Moving as a metaphor for birth

Now that I’ve emoted about what I’m leaving behind, it’s time to think about what I am going towards and what I’m taking with me.

I have loved my home so much that I was super sad when I realized that leaving this house was my only option.  I couldn’t stay in Stone Mountain, it was too close to a few bad memories and I wanted a bit of a fresh start, but I wanted to stay near.  I tried to find places in Decatur and Tucker, but there were just too expensive.

I finally found a nice place that meets my needs (1 story, can have 5 cats, cute as god damn button and nice yard)  in Marietta, but I was feeling a little worried. Marietta is so far away from all my favorite places! I have friends up there, but some of them I’m not very connected to anymore.  What if there isn’t anything fun to do? What if it’s super boring? What if there aren’t any good restaurants? What if my neighbors are mean? As I was working myself into a tizzy of dread I remembered a parable I’m very fond of:  

“A traveler came upon an old farmer hoeing in his field beside the road. Eager to rest his feet, the wanderer hailed the countryman, who seemed happy enough to straighten his back and talk for a moment.

“What sort of people live in the next town?” asked the stranger.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer, answering the question with another question.

“They were a bad lot. Troublemakers all, and lazy too. The most selfish people in the world, and not one of them to be trusted. I’m happy to be leaving the scoundrels.”

“Is that so?” replied the old farmer. “Well, I’m afraid that you’ll find the same sort in the next town.

Disappointed, the traveler trudged on his way, and the farmer returned to his work.

Sometime later another stranger, coming from the same direction, hailed the farmer, and they stopped to talk. “What sort of people live in the next town?” he asked.

“What were the people like where you’ve come from?” replied the farmer once again.

“They were the best people in the world. Hard working, honest, and friendly. I’m sorry to be leaving them.”

“Fear not,” said the farmer. “You’ll find the same sort in the next town.””

I think the moral of this story is that you have whatever you take with you.  

This makes me think of someone I know who moved recently.  This woman moves a lot, every 5 years or so. She comes to a place with the hope that it will be better than the last place, but it never is.  At first, she is excited and tries to make friends and get involved in local culture. She does make friends, she has parties, she has fun. But pretty soon that changes.  She starts fighting with her new friends who are all “crazy”, “manipulative” “passive-aggressive” and “dramatic”. She begins to end friendships with the toxic people. She starts becoming worried that the toxic people are poisoning her other relationships and starts to feel paranoid that people are talking about her, plotting against her.   Soon, a few years into moving she starts being afraid to go to cultural events because she might see some of those ex-friends who are plotting against her. She stops going out, she stops having fun. After that, she begins to fantasize about moving. She thinks that will fix the problem, she needs a new place, new friends, new experiences and this time, this new place will be different from the last.  She will finally find a place with sane, kind, honest and reasonable folks. But she never does, because that place doesn’t exist for her.

I think about my time in the Stone Mountain/Decatur area and it’s been good.  I have friends I’ve made here that have been my friends for 10 to 12 years. The place I lived before this was Macon, from which I have friendships that have been going strong for over 20 years!  One of my old LARPing buddies just spent the night with me the week before my move. I talk to several of them weekly or more. Before that, I lived in Perry. I still have a few friends from there,  friendships lasting over 30 years. So, I know in Marietta I will make friends, and that these friendships will be satisfying and long-lasting.

Stone Mountain/Decatur has amazing food.  I just went to a new place, “The White Bull” for my birthday, which was fabulous.  Sadly “Cakes and Ale” just closed, which was amazing. And there is “Iberian Pig” and “Savage Pizza”, “Java Monkey” and “Butter and Cream”,  “Chris’s Pizza” and “Top Spice” over in Toco Hills. “Golden Buddha” and “Nicola’s” near Emory. I’m not even going to list off all the great places in East Atlanta and l5p.   In Macon, I had a favorite Chinese place, and “Mikato” for the best hibachi, there was an awesome Indian place near my college and some great places at the mall. In Perr,y I mostly ate my mother’s cooking, which was literally award winning.  So, I’m pretty sure Marietta will have amazing food.

