Goals Summary Wk 11/14

Hello Blogland!

Last week’s goals weren’t anything too intense. But, it was a busy weekend, and a very stressful week for me in general, so let’s discuss.

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • Read Mass Effect Revelation
  • Write 4k words

Overall, nothing too taxing. However, the only one I completed was the writing. Which, overall, is the best one, I suppose. I only published one post last week, and my reading fell off pretty sharply. But, I wrote 7,109 words last week!

That puts my total word count for NaNo at 11,444 words. Since my goal is 15k for the month, I’m doing really well!

Want to know why this week was so stressful?

Welllllll, I put my two week notice in at Starbucks. That part has mostly been relieving. It’s been oddly blissful at Starbucks for me every since, and I only have one shift left before bringing my time as a Partner to an end. It hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m not sure that I’ll have the reaction everyone is expecting me to. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time with Starbucks. I have learned so much, and met so many wonderful people who have become like family to me, but it’s time to move on.

That being said, I thought I was moving on. Even from the library. I had put my notice in there too, but I quickly realized that was a mistake. This new position that was offered to me would have been a wonderful opportunity to learn something entirely new, and to work for two people I respect and admire immensely. But, leaving the library just felt wrong. I thought I could do it, and I was wrong.

So, I backed out of the new job, and genuinely felt awful about it. Nauseous, shaking, on the verge of a panic attack. But, they say the hardest decisions are usually the right ones. And I know that staying at the library is the right choice.

So, I’ve been an anxious wreck all week, trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life. Now that it’s all sorted, I feel I can get back to some normalcy.

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Lighting was very well done.

Except we went to Seattle on Sunday to see Temple of the Dog perform on Monday night. We had an awesome little two day trip, and we explored and ate and drank, like we like to do. And the concert was just amazing. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see one of my all time favorite records performed in its entirety. I have zero regrets.

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And we had pretty nice seats!

Even if we had to drive four hours back home last night, and then get up to go to work today.

And so here we are, a day late. Again. What do I want to do this week? Well, it is the holiday week, so things are bound to be a bit lax on the writing and reading front. But, I also have more time off this week than usual, so maybe I’ll prove disciplined.

Here’s hoping!

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Mass Effect Revelation
  • Start reading Arcanum Unbounded (I’m bound to tell you all about it as soon as I can)
  • Write 3k words

A little ambitious, what with hosting Thanksgiving in our house for the first time, but the writing has been going really well this month. At least, when I sit down to write.

That’s the plan, Stans. We’ll see how it ends up. If I finish my current book, I should be here to write a review. It’ll be my first tie-in review, so that will be interesting. I hope you’re looking forward to it.

And, I hope you all have wonderful afternoons with your families. Share some food, love, and thanks with the people that matter most. That’s what Thursday is about.

Until then, have so more pictures from our trip!

 

BZ

 

 

Freezing in September

I’ve made a crucial mistake.

I didn’t bring a sweater with me into my Starbucks. Apparently the AC is cranked, and I’m about to die of hypothermia. I’ve sat here most of the day, working on school stuff. Orientation has officially begun, and I’m thrilled.

That’s not sarcasm.

My online orientation course is designed specifically for Sbux peeps, and I’m floored by all the awesome people taking advantage of this program.

So, I’ve been reading introductory posts from classmates, and responding in kind. I took one short quiz and learned the ins an outs of Blackboard. And now it’s time for lunch. Preferably something warm. Then I’m going to swing by Book Bin East and see if there’s a crowd for Brent Weeks yet. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Then… Well, I don’t know how long the event will take, but after I’m going to the midnight release of Destiny, and I cannot wait! I’ve been anticipating this game for over a year, and so far it has not failed to impress those who had the chance to play it.

