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Posts from the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

Finding Balance

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about balance. As I said earlier, I went to the doctor and she encouraged me to get back to exercising now that I am almost fully recovered from surgery. I want to fit that in again, along with fiction writing and my regular stuff. But I’ve also been thinking about other aspects of my life that I’ve let fall to the wayside. There are friendships I don’t put enough time into, travel I’d like to do, spirituality I’d like to explore more, and a whole host of other aspects.

About 15 years ago, I heard Tom Wolfe speak about the writing life. He said one of the best things a writer could do was go out and live a life. Don’t just sit around and write. Go out and see the world. I remember him saying that. He felt that writers had become too insular, where they were only writing about themselves as writers and nothing more. A dangerous, slippery slope I hope one day to never fall down.

A full life, full of mundane and exciting stuff is what we should all aim for. I’m striving for that now. Not an easy thing. Sometimes I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions and other times I feel like the dullest person in the room. Maybe the answer is that I need to do what I can each day to feel like I’m living my best life. Some days that’s going to be binge watching TV. Other days it will be squeezing in a workout and one thousand words of new fiction. And some will be spending time with the family/friends. I don’t have to do everything everyday.

I have to focus on doing my best each day and keeping things interesting.

Finding the Time

Cherry trees have blossomed.

One thing posting everyday has taught me — I have time to write. Sometimes it feels like I have zero time. My day job has drained me, or I have plans that take me away from my desk all day. Most days, however, I have a few minutes to write.

Went to the doctor this week and she encouraged me to get back into regular exercise. I thought, When is that going to happen? After work, no that is writing time. It’s going to be first thing in the morning for now. Maybe later I’ll change them. I used to be a “write first thing in the morning and workout in the evening” person. We’ll see. I can always change if I think the routine isn’t working.

In the past, people have always said, “When I have time, I’ll write.”

I always respond with, “You’ll never have time to write. You have to make time.”

But you knew that didn’t you (if you are a fellow writer)? Now I’m learning that I have to make time for everything else. Heck, even my grand plan to watch all of the GOT episodes before the season premiere on Sunday went awry. Last Sunday, as I started, I didn’t realize that Killing Eve was having a marathon. So GOT went on the back burner, Sandra Oh needed me now. And that day I still had to fit in a blog post, writing, reading more my friend’s novel, and grocery shopping. And some folks have way, way more responsibilities than me (like kids or aging parents). We do the best we can by making time for the important stuff.

And this month long challenge reminded me that I do consider my writing important. That I can carve out time to write (even a few paragraphs a day) among the craziness of life. This is important to me and I can make time for it. Everyday.

On Being Grateful

This will be quick post. I wanted to write something about where I am right now. My birthday is in a few days and I’m thinking a lot about what went down over the last year. I still think about my parents taking me out to dinner last year. My mom remarked how cute the neighborhood was around the restaurant. I agreed, but also knew I couldn’t afford it. Cut to a year later and I’m living around the corner from said restaurant. Sometimes all you have to do is speak your desires into the universe and the universe shows up to help.

So, yeah, the last 12 months had highs and lows, but I find myself very grateful that I got to live them.

Great family.

Great friends.

My indexing/electronic editorial career, which I love as much as writing.

My writing career (which is still alive). I may not be writing up a storm, but I’m still creating work I care about and believe in.

And my health. Yep, I’m grateful for the best health I’ve had in years. Maybe I needed the surgeries and recovery to remind me how important it is to take care of myself. Sometimes I can get so focused on one goal, I forget that having a well rounded life makes me a better writer.

A few months ago, I stared a gratitude journal. This is separate from my regular life journal. In the gratitude one, I write a few sentences about what I’m grateful for in the day. I find it relaxing, almost soothing to start my day like this.

Not a bad way to start the next 12 months.

Happy Spring!

Back from Break – October 5, 2017

Phew! It’s been a while since I have updated this blog.

Honestly, I needed a break from all things social media related. After pushing through to get out of debt and figure out my game plan for the next phase of my life, I realized I needed to unplug from my life. Like a lot of people, I work in front of a computer all day long. The idea of spending more time in front of it just killed me. It’s one of the reasons I write long hand a lot. I would much rather spend time writing on a note pad than composing on the computer.

So I spend most of the spring and summer away from the screen, trying to come up with a writing plan for myself. I didn’t find a good one. All I can say is that I’m still working on my book. Slowly but surely, it will get done. I have this fantasy of it being completed by the end of the year, but we’ll see. I also have a few other stories that need to be finished or tweaked.

Good news! Even in my disorganized state, I am still submitting. I even managed to get another story accepted. It should go live by the end of the year. That news really energized me (which is why I want to have a completed draft done by the end of the year). I wrote the story four years ago and it has gone through a lot of rejections. I’m so happy it found a home.

Reminds me of the old advice that the one trait a writer needs is — Persistence.

I’m getting back into the swing of things, so expect more updates (or at least more that one every 6 months). Thanks to all of you who have stuck with the blog this long. Things are getting interesting!

