Writer’s Boot Camp Day 8

I’m frankly surprised I’m still doing this.  Focusing on one thing for this many consecutive days is hard for me.  I’m having to fight the urge stop because I feel like everything else is falling behind.

While I’m out of work with my official day job, I should be doing more of my side hustle,  It’s been over a week since I worked, and no work means no money. That is stressing me out.  I have a good bit saved, but still, steady income is important. Also because I wrote for over 2 hours yesterday I missed going to the gym.  I need to try to make that up today if I going to progress on both weight loss and getting my left leg muscles strong again. It’s been over a year since I broke my leg and I’m still walking with a cane. I know that the damage was severe and some of this will stay with me the rest of my life,  but I can try to make the best of it and get my leg as good as it’s going to get.

Yesterday was sort of hard for me emotionally too,  so I kind of want to not do anything today, except maybe sleeping or watching TV.  I’m tired, hungry and feeling like this writing thing is pointless. Why am I doing this, what do I even hope to accomplish?  If I can’t get my friends to read the things I write how can I expect that anyone else will? How can I expect to have any sort of success?  

Am I a bad writer, who is self-deluded into thinking I have talent and potential?  I wonder if I am suffering from some sort of narcissism to even for a moment believe that anyone anywhere would want to read what I write.  Is this true for everyone who tries to be successful at an artistic pursuit? How do you get past the idea that you are just a petulant child standing in the middle of the room screaming “pay attention to me!” ?  

I enjoy writing when I’m doing it for fun, but most of the time I don’t think I have anything worthwhile to say,  so why say anything? I have other fun hobbies that no one gives a shit about, why not focus my time on those?

Today’s assignment is to spend 30 minutes on my work in progress,  which is good because I’m going to do a Facebook post later with an excerpt from my WIP,  maybe in half an hour I’ll have something good to post.

 

Work Log

At 23 minutes I stopped working on the blog post and switched over to my WIP

At 1 hour 2 minutes, I stopped working on the short story

At 1 hour 7 minutes, I’m done editing this and ready to post, I don’t feel like adding pictures.  

I think I’ll try to write a little more before I post the WIP.

Writer’s Boot Camp day 7

Today’s theme was freestyle writing,  which I think should be writing whatever comes into your head, but there was a questionnaire to fill out.  I honestly didn’t understand having a structured free writing exercise. I did it, but it just annoyed me.   So I’ll just do my own as this blog post.star

I’ve written something every day for a week!  Yay! At first, I feel proud of that, then I feel silly for feeling proud.  I always feel silly when I have pride in my accomplishments.

I feel both happy that I have managed a week, but also annoyed and guilty that I haven’t done more,  I always feel like I should do more no matter how much I do in most areas of life. I constantly feel like I’m failing at everything.   Things that I see as optional, like writing, I normally choose not to do at all, because either way, I’ll feel like a lazy loser. It’s hard to not get down on myself when I have the honest yet unhelpful thoughts like

  1. You have spent hours this week writing,  editing and doing blog posts, but ultimately this time is wasted because it isn’t commodified.  You could have spent this time in a money making task.
  2. You spent hours writing and all you have to show for it are some blog posts that no one will read or comment on and a few pages of a short story that you don’t have plans to submit to anyplace
  3. You worked hard this week,  and if you kept it up you might accomplish something someday,  but you are almost 40 and you only have a few published short stories and one novella length piece that you refuse to edit,  if you had been more disciplined you could have been a writer, but now it is probably too late. Give up.
  4. You are not good enough, never good enough. Not a good enough writer,  not a good enough career person, not rich enough, not smart enough. This is why eventually everyone leaves if you were worth more people wouldn’t leave.

Today is very much a give up day.  I so badly don’t want to do this, it feels like a stupid, vain, pointless waste of time.  And I feel like a pointless waste of space.

20180508_143934I guess I should mention that today would have been my 8th wedding anniversary, to explain why abandonment is on my mind.   The one person who promised to love me forever stopped loving me. The person I respected and loved most in the world betrayed me.  The person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, who promised to never leave me, left. It’s been over a year since he left me for another woman, who clearly has more worth than I do.  It has been a few months since we were officially divorced.20180508_144007_HDR

Yes, these pictures of from our wedding scrapbook.  Yes, I have kept it, and will continue to do so.  I put dozens of hours of work into the wedding and then into the scrapbook.  It is a fucking working of art that I’m proud of even if that marriage was a failure.

