Rethinking How I Look At Writing in the Age of AI

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash

I won’t lie. I felt my confidence shake and a growing identity crisis burning in my heart as I read various articles about ChatGPT back in December. From speculation to observations, some of the messages that rocked me were how writing appears to become obsolete. Let me reframe: writing was being made more “efficient” with the likes of ChatGPT and having writers was a lot less important because there was a machine to do the work.

I didn’t like how that made me feel. It made me feel expendable and easily replaced. While I don’t write as my sole income and for much of my life it has been an outlet, I felt like something was being taken from me. What chance did I have if there was a machine to regurgitate text at a more efficient rate than an ordinary human like myself? Stories like this one from Forbes or an earlier article from February 2023 where Clarksworld had to shut down submissions after an influx of AI-generated submissions don’t bode well either. As a result, I’m forcing myself to rethink my relationship with writing. Again.

I have written in the past about how writing has been an important part of my life. In fact, for the past few years, I’ve been struggling to reconnect to that original spark that made me love writing to begin with. There was some emotional disconnect in addition to some things I needed to work through, but this past year, I was able to reconnect to that original inspiration.

I don’t have the money to go back and pursue a degree in writing, but there’s a wonderful local nonprofit that offers writing classes throughout the year. I had taken classes in the past, but in 2021, things just became too much with life and work balance. I decided to sign up for a science fiction and writing class this spring. Science fiction and fantasy were what made me write to begin with. For the first time in two years, I found myself writing. I managed an opening chapter to a longer work I hope to continue to work on. I also managed to start a short story I need to finish. This was more writing I had done myself in the past few years. During this time, I was also easing myself out of freelancing. I wasn’t applying to freelance jobs as much, because, towards the end of 2022, life had switched up priorities. But, I still wanted to find myself writing.

If you have the opportunity to take writing classes for fun (in an environment where you aren’t graded and it is more to learn for fun rather than a requirement), I encourage you to take it if you would like to grow in the craft. Being able to write for fun and for my own benefit allowed me to regain some of the love I had for writing. Instead, writing wasn’t a means just to make money, it reaffirmed one of the original premises why I fell in love with writing when I was 11. Writing itself is the actual act of doing it, not the end product. It is about trying to illustrate emotions and the complexities of life. It is about celebrating all aspects of life, good and bad. And with that notion, I was able to reconnect to one of the reasons why I love writing: it is a way for me to express myself when I feel incapable of actually expressing myself (if that makes sense). I’ve always had issues being able to express myself. I have difficulties being social. I consider myself an introvert, and I am not the most eloquent speaker in terms of articulating myself. Writing is one of the few ways I felt like I could communicate and I could express myself clearly. Learning to just write to write, it made things simpler and I was able to regain some passion and outlet again.

So now, halfway through 2023, I am choosing to write because I can. I may not get rich quickly or have a flourishing online business of writing, but I can at least enjoy it again. It certainly helps ease up on the pressures I’ve been putting on myself. I can continue to take community writing classes to grow. I can work on my original story ideas because it makes me happy, and maybe one day, have a short story that could be submitted and maybe even published somewhere. At least I’ll be doing something I enjoy and it makes me happy. As 2023 pushes beyond the halfway point, I’m going to focus more on poetry and fiction. I’ll still apply and be open to freelance writing gigs, but I’m not going to kill myself over trying to get rich on it.

I still view ChatGPT as a real and existential threat, but it has also made me value what I have and root myself more firmly in things that bring joy. I want to better my writing and my understanding of the craft; I think it is critical in a world that is becoming more saturated with AI-generated content. But I also think it important to remember why I write, and that is I do it for myself.

It’s Been A While. Again: Starting Over for 2023 a Month Early

Photo by Caspar Rae on Unsplash

It’s been a minute. Well, more like a couple of months. Okay, almost five months. It’s been a while.

