Category Archives: Amorphous & Concrete Fears

Catch 22 and Other Tales of Woe

Catch 22 and Other Tales of Woe

So this morning I saw this offered for free…

free-camper-2

And I immediately saw something like this, only full size…

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Don’t freak out, I wouldn’t paint it quite that colorful!

So I showed it to my husband who promptly poo-poohed it.

free-camper-1

And then I posted it on Facebook where someone else laughed, and another was like, “Don’t you have enough on your plate?”

And I simultaneously KNOW he is right and yet wrong at the same time.

You see, it is all a big huge Catch 22.

I want to write. Equally, I want folks to read what I have written.

But right there, in the middle of the room, is that nasty dose of reality. We cannot survive on one income alone. As much as I would like for it to happen, even if I were to stop spending every spare penny on renovating The Cottage, we still would be faced with only a pittance of savings, no health insurance for Em or me, and ZERO plan for retirement.

I have spent my entire adult life either putting out fires (metaphorically speaking), pulling money out of my ass (again, metaphorically), and running in circles trying desperately to find a place where I can stand steady and stop having to come up with money-making opportunities.

I want to stay home, homeschool the kiddo, write books and blog, and run a little Air B’nB paradise.

And I’ve got my husband, my eldest daughter, and good friends all saying the same thing – “You’re stressed, you have too much going on, you need to slow down/take one thing at a time.”

So I have this choice in front of me. I can keep cleaning toilets until i get too tired or my body breaks down. Or I can work my ass off, tear my hair out, and stress myself beyond measure for another year, possibly two…and possibly, just possibly run my little Air B’nB empire and no longer have to clean houses for a living.

It is a Catch 22 – stay the course, or pull back?

All I know is, I’ve got a book to edit, a cottage to renovate, a property that desperately needs a fence enclosing it (because yes, the local folks STILL walk through it), and a very full life.

Time to go strip some paint from doors in The Cottage.

It Isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

It Isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows

I want to be clear, that what I say next, needs no helpful advice on your part. Feel free to read it, and then carry on with your day.

So, after spending something like the fourth day in a row, drilling out words on the page, ticking off the “to do” labels and watching my word count surge from a few hundred at the beginning of last week all the way to over 30k today, I was on top of the world.

I even managed to net two more reviews on Gliese 581: Departure, bringing my total up to thirteen total reviews.

You know, someday I’m going to read that number and just smile and smile, folks.

I was feeling good, feeling ready to take on the world. If you read my last post, I think my enthusiasm was quite evident.

I drove off to a playdate, and as I drove home, the thought occurred…

I’m writing the Chronicles of Liv Rowan series next – and it ranges from 2001-2016 – but then there is War’s End, which starts at the end of 2017. I’ve dated myself, haven’t I? People are going to read this and be like, “that was so last year.”

And on and on. In fact, I spent most of my twenty minute drive trying my best to NOT think about it. My foot kept pressing down on the accelerator. I needed to get home, get back in front of the computer and break the cycle of self-doubt before it took hold.

I got home, stared at the computer, and began the loop that I do when I’m feeling full of self-doubt or angst:

  • Check Facebook
  • Check email
  • Check Amazon stats
  • Check website stats
  • Look for more reviews of my book
  • Read through the reviews I’ve got
  • Check Facebook
  • Check email

You know, the loop.

A non-productive, increasingly obsessive loop of pointless pointing and clicking.

The same, non-active, busywork I typically engage in when I can’t figure out what to write.

Worse, it’s indicative of that steep dip – in productivity, belief in self, the works.

I recently read about a guy who says that one of the best way to power through these dips or, dare I say writer’s blocks, is to write about them. And that is this post here.

My ego and self-doubt – they get to warring with each other and the result is I’m stuck in limbo.

I tried again, and just could not get back into the story, so I sat back to read a little from a suspense/thriller book I had picked up from the library. Dave came down and asked if I wanted to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which I couldn’t resist, having loved the first movie so much.

I think it was just the shot in the arm I needed.

And now it’s back to work for me…at least for a few minutes…before I head off to bed. I needed a good laugh, happy cry, and time away to remind myself I can actually do this.

