It’s an entry-level coordinator role in a field new to me, heavy on documentation. The job is a stretch but in a good way, and I can get a certification that will ensure it’s easier to get jobs in the future.
Best part: it was originally located here, but during the second interview with the hiring managers, they said everyone is mostly remote. I told my anxiety to shut the F up and asked if it were possible to do the job out of the Boston office. They said yes!
Honestly, I never thought this would end. I’ve applied to every job I could reasonably do. I tried the hospitals, the colleges, remote work, etc. to no avail. The pandemic, my mom’s health emergency, and losing my dad on top of all the constant rejection and interview ghosting was just…ugh.
The pay is based on location. Even for here it’s better than I expected. As for the higher-COL area, it will be tight, but I lived on $5.15 an hour in California, and I’m used to being dirt poor. So I think I can manage. The hard part will be figuring out how to move. This long slog and the pandemic ate up ALL my savings. At least I’ll have money coming in.
In publishing news, I got a code for two free uploads at IngramSpark in anticipation of expanding distribution of Tunerville and Confluence paperbacks and made an account. I thought I would finally be able to broaden my distribution, but then I found out that a title transfer can take up to 30 days! So, not until I have the money to pay for the uploads. At some point, this will happen. I’ll put you on blast when you can ask your indie bookstores to order print copies.
I did tweak the covers a tad in anticipation of future shelving. Book 1:
Larger title, same font as title for the author name, and a slightly larger size on the spine.
The only change here was a drop shadow on the cover and spine text to make it stand out a little better. I’m still super happy with this particular cover.
Book 3 is proceeding slowly, but since I’ll be working again, the brain-crushing stress of unemployment is off. Once I get my work schedule sorted, I can bang out the first draft at nights and weekends a lot faster.
All I have to worry about now is how to pay for a 1200-mile move with no money. Whee! Here’s hoping it goes smoothly and within a few months, I’ll have a shiny new place of my own, with all my stuff, which I haven’t seen in more than three years. Unpacking is going to be like Christmas. I’ll probably have to live further away from work than I want to.
Lobster roll served at Steamers Seafood Market in Newton, Massachusetts.
As is typical in the life of a writer, my heavily used laptop, a nearly seven-year-old Office Depot HP something-or-other, has decided it’s pretty much done running my writing program. Or anything else, really. [ETA: I forgot to mention the constant crashes. Bleah.]
It wouldn’t run SmartEdit Writer and Word together. It wouldn’t run either while playing music. It would barely Zoom, and thanks to an unfortunate fall off the stand, the camera was broken (I did have a USB-powered backup). When you’re interviewing for out-of-state jobs, the latter two especially are less than ideal.
I truly miss Toshiba’s legacy Satellite laptops. They went from long-lived workhorses to not really existing much anymore. They would have had a customer for life if they hadn’t abandoned them.
So yesterday, after trying and failing to work on a Book 3 chapter in Word and waiting for it to keep unfreezing, I’d had enough. As much as I hated to do it, I had to dip into the little savings I have left and replace the damn thing. I spoke to a neighbor on my way out to Best Buy, and he sent me to a place called Micro Center instead.
This is not a sponsored post. But based on my short-lived experience, hoooowwwww did I not know this place existed?! (Easy; my previous city didn’t have one.) I felt like I’d driven the TARDIS back in time to Circuit City, that bastion of electronic retailers that so sadly went bust after turning itself into the gadget equivalent of Walmart. Circuit City, along with Toshiba, had me for the long haul until they made really stupid business decisions.
Dear CEOs, the old-school knowledgeable salesperson approach works. Being on a mission, I didn’t get to explore the entire sales floor. I did see a whole rack of backpacks, roller bags, etc. and my little luggage-loving heart leaped for joy. I can’t wait until I have money to go back. The chain does have a store in my target location, so if (when!) I move away, I’ll be able to explore. I hope this place NEVER goes out of business.
Anyway, thanks to a helpful sales geek, I ended up with an HP Victus, an entry-level gaming laptop that so far seems to be more than capable of handling my multitasking and content creation. Currently, I’m going through the tedious file transfer process.
