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Posts from the ‘Everyday Life’ Category

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.

Internet Problems

This is a quick note to say that I am having internet problems and will post my Mid-December update as soon as I can. Thanks!



Thoughts on Reading

I know I’m preaching to the choir here…

We all know the importance, the joy, and benefits of reading. But still there are people who don’t do it. I remember learning (from some source I can’t recall) that most people only read one book a year. My aunt, who is a professor, says that her students don’t read. Not the news, not books, not even magazines.

I guess I am lucky I come from a family of readers. I remember my mom having a tower of books next to her and my father’s bed. My dad was a comic book lover and still has a bunch of Conan comics somewhere in their house. Also, for years my parents were faithful subscribers to the Washington Post. Even now, they will still buy a Sunday paper and read on a lazy afternoon.

My grandmother was also a professor (psychology) and a big reader. After her death, my mother and I combed through her bookshelves taking many of the books she collected over the years. There wasn’t any pattern to her collection, only things she had bought because she liked them. My mom told me my grandmother had a knack for leaving her paperbacks at the bus station after she had read them. She wanted to give books away to anyone who would want them.

During that clean out, I was to lucky recipient of a fabulous gift. My grandmother had gotten Gwendolyn Brooks to sign her chapbook.

My mom: “You should have it.”
Me: “Really?”
My mom: “Yes. You’re the writer. I think it is best that you take it.”

The rest of the family agreed and now it is one of my favorite literature pieces. One day I will have to properly frame it.

Brooks Pic

So you see how weird it is to me that there are some who don’t read.

But I think there is hope. The emergence of cheap (or even free) e-books is a blessing. I don’t buy what those reports say about e-book sales slowing. There are a lot of writers who are putting out books with no ISBN numbers and they don’t get counted. Plus, what about people like me who frequent used bookstores? I don’t buy a lot of new books, preferring instead to read a lot of older books that I missed. I read maybe 5-6 new books a year out of the twenty or so that I read. So far I’ve only read 2 (in the middle of my 3rd right now.)

Plus, I live in a good area for reading. There are lots of indie and chain bookstores, a large literate public who celebrate books, and demand from that community. I’m sure there are other places that aren’t as nice (but they can be).

So cheap books and a good environment do go a long way towards getting more people to read. Sure there are some who will never do it. For them music or movies are what get them excited. I’ve known a few people who see all the indie movies and don’t understand why more people don’t watch those instead of the latest superhero flick. Or that friend who detests the radio and listens to obscure bands with gusto.

But those who are like me, someone who likes movies, TV, and music, but connects best with books, reading will always be important. The stories connects over the decades and the story you love may be a story your kids love too. My aunt (in her sixties) and I love Sanderson and were gushing over Shadow of Self yesterday. These connections are so precious.

I wish more people understood that about reading. It’s not a chore, or punishment to read. Not all books are boring or long winded. Maybe you’ll never love the classics, but hey that latest mystery has got your name all over it.

Here’s my reading pile. I can’t wait to dive in.

Atwood & Galbraith

Creativity, Publishing, and Turning My Hair Blue

A few weeks ago, I had a snafu with my hair. Every 4-6 weeks I color it to cover the white(I don’t go gray. I go white.) and this time I picked a shade that ended up turning my hair blue. I thought it would be that dark, inky black that had a blue sheen. But that only works if your hair is black to begin with. If you are looking to cover a lighter shade than black, well, it turns your hair blue. I realized about halfway through putting the color on, but what was I going to do? My hair turned out okay. And the color is not too obvious. Frankly, I kinda like it. It’s a nice change from my typical dark brown/soft black shade. It’s already growing out a little and in a few weeks it will get covered up with the new color.

So sometimes a big mistake can end up being a nice change of pace. Sometimes it’s good to shake up your routine. Try something different and learn something new. Lately I’ve been watching some Youtube videos on creativity and entrepreneurship. That’s the new thing now, being creative and having business smarts. I’ll admit that learning about the publishing business is a bit boring at times, but I find myself getting more comfortable to more I watch. There is a lot of good info out there and I am grateful to the people that give it away for free.

In grad school, this was almost never mentioned. Not until the my last class, and even then it was near impossible to touch on everything. And I get it, most of my time needed to be spent learning my craft. That is important. After all, if you can’t write publishable material, you don’t need to worry about the business.

But what happens after that point. Maybe that is why so many people quit writing a year or so after they graduate. The business is too overwhelming? Or maybe they just don’t want to deal with it.

I don’t know…

It helps that a know a few who graduated before me that are continuing to write, submit, and get published. It helps that I still want to write, submit, and get published. I don’t feel burnt out, nor do I feel overwhelmed by the business aspect of publishing. Plenty of people are doing it. I heard someone say that publishing is simple, but not easy. Very true.

What else? We had our first really cold night and that means it’s time to break out the winter teas! Yum! Fuel for the early morning (or late night) writing.



Some Thoughts on Book Collecting

I woke up this morning thinking about Michael Hurley. If you’ve never heard of him, you are not alone. He was one of the greatest book collectors in the US (He died in the 80’s.) A while back I came across his name and saw a few articles that talked about him. My jaw dropped. Here was a guy who devoted his life to finding books (really amazing books). I can only wonder what they didn’t find and record before his stuff was auctioned off.

Who wouldn’t love to have a first edition Raymond Chandler, or a signed Stoker (!!). Wow!

One of my most popular posts was when I found my 1st edition Atwood book. That was an amazing day and I consider combing thrift stores and rummage sales to be modern day treasure hunting. There is nothing quite like the rush of finding a gem is the most unlikely of places.

Along with books, I have been lucky to finds some cute clothes (like a Maggie London dress for $3.50!) My cousin once found some Prada shoes for $2. And don’t even get me started on my couponing clearance finds…

I guess I had to remind myself that treasure is all around us. Magical, amazing things are out there waiting for you to find. Sure you may not want a Maggie London dress, but maybe you will find that perfect phone case, or stumble on the best ice cream you’ve ever had.

Let’s all go treasure hunting!

One of my best finds.

One of my best finds.

I Joined Twitter

After going back and forth about this, I finally decided to join Twitter. Feel free to follow me.

My handle is @shoutattheabyss.