I want to be over this so badly,  and some days I am. And then other days I miss him so much I ache.  I want to send him cute pictures of my cats, that used to be his babies, that he loved so much until he didn’t.  I want to tell him about things I’m doing, places I’ve been going, my goals and plans. I want to ask him about his life and be a part of it.  However, every day the urge to reach out to him trends a little less, I now go weeks without communicating with him sometimes. But then he texts me about something,  or I end up sending him a cute cat picture and we start talking, and while we are chatting for a few moments I feel like I have my best friend back in my life. A few days ago we had a conversation about “Noir” by Chris Moore, one of our favorite authors,  we talked about the Avengers, he laughs at the funny things I say, and it feels good in the moment, and I know it shouldn’t. I want to text him now, but today of all days I will not.

I’m moving soon and once I do I guess that will change.  Once I leave this house, this part of town there will be nothing else connecting us. We have common acquaintances, but no common friends anymore. He doesn’t talk to my nieces or nephews anymore. There will be no logical reason to speak to him. Any chance of us repairing any part of our relationship will evaporate. This makes me sad, because after everything I still care for him, and still wish we could be friends.  But that isn’t a thing that can actually happen. He is someone I used to know, he is part of my past and has no place in my future, the present is brackish, because I’m still in between two states.

I should write a poem!!!!   I haven’t done that in a while, freestyle is the perfect time to for that.  

Brackish

Adrift, out to sea for ages,  hot sun beats down, skin burned, crystal crusted.

Thirsty

wanting is everything

Begging, prays unheard

Wish, need

floating in a sea of salt tears

Too dry to cry, nothing left

Thirsty

A swallow eases the pain, for a time.

A tiny taste, face upturned to fresh, fleeting rain

Moments of joy, relief

Sun beats down, skin burned and crystal crusted

Adrift

Thirsty

Begging

Praying

Lost at sea

Something in the distance, a mirage

it must be

Land a dream,  stability a fantasy

Wave tossed,  powerless to the currents

Belonging to the tides, forced to go with the flow

Solid mirage?

Is that land?

Dropping down flat to the boards

hands in stinging water

pushing against the waves

Clinging to you saved me, my only solid state

Holding me back now, too slow

Abandon ship

One last push towards survival

The water is changing, becoming less salty

Soothing burns, cool

Swimming upstream

If I don’t drown in brackish water than soon I’ll drink

As much as I want

Hands, no longer flat in prayer, empty, begging

But full, of infinite water.

For now, I swim against the current.  

 

 

Today’s work log

Timer was at 1 hour 42 minutes when I realized I was I’m super thirsty and needed a drink!  🙂 Paused for a few minute break.

Time at 2 hours and 3 minutes when I finished editing and adding pictures.

I worked on “Eat the Rich” my WIP fiction piece until the timer said 2 hours and 19 minutes.   Not bad!  I think this is the longest I’ve worked since I started “Writer’s Boot Camp”

 

 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 6

Today is all about monitoring my progress and treating writing like a “punch in, punch out” job, with all the aspects of a job such as doing the daily grind work even when you are not feeling any passion for it, making small measurable goals and tracking what you did while working.

The author, Rachel Federman says “there’s a great little thing that happens when you start monitoring your time….Just simply the act of recording how much time you put in will increase the amount of time you have”  I think this is a pretty good theory and one that I already sort do. I turn on a timer for 30 minutes before I start writing and I work at least that long, almost always longer “off the clock” so one thing I’m changing today is instead of a timer that tells me when to stop I’m going to use a stopwatch and record the time I spend,  if I finish in less than 30 minutes I will work on another project for a little while.

I’ve been doing the slog work all this week, and I notice someday are certainly more inspired than others, you can go look at the length and quality of my blog posts and tell which days I was feeling it and which days I wasn’t.  Today I’m not really feeling it to be honest. I have a job interview in a few hours that I’m nervous about and I have other things I would much rather be doing with my time. My house is messy and it’s a beautiful day outside, sitting at my desk seems hard and not very productive.

