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 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.  :-/

Play Me?

It’s the middle of the night, and the sleepies are missing.   I went on Facebook to entertain myself until the sleepies returned from their break, but that was a bad idea.  All sorts of ideas jumped in before the sleepies got back. My brain is on overdrive, unable to shut off.

There are a lot of topics on my mind, like how the differences in being raised male vs. female in a patriarchal society can cause those raised male to romanticize the experience of being female.  I could write about trying to get back into journaling and how I want to use that to deal with issues that I’m not ready or at liberty to discuss online. I could discuss my recent failures and successes in sex, romance and polyamory. Or maybe a picture I saw of really yummy looking flan.

But you know I’m not going to talk about any of that.  Instead we are going to have another rousing game of “What the Fuck is Wrong with Kitty!?!?!”.

Wooooo, yay!!! The crowd goes wild!

I saw three things on Facebook that came together starting a long conversation with myself and necessitating this post.

Watch this video, we can call it media aid #1 before continuing:

https://www.facebook.com/Themightysite/videos?fref=photo

There was a time when I felt in control.  I had goals and plans spanning years at a time.  Every semester I could look at my lists and know exactly what classes I should take. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, from going to work the next day until I retired on to a farm decades later.  I thought of myself as an “Epicurean,” not in the sense of eating great foods, but in the classical way.  I wanted to work hard, stay focused, and have a life that maximized pleasure by minimizing pain.  It was working.

Things changed.  I changed.

From time to time I try to regain that sense of control.  I read a book on productivity, buy a day planner, join a peer motivation group or make detailed lists and schedules on my phone.  For a while it works, and I start getting things done. Generally the day-to-day stuff like cleaning and exercise get under control first.  Once I feel confident in that, I start letting myself read, write, work on fancy garden projects, try to reconnect with friends, date, get a job, or make income.  I start planning for a few weeks, a few months.  But it never sticks.

I don’t know why.

I have theories.  Is it that I’m too comfortable with my life? Am I afraid of change?  Is this anxiety a chronic disease that I can’t defeat? Do I just not care enough? None of these seem to be the right answer, let alone a solution.

The plans and goals I work hardest at, and the ones I am most likely to be successful at, are the ones that affect the people I love or need.  That brings us to media aid #2.manipulate

Am I a symbiotic parasite?  Perhaps I find people that fill a need in my life.  I then give them what they want: manual labor, money, sex, advice, support, etc.  This makes them stay and do whatever it is I needed.  Am I manipulating people into taking care of me?  Am I lying to myself if I say that I not?  Am I some monster that feeds off of others?  If people who care about me read this and say “no, of course not” is it because I am just that good at the symbiotic part? Is there anything genuine about me? Am I writing this because the parasite part thinks it will help me manipulate the foods?

There are things that I want to do for me.  I want to edit my first novel and publish it.  I want to make money and do awesome cosplay.  I like knitting, playing musical instruments, and dance.   These things always end up at the end of my to-do list, because I know I’m not going to do them and I don’t want them blocking projects I will accomplish. I’m not going to actively do anything that doesn’t benefit the hosts I feed upon.

I’ve tried to get around this by convincing my loved ones that my goals benefit them.   Some recent examples:

I actually said to my best friend, “If you make me do the work thing, I will give you $5 for everyday I make money.  You can get $150 a month just by bothering me!”

More subtly I have tried to get people who have or had an interest in me sexually engaged in the idea of me getting back into dance.  This is reasonable because it could lead to me being more flexible, thin and graceful, which could benefit them sexually or socially.

I have convinced my friend and publisher to call me once a week and shame me into working on a project for her in the hopes that this would motivate me to work on her project and my own.

I try every few days to get a friend or lover interested in my writing, so maybe they will want me to work on that.

Think about the fucked up that this is.  I try to make you love me, so that you might then be willing to give me permission to love myself.  This is going to have to go on near the top of the list on things that are most fucked up about Kitty.  Why can’t I cut out the middle man and just love myself?  It seems like it would take less time if nothing else.  

This brings us to media aid #3rpg

There was a time when my life was a first person RPG, super-open world format.  I could grind if I wanted to, I could take side quests, or I could choose any number of big plot arcs.  I could do anything that I planned out in my little gaming notebook.  

Anxiety has made my playable world smaller.  I worked so hard to level up as an accountant, but I can’t have an office job or that sort of responsibility.  I used to think about going back to school and picking another character class, but that’s likely to be as much of a failure as accounting was.  Every time I look around, the number of possible arcs decreases.

Recently I don’t feel like I’m the person playing anymore.  I feel more like the character, just standing there in a tavern waiting to be moved, directed.  That perhaps if a good player comes along at least I can finish this game in some respectable way.  Or I can be used to farm gold for a more important character.  I can keep being a changeable part of the game, keep having experiences, keep advancing.

I fear that option might close to me someday.  That I will turn into an NPC, conveying one piece of information or helping the important characters by accomplishing a single task.  What if someday I realize I’m just the tavern wench? What if being the tavern wench is all I can be, all I’m made for.  What if being the tavern wench is what I actually want?