Yeah, I’m going to a new place and entering a new phase of my life, and that is scary.  But I’m betting it’s probably going to be just as much fun as living in Stone Mountain was.  I’m closer to my massage guy who has been helping me get my injured leg working again. The new house has a mostly flat yard so I can start some limited gardening again.  The house is smaller and in much better condition than my old place. There are already so many things I love about it. The area is great too! I’m less than 2 miles from a Barnes and Noble, Ulta, Target, Lowe’s and Home Depot.   I’m less than 6 miles from whole foods and the mall. I’m a 5 minute or less drive from at least 20 restaurants. The sidewalk in front of my house is new and in great repair, which given that the sidewalk in DeKalb county literally broke my leg this is a big deal,  I can start safely going for walks again!

I’ve already started making this new place my home.  I’ve painted several rooms and since I officially finished my move two days ago I can really start unpacking, decorating and hosting events.   My new house and town are going to be as amazing as my last one, just different. My cats even like it! 

I didn’t want to move,  it was painful and scary,  I cried and screamed entering this new world.  But now I’m looking around my new life and feeling pretty good.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 25

I need to do this before I leave the house today,  but I went outside to look at something and ended up playing with my peach trees,  which are not supposed to look like this by the way. This is what happens when you don’t do the yearly trimming for 2 years in a row.  I wanted to have the writing all done before 10 a.m. so I could shower and go out to an event, but instead, I’m starting at 10 a.m. I might have to work on this in the car on the way.  

Today’s topic is that you don’t have to quiet the voices.  We all have little voices in our heads telling us things and there is very little we can do to stop that.  Because they are not of course voices they are thoughts, and you certainly don’t want to stop thinking right?  I guess most people think about several things at a time. I am normally thinking about 2 things, but sometimes a many as 4 things at a time.  When I am writing it’s important to focus on one of them, but you can’t turn off the other. No matter how exciting the scene I’m writing I still know my leg hurts. No matter how dramatic my character is being I still know that I have to feed the cats,  or that I need to take something out of the freezer to thaw, or that I need to make a phone call before the doctor’s office closes at 5 p.m. Also, no matter how hard I am trying to write something good I still have inner critics, who say things like “ok, so the story is interesting, but you write like an 8-year-old”  or “No one is ever going to want to read this” or “you are worthless, no one wants you, no one wants your work, you should just die”

Today, for example, I need to focus on poetry but my legs have itchy mosquito bites on them. And Ninja keeps climbing around my desk, so I have to pick her up and put her in my lap, but then I have to keep petting her with one hand or she gets back up on my desk.  And I don’t know what to wear to MomoCon today, there is a Steven Universe photoshoot, so I should probably dress as Peridot, but that will add almost an extra hour to getting ready. And I will be in a heavy wig all day, and I’ll get a headache, and I don’t want a headache.  What time should I leave to get home in time to feed the cats, change and go to event #2? Or should I not do event #2? Should I text one of my friends and see if he wants to go too? Should I take anti-anxiety medication today, there will be lots of people there? Should I submit the poems today or do it tomorrow?  Why am I so bad at poetry? Should I not submit them at all? Is submitting anything just stupid, and wastes people’s time? Will I have time to see Deadpool between all the other stuff, because I really want to see Deadpool. Am I going to have any time to pack this weekend, I need to pack and take some stuff to the storage building?  

So, that is the state of my mind.  I wish I had someone to help me or work with on stuff together, like a partner.  It would help with the focus I think, or maybe not, who knows? I’m feeling really unsure about my work, about submitting these poems.  Yesterday I thought the one was really good and today I think it is shit, and I’m embarrassed to even be thinking about submitting it. I wish I had someone who I could talk to about these feelings.  I’m feeling strangely isolated today, and that always makes me feel a little angry.

Any way, the plan for the rest of my writing time, if I don’t just start crying, is to look at the submission guidelines and get the formatting and all that shit correct.  Then I’m going to read the poem out loud to myself and see how I feel about it and make all the edits.  Then work on the other poem if I get time.

I only had time to do the one, but I think it’s well and truly finished now.  I would like to submit two, but at least I know I have one.  I’m nervous to do that tomorrow.  

Total time today is 1 hour and 45 minutes

Writer’s Bootcamp Day 2- Goals

Part 1 – Writing

Today started with writing for 1 hour before going on to the journaling part.  

I spent about the first 5 minutes of that closing browser tabs that had been left open from work.

Then I decided to write the short story I had thought of last night.  I don’t have a publication in mind for this one, no deadline or theme, just entertaining myself and getting into the habit of writing again.  

