Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When was the last time you were truly happy?

I've been asking myself this question all day today. I'm not really a depressed, melancholy kind of person, but I sometimes get into a sad mood and think about these things.

I think part of the reason I write is because everyday life can often lack real emotion. We have annoyances. Some of us have really big annoyances, but that's all they really are. Every so often, something incredibly sad happens, like the loss of a loved one. But what really, truly causes happiness, or real fear, or real anger?

I sometimes feel ancient, even at only 29 years old, and I wonder if I've really felt anything since I was a kid. Do you remember the unadulterated joy of childhood? Like getting a new toy, or going to an amusement park, or discovering something? You didn't have to try to be happy - it just happened naturally. And we felt real fear as kids - when we'd done something wrong, and we just knew we had it coming. Or real anger, because some other kid was mean to us.

Now, as an adult, I find myself on a pretty even keel most of the time. And that even keel mostly consists of... "blah." I'm not particularly sad. I can't say I'm particularly happy, either. I'm just... really normal. And I'm bored.

So when I write, I really enjoy the fact that I can make my characters pure. They can have emotions, adventures, and experiences. They're not wasting time in a tiny little condo out in the middle of nowhere, trying to do what they should be doing with their lives. Frankly, if I could find an effective way to eliminate currency in my fantasy world, I would. Unfortunately I can't think of an effective way to do it that wouldn't tie up the plot for 2 days while my characters exchange some menial farm work for food.

Anyways, I don't have a particular point, except that I saw a video tribute to "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)" today and it got me thinking. I wonder if self-publishing this year will make me happy? I'm not sure that the action itself will. But if someone reads my book and enjoys it, then I think that would probably cause me to be happy. And I think that's okay.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Freelancing: Blessing and Curse

A few months ago, I was an unemployed law school graduate recovering from a major surgery and wondering what I'd do with my time if I did not soon acquire gainful employment. I was watching my fellow graduates with a bit of trepidation, as many of them were far more qualified than I was and still struggling to find jobs. Rather than sending out a hundred resumes and hoping for the best, I started to seek out other means of making money.

That was when I stumbled upon freelancing.

It isn't super-glamorous. I never really saw myself as a very technical writer before - after all, SEO has nothing to do with magic or swords - but the fact is, it's a lot better than most of the jobs I'm otherwise qualified for. I'm setting a lot of my own hours, I'm gaining a lot of education about things I never even considered researching, and the pay has been a very nice supplement to the full-time job I eventually managed to acquire.

Unfortunately it also cuts into my regular writing time. I've written maybe 1 page in the last 3 days. I was making such good progress before that. But sitting in front of a computer doing freelancing all day, then switching over to another screen to write... it carries its own kind of fatigue. It's pretty hard to switch your brain from "OK, what else can I say about crowd sourcing" to "Alright, sword fight!" (although it is quite a fun switch, when I can manage to do it).

I think it'd be better if I didn't have this awful tendency to procrastinate. I've been reading Amanda Hocking's blog off and on, as I find her story very inspiring. Her books are high on my "next to read" list, for sure. I'm currently working through Robert Kroese's Mercury books and enjoying them (I accidentally started in the middle, though, so have to go back for the first one - oops!). So whenever I find some lag time in writing about link-building techniques and how to tweak your meta tags (and really, when CAN'T you find lag time when writing about that), I find myself drifting. *SIGH* One of these days, Busy Work... to the moon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Posty-Posty Post-Post

I have a food problem.

When writing, I often will space out for a few minutes while trying to decide how to proceed with my current scene. I also use this time to eat something. My favorite way of stalling is going to the fridge, opening it and staring at the contents, then glancing over at the pantry, then back to the fridge...

To be honest, writing is sometimes boring. Don't get me wrong - I would rather be writing than doing just about anything else in the world. However, I'm not one of those fortunate, super-inspired individuals that have words pouring out of them like a waterfall at all times. No. I'm far too careful most of the time. So, when I stop to think, sometimes I get a little roadblocked, and my next source of inspiration usually involves something on a pita chip (I love the fact that I can buy Stacy's Naked Pita Chips), or cheese, or peanut butter, or things that are far less healthy than that.

I'm a compulsive boredom-eater. There, I said it.

