Good Morning?

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First hot coffee of the season here in GA.

And no, it’s not the stuff from the can shown in the pic. I’m a freshly-ground 8 O’clock girl, and/or home-roasted espresso girl. The colorful Chock full o’Nuts can is an item appropriately left over from my Father-In-Law who stayed most of the summer with us. THAT was an adventure, let me tell you.

But I won’t tell you – not all of it, anyway. Because while he’s not a bad person, the man gets on my last damned nerve, and it’s not fair to my husband to air out every last grievance about his parents on the internet. At least not the public part of the internet. But let’s just say I am very, very introverted, and FIL is very, very socially inept and pushes his unsolicited opinions and advice on everything and everyone. He also has little understanding or respect for boundaries. I think I’m allowed to say that much. There were some good things about him being here for almost three months: he helped with the bills while I was in my slow work season. He made our back deck somewhat functional, even though I’m pretty sure his “repairs” will ultimately add to the rotting problem in the long run. He cut down a lot of tree limbs and underbrush, some of which we didn’t really want cut down, but hey – it’s Georgia, and it’ll be back threefold next year. He pulled the bridge from our creek that got destroyed by a fallen tree (not his fault). And his stay required us to rearrange a couple of rooms in our house, which turned out to be a slight improvement.

I am glad he’s back on his side of the country and living his best, though – he was sent to us under a severe misdiagnosis. Also a good thing – the docs here at Emory know their shit. The man has heart failure and was sent to us with a terminal, needs-surgery-or-will-die-in-a-month diagnosis. The docs here fixed his meds and he spent the rest of the time doing all of the above crazy-ass shit until we finally told his medical team what he was doing, and they said, “er – yeah. If he’s doing all that stuff he doesn’t need to be here.”

So, that was my summer – creativity squashed by the stress of an obnoxious in-law living in my space at full volume all summer.

Once he left, I think something in me just collapsed, and I fell from jaw-grinding stress into a physical depression. One that I am hopefully starting to come out of, but man, it was rough. Also rough: having depression and ADD while being self-employed. My business has really taken a hit. Which, in turn, becomes a blow to my self-esteem and sense of self-worth, which then feeds my depression, etc. Good times.

This week I am working on pulling it together, though. My driving force is actually my dog:

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This precious bundle of soft, squishy sweetness who owns my heart. She’s perfect, save for some separation anxiety and subsequent piddle issues. I know, non-dog-people – just skip this part. Our carpets were crap before the dog, and OxyClean is a motherfucking godsend. Anyway, I take full responsibility for her accidents. She needs routine, and she hasn’t been getting it, because *I* don’t have any routine. Some days I’m here all day, sometimes I’m gone in the afternoon, other days I’m gone in the mornings, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going on or when we’ll be out of bed (again with the depression). And all of our animals – cats included – are bed-potatoes. Seriously, our cats do not wake us up for food. If anything, they stay in bed and suck away all will and motivation to get up. The struggle is so real.

So my October resolution is to get us on a routine, field work or not – up and piddled and coffee/yogurt/back-deck-notebook by 8am.

Today was all luck. I haven’t had enough sleep, really. But I got up anyway. And here in another hour I’ll be in the water, swimming. After that, I might be in the local art studio, practicing with clay. Later today I’ll be working on finishing up this damned Steinway I’ve had in my dining room for too fucking long. And I will also be writing new scenes for two stories.

Yes, I am still a writer, too.

I am so fucking happy October is finally here. Maybe I’ll do a daily or weekly spoop to celebrate. Meanwhile, here’s this:

Spoopy Halloween!

Spoopy Halloween!

Friday not-so-random shit

HI INTERNETS!

Welcome to 2015 and all that shit. I have some mish-mash links for you at the bottom of this post, if you want to skip the “me” stuff.

So. I’ve been kind of at a loss for anything heartfelt to say these past months, what with all the racism, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, classism, and general bigotry flying around. It’s crushing to see how fucked up the human race is, how much hate there still is in this world, and combined with the awareness of my own privilege as a cisgender, white, lower-middleclass American, I’ve struggled to find anything eloquent and organized enough to say, so I’ve pretty much been reduced to reblogs and link-passing.

