What Does It Mean To Be Done?

What Does It Mean To Be Done?

Is it true?  Could I be done?  I am not sure.  I finished the latest book rewrite/edits based on beta feedback, and I feel like the story is more solid.  It feels weird to be ‘done’ and not stressing about finding time to write.  I’ve got other project ideas, but nothing is grabbing me at the moment.  I have given the latest revision to a few folks to read, and I’m curious what the response will be this time.  In part, I’m studiously ignoring what must happen next: querying, deciding whether or not I want to try for an agent, or what.  The industry changes rapidly, and that gets scary to think about.  So I sit with my head in the sand, wondering if I’m going to convince myself the book isn’t worthy to avoid putting it out there for others to see.

I have a few other ideas, though, and I swore I’d know what project I wanted to pick up next after the rush of Thanksgiving… but I find myself dithering. On the one hand, I want a change of pace.  I want to explore a different story with different characters and possibly a lighter side. I don’t know if I can pull off humor, but I’d like to try.  On the other hand, I want to explore what happens to Cimin and the others as they traverse the next leg of their adventure.

The point is, no matter what happens next, I have finished what I set out to do.  I persevered and didn’t quit when it felt like it was never going to get better.  I still feel like I’m peddling horse manure, but I’m reassured that that’s not the case.

It’s time to jump off the comfort train of rewriting a book and see how it fares in the large, wild world of the unknown.

Damn, that scares the hell out of me.

The Kitchen Sink Update

The Kitchen Sink Update

What a whirlwind summer!  Not only did my husband and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, but we also bought a new house and moved.  I’ve had very little time for anything OTHER than being sick (all of July) and moving (all of August), and now we are in a construction zone while we redo our floors.  But hey, I got promoted in June!  To Senior Software Engineer, which feels awesome.

The kittens — gosh they’re not kittens anymore! — have the run of the house again.  It’s been non-stop action while we do the things we can with the floors in the shape they’re in.  Our furniture is piled in the garage!  It’s hard living out of a box!  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone!

Beyond moving (which is a huge ordeal in and of itself), I received more reviews for the book I’m working on.  A beta reader finished and gave me good feedback.  I think it impressed me the most that my lone beta reader had kept with it and gave me both positive and “needs work” observations.  Her review combined with the others have given me a lot to think about.  I’m three-quarters of the way through the updates.  I hope the finished product is good.

I struggle with fear.  Fear of not good enough.  Fear of how I’m spending my time.  Fear of the unknown.  It’s easier to give up than it is to try.  It’s easier to tell myself that I am not good enough than it is to persevere.  It’s easier to give into the darkness than embracing the cliff jump into uncertainty.  Though I struggle, I hope that I do not stop.

Of course, I need a better workspace before I can do much!  I need my furniture!  I feel like I’m in a shitty resort with no furniture but an awesome outdoor space.  I’ve picked up WoW again since abandoning it in June right before house hunting and moving consumed my SOUL.

Teeny, tiny workstation.  And WoW!

Oh, and my poor bird has become a bat-bird, hanging upside down at night.  We’ve had to move his cage twice because of the floors.  Our dog is too afraid to come in the house, and the cats only want inside the house and then freak out when they do get inside.  But my poor bird.  Hanging upside down.  Watching us.

There’s a story in there, I tell you.  But soon, soon it’ll be done.  I make myself believe it’ll be worth it (it will).I just have to survive to the end of the month.

I just have to survive to the end of the month.  Hopefully, I can start giving updates more often.  Life’s always an adventure in this household!

So for now, I leave a kitten picture because that’s all I am good for these days: never-ending pictures of the girls.

Water, mama!  Kittens need water!

A Snail’s Pace

A Snail’s Pace

What a crazy month!  And it’s almost over, somehow.  My birthday is zooming closer and closer, and that means the end of the month looms.  And then “my month” is over.  Which always saddens me, because I LOOOOVE my month.

In the midst of work busyness, we might be moving/buying a new house.  It’s really putting a crimp in finishing this book, and I end up folding in on myself in self-doubt.

Should I finish it?

Will I finish it?

I feel like I’m moving so slow, I might as well be standing still.  I know I have unrealistic expectations of myself, but that doesn’t mean I can turn off my brain.  And it’s not just in writing that I feel as if I am moving in slow motion.  It seems like everything wants to move slowly, though, in reality, I’m moving at the speed of light.

We found a house.  Now we have to sell our house, but first, we have to make our house pretty.  When am I going to have time to write?  To buy a house, we have to have our house sold, but we also need to make sure it all aligns financially.  Does it make sense to buy a house?  In all of this, I feel this tremendous pressure to be “finished”.  To be done.  Like I’m letting myself down if I do not hold to the timelines I’ve given myself.

