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.

******

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 22

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

Regardless I will be done before midnight anyway.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Writer’s Boot Camp Day 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beige

Bland, so bland.  

almond, eggshell, off-white, linen

76 degrees

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

cream, ivory, oatmeal, taupe

easy listening

the only thing you should hear is Yanni

Bone, cotton, alabaster, porcelain

Unsweet iced tea please,

Thank you

 

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

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

Total writing time today is 1 hour and 27 minutes 

Dragon Con 2014

We went to Dragon Con again this year. It was fun, even more than last year. There were still a lot of people, but it was not as overwhelming for me. I didn’t try to be there all the time; when I was tired I went home. I also did a much better job of scheduling my time, making sure to go to the sessions that were most important to me.

I went to several professional development sessions in the writers’ track and listened to some of my favorite writers talk about the creative and business side of being an author. This was the first time I have gone out of my way to talk to other writers one-on-one and get their advice. I realize networking is important to my career and it is something I need to get better at. However, walking up and talking to someone has never been my strong suit; in fact I find it quite rude and aggressive. I feel like I am assaulting people with my words and presence when I come up without permission. I mostly practiced it on writers who said it was something you have to do in the sessions, because I took that as them clearly giving permission. I ordered great business cards since then, so that will help in the future.

I also did real cosplay this year, as opposed to last year with general anime and general goth. I dressed up as the Flame Princess from Adventure Time and helped Puck be Simon and Lori be Marcelline. I loved being recognized. Several people even took my picture. Cosplay is something I definitely want to do again. I would like to do the Evil Queen from Once Upon a Time next year, but that will be pretty difficult. Maybe something from Avatar. I should decide soon and get to work.

Dragon Con 2014 - 2SimonLoriThis was the first year I have gone to the Walk of Fame and talked to a few celebrities this year. I was nervous and I babbled a bit. Sandeep is one of the cutest people, and one of my few celebrity crushes. I think I might have made him uncomfortable as I make all people I think are cute uncomfortable. He seemed to like Puck, who is for some reason way less creepy than I am. (Future post about how creepy other people find me and dating forthcoming).Sandeep

Richard Howland from “Lost Girl” reminded me of my paw-paw.Talking to people I have seen on TV is weird, it is like they are people and not people at the same time.

I’d like to start going to a few other conventions once I get a job or start making a bit of writing income. I enjoy being around people with common interests in a structured environment.

Trick

Oddly, Dragon Con might become something like New Years to me. I have felt so inspired to work since then. In the last few weeks I have worked harder at my writing than I have in months. This blog post is proof of that. I have also written and submitted a dieselpunk story. This week I am going to try to find five markets to submit to, write 600 words a day, and at least try to edit my novel. This weekend I plan to attend the Georgia Romance Writers’ monthly meeting. I hope I can keep this ball rolling; being around other people who are in the same business will help

.

A Fortnight without Facebook – Complete

Normally I write fiction for the Trifecta prompt. That was on the to-do list for later today, but then I found that the word “juggle” being on my mind jumped into this piece of personal blogging. Enjoy a bit of my less-exciting real life:

I went two weeks without Facebook or Google+. In one hour I go back. I feel apprehensive. Aside from a little loneliness, it’s been a great two weeks. I’ve done editing, dancing, art, cleaned house, and gardened. My anxiety decreased, and overall I’m happier.

However, my stress now is high, just thinking about Facebook. It’s too much, which sounds silly, as it’s just a big page of people saying little things, but it’s so much pressure for me. I can’t juggle real life and virtual existence. The constant urge to check it, looking every five minutes for fear of missing something. I went two weeks without it. Obviously there was nothing important. The pressure to say something witty. When I comment on a status, I’m an insecure person at a party, desperately trying to seem relevant. When I post something, I’m a yippy dog barking for attention.

I’m not a one-sentence person, nor should I need other people’s approval. The last few weeks I mostly didn’t. I felt good because of what I accomplished and created, not for how many likes I got. What social media gives is not what I need. I want friends to work on hobbies, do activities, and actually care about each other’s lives. I don’t want hundreds of acquaintances, all barking simultaneously.

I need a plan. I have to keep my author page, because someday I will have fans. As for my personal page, I don’t know. I’ve tried time limits and schedules but it never worked. I don’t think it will work now. Once I start reading I can’t stop; once I post I become tethered. Maybe I could cut my friends list, but I don’t know who to cut. Should I delete it? If I do, I will never hear about social events, as I will not be invited directly. Will I become a social hermit? If two weeks without Facebook is a cabin vacation, deleting it is going to live alone in a cave.

