Remote

I’m feeling it today.

So far, my isolation hasn’t been so bad. I’m an introvert, a much bigger one than many people realize. I’ve worked 10+ years in Customer Service, I can be bubbly and outgoing, upbeat and go-getting. But that’s Work Brittany. When I’m just me, things are much quieter and calmer. And I like it that way.

I’ve left the house maybe four times in almost three weeks. I’m reading more than ever, playing piano again, focusing on improving my writing craft, working out, and trying new things with these book review videos. I’ve focused on using this time to relax and engage myself in a lot of different ways. Gotta follow that intention: REPLENISH.

But, today is the first day back at work. And being at home, glued to my laptop, waiting for a notification that I’m required for SOMETHING has me suddenly melancholy. I miss my library. I miss the kids who can hardly wait for me to turn on the lights and boot up my computer before they come in to talk to me. I wonder how they’re doing and hope they’re okay and not too scared.

And I’m sorry I can’t be there for them.

I woke this morning and, for the first time in two weeks, followed my usual routine: Alarm scares the shit out of me, I grumble and get dressed. Brush hair and teeth, necklace, four rings, bracelet, two pairs of earrings. Quick check: is yesterday’s makeup presentable? Yes? Gucci. Then I shuffle my way out to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee.

It’s supposed to give me a sense of normalcy, but the little differences are more than enough to remind me that there is no normal right now.

Instead of my black tumbler with the district logo, I’m drinking my coffee out of a small Eeyore mug that I got at an outlet mall for two dollars. It’s my favorite mug, but I’ve only ever used it at home.

I’m not wearing shoes. I know that’s easily remedied — just go put some shoes on, dork! — But it also seems weird to wear shoes when I’m just going to sit at my desk.

Outside, the sun decided to make an appearance, but it’s still so cold out that opening a window isn’t really an option. I’m feeling cooped up, as I’m sure we all are. Hubs goes to work each day (turns out, banks are essential) and I stay behind. This last week was all rain, all the time (“it can’t rain all the time”) and I haven’t been outdoors other than a trip across the cul-de-sac to check the mail. State and National Parks are closed in Oregon, so I can’t go hiking. And I’m just sitting here trying not to spiral out into thoughts of being trapped.

Because, when I don’t let myself get too philosophical, I’m actually doing all right. Reading, writing, editing, making videos. I’m keeping busy, but all of that has felt like an interim, the stuff I do while I wait to see what I’ll actually be doing when I get back to work.

I guess what I’m saying is, although I feel more connected to myself and my creativity than I have in a long time, I’m feeling cutoff from everything else. I feel like the world outside my house is unreachable, a pretty panorama to look at through the windowpanes. And no amount of FaceTime and phone calls seem to help.

I am remote.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – October 2019

And just like that, October came and went. It was filled with pumpkins and rain and friends and all those cozy fall things. It was also a busy work month and a busy writing work month. Which probably explains why it went so quickly.

October Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
    • YES! This story took a long time.
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
    • YES! It’s out for submission right now!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • YES! Three stories are out and The Cost of Rain was accepted this month!
  • Keep reading!
    • YES! I read five titles this month, which is a huge improvement over the last couple of months!

Total Word Count: 865

Holy Crow y’all. My whole month is in the black! When did that happen? I felt like a did a whole lot of nothing this month, but the whiteboard doesn’t lie. I got shit done! I think this earns me a happy dance. happy dance gif 2

I really gotta work on this unrealistic expectations thing I have going. Even when I’m working hard and making progress, I always feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to relax y’all.

But, November is hardly the month for relaxation. Nanorwrimo, birthdays, holidays, family visiting… Yep. There’s the stress. Found it.

November Goals

  • Write 25k words
  • Read 10 titles
  • Continue short story subs

Short and sweet and oh so challenging this month, y’all. I love this time of year. I love the weather and the clothing and the general good feeling of spending time with loved ones. But man, I’m exhausted just thinking about the month ahead.

The biggest stressor is probably my family coming up from Arizona for Thanksgiving. Now, let me be absolutely clear: I AM SO F*&%ING EXCITED to have them spend the holiday with us. I’ve been looking forward to it for the better part of six months. We’ve gone down to AZ for the holidays a few times now, and I love seeing everyone, but this is different. This is my nuclear family coming up and seeing my house for the first time, eating our food, and sharing my space and life during my most favorite time of year.

