I love when I get unstuck in a WIP that I’ve been stalled on for months.
Here’s what happened: I was doing a streaming podcast called “Writer Imperfect” (www.twitch.tv/roberstonwrites), and the discussion turned to a subject that kind of jump-started the ol’ brain into motion. Now, I haven’t written anything new yet, but soon I’ll be opening that file and getting down to business.
I knew that Book 3 was falling flat, big-time, and I knew I needed to shake things up somehow while still fitting with the story. Then that conversation got my gears moving, and I know now how to change the story to fit what now is going to happen.
First off, I have to go back and find where to make the shift. Then, I have to rewrite the parts that need it. Then I have to weave those rewritten parts into the existing parts to make it all fit. It’s doable, and I think it’ll make the story richer when it’s done. I just have to, y’know, do the work. Lol
Having a new direction for the story is a great feeling, especially when I was stagnant for so long. I had a major depressive episode that affected pretty much all aspects of my life, and I’m only just now crawling up out of the muck to get situated and reorient myself to being on an even keel. I’m posting on Instagram more, interacting more on Twitter, and trying to get myself balanced before I dive into anything more involved.
I know my publisher is probably ready to strangle me for not marketing/branding like she wants me to. I just…can’t right now. Every time I even look at their marketing plan posts I get anxiety, and that’s no way to live. I’m trying to get myself out of the ditch, not dig myself deeper.
For now, though, I need to rest. Spent the morning cleaning house for a guest who ended up not coming over, so I am a little tired. Also, I can’t remember if I took my pills this morning and don’t want to take too many, so I guess I won’t fight the nap. Lol When I wake up, though–it’s on!
They say it’s good to be patient. Patience builds character or something. All good things are worth the wait. Except…
Except I am highly disappointed that I can’t move forward on Escape the Light yet. I know my publisher is busy, I know they’ve got it on the docket, and I know that, once done, I’ll appreciate the time that is spent on it. Unfortunately, knowing something intellectually and accepting that thing are two different animals.
I’m getting bored in the mornings, which is my best writing time. I’m dying to see what changes they want made and to move forward with those changes. I’m restless.
I’d work more on Book 3, but I have come to a wall of sorts. On the one hand, the more I get written the less I’ll have to write later. On the other hand, if I get too far in and they want me to make sweeping changes to Escape the Light, I will have royally screwed myself.
To proceed or not to proceed? That’s my question lately. I don’t want to do the work only to have to undo it… but if I don’t do the work, it won’t get done.
Maybe I’ll ask my publisher what they think. To boldly go or to wait my turn?
They say to count your blessings, right? I think I kinda forgot that for a bit.
Here’s what the deal is: my publisher is on this marketing/branding/selling kick lately, and with me already working a full-time job plus having other “non-writing life” obligations, it’s stressful how much they’re pushing it. Like, I already try to spend any waking non-work/non-SCA/non-sleeping hours writing, being active on Twitter, making Instagram posts, sharing links, etc., and for them to pushpushpush like they are, it’s getting to me. Can’t get blood from a turnip or something, right?
But I forgot. Sorry.
I mean, yeah, it’s stressful, but I guess in their own way they’re trying to help. My brain just isn’t wired to accept the pushing for the nudging and encouragement it’s meant to be. My whole life, whenever I’ve been pushed I’ve “pushed back” in the form of passive resistance. Basically, you push me, I dig in and shut down. My personality doesn’t dig it.
I know I should be grateful. I should be thanking the Gods that my publisher came to me and said they wanted to publish Abnormal. They saw potential, and I shouldn’t take that for granted.
But damn, I just keep forgetting.
Now, I’m not saying that for them to push in the way they are is okay by my book, but I do need to slow my roll on the bitching and get over the initial knee-jerk reaction that I have to it. They’re trying to teach strategies; my learning style just doesn’t jive with their teaching style, and I think I need to have a (level-headed) talk with one or more of them about how I would best benefit from what they have to teach. I’m sure that we can put our heads together and figure out the method of encouragement that would work best for me.