 

Food Guy goes to American Foods and Beverage

My friend, we will call him “Food Guy,” loves food. He loves it in a spiritual, ecstatic way.  Great restaurants are his church.   He wants to experience all the exceptional foods Atlanta has to offer, trying everything from hole-in-the-wall burger joints to the fancy foodie Buckhead bistros.

His girlfriend is a vegetarian, and six days a week so is he.  On either Saturday or Sunday of each week he has what he calls an “invisible” day.  It is invisible in that his girlfriend does not see him eat meat. Of course she knows he does it, but she doesn’t go with him on these food adventures. He can’t go to a restaurant alone of course — he would look a bit crazy ordering all the things he wants to try, which is how I got the job of food buddy.  I go with him, as an extra body across the table, a blow up doll so you can use the carpool lane.  I don’t order my own food; sometimes I don’t even look at the menu.  I am just there to try all the foods he buys.

This works well for me, because as a struggling writer I don’t have the funds to go to all these places on my own. As such, I realized I might as well write about all the places we go.  That makes it more like a real job.

Sunday we went to “American Foods and Beverage” at 250 Buckhead Ave.  First of all, I want to talk about the name.  Ok, it is descriptive, kudos. They are a place that provides American foods and beverages. So do half of the restaurants in Atlanta.   I feel like they should have tried a bit harder with the name.  This is the second location of this restaurant, the original being in Fort Worth, Texas.  Maybe the name is cute there with all the Mexican and Tex-Mex places, I don’t know. However, it is not a cute name here.

The location is overly fancy.  When Food Guy said we were going to a place with house-cured bacon and sandwiches I had an image in my mind.  This was not it.  I felt underdressed. I felt really underdressed when the server informed us that they had “complimentary water service, flat or sparkling,” like that was a big deal.  I have Atlanta tap water at my house and a SodaStream – you are not doing me any favors here.  This is not the first place I have been to that has done this, but they were the most proud of it.   Dear restaurant owners, pointing out complimentary water is dumb, please stop.  If someone is so wealthy that they are eating in Buckhead then odds are if you charged something for water they might not even notice.  But telling them “Ohh, free water” seems to imply that this should make a difference.  If the cost of water was the financial tipping point of eating there, then a person could go someplace else, like maybe Waffle House, which by the way has a complimentary water service and cherry syrup for their Coke.

We only had one beverage. Food Guy’s friend, L, got the Bloody Maria. It’s a bloody Mary except with tequila instead of vodka.  I am not a fan of Bloody Marys in general, but this was pretty good.  I would share one, but not want one of my own.

Time to tell you about the food.  My friend ordered for both him and me.  L ordered as well.  Between us we had:

  • House made bacon BLT: Thick cut, in-house smoked and cured bacon, with a runny egg, lettuce and tomato. This was good.  The bacon was a little thick for my tastes, but Food Guy and L loved it.  I think the egg was a nice addition. I would eat this again.  This came with fries, which were average thick-cut fries.  The bacon is their “thing,” the reason we were there in the first place.  I was not disappointed.
  • Corned Short Rib Reuben: This sandwich wins. Corned short rib has all the delicious flavor of corned beef, but it is so much better.  Corned beef is often chewy and fatty, but short rib is a much better cut. It was perfectly cooked with perfect texture.  Also instead of sauerkraut they used shredded braised Brussels sprouts, and the sauce was very good.  I could eat this sandwich every day.   It was served with fresh made potato chips, which were meh.  Not enough salt for me and a little too greasy.
  • Scotch eggs: The gimmick here was they were made with chorizo instead of sausage. The great thing about them was they were nicely soft-boiled.  Other than that, they were just like you would expect scotch eggs to be, but a little spicier.  Not bad, but not special.
  • Steak tartar: Not the best I have ever had (I say all fucking fancy, like this is not the third time I have had it in my life), but not bad.  The meat was not great enough to be the star of the show, and the other players were boring.  Better beef and less presentation would be good.
  • Fried chicken, with rosemary biscuits: Sorry guys, you are seriously going to have to up your game on this one. You are in Georgia; we know what good fried chicken tastes like. This was not it.  It was OK, I ate it.  But I wouldn’t take it to a family reunion, if you know what I’m saying.  I would feel ashamed taking this fried chicken to your house after your grandma died.  The portion was too small to make it at all worth the price.  The biscuits and apple butter were very good, however, perhaps they can be ordered by themselves.
  • A side of the special bacon: This was thinner cut and longer-cooked than that in the sandwich. It was my kind of bacon.  I have nothing bad to say about this bacon.  Good job, person who made the bacon.
  • Devil’s Food Cake: Good cake, maybe better than average, but not the best. Then again my mother was an award-winning southern baker, so maybe I just can’t be impressed by a slice of cake. The ice cream that came with it was quite good.