I don’t know. It feels so much more special this way. I am so happy and excited to see them.

But, all of that being said. Hosting any sort of event with a houseful of people is stressful to me. I like my house the way it is. Husband, dog, and me. It’s quiet and relaxing. An actual sanctuary against the outside world. Inviting others inside is… stressful. That’s all there is to it.
nano 2019

Add to this stress not just normal Nanowrimo stress, but HOSTING Nanowrimo stress and, well, yikes. Again, exciting stuff, but a ton of work. And somewhere in all of this I need to read and write. A lot.

Which means I need to wrap this up and get to work! I’ll be back next week with the Goals Summary and October’s Reading Round Up.

‘Til then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #26

Blogland. I don’t have much to say this morning. No quip about the weather or complaints about how fast last week went by. There’s just me, a laptop, and you. Let’s just get to it.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep! Not a lot of substance, because it’s been a hard week, but they’re there.
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghoststhis savage song
    • Yes? I thought I did, and sent it out. Got rejected. Then I got some feedback from a friend and made some changes last night. And by some changes, I mean largely rewrote it. So… Yeah. I’m not really sure where it is at this moment. Also, it’s been retitled A Lullaby for Mattie Barker.
  • Read something!
    • Yes! I finally finished This Savage Song.

Weekly Word Count: 1,111

Man. This has been a week. I did some errands on Wednesday and felt great most of the day, but Thursday, Friday, and particularly yesterday were all very hard for me. But, I feel like a broken record about this. So, let me say it for the last time.

LOSING A JOB YOU LOVE IS FUCKING HARD.

There. I’m done with that now. Moving on.

Writing-wise this week was pretty non-eventful. I edited and tweaked Lullaby, wrote a little bit for a new short story that’s still very nebulous, and then feverishly made a bunch of changes to Lullaby. I haven’t looked at them yet to see if they make sense or are in anyway better, but I felt inspired last night, so hopefully it was the right decision.

I didn’t go hiking last weekend, but spent the day with family and had some really good food at a new New Orleans inspired place in town. I finally earned the last trophy for Detroit: Become Human, so I can finally say I beat that game! And we watched lots of The Great British Bake Off.

Basically, I tried my best to do things that were mind-numbing/relaxing. If I thought too much then I felt wildly out of control which is a 100% guaranteed way to spike my anxiety. So I did things to feel in control. Yard work. Paint my nails. Clean my office. Play video games. It would have been nice if it weren’t for the need for literal escapism.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Start Exodus: Descent revisions
  • Write 1k on Whales (new short story)
  • Read a short story

I actually have quite a bit of blogging to do this week. The monthly update, a book review, and maybe even a six month review of the blog and my writing in 2019 so far. There’s also the reading round up for June, but I wouldn’t expect that until next week at least. So, lots of action on the blog in the coming weeks.

I’ll talk more about my goals for Exodus: Descent in tonight’s Monthly Recap, but I need to include it in this week’s goals if I want to get started on that project.

IMG_20180825_171815 (1)The new short story is… weird. It doesn’t know what it is yet, or what it wants to accomplish. I’m just writing until things gel together, and then I’ll see what I can make out of it. It’s SF and very character driven, at least so far. It was inspired by a card from a board(?) game called Mysterium. The story has grown since then and the card doesn’t really reflect it anymore, but that’s where the kernel came from.

I haven’t read a short story in a while, so I wanted to make a point of it this week. That will be in addition to the reading and listening I’ll be doing anyway. I’m still (slowly) listening to Saint’s Blood and just started reading Our Dark Duet, the sequel to This Savage Song, last night. I expect my reading will be much improved this month, what with my sudden free time.

But, that’s all the blog and writing goals. I don’t have answers for what comes next beyond those. I have a list of jobs to apply for, have just applied for unemployment (that’s a first!), and have a list of chores to get done each day.

I don’t sit still well and I don’t want to wallow, so I’m keeping myself busy. Which reminds me, I think it’s time to talk the dog for a walk.

Later, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

The End of an Era

That’s really all I have to say. I worked at my city library for almost five years. I loved my job, my coworkers, and my patrons. I learned a lot, not just about the field but about my community and how true customer service comes from a place of empathy for the people you serve.

