Work · Writing

Work Update

Well, folks, it’s been a while. I had such high hopes for July but I guess I was not prepared of the toll the whole biopsy thing had taken on my body. The PIO injections were so painful! I basically have to slot in extra times in the day to exercise/massage so I can keep the pain controllable without taking too many painkillers. I know it eventually will be more manageable, but it definitely was not the first week after a whole year of rest. With all that physical baggage I basically copped out of writing the whole month. Isn’t that always the case, though? If it’s not this medical thing it’s something else. I just have very little will when it comes a lot of things and I’m not happy about that. So, new month, new beginnings, new resolutions.

One thing I did realize is that I need a central notebook, reminder list, something tangible, to keep my goals in sight. Like, I have to write something down (not just type out a blog) that is concretely related to my writing in order to keep motivated. If I don’t I literally lose track of where I am in my novel process and then nothing even gets planned, let alone get done. I’m not sure if this happens to other people normally or just people with ADHD or what. But yeah, out of sight, out of mind forever. (Could be a visual learner thing?) Anyway, luckily (unluckily for my wallet, but for me, yes) JetPens keep on stocking things I want so I bought more notebooks, and I’m going to use them as a ledger of sorts. Yesterday I used a very cheap notebook (new stuff hasn’t arrived yet) to start, and I wrote down in large, colorful bullets what I have done with my novel, and this morning I thought in detail about what I will accomplish with my novel today. Achievable, but concrete steps (so none of the “this character is going to do this thing somehow” or “I will brainstorm the third section of the plot”, but more like “move everything from this file to the new one” and “edit these five sentences, then these five paragraphs, etc.), and I’m going to keep this up every day. I will also find a suitable notebook to compile everything I’ve done by the week’s end, just so I can look at it and see, here’s step 1 – 10 you’ve done. Next week do step 11- 20. There will be 100 steps total. Get to it! I think this will actually keep me on track. I’m beginning to truly realize and embrace that I am a planner, a neurotically obsessed chronological planner, so the only way for me to work is do things like steps in a chemistry experiment, or follows a recipe, and not some nebulous concept that a more free-flow-thinking kind of person could just magically make do as work.

My plan for August is very work-focused. Since July fell through, I’m hoping this month I’ll really, really, really kick myself in gear. I’ll let you know mid-month how it’s going. Crossing my fingers that my fickle brain would actually work for real this time. Then I’d know I finally have an achievable schedule.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #4

Here is this week’s. I’ve been looking through my records of writing FFs and it looks to be once every couple of months! Well, that’s not very good, is it? I need to make this more of a habit. (But probably not next week, as both I and my s.o. are getting our second shot of vaccine and probably will be sick for a few days each.)

Photo Prompt:

Breaking Quarantine

“Mom, I don’t think that’s what they meant when they said we need to quarantine.”

“They just said we can’t leave the house,” Liza carefully pulled the trailer onto the highway. “Well, we ain’t leaving it, are we?”

“But…”

“Look,” she turned to her teenage son in the passenger seat. “we planned this months ago. The money’s all paid, and I can’t start that job late just ’cause the gov’ment’s being slow.”

“It’s not safe!”

“It’s fine. We’ll stop by Nana’s on the way, and I promise I’ll wear a mask. Okay?”

“Okay,” he grumbled, clearly unappeased, but stopped arguing.

Work · Writing

End of Month Update

Well, today is April 30th, and I utterly failed in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Yep, 100% didn’t meet it. I partially blame all the life stuff that happened this month. Covid vaccine sign-up and subsequent visits. My s.o. quitting and starting a new job (and the headache of health insurance changes that came with it). I contacting my doctor to discuss our plan to start IVF again and all that involved (I’m on birth control again and it’s really messing with my hormones/weight/headache/fatigue level). You know, life things! Coupled that with me being nervous about finally submitting something to my writer’s group – yeah, my head space was not all there this month, which is an issue. Because I’m kind of pushing close to my self-imposed deadline now. Here’s some more details.

