Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

Breaking Ranks…

If you’ve followed me online, here or elsewhere, you’ll likely recall that I usually take part in NanoWrimo. It is one of the few times of year that I really buckle down to focus on putting substantial word counts on the page along with other amazing writers. This year, I’m breaking away from the tradition. Not because I have no story to work on, but because I need to break from routines that haven’t served me well.

November has always seemed to me to be a bad month for such a major challenge. I mean, it is the middle of the holiday season and many people have extra obligations on their time with family gatherings, travel, end of the year deadlines looming, and events related to celebrations to attend or plan. Without fail, for me, there have just been too many distractions in the month of November to make the challenge without a significant amount of unnecessary stress. This year, when the Preptober videos started to pop into my YouTube feed, I recognized that there really was no way for me to commit to the challenge.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Life has changed for millions of us with the onset of this pandemic. It would be a lie to say that I’ve not seen some significant changes in my own life. Losing a job in April and now finding that, despite the lifting of restrictions, the job market for people with my skills is simply not bouncing back, well, that’s left me in a real predicament that I will need to remedy somehow soon. Now, add to that the fact that I’ve started back to school with a serious focus on study and there are bigger demands on my time creating more stress that factors in. Taking on a big challenge with a deadline like that is not going to make writing any easier and certainly won’t help my mental state. So, I wish those of you participating this year the best of luck in completing the 50K challenge. I’ll be cheering you all on from the sidelines!

I will say that it is not a matter of not wanting to write though. In fact, I’m happy to say that I am starting something new and what I hope will turn into something quite special for my readers. I say it is new, but it is really an older idea I’ve had floating about for a bit that I rediscovered while going through old files to organize my computer. The excitement of new characters and developing back stories is a fun part of the writing process for me. So, I will happily toil away on my laptop in my home office or in local cafes throughout November for writing and study sessions alike. In fact, I’ll probably be spotted doing just that throughout the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. I have found a great little local coffee spot closer to home. I’ll have to post a review when I get some pictures.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I find myself slipping more lately. I haven’t been completely compliant with the idea of staying home. I can admit that much. However, I don’t get out often either. That’s something that I need to change in my life. You see, I’m one of millions that have depression. Some days are better than others. If I am truly honest, there have been more hard days than good days lately. They seem to come in waves.

For example, I’ve fought insomnia for weeks. I’ve had my days and nights mixed up making it hard to even function normally. I’ve drifted into periods of mindless surfing of social media and videos on YouTube or watching old cartoons on Amazon Prime or Netflix. I’ve read books, played mindless games on my iPad, and started to work on art pieces that never seem to get finished. Then again, I have experienced stretches where I could sleep for days on ened. Get up for just an hour or so and right back to bed for hours. My pup loves these days, mind you. I’ll try setting alarms, even multiple alarms in succession, only to sleep through them. I know that none of this is good for me, but its a viscious cycle and now being out of work, I certainly don’t have the luxury of health insurance to be able to get to the doctor.

I’ve attempted to give myself a schedule. I wanted to find things to do with myself. I think that was partly why I got back on the dating sites. Like maybe if I had somewhere to be, or someone to see and spend time with, it would help me find that motivation. It never takes long before I give up on those though. I’m just not the typical modern gal. What can I say? I’ll blog more on that at a later time though.

One good thing from all of this, I joined a local church and started getting to Sunday School more often. The insomnia has been a problem. Online services have been a blessing for me to keep up with the sermon series when I haven’t heard the alarms. The truth is, I feel like this was a very good decision and that I’m finding a group of people that are like-minded at least. So, that’s a good thing. I’m actually really looking forward to the Fall Fest they are having. It should be fun. But, despite feeling good and motivated when I leave church, it is still a struggle to find the energy and motivation to get up and get dressed to go on Sundays.

