Wasting Time

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing this week? Things are good here. Dad got a new toy (the big Kamado Joe, an egg-shaped smoker), so I got brisket and pulled pork. Yum! Other than that, everything is about the same as it has been. I’m lazy. All I’ve really done is review edits for a story coming out early next year (I’ll post about it after the official announcement, which is supposed to happen later this week), annoy people with shameless self-promotion (keep an eye on my social media for more of that next week for Love Letters to Poe), read, and slush (I’m an associate editor for PseudoPod, which is a fancy title for first reader). Otherwise, I’ve just been wasting time. I had no idea what to blog about, so I searched for ideas for September. One of the lists of ideas that I usually find helpful posed a question to answer in a post, so I decided to use that for today.

Agree or Disagree: “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

I both agree and disagree with this statement. Most of the time, I don’t really feel like I’ve wasted my time if I enjoy something, unless it eats away more time than it really should. Reading doesn’t count, because it’s actually work. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I binge read webtoons/manga/manhwa. Okay, that’s not technically work, but it gives me stuff to think about when I can’t sleep, instead of having my brain home in on every stupid mistake I’ve ever made. Crocheting or drawing never really feels like wastes, because there’s actual proof that my time has been productive. Even just staring into space and thinking doesn’t feel like a waste of time, because that’s what writers do. It’s weird. But as long as it feels productive (even if it isn’t), I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time.

That said, watching more TV/movies than usual feels like wasted time. Playing mindless games for five minutes and realizing it’s an hour later feels like wasted time. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing these things, but there will always be the feeling that I should’ve been doing something else. I enjoy wasting time. I understand that taking time to do stupid things is important, especially when you’re feeling burnt out or whatever. That doesn’t mean it’s not a waste of time, it just means you needed or wanted a break. And that’s okay.

Oops.

So, do I agree that wasted time you enjoy isn’t wasted? Eh. Not entirely. But I do recognize that it’s an important part of self-care. I know that people are going to scoff and call me a capitalist and argue that not everything has to be productive. I’m not saying it does. I’m just saying that unproductive wasted time feels like an actual waste of time to me. That’s not a bad thing. Embrace the waste! (Please don’t hug your garbage). I accept it for what it is: a much needed rest.

I guess hugging human trash is okay, but why would you want to?

I just wasted time writing this. Apparently, it’s my 350th post. I’ve wasted your time with 350 posts. Anyway, what’re your thoughts on wasting time? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!

5 Things I Should Be Doing

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing? Can you believe it’s August already? That means Christmas is some time next week, right? Time just won’t stop. But I did find out the world still exists. Had a doctor’s appointment, so I had to leave the house. I have to do it again later this month. There were people without masks. It was annoying. But I expected it. Anyway, I should be doing things besides worrying about the state of the world. And since I have nothing else to ramble about, I figured now was as good a time as any to try talking myself into being productive again.

1. Start writing again. I haven’t written much of anything aside from blog posts since mid-June. I know. Shame on me. I just have to decide whether I want to jump back into my last novel attempt or finish up some short stories. Probably the latter, so I have new stuff to submit. Just have to make myself do it.

2. Catch up on submissions. I’m three weeks behind, so I need to submit to six places on top of the two for this week. No idea why I started slacking on this. Yes, it’s getting more difficult to find paying markets to send these stories to, but not impossible. Also, writing a few new short stories or flash fiction pieces will help make submitting easier. I know this, yet I’m still lazy. Motivation is hard.

I haven’t had this happen yet, but I check at least ten times before I send anything and a couple of times after I send it. Just in case.

3. Query some more agents. I think I’ve waited long enough for the “only responds when interested” agents, so I can send out the last ten or so agent queries for DS1, then wait a while for replies before trying publishers. Or maybe I should just go right for the publishers? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out.

4. Get excited about reading again. I read every day, but it’s felt like a slog for the last month. It doesn’t seem to matter what I read. Nothing holds my attention for more than a few minutes. It’s weird. Maybe I’m just burned out. No idea. Hopefully something will grab my attention soon.

