Thurs. July 7, 2022: Cleaning Up Some Messes

image courtesy of Mote OO Education via pixabay.com

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune Retrograde

Partly Cloudy and pleasant

Garden update over on Gratitude and Growth here.

Yesterday was not as productive as I’d hoped. I am tired, trying to shake off the last of the sense memory stress. Also, as an astrologer friend reminded me, we’re in the sun sign of Taurus right now, and Taurus likes to slow things down and look at it from all angles (sort of like Tessa the cat approaches life all year long).

Broke off contact with someone I’d known, both personally and professionally, for quite a few years, whose patterns in the relationship will not change and aren’t acceptable. This individual refuses to respect boundaries, intentionally causes harm, when I speak up, tells me I have to “take it” because they have mental health issues, goes into therapy, reinvents themselves, wants to repair the relationship, and, a few weeks later, starts again. Not doing it anymore. I wish them a long and happy life, far away from me. Mental health issues aren’t a free pass to treat people badly.

 Plus, the viral tweet just keeps going and going. This morning, I finally muted it. I hate muting threads; I feel it’s a cop-out.  Most of the tertiary conversations have nothing to do with me. I’m glad people are discussing it, but after two days and the repetition, I’m done. I have nothing more to say. I said it. Plus, a lot of people who are arguing how small a portion of the population it is when over a million died are showing their psychological dirty panties. Every one of those dead matters.

On top of it, the guy who started it all is snickering and said he made the initial post as a “social experiment.” So he’s getting blocked. If you claim you’re building relationships on social media, you don’t set the people in those relationships up like that. It is, of course, a white dude. Because it’s always a white dude.

All of this interaction is getting in the way of the work, and when something gets in the way of the work, it has to go.

A welcome distraction was watching what’s going on over in the UK, ousting Boris Johnson. Absolutely fascinating.

I did do a good chunk of work on the Topic Workbooks. For the SUBMISSIONS Workbook, I have to take the example pages and turn them all into jpgs, and then insert them into the text, because the e-reader formats can’t hold the necessary formatting. That will take time, but I think it will solve the problem. THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS is almost updated; just a few more pages to go, and the resources. That can re-release on time. I have to take down the remaining few workbooks, so that they can go back out before the end of the month.

Most of those revisions shouldn’t be too awful, although the Series Bible may need the same examples-into-jpgs done. But the others need some expansion for changes in the industry, and updated resources. It shouldn’t take too long (famous last words).

The damn computer crashed again. I think McAfee is part of the problem. It’s acting more like a virus than a virus protector. Combine that with the HP/Windows11 conflict, and it’s not pretty.

Oh, and Spectrum raised my internet bill by 25%, which means I expect 25% better service. (ha). That still might only get it up to 50% of what it should be.

We gave in to the every-so-often fast food craving and had burgers, fries, and shakes. Good while eating; misery for the rest of the day.

Turned around a script in the afternoon. Got some questions on a script I’d covered earlier in the week, which I will answer this afternoon, after I’ve turned around another script.

Invited to an artist networking group next Monday. Part of me wants to go; another part of me wonders if I’m doing too many in-person things, and if I should be a little more careful until after the Word X Word event on the 23rd. I already am going to MassMOCA’s open studio event again next week, and then there’s a book sale at the Atheneum. Even being careful and masked, with more people around, especially unmasked tourists, it’s a risk. I’ll think about it.

I mean, we only have a few months of possible outdoor gatherings before it’s winter, and we’re all inside, and that means little to no gathering (and new variants). But if I choose the wrong gathering, I’ll pay the price.

At the same time, I need to build a life here. The vibe’s already much more laid back, inclusive, and generous than where I was before. But every event/interaction needs a thorough risk assessment. I made the choice to take that risk with Word X Word. So now I have to adjust events/expectations around that to make it as safe as possible, and not put myself at risk before then. Because I also don’t want to put my fellow poets at the event at risk.

I look around at writer colleagues, flying all over the place to attend in-person conferences, posting unmasked group photos, then wondering why they’re sick when they come home. What the hell did they think would happen? Come on, people. Get a fucking clue.