On the non-political/humanitarian front, I’m officially burned out on book blogs and writing blogs, very lightly skimming headlines and occasional content. My two, mediocre little self-published releases frankly don’t bring in enough attention or money for me to give two shits about what Amazon is doing, or where the future of ebooks is. I just need to focus on writing actual stories, so fuck all the sniping and gossiping and hand-wringing.

Writing has been mostly “off” as well, while I figured out what my problems are: mainly a weakness in understanding and utilizing plot structure, and general frustration with trying to shoehorn stories into a romance formula. Both can be corrected, but that means taking a deep breath and patiently refocusing. All behind-the-scenes shit.

So what I’m saying is I’m still here. Same-o, same-oh.

Resolutions? Eh. Read more – a LOT more. Listen more – a LOT more. Treat every day that’s not a planned day off as a work day. Get health insurance, somehow. See a doctor and make my husband do the same. Fix up / restring my piano, get rid of the three other pianos in my house, fix up the digital piano I picked up. Polish off all the old pieces I mis-learned and add some more music to my repertoire. Blog more. Write. None of this is anything exclusive to January 1st, 2015.

All that said, have some links that are relevant to my mood, plus some urban exploration:

When you start to do these 20 things today, your life will be greatly improved. Okay, 20 is kind of a high number. Try just one at a time. They’re all pretty good, and none of them involve stupid shit like dieting or abusing your body or psyche.

20 Signs you Really Hate People. Gif-stravaganza. Oh, man, is this me to a tee. An oldy but a goody.

Urban exploration of the Burlington Bunker. “Under the Corsham Cotswalds approximately eighty feet below ground beneath RAF Corsham, lies the UK’s largest underground bunker and for sixty years one of the best kept secrets in modern MOD history. Burlington bunker. Assembled as an emergency relocation site for the British government if the threat of nuclear war ever became reality. The bunker boasts some impressive ‘sections’ from a BBC broadcasting suite to a Hospital all accessible via 10 miles of ‘road’.” AKA Really Cool Shit.

And finally, if you just want some pretentious hipster eye candy, there’s an Instagram of nothing but Men and Coffee. You’re welcome.

Currently listening to: Pure Heroine by Lorde

Jesus Christ, THIS again.

Sometimes I feel like we need a special badge or icon for those of us authors who solemnly swear we won’t go psycho-apeshit on bloggers/reviewers.

  • Books are NOT babies. Once they’re out there, they’re not “you.” By publishing, you have consciously set your stories loose into the world as a product to be consumed, criticized, turned into cage lining, whatever.
  • Negative reviews, even of an author rather than their books, does NOT EQUAL BULLYING. To even imply as much is an insult to actual victims of bullying.
  • Pseudonyms are okay for anyone. Including bloggers and reviewers.
  • Butthurt is a totally normal and human reaction. Internet “stalking” can be argued as a fairly common and human activity, so long as you keep that shit to yourself. This fucked up shit that Kathleen Hale did? NOT OKAY.
  • Reviewers do not destroy writing careers. Writers destroy their own writing careers.

Knock it the fuck off. Please.

That Review Thing. (for like, the 132nd time)

Oh, look – an actual blog post!

Yep, I’ve let myself just drift away from blogs and social internetting from an authorial standpoint. Today’s commentary on Dear Author about Online Reviewing has me thinking and blog-writing, however.

See – and I may have mentioned this before – I’ve gotten burned out on the whole book blog circuit. Both writing blogs and book review blogs, and blogs that discuss everything in between. Hell, I’m still burned-out. It’s depressing as fuck for me to peek in and see the same shit, different month. And it only appears to be getting worse. Whether it’s plagiarism, the debate between trad-publishing and self-publishing, buying reviews, author-reader/reviewer-interaction, or plain butthurt-authors-behaving-badly, it all just brings me down. I have better things to spend my energy on, like writing. Or hell, just looking at pretty men.