I Want More Than a Latte

I Want More Than a Latte

Every month, I see the notification come in from Amazon Digital Payments. It says something to the effect of “In a few days you will get a deposit.” It doesn’t say how much, but I can’t help but get my hopes up. Maybe this month will be different.

A few days later, I see it appear in my bank account. It’s usually about the right amount to pay for a latte at Starbucks (although really, everyone should try the Turtle Latte at Scooters, it is sooo good!).

And lattes are cool. Or sometimes they are hot. No matter what, they are tasty and give me that boost of sugar that my pre-diabetic body most certainly does not need, but truly enjoys nonetheless.

I want more than a latte, though.

Is that awful of me? Egotistical? Self-absorbed?

I hyped the hell out of my kid’s book at a party this past weekend and she got at least one book sale out of it, but damn it, I’ve got four books out there and I’m frustrated and sad and rather, shall I say it?…demoralized.

Is my writing that bad?

I have folks come up to me and say, “I bought your book! It’s like hearing your voice speak!”

And they don’t post a review.

No review.

No review.

NO REVIEW.

I have heard every excuse in the book. Including the pervasive, “I don’t know what to say, I’m not a writer.”

And let me tell you, it makes me crazy, sad and slightly rabid (yes, the foaming at the mouth kind).

Don’t TELL me you liked my book, WRITE it in a review. You can say something like this:

I liked the story. It was better than Cats. I want to read it again and again!

or

Shoot me in the head, no really, do it. It was good. I liked it. Please sir, may I have another?

There are really on two rules when writing a review:

  1. Actually write a review – that’s it, just a review, short and sweet, long-winded, et cetera.
  2. Don’t be a presumptive, confused ass who doesn’t know what a preview is like this guy (who also apparently thinks that all writers do is try to somehow make a book appear larger – or write sequels – just so they can charge more for a book). For the record, I maybe make $1 per book, if I’m lucky.

I sound hostile, don’t I?

I’m sorry if that is the case. Let me try to dig up a metaphor for you.

Imagine cleaning your house and preparing food for a party that no one showed up to, even after they said they would.

Imagine getting that new hairstyle and going home to your family and no one noticing, not at all.

Writing a book isn’t half as hard as getting nothing but crickets in the background instead of reviews.

Hell, I’ll send you the book for free (pdf, anyone?) if you promise (your solemn oath this time!) to do two things:

  • Write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads
  • Tell your friends, family or co-workers about the book

I want more than a latte. I want to believe that I’ve got a chance. That what I write is worth reading, that it is worth other’s time and effort and that I haven’t just published a tall mountain of manure.

Please give me that.

Time for Radio (and Net) Silence

Time for Radio (and Net) Silence





I hate feeling guilty. I find it rather…counterproductive.

Lately I’ve been wrapped up in work (cleaning houses, meh), several decorating projects (drapes/portieres – all hand sewn) and too much time watching television. Well, listening to television as I sewed away.

And it is Christmas, we are hosting a party on Saturday, and all of that other nonsense.

Yet, despite understanding that there will be times when I’m not writing, not updating my three blogs, et cetera – still I found myself filled with guilt as I walked downstairs to get my morning coffee.

The internal dialogue was pretty intense, and filled with the idea that so much television in the past two weeks has killed the creative process.

This is why I’m not publishing more books, folks. It isn’t just the fact that I’m going in a dozen directions at once, is that I waste my time feeling guilty about it. That internal voice says, “You aren’t really a writer, otherwise you would be able to write simultaneously while juggling all of your other projects and NOT watching TV.”

My family thinks that I’m intense and driven as it is – if they heard some of the crap my internal voice was saying to me on a daily business they would thank their lucky stars that I wasn’t THAT person.

Anyway, the whole point in this is to say that I’m taking the next two weeks off. No weekly newsletters, probably little or no blog posts, and come the new year I’ll jump back on the riding horse and give it a couple of good kicks in the side.

I really want to write books – and publish them – in the new year. So I’ll be making goals, and hopefully sticking to them. More on that later.