This attitude of “it’s over” or “it’s not over, but I won’t get it” is, quite literally, killing people. So every time I’m invited to something, I have to find out: Is proof of vaccination required? If no, then I don’t go. If it’s indoors, is masking required? If no, then I don’t go. If both answers are yes, I still have to calculate number of people expected in the space, and the likelihood that someone is positive without yet knowing it, or has been exposed and transmitting, even if they themselves don’t get it. Do I have enough open time before and after for contact tracing/testing if necessary, before another event?

Exhausting, but necessary.

And the day is likely to come when I’ve miscalculated, and will have to pay the price.

On a happier note, a neighbor a few doors down was on his porch practicing the tuba.  A few minutes later, some guy with a djembe showed up, and they were jamming. It was pretty funny, and kind of wonderful. I love that about this neighborhood.

I started reading HOW TO DO THE WORK by Dr. Nicole LePera. It resonates. I hope to learn some pattern-breaking and healthier pattern-setting techniques.

Looking forward to meditation group this morning, and then it’s back to the page. A friend is eager to read “The Little Woman” and I want to do another draft before I send it.

And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I STILL haven’t finished that kitchen island. That is a goal for this weekend.

People are enjoying the 31 Prompts, and I’m glad.

Have a good one!

Fri. April 15, 2022: Piling On

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Friday, April 15, 2022

Waxing Moon

Sunny and cooler

Yesterday was sunny and pleasant. Today is sunny and cooler. By tomorrow night, it will be below freezing. Totally wacky weather.

I had trouble settling into meditation, mostly because I felt so bad, but once I did, it was fine.

I got the next three pages written of “Owe Me” which feels good. I know where I need it to end, but now I have to figure out how to get from where I am now to where I need to be at the end. Not quite sure how to get there yet, but I’ll figure it out. I hate writing in small bits like this. I prefer writing longer sections, but each of these small portions sets up new challenges (which is the point of the piece), but I don’t yet know how to solve them.

Had a late morning video conference with a potential new client. We had a great talk, and he likes my writing a lot. I don’t do much work in his area of specialization, so that might knock me out completely, which is fine. It was definitely worth the conversation, and I sent off additional materials asked for as soon as we finished.

Headed off to the store for round colored lights for the kitchen window, plant stakes, a new small rug for Tessa’s room, and an outdoor rug for the back balcony. We couldn’t find one we liked for the front porch yet.  Came back, took down the winter curtains in the kitchen (no curtains up in summer). Took down the white lights. Got the rest of the spilled wax scraped off the sill and the window (without damaging either). Got the new lights up, which are so pretty, even in daylight, because the light makes them sparkle. The new rug looks great in Tessa’s room. She’s still not sure about it, but Charlotte and Willa both love it.

In the afternoon, I sat on the porch working. First, I finished reading the next book for review (which I will write and send off today). Then, I started reading LEGENDS AND LATTES by Travis Baldree, a cozy fantasy that Deborah Blake recommended. Absolutely loved it. It’s clever and fun and the world building is lovely and the characters are wonderful.

The weather changed (as it does). We are high enough to be able to watch thunderstorms roll around between the mountains, which is really cool. We are even high enough so I got to drive through a raincloud the other day, something I didn’t even know was possible. Which was also really cool.

Part of me felt guilty for taking part of the afternoon off to read a book because I wanted to, but that’s why I freelance: to work my own schedule. I was achy and headachy, and would not do my best work on script coverage, and those writers deserve better from me. So, I adjusted the task to the energy.

Didn’t feel like cooking, so I ordered Chinese, and it was perfect. I felt well enough to run Knowledge Unicorns, and it was a good session. Many schools are either closed or doing half day tomorrow, and April break is next week, so no sessions.

After dinner, I felt much better, and could focus on script coverage. Turned around the two scripts I needed to get done. It meant working until 10 PM, but that was fine. Freelance. Can work any hours I want, and I felt better and working then made sense. The whole point of not working 9-5 is NOT WORKING 9-5.

Once I was done with the coverage, I could settle in and finish LEGENDS AND LATTES, which I did a little before midnight. Charlotte put herself to bed earlier than that, and Tessa was thrilled to have me all to herself.

