Fri. Aug. 26, 2022: The Intersection of Burnout, Exhaustion, and the Blues

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Friday, August 26, 2022

Dark Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny and warm

Yesterday was a frustrating day. I went down to the artists working group. Interesting group of people, perfectly nice, and in a variety of disciplines. It was a lot of need and few resources. One individual was trying to get other members of the group to volunteer to do the job for which she is paid. Nope. I’m not doing that. I also realized that every other person in the group had a salaried job with regular pay from the organization they represented. I was the only one where the art is my day job. Yet every time something was brought up to be done as free labor, the undercurrent was that I should jump in and volunteer. Nope. Not doing it.

To be fair, some of that might have been projection on my part, because the demand made of me in the previous location was always, “You don’t have a real job. You have the time to take this on. You owe it to us, because you think you’re all that being a full-time writer.” Which is, of course, bullshit, because writing IS my real job, and I’m not putting aside my own work to do other people’s unpaid labor because they resent that my art is my real job. Again, that was in the previous location. No one said that in the meeting yesterday, so I might have projected the undercurrent due to previous experience. I don’t want to be unfair to anyone here, and what’s been so refreshing here is that they do respect art as a real job.

I will give the group one more shot next month, and then I’m pretty sure I will withdraw. And I guarantee that not one of them will have bothered to check out my work at all between now and then. And I will have checked out all of them.

I’m not getting sucked into another non-reciprocal environment.

I’m looking for an artists’ working group where working artists actually go out and about supporting each other’s work, and, as they get to know it, find ways to expand everyone’s work  to a broader audience. Not a group where people whine, but those being paid by exterior sources except free labor from the rest of us.

It’s noisy in the neighborhood, between renovations happening and students moving in and not understanding how their voices carry yet. When some random stranger brings up something intimate they said that they didn’t realize carried over the whole neighborhood, they’ll learn to quiet down. I mean, if we have to listen to their lives, at least live an interesting life. So far, it’s all eye-rollingly banal. But this is the way it happens, the first few weeks, when people are anxious and lonely and unsettled, and then they start feeling better and it all calms down. If I wasn’t so burned out, I would barely notice.

I was exhausted, burned out, and had a bad case of the blues all day. It didn’t help when the book I read, the newest in a series by an author whose work I have supported for years, used “witch” as a slur against other women. I notice that one particular publsiher, in particular, has taken a hard turn right in the content of their cozies, and this slur is turning up more and more frequently, in books where authors haven’t used it before, and where it’s not organic in the way the characters have been established. It’s another example of traditional publishing moving right.

I felt slapped in the face and spit on by this particular author, who is someone, like I said, whose work I’ve supported for years, whose events I’ve supported, and who I’ve interviewed for articles several times. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.

Writers can and should write whatever they want. But readers don’t have to engage when it crosses lines unacceptable to them.

Was further frustrated by Staples. I went to order ink and pick it up down at the Pittsfield store. Only it’s not in stock. And they’re not willing to get it into the store for pick up. I could drive to ANOTHER STATE to pick it up, which is unacceptable. I had to order it for delivery. Not only did they charge a shipping fee on an order over $75 (I’ve never paid shipping with anything over $50 before) AND the ink won’t be here until Monday, they refused to honor the ink rebate coupon they’d sent me.

So I guess I have to find another resource for printer supplies. I don’t want to put my money in either Amazon or Walmart. I have to see where else I can order the ink, if I should get it directly from Brother or elsewhere. The prices seem pretty stable wherever the source. It will come down to shipping and other costs. And then other office supplies will need to be sourced elsewhere. I see mentions of indie office supply stores in towns around here; I will start checking them out, and put my money there instead.

So yeah, it was a depressing day, all around. I ended up ordering in Chinese food, because even the thought of heating up leftovers was too much. And two cookbooks I ordered arrived, so that made me happy.

Today, I need to read a friend’s play and give feedback. I have to finish the two script coverages that have been lingering (I’m still fine, deadline-wise). I accepted reading a novel with an eye to adaptation over the weekend that pays well. I read so little last week that it makes sense to read over the weekend. I also have to do some work on the house, so that everything is joyful and sparkling when the inspector comes next week.

I talked to a friend online yesterday, who is also feeling burned out, exhausted, and blue. Part of it could be the weird weather, feeling like it’s in limbo. It’s the end of summer, but hasn’t turned the corner into fall, but doesn’t really feel like either season. Plus, ragweed’s out, which means that goldenrod is soon to follow.

