Tues. April 27, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 339 — And the Retrogrades Begin

image courtesy of Kerbstone via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cool

The Retrogrades are starting, which worries me. I’d hoped to get the house hunting resolved before that happened, but no luck.

I had a good, solid writing weekend, which was necessary. I wrote an entire chapter on Sunday morning.

It took me all morning on Friday to complete the paperwork for the second category of the contest, but I did it and sent it off. I made good progress on the final category (I’d already completed about half the entries for this one, too). So I’m on track with that.

Saturday, I was up early, wrote, did laundry and housework. I’ve been craving fast food like crazy the past few weeks. I haven’t eaten beef for months, because it always made me sick. I haven’t ordered/eaten fast food in about two years. But I decided to go up to Burger King, which is about three miles from here, just off the Rt. 6 exit, and hit the drive through. I haven’t eaten from Burger King in at least 3-4 years, maybe longer. I ate at McDonald’s about two years ago, and was as sick as could be after.

But I risked it anyway. I had a Whopper, my mom had a bacon cheeseburger, we split an order of onion rings and an order of French fries, and had chocolate shakes.

I haven’t drunk cow’s milk in nearly a year, either, because it was making me sick.

Basically, I craved things that were bad for me, and I decided to take the risk.

Did the drive-through window – and realized that, in the 10 years we’ve lived here, it was the first time I’d done that. And yes, of course I wore my mask at the window, and the workers were all masked, too.

Got everything home, and we ate. And ate. It was good, hit the spot, filled the craving.

I didn’t feel as bad as I expected after, although I felt full and heavy. Everything was much saltier than when I cook, so I was thirsty as all get out, and drank a lot of tea and juice all afternoon.

Neither of us was hungry by dinner time, so we didn’t eat.

It was pretty nice outside, albeit a bit windy, so we took Willa and Charlotte out in their playpens. However, because that idiot a few streets over continues to run the woodchipper and chain saws all day every day from 7 AM to 9 PM, it was impossible to actually enjoy sitting outside. Or get much done inside, that required concentration. If you need to run a woodchipper that much, you’re either a serial killer or incompetent, and it shouldn’t be allowed.

I didn’t feel great at night, but at least I got some sleep. I felt okay Sunday morning, although it will probably be a few years before I do that again.

Baked biscuits for Sunday morning breakfast. It was rainy and raw.

I got some paperwork done, got out a few information requests on rentals, got out some LOIs. Got some writing done.

I felt pretty discouraged, all the way around.

Spent most of the day on contest entries.

Monday morning, I was up early and wrote, in spite of feeling resistance to it. Once I started, it was fine.

My mother had terrible nightmares. I realized she’d packed her dreamcatcher over the bed; I unpacked another one, hung it up, and she slept well last night.

I headed onsite to the client’s extra early, since the landlord said he and the septic people would be over to go over the plan for the replacement, which starts next week. I got everything done that needed to be done onsite in a jiffy, dropped things off at the post office, got back to the house – and they never showed up and never contacted me. Frustrating.

Got some more packing done, although I’m behind where I wanted to be at this point. I need to pack faster, purge more, and get stuff up on craigslist this week.

But I did the rest of the work I needed to do for the client remotely, so it worked out. I got out a stack of LOIs. I heard back from a couple of rentals – two very nice, one in particular is a house that might work, although it’s small. The other is bigger, but means moving back to NY State, just outside of Syracuse, to a town that has a rather high crime rate. The cost of the move itself might put it out of reach, although the space is terrific, with a garage and a deck. There was one rental, though, for a loft – they want copies of birth certificates for every member of the household. How is that even legal?

I complained to the AG’s office, and I’m having a conversation with my state senator about it. That is wrong. It also opens the door to identity theft. A landlord does not have the right to birth certificates.  That opens the door to all kinds of discrimination and identity theft.

A recruiter wanted to talk to me about an LOI I’d sent. But the “application” demanded dates of high school and college graduation, which is a workaround on the age discrimination laws, so I called him out on it and refused. I got a very nice apology from him, and that he’s taken up the issue with IT to fix it, and asked to have a conversation anyway, so I agreed to have a short one this morning.

Will probably talk to the property manager for the small house this afternoon.

Put together a LOI package for a potential local client who used to work in theatre, and was email introduced by a mutual friend. So we’ll see if that’s something we can work out. I’m always leery of local clients, because they never want to pay, but she’s a washashore and from professional theatre, and understands that work is paid.

Decent first writing session this morning, although it was hard to get started. Will do some client work, get out some more LOIs, have the talk with the recruiter. I expect it will be a waste of time. I haven’t spoken to a single recruiter in the past ten years that wasn’t a complete and utter waste of my time and energy. My experience is that they don’t actually give a damn about any potential employees. They just want names on their sheet to meet quotas. However, this guy responded and claimed he was dealing with a problem, so I feel like I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

The retrogrades have me even more on edge than I already was. I’m ready to fall off the edge.

Deep breath. Keep going. Because there’s no other choice.

By the way, my first choice for the Kentucky Derby this weekend is Midnight Bourbon. I love him. I love his personality. I still have to do some more research on the rest of the field. I think all the horses are more relaxed and have progressed better without fans in the stands.

