Where the Rubber Meets the Road

There comes a time…

When one has read all the books one usefully can, gathering information that mostly won’t be used.

When one has made and consumed an unreasonable number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other forms of comfort food.

When one has cleaned the desk, cleared the decks, and even tidied up their browser bookmarks, but is finally stopped in procrastination, daunted in the face of fixing all the Tumblr tags.

When one has collected the maps and timelines, hammered out the myths and legends, and nicknamed all the gods. Gathered up the highlighters and the colored pens and the post-its and the sticky flags.

When one has picked the brains of any and all acquaintances who might be of assistance, luring them near with promises of baked goods and pestering them with vague explanations of half-imagined magic rules to try out options.

When one has spent entirely too much time staring at the manuscript before one, before wandering off to make one more PB&J and ponder the makeup and properties of the human soul over a glass of milk.

When one has done all these things, but especially the devouring of the PB&Js, there comes a time when one must dive in or give up. When procrastination runs headfirst into “There’s no time!” and one must either take the leap, or let the leap take them. (what does that mean? I don’t even know.)

Friends, I am at that point. The pressure is high, the expectations … Continue reading

My Rekindled Obsession: Guild Wars

If you’re not familiar with Guild Wars, it’s a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) similar to World of Warcraft. What’s nice is that there’s no monthy subscription to play, and once you purchase one campaign, you’re good forever.

Backing up a bit…up till I discovered GW, I had never been a gamer, unless you count Solitaire on the PC. Sometimes Minesweeper, but that one was a tough one. I did play Atari back in the day, though. Does that count?

Anyhoo, 11 years ago (!), I discovered an ex-boyfriend from high school on MySpace and we started talking and he told me about GW. I was kinda intrigued, but really didn’t think it was my cup of tea, but I let him show me stuff. And…I liked it. And….I was hooked. The graphics are so amazing. You can create a character the way you want to (my first character actually was thrown together in my haste to get to the meat of things but I still love her). You choose a profession out of six (well, at least with the Prophecies campaign, which I started with): Warrior, Monk, Ranger, Necromancer, Mesmer, Elementalist). Can you guess what my first character’s profession was?

….

If you guessed anything but Necromancer, you have not be paying attention. 😉

So you go through these quests to “learn” your profession. Then you get to select a second profession! So it’s really cool.

So you get all these kick-butt skills. You do quests, and missions. … Continue reading

Out of my Comfort Zone

Back when I was in high school, I loved participating in theater at my school. This seems like a weird fit because a) I am an introvert and b) I hate being the center of attention, but there you are anyway. I did 11 out of 12 plays my school did while I was there, 4 as tech, 7 as an actor, 2 as student director, and 1 where I actually set up all the tech cues, the order of the play (it was a bunch of skits), scene changes, etc., because our director/teacher was busy with something else at the time. I also spent two years in our children’s theater program (which counted as English and I hated English) (yes, I know how ironic that is coming from someone who writes/edits for a living) and sang in two different choirs.

In college, I originally went in planning to double major in theater and engineering, but after I ran into some unfair biases my freshman year (I got a lower grade than I deserved due to not being a theater major–actually verified against other classmates who were theater majors), I dropped that idea. (Also, engineering is hard and sometimes you’re up at 4 am in the computer lab writing a report about ants on a hotplate.)

And that was that. There’s not a lot of theater opportunities as an adult if you don’t have college experience or a degree. And what few opportunities there are, there’s a lot of competition … Continue reading

The “You Can’t Do It” Voices

Tell me if this sounds familiar…

I have a brain that persists in telling me that I am Doing It Wrong and that Everyone Else Is More Capable Than You and also that This Is Hard and You Can’t Do It, Ha Ha. What is “This”? Sometimes it’s writing. Sometimes it’s my day job. Sometimes it’s adulting.

I would just like to register, for the record, some recent evidence to the contrary. Since I’ve blogged before about how the brain-voices relate to writing, this time I’ll focus on other parts of Life.

