Day Ninety: What’s Next?

God, has it really already been 90 days since I started this blog and project…? Ninety days and I still haven’t even finished the first draft. Damn.

I want so badly to hole myself up again and finish this book and my feeble attempts to make in back to Florida with enough time to spare to do so have failed miserably. My mother needs to see me, my doctor’s appointment got postponed by two months, my father needs me to give him my car to take care of while I’m out of the country (I.E. give to my brother who will most likely kill it).

Today is my first stationary, non-committed day and even still… I have a dinner date and a ton of laundry.

I should have worked harder and gotten it done sooner. I feel like a failure, like I’ve blatantly missed my deadline.

But, in a way, maybe it’s good. I’d still like to finish the work in the next month, but I never wanted to rush into doing something with it. Starting school again means I won’t have the time to more than idly flip through it in my stolen moments, and maybe that’ll be the best excuse I need to set it aside for a bit.

Nevermind, even if it were written, it wouldn’t be ready. I wouldn’t be ready to publish it. It’s genuinely not good enough, still.

So I have spent the day trying to research ways to make myself ready. Going to the Bay Area is a huge step-up from Noweheresville, Florida and even New Orleans, so I’ve started looking in to possible internships with Literary Agents and Bookshops. Bookshops in the Bay are a whole new breed of literary community. Some of them have their own presses even. I, while in San Fran, fell in love with Booksmith and am now lusting for a job with them.

Sadly, most of the agents I looked at in the area only offered unpaid internship work. I’d love to do it, but school isn’t free (sadly, I did not get in to a free program) so I’m going to need some source of income and time for class… so I don’t know how feasible an internship is. Even though it would be a great opportunity to prepare myself for what comes next and see if I can actually write something printable.

Ah, if only I had a trust fund!

My ambitions exceed my financial limitations. Surely, there must be some way to make at least a little money in this field? I’ve heard a lot of stuff about Manuscript Readers. Anyone know anything about that?


Day Seventy: Quitter’s Junction

There comes a time in everything where you don’t see much reason to go on. Does that mean you quit? It’s gotten hard, it’s not working. Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to give up?

Honestly? The book is crap. It’s horrible. Practically unreadable. I want so badly to burn it and send its ashes rocketing into space. I want to lay in bed and forget it. It’s impossible, right now. No one is waiting on this book. If I give it up, it simply disappears.

But I’m not a quitter. So today I’m going to write twice as hard.

Every time you quit, you’ve failed. No one is going to hold you to it. No one is going to make you finish. You fail no one but yourself.

So force yourself out of bed.

Just. Keep. Writing.

An Interlude on Mistakes

Ok, I’m only human, but, as far as being human goes, I’m pretty flawed.

I’ve made a fair few mistakes and, for some reason this time of year brings out the worst in me. So… Needlessly, I’ve been kind of a mess.

(And I’m sorry to everyone whom I have hurt because of it!)

I worked really hard last Thursday to finish Chapter 17 and that puts me FIVE chapters away from being done with my manuscript. The more I look at things, though, the more flaws I see.

Every level of my life hits a crushing point. I’m not trying to complain. I’m merely pointing out that my life is hanging by a thread, the crux of which is my writing… Which is all well and good, but the writing itself has so much wrong with it.

Am I ever going to get anywhere with this? Have I used this feeble thread to try and hold the entirety of my life together? Oh man, I need to get it together. The more I hang on the thin line of my writing, the more I feel the line grown taut with stress. It can’t hold it all.

If everything is riding on my writing then my writing is sure to fall apart.

That’s why… I’m going to finish this draft and shelf it. Not shelve it forever. But I think it needs fresh perspective. It needs the perspective of being in a better place. Meaning, I gotta get my life together so that everything isn’t riding on this one book. If I tried to do anything with it right now… I think I’d be pushing myself to the brink of devastation.

So… after these final chapters are drafted, I will be moving on in every sense of the word.

Day Sixty-Eight: Techno-daemons

Through a series of horrible mistakes I managed to crack my iPhone open like an egg. I’m sure there are plenty of people like me, but this was mildly catastrophic (which isn’t even a thing).

I’ve spent the last hour wandering around the mall like a lost puppy. They took my phone away to fix it and I’m not quite sure how to exist without it. They said come back in 30 minutes… without my phone, I don’t even know how long 30 minutes is!

What a stupid problem to have: technology dependence.

Fittingly, on Friday I finished reading The Golden Compass (also called Northern Lights). If you haven’t read this book and are even mildly a fan of fantasy, you need to read it. Like drop what you’re doing and read it because Lyra is one of the most interesting characters I have ever read and the world Pullman has made is just familiar enough to make perfect sense with so many strange concepts that you’ll be reading to the last page just to find out what Dust is.

Anyway, the real brainchild of the book is that everyone has these spirit animals called daemos that are a part of them. When you’re a kid, they can change constantly, but when you mature they stay in one form and are your companion. Essentially they are part of your soul and to even be too far from your companion would hurt a person physically. They are part of what the characters define as “human” (to not have a daemon makes you less than human).

