If I’m Being Honest

Okay. I’m here. I’m back in my office and I’ve updated my whiteboard for the first time in over a month. And I have to say, it feels really good. I’ve been out of sorts for months now, really since March. I have learned that I am a creature of habit, more so than I already acknowledged, and this summer has put forth a concerted effort to keep me from doing anything in any semblance of routine.

Week-long video game binges, my husband lost his job, two of my biggest music icons took their own lives, my best friend almost died, and then we had extended house guests for the first time in my life. Coupled with applying, interviewing, and being denied two full time positions at my work and really I’m just a ball of rubber-bands stretched too tight: one has got to snap eventually.

I think the only thing that kept me from snapping was all the fanfic I wrote, and the friends I made on tumblr because of it. Since mid-April, I’ve written 168,799 words of fanfiction. Just… let that number sink in. 168 THOUSAND 799 words.

Of fanfiction.

I’m still trying to convince myself that’s okay. Anyone I talk to in my personal life or online seems to find it incredible and awesome. Thanks guys! But, my writer brain is still royally pissed that all that effort and output went to fanfiction.

But, if I’m 100% honest, I really LOVED writing it, and I fully intend to finish it before the end of the year. Also, I’m going to continue to write small prompts and drabbles, because they are fun, and I need writing to be fun still. Also, this year has shown me that I am absolutely capable of writing a novel in a month (if it’s a short one).

I’m not good at being honest with others when it comes to my mental health. I internalize everything, and I am usually the “solid” person in my circle of friends. I give advice and keep my shit together. So, when I start to break under pressure, or when my mind is trying to sabotage me, I don’t feel like I have anyone to tell, other than my husband. And even then, he had just as tough a summer as I did so it was easy to convince myself not to make things harder on him by being completely honest. So, I drop hints that I’m not feeling myself, to which he’s receptive, and we commiserate about our mild depression.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling isolated, raw, and like a useless piece of shit. And it’s all my own fault. I know it is. I could just talk to someone, and feel one hundred times better. I KNOW this. And now I understand why so many people never suspect the depths of their loved ones’ depression, why so many suicides are so shocking. Because, you can KNOW what you need to do to fix things, to make yourself feel better, and it doesn’t matter. You can know it, but you’re powerless to either find the right words, or time, or simply the energy to bring it up.

I want to note that, the fact that I’m here, talking about this means I’m feeling much better and am confident that I am on the path to getting back to my old self. I also want to state that at no point this summer did I contemplate any sort of self-harm. I was/am depressed, for the first time in a way that was recognizable to me, and that has shone a light on what it must be like to battle these feelings constantly. I understand now, in my own small way, how exhausting it must be and how incredibly lonely, even if you’re good at putting on a brave face and doing things to convince others you’re okay.

I understand, and I’m so sorry anyone has to put up with these constant feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, and loneliness. And I know that, for many people, it doesn’t end. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, where someday you’ll feel good again and actually want to do something productive with your time.

And I’m so sorry, I wish I knew better how to help.

But, I’m seeing that light now, and I’m gifted days of incredible output and energy. I fully intend to make good on them.

So, later this week I will be back to talk about Proven Guilty. I’ve made some goals for the rest of the week, and if they go well, I’ll be back on Monday to do a goals summary for the first time in over six months!

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

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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.

temple-of-the-dog
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

 

 

Side Projects and Goodbyes

Hi Blogland,

Today was a rough one for me. On top of being in a generally bad mood all day, my cat was euthanized. Though he hasn’t lived with me for over six years, he was my childhood cat. A black short-hair named Louis, after Anne Rice’s vampire. He was the runt of his litter, and I treated him like my baby. I taught him to eat hard food, and to use a litter box successfully. He slept with me, curled against my chest as a kitten, and later in life curled at my feet. He was vocal and demanding, loved the most ridiculous of people foods, and was generally weird, like most cats.

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My black cat, resting on an Edgar Allan Poe omnibus.

And today my mom decided that living through kidney disease, vomiting multiple times a day, was no life at all. I tend to agree with her. He was losing weight, fast, and though his personality was intact, he was sick frequently. I understand it, but it doesn’t make it any easier to think about.

But, it’s not just Louis. I’ve been pretty frustrated lately. Mostly with school. It’s boring. It’s not remotely challenging, and it is really disappointing to me that this is what upper level education looks like in America. That this is what’s keeping me from focusing on my writing.

It’s making me crazy.

