Writer’s Boot Camp Day 24

I’m actually starting this before work today!  I had to hustle a little more than usual because I have plans tonight as soon as I get off work, and I don’t want to spend an hour writing when I get home, because I also have plans tomorrow.  In fact several plans tomorrow, which means I’m going to have to skip something which I hate doing. I try to go to as many things as possible that the people I care about are doing, but sometimes I just can’t.  Events, birthdays, parties, dinners all that stuff tends to overlap, especially this time of year. I guess it’s a good problem to have.

The topic today is about incremental success, with the title being “you can’t pass go” which makes no sense, because in Monopoly you pass go lots of times, in fact “passing go” would be a good metaphor for incremental success, not against it.   

Other than the title I agree with what she is saying. My goal can’t be something like “Be a great and famous writer”  or “Write the next “Harry Potter” or even “be a moderately successful B list writer, making $30,000 a year”. I guess it shouldn’t even be something like “get published in Asimov’s or on Pseudopod”.  Because maybe I will never get published in my favorite magazines or podcasts, but that doesn’t mean I will not be published someplace. I have been published, I have been paid, I have had success. I am, in fact, a successful writer.  

This is super hard for me to grasp.  I have a horrible time trying to think of myself as an actual writer at all, let alone one that has been successful.  It’s difficult to see the anthologies I’ve been published in as meaningful successes because they were years ago. Written by a person I’m not anymore.  Maybe that Past Kitty was on track to be a writer, but Present Kitty missed that boat? I sometimes think of the last 3 years or so as lost time, that knocked me off track for being successful.  I literally have the thoughts that if I had kept at it a few years ago I would now be a “writer” and that since I didn’t, since I let toxic people take up all my attention for a while, and then had a sort of break down emotionally, and then got super depressed after breaking my leg and then started spending all my time working, that now I’ve “missed my chance”.  How does that even makes sense?

I don’t reasonable think there was one magical special point when I could have been a success and that I’ve somehow missed it.  That’s stupid. Yes, I’ve changed. I’ve had new experiences, new pains, and joys, but those things are story fuel! If anything present me has more potential than past me did.  

So what’s up with the lies we tell ourselves?  Why say “it’s too late” or “you missed your chance” or “you’ll never be good enough”?  Where do these thoughts come from? This project has brought a lot of those to the forefront of my brain.  I have found myself thinking “you shouldn’t be wasting your time with this, you should be working more, making more money.  You should clean or exercise, do something useful!” What makes me think this isn’t useful? I read. I think short stories and books are awesome!  I love them, and my world is a better place because of them. The writing of others adds value to my life on a daily basis. So, why should I think my writing is a waste of time? I’m not the best at writing, but I’m as good as many who get published.  And this is a skill where you progress with time and practice.

I did have a great moment yesterday.  I was reading “The Fifth Season” by N. K. Jemisin (Amazon) last night, the story is really interesting and I was finding it fast and comfortable to read. So I stopped and second and thought about why, and I realized her writing style is very similar to mine, conversational.  She uses a lot of commas, she sometimes appears to be talking to the reader, sometimes she changes perspective, even putting the reader into the story going so far as to tell you that you are one of the characters. Her writing is natural and easy to read. I haven’t checked the internet yet, but I guarantee there are people talking shit about her writing style not being technically correct or fancy or some shit.  

But you know what? I bet the people criticizing her haven’t won the Hugo or Nebula awards… just sayin’.  

I can’t recommend the book yet, since I’m only about 50 pages in, but I can recommend the style.  When I finish it I’ll try to do a book review. I need to do more of those. Also, read more books.  And invent a time machine. And be rich.

Today, I’m going to be editing some poems.  Once edited I’m going to try to find someone who wants to read them, makes some changes if necessary and then submit them.   Probably submitting tomorrow morning. Hopefully not on Sunday which is the actual deadline, but that does sound a lot like something I would do.  Reminder to self, you don’t have to wait until the day of a deadline to submit something, it’s the last day, not the only day.

I finished the first edit of one of the poems and sent it off to be read by a few people.  I really like this one, and I feel like it has a pretty good chance of being published. I’m going to go ahead and post this but I might do some more writing later.  

