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On Reading, Time, & Creativity

It’s been a long, very busy couple of weeks, and things are just starting to get back to normal (though I hesitate to say that, because you know what happens next…). Hence the no blogging thing. I don’t really know how to describe it, and I haven’t really been in a “funk”, so to speak, just…treading water and trying to get my routines back to where they should be. Only every time I think it’s gonna happen, something else happens, and I get waylaid, and then my routines get all screwy and I don’t get anything done at all.

It’s annoying.

The other thing that’s annoying is picking up a box of books free from a former co-worker who was cleaning out her shelves, and staring at the box in my living room wondering when I’ll ever have time to read them all.

I used to be a voracious reader. A typical paperback would take me two, maybe three nights to finish…maybe four if it was incredibly thick. Now the same size books take me weeks to finish, and it’s generally because I short-change my very limited reading time with writing or just getting ready for bed (after staying up too late writing or whatever). Fifteen minutes a night is okay for short stories and such, but it really stretches a novel out to turn-around times bordering on the ridiculous.

Needless to say, I’ve been having trouble sitting down and writing, too. There are some writers out there who insist they just don’t have time to read, but I firmly believe that reading is important for writing – they go hand in hand. You have to fill the well, so to speak. Creativity in, creativity out. And I’ve definitely been neglecting my “well”.

What to do, what to do? The obvious answer is to read more. But when?

Well, I’m not sure. I have a few ideas, but need to see if they’ll work with existing routines, which is not always as easy as it sounds. But I have a feeling that if I get back to reading more, writing more will come naturally as well. Or I hope it will, anyways.

Books I have currently in progress are: a short story/poem collection by Neil Gaiman, and “About that Kiss” by Jill Shalvis.

What are you reading? And if you’re a writer, do you think how much (or little) you read affects how much or little you write?


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Alternate Reality: Preview Mode

Tomorrow, it’s back to work after 5 days and a weekend off. No major catastrophes, no major outlay of “vacation” time for work issues…I think we might be on to something with this whole “taking partial weeks off” thing. Or it could just be the time of year, too. Whatever works, I say.

I was mostly productive, though not as much as I thought I’d be. But that’s to be expected, so I guess that makes it a wash between expectations and reality. I got some extra cleaning done, I learned how to create my own print book templates properly and reformatted the book I’ve been wanting to for months now. I still need to create another template and reformat the cover again for a mass market version to distribute, but that will be much easier now that I’m not fumbling around with the formatting in general, and know how to set and use styles in Open Office. Sometimes all it takes is the proper tools.

I caught four shiny Treeckos for Pokemon Go community day, and evolved one plus a couple “normal” into Sceptiles who are supposedly the best grass-type fighters for raids (we’ll see). At the same time, I didn’t play much Pokemon Go on account of the whole “go” thing, which I didn’t do much of aside from daily dog walks and the normal weekend errands. I am, at heart, a homebody. I’m perfectly content to stay home for days on end without seeing anyone but the dogs and my husband.

I did get back to Batman: Arkham Asylum for a night. One of the battles I had to fight was *intense*, and I was actually a little sore the next morning from tensing up during the five or six (maybe more?) times I had to try before I finally got through it.

I also subscribed to Starz for awhile so we could watch American Gods and Gnomeo and Juliet. The initial episode of the former is trippy, the latter is hilarious. I never did make it through the American Gods novel…gave up – it’s a doorstopper. But the show has me intrigued enough to watch a few more episodes, at least.

Gnomeo and Juliet is just adorably cute, and now that we’ve seen that (and agree we need an army of garden gnomes to make our yard look better), Sherlock Gnomes is up next on our movie “to-watch” list.

It’s interesting how quickly I settled into a routine of sorts this time. Most of my vacations are unorganized because I have so much to do, and I plan my time so tightly that it’s overwhelming. Either that, or I have a vague idea of things I want to do, and then plan nothing, so I do nothing. This time, I had a few concrete goals/priorities, but kept them limited by design, and the rest was just “if I get to it, great, if not, great”. I settled into a nice routine of working in the mornings (on my book stuff and then cleaning when I needed a break from sitting), walking the dogs after lunch, and then errands or more work/cleaning trade-offs in the afternoon. A loose, comfortable routine that I could maintain indefinitely if I had the chance.