I wouldn’t trade these last five years for anything. I found my second calling, the only other job that makes me proud besides my writing. I’ve made lifelong friends and a lasting impact for my patrons.

I can’t really ask for more than that.

Hopefully, whatever job comes next, I’ll find that same meaning and pride in what I do. It makes all the difference when I wake up each morning.

Thanks for following me through these last few weeks. It’s been really hard not to be negative and to find the silver lining in this layoff, but I’m trying.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the Weekly Goals and the Monthly Recap. Gotta love when the first of the month falls on a Monday!

Til then, Bloggarts.

 

BZ

That’s Rough Buddy

I’m having a day, Blogland. Lots of feelings I seem to have no control over. Which only compounds the whole “I feel out of control” anxiety I’ve been rocking these last two weeks.

Losing a job is hard. Losing a job you love is… harder.

I’m not sure that there are enough episodes of The Great British Bake Off to fix this. For once, there might not even be enough tacos to fix this. Which leaves two methods I haven’t tried: ice cream and booze.

I don’t know what I came here to accomplish, other than to write out some feelings and hopefully rally for the rest of this work day.

I don’t think it worked.

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #25

Hiya Bloggos!

Last week was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. A phone interview, prepping for an in-person interview, a hike, yard work, and a migraine meant there just wasn’t a whole lot of writing time.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Work on something fun!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Sorry about that.
  • Revise In Great Need of Ghosts
    • Yes! A got another revision done, and think I made some critical changes to help with pacing.
  • Work on something fun!
    • Not really? With all the resume building and interview prep, revising Ghosts was my fun work.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I hate writing that. Even when word count wasn’t a big goal, it feels bad to say I wrote nothing in a whole week. But I was busy, and very very distracted. I could very well be unemployed at the end of this week, so you know. I’ve got a lot going on in my brain right now.

One thing that helped with that was a hike at Cape Meares. Two weeks off from my weekend hikes had me winded for most of the morning, and was a harsh reminder that it’s so easy to lose forward momentum when it comes to fitness.

Another thing that helped was bingeing The Great British Bake Off and Good Omens. I love them both and found them so uplifting when my world was very suddenly dark.

Revisions on the short story continue. I think I fixed the big problem and from here I think it’ll be about streamlining the story, cutting, and making the words sing. I think placing it will be tricky. It’s a quiet story that doesn’t really fit into any one genre. But that’s okay. I believe that writing stories for ourselves is the most important thing. I wrote a story that I wanted to tell, and either I’ll find an editor that loves it like I do, or I won’t. And that’s okay.

These past couple weeks have been a big lesson in accepting the things I cannot change. You’d think, having grown up at AA meetings, I’d know how to do that already, but it’s been difficult. I like having control (who doesn’t) and when life gets out of control, I tend to panic. I’m doing a lot of deep breathing these days.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish In Great Need of Ghosts
  • Read something!

That’s it. I want to keep it simple this week. Read something, edit a bit, talk on the blog. Pretty much just get out of my head and onto the page. I’ll be waiting for news about an interview this week, and if I don’t do something escapist I will go insane. I’d really prefer not to.

That’s it Bloggarts. This is all I’ve got for you. The adrenaline of this morning’s interview is ebbing and I am so very tired now. I’ll be around.

 

BZ

 

 

When You’re Stuck in Limbo

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a Type A personality. I make, live, and die by my lists. I have a whiteboard that tells me what to do each week and a planner that basically runs my life. And yes, they’re color-coded and require a legend for anyone who might take a gander at them.

But what happens when life doesn’t stick to the plan? Or worse yet, what if there is no plan, because there are too many variables?

That’s me right now. I’m standing on that little island of concrete in the roundabout wondering where the hell I’m supposed to go. I’m suffocating in opportunity, worried that once I do make a decision, it might be the wrong one.

So, I’m standing still and somehow edging ever closer to burnout. I can’t stay here forever, but I can’t decide what to do yet. I don’t have all the facts. And I know there’s a looming leap of faith, but I’ve never been very good at those.

On one hand I want to take the leap, I crave the risk and the adventure. But on the other, I don’t want to sacrifice the comfort and stability I’ve built over these years. But then, aren’t I just doing the safe thing? Nothing risked, nothing gained and all that.

