Knowing You Can’t Fail

I’m not doing a blog post every day now, but I still want to keep up with the time I spend writing and what I’m up working on.   

6/1 – Today I editing a Short story for “Tales from the Crust” a pizza-themed horror collection. Worked 2 hours and 32 minutes   

6/11 – Wow, I didn’t mean to take that much of a break!  A few days sure, but not 10! I started a training class at work last week which has cut into my time. I’ve also been working on some important personal projects.  This past weekend was Fringe Festival, one of my favorite events, which kept me from doing any writing but did inspire me. I love personal monologue style plays. I should do something like that someday.  

I have a submission deadline in a few days and I’m not sure what I want to send  This publisher requires that all pieces have QUILTBAG+ content. I have a lot of unpublished stories which fit that requirement. However, I always want to write something new for every call.  I know this is because it’s the writing I really enjoy. If I were to write something new I could put off all the hard, boring and self-esteem hurting stuff. If I use a piece I already have then I go straight into looking through my stories, reading old stuff, editing, finding someone else to read/edit, and maybe the hardest part, actually submitting. All that stuff sound totally “ick!”.  

I know that writing a new story is a bad idea when I only have 4 days until the deadline. Also, it just makes more sense to submit things that are already done.  I have too many unpublished stories, that represent maybe hundreds of hours of work. Work that no one else has read. I write because I enjoy writing of course, but also because I want other people to enjoy reading it.  

After checking in “finished stories” I think I have two contenders.  One is dieselpunk and the other is horror. This place doesn’t want reprints and the horror one was sort of published before, so I think the dieselpunk one will be the most likely choice.  I’ll read it tomorrow and see how I feel. I’m not sure how overt they want the QUILTBAG aspects to be. How important they want that aspect to be to the story. In most of my stories with queer characters, their queerness isn’t the driving force of the story.  They are people who just happen to be queer, much as being straight or cis isn’t core plot points in any of my other stories. I assume all my characters are bi and somewhere on a gender spectrum because I’m bi and somewhere on a gender spectrum. In fact, I just assume that about everyone unless you specifically tell me otherwise.  

I started reading “The Artist’s Way” today,  but I’m not sure I will be able to do this. The way the writer speaks reminds me a lot of the schizophrenic people in my family. Constantly referencing God or “Creator” is something I associate with harmful, abusive people.  Talking about how successful and amazing you are and then tacking on “but the real thanks goes to God” just turns my stomach. I find that having absolute faith in either a deity or yourself is very off-putting to me. I am willing to admit that not being totally certain of my greatness has held me back,  sure. I don’t think I’m anything special. There was a time when I did, but then I worked really hard to distance myself from the deluded members of my family. Now with a firmer grasp on reality, I can see my weaknesses.

If I thought I was some amazing gift to humanity, given by God him/herself to enlighten the world would I be a successful writer?  Is ego the key to creating good art? Do you have to believe you can’t fail in order to succeed?  

Total writing time 1 hour 16 minutes.

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 29

I’m starting on this a little late today because I had physical therapy and then an amazing massage at Massage Geeks, and then pie. Now I’m home and going to do this before anything else.

Today I’m looking back at the past month and answering some questions.  

Were you able to make improvements to your writing routine?   

Hmmmm….I would have to say no. I don’t have a routine, part of this time I was off work for a few weeks, part of it I was starting a new position with my company.  Somedays I started writing at around 10 a.m, other days I was scrambling at around 10 p.m. Having a steady writing schedule would be super useful for me, but with my job up in the air the way it was that just wasn’t possible.  I still don’t know what my permanent schedule is going to be, so I can’t really plan anything out now. If I was rich and didn’t have to work then this would be a lot easier. As my friend, Lori says “Just be Rich” (inside joke about a bumper sticker)

Were you able to resist feeling guilt and uncertainty about your goal when other weren’t supportive?  

Yes and No.  Sometimes I did, but other times I felt really bad about the time I was spending do this that and how it is probably all a big waste of time.  I felt like I should have been paying attention to people or packing for my upcoming move. 

Do you want to re-evaluate your schedule?  

