Wednesday 16 March 2011


(I'm begging you please read this whole post. It might be a little bit long, but I really need you to read it.)

This morning I got an email from Australian Poetry asking if I'd like to participate in a live poetry reading event alongside musicians in Melbourne, Australia -- my home town -- in June. Of course, I'd love to! was my first thought, and then remembered I live in Greece. And now I'm all down in the dumps.

It's all just hit me really hard, today, that I can't exploit myself and my writing here. I just can't -- full stop -- unless I was rich and could afford to jump on planes left, right, and center. And with the economy like it is now in Greece, I can't see myself putting away much savings. I'm already determined to make it to the USA for when my novel, String Bridge, is released in November. I will give up every single little luxury to put away every single penny towards the trip. I also wanted to make it to Australia for Christmas, to see my family. That is not a definite, but I'm hoping by the end of the year, I'll have the money to do that too.

So yeah, I'm down in the dumps. I can't attend poetry reading events that I'm personally invited to. I can't attend conferences, I can't attend workshops, I can't be involved in face-to-face critique groups. I can't even find any WRITER FRIENDS in my own city! (Well, I've met one lady, just recently, and I hoping a friendship will develop there, but it's not enough! I WANT MORE!) Can I have my two-year-old tantrum now? Can I cry and scream and yell and stamp my feet and say ... "I WANT TO LIVE IN AN ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRY!?!?!"

No, I can't. Because, oh my god, I feel so selfish -- especially seeing what is going on in Japan right now. And also because I just walked past three homeless mothers and children sleeping on the footpath today on my way to the recording studio and didn't even have ten cents in my pocket to give them. I feel selfish. And I should pull myself together. Because I'm lucky. We all are. And I think we have to keep telling each other that every day to put things in perspective. So, yeah, I've had my tantrum. But now I'm going to walk away and cook some lentil soup (because we have nothing else in the fridge!) and be grateful for my hot lentil soup, and roof over my head, and the opportunity to work from home doing what I love, and my dear darling significant other for putting up with my sulking, and for my family, and my publisher Janice, and for my wonderful blogging friends who I CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT ... and my dog (GOD, this is sounding like the Oscars). But yeah, I think you get my point.

Be thankful. I don't even believe in God, but I'm going to go out on a limb, and say, PRAY. For peace, and for mother nature to get back to good health, and for all the conspiracies I'm hearing about to not be true because that would mean human kind stinks. Anyway, I love YOU. Tell someone you love them today, and appreciate every minute you have. Do it for me, because I'm feeling emotional ...

Hug please?


  1. Oh I do feel for you and your frustration. We all need to have a 2 year old tantrum every once in a while. Letting things simmer turn people into bitter old cumungers.(is that a word, if not it should be) It is what we do after the tantrum that defines us. Well done you. You counted your blessings. Lentil soup is good

  2. (internet hugs)
    I can't imagine what it would be like to live away from home. I have a cousin who's an ex-pat in Japan and i miss him everyday. I could never be the type of person to live elsewhere

  3. Cosmic hugs are coming your way and I think the cosmos is also teaching me a lesson about expectation. I just wrote a long post and it disappeared. Here I go again:
    Tantrums are good. They release energy. Raging at God, Fate, the Universe or Circumstance is required sometimes. The trick is what you do beyond that point.
    One of the things I find useful is to change the way I think about something. One of the things which the years do is provide one with greater perspective. Many of the things which we feel at the time are not right, not fair, not what we want, need or should have, are often, with hindsight, absolutely perfect.
    The wonderful world out there which is not available to you is a world of distractions. Too many distractions impact upon one's ability and opportunity to create.
    As a writer, I happen to think and feel that one of the most valuable things one can put together is a body of work. It goes without saying that the more time one has to write the bigger the body of work is likely to be.
    This means that if or when you achieve a measure of success and the distractions of marketing or even fame take over your life and your time to write, you have a solid body of work to back you up and keep you going until you can get some of your time back.
    Look at it this way, if String Bridge were to be a success you would be extremely distracted and eternally grateful for the body of work you have been able to put together while living in Greece.
    So, while you see limitations in your life at present, the angels, fates, etc., may well be giving you gifts.
    Eat your lentil soup and trust the process. What you do not have at this point in time may be exactly what you do not need. What we want is not always what is right for us.
    just some thoughts. And this time I saved before posting.

  4. Jessica, I'm sending you big hugs, right now! It's okay to have a tantrum. It says a lot about your character that you then had lentil soup and were grateful for it. What happened in Japan is beyond horrible, so beyond the imagination the senses shiver. I lived in Japan for two years, when I was single, about your age. They are wonderful people, hardworking, disciplined people with generous hearts.