Best part? A heavy markdown. Second best part? Because I prefer to do computer work in low lighting, something I’ve always wanted but never thought I’d have: a backlit keyboard!
Compare that to the (sadly non-glow-y) sticker alternative:
It’s such a small thing, but it really does make the experience better. You’ll be proud of me, too — despite being afflicted with very bad travel anxiety, I managed to find the store in an unfamiliar area and come back without getting lost or having a panic attack. The only drawback is a reduction in USB ports from three to two, but I’ve got a hub, so I’ll be fine. The old model, seeing its replacement, decided it wants to behave (for now). It has been relegated to emergency-only backup.
I’m happy to have a machine that works properly again. The performance lag made writing very unpleasant. I’m three chapters in on Book 3, and every time I opened the project file, I felt like crying. Doing the cover and book trailer when the time comes and writing cover letters, working remotely if the opportunity arises, etc. will all be much, much easier.
After installing my old Office programs again, I tested Word and SmartEdit; they’re good to go. Now to get through this tedious file transfer, copy over my playlists, and we’re back in business!
Gah, it’s August already and I’m still stuck here! Just kill me.
In late May, a recruiter from a staffing company I’d applied to ages ago emailed me about a temp job in the city subbing for someone who was going on vacation. The pay was decent, so I took it. For two glorious weeks, I got to pretend I had a job.
It was just basic front office work, but the people were extremely nice. They included me in their weekly breakfasts and other food orders (the company paid). Usually, the temp doesn’t get anything, but they treated me like one of their own. They didn’t have a lot of work for me to do so when I caught up, I just read a new Chuck Wendig book on my phone.
The pay from this small venture allowed me to do something I haven’t done since before I lost my stupid job: go to a fantasy creators convention in mid-June, a new one in my old city called Tremendicon. It was held at a super nice venue I’d never been to when I actually lived there.
I didn’t take any pictures while I was there, sorry. I was too busy. This convention offered a very strong writer’s track with panels all the way through. I only missed a couple on the first day because I had to check into my hotel and eat after a late start and a very long drive.
I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and learned a LOT. Topics included:
Worldbuilding (I really wanted this one for Book 3)
A note from Day 2:
Hey, I forgot my jacket. I can’t be expected to remember everything.
Saturday night, we were treated to the world premiere of the short horror film Swumpwater, written by new friend Heath Amodio and old friend Cullen Bunn. You can watch it here!
It IS a horror movie, so sorry if it grossed you out. Heh heh.
It was bittersweet to be there again. Some things have changed and others stayed the same. Over nearly twenty years, I made the drive from Springfield to St. Louis for holidays many times, but since I’m trying very hard to get out of Missouri altogether, it felt like the last one ever. If I achieve that goal, I’ll just fly in for Tremendicon or any other visits. I admit, I cried a little on the way out of town. It’s tough to say goodbye to such a significant chunk of your life. However, I’m ready for a big change. SO READY.
Besides having a butt-ton of fun, I came away with twenty-five pages of notes and enough information that I almost feel ready to secure a table at the next Tremendicon, or whatever con is closest to where I find a job, when I have a bit more product. Writer and illustrator Jennifer Stolzer told us she only had a couple of items on her first table—her present setup contained multiple books, merch, and even a display doll she hacked to look like her book character.
And of course, my haul, because you CANNOT attend a con without coming home with a haul!
The Eren Yeager Titan picture is a drawing—I always buy art. The cup, t-shirt, swag bag and dragon book all are from Glenn Parris, an absolutely lovely writer. He waved a merch bag at me and said, “I only have two of these left!” Sucked me right in (that’s marketing, folks!) The other book is by Jennifer Stolzer; I won that one in a drawing.
At the top is a huge bag of pan dulce from a local Mexican supermarket I dearly miss, because HOW COULD I NOT. It was just as delicious as I remember.