Someday (20 yrs down the road, *sigh*), this will be my life. And it will be good.

Alas, tomorrow it’s back to the hustle and bustle of the day job/work-week routine.


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The Excess Vacation Hours Vacation

As of tomorrow, I’m on vacation until next Wednesday to burn the excess vacation hours that I’m not allowed to carry over into the new year. Why Weds to Weds, you might ask? Psychology, my dear Watson.

It seems like every time I take a traditional week off (Monday- Friday), I spend the better part of at least one day troubleshooting something for work via email or phone. When I only take a few days off in one week, I rarely get called on to help fix something (or if I do, it’s quick). So, I’m trying something new, and taking Weds – Fri off this week, and Mon – Tues off next week. That still gives me a full week off, but no full “work” weeks, so we’ll see if I end up troubleshooting or not (there is network maintenance going on this weekend, so the potential is there, but…). Call it an experiment.

What’s the plan for this vacation? Catch-up, mostly. I need to make dog food for the week, since I spent this past Sunday not feeling well (my own fault – too many days in a row last week of poor dietary choices…though I’ll admit, I enjoyed every last “choice” at the time). I need to take the Subaru in for some recall work if I can get it scheduled – wiper motors and airbag replacement. Murphy-dog is due for his rabies shot, which normally I wouldn’t redo in a dog his age (he’s around 9-10 now, best guess), but he’s a pitbull, and people are people, so…better law-abiding in his case (I can’t re-license him unless he gets the shot, even though they’ve been proven to be effective far past 3 yrs). Hopefully he won’t suffer any averse affects (I’ve seen more issues of the tumor-causing kind with vaccines in older dogs, unfortunately).

Aside from those things, I hope to do a lot of writing-related tasks I never seem to get to. Formatting, cover art, editing…and some new words too. My horror alter-ego has a short story in progress to add to the “Death by Veggies” line, and I’d like to get that finished, and I’d really like to make some good headway on a couple of other novels I have going. So, definitely writing, after I get the dogs walked so they’ll sleep and let me be.

The only other thing I really want to do (aside from some gaming, hopefully) is “spring cleaning”. I suck at cleaning. I find it incredibly boring, so I do the absolute minimum. Most adult women and a fair amount of adult men would run the other way at the state I keep my house in. I can’t tell you the last time my blinds have been dusted. Definitely not this year. Probably not last year either. Maybe not even the year before that…

That said, I do occasionally get the desire to “clean all the things”. It passes quickly, but I did buy a dust-mop for the kitchen floor (it’s laminate, and I hate it, and have ruined more of the finish every time I try to clean it), a new scrub brush for the bathroom, and I have plenty of microfiber cloths and rags on hand. The plan is to do one major thing in each room every day of my vacation…like cleaning all wide wooden blinds in the living/dining room. Or washing down all the kitchen cabinets/walls. And wiping down the bathroom walls/ceiling (don’t ask). And then I want to add hard floor cleaning to a monthly maintenance schedule.

Yes, I know people clean their floors more often. I vacuum once a week, even the hard floors. Baby steps. We don’t eat off my floors. Obviously.

So…that’s the plan for my “vacation”. Be all adult-like and do the stuff I keep putting off because I just don’t wanna (or in the case of writing, just want some focused time for). Seems like as good a use for the time as any, especially since they’re vacation hours I didn’t plan on using until later.

Next year, a trip, but for now…spring cleaning. Errands. Maybe a little Pokemon. Good times!


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Guilty Motivation & Ebook Sale

Doing my taxes this year made me feel guilty. I took a loss on my business, and I hate doing that. Normally if I only claim web hosting fees, I can at least break even, but like so many others, my sales fell off a virtual cliff this summer and were never able to drag themselves back up.

I need to publish, and I need to do some gentle promotion, and I haven’t been making time for any of that. I have gotten into a better writing habit, and I’m slowly finding a few bits and pieces of time here and there that I can allocate to writing as well. So I should have something new *to* publish by the end of the year, if not sooner.

I need to turn a profit this year, no matter how small. Mostly just to prove to myself that I can. I’ve been working on my writing style, trying to be more descriptive and move a little slower through my various “worlds” so as not to leave things out. I think I’m getting better as a writer, but now I need to get back to that pesky habit of actually finishing stories and publishing them.

