A Fool Like Juggler

When I first started this blog, almost every single post was public. Then, a year or so back, I decided that the internet didn’t need to know that much about me.

I put almost every single post to private, and gave little thought to my writing career.

Then, not to repeat the cycle, I returned back to my dreams. I finished the draft of my novel. I thought–I need to get myself out there. I returned to this website, and put about half posts public, half posts private.

I’m not entirely sure what was more depressing: the infrequency of posting in general, or just how similar the themes went.

It would be easy to see me as someone who keeps washing out. Ha, a writer. Like they haven’t said that before. Mmhmmm. Getting published. Mmmmhmmm. Sips a cup of coffee while they listen to me rattle on, right?

I prefer to think of it more like not giving up. Like that phrase in Panic At The Disco’s Hallelujah song, “You’ll never know if you don’t ever try again, so let’s try, let’s try, let’s try.”

The main common theme was work kicking my ass. And not just like, wow every day sucks kind of way but just, I have no boundaries when it comes to work. I enjoy the work that I do. I find it fulfilling. Is it mid level management. Yeah. Are there a lot of times I find myself going, I really don’t like this part of management. Also, yeah. Do I sometimes feel like taking my boxing class after work is a good idea so I can just punch a 100 lb leather bag? Definitely yeah.

But for the most part, I can say that I am happy with my job. I have a freedom to develop policies and employees. Those are the good parts.

The part where the boundary greys is when I am thinking about work nearly every spare moment. Where I will schedule myself 11 hour shifts for the good of the team. Where slack dings on my phone and I’m reaching for it so that I’m available.

Let no one say I never answer my Tash-taken slack messages.

This was a very recurrent them in the posts I reviewed–some of them are public (again), some of them are still private.

But this is a juggle that I’ve never mastered. If life is comprised of three balls (work, hobbies, and making sure you’re getting the trash out), I’m really good about managing two of them. It’s the third, hobbies, that I suck at.

And to be frank–I don’t want writing to be a hobby. I do want to craft a career from my writing. It’s just figuring out how to kick that ball back in the air, and to keep it there.

That said, I am for the most part happy with the self improvement I have developed. I finished a draft like three years in the making, right?

Gotta count for something.

 

FanX18

FanX18 was this weekend, and I attended all three days. There was a zombie panel that I wanted to attend but unfortunately I was quite worn out. I’ll go ahead and collect the book titles I want to read after these panels at the end of the post.
I also apologize for the multiple twitter threads. My phone was malfunctioning for the whole con (touch disease).
The panels I attended were as follows:

So, this isn’t my first FanX, but I went two or three years ago and I hadn’t actually gone all three days because there were so many people and I was generically overwhelmed.

I won’t belabor the points of each one as that’s what the twitter one was for.

My take away from the Books panel was that apparently people consider having different fantasy races, such as elves and orcs, fulfills the diversity requirement. This is not diversity and was a little on the insulting side, I thought.

I will say that I was deeply disappointed with the Avatar panel. One of the panelists literally introduced herself as someone who enjoys hating on things so I don’t feel bad calling her a hater. I just have to ask….why would we have someone who was so frank about her negativity be on a panel titled “Why We Love Avatar”?

Also, Korra and Aang I believe are fundamentally misunderstood. There was definitely a different vibe towards Aang than what I’ve encountered online but what they said about Korra matched a lot of the misogynist online discourse I’ve seen. The hater literally said she wouldn’t want to kill Korra but rather watch her struggle. I imagined the brutality of the fight in season 3 and wondered how much joy or satisfaction that particular panelist felt seeing that and it honestly made me feel ill to my stomach.

They condemned her so much for being so confident in her abilities and said she had an ego. Maybe she did in the beginning–but so did Aang and they didn’t say a thing about that. Aang was always showing off–not just in childhood but probably in adulthood as well.

That panel did not sit well with me at all, and it’s one of the reasons I avoided panels about fandoms and pretty much just stuck with the writing ones.

Lucy Lawless did her war cry and it was freaking awesome.

One of the things I really took away from Makers of Stories was the idea to make a pitch first and then write the novel. I will need to do more research and do it for the novels I’m currently in progress for, as well as for Eat Your Green even though the first draft of that is already written.