Yeah. That’s what I need to do. Talk. Not bitch. Count my blessings. Show gratitude, not attitude. (Cheesy, I know, but it is what it is.)
Well, right now, in my mind, the little things apparently matter–in a big way. I’m talking about all the little things that people say that might be well-intended but get skewed in perception.
Here’s the thing: I commented on a post in the writing group I’m part of. Big mistake. Really big mistake.
The OP (original poster) was talking about how if you want to be a best-selling author you need to think like a best-selling author and treat your writing like the job it is. Okay. Fine. But what about the job I have that pays the bills? What about the few real-life friends I have? What about my physical and mental exhaustion? Did the OP have any advice for me on that?
Not really. I was basically told that, since the SCA is not 100% necessary (like the job obviously is) I need to reevaluate my commitments to it (and, of course, the people in it). Okay. I kinda get that, but the OP fails to realize that the SCA is my only source of real-life friends outside of the one or two friends I have at work. So….to succeed I need to give up having friends?
Yeah, that’s how my brain works. But that’s not the best part. It gets better.
The OP also told me to “schedule” writing time and “prioritize” it. Okay. But I kind of already do that. Unless I have an urgent embroidery project (oops! there’s that pesky SCA thing again), my insomniac mornings are spent on writing, editing, and marketing my writing through social media interactions. So, yeah, I schedule writing time in a manner of speaking. I prioritize it by choosing that over trying in vain to go back to sleep. I spend hours on this. Almost every day. Probably cumulatively more time than I spend at work, when I think about it. I can easily be awake for 5-6+ hours in the morning before getting ready for the day job, and I spend a lot of weekend free time on writing as well. Hell, sometimes I sneak a little modern day into the SCA events by using my phone for Twitter interactions and Instagramming and yeah, I even bring my laptop on camping events so I can hotspot my phone and–you guessed it!–work on writing, editing, and marketing.
But my brain’s not done yet. No sirree. My brain had to tell me that the OP was singling me out. He had to have been picking on me. Insulting me. Telling me that I will fail if I don’t do the things the way he says to do them. That’s what my brain got out of that.
So that’s the worst of it, right? I got over it, calmed down, recentered my perception and got out of my own way?
Nope. I went full-on psycho paranoid ultrasensitive bitch.
I worded my response carefully, or so I thought. I didn’t bite back, even though I felt attacked. I kept it calm. Or did I…..?
Guess not, because the next day, the OP wrote another inspirational/motivational/well-intended post, this time about excuses.
Oh, shit. There goes my mind again.
Clearly he’s writing about me. Clearly he’s targeting me in this verbal assault. I’m obviously the sole inspiration for this outrageous insult. When I was asking for advice on how to deal with all that’s going on in my life, I was obviously making excuses and thus the new post was born.
I’m trying to tell myself it’s not personal. Or at least, if it is personal, it’s meant to help not harm. I am trying.
Oh, shit again. There I go. Using “try.” (The OP also posted about taking “try” out of one’s vocabulary today. Yeah. Today was a two-fer.)
I’d say that it’s a neurochemical shitstorm (ooh! I like that phrase–sounds better than “off my rocker”) in my brain right now, what with the medicine that helps me de-stress and not think this way being denied by my insurance, but I don’t even know where mind and matter separate at the moment. I don’t know where the line is. I don’t even know if there’s a line anymore. My mind is twisting everything I read to be an affront against my person, and I don’t know how to stop it.
I was better in my outward reaction today. I bitched to one or two people privately, but I didn’t comment on his posts. I kept my fat mouth shut. What does it matter, anyway? He’ll just twist my words around to make everything that’s wrong with my life my fault and I’ll feel even shittier than I already do. Best to leave it alone.
One of these days–maybe not soonish, but some day–I’ll even out. I’ll stop taking every little thing personally. Until then, though, I’d better retreat. Back into the shell you go, personality. Back in there before you screw something else up.
Okay, so Pixabay didn’t exactly have an image with a woman in scrubs, a woman in casual clothes, and a woman in SCA garb all together. Let’s just pretend that’s what’s going on in the above picture.