But for me, I think, it goes beyond weather. I think I’ve peopled too much too quickly in the last few weeks. I’m very grateful for the opportunities and invitations and the chance to get to know new people around here. Some opportunities will work out, some will not, but I’ll never know until I take the chance. But I think I stacked up too much too fast. Even though most people are still taking COVID precautions or, at the very least, respecting the precautions, I also feel like I’ve been rolling the dice a few times too often, and I need to back off before I come up snake eyes.

I’m looking forward to the fact that the weather here in the winter is bad, and I won’t be able to do anything beyond the library and the grocery store. I’m ready to hunker down and just focus on the work, with limited socializing (unless it’s old friends). Both for health reasons and for work reasons.

When I said I needed to be re-socialized like a feral cat, I wasn’t kidding.

Ben, my feral cat friend, I am right there with you.

The house next door is getting a new roof. The company is run by a woman, who’s right up there on top of the roof doing the work with her crew. It’s awesome.

I’m frustrated that Amazon doesn’t make it possible to use gift cards or gift tokens for the serial. I have ideas for three small things for the giveaway package that are kind of fun. I’m also working on a couple of designs for bookmarks, that I plan to use to promote the serial. There are a couple of places that print bookmarks reasonably. I may try different designs in small quantities with different companies and see what works best in a quality: price ratio. While I ponder what else to put in the giveaway package.

Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on the other side. For all the pressure I’m under through the end of this month and into next month, I really need the long weekend next week.

Published in: on August 26, 2022 at 8:41 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. Aug. 2, 2022: Creative Busy-ness

image courtesy of Hans via

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Sunny, hazy, humid

The weekend was kind of all over the place.

The artists working group that I was told met Friday morning, of course, met Thursday morning. The organizers really need to get their communications cleaned up. Especially since I specifically contacted them to ask for clarification and they still gave me the wrong information.

I picked up a few things at Wild Oats market instead.

I spent Friday revising CREATIVE STIMULUS and THE SERIES BIBLE. I was behind where I wanted to be, but between the humidity and ongoing computer kerflamma, it was exhausting.

Attended an amazing yoga class on Friday night. It was a wonderful restorative class and I slept very, very well after.

Up early Saturday morning. Went to the market. Didn’t buy much. The lines were so long as some of the stalls, which is great for the farmers, but I didn’t have the energy to stand in the sun. Picked up my mom’s prescription at the nearby CVS and came home.

Should have done a lot of stuff, but I was hot and tired and didn’t. We did hang up some of the artwork, although we haven’t found the right spot for oh, too many things. But some digital artwork by a friend went up, and the mosaic by my uncle. I put up the sketch of Paris – which I bought on my first trip to Paris when I was 11 years old for 2 francs – but it’s not in the right spot. When I find the right spot for it, I will move it.

Read in the afternoon and just relaxed.

Up early on Sunday. Charlotte and Tessa were both being pills. Made biscuits. Sent off an LOI. Did some blog work. Finally got the materials for a magical journaling class I’m taking this week with the group with whom I did Expedition to the Soul last year.

Worked on my Llewellyn article and got it done. It took a good portion of the day, since it was 2800 words.

I’m reading the biography of Emily Mann. The first time I met her was when I was working at the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation, and she’d just been named the Artistic Director for the McCarter Theatre. I always admired her, and wish I’d gotten the chance to work closely with her.

Played with ideas for my poem, and for the story for the Shakespeare horror anthology. I want to keep my poem short, between a half a page to a page (even though I have a longer slot). I’m learning how to do this, and I’d rather keep it shorter and work on technique and rhythm and performance than use up the whole slot just to use it.

Monday, I was up and at it early. I made the social media rounds to thank those who participated in #31Prompts. Ello, by far, had the highest rate of engagement, both on and offline. Counter Social was second, by quite a big gap. Then, there was another big gap, and it was Twitter and then Facebook. Trailing the pack was Tumblr.

The metrics come from both engagement on the platform, and from contact individuals made with me privately about which prompts they liked and the types of pieces those prompts inspired. Because I don’t want anyone to post the actual work online and blow first rights.

I posted the July wrap up on the GDR site, and you can read it here. I had a pretty creative month.

I rewrote my Llewellyn article pretty extensively, and got it in to my editor. I still haven’t hit the sweet spot with it, except in word count, so I’m eager for her feedback.

I did the marketing content calendar for the CREATIVE STIMULUS Topic Workbook, which dropped yesterday, and got that uploaded and scheduled through the end of September.