So my mind just turns over and over and over again, chasing ideas and hopes and fears until I’m dizzy. What if, what if, what if, whatifwhatifwhatif. But there’s nothing to do, no way to alleviate these frantic thoughts, until after March. I’ll know then and the path will be clear, then I can pour all this frenetic energy into whatever course I’ve chosen.

But that’s still a month and half away. I need a distraction, and most days the novel is enough, but yesterday I hit a bit of a wall with it. Nothing major, nothing insurmountable. But I needed the distraction and it wasn’t enough. With the launch of both Kingdom Hearts III and Anthem just around the corner, hopefully I can sink some hours into those and find a little relief.

Escapism at its finest.

 

Unexpected Energy

Hi Bloggos,

I know I just said I probably wouldn’t be back this week, but I’m a lying liar who lies. Sometimes. And usually only about this. Ahem. Anyway! I’m chilling at Starbucks, getting work done, which feels amazing! I mentioned that rejection on Lifelike? Well, making changes based on the feedback provided wasn’t as god awful as I’d imagined. It actually went pretty quickly and only added 20 words. Still solidly Flash Fiction. So, it’s off to the next market. Fingers crossed!

I got new glasses, so I’m adjusting to those. My prescription changed quite a bit in one eye so if I look around too quickly it’s a little disorienting. But things are crisp and so, so clear. Also, they’re teal tortoise shell and they are adorable! I love them.

The sun is out, not a cloud to be seen, I’ve had my coffee and breakfast, and talked to Madhu and my old Creative Writing professor. I’m feeling incredibly good. I listened to Mike Shinoda’s new album and honestly, I think it really helped get my head on straight. I’m not making any promises about my productivity in the next few days, but I’m hopeful.

I just realized that June is pretty much over, so I will be back on Sunday to do the monthly wrap up. I’ve got a couple blog post ideas for next week, so if I can just get back to reading I think things will get right back to the way they were before I derailed.

Also, less than three months before we go to Germany!!!!

Basically, I’m feeling incredible for the first time in weeks and wanted to share. So, thanks for listening! I’ll talk at you again soon!

 

BZ

Elwen, Thank You and Goodbye

I’m having an indulgent moment, Bloggos. Bear with me.

My laptop was purchased new in 2008, one of the limited and much coveted Black MacBooks. It was a graduation present from my mother, and I don’t think she realizes just how much I appreciate it, even to this day.

IMG_20180514_214405

It has been nearly ten years since this computer first came home with me. I remember the wonder and awe as I unboxed it, reveling in its sleek lines and the novelty of the Photobooth function. I remember the frustration as I learned the hard way that Windows PCs and Apple MacBooks were not friends, and I struggled to move my entire virtual life (up to that point) into the smaller, svelter, immeasurably cooler device.

Elwen. That’s what I named her. I now have a habit of naming my electronics after my original characters from video games, a habit that started with this computer. With Elwen; my first ‘named’ device, christened with the first RPG name I ever created. Elwen is Tolkien’s Elvish, meaning “Star-maiden”.

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Yeah, yeah. I was in seventh grade and had just read the trilogy for the first time. Come at me.

This laptop has served me diligently for a decade. It followed me through college, twice! I wrote my first stumbling short stories, my first fumbles with fanfic. My ill-fated attempts at screenwriting and poetry. I wrote my first novel on these worn and comfortable keys. And then my second. And the beginnings of a third.

I started this blog from the precipice of this very screen. Elwen carried me across that blinking, blank barrier of WordPress and then to Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I carefully, and sometimes not all that carefully, crafted my online persona from the safety of declarative stickers and headphones I thought screamed “this is who I am” when what it really said was, “this is who I want to be”.

IMG_20180514_214219

There are thousands and thousands of words on this computer. Enough thousands that the prospect of actually counting them all up is beyond daunting. More than six years of academic papers, eight years of short stories and novels. Ten years of life spread out on virtual pages as I grew into the writer and person that I am now.

This computer has seen so much growth. Grief and joy and how I cope with both. Angry tears and happy ones, furious writing sessions and more meals and spills than I care to confess.