WIPs = works in progress.

5. Finish something. Anything. A story, the shawl, whatever. Sometimes, I think if I could just feel the accomplishment of finishing something, my creativity would start flowing again. I know that’s not how it actually works, but it’s how I feel. The biggest problem is forcing myself to do the thing.

There you go. Sorry I didn’t come up with anything better to ramble about. Blogging is even harder than writing stories. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or comments or questions or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Good News, Everyone

Hello, hello! How is everyone this beautiful day? Things are pretty much the same as they’ve been around here. Lots of slacking on all fronts. You know how it goes. Anyway, if you follow my personal Facebook, you already know this, but today’s post is just to let you know that my flash fiction piece “The Water Horse” will be appearing in Improbable Press’s forthcoming anthology. Right now, the only release details I have is that it’ll be coming in early 2022. I will post my usual shameless self-promotions when I know more. But I wanted to let everyone know that writerly things are still happening even though I’m slacking. I’ll be back next week with my usual end-of-month book review!

Tricking Myself into Writing

Hello, hello! How is everyone doing today? It’s a gloomy Monday as I’m writing this and I don’t really feel like doing much of anything. So, I decided it’s as good a day as any to write my post for the week. The problem? I have nothing to ramble about. I should probably be working on an actual story or writing my May book review post or something, but I don’t want to. I can do that stuff tomorrow. But I am slowly starting to write again, thanks to the new computer. I guess I can ramble about that. It’s one of those weird cripple things, so be prepared to give me your best “huh?” look.

Yeah, that look.

When I first started using a laptop (actually, any computer), my typing options were to either figure out how to make the keyboard work for me or use Dragon Naturally Speaking (a dictation program). I tried the latter and it was horrible. No matter how much I trained it, at least every other word was wrong. It was more trouble editing stuff than it was worth. So, I decided to use a backscratcher in my right hand and my left index finger to make the hunt-and-peck method of typing work for me. And I was good at it too. Fast enough to keep up with multiple Yahoo chat conversations in a timely manner at least. And accurate enough that I rarely had to fix any typos. It was less hunting/pecking and more just my own form of two “finger” typing. But all good things must end.

After I went through a few different wheelchairs and just as many computers, I eventually reached a point where typing became more difficult than it was worth. Basically, each new chair changed the positions of my hands, the ease with which I could reposition my arms, etc. and each new computer positioned its keyboard and touchpad slightly differently until it all combined to screw with my typing (slowed it down and made the position I had to maintain uncomfortable) enough that I looked for alternatives. By that time, Microsoft had started getting into accessibility features and had added an on-screen keyboard. I’m certainly not as fast with it as I was at typing, but it works well enough. It got me through Stonecoast and has helped me write the majority of the stuff I’ve written since then, so I can’t complain.

Don’t feel bad. Losing stuff like the ability to type is a normal cripple thing.

When this computer arrived, I decided to try typing again. The keyboard is just too pretty not to touch. So, a couple of weeks ago, I started trying to type for 30 minutes at a time. The range of motion in my left arm is absolute shit, which is to be expected. I can’t even reach the E, R, and G keys enough to press them anymore. The number keys (I used to be able to press 1-4 with my left hand) are completely out of reach. And I have to nudge my hand with my backscratcher in order to reach the Q and W. But for some reason, I have a better reach with my backscratcher than I used to, so it compensates a bit for the lack of use in my left hand. Hopefully, with practice, I’ll at least get back enough range of motion for E, R, and G.

Don’t get too excited. I’ve only done this 5 times so far. It’s annoying getting my hands into position, but that should get easier over time. My muscles tire out well before the 30 minutes are up, but I push through and it’s already getting better. I started at 75 words in 30 minutes and have increased each time (reached 245 words when I did it today). I can do 350ish words in a half hour with the on-screen keyboard, so if I can break that, I’ll definitely keep it up. Hopefully, my arms and hands will keep cooperating with me. I don’t fully trust them yet.

Idle Hands. They have a mind of their own. Am I the only one who remembers this stupid movie?