So, to keep my sanity, I’ve taken part in a side project.

The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is a new magazine, started by a friend of a friend here in Salem. Thanks to our mutual friend, I’m now included in this awesome publication, mainly as an Editor.

And guess what? We’re currently accepting submissions! The submission period ends March 20th, and we’re looking to publish the first issue sometime in April.

Learn more about submission guidelines by visiting us on Facebook.

So, that’s awesome. So far, the poems and short stories that have come through my inbox are really quite impressive. I wasn’t aware Lovecraftian fiction and gothic poetry still had a viable presence among modern writers. It’s been quite the pleasant surprise!

So, you’ll probably be hearing about The Audient Void from time to time, as we work toward publishing issues.

Other upcoming topics of interest include:

  • Mistborn: Secret History book review
  • Continuing edits on Draft 2 of The Steel Armada
  • Preparation of Query Letter for The Steel Armada
  • School, especially next term’s Intro to Writing Sci-Fi class

So, keep a weather eye out for some writing projects in the near future!

See you soon, Blogland!

 

BZ

 

Drowning

Hi.

I’m sorry for the gap in posts. It’s been a crazy month, and I’m barely managing to keep my head above the tide.

There’s been a lot of stress in my life in the last couple months. I’m surviving, but there’s been a lot of changes. I transferred from my Starbucks, where I worked for over three years, and am adjusting to my new store. A lot of names to learn, and new procedures and customers too.

I’m still killing it over at the library, and I’m still working an average of 52 hours a week. Tomorrow is my first day off this month. Tonight is the first Book Club meeting of the second list. We’re discussing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Devan is slaving away at homemade barbecue as we speak. I’m looking forward to it.

My personal reading has ground to a halt. I think I’ve read about 30 pages in the last two weeks, which is why I’m grateful for Book Club, because I absolutely devoured Miss Peregrine’s. I’m still working my way through The Republic of Thieves, and it’s so good! It kills me that I don’t have the time for it.

Summer school was a mistake. Everyone I talk to tells me I’m smart for doing it, that it was the right decision. But, I’m skating by in this class, bound for a mid-range B instead of my typical A+. It’s going to hurt my GPA. And that Dean’s List recognition for last term? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen again.

I will say that the books we’ve been assigned are generally dreadful. The Great Gatsby? I’ve read it twice before this class. I’m over it. The Old Man and the Sea? I read this my Junior year of high school, and wrote an AP essay on it that earned a 7. You AP veterans know what I’m talking about. Then we read Ceremony, which I really wanted to like. But, the delivery just wasn’t working. I loved the more poetic, chant-like moments, but the actual narrative was needlessly complex. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison was nice, but could have been such a shorter story. I ended up skimming a lot of it. And then Cat’s Cradle, by Vonnegut. The only book that actually captured my imagination and managed to entertain me.

We had a week to read and discuss each book. With my time stretched between the two jobs, this was difficult for me to do. And next term is going to be more of the same. Although it’s a class on Noir Literature, so the book list is already much more entertaining. Hopefully that will help.

Then there’s Caladria. I feel pretty bad. I took on more responsibility than I can handle. And I’ve been slacking with them, which is the last thing I want. But, my new Starbucks is promising to keep me around 20-25 hours a week, so I should have more time to devote to writing and editing. I don’t want to slack in this, it’s the only side project I have, and to give it up feels like surrendering a part of myself.

I haven’t written any fiction that isn’t Caladria related, and I tell myself that’s OK. Doesn’t really feel that way though. I’d write about trying to finally finish those Vessels edits, but let’s be honest, I don’t have the time.

So, I’m here, treading water. Every blog post is like my mouth breaking the surface and gulping in a lungful of air, before the tide swallows me up again.

We’ll see how long I can hold my breath.

BZ

Gummy Bear Nightmares

I ate too many gummy bears. I can feel it. Like the sugar is dissolving in the pit of my stomach, making me feel full and utterly empty at the same time. But dammit, they’re so delicious. Especially the red and white ones. Together.

Sleepless night number… who’s keeping track? All I know is my brain feels the need to keep me up into the wee hours at least one night a week. Apparently Saturday is the night this week. I have no right being in front of a computer right now. My mind was mush earlier in the day, it can only be worse now. Like mashed potatoes left over night, and then microwaved the next dinnertime. Dense and soggy.