Over the past few months, I got caught up in a few things that seem to eat away any free time. I also found myself facing burnout with writing and burnout with everything in general. The place I moved into this summer has taken much of my attention and most of my time. Work has as well. I have never felt this burnt out in a while. But despite all these things, I’ve been trying to reconnect to what made me fall in love with writing.

I’m jumping on a new year’s resolution a month early. I will jump back into my writing, reconnect to why I fell in love with it, to begin with, and try to come back stronger than before.

Why now? Why does that sound familiar? Because I often find myself in this vicious cycle of giving up things, getting angry, beating myself up over them, sulking around, and then starting anew. In particular with writing, since the beginning of 2021, I have felt this disconnect with writing overall. Everything felt forced. It didn’t bring me the same joy that it used it. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I could identify and articulate the actual disconnect that took away my joy from writing.

With December approaching, I’m jumping on a New Year’s Resolution one month early and trying to identify and set some goals with writing. So I’m back from my many months’ break and ready to get back at it again.

Revisiting Photography, Side Hustles, and Resurrecting My Online Photography Shops

Revisiting the photography side hustle. My photo (c) 2022.

Last year, I bought myself a used DSLR camera. I had aspirations of learning photography and selling my photos as a side hustle. A year later, that camera mostly sat, and I became distracted with other things. That hasn’t stopped me from still taking photos. The only things I use consistently are is my phone for pictures and editing using Adobe Lightroom.

I find myself in a position where I need to increase my income in addition to the jobs I already work again. This was kind of the idea last year when I decided to get back into photography as well (in addition to strengthening my skill set). I originally used two platforms to attempt to sell on, RedBubble and SmugMug. (I still haven’t sold anything to this day).

The last time I did anything or revisited my shops was back earlier this year. I let things go. I didn’t update or add anything new. I just kind of let it sit there. I even switched to a cheaper plan on SmugMug to save money. Admittedly, there are a few problems that I have. I have a short attention span, have trouble staying consistent with things, and get dissuaded easily if I don’t have immediate success or validation. This caused me to lose interest and let it flounder.

Fast forward and we’re into the second half of 2022. I find myself in a position of needing to bring in extra income and I’m getting nervous about money again. I am terrible with budgeting and my anxieties and quick urge to spend have gotten me trouble from time to time in my 20s. I am trying not to do that again, so I can’t help but get anxious when I find myself spending a bit more than I planned to.

I researched some ideas last year for side hustles and side gigs. I still freelance with writing and editing. I write with Medium (although not as consistently as I would like). I signed up for DoorDash but, in all honesty, was too afraid to do so with the risks and dangers of driving. I really don’t want to risk a wreck with my car so I haven’t done that. In my early 20s, I used to donate plasma for extra cash. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to go that route unless I really have to. So I found myself back to photography and those old shops I had.

Why did I decide to come back to my online shops (aside from money)? Last Saturday, I was at a local coffee shop and they were also hosting a small local vendor market. We were talking and she talked about how she started and the goal was you just needed to start somewhere and just stick with it. And it just reminded me that I must go back and stick with this effort. So, I’m trying to resurrect selling my photography again. Hopefully, I’ll be consistent and stick with it again.

If you want to check out my stuff (again), take a look: RedBubble and SmugMug.

Learning Balance: Moving Edition

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

I’m hoping I am nearing the end of a month-long process of moving. I got the keys last month, but the process has been slow going. I thought it would be quick like 1-2-3, and then boom. Done. But this isn’t the case. Moving has become another exercise in life, and one which I’m struggling with. I am finding that moving isn’t clear-cut and straightforward, like many things in life. It’s taking time and I need to remind myself about patience.

The first thing is dealing with the yard. I’m moving to a small townhome but I wasn’t anticipating feeling as overwhelmed with it as I thought I would. I’ve been living in an apartment for the past 6 years. Before then, yard work was always something I avoided as a kid. I have one memory of getting poison ivy really bad at 9 years old that was enough to dissuade me from playing out in the woods and avoiding the outdoors, including yard work. Now, I have a tiny little yard to add to my upkeep. It’s been a struggle because I expect things to be done immediately instead of realizing that it takes time to do something. There are projects I want to be done, and I don’t have the means or the knowledge to do them. Researching how to perform sed projects or opting for someone to do it for me takes time either way.

