Blog: Throwing Thoughts into the VoidWhat's new with me? Find out Here!
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
So a while ago, I finished Origins, and I received some excellent feedback on the manuscript from a Beta reader I’ve been looking forward to reading my story. I’ve worked on it, but now I’m in the process of submissions for this manuscript. Which includes a lot of waiting — the hardest part for me. I am not the most patient person, but I am learning how to be.
Beyond the pain of waiting is the pain of feeling like you’ll never succeed. I realized as I checked my email for the millionth time in a single day, that I was feeding into the wolf of insecurity. I could focus on what might happen, or I could turn my energies into the arts of creation. Whether that be through jewelry making or writing or what. It is hard because I am my own worst enemy. I tell myself that I am not good enough and I’ll never succeed and get what I dreamed.
I AM good enough. I need to stop feeding the wolf of insecurity and feeding a different wolf. So whenever I’ve found myself riddled with doubt, I’ve focused on a new story, new world idea. I get two weeks off from work, so I’m going to spend that time researching all submission avenues now that I have successfully written my synopsis over the weekend as well as spending time world building.
I have a tablet I got last Christmas, and I’m going to use that to draw out my maps and flesh out this new world. I’m excited!
Oh and I’ll probably play copious amounts of WoW. It will, however, be a good time for my brain to recharge and formulate new words and new worlds.
I don’t have much this week! Life’s been pretty quiet other than getting ready for Christmas, buying Christmas gifts, ordering chainmaille (which I still need to do) for Christmas gifts and playing with kitties.
What else can I say is going on? Not much other than I’m that crazy person that’s gotten back on the ‘watch what you eat’ train in the middle of the MOST delicious month of the year. I’m an insane person, I know.
Nothing new to report on the novel front. I’m still figuring things out and have one more person reading the book. The very same person who’s read each iteration from terrible to the final, finished product. Not to say the final is perfect — far from, but at this point, I think it’s as perfect as it can be without getting more eyes on it.
I’m terrified. I’m excited.
So here’s a cat picture, because my life revolves around cats.
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.
On my best day, I’m not the best blogger. On my worst day, I’m pretty terrible. I struggle with finding time to write, and I feel an ever-increasing pressure to perform to impossibly perfect standards that no human should ever have to hold themselves up to.
Full-time job? NO EXCUSE. Moving? EVEN LESS OF AN EXCUSE.
So instead of a writing post, I’m going to wax (not) poetic about moving, and the stress of moving, because why not?
Which is how I find myself staring at a stack of boxes — innocuous, you’d think, I swear — that seems to be the end of me. I was on a good roll unpacking. I had built a mountain of boxes into a strange, modern art-esque jumble on my front porch.
This picture came from the pyramid of tightly packed, perfectly taped boxes that were stacked in front of my dresser. But see, the cats would play on them every… fucking… morning… like they were WWII soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy in the glossy, digital textures of my husband’s war games. They would launch themselves at the flapping tape and rake their claws into the soft surface of box flaps.
At 5 am? THAT IS NOT A TIME, CATS. But to them, it is. It is time to scale the great pyramid and conquer it with needle-sharp precision. So the first thing I did after returning home from my trip was to take down the cats own personal Normandy.
I’ve been home five days. That’s a nice accomplishment for being home for five days. Except in my mind, I need to have done more. Mostly because I am freaking out about how close Thanksgiving looms and how I am not at all remotely ready for guests. So there’s a giant pile of boxes — now that the cats have had their personal attack zone removed, they’re trying to tell me that they’re sweet and innocent and only want snuggles at night in order to take out my motivation to finish the unpacking — in the middle of my entryway.
Last night I came home ready to rumble.
Sat on the couch to finish an episode of Homicide Hunter and found myself surrounded by cats and a husband.
The cats are in collusion with the husband to keep us from working — or that’s the insanity I tell myself to make myself feel better for doing nothing.
Once I get the giant pile removed (read: unpacked), then that’s the last really BIG pile. There are other boxes… but… I can safely ignore those… I need to get other things ready for Thanksgiving.
Have I mentioned how much I hate moving? I HATE IT WITH A PASSION.
I am never moving again.
Whatever insanity lead to this moment, I will remind myself should I ever think it again.
Oh, to end, here’s a picture of those sweet angels that make my life hard (and so much more awesome):
Those little Santa penguins are so awesome, as a side-note. Got them at Buc-ee’s when I was in Texas. Anyway, I think I’ve rambled enough. This post has nothing to do with writing or coffee or anything else. I’m shamelessly using it to vent about moving and unpacking.
