Bad Days

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I’ve been having a run of bad days that have been ceaselessly piling up on top of each other. I can track the most recent and notable ones back to about October 2016, and the bigger, even more obvious ones indicating something was not on the level at about February 2016, but the discreet events themselves don’t matter much anymore – it’s the aggregate damage that matters now.

The short of it is that I’m almost an extreme introvert – the only thing that would bother me about living out in the sticks in backwoods BFE would be my desire to do NEW things that are generally NOT where I am, and the fact that homesteading is a lot of damned hard work. I’m not lazy, but I’m also not that motivated, either.

My need to be alone and quiet and recharge was a daily thing when I worked in an office, but the NEED was not as bad as it is now. When I worked in an office, I could put on headphones and ignore the people outside my cubicle. So long as my work was completed in a timely, detailed manner and I responded to my phone, few people saw fit to bother me. I still avoided after-work activities unless I was REQUIRED to attend, but I could still gather enough “away time” that I could present a normal functioning human mask most days.

I don’t get that as a mother. I have to be always on, all the time. I thought when the kids would be at school I would get the downtime.

Nope. There’s always something. Especially when the husband is gone most of the time and you’re stuck manning all the fronts. All the time. By yourself.

Oh, quit whining, Katty. You’ve got it good.

True. I do. But when I started having bigger and bigger coping problems (culminating in the last 2 weeks), I realized that one (of the several) problems was the lack of “away time.” Away from everyone time.

I don’t get it, Katty. Aren’t all authors introverts? If they can deal, so can you, right?

There are different levels of introvert. The best way I can explain mine is to take a monologue from Iliza Schlesinger’s Confirmed Kills  and alter it just slightly from what it’s like to be drunk immediately after the party to what it’s like to be an introvert:

*You scooped yourself into your car; your crowning achievement of the evening is that you didn’t die.

And all introverts have had that moment. Anybody who’s an introvert – you’ve been out, it’s been people – people talking, people laughing, people requiring that you respond appropriately the whole time. It’s been a crazy and exhausting three hours.

All introverts have had that moment of solitary, overstimulated serenity where you get in the car and you shut the door and for the first time in hours IT’S QUIET.

And you think, “Oh, thank God. I made it.”

Followed by, “I’m gonna throw up.”*

Now imagine experiencing that every day because you must, by necessity, socialize with your family in a manner that may not be true to what you’re really thinking or feeling. Compounding this is the simple fact that you, as a parent, are practically required to put aside your need for solitude and endure more social stimulation on top of normal, daily family time. Scouts, sports, dance class, birthdays and so on to give your children a positive social experience and role model.

It is intensely draining.

There is a necessary recovery time for an introvert. As long as it takes for you to fully recover from a hangover (without the use of pain medication, pedialyte or any other treatment) is about how long it takes for me to recover from a social event. The more you drink, the bigger the hangover. The bigger event you go to, or the longer you stay, or the more you have to interact with people, the more wrung out you are the next day.

Some people are heavy drinkers – I’ve seen men who can handle five yards of beer and walk a straight line with no aftereffects the next day. I’ve seen people do two shots of whiskey and they’re curled up in bed, weakly praying for death for the next whole day. The same goes for introverts – some can handle an all-day experience with a group and only need a few hours of alone time to recharge. Others crash for two days after spending 3 hours with 4 “close” friends.

I’m what you would call a lightweight – I’m in the second category these days.

“Crashing” is me, on the couch, staring at science documentaries because it doesn’t require as much thought as other shows (in which I’m constantly trying to dissect the plot clues). To listen, even with half an ear, to a piece of mindless fictional entertainment I know by heart, is far too exhausting to contemplate.

No books. No crafts. No cleaning. No working out. No errands. No cooking. No planning. The best I can hope for is the energy to stand in the shower and not fall because I expended all of my energy and my reserves the day before, smiling and chatting and pretending I wanted to be wherever persona I was required to present to the world at that time.

Some days, there is no energy to even care about taking a shower.

If it takes me 12 hours to recover from a pleasant evening with a group of friends in which we ate dinner and then played a novelty card game, imagine what life is like the day after playing cub scout den leader for 1 hour because we don’t have one anymore (hint: I’m down for nearly 36 hours because I’m having to keep children engaged and parents who don’t want to be engaged but want their kid in cub scouts), compounded by the fact that there is no other adult in the house to do adulty things – like make sure children eat regularly, do their homework, have clean clothes, food in the house, and so forth.