/rant on

p.s. I’ve been writing this on my laptop and I have to voice a word of complaint. I HATE the touchpad and disable it as soon as I can on any laptop I own. If I don’t then I’ll be typing merrily away and then suddenly POOF! whatever I have written has gone apeshit and disappeared, moved or levitated off of the screen when a finger accidentally brushes the touchpad.

This laptop apparently thinks it is being helpful, or maybe Microsoft thinks it is being helpful, but shortly after ANY Microsoft Windows 10 update I have to go in and RE-disable the touchpad which has magically turned back on. I despise this.

It is the equivalent to someone coming up and shoving a pen into my right hand and telling me to use the proper hand to write with. I’m fucking left-handed, you moronic computer! Now leave the touchpad OFF!

/rant off



Neil Gaiman is Right

Neil Gaiman is Right





I’ve written nothing for well over a week, possibly two. Instead, I’ve created more house projects (or worked on the dozens already begun), scheduled a holidays party for the 19th, and watched an egregious amount of television (Continuum and Hemlock Grove, to be specific) and felt the beginnings of full-blown panic over my writing, or lack thereof.

And as I was further practicing avoidance this morning, surfing Facebook and checking emails, I ran across this article from the Huffington Post with Neil Gaiman which addressed whether writer’s block is real or not.

“I don’t really believe in writer’s block, but I absolutely believe in getting stuck,” Gaiman told HuffPost Live on Monday. “The difference is one is imposed on you by the gods, and one is your own damn fault.”

Yup. I’m right there with him.

“If you turn around and go, ‘I am blocked,’ this is just something writers say because we’re really clever. It sounds like it has nothing to do with you: ‘I would love to write today, but I am blocked. The gods have done it to me,'” he said. “And it’s not true. Cellists don’t have cellist block. Gardeners don’t have gardener’s block. TV hosts do not have have TV host block. But writers have claimed all the blocks, and we think it’s a real thing.”

So completely and totally agree.

The kicker was when he shared his strategy for getting past a stuck spot:

“I always like to have another story, another introduction, another work, and I’ll just go and work on that, while somewhere in the back of my mind I’m churning over why I’m stuck and what went wrong and figuring out how to go forward,” he said.

This was a vindication of sorts. I have so many friggin’ projects going at one time it isn’t funny, but it is a coping mechanism. If I feel stuck on one, I move to the next. And the next. And the next.

Sometimes however, it just feels like too much. As if all of the “I don’t know how to proceed with this” catch up to me and I can’t stand to look at another one. That’s been these past two weeks.

Thank You Elizabeth Gilbert

Thank You Elizabeth Gilbert

My mother sent me an email the other day and it was rather well-timed. She wrote,

“I have just found one of the best, most inspiring “interviews” ever!  You will both feel its relevance.  Enjoy, it is for every creative person.

YouTube Elizabeth Gilbert & Marie Forleo on Fear, Authenticity

Love, YOO”

Note: YOO, by the way is not a typo. It stands for Your One and Only. We typically sign our emails to each other this way – I am her only child and she is my only mother, thus…YOO.

I need to show my mom keyboard shortcuts so that she can learn how easy it is to click on the website address, hit Ctrl+C, then go over to an email and hit Ctrl+V. I’m kind of like Doug in the movie “Up” – every time I went to YouTube to attempt to find this I was distracted by people, emails, or just YouTube in general.

Squirrel!

In any case, my eldest was kind enough to find it, and then send me the link. Because that’s what thoughtful daughters do, and she certainly qualifies. Here is the video by the way.

Around 19 minutes in is when it gets really REAL…

And again at 33 1/2 minutes…

And again at 38 minutes…

And this quote…

“There is no better thing to spend your life doing than saying yes to that invitation.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

I have these intermittent crises of faith. They used to come far more often than they do now, but I still have them. Recently, I asked my husband to take a drive with me, that I wanted to talk about some things. And boy did we talk, about so many things, but one of them was my writing and my contribution to our monetary situation.

I don’t get to not work, that just isn’t in the cards. Recently however there have been some declines in income and I started to feel as if I wasn’t doing my part. It’s bad enough that I bring in only a part-time income, but with it sitting at just 1/4 of what my husband was bringing in, it didn’t feel like enough.