The other take away was that I don’t think setting daily word counts or write x hour of the day work for me. Particularly the latter because I do tend to work overtime and that can turn into a scheduling nightmare for me. However, now that I’m playing with Scrivener, I realized that writing a scene a day is a very, very achievable goal. So, that’s what I’m going to start doing now.

The other panel that deeply disappointed me was the LGBT panel. I felt like there was not an established direction. One of the panelists rubbed me the wrong way right away when she mentioned she didn’t want it to get political, and then said how she came close to blows with another panelist at a previous con when it came to whether or not Asexuality fell under the LGBTQ umbrella.

For those who don’t know, there is a LOT of discourse regarding this particular opinion, and I have friends whom I respect on both sides of this. As an asexual person myself, I no longer engage with this discourse because I ultimately find it extremely unpleasant, and I think that there are just too many real life variables that can affect how someone is systematically affected by being ace. So what turned me off this particular panelist is because she really just seemed to trivialize it and it just seemed extremely inappropriate to bring it up as no one else was allowed to have a voice (I mean…she did dominate almost the entire panel in a most unpleasant, bordering rude way so).

The other part that bothered me was the respectability politics. I completely agree that fandom sending death threats to creators, sending Sterek cookies, etc. is completely inappropriate and wrong. However, this particular panelist literally just said just ask for more representation in a way that rang eerily of Oliver Twist lifting his empty bowl of porridge and asking, ever so politely, “Please sir may I have some more.”

I don’t think I need to get into the systemic metaphor but I just couldn’t believe it honestly because there is a time and a place for anger. I think some of the other panelists didn’t feel the same way but they did not have a lot of time to share their own opinions, and she literally told another panelist to wrap it up because of the time even though there was still a few minutes before the end.

The most useful panel for me was Publishing Your Work. I got a lot of ideas for getting myself out there, along with a renewed desire to go to the Writer’s League. I need to start making time for this part of the writing process, and developing that part of myself. I also need to start thinking specifically about my audience.

Book Title Recommendation List:

  • Wool – I missed author so not sure which book he was referring to
  • Pack Dynamics – I missed the author so not sure which book he was referring to
  • Save the Cat (yeah I know I’m late to the party)
  • Write Your Novel From The Middle
  • Not Your Sidekick
  • A book by Elmore Leonard because apparently he’s a master at dialogue

My plan of action for my own work:

  • Read the books I bought (Not Your Sidekick and Unleashed)
  • Write more scenes — and write more prolifically esp with fanfic
  • Start going to the writer’s league
  • Attend the lesbian meetups I joined several years ago but never went to…if anything, I at least know lesbians are my audience so time to start making connections in that community.
  • Start visiting local bookstores and getting to know the employees
  • Start visiting the library and making friends with the librarians
  • See if I can get my business cards posted at the coffee shop the league meets up and some other local coffee places.
  • Start researching newsletters? Apparently that’s a thing I should have as a new author.

We’ll see what happens. Baby steps first.

 

 

The Present Mental Perspective

Until most recently, I’ve struggled more with my mental health as opposed to my physical health.

My mental health, in the past few months, has gotten better even as my physical health leaves something to be desired (but I am working on that as well).

I’ve come to the realization–not for the first time, unfortunately–that I lack faith in my writing. This lends itself to a lack of discipline, which is probably why I am a better writer in the past than I am in the present.

Part of this is because fatigue–both mental and physical. I have struggled with depression for years, and I also struggle with the need to be perfect and to constantly prove myself as having value.

This is why I’m currently working seven days a week. It was supposed to be forty hours a week but my own need to make sure something gets done (and gets done right) leads to a domino train of self sabotage in the name of paying the bills: for example, I am currently working seven days a week because we are short staffed and I volunteered for it. It is not a good way to keep myself healthy, physically and mentally speaking. In fact, I have never felt so burned out in my life.

The good news is that it paid off, and I’m officially a supervisor. #awesome

The other piece of good news is clarity: I need discipline. In the same way I need to start going to the gym again and also practicing self validation on a daily basis, I need to start writing again. Not tinkering around with minor edits before attempting to sell this unsellable story, but to start writing–anything.

Unfortunately, when I reach this realization (for the umpteenth time in my life), I self-sabotage again: no one wants to read what I’m writing, I’m not improving I’m sucking, etc.

