Retiring My Byline

For a long time, one of my bylines (in addition to small hard details like rock candy) was, “Be prolific, not perfect.”

I gravitated towards the desire to be prolific and not perfect because my perfectionism was not doing me any favors with my writing.

I have since come to accept the desire to be prolific is/was also not doing me any favors.

I have fatigue from chronic insomnia all day every day. There are multiple things I’m told to prioritize by well meaning people in my life: my diet, my health, my movement, my living space, and more, but the reality is, I’m one person who frequently can’t make it throughout the day.

I don’t know if you struggle with fatigue. If you aren’t, imagine that you are as tired as when you went to bed, and that feeling never fades. It doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink. It doesn’t matter if you drag yourself out for a walk. You are so tired, you call fall asleep.

Then insomnia is being that tired, making it through until bed time, and either being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.

So, if you are also lucky not to be cursed with insomnia, that hour or so you experience before bed, is my every day life with no reprieve.

Because on the few days I do get a good night’s sleep, my body just wants more of it.

I’ve decided, for so long, that I’m going to just power through, that I haven’t learned to accept that I am going to be tired all the time. And that reality comes with deciding what gets sacrificed. The day job, the main battery hog, can’t get sacrificed. At the end of the day, I’ll need to decide between chores, between eating, between derby/movement, and yes, between writing. And writing won’t always win out, and that’s okay. I greatly admire people who can seemingly write without flagging even with their day jobs, but I’m not one of those people, and I need to stop trying to bed.

I don’t know what my new byline will be. Maybe I don’t need one.

NaNoWriMo: I Don’t Need To Do You This Year

I’ve been writing off and on for about a decade. I have two short stories published, two novel length texts in need of editing and some decision making times about what to do with them, and a novella on submission that’s been rejected once or twice, and has been with a pretty major publication for 1.5 years.

I’m going to need to get two tattoos for that rejection when it finally comes around.

It’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which means the pressure to perform, to write, is extra high. I’ve noticed that I almost always completely check out during November, even though I wrote one of my novel length texts in November of 2020. For NaNoWriMo even. I mean, I had to take a week off work to do it, but you know. I did it.

I’ve never understood NaNoWriMo. It’s literally the worst month for a project of this magnitude. Not only is there a pretty popular holiday in the third quarter of the month, did any of the people who came up with NaNoWriMo work retail? Like, November is the month where things start to ramp up. Most times I tried to do NaNoWriMo I was getting burned out from my day job than trying to write 1667 words a day.

And for people who know that a 50,000 word novel isn’t really a novel in industry terms–some of those people are churning out a 90k-100k novel during this month. That’s what I did in 2020. And it was one of the hardest things I ever done. I don’t think it’s a surprise that 2020 was the last year I made substantive inroads in my writing. 2021 and 2022 have been pretty barren in comparison.

I know there are people in all walks of life who can do it, but I have never been able to. On top of the job, I also struggle with fatigue and insomnia issues, and I probably also have some form of OCD which, as everyone knows, is exhausting even when it’s not actively making it impossible for me to make a sandwich. Since I like having a place to live, the day job always gets first dibs on my energy. If I have any left over, it’s usually taken up by other stuff that needs doing like making sure those bills are paid, the house isn’t a death trap of undone chores, etc.

By the time November comes around, it’s just another reminder of how bad I am at writing every day, like I’m supposed to do, because you can’t be a writer if you don’t finish anything, and the best way to finish anything is to write every day, right??

November, more than any month, makes me question if I can actually do this.

So this year, instead of setting myself up for the inevitable NaNoWriMo failure, I just said, You don’t have to do it.

And I didn’t.

Now I’m thinking more long term about what I want to do, and more importantly, how I want to do it. Everything I learn about the industry is incredibly discouraging. I mean, how else am I supposed to take a novella that’s been waiting for a single publishing house to read it for over 500 days? Their submission guidelines still provide a 9 month timeline for submissions.

Self publishing is at least on your timeline. But then you’re running a business (and yes, you need a business to keep it all above board), and that’s on top of your full time job.

I still haven’t decided what I want to do in that arena, but I have decided that I miss writing (which is a big deal!), and I want to do it again in a sustainable way.