(And because I’ve been told I need to have an online presence and I suck at blogging. So everyone gets shitty posts about packing and unpacking and all that. This is what my life is like these days. XD XD)
I liked Benjamin Franklin’s quote that I used for the featured image of this post because it speaks to the safety of security. How distrust and caution can lead to the feeling of security and protection. It’s true, too, that exercising caution can prevent injuries.
Financially, risk often outweighs the potential reward. I don’t risk my money on a large purchase unless I know I won’t end up in the poor house because of it. How does it factor into creativity? Security speaks to me both analytically as a software engineer building applications and creatively as an artist crafting my books. Am I writing too “safely”? Am I building a “safe” world that has little personal risk for me of “doing it wrong”? When I’m making jewelry, am I trying new things or do I tend to stay in the safe “kits” that don’t let me explore my creativity?
Judgment is the most difficult feeling to overcome unless it’s validation and acclaim. Being told what we did wrong hurts on so many levels, especially when paired with the subjective creative material. To make inroads towards the heart’s desire, we must take personal risk. Professionally, I know what that means, what success looks like, and what the way towards goal achievement is patterned as.
In writing, I don’t know what success looks like beyond “get published” and “make some money”. How do I get there? What kinds of risks are okay to take? Will I fail? Will I succeed? I am plagued with the fear of moving too slow as well as moving too fast. If I look too far beyond the finish line, I find I get blinded by the future promises of what-if. What if I make it? What if I become a successful author? What if I sell books? Excitement for such a future can easily boil into your bones and drive you forward with a fevered frenzy of self-importance. Of course, I will sell books. I will be amazing. I will get a movie deal, and everyone will love my book.
In the whirlwind of emotional excitement, the realistic voice often whispers in the ear. “But wait…” it begins, reminding you that such a far leap ahead when you’ve not finished is not only folly but unrealistic. As a first-time author, the chances of me getting stars over my head is very, very, very slim. Maybe I’ll have one or two readers like my book should I finally get it written and published. Maybe I’ll even get a handful. Or maybe I’ll have a few handfuls of readers, but the glittering glitz of immediate success is like chasing gold in a cold stream full of rocks and mud. Elusive and deadly.
Calmed down from my phases of excitement in how to market, sell, and brand a book I’ve not finished yet, I realize I’ve daydreamed away the line I was standing at. Lost, I fear I’ll ever finish. I fear I’ll ever make it to publication. I self-doubt and second-guess every decision.
Do I play it safe?
Creativity falls like leaves in the changing seasons: each one is different. The majority will be the same colors as the next leaf, drawn in shades of bronze and gold and muted neutrals with dried crisp veins of brown through papery crusts of what was once living. Every so often, one will fall in brilliant colors. Bright, blood red. Golden, frail yellow. Curled in intricate patterns. They stand out because they are different. They are celebrated because of their willingness to take a risk at the very edge of their leafy existence.
I want to be the bright leaf. The strangely shaped leaf. I want to take chances in my writing and forge through the forest of words on a pathway built out of my own, rough-hewn letter strung together in rickety frameworks of daring adventures. I want to squeeze out the best and worst emotion.
To do that, I need to take the risk. I need to turn away from distrust of the world and the outcomes of my decisions and scorn the caution that tells me to be careful.
Don’t do that; you might offend.
Don’t make that choice; it won’t be well received!
Are you sure you want to teaser something that isn’t finished?
Are you sure you want to write that book? It would be easier not to.
Are you sure you want to open yourself up to the world through a blog? You have nothing to say!
Security isn’t just in standing far enough back from the edge, so you don’t fall off. Security can come from daring to make the leap and fall into the abyss with no easily apparent safety net.
So I guess, I jump. I keep writing. I hope that I don’t look so far head that I lose track of the here-and-now, but I hope that when the time comes, I’ll know what to do next.
I always have grand ideas to write or to plot, plan, and finish things when I travel. I’ll have all this time, I tell myself, surely I can get it all done. Invariably, I overestimate the amount of viable available time I do have. I usually stay up too late, sleep too late, and get so out of whack on my internal schedule that I rarely feel like doing anything other than playing WoW or reading a book. Not to mention, I’m here visiting family, and that takes priority over everything else. So while my time off isn’t as productive as I’d like, I am getting the exposure of the past. Memories are powerful. They shape us, mold us, remind us of the history that has sliced into our hearts and soul. Surrounded as I am by the memories of the past, it helps me give life to a story I want to tell. Sitting at the table with my mother, I can feel Cimin’s pain anew when she loses hers, and I thank God that what I wrote is fiction.