The next thing is the house itself. I had to make some major purchases right at the beginning. As a result, that doesn’t leave me much room to make immediate changes or projects. This is okay for the time being. But after living on my own for the past 6 years, my apartments felt like extensions of my bedroom or my college dorm. There was no real rhyme or reason to design, decorations, or decor. Just a bunch of eclectic knick-knacks that I have accumulated over the years. Which is okay too. But for the past few years, I have just left things cluttered everywhere. I still want to display my knick-knacks. I let my geek flag fly with my Funko Pops, books, and odds and ends. But I am going to try and do it tastefully, well, at least have matching shelves for it all to fit together. These things, like the yard, will come in time.

Lastly, the task of readjusting to a new location will be challenging. I live in the city I grew up in. The family isn’t too far away. I’ll be moving about 20 miles away to a new city, and while it’s from the same metro area, it’s still a new city. Readjusting to a new house let alone a new place is intimidating. For the first couple of weeks, I used the GPS to find my way there and back to my apartment. I try to take in the sights and memorize the alternative routes my GPS has taken me on. I’ve made an effort to try and get to know my neighbors. I found a gym and my bank. I think that I will eventually invest in a bike this fall after some money again to bike to everything nearby and try and save some money as gas keeps climbing. And I know I’ll adjust, but the biggest issue is getting past that anxiety of being alone without actually being alone. 20 miles isn’t a long distance but it’s a long enough distance to feel somewhat isolated. As I navigate moving and the coming months of adjustment, I need to use those newfound patience skills and become patient with myself as I figure out the new area as well. This, of course, is easier said than done.

Moving is probably one of the more stressful times in a person’s life. I know my stress has been crazy for the past few weeks and it’ll only get worse over the next few days leading up to Friday. But this experience will hopefully make me better as a person and teach me that life is a balance with patience, things will eventually get done.

Making Time

My photo (c) 2022

I’m in the middle of moving. Next month, I’ll be doing the big move to my new home that is a bit closer to the coast and the beach. Not much but I’ve started calling it my own little beach house.

But moving is stressful. The past couple of weeks have been fraught with anxiety and stress. This is due to a couple of issues with the scale of the upcoming move, trying to figure out things, and just figure out where to start. There have been nights where I’ve had trouble sleeping and trying to keep my head straight.

After running some errands this morning and dropping by the new home, I decided to explore and revisit some old restaurants that I used to frequent about five years ago. Nothing crazy.

Photo by me (c) 2022

I didn’t stay long; just enough to have two drinks and some fish tacos for lunch. During that time, I felt myself awash with memories of being their 5 years prior, trying to take in the moment, and just be present in the moment. It was hard. I found my thoughts distracted and my anxiety going to the list of things that I need to do with the upcoming move. It made it difficult to take in such a gorgeous day. But while I was sitting there, my thoughts also drifted to when I go to this restaurant 5 years ago. I had hopes and dreams. I dreamed of moving out on my own, owning my own little place by the coast, and being somewhat at peace with myself. And the truth is, today, in some form, this has come true.

I’ve had a hard time staying present in the moment and letting my anxiety get the best of me. It’s been a very trying few weeks. But today served as a reminder that I am going somewhere and that things are finally shaping up. Besides, the fish tacos were amazing.

I just need to to stay focused on the present a bit more rather than letting my anxiety get the better of me.

My Goals For Writing in 2022.

Photo by RetroSupply on Unsplash

I started last year with a resolution to grow my writing. This included growing my freelance writing efforts and trying to grow more profitable. I let it go most of last year until that summer where I managed to cobble together a website, applied to the Medium Partner Program, got over my fears, and created profiles on Fiverr and Upwork. So, how did 2021 end up?

