Writing Update

I’ve been regularly reviewing The Bad Batch with Big Shiny Robot, which has been a lot of fun.

I submitted a short story to an anthology.

I submitted a pitch for a non fiction article, which is a first for me.

It’s odd, but also quite good, to have two things out for submission, and hopefully a third and fourth as well.

The So-Called Feminism of a Billionaire

I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about Whitney Wolfe Herd who has recently entered the ranks of a billionaire. A lot of it has been contextualized as feminism but is it really feminist to hoard that many resources so one can call one’s self a billionaire?

Wielding capitalism in order to break the billionaire glass ceiling isn’t feminism. It’s just a woman allying with oppressive forces.

It’s worse when articles headline with the adjective “self-made.” Nice big fuck you to all the employees who actually work at the company or developed the software or provided the customer service.

Wonder what she’s paying them.

Coronavirus 2020: Misc Thoughts

2020 been a year right?

And it’s only April.

The first quarter of the year is usually difficult anyway. It’s the busy season at work. I usually end up working well over 40 hours, and I have a very difficult time drawing and maintaining boundaries at work–at first, it was because I wanted to prove myself and get that promotion, and then I got the promotion and it morphed into doing the very best I could do and being the very best I could be for my employees.

So it is unfortunately, terribly easy for my own personal goals (writing every day, reading every day, boxing every day) to be first up on the chopping block.

This quarter hasn’t been any different.

I finished Gideon The Ninth (please read this book) and I was so excited that I had finished an actual, tangible book. I have primarily been listening to audio books on my commute, and in the silence, reading a physical book was difficult as my internal whisper can be deafening.

I was really, really proud of myself for that.

Anyway, shortly after I finished Gideon, I became more cognizant of the COVID-19 news. I was aware of the virus, but I had not been keeping a close tab on it.

I had just discovered a new pho place. I had also discovered a darling coffee shop. They became my weekend sanctuary after a work week, where I quickly found myself working seven days a week at the end of February that lasted about two weeks when I realized I was experiencing a slow death of the soul.

About a day after that, my work advised that we were all to work from home until at least April 8th. That timeline is no longer on the table, of course, but this was mid-March.

So my team and I switched entirely to remote. That was hard. It is hard. I believe a return in May is even optimistic.

At first, I had the same grand delusions: gonna finish that book, start that fantasy series I’ve been thinking about since January, gonna lose that weight, gonna read that other book.

I have done none of those things. Without a commute to structure my day, it is even harder for me to not reach for my computer when I wake up in the morning to check up on things.

Never though I’d miss the commute.

I struggle with wondering if I should order takeout to support local restaurants or if I should stick only to curbside pickup for my grocery shopping. People need work, but even essential employees need to stay home for their safety.

There is no right answer, and I pendulum swing from “no takeout ever” to ordering takeout. I know the problems that make things difficult for the working class is a systematic issue. It’s not my fault, but there is an element of complicity that I’m finding difficult to navigate.

My boxing club froze my membership when the governor closed all nonessential businesses.

I haven’t exercised in weeks.

Exhaustion, despite doing nothing but staying home, lingers. My insomnia is back which I’ve been treating with over the counter sleep aids. I was reading the back of the bottle a couple weeks back, and apparently I’m supposed to be using it for two weeks or so. I’ve been using it since December.

I have written maybe 30 minutes.

I have not read. Nor have I finished an audio book.

I am one of the lucky ones. As of today, I still have my job but I know we are buckling up. We are bracing for April…and May…and for however long this will last.

My dad constantly reminds me that we must take this day by day.

I will try.

 

New Year: Onwards & Upwards

Did you know that moving during the holiday season is incredibly stressful and expensive. I found that out this year. I still owe a gift to my mom.

At the beginning of December, I purchased a small condo (all that I could afford in this area), and moved from my toxic living environment where I was living with a roommate who was, well, toxic. And still owes me $3k, but I probably won’t ever see that money and ultimately that’s okay.

Around October, I realized that things had deteriorated to the point I needed to leave. I told myself that I’d like to have a larger down payment, so I would give myself until September 2020 to find a place.

I don’t remember what the inciting event was, but apparently around November, I was officially Fed Up with everything, and began looking at the retail listings in more earnest. I wish I had come to that conclusion before I put in a lot of effort (and my own money) to paint my previous living area when my landlord had new flooring installed. I had painted my room a lovely forest green that my landlord made me repaint white. The new floors are an ash-wood like tile so…not a lot of contrast there. The green looked a lot better but not my decision.

NaNoWriMo started around the time I found the place I ultimately ended up purchasing, and the only place that didn’t look like it would take a lot of work to fix up (things…I don’t know how to do, wouldn’t mind learning how to do, but wouldn’t be able to focus on writing if I had gone in that direction) that was still in my limited price range.

So I did not finish NaNoWriMo. In fact, I didn’t even get to the halfway point. I did get a good start on the story, and I will return to it, but only after I finish editing my first NaNoWriMo, and get that sent out to an agent. Every year I say I probably won’t participate in NaNoWriMo (because I lose two weeks due to a work event and the holidays) but nearly every year I still try. Not sure what that says about me.

On the day I was scheduled to sign, my boss also gave his two weeks notice, so I have new challenges and opportunities there I am hoping to rise and meet. Because of the transitional period, immediately followed by the holidays, today is the day I feel I really need to gird my loins.

The cats love the new living area. They seem more comfortable being on their own than when I was living with her roommate and her cat, who wasn’t a bully but liked to interject himself into their play and play rough with them–he was a sixteen pound ragdoll so he didn’t mean it, he was just a lot bigger than they were and didn’t always realize that. It’s just been gratifying to see Sayre, especially, come out of his shell and start playing again.

As most people do around this time, I’ve committed myself to become a better version of myself. There will be fewer tv binges and more reading, writing, and an attempt to make friends outside of work.

I actually doubled the books I read in 2019 compared to 2018, and I hope to do that again. I also accomplished reading more nonfiction books, something I haven’t done since college. I hope to continue that into the new year, as well as expanding into a genre I’ve tended to be skeptical of, self improvement.

My favorite fiction book of the 2019 was definitely The Goblin Emperor. I listened to the audio version of this, and though that didn’t give me a reference for the many and varied characters (and sometimes I did forget who was who, it was easy enough to remember via context), I do recommend this highly.

In an effort to make friends, I have also the local writer’s guild in a different chapter. The meeting time is actually easier for me to make, and I’m hoping to join the contests, submit to be in their anthology, etc.

I’m dedicating myself to also managing my emotions better. Instead of blocking off negative emotions with food or tv binges (or, worse, both), I’m going to really try to process them, feel them, and then let them go. Don’t worry, I won’t do that in this space here. 😉 But I have come to realize that my own mental blocks are caused by an unwillingness to process feelings and let them go, coupled with a lack of self discipline. I really hope to change both those things.

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!