Writing for 30 minutes a day and doing a blog post every day are small measurable goals,  but since writing the blog takes more than 30 minutes I’m actually putting very little work into my projects.  So, I guess I should add another timed goal, to make sure that I work on some actual fiction every day, even if only for a few minutes, 10 maybe?  At least for the duration of the boot camp. After I finish working on “Writer’s Boot Camp” I will have those 30 minutes most days just to work on fiction.

20180507_141337The other thing I need is a more detailed work log, including time spent on each project.  I already sometimes keep a worklog in my writing planner, but I often forget to put things in there and I never monitor times.   I’m going to update it with times every day, and for the rest of this challenge, I’ll post it here too.  The author also feels that by tracking your work you will feel more able to accept the reward of a break, I don’t really do official “breaks”  I just go from one task to another all day, sometimes fucking around with my phone on facebook or playing games, or watching a few minutes of T.V, but it’s procrastinating and I always feel guilty about it,  maybe with the time tracking I can start taking real breaks doing fun things and not feel like I’m stealing time away from myself and my important tasks.

Today my writing work was:

About 20 minutes working on a script for a youtube channel I want to start and making a list of possible future episodes.

Some amount of time reading “Writer’s Boot Camp” day 6

4.5 minutes updating the worklog in my writer’s journal

25 minutes writing this blog post

16 minutes on “Eat the Rich”

12 minutes editing, adding a picture and posting this blog entry

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 5

I wrote this in a notebook at about 9:30 A.M,  but am just now at 10:30 P.M getting it into the computer,  which is appropriate given today’s topic.

20180429_154402Today the book talked about being able to write any place, any time and this is the perfect day for this subject.  I writing this in a car on I-285 heading from Stone Mountain to Marietta. I have a lot going on today and worried I would have trouble getting to my computer, so I have a notebook and my trusty pen shark.

The theme of the day is “semper fidelis”,  Latin for “always faithful”, and the author talks about the Marines motto of “always faithful, always ready”, and how we should always be ready to write and I guess always faithful to our goals.  This is something I very much need to work on. I tend to only write at the perfect time, and the perfect place, when I have a good idea to work on. I keep a list of story ideas on my phone in Google Keep, but other than that I’m very seldom “ready” to write when I am away from home.   I used to not be this set on only writing at home, I used to write at school, at coffee shops, when out doing things.

I don’t know when this shift happened, when I started thinking writing could only be done at my computer, but it is something I need to change.  I’m going to keep a small notebook and pen in my purse from now on so that I will be ready to write whenever I have an idea or whenever I have free time.  I can see how helpful it could be in the long run to write a scene, some dialogue, a character profile or jot down some story ideas or changes I need to make in what otherwise would have been wasted or “facebook” time.  This could be beneficial in a few ways,

  1. All these little things written in what would have been wasted time would add up pretty quickly, speeding up all my projects
  2. It could be good to capture those in-between times and utilize them, grabbing the ideas while they are fresh instead of leaving it to memory and Future Kitty to do the work.
  3. This could be uplifting emotionally because it will keep me focused on writing, on being a writer,  on my current WIP (work in progress). If I’m writing a little every time I’m a passenger in a car or at night before I go to bed,  or first thing in the morning while my dreams are still vaguely visible, or in a waiting room at yet another doctor’s appointment or while taking a break walking someplace.  I don’t have to be sitting at a desk all official like to be a writer. I need to be reminded that writing is something I do, but a writer is something I am, every place, all the time.  

marietta-imageWell, I’m in Marietta time to stop writing and start looking at a house.  I think I worked about 30 minutes, but if not then I will have for sure when I type and edit this.

I did work way more than 30 minutes, true facts, Past Kitty was correct.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 4

The timer is on for 30 minutes and I’m writing,  this is one day more than the last time I tried to do this.  It’s already starting to have a sort of habit feel to it, I didn’t fight with myself much in order to get to work today,  but I also don’t yet really “want” to do it. There are not words I need to write, so it still feels like a chore.

The assignment today is to think about where and when I like to write, and which environment is most effective.