Anyway, in order to practice typing, I needed something to write, so I started a short story. It’s already 1,500 words long because it starts out as typing practice, then I’m in a groove, so I write a little more with the on-screen keyboard. But yeah. All this post is meant to say is that I found a way to trick myself into writing even though I have no motivation. Wootwoot!

What about you? Do you have any weird ways you trick yourself into being productive? As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments and questions here or on my social media pages!

Last Quarter Intentions

Hello, hello! How’s everyone doing today? It’s been a gloomy couple of days, so I’ve just wanted to laze around. You know how it goes. But next week is September’s book review post, then we enter the final quarter of 2020. Can you believe it? Time is racing by, but at the same time it feels like 2020 has been stretching on forever. It’s weird. Anyway, in preparation for the end of the year, I thought I would let you know what my intentions are. I’m not even going to bother calling them goals because that word hasn’t helped me stay on target in a long time. So, here’s a list of the things I hope to accomplish by December 31st.

Basically.

1. Finish the first draft of DS2. I originally wanted to finish this a week or so ago, but the blahs got me and I stopped working on it. I wrote some short stuff in the interim, so I wasn’t completely useless. However, I need to get back to the novel. I’m aiming for 65-75,000 words and already have about 18,000 written, so even if I wait to start on October 1st (I need to reread what I’ve written over the next few days to get back in the voice) I’ll only need to write between 900 and 1,100 on my writing days. I can do it. I plan to do it. We’ll see if it actually happens.

2. Finish the shawl. I’ve been working on this thing on and off since October, so I want to finish it and have Dad weave in the ends and block it, so we can get it sent off. It’s my own fault it’s taking so long. Hopefully since I don’t plan on trying to force out 1,500 words on my writing days, I’ll be able to squeeze in at least half an hour of crocheting on those days as well as more on the days I don’t write. My priority will be the words, but I’m still hoping I can finish both by the end of the year.

Or just buy me yarn. No flattery necessary.

3. Keep querying and submitting. I haven’t missed a week yet, but I’m slowly running out of agents to query until I get rejections from some others (ones in agencies where you’re allowed to query other agents even if you get a no from one of them), I might drop down to two or three a week instead of five. I’m only 25 submissions away from 100, so I’m not worried about cutting back a bit. Then, I can look for publishers if none of the agents bite. I’ll still keep up with my two short story submissions each week too.

4. Read extra books. Once I finish the book I’m currently reading, I’ll have met my 30 books goal for the year, but I’ll still need to read at least two books for November and December’s reviews. I’m also planning to reread HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I’m sure I can find a book or two in my Kindle collection of stuff I’ve bought but haven’t read to fill out the rest of the year. Or maybe I’ll just say screw it and read manga instead.

I mean, if I had enough money, I’d be less anxious which would make me happy, but books work too.

I could talk about my intention to try and make new friends, but we all know how bad I am at keeping up with the ones I have, so I probably won’t do anything different. I’m trying. Slowly. But it’s not like it was back in the Yahoo chat days. Back then I’d randomly *glomp* someone and hey presto, new friend! Nowadays, I join a new forum or group and just lurk because I feel like a creeper. So yeah, new friends would be nice but are unlikely because I’m a socially awkward weirdo.

Anyway, that’s what I hope to accomplish by the end of the year. What about you? Anything you want to get done within the next three months? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments or whatever here or on my social media pages!

Be A Writer They Said…

Hello, hello! Welcome to September. I suppose Thanksgiving and Christmas are some time next week with how fast time is moving. Before you know it, this year will be over and we’ll get to see what 2021 decides to throw at us. My hopes aren’t very high. But I’ve been in a blah mood anyway, so maybe I’m wrong and next year will be great. I’m in one of my burned out periods again. I haven’t worked on the novel in a while, so that’s not getting done this month. Oh well. I just pushed myself too hard too fast. Anyway, being a writer is exhausting. I thought I’d take this post as a chance to whine a bit. Sorry in advance.

Maybe, but maybe not.