So this whole Elon Musk/Twitter thing is disconcerting. He is NOT a supporter of free speech – his actions against his own workers prove that. If he ends up buying Twitter, yes, then I will have to leave. I would miss people, but I functioned before social media, and I can function without Twitter. I will start spending more time on ello.co again, which I’ve always liked, but it takes more time and deeper interactions than Twitter, and I’ve neglected it lately.  I spend very little time on FB and the only reason I haven’t cancelled my accounts is because I have some friends who are only on FB and I’d lose regular touch with them. I’m on the fence about Instagram because of all the fake accounts and scams, although I’d hate to lose my “fun” account that has little to do with marketing and promotion, and is just my playground.

We’re all going to be signing up for a lot of newsletters over the next few weeks, aren’t we?

Besides, if Musk destroys Twitter, some other social media platform will start up. I mean, there was a time when MySpace was one of the few choices, and look what’s sprung up since.

Slept well. It’s cooler today, but I could still do my first writing session on the porch. My storage facility on Cape has been sold, and I don’t like the new owners. So, somehow, over the summer, after I get the car fixed, I’ll have to put together the money and find a unit out here and hire movers and get it all brought across the state. Not looking forward to the expense.

Had to set some boundaries with a project. The editor is setting up yet another place to check for information, this time on a platform I loathe. It’s so scattered; I shouldn’t have to check multiple sites/apps to stay up-to-date on where things are. I was ready to burst into tears at the very thought of it. There needs to be ONE central source of information. It’s too damn much. It’s too much “ooh, shiny” and not enough focus. Handling the large group writers involved is huge work, and the editor is doing an amazing job, but things are getting more and more scattered and fractured. Maybe that’s the way it has to process for this particular project, but I am at my outer limits of being able to add any more on. I turned in my lore on my characters and on my organizations, so all I have to do is sit down and write my story (which I’ve blocked time off to do in May). Once I do the roughest of first drafts, I will go back in and layer the details that are affected by what the other collaborators have created that affect what I do, and double-check details (as I’ve made myself available for any of them, if they need information from me). But I can’t spend hours every day making the rounds of multiple sites as things change. We’ve created the world; now we have to inhabit it. And so much that’s been created is color and flavor for the stories, rather than trying to put everything into the stories all at once.

The reason I’ve been able to have a lifelong career in the arts, earning my living at it, instead of creating “on the side” is because I am ruthless about cutting out what interferes with the creative work. I have no regrets. I make no apologies.

Most places around here are taking this as a four-day weekend, or starting their weekend after a half day. Monday is a state holiday here (Patriots’ Day) and the Boston Marathon. I’m thinking of taking it as a holiday from client work, and focusing on the radio plays, The Big Project, and the CAST IRON MURDER edits. I also want to get through a lot of contest entries this weekend. I have a pretty good idea in two categories of who’s shaping up to be finalists, but need to hone it down some more, and then I can focus on the third category.

I also want to rest a lot. While I’m starting to get back on my feet, I still have lingering effects from Shot 4, which are not fun. Part of it, too, is accepting that I am not twenty anymore, and can’t push the way I used to. And that I don’t WANT to be in a constant state of overwork and hustle. We were sold that bill of goods, and it was false. It’s time to learn from that and create something better.

Anyway, have a lovely Whatever You Celebrate, and I’ll catch up with you next week.

Fri. April 30, 2021: It Keeps Piling On

photo by Devon Ellington

Friday, April 30, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Foggy and cool

Beltane Eve

Yesterday was a frustrating day, but it all worked out, somehow.

Dealing with a boundary issue with a client, which is frustrating.

At least I got out some LOIs and got some work done. The property manager missed the two potential phone appointments with no contact, and then sent me the rental application late last night, along with a time to drive a long way up and see the place that I already said wouldn’t work.  So, that place is out. Plus, my questions haven’t been answered on the lack of washer/dryer, the monthly fee for the garage, etc. I don’t think this is going to work. If we’re having this much difficulty communicating in getting basic information on the property, it’s a red flag to what it would be like if we actually moved in. It’s already near the top of my price range, and then with all these extras? I don’t see how it can work.

