What started as a lovely day has turned into a bitter disappointment. The wonderful feeling of accomplishment that I started my day with was crushed by one problem after another. I try to bounce back, but there are some days that just keep beating me down and this is one of them. I’ve had people complaining and making all sorts of demands at work, a person who blames me for something I had no control over (but was forced to serve as the messenger for) wrote a letter to the president of my institution saying that I am tarnishing the reputation of the university, and then I came home to find that two of my potted plants had fallen from the window ledge because of all the wind, and my cat’s eye was even more red and swollen than it was this morning despite improvement over the weekend. I tried to take care of what I could. I did some yoga to relax, I had dinner, I went to the pet shop for a collar to try to keep him from rubbing at his eye and making it worse, but I just feel down and depressed and burnt out. I do. I feel like everything I work for is a shambles and there’s nothing I can do about it. I know this feeling will pass, but right now I can’t see how to manage it all.
OMG! It’s almost November! Which means… NaNo time! Again! Yes! I’m exclaiming too much!
Okay. That’s enough of that.
So here’s the plan…
I’m doing NaNo… sort of. I’m really just using it as a way to stay focused on my rewriting. The idea of having a deadline, even a self-imposed one, works for me. I will only validate if I finish the entire round of rewrites that I assigned myself in September (when I really got back to working on Anúna). My rewriting process is slow and messy, so a complete draft seems a worthy goal to me. My main focus is working on plot, pacing, and characterization. Right now, I’m somewhere between chapters 9 and 10, and have cut about 5000 words from the original draft–which leaves a good 40000 words that remain untouched and untamed.
My next goal will be to work on individual scenes and get down to the sentence-level unruliness before finding a beta or CP willing to exchange ideas.
If I feel brave enough, I might attend some of my local write-ins (I’m more of an antisocial, solitary type, but I’m trying to be more open).
Want to be my writing buddy? Find me here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/emperatrix
So I haven’t done any real writing in a couple of weeks… turns out that the weird tiredness and lack of concentration was probably the result of a slow-growing skin infection that had been building since my tumble down the stairs. I am now one toe-nail down and many antibiotics up. I’m not one to take too many meds if I can avoid it, but this is definitely not the time to avoid it… nightmares involving Civil War style amputations aside, the infection really was caught just in time. It could’ve been much worse. Luckily, aside from the occasional twinge, and the leftover swelling from the injection sites, I’m finally starting to feel myself again. That’s a very good thing for all involved, as I was staring to get very moody and grumpy because I was barely holding it together. Trying to stay positive.
Now, back to the part about going natural… yes, you heard that right, I’m going natural. What nonsense is this you ask? Well, I’ve been transitioning towards an all-natural (or as close to all-natural) health and wellness routine. This has meant several experiments with natural deodorants, oils, baking soda, arrowroot, vinegar, organic/minimal makeup, no more hair dying (this is a struggle, I was a long time color changer), no more hair drying (though I will do some minimal styling on special occasions and when the weather turns cold–I don’t want to have a Victorian style death by cold head/pneumonia episode), natural toothpaste, and plenty of raised brows from the mother and the boyfriend, but I’m loving it all! I’ll post some details later, but I’ve mostly been scouring the blogosphere for recipes and ideas. Some of the best have come from the following natural living blogs:
- Almost Exactly (love love love her posts!)
- Wellness Mama (she has amazing how-to and recipe posts)
- Food Babe
- Green Organic Mama
The best part is that I’ve really noticed a significant change in my skin and hair, especially the little lines and spots that were starting to show up from lack of moisture and old scarring. And it’s cheap! I’ve spent less on natural products that can be eaten as much as slathered on than I have on skincare at Sephora. I may not look like a hippie, but I’m a flower child on the inside
Last week, I did something amazing. I made my final student loan payment. Yes, I managed to pay off my education before turning 30 and that feels pretty awesome. How did I do it? That’s both easy and hard to explain. It’s not a process that can work for everyone. I made several life choices that led me to this point…
First, I chose to go to a local state school and live at home. Why? I received a scholarship that would pay for 75% of my undergraduate students in-state, but only 50% if I went to a private institution. Being the logical girl I am, I chose the state school (I also had no idea what I was going to do with myself and it seemed reasonable to find my way without blowing my non-existent finances on a BA).
Secondly, I received grants. These aren’t that plentiful anymore, so it’s one of the hard things to replicate if you’re trying to go about getting an education for less today. In a way, it was luck, but I did strive to keep my grades up in order to keep my grants throughout my four years, and I saved whatever was leftover to pay for books/technology/emergencies.
I earned a BA without paying a dime.
I then went to grad school… again, I wasn’t sure where it would take me, but I chose to go with the program that offered me an assistantship that covered nearly all of my expenses and provided me with a stipend (which helped pay for whatever wasn’t covered). Again, there were a few grants to see me through the rest, and I saved and scrimped in order to make ends meet and come out with a 0 balance.
Then, I went in for the second round… earning my MLIS. Again, I had a choice to make–all the programs were distance programs (I couldn’t afford to leave home for personal reasons), so I had to choose between an in-state or out of state program. I went with in-state (again, avoiding those out of state tuition fees), and chose the school that had the lower tuition rates. Hello, loans. My MLIS was fully funded by Stafford loans. I only took what I needed and I started saving so that I could start paying as soon as I graduated (I paid my way through the loan grace period to avoid higher interest rates). I started paying my 22k as soon as I graduated in the summer of 2011. That’s two years. What did I do? I made another decision: to move out or pay my loans. I calculated average rent in my area (about $1000 on average) and decided to pretend that I was paying for rent and just send that money straight to the loan providers. I stayed at home for another year and a half, until I felt that my payments had reached a point where I could switch over and pay the thousand for rent and the difference for my loans. I learned to live within my means, a lesson I hope to take with me for life, and I learned to balance my earnings.