I also need to do some clean-up work on my older books. Smashwords says my covers are too small on all the first books I published, so those need new covers. They also need new, better blurbs, and I’ve been studying blurbs for awhile now, and have a better idea of how to craft them. Again, something that just takes time, and time on my butt, at that.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, but I need to just pick an “update” project and work on it alongside my writing drafts until it’s done. I need to update the formatting on The Time Stone (the chapters are screwed up), so maybe I should do that first.

The reason I keep putting these off? Because I’m afraid of how much time it will take. Thing is, pretty much everything takes less time than I think it will – it’s just getting started that’s hard.

So…time to just do it.

Did you know that it’s “Read an Ebook Week”? In honor of that, all my ebooks are marked off 25 percent at Smashwords for the week. Yes, that means a couple of them are even free. If you’d like to take a peek, click on the Smashwords link below. Or if you want to check out my alter-egos (they’re on sale too), use this link.

Are you reading an ebook this week? Which one?


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Slowing Down to Make Progress

We’re getting our share of the polar vortex this week, apparently. Though it’s not nearly as bad as the midwest got last week – more like normal “winter” here. So, while I’m not enjoying it (or having two restless dogs stuck inside for a good week), I’m doing my best not to complain too much. It’s a good thing I have extra eye drops at home. Nothing beats sub-zero temps with even colder wind chills to make your eyes water and then dry out even worse than normal while thawing. Ugh.

I’ve talked a lot about financial and routine changes lately, and something that is benefiting from the routine changes is writing. I’ve been a lot more disciplined lately (in a lot of things), and that has had the very good side effect of doing late-night chores a bit earlier, and getting back to my office earlier as a result.

Also, given the lack of ability to just “buy stuff” when I want to in order to do/learn/organize things, my mind tends to be more focused on the here and now, rather than what’s happening (or what I think should happen) in the future. I still plan, and still look ahead, but there’s less immediacy to it, if that makes sense (because anything that requires a purchase of some sort is not happening “right now” or even “next week” anymore…there’s a waiting period for everything).

Ironically enough, while I’m more conscientious about money and spending, I’m less concerned about…well, pretty much everything else. When forced to wait and/or plan far ahead for nearly everything, it actually removes a source of mental stress – there’s no point in worrying about or planning for something that isn’t happening anytime soon.

And that leaves me with more mental energy & head space to spend on other pursuits.

Like writing.

It still takes me a little while to get into a story when I sit down most nights, but that’s okay, because I’m sitting down earlier. I’m using my Neo, which isn’t optimal due to the darkish screen, but it’s easy on the eyes and the keyboard is a million times better than the one on my laptop. Not being on the laptop also keeps me away from distractions, though I do need to remember to upload my writing to the laptop once a week (which I keep forgetting to do). Luckily, the Neo does hold quite a bit of writing, so I won’t run out of space anytime soon. But keeping scenes and chapters organized is easier in my writing software.

One of my “indiscretions” back in November was to pre-order the Freewrite Traveler (I’ll be done paying for that this month), which is basically the modern version of my Alphasmart Neo. The screen is e-ink and not backlit, and the keyboard is manual with Cherry MX switches. It won’t ship until this summer, but I’m looking forward to it both for the lighter e-ink screen that I’ll be able to see better in my dim office, and also for the fact that it will connect to wifi and upload my writing sessions automatically (the Neo requires an old printer-to-usb cable connection, and acts as a keyboard emulator).

Until then, the Neo works just fine, and I’m really glad to have it. I don’t think I’d be nearly as productive working on my laptop and fighting the constant cursor jumps due to the too-flexible case (not to mention the crappy keyboard).

I am going to have to work on my computer set-up, but not until I get my longevity bonus this spring (May). Hopefully I’ll have at least one draft done and ready to format and cover by then. Whether I do or not will probably determine how much I’m willing to spend to upgrade my set-up. So, we’ll see. Lots of potential writing time between now and then.

I think my next feat needs to be finding some time in which I can edit, format, and create cover art for books. Time that isn’t normal writing time and also doesn’t require more screen time on weeknights, which means a few hours on the weekend, preferably.

I have a few ideas, and a book that needs reformatting (not to mention several that need new covers). If I could get the one book done by the end of February, I’d be happy with both the progress, and having a new time slot mapped out for that kind of work.

And that would be great progress.