Heard back from a company to whom I’d sent an LOI months ago, and they want to talk today, so we have a video interview set up late this afternoon (my worst time of day, but so what). I have to bring up the rolling rack from the basement and drape fabric over it so act as a screen to hide all the packing going on in the office. It also means I’ll have to dress up and put on makeup.

Contacted another property, that’s also quite far away, but looks and sounds fantastic, and the price is good, too. It’s a little small, but workable, and in a place I hadn’t considered, but that would work.

Had a series of exchanges with a fairly local realtor, who contacted me after I told her that a property she represents showed up as a scam rental on craigslist. She’s been in touch a few times. I explained the situation, and she suggested some resources (all of which I’ve already contacted), but also admitted that there isn’t anything in the area to rent (that’s not a kazillion dollars and a short-term rental) and very little to buy. I mean, she was nice and all, but it didn’t get me any closer to solving the problem.

The stress continues to build.

photo by Devon Ellington

The septic company dropped off the digger yesterday afternoon. It’s a big old thing, stashed in the backyard, until they start up, first thing Monday morning.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re all ready for this school year to be over.

Worked on contest entries. I should be finished by today, and can send off my choices tomorrow.

I had a horrible, horrible cramp in the arch of my foot last night, like a Charley horse in the arch. I don’t want to experience that again any time soon.

I have a lot of work and a lot of packing to do today, along with a grocery run. At least I had a good first writing session, although I didn’t get enough work done on the article or the story yesterday. Hopefully, I can make up for that today.

And tomorrow, the Kentucky Derby! AND Beltane!

Catch you on the other side. Hopefully, next week will look up as far as house hunting.

Published in: on April 30, 2021 at 5:07 am  Comments Off on Fri. April 30, 2021: It Keeps Piling On  
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Wed. Jan. 30, 2019: Preparation and Boundaries

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Waning Moon

Hop on over to Ink-Dipped Advice for the latest business writing post.

Trying to catch up on a lot of things on the one hand, I’m doing a lot. On the other, I still feel as though I’m far behind.

Meditation group was good on Monday. There’s something wonderful about being quiet in company.

Had a decent writing session first thing Tuesday morning; then client work, then grocery shopping, then another appointment., and got out a few pitches. I had to put my foot down with a client who wants to change the parameters of a job into something that’s not writing. Sorry. No reason for me to be there if that’s what the gig is turning into. Today, I will be with a client for a few hours, and then hopefully back home to do some more writing. I have to prep some article pitches, too. I need to get them out by the end of the week. I’m also trying to write ahead on all the Upbeat Author posts for February, and the Ink-Dipped Advice posts.

I was delighted to receive a copy of the re-release of Ron MacLean’s novel HEADLONG, for which I wrote the foreword. It looks great, and it was such an honor to write the foreword for one of my favorite books.

I’m prepping some radio plays to go out this week as requested, while trying to get back on track with the novels, and juggling research for the plays. I have to work on some monologues this weekend, too. I hope I won’t be sick again and can try them out in February.

I want to get back to actual writing on the anti-gun violence play this weekend. I need to get the first act done sooner rather than later.

Plus, I’ve got cleaning and purging of unneeded papers and all kinds of stuff to do from the basement. Plenty to do, and it’s up to me to bend time to get it all done.

My hosting plan renews tomorrow with A2. I’ve been quite happy with them, and will stay. I’m still trying to wrest the registrations away from 1&1 and get them over to Name Silo. It will have taken over a year to get things straightened out, but the sites are much better, in a visual and a useful aspect, and more effective for my work.

Heads up — I have a morning appointment tomorrow, so the Thursday blog will go up late. Hopefully, there will be some good news in there!

I’m in a getting-things-in-order phase before my next leap. I just have to remember to keep things in order, and not get messy again. I tend to nest wherever I settle to work, and pile up project bits. Once I file something or put it in a drawer, my subconscious thinks it’s done. So if I put things away at the end of the day, my creative part of my brain moves on to the next thing the next day.

