Confessional: Should Sucks

I talk a lot about juggling balls in my life, and trying to find a balance between work, my young kids, and my art. And I am definitely a work in progress, because transitioning from being a full time mom to a student, then to working an hour away (only two days a week, but that’s still 2 days that I’m gone most of the day), and being able to give writing the attention it needs is very hard for me. I do tend to let things slip, and I also give myself a lot of permission to not be productive AT ALL after the kids go to bed. When it’s just me on days my husband works, the complete silence is a gift. My poor brain gets so over saturated by noise and sensory input during the day that if I don’t get some quiet alone time, I start to unravel.

This post isn’t really about writing, but it is a lot about learning to balance parts of my life, and about honoring my needs and limitations, and celebrating successes. I, like many people, have structured my life around should. “I should be doing this”, “I should be able to manage”, “I should be more patient with my kids”, etc.

Should is poison in our lives. It’s toxic and damaging when we let it overcome the celebrations and positive strides we take. On days where my brain feels like it’s shutting down (I really get over saturated by sensory input sometimes), I should only leads to guilt and low self esteem, which spreads into other sections of my life until my failings and shortcomings speak a lot more loudly than anything else.

I often feel as though I am failing at balancing part of my life, and that enjoying writing as an outlet with rewards that are intangible to my family but necessary to me, are bad.

I have long admired women like Joy Harjo, Marge Piercy, and countless others whose stories speak to tremendous will and hard work. Challenges they faced, triumphs they managed to pull out in difficult circumstances, balancing so many things in their lives, are things I often feel like I should be able to do, because I have the intelligence and capability to do so.

I often feel incredibly lazy because there is a lot of time in my life that I could be using differently.

But that really means that I’m not listening to my body and mind. That I am discounting my need to take care of the things that I need for mental health, for good interactions with friends and family, and for flourishing creativity. I discount the many things in my life I balance. All I see are the balls I’ve dropped. Last November and December, I was trying to balance classes, work, trying to get into grad school, my mother being in the hospital for two weeks, NaNo, and edits for Hush; I had a friend ask me if I kept elves in my pockets in order to do these things. But what I saw were the things I didn’t get done, or the ways I should have been able to do them better.

I don’t know if there is a clearer way to convey the message, to you and to myself, that should has the power to destroy positivity, self love and appreciation, and good outcomes in our lives.

In those moths, and January, I helped my mother through a two week, two surgery, emotional roller coaster of an ordeal. I got into grad school, got a perfect grade in my course. I finished edits for Hush, even though I was an emotional wreck that perhaps made it harder than it could have been (oops). I spent two weeks literally on the floor after a debilitating back injury, and I wrote the rough manuscript for my upcoming book.

Should is a word I want to burn away (in the fireplace might be nice, because this winter has been cold as fuck), so that I can let myself say “I am fucking awesome”, It’s incredibly sad to me that tearing ourselves down is a natural state, but that owning how incredible we can be is often, especially for women, seen as bragging, ego driven, self centered hubris.

This week’s confession: I want to learn that I am fucking awesome. I’m not there yet, but there’s not room in my life for not appreciating myself, especially when it takes up or hinders precious time I could be enjoying the gifts in my life.

Well and working on this manuscript, because it’s due soon, but also because it’s a story I love, want to tell, and desire to give my very best to.

Anyone reading this: I would love to see us all working on these positive statements and telling should to fuck off. If you want, I would love to see these messages in the comments or reblogs so that we can all support each other, and cheer for our successes.

Writing Hall of Horror

If you know me at all, you might know that I work from the two crappiest, most unreliable computers in existence. One is really almost dead and is literally falling apart, and the other has never really been the same since it was resuscitated from the virus from hell. I have the constant fear that it will eat my work, but am afraid to use my external hard drive because my friend who performed the Lazarus miracle was unsure if the virus could have infiltrated that. Who has the money to go to Best Buy to fix that? Not I right now.

Anyway, the point is that this weekend I discovered that I somehow did a scary awful horrifying thing. I had been working on my new project in two places. Somehow I had a copy saved in my downloads, and another in my documents, with the same file name. I didn’t even know that was possible!! Only when I sent it to a great friend for advice (and also, after she’d read about 20k words of it) did I realize she was reading an older draft — one she’d already read too, she must have thought I was really incapable of editing.

Thus ensued panic. Like, want to throw up panic. I have a lot of balls I am juggling right now between writing new project with a deadline coming SOON, working on things for Hush (omg the reality of this book almost being in everyone’s hot little hands is SO INTENSE), work, kids having multiple snow days because it was too cold, other writing projects for my other fandom life….figuring out which changes I made where sounded like a hall of horrors I couldn’t even fathom.

Luckily I have an awesome editor who actually knows how to work this newfangled technology (read: Word. I’ve become such a luddite in my old age), and showed me how to compare them. Which is way easier but also time consuming and daunting and takes away from the whole, you know, writing and editing the manuscript in time.

