#weekendcoffeeshare: ‘Round my hometown

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it’s much too late in the day (er, night) to have caffeinated beverages. But then again, I’ve always been terrible at making good choices and managing my sleep schedule, so yes, I’ll take coffee anyway. The sleepless night and the compulsion to write something reminds me of my senior year in high school when I would do just this—drink coffee and stay up spinning tales. And lately, I’ve been thinking about my hometown.

There is a split in my life, a “Before” and “After”, but I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve been categorizing it incorrectly. It is not “Before Moving to New York” and “After Moving to New York”, but rather, “Before I Started Writing” and “After I started Writing”. Writing has always been part of my list of hobbies, but it wasn’t until I started journaling with some regularity during high school that my inner life really kicked off.

My best friend since middle school was in town this week, and she is the type of person I can pick up with right away. She has known me through my quietest moments, has seen me lose my cool, and is the type to correct my memory while dispensing with unnecessary niceties. The things I remember are either rose-tinted idylls or turbid voids, and not much else in between. She one of the few people I know who fills in the spectrum.

And I’ve been thinking about my hometown because of my friend, but also because I’ve been thinking about writing. Tomorrow I’ll be getting comments back from my writing class on a short story, and I’ve been nervous ever since I gave them the story. While I’m proud of that piece, it’s not as “mission statement”-y as I like. The story isn’t really representative of what I write about.

Ever since I figured out that this was the reason for my discomfort, I’ve been trying to describe, with as much precision as possible, what it is I write about. If the story I sent in isn’t it, then what is it? I used to think that not having a defined focus would allow me to explore all topics, would allow me to write anything and everything I want without fear of being boxed into a genre. I’m seeing now that there must be some underlying and narrow motivation. After all, I can’t major in “The Universe.”

I’m still figuring it out, though I can feel myself circling around something. My writing topic—the Major Dramatic Question that drives not just a particular story, but all of my creative work—is elusive, but lurking just out of the corner of my eye. Still, I feel like I’ll lock onto it soon, and then…well, we’ll see how it goes.

But I’m curious: What do you write about?


This post was created as part of #weekendcoffeeshare. Check out more posts in the hashtag.

“Cheerily re-titled”

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending an event featuring Margaret Atwood and Fiona Shaw at the New York Public Library. During their conversation, Margaret Atwood slipped in a wry remark that one of her nonfiction books, Negotiating With the Dead, had been, “Cheerily re-titled ‘A Writer on Writing.‘” And as I go about this blog revamp, this small phrase plays over and over in my head: “Cheerily re-titled. Cheerily re-titled. Cheerily re-titled.”

And so, here I am. Cheerily re-titling myself as I make the transition from an old blog to this new blog.

So who am I now? What am I re-titling myself to?

My name is Caroliena Cabada, and my first name is a deliberate misspelling of South “Carolina.” (I say this to help people with pronunciation, but it’s also a true story. Ask me about it sometime.) I am an adult human being, living and working in New York City, and there is one thing I know to be true:

I am a writer.

And as I refresh my blog a few days before NaNoWriMo, I am becoming more comfortable with calling myself a writer. I still feel like a fraud sometimes, like there is something wrong with my taking on the label of “writer” when I’ve never had a paid writing gig, I’ve only been published once in a lit mag, and other, myriad and minute insecurities that stop me sometimes from really owning up to being a “writer.”

But whatever my hangups are, I am a writer. Even if I try to deceive myself into believing otherwise, I am a writer. Whenever the uncertainty pressures me to quit, I am a writer. And this stubborn belief that “I am a writer” sometimes feels like one of the few things that really keeps me going in life.

Thanks very much for stopping by this (re)introduction post. I’m looking forward to writing even more in the coming days.