Published in: on January 30, 2019 at 6:35 am  Comments Off on Wed. Jan. 30, 2019: Preparation and Boundaries  
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Fri. Jan. 4, 2019: Social Media As Performance Art

Friday, January 4, 2019
Dark Moon
Uranus Retrograde

Getting in gear for what I want to get done in 2019.

Yesterday, I got some writing done (not enough) and worked with a client. It was a tiring day, although a good one.

I’m going to see how next week goes; if it’s similar to this one, I’m going to start getting up an hour earlier to get in more writing. I’m so tired when I get back from this one particular client that it’s hurting my writing. I’ll be wrapping a project there in the coming months, but I can’t afford to lose as much writing time as I’ve been losing, due to exhaustion.

I’ve added an additional yoga session at night, before the night meditation. To get the kinks out before getting to bed.

Weight trained yesterday (one of my designated days). I was still a little sore from Monday’s session, but I still like the way I’m easing into it. Too often, we push too hard at the start of the year, and then lose heart when we can’t keep up.

So I’m hitting the ground running in the sense of the plan, but I’m also being more careful in how much I take on at any given time. Or trying to. You know how that blows up.

I came across information from a friend I’d had all the way back in high school and shot off an email just to say hi, never expecting to be remembered. But my friend does, and we’re catching up. Which is fun. I’m glad I did sent the email!

I’ve been thinking about social media lately, and how so much of it is a form of performance art.

No matter how “authentic” we choose or intend to be, we still choose what to reveal and what to keep back. As we must.

There’s a lot of pressure on job seekers to be careful on social media. That’s a post for Ink-Dipped Advice, but my take on that is that if they don’t like what I do on social media, they won’t like what I do in the office, either, so I’m not parsing my words to please some unknown future client.

I’d rather stand for something and not get the job than be a coward and compromise my integrity in order to get it.

But it IS a form of performance art.

You build an audience. They feel the same sense of possession and connection and emotion as does the audience at a theatre performance or a film screening. Or, even more, as the audience does of a show they regularly watch.

Our social media audience knows us and doesn’t know us. We connect on certain levels, sometimes in ways that might carry over into life, sometimes that won’t. Some relationships become unbalanced. We do get to know certain people who can become genuine relationships, but there are also others that are more pleasant at a distance, or are just for the moment of connection, and then both parties move on. When one of the parties doesn’t move on, it can cause problems.

I’ve certainly worked with enough actors where audience members feel an intimacy with the performer that exists within the plane of the work, but not with the performer directly.

The plane of the work is when the artist’s work touches the soul, and the audience’s response allows the artist to create more work. That comes in the form of approval or challenge or applause or questions or money == most often a combination.

The audience expects to be fed. The artist needs to keep creating material to feed the monster, or the monster will move on to someone else who feeds them more regularly.

That can become a burden — for an actor, for a writer, for a creator on Patreon, for someone with a huge online following, be it on social media or on a blog or whatever.

Personal boundaries are important, while still feeding the audience. I think the best thing one can do is be honest when one needs a break. I know I don’t like to announce publicly when I’m going away (even when there’s a cat sitter living at the house), because I feel like I’m asking to be burgled.

At the same time, when we travel for appearances, conferences, etc., we have to get the word out there in order to bring in the audience, in order for the audience to meet us in person.

Which can be equally daunting.

I’m an introvert. There’s a reason I worked backstage rather than onstage. I don’t enjoy acting; I don’t enjoy being the center of attention.

The work is important. I like to be in the shadows.

But now, writers are supposed to be out there exposing everything even more than actors. I don’t agree with that. I don’t believe it enhances the work. It certainly can be exhausting for authors.

The flip side of that, is that I enjoy meeting people at conferences. I enjoy teaching workshops. I’m fine one-on-one. It’s the performance aspect I don’t like.

Which is why so many introverted writers are grateful for social media. We get to connect with our audience, we get to feed them, and we still get to stay in the shadows. We are both performer and our own stage manager, when we do it well.

I don’t like being forced into a spotlight. I don’t use author photographs or post selfies. That’s not my thing. I don’t like my workshops video taped or attendees to take photos and post. I don’t pose for photos at networking events. I know I was there. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. There’s no reason pictures of me need to be up on the Internet. It’s not about me. It’s about the work.

