December Musings

Yeah, so in November I started pretty strong with the kick-off for NaNo, but by mid-month I was falling behind and stressing too much. I’ve done NaNo four times, so I know what it takes, but this year I’m so involved in paying projects (in addition to a full-time job) that my NaNo work-in-progress just had to go on the back burner. On the plus side, I have about 24,000 words of a novel that I think I can finish outlining to have a decent story.

The other plus was unexpected: once I made the decision to put my novel aside, it was as though a weight was lifted off my shoulders because I gave myself permission to not do something. That had repercussions for my contract work, too, and I felt like the massive writer’s block that I’ve had for months dissolved. Since the end of November I’ve had a couple of days to organize my workload and set specific task goals that are doable.

I also cut back my step-count exercise goal (10,000 steps a day) because I was almost never reaching it. At some point this led to a failure mentality and eventually I fell off the exercise bandwagon. By readjusting my goals to something just a little beyond reach — 7,000 steps a day — I’ve made it easier to tell myself that I can do it if I just take a few more steps. Last week I made my step goals six out of seven days, and that’s a new first for me. Don’t laugh, but much of my “workout” is going up and down the stairs or jogging in place. I live in a pedestrian-unfriendly area and sometimes just getting ready to go out turns out to be a way to avoid doing anything, so for now this is a start.

At Corrugated Sky we’re working on getting our third anthology ready for its release in February 2019. This one is called Cold as Death and will be four stories about zombies.

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NaNo 2018, Day 1

NaNo 2018 for the win! I think I can, I think I can, I know I can!

I wasn’t going to do NaNo this year because I have so many projects on my plate, and I’ve been frozen into a state of near-perpetual writer’s/editor’s block for months. In the last year and a half at work my project load has at least doubled, and I find myself spending more time chasing notes and trying to figure out where I am in the process than spending time actually editing (I work full-time as a copyeditor). Instead of shutting down my computer at the end of the day and feeling like I’ve accomplished anything, I just feel like I’m more covered in virtual piles of paper. It’s not good for the soul. I want to finish something!

And so on that note, with so much to do already, I had a bit of arm-twisting from my fellow authors at Corrugated Sky. I tried to resist, but it’s too hard to swim against the tide, and the “I would like to, but…” excuse was replaced with “Well, maybe…” until there was just no avoiding it. So here I am. NaNo 2018, Day 1. I have a 181-word description of what I’m going to write, and that’s pretty much it so far.

It occurred to me that if I do NaNo, I will finish it — because every time I’ve done NaNo I finish it. I’m hoping that freight-train of writing momentum that NaNo ushers in just might unstick me from the other freelance projects I have going. Kind of like riding a bike, you know? The faster you go, the easier it is to find balance. Whether moving forward on my personal projects helps me at work is another issue, but a positive attitude never hurts work morale! And so, on that note of I’m-going-to-get-things-done, I’m off to start my NaNo project.

Good luck to everyone who’s accepted the challenge this year!

Biting the Bullet (journal)

And so, I’ve finally succumbed to the siren song of the bullet journal. I have a gorgeous new fountain pen, Marvy LePens, highlighters, drawing pencils, colored pencils, stamp pads, and more gel pens than you can shake the proverbial stick at. And I have an orange Rhodia journal just waiting for my words of wisdom to be deposited within its dot-gridded leaves.

This summer has been atrocious. The weather has alternated between monsoon-like rain and heat indexes that make me swoon just looking at the numbers. And work has been so busy I feel like I can’t breathe. My week of vacation came and went and I’m wondering if it ever really happened or was a figment of my imagination. But what isn’t imaginary is the amount of writing and editing projects I have on my to-do list. I’m floundering and starting to panic. What I need is to get my projects organized and establish deadlines.

Deadlines may be a nightmare to some, but they can be a writer’s friend. The trick is to make them work for you. Establishing priorities and due dates means that I can focus on one thing and ignore the rest because the rest of those things will get taken care of later. Meanwhile, my one and only project gets my undivided attention. Or at least, that is how it’s supposed to work. I haven’t been a paragon of planning virtue this year and I’m wasting more time worrying about what I need to get done than it would take to do the tasks ten times over.

Enter the bullet journal (and Trello). I’ve been considering the journal for some time, as it’s a way to keep track of things, plan, keep my idea lists in one place, and play with art supplies and feed my inner artist. I’ve had the Trello app for awhile but I haven’t done much with it. Today I started setting up a Trello board for my writing projects and labeling them. The bullet journal is going to be for more general items, as well as project lists.

I’m a bit stuck setting up my bullet journal’s “future list,” so I turned to the internet for ideas. Website after website, the layout seems to be the same, the fonts are frilly scripts, and I can’t help but notice it’s mostly girls doing this stuff. Yeah, I’m a girl, too, but it just seems odd, especially given that the inventor of the bullet journal is a guy. Why aren’t the men doing more planning? Or are their bullet-journal websites just buried on page 629 of the search list? Or are they so busy doing that they aren’t planning?

So far, I’ve drawn a few lines, marked two pages as “index,” created three “signifiers,” and put some page numbers in the bullet journal. It’s a start!

Becoming a Bookseller

Corrugated Sky’s books at the Ellicott City Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

Last Saturday, June 30, I set up a small table for my first on-site book sales venture. The location was historic Ellicott City, Maryland, which has recently been ravaged by flooding for the second time in just a few years. The venue was the Howard County Historical Society’s Deja Vu and Nearly New sale.

As nature would have it, the weather was not only hot, it was dangerously hot. The sale was smaller than I expected it to be, and for the first two hours a small but steady stream of people came by the table. And as the sun rose higher in the sky, the people evaporated in direct proportion to the amount of shade available — or more likely, ran for shelter to a nearby building or the air conditioning of their cars.

I sold two books, and I got sunburned. I passed out bookmarks for all the available titles (in case you can’t see them clearly in the photo, from left to right the books are Seacombe Island, Tales of the Black Dog, Smoke and Steam, and Hellfire) and chatted with a few people who stopped by. Quite a few people were accompanied by their dogs, who gamely trotted alongside their owners despite the heat.

While I wouldn’t call the sale a resounding success, it wasn’t a flop, and it was good to get out from behind the keyboard and spend some time outside. It was also a good way to test out the table I bought and play with some ideas for displaying books at events. I have a shopping list now: banner, table cloth, book easels.

The next venue is HallowRead — also held in Ellicott City — at the end of October.