As a resident of “The South,” aka the southern states of the United States (as if there are no other “southern” regions in all the world, but whatever) I was accustomed to thunderstorms. They’d been a staple in my life for the last twenty-five years, at least, and I really didn’t think anything of them. Usually. Sure, I’d get out of a swimming pool for thunder. Lightening followed as a rule so you really didn’t want to risk being in an open body of water, but otherwise, I didn’t make no never mind. Again, usually.
But as I woke, gasping, the house rattling with the continued booming, I was sure I was about to die. I’d been dead asleep and there was little that would wake me up. This went on. This couldn’t possibly be thunder. It was still going. The house was still shaking. I’d never been in an earthquake so I didn’t know what that was like, but I thought maybe I was finding out now and I should get to shelter in door frame or something because couldn’t be good. The booming overhead though, I didn’t think it was an earthquake. This was probably a plane. And it was probably about to crash into my house. And kill me where I lay in my bed. I closed my eyes again and thought, “Well, if this is it, at least it will be quick.”
The booming faded a little and finally after a few more seconds, stopped. Then, the unmistakable crack of lightening shook my room again but nothing fell to the ground and nothing lit on fire. I was going to live after all. Another bout of thunder rolled over the house, but it wasn’t as intense, it wasn’t as long, and it wasn’t rattling. Just a thunderstorm now. The clouds could no longer bear their heavy weight and I heard the gush of rain against my windows. I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to sleep.
I hit the resistance again today. After having not felt it for a few days, it was annoying to have it back. That’s okay though. I know that these types of things are common. I’m glad to have had some days without the resistance. I’ve read a little more of the book “The Artist’s Way” and I really do want to try her program. At the same time I feel incredibly overwhelmed about the upcoming things I have going on in my life. The next two weeks only involve a couple of weekend trips and a few appointments, but then it’s back to work during the busy season. Fall is always crazy in a way that Spring just never is. We’ll have the week in Atlanta for our sales kick off and then a couple of weeks later I’ll be taking off for DragonCon, plus there will be a visit from J who is coming in from California right before DragonCon. Then September and October tend to be my busiest work months. November is crazy. Honestly between the second week in August and the second week in December, I rarely have time to take a breath. And yes, I realize that there is never a “good time” to start a 12 week program but I think some times are just seriously worse than others. And fall is definitely the worst and busiest part of my year, bar none. At least while I’m working for Scholastic.
At the same time, I have a story to try to write, re-write, edit, and mail by July 25th. And if I’m blocked, I’m screwed. I really wanted to have the first draft written by Wednesday and I have no idea if that is going to happen. If I could get the first draft done by Wednesday, I know I could mail it by the following Tuesday (the 25th) or Wednesday at the latest and I feel like that’s enough time for it to make it to Atlanta by the 1st of August (the following Tuesday). Granted, I supposed I always have the option to just cancel the workshop. It’s just that I know I’d be canceling out of fear. The fear is what has me blocked anyway. It’s hard to be creative when you’re just so damned afraid. The “I have to write something good!” is so hateful to my creative brain and I know I’m not being fair to myself. At the same time, I don’t know how to stop. This lady says she knows how to help. That she can teach that part. I don’t know if she can tell me how to be a better storyteller, I think that’s something I have to learn other places and practice. But she says she does have a system for becoming consistently creative without all the blocked nonsense all the time. She calls it a recovery program, like AA or something. And I think I believe her.
And that’s the thing right? Like, what if she’s right? What if she doesn’t know exactly how to loosen up the strangle hold the inner critic has on my creative self? If that’s the case, how can I possibly justify putting it off?
Not to mention, as frustrating as my job can be and as busy as it can be, I only spend 40 hours there a week. I don’t take my job home with me, ever, and even if I stay until we close at 5pm every day of the week, that still puts me home in the evening with plenty of time to do creative work. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from the last 8 months or so, it’s that I absolutely cannot give up my creative pursuits because to give them up would be to give up on my mental health and that is something I know I cannot do.
She forewarns that it can be a difficult, emotionally exhausting journey, one that I’ll likely want to quit. Which means the other thing standing in my way is fear. Fear of what I’ll find and what I’ll feel and what I’ll have to face. Those aren’t things I can take lightly. I know everyone has a shitstorm of issues inside them - maybe some more than others but still I doubt anyone has been untouched by some sort of trauma at some point. I think we all build up walls of lies in some form or fashion so that we don’t have to face the things we don’t like about ourselves. It’s probably pretty normal to fear that too.