    Now, okay, about the core of the tantrum. I'm a bit older (ha!)so will lean on my years a bit. Jessica, from my branch on the tree,it's obvious that you're right, you've got to get to an English-speaking country. Now, okay, this is the harder part -- from my experience, you just do it! Because the other stuff will fall into place (boyfriend, pet, etc.) You may not think so, but it will!!

    As much as I love Greece -- and I've visited scores of times -- I could never live there. The language barrier is too great. I've sometimes wondered how you managed.

    The Japanese people preserve tradition as much as they like modern gadgets. They would be disappointed if you didn't take stock of your situation and make forward progress. Good luck, girl!

  5. Breaking away from my blog break to give you a big hug and tell you that I love you, Jess. You have been such an amazingly supportive friend to me and I hate to see your heart so heavy. Hang in there Suga. It will get better - I feel it.

  6. HUG!

    I can only imagine how frustrating that must be, especially considering the personal nature of the invitation, but I think you've got a great attitude about it all.

    I can't afford to travel often either, and sometimes you do just have to prioritize your trips.

  7. Major hugs Jessica.

    That must be hard not to be able to go to the poetry reading after a personal invitation...and you may not get to see your family. And even though your struggling, you do have the right attitude and you're inspiring others to have the right attitude too.


  8. Jessica- (((Hugs!))) Everything happens for a reason- or at least I tell myself that so I feel better about life sometimes. I didn't know you lived in Greece- I hear it is an amazing city. I live in Wyoming. Its okay to feel something strongly even if they are not always good feelings- keeping them locked away inside doesn't do any person good. Its wonderful news that you were invited particularly- I hope you are happy about that- I'm sorry you are unable to attend, sometimes what we sacrifice has a way of coming back to us, and you might have another shot at doing something similar or even the same thing. I'm sending happy thoughts your way!

  9. Many hugs to you. You do know that none of this would bother you as much if you weren't such a caring person, right?

  10. **Hugs** Even though you threw a tantrum, you came up thankful and I think that says a lot. :)
    My Blog

  11. Any chance you could attend via skype?

  12. We all need those tantrums to snap us back to what is real. Sorry for the disappointment but look what came from that. BIG HUG and I love you in-spite of a tantrum. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  13. ((super big hugs)) I am so sorry you are feeling down in the dumps. =(

    Today I love the rain. You can smell it here in the air, waiting to clean the dirt on the ground. I can't wait. =)

  14. Hey, I totally support your need for a tantrum every now and again.

    It's interesting, because I've always been super jealous that you live in Greece and work from home, but I never thought about all the downsides you just listed.

    Hugs to you, and hope you can maybe find some way to work something out.

  15. Yes, remembering to be thankful for what we have, for being able to breathe, drink a glass of water, pet the dog...these things must become a priority. If we were all a little bit more consciously thankful I believe the world would be a much better place.

    The problem is that we simply forget as we run around doing our daily thing.

  16. (((HUGS)) to you Jessica! I love what others have said about giving ourselves permission to have an occasional pity-party with a time limit. Makes sense to me. As someone who does believe in God, I've got the Psalms as a model of crying out "Life really, really sucks. I'm fed up. Others around me are suffering horribly. Come fix this crappy mess!!"

  17. *hug*

    I'm right there with you. I had to close my etsy shop...and have only gotten to watch the writing world from my computer screen since we moved to Germany. We just have to stick together. And remember, not only are you healthy and have a roof...but that roof is in Greece. So many people are jealous of you for that. ;)

  18. Laurel, Pity Party is a great term!

  19. *BIG HUGS*

    I completely understand your frustration. I live in a rural area of Ohio, and there aren't many writer types around here, so I don't have any writerly friends that I can meet face to face, either. And really connecting with people and trying to get feedback on your work solely online can be difficult (or at least, I've found it to be so at times). I can't even imagine what it's like for you living in a non-English speaking country. And here I thought I had it hard!

    But, you're so right. We should be thankful for what we have and what we CAN do. We're only human, so we should do what we can, and be happy that at least we can do that much.

    Much love! ♥

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. *hugs* from me too!

    I totally understand what you're feeling! I've had my share of this recently. I've been moping around over rejections and agonizing over fears that I'll never get anything published and then I immediately feel horrible because people in Japan just want to find their loved ones and another friend is dealing with her nine year old daughter having cancer, but then at the same time I look at those people facing death and think 'If I have to face dying or losing someone I love will I be at peace with that? And the answer is no, because I feel like I haven't 'done' anything yet, all I've done is waste precious time chasing this dream of writing' so then I'm all upset all over again.