But I guess it begs to be said again, at least here, since this is the only place I have control over:

Review whatever the fuck you want. Snark all you want. Did I get butthurt about the one DNF review of The Switch I saw? Sure, but on my own time and in private. As a writer, once you publish, it’s no longer your baby. It’s a product that is on the proverbial shelves, and if someone wants to just line a birdcage with it, then that’s their right.

Seriously, I don’t get where these authors have the time to spend campaigning the review circuit. I wish I were that independently wealthy.

And for what it’s worth, I also agree about piracy. Please, advertise my books, spread my name around via word of mouth for free. It’s not like I’d be making enough money to pay mortgage from those books, anyway. But if my name shows up on enough file sharing sites, maybe someday I’ll be well-known enough to see some actual income. Or at least gain enough traffic to show to a trad publisher when I shop out my Big Damned Novels.

Personal-fail-time! Or, how a writer can resemble an obsessed piano-owner.

Heh, well THAT was a bust, eh? What can I say – the internet has been depressing me a bit for the last many weeks/months. I promise, I will try to get my shit together with this blog. But before that, I need to untangle my brain when it comes to the writing thing. And the being-a-writer thing.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not beating myself up. Much. When I say, “fail,” I mean to embrace the failure. Everyone should fail sometimes. You can’t get better without some setbacks, I guess.

One of the things I am ironing out is my choice of internet-time. I’m burned way the fuck out on blogs and advice. My feedly is a long list of sites that used to interest and inspire me, but which now depress and disgust me. Not saying they’re bad sites, but  – eh. There’s only so much snarking and debating and whining I can take, whether it’s about books, the publishing industry, the evil Amazon empire, or another rehash of how to write a book, why you need an editor, how not to behave on twitter, blah blah. Oh, and let’s not forget how to handle “bullies,” aka reviewers. I’m just – sick of it.

I’m also frustrated with myself, for what it’s worth. I’m so stuck as a writer it’s not even funny. Actually, it is funny, considering the ranting I’ve done in the past with regards to sucking it up and ‘the muse is all in your head, so shut up and write.’ Karma, bitch. Or irony, however you want to look at it. Heh.

Recently, I made the mistake of glancing over at GR, and found I’d gotten my first negative / DNF review. Bah. Know what really sucks, though? The reviewer made a totally valid point. In fact, they did a pretty damned good job of nailing my biggest flaw as a writer. Which sucks hairy goat balls, but gives me food for thought. And I guess that’s better than the flailing and floundering I’ve been doing for the past weeks.

But, hell, even if they were full of crap, you know what? It’s their opinion. So, kudos to me for not crying about how bullied I am, I guess. (Seriously, I can’t express how disgusted and disappointed I am with this whole business of writers pulling the ‘bully’ card on negative reviews.)

Okay, lest this be a completely pointless post about me me me and my angst, let me tell you about a pianoland client I have, and maybe it’ll somehow wrap around and relate to this writing business.

I have this client who, as far as I know, is a pretty accomplished pianist. I’ve never actually heard them play, although I see a bit of fairly advanced music laying around when I go to their place. They have a great deal of money and love for the instrument, however. In the past several years, they’ve gone through a number of very nice, high-end pianos and have finally (for now), ‘settled’ on a 9-foot Hamburg Steinway ‘D’ concert grand. It’s a beautiful instrument. And I’m not one to buy into the Steinway mystique, either as a pianist or a technician.

This client payed more for this instrument than my house is worth. Possibly close to twice my house’s current value, in fact. They hired a Steinway-trained master technician to fly over from Europe and spend two days regulating and voicing this piano to concert quality.

And still…

The things this client keeps digging up and asking to have done to this piano… I suspect they spend a lot of time on piano forums on the internet. Where like-minded enthusiasts ‘goob’ about pianos, about the latest and greatest gadget or technical adjustment to ‘improve’ an instrument. Probably like performance-car enthusiasts, they’re always looking to tweak, to add that extra edge to their piano.

