Are We There Yet?

I’m hot.

It’s 7 pm and it’s 87 degrees with not an air conditioner in sight. My kid is trying not to melt into the couch as he plays Pokémon to ignore the world around him. I know it’s too hot for him because he’s quiet.

It was a good weekend. It was my business partner (affectionately known as my “Book Wife”)’s birthday. While I was there, I had an exciting conversation with a friend I’ve recently connected with. He told me that after reading my book, he thinks he wants to write one. This is a little unexpected and a lot flattering. Especially since he’s the third person who has credited me as their inspiration to write a book.

I’m going to start putting warnings on my books. “Caution: May cause authorish urges.”

It’s awesome and inspiring and I am a little intimidated. I feel like the Queen of Spain commissioning some ships to find the New World. Of course, that bitch is responsible for some serious destruction of indigenous cultures, but that’s another blog post.

Following a dream is WAY harder than I thought it would be. I always thought that it took about an hour and a half to achieve a life’s dream. That’s what the movies have taught me, anyway. No matter how hard the struggle, no matter what bullets you have to dodge or Russians you have to defeat, you’ll win in an hour and a half. Two hours if you’re particularly epic.

I’ll tell you, it’s been years and I thought I’d be further than I am. But then the idea of having published two books when most people never publish one seems like a big deal. I’m out in a land of unfamiliar, and I don’t have a base normal to work from. My entire life is changing, and it’s so big and so fast sometimes and so slow and so tedious other times, I find myself constantly fighting for balance, which is pretty weird because anyone who knows me will assure you I’m neither patient, nor a creature of balance.

I’ve got two half stories going – a misnomer as one is a short story and one is a novel. The novel I know where I’m going, the short story not as much, so even though one is longer, one is harder to get into. Neither one are going as fast as I’m used to. I feel as though there is a time clock ticking in my head and judging me because I’m not hitting my word count.

I don’t know what else to do but write about it. Try to get the words OUT. Try to clear the decks for creativity to flow. It’s not writer’s block, it’s a blocked writer who wants nothing more to be at her desk churning word count.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, it’s time to put my son to bed.

Work Redefined

Being recently unemployed, I was faced with a quandary. Do I find a job, or do I go back to school?

Getting a job in my town has always been a struggle. Nineteen years ago it was a struggle, well before the dips and dives in the economy. School was an attractive alternative to fighting over scraps. I went to the WorkMore office, a non-profit resource for the unemployed.  Lovely people work there and they try to help.

I went to a class on how to keep unemployment benefits and go to school. I felt that my situation wouldn’t qualify but it was worth me spending an hour to find out. The class left me feeling as though I was correct about my supposition, but then the teacher told me he’d make me an appointment with a woman who was a writer and “knew more about these things.” A slender hope, but when you’re in the water, you don’t judge the rope you’re thrown.

The woman, who I’ll call Maggie, was a short, feminine powerhouse of personality. She was stone confident in herself, and seemed pleasant enough.

Maggie listened to my plans, to become an author and to become an editor, and she promptly discarded them. “You’d have to move. Are you sure you don’t want to become a nurse?”

I was staggered. Why would I want to become a nurse? I mean, it is a growth industry, but it’s never been my calling. Maggie threw my calling to the ground and stomped on it.

I didn’t argue with her. I was there on the hope that I could get some help from the state about my unemployed status. I’m getting handouts until I can find a job, after all. Why would my feelings about my job matter?  I just nodded and contributed a little to the conversation, waiting out the storm.

In years past I would have wilted under her onslaught. I would have talked to her about nursing, even though my heart wouldn’t have been in it. I would have capitulated, just to get into school, just to do something to change my life.

But I realized.. I’m already changing my life. I already have a job. It doesn’t work like we consider jobs to work – it’s not 9-5, and it’s not paying me. Yet. But I’m putting the work in. I work far more hours than a simple 9-5 job. I am always considering, tweaking, reading, researching, and agonizing over what to do next. I take time out for my family after work and school, but as soon as my son goes to bed I’m back at work again. I’ve never worked this hard in my life.