After 55 minutes or so of writing, I have 1109 words and a respectable beginning to a short story.

writingIt was fun and easier than I remember it being,  I just moved my fingers and words came out. Maybe not great words,  maybe not interesting words to form a story that anyone would want to read, but words.  The time flew by, time always seems to go really fast when I’m writing. I love writing when I’m doing it for the pure pleasure of itself,  I get so much joy for the act of telling stories. When I was a kid it was my escape from my scary life.

But in the working world of an adult, writing isn’t just a fun, cathartic thing I like to do.  Each moment has to be justified because each moment I spend writing is time that I am not doing something else that needs to be done.  Like today I can write because I am off for a few weeks and I can say this 30-day project is a stepping point in the long-term goal of turning this into my job.  There is no way the person I am currently could have just done this because she wanted to, the guilt would have burned away all the joy and creativity. Even as it was several times in the last hour I thought about the “more important” things I could be doing.  The things I have to get back to in just a few minutes after I do the other half of today’s assignment.

Part 2 – Goals

The book says I need goals,  I can’t just flit around writing whatever, whenever for the next 28 days.  I need a focus. I need to name the project and make a folder on my computer.  I need a schedule, a plan so that I can evaluate if I’m being successful or not.

This is where I panic and this boot camp thing seems too hard.  I suck at making and keeping goals like this. Because I never feel like I have picked the right goals,  I feel like someone else needs to give a fuck about what I am doing and validate my choices. But there isn’t anyone.  When I was married I tried to get my husband to be my writing “Dom”, but that wasn’t something he was into. And I am clearly not very good at being my own Dom.  At this point, I really want to give up and just cry. I’m going to walk away for a second, get a drink of water (cry) and come back, hold on.

DonnieOk, I’m back.  Hydrated, dehydrated for like 2 minutes, hugged a cat and played a stupid video game on my phone.

The book (Writer’s Bootcamp by Rachel Federman, I mention that since I’m doing direct quotes)  gives examples of goals I could have.

It can be a time goal like “20 minutes a day’

Or it can be a finishable project like “write a short story or essay”  or “write a poem to read at a workshop”

It can be working on something bigger like “finish a chapter in your novel”

A year ago when I started this my goal was to edit “Lost in Reflection”  that novel I wrote a few years before. To be honest I think that might be why I didn’t get very far last time, well, that and the leg breaking thing.  The thought of editing that book makes me want to never write again, it makes me sick to my stomach, it makes me want to jump out of a window. It’s not the book’s fault, in fact,  for being the first full novel I have ever written it’s not bad. However….

  1.  Editing isn’t fun, it isn’t exciting, it isn’t something I can write much of a blog about.
  1. Work to profit/cost ratio.  I worked about 4 hours a day for around 30 days to write it, so 120 hours.  I have edited and revised some of it already, but editing takes about twice as much time as writing, so add 240 hours.  Then I have to have someone else edit it, get a cover artist and then format it, then publish it (another 20 hours or so).  The last self-published book I wrote made about $70 so far. So if I finish this book, paid an editor the least amount I could, say $200, to give it a once-over,  and got a cover artist for the least possible amount, maybe $50, it will have cost me 380 hours and $180 to publish a book. That would put me in a super bad headspace.

bojackWhen I think about I realize this hobby costs me too much money and time, it’s just not worth it.  When I think of finishing my book, knowing I don’t have an audience interested in reading it I want to give up and do something that is at least free.  I would lose 0$ by watching tv. Doing nothing is more economically sound than being a writer. So, editing my novel isn’t my goal.

Leading us back to the question, what is my goal?  

I could write one blog post every day about what I am doing,  that’s a goal. But it’s sort of a meta-goal, if my project is writing about my project then I can see possible days in which that doesn’t work. I think doing a blog post every day should be part of my goal, but not the goal itself.  

I don’t want this to be a timed goal every day,  because I have a feeling that each of these daily tasks will have its own time to finish,  I don’t want to feel like I’m racing a clock and I also don’t want to be sitting here with a timer running and have nothing to do.  

My instinct is to have a goal with completion built in,  like “write and submit 3 new short stories”, 3 stories in a month is reasonable goal,  but this doesn’t take into account all the extra time that I would spend searching for markets to submit them,  formatting them to guidelines and stuff like that. That stuff needs a totally different challenge. Before I started trying to be a professional writer I had no idea how much time writers spend doing business work instead of writing.  The other problem with this goal is what if I finish and publish 3 stories before the end of the 30 days?dryden

Days like this I really wish I had a manager or something.  I wish I had someone to tell me what to do. I really enjoyed writing for Dryden House because the publisher, Katie would just tell me what she wanted, when she wanted it and then bully me until I did the work. I miss that.