Dave cleared that up and made sure I knew how much he supports my writing. More on that in a moment…

What I found interesting is how honest Gilbert is. She doesn’t give any false promises about how if you spend the next 10,000 hours writing you will become the next Hemingway. She also points out that not everyone will write amazing, life changing stuff. Writing is not your baby, it isn’t the sum total of your life or unfailingly profound and epic and it will have mistakes.

And that is okay.

What it made me realize is this is absolutely the BEST time for me to dive into writing. After talking with my husband (may I add – my loving, sweet, and devoted husband who puts up with me and supports me SO MUCH) I realized that we could cut a few costs, and that having Danielle living with us meant MORE time for writing (because she cooks around five meals a week, I LOVE that) , so I really have absolutely no excuse.

It seems that, after years of floundering about, we have reached a sweet equilibrium of sorts, where I bring in some money, enough to make up the gap. Dave as the main wage-earner is bringing in good money. Enough that, if we cut back on money outlay (by canceling any major fix-it projects around the house) for a year or so – we will be a-okay and make ends meet while I write, and write, AND WRITE.

Where will this lead to?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I’m really excited about the next 15 months. REALLY excited.

 

 

 

Are You a REAL Writer?

Are You a REAL Writer?

I run into plenty of people. Between homeschooling, running my own business, writing, friends and family, and teaching classes – I’m always meeting someone new and interesting.

And their backgrounds and careers are as diverse as you can find.

Every once in a while I run into another writer. The conversation often goes like this…

Me: Hi, nice to meet you! I write, teach classes, homeschool the kiddo, and generally stay way too busy. How about you?

Other Person: I’m a writer too…well…[pauses and shrugs]…I’m not a REAL writer, I just, you know, write a little here or there. I mean, I WRITE…but…

And here is where we exchange experiences. Mainly self-publishing, or dreams of being published, or looking embarrassed over writing for a regional magazine, or even writing for free.

I always smile and mention Bubblews, quickly following it up with, “It isn’t a SERIOUS writing site, although you can certainly BE serious if you want to.” Or I mention that all four of my books are self-published.

Writers truly are a self-disparaging bunch. Even if we have “hit it big” and gotten published in whatever capacity or print form we were dreaming of, or simply have seen our name in print – we question ourselves constantly and squirm uncomfortably, wrestling with the term “writer” endlessly.

I think it was only after I had self-published my second book that I decided to add “writer” to my signature on emails and even then I was a little boondoggled by my own audacity. If I remember correctly, I even posed the question on Facebook (half in jest, but really, really NOT) whether self-publishing my two books qualified me to call myself a writer. The answers were overwhelmingly “yes.”

And it makes me think that, when we dip our toes in, when we dance about the idea of writing awkwardly and with great embarrassment or fear of being rejected, we are firmly standing in the way of success. How often did I question myself? Too many times to count. How often did I say, either out loud or in print, that I had nothing worth saying or reading? An almost criminal number of times.

And then there are those others who refuse to see the capabilities that lie within us…

I remember the words of someone thankfully absent now from my daily life who said, “Stop dreaming your pie in the sky dreams.”

I remember my eldest mentioning a comment from someone she knows, “Oh honey, you will be published when I am young and skinny again!” You know the Mama Bear in me showed claws at that one.

It isn’t just our own fears that stand in our way, but often a culture that says, “You want to write? Well that’s sweet. But you will never make any money at it, never be successful, never…never…never…never.”

Finding it within to recognize your own worth can be tricky at times.

So if you look at your writing and think, “It isn’t good enough, but it shows promise,” then keep practicing, keep writing, it will get better.

And if you are listening to others try to tell you that you aren’t and you can’t and you won’t – stop listening.

Are you a real writer?

Then get to writing.

Struggling to Work it All Out

Struggling to Work it All Out

So the other day I mentioned that I had written up this great essay, thinking I would submit it to Tin House, only to read their submission guidelines and realize they had a theme of rejection for this round of submissions.

I’m not sure who to submit this damned essay to, but I hate to close it, saving it to my hard drive and risk possibly forgetting it.

So do I spend a morning shopping around other magazines for it? Do I start going through this enormous tome of magazines and seeing if I can find a match?

Do I set it aside and try to write another piece?

