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Memorial Day Update 2021

Summer is almost here.

To be honest, I just haven’t felt like writing. My days have been boring and I just haven’t felt the motivaton to post updates. Really it feels like the last few months have flown by with me repeating the same day.

Really, it’s felt like that for the past year.

But things are changing. For one thing, in a few weeks I will be fully vaccinated. Things are starting to open up again and I do feel a sense of normalcy returning.

As for my writing, I have a large stack of written words that it trying to be a novel. I have some ideas about what I need to do, but it is such a daunting task, I just don’t want to start just yet. I know I will get to it. I’ve learned by now that I can’t walk away from writing. Even if I don’t pick up a pen, I’m working stories out in my head.

One thing I have been doing is reading again. I’m ashamed to say I only read a couple books last year. Diving into a good book is just what I need to do right now. Reconnect to my love of reading and remind myself about great stories. Some days I find myself excited about the end of the work day because it means I get to go read my book. I used to feel this way when I was a kid. Get home from school and dive into a book (usually a Stephen King or Anne Rice novel).

Sometimes we just need to reconnect with our basic needs. I pust so much pressure on myself to write something meaningful and get it published, I forget to just enjoy myself.

And I do think that somewhere in the pile of words, trying to be a novel of mine, there is a fun story.

So, since my job has informed me that we will continue remote work until the fall, I have decided that this summer, I’m going to have fun. (No commute means I have more time during my workday.) Do fun stuff, and write fun stuff. Enjoy myself. So if I feel like wasting a whole day buried in a book, that’s what ya girll is going to do.

I will try and update this blog more. I haven’t forgot my goals made earlier this year, but no pressure…

Have some FUN this summer ya’ll.

Slow Motivation – February 2021

It’s been a slow month. I wish I could say that I killed it this month with writing, but I didn’t . I’ve still managed to get a few words in here and there every week. Progress is still slow. How I envy those that can knock out thousands of words every day, week, or month. I try not to compare myself to other writers I know. I tell myself that my path is mine alone. My career as a writer should not be measured by anyone else’s success. We all have our own problems that we need to overcome in order to write. Because your never going to have time to write. You must make the time.

I’ve been tracking my writing for the last few years too. What I’ve noticed is during the winter months, I tend to write less. Blame the cold, or the early sunsets, or the “winter blues.” I slow down this time of year. Then in early spring, like mid-April/early May, I perk up and start writing more.

So, I’ll won’t beat myself up too much. I’m putting words on the page. Maybe not a ton, but some. I had hoped to finish this novel soon, but I still have a ways to go. I still so proud that I am still plugging away at this thing. It would’ve been so easy to quit. But no, I’m still working.

Slow progress, but working.

January 2021 – New Year, New Writing Goals

Happy New Year!

It’s 2021 and I know we are all happy to see this new year begin. A lot is going on in the world right now, but I want to concentrate on what my new writing goals are for 2021.

Last year, it was all about my novel. I spent the majority of my time at home writing this book, and I’m still not done. I hope to be done by the end of this month. I can feel the ending coming close. Of course, the work won’t be done after I finish. The real work begins when I step back, look at all these words, and see if I have something worth sculpting into a novel that should see the light of day. For me, the hardest thing about writing this book is the belief that the story is worth spending my time on. It’s been well over a decade since I finished anything longer than 5k. Taking the time to write this book was a bit of a gamble, but I felt like it was time to dig in and write something that would have a chance at a larger audience. Short stories are great, but most people read novels.

So my #1 goal for this year is to finish a polished draft of my book, find an agent, and get a book contract.

Goal #2? Write at least one new blog post a month. I have neglected this blog in the past year and I need to do better.

Goal #3 is to continue to submit my short stories. I want to get at least one new submission per month. I did submit a few places last year with a stories I’m still trying to place. I got some great feedback and strong encouragement to submit again. This makes me want to keep submitting to find homes for a all my works.