    But you know what? I think it's natural to feel all of these things. And you're not a bad person for wanting what you want, just like I'm not selfish for wanting to put my writing out in the world. The fact that you're agonizing over agonizing and feeling guilty is proof of that :)

    I love you!

  22. I'll add another hug to all the rest. It's tough when we can't do things we really, really want to, but I think you're prioritizing very well. Hang in there, and enjoy your hot lentil soups. Bet it will be delicious. :)

  23. Sorry about the deleted comment, made a few spelling mistakes:

    You go ahead and have your tantrum we will all love you despite that.
    It must be awfully frustrating to not be able to go somewhere that would be important to you.
    I have just heard about a cruise I would love to go on next year but due to the fact I went to Nashville and have booked to go to Canada later this year I cannot afford to go.
    I keep remembering a qoute that I read by Paul McKenna, "Todays Gratitude Buys You Tomorrows Happiness".
    I hope things work out for you.
    Take care

  24. Big hugs to "our" wonderful Jessica Bell. We believe in you!

  25. *sniff* such a moving post. Just remember, lentil soup makes everything better.

  26. I'm all for being grateful for what you have (and helping out those less fortunate if you can), but I'm also for making the best of a situation.

    I agree with mybabyjohn. Have some friend or relative bring a laptop to the reading, and Skype your way into their hearts and minds.

    But in the meantime, digital hugs for all!

  27. Awwww, I'm so sorry! *virtual hug* I may have to relocate in the next couple of years and I am DREADING it. I can completely understand. I hope you feel better and the love we're all sending from the interwebs will make you feel better. :)

  28. *HUGS* That was a great post for me to read today. I am counting my blessings. Hang in there.

  29. Perspective is so important ... and sometimes so hard!!!! But you're right - we all have so much!! Take care & huge hugs!!!

  30. Last time I checked, you were human. And humans go OUCH! when cut or bruised. You're entitled.

    It must gall you to be personally invited to go to a poetry conference to read your work and not be able to go.

    But I believe there is a Will behind the universe. If you had gone, things might not have turned out as well as you envisioned. Staying in Greece, you will experience things and people and feelings you would not have if you had gone. I think there is something in Greece right now important for you to experience and draw wisdom and strength from.

    You ended up right : thankful for what you do have. Japan and New Zealand and Libya -- all remind us how fragile and precious are the good things all around us that we too often take for granted.

    But I said OUCH! right along with you if that helps. Roland

  31. Ahhh, big hug. We all go through those times when things kind of suck. We need something we just aren’t getting at the moment. Hopefully it will pass soon. And yeah the timing is bad but we are all human.

  32. OH, I have been there. Sometimes I really miss living in an anglophone country. I try to explain to my french acquaintences that I really am alot funnier in english. I mean, I try in french but it just doesn't come out the same. Alas, they'll have to take my word for it. With three kids, it's near impossible to envision flying to New York for a conference or getting together with fellow writers face to face and I'm so jealous when I see fellow writers hitting up conferences or going to book signings or release parties. I completely understand. And I also think you shouldn't beat yourself up for how you feel- its only human. Eventually, if you're like me, the moment, hour, day, week of melancholy will pass as the good in everything come backs to light.

  33. A big and tight hug for you, Jess.

  34. Sending MASSIVE hugs. Everyone feels this way at one point and I believe it's healthy to lay it all out on the table. Though I know that there are tough times in Japan and that we are indeed grateful for what we have that doesn't take away from our own sufferings.

    I wish I could help. Maybe you should create a button and see if people would want to donate. Julie & Julia movie did it... ;)

  35. BIG HUG! I know how you feel. Even though I live in an English-speaking part of the world (heck, where the whole thing started), it's super hard sometimes to connect with people - not like I could back home in Canada.

    I get it! Hugs hugs huuuuuggggs!

  36. I totally understand your frustration.

    Huge hugs!

  37. *hugs to you Jessica* I am also, oddly, geographically isolates, so I hear you. The US may be my market, but it's a pretty darned big place, and with family obligations there is no extra money for it.

    I have a writer friend in Athens--she is Greek, and not as far in her career as you are, but I will send you both a FB message so you can meet at least.

  38. I love you, Jess! And I feel your angst. I'm so so so so sick of a low-budget life, with no relief in sight, another year, another year, another year. But you're so right -- we're rich in so many other ways. The ways that truly count.

