Well, here goes nothing. I’m about to venture into uncharted territories. About to head beyond the horizon, beyond the now, beyond the future even.
Where am I going, you ask?
I’m going to do the unthinkable. The unimaginable. Potentially the most frightening thing I’ve ever done.
I’m going to try to mind-map/thought-bubble a rough outline for the fourth book in the Abnormal series–before I’ve written out all of Book 3!
I know, I know. I’m scared, too.
My mind is ticking away, and it needs an outlet. And my brand-spanking-new journal needs filling. Plus, it’s not even 0400 and I’m bored af. So I’m going to try to outline beyond where I’ve written, and I’m going to maybe–maybe–tiptoe into Book 5’s story a bit, too.
You see, I have a long-term plan now, more than just “I’m gonna write a bunch of books with the same characters in the same world.” Now that I’ve decided to go ahead with the YA spin-off series, I need to actually plan stuff. I mean, I have to decide how fast to age the characters in the NA series, where to leave off at the end of the NA series, and where to start the YA series. That means the dreaded planning.
In addition to quasi-plotting out Book 4/possibly Book 5, I also might plan out the titles of the YA books, or at least the first few. I already know what I want to call the series, but I haven’t decided on book titles yet.
Yeah. I’m going to do this.
But I’ve gotta stop talking about it…if I just keep rambling here, I’ll never get it done! Lol
It’s Marketing Time again in my publisher’s writing group, so I spent this morning tweaking and posting some graphics on various social media sites to try to generate sales/interest for Abnormal. I need to screenshot my current insights, I suppose, to have a comparison to make.
Marketing has been by far the biggest challenge to my writing career. I just don’t understand it. Some posts I make have a huge impact with a lot of interactions, and some (that I personally think are more interesting or entertaining) get zip. It’s just something I can’t wrap my head around.
It scares me a bit. I mean, I’m the one most responsible for getting my book out there and seen/read by more people. So why can’t I seem to get the hang of it?
Who knows. I tried contacting bookstores in the state–almost no response. I tried contacting libraries–zip. I tried several blogs/podcasts/book review sites–crickets. I just don’t know what I’m doing/not doing that’s so wrong.
In person I can sell the book just fine. I can talk it up and get people interested and even get them to buy it. Granted, it’s mostly friends/family/coworkers that are buying when I do this, but I have managed to convince several strangers to give it a shot, too. So it’s not that I’m not capable of selling my book. I just can’t seem to translate the in-person pitch to a post or tweet. Which is weird, given that I have severe social anxiety and tend to stammer when I get nervous–which is just about any time someone asks me about my book. You’d think that I’d do better from behind a phone or computer screen.
So I posted a few graphics today, and I’ll keep an eye on the analytics/insights to see what-all worked and what didn’t. Here are the things I posted today, minus any hashtags and the like:
Apparently there’s a way to put up a story on Instagram and allow comments, but I couldn’t figure it out. Oh, well. They’re out on the Web now, so time and analytics will tell if these graphics help me out or not.
I’m trying. I really am. I just get so overwhelmed with all there is to do to market a book. It’s not just throwing it out into the ether and waiting for the income. It doesn’t work that way. But hopefully, with the help of my publisher, I’ll get some traction.
Well, the local Arts and Sciences competition is over, and I didn’t win anything. I’m not overly surprised, but it’s still a little disappointing.
It’s not so much the fact that I didn’t win anything. Sometimes you don’t win, and that’s okay. What bothers me more is how unprepared I was for some of the questions I got from my judges. They asked about specifics about the history of the type of art I chose to enter, if there were any extant examples I knew of, and a little more stuff that, honestly, I couldn’t answer. It got me thinking…
…I know I’m not going to become a Laurel overnight. It usually takes years and years and years of hard work, research, and determination. Decades, sometimes. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the possibility of being the 50-something vigilant who has to be helped to kneel before the Crown because of her arthritis. That’s fine.
What bugs me, though, is the research part. I can do research. I know how. But what I never learned is how to retain it. I had people rattling off grave site names and examples of digs where certain things could have been found and dates and time periods and…I can’t get that stuff to stick. In school, I would retain facts long enough to pass the test and then they’d flutter away on the breeze the second the test was over. My brain doesn’t hold on to stuff the way it does for most others I see who are heavily active in the SCA. I can remember that the serial killer Albert Fish liked to shove rose stems, thorns and all, in his urethra, but I can’t remember what time period my favorite style of Norse art is from. I could read it a thousand times, but it won’t stick. Why? Who knows. All I know is that this little idiosyncracy might have a negative impact on my potential future as a Laurel.
You see, Laurels are supposed to not only be experts in doing the art and/or science they’re known for, they’re supposed to be experts in the history of the art and/or science as well. How can I become that level of expert if my brain won’t hold on to the data?