I’m over 2 hours in on this today and I still haven’t done the thing I have set out to do.  

Ok, I’m going with 3 short stories.  They can be brand new like the one I started today or they can be pulled out of my “in process folder”,  but not my “finished- needs publishing folder” as that would be cheating. The business side stuff (searching markets, contacting publishers and networking) counts as working, so if it says “write an hour” I’m going to take that to mean “write or do writing business for an hour”

Goal:

In the next 28 days, I will write and submit for publication 3 short stories and blog something about the process every day.  

Distant

The last few months I have had a case of the slow, or maybe the cuddles.   It is kind of like depression, but without as much sadness.  I haven’t felt motivated to write, garden, or go to social events.  Mostly I want to sleep, watch TV, and knit.

Sock

On the upside, I’ve finished several knitting projects.  On the downside, I am behind on editing my novel, the garden is a mess, and I haven’t been blogging.  That is going to change.  I have a goal to write 100,000 words before my birthday in July and to blog at least once a week.   That will be easier now that my blog looks so amazing thanks to the awesome Issa Waters of http://lovelivegrow.com/.  She is a great blogger who writes about homesteading, parenting, body/fat acceptance and social issues.

This might sound odd, but I think taking Zoloft has been partly to blame.  With my anxiety being lower, everything seems less important.  I don’t feel as stressed about anything, so I don’t have as much reason to push myself.  I got on the Zoloft in order to be able to do more social events and maybe get back into the world of business, but now that I am so much more Zen, I don’t actually care about making people like me or being “seen,” and I am not as worried about money.  There is a balance that must be found between loving the life I have and also wanting to make my life better.  I am a little too content recently.

The last few weeks my motivation has increased enough to write down some long and short term goals, get the house back in working order, and start this year’s gardening.   I also started work on a few writing projects.

In case you are wondering what I have been up to these last six months:

I went to Dragon Con for the first time in about eight years. It was a big deal for me to go to something with so many people and not freak out.  I don’t know exactly how many people there were, but it might have been the biggest crowd I have ever been in.  There were a few scary moments, like being stuck in human traffic jams on the sky bridge.  Overall I had fun and even bought tickets for next year.   Some of the highlights for me were playing dress up, looking at all the great costumes,  hearing several great bands, and seeing some of my favorite writers such as Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest live.  I like to imagine that someday I will be up in front of a crowd talking about my writing.gothNurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my best friends moved in with us, which has been awesome.  We have been having lots of fun mini-adventures when she can tempt me away from the TV.  I used to think that having roommates would be horrible, but now after having several I find that I like it.  When she moves out, I might have to find another one.L and Ninja

She exercises everyday which has gotten me back into the habit.  I love exercise; feeling my heart pumping and my muscles burning.  I like how good exercise makes me feel, but I hate exercise videos because they talk about weight, fat, pounds, etc. all the time. The thin ladies in the videos often chastise the viewer for being lazy or tell us not to have jiggly arms.   Shaun T’s videos have the least fat bashing, so I do those most.  I am seriously thinking about putting together a body positive exercise video for people like me who want to exercise because they like it and don’t want to be shamed in the process.  I find that exercise makes me a little more aware of my body and not always in a good, emotionally healthy way. I don’t need people in the TV adding to my issues.

I took a trip to Baltimore in November to eat crab cakes and be emo.  I did some sightseeing and went to several museums.  I recommend the Ripley’s museum if you ever find yourself there, we danced, played, created, climbed through a tooth pick city, watched teenagers run head first in to mirrors and saw some weird shit.  It was interactive and informative on things I find interesting, like carnies and giant mummified whale penises. Speaking of mummies, the science museum had an awesome mummy exhibit, you should go see that too.

Rick

Whale

Tight rope

 

 

goth 2

 

 

fish

 

 

 

 

 

Attempted NaNoWriMo and failed.  I thought I would do great this time, since I finished last year and had fun doing it. I started out strong, going to the social events, outlining a bit of a plot, even wrote a few pages.  Then I hit a wall because I wanted to be culturally sensitive and I was working in a genre that I normally don’t write in.  I will do better next year.