And I love it. It doesn’t feel like work, not the way I always understood work to feel. I get to make decisions for myself; I don’t have to check in with a supervisor. I don’t get assigned tasks, I go and find out what to do next. I don’t have upper management frowning at me because I have an idea; I just implement it.

The hard part is making money. A lot of people are better writers than me, better known, with backers and recognition and years of experience. But they all started somewhere.

I may not be famous yet, but I do have faith that I can tell a good story. I have learned a lot about writing books in the past six years. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could have done things differently, but I wouldn’t want to change a thing. I’ve learned so much and I’ve grown so much as a writer. Now more than anything, I want to get my book out there so I can start on the next one, and just keep doing what I love.

And if I have to take a job to support my writing habit… to me, it just means not giving up, no matter what.

Where’d the microfiction go?

Currently, I’m working on several projects. Projects are lovely, because they allow you to be creative in many ways at once. They are also soul-sucking, energy-draining anxiety machines, and the worst part is you know that accepting them was your idea.

Here’s my current project list –

Whatcom Writes – I am writing a short story of approx. 5000 words for a book that will celebrate local authors. All proceeds will go to Northwest Youth, a charity dedicated to helping at risk youth. The piece I’m writing is called “Nitpix,” and it’s an urban fantasy about three teenagers on their way to a huge summer concert and getting into a car accident in the middle of nowhere.

Tokyo Yakuza – This project is a Kickstarter project, and I’m a contributing author. The year is 2020, Tokyo is hosting the Olympics, and in an alternate history, the Yakuza are an authority to themselves. My piece is called “The Gaijin and the Butterfly,” and is about a half-Japanese, half white soldier whose daughter has been kidnapped by the Yakuza, and he intends to get her back.

Bento Box – A novel about identity that brings gender confusion to a whole new height. Set in Seattle in the year 2291, a young con artist is forced to use her skills at identity theft to bring in a vigilante who has targeted her boss. She never expected that she’d have to take the vigilante’s place!

I’m still working on the synopsis, but I’m still working on the story so they’re both in development. I’m editing my work, and I have an editor that I will pass the story off to, with luck in January. Writing a book is slow work since I have a full time day job, but I’m enjoying the hell out of this story and can’t wait to share it with people!

Bastions of Earth – A working title for a story still in pre-production. It’s written in the same universe as Bento, but this is the story of a colony world learning how to manage with old prejudices and new soil.

The Adventures of Locke Kiger – a serial adventure set in the same world as The Corsican. This will consist of swashbucklin’ adventures in space.

The Guide to a Happier LifeWherein Tina tries her hand at editing a novel. Probably not before January 2015.

 

So, if anyone’s been wondering where I got off to or why I don’t post little microfictions anymore, it’s due to my prodigious workload. I’m not going anywhere, I just haven’t had the chance to show my blog any love lately.

Tensegrity

The career is the goal. The way to get to the career is through the work. It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you can move forward. Money is the consequence of the work, it is energy. Money flows from hand to hand, helping people communicate. It is a medium, a concept, and should not be the focus or the goal.

The career is the goal. There are benefits of having the career. Not all careers offer the same benefits, and the benefits can sometimes be intangible. Having more time, enjoying what you do, knowing your family is taken care of are benefits.

Leave enough room to think. Leave enough room to breathe. Remember how powerful you are when you’re alone, uninterrupted, and allowed to chase down “idle” thoughts.

Growing hurts, but it’s meant to stretch you out of old thought processes and adopt new ones. Abandon approval seeking – you already either have it, or you don’t, and you don’t have to swing the fence-sitters. That’s energy better spent elsewhere.

Find a voice. You don’t have to wait until you’re so angry that your inner Hulk shows up.

Don’t obsess about how others are going to feel. You can’t predict or control their inner Hulk, but if it shows up, maybe they weren’t your friends to begin with.

On that note, letting go of those “friends” is like ripping off a Band-aid – worst at first.

When you’re working, set everything else aside. When you’re not working, don’t work.

