Wed. July 10, 2019: Daily Pages Add Up

Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

 

 

There are plenty of things that are worrying me and infuriating me on several fronts. However, I am grateful for some of the small, but important pleasures.

One of the biggest of those is my first writing session of the morning out on the deck. I take my coffee, Tessa usually comes with me, and I write my first 1K or so outside, enjoying the yard.

It’s not always 1K on this particular project. Sometimes it’s only 500 words. Sometimes it’s more than 1K. But it’s in longhand, in a series of notebooks, and it’s uncontracted and not on deadline.

Which is one reason I’m having such fun with it. There’s no pressure. I can just let it rip.

I recently started my second notebook on this project. The first notebook contains the first 10 chapters, a little over 130 pages, approximately 1/3 of the book for this first draft. I love seeing the tangible evidence of these past few months’ work.

I’ve done some research for this book, but as I continue, I keep finding more things I’ll have to look up, and I’m using more placeholders than usual to keep the momentum. I’ll regret that when I hit the next draft, but it’s working for me in this first one.

After my yoga/meditation and my shower, I go to the computer, and I work on the next book that’s contracted. I do at least 1K, although at this point, it’s more like 1.5K, and with a deadline looming, I have to up my game to closer to 2.5K a day. That’s the reality of deadlines. But the steady, daily work, even on days I don’t feel like showing up to the page, builds momentum, keeps me in the world of the book, and makes this book better than the previous books in the series (which is my goal).

I print out my pages every day, both because I’m paranoid about losing work (even backed up work has been corrupted) and because it’s easier for me to edit on the page still. It’s easier for me to make the tracking sheets I need and the notes I need for the Series Bible when I can physically flip between the pages.

I print material on 3-hole punch paper and keep each draft in a 3-ring binder. I do refer back and forth between different drafts in the editing process, especially when my editor and/or copyeditor find discrepancies. Or when I cut characters or subplots, and decide to re-introduce them in other books, where they fit better, further down the line in the series. I use the final galleys to update the Series Bible.

(If you want more information on how I create and maintain a Series Bible, I have a workbook available, based on my workshops).

Again, I have (and need) the tangible evidence of the pages adding up.

While this contracted novel is with my editor, a few weeks down the line, I’ll switch to the next book in the next series that has to be torn apart and rewritten, because the last few drafts I wrote haven’t hit the mark. It has to get fixed and get in the publication queue — we already pushed back the dates for it, and for another book, and now we’re playing catch-up. But I’d rather push the release date back a reasonable amount of time than release a bad book.

At the same time, in the evenings, I’m playing with pieces inspired by #31Prompts.

Again, there’s not pressure on these pieces. They’re not contracted. They’re taking all kinds of different formats. I’m stretching and having fun.

By the end of the month, I have to write a short radio play set on Brighton Pier in the 1920s, and I have to start writing the play about Canaletto’s sisters, which is due in NYC by the end of the year.

Showing up at the page every day for whatever project I’m working on is vital to me. I can’t write in spurts and then go away for stretches. I lose the innate rhythm, the heartbeat of the piece.

I need to see it through.

I need the dailiness of the writing. It keeps the rest of my day in perspective, and makes me feel better and clearer about the entire day.

I change my writing process every few months. I make adjustments as to the where and when I write.

But I show up.

What is your process?

Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Wed. July 3, 2019: So Ready For The Weekend!

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(image by Tam66 courtesy of Pixabay)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

I am so ready for a long holiday weekend. Because we are a “destination” here, it’s been a nightmare to get anywhere all week.

I’m heading to the grocery store at 8 AM for a few things before I meet with my client.

Yesterday was fine. Invoiced two clients; got paid by one, and the other will pay me by the end of the week. Was onsite with a client and got a lot of stuff done. Did some remote work for another client.

I wasn’t going to send out any LOIs this week, but I saw an opportunity and didn’t want to miss it. Either it will work or it won’t.

Work on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH is going well. I’m also having a lot of fun with #31Prompts. I hope you’ll check it out and join in.

I don’t plan to blog until until Monday, when I’ll have another Upbeat Authors post.

I do, however, plan to write all weekend.

I’m avoiding the Occupant’s Authoritarian Debacle tomorrow and keeping things low key here.