Although the trip took nearly all the money I made from temping, it was well worth it. Professional development is an important part of career progression. With writing, the best way to learn is to write and consume content in whatever form works best for you—there’s a lot to learn from movies, TV shows, and comics that applies to books. If you’re considering adaptation or screenwriting, you need to read screenplays and watch lots of movies.
However, some things you can only learn from other creators. I was gratified to see that I knew a lot more than I thought and that I’m basically on the right track. I’ll have to wait until I’m employed again to think about hand sellling at a con or even attending, but I have work I can do right now. (I know, like finishing my trilogy. I know!)
Speaking of which, Amazon has heavily discounted the paperback version of Tunerville. I had no say in this whatsoever. They CLAIM I will still get the same royalty, but I have my doubts. I would like to move my work to a different distributor that will widen its reach, but that will take money I don’t have currently.
Either way, you can get it for less now, so have at it!
It is almost July! Still no job! Fuck everyone and everything! Burn it all!
Now that’s out of my system, it’s not all bad. I’ve had a couple of interviews, including a second one (although that company hasn’t contacted me yet; I plan to follow up on Monday but I suspect they went with someone else). I also actually DID get hired for a contract job in March, helping Alison Green of Ask A Manager get her pages and pages of December updates sorted.
I took the CompTIA test—AND PASSED IT! I’m Project+ certified! I don’t ever have to take that test again!
Burying the lede; Confluence has been sent to my two beta readers. I still have to do a hard copy edit, but I didn’t want to do that until I received some feedback, in case I have to move or delete anything. I haven’t even looked at it since I sent it. Instead, I had to study for the test.
Since I passed the test and don’t have to study for it anymore, the project activity list in my WBS (jargon, heh) looks like this:
– Conlang (depending on how extra I decide to be and how far I decide to take it, it could be just an artlang or a whole-ass separate thing). – Beta edits. – Hard copy edit. – Trailer: – Video edits. – Audio edits. – Assembly.
A note here: I know the first trailer was laughably amateurish, and the second wasn’t much better except for the fabulous voiceover. I’ve been watching a lot of professionally produced videos on Twitter and elsewhere and I noticed I’m seeing shots now instead of just content. Seriously, there’s nowhere to go from here but up!
– Back cover layout (I’ve got the front cover the way I want it). I can’t do this until I know for sure how many pages the paperback will have, because Amazon templates depend on page count. – Inside layout (easy; I already did it with Tunerville and all three books will be the same). – Set up pre-orders (if I can figure it out) and submit to KDP. – Paperback proofread. – Get a damn job so I can find another distributor because Amazon
I have a world compendium too, but I haven’t decided yet if that’s just for me or if it will be for you too.
I am so, so tired of job hunting, y’all. Even though working again will mean less hours in the day to write/produce, I think having my own space again will help a lot. The current situation is not good for my mental health, and that does affect my creativity. I’m hoping for a change of scenery far away from here, but we’ll have to see what we get.
I’m very anxious about what my betas will say. The extra outside edit with Tunerville has not happened this time. I just want to finish the story, but I want to give you the best version of it. I was hoping to have Confluence out and Book 3 started by now—between the CompTIA class and the Momergency, it’s just been crazy. (Once again, know the signs of a stroke; when in doubt, call 911 immediately.)
But I’ve begun to move into Book 3 headspace. So the machinery is ramping up again.
Although I’ve tried to make Confluence a self-contained story as much as I can, in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back, it’s still a middle bit. Obligatory plug: If you haven’t read Tunerville yet, get it here.
I’m excited about Book 3. I really am. It’s gonna be FUN.
Sorry it’s been a while since I posted. Still no job, still no new place.
This week, I finished a rough cut of the trailer for Confluence and the IRS dropped the $600 stimmy into my account (finally), so I sent off the contract to my voice-over actor. The trailer is much smoother than the first one because I used Movie Maker instead of PowerPoint this time. Making these is kinda fun, I must admit.
I can’t wait to show off my cover! Seriously, I’m really happy with it. Now I’m combing through the manuscript again before I send it to beta readers.