20180505_142913In general, I would say I write best when alone,  in a quite familiar place. If there is music to set a mood that is ok, but it can’t have words.   Right now 2 in the afternoon on a Saturday, I’m in my home office and the only sound is the hmmmmmm of the computer and chirping birds outside.  This is good, I wish it was a little earlier, 10 or 11 am is a better time of day, because at around 3 I take a big dive in my energy level and I just want to take a nap.  Today feels like a take a nap sort of day anyway. It’s a nice warm temperature and slightly overcast, I feel like rain might happen at any moment. Laying in my bed right now would be nice,  reading or just staring into space, but writing is nice right now also. My writing has a slow meditative feel, I would rather be writing poetry now than this.

The biggest downside to writing at home is all my fun things and chores are here,  my tv is here, my cats are here, dirty dishes are here, laundry, coloring books and musical instruments are here.  As the timer counts down I am happy for that time to end, because I have other things I want to do. Sometimes it’s beneficial to write other places, where my things aren’t.  Quite outdoors places with my Chromebook or a pen and notebook are nice. I write slower of course, but maybe better with more thought and pauses. A cemetery is a great place to write because it’s a park without screaming children.  I like the botanical gardens, the least popular parts of the zoo, any beach, museums, hiking trails and lakes. At places like that, it’s easy to get up for a few minutes, do something fun and then get right back to the writing, unlike home where once I get started on another task I’m pretty much done for the day.

I can write at a coffee shop or tourist attraction, but it’s best with a notebook instead of a computer,  and I can mostly only write little scenes or character profiles. A busy, noisy place is full of valuable ideas gained from watching people interact with each other.   That feeling of watching life happen from outside is very similar to the act of writing fiction. I’m never when I’m writing if I creating a world or if maybe this world is just something I’m watching and recording., like a forgotten dream.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 3

Today the only task was to make a schedule for when you are going to write.  The advice of the book is that you get up an hour earlier and pack in the writing there.   This isn’t really going to work for me. I mean, yes, I could get up an hour earlier, but I’m not going to write first thing in the morning.  That isn’t when I write. I need to exercise, drink water, take my meds, eat breakfast and do my planner before anything else. If I just jumped into writing first thing I would just stare at the screen for an hour.

20180504_135712There isn’t really a guideline in the book of how much time I should be at the writing every day.   Before this week, in my daily task list, I had “Writing (15 minutes)” and it was pretty far down on the list, so if I changed it to 30 and moved it up that would be 30 minutes more than I was doing last week, but less than I could do.

Last time I attempted the Writer’s Boot Camp day 3 was as far as I got.  I filled out the little time chart and said I was going to write 4 hours a day!   I didn’t. That was too much of a commitment when just trying to get into the habit.   In my opinion, it is better to have small manageable goals that you can actually reach than to have lofty ones that you strive for but can seldom hit.

I feel my last attempt at this was a good example, I was in the middle of a deep depression when I stated this before in late January, early February. My husband had just left me for another woman about 6 weeks earlier.  I was angry, hurt, confused, my self-worth was at its lowest point in my adult life. I hated myself, I had been engaging in exercise bulimia, actually bulimia and cutting around that time. The only reason I was able to do the three days I did was that I was on a beach camping trip with my friend Issa, who loves me no matter what, which made me feel a little less like a big pile of trash for a few days.  20170216_131908

20170216_095211Once the trip was over I didn’t write, I went back to tequila, exercising about 3 hours a day and hating myself.20170214_135831 (1)

 

 

A few weeks later I had stopped the cutting, stopped the drinking and was trying to eat a healthy diet. I was feeling a little better emotionally and starting to look for a job,  but still, the only non-cat related joy in my life was running and that got taken away from me due to some shitty broken sidewalk. But that is a different blog post.

Anyway, the point is the goal I set was unreachable for the person I was in February 2017.   I already felt like the biggest failure in the world, so why bother trying to write 4 hours a day?  Writing 3 hours would have been failing as much as writing nothing. So I went with nothing.