Now, the most important thing. Lunch. This is a big decision…

 

BZ

How Starbucks Just Changed My Life

I know I’ve talked about education on this blog before. Hell, when I first created this thing I was in my final year at Chandler Gilbert Community College. This blog has followed me through classes, graduation, and every idea I’ve had about my intellectual future since then.

I considered going to Western Oregon University, or even OSU, but when I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t do it.

We all have our stories. Our reasons why going to college just isn’t possible. For me, it just didn’t seem worth the debt. Almost every person I know who graduated with their bachelor’s is now crippled by student loan debt.

That’s not how I want to start my life. I want to get married, by a house, and write my fiction. And I’d convinced myself that I could do all that without a college education.

And, yes, I could.

But, thanks to this amazing company that I work for, I don’t have to.

Starbucks announced late last night that it has partnered with ASU to provide full tuition reimbursement to Juniors and Seniors. There’s even more awesome details and benefits, but this is the part that applies to me.
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I graduated from CGCC with my Associate’s, and had always intended to finish my Bachelor’s. I even applied and was accepted to ASU once upon a time. But, through some wonky credits and an Astrology class from Hell, I never truly enrolled.

A decision that changed the course of my life.

If I’d taken a science class over the summer, I would have graduated from CGCC in 2010. I would never have completed the Creative Writing Certificate, and I wouldn’t have met so many wonderful writers and Instructors. I would have missed out on so much learning.

And I probably wouldn’t have moved to Oregon when I did.

My life would have followed a similar, yet truly different path.

But now, four years later, I have re-applied to ASU for their online English degree program. And Starbucks is going to pay for it. All.

That’s right. Starbucks is going to completely reimburse me for the cost of tuition and any fees associated with my courses. The only thing I pay for out of pocket are the required textbooks.

Can we just take a moment to understand that?

The Online Degree Programs are valued at about $10,000 a year. Starbucks is going to give me a scholarship, I’m going to fill out FAFSA, and hopefully get more money, and then Starbucks pays the rest.

That’s a huge chunk of money. A huge investment in me, from the Company with a Heart.

Like I said before, I convinced myself that an education wasn’t important to me. That I could live my life and follow my passions without it. And I can. But, finishing this degree is for me. I don’t want to do it so I can get a better job. I love my job, and Starbucks gives me the flexibility to work on my fiction.

I have said this time and again. And it’s still true. But, as I watched the announcement video, and the Partner Open Forum, I couldn’t keep the tears in check. Because, ultimately, finishing my degree IS important.

It’s not about getting a better job, it’s about my self-worth.

I’m done telling myself it isn’t. I’m done pretending that I’m not disappointed in myself for never completing my Bachelor’s. I’m done settling. Because that’s what I’ve done.

I worked hard for four years to get my Associate’s in Arts, and my Certificate in Creative Writing, both with Distinction. I worked two jobs, and went to school full time. I paid for my education out of pocket, and looking back, I’m not really sure how I did it. But, when I look at my Diploma, sitting on top of my bookshelves, I feel an unparalleled sense of pride.

And for two years I’ve languished. Sure, I’ve worked hard on my fiction, and I’ve completed two novels. I’ve had four short stories published. I’ve been working full time at the Bux, and have been promoted.

But, I haven’t really worked on myself. Pursuing this degree is what I’ve been avoiding. I let fear, and doubt, and financial insecurity convince me that I didn’t need it.

Today Starbucks reminded me that, if I wanted it, I could achieve it. The life lesson I’ve always touted. How did I let myself forget?

My dad told me when I was very young, “If you want something bad enough, and you’re willing to work hard enough, there’s nothing that can keep you from it.”

I’ve applied this life philosophy to my Starbucks life. I’ve applied it to my fiction. I’ve applied it in my personal life.

And it’s time I stopped hiding it from my Intellectual Life.

This fall, I start classes online at ASU. I’ll be completing my Bachelor’s in English. There’s no concentration option, but I basically already have that, thanks to my Certificate in Creative Writing.