Keeping part of yourself back for only yourself, your art, your intimates in life isn’t “lying to the public” as is far too often the accusation. It’s an absolutely necessary measure of self-protection for the work and for the soul.

Everyone — writer or anyone else — needs to make their own choices about how much to share, how much to perform, how much to keep back. It is a personal choice, and not up for debate with the audience.

Audiences as an entity are fickle anyway. Individuals within the audience may become loyal, but the entity itself will always be chasing something new, something promoted as the “next big thing.”

Make your choices. Change them as you need to. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Client work this morning, then a few appointments this afternoon. I have to finish a book review and get that out. I have to write a good bit over the next few days.

The first batch of books for the contest has shipped, and will arrive in a few days.

I’ve also got to finalize some proposals that need to go out next week.

I should wait until Sunday to take down all the holiday decor (is it that time already?), but I’m going to start Saturday. I have a fancy dress party to attend on Sunday night, so I’d like to get as much done ahead of time as possible.

I’m signed up for a course on Human Rights in Open Societies out of the university in Utrecht, Netherlands. It starts in early February, and I’m looking forward to it.

Have a great weekend. I sort of feel like the year actually starts as of Monday.

Mon. March 26, 2018: Maximizing Efficiency Without Adding Stress #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, March 26, 2018
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

The solution to this is a fairly simple, three-pronged approach.

Prong 1: Break Away From the Myth of Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking gives the illusion of productivity. In reality, it means fracturing your attention over a wide range of tasks, none of which get your full talent and attention. Studies prove that it is unhealthy, which is the biggest reason to stop.

Yes, you have to juggle many things in your day. But when you focus on each one, or break it down into a step that you can do with complete attention before moving on, you will get more done and feel better about it.

Prong 2: Learn to Say “No.”
I talked about this in another post, back in January, about balance. Far too many people want you to perform at their convenience, on their schedule, further their agenda — with no positive result for you.

Learn to say “no” politely and pleasantly. Remember, you are not required to give a reason. If someone demands it, say, “Because I said no.” That’s the end of it.

It culls those who are trying to add their load to yours simply because they don’t want to pull their own weight.

Prong 3: Get Off Your Damn Phone
Who has to be on call all the time? First responders. Caregivers. The rest of us, with the rest of the distractions? We don’t have to be reachable all the time.

If you want to be productive, you need uninterrupted time to give a task your full attention (see Prong 1). Turn off your phone. Close the door. If you work in a bullpen-style set of cubicles and someone tries to interrupt, say “Not right now” (see Prong 2) or “Give me five minutes to finish this and you’ll have my full attention.”

The transition to the above three steps is stressful in the short term. People don’t like it when you set boundaries and hold them. But when you do so, you will garner more respect, be more efficient, and experience less stress.

Published in: on March 26, 2018 at 4:54 am  Comments Off on Mon. March 26, 2018: Maximizing Efficiency Without Adding Stress #UpbeatAuthors  
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Nano Prep: Oct. 31: Commitment

How badly do you want this?

That is a question each individual must ask and answer for him or herself.

There’s nothing wrong with writing on the side, or writing only because you enjoy it, not because you plan to make it your career. It’s simply a different approach.

If writing is to be your vocation as well as your passion, it must be a priority. There are no excuses, there is no such thing as “no time to write”. You re-shape your life and people in it with those who will support your work.

That doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with people who only pamper and praise you. Constructive criticism is important. Nor does it mean you get to be selfish and never consider the needs of anyone else in your life. But it means having people in your life who respect your needs and your boundaries.

If you want it badly enough, you make the changes in your life necessary to make it work.

If you don’t, take responsibility for that choice and act accordingly. Don’t blame others, and don’t use friends and family as an excuse because you don’t have the courage or commitment to go for it. Say, “This was fun, but only a hobby.” There’s nothing wrong with making that choice. It simply defines a different career trajectory.

You’re prepared — tomorrow, you begin.

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 5:00 am  Comments Off on Nano Prep: Oct. 31: Commitment  
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