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So It Begins Again: Resolutions 2019

Happy New Year! Or I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be, anyway.

Today, I’m doing a little knitting, a little library house-keeping (boxing comics and cataloging books) and maybe playing a little Pokemon here and there as well. I have some Christmas gifts to put away yet, and I’m making a pork roast for dinner. Should be a relatively quiet, relaxing day, which is my preference over spending the first day of the year with a bunch of family and chaos.

But before I get to any of that, or even sleep to start it all off, I finished my resolution and goal list. For the uninitiated, my resolutions are priority goals – the ones that get the most attention and focus during the year. The other goals are just that…things to work on when I get to them, or when they’re needed to make the resolutions happen.

Like last year, I decided to focus on three main resolutions this year, with a larger list of goals to work on when I have the time/inclination. And since my “money matters” got more than a little out of hand last year, I’m making them my top priorities in 2019. It’s important.

Here are the goals I upgraded to “resolution” status this year:

1) Pay off one major and 2 minor lines of credit
2) Institute a one-paycheck waiting period for all unnecessary, un-budgeted purchases
3) Publish two books

The first one is pretty specific, and even more so in the extended goals list – right down to how much I need to budget/pay each month in order to achieve that goal and keep everything else paid up as well. It’s not going to be fun, and it’s going to require some serious willpower, but it’s necessary and important. If I keep that resolution, it’ll be a serious chunk of debt paid off by the end of the year.

The second one is obviously an attempt to rein in my impulse-spending. I get paid on the 7th and 22nd of each month, so waiting until the purchase is budgeted for in the next paycheck isn’t asking too much. Will I miss out on some sales? Maybe. Will I miss out on some things entirely? More than likely. Is that okay? Absolutely.

Nothing in this category will be something necessary – if I wear a hole in my shoes and need a new pair, fine. If I want a new pair of boots because they’re on sale and I’m bored with my old (perfectly serviceable) pair, that purchase needs to wait, even if I have to budget full-price for it at a later date. Need and want are too completely different things, and by the end of the year, I hope to have retrained the emotional part of my brain to respect the difference and act accordingly, rather than giving in to the impulse to order/buy it right that very minute. I used to be far more practical when it came to purchasing “things” and I need to get back to that mindset again. For my bank account’s sake, among other things.

As for the third…well, it’s time to fish or cut bait, so to speak. I gave myself a lot of leeway when our Lucy-dog was sick, and again when we had to put her down, and again when we adopted the Murph. I’ve gone far too long without releasing anything book-wise, and it’s because I lost my writing confidence somewhere in all that “leeway”. So my third resolution is really more of an ultimatum to myself. Either get something done enough and publish the damn thing, or consign the business side of writing to the trash bin and quit pretending you’re actually trying to make something of it.

I’m not cut out for full-time writing (not until I retire, anyways), and I know that. Mostly because I don’t care to live without a steady paycheck if at all possible. But writing isn’t just something I do, either. No matter how good or bad I am at it, I can’t really stop, because writing stories is very much a part of how I process the world. So the question isn’t whether I should stop writing or not, but whether I should stop bothering to publish what I write. And that is what will be answered at the end of this year, depending on how I do with my third resolution.

So…a pretty hefty “big three” this year, but I feel very strongly that all of these will make my life better in the long run, even if I have to take a hit (or several) in the short term.

Other things on my list include incredibly mundane tasks like brushing my teeth and emptying the basement garbages as well as somewhat more interesting projects like starting a genealogy database for our family histories and continuing to catalog my collections. No matter what I get done (or don’t get done), it should be an interesting year with at least some forward progress by the end.

Here’s to a good year with a lot of determination and willpower. And maybe a few fun surprises along they way, too.

Go Vote, and Writing Related Decisions & Distractions

It’s Election Day! I’m off work, because federal election days are “holidays” around here (every two years), but I voted absentee several weeks ago. Hopefully if you haven’t voted yet, you’ll get it done today. Even if you think your voice is too small to count, do it anyways. It counts more than you know.

Whether to vote and how to vote are just two decisions you’ll make (or have made) in any given day. I was thinking about that the other day, and remembering something I read once (I’ve long since forgotten where) about how the decisions we have to make every single day are some of the biggest thieves of time in our lives.