I fear I’ll be too tired from work to be able to handle whatever crises this thing makes me face. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to face what I need to face. I’m afraid I’ll quit.
I mean, I can’t fail if I don’t try, right? Which is, of course, exactly the attitude I’ve been hiding behind for years that I promised myself I wouldn’t let win (at least not on a regular basis anyway) earlier this year.
On top of all this, I go back to work in like two weeks and I’m dreading it. Part of me looks forward to seeing Emily at work all the time and I certainly don’t want to stay on unemployment no matter how much I wish I could retire already. The last few weeks have positively flown by and I know the next two weeks will be gone even faster. I’m trying to savor them, of course but they’ll still go by quickly. I keep hoping that by the end of these next two weeks, when I’m thinking, “Yup, back to work tomorrow,” that I’ll be sort of ready for it. Maybe not bored with being off exactly, I don’t think that’s possible, but ready. Maybe if Fall and Spring were reversed and spring was the busier season and fall was quiet and I could “ease” into going back to work, that would be more likely. And granted, it’s not impossible. It’s a six week break and that’s no small break. It’s really, really not. I mean, how many people get that kind of time off? Teachers, of course, get a bit more than that, but they take their jobs home with them every day. I’d bet those kids are always on their minds. Not to mention all the other crap they put up with, like parents and the government making dumb laws about standardized tests. Granted, I have to put up with a lot of Parent-Teacher-Associations/
Sigh, I’m on a tangent. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do. I don’t want to start something I’m not committed to doing but I don’t want to not commit to something because I’m being a scared little wuss. I could probably debate this all night. Go round and round with myself about it but I’m not sure that it would help. I think I’ll go try a prompt and then maybe read for a bit. I’ve got a dentist appointment tomorrow so I’ll have to be in bed at an almost reasonable hour tonight.
I did the computer mouse the other day so I thought I'd do the prompt as it was originally described and not as I'd inadvertently read it. It didn't seem right to "check it off" without doing it properly.
I think I’m going to make. I found two more places to submit to, reworked my cover letters, and fired away. I also did the next assignment which was to write the people whose opinions of your writing really matter on a 1 inch by 1 inch piece of paper. I don’t have a ruler so I had to wing it, but I figure no one can complain about me putting three people on the list. I mean, that should be short enough to fit on a 1 square inch piece of paper. Especially if I shortened their names or wrote them really small, right? Anyway, while I’m sure the visual reference is helpful, and I might do it one day, I think the message of the assignment was clear. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m a “spirit of the law” kind of girl and that ain’t gonna change anytime soon.
Part of me wants to power through the other two assignments tonight, but I think I need some rest. I think that I’ll be able to complete them tomorrow more easily and quickly having got some real sleep.
Tomorrow will also hopefully involve some writing something that isn’t a journal entry, but we’ll see. I’m also eager to finish the book I’m listening to. It’s interesting to me that the narrator of the stories isn’t a narrator I’ve been thrilled with in the past but I still think I’d rather stick with listening to the stories instead of reading them. I’m not totally sure, but I am leaning that way. Normally I find her barely tolerable and it’s not like she’s doing such a better job on these than she did on the others I’ve heard by her. Maybe it’s just that these books are so much better than the other books I’ve heard her read. Not that the other books were bad, they weren’t. It’s just that those other books were… “well, that was fun” as opposed to what I’m listening to now which is more like, how can I get five more minutes listening to this book. I know, I’ll empty the dishwasher, that way “I’m being productive” so I won’t feel guilty about how I’m spending this time but I can still listen to the book.
What I’m reading now is by one of my all time favorite writers, Shelly Laurenston. I just relistened to her “Pride” series, which is probably my favorite series by her though her “Call of Crows” series is fantastic too and I enjoyed her “Magnus Pack” series too. This series is under her pen name (I think it’s her pen name and not the other way round), G.A. Aiken. It’s Dragons and witches and warlords and shit. Where her shapeshifter books take place in modern, earth times, Dragon Kin takes place in a world of Dragon Gods and swords. Both epically fun though. You have to have an affinity for cursing, bloodshed, raunchy language, and sort of questionable or unstable main characters, but I find them hilarious and exciting. She’s one of the few authors I still read that doesn’t really pass the “But is it gay?” question. She does have an odd side character (I can think of 2 for sure and a 3rd I suspect) who turns out to be gay, but they’re not developed. Still though, I enjoy her main characters. Her female characters are especially fun to me because they’re usually vicious (though in different ways, sometimes with violence, but sometimes in craftiness) and funny. I mean, one of her characters has the moniker “The Blood Queen” and she’s actually a queen. “The Viper” and “The Beast” are really fun too. “The Beast” is plain and bespectacled and brilliant. One of the characters in the “Pride” series is famous for her favorite saying which she got from her father, “Time to start the killing.” And Cella Malone is a former marine, a bare knuckles boxer, and a hockey player. There’s all kinds of “politics” between shifters and packs and families and it’s just fun. She’s also suppppper diverse with characters who are of a bunch of different backgrounds and descents.