More often than not, because I’m already tired and fatigued from my emotional labors for the good of capitalism so I can pay those goddamned bills–I listen. Or I think, I’ll do it when I’m not tired.

But the thing is, I am tired all the time. I keep thinking there’s going to be a day where I’m not tired, but the reality is that day is not gonna come. So I need to push through that like I push through most things in my life.

So, I am going to start writing again, and I am going to start practicing types of writing not in my wheelhouse (like comedy). I don’t know if I’ll be posting those here or not. The thing is to just make sure they get written.

My other moment of clarity came when I realized I wanted to start doing things again. A complete list, here:

  • I want to join a local writer’s league–one that pays dues (cheap dues but dues nonetheless). I believe the enforced structure (which may not necessarily be found elsewhere) would encourage me to produce even when I don’t feel like it, and to also find a community of writers–which is honestly very important.
  • I want to start weight lifting again–usually, like writing, this gets put off because I’m too tired after work, and I muddle through the day being tired all the time. But the reality is, if I can linger at work being, and I quote, “too tired for this shit,” then I can leave work on time (for once) and be too tired for thirty minutes as I lift some weight.
  • I finally wanted to watch the fourth season of Black Sails. I had “wanted” to do this some time ago, but the desire finally translated itself into action.
  • Black Sails lead to another desire: to learn how to sword fight. I actually took fencing at the Y in my youth, and I enjoyed it (for the most part). I believe, again, this would encourage discipline and meeting people outside of work.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I frequently bite off more than I can chew and it inevitably ends in disappointment and self loathing.

So here are the goals I’m setting for myself:

  • Lift Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I’ve heard this should help my gastro issues as well.
  • Write Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
  • Permission to relax (as much as one can when one must work) on Sunday.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Life Update

I haven’t been great at updating this. It’s probably because I don’t have a mission statement or something.

Anyway, here’s what’s been going on in the past month since I updated this:

  • I read the first three volumes of Saga. I am really enjoying the series and I have volumes four, five, and six from the library waiting to be read. No thinky thoughts regarding them because I am way to tired from the capitalist hellscape for critical thought. This is escapism pure and simple.
  • Speaking of the escapism, I was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor, a new position in our growing company. Today I wondered about the gender divide between job expectation and satisfaction.
  • Continuing this journey through the capitalist hellscape, I started working seven days a week because of how understaffed we are. This was with the expectation it would still come out to around 40 hours a week. Do you hear the wild, cackling laughter in the background about how that’s not happening?
  • I developed some health issues–nothing major but definitely disruptive and uncomfortable and limiting my diet of a good chunk of the things I like and can eat. The doctor told me it was more than likely stress–telling me things I already know but not how to fix it.
  • I adopted a truly magical cat.
  • FullSizeRender (20)
  • His name is Sayre and I love him very much.

We Lilies of the Valley: Rundown

Nearly a full month late (with Starbucks), I am writing about “We Lilies of the Valley” which was first published by Shimmer.

This story went through a number of revisions. The first draft also featured Sierra’s point of view, and they alternated between Yvonne’s.

I eventually trimmed it down so that it was solely from Yvonne’s. That was a tough choice to make, but I think the story or is more cohesive and more poignant than before. One day I do want to tell Sierra’s story, but I don’t think it belonged here.

My experience trying to sell this story once more reiterated how incredibly lucky I was to  have sold “You An Accidental Astronaut” on my very first try. It also showed me that I am a terrible editor, and that I need to become more comfortable sharing my drafts to people who can read it previously before me.

I also learned not to give up, even as I’m trying to sell another story that I wrote a year ago–a story that I am still editing, and trying to apply what I learned in the editing process for “We Lilies of the Valley” for this story.

And in case anyone was wondering about the title, my mother asked me why this title. This is what I said:

I couldn’t think of a good name for my story. We Lilies of the Valley seemed to fit better than the others. It’s a reference to Song of Solomon, chapter 2, which is about two people in love across a separation of race and class, iirc. So a story about two people falling in love across literal space seemed appropriate to title with that literary nod.

If you read the story, I hope you enjoy it!