The deal that gets me wonderful free food is that Food Guy orders it all.  Had I been ordering myself, I would have tried the rigatoni with cheddar or ricotta pancakes, or was it French toast?  I would check the menu, but it seems that they must have spent too much money on the location and fanciness, because the only website I can find is for the location in Texas. But here is their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanFoodBevAtlanta

Speaking of fancy, all the food was a little on the messy, drippy, or greasy side, which is great, but fuck you for making me feel underdressedwith your fancy tables, water service and Buckheadness.  If I had dressed up I might have ruined some nice clothes.  I guess rich people can just get their clothes all greasy and go buy more clothes.  Average people like me don’t do that. They should either make an effort to be a bit more casual or a bit less moist.

I would eat here again and try other things if Food Guy or anyone else was paying.  I would only pay my own money for the Short Rib Reuben or a side of biscuits and crispy bacon.

Butterfly?

It’s easy to never leave. Anything I need can be delivered.
Nexflix to watch, Amazon to read, groceries dropped off for a small fee.

You say I must go out, be part of the world.

You say I have friends, should have friends, or will have friends depending on your argument for the day.

You tell me people interact, they build bonds, tribes, families. Come out you say, to a movie or a play. Let’s go visit this person or that and pretend they’re happy to see you.

Put on a nice dress and a smile. Nothing is prettier than a smile.

You list out my virtues, telling me all the reasons people like me: brains, humor, talent, imagination, compassion.

But your logic is weak. It’s based on people being reasonable and stable. It relies on them choosing simple over complex, and easy over exciting. You think other people are rational like you. You think they value substance over form.

I was thin and pretty when you met me. I was full of excitement and energy. I wasn’t afraid all the time, every moment of every day. I had big plans. Today I was supposed to be a CPA, a senior accountant on my way to CFO. I was going to wear nice suits and go to power lunches. I wanted to be a mother.

Instead I’m an unemployed cat lady in her pajamas peering out the window, checking all the locks.

You fell in love with my heart, which aside from the lack of courage has not changed. You fell in love with how much I love you, and love me for how much I love you still.

This me happened in slow motion and backwards.

Frame by frame, a butterfly goes back into the cocoon.
A beautiful garden becomes an empty lot.
A confident woman becomes a frightened child.

How is it that when you look at me you still see a butterfly?

butterfly

***

This was written for the trifecta prompt Weak -3: not factually grounded or logically presented

I am 5 days into taking SSRIs for the first time. It is not supposed to do anything yet, but I feel horrible. My anxiety is way higher than normal, I feel alienated and depressed. This poem or prose, or whatever it is, is not very good but it is what I felt like doing today.

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.

Thank You to My Tens of Fans

First off, I have been out of town for the last week in Chicago, so I have been too busy having fun to post to my blog. Also sadly too busy with the fun to get much work done on my novel, which I am about 5000 words behind on. But don’t worry, I will work hard and get caught back up soon.

Today, what with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I wanted to write a little thank you note to some people who are making this becoming a professional writer thing a lot easier. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book or told people about it. I can’t express how much your support means to me. I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. In fact my first memory of it was a summer night when I was ‘swimming’ in the above ground pool my mom had just gotten. It was a full moon that night and I wrote a poem while I floated around. Of course my little poem when I was 8 was not very good, but I still have it around here someplace. It was that night that I first thought that someday maybe people would want to read my thoughts and care about the things I make up.

Anyway, since I was 8, I have been writing and dreaming of someday having people read my stories, and even better of being able to make a living off of people reading my stories. When I was 11, I got a type writer for Christmas (not a useful tool when you are a horrible speller). But until this year I have always been too afraid to actually give being a professional writer a a try; afraid of rejection, afraid of not being very good, and afraid of losing the dream forever if the reality was that I could not do it.

Something changed this year. I think the first change was when I realized that sometimes people write stories and books that are not “masterpieces” and they do just fine. I don’t have to write something so OMG amazing that it rocks the world. I just have to write.

The second thing was that I can publish my own stuff. I don’t need any “professional” publisher’s approval to be awesome. I can be awesome any time I want, no waiting.

So between giving myself permission to not be ‘great’ and the ability to self publish, my last fear was just that I might lose the dream. Fuck a whole bunch of that. What is the point of a dream if you never even attempt it? It was time to stop waiting around for someone or something else to convince me to write and publish. It was time to take control and do it.

So I did. I worked hard and I wrote something. Yay! But some of that fear was still there. What if no one read it? What if everyone thought I was being dumb and made fun of me? What if it just sits there on the internet getting cyber-dusty? What if this is it, no one buys it, and I lose faith in myself and the dream really does die?

But then people stepped up and bought my book. Most of them are my friends in real life, supporting my creativity. But some stranger has bought “Treacherous Nature”. Friends and strangers alike, it has meant so much to me. Each time I sell a copy I feel so happy, and I feel the urge to keep going. I even sold a story to a publisher. I am writing a novel. I am submitting several stories every month. I am getting paid to write. And I don’t think I would still be working so hard if it were not for all the wonderful people who have bought my book, asked what I was working on, told people about me, commented on my blog, and just said “Good Luck!” or “You can do it” when I needed it.

I don’t want to sound too cosmic space bunny here, but this process is not just about writer and words. The reader is just as important. So, if you are reading this  — Thank You! If you have read my book THANK YOU!!!!!!