It’s a great book. Witches and magic and horrors committed on children and talking polar bears (they’re more than that though, the panserbjørne). But I think Pullman put a lot of love into his daemon concept. It really shows and is the backbone of what sets the story apart.

I’m not just rambling about this… I feel like people (or maybe just me in particular) have developed this same bond with our phones. I don’t like letting it out of sight. I sleep with it. When I don’t have it I am lost and confused and alone (which also happens quite a bit in the book, not to give anything away). I don’t want to live without it.

It’s not just that I like to play games on it… my phone holds half of my memory. It’s got all of my passwords. Endless knowledge at my fingertips. Communication with friends far away. It’s my journal, calendar, notebook. Half of my thoughts are stored in my phone. All of my personal mental deficiencies (namely, memory) are compensated for with my iPhone.

I don’t know. Clearly it isn’t good to be so dependent on such a fragile little object that someone makes me upgrade every two years for a costly fee… But I like my phone. There’s a lot to be said about social interaction and digitization of people (humans? Who wants to talk directly to humans?) and how much that has changed our generation. I know all of this! But still…

Bad or not, I’m still entirely dependent on my phone!

Day Sixty-Four: Days I Don’t Write

Yesterday ended up being a Non-Writing Day. Don’t get me wrong, Non-Writing Days (NWD) are necessary outside of my isolation cave, but yesterday was a Planned Writing Day (PWD) so it hurts to lose it.

The worst part is, I had no excuse. Sure I had a lot of things reach a “Cannot Put Off/Take Care Of Now” culmination that left me sorting through my sub-par to-do list, but just when I should have finally checked-in on the writing front Le Novio put on Workaholics (I told him to… I thought I was stronger than that!) and BAM! NWD.

Days I don’t write or don’t reach projected goals hurt me. They physically cause me pain and it lingers with me until I make up what was lost. I am just a lump, wandering around feebly until I have a Great Writing Day under my belt again. Nothing breaks my stride like a NWD.

I have a lot to do (non-writing) today, which does not lead to good projections for a Great Writing Day, but I’ve decided to sneak writing along with me anyway. I’ve promised this section finished by the end of the week, but I’m still a chapter shy and the ones before are a mess. I have a lot to do.

Le Novio was frustrated (I think… he’s hard to read sometimes) that I wanted to bail on the bar tonight. Of course I want to go to the bar tonight! It’s martini night and I like to watch him drink girly pink drinks. He didn’t buy my whole “I don’t want to be one of those couples that comes as a packaged deal” thing. (Even though it’s true.) I can’t empty my bank accounts for distractions… it just makes me more dependent on jobs and other things that I’ve intentionally put on a back-burner to steal the time for this project.

I just want to write… Everything else needs to be secondary. Is that so bad? Is that selfish of me?

I haven’t done much to prepare for my future. I mean, I’m going to grad school and overwhelmingly excited about it, but I realize here, while Le Novio is off at work, that after this I’m going to have to get it together. I don’t want to spend my life waiting for someone to get home and doing the grocery shopping. I want to make something. I like to contribute (especially financially, as much as I hate money). I don’t want to be tossed under the rug or denigrated. I want to work hard at something.

So NWDs hurt me. They make every choice I have made seem like a paltry excuse to waste my time (especially to me). To me, this is not a waste of time. This is not “flexible hours.” This is not just a fun excuse that leads to me slowly slipping out of competition. I’m not down. I’m not out. I’m working my damnedest to get in!

Day Sixty-Two: Productivity Tips

Well… Finished Chapter 15 on Friday and was more than thrilled to start Chapter 16 because it’s a pretty important one (not that they aren’t all important, but it is one of my favorite character’s first time to really hit the spotlight and I’m excited to write him).

Then the weekend happened. I love what I do all week, but even then, weekends are great, but this one was particularly good because an old college friend was in town and New Orleans has a lot of fun around St. Paddys. So I didn’t work then.

Then yesterday… I made the mistake of posting a tid-bit about grad school on my facebook which meant that my facebook and phone started blowing up all day. So I wrote about 500 words, most of which (I realized late last night) need to be cut.

On top of that, I just got to a coffee shop that I continue to come to even though (Every time!) I perpetually drink too much coffee and make myself sick. And I just put three sugars in said strong coffee so… I am a ticking time bomb. I may detonate like rocket fuel any minute now.

So much for starting Chapter 16…

I read a lot of productivity articles while procrastinating. It’s actually one of my favorite procrastination efforts because it creates the illusion of productivity. They all offer tips about efforts from meditation to isolation. Some of them are silly. Most are repititious. Hardly any of those tips work for me (If I start cleaning my desk, the house will eventually be spotless but I won’t have a word written).

Anyway, here are some of my personal productivity pointers:

1) Move location.

I hear this one a lot, because it’s the easiest fix. If you can’t write in your room because there is a bed and you have a terminal affinity for napping… then leave. Try writing outside (weather permitting). Try writing somewhere public and loud. Somewhere quiet. Somewhere with all your favorite things (even if it’s a weird place to write… like a bar). Everyone responds differently to different places. Just because your quiet room was the spot to write yesterday, doesn’t mean it is today.

