, and she said it.

“Jump.”

“Are you insane?” I asked.

The hollers and shouts from the men stampeding after us grew louder at every second. They were getting close. And the only option, as we stood at the edge of the rocky cliff–plummeting toward the rapids below–was to jump.

“Jump,” she repeated.

This time, she didn’t wait for my response. She did what she always did best–escape from danger. As my only guide of this world leaped off without hesitation, I stood rooted to the ground. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t her. This wasn’t my world–it wasn’t my adventure. Yet, there I was. And if I wanted to continue on, I had to jump before I took a bullet in the chest–before it’s game over.

“I can do this,” I coaxed myself. “If Alexa can do it, so can I.”

Alexa was the bravest adventurer known to men. Everyone, or at least almost everyone, knew who she was–Alexa the Great Explorer. The one who would brave snow storms and scale icy mountains, the one who would swim in dangerous waters and wrestle sea monsters, the one who would jump off airplanes and, at that very moment, off a cliff into the angry river far below. Alexa was fearless, bold, and resilient. In comparison, I was a scared child.

As I looked upon the raging water, ready to engulf me upon my descent, I took a deep breath and said a short, silent prayer. Should I survive the jump, what was next? This world has tried to kill me more than once and I wouldn’t be surprised if it finally succeeded.

Hesitating no more, I shuffled backward–ready to leap into the unknown. But as I took one foot forward, the world stopped–time stopped.

“It’s dinner time,” my mother called from the kitchen.

“Just let me finish this chapter,” I replied.

“Don’t make me come get you,” she threatened.

Dragging my reluctant self, from my bed and into the hallway, I pleaded, “Come on, just a few more pages.”

My mother peered out from the kitchen doorway with a death stare. If the mercenaries didn’t kill me, my mother would.

“Fine,” I said, bookmarking the page as I returned to reality.

“You can continue after dinner,” my mother stated.

“It’s not the same. It’s not exciting anymore.”

“Well, I’m sorry you have to eat.”

Rolling my eyes, I slumped into the dining chair with the book on my lap. All I had to do was get through sixty minutes in my world, before I could return to Alexa’s. Then, once there, I wouldn’t leave until the story ends. With such an adventure waiting–one worth embarking on–nothing and no one will stop me from finishing it.

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12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2018 in Original Works

 

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Who Is Thom?

Thom was raised in a royal household. His parents were the King and Queen of Alpenwhist. For the first fifteen years of his life, Thom had everything he needed. He was granted most of what he wanted. And, he lacked (almost) nothing. He lived as a prince in a grand royal palace. He rode only stallions and dueled with the finest blades. He studied with the best scholars and ate from plates of gold. That was the life of a prince. And as a prince, he did his royal duties and acted princely whenever he made a public appearance. It was second nature to him–being a prince was all Thom knew… until he wasn’t.

Who is Thom? Is he a prince or is he not? Does he have royal blood or is he just an impostor? Who is Thom, really? Thom… is us.

He’s us when we question our identities, when we’ve lost sight of who we are, and when we have no confidence in our abilities. He’s us when we’re unsure of our decisions, when we’re afraid of the future, and when we can’t find a name to call ourselves. He’s us beyond the princely vest, farm boy hat, and beggar cloak. He’s us in, perhaps, a few phases of our lives, when we’re discouraged, doubtful, and hesitant. There’s a Thom in every one of us, and there’s us in the Thom from Alpenwhist.

Though his adventure may be different from ours, what he goes through isn’t foreign. He may not be from this world, but his emotions are reflective of our own. Thom is not a stranger nor is he a friend, but he is certainly someone we know.

Who is Thom? The better question would be, who are we?

As The Slave Prince hits bookshelves next Tuesday, I hope many of you are able to answer that question. I hope you know who you are, what your passion is, and how you want to live your life. But if you don’t know who you are, don’t lose hope. If Thom can discover his identity in such a confusing and troubling time of his life, so can you. He isn’t just a work of fiction–he’s hope that all of us, no matter where we come from and what we’re going through, have a name. We have a name not coined or dictated by others, but a name that truly reflects our inmost being even in the darkest of times. We have an identity we can be proud of–an identity uniquely our own. And when we truly find ourselves, we won’t lose sight again.

Let’s find ourselves, stay true to who we are, and face the unknowns in life unafraid and unashamed. Let’s be the heroes of our own stories, as it is… after all… our birthright.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2018 in Writing Journey

 

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