So I spin and spin and watch time tick by while I calculate how much I have left.  I wanted to be “done” before my birthday.  Welp, there are three days before my birthday.  I’m not going to be done.

I’ve slacked off on my jewelry commissions too.  Everything seems to be falling behind and I feel like my entire world is spinning out of control.  I have my moments right now where I want to give up.  Just throw in the towel on this stupid book that I can barely find beta readers for.  The little voice tells me that I’m not good enough and will never amount to anything.  That the book must be terrible if people can’t find the time to read it.

And maybe it is.  Maybe I am nothing but a sham, but I won’t figure that out until I finish.  So, that hooker is mine.  That finish line might move, but I’m going to get there.  Even if I have to drag my parched carcass across it.






This week’s goals:

  • Take a breath.
  • Remind myself that the finish line is mine to set.
  • Drink coffee and carry on.  Maybe it will take forever, but I’ll hit the end.  Eventually.
  • Don’t lose sight of the finish.  I’m coming for you, Mr. Finish Line.
  • Stop putting self-worth in who/how many beta readers read the book.
  • Stay positive.  (This one is freakin’ hard.)

The First Summit

After two years in the making, I have finally written the final word on this Manuscript.  The Fucking End.  Only it’s not, right?  This is the first mountain, and it might feel like the largest peak to scale, but even that’s not true.  Now it’s time for the first readers to get the book and assess the book and tell you all the things you did right.  And all the things you did wrong.  Right and wrong are trigger words that give highs and lows depending on who likes the work you do.

I need to remember my core belief:  You can’t please 100 percent of the world 100 percent of the time.  There are always going to be people who don’t like what you’ve done.  Stories are personal and subjective.  However, I am fully prepared to learn from even the people who don’t like what I’ve made.  In every walk of life, I believe, we have the opportunity to learn and grow.  I expect to grow a lot in the coming weeks as I start thinking about where and how I want my story to find a place within the larger book world.

I need to start asking questions like:

  • Do I self-publish?
  • Do I find an agent?  Try to get into an agent-only publishing house?
  • Do I submit to an indie publisher?  
  • What are the pros and cons of all publishing options?

The part of me that’s terrified wants me to say the book isn’t ready, regardless what beta readers may say.  It’s the part of me that says, “No, no, you need to re-write it from the beginning again to make it even better!”  The other part of me recognizes the fear talking.  Maybe I do need to re-write the book once more, but if I do, then I need to make sure that it’s for the good of the story and not to hide behind my fear of rejection.

So here I sit, both delighted and exhausted to be ‘done.’  I know it’s not really ‘done,’ but for right now I can go no further without feedback.  It’s time to relax, have some coffee, play with my kittens, and make more jewelry for a bit.  I’ve earned a respite while I await feedback.

Write on.

On the Road; Well Traveled

On the Road; Well Traveled

Before Christmas, I was stuck in the curve of failure and the loop of confusion.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how I was going to tie everything together.  I had different ideas that only loosely connect.  Thank God for my alpha reader who has tirelessly read each and every version of this manuscript I’ve pumped out.  I can extrapolate what works and what doesn’t by her reactions, and she’s come to know and love the characters, helped name them when their names didn’t feel right.

So here I am, on the cusp of 100,000 words and I’m winding down to the ending.  I have a good idea of the direction the story is going to go, but I’ve been surprised before.  That’s the best part of immersing yourself into a different world: experiencing the surprising twists and turns of people who exist only on the pages of a story that you’ve written.

When I finish and get this story as polished as I can, I will get a hard copy printed for me as a celebration of my success of completion.  I’ve blown past the curves and loops of failure and confusion, made it through the red lights of enemies and rejoiced in the speedbumps of friendship.  Sometimes, it helps to know when to pull away and let the creative mind rest.

Home stretch!  This weekend is a working weekend; time to hunker down and fall back into the lives of characters I’ve created.

The Origin

Tonight, I fully intended to settle down and write some more meat to this story that is hammering to get out.  Instead, after a long day, I lazed about the living room and watched science shows on television.

I had, after all, just pumped out 50,000 words over the weekend.  I could give myself a break!

Except not.  Not intending to write, I paced around the living room seeing so clearly in my head a carrion crow facing against a ruined Humanity.  It is no secret that this story is set in a dystopian world, where people tell themselves they are upholding ideological beliefs.  So while walking the strange pathways of my foyer, an origin proverb emerged.

It is rough.  And it might or might not make it into the actual book, but I enjoyed the act of writing it.  Of exploring what I viewed in my mind’s eye of how a group of people could subjugate themselves to what amounts to emotional enslavement.

A little light is shed tonight.  A light I share.