So I suppose in that way that the trip has been productive. The little details of our lives are what bring them into sharp relief. The smells that surround a particular moment. The feel of the fabric beneath the fingertips. The ache of missing home while dreading leaving the place you’re visiting.
We embarked on a journey to my aunt’s house. It’s like tripping down the lanes of the past and rifling through the old bones of memories. As a child, you see things and make up the stories around them without understanding the complexities of human nature. You make misconceptions and jump to the wrong conclusions and believe that your world is safe and free of darkness. That isn’t always true, and the monsters you do believe in aren’t always really monsters. As a child, the mistakes an adult makes is ground-breaking, heart-wrenching, but as an adult, it’s easy to see the steps that lead to the choices people make.
This trip is good for me in so many ways. Not only am I visiting and reconnecting with family but I’m reminded of the intricacies of the human spirit. The resilience of life after death and the will to go on and enjoy life. The world isn’t as rosy as we view it as a child, but it’s not as dark as it can feel like an adult. I will hold onto some of that innocence I had as a child where houses were magical, and people were wonderful beyond belief.
All of this will help shade the story I will write for the ending is nigh, and the ending is the hardest part. Not because I do not know where to go, but because the path it must go is difficult. Hearing the stories of relatives of the past, of what they went through, I know that it is possible to lose everything and still hold onto the resiliency of hope. I also have a better understanding of how important a driving connection can be.
I am a sponge that soaks up these shades of emotion, remembers them, so that I may craft them later into the people who have become larger than life in my thoughts.
Many lessons I have learned from this trip.
I begin with an idea, and then it becomes something else. ~ Pablo Picasso
This statement is very true for me. As I close in on the last part of Origins — which may yet undergo another name change — the final product looks very different from that first NaNoWriMo start. The characters are different. Not only in name but who they are as well. Subsequent NaNoWriMo years were used to polish and replace the story as I grew as a writer. I’d like to sit here and say, “I have learned everything I need to know. The next project will be easier.”
That’s simply not the truth. It is true that I have learned some things, but I do not feel any more prepared for the next project than I dd for this project. Cimin, Cameron, Kizete, and Josef are all close to my heart. In some form or another, they will have a large part to play in the overall story, but the story itself is a dark story. Hopefully, it is a tale of redemption and the realization that life and choice have value and meaning, but the world is full of suffering. At times, it is not easy to push Cimin forward in the face of her grief and uncertainty, battling self-doubts and questioning her self-worth.
So as I think about the end of this book, another idea came to me. Okay, to be fair, the idea originated from my husband who also had a hand in the creation of the world of Origins. I wanted to write something quirky and comedic — or at least try to write something quirky and comedic. I have no idea if I can do it, or if this idea will go into the pile of malformed half-seeds of ideas that never properly germinated.
If I have time and can finish Origins in time to give NaNoWriMo a shot, I might just use Nano to springboard this idea. Emma and Anya are already wiggling their way into the shadows of my thought.
Nano asks for a synopsis, and I don’t have one. What I have is a stream-of-consciousness idea that I jotted down in a very loose way. I’ve only loosely grammar checked it because that’s not what Nano is about.
It doesn’t even have a name. It’s mere idea only. So I’ll see where November takes me. It might take me far, and it might take me nowhere! The joy, as they say, is in the experience of the journey.
Synopsis, Project Nano
Emma longed for two things: to shed a good twenty-pounds (okay, thirty if she was honest with herself) and to be thought of as beautiful like her striking childhood friend. The blonde haired, blue eyed Anya. Tall, thin, perfect.
The problem with perfect is that it’s a pipe dream. Emma managed not only to find a witch, beg a favor, get cursed, but she managed to do this all in one day. That’s a whole ‘nother story, though. This story is about the consequences of meeting the witch that day. The dark wood (not really) that lead into bright, beautiful Southern California sunshine.
How could she be cursed?
Emma was gifted with the admiration of the men around her. Women too, if they favored that way. She didn’t get her thirty pounds taken off, or her flat brown hair turned blonde. She didn’t emerge from the Pacific Ocean like Ariel in the Little Mermaid.
(Pssst, it was a sea witch. Never listen to those. They’re terrible.)
Instead, she got a hundred dollar uber fare, ruined clothes, and a strange necklace she couldn’t take off. And enough suitors to shake a stick at.
The problem? A terrible accident befell all of them if they lingered around her for longer than it took for her to either run away (she did that), scream and run away (not her finest moment), or somehow managed to convince them she wasn’t interested.