Exhibit 1: The Day Job

I’ve held the same job for nearly 12 years. Parts of it I’m really good at. Other parts still make me flail around. But on the whole, my You Can’t Do It voices have learned to be quiet more often than not. Then, last fall, my boss asked me to train with a co-worker who was retiring, so I could hold down the fort until she could be replaced. Her position doesn’t have much overlap with mine; I don’t really have the background for the job. To make things trickier, I still needed to do my regular job too (luckily we were able to shift around some of the workload and responsibilities). Cue the voices, loud and clear. But saying no wasn’t an option. I said yes.

So far, I haven’t made any horrible mistakes that cost lots of money. I’ve kept things going, mostly. It’s been a scramble sometimes, … Continue reading

10 Thoughts From a Sleep-Deprived Writer’s Brain

Yeah, so I’ve had a bout of insomnia for the past few months. Usually, I snap out of it within a few days, but I’ve had some other things working in the background and it’s been BAD. I’ve tried everything and no luck. It is so bad that I am not even sure what day it is. I think it’s Tuesday. Is it Tuesday? Crap, I hope it’s Tuesday.

I am constantly asking myself what day it is.

According to my research, you cannot “cure” sleep deprivation or “catch up” on sleep. What’s lost is lost. Which really sucks. So this may be a bit of a disjointed, weird list. Just roll with it, k?

So, on to the thoughts!

1) I did dream last night, so I must have slept a bit at least. Something about me drawing my own book covers, and showing them off. In the dream, they were in crayon. Yes. Oops. (I assure you, Ever Touched’s cover will NOT be in crayon. Promise.) What on earth would lead me to dream that? I’ve got the cover figured out. I just need to, yanno, do it. (In between editing projects). Thinking about lining up all those sci-fi doodads is already making me tired. Yawn…..

2) My typing accuracy is for shit right now. I either hit the wrong letters, or skip them altogether, or smoosh whole words together. I like that word: “smoosh.” I want to smoosh something now, just because I, in my sleep-deprived addled … Continue reading

The Smallest of All Steps

Happy New Year, friends! I think the world in general has had quite enough of 2016. Here’s hoping for better things in 2017.

On a personal writerly level, I had a very mixed year. I released my first published novel (co-authored with Kit), which was amazing, and then dove into a months-long promotional campaign for it, which was interesting and educational and sometimes fun, but not so amazing. (Except the two book launches. Those were pretty neat.) One of my co-workers at the day job bought my book recently, and today she walked past and waved it at me with a bookmark in it. That was also pretty neat.

But the promo campaign has been over for months, and I’ve written almost nothing since.

You may or may not be a writer, but I’m sure you know this about habits: if you let them drop, the longer you’ve been away from them, the harder it is to pick them up again. They start to feel big and scary and insurmountable.

I’ve fallen into that trap before. For months. And writer who are not writing? Not the most pleasant people to be around, let me tell you. For starters, they tend to mope around and complain of existential angst, while their family members (and sometimes, the writers themselves) wonder why they can’t be content with normal diversions and enjoyable things like regular people, or alternatively, how it can be so hard to make stuff up with one’s brain. … Continue reading

Budgeting for Better Living

This Christmas, for the first time in a long time, I really got into the spirit. I played Christmas carols, I shopped (online), I stashed gifts here, there, and everywhere, and I splurged on the best tree in the lot that would fit in our house. We decided to give up at last on tinsel because the dumb cat WILL eat it any chance he gets and then throw up everywhere, so I got more ornaments. Then we needed more lights. Twinkling lights!

I got a little too far into it, from the perspective of my bank account. So I decided it was about time I got a handle on my money once and for all, and wandered around looking for something I could actually use, and found YNAB–You Need A Budget.

YNAB really seems like something I can do. I can only budget money I have–so no pie in the sky dreams of what I’ll do next paycheck, in order to have irresponsible fun this paycheck. It also encourages me to have whatever fun I want on my money–just as long as I recognize what I’m not paying when I do that.