This is particularly poignant for me at the moment because I’ve been trying (and failing miserably until very recently) to find a set time every weekday that I can use for writing. Not just any time either, but a chunk of time that I can actually “protect” as bonefide writing time without allowing anyone else to derail or interrupt me. Time that I can count on as not being beholden to any other person, pet or priority. It’s a difficult ask, because my days are very full and because I have other priorities for myself that tend to take up the spare time in my evenings. Things like working out to keep my body healthy longer, and sleeping a full six hours in an effort to keep my brain healthy longer. If I’d give up either of those things, it would be easy enough to grab more writing time, but I think they’re important enough to my long-term health that they need to take priority.

Most of my other time belongs to work, my dogs or my husband. That’s just…how things are, and how they need to be.

Back to decisions. When I was trying to find any little snippets of time in my day that I could co-opt back for writing, I found a lot of fragments, but they were scattered throughout my day/night, and none of them long enough to actually do anything with. So then I went looking for anything in my day that might yield some “flexible” minutes that I could capture, collect at the beginning or end of the day, and then use those for writing.

I realized that a lot of the places I “lose” the most time in my day are indeed the times I spend making decisions. What to wear to work, what to make for lunch, what to make for dinner, what project to work on next, what hobby to work on in the evening, what draft to work on that day, what workout to do after I walk the dogs, whether to have Murphy walk with Mica and I or take him for a ride and just walk Mica by himself, whether to watch a TV show or movie on Netflix or Amazon, and which one (you’ve all been there on that last one, right?).

There are so many times in a day where I’m spending 5, 10, 15 minutes making a decision that, if it were already made, I could get that task done and move on more quickly, and in some cases, plan ahead so that doing the actual task takes less time as well.

The only problem with being that organized is that most people recommend planning a week or month ahead on those types of decisions. When I’ve tried that in the past, it never lasts longer than a couple weeks (if that – a week is pushing it) before I go off the “plan” and do something different because I just didn’t like the decision I made three days ago for that particular meal, outfit or project. I think that’s fairly common, really – while some people can make and execute a monthly meal plan or whatever, I think it’s more likely that people will create that monthly plan and then start deviating from it after a couple of weeks just because that’s how life tends to work overall.

So, last week, I decided to try just making a daily plan. I figured that if I made a plan every night right before bed that only covered the very next day, that maybe I could make decisions that would be “close enough” for me to just stick to, even if they didn’t feel perfect at the time, and that would save me enough decision-making time during the day to gain some extra time every night just before I did my next plan to write.

Needless to say, Mon – Weds were total failures, because…Halloween. But Wednesday night before I went to bed, I made a plan for Thursday. It included my wardrobe, meals, and the projects I wanted to work on – including which draft I wanted to write in that night, and how many words. Thursday I followed the plan and was pleasantly surprised that by 11pm, I actually could sit down in the office and just write for 45 whole minutes. Friday, I had slightly less time, but still, plenty of time to reach my word count for the day.

I think the key to this for me is that I can’t try to think or plan any farther ahead than one day. Because that’s when it gets too big, and my mind doesn’t focus on the present, it focuses on the future. So the present gets “short-changed”. When I’m constantly looking with an eye to the future, my head isn’t in whatever I’m doing at present, so that particular task takes longer, too.

So, last Thursday and Friday, I did this. I made a plan for just one day ahead, and then stuck to the decisions I’d made the night before, no matter what. and I had time to write, but more importantly, I had head space to write. When doing creative things, you need to have a relatively uncluttered mind that isn’t constantly worried about what else it should be doing, which is another big problem for me. But by making all those decisions early, I freed up my mind, and I found sitting down to write much, much easier.

None of this will work for me on the weekends just because weekends have to be flexible by design. But I made sure to create my daily schedule for Monday on Sunday night, and wouldn’t you know it…Monday went well, I found one small “bonus” writing time chunk early, which helped me reach my word count, and still got everything else I needed to do, done.

I did one other thing last weekend to help myself out, and that was to take my old Samsung NC10 netbook that came standard with Windows XP (long since dead), and reformatted it to a Linux machine. I hooked it up to our wireless, but I didn’t put a copy of my password manager on it, and I have zero access to email or social media on that little computer. The only site bookmarked is Novelize, which is the program I’m currently using for writing. It does have Libre office on it, in case I need an offline word processor, but that’s about it.