Have a great weekend!

Published in: on July 3, 2019 at 5:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tues. July 2, 2019: Slow Recovery, Healing Arts

Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I finally started feeling like I’d turned the corner and was getting better.

I ran errands on Friday, which was tough. Got a few work-related things done.

Went home and tried to feel better. Which didn’t work.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, one of the errands was getting the newest books by Juliet Blackwell, Barbara Ross, and Jenn McKinlay. I started reading Juliet’s BEWITCHED AND BETROTHED. Lily Ivory is one of my favorite series protagonists.

A space opened up in the sound bath at the yoga studio that night, and I decided to go. Because I’m so hyper sensitive to sound, this type of experience is often very healing (my acupuncturist in NY used tuning forks on me, because I was so sensitive to specific sounds and responded so well).

Arrived, got myself set up. It takes about 15-20 minutes to set up one’s “nest” as the instructor calls it, to make sure we’re comfortable for the 90 minutes. I was just all settled when this woman stomped in and demanded that I move. Um, no. Huge breach of protocol. She wanted that spot? She should have arrived earlier. So she huffed and puffed and flung her belongings around setting up. I put my eye pillow on and ignored her. As much as she wanted to make the entire evening about her and intrude/punish me because I didn’t do what she wanted — no game, honey. I’m from NY. You’re amateur hour.

Once it started, I settled in, set a healing intent, and worked on bending the various sounds to where I thought they’d have the most healing effect. It’s difficult to articulate, because it’s such an experiential thing, and because most people have a very different relationship to sound than I do.

By the end of the session, I was not only pain free, I was ravenously hungry.

I cleaned up my spot, thanked the instructor, and went home. I made a salmon banh mí for a late dinner and sucked it right down. It even stayed.

Stayed up to finish Juliet’s book, which left me wondering if this is where the series ends. I’ll always want more Lily, but if this is the last book in the series, it’s also a satisfying last book.

Slept well, slept in on Saturday. Woke up feeling more like myself for the first time since I got sick. Still have a long way to go, but getting there.

Unfortunately, the illness triggered several other issues, kind of a domino effect, and I’m dealing with them one at a time. But I’m isolating and then solving each as I can.

I also haven’t had alcohol since I got sick. I miss the idea of it more than I miss the actual drinks.

Did a little bit of work on ELLA BY THE BAY in the morning. I need to catch up on typing the chapters I’ve written in longhand. I’m about 135 pages/one-third of the way through the book, and only the first two chapters are typed. I’m losing track of certain details, which makes it harder to move forward. I need to catch up, print out, and start tracking sheets, or I’ll be in a mess.

I also have to sit down and draw the map of this fictional Caribbean island. And do some renderings of the protagonist’s house and garden. You know me. Setting is an additional character.

Kept down breakfast (big win).

Read Barbara Ross’s JANE DARROWFIELD, PROFESSIONAL BUSYBODY, the first book in her new series. It’s lovely and charming. I think this will be a fun series. I’m already a fan of her Maine Clambake series.

In the afternoon, I did transplanting and planting (it was a planting day, according to the agricultural calendar). I transplanted all the rest of the tomatoes — I had four more kinds of tomatoes to transplant. I have a total of 7 varieties, over 100 plants. I might have been a little overzealous this year.

I also planted bush beans, peas, snow peas, zucchini, cucumber, zinnia, honesty, and milkweed. Yes, it’s late, but it’s been cold. Fingers crossed everything comes up.

The lettuce is thriving. The eggplants and peppers are doing well. So, we’ll see.

Then, I read Jenn McKinlay’s DYING FOR DEVIL’S FOOD, which was really fun, too. This series inspired me to create the Stained Glass Cupcakes I made for the holiday baking last year.

Slept well again, although a test of something that might cause a problem — well, it is. I was cautious, so it’s not a major setback, and now I know something else to avoid.

Worked on ELLA, caught up with a Twitter pal, took pictures in the yard. The pale pink roses are in full bloom, and the scent wafts up into my room, which is lovely.

Got some decent work done on GRAVE REACH.

Worked on the book I’m reading for review, a truly splendid book of poetry.

Still run out of energy too quickly.

Spent most of Sunday out on the deck, reading and writing. It was nice.