What’s her tally now? Five broken legs, ten broken arms, a man with crotch rot, and the latest — an artistic young woman who might have interested Emma at a different point in her life — ended up in the hospital with typhoid fever.
Thankfully, they’ve all recovered. None of that matters, however, because Anya — the beautiful — needs her help. And with her cadre of doomed suitors, Emma is determined to help her friend fix her life and find happiness…
… before it’s too late.
Oh, and breaking the curse would be nice too.
Creativity is intelligence having fun. ~ Albert Einstein
So I didn’t mean to grab this screenshot (I have a bad habit of accidentally grabbing images of my home screen), but since I did, I thought I’d share. I’m terrible at sharing things before they’re ready, so this is an exercise for me to learn to let go of that control.
I am terrible at blogging, so I’m trying to tie blogging into something I love: coffee. So here we go, unwinding the complication of internalization of experience into a cohesive (and enjoyable) layering of expectation. All with a cup of coffee in hand. I theorize, if I blog while I have my coffee, then I won’t suck so bad at posting updates. It’s a theory; we’ll see how well it works.
Two weekends have passed since I set up my office. Such a simple word: office. It is more than mere office, but a place to be creative, to play games, to make a space my own. In the last house, my husband and I shared an office and I’ll be the first to admit that I miss that closeness.
There’s always a but, see. I am eternally enchanted by the idea that I have my own space to craft, write, and play games. I have made a piece of jewelry, crafted from a kit, but the desk works well for my purposes. It was a good experience to re-learn how to hold the pliers and remind myself how to make decent closures. Not decent. Perfect. I have a lot of natural light in my office and I’ve surrounded myself with light, airy colors so it makes it easy to check myself.
Before every beautiful thing, though, is a scattering of pieces. Some in brilliant colors that have their own beauty. Some filled with darkness, scattered among the beauty. How will it be put together? How you place each piece is what determines the pattern for any chainmaille jewelry. But the same ideas and principles can correspond to many things. Life, for example, is nothing but a tapestry made up of brilliant and dark pieces. Moments, sliced into many pieces and re-fit together into a pattern we understand. In the same way, so is a story. The bracelet looked like this in its infancy.
It took me a few days to make the bracelet, largely because I started before I was ready. That is the crux. It is much more difficult to finish if you start at the wrong spot. That’s not to say it is impossible. I finished the bracelet, but what should have taken me an afternoon ended up taking a week or more because I started before my office was finished. Instead, I jumped too early into something without the necessary tools.
Oh, I had pliers and rings and a map to go by, but what I didn’t have were time and space. I think we negate the value of time and our surroundings in favor of making sure we have the correct tools at our disposal. Or at least, I do. I tend to jump in feet first thinking that my arsenal of weaponry is enough.
It isn’t. Time and a good surrounding do a whole lot more for the creative mind than I usually credit. How do I create these? Time is the hardest, carved out of a busy day, but space is easier. Whether it’s your own office or a space you set aside for yourself, make it cozy. Make it work for you. Is it coffee and sunlight, spilling through an open window? Then that’s the space you should attempt to achieve.
So in the end, I extrapolated my struggles with making jewelry into lessons learned for my writing. I am pleased to say that waiting for the correct Time in an inviting Space fueled my creativity. The words flowed from a well that had refilled after months of absence. Another critical component: absence. Another facet of time. Sometimes distance and enforced breaks do wonders for the product produced when you finally sit down to complete that task. Even if you’re on a deadline, distancing yourself helps prevent burnout. When you become so entrenched that you find yourself lost in the trees of a forest that seems impossible to navigate, it’s time for a break. Well, for me. All of these thoughts are lessons for myself, though some — in part or whole — might resonate with the reader.
So in the end, after two weekends, I managed to weave 7,000 new words on what I hope will be the final manuscript. I didn’t push myself. One weekend, I did 3,000ish words. Last weekend, I did 4,000ish words. I played WoW. I watched TV. I went outside in the sunshine. I read books.
And I do not feel guilty. Deadlines help bring a project to close, but they need to be realistic to the rhythm of your life. I set false deadlines all the time, driving myself forward with a cruel whip of you’ll never get anywhere if you do nothing, why are you playing that game when you could be writing?
Set achievable goals. Set realistic expectations. Get out, enjoy life, and don’t feel guilty. Give yourself Time and make a Space to enjoy all the possibilities around you.
For no other reason than my life revolves around my cats more often than not, here is my Winter, enjoying her own Time in a Space she’s made her own.
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!