Finally Goal #4 is a long neglected one. Five years ago, I self-published a small book of my stories. Since then, I’ve sold at least one copy per year. Although, I wasn’t getting rich, those sales meant so much to me. I’ve read that most people who self-publish don’t even sell one copy, so for me to have a handful of sales with barely any platform is heartwarming. (If you are one of those people — THANK YOU!) I remember two years ago coming home from the hospital and seeing a massive stack of emails. There were a few rejection notes, but also there was a letter from Kindle saying I had a royalty payment. It was a nice bit of news during a difficult time.

So the goal is to self-publish more work. Some of my short-stories as single buys and another chapbook. I also want to make my work available on other platforms ( other than Kindle) and maybe a print copy available too. That’s a lot to do, but I feel like this is something that should have been done years ago. I’ve been caught up in other things (health problems, job loss, other writing, etc.). I’ll always have something else going on, but I’ve got to make time for this.

Those are my goals for 2021. Sound good? I think so. I hope all of my readers are staying safe and I wish you all a wonderful new year! See you in February!

Mid Summer Update 2020 – I’m Okay and I Hope You are Too

It has been a while since I posted here. To be honest, I did feel like posting much. This year has been tough for so many and the last thing I felt like doing was adding to the noise. I felt like being quiet, still, and reflective. I live alone, which is great for the most part in a non-pandemic, but it can be problematic. By living alone, I am the one be to seek out human interaction. I make the effort to call, drive, fly, or any other kind of interaction with the world outside. The pandemic has severely curbed that. Six months ago, I saw my co-workers, family, and friends on a regular basis. Now, mostly Zoom, or email has been the norm. I have gone to see my parents and a few other family members. I am sure to mask up and stay a safe distance away. (Side note: My mom had a tested negative a few weeks ago. She had no symptoms, but needed to get one before she could go to the doctor. So, it seems following the rules of masks in public and social distancing have kept her and by default, my dad, safe. Yay!) But it’s not the same.

Back in March, I couldn’t write. Fiction was a luxury. I recorded no fiction writing that month. The guilt for wanting to do something so frivolous made me freeze in my tracks. Everything kind of stood still. I was aware the seasons were changing. I stopped wearing my winter coat and broke out my spring one. The cherry blossoms appeared. The days got longer.

It wasn’t until April 4th, the day before my birthday, that I really woke up. It was Saturday and I had plans to dash out to the grocery store early. I reached for a tea cup and my back seized up on me. I was bent over in agony, my back spasming several times, trying to reach for the pain killers. A few hours later, after the drugs had kicked in and had a ice pack on my back, I vowed to myself that I needed to take better care of myself.

First better physical care. I never really healed all the way from my surgery in 2019. I dropped a lot of weight, but it came back due to stress, new medication, and a job where I sit all day long. I may not have been able to get to a gym, but I certainly had more time (no two hour commutes anymore) to do something at home. Also, no more stress eating. I tried to clean up my diet, drink more water, and figure out how many calories I should be eating. Things are not perfect (when is it ever), but I’ve lost weight, sleep better, and no back pain.

Second better mental health. I realized that my feelings toward fiction writing were my ego talking. Not writing depressed me. I beat myself up for not writing. Then I asked myself, what good does that do? How does my guilt make anything better. So I started to write again… and I haven’t stopped. Lately it has been everyday, but I started with just a few times a week. At least this way I feel productive, hopeful about the future. I believe my better attitude helps others. Now when people ask how I am, I can say I’m pretty good. And by me talking about how I stay sane and strong, other people start to think about what they can do. My mom has taken up weaving. My brother is going back to school (on-line). Maybe folks are realizing that life is short. Time to start exploring interests and aiming for life goals.

I also started to mediate daily. A few minutes a day to remind myself what/who I am grateful for has done wonders. Like most people, I had been focusing on what I don’t have in life. Now l still have goals, but I also take a time out to remind myself, that I do have a lot that some people don’t have. I still have a regular paycheck, a place to live, people that care about me, my health, and a thousand other things that I take for granted. That daily reminder keeps my ego in check. No guilt anymore.

