Avalanche

I haven’t written since before con, I have been remiss. The truth is, I try to keep this blog about my writing, and lately, I haven’t been writing anything.

It turns out, it’s hard to write with a broken heart.

I haven’t been writing about Luke and my split, and it’s been part decision and part inability. In all honesty when you’re struck that sad, focus just gets tossed out the window and it’s hard to think, let alone to compose. Additionally, I didn’t want to just verbally vomit all of the emotions I was experiencing when we split up. Our split was amiable, but there are still some feels that occur when a fifteen-year relationship ends, and I didn’t want to malign anyone because of my hurt feelings.

I’ve been missing the days of LiveJournal though. The days when going off about how emotional you were about something was entirely acceptable. Of course, I was a lot younger then.

Our relationship ending was kind of like an avalanche – the conditions were right, but not easily seen from the outside. It just took one pebble to cascade a huge change that had been building up for years.

Right now I’m grateful because Luke is an amazing co-parent, and our focus has been on caring for Toby jointly.

It’s just hard to not talk about this, as it is the biggest thing going on in my life right now. I work, but it’s work. I like the people there but there isn’t much to share about it. I haven’t been doing much recently except trying to recover from a big shake-up. My life after work is filled up with prepping the place I’m staying at to be ready for Toby as the summer comes on. I’ve been coordinating care for Toby for the summer and occasionally going out to see friends.

Recently I had an idea for a book, so with luck I’ll get that started here in the near future. I’m excited. I haven’t been wanting to write in so long, I was starting to worry that I’d lost the drive.

It looks like you can recover from anything on a long enough timeline.

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Conward Bound

Every year, I go to a science fiction and fantasy convention. Well, I guess I’ve skipped a couple years since I started going, but it’s been few and far between. The last few years though, I stopped going as much for the social aspect of it and started to go to panels to Learn Stuff. A writer can always pick up a few good ideas at a panel, it’s like taking hour long classes. Also, being surrounded by up-and-coming writers who are trying to figure out the ropes as well as authors who have followings and experience recharges my batteries. Writing is a lonely gig, so these meets and greets remind me that my dream is a shared dream.

Sometimes I wonder if I *am* a writer. I haven’t been writing anything lately. It’s been about two or three months. Normally I carve out time come hell or high water, but things have been rough at home, and it took priority.

I’m sad to say that my husband and I have decided to divorce.

It’s not a surprise to most of our friends at this point, and of course our families know. It’s an amiable separation. In fact, I have to admit it has been by far the healthiest, kindest break-up in the history of my whole life. Luke and I have to co-parent Toby, and both of us are taking that seriously, and in the course of that decision have made sure that we are friends, first and foremost. Fortunately, with as much as we already had in common, the transition has been okay. Nothing is great, a break-up is always sad, fraught with regret and buried feelings and lost moments. But it’s been good too, insofar as we’re talking a lot, sharing child care as best as we can, and also spending time apart so we can heal.

This is about as much as I want to talk about it right now, though. I imagine while going to con I’m going to have a lot of catching up to do with friends, and I am sure I’ll be retelling this story several times.

This is why I’m looking forward to con, honestly. My son will be safe with family, and I can decompress for a few days. Luke will be there too, and we will see each other off and on. Which isn’t different from any other con, despite the fact that it is. It’s just a process of clearing the old stuff and building something new.

Tacos, Movies, and the Great Scarcity

Weekend snow days are kind of crap. We were planning to go to Vancouver and play for my husband’s birthday, but the weather shut things down and we didn’t want to get snowed in across the border.

Instead, I went to the little carniceria after work and bought lots and lots of dollar tacos and had friends over. We all watched the window awaiting the great snowpocalpyse, and people leaving after midnight saw a world as free of snow as it was when they arrived. So, our plans were derailed by weather, but we managed to punt.

Saturday the cold, blowing ass wind was enough to keep everybody indoors. I grew up in Wyoming, so sixty mile an hour gusts are not a big deal to me. However, when the wind is from the Fraser outflow, that’s a whole new level of cold. Those winds brought in a negative wind chill, and it is unpleasant.

