Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Truth Be Told, It Is Time to Transition

It is time to stop doing all of the old and tired things I used to do and move my energy into new things so I can create the life I want to lead. This is the thesis statement, the item I need to prove. Most writers take the entire length of the article to do so but I can prove it within the first paragraph. Why do I say this? Because if the old stuff was working toward me living the life I want I’d pretty much have it by now, don’t you think? And I don’t. Guess its time to move on.

(As a side note…Do me & my thesis amuse you? Those of you who don’t understand the reference should go and buy this album right now.)

And now back to my regularly scheduled rambling on…

Three of my friends -- my drum instructor, mom’s best friend and Trayce -- all got in touch with me in various ways over the past week with links to self publishing houses. All different ones, some local, some authors who’ve done it, some who are attached to big name houses. I’m thinking that maybe it’s a sign.

I’ve been asked if I ever considered self publishing before (and the answer is yes) so it’s not like this light bulb over my head where I thought ‘A-ha the golden ticket to Wonkaville!’ or anything like that. The suggestions to try it were just more scattered, not coming at me in one big rush before, so I had pushed it under the rug. But the pile of dirt under there looks like a mountain now so I strongly need to consider giving it weight. Of course other stuff needs to happen before I even consider doing anything with Ripple the Twine.

First, if I start looking into self publishing, every single thing I’ve ever read suggests that writers still get an agent. So I’ll be starting up that process again. Query, query, query until my little bitty fingers become nubs on the keys…and then I can probably still bang out a few more. But that’s in December (better known to us WriMos as NaNoEdMo).

Second, my very good friends Dianna and Ginger recently suggested that perhaps I should be writing short stories for magazines. It’s a great idea and will keep my creative muscles flexing even when I’m not working on something lengthy like a book. I have an account with HUB Pages and it will be a good start to post stuff there until I can acquire a few magazine subscriptions to various publications where my work might fit in.

(“What am I gonna do with 40 subscriptions to Vibe?” -- You know you were thinking it!)

Something that needs to go, sad as it may be, is any and all distractions that keep me from my goal of being a full time writer. Yes, this quite likely includes my company. I won’t close the doors of Chucka Stone Designs decorative paint treatments, I just won’t be out there pimping it. But what will be closing is my Etsy shop.

I plan to hang onto it through the end of the year but it really isn’t benefiting anyone so its just a time suckage that I don’t need anymore. No one shops there and the rent is getting a little high. Of course with the closing of the shop also comes the withdrawal from the team I’m a member of, EcoEtsy. This will be tough because there are so many awesome people in this bunch but I can still keep up with most of them in Greenpreneurs on Facebook so it won’t be a total loss.

That also means I’ll be giving up writing for their blog. And this is the reason I’ll be sticking it out until the end of the year, I’m committed to writing all the Monday News & Views posts for December because my co-editors were kind enough to give me November off for NaNo (♥LOVE♥).

Things that I will still keep up with are this blog of course and Facebook, sometimes twitter although I can’t always access it, and in writing here I will definitely still read all of my favorite bloggers.

But…and this is a big but…other than all of you awesome people that I read all the time (and you know who you are by now I hope) any new blog reading I take on is going to pretty strictly have to do with writing -- getting published, self publishing, published writer’s inner thoughts, etc. I have to start immersing myself into the life and culture or else I will only flail about even more.

And this brings me to my final, and probably the biggest, transition I plan to initiate. Within the next eight months Matt and I are moving to Arizona. His line of work is huge in the Phoenix area, prices for housing are much cheaper, my sister and friend and his dad and step mom are close by plus there’s the weather…oh the weather!

It isn’t even about the temperatures so much as the constant sunshine. Okay, it’s a lot to do with the temperatures too. I’m really just weary of it here. There is nothing for me here other than my family members that I still see and those people are mobile (and so are we) enough that we can go back and forth to spend time together as often as we can. Not to mention by keeping social networking sites I’m instantly connected.

No, its not the same as being in the same room, I get that, but the room we have here hardly fits half of them inside it anyway and its costing us an arm and a leg to pay for (and getting rid of those pesky appendages is about the only way we could fit more people in here).

I’m just seriously coming to the realization that Matt and I do not fit here anymore, in the physical or spiritual sense, we’ve moved into a different phase of life than everyone we know. Truth be told, I really have nothing in common with my friends anymore except a very rich past. Not having kids puts us in a completely different place than most of them but I stand by my choice not to bring more babies into this world. That’s me. But without that to schedule play dates around or whatever its just more and more difficult to see the parents of those wonderful kids because they get involved in the activities their children take on as they get older.

And yea for them, its encouraging to see that some people still take an active role in raising their children, its just that I do not fit into that world. Being an Auntie only takes you so far and then its best to give up being a hanger-on. Ya know?