Every day, I’m running on fumes.

And no one truly gets that.

Everyone I know seems to think that because I’m a SAHM, I live a life of indulgence with 5-6 hours a day of alone time.

Nope. Some days it takes everything I have to stay awake for most of that time.  Most evenings I write the next days To-Do list using a large marker on a regular piece of paper in letters that average 1 inch high because it prevents me from adding too much to the list. I max out at eight things. If I get half of them done, it’s a good day. If I know I’ll have to go out this week for errands, I try to do it all in a single day – if I’m gonna get spun up and wrung out afterwards anyway, I may as well get the most I can out of a goodish day before I crash into oblivion for the next.

More and more things that are important to me (but not critical to survival) get sacrificed. Knowing that I’m going to be crashing for at least 24 hours every week until at least the end of the school year in order to support my son in his activities forces a radical readjustment of my schedule and my thinking of how I will plan to do other things.

Yes, it sounds like I’m whining, even though I’m trying not to.

I suppose I’m trying to give you the baseline to understand I’m not lazy.

I just can’t hold my social liquor worth a damn.

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IWSG Post

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I’m taking a tap-out today. My head is in a less than awesome space.

So we shall answer this month’s hot, HOT, SIZZLING HOT IWSG 1st Wednesday prompt:

How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

Badly, sad to say.

I’m very detail-oriented by nature. I may have ranted about that in the past. Not that I don’t appreciate another’s work (because writing is hard and getting it out there is hard and convincing someone to spend their hard-earned money on your work is especially hard), but I get a little tweaked when I come across something that feels… lazy.

I edit fiction books in my head, now.

“Ooooo… I wouldn’t have worded that sentence that way.”

“Why did we just spend a whole chapter explaining LaGrange points?”

“Seriously? The character is black? I’m 400 pages in on a book that’s only 475 pages long and you’re only just now telling me that the lead archeologist who we first met in chapter 3 is black and you’re telling me this during an argument regarding slavery of an alien species and using it as an example for why this archaeologist is offended by the idea.”

“‘Put a pin in it’ is not a sewing reference. It came out of World War I/II in reference to replacing the pin that activated a grenade before releasing the spoon, thereby preventing it from exploding when the spoon was released.”

Aboard. Not abroad. There is a difference.”

“Wait. Two books ago you said that person’s name was Robert in passing conversation. Why are we suddenly calling him Raymond?”

Because my internal narrator does not shut up, I now read mostly non-fiction. In part because I like it, in part because I can call it “research” and in part because I can get this reaction out of myself –

“That really happened? That is seriously messed up!”

Which will effectively shut down my internal critic for a minute with the sheer wonderment of the greatness, heinousness, audacity or plain stupidity of the story in question that happened in real life.

No, really. Fiction writers are criminal masterminds in comparison to Joe Average. What fiction writer – knowing they were going to buy the supplies for making a bomb to blow up someone they don’t like – would buy all needed supplies in one trip at their local store just down the street, using a credit card, then fail to burn the receipt before flushing its ashes down the toilet? Answer: None of them.

This being said, there have been some criminals in history that were just plain brilliant – like the guy who smuggled ancient artifacts out of Egypt by painting over them using gaudy modeling paint to fool customs. Once home with his booty, he would clean the artifacts of the paint and sell them to the highest bidder. For years.

 

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or just general myrmecophobia.

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Looking at How I’m Going to Get There

One of my personal self-publishing heroes is Kristine Kathryn Rusch. If you haven’t read her posts, especially her Wednesday Business Musings, you are seriously missing out. (I would donate or do the Patreon thing to support her if I could, by my own financial demands are such that I can’t at this moment in time. So I push her site instead.)

Anyhoo.

Reading her stuff (playing email/social media catch-up is just evil) caused me to look at my own last few years of *ahem* productivity. Or the lack of.

2015 and 2016 have just been rough, as far as writing goes. The choices seem to boil down to:

  1. Tell my children “Sorry, you don’t matter as much as Mommy’s work.”
  2. Put my things aside, suck it up and support my kids.

Not a lot of other options really pop up. I can trim things out all day long, but at the end of it all, someone has to be the responsible parent. And responsible parents have to do things they’d rather not. Attend children’s activities, spend 2 hours on children’s homework (Common Core sucks, just gonna throw that out there), budget, laundry, grocery shopping, wrangling the hazmat, etc.