And it’s true. Being a writer can be fun. Telling stories and reading and gathering with fellow writers to discuss writerly things can be amazing. But no one ever tells you that being a writer is so much more than writing. It’s the one thing I was disappointed about when it came to my MFA program: they glossed over everything included in being a professional writer that wasn’t writing or editing. I get it, it’s a writing program, but it would’ve been nice to be a little prepared for everything else. That one lecture on contracts and being told in our graduation semester that we needed to make a website didn’t quite cut it. I’m slowly figuring things out, though.

That website they randomly told me I had to make for my graduation semester? I had to design it myself because what beginning writer can afford a web designer? It has to be maintained and updated. And in order to make a website, you have to have content. Like a blog that you update weekly. And contact information. You can’t be a new anything nowadays without a social media presence. Those social media profiles need attention and updates just about every day if you want to keep your followers. It’s not exactly hard work, but all of this stuff takes up time. And if you’re popular and have tons of comments and emails to respond to, it could potentially get overwhelming. Sure, there are people you can hire for all that, but it costs money.

Yes, it can.

That’s not all. You also have to be an editor to your own work, a critic who can pull apart everyone else’s work and see what’s working and what isn’t, and a diligent student constantly improving their craft. After that, you have to sell your work and yourself to agents and publishers and readers alike. People have to like you to want to work with you, right? This usually entails submitting and querying lots of people who each have slightly different guidelines that you have to adhere to and getting told no by most of them. Then, if you’re lucky enough to make a deal, you have to pull on your lawyer pants and review every aspect of the contract to make sure everyone involved is getting a fair deal. It’s terrifying and exhausting and no one seems to want to talk about it all.

I know.

And to top it all off, there’s always someone pointing out that you should be actually writing, like everything else involved in being a writer doesn’t count as work. It’s enough to put anyone off writing for a while. But then you get the rare acceptance or encouraging note from a complete stranger or something like that and it’s all worth it again. So yeah, being a writer is exhausting and sometimes it’s fun, but it’s so much more than just writing. Be warned, then become a writer. It’ll be fun.

As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or questions or comments here or on my social media pages!

How Writers Are Created

Hello, hello! How is everyone today? I’m a little annoyed because WordPress has forced an upgrade to the block editor and I have no idea what I’m doing, so if my posts look wonky for a while, that’s why. I don’t like change, in case you haven’t noticed. Anyway, I don’t want to rant about that. I want to talk about those magical creatures known as writers. While I’m convinced some of us just naturally spring from the sea or earth or a river of lava, most of us are created. It’s a long, drawn out process. And there’s no one right way to make a writer. But I thought I’d share a few starting points in case you want to try making one of your own.

Mostly, except I know what I really do. I think nothing else.

In no particular order:

1. Introduce your writer-in-progress to reading early. Let them explore different genres and styles until they discover what they have an affinity for by themselves. I admit that I came to like reading later than most of my writer friends, but when I finally found my way to it, I glommed on obsessively. So, even if your writer is resistant early on, don’t give up. They might just be a late bloomer. However, avoid pushing too much in genres they’ve already expressed a dislike of or they may become resentful toward reading in general.

2. Teach your writer-in-progress the art of productive procrastination. What is productive procrastination? It’s when you avoid doing the thing you’re supposed to be doing by doing something else you’re supposed to do at some point. For instance, answering important emails instead of calling someone back or cleaning the kitchen instead of writing or things like that. It’s really the only way writers get anything done.

Yup.

3. Instill in your writer-in-progress the idea that the worst someone can do is say no, so there’s no real harm in asking. It makes the whole submission and querying processes that much easier. Not to mention asking for beta readers. Sure, all of these people might say no, but you won’t get a yes if you don’t put yourself out there. It’s a crucial skill for writers to master.

4. Expose your writer-in-progress to rejection and teach them that it isn’t the end of the world. This one goes hand-in-hand with number 3. It’s not enough to warn your writer that they’re going to get told no. A lot. You also need to teach them that while it’s okay to be sad, it’s not okay to argue with the no or have a temper tantrum over it. No means no. Accept it and move on to the next person. If they’re lucky, your writer might even get some helpful feedback with the no. Teach them to appreciate it when it happens and to consider using it if it helps improve their work.