Up early on Monday. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. I’ve started the second notebook of ELLA — starting with Chapter 11. I’m just over a third of the way into the book now. This draft needs a lot of rearranging and certain bits need more research, but the bones are good, and I like the characters.

I’ve started something for July called #31Prompts. For the month of July, I’m going to post, on Twitter, a different prompt that can be used as a jumping off point for prose, poetry, song, dance, visual art or anything else. I’m setting up another page on this blog and will upload the prompts every few days. But I’ll post each day’s on Twitter. I hope people enjoy it.

Spent time with a client, a session that was both fun and productive. Got some other work done. Went to meditation.

Up early this morning. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. Will be with a client today and tomorrow, then I’m taking the long holiday weekend to rest and fully recuperate. And, hopefully, to get a lot of writing done!

Tues. June 25, 2019: Weird Weather & Rest

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde

June is such a short month, but, for some reason, this year, it feels long.

Basically, I took the weekend off. I needed to, or else I would be ill, on multiple levels, and not be able to function.

The Solstice as good, although it rained all day and into the night. But it was still possible to honor the hours of daylight, and realize that now it starts to turn.

Saturday dawned clear and beautiful. I got some errands done in the morning. I ran some books down to the library in the late morning, which was a mistake, because the Congregational Church next door was having a tag sale, and there was no place to park. I had to park in the lower lot by the ice cream shop and walk several dozen steep steps back up the hill to the door. But it worked out.

I wrote a little bit, but my neighbor across the street was busy making noise and cutting down two perfectly healthy trees (again). All he ever does is destroy. And the noise was awful. For someone who suffers from hyperaccusis, like I do, it nearly killed me (literally).

I spent as much time on the deck as I could, mostly reading. I read Ellery Adams’s THE WHISPERED WORD, which was quite lovely. I read a book by someone who is a mild acquaintance. I wanted to support the work. Unfortunately, there were a lot of copyediting errors and misused words, and there were some major logistical lapses that took me out of the story. I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s CITY OF GIRLS, which I thought was well done. I had mixed feelings about it at several points in the story, but I wound up liking it.

I had an idea for a novel, which grew out of my frustration at someone’s hypocrisy. This individual has positioned herself as almost a cult-like figure, and pretends modesty when, in actuality, there is a lot of manipulation and she craves attention. Her work is good; I just don’t like or respect her as a person. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with her, so it’s none of my damn business.

But it got me thinking. What if? What if? What if? What if she used that manipulation and glory to commit a crime and blame someone she felt wasn’t giving her the attention she desired? I wrote a rough outline. There are still questions to answer, but I have the bones of it, and it’s rather interesting. The character has evolved quite far from the individual who inspired it, which is a good thing and means I’m doing my job as a writer. It’s something I want to explore.

I don’t know when, but it’s something I want to explore.

Not much work on ELLA. I’m at the point where I need to make a final decision on certain key place names and draw a map of this fictional Caribbean island.

I meant to work on the Brighton Pier research so I could start that radio play this week, but I didn’t. The big book has to go back at the end of this week, so I better get to it.

Worked out some obstacles in GRAVE REACH, so hopefully, I can get back on track with that, and get to work on THE BARD’S LAMENT (Sylvie’s book, #5).

My next book arrived for review, a book of poetry, and it’s quite wonderful.

We had weird weather on Saturday. Thunderstorms. It would rain in the backyard, but be clear at the front of the house. Very odd.

Sunday was a pretty day, albeit a bit humid. It was quiet, thank goodness. I got some writing done. Not enough, but I decided I needed the rest more.

Managed to get the garbage to the dump, though. Always a good feeling to get that out.

Read Val McDermid’s BROKEN GROUND, which was excellent. I really enjoy her work.

Started reading another book on the Kindle I’d recently downloaded, from another acquaintance. It was fun, and upbeat, but the Kindle ran out of juice, so I have to finish it another day.

The grass is growing — definitely ready for the guy to mow it this week.

Treated the deck with the tick repellent on Sunday, so it could really soak in and not get washed away by the rain.

Che Guevara Chipmunk was on the rampage on Sunday, complaining about everything. We have three bunnies now in the yard. I keep patches of dandelion and purslane that they like, and they leave the lettuce alone. They rest and enjoy the twilight at night, knowing they are safe here. It’s fun to watch them.