This weekend, I decided to take a mini vacation from both my day job and my writing. I needed that small break (and besides, yesterday, if you remember, was my anniversary). The SCA event we went to was not as relaxing as I had hoped, though, and I’m getting back to that feeling of “obligation” moreso than “hobby” or “volunteering.” It was like okay, I agreed to do the thing so I’ll do the thing, but what I really wanted to do was spend the day with my husband.
It would have been okay, but he got busy with autocrat stuff (he’s co-hosting an event in a couple of months) and I got a rash from the grass at the site and ended up falling dead asleep in the car for a good solid hour courtesy of the Benadryl I took. I barely saw him all day, and for our anniversary dinner he invited a lot of people, so it wasn’t as intimate as I would have liked for our anniversary. In fact, he sat with his back slightly turned playing host to the friends at his side of the table for most of the meal.
I discussed with him afterwards, told him I would rather celebrate our anniversary in a more intimate setting, and I told him that, even though our SCA “anniversary” tends to fall on the same weekend as our wedding anniversary, I’d like to keep the two separate.
Next weekend we have another two events. The weekend after is technically free, but I’ll likely be doing the embroidery for my good friend’s elevation to the Order of the Pelican because, well, the elevation is the very next week.
I’ve also got embroidery to do for my belting to my soon-to-be Peer, a Laurel I both admire as an artisan and as a friend. There’s also an art exchange gift that I need to finish before my belting–both of which are due the week after the elevation. Then, when all that is caught up, I need to finish the embroidery project that I’ve been working on for the past four or five months for Their Majesties….who will no longer be ruling by the time I get finished but who have told me that my friend’s elevation project comes first.
So, long story long, I have ended up with a third job in the midst of all this. The SCA is becoming obligatory instead of just fun.
Don’t get me wrong; I like doing the embroidery. I like when people take note of and enjoy my work. But it IS work, so I have to once again force myself to slow down and reflect on my priorities.
Day job (gotta pay the bills)
Writing (which I hope will some day assist in the payment of the bills)
Sanity (yes, I do need to include this in my list)
SCA events and activities
I don’t want to stop altogether. I like my SCAdian friends and family… I just need more of a balance.
In pursuit of that goal, I picked some Fridays next month to sign up for the live stream Writer Imperfect, where I get to chat with other authors and answer questions about what little I know about the publishing world. I still have an event in May, but it’s just one event. Those three Fridays are for my writing career.
I’ll survive. I always do. But my survival hinges more and more on me standing up for my needs and voicing my concerns when I get overbooked. And speaking of booking, I should try to get some writing time in today….
Well, after a good solid month of being blocked, I’m back to writing. It’s still slow going, and the progress isn’t marked, but it is progress.
I’m starting to get more of the world in place, the situation–locally for my characters as well as globally–the timing…things are coming together. Or, well, for my characters they’re falling apart. Lol
I can’t say too much without getting spoilery, but I’m getting more confident in the direction Book 3 is going. It’s fleshing out, it’s developing, it’s coming to light. (Sounds silly for only having added about 1500-2k words this morning, but you’d be surprised how much can be conveyed–or inspired–by those few words.) I have more of a vision of what’s happening and what’s going to happen.
Of course, this means that my long work day in the surgery department will seem even longer, because I’ll be away from my laptop and unable to continue my momentum. My brain might end up being stuck in the distant future instead of being rooted firmly in the present. (Don’t worry–I don’t do anything more crucial than taking vital signs, giving drops, and maybe giving discharge instructions. Lol)
Adding to the time-taken-away-from-writing is my upcoming anniversary. Six years this Saturday! We’re going to get coordinating Gallifreyan tattoos once we have the extra funds saved up. It was my husband’s idea, but I fully endorse it.