Since the master technician came out, we have installed a touch adjustment system to lighten the touch across the board. We’ve discussed installing a special tone bar to the underside of the piano. We’ve added little, tiny clamps to certain strings to clean up the tone of certain notes. I’ve made more adjustments to the tone, and to the style of tuning. Said client has even asked about a different technique of voicing that involves some heinous kind of brute force I refuse to exact on such a lovely instrument, as well as applying chemicals to the hammers in the piano (which isn’t uncommon, but I don’t personally do unless it’s a last resort, which is rarely, rarely the actual case).

And the thing is, it’s not like this client is making shit up – the adjustments we’ve made are legitimate adjustments. Conversely, it’s not that the piano is a POS, either. I don’t even like Steinways, and when I first sat down to this piano, it was a dream to play. I mean, yes – if you spent this much money on a piano, you’d want it to be perfect, too. But no piano is ever 100 percent perfect. Not one. However, a company like Steinway Germany (let’s not talk about Steinway NY, thankyouverymuch) – they’re not going to let a concert grand leave their factory floor in anything less than damned-near-perfect condition. Just to get that part out of the way.

It’s simply that this client is a ‘tweaker’. They even admit it themselves. They’ve also admitted they don’t actually practice all that much – too busy, distracted, etc. Which, hey – I can’t criticize that, either – my own piano is in pieces at the moment because I want to make some adjustments before I get myself back into practicing for various projects this summer.

But there does come a point where you have to just notice – I have other clients who play the piano a LOT. And they neither have nor need a 9-foot Hamburg D. And if they *did* have one, maybe we’d do a little regulation and voicing, but mostly they’d just be playing the fuck out of it. Hell, many of them aren’t even aware they have options when it comes to voicing and regulation, much less are bothered to pursue them. They play the piano to play music.

Let me say that again: they play the piano to play music.

Some people get wrapped up in the way the piano sounds. My client with the D – they’re a fine pianist, to be sure. But their ears are focused on every little sound the piano makes, resulting in any little thing driving them nuts. (They’re not the only client I have that’s like this, btw, just in case they happen across this and realize I’m writing about them – it’s not a bash, it’s a metaphor I’m about to get to.) Other types of clients/pianists are more concerned with music being made by the piano person using the piano. It doesn’t matter what they’re playing, even if it’s the shittiest little spinet with a misfiring low ‘A’.

Writing is A LOT LIKE THIS.

*MY* self as a writer, is A LOT LIKE THIS. Well, my struggles lately are related heavily to this metaphor. And the ‘me’ in this metaphor is looking an awful lot like my Steinway client.

You read enough shit on the internet, follow enough bubbly voices on the twitter who yammer about their WC, their favorite lines from their WIPs, their yummy heroes, or their heroine’s favorite shoes; collect enough blog posts about how to write, self-publish, edit, fight online reviewer/bullies, etc… and one day, you find yourself stuck in the mire of words and unable to find the goddamned story. ANYWHERE.

Every little sentence drives you nuts because something might not be *just right*. You have a story – oh, you have PLENTY of stories. But they’re all stuck behind a curtain of fussing and freakouts over ‘omg where is my personal voice and why don’t I give a damn about any of these characters anymore and btw is there something stuck in my proverbial teeth holy shit that phrase smells a little like stale breath where is my goddamned gum my chest is hurting again and I can’t remember to breathe right…’

Am I making any sense at this point??

You know who’s doing a great job at conquering this sort of thing? My friend Rhys Astason with her Ingenue series. And lest I seem like a great big old copycat, let me point out that I did mention plans to do something like this last year – I just dropped the ball, horribly. It was something we’d both been batting around and she took it and ran – and just look at how much fun she’s having with that goddamned ball! So, self, I says – you know it’s never too late to play ball. I’m gonna pick up that bouncy thing, brush the dust off of it, and fuck around with it, myself.

I’m also going to be spending some time rolling out some cheap erotica under a different pen name for cash. Reason? I feel like it’ll be some financial allowance to counterbalance the time I’m going to take getting my actual stories right. That DNF reviewer made me aware of something I’ve been trying to avoid – you can’t phone it in and think no one’s gonna notice. Not that I didn’t bust my ass on my paltry two story releases. But they’re not my best work. If I were to review them, I’d give Deluxe Package 3 stars and The Switch 4, but only for the hottie hot smuts (seriously, I’d fuck myself for that shit). From here on out, anything I sell, I expect to personally give 5 stars.