Our poor neighbor managed to step outside onto his back patio in this weather and pull the door shut behind him. It was locked, and so was his front door, so we couldn’t rush in to save him. My husband acted quickly and got him a coat and a hat. Fortunately his girlfriend was already on her way home, so we didn’t have to take extreme measures to get him out. However, we did get him some hot coffee and keep checking on him until his girlfriend did make it home.

Instead we’ve kept up our spirits by playing complicated board games, watching movies we’re behind on, and eating well. Last night we had salmon that my husband fixed up with thyme, rosemary, butter, lemon, and garlic. It was outstanding.

We also spent time shopping, as the weather was cold but not snowy, so it was still okay to get around. I am a product of my childhood. Despite having several meals worth of food at home, we still went out shopping and picked up a ton of things. It’s the fear of lack, but when we went to Fred Meyer we could see huge bald spots in the produce section where vegetables were gone. It looked almost like when the power went out a few weeks ago and they couldn’t keep food in the freezers.

The next few days are promising more snow, and I’m not excited about it, but I’m not dreading it. If I get lost for things to do I’m sure there are a few house projects that I’ve been avoiding for a while. Or I could always catch up on my reading. And my writing, of course.

unsplash-logoDamian McCoig

The Care and Feeding of Your Mad Genius

Today I was sick.

Yesterday I was sick too.

I don’t know what foul virus crawled into my guts and decided to frolic, but that doesn’t matter. It gave me time to sit and think, which led to me poking around on my laptop and figuring out something to do. To what did my wondering eyes did appear, but a story I haven’t worked on in over a year.

I started work on a vampire story, because everybody has a vampire story that they think is so much better than any other published vampire story there is. I too carry that conceit, but you never know until you write it and put it out, do you? Anyway, this vampire story came around about the same time I finished Typhon, and I was supposed to write the Orochi Group. I put the vampire story down in favor of the Orochi Group, and then my senior year of college started and I was too busy to do anything else for a while.

When college ended, I decided to power though Orochi Group and try to edit it. I workshopped it with my writing group, but no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get into it. So, I finally decided just to put it away for a while, in the trunk, so I can approach it later with a fresh mind. I thought making that decision would be an instant cure, but it took days and days for me to sit down with my work and get back to doing the project I enjoyed.

All of this is new land to me. I know how to write, but there is so much more to making a novel than writing. There is brainstorming and planning that takes place, project planning that requires outlining and strategizing. This is why there are so many people who say they think they could write a novel, but so few people who actually bother. There’s so much work involved then you’d ever give credit for just picking up a book and flipping through it.

The best part of today was when I decided to re-read the chapters that I’d written to write a synopsis of them for the new plot I’m starting to work out. I actually laughed out loud with delight, having forgotten the lines I’d put down over a year ago. I like this story, I like the voice that is coming through, and I like the potential the story has.

Year in Review

There is no way possible to sum up 2018 in a five-hundred-word blog post but by golly if I’m not going to try.

2018 was my senior year of college. I feel as though I learned more in that year than the other years of college combined. 2018 was a rocky start, with intense marital issues that ended us up in therapy for a while. It was a hard, horrible time, but what I learned is that if you avoid conflict in the spirit of being nice, you can grow a problem much larger than its original size and then you have to deal with the consequences of your non-actions. Fortunately we ended up with a therapist who was tailor made for us and things ended up being all right in the end.

Of course, this was also taking place while I was in school, which made college even more of a challenge than before. It eased up slightly, only to enter the Time of the Orthodontist. Toby’s teeth have had an issue since he was young. His right front tooth got caught on a root and didn’t descend like it was supposed to. I wanted to get things taken care of in June, but as it turns out, every orthodontist and orthodontic surgeon was booked out for months. There have been considerable trials and tribulations since installing his braces in October. A lost wire, a broken retainer, everything has been so much work for something as basic as a set of braces. I won’t miss them when they’re gone, and I’m not even the one who has to wear them.

My writing took a serious dive in 2018. I have written the rough draft of the Orochi Group, my final book in my trilogy, and I hate it. It has serious issues because I have grown as a writer since I started writing Bento Box, and I feel like the world of Bento doesn’t need further expansion. I wrote the Orochi Group with the Bento Box voice, so it is consistent with the world, but I’m a better writer now than I was when I wrote Bento, and so I don’t feel as though Orochi Group is that great. It’s a terrible drain on my resources. In contrast, I ghostwrote a book in two months and got paid for it. So, that was pretty great. It reminded me that I still have the ability to write, despite my huge project block.

