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Posts from the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

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.

 

New Season, New Beginning

It’s not quite officially fall yet, but I’m starting to feel it in the air. Kids are going back to school. The lazy, hot days of summer are fading into busy, crisp days of autumn. The days of relaxing are gone and replaced by days of activity.

In other words, I got a new job.

I’m excited for the new experience. In a way this is new territory for me. I’m entering the world of government contracting (I had to get security clearance.) and I’m now working for a large company. I haven’t done that since 2000. My very first job out of undergrad was with a large company. Since then, I have only worked for small businesses. I also have a commute again. Back into the fray of traffic. I hope this is a good match. I think I made a good choice accepting this offer. No job is perfect, but I think this place is a good fit and I’ll be there for a while.

As for writing, my novel is still chugging along. I had hoped to have most of it done by September 1, but that didn’t happen. Truth is — It’s been a while since I’ve written anything over 5K. Once I passed that mark, I lost steam. My friend Jennifer Ryan suggested that I set a timer for 30 minutes and just work for that amount of time everyday. So far, that has worked, but the progress is slow. I get bored, insecure, or just plain lazy and don’t want to work. It’s strange, but when my time was limited, I was able to focus and get stuff done. Having lazy days where I don’t have much to do took the wind out of my sails.

I have an affirmation card on my bedroom wall that says, “Put words on the page everyday.” It’s a reminder to myself that I don’t need to have the perfect words, I just need to write something. I need to move forward. Maybe by October 1 I’ll have a very rough draft of the book. For now, I’m just putting words on the page. One foot in front of the other. I’ll get there… eventually.

Also there are some other great literary things that are happening and I’ll talk about those later, as I get further into the fall. I may have been lazy at times, but I still got some stuff done. I’m still submitting and going to literary events.

So it is a new season for me. A new start and, in a way, a new adventure into the next phase of my life. This summer was challenging and difficult at times. Change never really feels good as you’re going through it, but after the dust has settled and I started to move on, I have a better attitude. In some ways, my life needed an upheaval. A reminder that nothing is certain and the the winds of change will blow your way one day. After my surgery, I started practicing more gratitude and never have I been more grateful for getting all my medical issues taken care of before I lost my job. I really lucked out there. I’m also grateful for all the family and friends that supported me through this time. They made the time much more bearable.

Here I go. Onward.

Don’t Make Decisions Out of Fear

We’re halfway through the year.

And what a year it has been for me! I started off getting major surgery and recovering from it. Now, I’m figuring out what the next step in my careers is going to look like. I say “careers” because I have two.

I have my records management career that I’ve stuck with for almost twenty years. Ever since I graduated from undergrad school, I’ve been involved one way or another in this field. I enjoy it and it feeds a particular part of my personality that enjoys planning and organizing.

My other career is the fiction writing. I’ve been lucky enough to be published a few times, but I really want to do more. I’ve been using my time in between jobs to really focus on writing and submitting more. I’m currently on chapter four of the novel and I have nine submissions out.

Through this whole year, I’ve been trying to focus on how I made big decisions in my life. So many times I’ve been pushed into a corner and had to make a decision because, if I didn’t, I thought things would get worse. One big moment for me was back in 2014. I had planned to take some of my savings and pay for my last class outright, instead of borrowing the money. As soon as I pulled the money out of my savings, I got furloughed. Worried I might lose my job, I stuffed the money back into savings and went even further into debt. If I had just taken a few weeks and let the fear go, I would’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars in interest.

Sometimes it is hard to know. For me, I’ve tried to set myself up so that I don’t have to make decisions out of fear in the first place. When I lost my job, I had enough savings that I could take a breath and figure out what was next. With my health, I plan on never going back into surgery like that again, so I will be much more vigilant and take better care of myself. Sometimes emergencies can’t be helped, but health issues of my own making should be stopped. I knew about a year before surgery that something wasn’t right, but I ignored it and told myself it was not that serious.

With my fiction writing, I think I’ve done better. I try not to self reject. If I see a open call and I think my work is a good fit, I send it to them. I try not to let the fear of putting myself out there hold me back. It’s easy at times to talk yourself out of submitting. You tell yourself, “It’s not that good.” or “I need to rewrite it again for the hundredth time.” or “I’m not important and this place only publishes famous writers.” That is fear telling you this.