Total writing time so far today is 1 hour 26 minutes.  

Writer’s Boot Camp day 23

I’m starting on this during my lunch break again. I had hoped to put in a half hour before work, but I didn’t manage to get up early enough or be efficient enough for that.   I should be able to get a good solid 15 or 20 minutes during lunch, and I don’t have any plans tonight.

Today’s theme in the books is how we have a tendency to come up with a bunch of super important tasks as soon as we sit down to write, and why that might be.  The author says that “you really do want to write, but it’s also hard and difficult and scary and opens up all kinds of scars and anxieties that your rational mind doesn’t want to have to deal with”

Yes, that.  Exactly that.   I have a whole bunch of things that I have walls, moats, alligators and armed guards around.  And I can say with some level of certainty that I am one of the more self-aware people I know because at least I’m not lying about what’s behind those defenses.  I know on the other side of that wall is child abuse, bullying, fear of poverty, body hate, sexual assault, betrayal, violence, fear, extremely low opinions about myself, horrible theories about my tendency towards being abused and abandoned, and so on.   I have some really scary shit going on in there. I have gone to therapy, I journal, I read self-help books, and honestly, I have dealt with all of this on a conscious level about as much as I’m able/willing to do. Most of these things happened in the long past, and the ones that are more recent I don’t want to explore or confront the people involved.  I have decided for my own emotional safety to do something, anything to distract myself when these thoughts come up.

Writing brings them up.  Almost without fail my characters will experience the same horrible things I have.  I don’t think I could write a wealthy, attractive, popular character who was loved and nurtured by her parents.  If I did it would come across as fake or hallow, hmmm much like those sorts of people do…

As a writer you have to write the truth, as you know it into each story, each plot, each character.  Not every main character is exactly me, but they all have parts of me. There is a reason so many fictional characters are writers because they are written by writers. You write what you know.

 

When I’m writing more, I tend to feel more.  I tend to think about my fears more. When I write my emotions get turned up.  This last month I have been crying more, angry at myself more, afraid more, scared more. I know that comes out in my blog posts.  They have become almost a self-therapy journal in some places. I think this is why drug and alcohol addiction is so common in writers,  you need something to turn down the feelings. The average person spends a lot of time everyday distracting themselves from feeling, a writer has to sort of jump into it and wallow.  It’s not healthy. Or maybe it is, I don’t know.

However, not all of the anxiety and associated stalling is avoidance of emotions. I have definitely let some things slide, especially this week.  Some of the important things I think about needed to do before I write are actually things I probably should do. 

The book wants me to make a master to-do list and a to-do list for today, but I have already done that!  I do that every day, so yay! I’m ahead on something!

She wants us to put a little effort today into getting some of the other things done off of our list.  

A few things I need to work on are:

-Get back to working on the KonMari tidies, Dresses are next on my list

– Clean the kitchen

-Watch a video of Jim Butcher talking about writing process

-Finish laundry

-Go to the gym

 

I’m going to work something on this list for 30 minutes directly after work before I get back to writing.  I will be giving myself an upper limit on writing time tonight and a reward if I do it. I want to write a total of 2 hours, and once I do I will spend the rest of the evening doing fun things, any fun things I want, like TV, reading or coloring.  

******

Kitchen Before

I cleaned the kitchen and did some laundry for a little over 30 minutes. It’s not perfect, but as you can see it’s a damn sight better than it was.  I also made a decent dinner, listened to a podcast while I ate and washed the dinner dishes. Having a less disgusting kitchen makes me feel way better than I did before.  I hate feeling like I live in filth. I’m ok with a little bit of a mess, but dirty dishes, unwashed laundry, unscooped litter boxes, and things like that really stress me out.  

Kitchen After

Now in a slightly lower stress space, I’m going to write.  Working on poetry with the hope of being able to submit something tomorrow.

*****

I finished the first draft of a poem about two of my favorite things, Death and cats.  I think this one has real promise. I look forward to reading and editing it tomorrow.