Published in: on April 27, 2021 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 27, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 339 — And the Retrogrades Begin  
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Thurs. April 25, 2019: Evolution of the Writing Process & Internet Bullying

Thursday, April 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That pressure you’re feeling? Jupiter AND Pluto are retrograde. Saturn joins them on Monday. Yuck.

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for the latest post on the garden.

Was with a client most of yesterday. Somehow, when I woke up I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday; even once I realized it, I had trouble getting into the Wednesday head space to work with the client.

Home and worked in the garden for about an hour. There’s still a lot to do, but I just have to do it one piece at a time. Eventually, it will all get done.

Worked on contest entries.

I’m playing with a new idea for a series of novellas. I want to mix genres. I want them to be short. The characters are clear; the world is taking shape. I have the beginnings of a plot, which I’ll have to explore further. I don’t want them to run longer than 25-30K, so the plot has to be precise, and a minimum of sub-plots, even though I want a couple of them to run the course of the series.

I’m not sure WHEN I can fit in the writing of them, so I have something worthwhile to show my editor. I have deadlines to meet, and re-adjusted deadlines to meet.

But it’s fun to play with the ideas.

It’s so important for process to evolve. My process is constantly evolving. I learn from each project. I work on both art and craft. Some of them wind up not working at all, and that’s okay. Disappointing, but even what doesn’t work gets me somewhere else, and gives me valuable experience.

I’ve written books as a blank-pager, not using an outline. (I don’t use the term “pantser” — to me, it sounds like an STD). While it was sometimes fun and often frustrating to figure it out as I wrote, ultimately, I had to evolve away from that. It also needed a lot more drafts to get it into the shape where I could even ask a Trusted Reader to look at it.

This is my profession, not my hobby. This is how I keep a roof over my head and food on the table. I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block or not knowing what comes next when I sit down at the page. I need to be able to drop immediately into the world of whatever I’m working on and move forward.

I’m juggling several series, along with other projects. Some are novels; some are radio plays; some are stage plays; some are articles or other writing I do for clients. I don’t have the option of telling a client I “didn’t have time” to do their project.

Outlining has helped me. I sit down and plot out the book. I free write the characters’ stories. Then I go back and work on plot points and scenes. Then I arrange and rearrange them as I best think it will serve that particular book.

I don’t like working on index cards. For scripts, especially television scripts, that’s the protocol, and if I’m working as part of a staff, or with a partner, yes, we use index cards. But I’m happier with paper and pen. My outlines are more like treatments.

This is NOT the outline I’d send with a query. Even the outlines I send my editors for series in progress are honed from these outlines, but are NOT these outlines. I call these outlines my “Writer’s Rough Outline.”

I type a copy and keep my original handwritten copy. I usually work from the handwritten (if I can read it — sometimes it’s too scrawled). The creative energy that went into the handwritten copy often serves me better than a cold, typed version.

As I complete each section of the outline, I check it off.

I adjust along the way, as the story and characters dictate and evolve.

My outline is a roadmap, not a prison. I often go in very different directions. That’s okay.

The first draft is often lean and skeletal. I don’t want to lose momentum. I want to get through it.

I like to put each draft away. The most important rest time is between the first draft and the second. Ideally, it’s two months. The reality is often far less, but I always try for at least two weeks.

I have to be able to look at it objectively, as though someone else wrote it.

Then I do as many drafts as it takes, including my multi-colored draft (where I go through with different colored markers highlighting adverbs, passive or past perfect, and qualifiers. Then I take them out and look for better ways to express what I want to say. If that word IS the best way, I negotiate with myself to put it back in).

The second draft is usually where I overwrite and follow tangents and develop ideas. The third draft if usually a combination of multi-colored draft and massive cuts.

Trusted readers usually get a third or fourth draft. I usually have at least one, sometimes two drafts after my readers see it before I consider it submission-ready. An un-contracted manuscript can take several years until it’s ready for submission.

The books on series contract have fewer drafts, since my contracted editor is in earlier in the process. Plus, the schedule is tighter.

There are always more ideas than hours in the day to write them. (I distrust those who say they “don’t have anything to write about” the same way I distrust people who get bored. Writers always have too much to write about). I recently started a notebook I call the “Whatever” notebook. I’ve had variations on this throughout the years, usually called “Fragments.”

I date every entry. I find the date provides a context for the inspiration, and sometimes it helps to go back to other elements of the day.

In it, I write whatever I want. A snippet of dialogue, an observation, ideas as characters and situations come to me. If I’m somewhere between meetings or in a waiting room or just want to get away and clear my head, I take the Whatever notebook and free write. Write about whatever’s on my mind, a combination of inspiration, what if, development, and brain dump.

It’s along the lines of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Practice and Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, although they happen at any time in the day, and at any place.

Morning pages work for lots of people, but not fore me. Morning is my most creative time. If I do morning pages, then I’ve used up that creative energy that should have gone into whatever is my Primary Project (the manuscript in which I write my first 1K of the day every morning). I think they’re great if they work. The concept is terrific, and it gets the person writing every day. But I need my first writing of the day to be about the work, not about me.