So I talked to my s.o. about my work last year and I said that I’ll give him an assessment of how it is by the end of June this year. Now, I’m planning to finish my novel by the end of this year, but I also set a deadline of finishing the first part (there are three parts) of the novel by end of June. I gave myself more time at the beginning because I figure it’ll take me a while to ramp up. And it did! Oh boy did it take a while. I’m not proud that finally, finally managed to move on from chapter 5 – this is the one I’m submitting for my group, btw – and it has taken me a good chuck of half a year to get there. Granted, it was a very tumultuous half a year because of all the pregnancy then miscarriage then grief and all. So I’m not blaming myself too much for unable to create while being in that emotional state. However, I’ve been past that emotional state for a while now, and it still took months to wrap up ONE chapter. Boy. I’m not looking forward to meeting that June deadline. I told my s.o. that if I just cannot get myself to finish I’m going to stop writing this novel, and probably quit being a writer altogether. Because you know, sometimes you just gotta give up when you know you can’t do it. (I know people love to say “Never Give Up!!!!” Um, sometimes it’s smarter if you do. I’m sorry but it is. Sometimes you take a deep, hard look at yourself and you think, yeah, time to change course.) And then I’m going to take a coding course and then try to be an engineer, or find an actual job before I age out of finding a career altogether. No I’m not there yet! I still have time, but it’s getting pretty close.

(There’s also the fact that I really think I might have adult ADHD and need some medication. Maybe once I actually get some Adderall or whatever everything will be awesome and I’ll be a productivity machine. Who knows. I’ll reassess if that happens, after the whole Covid and new insurance and everything.)

I don’t know how I’ll fare but the next two months are going to be very, very important. I am going to see in May, first, if I can at all keep a work schedule if I try. Like, in the middle of April I just gave up, you know? And I really, really need to stop doing that. Like I said I still have time and I cannot waste it away being all dejected or moody or whatever! I’m going to seriously see how many chapters I can do in the next two months to determine if I can at all come close to finishing. Actually, with the way my mind works, if I don’t think about finishing and just write, it may work better. Like, if I just stick to fill out all the hours instead of having a goal of where to stop ahead of time, I tend to go further. I feel like I can only plan 1-3 days ahead at a time, which is horrible, but if I go any further I freeze up under pressure and then I just stop doing anything and go cry on the bed all day, you know? Hmm, that actually gave me an idea of how to setup my bullet journal more efficiently. Anyway, not important, the important thing is that I need to tackle the rest of the year, and it starts with May.

Work · Writing

Schedules Are There For a Reason

You know, I’ve been thinking. About my probably most likely undiagnosed ADHD prognosis. I know it’s not good to self-diagnose mental health issues, especially with the help of only Google, but, if the shoe fits I mean…? Kathleenlights basically thought she had OCD (clinical, that is) and then she did this whole video about the things she does and compared them to OCD symptoms (again, clinical, so much more than just ‘oh they’re just picky’ kind of things), and I was like, uh…yeah, I think she has a convincing case. (And kudos for her being so brave about it!) Anyways, regarding myself – so yesterday I set out to work because I was feeling better although not 100%, and then I didn’t work a lick, because I felt like “I can’t concentrate so might as well cut myself some slack. It’s the weekend and I’m not 100%, yeah?”)

No. The answer is NO. If I really do have ADHD, and I think I do, then the hard truth is that I probably will never be able to concentrate without some outside help. I’m not on medication, and even if I should be, I can’t because I think if I want to get pregnant they don’t recommend I take any ADHD medication. So I won’t be getting any help anyway aside from sheer will, and so, when I sit down in front of my computer to write, 9 out of 10 times I won’t be “in the mindset.” It will always, always be a struggle, and I have to develop some ways to cope with it. Them’s the breaks, you know. So I decided, literally this morning (you know, when we just wake up and groggy is apparently the optimal time for life-changing epiphanies), that that’s no longer an excuse. “I can’t concentrate so give up for now, try again tomorrow” is not going to fly if I literally cannot concentrate ever. Tomorrow is going to be the exact same as today. And the solution is, obviously, fuck your brain, push through, and work anyway.

