IWSG February 2023

Ah, the new year! We’ve had a month to settle in, give our resolutions a go (often in a stop, start, wait-how-can-I-make-this-work-for-me, start again, kind of way), and maybe reassess if that’s how we’re going to do things.

My magic word for 2023 is FOCUS.

Thus far, I have focused on everything EXCEPT writing.

It has been postulated that I am clearing the decks, getting more stuff out of the way to make it easier for me to focus on the writing bit.

It’s possible, I suppose. The last 6-7 months have been something of a doozy, so that probably doesn’t help. It could be just straight-up avoidance, too. I mean, and let’s be real here for a minute, the scariest part is that blank canvas staring back at you. The first mark, the first word can be the scariest thing, because now you’re committed. Now you HAVE to do something with that canvas and IT HAD BETTER BE SOMETHING GOOD, DAMMIT, otherwise YOU JUST RUINED IT!!!!!

Or is that just me?

Fear is definitely a thing that’s blocking me at the moment. After asking the above question, I took an unnecessary 1 hour break to start a wire tree sculpture. It’s about halfway done.

Perhaps it’s embarrassment of what will come out and how bad it could be because it’s been so long? Kinda like when you haven’t worked out in two years and now one of your goals is to get back into a shape OTHER than round, but the fear of BEING SEEN WHILE YOU’RE OUT OF SHAPE, trying to change that condition, is near paralyzing (another thing I’m dealing with right now, although, in my defense, the last two years were spent in ever increasing amounts of bodily pain that have only just now been resolved, but the fear of being seen while trying to work out in any context is still pretty intense).

After writing the above paragraph, I dug through my stash to find some leather and horsehair scraps, which I have every intention of adding to the wire sculpture. I think it will look nice, once done. Need some real wood sticks though. I’ll have to soak them in water for a few weeks to get them pliable enough to bend them the way I want them to go without breaking them.

What was I writing about, again?

Ah! Yes! Avoiding writing. But why would I be afraid of doing such a thing? I’ve always done it; for almost 40 years I’ve written stories (very few were any good, but cut me some slack-very few 9 year olds write so well that they become a storybook sensation overnight).

True, everyone has an inner critic, and sometimes that guy just won’t shut up. Not everyone has a muse, but the common wisdom is that if you start without her, she’ll eventually show up, like the ever-late auntie at a family reunion who only shows up long enough to dole out some advice, snatch a drink, some snacks and then disappears when no one is watching.

My inner researcher is…well, she’s got tunnel vision at the moment, and the writer-

Dammit, where’s she gone again!?

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or, like me, whine the whole damned time.

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IWSG January 2023

Ah….another year.

Have you ever noticed that it’s when you’re not supposed to be active, when you’re supposed to lay down and take it easy because you need to heal or some such, that’s when your brain starts to berate you for being lazy and not accomplishing things and all those chores are piling up and that To-Be-Read list is out of control and don’t even get me started on the craft room.

Not when you’re just fine and dandy does your brain do this. No, no. Laying around like a lazy bum while you wait for laundry to cycle and repeatedly bingeing the same three YouTube channels doesn’t trip your brain into saying “Hey, since we know how ALL the episodes of The World’s Most Sociopathic Psychos ends, may be we could, I don’t know, edit a manuscript or knock a quick craft off the to-do list or something.”

No. It’s apparently when you’re doing the exact same thing, but now recovering from flu, or foot surgery, or that “special dish” grandma made just for you that smelled a little off… That’s when your brain thinks you’re supposed to mutli-task like a fiend and get twelve-million things done in one afternoon.

Which, of course, you can’t do. Because you’re laid out and just getting the laundry flipped before it sours is a real accomplishment.

Why is that? Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we know huge progress could be made by taking teensy-weensy steps every day, but still refuse to do it? Am I the only one with an instant gratification problem?

Is it the same part of the brain that self-sabotages in other ways? The Perfectionist path, the Procrastination path, The Sense of OverWhelm, The Distraction, The Fool, The Tower, The Resistance to Finishing a Project (does any one else have that one? That’s a big one for me)…

Perhaps “Focus” is a good word to guide me this year. We’ll see.

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IWSG December 2022

The Holidays are here.


I generally don’t like the holidays. This dates back to my retail working history. To this day, almost 30 years on, the smell of artificial cinnamon ANYTHING will make me abandon all thought I have of shopping as I turn tail and head for the door.

I try to get all my Christmas shopping done by October so I don’t have to worry about shipping, or malls, or driving anywhere or any kind of shopping at all except groceries. Even for groceries, I’d rather hit the grocery store up at 7am on a Tuesday during the holidays. And If we don’t absolutely need it, I have no problems NOT going to the store at all.

All to avoid holiday stress. So I can be calm and orderly and have plenty of time and mental energy to focus on writing.