Anyway, I’m just babbling as usual but suffice to say the next year will be producing a whole lot of interesting changes in my life and I’m fully ready to embrace all of them. I’ll be sure to share the links to my short stories when they’re up over at HUB pages.

Thanks for sticking it out with me, leaving comments and showing your love and support all this time everyone. I hope that I’ve been even half as supportive for all of you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You’ve Lost that Reckless Feeling

Last weekend, after the Fall Fair where I successfully sold my wares, my mom and aunt came back over to our place for a late lunch and some conversation. We shared a lot of laughs and a few tears but overall it was really a fantastic day and all of us got a lot of stuff off our chests that had been building up for a long time.

As for me, well, with the current state of affairs my mind pretty much became entwined with not much more than the concept of writing and then I made a statement that even surprised me.

“Some time in my past, and I have no idea when, I feel like my train jumped the track. I have no idea what I was supposed to end up doing but I can’t help but feel it was so much more than this.”

And that one tiny statement of admission to myself and the people around me set me off on a very slippery downward spiral for the rest of the weekend. I started to question everything in my life. From where I live to what I do to who I spend my time with to marrying Matt and you know what? Everything is alright now because sometime late Sunday I had another thought.

“It’s never too late, and I’m never too old, to do something about it.”

Now that’s all well and good but the teeny single spaced lines between ‘I’m supposed to do more than this’ and ‘never too late’ were cavernous last week. And it’s funny to me now but as you read this you’ll probably think how amazing it is that I got from points A to B in just forty eight short hours. But believe me, in my head I’ve been trying to get to B since A skipped the rails.

And I think that was back before I was even a teenager but it doesn’t really matter now, all that matters is making the most with what I’ve got.

Because last week was the second of NaNoWriMo, it was the well known week of let downs -- your characters suck, your writing sucks, you should just give up, etc. -- and this year more so than last year it effected the hell out of me.

Let me back up for a second because it isn’t fair to unleash this entire story without a little understanding of my own back story.

Since we moved back to Massachusetts Matt has been the primary income earner in our household. For the two years before we moved back I had taken myself, as Sex and the City Samantha would put it, ‘off the merry go round’ of corporate America to pursue my job with the ladies of faux out on Long Island. It was a great fit for me creatively speaking and I developed skills that I still utilize to this day. Because I felt so good about the new creative based job I had learned, I started a company doing it as soon as we got here. Most of you know it by now, Chucka Stone Designs.

The faux thing didn’t exactly take off like a rocket, but I had a moderately good year for a first year business. Which was good because Matt took a seventy percent pay cut to come back here and pursue something that was never to pan out. But that is a story for another time. Sometime when I have enough perspective to tell it without anger or sadness. Sometime when I can let it go. Sorry, still not there yet.

So I digress…

I did a whole bunch of jobs doing finishing and straight up painting for a couple years and then last year, around the end of the summer, my mom mentioned NaNoWriMo to me. I’d heard of it before but only on the fringes and I had no idea what it was even all about. After a good bit of research I signed up and set my goals on writing a novel in thirty days.

And you know what? Not a single person in my life said I was crazy (not to my face anyway). No one told me I couldn’t do it. Everyone pretty much universally said that I should have been doing it all along because it’s what I’m really good at. These were not new revelations, I had those thoughts myself since age fourteen, its just that I never gave them any weight because I had never figured out how to pursue it. I had no idea how to just become an Author of fiction novels. So instead I did anything but write.

There must be twenty “books” in my library of journals. At least, there could be more, twenty is just a round number guess. Now, I use quotes around the word ‘books’ because most of them are so violently edited at only halfway through (or less) that they have never become more than bleeding ink collectors.

I never felt like I could be an Author because I’d never finished a book. And to be fair, that’s kind of a necessary first step. So I dove into NaNo last year bound and determined to write something that I actually finished. A manuscript length fiction novel that was to become my first ever book.

And you know what? I did it. With their tools and encouragement along the way, the ability to lurk in forums and garner inspiration, and opening my eyes to another world where everything outside my door was simply inspiration ready for the taking, I wrote and completed a book.

I spent the next handful of months editing that book. Then I spent another scattering of months sending out query letters to Agents that I researched in order to sell that book.

And you know what? No one ever talks about this part. With good reason.

The editing of one’s own book (despite the help from three of my biggest cheerleaders ♥love♥) and the follow up of becoming my own sales and marketing representative is a brutal, vicious siege of…no, not rejection. The trouble with this part is the monotony. The waiting. The letters without a reply, the many (many, many, many) months spent going over and over the same old thing. The time between the first book and the second, for me, was a total buzz kill.

I started questioning what the fuck I was even doing with my life. Here I sit, every day, typing away furiously on these keys to create another world and all I want to do is climb into it and never leave. Reality sucks. The real world where bills are due and one’s husband is the only one contributing toward paying them is just, wrong to me.