2021 Reflections

Last year was better than I had hoped. 2021 didn’t see me making massive gains, but I made a lot more progress than I think I would have. My months on Medium didn’t see me making hundreds of dollars (in fact, it was only a couple at most), but that encouragement was enough to get started. I tried to keep my own website updated, but not as often as I hoped. Freelance-wise, I had a few orders and after a couple of beginning gigs on Upwork, I’m hitting my stride. All and all, not a bad start. I also experimented with learning nonfiction creative writing, but I found myself wanting to go back to my roots with writing fiction. Overall, it was a really positive year writing.

2022 Writing Goals

In 2022, I am now working 2 jobs (excluding the freelance writing I am still doing), and it feels like my schedule has never been busier. It can honestly be overwhelming at times. My Mondays and Wednesdays could easily be 12 hour days. I’m still struggling to get my routine down for the next few months and also planning some other major life decisions like moving by June. The first handful of months of 2022 is going to be busy. And planning my schedule and routine will be even more important. My 2022 hopes for my writing include a few things.

My first resolution: continue to grow my freelance writing efforts.

I didn’t make loads and loads of money freelance writing last year where I could quit my main jobs and retire early. But I found myself doing the sorts of writing I have always wanted with a job. My freelance writing is primarily content writing, but I have done resume reviews and edits as well. I find that Fiverr is good for resume gigs and Upwork has been best for long-term work. I hope to really try to work on that progress in 2021 and capitalize on it in 2022.

The second resolution: managing my time better and finding more time to write.

This sounds dumb, but I have a tendency to overlook myself and take on more than I can do. In addition to writing and my main job, I’ve also been trying to work on my mental and physical health for the past few years. When I’m not working or writing, my schedule has a lot of appointments and errands to keep. What I found was that I was miscalculation time commitments and/or how long something would take. That left little time to write for fun or not enough time to focus on my other writing projects.

And the last resolution: writing more fiction.

One of the reasons why I drifted towards creative nonfiction last year was because I thought it would be therapeutic. But maybe I have some avoidance issues or other mental issues, but I found writing about nonfiction and my life like pulling teeth. It was a difficult experience and I often found myself going through some unpleasant periods in my life that I am still struggling to get past. Fiction and escapism are two of the reason why I started writing when I was 11 years old. Writing fiction in my mid-30s has the same appeal as it did over 20 years. So I hope to write more fiction in 2022 and even tackle one of the writing sessions that NaNoWriMo does in April or July, or even try tackling NaNoWriMo in November and maybe attempting a novel in 30 days.

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash

As I grew older, I’ve been feeling myself become more nostalgic. I don’t yearn for memories or really good food or falling asleep at the dinner table (which has happened to me before). Instead, I grow nostalgic about the memories of my family and those simpler times.

I know, it’s silly. As I kid, I used to always dread the three-hour drive to my grandparents’ home and would sometimes get overwhelmed by all the activity and craziness that was Thanksgiving. I also get nostalgic for the family members that have lost. It’s not just the memories of that particular dinner, but it brings a whole sea of memories that I have gathered throughout my life.

This Thanksgiving, I will be assisting in cooking it for the first time. Another milestone. Another notch in my belt. But I will still be surrounded by memories of my family and be thankful for every single one of them.

The First Time I Felt Like a Writer

I always try to write for myself. The first was a short story. I was 11 years old and did it spur of the moment. After that, I got the bug. I continued to write for the next six years. During that time, I didn’t feel like an artist. I kept my writing to myself. It was a secret that I didn’t like sharing. I was self-conscious about it, carefully shielding the notebook I would carry everywhere with me to write. The writing was just something you didn’t share. That changed my senior year of high school. That year, I found myself struggling to find electives to fill my class schedule. At that point, I had an idea that I wanted to go into technical writing and took things like a journalism class. But I decided to also take a creative writing as well just for the variety.

Up to this point, the only type of writing class I had taken was the state-mandated public school English classes. I was also in honors and AP English too, but writing still was one of those things I kept to myself. I didn’t know what to expect going into it. But to my surprise, it was one of the most chill and interesting classes I’ve ever taken. I adored my teacher. I felt more inspired than ever. I was getting past my anxiety about sharing my written work.