Be okay with no.

5. Let your writer-in-progress hoard things like books and journals and pens even if they don’t use them. Writers are like little dragons. We each have things we hoard. Some of it isn’t even related to writing. That’s okay. It’s a source of joy. They’ll need something like that when all the rejections start rolling in.

I could go on with this list, but I need to go get some reading done. As always, feel free to share your own tips for creating a writer or your comments and thoughts about my list here or on my social media pages!

Adjusted Goals

Hello, hello! Welcome to July! How is everyone doing? Can you believe it’s already July? This year has flown by despite (or maybe because of) everything going on. Anyway, I stayed up late with Dad while he had some stuff on the smoker last night (a couple of briskets, pulled pork, and a “prime” rib… it’s okay to be jealous), so we got a late start today, which means I’m too lazy to come up with something decent to blog about. So, since it’s actually the first of the month and I haven’t done a goals post in a while, I’m just going to give you a quick update on new goals and how my old ones are going.

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Here are my goals from January and how I’ve been doing with that/what’s changed.

1. From January: Finish revising DS1.
Status: Complete. I finished in April instead of March because I got lazy, but I finished nonetheless and I love this book.
Updated Goal: Write a first draft of DS2. I waffled about starting this book until I see how DS1 does, but ultimately decided that it’s better to have a draft started and have no one want it than to procrastinate and have nothing if someone gets interested and wants to know where I’m at with book two. I’m aiming to have the first draft done by September 15th at the latest.

2. From January: Read 30 books.
Status: I have read 20 books so far this year. Six were from my “to re-read” pile, nine have been books I’ve reviewed (no idea how that happened), and the other five were new to me, but not necessarily new.
Updated Goal: My official goal is still 30 books. I still have six months of books to review. I also want to re-read at least two more books. And I’ll squeeze in at least two new to me books. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to more in the latter two categories, but I won’t push it.

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Amazon, but yeah.

3. From January: Keep submitting.
Status: I haven’t missed a week yet.
Updated Goal: The goal is relatively the same, submit two short pieces to magazines or anthologies every week. I normally do this on Mondays, but I’ve decided it doesn’t matter which day as long as it gets done every week.

4. January Goal: Query 100 agents.
Status: In progress. I’ve queried 16 agents thus far and received a couple of form rejections as well as a couple of really encouraging personal rejections.
Updated Goal: I’m still going to query 100 agents unless I find one. I send out five queries a week and I will participate in appropriate Twitter pitch sessions. If I can’t find an agent, there are also a few publishers I will try querying before I give up and move to a new project or debate self-publishing.

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Accurate.

5. January Goal: Crochet.
Status: In limbo. I haven’t crocheted in a couple of months.
Updated Goal: I want to finish the shawl I’m working on and a hat by the end of the year. I’m just weird and can’t find the motivation for it. But I will get back to it soon.

Those are my revised goals for now. What are some of your goals? How have they changed since earlier in the year? As always, feel free to leave a comment here or on my social media pages!

You Might Be A Writer If…

Howdy, howdy! How is everyone’s June going? It’s moving along pretty quickly for me. I’ve already written next week’s post. It’s part of a blog tour for the paperback release of Jaquira Diaz’s memoir Ordinary Girls. So, look forward to that! The following week is my normal book review. In other words, the rest of my month is pretty well planned out blog-wise. That just leaves this week’s post. I have nothing new to ramble about on the writing front, so I think I’ll just do a random list post about things that might mean you’re a writer.

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My friend tagged me in this a couple of days ago and it’s not wrong.

1. You might be a writer if you think about and/or talk about writing a lot, but procrastinate when it comes to actually doing the writing.

2. You might be a writer if your to-be-read pile randomly switches genres because you’re thinking about writing something new and want to see how the tropes work and what types of topics are currently popular.

3. You might be a writer if you buy a bunch of fancy pens, but only use cheap BiCs because they write so well and no one cares if you lose them.