Tomorrow I’ll start on the full-dose Vraylar, which means I’ll be taking it only three days a week (yay for a long half-life!) and hopefully seeing even more improvement in my stress levels. I handled yesterday’s work day well, and it seems even the days that are craptastic aren’t as bad as they normally would be. I tried to cut hours where I could, but it looks like I’ll be in OT again this week–which means I’ll probably be sent home early tomorrow. Darn. Guess I’ll have to write or something until my husband gets off work and we can leave for our weekend trip.
We’ll be going to an SCA event on Saturday, but Friday-Sunday we’ll be staying with his dad and stepmom, and Saturday after the event we’ll be having a nice dinner with friends at a delicious restaurant. The adult in me is looking forward to a beer; the kid in me is looking forward to FOOD!! Seriously, this place has the best chicken pot pie I’ve ever tasted.
Well, it’s getting to be That Time again. Time to leave for work, to leave my comfy abode and make the twenty-minute drive to employment.
Some authors describe their stories as their “babies” or their “creations”…so what happens when the editor gets hold of said creation and decides it needs sweeping changes?
For many authors, the relationship with an editor can be a love-hate thing. They love getting feedback and learning new things about their writing, but they hate the need to make changes. There are authors who accept the changes with open arms, ready to polish their story to a gleaming shine. Other authors, however, see it as someone trying to gut their story–and who wants their baby gutted?
I’ve had my own experiences with editors, good and bad. The bad experiences were mostly my fault in that I wasn’t willing to make the changes necessary to make my work the best it could be. Do I have regrets about not making those changes? Yes, at times. There are times when I think, “Hmm, should I have done X like the editor wanted, or am I happy with how my original decision worked?” I have doubts to this day about not listening when maybe I should have.
Editors aren’t here to kill our babies. (Okay, so maybe some of them are–I don’t know all the editors out there, obviously.) They’re there to make our stories shine, to give them the best chance they have. They’re there to catch the mistakes that we’re too close to see, to look past the original vision to see where the story needs to go to grow and succeed. Editors are a good thing.
Some authors might disagree with me. They might have had some bad past experiences with editors, or they might think that they’re doing just fine as their own editor. Well, I’ve got some advice for those authors: You remember the adage about “A man who represents himself has a fool for a client” (credit to Abraham Lincoln, via the Internet)–well, the same could be said about the man who edits himself. Yes, we all need to do our due diligence in editing our stories as best we can before submitting to a publisher, but we also should do our best to find an editor who can give our stories the once-over (or twice- or thrice-over, if necessary) that they need. If an author chooses not to find an editor for their story, well, I have little sympathy.
Granted, there are those who simply can’t afford an editor. I was lucky to have a built-in editor in the form of my mom (who has had her own professional editing business in the past), who wouldn’t take payment from me for Whispers of Death. I was lucky to have a critique swap group on Facebook where I could send a few chapters at a time for critique, review, and yes, edits where necessary. But not everyone has these resources. Professional editing services can be expensive, and for the struggling writer it just might not be feasible to hire someone. And that’s okay, but be warned that your story might also not be as successful without that neutral pair of eyes to look over it and see what you’re too close to see.
As I await the first round of edits for Escape the Light, I try to keep this in the forefront of my mind. I don’t have to butt heads with my editors (although I love the editors at RhetAskew, so I don’t think I will). I don’t have to dig in my heels and refuse to budge on something they suggest changing. What I have to do is keep an open mind and try to learn from the experience. I have to be receptive to change and utilize those changes in the manner that best helps the story.
River (pictured above) pretty much embodies my spirit animal last weekend in this picture. I slept quite a lot, and accomplished not much of anything.
Okay, so I got the last of the handwriting from Estrella transcribed. That’s something I accomplished. And I got the laundry done (but not put away). I was basically the noodle-cat in the picture, limp and lifeless.
I know that I kind of earned it, but I still feel a bit rotten for not getting more done. I hope to remedy that next weekend with more embroidery work finished. My timeline on that is ticking down, so I need to focus. Thankfully, I have only two halves of a hem to do to be totally finished. Just a little more…
Book 3 is, as all first drafts are, crap, but it’s got potential. I need to clean and beef it up, but that’s for later, when I have the draft finished. I’m still waiting on the edits from RhetAskew before I get too invested in the story I’m starting to tell there, because if they decide I need to change the ending of Escape the Light I’ll have some rewriting to do for Book 3…best not to get too committed to any one story right now, when I might have to make sweeping changes (learned my lesson the hard way on that one).