And then there’s the small crop of health issues that have started to sprout. Oy. Talk about time hogs – PT is a serious one.

2017 through 2020 don’t look too optimistic, either. Looking ahead I see a lot of the same stuff going on.

Not to say that I can’t write. Just saying it won’t be at the pace I want to write. I may have a few good days in which I’ll be able to sit down and slam out a chapter or three, but most of what I see coming at me in the future is notes. I’ll jot a note here. Maybe sketch out a scene there. Shove them into a file and hope that I can get back to them. Someday.

Unfortunately, the buying public doesn’t want “someday.” They want “NOW.” Martin’s GoT books are damn near murder weapons – seriously. You can drop one of those hardbacks into a pillowcase and beat someone to death with them, they’re so big.

And yet readers complain that the release time between them is too long. Readers don’t think about how long the writing process actually takes for a book that size. I’m not even certain readers care. All they know is that they have to wait more than a year between each release and that has become UNACCEPTABLE. They want both speed and quality, and some genres/authors can’t do both. And the demand is spread across all genres, not just fantasy.

Hence, why I’ve taken down the little count-down thingy from this blog. I can’t do speed. Even under the best circumstances, I’m more like the tortoise, not so much the hare (although the hare did die in the original story because the tortoise and his crew were sneaky, but that’s not what I’m looking at here).

I can’t start releasing until I’ve finished a whole series. It simply takes to long for me to write at this juncture. And at the current rate, I’m not going to be ready in 2021. It’s still a goal, but not one I can guarantee that I can stick to.

It’s an irritatingly massive step back, but I’m hoping this race is more about finishing than about making time.

 

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IWSG Post

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IWSG Question Jan 4

What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Ummm … all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, there does need to be a baseline for communication in any language  – In the English language, you really do have to put the verb in the right place – “Jane ran with the dog.” Otherwise you end up with tragically confused sentences – “Ran Jane with the dog.” Although, I guess you could strategically place commas in certain parts of that last sentence, but it still sounds really awkward.

And there is certainly something to be said about knowing the difference between “there, their and they’re,” among other unfortunate mistakes ( you’re/your; accept/except; capital/capitol; desert/dessert; and so on…)

But I’ve found other rules to be more about opinions in flavor – Don’t use adverbs. No dangling phrases. Too much description. Show don’t tell. Strip out every excess word you can. Readers don’t like description, they don’t have the attention spans they used to 40 years ago. Your plot must be feasible (but not as feasible as real life, because real life plots have frequently been dumber than a box of hair and there are trial papers to prove it, but no one will believe it if you write it that way.) “Said” is dead. “Said” is not dead. No head-hopping (even though head-hopping was a phrase that was created by a publishing house 25 years ago in order to enforce a style type on their stable of authors to make them stand out from the pack and make the house brand more “defined”  because EVERYONE was head–hopping back in the day). 50,000 words is too small! 100,000 words is too big! Cut out everything that does not absolutely have to be there in the story or your reader will get bored. PRESENT TENSE ONLY!!! Don’t repeat words. No flashbacks. Stop digging through your thesaurus. Too much this, more that. No! Not that! The other that! ARRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! You’re doing it all wrong!!!! YOU’LL NEVER BE SUCCESSFUL AS A WRITER BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES!!!!!!!

If I took to heart every rule I have come across that have been touted by “professional writers” I would have a story that looks like this:

“My name is Bob and I’m twelve years old. I can see dragons. And that maple tree over there where my treehouse used to be. Now I’m fighting dragons to save Sue, the girl next door. I win. The End.”

No telling the reader any of the details. (How big was the maple tree? What season is it now? Did Bob fall out of his treehouse, crack his head and that’s why he can see dragons? Is Sue the love interest or just a friend? Does he like her freckles? Does she have freckles? How does Bob fight dragons? How did Sue get dragged into all of this?)

Okay, maybe the last two paragraphs are a bit of an exaggeration, but do you see my point? Every bit of writing would be reduced to the same boring vanilla voice if we all followed all the rules all the time. Guh. What would be the point in writing? There are only 7 (17? Definitely less than 20…) original stories out there – every story ever told since the dawn of time revolves around those 7 base maps. What makes your story different is HOW you tell it. Which means you must choose what rules you do and don’t use, when you use them, and why.

“It takes courage to grow and become who you really are.” e.e. cummings

Check out the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to see more writers dish about their concerns, their solutions to various problems, or just general agrizoophobia.

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