This is not my first foray into the Writing Hall of Horror. There are so many times I’ve been there — I am sure all writers and artists have. Set backs, wrong turns, storylines that just don’t work, having to rearrange book length manuscripts, research that fails — there are so many ways these things can go wrong.

I’ve been asked why I do this, put myself through this, when the rewards seem so little. I assume by this people mean financial rewards, for which there have been none yet in my writing career.

I guess all I can say is that passion, and living dreams, being honest about who you are and that calling in your core — those are the rewards worth more than anything to me. I grew up with an artist, and although I never made art like she, I knew that I had words. I’ve known since I was little. But the rewards people expect you to reap for such hard work (mostly, money, status, prestige) made living that dream in anyway but the fringe seem frivolous.

Once I gave myself permission to do it, to write regardless of what was expected of me, it’s like the whole world opened up. I found that I have great strengths in writing — one of which I explore in Hush, which is the way that intimacy, sex, power dynamics can be used to really examine character growth and development — and that I have things to work on. Luckily, communities of writers and readers exist to help, encourage, give constructive criticism.

Today I’m thinking of the Hall I must venture into in order to sort the shit storm of this dual document hell, the research hell of figuring out where to place my characters, figuring out how much I need to know about one character’s profession, trying to ignore my fears about Hush… but thinking about who I am, how passionate I am about this, how necessary it seems — it’s maybe less scary and a whole lot worth it.

A case of the Sunday mornings

Oh my god, I just wrote a huge post and it got eaten. Fucking hell does that annoy me.

I doubt it would have been thrilling for you all, unless you have a hankering to hear about my real life, so we could do a little getting to know you thing. Speaking of which, should you have a burning desire to get to know me, you’ll learn that I quote movies and shows all the time. A *lot* of that might be quotes from Friends, which is like…the best thing ever. Hence, why I’m going to link you to this video. The quality is weird, but listen, old school musicals are just fantastic and if you haven’t seen this movie, do so. Yes, now. I once was in a production of The King and I, when I was ten. I even had a line: “And I do not believe Siam is this big”. I should have been an actress, I nailed the tone perfectly.

Winning.

I thought I’d use this space today to warn of of things you *might* be seeing on this blog that aren’t book related. Me talking about pop culture things, particularly TV shows I watch or songs I am obsessed with. I’ll talk about the *crazy* of my life, including the adventure of life with a threeteen year old (Yes, three. It’s a crazy age) and pantsing squirrel adventures (more on that later!).  Also, books I am reading. I read like crazy, especially when I’m not in school. You can always scroll down to see what I’ve recently reviewed on Goodreads, but I’ll always link in the blog post when I talk about what I’m reading.

Right now I’m enjoying Tea Rose, by Jennifer Donnelley. The prose style is fantastic, and I’m really interested to see what happens. I’ve only just started. The print is TINY though, fuck I’m so old (33) I can’t read it easily. I’m also re-reading Forever Man by A.J. DeWall. I love that story so much, I’ve read it several times. If you haven’t read it, I’m going to light a fire under you because fuck it’s great. (I won’t literally light a fire, I’m such a pacifist).

Today I have to see if the hubs is willing to watch the kids alone before going to work so I can buckle down on two projects I have looming deadlines for. I have a badass case of The Sunday Mornings though. Tonight is a party, and I’ll be making Sangria, so that’ll be lovely to look forward to as a reward.

Exciting Stuff

Yay WordPress!

I’ve moved on over to wordpress, which is super yay for me right now. I’m still fiddling with my widgets and blog rolls and all the like, because I am super fucking picky about details that probably no one cares about but me. I might be building a reputation for this. Oops? I am generally not at all detail oriented but for some reason webpage layouts are my kryptonite. My tumblr pages have been tweaked in their massive html codes until I go blind, and then in a few months I start to hate what I have and start over again. Although my current fan tumblr has been the same for a while. After years of searching and tweaking, I finally found something I love over there!

There’s a lot of really exciting stuff happening with my publisher, Interlude Press — new books are coming out with the new year, and I’m way excited about those. You’ll be hearing more about that as I fangirl over books I’ll be reading at release with you all!

If you’re interested, I am reading a ton of random stuff anyway — you’ll find my Goodreads info at the bottom here. I share this because I’m an avid reader who loves recommendations, and if you do too — there ya go!

Two bloggers with books coming out I’m watching avidly are KateFierro, who is doing a weekly countdown playlist of songs that inspired her book. I am a sucker for this sort of thing, as songs are pretty much always responsible for my plot bunnies. I love reading about what inspires other authors. Check her posts out! Another blogger I know is crazy inspired by music is Mimsy Hale. And if anyone is a spotify fan, the authors behind Starling and Doves, my new obsession (check them out at Avian30) have Spotify playlists for both books — which about slayed me when I listened after reading.

Also, with the release of her first original novel, Right Here Waiting, I’m enjoying K.E. Belladonne‘s blog posts of squee.

Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me in the coming weeks — I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up personally! For now, enjoy looking into other authors who have exciting things coming up.