Writer’s Boot Camp Day 30!

Yay!!!!  I did it!!!  I wrote every day for 30 days.  

The inspirational final entry of the “Writer’s Boot Camp” is about taking every opportunity to write that you can and to not wait for the perfect moment.  I agree with this, I spent a long time looking for this perfect moment when my house was clean and I could sit out in my beautifully landscaped garden sipping tea and writing the next great American novel.  Now I’m ok sitting in my dirty office during breaks from my day job writing the next mediocre short story

She also feels that you should want to write more than anything in the world.  That when you are out with friends you should be thinking about how you wish you were writing when you are at a parade or watching TV or doing anything you should be thinking about how you would rather be writing. This I disagree with.  I try to live in the moment, when I’m eating cheese dip it should be because I want to be eating cheese dip. When I’m walking on a lovely beach at night it will be because I want to walk on a lovely beach at night. Yes, there are times when I’m doing social things when I think “I wish I was writing” and when that happens if possible I should leave.  But I don’t think I should have to pick between writing and being alive, then again a lot of the greatest writer’s did, so I might be wrong.

I bet you are asking “What’s next for our emotionally broken yet perky heroine?”  

  • Today I’m going to submit a short story and start on another one, that is actually due tomorrow. So yes, I going to try to write, edit and submit a story in 1 day.  This is almost certainly going to fail, but I figure “what the fuck?” might as well try.
  • I’m going to pick one or more of these books to work on. This sort of framework has been really good for me.  Some of these are such that it’s possible to do two at a time. I will write about it some, probably not every day
  • I’m going to keep submitting, trying to submit to as many of the markets I find as possible.
  • As soon as I know what my permanent work schedule is (Job 1) I’m going to come up with a writing schedule and try my hardest to stick to it.
  • I’m going to sign up for at least 2 writers workshops and networking event in the next 12 months.  
  • I’m going to finish content editing my novel,  find at least two beta readers to read it, hire an editor once I have enough money saved and I’m going to get it published.  I’ll start with trying to find a traditional publisher, but I’ll probably get bored and self-publish.

I’m feeling good about what I’ve done the past month.  I feel proud, which isn’t something I often feel anymore.  The mean voices in my head are trying to tell me this is a small thing, a silly thing and that I didn’t really accomplish anything, but fuck that.  It’s ok to feel proud. I’ve spent too much time with people who make it their goal to make others feel small and stupid.  I’m certainly not going to do that to myself!  I’m going to keep doing things that make me feel the way I do today, and I’m going to keep surrounding myself with people who encourage each other and appreciate their friend’s success.    

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Wow.  Today I have been a super writing Beast!!!  I have edited a story, had a friend read and edit it, had another friend read it and then did a final look at it before formatting and submitting. I have also written 4880 words (not counting this blog post or changes made when editing).  

Total writing time 4 hours and 56 minutes!

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 11

The theme of the day is “cross training’  but not working on another project, but more balancing writing with the other parts of life. The idea is that with all the extra writing I’m doing that all of my other tasks would have fallen behind,  but thankfully I started this project while I’m currently not working, so I have about 8 hours a day of “extra time’ and I’m only using about 3 or 4 a day tops on writing.   Some tasks have fallen behind, because I’ve added in other things in my downtime, like doctor’s appointments, working on my side job, listening to more podcasts, dieting and going to the gym more.  Yesterday I did almost nothing productive other than doctor’s appointments, driving, and writing.

I was looking at houses and I have officially started the moving process today by getting a storage locker. This makes me a little happy and excited, but also super sad.  I really don’t want to leave my home. Moving is going to be stressful and take a lot of work and time, which oddly enough something the book feels I need at this point.

The phrase “If you need something done, give it to a busy man” is used by the author.  And I know from experience that super busy Kitty is a more productive Kitty. My last year of college (in Macon, GA) I was taking more than a full load of classes, working 20 hours a week at Barnes and Noble cafe,  I lived in Monticello 45 minutes away from work and school, went to the gym 5 days a week and I was dating someone who lived on the Northside of Atlanta. I don’t know how I did it, but I got everything done. It was weird how much stuff I could fit into one day,  granted I was sometimes up until 2 am, doing homework when I knew the alarm was going off at 6:30 a.m. I was sleep deprived and probably took too many stimulants, but I sure was productive.

I’ve tried to be that productive since then and it never works.  And I think the reason is there are no actual consequences and/or no one else cares. In college, if I missed classes or didn’t study I would fail the class,  wasting time and money if I had to retake something. So I worked my ass off because I didn’t want to retake anything. If I lost my coffee shop job we would have been in serious trouble for money, because we were just barely getting by. I probably should have given up the Atlanta boyfriend, but at the time that seemed important too.  But almost nothing I do now is that import, take this project for example If I just stop working on writer’s boot camp right now nothing bad will happen. If I don’t read the books on my reading list nothing bad happens. I seldom have guests over so my house doesn’t need to be that clean. I’m stressing a little about not having a paying job right now, but I have money saved so I’m not super worried.    