So I started freaking out. Yes, I certainly had a ‘what does it all mean, fuck this I’m getting a job, I don’t care what I do as long as it pays a lot of money, my brain is going to explode the next time we’re left with seventy five dollars in our bank account’ kind of moment last weekend immediately following the fair.

Again, I should back up. Many of you know that we also filed bankruptcy last year. A big move that I’m not at all ashamed to say was necessary to move on with our lives. But it was another example of the waiting game.

I don’t mean financially, it wasn’t like we were trying to pay all of that stuff related to the house and just unable to do it so that left us with a windfall after the discharge. Quite the opposite. We were exactly the same, just free of the burdens of what happened after one very shady mortgage company allowed us to screw ourselves over many years ago. But we still made the same money and had the same bills the day after the discharge as the day before it if you catch my drift.

So I had put more stock in the feeling of freedom that I assumed would come with doing it. I put too much weight in waiting. Then I just kept waiting, floating endlessly in the sea of murky waters inside my own brain.

Then last weekend it all just caught up to me. There was no magic button. We aren’t transformed into something awesome just because we’re debt free. And oh yeah, I’m not making one freaking dime for all of this effort I’ve put into what I want to do with my life. No matter how many times Matt tells me to ‘stick it out’, ‘just keep working and it will happen’, ‘put myself out there every day’ (because the money he makes now does pay our bills) it occurred to me that if that happens and it takes me say ten years to get a book published, I will never get out of this transition place in my head.

Suddenly money became incredibly important. I started having a full on manic attack that I wasn’t pulling my weight in our family. I started freaking out that what I’m doing is a total and complete waste of time if we end up living in this apartment with no sunlight and no savings for the next whoever knows how long. That no matter how good my words string together, if I can’t sell it then its all for naught.

And then you know what? Matt said something that hit home so heavy I actually caught my breath in my throat -- ‘if you give up now that makes the last two years of my life bullshit.’ It wasn’t a move to make me feel guilty but it all suddenly hit me that he wants me to succeed. That he wants to see me give it everything I’ve got no matter what the consequence to our current financial situation. He has been the silent backdrop for so long. All this time that I’ve been wrapped up in my own head about feeling like I’m in this dire situation he’s been working his fucking ass off to let me have the chance to make something great happen in my life.

And I was just flailing about, squandering that gift. Like an asshole.

It’s hard to explain but it feels like I’ve been doing this job forever, because in my head I actually have. On the one hand, for the past twenty two years I’ve been this big famous Author, or screen writer, or general story teller and I don’t understand why it’s taking so long to make a living at it. On the other hand I hardly finished my first manuscript five minutes ago so how in the hell can I expect that just because I got to the finish line of the first goal I was going to instantly win the race?

I took all of last weekend off to contemplate, and I allowed myself to completely abandon all of my responsibilities for a day on Sunday when I got hammered in the middle of the afternoon and smoked a bunch of pot and didn’t write a word and didn’t work out and didn’t care about the outcome of the day. I simply embraced it for what it was at the time, like it was my last hurrah, and went with it.

And you know what? I woke up on Monday morning (a little off kilter physically I will admit) with an entirely new outlook on everything. I realized that it really doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as I keep at it. Not because Matt wants me to either. Because I want to and with his full support in doing so.

I still didn’t find the magic button where I press it and it lights up the inside of this box where every single answer to my life is written, but I definitely feel like a switch got flicked.

Its one thing to say out loud ‘I’m an Author’ and mean it but it’s quite another to go out there and live it by throwing myself recklessly into the great big unknown pool of destiny. Starting this past Monday, I feel like I’m living it. Finally.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spelling it Out on Eleven Eleven

This is not going to be about my book and the hell known as week two but I still want the search engines to find me if its related to writing, so bear with me while I pimp it for a second then read on for something really swell...

NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo10, National Novel Writing Month, writing a book in 30 days is a freaking recoculous idea, wtf did I get myself into (again), I hate all my characters, I think I’ll kill off all my characters in a tragic blimp accident, let’s see what’s going on over at Facebook/twitter/blogger/NaNo forums/my eBay watch list/the inside of my refrigerator/the Wiki about common beans, perhaps this writing thing is a load of crap, I suck at typing, word count can kiss my big old ass, is my homepage…

Okay, that’ll do.

Now onto other more enjoyable topics such as the fact that today is my very favorite day! Today is eleven eleven! (Yes, I spell everything out for word count now). It isn’t my favorite day because it’s Veteran’s Day (which would have been sooo fitting to have been yesterday on the anniversary of the Marines inception don’t you think?) but because of the number itself: 11/11. Isn’t it just cool?