I was this way in law school a lot too. I would be slogging through pages and pages of dense material, and I often found it was difficult to stay awake if I wasn't also munching on something at the same time. I tried to channel this into something healthy - e.g. instead of tortilla chips, carrot sticks! - but really, my tastebuds just won't fall for it. I once forced myself to study for an exam by eating a steady stream of wasabi-flavored almonds and craisins (alternating between the two, of course) over the course of 8 hours. I got a really great grade in the class. I also gained like 3 pounds. I try to save those episodes for times I really need a huge incentive to keep my butt in gear.

I suppose there is a plus - I'm much happier writing than anything else, so I don't depression-eat as much anymore (unless it's because I want to be writing and can't be...) Hopefully it balances out!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ode to Coffee

Ode to Coffee
A tribute

My alarm clock doth ring
And out of bed I don't spring
For too early is it
Yet at my desk I must sit.

Still yawnin' and stretchin'
I make my way to the kitchen
To put things in motion
Brewing life's sweetest potion.

As I shower, I think
What awaits me to drink
So I soak and I scrub
Don't fall asleep in the tub!

Could I just stay awake
As my hair and face I make,
Do my clothes even match?
I might need a second batch.

Completed, I emerge
Oh morning, thou art my scourge!
But look, in the distance...
That which saves my existence!

Come sweetly to my lips,
Never mind the scalding drips.
I can face this new day
Sweet nectar, don't go away!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another Writer Joins Us!

I'm pleased to announce that Steph and I have another taker for our 2012 Publishing Pact - the lovely and talented Robin! I informed her of our goal and she has decided that this is a journey she wants to take with us as well. Hopefully we'll all be posting actively here soon!

Favorite Words

I've been receiving the Dictionary.com Word of the Day everyday since my freshman year of college (which was back in 2001... wow, now I feel old). One of my favorite challenges for NaNoWriMo is incorporating the Word of the Day into my writing for each day of November, no matter how odd the word. Now, I'm not saying I'm particularly great about reading the words each day - many times they end up getting glossed over and filed away in my NaNoWriMo mail folder (yes, I do save each one) but every so often I'll learn a delightful new word and stow it away in my brain's filing cabinet for an opportune moment to use it.

I've been a particular slacker lately, with everything going on with my work and my freelancing, and have not been giving my Word of the Day subscription quite the attention it deserves. I think it must have realized this, for today it gave me pause - the word of the day was my all-time favorite word, "persnickety."

When you learn the definition (which I'm not going to tell you - look it up!), you'll find it's not as if it is a particularly positive word. It does describe my personality in some respects - the way I was about my school work, for example, or grammar (learn the difference between your and you're, dammit). However, if you take a moment to say it out loud, you'll find it trips rather delightfully along the tongue, a perfect combination of simple phonetic sounds. I think the only thing more pleasant to read aloud is Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.

In other news, I've made it past the scene that was giving me such pause in my novel. I've been moping along, word by word, not getting more than 50 words per day for the past few days, when finally I just decided what needed to happen: time to blow some crap up. It was just what I needed, and I managed to crank out a not-too-shabby 1000 words yesterday. Still less than I'd like, but this isn't NaNoWriMo - I need to focus just a little bit on quality over quantity, even if much of it will end up re-written during the editing process.

Well, time for that bane of my existence - the ever-present day job. Sally forth and whatnot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

That Inspiration That Hits When You Start to Doze

I love nighttime. Left to my own devices, I am definitely a night owl. Sadly, annoying things like day jobs and bosses get in the way of me achieving my true potential - which really only happens at about 3am on weeknights, 4am on weekends. I like the feeling that I just might be the only person awake in a 50 mile radius. I know it's unreasonable to believe that, but I still like the peace and silence, the feeling that I'm getting away with something a little bit weird and no one is awake to see it. It's isolating but majestic at the same time. There's an amazing lack of pressure late at night - you don't have to be anywhere or see anyone if you don't want to. You don't have to worry about the weather, really, because there's no real urge to go outside. Your body usually isn't hungry by then, so you don't feel the urge to go stuff your face with anything - cravings are silenced, people are quiet, and you can just be yourself.