I literally could just feed my cats, clean litter boxes, take out the trash a few times a week, feed myself, take my meds and shower sometimes and nothing bad would happen.  I only have about 1 hour of things I “need” to do in any given day. That will all change in about a month when I have to start moving seriously, knowing I have a deadline, and maybe at that time I’ll get more productive in everything?  

I keep a Daily Task Tracker now with lots of tasks on it.  I very seldom finish it any given day, but I normally do at least the first half.  The process is that I get up in the morning and I just start doing these things in order and most days I do ok, but there isn’t any real urgency about it.    I think the book wants me to sort of alternate between writing and the rest of life, with the theory that you are more creative when you are active. I can buy that, worth trying anyway.

I have an idea, an experiment if you will,  on this cross-training. I think parts of the day when I’m supposed to be doing stuff I’ll work on my list for some amount of time and then write for the same amount of time and then made even add in breaks too.   It is Saturday at 4 p.m and I don’t have anything I have to do until 6:30 p.m when I need to get ready for an event. So I’m going to try to create urgency.

I’ve been working on this so far for 40 minutes,  but I think I’m going to work in 30-minutes chunks until 6:30;  Writing, working on things off my list, break. (I’ll pause the writing timer of course)

In my 30 minutes of not writing work I filled up cat food at water bowls and then worked on the KonMari for dresses,  This will take a while because I need to try most of them on and I started with 74 dresses. Also, I have wonderful taste in clothing and most of these dresses are beautiful, which makes getting rid of them hard.  

For my 30 minutes of deserved break, I started a show “Altered Carbon” which everyone says is very good.  So far I have no idea what is going on, I don’t think it’s a watch in half-hour increments sort of show. 

I was supposed to then write for 30 minutes, but I got caught up in what I was doing and wrote for an hour.  :-/

Oh, well, I’ll try harder tomorrow to do this alternating between writing and other tasks.  

Total writing time today was  

Spring Cleaning with the KonMarie Method

For spring cleaning this year, I have started reading the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   It’s a book about, well, tidying.  For me this time of year is for cleaning, which normally means lots of scrubbing and washing everything I can get my hands on, pulling out the stove and scrubbing under it, climbing on top of things and cleaning the places no one ever sees.  There are a few problems with that method this year. Since my injury, I have some pretty big physical limitations that I didn’t have last time I did spring cleaning, with no husband or roommates there is no one to help and due to of having a more than full-time job I have less time than I normally do.  The other reason I’m doing the KonMarie method instead of my normal method is that she is promising lifelong tidiness.  While my normal method sure does make everything clean for a while, it doesn’t make things more “tidy” long term.  It doesn’t make cleaning for the rest of the year easier.  It doesn’t actually make my house all that much more pleasing.   Also, I love the word “Tidy”, it has always been one of my favorite words.  TIDY, TIDY, TIDY!!!

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-2The idea behind this method is that you go through everything you own and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy.  Then you organize and arrange the remaining things in a reasonable and pleasing way.

This is also the perfect time for me to start on this method because it takes about 6 months and I moved in about 6 months.  The KonMarie method will be a great pre-moving event.  I can pair down my possession and pack up the things I am keeping at the same time.  My friends Issa and Lee got a ton of boxes to me on Imbolc to start packing things.   I started reading the book the evening after the Imbolc ritual.

The first step of the KonMarie process is figuring out why you want to tidy.  “I want a clean house”  or “I want to be able to entertain without feeling too stressed to clean” isn’t enough.  You must ask yourself lots of questions to get to the root of what it is you really want from your space and why.   I have come up with two answers after several days of thinking about it.

  1. I want to live in a home that is classy and fun.  I want my guests to walk into my home and feel ease and joy, but I also want them to think “wow, this place is clean, smells nice and is pleasing, Everything I see is of high quality, and reflects Kitty’s personality.  Kitty must be doing very well for herself financially and emotionally”

Why do I want this?

Well, when I was a kid I was very poor.  When I was little we lived in a shitty single wide trailer without running water in coal country of Pennsylvania.  It was cold and dirty there, broken down cars and a moldy shack littered what might have been a very lovely woodland clearing. Everything was always covered in black coal dust and smoke.  When I was 7 my mother left my father and we moved someplace that I thought was like a palace.   We lived in a brand new double wide!  With a garden tub!  But looking back I know we were still poor.

As a child, I got teased for wearing used and ugly clothes.  I was often brought to tears because the other kids said I smelled bad, which now actually seems petty unlikely, I showered every day and my mother was a bit of a clean freak, but also a smoker so I don’t know, maybe I did smell bad.  I guess I’ll never know.  Once I realized how poor we were I wanted to never be poor again, I felt angry and ashamed that we were poor while so many other people were rich.  This started me having a lot of self-hatred and anger about poverty, but that is another post.  Anyway, I didn’t want to be poor and wanted to change that.  I now know this isn’t something you have a ton of control over, but I have done what I could.