 

Reading Corner: Perched on Olympus

My first introduction to Percy Jackson was not finding the books in the library or even the movie trailer, but rather the studio’s incredibly long and lengthy file name joined by (what felt like) a thousand other long and lengthy file names all beginning with PercyJackson, or in some unfortunate iterations, Percy_Jackson. The differentiations as the file name made its way onward towards its final destination of OV (preferably) or VF (god no) were no less subtle and far more aggravating.

Percy Jackson quickly became a gigantic pain in my ass and my least favorite person ever.

As an aside, I am referring to the second Percy Jackson movie. I can only assume I actually had seen the preview for the first feature prior to my exposure to the monstrosity naming conventions of the second, but the entirety of 2010 remains an extremely hazy memory.

Anyway.

Time has since passed. Wounds have since healed. I would occasionally remember that I maybe wanted to read the books. That I was, let’s just say, mildly curious about Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

My friend gave me most of the first series for Christmas.

I devoured them. I wanted to write a blog post about how #awesome it was that the last Olympian was Hestia, the importance and prioritization of hearth and home, but I had since found out about Heroes of Olympus and who has time to write a blog post when there are those books to read.

And so I read Heroes of Olympus, and that was when Nico Di Angelo crushed my heart in a stealth attack of feeling.

I seriously enjoyed these books despite the fact they were straight–seriously straight. I would use the “straight as hell” metaphor but it would be inappropriate to do so in this context.

But that’s okay. I’m used to my content being straight except when authors pull a surprise! We’re gonna reveal that Nico’s gay! Because he’s being forcibly outed! By Cupid!

Ouch????

I’ve been lucky. I’ve never been forcibly outed–only casually accidentally outed because the person involved didn’t realize I would prefer to Not, y’know? But she thought I was out and probably didn’t think about how gay people have to out themselves to every new person they meet so I don’t count it.

But like–what happened to Nico? Ten times worse. Being forced to confront his love for Percy in front of a person he doesn’t really trust that because Nico doesn’t trust anybody.

Again let me just say–ouch.

Honestly, this isn’t really a good start.

I was desperate for Nico to find happiness and, at the end, Riordan indicates that he might be able to find young romance with some guy named Will.

I had forgotten who Will was. I had to interrupt my reading to google, Will Solace Heroes of Olympus.

Oh. That guy.

Wait. What guy?

You see.

The whole “dynamic” was shoehorned in. It was like Riordan knew enough to not let Nico end up alone, but didn’t know enough to understand that Nico ending up with the equivalent of some Rando would be really unsatisfying.

I know that Nico was never one of the Seven (an observation noted by Nico himself that did not fail to make my heart ache) but all the other seven kids had major pairings with people who actually had their own point of view chapters through multiple books–right?

No, they didn’t! Time to talk about Leo Valdez!

Leo was shoehorned into a romance with Calypso, a plot line that was entirely unnecessary and served primarily to give Leo a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend named Nico.

Their names even rhyme how could Riordan have resisted such a temptation? To this day, nearly 24 hours after finishing the last book, I do not know. I can only shake my head and tsk my disappointment his way.

Leo (very vocally) likes girls, but I don’t think it would have been so unbelievable that Leo could have liked boys too.

Leo’s insistence on his attraction to the ladies is the embodiment of overcompensation. His attitude reminds me of me when I was his age: I’m going to get married to a man! And this man is going to take care of me! And we’re going to have so many babies! And I’m going to be so happy in my nuclear family!

#classic

A lot of times in the LGBT stories that I’ve been exposed to, there will always be the person who is Out and the other who is Not. It’s so ingrained. The conflict of such a relationship always seems to be a driving point.

It’s so tiring.

I would have loved to have seen Nico, struggling with the fact that he’s gay, becoming close with Leo, who is struggling to realize that he likes guys too. And together, they would realize that they liked each other.

Instead of the ridiculous Hazel-Frank-Leo half-hearted love triangle, we could have had that.

Instead of Leo finding his way back to Calypso’s island to keep Percy’s promise, we could have had Nico meeting Leo in the underworld after he died. We could have had Nico promising Leo that he would see him on the other side just before Festus injects him with the cure to bring him back to life.

C’mon this is the stuff of romance.

So in the Last Olympian, a character dies. Not a major one, but a character dies. A lot of minor characters die off page in Blood of Olympus, but overall, practically everybody lives, and this makes me happy.

