Tag Archives: every challenge is an opportunity in disguise

Baby It’s Your Call; No Pressure at All

I have been thinking a lot lately – the last few months, since the drastic change in life-course appeared on the horizon – about what I want to do when I have absolute freedom to build my own life. What do I want it to look like; what do I want it to be.

Perhaps the most important part is that I do not want to remain a 9-5 slave in the employment of someone else. I can work very hard and very dedicatedly, but the only times I am happy giving that much of myself is when the work is for myself. I dislike giving the best of me to someone else for a paycheck when I know they are not really utilizing my talents to the fullest. I would rather work for myself, because I as an employer of my self would understand how to best use my own talents. So foremost on my mind has been considering how to pimp out my various talents and expertises for a cash flow.

Funny thing: fiction writing doesn’t even make the list.

I have 4-5 different ideas and schemes in mind (and intention to implement all of them – the whole many small streams make a sustainable river income idea), some of which do involve writing – but not fiction.

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that fiction writing is slow (for me, anyway) and the return is not guaranteed – nor is it guaranteed to come right away. But a lot of it is inclination. The things that energize me, that make me excited to do with other people, that make me feel my entrepreneurial and innovative oats to sow, are not fiction writing. Fiction writing is personal. It is for myself, and if others enjoy it and give me a little money for it, great – but I cannot write for the money, and I don’t want to make myself hate writing because it’s not paying the bills. I realized, texting with a friend last night, that probably part of the reason writing has been so un-joyful for me in the last couple years, is that I had focused on it as a means of ending my day-job, and I was upset at myself for not being able to produce fast enough to keep up with the plan, and upset at the uncontrollable nature of selling. I was forcing myself to write because that was the plan, and it wasn’t enjoyable or inspiring. Sometimes you can only realize your dreams when you let an old dream go.

I am letting go of the idea of making my income writing fiction. I have a lot of other talents and skills that can be exploited without the use of an external employer to keep a roof over my head and food in my son’s mouth. That is my real dream. If I let go of novel-writing as the means of attaining that dream, I can make it a measurable and quantifiable goal with a probability of success by using those other talents and skills as the basis. And I can keep writing as a hobby, an artistic expression that I do for myself because I can’t not do it – and I can still publish the things I finish, when they are ready, and let my work find its audience. Maybe someday I will have enough work and enough audience to re-think the “day job” side of my work life. And maybe I won’t. But this way I don’t have to feel bad if I don’t, and I don’t have to despair that I will never get out of desk-job hell because my writing isn’t doing what it “should” be. I can have my dream – and my writing.

Sometimes wildfires are necessary to clear out debris and detritus.

We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn – burn, motherfucker, burn.

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Writing with Hobbles

I have started writing again, in drips and drabs, since the birth of my son 8 weeks ago. I am working under a set of distinct challenges, and I am trying to use them as a way to experiment with ways to write besides my standard. My hobbles?

1. Lack of time.

2. Lack of document.

3. Lack of usual layout.

Obviously, with a new baby the amount of time I have to focus is narrow. I actually have quite a lot of down time, if I choose to spend breastfeeding sessions on writing instead of reading, but even so it’s not like I have hours-long blocks of time. I have minutes-long, maybe an hour if I am being indulgent and letting him nap on the breast. What these splintered pieces of time means is, I need to just jump right in and start going. That is a state I can attain when I am obsessed by a story but struggle with when I am getting into a story. If I am not obsessed I tend to waste a lot of time re-orienting myself by reading what I wrote before to try and pick up the mood and narrative thread.

That said, the only way I can realistically write right now is on my iPhone. The notepad there is not robust; it is barebones scribbling. But it’s what I have, for two reasons. First, getting a full computer pulled up is only workable when the baby is sleeping in his wrap or after he’s in bed for the night. Using only those moments would waste a lot of time. Second, my laptop is on the verge of death. A while back the power adapter port broke, and I was able to salvage a few more months out of it by duct-taping the adapter into the port. Recently it slipped again, and I was unable to get it taped stably back in place. My husband has a laptop I could use, but it lacks my files and, again, is only usable in narrow circumstances.

So not only am I writing on my phone, which reduces typing speed, I am also having to write blind, because I don’t have the work-in-progress files. I’ve got enough battery left on the laptop to retrieve them to my external harddrive, but I don’t have them yet. It’s hard for me not to be able to reference exactly what I wrote before, but I’m trying to use it as a means to force myself forward. NaNoWriMo style. I can synthesize and revise later…I’m going to have to write over a lot of it anyway, as all I can bring myself to do on the phone is scene sketching without serious grounding details.

Part of that is just trying to keep up with my thoughts at a third of the speed I normally have to type with, but most of it is the visual layout being unfamiliar and unsettling. I can tell in a glance at a Word doc whether a scene is long enough…I have no frame of reference on that tiny little screen. You’d think I would, after reading so many Kindle books on it, but…I don’t.

I am trying to convince myself that shaking it up is a good thing, not just making the best of a bad situation, but it’s hard. I like my routines, even if they don’t work. Why? Because they are comfortable, and I am an Epicurean at heart. I am trying to channel Inara. If only I had her wardrobe….

opportunity in disguise

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The Night Before NaNo

Why is the night before NaNoWriMo always Halloween? This creates a bitter dilemma for someone like me, who does not write well late at night, loves Halloween, and has a day job. My annual choice is to give up celebrating my favorite holiday or give up November 1st as a writing day, since if I go out the night before I will, inevitably, not be able to wake up early enough that morning to write before work.