The novel progresses. I’m deep into it now. Dare I say more than half-way? It feels like a real story now, with multiple characters, setting, dialogue, etc. Moments that were only in my head are now on paper. I hoped to be done by the end of the summer and that is possible. For reference, I haven’t written anything over five thousand words in over a decade. This is the biggest project I have worked on since GW Bush was in office! Yep, it’s been a while. I didn’t even know if I had another novel in me, but here it comes. Flowing out everyday like a steady stream.

I’m doing my best, and I hope you are too. I hope you are taking care of yourself in every way. Even after this pandemic ends, I hope you continue to live your best life. Times are hard right now for many and there is a lot of fear. I don’t have the answers, but I do know, for me, that making my little corner of the world the best it can be makes all the difference.

I’ll write another post sooner than 6 months — I promise.

January 2020 – New Year, New Goal

Happy 2020!

We’re in a new year and that means it’s time to talk about new goals for the year. Last year my plans got derailed. I had these big goals to write more stories, write my novel, and grow my blog. I did write a couple of stories, write some of my novel, and gained a few more followers, but still I fell short. Throw in recovering from surgery, getting laid off, money worries, and starting a new job, and well, the goals just didn’t happen. I fell behind. Then, I beat myself for falling behind.

So for 2020 I’m scaling back the goals. I only have one.

Write and sell my book.

That’s it. One single focus. I may do other things (rewrite some stories or maybe another chapbook next winter), but the primary focus will be on the book. I’ve ignored it far too long and this is the year that I really devote time to it. Writing a novel is a brick by brick building process. It won’t get written in a week, or a month. But it will get written this year.

It’s not an exciting goal on paper, but the last time I finished anything that was over 5,000 words long was 2003. I’m a bit daunted by this goal, but I also know that I can do this. I’ve done it before and I KNOW I an do it again. I just have to stick to my mantra — Put words on the page everyday.

Also, if you missed the news, I had a new story published last month by Scarlet Leaf Review. You can read it here.

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

 

 

All Work, No Play

The new day job has been a time suck. I went from staying home all day long with occasional errands, to twelve hour long days ( two of those hours are commuting to and from the office). In some ways it’s nice to be busy again, but, wow, I’m tired at the end of the day. The job itself is great. I’m getting better at it and feeling more confident in the work. Hopefully, in a few months I will be able to work from home a few days a week.

Honestly, I don’t know how some of these super commuters do it. People who have longer commutes than me, or travel all the time. I know someone who lives in LA, but works in AZ! My hats off to you all.

But… the writing hasn’t stopped! If anything I’ve started writing on my lunch break, like I used to do years ago. Now that I have limited time and energy, I find myself scribbling a few pages everyday. So like my affirmation card says, “I’m putting words on the page everyday.” The novel may be slow, but it is progress. I never was one for sprinting. I prefer the long endurance races.

I still have some writing goals to meet, but for now (and probably the rest of October) it’s going to be on writing this novel (and getting my 100K words written goal) done. Currently, no word count because I have a crap ton of handwritten pages, but it’s hefty. Plus, I’m not too worried about word count right now. I”m just going for it and writing everything down. I’ll edit  and shape it later. Right now, I just want words on the page, a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This past weekend I attended a great writing workshop. As many have said before, you should never stop learning. This particular workshop was taught by Donald Maass on “The Emotional Craft of Writing.” It was a good size group and I got a lot out of it. If you have the opportunity to go — do it. It’s always good to learn new things in your craft, or remind yourself of the lessons you already know. I realize now, after twenty-years out of undergrad, that I’m never going to be done learning. There is always another part of me where I can grow.

Also, you don’t need to pay for a workshop. Trust me, I know what it is like to be strapped for cash. Reading books, watching youtube videos on craft (by people who you think are successful), and talking with other writers are great ways to grow too. Just never think you know it all. I think that is detrimental thinking.

So, I’m pushing forward, working hard (both the writing and new day job), and trying not to burn out. It has been a crazy, crazy, year so far. I’m a little scared about what these last three months are going to bring, but I am hopeful. Things seem to be settling down. I want a quiet fall and holidays filled with love, laughter, and lots of writing.