    I wish you could go to Melbourne for the poetry event. I wish I could meet you there! Who knows? Wishes come true every day. Just stay positive, and good things will follow.


  39. *hugs* There's nothing wrong with a little rant here and there. I'd be frustrated, too, in not being able to travel like I might wish. It reminds me when I went to college in Missouri. Granted, it's not as far away as Greece is to Australia or anything like that, but I didn't have money to return home except summer and for Christmas, and it was by car, not plane. There were times when I wanted to just leave for a while and see everyone, but I couldn't. As I said, it's frustrating, but I'm sure things will work out in the end. *another hug*

  40. *hug hug hug hug hug hug*
    I love you too. Your poetry, your talent, your courageous race after your dreams, your perspectives. I remember living in France, and though it was totally different, I'm sure, than being in Greece - France is much more stable, I know - it was hard to be in a non-English speaking country. I wanted to go to a library, I wanted to talk to people about books. It's so, so hard, and you're amazing for being able to do it. Perspective is good - things can get worse, so much worse. But your sadness is legitimate, and even if you decide to push it away - not a bad idea - don't feel guilty about it. :)
    *more hugs*
    P.S. I do believe in God, and I am praying. :)

  41. HUG! And another for good measure.

  42. Huge hugs to you, Jessica. I feel your frustration as I am existing on the nitty gritty, too. I hope that things will work out the way you'd like. Wishes and prayers come true when you least expect it. Sending positive thoughts to you and some more hugs, my new friend.

  43. Hang in there, Jess!

    We all need to vent and that is why we have our amazing community! Despite the great odds against us we have all managed to find hundreds even thousands of caring people for us to go through our writing lives with.

    YOU are blessed as we all are. We have a shelter, family, friends, and food. SO take comfort in that. I do all the time.

    Life is so very stressful for all of us and it takes tragedies like Japan to slap us down when we need it.

    You have many exciting events coming in your life, if you have to miss one of them, well, you do. There is always next year... Let's just hope and pray mother nature holds out for us.


  44. Omigod... I'm so sorry for your frustration!!! I know it doesn't mean much , but hopefully everything happens for a reason and that somethIng even better is in your future!

  45. The news right now truly is terrifying, and it does put everything in perspective. I sometimes whine too -- about the day job, about the state of education, about this inconvenience and that little thing that didn't go my way ...

    And then you turn on the world news.

    Peace and love, Jessica. We're rooting for you.

  46. We all need to vent sometimes, don't feel too bad about it. You've got a good head on your shoulders and can put that in perspective.

    I will say this though...

    We love you!

  47. First of all, let me say "Have you seen all the comments on this post?" Of course you did. Unbelievable. You have some very faithful, supportive followers, girl. And you just added another to the
    Hang in there.

  48. Big, huge, squishy ((HUG)) with one of those grunty sounds thrown in for good measure.

    I've been sort of an emotional mush-pot myself lately. But mostly b/c JRM's back in Indy, my pretty house is being sold and ... wow. You are so right. We are very lucky, aren't we?

    I had soup for dinner, too. Cheers~ Oh, and love you! :o) <3

  49. I'm sending a big hug to Greece for you!

    We all have bad days, but as you said, we're all very lucky. Sometimes we just have to work to remember that.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day!

  50. Hey Jessica, hugs coming your way from Melbourne. I didn't realise you lived in Greece. Everyone has bad days, don't think you're being selfish. You can still acknowledge what is upsetting you while still keeping those less fortunate in mind.

    Hope you're feeling better!

  51. Gosh, you've got me kind of weepy and emotional now. But it was a beautifully expressed post. There is so much truth in what you've said. We should always be thankful for what we have and pray for those who are in worse shape than we are.

    Tossing It Out

  52. Thank you all so much for these amazing and supportive comments! For those who have their emails attached to their profiles I've replied personally. For those who don't: THANK YOU SO MUCH! I greatly appreciate the time you took to comment on this post. You're all wonderful! What would I do without you guys??? XOXO

  53. I understand where you’re coming from. Money is tight. Carrie and I have to live frugally and I think before I spent anything. I met my daughter for lunch this week (she paid even though it was strictly my turn) and while I was waiting I found a couple of books I would have bought a few years ago without batting an eye – one was £7 but the other was only £3 and yet I didn’t buy either of them, not even the £3 book. I have almost a shelf full of unread books as it is. But I would have loved to add them to that shelf.

    I don’t have the same need as you for company. There are plenty of writers in Glasgow but I have to force myself to events and I don’t enjoy them. But the money I need to spend getting to the events is a consideration. I think to myself if I didn’t go I could buy a book but then I usually talk myself out of the book too.