Yes, I would love to, if I had one. As soon as I know my work schedule I’ll figure something out.  

Which elements of your Boot Camp routine will you take forward with you?

Hopefully working on writing every day.  Even it if is just for 30 minutes a day that adds up to something in the long run.  Maybe blogging about the process like once a week.  

How far did you get with your WIP?

Well, I wrote a brand new short story,  got a good start on two others, wrote two poems start to finish and submitted them, started another poem, edited a previously written story and wrote 28 blog posts.  I am pretty amazing and I feel proud. 

What is your plan for the next month?  

I made a submission tracker last week with 12 projects I want to submit to.  I’ve only completed one so far, I intend to do most of the others, as many as I can.  I also plan to start another book on writing craft. I have about 10 to choose from. I’ll pick one tomorrow.  I’m not going to blog about it every day, but I should do at least once a week. I think having the blog has helped keep me focused.  I going to see if I can figure out how to get followers for my blog, so I can get feedback. 

Writer’s Boot Camp recommends that I write and publish a little book, 4th-grade style,  binding it myself and doing my own cover. That is actually a fun idea. I don’t have time to do this right now since I have a deadline tomorrow, but I’m putting it on my to-do list.   I think I’ll do this maybe as a fundraiser for getting my novel edited or something like that.  I still have my first ever “book” in that format! (No way I’m going to read that, but I’ll put up a picture of the cover). 

Time to read over my submission for tomorrow again and make a few more edits.  

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I edited “Cinder” again, and I think it’s a good as it’s going to get.  I sent it to my friend Adriane to check for grammar and spelling and all that stuff.  I guess there isn’t much more I can do tonight unless I want to start on another story.  I sort of want to start on another story, but I think I have to do other things too right?  

Total writing time today is 1 hour 27 minutes

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 28

I’m so close to done!  I really can’t believe I’ve gotten this far.  My self-esteem has been so bad for the last few years, my goals have all seemed stupid.  It’s hard for me to imagine being successful at anything. I hope doing something like this gets me back into the habit of feeling like the sort of person who can accomplish things, who is successful.  Yes, I know this project doesn’t have much worth to anyone other than me, but maybe it will help me feel like I am worth something again. That I am worth enough that my dreams and goals do matter, that it’s ok to put time and effort into things for me.  

The topic today is “When it’s Dark and You’re Alone”,  and it’s about pushing through and doing the thing when there isn’t anyone to cheer you on when no one else cares. A lot of times you will be doing something that feels super important to you, and you try to share that with your friends, family or lovers and no one cares.  Like they might say a few words of encouragement, but really, they have their own shit going on. I have one friend, Issa, who has really been great, checking in on me, asking how it’s going. She seems to care about me doing this project.  My boyfriend has also been supportive, but other than that most people don’t care. And while that sort of sucks it’s also ok. It really is, because doing the things I need to do to be a successful writer are the sorts of things that require being alone, working alone.  In this series of blog posts I’ve tried to make it a spectator sport but generally speaking it isn’t. No one wants to watch you practice writing.

I have to do this not because it matters to you, but because it matters to me.  I also have to do this on the days when it doesn’t even matter to me. This project has been a little challenging because there are days when I don’t want to write. But knowing I had to finish the goal has made it much, much easier for me to make myself do it even on the days when I feel like a giant, worthless moron who has no place trying to do anything requiring the use of my brain meats.   How will I keep doing this in a few days when I don’t have the goal to complete? How will I do the writing without the blog posts and the illusion that someone else is following along and cheering me on?

I don’t know.  I really don’t know how I’m going to keep writing every day after this.  I guess I’ll try to come up with another game, another goal. There is a sequel to “Writer’s Boot Camp” but maybe I should do another book or challenge before that.  I would rather not do a long blog post every day after this, because that takes up a lot of my daily writing time, sometimes as much as half.

Speaking of daily writing time,  I have an old story to polish up and submit.  I should get to work on that.

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I read and edited the story, which isn’t bad!  It had some clumsy points, too many instances of “too”, “many” and “so”. I think it is a good choice for this submission call.  I’m going to read and edit it once more before sending it to someone else to look over.  