Monday, they were next door, making noise again with heavy machinery. As if last week’s septic tank replacement wasn’t enough. They destroyed the beautiful garden that my neighbor worked on for years. Now they’re dumping a bunch of dirt back on it.

With a client Monday, then off to do work for another client, get out some LOIs, get some writing done, and meditation. Today, I’m onsite with one client, then off to work with another client. I was invited to a wine event tonight, but I’m just not up for it. I’m really tired of networking events where 60% of the attendees are solopreneurs trying to sell supplements. They don’t want to pay anyone for the marketing materials they need — they want to provide supplements instead.

Yeah, no. Eversource, National Grid, and the landlord want cash. Not pills.

And I don’t trust anyone who hawks something I’m supposed to take every day for the rest of my life.

Let’s hope this is a strong writing week. I’m in limbo on a couple of projects, and wish we’d get them sorted, so I can plan the next few months.

Back to the page.

Wed. June 5, 2019: Trying to Balance Irritation and Action

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

Exhausted.

Ink-Dipped Advice has a post on trade-offs today.

Irritated because someone has been bitching at me about money, about how much certain things cost. But I’m doing the numbers, and it’s not adding up. I don’t want to hear it any more.

I had an epiphany, and, while it’s not appropriate for me to go into public detail, a few things are going to change soon, paving the way for bigger changes in a few months.

I’m also sick and tired of these nasty, filthy tourists who come on Cape Cod supposedly to “enjoy” the natural beauty, and then do everything in their power to destroy it. Leaving their trash everywhere, being rude to people. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is talking about doubling the size of both bridges. How are they going to feed that extra traffic into the narrow roads? We can’t fit the people that are here now.

But again, everything is being sold off to corporations not located on Cape Cod, so all they care about is short-term profit.

Thank goodness for Monday’s meditation group.

The writing is not going well, because I have so much other stuff to sort out, and that always sends me into a downward spiral.

I need to come up with something pithy for the radio play set on Brighton Pier. I’m not feeling very witty right now, though. But I think I can have a lot of fun with the premise. Carousel sounds and carnival barkers and fortune tellers and the rest.

I need to get out of this negative headspace. I also need to push back against those who are demanding that I live my life to their rules, when my life has little to nothing to do with theirs.

What I need, most desperately, is some time off.

Which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

With a client today, for most of the day, and then, possibly, with another client.

Onward.

Published in: on June 5, 2019 at 6:05 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 5, 2019: Trying to Balance Irritation and Action  
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Tues. June 4, 2019: Trying to Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

It’s been a difficult few weeks. There’s plenty I can’t talk about right now in a public venue.

The additional pressure has certainly slowed down the writing. That’s negative not only because it puts a dent in earnings — which I can’t have right now — but also because when I don’t write enough each day, it throws my day out of balance. I have deadlines looming, and even though I’m working as hard as I can, I don’t know what to do.

The red flags just keep coming with that potential client out of Boston. They made demands; I met them; now I’ve heard nothing. Not even common courtesy. Yet I’m sure, should they want to take the next step, that they will, once again, expect me to drop everything the second they snap their fingers. Not happening. IF and WHEN they are paying me for my time and my skills, that’s when they get to make such demands. Otherwise, they have to negotiate. Current clients take priority over maybe someday clients.

On a happy note, I heard from Radio Theatre Project that they like “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and want to take a look at the play set on Brighton Pier for their October slot. Of course, I have to write the play set on Brighton Pier — but at least I managed to dig up one research book, out of the Boston library.

Saturday, I ran errands. Tried to get the house back to rights after all the rearranging for the fridge switch out. Cut back and dug out one of the front beds in the yard, and moved some hostas.

I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and discouraged.

Was up, as usual, half the night fretting Saturday night into Sunday. Got some work done on ELLA both days. Not enough on GRAVE REACH. Got the first chapter of ELLA into the computer (which means I’m working on the first and second drafts together of that book).

Did four loads of laundry on Sunday. It kept threatening to rain; I wasn’t sure if I should try to get something done in the yard, but it being Sunday, I wanted to make sure it was something quiet. I managed to get the fertilizer down on the terraced back area.