My stomach growls, reminding me of how little I’ve ingested today. One tomato and mozzarella panini from Chez Starbucks, some fruit, and about a pound of gummy bears. Add in two venti iced coffees, and I’m a freaking mess. I’m not even sure why I’m sitting here, other than a stirring wakefulness, and a natural urge to write. I really wish there was leftover pizza downstairs like last time. At least then there’d be something to look forward to at the end of this post. I’m sure I’ll still find my way down there, if only to scan the fridge with a discerning eye and ultimately decide just to go to bed.

My eyes are stinging, suddenly aware of the time. Where was that sensation an hour ago?  Through the closed door, I can hear Trevor snoring from down the hall. At least one of us won’t look like complete crap tomorrow.

I’ve decided that I’m on the verge of something. Trevor claims that it’s brain exhaustion. It will probably come to that. I feel as if I’m riding that line between madness and brilliance. I’m working harder than I ever have before. Both at work and in my writing. But, I’m really talking about writing here, after all that’s what this blog is for. I’m putting in so much time. Some days fly by me, and I wonder how I did it. How did I wake up, immediately get dressed, and sit in the lobby of my Starbucks for six hours on my day off? Why?

The answer of course was that I was working. And that’s different. I’ve never referred to writing as my work before. And I don’t mean this is in a bad way. I don’t mean that writing, something I enjoy so very much, has become laborious or cumbersome. I mean that, for the first time, I’m truly taking it seriously. Even though I’ve known for years now that this is what I want to do with my life, I never fully bought it. I guess I thought I did, but I never really acted like it. I think I was afraid to. It’s frightening, knowing that the one thing you want to do will probably never come to anything. Or that you’ll fight tooth and nail to find some modest success.

Stephen King says that you can’t become a great writer if you’re only a good one now. That it’s too big a jump. If you’re competent now, you can become good with practice, and if you’re bad… well, you’re fucked. Excuse my french. I haven’t decided if I agree or not. The optimist in me really hates the idea. You can do anything if you try hard enough, and anything can be taught if you’re willing to work hard to learn. These are things I believe. Moral codes of my own. Tenets I live by.

But, the guy is insanely successful, and is really quite smart. There’s so much in his book that really strikes home, and makes so much sense. So… what if he’s right? Where does that leave me? Am I competent, struggling and working so hard to become good, and achieve what little success is apparently my due? Or, am I already good, and I’m doing all this work to stay in the same level, forever lost in the myriad shelves of passable fiction? I don’t think I’m bad. I would hope someone would have clued me in by now so I could figure out what I should be doing with my life instead. And I really just don’t feel like I’m great. And I doubt that’s just modesty. There’s so much to learn, and so many mistakes in my rough draft. The to-do list for the rewrite is really piling up.

And now I think I’ve struck a nerve.

I’ve put in more time and effort into this novel than any other work of fiction I’ve written. And I’m watching cliches and adverbs fall out of my brain, slide down my arms, onto my fingers and into the virtual world of Scrivener. And I just shrug and think, “that’s what editing is for.” I can see gaping holes in my plot, or character development, and I make a note that it needs figuring out, and then move along. I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do. I’m so good at editing. I LOVE editing, but everyone I talk to and everything I read says to keep plugging along on the rough draft.

So I’m going to. I am going to finish this novel, dammit, even if the rough draft is a total piece of crap. I’m afraid of what will come after. Maybe a month or two will pass, giving myself the distance to start something new, and see this novel with fresh eyes when it’s time to take the red pen to it. And I’m afraid of what I’ll see. I’m afraid that I’ll read it and just start laughing. Or maybe crying, though hopefully it’s not that bad. I guess I just feel like writing it the first time is hard enough. Editing the entire thing is going to be exhausting. But even now, as I’m trying to let my insecurities out, my optimism kicks in. Take it a chapter at a time. There’s no rush, no one to impress. You’re writing it a chapter at a time, and you’ll rewrite it the same way.

It gets kind of frustrating, always reassuring myself before I even fully understand what concerned me in the first place.

As for Mr. King’s theory… I don’t think he’s wrong. But, I do think his definitions of competent, good, and great, are a little different than mine. Maybe we’ll be on the same page someday, when I’ve written 160 stories. Right now I’m sitting on four and three quarters… but who’s counting?

Anyway, the eyelids are feeling a bit heavy, telling me that the blog has done the job. Sometimes I really do just need to give voice to my fears. Just admitting them to myself can make it all feel so much better. I wish the same worked for digesting gummy bears.

 

Goodnight Blogland,

BZ