At least, that’s the plan.

As we all know, no plan ever survives contact with the enemy.

Just about all of my shopping is done. The presents are 90% wrapped. The tree…well it was never put away last year because when my husband asked when are we going to take it down I told him there was no rule stating that he couldn’t do it because I’m TIRED AND EVERYTHING HURTS ALL THE TIME and he knew where the storage box was and all that.

He agreed that was a true statement, and the subject never came up again.

I mean, the decorations are boxed, but the tree is still up, so, that’s a thing that I can technically check off my list for holiday prep. I’ll take my wins where I can.

It’s the writing thing.

Yes, I’m still complaining about it.

Ideas are slowly starting to filter back in, but,dammit, it’s like pulling teeth from a platypus.

And planting my butt in the chair to work, as satisfying as I KNOW IT IS to create like that, still gets easily side-lined by the horrifyingly subtle addiction to YouTube (DON’T JUDGE ME!)

Did I mention I may have Jury Duty over the Holidays? My summons is the 15th, so I guess I’ll see where that goes.

My pain and exhaustion that I’d been dealing with for years has decreased dramatically since foot surgery in June, so that’s cleared up a lot of ickiness. I’m over October COVID, Halloween public school plague #37, and Thanksgiving flu. I have my own dedicated workspace for ALL THE THINGS!, which is enormously helpful.

I didn’t get around to organizing my writing notes by file folder until two weeks ago because the thought of doing it was icky (not as icky as Christmas shopping for teenagers who DON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE AND HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET THEIR SIBLING WHILE YOU ARE TAKING THEM SHOPPING, but still icky). I’ve organized my writing area now so everything is nice and orderly AND OH HEY WHAT’S THAT NEW THING I WANT TO DO NOW THAT I HAVE ALL THIS GLORIOUS SPACE TO DO EVERYTHING IN UNINTERRUPTED!?

So, now, I guess we’re working on focus and discipline for writing.

Do you think Santa can package that up for me with a nice pretty bow?

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or how they’ve decided that they’re going to dress up as Krampus this year, just to shake things up a bit.

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IWSG November 2022

Sometimes everything has to fall to shit so you can put things back together in a way that works.

October kinda rammed that down my throat. Not as quickly as September of this year or July 2018, but enough to slow my butt down and make me consider things.

Being trapped at your in-laws away from everyone like a troll in the basement because of COVID will do that, I suppose.

I could’ve read, caught up on email, or a few other things but I didn’t.

It was generally me, YouTube and a rough draft that I’d brought on the off chance that I would have time.

When I first went to my in-laws, it was for an assumed medical situation that they needed help with, that looked nothing like COVID. I thought I’d be there for a week, maybe. Two at the outside. that should give the rest of the family space to plan out the next steps.

Well, three days later the next steps turned into a positive COVID test for them and a few days later for me as well. On the plus side, their COVID was treated with anti-viral horse pills and that seemed to clear up the other issues everyone was worried about.

On the down side, I’m young enough and strong enough at 46 that I’m told to just suck it up and sweat it out.

I got home this past Friday night and I’m still wiped out. Not because the work after the first week was particularly onerous, but because I was constantly resisting finding other work around their house for me to do. My head was constantly buzzing with ALL THE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE TO MAKE THINGS BETTER.

But I had to wear a mask and stay in the basement as much as possible so I didn’t reinfect them, which curtailed my movement quite a bit. Forcing me to slow down.

Some days it felt like a complete stop.

I’d had foot surgery this past June and I spent most of a month trapped in bed, but that was nothing like this.

That I could pretend to plan – I could surround myself with all number of activities in my house to do (that I mostly did not do, mainly because the painkillers were pretty good). In the months since, I’ve made progress on another of other things that are not related to writing.

I told myself I was clearing the decks, removing the distractions from writing.

Except I kept finding yet another thing to do that was clearly not writing nor necessary to get done right now, ahead of the writing.

Always another thing.

In my in-laws basement, there were no other things.

In my in-laws basement I had to confront my manuscript just to feel semi-productive. The one I dreaded working on because I while I know where its going,its taken a life of its own, so I’m not sure how to make it advance in that direction. The binder of printed out pages just waiting to be scribbled all over in red pen and highlighters and sticky notes.

I made pretty good progress, considering the conditions and how much I’d told myself I didn’t want to work on it.

Now I’m home. Now I’m in an environment in which the nervous energy, the constantly keeping one ear open for a call for help, the relentless vision of what all has to be done in order for good forward progress to be made, are not in my face.

Now I’m tired.

But now it feels like I can reschedule my days to put in for writing first, other activities second (after the next nap, you understand – I’m quite run-down).

What a novel concept.

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or their latest novel about the thanksgiving horror in which a zombie turkey heartlessly destroys an entire family in search of its giblets.

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