I worry. I hesitate. And I wonder if it’s imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head or if this is a serious concern. Am I just doubting for no reason, or should I reconsider my path? I mean, maybe I’m not meant to be knowledgeable about the pretty things I make. Maybe I’m just meant to make them and that’s it.
Or maybe I’m just tired. It’s been a long day, so long that I’ve had entirely too much time to think. That’s always a dangerous thing for me.
Last weekend’s Arts and Sciences competition in a neighboring Barony went well, and tomorrow is the A&S competition for my own Barony. I have mixed feelings about it.
Last year was a disaster. A fiasco. A veritable shit show. I entered two pieces and was supposed to be judged by three people for each piece. This did not happen, largely because not enough judges were acquired for the event. For one item they press-ganged a judge at the last minute, because I complained to our Seneschal about the lack of judging (and because one of the judges who was supposed to judge it, who specifically told me she would be back to judge it, wandered off to judge something else and never came back). It was a miserable day spent at a table waiting to discuss my pieces with the judges, and I was so upset at having a terrible experience with A&S competition–my first experience entering in A&S–that I got stupid drunk that night and ended up vomiting Cheetos all over the side of the car and my Italian Renaissance dress. (Many, many thanks to my wonderful husband who cleaned all that mess up while I took a cold shower to sober up a bit.) I even sent a politely-worded but still quite blunt email to our Baron and Baroness about how awful the whole experience was, and how as a novice entering for the first time I hoped this experience wouldn’t sour me to A&S as a whole.
I had a much better time of it at the neighboring Barony’s A&S the following weekend (last year the events were on back to back weekends as well, but in reverse order compared to this year). Enough that I was willing to consider entering in an A&S again, but not so much that I was willing to enter into the Kingdom-level competition. No way.
This year? This year I’m entering just one piece for the local A&S, but I’m confident enough to try to enter it in Kingdom later in the year–possibly even multiple entries, depending on how quickly I can make it through my current backlog of projects.
I’m still apprehensive about tomorrow though. I mean, I know different people are running the competition, and knowing who’s running it makes me feel a tad bit more at ease about my likelihood of being judged appropriately, but last year’s competition still has left a vile taste in my mouth. (And no, it’s not the memories of the regurgitated Cheetos.)
I need to get cracking on the paper for it tonight or tomorrow morning (in true AJ style, I’ll be cramming at the last minute lol I hate writing papers), though I think this year they’re not being sticklers for full documentation. I think they’re taking a page from our neighboring Barony and letting entrants that aren’t going for Champion do minimal documentation. If that’s the case, I should be good to go for the most part, just some minor tweaks.
Here’s hoping I don’t get gypped again this year. I don’t think I will, but that doubt still lingers….
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!
Today marked a big day in my SCA life, and it made me think about my personal life as well.
Today marked the day when I knew I’d never be a Defender of the White Scarf. Not that I was thinking I would be one, but I thought I might eventually have a chance. If I practiced hard enough, if I worked hard enough, y’know?
Then I got to thinking about why I stopped practicing. Why I stopped trying. Why I don’t really try to do much of anything physical anymore. And then it hit me: I’ve gotten too big. Really big. Uncomfortably big. Like, sometimes I wonder if it’s going to kill me big.
I need to do something about it.
I need to stop when I get hungry and decide if I’m really all that hungry. I need to try to get more active. And, much as I hate the idea, I might need to talk seriously with a doctor about gastric surgery. Like, dead serious.
At five feet ten inches, I am almost three hundred pounds. I might be that by now–I’m afraid to get on a scale right now. I don’t want to know. I think I’ll break down in tears if I find out.
Something has to change, though. This can’t keep getting worse.
I’m tired of being the fattest person in the room. I’m tired of not being able to breathe when I try to put on my shoes or something. I’m tired of being hungry all the time. I’m tired of seeing myself in the mirror and wanting to puke. I’m tired of seeing myself tagged in photos online and trying not to cry at how I look.
I don’t know if today’s the day that things will change. I don’t know if I’ll ever crawl out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into. It’s gotta change sometime, though, if I’m going to survive. If I’m going to accomplish the things I want to do. I need to do an about-face, and I need to do it fast.
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.)
I was on samples of a medicine that worked great for my anxiety. Then the doctor prescribed the full strength dose…. and the pharmacy didn’t fill it. And they didn’t fill it. And they didn’t fill it.
I asked why I didn’t have the med yet. Their answer? My insurance required a prior authorization from the doctor. Okay, cool. He’ll fill it out and it’ll be approved and I’ll get my medicine.
Nope. The initial prior authorization was denied. So the doctor was going to write a letter of appeal to the insurance company. In the meantime, his receptionist said I could pick up two weeks of samples again.
But my tricksy mind got to me. It said, “Well, what if the appeal doesn’t work? Then what do you do? You can’t have samples forever; they’ll run out, and you’ll be back to square one.” And stupid me listened to my brain and didn’t pick up the samples.