I figured why do anything if you know you are going to fail?   Hey, that’s sort of a segway to the YouTube channel I just started working on.  I’ve never made a YouTube channel before. I always wanted to, but I couldn’t think of a good single specific thing that would get me those “1000 true fans” you need.  Fuck, I can’t get 50 true fans for my writing, so I have decided to do a YouTube channel about something not very specific, but that I am passionate about. The working title is “How to be a failure at everything you try”,  roll with it, it’s more uplifting than it sounds.

Ok,  back to my daily writing time goal.  

I am committing to writing 30 minutes every day, for the next 27 days no matter what.  If I have to sit here I write “banana” over and over for 30 minutes I will. I’m also committing to writing longer than 30 minutes if I am in the grove, the words are flowing and I don’t have anything else super important that I must to right that second.

Yeah,  30 minutes is less time than it takes to write these blog posts, so maybe I will spend the next 27 days in the masturbatory practice of writing about writing, but yo, at least it’s writing.  :-/

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.  

Writer’s Bootcamp Day 1

I started this 30 Day project last year before my leg was broken,  I have been wanting to get back to it since I started to crawl out of my depression, but I haven’t had time.   I have a short break from my job, so even though I’m super busy in a lot of ways I’m going to try to make time for this.  I honestly don’t think I will finish it, because I know I’m a quitter, but I might as well try.writer's boot camp

The first day’s assignment is to write about your dream life as a writer

My Dream Writing Life –

I want to write because I want to matter.  I want the words in my head to mean something to someone other than myself.  I want to change someone’s world the way my favorite author’s have changed mine.  I want to make the lonely feel less alone because they are reading words I have written,  words that connect them to me, to life. I want to feel connected to life as well, I want to know I serve a purpose greater than just working for a company and making someone money.

My ultimate goal as a writer isn’t to be rich or famous.

I don’t care to be rich.   When you are rich you become important in that others fear you, because you could take away their means of survival.   The wealthy have power, the power to ruin the life of another on a whim. If you are rich enough you can have pretty much anyone fired,  you can have people arrested for doing nothing, you can sue people who don’t have the means to defend themselves and take away all that they have.

If you are rich you have a buffer between yourself and the rest of the world.  Even if you start out a poor or middle-class person as you gain wealth, you rely on others less and less.  You stop having real connections, everyone around you becomes a flunky. With wealth comes detachment from the world,  and I don’t think you can be a good writer if you are detached. How can you tell the truth if you don’t know it?

coffeeI’ve lived in poverty, frankly, I can do without any more of those valuable life experiences. I don’t want to worry about being homeless or going hungry,  I shouldn’t have to choose between medicine and food. So yes, I want to make money writing. Enough to buy a cup of coffee and leave a reasonable tip,  Enough to pay my rent every month, be able to go to the doctor and buy my medication. To afford to take my cats to the vet. I would like enough money to buy books and magazines,  to go to the movies. I want to have enough to go to dinner with friends once a week, to have a membership to the botanical gardens. I want to go to a few local nerd conventions and maybe go on a nice vacation from time to time.   I want enough money to buy cute dresses and get a massage sometimes. A little extra for a gym membership would be nice.

I can afford all of these things now with my corporate job,  and I can’t give that up to be a writer full time. Hence the dream, the fantasy.  Writing iis now and will probably always be side-work, because I have suffered plenty,  I have enough suffering to last a lifetime. I’m glad I have these shitty poverty experiences to draw from, but frankly, I could do without adding any more.  

In my dream world, I don’t have a corporate job,  I write for a living. Some days I work 10 or 12 hours when the muse is upon me,  some days I “work” by reading a book or listening to podcasts as I walk around a beautiful park (this is my fantasy world, so I can walk without pain or a cane).   Maybe I will be popular enough that I can do a small book signing in a local bookstore, maybe I will speak on a panel at DragonCon. I will go to workshops on writing from time to time making friends with other writers.  In my writing dream world, I get paid more than my current average of about $.25 an hour for my work, so I don’t have to work every moment I’m awake to get by. I can have hobbies and friends.

imagesIn my dream world where I am a “real” full-time writer, I respect myself, which is something I haven’t done in a few years now.  In my fantasy, I express myself every day,  telling the stories that currently clog up my head, releasing the anger and depression that they seem to cause if left untold.  I think that my work is worthy, that I am worthy.  I have earned my right to be and to be loved. In my fantasy I don’t feel like a useless lump of meat, taking up space clinging to a life I neither want nor deserve.