I’m not letting anything hold me back. Not money. Not distance. Not me.

Not anymore.

 

BZ

 

To read more about this incredible program, and the company and university that are making it possible, click here.

Writing From Home!

Blogland!

Today is the start of something new!

We’re moved into our new place, and though a lot of stuff still needs unpacked, we are, for the most part, done. The couch actually fit, which was a source of anxiety for several days. It fit well enough to allow for a coffee table in front of it, and a new desk behind it.

Yes, a new desk. A small writing desk with clean lines. No drawers, but one pull out keyboard tray. Trevor spent the better part of three hours putting it together, but it’s beautiful.

And the best part?

When I want to use it, I put the desk top’s wireless keyboard and mouse in the tray to hide them away. I have a functional space for my laptop, which means I have a real place where I can write from home!

And that’s why today is so exciting! Starting right now, I no longer have to go to Starbucks to write! I can sit in the solitude of my home while Trev’s at work, and just plug away.

Now, I don’t really think I’ll get much done today, but I will finish chapter 17, since I was interrupted by a friend the last time I sat down to write.

Speaking of last time, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Well, I knew it would be. But I didn’t know I’d spend four days battling a fever and a cough. So not only were we moving and unpacking, but then I got sick, and so the unpacking has been slow going.

But, I’m feeling a lot better. I’m doing laundry as we speak, and was already busy in the earlier part of the day getting things to snack on while I sat here writing at my new writing desk!

Have I mentioned how comfortable the chair is? It’s cushioned well enough to allow for long hours, but straight-backed to promote focus. It’s perfect. Just perfect. I can’t wait to finish this novel at home!

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Anyway, just wanted to let you all know that, starting today, I will be back in action. Now, I have laundry to move over and a chapter to finish!

Fitting in the Fiction

Today is already a brighter, happier place than where I left you yesterday. Both mentally, and literally.

It’s just past 11am, and it’s 75 degrees with no clouds in sight. You’d best believe I’m in a tank top and shorts. And I am soaking up every bit of UV I can. Sunburns be damned!

I’ve given yesterday’s mindset some serious thought, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

I think that my perceptions, thought processes, and general outlook are different when I’ve been up since 3 in the morning.

Yesterday’s haunted ramblings came from an exhausted brain that fought several brutal rounds in order to write 2,299 words. But, they’re good words. I like them.

But today is much brighter, and I’m feeling energized and a little scatter-brained. Add to it that my best friend just interrupted me for about an hour, and I’m probably not going to get too much done.

But, I should have just enough time before my dress fitting to finish this chapter!

Wish me luck!

 

BZ

Adapting and Taking the Plunge

It’s noon and I’m just getting started. Two weeks ago that would have been normal. A refreshing and languishing start to my day. Let the juices sort of work up to a simmer, until come three I’d be writing at a full boil.

But, that’s not my method anymore.

Today I opened. So, alarm goes off at 3:20a, I dress and brush my teeth a la zombie, and I go to work. I was supposed to be off at 9a today, but due to scheduling shenanigans I ended up staying until 11. Then I emailed a potential caterer and took a survey for the guy who runs Write About Dragons.

And here I am.

It’s harder this way. There’s no ramp up, and after an 8 hour day that started before the sun rose, it’s even harder to convince myself to sit at work for an additional 3-5 hours and pump out chapters.

But, I’m here. And I’m sure as hell going to try.

I wrote just over 1,000 words yesterday which was surprising. It came easier than expected and I liked it. So, I’m hoping today will be more of the same and I can finish the chapter.

If I do I have a reward in mind.

Since all my books are packed away in cardboard, I’m going to visit the library today. I want to take a moment here to talk about how awesome the Salem Library is. It’s huge! And full of every kind of book you could imagine. It puts the Chandler Library to shame. Anyway, I decided that I’m going to start reading Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower.’ It’s something I’ve been wanting to read for ages, but have talked myself out of because it’s such an undertaking.