In other news, Mom got Moderna COVID vaccine number one a week or two ago through the county health department. She’s set to get her second shot at the end of this month. She had NO side effects whatsoever, not even a sore arm. I signed up through the health department and a different healthcare system. The latter contacted me first for an appointment.
So, as of yesterday:
You get whatever flavor they have—in my case, it was Pfizer. Side effects so far have included sleepiness (I went to bed at 10:00 pm last night, unheard of for me), a sore arm this morning, and a little dizziness and fatigue, nothing serious. I do have a bit of a headache. But it’s difficult to tell if that’s vaccine-related or because it was very windy yesterday and we’re into allergy season.
Keep wearing your masks and get your vaccine as soon as possible, folks. I recommend signing up via various platforms and also using a vaccine spotter likethis one to snag an appointment when your state opens eligibility. Outside the US, check with your local health authorities. If you’re in Brazil (I have at least one reader who is), please, do your best to stay safe!
Confluence will probably go on pre-order, something I didn’t do last time. I will definitely let you know when that will happen. Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet read Tunerville, grab a copy now—you’ll have a much better reading experience with Book 2 if you read it first.
The Shiny Folk and other stories has come off expanded distribution, as it’s not selling, the royalty is much lower, and I need every penny I can get. So for now, you can only get the story collection in the U.S. I’m exploring options other than Amazon’s platform but that will have to wait until I find work.
The dream of traditional publishing has not died. As writers continue to practice their craft, they get better. Once I finish Book 3 of the Tuner Trilogy, I have another fantasy waiting in the wings. It’s all outlined and ready for me to start work. I’d hoped Tunerville would be the one, especially since I got so close. Maybe The Catalyst will. Who knows? If not, you’ll get it the indie way, unless I massively f*ck it up.
Short post is short since I’m feeling vax-tired. Till next time, keep reading. It’s not like there’s anything else to do in the (hopefully waning) days of a global pandemic.
So you might know that in addition to working on Confluence and planning Book 3, I’m also trying to study for the CompTIA Project+ exam.
The study guide and course do NOT have practical exercises; I guess they don’t think this not-quite-IT certification warrants those. But without hands-on practice (not just quizzes), I’m worried that I won’t retain some of the practical concepts. This really should have been a full-on course, with homework.
I’ve been trying to apply them to the only work I’m actually doing right now, but since I’m well along in the process for Confluence, trying to break it down into work packages retroactively has proved difficult. SOOOOOOOO…
I’m gonna start over, with Book 3 as the project, and plan it using these concepts all the way through.
This means ditching JaNoWriMo but not the writing I’ve already done. It’s okay; I didn’t get very far anyway, and we’ve been pretty busy dealing with a major threat to our democracy, a deadly pandemic, and drastically altered holidays. Starting over on a project just means it gets the attention it deserves.
If you’re tempted to @ me for the about-face, remember, I’m doing all this by myself while also job hunting and looking after my mom. (Although she’s frustrated with how long it’s taking—as anyone would be—she’s actually doing really well.) The stress of being unemployed really does not lend itself to higher thinking.
November looms yet again, when writers everywhere try to cram 50,000 words into one month!
I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I have a project (Book 3 of the Tunerville trilogy), I’m outlining it, and I even started a rough storyboard for the book trailer. What I don’t have is time.
As you know, I’ve been job hunting for an excruciatingly long period. I still haven’t been hired anywhere, but the state of Missouri did recently offer free CompTIA IT training to workers displaced by COVID-19. I qualified for this due to being a long-term unemployed person whose job hunt was completely derailed by the pandemic.
So now I’m preparing for the Project+ certification exam. I can’t write a book and do that simultaneously. However, this should bode well for the future. Not only will I have a certification to add to job applications, but I’m boosting the rudimentary project management experience I obtained at my last job.
Confluence is with my editor. Deadline: Thanksgiving. Although I doubt we’ll have any guests this year, I need to be ready to hit those revisions in December. I hope to have most of this study and maybe even the exam knocked down by then.