I want to make the most of my writing time, and I know that, eventually, I will find a rhythm to what I am now trying to do. It sure isn’t easy in the meantime.

I like having a plan. And while I do have a general plan, I’m still a little lost here. I hope that changes soon!

Update: Well blow me over with a feather. I sometimes write ahead, and the post above was written on Tuesday morning, before I received an email from the editor of Home Education Magazine in response to my article Unschool Conversations. It looks like the article will be published in fall 2015!

It lit a fire under me. I sat down and wrote out Growing Food, Building Community and submitted it last night. And then immediately began work on an article titled Closing the Gap. I still need a home for the piece I wrote with Tin House in mind, but I’m feeling a little better. Maybe I’ll start a “find this a home” section of my Excel spreadsheet and have essays in the can that I can research which magazines would be interested.

I have to admit that I’m still reeling a little, folks. The first magazine article I have ever submitted and it was snatched up within 24 hours! I know that it won’t always be like that, but really, that was a hell of a start, don’t you think?!

There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block

There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block

I told my writer friend &mommykerrie that I don’t believe in writer’s block. And I don’t.

There is no physical or mental condition that one could properly identify as official writer’s block.

There is procrastination.

There is distraction.

There is fear of failure and fear of success.

But something that stops you dead and does not ALLOW you to write?

Hmm…I just don’t believe it.

There have been times when I have just stopped writing. Stopped dead in the water and could NOT proceed forward.

There have been times when I didn’t write anything…except for grocery lists and “to do” lists for weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

There have been times when I sat down at the computer and simply could not think of anything, NOTHING, that I wanted to write about.

That doesn’t mean I had writer’s block.

Perhaps it is a matter of semantics, but I simply refuse to believe in it. And this is why. The minute I do, I’m handing over control of my writing ability to some unproven and unprovable ideal. I’ve sold out. I’ve stopped writing and used “writer’s block” as an excuse.

There are no good excuses when I stop writing. No magic pill to take. There is simply the writing…or the not writing.

What do you think?

Writer’s block? Or not?

(it’s okay if you tell me I’m arguing semantics here.)

This was originally published on Bubblews at: http://www.bubblews.com/news/2051680-theres-no-such-thing-as-writers-block)

Focus On…What?

Focus On…What?

Every few months or so, I get completely and totally stressed out. All of a sudden, all that I am doing seems to overwhelm me and I lose the ability to even talk about it, much less do anything about it.

It hit on Monday, then escalated to a peak frenzy on Tuesday. So yesterday, I wrote it all down on my new blackboard wall…

I literally had to break out Home and Lawn & Garden into two sections because there is so much there.

What’s particularly bugging me is my duties to E as her “learning facilitator” (I don’t think of myself as her teacher, honestly) in the Homeschool section and my need to write – something I have been doing far too little of, yet again.

I can’t see a way out of working – we need my income – and it would be the same if we still lived in the house in Belton. So it isn’t the act of moving into an old Victorian that necessitates this income, our costs have actually gone down a small amount.

I really struggle with a schedule – for my writing and Emily’s education in particular – and that is really pushing things into a realm I cannot seem to control. How do I juggle it all?

Yesterday, Dave stayed home, absolutely miserable until mid-afternoon from some sawdust he managed to get in his eye. His presence, which he likens to the dog and cheetah, IS calming to me. Although considering he is a cat person and I am a dog person, being told I’m a cheetah doesn’t seem to sit completely right!

We were able to knock off “Finish Planting” from the list of priorities. And we worked some more on the fence that evening. Two important steps towards projects that have been needling at my subconscious.

I guess my biggest problem is this – I don’t see anything on the list of priorities that I can dismiss, or hand off. I have to do them. I have to find time, and I have to do them, because they are all important.

So I guess my goal for each day is to focus on at least one aspect of my list (or a small handful) and stop sweating the rest of them. Easier said than done…but I’ll just keep working on them.

Tomorrow I’ll be 43 years old. Part of me is completely boondoggled at that number. I guess I’m surprised – I’ve done a lot of living in those 43 years, but it is still completely unreal to me. How different my life has been at different stages, how much I have changed (mostly for the good), and how much living I still have left to do.