I’m going to try a seasonable approach to writing that I’m extremely excited for.

From Winter Solstice 2022 through the Spring Equinox of 2023, I’m going to focus on strategizing: this will include plotting out what I want to accomplish for the year, plotting out individual novels, novellas, and/or anthologies. It will also include doing market research both for agents, publishing houses that will accept submissions without an agent, and also learning more about an LLC in the context of a writer. If I had anything to submit, it’d happen during this period, or I would make note of guidelines throughout the year that I would be appropriate to submit then.

From Spring Equinox to the Summer Solstice, I’ll focus on the actual writing. There won’t be any looking back, no editing, no self doubts.

From Summer Solstice to the Fall Equinox, I’d focus on editing what I wrote in the summer.

And from Fall Equinox to Winter Solstice, I’d give myself permission to rest. Nothing. No writing, no editing. Permission to not even think about writing.I’m also going to be following the lunar calendar. As the moon wanes from new to full, my efforts will be at its maximum. As it waxes from full to new, I’ll wind down so I’m ready for a full push next new moon. New Moon will always be a rest day. Full moon will always be a work day.

My starting goal for full effort will be 15 minutes. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but I feel even on my worst days, I can make time for 15 minutes of planning, writing, and editing. I have to plan for my worst day, not my best day.

This is extremely structured, follows a cycle that’s familiar since it’s based on the seasons (despite how hard capitalism tries to convince us seasons don’t exist, and we are not part of the earth), and furthermore, allows me to rest so I don’t burn out. It also avoids the write every day rhetoric that is so pervasive in writer spaces because that just does not work for everybody, it doesn’t.

I’ve tried to do something like this before, but I think I’m in a much better place than I was then (which was when I was living with my roommate who, if this is your first blog entry I’m reading, was likely poisoning me unintentionally).

Did you decide to do NaNoWriMo this year? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working on something you love?

What If I Brought This Back

An image of my sphynx cat, Sayre. He’s peach colored, and sleeping in a blue blanket with one paw outstretched and the other curled close to his chest. He has an orangish nose. Beside him is the book “Nona the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir. Its predecessor, “Harrow the Ninth” is in the background beside a purple and teal plaid blanket.

I’m always hesitant to restart this thing because so many presenters at writing conferences are like, if you have a blog, you have to be consistent! But who can be consistent in times like these, I ask?

Ignoring the state of the world (pandemic….you’re still here??? why–rhetorical question, we know why), this has been quite the year for me:

  • Promotion at work
  • Cross country move say what. I like my new location way better.
  • I joined a derby team — but I’m a very slow learner combined with some health issues so it has been Hard for me
  • I’ve had a novella out to a pretty major publishing company for almost a year and a half. 495 days to be exact. Though we are far outside the estimated time frame on the publisher’s site, I’m still slowly moving down the Moksha timeline so I have decided not to reach out to them for an update. I’m not too fussed because I have no idea what I’m going to be doing with my writing career. I’m fully expecting a rejection, and that’s okay. Trad publishing is as competitive as ever.
  • Though I don’t have an official diagnosis, I have a lot of symptoms for contamination OCD, so I am treating it like OCD, which is sometimes not very fun for me as it requires extending discomfort cycles
  • I am also easing into some other healing practices
  • My grandma died around the same time Andor was released, and I was recovering from Covid (caught on the plane ride home from said funeral) around the time Tales of the Jedi was released. This is the first time I haven’t been able to write about newly released Star Wars content for BSR which makes me sad.
  • We’re all watching Owl House, right? And reading The Locked Tomb, right?

Hoping to stay here longer. I also believe I have a TV addiction, and I’ve decided that this WordPress will be replacing some of that.

What is everyone else working on?


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.



Writing Update

With just barely a week to go before Strange Horizons’ deadline, I finally finished the first (haha) draft of the story I want to submit to them.

It’s been edited once since then, but it still needs a title, I’m still not happy with the name of one of the protagonists, and it needs further revision.

But it’s finished, and that means that even if I don’t get it to where it wants or needs to be, I can submit it to Strange Horizons and that’s really the only thing that matters.

Now, I still need to write the horror story, and there’s another anthology I’d like to submit to called UFO (Unidentified Funny Objects — deadline also April 30).

I’ve not written a lot of humor (actually more like zero humor) so I think it might be an interesting exercise.

I feel like I’ve been writing a lot lately, which is nice.

About the Dog and the Bone

I recently came across this post quoting Karen Sandler

“Fiction is not the real world. In the real world, not everything means something. Much of what happens is just mundane, boring stuff that nobody cares about.

In fiction, the reader expects that every detail of a scene will connect to the story. If you spend more than a few words describing your main character, Ray Santiago, watching a brown and white spotted dog with one blue eye trot down the street with a bone in its mouth, that dog better bite Ray before the end. Or that bone the dog is carrying better be human.”

Karen Sandler is the author of nineteen novels for adults, as well as Tankborn, Awakening, and Rebellion, a YA science fiction trilogy. She is a founding team member of We Need Diverse Books.

My first thought was wondering how it would be like to be so prolific as to publish nineteen books. My second thought was emphatic disagreement with the above. My third thought was wondering if there is anything as condescending as reiterating that fiction is not the real world.

I’m not published so my disagreement is essentially worthless, but I cannot help but disagree and disagree strongly.

I suppose there are two parts to my disagreement that can be summed up as follows:

  • as a reader, I don’t expect that every detail of a scene connects to the story
  • why does the dog have to bite Ray and why is it a human bone

Read More »

Listening Booth: Welcome to Night Vale A Story About You

I think listening to Welcome to Night Vale’s “A Story About You” fundamentally changed the way I viewed the consumption and production of art–or perhaps it helped me to articulate something that I was beginning to learn but was yet incapable of fully expressing. I definitely attribute listening to this episode as my primary influence in writing so much of my short fiction in the second person but that is neither here nor there.

I love this episode because it is one of the most beautiful pieces of meta fiction that I’ve ever seen. Almost every single long running series I feel has its meta episode, but I think Night Vale’s is the one I like the best.

Hearing Cecil state that “this is a story about you” is inherently an act of validation. Many times I feel that people who are marginalized by oppressive mainstream narratives are told that the only appropriate response is simply “Write your own.” Such a statement is fundamentally wrong because it ignores how important it is to see yourself in a story, to see that you too can be part of overarching narratives that traditionally only belong to a few, and which serve to perpetuate and sustain oppressive systems of power. Such a statement presumes that it is possible to cloister one’s self behind a wall and become untouched by listening to the damaging stories surrounding you.

All this is false, of course. Even if it were possible to become completely untouched by the narratives that surround our very existence–why should someone isolate themselves simply so that other people can continue telling their damaging, harmful, and oppressive narratives? It would be better if people told stories that did not harm people at all.

Such a statement is also dismissive of the the fact that even when people do tell their stories, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be accepted or welcomed by editors, by publishers, or other establishments of authority. Such a statement does not address how establishments use their authority to keep people out. Such a statement does not take action against these establishments of authority. Such a statement does not provide platforms and space and tools for people to utilize to tell their own stories so that their words can reach people who do need to hear about themselves on the radio.

This is a story about you, said the man on the radio, and you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio. […] But there was a time, one day, one single day, in which it was only one story, a story about you.  And you were pleased, because you always wanted to hear about yourself on the radio. [x]

Everybody should be pleased to hear about themselves on the radio or on the television or in that book or in that song–not hurt.

Reading Corner: On Not Writing by Bill Hayes

In a truly ironic turn of events, the day after I wrote up my post about Stephen King’s On Writing I came across the article “On Not Writing” in my morning’s twitter feed.

This spoke to me in the same way that Stephen King’s work also spoke to me. I am afraid to “rest” because my rest periods frequently turn into years, and I don’t want to become that person again.

But it’s also important to remember that what worked for Stephen King or even Bill Hayes might not work for you. It’s even possible that what worked for you now won’t work for you in the future. As you grow, so does your writing, so does your method.

I think that after reading these two think pieces on writing, the one thing I’ve taken away from it is: i need to try and find what works best for me.