Then, I tackled episodes 7-10 of LEGERDEMAIN. Even though I’d done a couple of revisions on them, they needed more. The world count is a little higher than I want for these episodes, but I had to set foundations for a few things, so there we were. The text got two pretty massive revisions, and then tweaks once it was uploaded and previewed. But I got them up and scheduled.

Then, I created episode loglines and episode-specific ads for them. I uploaded and scheduled those around the episode releases. I have to do the big weekend ad schedules, but I’ll do those in a day or two.

After that, I created three more quirky general ads (well, four, because I had an idea for something coming up, but it won’t release for a few more weeks). I got those designed, uploaded, and scheduled around the relevant episodes.

I read the revision of my friend’s radio play and it is wonderful! I love what she’s done. It’s so good, and such fun!

I did some work on the grant proposal. I need photographs. I’m not sure I have photographs of the relevant work, and I’m not sure I have it up here rather than in storage so I can take new photographs. I’ll cross that bridge next week,

I did my Italian lesson. I listened to the first session of a journal workshop on journaling with intent. I was put off by the way she was so condescending to a regular journal practice. As someone who has kept up a journal practice for FIFTY YEARS, and who has found the practice helped me navigate plenty of difficult stuff, I was annoyed by the attitude that a journal practice was “meaningless” and one just writes in a book and puts it away. Nope. Not the way I do it. This after the whole “I’ll never tell you that you HAVE to do something.” Yeah, but you’ll be patronizing when someone does something differently.  I was also annoyed by the whole “Oh, a bunch of us are doing a trip to Salem, so we won’t have live sessions for the next few days, just pre-recorded ones.” I don’t mind pre-recorded sessions, I don’t need to see the running comments in the live sessions. However, it’s kind of insulting when students have put aside the time to attend the workshop to blow them off. Just set it up so it’s “work at your own pace, here are the sessions.” I’m also really irritated at the pressure to download their app. I do not run my life from apps, nor do I want to.

My path is different, especially right now.

I was very tired by the end of the day. Between 2800K in revisions on the article, nearly 8K in the episodes, and then creating the ads, yup, I was tired. I also have 9 scripts in my queue, to read by the end of the week, so I have to push today and tomorrow, so that I’m not overwhelmed at the end of the week, before I teach.

Today’s priority is uploading and scheduling the content calendar for THE SERIES BIBLE Workbook, which drops tomorrow, and finish the revisions on SETTING UP YOUR SUBMISSION SYSTEM. I also want to finish the slideshow for the class I’m teaching Saturday.

I think that’s all I can get in during the morning. In the afternoon/evening, I have to cover 3 scripts, and I’m taking a break in the evening to attend Chef Jeremy’s cooking workshop from Kripalu online. Plus the day’s Italian lesson and journal workshop. But it’s the right kind of busy.

I heard from a grant for which I’d applied that I’d made it to the next round. I’ve heard that from them before. I make it close to the end, then they give the grant to someone who never finishes anything and is never heard from again.  But they tell me to keep applying. I’d already decided that if I don’t get it this year, I’m done with them. Not worth the work putting together the grant, when all they do is string me along, and then give it to someone who doesn’t deliver. In the years I’ve applied, I went from never working in the genre to regularly publishing in it, so I guess I don’t need it. But it would sure give me some breathing room.

Anyway, back to the work that needs to be done. Hope you’re having a good start to the week.

Fri. July 29, 2022: A Good Friend With a Beautiful Garden

image courtesy of Tim HIll via

Friday, July 29, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Chiron, Jupiter Retrograde

Cloudy and humid

ORGANIZE YOUR WRITING LIFE has released, in its new edition. It helps get and keep projects on track, and teaches techniques to build a calendar that works. You can learn more about it here.

LEGERDEMAIN launched yesterday. The first two episodes are free on Kindle Vella. The story link itself is here.

It would be helpful if you like the free episodes, if you can upvote them and also leave a short, positive review. And, of course, tell everyone you know. If it’s not your thing, spreading the word to those who might like it would be really helpful.

My father died on this day in 1972. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it. But the day still has its challenges.

I had a great time with my friend in upstate NY. The ride there on Wednesday was okay, up until the last stretch on I-84, which was rather chaotic. But it was a short stretch, and I found her place just fine. She lives in a town that’s similar to where I live here in the Berkshires, in that it’s a former factory town now populated with artists.

We know each other from working in theatre, film, and television production. There are several studios popping up in upstate NY, because of the demand for streamed programs, so she doesn’t even have to commute to the city for everything, which is great.

Doesn’t make me want to start up in production again, though. Those days are done for me, except for script  coverage and creating budget estimates.