I am so glad nobody I loved or particularly liked died. I am tired of heartbreak in my consumable fiction so it was nice to know that they all ended up okay because I stayed up way past my bedtime to make damn sure they would be okay.

So I thought that was a good beat to end it on–with everyone alive, everyone finding love and a home.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be over the missed opportunity for Leo and Nico, but I was also thinking about the actual writing of the novels.

I would hardly say that it was anything to write home about, but it was so readable. It was consumable. And I wish that I could find a way to balance my artsy-fartsy writing with readable, can’t-actually-put-it-down writing.

But I do recommend the books and I do intend to read more of the author. Started the Apollo book just today, actually, though I have to wait until May for book 2 and who knows how long after that for the rest.

New Years Eve

Like so many others, I’m thinking about my goals for the coming year. I’ve been thinking about this since my birthday, actually, and I did touch on it with my birthday post.

Here are the major things I want to accomplish:

  • Finish my Star Wars fanfic tribute to Carrie Fisher in a timely manner.
  • Cut down on internet time. I will be signing off tumblr for the entire month. My return is dependent upon how I feel after a month of no tumblr. I hope to be active on facebook, twitter, and Archive of our Own.
  • Launch a Patreon in April. In order to do this, I need texts prepared, a self-education in marketing, and a passing familiarity with taxes (ie, should I go ahead and register myself as a business in my state of residence). Marketing and accruing a viewership should begin in earnest around March.
  • Keep writing (and reading) short stories and trying to get published professionally. Decide if I want to keep Sonja Natasha for my writing purposes on both indie and traditionally published works or separate the two with different pseuds.
  • Procure contacts instead of glasses for rollerblading/skating purposes–join a derby team if I’m feeling brave.
  • Which leads me to fitness–I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds by changing my diet, but I’m in terrible shape. Terrible, awful shape.
  • Think about moving. One of my coworkers wants me to room with her, but it would require me to more than likely terminate my current lease. However, I think it would be a wise decision to do this for a number of reasons.

Minor things to accomplish: every time my boss asks if I know anyone who might be interested in a job, I have to shrug and say something embarrassing like, Everyone I know is here.

And this is the truth. I don’t have friends outside of work here. I don’t say this to be self-pitying. It is a fact, a fact I have been meaning to change since I moved here. I’m pretty sure every new years resolution post or tweet has said something to the same effect:

I’m gonna put myself out there! Gonna get me a social network!

etc.

I don’t know how to make friends, but I know that getting involved in the local community is more important than ever. I need to make a real effort to change that, and I hope this year I’ll succeed.

Work is going to become even tougher. I’ve been promoted (in words only) to a position that requires a lot of responsibility. I’m the first, so I need to shape it. This is in addition to all of my other responsibilities at work.

This in addition to the fact I’ve been working on my weekends (anywhere from one to five hours) for the past three months.

This in addition to the fact writing/marketing is also about to become full time endeavor.

I will be tired. I won’t even feel like going out most of the time.

But I have to. I have to make this a priority somehow. I just don’t know what I’ll be sacrificing. Hopefully it won’t be sleep because I need eight to ten hours–and that’s another minor resolution. I need to make sure I’m going to bed on time.

I hope this year is kinder than 2016. I hope people are kinder. I hope I’m kinder.

Author Update

In the past months since I’ve updated this blog, there have been several interesting developments:

  1. I sold a piece of flash fiction to Mothership Zeta. This is my first official sale and I am thrilled beyond words. I will be appearing in a future issue.
  2. Work is gradually evolving into a bloodless game of offices and unfortunately that is taking a lot of my energy, and I haven’t actually written much of anything except for that piece of Flash Fiction picked up by Mothership Zeta around three months ago. This has made me very sad, so I’m attempting to be stronger at forming boundaries. Work is to pay the bills, not my way of life.
  3. My next project is to participate in this Star Trek fan fiction contest. I’ve always wanted to write novelizations of my favorite TV shows/movies (specifically Star Wars, but Star Trek too I’m a fan of both) so I think this would be an exciting opportunity for me.

I was unable to participate in NaNoWriMo this year–but congrats to everyone who did. Maybe next year!