    But I am a huggy person and so I’m happy to send a great big one to you if that’s what you need just now.

  54. Hugs to you Jessica! I always say we need a writers' fund for research grants for as-yet-unpublished authors, but it seems we need a fund to do swaps as well! What if you could go to Australia by swapping with another writer who wants/needs to go to Greece? Just need to do some fundraising... Ha, as if it was that easy!
    Glad to hear you got your guitar back - when you say Wire, do you really mean the band Wire? Of the 80s? How neat!

  55. Oh, Jessica, you need hugs. Can I come visit you in Greece? Holy crap I'd love to come and visit you there. I've always wanted to visit Greece, but I can see why you'd not want to live there permanently as a writer if you can't afford to travel. Talk about tough! Where will you come to here in the States?

    Don't feel bad for feeling guilty. You are obviously aware of how lucky you are, and that is what matters. You give back where you can. Thank you for this post!

  56. I'm sure you're frustrated and downhearted to not be able to participate. I hope soon your books make you enough that you can take advantage of opportunities.

    And I'm hoping Mother Nature takes gets healthier too.

  57. I can understand why you'd feel upset, but at least you're trying to put it in perspective. Prayer helps.

  58. Great post. Being thankful is such a lift-me-up and keeps us healthy because it keeps us happy in a restful kind of way.

  59. AlliAllo ~

    >>.....I don't even believe in God,...

    Well, you've evened the score then, because God doesn't believe in you either.

    >>.....and for all the conspiracies I'm hearing about to not be true because that would mean human kind stinks.

    Not necessarily. It might mean that just certain human beings stink.

    What "conspiracies" are you referring to? Who's supposedly conspiring against whom?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  60. It's hard not to complain about the things, big and little, that we can't have. But you are right to try to put it in perspective once in a while.

    Still, being the very good and unselfish person you are, it's okay to complain. None of us thinks the less of you. In fact, it just makes you human.


  61. It will be better. Life is a circle, just like the native Americans believed. I've experienced it. Prosperity comes and goes. It is tough to consider being homeless, that is actually hanging over my head right now. But I do believe in God, in Jesus and I have experienced Him in my life which confirms His reality. He steadies us when the world crashes at our feet.
    I wish you all the best and hope you can rally your emotions and press on.
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

  62. Here's another hug for you. And look how lucky you are -- all those people who read your blog and all those comments. You must be doing something right.

  63. HUGS

    I'm in a small town in Alaska. I feel your pain of being VERY secluded. There is a small writer's group that meets 50 miles from here, once a month. I have yet to be able to go. It costs me 20 bucks just in gas...

  64. AlliAllo ~
    [For whatever reason, my Email system is not allowing me to reply to Emails. (Did you break it?) So I'm forced to reply publicly.]

    Oh, NOW you tell me there’s no link on your blog for the conspiracy allusion, after I already spent ten minutes scouring over the page and being made to think I’m an idiot because I couldn’t locate it.

    Well, in just a couple of sentences please Email me what supposed conspiracy you’re worrying about. I ain’t gonna dispute with you at all about it, but in a sentence or two I could tell you whether or not I think you really have anything to worry about. (Wow! I just now noticed that I type pretty darn fast for a dude.)

    YouTube keeps deleting the videos of Little Dick getting body-slammed by Casey Heynes. But try these:

    Here’s the video (scroll down) posted on a Blogger (Blogspot) site, so I can’t imagine you will have any problem viewing this one:

    A non-YouTube site showing just the final moment, with the little bully getting body-slammed in slow motion:

    This YouTube video has remained up for days because it’s part of an Australian news show. The altercation has interview segments edited into it:


    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  65. Jessica,

    I actually think the periodic moment of self-pity is a sign of strength... so long as it is periodic.

    Writing is so personal a vocation, and writing is giving aways something of yourself, and so of course it feels personal when logistics prevent you from throwing yourself into it.

    I am guilty of the same... when things are great, they still aren't perfect. 100 people came to the launch of Max and Menna, but I was pouty and morose because the one person I really wanted there (my mother) couldn't be there. More than 300 people have copies of my book, and yet I periodically look at my followers and my Amazon stats and feel dejected.

    BUT, Max and Menna is out there, as String Bridge and so much more of your writing will be... and that knowledge so often pulls me out of the dumps.

    You should check out my blog this week-- it's about how life changes in a year. And sometimes you're reeling to catch up... I know you know, but

    Smile! You're an amazingly talented woman.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris