Life · Writing

The Last Month

It’s December, y’all! I hope you had a good, safe Thanksgiving, and are keeping up with the safety precautions for the Christmas holidays, too. We had a tiny Thanksgiving dinner – small 12 lb smoked turkey, stuffing, asparagus, cornbread, and cranberry sauce just for my husband and I. (No dessert, but I think next year we might change that. I did miss having a good slice of pie at the end.) We invited no one and zoomed with my parents, who also invited no one and had an even smaller Thanksgiving dinner. None of us have plans for Christmas either, so with the crazy rising cases, I think we’ll be relatively okay.

I feel like this month is akin to whatever that’s going on in the White House right now, i.e. a transition period to 2021. I cannot wait for this horrid year to be over, and mentally I am already in next year mode, even though I still have a full 31 days to slog through. I started using the Hobonichi Techo I bought already, as its calendar starts in December of this year, and I’m pretty delighted. It’s going to be solely a work journal – I’m keeping a separate bullet journal for all the life things, including my endless journey to getting pregnant via IVF. I will start that again next year, after I get my flu shot and depends on distribution rate, the Covid vaccine. I am an avid pro-vaccine person, but I’m not going to get this fast-tracked vaccine if I get pregnant, because it definitely has not been tested on any pregnant women. Anyway, I bought a new nuuna journal for next year. That format is perfect for my bujo needs, and since I want something cheerful, I bought this super colorful one. Gives me a little more optimism, and god knows we all need more of those.

This month is also for me to catch up, writing-wise. I have not gotten much work done in November due to election, miscarriage, holiday preps, etc. Hell, I didn’t even get any fun things done because of those. And no, I’m not proud of that. So December is for resting and re-energizing. I will take care of myself physically and mentally, and I will have more dedication, more drive, to work. Yes, it’s going to be hard, but I believe I can do it. Of course I’ll keep y’all up to date on whether I succeed. Does this count as a new year resolution already? No matter. Everything in my life is a marathon, not a sprint, and so many things are out of my control that worrying, or even planning, is mostly useless. So why give myself anxiety? If I just keep on trucking regardless of what happens, I believe I will get far, even though it doesn’t feel like it any one day of the week.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #2

Wow, it has really been a while since I attempted this, huh? Time to pick this up again, and hopefully make it a habit.

Photo Prompt:

© Dale Rogerson

The Wait

It’s stopped snowing but Jessi still haven’t left the house. She can see the bench where Stephen’s supposed to be, but he’s nowhere in sight. He’ll show up, she thinks. He’s a little scatterbrained but there’s no way he’ll forget her birthday.

She shuffles her feet as she keeps looking out the window. Her red jacket and matching boots are ready by the door, and she’s already clutching the housekeys. He’s only five minutes late; no big deal. Stephen is always running behind anyway. Surely he’ll show up, and they’ll go out to dinner, and everything will be fine. Really.

Work · Writing

A Case of the Mondays, on Tuesday

I’m feeling super unproductive today. The most appropriate phrase would be I’m ‘having a case of the Mondays,’ except it’s 5 o’clock on Tuesday, because my weekend was Sunday and Monday, because I actually worked a “normal workweek” and decided yes, I do need two days off just like everybody else that’s toiling away do.

Why is this significant? Well, this is the first time in a long, long time, that I actually took two days off. As in, I did the work I’m supposed to do, and in the two days that followed, not only did I not do work, I also didn’t worry about work. It was utterly and completely freeing, and I haven’t had that feeling in so long that I really don’t remember the last time that happened. Every day I spend either working but agonizing over that I’m not doing enough, or getting completely burnt out and unable to work and then agonizing over the fact that I’m not working. Every. Single. Damn. Day. For the past however many months – years even. I seriously do not remember how it felt to…not do that. To be honest it was a pretty weird experience for me the past two days. Like, the lack of pressure was so new that I have no idea what to make of it. Good thing I’m seeing my therapist tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll have loads to talk about over this.

I got out of the cycle because I had to submit to my writer’s group last Saturday, so I basically worked nonstop until I finally deemed my submission “good enough,” which was around 11 pm Saturday night. After that I just crashed. But the point is that I was done and more or less satisfied with what I needed to do, which was new, and so the days that followed were spent at peace instead of in mental agony. I’m hoping to keep this up – not that I’ll work nonstop or anything, but that I will keep a manageable schedule and take regular number of days off. And keep that up. Because it’s the only healthy way forward, I think. I’ve been mired in an unhealthy mindset for so long that to get a breath of fresh air is almost too overwhelming.

This doesn’t help today, though. I’m supposed to get back to work but I’m procrastinating like no tomorrow. The only difference is that I think I’m experiencing what normal people with a normal job feel like on a normal Monday, not what a depressed person feel like on, well, any day really. But let’s not jump the gun. I’ll update on how my therapist interpret this later. Right now, I just need to get back to work!

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #1

Yep, continuing to do this now. Should be fun. I really need the accountability and the practice. There’s just something about having to post at a certain time to keep me…writing? Creating? Freaking out less? Either way, wow, more rusty than entry #0 if possible. And I’ve decided I should make an account just so I can be part of a community – ish. Might offset the perils of social quarantining for the past (and future) months.

Photo Prompt:

© Jan Wayne Fields

Closure

She stares at the hat stand in the small shop. It’s such an obvious tourist trap, with price marked up by at least 200%, yet she is contemplating a purchase. She’s always preferred physical souvenirs to Instagram memories. The handful of black sand from the volcanic beaches of Hawaii lets her relive her honeymoon. A colorful, cheaply made hat from a beachside shack in Samoa marks her first trip alone after a messy, emotional divorce.

She buys one with a neon bright print. It will sit on the shelf next to the black sand. A suitable bookend for that affair.

Work · Writing

How Would You Know If You Don’t Try?

I am having some serious issues concentrating on work these past few days. I don’t know if it’s fatigue or anxiety or what have you, but I’ve got no motivation to do work. I mean, so what else is new, but instead of pure panic I just feel demotivated and drained. I’m not fearful of my work, at least I don’t think, but regardless I’m still not working due to… depression? Boredom? Fatigue? I really don’t know.

It doesn’t help that I’m submitting some chapters for my writer’s group’s upcoming April meeting. (Don’t worry, it’ll be via digital means; we’re not going to someone’s house like we usually do.) I was hoping to submit 2-3 chapters but at the rate I’m writing them now it might not even be one. I’ve half a heart to cancel my submission already because I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to make it “good enough.” But you know, I still have two solid weeks to drum out a single chapter, at the most, and since I haven’t even started, how do I know I won’t have enough time? My fear of that deadline is creeping on me. Maybe that’s why I’m dragging my feet? Kind of like giving up before I fail rather than trying to win and then fall short. Ugh, yeah, I think that’s it. Well, the only solution is to stop scaring myself silly or give in to depression, but instead pick up my busted ass and try.

Didn’t mean to turn this into a semi random peptalk. On another unrelated, much lighter note, Amazon delayed my Animal Crossing: New Horizon copy by a week, so I just canceled it and opted for digital instead. It’s all ready and pre-loaded for release day (midnight tonight), which makes me happy, although I’m not going to actually start playing until tomorrow. Why? Because it’s in real time, so all the stores and other things are closed at night. (Yes, they have an overnight box but it’s not quite the same feel). I rather just play it 10 hours later when I wake up and am refreshed, and it’s beautiful daylight in the game, too.

Work · Writing

Depression Comes in All Different Sizes

I took a look at my bullet journal work log yesterday, and found out that I worked so little that I should be ashamed of myself. Granted, I had a few other things on my mind this past month but the amount of work I didn’t do was atrocious. I’m glad I looked, though, because it basically gave me a kick in the teeth about how much I’m not getting done, so now I know to get down and do it. Seriously. Sometimes I really hate the way I don’t operate correctly, like a robot stuck on a loop of non-productivity.

Depression is a crazy thing, eh? I know there are folks are so depressed that they don’t feel like doing ANYTHING, like not even getting out of bed. I don’t think that’s how depression ever manifested in me except for like a very short period of time. My depression seems to manifest so that I struggle to do creative work, which is devastating for someone who writes fiction for a living. I’m functioning in life, but not functioning at work, and I don’t know how to deal with that. They say that insanity is the process of doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Well, I want different results certainly, but I also feel like I’ve tried different tactics and none are giving me that. I guess the best way now is just to pick the one that works the best, even if it’s like at 25% instead of 100%, but hey, it’s better than 0%, and go from there. For me personally it’s setting a time (like 3 hrs every day or something like that) and stick to schedule. (And also avoid all procrastination websites like Reddit, which I actually did alright on.) It worked for at least a few days in the past, so maybe this time I just need to keep it going every day, like a recovering alcoholic who’s struggling to stay sober, one day at a time.

If I have a 3D printer I might just print some imitation AA tokens but for writer’s block. Or rather, working block – and see if I can get myself to not fall off the wagon. Because hell I’ve tried everything else.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #0

I’ve done Friday Fictioneers on other blogs before, and then stopped when I switched blogs or just didn’t feel like doing it anymore. Basically you write a short fiction of 100 words based on a weekly prompt. Now I’ve decided to pick it back up but there’s apparently a new system of posting links? It required me to sign up and all that so I didn’t bother with it last week. But I did write an entry, so I’m just going to post it here all by my lonesome. I’ll try to do it properly this upcoming week, but no promises.

And like I said, it’s been a while, so I may be very, very rusty.

Photo Prompt:

© Ted Strutz

A Prickly Narrator

I found a box of old photographs at my neighbor’s yardsale. “It’s not for sale,” she explained, “but sure makes a pretty centerpiece, no?” I’d only spoken with her a handful of times, so who am I to judge what she deemed as appropriate deco?

“Lemonade?” she offered me, and I said sure. It was too sweet, but I didn’t complain, only looked at the collection of knickknacks that littered her lawn. Compared to those the photographs were practicaly pristine, the only things worth any value.