At least this year my body solved the conundrum for me: I was fully intending to enjoy at least the early shift of my city’s downtown street party, but by 6:30 I was crashing despite my optimism about the night during my commute home. All I wanted was a warm bath and an early bedtime. I no longer wanted to go out, and at my age I have stopped forcing things I am not in the mood for.

So I decided to look at this as an opportunity rather than a disappointment. I took my bath (with aromatherapy!) and cleaned the house just enough that I won’t be distracted by the mess tomorrow, ate a healthy dinner, and winding down my day with a bit of TV before I hit the mattress at 9 p.m. Eight hours from 9:30 (since I seem to be moving out of the 10-hours-a-night phase) is 0530. Two full, glorious, blissful hours to write before I have to put pants on and drive to the office.

In celebration of my maturity I made myself a poster. Happy All NaNo’s Eve!

secrets of a successful nano

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NaNo 2013 Prep

I have decided I definitely want to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. Definitely going with the new story, because the other stories going just don’t excite me.

I am hoping that my mental acuity continues to return this week, as it has seemed to be doing for the past fortnight, such that by Friday (at which point I am officially in trimester 2, at week 14) I have my brain and energy mostly back. I feel I should…I am getting bored with sleeping for more than 8 hours at a time, even when I think I need it.

Prep work this year mostly involves me consciously not bothering to write (fiction) until November.

It also involves me hopefully slapping together half my Ren Faire costume this week (which obviously cannot involve a corset this year and so must go in a direction entirely different from anything else in my wardrobe), as well as finishing the spencer jacket I started forever ago that I need for my cover photo shoot, so I don’t have much sewing to distract me in the coming weeks.

It probably should involve me coming up with a better sense of the big story, and I have been contemplating the actual plot (as opposed to the opulent set-up), but to be honest I just don’t know what happens yet. I am getting some inkling but no big moments to start threading together, no definite decisions from any of the characters. I don’t know what my conflagration is yet.

Mostly, at this point, I am pysching myself up to the challenge. I can do this, I will do this, I will enjoy doing this. My mind will be my own again, my body will be compliant, and I will be so obsessed with what I’m writing that I will WANT to keep working on it above all things. It doesn’t matter that I have to start working more hours at my job again because I can’t afford 38 hour weeks anymore; it doesn’t matter that I get exactly 1 day off at Thanksgiving or that my mother in law will be here that last weekend; it doesn’t matter that I lose one weekend to my husband being off and another to the annual Ren Faire expedition; it doesn’t matter that I also have a book to finish prepping for publication this month; none of that matters because if I am *actually* using my time wisely I can write a book around it. I just have to want to badly enough. I just have to try hard enough. I just have to cunt up and DO it.

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Sometimes Asthma Is Good for Something

Finished my line edits on the Christmas novel, for real this time. Started the last 20 pages at 433, finished at 558. A slower pace than I had been working at, probably because the things that weren’t right needed more pondering than simply adding or removing a comma or finding a more descriptive verb than “said.”

My plans for the day did not involve getting up that early, and certainly not in order to edit. I was actually planning to sleep until 6 and simply get up, get ready for work, and get Friday at the office over with. The universe had other plans. I woke up at 3:48 from a nightmare in which I had tried to plug something into a wall socket, only to have the current run through the cord. I could feel my left hand shaking and managed to drop it. Then I woke up, and my left hand was shaking, and I freaked right the hell out.

My hand was a foot from the nearest socket. I was lying on my side, and it was pinching a nerve somewhere. After I got a drink and lay back down to go back to sleep, I found that I couldn’t. I was anxious. Restless. Something was wrong.

Generally when I get that feeling, it is from an asthma attack. I have almost no other symptoms, and certainly not the obvious ones like coughing or wheezing. I am still breathing; I can’t tell that something is wrong. That’s a little scary, to be honest. It makes me glad for my subconscious monitoring that can send up a warning signal.

This turned out to be a more severe disruption in breathing than I have had for a while. A couple years, perhaps. I gagged and nearly threw up I was coughing so hard, once I took the hit on my inhaler. By the time I stopped coughing and had cleared my lungs enough to breathe normally again, it was 415 and I was wound up with adrenaline and fear. Needless to say, sleep was not going to come quickly, and I saw little point in tossing and turning for 30-45 minutes just to get an hour of sleep, when I was already up, fully awake, and not feeling unrested despite the abbreviated night.

I contemplated writing. There were no words there; no stories. My mind is not in the storytelling place right now.

I considered sewing, but despite my mental acuity, I could tell my fingers were not awake enough for work that requires precise motor skills.

Which left my line editing project – something I was awake enough to do, and a project that would engage me enough to keep me from dwelling on the nightmare or the asthma.

So I got to work. I do understand why I found so few problems with the last pages before; they really were written with a cleaner narrative line than the rest of the story. Probably this is because they were, well, written last. The ending was clear to me when I wrote it so there were fewer false starts or muddled ideas. It was written with the style and tone that had been developed in the previous 45,000 words and my full knowledge of the characters’ personalities and perspectives. I did find enough things I missed before to be glad I went back over it, but it was definitely the smoothest section of the whole book.

And now I am finished with my line editing pass. All that remains is to integrate them into my electronic file and do one last read-through to be sure none of my word shifts created new echoes. You know, “all.”  But the heavy lifting is done.

Now to just finish the companion novelette before October….

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