Total writing time 2 hours 8 minutes

 

Writer’s Boot Camp day 22

I bet you were starting to worry, thinking “I don’t know if Kitty is going to do it today, it’s almost midnight!”  First of all, my hard time limit would probably be dawn, because the day changing over at night has always seemed awkward to me.  A new day happens when the sun comes up. When the street lamps gutter another night is over!

Regardless I will be done before midnight anyway.  

I start this during my lunch break from work.  Going back to work this week while also doing physical therapy has made this damn near impossible.  I was an hour late for work today, because of PT this morning, which means I should stay late tonight. But I’m not going to.  I don’t have any more appointments this week, so that is good I guess.  I hate having to cut back on PT in order to manage working, but I guess life is about choices and I can’t risk losing my job right now.

I have something I want to do tonight. A few friends of mine is moving out of town and I want to go say “bye” to them.  I will need to leave my house as soon as I get off work, do that and then come back and do some more writing before bed probably.  

Today’s topic in the book is “are we having fun yet?”

Sometimes I have fun writing, sometimes I don’t.  Often it has less to do with the writing itself than it does with worrying about the things I am not doing while I write, or with the self-esteem issues of feeling like no one is ever going to read it.  Sometimes things like writer’s block or stress over a deadline, or even worse a rejection can make writing not fun. But I disagree with something the author says on page 146 “I know some people say that it’s always grueling and it’s more about getting to the finish line and having written but I don’t tend to agree with that.  Who would say that about any other pursuit or job choice? You have to enjoy the process too”

I will admit I haven’t looked into the life of the author much, but that sounds like it is coming from a place of privilege.  I think pretty much everyone says that about pretty much all jobs. Do you think I “enjoy” my other jobs? Do I get a great sense of joy or purpose from doing phone tech support or leading teams of people to do phone tech support, or listening to calls of people talking to phone sales and grading them?  No, no I don’t. I enjoy job 2 (phone sex) sometimes, much like I enjoy writing sometimes. I’m happy when I have a good caller, and I get to do lots of storytelling and be creative. But with both jobs 1 and 2, I can’t just walk away when I stop enjoying the process. I can’t just hang up on a caller because I’m bored, I can’t just look at either of my other jobs and say “well, that’s not working for me emotionally, so I think I’ll do something else”  and run into a field full of flowers.

I would love to have the money to quit job 1, only do job 2 when I feel like it and focus on writing. But I don’t live in that world.  I have to pay bills.  Almost all jobs require you to do things you don’t want to do.

It would take years of hard work to get to a place where I could make enough money to live as a writer. Writing is difficult, it takes lots of time to get good at it.  There are skills  to learn, books I need to read and podcasts I have to listen to.  I have to do more networking, and more submitting. I have to pay money out of my own pocket for editing. I keep working on this because I like writing and I like the future me I see as a writer.  I like that dream. I’m not ready to give up on the dream and just do corporate business world jobs. Maybe someday I’ll give up on this, go back to my accounting career path. I could be making way, way more money as an account than I do with my current job, but I like the freedom of a low responsibility work from home job.  I like that I can still work on my dream in the time I would have been commuting, drinking after work with co-workers and dealing with clients.

There aren’t any specific exercises to do today, so I guess I’ll work on those poems more.

I started another poem during lunch and worked on it during my 15-minute break too. I think this one is going to probably be the best.  I wish I could post part of it here, but since it’s for a submission I can’t.

Once lunch break was over I did more day job stuff for several more hours. The moment work was over I changed clothes and jumped in the car so I could attend to a “going away” party.  

A super awesome person I know is moving from Atlanta to the west coast to go to school and I needed to tell her “bye” before she leaves tomorrow.  I was feeling a little guilty about going out and having fun when I should be writing or cleaning or working on important busy work things. However, I had a talk with myself about what the real meaning of life is. The ultimate goal is to be happy and seeing my friends makes me happy.  However coming home I did notice that my house smells a little off, so I think one of the other meanings of life is to clean my damn nasty kitchen tomorrow.

Total writing time today was 1 hour 27 minutes.  Tomorrow I will try to do more, like at least 2 hours to make up for the short writing days recently.

