Or, “Time to put on the big girl panties… AGAIN.”
It’s so easy to take the easy way. Technology has made our lives a practice in instant gratification and short attention spans, to the point where, even as I sit here and attempt to write this blog entry, I’m feeling impatient and wondering if I can manage to grab anyone enough to read it. And if I do, what is there that’s new and fresh to say? How will I entertain you? How will I leave my mark?
Ever since the internet went common public in the 90s, I’ve been an addict. I did telnet chat. I learned the earliest version of HTML and built my own webpage. Did forums, OpenDiary, LiveJournal, DreamWidth, MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, etc. I’ve made numerous friends over the internet, friends who I’ve kept for over a decade in some cases. I’ve even had the cringeworthiest of internet love affairs (although, the first and main one resulted in such a spectacular heartbreak as to change my life and help me discover my talents as a singer and songwriter, so yay!).
The internet is my drug of choice (although, as a former, occasional, lightweight smoker, I’ve recently discovered the wonders of low- to zero-level nicotine vaping to appease my hand-to-mouth-motion habit.) (and also chocolate. and coffee.).
But now, as a writer, I’m trying to actually utilize the internet, rather than playing with it. That’s kind of like an alcoholic taking up a job as a bartender, for fuck’s sake. But somehow, it must be done. Somehow, I have to use the interwebs to gain followers and learn about my craft and market my books, while not distracting myself from actually writing said books. And let me tell you, sometimes I fail spectacularly.
‘Spectacular’ appears to be my word for today. Fuck it – I like it too much to worry over redundancy.
Thing is, and it’s taken me all of my 39 years to come to this, beating myself up and making overly ambitious promises to myself just doesn’t work. Yes, getting myself up every day at the asscrack of dawn and hammering out five thousand words before opening my email would be a brilliant and productive practice. I’ve known this for years. And yet, I have never managed to accomplish it on a regular basis. I can either berate myself for that, or I can find a way of doing it that fits my temperament and lifestyle.
And my lifestyle is, frankly, all over the damned place. Kind of like this blog entry. I’m self-employed for my ‘day job,’ too, which means I make my own schedule. Sort of. I mean, my schedule is based on client appointments. So, sometimes I get started at 9am. Sometimes I don’t have work until 2pm. Some days I have zero field work, but bills and reminders to send out. And none of that is predictable or really structure-able. Further, technology just makes it easier to be, well, less structured.
I used to ride the bus and/or train to work or school. Those things have a schedule (especially buses. sort of.). On my commute, I’d listen to music, read, and do a lot of writing. With pen and paper. Now? I live in a different city. Everything I do has to be by car. And pen and paper are just… inefficient. Hell, I even have an app on my phone that will calculate my job for me (I tune pianos). Ten years ago, I might have side-eyed that one, but technology has gotten to the point where a program on a phone can record a series of notes played on a piano, calculate the best possible stretch for that specific piano’s enharmonicity, and even calculate how much to over-pull the strings so that, in the course of tuning the piano, as this 11-tons-of-tension shifts around as it’s wont to do, the overpull will account for that and result in a better tuning at the end. Fucking brilliant, and scary.
And also a little sad.
I don’t mean that in a hipster-nostalgia sort of way, either. What I mean is, all this ‘convenience’ allows me to mentally clock out. And while, after some of the lousy things that have happened in my world in the past few years, I kind of needed to clock out, after a while it just feels flat.
So, this week, I started tuning aurally again. I mean, the software-approach still requires tuning by ear for about 65% of the process. And I’m not stupid – the software is ideal for pianos that are so far out of tune you can’t do a reliable tuning in one pass by ear. But the rest of the time? Yeah, no excuse, really, especially since I’m fortunate enough to know how to tune aurally from scratch.
What does this have to do with writing, though?
Well, back to the bootstraps thing. It’s super-easy to get mired in ‘advice’ and blogs (heh – irony), and social media and all that crap. Well, it is for me, anyway. Especially when I’m still stuck in revisions and edits of my several works-in-progress. Writing is easy-peasy when you’re in the shiny fun stage of it. I have a list of plot bunnies that just keeps growing, and another one tackled me in my sleep last week. When you dream contemporary romance plots two nights in a row, you know your mind is starved to play with something new.
But I can’t. Yet. I have to see my current works to the end and publish them.
It’s like the tuning thing – in addition to ‘cheating’ with technology, I’ve gotten pretty slack about marketing myself. As a result, I’m kind of broke right now. I am NOT a good business owner, btw. I didn’t get into this work with the intent of running a business! But here I am, and if I want to keep a roof over my head and food in my dog’s tummy, I have to suck it up and start being a fucking adult, Again. And I don’t even have the honor of ‘art’ to fall back on. Well, I haven’t. But I’m working on getting that back, by simply changing my technique and my enthusiasm, and being a goddamned artist about it again.
Same as writing.
I am *this* *close* to ‘done’ on my next release. But not really – I’m just nearly done with the first draft (at least it’s not draft zero). But with that said, I can’t afford to dick around anymore. Not because this is going to make me the Big Bucks, but it’s a matter of artistic honor. I have good story ideas waiting in the wings. I have a novel that I love, but which needs complete rewriting and revision. I have all this shit and it’s just too late to turn back, now.
So, bootstraps. Pull ’em up. Narrow my eyes. Grit my teeth. Saunter back out there and grab that bull by the balls. Heh.