In the meantime, expect to hear more from me, and keep an eye out for the adventures of Veronica Matthews, a dangerous young talent in a masculine-driven world of music, recording, sex, lies, love, rock ‘n’ roll, tangos, and gorgeous men and women.

P.S.  – Agent Coulson replied to one of my tweets AGAIN. THIS time, he simply said, “ILY.” *faints*

That R-word thing everyone’s doing today, & the State of the C.

Hello, out there, blogo-romancelandia-writer-sphere!

I hope everyone is recovering from the holidays and 2013 in general.

My year and holiday went out with kind of a fizzle, and that’s perfectly fine by me. Last night, the husband and I had a brief visit to one party, saw some lovely friends, and went home early for a quieter evening together alone. What’s obnoxious is that even in that light, I still managed to have an anxiety thing. I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ people – who go on and on about their mental issues. So let me be clear – I just find it weird and kind of fascinating that this is an actual thing that people ‘have,’ if that makes sense. Taken from a blurb on this site:

When you experience anxiety, your body is essentially in fight or flight mode – an evolutionary adaptation that prepares your body for danger. Anxiety is the faulty activation of this system, causing your fight or flight system to operate even when no danger is present.

(emphasis mine)

That I have an actual misfire of something is annoying, but also incredibly interesting. And a bit of a relief, that there’s an explanation for these random andrenaline surges.

Anyway, my point is that much of yesterday and last night, before the ball dropped, I was planning this blog post about resolutions and anti-resolutions. Full of rantastic goodness and inspiring things. Then, of course, I made monkey bread with insane amounts of cream cheese icing to take to the party, and probably had too much sugar on an otherwise clean stomach, and there were fireworks and a stressed out dog, and that godawful Jenny McCarthy on teevee, and I just couldn’t deal with writing my aspirations for the year. Today is much better. (Seriously, though – am I just old and cranky, or is it not a wee bit ridiculous to continue firing off loud-ass boomers until well past 130 in the morning? Assholes.)

So, yeah. I’m always on the fence when it comes to these things. On one hand, “New Years” is nothing more than a marker we’ve made up – one that even only applies to our western culture. And resolutions can be ultimately so unhealthy and unhelpful. At the same time, it’s impossible for me not to get a little swept up in the hype. Christmas is over, and there are several months of quiet ahead. Choosing the right resolutions could potentially help utilize those quiet months, maybe even plant some seeds for real change.

Before I get into my personal shit, there, I do want to give a nod and link over to the great Chuck Wendig and his Writing Resolutions: 2014 and Beyond. If you’ve somehow found my blog and still have not heard of this man, I don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re from. God only knows I yammer about him enough. But it was probably his post that ultimately pushed me into going ahead and doing the R-thing this year. Sort of. I’ll get to the other stuff in a minute (this is a long-ish post).

Wendig (and I always kind of want to add an ‘o’ to the end of his name) rehashes much of his advice, which is excellent advice, because really, after a certain point you can only say so much about writing. Just as you can only read so much writing advice before you really just have to start writing or quit altogether. This is a point I reached in 2013, where I got badly burned out on writing advice and publishing blogs and book review blogs, etc. I also suffered the reading blahs, where nothing in my nook appealed to me. Sadly, this did not inspire me to take a break from reading and get down and dirty with writing. Instead, it triggered anxiety and inspired me to stick my head in the sand and play hours of bejeweled and minecraft. I let myself get lost in comparing my failures to others’ crazy success, even if their ‘success’ was nothing more than cracksmoking levels of wordcount. And, in the end, I lost touch with why I write and how to love writing.

