Writer’s Boot Camp Day 16

Today is all about figuring out my weak spots as a writer.  

The timeline given has 7 sections to think about:   

  1. Ideas- I’m pretty darn good at this.  I’m imaginative and creative.
  2. Rough Draft- no problems here generally,  sometimes I’m lazy or spend too much time in research, but the storytelling part is easy and comes naturally for me.  I like making shit up.
  3. First review- I enjoy the first reading of my work, while it’s still new.  I like making little changes, moving things around, tinkering with the characters.  This part sometimes makes me feel a little sad because I think “wow, you write like a little kid” but other times I love reading my own work.  I feel proud the first time I read through and edit a short story. Novels are different, I apparently refuse to read my novel, and the rough draft has been done 4 years!
  4. Second/Third/Fourth drafts –  I start getting a little bored, but I can do it.  I might have to take a day or two off from a project and work on something else, but I got this.  
  5. Proofreading and polishing – here things start to fall apart.   I don’t feel like I have the skill sets and tools to even try proofreading my own work.  Many of my projects dead stop right here.
  6. Sending out work – I have 12 “finished” but unpublished stories,  I have 18 “works in progress”. I have 0 places I plan to send them.  0, nada, none, zilch. I have a page on which to write deadlines, but it is blank.  I have a list of markets I should look into, but I never get around to it. I do have one piece that is scheduled for publication in September, so I do sometimes submit, but not often.  
  7. Dealing with rejection and resubmitting – Yeah, not so much.  I just cry.

That’s pretty clear.  I don’t find places to submit, so I never have to finish proofreading and then submit.  I don’t like rejection so I avoid it. Clearly, this is where I need to be focusing my attention.  It seems a little counterintuitive, but maybe for the next little while I should stop writing for this Writer’s Boot Camp and start spending the time searching markets.  That thought makes me feel a little sick.

Looking for calls and markets takes so much time, and so much reading and effort.  And once I find a place I almost always want to start a new story. I never feel like any of the ones I already have done will work.  This could be a stalling technique.

I guess I need to start adding “look for markets/submitting” to my daily tasks.  This seriously might be where I give up on this whole thing. This doesn’t sound fun at all anymore.

I’ve only been working on this half an hour and I feel emotionally drained, about to cry just thinking about it.  I’m going to feed the cats, take a break and then come back to this and start looking for story calls. Ick.

I found 12 possible magazines and anthologies to submit to in the next few months and put all the info in a spreadsheet.  

Aside from this blog post, I haven’t done any actual writing today and I’m not going to.  I just spend 1.5 hours reading calls and submission guidelines, that is enough for one day.  

Tomorrow I will put them in order by deadline date.  Then I’ll find something I already have finished and polish it up to submit or I’ll write something new to submit, but I’m doing these one at a time, trying to complete as many as possible.

Work time today was 2 hours

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.  :-/