100K By September 1st!

We’re well into summer and half the year is almost gone. I’ve been so unproductive this year that I’m a bit frustrated with myself. But I keep telling myself that what gets done gets done. I just wish I could get more done.

Don’t we all wish that?

My home search is on hold right now. Here in the DC area, home prices are so competitive that it is really hard to get a place. Plus I still have some debt from JHU. So my plan is to pay off the debt, then look into buying something. In this market, every thousand dollars makes a difference. On one hand I’m sad I won’t be able to own something now.

But I also started thinking about other expenses coming in the near future. The last thing I want is to have a mortgage, school debt, and other stuff like a car, etc. No thank you. I’d rather pay off the school debt, save for the house, and then save for the car. No more debt.

Seven years ago, I was debt free as I paid off the last of my undergrad loan. That was such a freeing moment and I want to have that feeling again. It’s addictive to have no obligation to anyone.

When I was 16, I took the “Strong Interest” test in high school. Number one career recommendation? Author. Annual salary? $16K.

Yep. I knew I was in a low paying career from the beginning.

But when you don’t have debt, a small salary will allow you to be very comfortable. I just slipped up and made some no so great decisions. Still, I got an MA out of it and over all I still think it was a good decision.

So, yes, my financial life takes up all my thoughts. Writing has fallen by the way side. It’s a three day weekend here in the US. I hope to get something done. I am still submitting. A story I submitted a year ago finally came back rejected and a few others are still in the que.

Can’t say I’m not persistent or patient.

I need to attack my writing goals like I attack my debt. So I’m making a goal right now that I will write 100K in the next two months. That is my writing goal. It’s a big one, but hey, aim high right?

I think I can do it.

Grown-Up Decision for 2016

At my last writing, I bemoaned my slow writing pace and that hasn’t changed much. I’m still squeezing it in when I can, trying to write every day. But other life things have sometimes pushed it to the back. Some I will discuss here. So if you just want to read about writing stuff, I’ll write about that first. And then get into the other pressing life stuff.

On the plus side, I have gotten some writing in and managed to submit a few more stories out into the world. On May 1st, I got my #50 rejection. Not bad. Not bad. I still wish I had more submitted, but I’m still trying.

I also finished a few books, so I’m reading too. I never understand why some writers aren’t reading books. It sounds crazy, like a musician that doesn’t listen to music, or  an actor that doesn’t watch TV, film, or plays.

Make time to read. Make time to write.

But sometimes life just has a way of wiping out those goals.

For me, it started last winter. I focused on writing, submitting, and getting my chapbook together. I renewed my lease on my apartment and didn’t think too much about it. After all, my rent only went up sixteen dollars. Not much. Not enough to worry about.

And then all of my other bills started to got up. Not huge amounts, but enough that I felt the squeeze. Twenty dollars here. Ten dollars there. I’ve always been a very careful, budget conscious person. Working in publishing will never net me riches, but I always did the best I could. I worked through grad school and did my best to be frugal.

But when I sat down and did the math, I was shocked. My rent and utilities were sixty-percent of my take home pay! No wonder I was feeling the squeeze.

I’m just one of the many people who are stuck in this economy. My salary has flat-lined, but my expenses keep going up and up. I decided that if I was paying this much in rent, I damn well better own something. I want to buy a house.

And the thought of owning a home scares me. It’s a big, grown-up, adult decision that I have managed to avoid. Renting allowed me to cut and run, if things got hard. Don’t like the neighbors? Move! Sick of the area? Move! Not so easy when you own the home. No leaving when things get hard. You have to stay and fix the problem (or I guess you could abandon the home, but that never ends well).

But I am also excited by this decision. For the first time, I will be in control of my living situation. All the decisions will be my own. I don’t have a husband, or family help (in terms of money) to make this purchase. I will be doing this all on my own. Already, I have met with a realtor and mortgage broker, seen my finances laid bare, and taken the plunge to -GASP- go to open houses.

(Side note: I find open houses weird. Some people I know love them, but I guess I’m not that curious about how others live. )

You know what? Buying a house is exhausting! I understand now why people say, “It took me a year to find a house.” or “I looked at a hundred houses.” You really do have to look at a HUGE amount of homes. For like months and months. I’ve only been doing this a month and already my weekends are booked up and I find myself watching Youtube videos entitled “House Hunting tips” and “5 Mistakes home buyers are making.” Are we in a housing bubble now? Should I buy in an established area, or up and coming? Condo or single family? Wishlist? Dealbreakers?

So yeah, I’m tired. I still have a day job to do, regular errands to finish, and find time to write, read, and look for a new home. That’s all. Simple, but never easy.

I hope I hit this 500K goal of writing for the year, but I can already tell that I’ll be lucky if I hit 100K. Not matter, what gets done, gets done. I’d take a baby step forward rather than stand in place. 2016 is going to have some major shifts for me, more than I thought.
Now excuse me while I search for some more videos on finding a dream home on a writer’s budget.