Chuck’s post still has a lot of rehash, but the part that sparked my lightbulb was this:

I WILL GIVE MY WORK THE TIME IT NEEDS

Sometimes a story comes out fast. Sometimes it comes out slow. And this isn’t just about a single story: learning to do this thing and do it well may not take the arbitrary 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell suggests, but it’s not learning to play beer pong, either. Overnight successes never are; what you see is just the iceberg’s peak poking out of the slush. This takes time. From ideation to action. From writing one junk novel to a worse novel to a better one to the ninth one that’s actually worth a good goddamn. From writing to rewriting to editing to copyediting. Don’t “just click publish.” Don’t just send it off half-baked to some editor or agent — they get hundreds of stories a day that are the narrative equivalent to a sloppy equine miscarriage or half-eaten ham salad sandwich. Don’t punish your potential readers by squatting over the Amazon toilet and voiding your creative bowels into the digital porcelain. Take pride in what you do. Go the distance and get shit done. Not just a little bit done, but all-the-way-to-the-awesome-end done.

and this:

I WILL GET EXCITED ABOUT WHAT I’M WRITING

Ten years of freelance writing taught me one thing: you have to find a way to get excited about a day’s worth of writing, or it’ll juice your mind like an orange in the hand of Andre the Giant. It’ll kill you and your love of it, because writing stuff every day that isn’t precisely yours is — well, it’s many times better than doing the hard work of being a retail countermonkey (been there), but it still becomes a kind of drudgery. And so what you do is you find a way to be excited about the work. You still make it yours. You own it. You claim it with the flag of your voice thrust into the earth of the work. And this is true with any writing you’ve got going on, whether it’s a personal project or freelance or a story you’re forced to continue at the hands of a rabid fan who has kidnapped you and hobbled you by chopping off your foot (YOU DIRTY BIRDIE, YOU). Discover your own door into the material. Find the You-shaped hole in every story. Getting excited during a day of writing makes it go easier. It makes it fun and insane and is one of the many things that can elevate the raw ore of craft to the glittery baubles of art. Get geeked about your story. Write what thrills you. Every day of writing, sit down and ask: what am I going to write that excites me today?

Going back a few blog entries, writing is lonely work, when it gets down to it. And if you lose sight of *why* you write, it becomes a non-paying job where your motivation is guilt and inadequacy. That’s just no good.

I’ve been having trouble with The Beard. It’s far more plotty than its predecessor. The Switch was a long time in edits and foot-dragging, but it was ultimately intended to be a pure smut novella, a one-off. Then I got intrigued by Will and Emmaline, and then the other characters started filling out in my head, so I pursued it. But that world – the rich, spoiled, country-club elite in their late 20s? I can’t fucking relate to that! How the hell do I do this, I’ve been wondering?

I recently delved into the first of many old journals. Old as in 1991. The year I graduated high school, pined and angsted over the love of my life, wrote half the time in Theban script, and eventually migrated from Virginia to Boston for college. There’s a lot of embarrassing drama in there, and so much insecurity. But there’s also a person. People. And experiences. And somewhere in all that mess is a state of being I’d forgotten, happily. But in forgetting that era of late teens and 20-somethingishness, I’d lost touch with a type of character. Incidentally, the age and type of character I am often writing about. Lucky me – my old, uncertain, young-adult self left me a gift, a bouquet of buds that can unfurl into fictional characters I can remember and actually relate to. And hopefully, better describe so that readers can relate to them, too. 

And, so, one of my 2014 ideas/aspirations/projects:

Read the Journals, take notes, get inside my characters’ heads more realistically.

(I know, not very exciting except to me – it’s one of those behind-the-scenes resolutions)

And on a similar note:

Actually journal again.

I have a crazy number of old journals to slough through. I used to journal like breathing, which is why I was so prolific at it – most of it is a bunch of whining tripey shit. As I matured, I guess I grew out of navel-gazing. And now, I struggle with the idea of journalling; I hate the thought of writing about how my house is falling down around me and how we owe the government money we don’t have. All the same, there are always gems tucked in amidst that crap – moments of beauty and poignancy. And pen-to-paper *is* important time.