Through all of that the battery was replaced once and the operating system reinstalled once. Otherwise, Elwen never stopped on me. Not when I spilled Cabernet Sauvignon on the keyboard while I wrote that six page analysis of a three page short story (Axolotl by Julio Cortazar, I highly recommend it). Not when I abandoned her in the back seat of my car that first winter in Oregon and I learned how damaging freezing temperatures could be to technology. Not when I threatened to replace her with anything I thought might be better.

IMG_20180514_214344I’ve spent this last year using two computers because the Windows laptop was terrible. I tried. I tried so hard to convince myself that it was the smart move, the right choice since Elwen could no longer run the best version of Scrivener, or any version if I wanted to browse the web and listen to Spotify at the same time.

It should have been a simple thing, logical. Nine years is a damn good run for any piece of technology. And yet I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. When I bought Dragon Age stickers as a bonus gift for myself at Christmas, I could not bear the idea of putting them on the HP. Instead they found their place on either side of Elwen’s trackpad.

And when it came time to really buckle down and hash out the edits and rewrites on The Steel Armada (my first novel), there was no way I could do that strenuous and important work on some unnamed, convenient laptop that we just happened to have. I didn’t care how well it could run multiple programs!

But, ten years is a long time, by almost any measure. For a laptop it might as well be millennia. I knew the time was near. Elwen cannot be upgraded further. No matter what I do, she will never run an operating software that will allow her to open Scrivener 3. No matter how much I upgrade her RAM or her processor, she simply doesn’t have the energy to accompany me on this next step of my journey.

And so I’ve recruited a new companion: Artemis.

 

Artemis, bought new in 2018, is a gift from my father. I’m not sure my verbal thanks were adequate to express how grateful I am for that. I suspect, in ten years’ time, I’ll write another goodbye, and have many more kind words to share. More gratitude and accomplishments too.

As of yet, I am undecided about whether or not to put stickers on Artemis. It took about five years for me to put the first one on Elwen, so I’m willing to take my time before considering anything lasting.

There are a lot of differences between these two MacBooks. Ten years’ worth of differences. There are new lessons to be learned with Artemis, and lots of experience to share from Elwen. New adventures to be had, and always more stories to tell.

IMG_20180514_214418

 

From these worn and comfortable keys, for the last time,

 

BZ

 

 

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 11

Well, this is awkward.

Last week’s goals were ambitious, and I apparently was not up to the task.

What did I want to do?

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Edit Lifelike
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 34
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Review Madhu’s pages

And?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Edit Lifelike
    • Nope. still haven’t received feedback from my friend, though that’s no excuse.
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 34
    • YES! That fic is now done and posted! I’ll just be over here, doing happy dances by myself.
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
    • Nope. Getting really close though. Should finish it tomorrow at the latest.
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Nope. Not even a little bit. Which is terrible.
  • Review Madhu’s pages
    • Yes. I’m still really enjoying her book so far.

Weekly Word Count: 2,392

Anything else I should mention?

Well, St. Paddy’s Day was a ton of fun. Also, apparently Irish Car Bombs are now called Dublin Drop Shots. The change in name did little to deter me from doing three of them in a row Saturday night, followed by impromptu karaoke.

The Oregon Writers Colony reached out to say they were still looking over the scholarship applications and that I should hear back from them sometime this week. That was promising. General rule of thumb is, the longer someone has your app, the better you’re doing. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

On that note, I still haven’t heard back about The Seasons, so that’s good. It hasn’t been rejected out of hand, at least. The submission period doesn’t end until 3/31, so I expect I won’t hear back until sometime after that.

I also spent some much needed time with my best friend, and spent down time at the house watching movies with the husbando. So, I didn’t focus so much on my writing goals this week as I did make time for my personal relationships. That’s going to happen from time to time, but now I’m ready to get back to work!

So, what now?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit 4 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Review Madhu’s pages

I’m reining the goals in for this week to try and get myself back on track. Just reading and editing. I’ve got another fanfic queued up to start writing so I can finish this huge series and call it good. Then I can get back to writing original fiction.

I’ve had a few new story ideas, which is nice. I’ve been stewing on the same handful of stories for a while and I was starting to think I’d somehow tapped all my creative energy. That’s silly of course, but it’s good to know that’s not the case, regardless.

Gunpowder moon
I expect it will be another quiet week on the blog as I buckle down and try to get all caught up. I should have the review for Gunpowder Moon up this week, and I’m going to start Quietus by Tristan Palmgren after that.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