Started reading Amanda Flower‘s Magical Bookshop mysteries, which are quite good.

A former client contacted me, wondering if we could get together this week so I could write a press release. Hopefully, we can work out the day and time. I like working with them, and it would be fun to do something again.

Was onsite with a client yesterday, and will be today and tomorrow. More pitches and LOIs going out this week.

There was a great piece by a job search advocate (who even knew those existed?) about how badly so-called “human services” professionals treat the people they interview — things like not respecting the interviewee’s time, asking questions that don’t matter to the job, not giving enough or correct information about the job, and not giving a final answer, even if it’s a rejection. Totally agree. It’s not true that there aren’t enough qualified candidates for the jobs — it’s that the people doing the interviews aren’t finding the right matches. It’s especially true when everything is done online and the application is only sent through an algorithm. Especially for a job that requires creativity, the best candidate cannot fit into the boxes. The whole point of finding the right creative fit is someone who DOESN’T fit into boxes, not someone who lies to make it seem like a good fit.

Trying to break out of this loop of self-defeating, negative interior monologue telling me I’m worthless and useless and untalented and a failure. Intellectually, I know it’s not true, but emotionally, that’s what I feel, and I’m frustrated and disheartened and feel stuck, and like I can’t break the cycle. I have to, and I have to do it quickly, but I don’t know how.

It doesn’t help that the economy is about to crash, either, thanks to the Narcissistic Sociopath Grifter and his enablers.

I am desperate for a break of a few days with NO demands on me, and I don’t know when that will happen.

In the meantime, I’m dealing with whatever’s in front of me in the moment. Which isn’t a good solution, but it’s all I’ve got for the moment.

Published in: on June 4, 2019 at 5:28 am  Comments Off on Tues. June 4, 2019: Trying to Put One Foot in Front of the Other  
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Fri. May 31, 2019: Discouraging Few Days

Friday, May 31, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Going through a rough stretch. Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Didn’t post to the garden blog, either, and won’t be able to until next week. Considering how much work I’ve done in the garden, with so little return – oh, well. GDR wrap-up isn’t up, either; I’ll do it early next week, although I’m going to be so discouraged, I hate even the thought of making the list.

Wednesday night, the refrigerator died. Called the landlord, dashed to K-Mart to buy a set of nested super coolers. Down to the corner store to buy ice. Unloaded the fridge and freezer and packed up everything, setting it out on the deck. We had a cool night, which helped.

Cleaned out the kitchen yesterday, making room for the fridge move. The landlord came by to look at the downed tree limb and the leaning tree, and will get someone in to take care of them. He also noted everything that wasn’t done, and it turns out that one of my favorite shrubs is something that is basically a weed and shouldn’t be there.

So I feel like a complete failure.

At the same time, even though I’m a freelancer, I put in at least a 60 hour week. I’m not a retired Cape Codder, like so many others who spend eight hours a day in the yard, nor can I afford a landscape service to come in. The place hardly looks like a vacant lot. Plus, I LIKE it to look a little wild, a little like an enchanted cottage. I WANT it to have all the elements that the National Wildlife Federation list as necessary for a habitat.

This is why I need to buy. So that I can do whatever I damn well please in my own house and yard.

But I really like and respect my landlord, and hate feeling like I let him down.

They were an hour late with the new fridge, which is a spare my landlord had, but it’s really nice. It’s a little smaller, but the way the space is arranged, we have more room. It was nice to organize things a little differently.

I AM the queen of condiments. Wow. I didn’t realize I had so much. Even though I use them.

We lost some things, and some of what we lost would have been tossed in the semi-annual fridge cleanout anyway. So, it wasn’t bad.

The cats kept staring at the new fridge as though they expect it to expel tuna treats any minute. It’s pretty funny.

I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged last night, not to mention in pain. I gave in and took a Tylenol PM so that maybe, MAYBE, I’d sleep through the night for once. I woke up around 12:30, but managed to get back to sleep. Then, I felt like crap when I woke up, and still feel like crap. I’ve already had two crying jags, and it’s not even noon.

Went out to pick up some necessary stuff at Kmart again this morning – cleaning supplies, etc. Getting some work done, and then I have to make a run to the garden store to get fertilizer in.