I read the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson, which was pretty good.  Currently I’m reading “Ship of Theseus,” which is written in a strange and interesting way. It is two stories: one being told in the normal way, and the other being told in the margins, by two people passing the book back and forth. I finished the “novel” part of it, which was good, but not great, and seemed to be trying way too hard to be weird and mysterious.

Mookie

Other than that, I went to a few plays and movies, spent a little time with friends, watched a lot of Adventure Time, created art, learned a few pieces on the piano and annoyed my cats

 

Crunchies in the Fridge

Or Tales of the Crazy Cat Lady – The Turkey Trap

I made a mistake.

Mookie my oldest cat who will turn 15 in two months has always shared food with me.  She mostly eats cat food, but she likes to have a few bites of whatever I am eating at meals.  This has never been a problem so we went with it.  One of her favorite foods is roasted turkey.  Turkey, as long as it is not salty and over processed is good for cats, better than most of the grainy cat foods.  For Thanksgiving I always make a big turkey and the cats eat as much as they want and then have little snacks everyday as long as the turkey lasts.

This year after Thanksgiving dinner I took all the meat and put it in a zip lock bag, then into the fridge (the bones became stock).  Problem was the fridge was as stuffed as the turkey had been, so the bags of turkey got put in the bottom drawer.  Mookie, follows me around most days, so every time when I went to the fridge, even for a glass of water, she was near by.   She could smell the turkey, and the bottom drawer is not very tight, so she would reach out and pull it open.

Once she saw the turkey, she would turn her beautiful big sad eyes to me, pleading “May I haz some more plez?”.  I could not deny her food once she had seen it, so I would open the bag and give her a few bites, which of course chummed the water so all the other sharks would come running. Mookie in Fridge

Soon she realized the best food is in the fridge.  The turkey is of course long gone.  But there is always something in there she wants to eat. Soon I realized she was getting a snack every time I went to the fridge.  Then she started meowing and standing on her hind legs against the fridge every time I went to the kitchen.  She has special crunches upstairs for old ladies, before now when I went upstairs she would follow me and eat some of her crunchies.  At night she would sleep up there with me and eat her crunches during the night.

For the last few nights after I carry her to bed she runs back downstairs and sit in front of the fridge.  Then I have to bring her upstairs and give her guilt until she eats some of the crunchies.  Yes, guilt is a two way street with my cats.  Crazy cat lady remember.  I can also make that face ————>

A few days ago when I was cleaning the fridge she even jumped inside of it.  Cats don’t go in the fridge!!!  They are not nom!

That is why there is now a bowl of crunchies for mature cats in my fridge.  I will start handing her the bowl every time she says “Give me foodz!”.

Don’t judge me!  At least I don’t have children I am going to fuck up and then release onto the world.  My cats stays in my house and in the front yard during walkies.

Post Publishing Doldrums

For the last few months putting out this collection of stories was my main goal as a writer. I did some other writing too. I submitted and got rejected for an anthology and worked on a novel idea. But now the book has been released and I feel sort of flat.

What now?

I don’t expect this book will do well. So far I have sold 7 copies, which I have to admit hurts my feelings a lot. I am trying not to let it, but it is hard. I am a big supporter of the arts where I live. I spend more money than I care to calculate right now on plays, local music festival, my friends’ art and their artistic endeavors. I go to art auctions and give donations to local groups. I am not saying I expected these people to support me, not exactly. But I expected some sort of boost. I know, I sound like Earl in “My name is Earl” – “You do good things, and good things happen”. And now I feel sort of stupid for having these expectations.

I am trying not to take this personally, but it is really hard. Sure, lots of people might not like the sort of stuff I write. And that is ok. I give time and money to the thing I do because I like them and think the work they do is good and worthwhile. I wonder how many people think what I am doing is worthwhile?

I need to think about my next moves? Should I start submitting short stories to anyone who will take them? Should I work on a novel? Should I take a break and get a real job? Should I try to save up money and go to a writer’s workshop like Clarion West? I could use the pointers and practice, but I could use the contracts even more?

To the people who read my blog who have some success at selling their work, do you have any advice? How do I get my stories to the people who would enjoy them? What is a good balance between traditional publishing and self-publishing?

This is Cheese-Burger taking a nap. This is about how I feel right now, but that is ok. After he sleeps like this for a few hours he is full of energy, so it must be a restful way to be.