We had iced tea in the wonderful, naturalized pollinator garden she’s built, then when into town to a taproom, where we ate outside. First time I’ve eaten at a restaurant since COVID. The tables were far enough apart that it was comfortable. It was delicious, and I had a local beer called “Marlowe” that was pretty good.

We went to the gallery where she’s part of a group show. Her piece was wonderful, and there were all kinds of interesting pieces in the show. We visited a friend of hers who has a fabric store, and there are terrific pieces there. The museum we planned to visit was closed on Wednesdays, so we went to a shop called Notions and Potions where I picked up some incense and a few crystals.

My friend is a cat person, and she has a group of rescued cats living with her. Many of them are old and had spent years either on the streets or in shelters. Bob even has his own Instagram account. I bonded with Ben, a lovely 15-year-old cat who loves the other cats (especially Bob), but doesn’t like to be touched by humans. Once he realized I would respect that boundary, he stayed close for most of my visit. He investigated all my bags, and left messages for my cats. He hung around. Griddle is a lovely black cat, who is very social and liked to come and be petted. There’s a kitten in search of a name who’s very smart and friendly, and looks like my Willa’s baby brother. One-Eyed George is kind of shy (because he can’t see much), but he was around. The tortie, Star, got more and more curious, the longer I was there, but not close enough to be petted. She kept walking through the room and staring, as though she was on her way to some other appointment. Calamity Joon was shy, although she peered at me from a safe distance. I didn’t meet Bertie, who stayed in my friend’s room, and I didn’t see Slick, the outdoor cat, although his empty bowls assured us he was around.

Anyway, my friend and I had a good catch up, and then got pizza for dinner we ate at home. I slept well, although Tessa has me so well trained, I woke up at 5 anyway. I’d woken up a couple of times in the night because I Was Being Stared At, but whomever did the staring fled as soon as I looked at them. Anyway, once Griddle realized I was up, she came for a petting session. George came to check things out, and then fled. I dozed off again for a bit.

When I woke up later, and went to take my shower, I found Bob stretched out in the doorway to the room, with the other cats looking at me hopefully from a distance.

After the shower, Ben came in to help me pack, and to make sure I put everything in properly.

I brought my bags downstairs, and most of the pride trotted down hopefully with me to the kitchen, and then were very disappointed when I failed Breakfast 101. I don’t know the medicine/food routine.

Bob forgave me and sat on my foot, with Ben right next to him, and Griddle came in to get some extra petting action, and my friend came down soon after, so all was not lost.

Morning feeding happened; we went out to get bagels with everything on them, and came back to the house to eat. Real New York bagels! I mean, the Berkshire bagels are better than the Cape bagels, but nothing beats a real New York bagel.

My friend gave me a small lilac, and a tansy plant to replace the tansy that Spiro Squirrel destroyed. She also gave me some mugwort slips and some cut mugwort. And she gave me some small pink flamingos who will dance in the pots on the back balcony.

Driving back was smooth. I got caught up in the horse trailer traffic going north on I-87, because the Belmont/Aqueduct barns are sending them up to Saratoga for the big races this weekend. But it was really a smooth ride back. Much less traffic than going down the day before. And it was so nice to spend time with my friend in her amazing house and yard and with those wonderful cats.

Unloaded the car. The lilac will be okay in its pot for now. I repotted the tansy and the mugwort.

I did some promotion for LEGERDEMAIN, did my Italian lesson. I’m learning random words, and I can figure out the phrases by process of elimination, but I’m not learning structure. And that frustrates me. There’s no context for anything.

Had a quiet afternoon. It was hot.

My mom had been sick the night before (she ate too many hotdogs in my absence). I have threatened her with kale smoothies. But the cats took good care of her.

Tessa was fine. She was very interested in all Ben’s messages, and told me everything that happened while I was gone. Willa was chill, as usual. Charlotte was upset because I had the scent of other cats on me. It took her hours to calm down.

Slept decently, although Charlotte woke me around 4:30 wanting attention, and then Tessa chimed in. So I was up at the usual 5 AM to feed everyone and start the routine.

I’m getting ready to go down to MASSMoCA to attend the artist working group to which I was invited. When I get back, I have to get a lot done this afternoon, and then there’s yoga tonight. Tomorrow morning is the farmers’ market, and then I have to finish my Llewellyn article and get it off to my editor. I’ll probably work on Sunday, too. There’s something I want to go to at The Mount in the late afternoon, but if I can’t get my work done, I can’t go.

Monday is Lammas, a big holiday in my personal calendar. And then we’re in both another week and another month.

Have a good one! See you on the other side.