It’s sunny, so I have to work in the yard. I still need to put back the stuff we took out of the kitchen. I still have writing to do, and LOIs to get out. I need rest, I need a break so badly, and I can’t take the time for it. But not taking the time for it means I’ll just feel worse. So I’m screwed no matter what I do.

Which really sums up the entire month of May.

Hope your May was better than mine, and have a great weekend.

Published in: on May 31, 2019 at 9:15 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 31, 2019: Discouraging Few Days  
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Wed. May 29, 2019: Project Juggles

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cool

Not sure at what point this is going up today; if it’s late, I apologize.

Worn out.

Yesterday, I was up early, getting some work done before I had to drop off my car at the shop at 7:30 in the morning. I spent most of the day with a client, working on an event that’s coming up in about three weeks.

The mechanic kept calling and calling and calling while I was in the middle of something that involved other people and couldn’t be interrupted. I was terrified that they’d found something else wrong and I’d be screwed. Plus, they know they’re supposed to text me or email me, not call. I finally got a message — the car was ready earlier than expected!

Once the adrenalin rush dropped, I was toast for the day. I struggled through the rest of the day. They picked me up at the end of my day, I picked up the car. I have to go back later in the week to get a new hubcap they ordered. Thanks to the tariffs, the hubcap has now DOUBLED in price.

Should have stopped at the store, but I was too wiped out.

But I managed to get one of my articles out to the editor, and chased down payment for the radio theatre who still hadn’t paid me — the latter even showed up in PayPal the same day, which was nice. I heard from my editor at Llewellyn. She liked one of my ideas and wants to contract it for 2021. So that’s good news!

Information on an interesting new-to-me company looking for a remote writer landed on my desk, and I’m going to send them an LOI. I like their tone and the philosophy they claim to practice. I’d like to know more about them.

Worked on some ad copy for the “assessment.” I’m doing what I think best serves the work, instead of trying to second-guess what they want to hear. Either they like it or they don’t. I’m happy with what I’ve done on it. Off it goes.

Most of today will be spent on-site with a client, then I have to swing by Trader Joe’s to get some basics. I’ll know by noon whether or not I’m going in to Boston tomorrow or Friday for a meeting with a potential client. I’m sure they will contact me at the end of the day or tomorrow, expecting me to drop everything and rush up there, and then it will be a no-go. The lack of respect for my time and that I put the clients with whom I already have commitments ahead of those who are simply trying to jerk my chain sends up red flags for me.

We’ll see. I read an interesting article on negotiating offers yesterday, which gave me good points to consider.

I need to do a polish on the play, so it can go out tomorrow or Friday (Friday is the last day of the submission period).

I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped with the car repair. I will post information via an update on what information I need, in order to send out the books.

Onward.

Published in: on May 29, 2019 at 8:54 am  Comments Off on Wed. May 29, 2019: Project Juggles  
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Fri. May 17, 2019: Inspiration & Focus

Friday, May 17, 2019
First day of Full Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

For some reason, yesterday seems far away.

I got some work done at the library. Sent out notes to the person who organized the panel and my fellow panelists, thanking them for including me. Worked on articles.

My brain needed a break in the afternoon. I did a little bit of trimming and pruning in the yard, but, most of the day, I just read.

SHELL GAME, by Sara Paretsky, is one of the best books I’ve read lately. A social justice mystery, she reminds us how to seamlessly integrate what’s happening in the world with a heart-pounding mystery around great characters. I’ve always liked her work, but this is probably my favorite of all the books.

Doing some research on a couple of different projects. Working on articles, working on pitches. My main focus this weekend will be GRAVE REACH, the new play, and polishing “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” so it can go out next week. If the weather is decent, I’ll do more yard work.

Yoga was good yesterday; I’m glad I went.

Next week will be stressful on several fronts. I’m hoping a strong, productive writing weekend will counteract some of the stress.

The Go Fund Me is still on for a few more days; I’m hoping next stage car repair can happen next week.

Ran some errands, got out some pitches. I’m ready for a nap.

But first, I write.

Published in: on May 17, 2019 at 9:38 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 17, 2019: Inspiration & Focus  
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Thursday, May 9, 2019: Phases of Stress

Thursday, May 09, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cool

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

Well, I just feel beat up six ways from Sunday.