Total writing time today (so far) 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 27

Today’s topic is “resistance from other people”.  The author talks about how people don’t like change,  how our friends and family might want to be supportive, but they will actually push back against anything that messes up the stability of their lives.  They are super happy you are working on something that is important to you, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of you being the person they are used to you being.  

This isn’t actually a problem for me currently.  My parents are dead. I don’t have children. Aside from a few holidays my nieces and nephews don’t “expect” me to be around.  I have a lot of friends, but not a lot of steady dates with them. I don’t have a yoga class or weekly coffee date sort of thing with anyone.  I generally hang out with a few friends over the weekend and go to a few parties. So far writing hasn’t really gotten in the way of my social life much.  I was too busy to host ritual last month, so I guess a few people noticed that.

I know that the time I’m spending on my writing has had an affect on my boyfriend.  I’ve had to write during times when he was visiting me, or I’ve had to write while he was driving us to some events. But mostly I work on things when he isn’t around, we have about 3 night a week that we spend together and I can work around them without too much trouble.  

I live alone, so no one notices and is hurt if I don’t do the domestic things.  No one notices if I stay up really late or work at odd hours. No one cares if I eat, or when.  

When I was married my husband was both great for my writing and horrible for it.  He was awesome in that he is an avid reader of the sorts of things I write and therefore able to give good feedback.  He is great at spelling and grammars, so was a super helpful editor. There have been days this past month when I have missed him so much.  I felt like he “got” my writing and when I wrote something he was proud of me and excited to read it. I think he liked the idea of being married to a writer, too.  I’ve had to stop myself from talking to him about my work and emailing him stuff, especially a poem I finished recently that he would have loved. Divorce is hard, even though he has been gone over a year in some ways I am just not used to him not being here.  No one likes my writing as much as he did. Other people in my life care that I’m doing something important to me, they care that I’m accomplishing my goals, but no one actually cares about my stories like he did.

However, Rachel Federman is correct about the resistance from a spouse too.  When I was really into writing, like doing NANO or writing for Dryden our relationship would get strained.   He would notice if I didn’t clean enough during the day, he would get annoyed if I didn’t want to take the time to make dinner with him or do things together in the evening.  He didn’t understand the emotional strain of writing. I remember one of our worst fights was when I got rejected for a story I was sure I was going to be accepted for. I cried and he tried to make me feel better. When I wouldn’t just feel better, when I kept being sad he got really mad.  He didn’t understand why it was such a big deal or why his attempt at comforting me didn’t fix it.   I didn’t write much for a while after that.

So, anyway, today’s topic isn’t really a problem for me.  Which is a good thing for my writing, because being alone is probably the best way to get things done.  But is bad for me in other ways. I feel jealous of people who have happy marriages or close families. I often feel very isolated and I don’t feel like I have many people interested in reading my stories and giving me constructive feedback.

I’m working today (Full-time day job), so I’m working on the blog post during my lunch break.  I’ll have to do the other writing after work. Today I’m going to do some research on the next place I’m scheduled to submit to, decide if I can edit something I already have or if I need to write something new.  Then I’ll get to work on that.

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Looking through my super fancy writing planner I found 4 stories that would be a good possible fit for this call.  Two of them are finished but need editing and 2 aren’t finished. I have 3 days to get something ready and sent, so I don’t have time to write a new piece.  

I’m going to pick one and try to clean it up tomorrow.  If anyone wants to be a reader I will always appreciate it.  

Total writing time 1 hour and 7 minutes.

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 26

Yesterday was a busy and fun-filled as I said it would be.  I went to a fan convention, had dinner with my niece and made it to the last few hours of my friend’s Luau.  There are lots of Luau’s this time of year, more going on today! 

The theme of day 26 is  “LIving the Questions”. The author mentioned Rainer Maria Rilke.  I searched the mighty google and found the passage she is talking about.  