As I began to slowly get past this anxiety of sharing, my teacher announced an extra credit opportunity. At a local coffee house, every Wednesday night, there would be an open mic for people to come read their poetry and written works. I thought it couldn’t hurt. So, that night, I arrived three hours early. I claimed a table in the back near the exit in case I decided to exit early.

As the open mic got underway, I kept largely to myself. There were a lot of people I didn’t know or recognize. There were a lot of people reading amazing work that made me feel inferior. At the halfway point, there was a brief intermission. I could feel the tightness in my chest and the tingling in my fingers; tell-tale signs of an impending anxiety attack. I wanted to contribute. I wanted to share. I wanted to get past my fear. I finished the last of my coffee, and right as the open mic was about to get underway again, I wrote my name with the black dry erase marker. “Kelly P.”

I hurried back to my outpost at the back of the room to wait. I don’t remember much of it after that. I was nervous. I kept eyeing the exit. But then, I heard someone call me. “Kelly P. You’re up!” I grabbed my notebook at the time, a gray composition notebook held together by duct tape. My hands were shaking. I eyed the room briefly as I grabbed the mic. I couldn’t make eye contact. With a trembling voice, I introduced myself. “Uh, hi. My name is Kelly P. and I will be reading…uh,” I flipped to a random poem. I don’t recall saying the title. I just remember keeping my eyes downcast, focusing on my handwriting, and the mic shoved up against my mouth. I had been told I had a problem with public speaking and hopefully they might hear me.

I don’t remember the words. I tried to read them in one breath, avoiding eye contact the entire time so I wouldn’t be judged. As the last words left my mouth at the end of my breath, I finally looked. People clapped. I felt shocked and then surprised. No one was mocking me, telling me how bad of a writer I was. It was the opposite. I felt the anxiety leave me replaced with some euphoric high. I got a rush from performing my mic and sharing my writing for the first time. I felt good. I felt confident for the first time in my life about my writing. I still feel that euphoric high whenever I give a big presentation or after a big social engagement.

As I left the stage, I reclaimed my table in the back. I felt relief and lingered on the positive vibes as the open mic finished. This was only the first of many open mics throughout my senior year of high school. For the first time in my young life, I truly felt like a writer.

Part 1: Is There Any Value in an eReader?

Part one of a three-part series.

Photo by Antonio Scalogna on Unsplash

I think got my first eReader sometime in 2007 or 2008 while I was in college.

I got it as a Christmas gift from my mom. It was white. You know, that gray-white that electronics at that era were. It reminded me of a Hewitt-Packer, was it was just a few shades whiter to almost beat being gray. I don’t remember the name brand of thing. It was off-brand and not an Amazon Kindle or a Barnes and Noble Nook. It was some company that was trying to jump on the bandwagon of the latest tech craze. Like all those companies who tried to manufacture their own MP3 players in the early 2000s. This company was trying to accomplish the same thing.

I don’t remember the exact specifications of it. I do remember that I couldn’t download any new books. I mean, it might have, but it was connected to an existing bookstore. I knew that I could download older eBooks and Project Gutenberg is what came to mind.

So, I downloaded a small batch of classic novels from Project Gutenberg. After Christmas break came and went, I went back to college and brought my Reader with me.

My bachelor’s degree was English so I had a combination of literature and writing classes I was taking at one time or another. I thought to be proactive, I would try to download one of the class textbooks on my eReader to make my life easier. I would only have to carry one thing instead of multiple books. The experience didn’t go so well.

The reading experience was clunky. The eReader didn’t work have the time. I missed the tactile feel of the pages between my fingers. The appreciation for the intricate designs of the book and paper quality. Nothing seemed to be better than the physical copy. I was 19 or 20 at the time but I swore to never invest in an eReader or an eBook. Until a few years ago.

In the following two articles of this mini-series, I will explore my opinions about the physicality of books and how my attitudes have shifted over the past few years.

This is also published on Medium.