I graduated from college, which was great, and I got a job a couple of weeks later, which was also great. My new job is challenging and fun, and while it’s still a job, it’s one I’m growing into. Not long after I got a job, we got kittens. It’s the first time in three years that we’ve had cats, and I’m remembering the joys and pains of pet ownership.

I also experienced the greatest improvement of my mental health ever in my life, but that’s an entirely different blog post.

2019 has a tough act to follow.

Home Invasion

Almost 20 years ago, I got a cat. It was supposed to be “we got a cat,” but the breakup was final and sharp, and I was as depressed as I’d ever been in my life. I met the kitten with my boyfriend, but afterwards I kept going back to visit this kitten to alleviate my depression. I named the cat Sebastian and he became my long-term relationship, the one guy I felt I could rely on. He was my companion for 15 years.

When Sebastian died, my husband’s cat was distraught from losing his companion. I got another cat, a rescue kitty I named Selena. It wasn’t her fault, but the history of her abuse turned her into an aggressive, territorial, vicious kitty and I had to surrender her to keep my son safe.

Then I went to college for three years and had exactly zero time for a pet.

That got turned on its head on Tuesday, and now we have two kittens, Gamora and Nebula. They’re beautiful cats, gray and black and athletic with deep amber eyes. They’re difficult to tell apart until you get to know them, then they are as different as night and day.

While I would like to be curmudgeonly about it and say I didn’t want the cats and I don’t want to take care of them. And, part of me would be right, because I don’t feel like I have the time to be a responsible cat owner. However, my husband and I had that conversation, and he is the responsible cat owner. I’m in the side car for this one.

I do have to admit though, that there is something warm and lovely about having fur babies back in the house. The little vroomy noises they make when they run up or down the stairs, the snuffles, the purrs, and the graceless piles of sleeping furballs. They’re well-behaved, too. No claws, no teeth, they know how to communicate with people. They also don’t freak out in a room full of humans or run away and hide. They are social creatures.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. I’m learning that you can’t predict the future, no matter how hard you plan for it. It’s the hardest thing to grasp, that life is chaos and no matter what steps you take, something will come up that will derail you. On the other hand, that’s no reason to not plan – just stay flexible, bon bebes.

Normalize

Part of me is still trapped in August. I know, that is so long ago now, but graduation time was fraught with all kinds of out of state visitors, as well as in-laws and general well-wishers. My parents drove from Wyoming to be out to see me walk, and my best friend Amy flew from Arizona to support me. The well-wishing was a little overwhelming, to be honest, but looking back on it I couldn’t have appreciated it more.

Once I walked, though, that should have been it. I should have tra-la-la’d along with my day. And I did, to be fair. I went out and found a job, which I am getting used to. New jobs are in a class of their own. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know who to ask, and every question needs to be referred to at least one if not three people in the office.

Having a 9-5 job is what everyone attributes as ‘normal,’ but when you’ve been working a school schedule for 3 years, it is quite frankly the weirdest thing in the world.

Not to mention there’s been a lot of changes in the family while work is taking place. My son had oral surgery, got fitted for braces, and joined track. There’s been a lot of missed work and scheduling issues. Throw in routine issues like oil changes and a forgotten prescription refill and everything feels upside-down.

I have been doing some writing during all this tumultuousness. I was contracted to ghostwrite a novel, and I’m so glad I signed up for that. It was a risk – they were offering to pay for a 50k word novel, and gave me the parameters, but little else. They really liked what I turned in and want to work with me again. Ghostwriting is weird. You put your heart and soul into creating a thing, but then you hand it over to someone else and let them take credit for it. It’s almost like being bullied in high school, except my paycheck was worthwhile… and I have a book out there that was a risk, but someone else is taking on that risk. It’s like on the job training for writers.

When I look back on it, I have been working really hard lately. I always lose perspective when I’m in the middle of things. It’s been non-stop since I graduated. That’s just how I roll, most of the time. I have a friend who jokes that I burn my candle at 6 ends.

My personal philosophy is this. Life is short, do what you love.

The trick is doing what you love as much as possible, and trading as little of your life as possible in the meantime.