Happy 2018! I know a lot of you have had a tough year for various reasons. Here’s hoping that the new year will treat you, and the world in general, a million times better.
Personally, I think the best word for my 2017 was “hopeful”‘…
In May I wrote here about how I had beaten my months-long writer’s block. Points 4 and 5 were about two flash fiction pieces I’d written. Several months later, both of those pieces sold–my first sales to markets outside of our co-op publishing venture here at Turtleduck Press. Score!
I started a cycle: keep an eye on upcoming themed calls for submission (anthologies and the like), use the themes as inspiration, write a story, submit just before deadline, repeat. It worked really well for generating stories (though somewhat less well for selling them), and for a while I was on a roll.
In September I decided to finally see a health professional about wrist pain I’d been struggling with on and off for years. (Don’t shoot me! I kept thinking that I’d be fine if only I could do more exercise on my own, or find the right stretches…or if I did see someone, they might tell me to STOP WRITING.) I now have a diagnosis and exercises I would never have thought of on my own. Things aren’t at 100% yet, and they may never be–I’m still working on the right combination and frequency–but they are much better.
At the same time, I …
I’m not a coffee snob. Just because I know good coffee doesn’t mean I turn my nose up at bad coffee. Unless I have a choice. I mean, I’m not going to take the bad coffee if the good coffee is right there.
I guess I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I can’t help it. Good coffee is just so good.
I’ve always preferred good coffee to bad, but lately I’ve gotten more picky about it. A few months ago I acquired a French press. I don’t remember why, I think I thought it was pretty and it would be just as easy as using my little one-cup drip brew since we have a water cooler that heats the water. And it was just as easy, and more of an experience. I even got an hourglass to time my brewing.
The thing with a French press, though, is you have to get the grind right. Coffee ground for drip coffeemakers is finer than what you’re supposed to put in a French press. And while it is possible to find coffee specifically ground for the French press, it’s not easy. Not in grocery stores, anyway.
So I decided to try grounding my own. I had a little handheld blade grinder for when I was feeling fancy. Surely that would work!
Good lork, those things are loud! And I had to really pay attention, or the grind would still be too fine, and I’d be drinking solid coffee at the bottom …
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. …
I’m office manager at a school for children with autism. That title may be a little misleading, as I don’t really manage the office. I am the office. Just me, little old me, and the director, who couldn’t find a pen if it was in his pocket (it usually is, and it’s usually not his) and who generally has about seventeen things going at once, none of which in any way involves following those pesky ~rules~ set up by HR or Payroll or Accounts Payable.†
With any school, it’s important that no matter who is sick or absent or distracted, things keep going. When you’re talking about a school for kids on the spectrum, it becomes a bit more imperative. Breaks in routine are Not. Good.
So recently when the boss was telling someone how I’m awesome, that I’m office manager, receptionist, nurse, occasional janitor, sometime maintenance tech, and all the while somehow manage to keep him mostly in line so HR doesn’t come hunting him with torches, and that without me the whole school would fall down–I appreciated it, but I also decided it should not all depend on me. I’m human. I get sick. And sometimes I need a vacation. So I started collecting my checklists and notes on how things work into a Standard Operating Procedure Manual. Kind of like this except not so formal. So if I ever needed to, you know, not go to work, the entire school wouldn’t fall down while I lolled around …
So about seven weeks ago, coincidentally enough, I blogged about an app called 7 Weeks. It’s supposed to help build habits. So how’s that going?
I think I should have invested in the Cattle Prod app.
Don’t get me wrong! The 7 Weeks app itself is great. Easy to use, appealing, intuitive…the problem, as always, is me.
The free version tracks your habit for the titular 7 Weeks. I paid $1.99 for the pro version, knowing I was going to need more than seven weeks. And after those seven weeks, I can unequivocally say I was right–I needed it.
Probably I’m trying for too much at once. I didn’t just stick with the two habits I talked about last time, oh no. Not ME. That would be too easy! I stuck with writing every day. I altered “watch the money” to “update budget spreadsheet.” I added “clean kitchen.” And “at or under calorie goal.”
Most days I get one of them (clean the kitchen, generally. It’s the least mentally-challenging). Some days I get two! I’ve even gotten all four once or twice, but definitely not more than that.
As I see it, there are a couple reasons for my less-than-stellar performance here:
I take on too much. Always. Instead of one habit at a time, I went for four. I’m also doing these while I take a three college classes (two of them only one credit each, but still!) work full-time, and continue my adventure-seeking in the great …