The Origin

Someday, Humanity will be forced to look back,
At the origin of all things.
“Where is everyone?” they cry.
Only the carrion crow answers. “Consumed!”
Humanity stares in shock at glossy feathers,
Beady eyes.
“Say it isn’t so! The world was full! The world was young!”
Humanity’s cries pierce up to the sky.
“Even the young suffer the pestilence to live,” the carrion crow barks.
“We were not sick!” Humanity cries.
“Did you not disdain compassion for the poor?”
The carrion crow pecks at the nails of Humanity’s unhelpful hands.
“Did you not disdain the value of life?”
Humanity wails in agony.
The carrion crow plucks out the plump, juicy orbs of Humanity’s eyes.
“Did you not fail to steward the environment?”
Gone, gone; Humanity’s lungs are pecked free!
The bird’s iridescent feathers thicken with gore.
“Did you not fail to love each other in spite of your differences?”
“Wait!” Humanity cries.
Always on the brink of death, hands grasp for absolution.
“Yes?” The carrion crow’s beak gleams
As nuclear sun lights its wicked sharpness.
The bird poises over the heart.
“We were doing what they told us to do! We didn’t mean it!”
The remains of Humanity thrash.
“It wasn’t our fault! It was their fault! They told us not to help the poor!
They told us to hate those different from us! They said that they had all of the answers!
They promised us safety and a life free of hardship!”
The carrion crow pauses and Humanity weeps in relief.
“Did you not disdain knowledge?”
The skull cracks like a cracker and the carrion crow feasts on the brain.
Humanity weeps.
Blinded and helpless, Humanity is without even the hands to lift itself.
The plumpest bit is last. Humanity doesn’t fight the carrion crow
When the bird’s beak plunges into the cavity that protects emotion.
“Please…” Humanity begs.
“To live without compassion, to live without valuing all life,
To live in your own polluted filth, to fail to love,
To blatantly disdain knowledge.”
The carrion crow consumes the fattest of Humanity’s organs.
It is filled with tainted sorrow.
And yet. The bird cocks its head at the corpse of Humanity.
“Do you wish for a second chance?”
Humanity has no eyes to see, no brain to process, no fingers to feel, and no heart to love.
But the power of the tongue still rests within a dying soul.
The carrion crow, big and fat now, glossy and layered in visceral remains, flaps its wings.
It leaves behind Humanity.
There’s nothing but bones and putrefying flesh.
It soars over the ruined planet.
Until it finds a spot to regurgitate the Eyes of Humanity.
“Here, you will flourish as the eyes to value life.
Let none wander through who seek to make lesser another creature before themselves.”
The carrion crow flies off, leaving behind the origin seed of life.
From high above, it finds the next spot, sheltered from the Eyes.
The carrion crow spews up the Lungs of Humanity in an enormous crater in the middle of the world.
“Let none wander who seek to taint the air and water,
Ruin the plants and animals that might yet return. Death be upon them,
He that wants to subjugate the land.”
Flying away, the carrion crow finds the gnarled branches of a copse of dead trees.
There it regurgitates the Fingers of Humanity.
“Let none wander who seek to refuse aid to those lesser than themselves.”
Nestled in the bedrock of a cracked ravine,
It digs a hole and coughs up the Brains of Humanity.
“Knowledge is power. Let he who wields it be apart from the masses.
Let none wander who seek to follow in the footsteps of the Fool.”
At the highest point, the carrion crow pauses.
The earth is blackened and scorched by Humanity’s hubris.
It nestles the Heart of Humanity into the mountain.
To this, the bird says.
“Let none wander who gives in too freely to emotion. Those who kill in the name of love and hate
Shall be forever damned.”
The bird returns to Humanity.
Nudges the body to see if life still sparks.
Humanity moans.
“I have spread your legacy throughout the land.”
“Thank you,” Humanity rasps.
Death is close. The carrion crow is surprised it has not come yet.
“Why?” Humanity questions. It is the last question Humanity asks.
“Because good exists in your heart. Your eyes are blind.
Your brain is easily swayed by the will of others.
Your hands are numb, and your lungs breathe the harvest you’ve sown.”
Sharp talons of the crow’s feet pace across the ruined corpse.
“But your heart has a vast capacity for good. If you had listened, had loved, had thought,
And had protected what was yours to treasure, you would still be here.”
Humanity dies.
The bones of civilization will long be covered in dust.
But the crow’s work will live on in those who remain.
Much time passes, and another carrion crow lands next to the first.
“What did humanity taste like?” it asks.
The carrion crow thinks for a moment. “Like all things, like flesh.”
“I wanted to taste Humanity.” The second bird is regretful.
“You will have a chance again.”
“Will I?” Now, the second bird is curious, beady eyes resting on the larger crow.
“Humanity always repeats their mistake. I did not take the lying tongue.”
Atop their Kingdom of Rust, Humanity’s descendants build and build.
Until the land is warped and savaged.
Soon, they will cry again.
“What happened to us?”
And the carrion crow will answer.
“You, you happened to you.”
And that will be the end.
— An old City proverb