Yeah yeah, easier said than done and all that. I’ve talked with my therapist about some of this (without thinking I had ADHD at the time) and he suggested to try some caffeine just to see if this makes a difference. I did, and I think it does, so I have caffeine to help (and of course have to give that up too if I want to be pregnant, ugh). Another thing is that strict scheduling seems to help me a lot. Which is kinda bad because if I deviate from this schedule even a little bit, like if I were sick, or something else comes up, I don’t really adjust and instead just falls completely off the wagon every time. I think the problem is that I feel like I have to make up for it. Like, I had a sick day on the 2nd, right? I was supposed to work 4 hours that day. Well, I didn’t, and so I thought, I’ll just work 4 hours on the 3rd, which was Saturday, which I initially scheduled to work 2 hours (weekend quota). Well, this little change apparently messed me up mentally enough that I didn’t do any work at all! Had I just completely written off the 2nd as “sick day” and moved on to the 2 hours slotted for Saturday, I probably would have gotten that done. Like, today, I’m also supposed to work 2 hours. I decided to not “make up for lost time” and just follow my initial schedule, and guess what I’m doing right now? Working! I feel like a robot that will just shut down if it deviates from its programming, so I guess the key is to never deviate ever?

(And if you’re like ‘wtf girl you’re only working 4 hours a day holy crap you lucky/lazy person’, yeah, I know. And it’s doubly shameful that I can’t even achieve that much. I want to up it to 5 hours eventually but right now I just want to get anything consistently done at all).

So my solution for now is set a schedule and don’t change it ever. If I’m sick or something big happens then just write the whole day off. Just pretend in your brain that you’re not behind, which apparently is the key to actually be not behind. I’m going to try this for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and see where it gets me. And if that doesn’t work either, well, May is a new month too.

Writing

Friday Fictioneers #3

Yes, another installment of this Friday Fictioneer thing. Great writing practice when you’re trying to get yourself back into writing again. So let’s go!

Photo Prompt:

© Roger Bultot

Moving Up

Ronda put the box down at the bottom of the apartment stairwell. It was done – she was finally moving out of this dump of a place and into that posh loft downtown. It’d add another 15 minutes to her commute, but she didn’t have to worry about double-locking her windows and keeping her gun within reach of her bed anymore. Her son could also go to a much better school. All it took was to wait for her boss to finally retire. It was time for younger folks to take up the mantle. It was now her time to shine.

Life · Writing

Yep, It’s February

Well hello folks. New month, new entry, per tradition. Really, I should post more often, but sometimes things just get in the way. Plus, it’s not like every day there’s some major crises like Insurrection or Second Impeachment and the like. “May you live in interesting times” really is the worst curse ever.

Anyway, I just want to give a general update on my life right now. The first month of 2021 has passed and I used most of it to basically establish a routine – writing, skincare, chores, everything. Of course I hit snags when I just was not up for it, which was kind of excusable considering the turmoil that happened in the US, but just barely. I had no excuse not to work as much as I could the past couple of days, for example, except I just really didn’t feel like it. I did finally give my bedroom a thorough dusting. It lead to many more chores, however, now that I took a proper look at the mess the house has become over the past few years. I know we accumulate stuff just from living, but there’re surely ways to organize things better. I’m not going to Marie Kondo everything, but at least I should clear all the papers from all the surfaces (and they’re literally on ALL the surfaces) so I could give that a thorough dusting too. I mean I don’t think I’ve seen the top of the living room coffee table for a long time. So, yeah, more to add to the to-do list.

I feel relatively okay when it comes to work, surprisingly. I’ve been keeping more or less on track with writing, and I feel like I got a little more done each week that passed. It’s like I’m starting as an overweight person trying to run for the first time in years. Of course it’s going to be slow and miserable and sporadic the first 100 miles (aiming for 1 mile a day as the metaphor). But as I build more muscle I can run faster. Same thing with writing. I’m not working as much as I want right away, but it’ll build upon itself, so eventually I’d be able to actually keep a consistent schedule. The pitfall is stopping. And yes, your body needs at least 1 day of rest a week if you exercise regularly, so I carried that over to my writing too. Five days of work and then one day of break. I found that if I take more break days I tend to just, well, get lazy and not do anything for more days. So I have to keep up the momentum. That’s the goal of this month – keep going, and see how far I can run.

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.