I’ve also started reading a few pages in one of my favorite writing books in the morning, before I start writing. Morning routine is: make coffee, feed the cats, check email/social media (sometimes I respond, while the coffee is brewing; sometimes I make a note to respond later), first cup of coffee, yoga, meditation, shower/dress, first 1K of the day.

When the weather is nice, I have my first cup of coffee out on the deck. When it’s not, I have it in my writing room. Now, I’m reading a few pages in one of my favorite books about writing (I have shelves of them, and some of them I re-read regularly as fuel).

Any other kind of book siphons energy away from my own work; in other words, I don’t read fiction first thing, or it derails my first 1K. But reading about writing and process helps. Usually it’s only 2-3 pages. But it starts building the desire.

Once I’ve written my first 1K of the day, I have breakfast. Check email, plan the day. If I can, I get a little more writing done. If it’s a day where I’m headed off to work with a client, I do it. Otherwise, I might write at home for a bit, and then head to the library for a few hours. There, I can research and put together pitches, or just sit in a corner and write. I answer emails, I send out LOIs or pitches. It’s easier for me to do that away from the writing room.

I prefer to write in the morning and edit in the afternoon. That’s flexible, depending on deadlines.

Again, weather dictates when I can work in the yard, so sometimes I have to push an editing session or add an extra writing session into the evening, when necessary.

I still go out with friends. I still spend time with family. But they can’t sabotage the writing. Anyone who sabotages the writing is removed from my life. This is my profession as well as my passion. I am the breadwinner. Writing is a priority, and those who don’t understand that, who don’t respect that, reveal a far deeper problem than time or writing. They reveal that they don’t understand or respect ME. Why would I have people in my life who don’t respect me?

That carries over to the endless bullying on the Internet. The last few days, I have received demands to stop talking about politics because the follower “only” wants writing information; to stop talking about writing because the follower “only” wants politics; to block people that person didn’t like or they would block me; if I’m even willing to listen to a different point of view, they’ll block me; if I don’t like the same thing they do, they’ll block me; they pick the “hill they want to die on” for something meaningless to most of the rest of us and demand fealty; that they’ll block anything that is retweeted without comment — really? If it’s well said, adding anything is only ego on my part; that I have to “prove” I’m a “real person” and they get to define “real” and that I “must” use pronouns in my bio– um, no. I get to decide what I share publicly and how to share it; to stop forwarding information on animals in kill shelters whose lives can be saved through adoption, fostering, and sponsorship.

All these people can go to hell, as far as I’m concerned. They don’t get to tell me what to post about, what to write about, how to live, what parts of myself I choose to share with the world.

I’m tired of people who claim they support inclusion and tolerance and are fighting for what’s right then tell me what I can and can’t say or do or think — as much as those we’re fighting dictate to us. Especially if it’s someone I’ve never met and only know for a few days on a social media platform.

Are you paying me to write something specific? No? Then you don’t have a say in what I write. YOUR right is not to buy it. Or read it. But not to tell me I can’t or shouldn’t write it.

None of these people matter in my life. I quietly unfollow or block plenty of people every week. We’re just not compatible. I don’t have to threaten them or fight with them. I either scroll past (because we are all more than one thing, and that’s beautiful) or, if it truly is something I don’t want in my life in the long term, I unfollow or block, as appropriate. I don’t have to make a big deal out of it. I’m a random person on plenty of people’s feeds, as they are on mine. We can peacefully co-exist, in most instances, without bullying each other. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to write posts that incite violence or demean people — yes, those should be called out. But if someone is happy about a show or a flavor of ice cream or whatever? Why be mean? If something matters to someone and they want to share a post to try and help? Why do YOU have the right to say THEY don’t have the right to care or to share it?

You don’t.

Also, I am not required to follow everyone who follows me, nor is everyone I follow required to follow me. There are certain red flag words in posts or bios that mean I won’t follow back. It doesn’t mean that person is expected to change; it’s just not something I want in my life. Eventually, they will probably unfollow me anyway.

And we don’t miss each other, because we never really knew each other.

Yes, social media is a marketing tool for my work. But that’s only part of the reason I’m on it. I’m on it to learn from people who know and are interested in different things than I am. I am on it for conversation and information and laughter. I don’t have to like, or even agree, with every post from every person that shows up on my feed.

Have I made poor choices, either in comments or in sharing? Of course. But I’m getting more aware of it, and am thinking twice before doing either. I am well aware how flawed I am, and I work on it. But I don’t bow to bullies, even in elementary school.

I’m happy with the way GRAVE REACH is going, and hope to get in at least one more writing session on it today. I have to make a grocery run, go to the library, take my mother to a doctor’s appointment, get some yard work in.

I also have to go over Saturday’s presentation one more time, and re-check the packing and all the stuff I’m bringing for the presentation. I have a rolling rack full of fun stuff. I leave for the conference tomorrow. I present late on Saturday. I know I’m prepared, but I always like to make sure.

I could teach a semester-long course on this. I have 50 minutes. I hope I picked the right 50 minutes of material!

Back to the page. And the yard.