I promised you I would finish the trilogy, and I will. With that in mind, I’m launching my own personal, month-long writing challenge in January, which I will call JaNoWriMo!
Note: this is not an official thing, so don’t go looking for it online (edit: whoops, somebody did it!). It’s just me adapting to a crazy situation and the tendency for the Universe to make me sit here for months and then pile it all on at once.
I doubt I’ll finish in one month, especially if I find employment by then (sooner, please, so I don’t have to move during the coldest, wettest time of the year). Someone could even offer me a job out of state, since remote work is now a legitimate way to start. If so, cross your fingers that this hypothetical company happens to be in the increasingly narrow list of areas where I’d actually want to live.
Weekly updates for JaNoWriMo might work better. I’ll also pop a word count meter up on the blog so you can see how it’s going.
As of this writing, we have no clue who will win the 2020 U.S. election, what will happen in the aftermath, or whether we’ll even have democracy by January. All we know is that it will probably be very unsettled and chaotic for a while. I feel for anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year; the added stress is sure to derail you, but don’t give up. The whole point is to get you working.
Artists and writers are scribes of history, whether or not they include actual events in their work. So keep creating. Keep doing the thing you love. It will get you through these dark times. It will help others who need a breather, or an escape. Your voice is important.
Y’all, I have seriously neglected you, and I’m sorry.
I have pandemic brain. Yes, you understand it. We’re all suffering from it. Time has no meaning. Days blend into one another. If you’re working, you’re either stressed from worrying about contagion or stressed from navigating your job at home, maybe around family members also working from home, kids, pets, etc.
If you’re not working, as I Still! Am! Not!, you’re stressed from that.
Last post, I mentioned I was going to republish a third and final edition of The Shiny Folk and other stories at Amazon. You can read my explanation for that move at Boomkaart Books’ Media page. Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to distribute there, but IngramSpark is too expensive. It costs me nothing to publish with KDP, even for print-on-demand. Of course, that’s by design; Jeff “Greed Dragon” Bezos makes money off me, though God knows I’m not making very much. If it’s free for you, then you’re the product.
Again, sorry my pandemic brain forgot to come over here and tell you I’d launched it, and about the free book promotion.
I’m extremely happy with the new book cover, however. I think it turned out great. It’s miles better than the last one.
I added a couple of stories—one from this blog, one I published previously in a now-defunct literary journal (that I’d put on the blog), and one brand new story, “MathLex.” If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how difficult math is for me, so guess where that one came from? The cover is black because a couple of the stories fall into the horror genre, particularly “Jack and the Bean Sprout,” which I’ve never been able to sell since it’s straight-up disturbing.
Have I been writing more stories? Well, yes and no. Short fiction isn’t my favorite medium; although I like reading it, I’m not so fond of writing it. “MathLex” is new. I started a promising work about werewolves, but honestly, I don’t have the bandwidth for it right now, between revising Confluence and job hunting.
I said January 2021 for the release of Confluence; I may have to push it out a little depending on the timing of editorial feedback. Once it’s out, I can write the final book in the trilogy—it’s all laid out in my head, and I’m toying with the idea of writing it during this year’s NaNoWriMo.
The Catalyst is on hold for now, although it’s completely outlined. I’m not worried about that one. I just don’t want to pull a George R. R. Martin or Patrick Rothfuss on y’all, or leave you with an unfinished trilogy if I should get the ‘Rona or my head explodes from all the stress.
I tend to work better if I have something to work around. Like a job.
And may I just say that if a person goes to all the trouble to prepare for an interview, i.e. looking up the company website and info, setting up a nice space, dressing up, logging into Zoom, etc. etc., they at least deserve a rejection email. If you ghost me, you go on my shit list. FOREVER. And no, an email a month after the date you told me you wanted someone to start doesn’t count.
In the meantime, I’d better get back to it. There is no rest for the self-employed, and that includes writers, who don’t get paid until we actually finish the work. In between bouts of app-centered self care, that is.