If you get a chance, I’d appreciate if you could share my Go Fund Me link for the car repair.

With no car, and public transportation less than wonderful in this area, I switched around my day on site with a client. I’ll go in tomorrow instead. I walked down to the library (only about a mile and a third); it was a pleasant day, I didn’t mind.

Got some work done there. One of the volunteers was kind enough to drive me home when she left (and it meant I could take home the heavy books that came in).

I brought out some of the big pots onto the deck and did some pruning. I should have done more, but I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.

Got a pitch out to a high-paying consumer magazine. Got out a couple of other pitches and LOIs.

Trying not to let the stress of the situation incapacitate me, because that won’t solve anything.

Cooked a lovely dinner of chicken in garlic and wine, served with mashed potatoes and spinach. A friend gave me an amazing bottle of Blood Orange Rose – one of the best wines I’ve ever drunk.

Up early this morning. Got some good work in on ELLA BY THE BAY, and will put in some work on GRAVE REACH later today.

The driver was over an hour late to pick me up, but I got there. Phase One of the car repair is done. I can drive it short distances, but I have to be careful on construction, bad roads, etc., until Phase Two is done. Then, there will be Phase Three and Four, but at least we’ve broken up the repairs over time. And I can get to my local client, although I can’t visit any long distance clients or go over the bridge until it’s all done.

Getting out a couple more pitches this morning. I’ll have to mow the front yard this afternoon (it’s supposed to rain tomorrow). I’m onsite with my client tomorrow for a few hours, then have a lot of local errands to run. Saturday I’ll have to take the garbage to the dump; we’re at capacity.

I have a book to read for review, and I also want to do a push on finishing “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” and the first draft of a short play that’s due in NYC at the end of the month. I’m trying to pick up some extra one-and-done high-paying assignments.

I can’t go away for Memorial Day, but I’m going to take some time off and decompress. Memorial Day isn’t that far away!

Sent in the winners and finalists on the contest; invoiced today.

The worst part of this experience is it makes me feel worthless as a human being. I realize that most people don’t have a spare $2300 sitting around, and it’s not unusual to be panicked by something like this. But it still makes me feel like a failure.

That ridiculous USA today article that accused “most people” of “typically” spending $1800 month “they don’t need” – by the way, lunch and personal grooming was included in that – enraged me.

First of all, I don’t know many people who have $1800 they can spend on non-essentials. Second, “essentials” has a wide range. Plus, we need some joy in our lives or we can’t survive. Who is this study to decide what is “essential” and not? And, if one more person does the whole, “For a cup of coffee, you can . . .” or “just don’t buy your $5 cup of coffee and you’ll be financially solvent in six months.”

Total B.S.

Especially since I don’t go out and buy $5 coffees every day. Most of the time, I make coffee at home – that tastes better. A coffee at a coffeehouse? A great treat. I might do it once every few months, meeting a friend or colleague. I hardly ever eat out. I bring my lunch with me when I work onsite – both because of cost and because it’s too isolated to effectively go out to lunch. I don’t take taxis or rideshares; I don’t need them.

Nor do I feel deprived by not doing those things. I LIKE the coffee I make at home (and it keeps the experience of coffee out as a treat). I’m a cook. I like it and I’m good at it. I like cooking at home and eating at home, and cooking for friends. I don’t keep a standing appointment to get my hair cut mostly because I don’t like the way most of the salons do it here.

It’s a bogus study meant to economically shame people who are barely getting by, and who might indulge themselves in a meal out or a treat once in awhile. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I’m hoping I’ll have a decent weekend of writing, gardening, and reading. And I’ll do extra yoga and meditation to de-stress.

I’m reading Emily Nagoski’s Burnout. Every two or three pages I burst into tears because it’s so relevant to what I’m going through right now. Hopefully, I can learn some good coping techniques.

In any case, for me, today, it’s back to the page.

Published in: on May 9, 2019 at 10:23 am  Comments Off on Thursday, May 9, 2019: Phases of Stress  
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Mon. May 6, 2019: Inner Peace – What Does That Mean? #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, May 6, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde

I’m interested in exploring this topic with you over the month. Because I’m stymied.