 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 21

It’s 9:30 pm and I’m just getting started. If this trend of working later and later continues I am going to fail this challenge in a few days.    I worked my day job until 8, then did some dishes, litter boxes, vacuumed and trash. I’m not going to lie, I also hung out with Paul for a few minutes and played a stupid video game for about 15 minutes.  I feel a little guilty about the video game.

I really don’t think I’m ever going to be good at time management.  I have the same number of hours everyone else does, and yet I get so much less done.  I try to be disciplined but I always end up wondering where the time went. Oh well.

The theme today is delayed gratification, a reminder that writing is a long game. A single short story can take a few weeks from start to finish,  a novel takes months or years. Most things I write will be read by 4 or 5 people tops and not for a while after I write it. Someday if I keep working at it a few more might read my work.  A reply from a publisher about a submission can take 4 or 5 months, which is its own hell. Nothing happens fast in writing. This is hard for me, because I’m sort of a task endorphin junkie. I keep my little lists and check things off all day because it feels good to do the things.  I get one check mark for writing if I work 30 minutes or if I work 3 hours, so there isn’t a whole bunch of reward for more writing at least not right away. But at only 30 minutes a day, each project takes so much longer, slowing down the reward even more.

The author suggests making a list of rewards.  Small rewards for writing 3 hours without checking email or social media.  3 hours! That is a lot for me, I tend to manage about an hour at a time before I get distracted.  Possible rewards are a 15-minute walk, an iced coffee, watching a t.v show, coloring or a cookie. Those are not 3-hour rewards.  How about we split the difference and say 2 hours?

2-hour rewards

  • Going to a coffee shop or bar to get a drink with a friend.  Or dinner.
  • Watching an episode of a TV show I like
  • Going a craft store or something similar
  • Knitting for 30 minutes
  • Buying myself a small present online ($30 or less)
  • Go to a movie

If any of my local friends are reading this feel free to bribe me with a coffee, bar or dinner date. You don’t even have to pay, just text me and be like “hey, write for 2 hours straight and then we will hang out, and I’ll tell you that you are smart, talent and amazing”.  It will totally work.  I didn’t go to karoke tonight because I needed to write. 🙁

There are also big rewards for meeting your daily goals for 2 weeks.  I’ve met my daily goal for over two weeks! I deserve a prize! Her 2-week rewards are not in reasonable scope with each other or with the smaller rewards.  I feel like the 2-week rewards should be 10 times as awesome as the smaller rewards. She has stuff like buy a new journal or go to a movie. Go to a movie makes sense on the first list, I’m going to add that up there now.  

2-week rewards

  • A day at the beach
  • A day out of town vacationing any place
  • A fancy dinner at a favorite restaurant
  • Shopping for a  new outfit really nice outfit
  • Ordering one of those monthly present boxes for myself (I had a yarn box and sticker box as gifts and that was neat, I’ve been wanting to do one of these, but I should probably wait until after I move)
  • A whole day off,  to binge watch tv and eat perogies

The author has the theory that we get caught in a cycle where we don’t have the energy to start writing. That we do something easier like play with our phones or watch TV and that wastes time and then we are too tired to work.   I would change “energy” to something else because I don’t think it is completely about if you are tired or not. I think it is something more, like “mana” or “will” or “chi” but not any of those either, because they all sound a little silly. Maybe “passion” or “drive”, or even “confidence”?  I don’t know, but it’s bigger than energy because you get that back by eating a healthy dinner, drinking enough water and getting a good night’s sleep. But the thing that I lack that keeps me doing pointless time wasting shit is more than that, its a mix of sadness, apathy, self-destruction, shame and a lot of other stuff.

This morning I wasted time doing stupid shit or doing the important things I should do but too slowly.  I did 15 minutes of exercise, ate breakfast, drank water, took morning meds, checked my planner, made a doctor’s appointment, put in a load of laundry, researched who I should vote for today and took a shower.   That should have taken maybe 1.5 hours. It took 3. Somehow in there, I wasted 1.5 hours. If I wasn’t currently doing this challenge and committed to finishing I would not be writing now. That missing 1.5 hours would have been enough to beat down my self-esteem into not doing any writing tonight.  In fact, it almost was, I feel so behind on everything that I really wanted to keep cleaning tonight and get a little caught up with that, but then I really would have been physically tired and probably gone to bed feeling like a big failure.