Too Fucking Happy?

WoW_Box_Art1I spend a huge amount of time thinking about why I do what I do, why I think what I think, and why I feel the things I feel.  I am on a constant quest to understand and control my own mind.   This has been great in many ways.  I used to have terrible anger issues with violent tendencies, and now I don’t.  I used to have PTSD flashbacks, but I haven’t had one in years.  There was a time when I dealt with my emotions by mutilating myself, and that is very rare now.  I used to pick fights with my loved ones. I used to play video games all day instead of living.  I have been known to have social media rage and be petty and petulant. I have control over all that now.

I almost never cry, my anger never lasts more than a few minutes, and I can work through big emotional issues in a matter of days.  I am supportive to my loved ones instead of antagonistic.  I like myself and would invite me over for tea anytime.  I’m not the most emotionally healthy person ever, as I am still a bit paranoid, have abandonment issues, and don’t trust other people’s motivations sometimes, but I have made progress on those things too.  I deal with a little depression from time to time, but with meds and practice I cope.

I know, right!  It sounds awesome!

I am happy or at least content almost all the time.  I am good at not dwelling on things, not letting toxic people hurt me, and doing things I enjoy.  A little too good.  So much so that I don’t seem to have any drive (yes, there could be many other reasons for this, but I am exploring them one at a time).  I think to myself, “Make money?” but then I look outside and scamper off to garden or pick flowers.  I think ,“How about some writing today?” but I say “Nope!” and play with the animals.

RiverI have goals (remind me to tell you later), and I have made some headway in reaching those, but I tend to avoid everything hard.  I float on a happy, lazy river in the sunlight, being pushed forward only by the current, going no place in particular.  I have a 50 minute timer on, making me keep writing this.  If I didn’t, I would be playing the piano or napping with Mr. Snuggles. In fact, now that I think about it, of all the writing I could be doing this is the easiest, with the smallest readership and the most comfortable topic.

Why do I avoid success?  It’s clearly something I want, or I wouldn’t write out goals and daydream about the future.  I think about being a famous writer, owning a farm, traveling the world, creating great things, but I don’t do the tasks that would make any of that happen.  I would rather be happy, supporting my loved ones and watching cartoons.

Correct Procedure

I noticed an odd block in my writing today.  I don’t feel ready to publish a novel, because I don’t have enough short stories.  Of course there isn’t a prerequisite number of short stories that one must write and have published before one is allowed to write longer works. You can be good at one length of story and bad at another.   People can and do jump right into full length novels, because there are no rules, except the ones we make ourselves.  

I have found that I have made a lot of rules, creating a sort of lock system to writing.  I can write a blog post at anytime, without any sort of permission. I feel as though I should write a blog post before doing anything else, like yelling “timber” before cutting down a tree.  If you are reading this, then I have posted in a public place that I intend to write this week.  Why must the world be informed?  My best guess is it makes me feel legitimate.

Once there is a blog post that is less than two weeks old I am officially a serious professional writer.  I have a website and I am doing the things. I may now write.  But I can’t write just anything, that would be chaos.  Before I can write I must check to see what I am allowed to write.  I talk to publishers that I know,  I check calls on different groups or market posting sites.  I need a theme and a deadline.  I have spend entire days searching for the perfect project.  If I find one, then I can write.

If not, then I must consume the works of others who have succeeded where I have failed.  I read Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Ellery Queen, American Short Fiction, etc. or listen to short fiction podcasts. If I don’t want to do that I can read magazines, books or blogs about how to write.  Once I feel like I have learned something, then and only then can I write whatever I want as long as it is still short fiction.

Every once in awhile I can break out of this pattern.  For example working on a novel is legal in November for NaNoWrMo.  I have finished the first draft of a novel in fact, but I can’t edit it until I have several more short stories done, because I am clearly not experienced enough to edit a novel.  At what point am I really a “writer”? When can I trust myself to write whatever I want? How many stories must I publish before I am enough of an authority that I can give myself permission to write?

The point is, I am writing this blog entry so that I can write.  I now have less than two weeks on the clock.  Time to check the listings.