The keyboard on that is tiny, but still better than my laptop keyboard, and not quite as good as the keyboard on my Alphasmart Neo. The Neo is a great little word processor and the keyboard is awesome, but the screen in mine seems to be going out, and it has trouble keeping up with my typing speed.

I rarely write for longer than an hour at a time before taking a break (often 30 – 45 min.), so the tiny keyboard won’t be a problem. That netbook is now my dedicated writing computer – I do nothing else on it, and last night, it worked great to ensure I had no distractions while writing, it’s not the speediest little machine, but it keeps up with my typing speed better than the Neo, and I can work directly in my writing program, which saves me download time each night. The screen is big enough for writing, but that’s about it (it’s a 10 or 11 in, I think…tiny).

As you might have guessed, distractions are my other major issue. If I sit down at my normal laptop to write, I’ll be getting notifications from email and Facebook, or checking “just one thing”, or I’ll remember a bill I should pay “super-quick” or something I need to order just then, or I’ll check my sales stats for “motivation” (that never works, incidentally)…

Yeah. While I like to think I have good willpower, I really don’t when faced with all that other “stuff” I could/should be doing. So having a dedicated writing machine of some sort makes perfect sense. And I can’t really afford the technological “upgrade” to the Neo that is the Astrohaus Freewrite just yet, so an old repurposed netbook will work just fine, at least for now.

So, I think after months of floundering around trying to figure out how to work myself back into a regular writing routine, I’ve finally got something workable. This does, of course, mean less time on social media (less distractions!), and I still need to work out time for the publishing aspects on the weekends, but publishing time doesn’t matter if there’s nothing to publish. The writing has to come first.

I tend to downplay the role that writing has in my life, and I need to stop doing that. It’s not just “a hobby”, even though I’d like it to be, it’s more something I need to do, whether I’m good or not, whether I sell books or not, it’s just something I need, like exercise and sleep. I’m sure that sounds hokey to some, but I need to care less about what others think, and more about what I need. And make sure I get to do what I need to do to be happy.

Do you know what makes you happy? Are you allowing yourself to pursue that, and finding ways, however small, to feed that part of your soul? If not, why not?


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Doing better, recently. Forcing myself to make it a priority.
Goals check-up: Yep – moved a few things around, and switched up my priorities a bit.

Writer’s Notes

Fall, Activities & Writerly Angst

Don’t you just love fall? It’s been colder than normal here, but the leaves are all kinds of gorgeous, and the crisp air on the more normal temp days is invigorating and inspiring. I must not be the only one thinking that way, as it seems that far more of the neighbors have put up Halloween and fall decor already. I put some up myself this past weekend, though there’s a lot more to do later.

Last weekend was busy, what with the concert Friday night (which was incredible), and ghost stories and drinks at the Moss Mansion Saturday night (which was fun…it’s their first year, so kinda bumpy, but I bet next year everything will be squared away). It was a nice way to kick off the Halloween season, and also a good refresher on the mansion and it’s layout. One of the books I’m working on now features a mansion that is laid out very similarly to the Moss, and I may contact them and see if they’ll give me a tour of their offices on the third floor, which were the maid’s quarters. Just so I can have the general layout in my head for reference while I’m creating/describing my Mardeaux Mansion.

Nothing special going on next weekend, but it’s time to put up the Halloween fence in the front yard and plan the layout for our yard haunt. So, decorating, mostly. The library book sale is next weekend, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go or not. Mostly because I just did my budgeting for this paycheck, and due to some unexpected auto repairs (and being more responsible with on-time payments…*ahem*), the coffers are pretty well empty (or spoken for, I guess…same diff, really). Dammit. *sigh*

I’ve been floundering with writing time and head space – trying to find both at the same time is often rather difficult these days. It’s frustrating, because I know that if you want to do something, you figure out how to do it, and I’m not doing that. I’m letting life intrude, letting writing be pushed aside. Letting my own lack of discipline and boundaries dictate how much I get done.

And of course there’s the business side of things…all the things that need to be done outside of writing the initial draft. Editing, formatting, cover art…that all takes time too – time I need to block out to actually focus on just those things, rather than procrastinating and getting distracted doing other things online. Distraction is a big issue for me. It never used to be, but it’s gotten worse over the years. I think perhaps because when I had that big mid-life crisis/crisis of faith and self-doubt blow-out, I let all my habits and discipline go, and still haven’t gotten them back.