It’s okay to be sick, or hurt, or just not want to. You’ll get the momentum back.

Time is not the enemy. Time is your friend.

Money is not the enemy. Money is a tool.

Balance isn’t permanent, in three dimensional space it’s tensegrity.

Work It

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Recently I told a friend of mine I was living at 125% capacity, and I wasn’t joking.
This was a feat I was capable of at the tender age of nineteen, when all the world was a stage and I was quite a player. I would spend every evening in the company of a bevy of witty, savvy, brilliant friends who delighted in games both on and off the field. I agreed to nearly every invitation – nearly, because I had accepted every invitation for a while and made a habit of double and triple booking myself to the point of annoying those same witty, savvy, brilliant people who were my friends. I fell out of favor for being flaky, and had to climb my way back into good graces.
I did learn that lesson, but not before I tried a myriad of ways to stuff my days full of activity. The sound and fury that signified nothing, unless you happened to be a teenage girl poised on the steps of being twenty.
Quite some time beyond that, I have learned a whole new set of business. I am writing and learning the additional requirements of being an author – tending a blog, attending conferences, doing public readings. Add this to a schedule that is packed to the brim, and you can guarantee nervous collapse is at hand.
I have also desperately been trying to put off the decision that is so obviously in need. A few weeks ago I emailed four of my girlfriends, asking them what their normal social schedule looked like. They ranged from a bi-weekly lunch with a friend to once every six weeks. Even my single friend, who has less family obligation than I do, still only saw people an average of once every couple of weeks.
At this point I can only pull back. I must disappoint people and turn down invitations and stop being so busy. I have to let go of the limelight to let me finally get something done. The problem with writing is that it is time consuming. For every word that goes on the page, many are altered, experimented with, attempted, and then discarded. Much like movies, novels have ‘original scenes,’ enough to probably eke another book or two from. Much like movies, there are only some deleted scenes that are worth showing off.
It will be productive, certainly, but I can’t help but wonder what I’ll think about my decision come November.

 

I’m too busy being an author to write!

October was a fast and furious romp of learning all the things an author does, when they aren’t busy writing.

I now understand why George R.R. Martin takes 3 years to get a book out.

I have author pages up on Goodreads.com, Facebook.com, and Chaptersee.com. I review proofs, both digitally and in print, and learn about formatting and editing. I write when I can, gotta get that second book out. And let’s not forget that I’m a person with a full-time job, a son in Kindergarten, a programming class, and occasionally I like to oh, see a friend or read a chapter of something that isn’t a manual.

Even this blog post is a part of these new expectations. I don’t resent it. I love to write, and this is a way for me to keep a log of my journey through this process. However, it’s getting in the way of me catching up with a couple of friends over IM, and watching a Dr. Who episode.

Life is always a balancing act, but lately I’ve felt like that clown who is expected to juggle more and more objects of differing sizes and weights. I just keep repeating, “I think I can, I think I can” over and over again.

My previous job was at a small app development company, that was built from the ground up from the humble beginnings of my living room. I got to do it all – a little project management, a little HR, a little marketing, a little programming. I even got to write a story (technically, my first published work.) It was called Dragon Scales & Unicorn Tales, and it’s available on the iTunes App Store.

I had no idea how valuable the experience would be. When you become an author, you hang your shingle and you set up shop, inventory of one item. (Until you build your library.) There’s a whole lot of marketing, and from what I’ve read, even the big guys expect authors to peddle their wares. You can hire someone to do it for you, but for a first time author, it’s better to do it yourself. There are things you learn, things you experience. Giving it over to someone else to do cheats you of that.

A friend of mine (the one I was IM’ing earlier) told me that because my name was in print, it had inspired her to write for the first time in years. My co-worker took a recording of me at work to demonstrate how his camera’s record function worked, and my boss said, “You can’t delete that. You have a real live author recorded now.” It’s an unexpected side effect, getting these little pieces of recognition. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had.

I wasn’t prepared for the amount of work involved in being an author, but I’m happy to say that it’s a job that I love.