I need to bug my mom for the edits on my short story. Time’s ticking on that deadline, too, though I have a couple weeks still. I want to get it submitted ASAP though, because I am anxious to get it in the bag. I know, I know, “patience young Padawan”….I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna get as many coals in the fire as possible. (I’m pretty sure I’m mixing metaphors there, but you get my drift.)
My pen nib tattoo is scheduled for Wednesday after work. I’m really excited about it, especially since I’m funding it with autographed books that I’ve sold. It’s the perfect way to pay for a writing-themed tattoo, right? In case you need a reminder, here’s the image I’m going to get inked:
It’s going to go horizontally along my collar bone (and I’m not getting the little crown or whatever that is put on it).
The surgeon is back at work this week after nearly a week off, so I’m back to work as normal. I’m hoping that the new med continues to work well. I haven’t felt nearly as stressed since starting it, and I hope it’s not a fluke.
I suppose I should get to work on something right now. I have a few hours until I have to get ready for work, so I’ve got some play time, but better to jump into the next project so I can keep momentum going for the week.
It’s funny how the little things can get you more anxious than the big things.
I’m talking about short stories versus novels. With my novels, I usually take more time to fine-tune them and make sure they’re publishing-ready. Short stories, though? Most of the time I just type ’em out, give ’em a once-over for typos and flow, then throw ’em up on this blog.
This time, though, I’m going to be submitting to my publisher for a place in their next anthology. The theme (legends) fits with a new set of characters in Escape the Light, so it’s the perfect opportunity to get the world of Abnormal out to a wider audience.
I’ve never submitted a short story for publication before. I’ve never gone through the editing and beta reading process, never spent more than a couple of hours on a short piece. Not that I don’t care how my short stories turn out, but it’s a different feeling when it’s for publication. I feel more pressure to do it “right.”
Am I worried? A little. But I’m taking the necessary steps to make my story as perfect as it can be. I’ve got a few more beta readers’ feedback to go through, and I want to get someone to do a proper edit on it.
I think it’ll do well. I think it’ll get published. But I’m still nervous about it.
On the advice of many, many people, I went to my psychiatrist yesterday (a month earlier than scheduled) and talked to him about all the stress I’m under. New medicine acquired, old medicine discarded, and now we play the waiting game.
Basically I have a month to adjust to the low dosage of the new med (which totally sounds like an alien species) before I get the full dose filled. There are a few bonuses to this new med:
No known weight gain side effects
Long half-life, so once I’m on the higher dose I’ll only have to take it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Teeny little capsule, so not a huge gag issue
The med is soon-to-be-approved for bipolar depression, so that’ll help with that side of things, but I am dubious as to the anxiety/stress benefits of the med. If it’s supposed to help with depression, will it also help these other things? We shall see, I guess.
Speaking of bipolar disorder, I’m slated to appear on a podcast called Speak Your Mind, which is a mental health podcast. I know, I know, it’s not my usual book/writing podcast venue, but the host is excited to talk about Abnormal and my writing in addition to discussing mental health issues in my life and in society as a whole. More info to come on that once I’ve gotten a date scheduled. We had a good, long chat the other night, so I’m hopeful that someone listening in gets some benefit out of hearing my story and my struggles.
I try not to get too political about mental health, but let’s face it: mental health is widely ignored by insurance companies and even more widely stigmatized in society as a whole. I think back on the work that Carrie Fisher did to try to destigmatize mental illness, and I think this is one cause I can get behind, not only because it directly affects me but also because it affects such a wide range of people, and not enough people talk about it. Maybe one day, when I’ve hit the NYT bestseller list, I can have the kind of influence where my experiences make a difference.
Yes, I have a mental illness. Yes, I have bipolar disorder. Yes, I take medicines to be “normal.” No, I’m not crazy.