It’s incredibly hard to re-establish habits after letting them go. Especially when other things have already expanded to fill the voids they left.

I find myself constantly thinking that when I retire, I’ll have time. I’ll make writing my full-time job. That’s when I’ll be able to start making progress, and be a “professional writer”. But that’s still over 20 years away, and it’s not feasible to even think about waiting that long. I can’t “not write”. It doesn’t matter whether I’m good, bad or mediocre at the task, I need to write. I’ve needed to write since I was 16 yrs old. I don’t know why, and I can’t say what drives me, just that I’m driven to do this, to tell stories, even if they sit unread and dusty on the shelf. My mind has this need to create that will not turn off, and while I wish I were a prodigy of some sort who could write one bestseller after another and make enough money to allow me to do this full time, I know I’m not, and it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be good enough to make that sort of money.

But I still need to do it. It’s just…who I am, for better or worse.

I have a new plan – the latest of many in an attempt to give myself the time and space to write. I’ll give it a week or two, and if that doesn’t work, develop another new plan, and another, and another, and someday, I’ll stumble over the plan that works, if only for a little while. And that will have to be good enough.

Such is life, eh? One “new” plan after another.

Speaking of which, I actually did check in with my goals list this week (and changed days/times for that, so I have no excuse for not doing that now). See below for the “report”.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Definitely doing better with this – I think I only missed two nights last week.
Goals check-up: I didn’t need a better alarm – turns out, I needed a better schedule. I switched things around so that Monday evenings I do goal and budget check-ins instead of hobby stuff, and I think that’s gonna work much better. The hobbies just shifted down a night, so no harm done.
One push-up per day: I’ve replaced this with a set of things designed to help me meet my overall weight/health management goals, and I’m doing well with those so far. I deliberately stalled the weight loss while getting my hormones back on track, and now that they seem to be, I’ll try to gradually start working my weight down again.

No writer’s notes this week

Organizing, Frustration, & Procrastination

I’ve been a little organizing-crazy lately, if you hadn’t noticed. I’m cataloging books and comic books, my stamp collection, and I have plans to catalog and sift through my Smurf collection in the near future, getting rid of some and paring down what I actually bring in. After all the book organizing a couple weeks ago, I decided to get rid of my carousel collection (save maybe a couple carousel horses), and I think I’m to the point where several of my porcelain dolls can be passed along too.

I (like most of us, I’d wager) go through cycles with things like this – taking control of my “life”, so to speak, and cleaning out things, finances, routines, closets – whatever it is that makes me feel like it’s gotten out of control. I let a lot of things just slide for several years (more, in some cases), and now it’s all pretty much come to a head. Time to clean out and organize and pay off and get “life” in general under control again. Parts of it will stay neat and tidy, parts will not, but none of that matters. Right now it’s all about controlling the things I can.

Yes, this sort of attitude is generally triggered by something that makes me feel like everything is spiraling downward. In this case, it isn’t just one thing, but several, and I’m all too aware that I’m using all this organization partly as a procrastination tool, and partly as a way to make time to think about how to deal with one of the things that I really feel conflicted about – my writing. I have more issues with it than I care to outline here, but in a lot of ways I feel like it’s out of my control (even though it’s really not), and a lot of this “control-grab” behavior stems from frustration at choosing to prioritize other things instead of really focusing on building a writing career. It’s a defeatist attitude that I just can’t seem to shake, so…I deal with it in other ways.

Like reorganizing my entire life.

Obviously, it’s a good thing to have things organized. And it’s never a bad idea to overhaul routines and get household things fixed. There are about a million destructive things I could do with this internal frustration, but I’m choosing to be productive while my subconscious works on trying to find some sort of resolution to the cognitive dissonance that I can live with.

But, I’ll admit, I fully plan to try out a video game system as soon as the husband picks it up from his brother – a PlayStation 3 (if we like it, we’ll get a PS4, so I can play the new Spider-Man game that looks and sounds phenomenal). Which I have no time for, and any time I make for it should be going to publishing stuff (the stuff I don’t really want to do, but I don’t want to pay for, either), but I’m going to do it anyways, because I want to, and…well, that’s good enough reason, really.