And I’m officially rambling. But seriously, I love that author. She’s got another series she’s going to be doing soon, I think it’s coming out next year that has me really excited.
So now that I’ve blown off some steam writing about the author of the book I want to be reading, I’m going to go listen to the book for a bit and get some sleep.
Here’s yesterday’s list for the weekend:
Give 2 more people feedback. Check. Edit “Monster in Manhattan.”Check. Edit my cover letter.Check. Figure out which other four magazines I’m submitting my story to since I’d already picked one.Picked five, couldn’t use three. Found another one I couldn’t use. Picked another story for for a flash fiction magazine only to find they’re currently closed for submissions. Found one that is a bit absurdist and submitted a story that honestly wouldn’t be appropriate for any other lit magazine I’ve ever seen but just might fit there. Two more submissions to figure out. Rework my cover letter four times.Didn’t need a cover letter for one magazine. Reworked it for my other submission. Likely two more reworks to go. Attempt to send my reworked cover letters to the correct magazines along with my story.Again, three down, two to go.
Once I get that done there are three more assignments to the online course, but I’ve looked over them and from what I can tell, they’re manageable. If I can figure out the last couple of submissions tomorrow, I feel confident I can finish the rest in time. Of course, that'll have to be worked around the fellowship thing with mom in the morning and volunteering in the library in the afternoon. I'm going to be so thankful to be shelving tomorrow and listening to my book.
My goals for Friday and Saturday (I originally posted them separately but meh) were:
Find something to post to Becoming Writer Workshop. Recommend doing further edits to “Monster in Manhattan” story and posting the second draft.
Did edits to “Monster in Manhattan” Story and posted it to the workshop group.
Find six more contests and journals to send off to.
As it turns out, I had a copy where I had already added more magazines so I only needed to add a few more to get to 20.
Pick a writer to contact and get clear about the contact. Ask any necessary questions.
Spoke with a writer about their personal essay piece and about submitting, etc.
Give three people feedback on the workshop website.
I did give more feedback to one person. Two more to go.
Write letter to writer.
I guess I thought I was going to pick a writer one day and actually write them as a goal separately. I ended up doing everything all to together in typical Kate fashion.
Watching the video for, and start working on the next assignment in the LitMagLove class. There is no video. The assignment is to send a story to five different magazines. I’ll have to do that by the end of day Sunday. I’d like to do it tomorrow but the stuff I worked on today took me about 6 or 7 hours and I’ll be at the fellowship thing for too much of the day to be able to do that tomorrow. Especially since I need to do a few more edits to the story and to my base cover letter before I sent it.
Still, I really productive day and I’m pleased about that.
So, here’s what I have left to do this weekend:
Give 2 more people feedback.
Edit “Monster in Manhattan”
Edit my cover letter.
Figure out which other four magazines I’m submitting my story to since I’d already picked one.
Rework my cover letter four times.
Attempt to send my reworked cover letters to the correct magazines along with my story.
I wrote a bit earlier in the day about having a to do list. I went ahead and posted it because I got distracted in the middle of it and now so much time has passed that I’m in a different state of mind than I was when I started it. I guess I want to start fresh now.
The anxiety has been kind of rough the last 24 hours or so which sucks. I’ve just had some chamomile tea and that seems to have helped some. I think part of it was how little I slept on Thursday night… or rather Friday morning. I only only got a few hours.
One of the big things right now is this damned Lit Mag Love course. Every time I think about it, I just get all out of sorts. I need to have everything in the four modules done by July 10th and I’m already like four weeks into the class and I haven’t even finished module 2 yet. I’m stuck on this posting the first page of a story that will be a submission story. I just feel like nothing I’ve written is going to qualify for this thing and I keep getting blocked when I try to write something new for it. And when I do write it’s for a book that I am actually liking a lot that I’ve been posting my chapters to on my other workshop course. Which means I’ve spent 0 time working on short stories at the moment when I really need to.
I think I may start working on my Mrs. Claus story for the Lit Mag Love thing. I just need to get enough reworked that I can submit the first page. That doesn’t sound like a lot but it feels like a major thing. It feels like this two ton cement block sitting on my sternum is what is feels like.