This was last week (I had been off the medicine, which has a 72-hour half life, since April 3), and this week started off terrible at work. The office was super busy, someone had called out, and my stress levels were through the roof.
Yesterday morning I woke up stressed. I was anxious about getting to the doctor to get those new samples , because maybe two weeks of sanity is better than nothing. That, and I wanted to cut. Like, REALLY wanted to. I didn’t, but the urge was there.
I tried stopping by the doctor’s office on the way to work, but they were closed. I tried calling, thinking maybe I could leave a message. The longer I went without hearing from him, the worse I felt.
I texted my boss and asked if someone could cover the one afternoon patient while I went to Urgent Care (which is what the doctor’s recorded message says to do if you don’t hear from him). I didn’t want to go to Urgent Care, but I knew I needed to do something or else I was going to go over the edge.
Why was I afraid of going to Urgent Care? Because I had convinced myself that if I go to Urgent Care for any kind of mental health issue, I’ll be committed. No passing go, no collecting $200. That is a tremendous fear of mine, and for most of the morning I felt the weight of that fear crushing me.
After a hectic morning (or maybe it wasn’t really hectic–maybe that was just my skewed perception) of working and playing phone tag with the doctor’s receptionist, I finally got my new samples. Full dose, two weeks’ worth.
I took one as soon as I got it, but alas, they’re not instant acting pills. I felt relief at not having to go to Urgent Care, but I still felt wrong.
I was still a little scared. I was still not thinking clearly. All I could think about was how close I might have come to ending up in a psych ward.
It’s a little better now. I don’t feel like I’m going to lose my shit at the moment.
Tomorrow will be a long day. My goal is to survive it and make it to the next day.
It’s pretty sad when you view survival as a goal, not a given.
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.
It’s been one of those mornings. Motivation and morale are low, and those pesky brain gremlins are creeping in.
You know the ones: they’re the little parts of your brain that don’t think you can do it. Doesn’t matter what “it” is; they try to tell you you can’t. Or they try to convince you not to even bother.
Interact with followers and writing community on Twitter? Nah. Waste of time.
Try to get some writing in? You know you’d rather sit here staring into space.
Get up off the couch and do some chores? But you’re so warm and comfortable…
It seems that for every productive suggestion I have, my brain gremlins have a counter point. They’re weak counter points at best, but the gremlins are stronger some mornings. Today’s one of them.
The gremlins are trying to convince me to go back to sleep until it’s time to get ready for work. They’re trying to tell me to watch a bad B movie on Netflix, or to just stare into space because what’s the difference? It’s all an endless cycle of self-hatred, depression, and darkness. Why bother?
There’s stuff I could be doing. Cleaning the kitty litters, emptying the dishwasher, putting the laundry in the dryer through a de-wrinkle cycle before I get ready for work, writing, etc. I mean, I’ve got a good hour at least before I have to get serious about getting ready. So why can’t I get myself to start any of these?
Oh yeah: the gremlins.
Like the Bugs Bunny cartoons of old, gremlins are known for sabotaging things. Brain gremlins are no different. They want to sabotage your life…but to what end?
It’s hard to determine the motives of the brain gremlins. They certainly can’t have anything to gain by making you feel down, depressed, or just plain done with life and all its hassles. But maybe gremlins don’t need motives; maybe they are just malicious little creatures. Tiny little malignancies in the thought process that seep in and spread like a cancer.
That’s not to say I haven’t accomplished anything this morning. I made myself an energy drink (no creamer, so no coffee this morning), took my pills, and made and ate some breakfast.
Pills. That’s why the gremlins are out in full force today. I forgot to call my doctor’s office to see about the authorization for my new mood stabilizer. It’s a newer drug on the market, so the insurance wants the doctor to jump through hoops to get it approved for me. It sucks, because I ran out of the sample doses last week, and the anxiety has been creeping back in its absence. Perhaps the brain gremlins sensed the lack of medication and descended in full force to thwart my efforts to be a productive member of society this morning. (Well, at least a productive member of the household.)
At the very least I’ll get the laundry fluffed and the litters cleaned. Maybe the dishes put away. But writing? No, the gremlins have too firm a hold on my brain at the moment. I can’t wrestle my creativity free of their crusty little claws.
I wish I had advice for other gremlin-sufferers right now. Something inspirational that will scare the gremlins away, or maybe keep them in hiding for the most part. Sadly, I have no such advice. I’m still battling those demonic little buggers myself.
Some day those gremlins will be quiet. They’ll stop telling me there’s no point, that I’m not good enough, or whatever such nonsense they cook up. For now? I guess I’ll just figure out which task is next and work through them one at a time.
You won’t win the day, gremlins. Maybe you’ve won the past few hours, but you won’t win the day.