The author of the book thinks a few days of making ourselves write will break this cycle and we can keep going, the more you do it the easier it gets.  A week ago I would have agreed. Today, no. I don’t feel like this has gotten any easier to make myself do,  I’m not that proud of myself and I still feel a bit silly. I don’t think this has energized me…but who knows?

The exercise for today is to look back at some of my free writing from the last few weeks and see if anything jumps out.  I haven’t done a lot in my actual “free writing” doc, but I’ll give it a look.

There was a sentence there that might be a useful starting point for a science-based poem about suffocation.  And I had an idea to write down on the idea page.

I also had the idea to take a book, magazine or collection of short stories up to my room to read in the mornings instead of my phone.

I worked a poem about time travel for a few minutes.   It’s 11 PM now, I have to go to bed because I have PT in the morning.

Total writing time today 1 hour 19 minutes.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 20

The theme today is to not seek chaos, which is great advice and something I have been working on for a while now. The author specifically meant people who bring chaos into your life, who waste your time and emotional energy.  I don’t have many chaotic people in my life anymore, because I need all my time and emotional energy, I don’t have very much to give away.

Today was full of chaos, an early PT appointment, starting a new position at work.  The logistics of doing work and PT was difficult, add into that internet issues.  All of these things were unavoidable.

I have to go to physical therapy if I’m ever going to walk without a cane,  which is my top priority right now. I want to walk normally if possible. I would love to maybe, just maybe be able to dance or even run again.  I had to stop going to PT for a few months because I couldn’t afford it (insurance would only pay for so many sessions) and then when the new year started I was in the busy part of tax season.  I did as much as I could at home and made some progress, but a few months ago I stopped getting better. PT is a must, even if it causes some issues at work.

My second priority is work and making money. I used almost all of my saved personal time off during the gap between assignments so that I could still get paid.  I can’t afford to miss much time. I will miss an hour on Wednesday for PT, and at least a few hours next week. I still have my side job and I hope to maybe sell a few stories in the coming months.  All of that could add up to enough money to pay my bills. 

I got off work at 8pm tonight,  made dinner and watch on an episode of “Altered Carbon”, meaning I didn’t start on this until around 9pm.   

I’m supposed to look at my life and see where I can get rid of some chaos.  Today the biggest source of avoidable chaos was Facebook. I woke up at 7 am, which was over an hour before my alarm.  I could have used the extra hour to start on the writing, work on my side job, clean, exercise, meditate, read, garden.  Instead, I literally stared at my cellular communication box for over an hour. I worried about shit I can’t change, felt indigent for people who I hardly know, was interested in things that have nothing to do with me.   I read and liked posts from people who are not actively part of my life, who don’t read my posts, who probably don’t actually like me. I get upset about that at least a few times a month. That is chaos I could do without.    If there is one thing I have certainly learned in the last few years it is that no amount of attention or caring can actually make someone interested in you. You can’t buy love with love. Love is something you have to be ok with giving away.   Nothing you do, nothing you say, no amount of emotional energy you give other people will assure that they will love you. It doesn’t work that way.

It is fact that love and caretaking don’t have a great return on investment.  People who I took super good care of when they needed me were not around nearly as much as they should have been when I was hurt and needed them.  But a few people I hardly knew helped out and were amazing. You just never know. I guess my rule should be don’t give anyone, ANYONE, time that I’m not willing to lose.   My health comes first, then my cats, then my job and my money (don’t give anyone money you need either) and then my writing. Everyone else can have my attention when I have time, or if they want to offer to do something with me/for me that is acceptable too.  If you want to buy me dinner or help me with a project I’m more likely to be available. If you want my help, sorry, not anytime soon.

I have unfriended a lot of the worst people in my life, dumpster fire drama queens and kings who are always in the middle of an emergency.  Or people who are super passionate about something as an excuse to argue. I don’t have time to argue philosophy with anyone. There are certainly a few more people I could cut out, and plenty who I am very carefully only being “acquaintances” with.  