The best advice I ever heard was from a video. The speaker said that no one can see the future (at least as far as he knew). When you talk yourself out of things, or make decisions out of fear, you are predicting the future. You already know that the outcome is going to be bad, so why try? Truth is, YOU DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE. You can’t predict what is going to happen. All you can do it make the best choices for yourself to your benefit. Fear is a lie telling you the future. So ignore it and try anyway. You never know what is going to happen.

As I put down more and more words for this novel, the fear comes on strong. This is a long work and part of me hates to work on it, only for it to fail. So I have to keep telling myself that I don’t know whether it will fail or not. No matter what has happened in the past, I don’t know the future. I have to trust in my ability as a storyteller that this manuscript will be successful.

I have to trust myself.

 

Continuing On…

It’s a new month and a new reality for me. The dust is starting to settle around my unemployment. I still feel like I should be working everyday and often I find notes written to myself about a work thing I needed to get done or a goal I wanted to hit. I forgot to stop the alerts on my calendar, so stuff pops up every now and then.

But I’ve also waded through the paper work for unemployment benefits, healthcare,  updating my resume, and job searching. I have to say – It’s nuts the way almost every employer wants you to create an account on their site just to submit a resume. I have so many passwords now… LOL.

Hey you gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.

One thing I do want to address is my fiction writing career. For the first time in a long time, I have the time to really write, everyday, without feeling guilty. I apply to jobs in the morning and then in the afternoon, I pull out the stories. I don’t have to worry about taking time away from anything else, because I’m not doing anything else. It’s freeing.

Even when I was working full-time and I would take vacation days, I still didn’t write with total freedom. Days off meant doing things I would have the chance to do like travel and do house projects. Now I really have the time. I have to keep myself busy and active. The last thing I want is to start waking up at 10am and not get dressed until the afternoon.

Nope. Not a good idea.

So, I’m up at my usual time of 6am. I do my usual morning routine: lemon water, vitamins, scripting, and exercise. Then it’s make tea, get dressed, plan my day, and see what’s going on the world (usually an hour or so of morning talk shows). Then at 8am or so my (new) workday starts. So far so good.

As a reminder, I had 4 writing goals this year:

-Finish my novel

-Write 6 new short stories (1 down, 5 more to go.)

-Write 100K words

-Gain more followers on the blog (Got a nice little bump in April.)

That should be plenty to keep me busy. Let’s do this!

A Turning Point

About a month ago, I mentioned that I got some bad news. Last week, the news got worse. After almost eleven years, I have been laid off from my job. The company closed its doors and is no longer doing business. All of my co-workers and I are sad about the end. It’s a new reality for us.

In some ways I feel like I am going through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. If I’m being honest, I’m probably in between the depression and acceptance phase. I have all these reminders around me of work left unfinished. There is a lingering voice in the back of my mind, which chime at two o’clock in the afternoon telling me I should be working. I realize now that I can leave it unfinished. I can pack it up, or throw it away. No one needs it anymore.

I do feel lucky. Lucky that I got myself out of debt, so my bills (for now) are manageable (emergency fund, unemployment, etc.).

Lucky that I had all of my surgery and other medical procedures done early this year. I’m healthy and have never felt better.

Lucky that I have friends and family who I can lean on for support.

And I’m lucky I got to work as long as I did at my former company. It’s rare to find a place with great people and work that allowed me to pursue my dreams too. At eleven years, I was one of the newer employees. There were folks who had been there twenty plus years.

So for now, I’m job hunting and focusing on my fiction writing (and sticking to the plan I thought about last month). I’m sad about the end, but, if I’m being honest, I’m excited by the future. This is a new opportunity for me. A new path, I didn’t see coming. I don’t expect it to be easy, just different. I thought my life was going one way, but the universe had a different plan.

Let’s see where it goes.

One Moment and Everything Changes

This week has been difficult. I gotten difficult news both professionally and personally. I won’t go into it, instead I want to write about what happens after. The world goes sideways and what do you do next?

You make a plan.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Everything doesn’t have to make sense. You can take some time (as long as you need), but then the world is still turning. Life, whether you are ready or not, is still going on.

Make a plan. Try to figure out where you want to be and what you think is best. Be flexible and let your plans change, if they need to.

Most important, though, is to keep your eye on the bigger picture. I try to think about years down the road, instead of day by day. I do have short-term goals, but as I get older they seem to be less important. Long-term goals tend to bring me more happiness and satisfaction when I complete them.

So for now, I’m going to think about my long-term goals and how I’m going to get there. I want to think about how this news is going to affect these goals. Then, I’m going to make some plans.