“It’s not for sale,” she insisted. That just made me want to ask more.

Writing

NaNoWriMo Prep

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again! NaNoWriMo. Of course, it’s only the Prep Month because we’re not in November yet, but still no excuse to not get into the spirit, so to speak.

I don’t know what I should count myself as because I don’t think I’ve won a single year since I joined it like, many many years ago. It’s not the point for me, you know? Writing 50,000 words. The point of it is to just, well, hunker down and write, and usually when I do NaNo I was in school or had a day job and all those non-writerly thing, and November had always been a good time to write things on the side. But now I’m a writer by profession this is kind of pointless, in a way, because I can do every month as NaNo if I want to. (I won’t, because that’s insane, unless you’re James Patterson or Danielle Steel or something, but I theoretically could.) Yet I still get excited whenever this time roll around. Probably because of all the community spirit, of all the people trying to drum out word count, of the sheer fact that someone’s telling me “bad words don’t matter as long as they’re words” and “editing is for December.” It frees up the spirit, so to speak, and makes the story flow a bit easier if you just tell your inner editor to stfu.

So as to tradition, here’s the official banner to kick off the NaNo season. Cheers!

Work · Writing

A Small Victory

I don’t know if I talked about this on here, but I’ve joined a writer’s group a while ago. We meet monthly at someone’s house, and read/critique each others’ works for a few hours on a nice relaxing Saturday. (Yep, totally relaxing, not nervous at all, especially if I’m the one that needs to be submitting next month, nope.) It’s not a class, so you don’t have to submit anything if you don’t want to. There’s no grading or expectations and most of us are amateurs. (It’s run by my author friend so she’s kind of the unofficial authority, but not really. She makes it a point to say it’s not her writers’ group, just a group she’s part of.) We basically let strangers read our works and collectively try to make them better, and chat and have food and just be social for a bunch of introverts. That’s it.

So we’re meeting next week (for the month of October) and I volunteered to submit a chapter of my novel. I partially did this because, well, I should, and also, I’ve been so, so, so procrastinating and haven’t worked on my novel at all for the past months due to one thing or another, and I need to get this damn draft done by hopefully end of this year. I need to revise the entire chapter before I can send it in, because the state it was was definitely not complete nor made any sense in context to the novel now, since it was written way before I figured out what the book was about and etc. It was daunting and scary, so I kept putting off working on it until literally this week, when the deadline to submit was yesterday. Yes, I’m a bad person for giving myself undue stress and for procrastinating. I fully acknowledge my fault here.

But you know what, in the end I did it. I worked a lot in the few days prior, basically ate, slept, worked, you know, like how most people’s days go and why American work ethics are insane (most not by choice.) And it was done, edited, not perfect, but submitted in an adequate state. And really, that’s all you can ask for, no? I emailed it to my group at 11:00 pm last night, an hour before the deadline (we have to enforce a deadline because people were like dropping 30 pages of work a few days before our meeting and that just wasn’t productive). And in addition the few days of hard work had kicked me into gear. Remember I said the more productive I am the more productive I get? Yeah, and now I actually feel like I have to write every day. Not necessarily on the novel – I need breaks, too – but some kind of writing daily. So all in all, this experience was a win. A hard win, but a win. Which was kind of why I signed up to submit this time in the first place. I know how to make myself do things, if slowly.

I don’t get many victories where I work hard and actually get things done on time in what feels like an acceptable condition. So I will definitely go celebrate today, as small a victory as this is. Perhaps I’ll buy a new book.

Writing

Camp NaNo July!

Well, it’s July and Camp NaNoWriMo time again! For this month my goal is in hours, just like back in April. I found that setting out a specific number of hours to work a day gets me better results than word counts, and that if I think “okay just one more hour to go” its more motivating than other kind of arbitrary encouragements. I also find that I tend to severely underestimate how long it takes to do something. It’s so weird, I feel like I never do enough because I never get to where I originally planned, but I think it’s because I always think I work twice as fast as I actually do. Or rather, I want to work twice as quickly as I am right now, and I need to seriously accept the fact that, well, my speed is twice as slow in reality. Otherwise it’s really hindering my productivity.

My Camp goal back in April was just at least an hour a day, so a total of 30 hours then. I did that because I had a slump and wasn’t sure how fast I can get back on my feet in writing. I’ve set the July goal to the same – 31 hours total – but now I’m pretty sure I’ll blow past it in the first week haha. So I might change it to 100 hours. But ah! I just said I tend to estimate twice as much as reality, so maybe 50 hours for now? I know 50 hours in a month is nothing – definitely not job-hour sufficient. But, like I said, I’ve been going in and out of mild depression these few months again, so maybe try to take it a little bit easy? I don’t know. At least 50 hours is a good thing. If I keep up by mid-month I’ll change it to 100 hours. Yes, I know it’s still nothing – there are people who are forced to work 100 hours a week. Well those situations are unhealthy and abusive! Let’s just set this month’s total as 100 hours and raise it to 150 next month (just because Camp NaNo’s over doesn’t mean my job is over) if I manage to keep it up.