And it sucks. It just really, really sucks. I hate this. I hate this so much. I have feeling this way. I’ve been trying to sit with it and recognize what’s going on in my head and soothe myself and tell myself it’s all going to be okay and I just need to work on it. It helps a little I guess. Granted, maybe if I’d actually start working on the project like I’ve been telling myself, I might get over all this completely.
I also need to remind myself that a lot of times when I’ve been dealing with these different things, I’ve felt worse before I’ve felt better, that sometimes when you start digging into your mental wellbeing and what’s fucking with it, it sucks and then it gets better if you keep at it. I just need to keep at it.
I wanted to do “extra” writing today to get closer to my writing goal for the month but I may just do the “minimum.” I haven’t gotten to watch last night’s Wynonna Earp episode so it would be nice to get the writing done and then lay in bed and watch Wynonna and then go to sleep. I won’t be setting an alarm for the morning that’s for sure. I think I need to sleep a little longer with no alarm than I have been the last few days.
I had wanted to talk more about how fun last night was, because it really was but the only other thing I feel like talking about right now is how thankful I am that I’m not feeling depressed. The anxiety sucks, it really, really does but it’s not depression. Anxiety is a bitch but depression is lethal. So if I was going to have to battle either of them, I’m glad it’s anxiety. I can battle this. I can deal with this. Even if it means I need to use the medicine again - battles take weaponry. I’d like this to be a fistfight, but if my opponent has a sword, I’d better have one too.
I have a to do list. I really, really have a lot I want to do. Actually, it’s a short list but there are things that would take a while. Things like rewriting Mrs. Claus and watching all the videos from the “mini-writer’s retreat” on Facebook and writing fresh things. I’m also confused because I thought I posted my third chapter on my Becoming Writer Workshop but now I can’t find that.
So last night I said I was either going to go write some more or go to sleep. I got into bed and I think I had every intention of going to sleep but then somehow I put on my book that I had been listening to earlier in the day, maybe I just thought I’d listen to one more funny bit - I can’t rightly remember where my mind was - and then I ended up listening to it and playing games on my phone until I’d finished somewhere around 6 am. And then I got up around 9:45 am to go for a walk. I know, madness. Absolutely craziness. I really want to watch the new episode of Wynonna Earp that aired tonight and stay up and tweet about it and I want to write more after that but I think I probably won’t. I’ve got a bit of a headache and I need more than anything else in the world right now, besides breathing I guess, to get this mascara off my face. I don’t know what I was thinking putting on mascara. I mean it looks pretty but I fucking hate mascara. Anyway, if I’m incoherent tomorrow, y’all will know why.
I’ve done a little writing today and managed to do two job applications. I also took a walk this morning “with” my friend Emily (we talked on the phone while we walked around our perspective neighborhoods) which was really fun actually. At work we often take walks in the morning on our break. She and I spend a good bit more time at work being sociable than we should be maybe. But seriously, not seeing each other for more than a couple of days at a time is sort of weird. I mean I know I worked last summer and she didn’t but that seems like … well several years ago if I’m honest. Last summer seems as far away from me as working for iTunes four years ago. Isn’t it strange the way time passes? I can’t believe how quickly this past year went by for the most part. I felt like I blinked and it was gone and at the same time, the last few months feel like they were years ago. Maybe it’s something about having this summer off that makes everything else feel so strange. Being off right now, it almost feels like this was always my life and I just had a weird dream about working the last year.
Time is so strange. The last few days have gone by quickly too but in a different way, I think. I thought I might try to make a schedule for myself, but I tend to not follow schedules even when I’m the one that makes them so I don’t figure I’ll bother, at least not at the moment. So far I’ve done a good job at staying productive - even if I’m behind on some of my homework. I did make it to the “office hour” today too which made me happy. They’re having an extra one this week on Friday but in the evening so I don’t think I’ll be able to attend that one. If they still have the one Saturday morning, I might make it up in time for that. Emily and I are going to a performance by one of our other co-workers choir group on Friday evening and then of course there’s Wynonna Earp and any squee-ing that might involve. Last Friday I was so exhausted I barely made it through the episode before I was unconscious.
Speaking of Fridays, I think Killjoys is back next week which is lovely. I sure do enjoy Killjoys too. And what a lineup! I think Dutch would love Wynonna.
I digress. Not that this really had a point except for that I think I find it a little easier to write my fiction after I’ve rambled for a bit about my real life.
I’ve got another busy day lined up tomorrow and hopefully that means I’ll be working on my assignments. Wish me luck y’all.