The hard part is that I know this isn’t something everyone can do, and I don’t profess to be an expert on finances. It’s hard to make ends meet, especially if you don’t have a job that can help you get on your feet. I lucked out/was blessed/worked really really hard/whatever you want to call it, and I managed to get ahead.
To those of you struggling with your student loans, it can be done. Your path may not be mine, but it can happen.
It’s almost October, which means… dun dun dun… NaNoWriMo is right around the corner! Which REALLY means, I’ve been working on Anúna for a year (I also may have hit on a potential title, but that’s a story for another day).
Just let that sink in.
Though, in all honesty, I shelved it for well over 6 months while working on Cassiel, but a year is a year. That’s a lot of time spent in front of a screen/in my head developing this project. And it’s still in a fairly rough, messy, first draft state. There are days when opening my printed copy just makes my chest hurt… there’s a little twinge every time I think about having to rewrite/rethink/redraft another chapter. Writing is hard, lonely work, but re-writing just feels ten times more soul-crushing. This is when I see what I’ve written and think Gah! What was I thinking? (Though there are some moments when I’m skipping along going Tra-la-la, I’m a literary genius. Admittedly, these are few and far between–there is a lot more anguish than happy skipping.)
I love writing. There are stories inside me that need telling. But there are some days when I really question my sanity. Days when I come home from work and the last thing I want to do is open my laptop and stare at a screen for another 2-3 hours before going to bed.
It’s hard to write and even harder when I don’t.
I really am my own worst enemy in this. No one can make me feel as guilty as I can when I don’t write because, when all is said and done, I’m the only person who really cares whether or not I meet my goal. I’m the only one who can own this thing.
What I’m really having a hard time with is balancing writing and everything else. I can’t write for hours at a time. I physically can’t do it. There are only so many hours I can take in front of a screen, cramped up into whatever position I curl myself into, trying to make my fingers go as fast as my thoughts, before I feel mentally and physically exhausted. It just doesn’t work for me. There are too many demands on me–from work, family, Didymus (the cat rules all)–and no matter how well I manage my time, there just isn’t enough. I would love to be able to shell out more than a couple thousand words a day (and those are the good days), but I’m more of a write-in-bursts sort of person. I guess it works for me right now, but there I still have this uncomfortable feeling that I should be doing more… it’s a terribly cycle of trying too hard and tearing myself apart because I didn’t try as hard as I should.
So what I’m saying is… I have no answers… but I don’t think anyone really has it all figured out. It’s a messy business. I’ll just keep shuffling along.
For now, I’m off to do some more research on Celtic mythology. Research counts as writing, right?
I did it! I actually reached my 80k word goal! That’s the Good News…
The Bad News is that I’m still not finished.
Yep, I was right when I said predicted that this draft wouldn’t be complete when I reached my goal. Re-outlining the ending certainly helped me get it going at a better pace, but I still see another 3-4 chapters to finish, which might mean anywhere from 15-20,000 more words given my average chapter lengths for this draft. All in all, I feel much better about it than I did last week. See staying positive after all.
*Goodness, I just compiled and saw that it’s really 337 pages long! Thank you, Scrivener, for keeping all that text in an orderly fashion.*
Cassiel, rewrite draft 1/part 2 (total word goal)
About Cassiel (or the best summary I could come up with for the moment)
With her family and fortune gone, sixteen-year-old Cassiel Loriett is placed under the guardianship of the exacting Mrs. Maywoods, but there is more to her family’s fate than Cassiel knows and the only way to learn the truth is to solve the mystery herself. Willing to do whatever it takes to find out what really led to the loss of her father’s fortune and her mother’s unexpected death, Cassiel runs away with little more than her father’s journal a couple of clues, but first she has to stay away from Mrs. Maywoods and her brother, Mr. Stellworthy, who seems to take a strange interest in Cassiel’s position as the Maywoods’s erstwhile ward.
Finding herself on a quest, Cassiel ends up the unlikely resident of Walstone House–a derelict manor house run by Stephen Frye, and his cousins Christabella and Nathan Walstone, and owned by their reclusive grandfather, Pierce Walstone. Finding a friend and ally in Stephen, Cassiel sets on a journey that might mean losing it all, or finding herslf along the way.
A YA historical mystery set in late Victorian England.
A re-write in progress…
Follow my Cassiel writing updates here: http://things-she-said.org/tag/cassiel/
Can it be? Yes, a CampNaNoWriMo update at last! It’s been a long month and it’s not even done! Give me words!!! WORDS!
And, yes, I am still using my phone for these videos, so forgive the quality. Girl’s gotta spend wisely and a camera isn’t in it.
June proved to be an eventful month, what with there being birthday cakes and presents and all. But there were also books! And trips! And chairs!!!
Here’s a look at some of the best things that happened in June (sans the birthday stuff, for that silliness see this post)
July is proving to be a busy month… much busier than I anticipated. I’m doing what I call Camp NaNo part 2, in the hopes that giving myself a deadline means that I will finish Cassiel within the month. It’s starting to grow out of control again. I need to reign my creative juices in… I’m wordy to a fault. There must be a project that I can complete in less than 100k. This is not a good thing. Really, I need to focus on action and cut out the extraneous stuff. I’ve let myself go with setting and inner thoughts. I need action!!! ACTION!
So that is that. If it’s a bit quiet around here, it probably means I’m being a stern taskmaster and making myself stick to writing… turns out, I also got in a bit over my head and have to frantically rework some of my work-related writing for publication. My fingers may very well go on strike after all this.