I did the same thing with The Way of Kings. We all saw how much I regretted that.

So, that’s the plan. Write. Read. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I think blog posts might be a bit on the sparse side for a while, at least until I get used to this new schedule. It’s just so hard to get my brain functioning, even with the caffeine.

Anyway, I’ll be back tomorrow blogland. Maybe you could suggest something you want to read about? Since my brain seems short on subject matter. Let me know in the comments.

Catch ya later,

BZ

On Getting Stuck

I spent a large portion of my morning lazing in bed. I’d had a really weird dream about a tornado, and how Starbucks wouldn’t let us go home. So, I took my sweet time to think about the dream, and what it meant and why I’d had it.

I decided that the pouring rain and wind lent to the weather theme. As for Starbucks not letting me leave… Well, that’s a rabbit hole to tumble down on another day.

After pondering my subconscious I perused my morning paper, i.e. the interwebs. First Facebook, then Twitter, and lastly WordPress. I save WordPress for last because it’s usually the best. New articles from people I follow, and of course, the Freshly Pressed for the controversial and thought provoking.

While reading, I came across an article that said, “How Not Taking a Break is Bad for Your Writing”. Or something like that.

I clicked into it, excited, because I thought maybe I’d find an excuse not to write today. I’ve been working really hard the past few weeks, and my brain felt like pudding last night. I was looking for an easy way out today.

But, the article was a bit disappointing. It wasn’t the gift I was hoping, not an “it’s ok to give yourself a break every now and then”. It was an explanation of how, when you’re writing is stuck, sitting there staring at a blank screen isn’t always the answer. The article implored me to get up, to move, and to go outside.

Which, ok. Sure.

But, I’m not stuck. I haven’t been. Not really ever. Occasionally a chapter or scene fights me, and the writing is hard. But I’ve never been honestly stuck.

And here’s why.

In my experience being ‘Stuck’, or having a bad case of Writer’s Block, comes from one thing:

What you’re writing sucks. I’m not saying the whole book, or that your actual technique is bad, but the scene, the moment. You know, even as you’re writing it, that it will get cut. It is bad. And so you balk. You let yourself think, and that’s writing death.

So, here’s what I do to get over being stuck. I write the shitty scenes. I know they’re bad. I know I’m going to cut them out. But I write them, because they’ll get me where I want to go. I recently wrote a scene that, while a ton of fun to write, and good for character building, I know probably won’t make the final revision. But, I kept writing because it was a stepping stone to the next scene that needed to happen.

You can always go back and pick a different stone, but it will still get you where you need to go.

All that being said, getting outside and moving is a great way to refresh your mind and come up with new ideas. Maybe even just sitting next to the window can be helpful.

And so, that’s my two cents on being stuck. On to this week’s achievements and goals.

In the past 7 days I’ve written 10,000 words. As previously discussed my brain felt like pudding most of yesterday, and I didn’t even write anything new. But, I did edit Chapter 2 of ‘Vessels’, which took about two solid hours. Adding a large scene, cutting poor sentences and paragraphs. It was a lot.

So, I’ve met my goal of writing a chapter a week for ‘Cards’ as well as editing a chapter a week for ‘Vessels’. And, I’ve actually written about 3 chapters this week, so I’m killing it!

Suddenly I understand how Brandon Sanderson can write 30k words a week. I don’t think I could, I’m not that fast. But, if I didn’t work a day job, I could probably do 20k.

So goals for this coming week. I really just want to keep the momentum going. I’m going to start chapter 9 today, though I anticipate slow going. Tomorrow and Sunday I probably won’t get much done, but Monday-Thurs will be good writing days.

Our six year anniversary is on Thursday. I have the day off, but I won’t be writing. I’m not closing next Friday, and I have the following Saturday off, so next week’s writing days are limited. I still think I can make these goals, however.

Wish me luck!

 

BZ