“Inner Peace” is something amorphous to me. We hear a lot about it, but what does it feel like?

I honestly can think of moments when I felt it. When I felt content and calm, and happy to be in that moment.

But then life continued, and that “inner peace” fled.

I’ve read dozens of books on how to achieve it. None of them worked. Most of them were so far removed from the realities of my life that they left me more unsettled than when I started.

My conclusion from this is that I’m going to have to come up with both my own definition, and find ways to attempt it. If any of my attempts help you, I’m glad of it. If you have suggestions, feel free to drop a comment. I’m happy to hear them.

My idea of Inner Peace is to find that place in my core where I can meet the world with grace and serenity, even when I’m battened by exterior forces on all sides.

Yeah, I don’t see achieving that any time soon.

The moments I can feel it and recognize it are valuable, though. But how do I get there?

I realize that the world is not all about me. But, quite frankly, I sometimes feel that not enough of it IS about me. Constant demands are made on me to accommodate everyone around me, yet too often, they are not willing to offer me even a fraction of the same.

It’s something I’ve found increasingly frustrating over the past few years. Non-reciprocity.

No interaction will be exactly even, because we each have our own value system. But when things get too far out of balance, it causes distress, illness, and unhappiness.

There has to be at least some reciprocity, be it tangible or emotional.

Far too many people intone, in sonorous voices, about detachment and lowering expectations. I’m going to write an entire post on detachment. We will get to that. But lowering expectations? That’s part of the reason we’re in such a global societal mess in the first place. We’ve devalued intelligence and lowered expectations. The bar for basic decency is so low that it’s buried.

It’s important to remember that, whenever possible, you need to disengage from the toxic. I’m more pro-active about that now on social media. Every time I unfollow or block someone toxic, I feel like a burden has been lifted. Not just from my shoulders, but my heart.

Disengaging from toxic emotional vampires helps with inner peace.

I think of “peace” as being a quiet place, whereas “happiness” is more active.

But in order to find peace, I have to define what makes me happy.

Sometimes that means recognizing that people, situations, things I assumed were givens make me unhappy, and doing what I can to eliminate or change them. Sometimes, I don’t even realize that something or someone made me unhappy until that thing or person is no longer part of my life.

So for me, the first steps to inner peace mean recognizing what makes me happy. Naming those things and deciding how to appreciate them more in the moment, and give myself more moments with them.

Being aware of those moments of happiness while I’m IN those moments, taking what I call an “emotional snapshot” and holding the moment with gratitude makes me more aware of when they come up, and they give me a sense memory to draw on in more difficult times –and in my writing.

Writing makes me happy, even on the tough days. For me, when I need to come to center, to where it all starts for me, it always takes me back to the writing. It’s how I make sense of the world. How I make sense of myself.

For me, inner peace starts with a steady writing schedule, and a constant creation process. It starts with not allowing anyone to sabotage that process (including myself). It starts with recognizing that I am a writer to my bones and my soul, and working forward from there.

 

Published in: on May 6, 2019 at 6:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. May 6, 2019: Inner Peace – What Does That Mean? #UpbeatAuthors  
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Fri. May 3, 2019: The Slow Climb Back to Productivity

Friday, May 3, 2019
Dark Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Feeling a little better. Physically tired, but the emotional exhaustion is starting to level off. I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

Wrote yesterday morning, then got some work done at the library. Got some LOIs out. Yoga. Afternoon and evening spent on contest entries. I plan to finish them this weekend, so I can make my final decisions early next week. I’m delighted that there are so many strong contenders, but the final decision will be difficult for the same reason. I can’t give all the deserving books an award. I have to pick the best for the limited slots.

This morning, wrote some more into the new project. It feels good, although it’s taking some unusual twists. Worked on GRAVE REACH. Figured out an important catalyst in THE BARD’S LAMENT, which is Sylvie’s book, the fifth Coventina Circle.

Working on an article about Coventina. Working on my other article. Working on a letter of support for an organization with which I used to work closely.

Some errands today, and then I’m focused on writing and contest entries all weekend. If the weather allows, I’ll sneak in some yard work.

May you have a beautiful weekend!

Published in: on May 3, 2019 at 8:53 am  Comments Off on Fri. May 3, 2019: The Slow Climb Back to Productivity  
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