Inversely… if you have a spot where you’ve hit a roll, stay there as long as you can! That space is now tied mentally to a productive work day. Try going to the last place you killed it at!

2) Read a book.

Whenever I can’t work, it’s because I’m stuck in my own words. Give someone else’s words a try.

3) Get a writing buddy.

I personally can’t write with another person around. My brain is hardwired for conversation because it’s easier than writing. I like to get a buddy that I can check in with and be like “6,000 words today! I am the Godzilla of children’s literature!” Have someone waiting on your writing… they’ll bug you into submission.

4) Exercise.

Sounds weird, but get yourself a little exercise-high. You’d be surprised how feeling good can get you going.

5) Don’t let that cursor blink.

Make a game out of it. Just write random words… Just list a bunch of adjectives that describe one character. Describe your best friend. The room you’re in. Your favorite memory. Just write and eventually you’ll get back to your project.

6) Time yourself.

I once had a teacher that gave us one minute to write down every verb (although this would work with almost every part of speech except articles/conjunctions) that popped into our mind. We could even just repeat them until a new word popped in. Then we wrote stories by connecting those adjectives to each other.

Also, timing yourself can give you fake, short-term deadlines. “Hey how long does it actually take me to write 1,000 words?”

7) Read your own work.

I hesitate to say this because it’s normally how I get stuck in an editing loop, but sometimes it’s refreshing to just go read your favorite passage in your work to remind yourself why you’re writing it.

8) Distract yourself first.

I get stuck thinking about other projects a lot. I spend all of my bad days sitting here thinking about this blog. So I’ve decided to do the blog first thing… Get it done, and put it aside so you can move on. This doesn’t apply to never-ending wastes of time. Do something with a clear end-point. That means no facebook… no youtube clips… you’ll be looping forever!

9) Sit in complete silence.

No technology. No writing even. No people around. Just sit there. Listen to the subtle sounds you never notice. Sit there for as long as you can until your brain can’t handle it and starts jumping around in your head. Write down the first thought that makes your brain go berzerk.

10) Take that nap, afterall.

Too tired to work? That’s ok! Naps can be a like the fresh-start of a new day. Maybe you just need to start over for a while.

BONUS) Still nowhere? Give it a break.

Don’t sit there and torture yourself. Today wasn’t your day. Go to bed early. Knock a few things off your to-do list. Get back in there tomorrow… Just don’t let tomorrow become the next day!

Feel free to share any Productivity Tips you guys might have. I’m always looking for some new trick to jump-start my brain.

(Sorry about all the updates… My Gifs won’t work in Publish, but they work in Preview… Dumb!)

Day Forty-Nine: To A Louse

A young woman’s head itches.

She wakes up in the morning and scratches her head until it burns and flecks of blood dry on her fingertips. She spends an entire sleepless night rolling around in her own sweat, scratching until she goes mad with exhaustion.

Accustomed to working with children, her mind immediately jumps to the doomed conclusion. She spends another sleepless night scratching and scratching while she researches lice on her mobile phone until her eyes go dark.

She buys another bottle of prescription dandruff shampoo. Her denial is palpable. She just can’t bring herself to admit it and spend an entire day laundering her boyfriend’s apartment and scraping minuscule bugs off her scalp.

She just keeps itching.

Finally, she hits her breaking point. She calls her insurance teladoc repeatedly trying to get a prescription. Her insurance does not care. She walks eight blocks to her nearest Walgreens and tries to duck shamefully among the over-the-counter pesticides. She buys a lot because she has a lot of hair. Messy hairy. Knotted hair. Hair that sheds all over everything. Hair that will take days to comb with that tiny bug catcher.

She hides the box in the checkout line. It always takes 45 minutes to check out at this Walgreens. The man at the counter feels her shame and drops the box hastily into a bag as if her bugs are already crawling over it. She pays for $50 worth of extraction supplies. She’s back on her Ramen Noodle diet for another month, she thinks while scribbling her name on the checkout screen with her finger.

She showers in water so hot it makes her skin turn red and lumpy. Oh, god. How is she going to tell her boyfriend? Her friends? Everyone she’s had contact with in the past month?

It takes an entire bottle of the rancid cream to coat her hair. She has to fish her bras out of the sink and shoves every garment in her infected suitcase in the hall to await the wash. She mixes tea tree and olive oils into a spray bottle she’d fetched off the “Dog Training” aisle.

The ten minutes is up. She fishes up an expendable bowl… the kind she’ll never be able to eat out of again without flinching and fills it with scalding water in the bathroom sink. She rakes the comb through her hair for the first time. The second time. Then, frantically, a third, fourth, fifth, hundredth time.

She can hardly face the disastrous results. It’s worse than even she could have predicted. Impossible, even.

The comb is completely clean.

No bugs. No little terrors hanging on her scalp drinking from her blood like the parasitic vampires that they are. No South Park style saga to escape her violent pesticides.

With a violent wave of revulsion, she peers into the mirror. The realization is startling.

And still her head itches.