The screenplay continues to grind along very slowly. I don’t think a massive online open course where people can proceed at their own pace (i.e. fall behind) is best for beginners learning a very interactive writing process. There are so many people in the class that no one can connect. The platform doesn’t allow you to follow anyone to see their progress. This is massively frustrating, since we’re required to give feedback to other writers. I would have preferred an in-person class with more interaction.
Critique is useful, but I’m tempted to just proceed on my own. I downloaded all the videos and lectures. Although I think it could be shot on a fairly low budget, I highly doubt I’ll ever do anything with it. It’s fine; this screenplay is only for learning anyway. Your first anything will never be your best.
I’ve set a release date of January 2021 for Book 2. And — I have a working title! It’s Confluence.
If I hustle, I should be able to revise and find an editor (and then revise again after that). Setting a deadline will hold me accountable. I really wish I could go somewhere else to work — the library would be good — but Missouri’s caseload keeps going up, so no.
Meanwhile, I took some time yesterday to mock up a layout of Chris’s house from Tunerville, where his maternal grandparents lived. When they died, his mother sold the house to him to keep it in the family, since Chris intended to stay in Martinsburg. Paulette and Alan moved to St. Thomas close to Chris’s brother Adam, his wife Carmen, and their grandchildren Mags and Henry. (Martinsburg and St. Thomas in Missouri are both fictional.) If you haven’t read it yet, you can get it at the title link.
Here’s the ground floor and the basement.
Image: A. Elizabeth West
Here’s the upstairs and the attic. I did these in Word, which sucks. I need to find some cheap (or free) easy-to-use room layout software.
Image: A. Elizabeth West
It helps me to have a representation of the space. When I’m writing, rooms tend to shift around in my head. During Book 1, the living room kept changing places with the dining room and the parlor / study. And the downstairs bath didn’t even exist! Chris’s bedroom also moved from the back to the front. But the kitchen has always been in that spot.
I don’t care if it’s not perfect. This is how it looks in my head. I need a solid image of the space for a pivotal scene.
In June, I attended two online workshops — How to Write Fights and Action Scenes, and Act Like a Writer — with comic book and NYT best-selling novel writer Jonathan Maberry, author of V-Wars and the Joe Ledger series, among others.
He presented scads of useful information and even took questions. Jonathan is very accessible on Twitter and prices his workshops affordably, a great help to little starveling writers like me. The proceeds from both went to an affordable housing organization, so coughing up $50 felt worth it in every way.
The Shiny Folk and other stories
I’ve taken my story collection down from the Boomkaart Books website temporarily. WordPress downgraded my ability to sell it directly from that platform unless I purchase an expensive Business account. I can’t do that presently, so the only alternative is to sell it via Amazon (ugh, I know). To do that, I have to raise the price a little and burn one of my ISBN numbers, so I’m including new content and a brand new cover. This will be the last edition of the collection. When it’s ready, I will let you know.
Conlang / Worldbuilding
Again, plugging away. I finally settled on place names for the world that goes with it. Of course, anything can change at any time as I plunge deeper into grammar, etc.
I also made a map using Inkarnate, an online map maker any Dungeons and Dragons players reading this will probably recognize. I like it despite the free version being somewhat limited. Should I stay on the high fantasy kick, I might pony up for a (very reasonable) Pro account.
Here’s a teaser:
That’s pronounced BETTHH-rah, by the way. In this language, ss is pronounced as the th in them. That’s all you’re getting. I’ve already said more than I probably should.
I’ve never gone this deep into fantasy before, and I’m not sure it will be a success, but it’s fun, so I don’t really care. If you enjoy the story, that’s all that counts.
I’ll leave you now to return to job hunting and revision. Stay safe — wash your hands, wear your masks, and avoid all the germy people (most of them).
Creative people often work in solitude, and they need time to work. So why can’t I work?
You don’t have to be creative to relate, especially right now. Productivity waxes and wanes. At any given time, some or all of the following have been in play.
Stress from being unemployed
Long-term unemployment is not the same as a vacation or a sabbatical. Not having an income involves a lot of stressful emotions — worry about bills, despair that one will never work again, a sense of inadequacy at the lack of response to your efforts.