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke was a Bohemian poet who wrote from around 1900 to his death in 1926.  I’ve never read any of his work, but now it’s on the list. This quote very beautifully expresses my concepts of Future Kitty.  I am always aware that out there in the future is a different me unless of course, I die soon. I spend a lot of time thinking about that future me and being angry that I’m not her, and that becoming her seems impossible.   I have tons on questions I ask myself all the time, questions that can’t be answered now, they can only be answered in the future.

The author put in the proverb “The obstacle is the path” about writing.  Today I wish I could just type up everything she says on day 26 because it resonated so much.  Instead I’ll try to sum it up into my own words. I want to be a writer, so I write to figure out if I can be.  The biggest challenge to writing is writing. The thing I’m most often thinking about when I am writing is writing.  

When you are having writer’s block the best thing to do, the thing you most want to do, is write about it.  When I haven’t written for a while I have a tendency to go to facebook and write about how I haven’t been writing.  When I am writing I have a lot of anxiety about writing. Am I working on the right projects? Am I writing well? Will anyone ever read it?

The obstacle is the path.  The thing standing between you and your goal is every tiny step you have to take to reach the end.  A tree that might have fallen across the path is an obstacle, but so is the flat ground, so are the paved parts, so is the bubbling little stream.  The whole path is the obstacle. I guess if the path leads to something, maybe a moderately successful novel, then each step of the path is filled with the anxiety and weight of the goal.  At any point you can turn back of course, you can give up on the goal and thereby give up that anxiety.  Which is tempting. 

The author says that “writing makes us anxious”  and that when you do it you have to be ok with that.  Sometimes while doing these posts I feel like there is someone wrong with me because of how much self-doubt I have, how sad I feel that no one reads my posts, how much I must really suck.  I feel like other writers can’t possibly feel this way.  That the great ones must have always known they would be great. I worry that my insecurity is proof that I will always fail. 

I feel bad when my writing gets in the way of other people.  Yesterday I left the house for MomoCon way later than I wanted because I needed to write,  today I know my boyfriend wants to go out and do stuff but he has to wait until I finish writing if he wants to do stuff with me.  

Rachel Federman (the author of Writer’s Boot Camp)  goes on to talk about what blocked her from writing and it is exactly the same as me.  Like, this could be me she is writing about. I am a people pleaser, I want people, friends or strangers to be happy with me.  I want to always show up for my friend’s shows or parties, I want to always buy something when I go into a shop. I want to always leave a big tip.  I want to do you a favor, the bigger the favor and the more it hurts me the better!  I am like a machine, where you put in a praise/appreciation coin and I will do whatever you want. I want to help you clean your house, I want to bake you cookies, help you move, plan your party, listen to you talk about your problems.  I want to sacrifice and have people appreciate me, need me and never abandon me.

I bend over backwards because I want the people I care about to care about me,  to love me. I want you to get so much use and value out of me that you can’t abandon me. I get taken advantage of because I don’t want to be alone. Sadly, even at my best, trying my hardest I’m not worth enough to keep the people I love. 

Back to the point…

There are two reason why I am bad at making time for writing.

 

  1. It causes anxiety.  Writing brings up all these hard emotions, self-doubts and fears.  It turns my gaze inwards and triggers bad memories. It makes me feel like the Hulk: “I don’t get a suit of armor. I’m exposed, like a nerve. It’s a nightmare.”
  2. No one appreciates it.  Not that they should of course,  and that’s the point. I’m not doing it as a favor to anyone.  I’m spending hours a day working hard on something, hurting myself emotionally, feeling stressed, missing out on fun things, letting my house get messy, skipping the gym and I don’t get the satisfaction on knowing I did it for someone I care about.  I don’t get any “thank you”. And that really fucking sucks.

To be a writer one has to value the future over the present and be selfish.  I’m a self-sacrificing, have fun now sort of person. Being a good writer by its necessity means you will be lonely often.  And that, of course, like so many things currently, makes me angry.

Today during my writing time I have to submit one or more poems. But first I think I need a short break.  

It turned into a very long break, I went to diner, a movie and grocery shopping. I was stalling. But I submitted 2 poems, with 6 whole minutes before the deadline!  

Total writing time today 2 hours 23 minutes.

 

Total writing time was

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