I would like make some grand vow to not get on Facebook, but I know my limits and right now that isn’t going to happen.   I am very, very lonely when I wake up in the morning. Going to Facebook gives me the illusion that I’m not alone. I don’t know if I could get out of bed if I didn’t have that.  I have to pretend that I’m connected to a large “community”. This isn’t to say I don’t have friends, I do, I would say probably significantly more close relationships than the average person my age.  I am booked most weekends pretty much start to finish. It’s just the first 2 hours of the day when I don’t have a spend the night friend when I feel alone. I’m a mammal, I have to accept the limitations that come with that even when I don’t want to.  

That was a lot of time spent talking about sources of chaos.   Almost 50 minutes! We will call that freewriting and journaling. 

Now I have to work on poetry because there are only a few days until that is due.  

Total time writing tonight is 1 hour 49 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 19

I’m just getting started at 9:20 pm.   I was out shopping and spending time with friends, and then the handle on my front door broke and I had to fix that.  I just finished getting everything set up for starting work tomorrow, which is all super confusing.   I told them I had doctor’s appointment’s and asked if I could start on Tuesday, but no one replied.   I am taking a 2$ an hour pay cut and I don’t actually have any idea at all what my new position entails.  My writing is going to suffer because of going back to work.  I know in a day or two I’ll be happy to be working again,  but right now it feels like one more thing in the way of me ever doing something important. I guess it’s just end of vacation crankiness along with the illusion that anything anyone does is actually important.   

Here is a picture of a cute cupcake I made for my friend last night, for his birthday.  

I’m not feeling at all inspired to write tonight.  My tummy hurts and I feel sad. Not sad about any specific thing, just sad.  Sad to be going back to work, sad that I feel stressed and busy, sad that I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow that I might get in trouble for going to,  sad that my diet isn’t going great. I’m prone to feeling sad, especially after spending a lot of time being social. This weekend has been a whole lot of face time with a whole lot of people.  

It’s odd.  I’m fucking delightful.  Everyone says so, They say I’m funny, smart and nice. I’m often told that I’m entertaining to be around, a “people person” or the “life of the party”. But I’m not. I might look like a super fun cute, awesome person, but keeping that up as many hours as I did this weekend has a cost. I’m emotionally exhausted right now. I have so much fun with people at the moment, but afterwards, I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.  It’s like I burn out all my joy and leave myself empty and charred.

Which conveniently leads into the topic of today’s advice, “join your comrades”.   It’s all about the benefit of working with other people on projects or just having a support who are doing something similar to myself.  I’m supposed to join a writer’s group on meetup or maybe sign up for some workshops. I’m going to post on facebook and see if any of my friends want to get together for a weekly or even monthly writer’s event.  

A community is very helpful to stay motivated and accountable.  We are social animals regardless of how much my brain chemicals and tummy disagree with that right now.   I need a pack, a tribe. When I have worked with other writers in the past I’ve done better work in less time than I do when working alone.   For me, it’s about not wanting to disappoint anyone or hold back other people by being lazy. 

Having something like that again could be helpful to my work ethic and help me be a better writer.  I could learn from others who are more experienced or who have done things I haven’t.  Maybe if I join a writing group I could learn more about getting an agent, or writing successful queries. I could learn better networking skills and get tips on good books to read or workshops to go to.

I’m going to try to work on speculative poetry, but I feel like the only poem that I could write currently would be something like

Beige

Bland, so bland.  

almond, eggshell, off-white, linen

76 degrees

Toast is meant to stand alone, fuck your avocado hipster bullshit

cream, ivory, oatmeal, taupe

easy listening

the only thing you should hear is Yanni

Bone, cotton, alabaster, porcelain

Unsweet iced tea please,

Thank you

 

Hey, that was decent poetry.  Boring, yet topical.

I finished the first draft of a poem, “Calling Ahead” for submission later this week.  Posted on Facebook about starting a writer’s meetup.  

Total writing time today is 1 hour and 27 minutes 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 18

It’s Saturday,  and I don’t want to do this.  Like, not even a little.