Before mine, which predated the pandemic, I lamented the lack of time in which to write. If only I could do it full time, I thought, I’d have so much more content out there.
Now, the time I have to write is filled with job applications, scouring pages of listings, seeking just the turns of phrase to make a potential employer realize that failing in a job no longer suitable for me did not make me a failure. That being unemployed did not make me unemployable.
Too much unstructured time
At first, productivity remained untouched. I restructured one novel and wrote another. I published a short story collection. I started making a conlang. I dipped back into my blog.
But I soon discovered that limits on my creativity actually hone my concentration. If I had an hour to write, say at lunch, my brain knew it had to make the best use of that hour. Too much time can be as bad as not enough. In short, I’ve become so used to working around other things that when I have no things to work around, it’s harder to work.
Professional artists treat their art as a job, with dedication, discipline, and determination. After all, talent means nothing if you do nothing. Schedules are important. Having little to do all day can really mess with your sense of time.
Lack of privacy
As if that weren’t bad enough, we’re now tentatively emerging (too early, IMO) from a nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus, perhaps the first of many. Countless workers have lost their jobs. Others are able to telecommute but find their productivity lacking. To buckle down when other members of the household demand your attention or ignore the presence of another person toiling in close proximity requires mental effort most people aren’t used to.
I can relate to this; in my own house, I was alone. Now I’m in someone else’s space. Their constant footfalls, muffled phone conversations, and occasional forays into the space they carved out for me are distracting as hell.
Basements tend toward chilly no matter the weather outside. My hands are constantly stiff, the fingers icy. The drugstore hand/wrist supports I use when typing for long stretches of time don’t help. Thanks to the virus, any other working space, such as a library or coffee shop (noisy and distracting themselves) are off-limits.
Also, it’s dark in here. A bright space tends to feel warmer, the sunlight pouring in and warming not only the room but the mind. Windows or not, it seems perpetually dreary compared to my old city.
The cure will undoubtedly involve more exercise when parks feel safe again. It’s very unpleasant to walk in the neighborhood, plus it keeps raining. If nothing else, I can get on the floor and stretch.
I don’t want to be here. I didn’t want to be in my old city either, but I especially don’t want to be here.
If I’d found a job that was (heavy air quotes) “good enough,” I might have stayed a bit longer. (I definitely would have if I’d known the ‘rona was coming.) I had friends, a spiritual group of like-minded practitioners, personal service providers I respected and liked, and a sense of community even as I despised the limitations of that community:
Depreciating job market — low pay, little growth, few means to escape
Cultural isolation — lack of diversity, a dearth of entertainment options
Bigoted politics and an evangelical religious majority (the less said about this, the better)
I want to leave the state entirely. The weather can be extreme and often violent. The economy here is depressed thanks to years of conservative rule. Salaries are below average.
It’s no wonder writing is tough right now.
What’s a writer to do? One thing that can really help is to pivot your creativity. Exercise that muscle, but in a different way.
Make something. I did make a wicked new book trailer for Tunerville, however. Huge thanks to my friend John Hutch for the excellent voiceover. He did a fantastic job (and yes, I did pay him). That took a whole different set of skills.
I’ve also been making masks for the family from an Instructable. I’m getting good at them; I can whack one out in an hour. Sewing sucks, but now that it’s mostly an automatic process, I can let my mind wander while I stitch.
Try a different kind of writing. I’m taking a screenplay class. I’m writing a screenplay! I have software! The same kind Rian Johnson uses!
Read something. Not only does reading rest your mind, but it can inspire you, especially if you’re stuck. Or watch a movie. Pay attention to the storytelling, or just relax.
By the way, writing a screenplay is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from writing a novel. It deserves its own post. I really wish I had my own space; I like to exercise my dialogue out loud (even for prose), and I can’t comfortably do that here.
Regardless, it’s not time to give up yet. I will find a job, have a place of my own again, and Book 2 will come out. I’m not giving up.