Posted in Lessons Learned, My Process, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing

It is never too late to begin again…

I always have good intentions when I begin a new thing. But there comes a point when you have to step back and gain some perspective on where you are in life and where you’re going. And like many others out there, 2020 dealt more than a few blows for me to deal with. I was dealing with writer’s block and trying to keep myself motivated to show up and write. Just when I was starting to get back into the groove, crippling self-doubt decided to show up. That caused me to think about what I was doing with my life. And I decided that it was time to change trajectory a bit.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I didn’t want to stop writing entirely. I love it too much to ever give it up entirely. Yet, I am not the marketing guru that many successful authors are. Frankly, I’m not the social butterfly and I don’t have the self-confidence to think that anyone really cares to hear what I have to say. So I’m a social media flop really. And apparently, it takes quite a bit of social savvy to make a writing career prosperous. I love creating characters, giving a little escape from the mundane (which I think we can all agree is needed right now), and even creating a story that people take something away from. I even love helping people to do just that. So, it stood to reason that I began to question how I could take my passion for stories and turn it into something that could sustain me financially.

In April I was laid off thanks to Covid-19. It took far too long to get on unemployment because, at first, it seemed like it would only be for a couple of weeks. Then it was extended further and by the time I was told to file by the agency I was working for, the websites were so bogged down that it took weeks to even get an application for it put in. In the meantime, I’d made applications concerning financial aid and returning to school. As it turned out, I was able to do just that. So, I enrolled at Western Governors University in their Education Program to complete my B.A.

Life is a journey though. And starting school at 41 years old seemed a little crazy to me. It’s a total career change from the office work and customer service work I’ve done in the past. Change is necessary though when you find a purpose and a goal that you feel is worth pursuing. Helping people find a love of story and perhaps pursue writing themselves is a worthwhile goal. And I know it’s not an overnight career either to get to my ultimate goal, but I can start by working with young children helping them find adventures between the covers of books that inspire them. Eventually, though, I want to teach others to write as well. Help aspiring novelists find their own voices, create characters, and twist a plot that keeps readers coming back for more.

I did a great deal of soul searching in this process. I looked at options. I thought about throwing in the towel with my books. They don’t seem to be getting any traction really. I realized that writing for the money wouldn’t make me happy. I’m not aiming to be the New York Times Bestseller. I want to be comfortable, just like everyone else, of course. That doesn’t always mean big houses, fancy cars, or lavish vacations.

At 41 and being single, I’ve made my peace with the idea that I’ll never have a family of my own. At least, it won’t be kids running around my feet. I’m likely to have a small herd of pups at some point though. I don’t even know that I’ll meet anyone to share my life with. I love kids though. And I remember how much I was influenced by amazing teachers throughout my education. I remember seeing first hand the impact a teacher can make in a community when my Great Grandmother passed away when I was young. I couldn’t even give you a number on how many former students came to pay respects. It’s a legacy of caring and generosity that she left behind. Maybe they weren’t able to pinpoint specific things that she taught them, but they never forget how she cared and tried to teach them well. I’m a part of that legacy and I want to carry it on in my own way.

So, I started the journey to getting that degree and being in a classroom of my own. I took time away from writing to adjust to academic life again. In a way, I’m glad that I’ve been out of work like this. It’s given me a chance to find a purpose again and start fresh.

I don’t want to stop creating though. But it’s time for something fresh and new to add to my catalog. Something that will showcase the progress in my writing and maybe attract a new audience.

I pulled out a partial manuscript that I was playing with before. Fresh characters, set primarily in East Texas, and with a supernatural mystery that is challenging on many levels. The concept is sound and I’m excited to get back to work on it as I await my next term to start.

Oh, that’s right, I completed a full term of my studies so far. So, we’re well on our way to that degree. And I found a new local coffee spot to make my little home away from home to work on this project. That’s promising for me. To go with it are new horizons for social interaction, putting down some roots in this community, and new attitudes for me.

For those of you who have stuck around through all my ups, downs, and lack of posts; thank you for being here and reading. I hope to be more consistent, but I make no guarantees. This is a journey worth sharing though. I hope to do just that.