Fortnight without Facebook – Day 8

I will risk the cliché and say that time has slowed down. It is 9:01 am, and it feels around lunch time already. There is more time to do things, and nothing feels as hurried. My house is cleaner than it has been for a while, and I am thinking about reorganizing and taking some extra things to Goodwill. I have been working in the garden, editing my novel, writing short stories, and playing the piano. I have a stack of books I have been wanting to read, and I think I might actually start on them today instead of reading Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch books over and over (I have comfort books. It’s a thing). I went to belly dance drills on Tuesday and I have a yoga class tonight. I got out a half-finished sock I gave up knitting several years ago which I plan to figure out.

The days are open.

My stress is so much lower that I am even thinking about getting a job outside of the home, which normally would put me into a panic. It is strange how in the center of a stressful situation, even if you know the things that would help fix it, the idea of doing them seems impossible. Money has been a big point of stress for me for a little while now. We were doing great while I had an accounting job, and even great while I was on unemployment. I had enough saved up that for a few months after the unemployment stopped we were fine. This has been a wonderful year for working on my writing, and I firmly believe that someday I will make at least a minimum wage income off of my overactive imagination. I am so frugal that it would be plenty. Right now I am making an average of $10 a month, which is a good start. I am not complaining; to be making anything at all in an artistic career should be counted as success. I have enough confidence in my writing that I think even with a job I would still write; not as much, but I would keep doing it.

I plan to do a very small Kickstarter once I finish editing my Young Adult novel. Not money to pay me for the writing of it or anything. I want to have a professional editor look at it, which I think will run me about $250. And I would like to pay the cover artist, Jamie Moore, who did the cover of Treacherous Nature for free earlier this year. It would also be nice to get a few physical copies of the book to start with and maybe a box of business cards for it. I think I could do all that for about $350. If Amanda Palmer, who is already rich, can get $600,000, then I should be able to get $350. But I am getting off topic. That is at least a month away.

I have enjoyed not having social media and I am starting to not even miss it. I’m still afraid that important things are going on without me, but not as much as a few days ago. I’m reaching out more, intentionally connecting with people I care about instead of throwing out word-nets and hoping to catch someone.

Fortnight without Facebook – Day 5

I lived the majority of my life without social media, so it is obviously not something I need.  However the world has changed. The way we interact and build community and relationships has been drastically altered in the last five years or so.   Social media keeps us in constant superficial contact with our “friends”.  We get little glimpses of peoples’ lives, people we might never see in person.  I have people on my “friends” list that I have not spoken to in person for 15 years, people who I have never met in real life, and people who live in the same city as me who I see maybe once a year.  I have “friends” who I have met once at a party or event, who I would not recognize if they walked past me on the street.

What is the value of having “friends” who you don’t actually know or care much about?  What is the cost?

I guess I should tell you how this is going instead of waxing on about the downfall of human interaction and society.

Thursday, the first day, was the hardest.  After every chore or task, I would sit down at the computer and stare at the screen.  Sometimes for several minutes.  I felt annoyed most of the day.

Friday I kept doing the staring thing, but the annoyance was mostly not there.  I was just coming back to my office over and over again out of habit.  On Friday night I went out to dinner with a few friends and then went to a concert.  It was not until I got home that I realized how low my anxiety was while I was out.  I have always been an introvert, but over the last few years the social anxiety has gotten very bad.  Sometimes I can’t go to something that I wanted to because the anxiety is so strong.  I sometimes take medication for it.  On Friday I did not take anything or drink at all, and I was perfectly at ease.  That might just be a coincidence.  But it might be worth exploring.  Has all-day exposure to social media been the cause of my increased social anxiety?  Is my brain counting Facebook like being in a crowded room?  Without it will I be more social in real time?

Saturday and Sunday were easy.  I mostly spent them hanging around the house with my partner.  We did a lot of gardening, watched some TV, cooked, read, and napped.  It was fun and relaxing.

Today I am home alone again and not logging onto any social media is hard.  I don’t feel lonely exactly, but more disconnected and a little bored.  The friends I actively interact with are at the same level as normal. I talk to Lori in New Orleans almost every day, Jeff in Atlanta and Issa in Tennessee a few times a week.  But my social media friends have almost entirely disappeared from my life.  No one has tried to contact me.  My feelings are not hurt or anything, but I am more aware of my relative worth in most people lives.  I am one of a hundred people who post statues updates at them every day.  My absence is likely going entirely unnoticed, because my daily effect on their lives was so minor.  Whereas I am no longer being interacted with by the 100+ people who posted status messages at me.  I have lost several hours of quasi-social interaction; each of them has lost no more than a few minutes from their total.

So far, not having “friends” has made me aware that I would like to have more actual friends, but I have not figured out how to go about this yet.  I have nine more days without social media in which to think about it.