Last night I woke up at around 4:15 AM and I enjoyed the fact that I was, really, alone. Sure, my husband and dog were asleep a mere couple of inches from me, but they were dead to the world. I probably could've blown a fog horn and they would've been none the wiser. I nestled down into my pillows and had a half-dream about my novel, composing in my head. What would happen when my main characters finally decide they're ready to fall in love with each other. How to handle this really slow scene I'm currently plodding my way through, sentence by sentence. Every so often nudging my husband to stop snoring. And it was all fine - leisurely, kind of sleepy, full of contentment. I wish I could effectively write from bed. Unfortunately, a laptop is a bit cumbersome (and would eventually wake the hubs up), and dictation software is iffy at best - plus again, no talking.

The problem is, the mood gets all ruined if you get out of bed. I don't know about you, but we try to save a dime by not running the heat in rooms we aren't using. So if I were to plod into my study and try to write, I'd have to shiver under my snuggie (yes, I wear a snuggie) for about 15 minutes while the room got good and toasty. By then, I'm too awake from being cold, so there's not much inspiration left 'cause my toes are fighting frostbite. This is why I love warm weather. In the summer, I can see myself sneaking out of the bedroom, huddling under a blankie (for secretive purposes, not for warmth) and just writing contently until morning. Really, for me, atmosphere is everything when I'm writing. It can't be too sterile and organized, but it can't be a jumbled mess either. I guess that's why I like it to be a bit dim - I can ignore everything else (whether messy or clean) and just write.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Just keep writing...

The last couple of days have been tough.

1) I am having a rough time at my day job, and it's starting to cut into my writing time. The primary problem is that we do not have a lot of systems in place. I am a very systematic person - I like lists, checkboxes, calendars, deadlines, etc. My current job is mainly about managing relationships - which, as many people know, doesn't lend itself to a checklist sort of system. Plus, I'm always worried that I'm forgetting something. Meaning that when I suddenly realize at 8:30 pm that I did forget something, I immediately stop writing and start working.

Just an FYI, working from home is great when you suddenly have a huge energy crash in the middle of the day and can use your lunch time to take a quick cat nap. It's not so great when you wake up at 2:30 in the morning and decide to work because you suddenly got a flash of anxiety that you forgot something.

2) I am still making myself write - even if it's just 2 or 3 sentences. It forces me to remember the world I'm creating and keep it foremost in my mind. If I didn't even do 2 or 3 sentences, I'd probably drift off, forget my characters' names, and then have to re-invent the wheel whenever I finally did manage to sit down and write again 2 months later.

3) I'm officially old. Well, not really, but I'm kind of creeped out. Today marks the beginning of my last year as a 20-something. Next year, I hit the big 3-0. Somehow, I always thought I'd be farther along in my life by now. I remember writing out plans in college to be retired by the age of 28 so I could enjoy life a little bit before I turned old ("old" being 35). Instead I'm sitting here wondering where the time went.

I can't even imagine having to do this and raise a kid at the same time! Many props to my partner in crime Stephanie for handling it so well... (she promised she'd post something here soon, I hope she chimes in, otherwise I'm going to have to play the "birthday" card and tell her she has to 'cuz the birthday girl says so...)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The beginning.

Yesterday, a friend and I made a pact: 2012 is the year we are each going to self-publish one of our novels.

We've both been writing for a while now; we've participated in National Novel Writing Month each year for the past few years, going along for the great thrill ride that is knocking out a novel in 30 days. We've talked about getting our work published. But now more than ever is the time we can really make it happen - with so many resources out there, and motivating each other along the way, we can do this.

So here are the terms:

On June 8th, we each have to complete our drafts of our novels and have them ready to exchange. Why June 8th? Because it's Steph's birthday. It's also about 6 months from now, which is totally do-able, but mainly I think it's the birthday thing.

We will then read each others' novels; and then read them again; and then be brutally but lovingly honest with each other and submit our edits and suggestions. We may start that meeting with a good stiff drink and a list of why we love each other first; that's important.

And, finally, we will retreat to our respective corners, complete our own editing processes, and click the giant "self-publish" button in the sky (or on Amazon, or on Barnes & Noble, or both) by August 31st.

I'm sure we'll have much more to say as time progresses. But this is the beginning - the terms of the deal, and our first step towards being published authors.

Let's write!