Going *back* to Chuck’s Wisdom and the whole love-your-words thing, I’ve also been conflicted over genre-writing. Romance and Erotica is my main thing. But did you know I was also a songwriter? There’s a whole other side of writing that I love, that has no place in these genres. Don’t argue with me – it’s the truth. Abstract imagery and from-the-gut descriptors are about as appropriate and reader-friendly in Romance as filet mignon at a vegan brunch. Both are totally valid and potentially delicious, but it’s useful to know where things go.

At the same time, I have these story ideas in my head and notebooks that – well, it’s not fair to me to keep neglecting them just because ‘they won’t sell.’ Particularly when I’m barely making enough on what I do write to buy an occasional cup of coffee. And, so:

I will play with my black sheep plot bunnies on a semi-regular basis. (This may or may not include fan fiction, if I damn well feel like it)

Don’t worry, The Beard is still getting written, as is everything else. But I have to ease off the bad feelings and anxiety and learn to love the words again. That’s what these resolutions are about.

I also have some non-writing resolutions:

In 2014 I will finally restring my piano. Bass strings for pianos are damned expensive, as are tuning pins – restringing an older instrument like mine will require a slight increase in pin size. But I love my piano so very much. It’s been a long time coming to do this. Right now, however, I am focusing on the action – the moving parts and guts, reconditioning them as much as possible.

Building up a repertoire for paid piano gigs. I need to be supplementing my income, and since it’s stressing me out too much to make writing the only thing to fill that gap, I am turning to my 35-year-old skill, brushing off the rust, and making myself available for weddings and parties and whatnot. Not right away, but I’m spending the next six months building up a repertoire for it, hopefully in time for wedding season.

Continue my journey of focusing on health improvement rather than weight loss. Pretty self-explanatory. Don’t troll my blog on this, either – it’s not up for debate or discussion. I’m exercising and eating for health and to ease anxiety. Focusing on weight loss only causes me anxiety and unhappiness, has never in all my years resulted in any permanent change or improvement, and has never actually helped my health. If I never lose another pound, I don’t care – as long as my body continues to grow stronger and my cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose and other shit stay in the healthy range. This would be the same regardless of weight or size.

Listen to more music. On this, I actually mean to start a focused habit of regular deep-listening. The kind we used to do in the studios in college. In fact, now that I think about it, this month I’ll need to set up my Tannoys downstairs in my music area. Related to this, expect to see a weekly music geek-out post.

Read more. Similar to the music thing. Very much about feeding the soul.

Have more orgasms. Something we all should aspire to. Orgasms of all shapes and sizes. Good for the body *and* the soul.

Take a damned vacation. The husband and I haven’t been on a vacation since our honeymoon. We’re pretty broke, so ‘vacation’ might be nothing more than camping in the mountains, a weekend in Savannah, or a longer weekend in NOLA (I really, really want to do that last one).

I think that’s about it. I have some other ideas I’m kicking around, like doing a weekly tarot card writing project – picking one card out of a deck, studying it separate of its textbook meaning, and maybe writing a one-shot for it. I’m also not completely letting go of the idea of a sloppy serial. That one might actually get more attention as I’m perusing the journals, since the original draft is such a total marysue self-insert from those times. 🙂

Anyway, peace and love and delicious lusciousness for 2014, y’all! Here’s a humpday hottie to get us started:

Unf.

 

Just… damn.

On anxiety, radio silence, and being a nutcase writer/artistic-type

First off, Happy Thanksgiving Day for us U.S. folks. That’s all I’ll say on it, since we’re already plenty flooded with holiday crap and Black Friday/Cyber-Monday jibberjabber.

Secondly, a disclaimer – the things I’m about to say here in no way are meant to indicate that I agree with, or think it’s okay for authors to behave poorly toward readers. Also, this might get long.

Okay, so.

I flopped out of NaNoWriMo this year. The Beard *might* get finished and into editing by Christmas, but it also might be a Valentines release or something. Also, the radio silence thing. I mean, not that many people, if any, really notice or give a crap at this point. But, I figure, while I have a blog, may as well at least pretend, right?

It’s not writers’ block. I have a ton of ideas and I have all of The Beard mapped out in my head. But – ugh, just sitting here facing this, my stomach is turning a little.