I like it because it’s super easy to use on the fly, but it’s also easy to go in depth and see what happened when I go back to figure things out.

Because of YNAB, I know that I wiped out my savings for car maintenance, and another big bill coming up next month.

Oops.

I’m … Continue reading

Holiday Wishes: Remember to Love

Here we are, five days till Christmas, and it feels like time has just flown by. I can remember sitting at work on December 1st thinking, “wow, twenty-four days till Christmas. It will be forever before we get there.” And now, here we are, twenty-one days later. The mind boggles. (I have a conspiracy theory that time is actually speeding up and it’s not just our perception of it. Why, I couldn’t tell you. But it’s real.)

Last night, my accountability group was discussing people we’ve lost, and how it’s been affecting our holidays. And it made me think back to my childhood. And this morning on the bus, I tried remembering my grandparents’ old house.

Because when I think of Christmas, I am always hurtled through time to when we had Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. It was a small, two-bedroom house with a basement, a dining room, and a small kitchen. My grandparents had a beautiful tree with these antique ornaments on it (some of which grace our tree now) and a Santa on a sleigh that actually spun around the tree. It was neat. There was always mistletoe hanging from Grandma’s kitchen doorway. And, of course, there were other decorations as well. But that tree sticks in my mind.

So we’d all go to Grandma’s for Christmas Eve — my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, and of course, the four of us — my dad, my mom, my sister, and me. Usually, they’d be someone there who didn’t have anywhere … Continue reading

Stop and Listen to the Music

Last Thursday my husband and I went to a Sonata Arctica concert. We’d snagged tickets on Black Friday ($12–and only $18 even with the ridiculous ticket fees) and so we made the fairly last minute decision to go.

And, oh, it was glorious. Small, intimate venue, music so loud I couldn’t hear properly for approximately 12 hours afterwards, a small crowd of music lovers who braved the below freezing temperatures to come hang out in a tiny venue without proper parking…

But it was really the music that made it great. Sonata Arctica is a Finnish power metal band, and they were touring with Leaves’ Eyes (multi-national symphonic metal band) and Omnium Gatherum (Finnish death metal band).

(My husband: Is all music in Finland metal?
Me: Probably.)

(For those people who are like “There’s genres of metal music?” here is a description of the various ones.)

Omnium is not really my taste, so we missed the beginning of their set, but there was a point during Leaves’ Eyes’ set where I came back into my self and realized–that probably for the first time in a long time–that all my stress had fallen off, that I was content, that all the things that I worry about day in and day out had, for at least the moment, disappeared.

As you can imagine, it was quite freeing.

Symphonic metal is my favorite music genre, and I’ve found it to be very useful writing music as well, especially when I’m doing … Continue reading

Mental Health for the Holidays

I think November’s been tough on a lot of us, and December isn’t necessarily any easier. Personally, besides the obvious stressors, I’ve also had a truly hectic month at work and came down with two colds in quick succession. Seems like a good time to review self-care. So here are some reminders, for myself as much as for you all…

1. Take the time to do something you love.

I was lucky enough to attend not one but two contra (folk dance) weekends away from home in November. Lots of exercise, friends, wonderful live music, the state of flow, and a natural high, not to mention the excitement of a road trip. (Of course, that’s probably also where I picked up both of those colds. Argh.)

2. Do something creative. If you’re a creative professional (like a writer), do something else creative.

I’m a big believer in “creative cross-training”. We writers love to talk craft and work on improving our craft, which is important. But it’s also important to go and try something else — something that doesn’t have the same stakes and expectations attached. For me right now, it’s Instagram, contra dance, and occasionally tinkering in the kitchen.

3. Try something new.

At one of the aforementioned dance weekends, I got to try English Country Dancing (a cousin to contra) and swing dance, both new to me (swing dancing has footwork, ack, but the music is so much fun…). At the other, I got to try dancing … Continue reading