I think I had just about reached “middle class” financially before my husband left me last year.  But I never felt like it while with him.  When we were doing things with his job I felt like I was super rich.  We stayed in nice hotels, we went to cool places, I met important people and ate fancy foods.  All of that was awesome, during those times I felt happy and important like my life was going the right direction, like I could do great things. During those times I got a little overconfident about being someone important myself someday, like a writer. All that opulence made me work hard and being someone great.    But at home we lived in a house that was a mess inside and out, that was full of cheap shit and clutter no matter how hard I tried to fight that.   Living here I have felt like sometimes all I do is clean, working 10 hours a day at cleaning to still wake up to filth.  Yes, I get that there are some emotional issue and compulsive disorder things going to be dealt with there.

My ex-husband had many good qualities, but wanting a clean and classy home was not among them.  He grew up nearly as poor as I, but with a family that was less concerned with cleanliness, quality and what other people thought about them, which my mother was obsessed with.   He is the type of person who doesn’t mind living in a house that needs painting, who doesn’t rush to clean up trash in the yard or tidy the house. And that is ok, not everyone takes joy from the same things.  I, however, take joy in a clean home and yard and in being able to entertain guests.

He is gone now which makes me sometimes feel totally broken with sadness even after so many months, sometimes super angry, but increasingly zen I guess.  He left me, he had his reasons, that sucks.  But it is in the past and I had no control over it happening.  It wasn’t my fault he left,  but picking up the pieces is my responsibility.   I have to deal with that shit and move on.

I am still living in “our” house, but soon for the first time in my life, I will be living in “my” house.  A place that is 100% mine.  A place that will reflect only my personality and values.  I value quality.  I value joy, art, and beauty.  I value cute things, colorful things, and stupidly adorable things!

I’m not wealthy now, I’m not even middle class with just my income (about $25,000 a year if I keep doing well).  But, I would rather have a few nice things than many shitty things. I will be getting rid of all the low-quality and joyless things before or when I leave.  This part of my life, this home is dead and needs to left alone to decay.

My new home will merge the aesthetic of a fancy spa and a candy store. There will be many candles and fresh flowers, cute candy jars for art reasons, pastel furniture, lots of bright white filigree, antique china, stuffed animals and doilies.   It will be glorious,  like Honeyduke’s from Harry Potter if managed by a Jess from “New Girl” and owned by Jackie O.

  1. I want my home to be a place where I can feel free to relax, engage in any activity or work on any project of my choosing when I am alone.

What does this mean?

20180212_141516_Film4To my left as I type this I have my piano keyboard.  It is covered in mail, clothing and dust.  I want to play the piano at least a few times a week, but I can’t because of effort and guilt.  It would take time to clean all the stuff off and put it all away and once I started cleaning I would probably just keep cleaning.  If I did stop and try to play the piano I would feel guilty, because for me playing the piano is something you do in a clean house.  Knitting is something you do in a clean house.  Coloring is something you do when you have done all your chores.  Even reading or being able to relax while watching T.V or taking a bubble bath is for people who are done with tasks for the day.   I can only let go and truly enjoy my inside hobbies when my space is clean, but because I don’t have a great system my space is seldom clean enough for me to relax.   I have tried to take all the things I want to do off the “for a good Kitty only list” but after years of trying I have decided to give up on that, and instead find a way to feel like a good Kitty.

I theorize that If I can get things in order,  only having to tidy for 15 minutes a day then I will have more deserved free time to do the things that matter to me.  I guess we will see if that’s true.

With these two very introspective, complex and personal reasons to tidy my home I feel confident that I can get this done.  I’ve already made a list of 80 categories that I need to evaluate, pare down and organize.

20180211_152203_Film4I have done the method for two categories so far:

  • from 24 to 18 blankets, throws and duvets
  • from 44 to 31 types of tea.

 

I will try to post here as I work on this so you can see my progress.

Professional Writer

I sold my first story this week! “Noir Noel” will be in an anthology “Strange Christmas” which will be out later this month. It is a nice feeling to know someone wants to pay money to print my story. I am now a professional. 🙂

As for everything else, I have only sold 2 copies of “Treacherous Nature” this month. I need do something to pull that up to at least 5. The NaNo novel is going very well. I have written over 10,000 words and most of them are pretty good. I am enjoying the pace of a novel, which is so different than a short story. If this keeps going so well I hope to have it released in a few months.

It is going to be a long time before I can make a reasonable living from being a writer, but for the first time it does not feel like some silly pipe dream. I have been doing this seriously for 8 months, and this month will be the first money I get paid. Right now it looks like I will get a total of $36, from the sale of “Noir Noel”, Amazon and Gumroad combined. It is only enough money for one trip to the grocery store, but it is income. Maybe in December I will make $50. I just have to keep writing. Put a few more books on Amazon and Gumroad, get better at short stories and submit them everywhere. At this pace it will take a few years to start making minimum wage, but that is ok. I would gladly do this for minimum wage. I have been doing it for free the last 8 months.

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.