I’ll figure out how to deal with my writing issues eventually, but for now…it’s time to get my whole life other than that back in order again. Because…I can.


Resolution Check-In
Sleep 6 hrs: Swapped my vitamins back, and sleep is better, when I get to bed on time. Mostly good, and more sleep on the weekends than normal, but tonight, I’m up late posting this.
Goals check-up: No check-in again. Must do that tomorrow, and again next week!

Writer’s notes for this week

Progress & Health Check

I think I’m probably the worst person in the world at following my own advice, which means I have to “check in” with myself often and sort of wag a finger in the mirror to set myself back on track. One of my biggest problems is being that person who gets so wrapped up in accomplishing a goal or fixing a problem that I let such things consume me, and pretty soon, I’m making excuses as to why I’m not taking care of myself anymore. From simple things like forgetting to brush my teeth, to willfully looking at the clock and thinking I can just work for “ten more minutes” instead of getting ready for bed, I am the ultimate self-saboteur. It’s not a healthy quality.

If this post isn’t done and schedule by 10 minutes to midnight, I have to wait until tomorrow, no ifs, ands or buts. Because after a good week/week and a half of ignoring my bedtime and other simple self-care to-dos, I need to make that sort of boring, mundane thing a priority again. *sigh*

It’s no fun. It’s annoying. I wish I could just work myself into the ground now, while I’m young-ish, and not have to worry about being cognitively sharp and physically healthy when I’m older, but that’s not who I am, so here we are, caught between a personal goal I want to accomplish, a work problem best worked on while the rest of the world sleeps, and not enough super-human strength to make either a priority for long. Dammit.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a priority of writing 500 words a day, no matter what, and before anything, including sleep. Honest-to-God, you’d think I put that out to the universe as a dare, because if I told you all the things that happened to derail/sabotage that goal (all out of my control), you wouldn’t believe me. It’s insane. But I can’t live like that, with all that angst and frustration over my daily word count that clearly isn’t meant to be. I hate that, because I want, more than anything, to write for an hour a day (even half an hour!). But man, I tell you what. It feels like an impossibility when every writing session feels doomed from the start.

In any case, this week’s priority is healthy habits, and those other two things when I can work them in without jeopardizing the whole healthy thing. I still want to write 500 words per day (1/2 hour), but if I can’t, I can’t. No stress, because stress is unhealthy, and we’re done with that, at least for a few weeks.

We pushed things way too hard this past weekend too, which is part of my weariness tonight (Monday around 11:30pm, for reference). Saturday we did yardwork, put up a new mailbox (which is now the prettiest, coolest on on the block, thankyouverymuch), and then went mattress comparison shopping (which is exactly as tiresome as it sounds, honestly).

Sunday, we got up late, drove out to get the mattress we’d decided on, brought it home, went bed frame shopping (we’ve just had a regular metal frame for eons…it was time for a nice wooden one), brought that home, hauled out the old, put together the new, and collapsed in another fit of weariness.

Monday (a holiday here in the States) I did the bare minimums for weekly housekeeping that I normally do on Sundays, and we had dinner with the BIL for his birthday. By that time, we were so worn out from running all weekend we were not very sociable company, I’m afraid.

We ate out once on Saturday and ordered in, then ate out again on Sunday and ate the leftover Chinese from Saturday, and then Monday ate out for BIL’s dinner. Way, way too much restaurant food, which didn’t help at all, even though it tasted good. My body is more than ready to get back to healthier, home-prepared meals without all that added salt and far lower carb counts.

And all throughout, I was monitoring my work problem, taking notes, finding patterns, making discoveries and trying new things to fix it (none of which worked) all while checking my email at intervals due to someone asking me to be available in case needed (special situation). I’m glad I did all that, because I have a good idea of where the problem is and what to work on next to fix it, but it did take a lot of time and energy that I don’t normally put into work stuff on the weekends.

It was a lot all in one fairly small time frame, and I may take Friday off this week just to sort of relax and recalibrate for a day. We’ll see. That would make an already short week even shorter, which isn’t always a good thing, but it may be exactly what I need to keep the mind and body both healthy. So, I’m keeping it as a possibility.

When was the last time you “checked in” with yourself, as far as health and self-care priorities go? Are you doing okay, or is it time to step back and revisit some of those goals you have/had to be healthier, no matter how small?


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