Turns out, I have Anxiety. And it’s rarely rational, and often not even conscious. Meaning, I just went through the past almost-two weeks freaking out that I might be having a heart problem. Thank the universe for those Any Lab Test places, because I could actually manage the cost of blood work this time, along with a trip to my doc. Everything checks out normal (knock wood). Describing in detail the shit I’ve been experiencing, doc says it’s anxiety. Therapist says it’s anxiety, and that no, it doesn’t always have rhyme or reason. Sometimes your body just misfires chemicals.

Unfortunately, it does get triggered by stupid shit, like feeling down about my writing motivation. And following my previous methods of lighting a fire under my ass just made it worse (ie, reading writer blogs, chatting with other writers, etc.). So, it’s Radio Silence for me for a while longer.

However, this brought a little perspective to a subject that seems to rear its head every few weeks or so around the book/blog-osphere. That of reviews and reviewers ‘bullying’ writers. Of course, I guess it could apply to any sort of cray-cray that occurs out there. But it was this post by Janet (or Robin?) at Dear Author that got me thinking (this time, anyway).

To be honest, not a lot of anything new can be said about the book-bully debate. It’s a tired topic, yet it comes up time and again. However, Janet’s piece begins by drawing a questioning parallel to food reviewers, Anthony Bourdain (god, I love that man), and critics of Jamie Oliver, and how no one complains about “foodie bullies.”

The thing is this (and please, PLEASE remember my disclaimer above – I am in no way defending or taking the side of the whole “bully” misuse team): Writing is a nutjob job. Even if you take away the special snowflake airy fairy bullshit about characters being personal voices inside an author’s schizoid head, even if you toss out the, ‘my stories are my baaaaaaybeeeees’ crap, it’s still an intensely personal, EXTREMELY lonely job. Add to that, the fact that most artists are artists because they have, well, that kind of fucked-up psyche that makes them creative and also opens them up to all sorts of insecurities and imbalances, and well, fuck.

I guess what I’m saying is, is it any wonder that with the internet being what it is, you have so many writers losing their perspective and freaking out on readers/reviewers?

Writing means spending a boatload of time in an ocean of uncertainty. Actually getting anything written means pulling yourself away from the distractions of the internet and DOING THE WRITING – that one thing is hard. Doing it well? Even harder. Doing well, getting it done and edited and PUBLISHED? Really damned hard. Getting it read and purchased enough to make a living so you can do it all over again? Really FUCKING damned hard. Further, unlike any other profession, artistic or otherwise, when it comes down to it, writing is a solo endeavor. Yes, you can have editors/agents/publishers if you can get on the trad route. But even then, it’s still mostly in the author’s hands. Is it any wonder there are some out there who just – don’t handle the internet well? And it is the internet – because it’s soooo easy to rattle of a blog post, comment, status update, or tweet; as a vent, distraction, or a plea for some kind of human contact that might understand or support the author plight.

Now, lest you think I’m just here to whine about how harrrrrrrd it all is, that’s not my point. My point is, fuck dude – everyone’s just human. And no, it’s NOT the same as working in food. It’s not the same as anything, except maybe painting or something. 

I guess what I’m saying is that when shit like this crops up, someone needs to be the person who just decides to be bigger and turn away. It doesn’t matter who is in the “wrong.” What matters is that everyone is human, everyone screws up, and everyone has their battles. Some might never “get it,” and be forever trolling review forums instead of writing their damned books. But honestly, if the tables were turned and I was a reviewer getting bitched at for a negative review (actually, I have been there), my response? “LOL, okay.” Because someone in that state isn’t going to change, no matter how many Dear Author posts go up.

I guess, in other words, don’t feed the trolls, no matter what side you’re on. Plain and simple.

On that note, I go back into my cave. I need a break from self-imposed ideas/ideals so I can just focus on why I started writing in the first place. As to which book that will birth first, who knows? I suppose that’s one of the perks to being a nobody, not even a little fish in a big pond, but just a tiny little tadpole!

Support small business this holiday season. Also, get your piano tuned. It’s time.