So far today I have dropped stuff off at the storage building,  gone to the arts/crafts store and the grocery store. I’ve made 60 cupcakes in 3 types (one type gluten free) and made two types of buttercream frosting.  I have a super soft birthday party to be to in 2 hours, and I need to shower and get dressed. I am annoyed about doing this.

So very, very annoyed.

But, I’m doing it.  I guess.

Today the book talks about getting good at doing the small stuff.  In specific things like checking markets, using a submission tracker makes sure you type up your handwritten notes and keeping good notes and to-do lists.   I actually do ok at most of this, I don’t do the searching markets as often as I should, but when I do it’s well organized.  

I learned years ago that the time spent keeping a planner, keeping lists and notes is way less than the time you waste trying to figure out what the fuck you are supposed to be doing.   

Speaking of what I’m doing,  I just found out yesterday that my new job starts on Monday,  That is going to make doing this pretty damn hard. Oh well, I guess I’ll figure it out.  I need the money so I’ll make it work.

I’ll try to work on the poetry some more, but I’m not feeling much in a poetry mood.   

I got a little more done on one of the poems I’m working on.  I think I’ll have one of them finished tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have at least 2 before the 27th to submit.  

Totally writing time today is 42 minutes,  that is sort of sad.  

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 17

Today’s advice was to not beat myself up about having bad days, just to try to do better next time.  That’s good advice, but hard. My default state is to feel like I’m failing at pretty much everything and to always belittle my own accomplishments.  Which sometimes makes me feel like if nothing I do is ever good enough then why do anything. Which of course leads to me not doing anything, and giving up on goals.  

So far I’ve kept with this one, doing something every day, and yet, every day I feel like I’m failing.  It doesn’t even make sense! Yesterday my timer said I worked 2 hours but I didn’t “write” anything other than the blog post.  This made me feel like I hadn’t really done the challenge.  I was spending time finding markets. Which is actually important and harder.  This morning my brain is saying “well, that was wasted time, it’s not like you are going to submit anything, and if you do it’s not like anyone will ever buy it”.  My brain is very mean to me. It speaks in the voices of all the people who have abused, criticized and rejected me. I have honestly had a pretty shitty life in some way, lots of shitty people in my life. I try not to think about it.  I’m getting off topic. We can call that “free writing”. 🙂

Since I don’t have any exercises in the book today I’m going focus on the calls and work in 30-minute chunks today,  as many as I can manage, which might be one.

First order of business was to put all the writing calls I found yesterday in order by day, pick the one with the soonest deadline and get started.  

The first one is to write up to 4 pieces of speculative poetry, the deadline is May 27th.   I started a poem about aliens a few days ago, maybe it will be useful for this project.  

I worked on the first alien poem for a little while, but then I had a better idea and worked on that.  He is a trippy image as a clue!

Total writing time today is 2 hours and 2 minutes 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 16

Today is all about figuring out my weak spots as a writer.  

The timeline given has 7 sections to think about:   

  1. Ideas- I’m pretty darn good at this.  I’m imaginative and creative.
  2. Rough Draft- no problems here generally,  sometimes I’m lazy or spend too much time in research, but the storytelling part is easy and comes naturally for me.  I like making shit up.
  3. First review- I enjoy the first reading of my work, while it’s still new.  I like making little changes, moving things around, tinkering with the characters.  This part sometimes makes me feel a little sad because I think “wow, you write like a little kid” but other times I love reading my own work.  I feel proud the first time I read through and edit a short story. Novels are different, I apparently refuse to read my novel, and the rough draft has been done 4 years!
  4. Second/Third/Fourth drafts –  I start getting a little bored, but I can do it.  I might have to take a day or two off from a project and work on something else, but I got this.  
  5. Proofreading and polishing – here things start to fall apart.   I don’t feel like I have the skill sets and tools to even try proofreading my own work.  Many of my projects dead stop right here.
  6. Sending out work – I have 12 “finished” but unpublished stories,  I have 18 “works in progress”. I have 0 places I plan to send them.  0, nada, none, zilch. I have a page on which to write deadlines, but it is blank.  I have a list of markets I should look into, but I never get around to it. I do have one piece that is scheduled for publication in September, so I do sometimes submit, but not often.  
  7. Dealing with rejection and resubmitting – Yeah, not so much.  I just cry.