Journal 3
My newest journal. I named her Melusina. Made by Sullivan Book Arts.

4. You might be a writer if you have a bunch of empty journals sitting around the house and almost exclusively use the computer for writing, but buy new journals anyway because they’re pretty.

5. You might be a writer if you get caught staring at people while you’re trying to figure out which character of yours they resemble.

6. You might be a writer if you’re watching TV/reading a book/listening to music/etc. and have to start over because you got distracted by a certain word or phrase that you want to work into your own story.

funny-coomic-about-how-you-buy-books-but-dont-read-them-or-donate-them

7. You might be a writer if you buy books just because the covers are pretty and rationalize it by telling people to look at these great examples of current cover trends in certain genres.

8. You might be a writer if you drunk purchase fifteen books in genres you don’t even like, but decide to keep them because you can never have enough books.

9. You might be a writer if that random piece of conversation you heard somewhere in public becomes fodder for your latest story.

10. You might be a writer if you turn down real-life plans because you have a date with the voices in your head.

I think that’s enough. It’s time for you to jump in with your own examples. Not a writer? What are some indications that you might be a… whatever your job or hobby is? Artist? Crocheter? Mathematician? Whatever. It’s fun. As always, feel free to share your lists, comments, thoughts, or anything here or on my social media pages!

The Things I Do For Procrastination

Hello, hello! Welcome to June. Can you believe it’s already this far into the year? I’m still stuck back in March somewhere. I’ll be honest: motivation for productive things is hard right now. I know I should be writing something, but I’m also nervous because the only thing I’m drawn to is DS2. I’m currently searching for an agent for DS1 and I don’t want what happened with G&G and its sequel to happen this time. I don’t want to get deep into DS2 only to end up with a bunch of rejections for DS1, get disgusted with everything, and trunk them both. That’s too depressing. But I’m also not excited about any of my other ideas at the moment, so I’ll probably cave and start DS2 tomorrow. I’m just procrastinating and I know it. Just like I procrastinated before writing this post. And since I have nothing else to talk about, I thought I would explain what a day of procrastination looks like for me.

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When I get up, it’s a long drawn out process during which I usually have time to play my three mindless games on Facebook for a bit. During that time Dad makes breakfast. We watch an hour of TV while we eat, then we go out back and feed the fish (we have a pond). Afterwards, Dad usually goes out to work in his shop. That’s when the procrastination truly begins.

Today (as in the day I’m writing this, not the day you’re reading it), I came inside and did the crossword puzzle. I checked my email. Got something from Panera Bread about contactless delivery, which they’ve emailed me about before but never delivered to our address, so I checked again figuring it would be the same as usual. To my surprise, they now deliver to us! So, I spent twenty minutes perusing their grocery menu and normal menu even though I know what they have. I was that bored and desperate to avoid working. Sue me. Then, I decided to read a chapter of the book I’m currently reading to review on the 24th.

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It’s something so far.

I followed that up with slowly wandering around the living room and kitchen, then staring out the back door for a few minutes. I usually tell myself it’s because I need to give my eyes a break from the computer screen, but really it’s because I don’t know what to write and hope a change of scenery will help. It never does. And before I returned to my room, I went into the dining room to stare at the crochet stuff I haven’t touched in almost a month. It was a mess. The shawl was all scrunched up and the hook was dangling from the last stitch I made. Instead of waiting for Dad to come inside and help me straighten everything out (which would have taken all of five seconds), I spent fifteen minutes getting the hook into position and shoving everything around as best I could with my back scratcher so that it’s ready for me when I want to work on it again, but won’t fall off the table in the mean time.

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When I noticed it was almost six, I decided to get serious and write this post. This isn’t an unusual day for me. Granted, when I’m in the middle of writing a book or short story, I force myself to get serious closer to 4:30, maybe 5:00. But that’s only because I write more words and sprinkle in random breaks to stare out the back door or check my email or scroll through social media for five minutes.

What about you? What’s a normal day of procrastination like for you? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media pages!