That’s pretty clear.  I don’t find places to submit, so I never have to finish proofreading and then submit.  I don’t like rejection so I avoid it. Clearly, this is where I need to be focusing my attention.  It seems a little counterintuitive, but maybe for the next little while I should stop writing for this Writer’s Boot Camp and start spending the time searching markets.  That thought makes me feel a little sick.

Looking for calls and markets takes so much time, and so much reading and effort.  And once I find a place I almost always want to start a new story. I never feel like any of the ones I already have done will work.  This could be a stalling technique.

I guess I need to start adding “look for markets/submitting” to my daily tasks.  This seriously might be where I give up on this whole thing. This doesn’t sound fun at all anymore.

I’ve only been working on this half an hour and I feel emotionally drained, about to cry just thinking about it.  I’m going to feed the cats, take a break and then come back to this and start looking for story calls. Ick.

I found 12 possible magazines and anthologies to submit to in the next few months and put all the info in a spreadsheet.  

Aside from this blog post, I haven’t done any actual writing today and I’m not going to.  I just spend 1.5 hours reading calls and submission guidelines, that is enough for one day.  

Tomorrow I will put them in order by deadline date.  Then I’ll find something I already have finished and polish it up to submit or I’ll write something new to submit, but I’m doing these one at a time, trying to complete as many as possible.

Work time today was 2 hours

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 15

It’s almost 4 pm and I’m just now starting on this.  It’s all because of physical therapy. Anything that changes my routine can really throw me off.  I got up early, drove in Atlanta “oh God!  Water is falling out of the sky! What do we do?!?” traffic, and then did an hour of hard exercises.  Then drove home. I got home at 12:30 pm and I should have gotten to work then, but I changed clothes, did some of my morning tasks and took a nap.  Sorry! I didn’t mean to, but I guess I was really tired.

I was dreaming, that I was showing Dean from Supernatural a thing I had made, a health monitoring suit.  And he was telling me how we had to stop Dio (“Holy Diver” Dio) from getting enough red gold to build a throne for Satan. I was going to help him, but first, we were going to eat  Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

Anyway, I’m awake now and ready to work.  

The book doesn’t have any exercise today,  it’s just about making sure you have enough snacks.  I normally work at home so that generally isn’t a problem.  But I’ll remember this sage advice for any time I’m out in the world.  

I guess I need to just write now.  Maybe do a few of those “obstacles” from yesterday?  I’m not that far into the new story I started, the mystery and it is really hard for me.  The main character isn’t someone I can identify with, we have very little in common which makes him very hard to write.  Also, mystery, or at least this sort of real-world rules crime story is hard, because I’m not a cop or a lawyer. I’m having to stop and research things all the time.  The worst part is that it’s set in the 1960s, so info is hard to get.

Today, I want to give up.  I honestly don’t know why I’m doing this.  I feel sort of silly working this hard, because I have very little to show for it so far and because I’m feeling like I suck.  Like I’m never going to be a very good writer no matter what I do, because of a learning disability I have. Unless I can pay someone to do tons of editing to fix the fucked up ways I write, and I don’t have much money. I’m feeling sort of isolated. Maybe I need to make friends with more writer’s. Or maybe I just need more friends.

I guess we can count that last paragraph as 5 minutes of writing down hurdles.  The fact that I am very smart, well read and creative, but have the sentence structure and punctuation of a 3rd grader is certainly a ‘hurdle”. Or the sentence structure of Hemingway, depending on how you look at it.  That bro was all about the run on sentences and weird punctuation.

I’m going to pull out one of the cards and do whatever it says now.  

60 minutes – I started a short story using a list of words on the card,  Working title “Curse at the Opera”

After that, I took about a 2-hour break.  I’m just not an awesome motivated person today.  But I’m back.

5 minutes of free writing

10 minutes putting some notes and to-dos in my writing notebook, mostly from a podcast I listened to earlier and updating my worklog.  

20 more minutes on “Curse at the Opera”

10 minutes editing “Eat the Rich”

Total writing time 2 hours 55 minutes