Mystical, magical, I don’t know. There has just always been something about the number eleven since I was a kid. A little kid. Recently I was sorting through a whole bunch of crap that I’ve held onto over the years and I found this wonky survey that I made up that only my sister and I took. Of course favorite number was one of the questions; I wrote 11. I don’t think I was much older than that at the time.

Let me back up for a second and explain, for those of you who didn’t spend half of your tween years folding up pieces of notebook paper into clever little fortune telling devices, just what the survey was. Remember that scene in Sixteen Candles where Samantha (Molly Ringwald, before the dance so aptly named for her became a global phenomenon) is answering the ‘have you ever done it’ survey and then she’s supposed to pass it on to a friend? Yeah well it was just like that only for ten year olds so ya know, the sex questions turned into stuff like ‘who’s your favorite movie star’.

Okay in all fairness I know that most ten year olds these days know more about sex than I probably still know, but back then we were all idiots and stupid surveys were our version of the internet.

But, as usual, I digress.

When Drew Bledsoe came to New England as our quarterback pretty much the only reason I liked him at first was that he proudly wore number 11. Of course when he started to kick our sorry ass team back into gear he became that much more awesome but still, the eleven was what really compelled me. I guess you could say it Drew me to him…haha, oh I just kill me.

It is pretty much a daily occurrence that I look at a clock at 11:11. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. Sometimes both. And I always point it out by literally pointing at it and saying ‘oh look, its 11:11, well of course it is.’

Nothing major happened when I was eleven…

Okay wait, that might not be entirely accurate.  That was the year I met my BFF who is still my oldest and closest like-family friend in the world, I finally left the hell known as grammar school (truthfully my least favorite years, I even enjoyed junior high school more) and I also went to Disney World for the first time so I suppose one might argue that I had a pretty significant year that year. 

Significant, at least, to an eleven year old who’s sitting around making up silly surveys that I intended to pass around to my friends but never did.

There are some who say I should make wishes when I see something that reads , that it is fortuitous, coincidence, or really special.  But to me it is simply a time of day, another reason to notice my favorite number.

Then again, maybe eleven is the magic number.  My magic number.  Guess what time I’m going to schedule this to post today?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

If I Were A Plot Point Where Would I Be?

I suppose about a quarter of the way finished that’s where. And that’s good because a quarter of the month is already gone. Just like that…poof! But don’t worry faithful readers who would rather hear about anything other than my word count (9238 currently, I’m just sayin’…) I won’t go on and on about NaNoWriMo today. There are so many other topics to cover! Right?

And suddenly my mind goes silent…birds start chirping, I hear the empty void of a hollow brain, filled only by the sweet sounds of my character’s voices and start to think, what would Donna write in a situation like this?

Donna McCarthy is a 42 year old widow who lives, works and blogs in Boston. She suffered a fairly painful past that included losing a child at age ten to a drowning incident which forced a wedge between herself and her husband where he became verbally abusive and she sat back and took it because she was so lost she felt there was nothing else for her to do. Ten years later she loses her husband suddenly but instead of withering into a puddle of goo she rises to the occasion and slowly begins to claim her life back over the next three years.

On the advice of her boss as well as her best friend, she ventures back into the world of dating. On the advice of her therapist she starts taking numerous random classes to discover just what she really enjoys in life. When Donna starts writing a blog to chronicle her foray back into the world of the living she discovers an entire community of people who share her feelings of loss and life. One man in particular, Jake, seems to be coasting right along her wavelength and she starts to fantasize what life might be like if they were together.

Only problem, he is in Arizona and she is in Boston. So they continue flirting mercilessly online for months and share in each other’s love woes until one day when Donna meets Doug. For the first time in years she feels like maybe there could be a guy out there in the real world. After all her botched attempts at meeting people online and the countless string of bad dates she has been a participant in over the years, Doug seems, dare she say it, normal.

But no matter how much fun they seem to have, Donna is always waiting for the other shoe to drop and she never allows herself to really get close to Doug. So why is Jake acting like a jealous boyfriend in every comment he makes on her blog? And what will Doug do when he discovers she has put their entire dating history and all its steamy details online for the whole world to read? Could Donna be pushing away the one man who really loves her to live in a fantasy that lives 3,000 miles away?

Or something like that.

In fact none of the development above is really set in stone right now except the character names and the potential for a love triangle. I might make Jake a liar and Donna finds out he’s really a 27 year old Accountant living in Vermont (but only after she really figures out that she loves Doug of course). I might make Doug run away when he discovers her blog. I might make Donna fly to Arizona for a week at a spa with her best friend and have Jake blow her off the whole time she’s there so we start to hate Jake (because we’re really going to need to hate him so we get why she’s with Doug). For a while I kicked around making Jake & Doug the same person which means Jake lied about his location and all but the way the characters were unfolding it just didn’t fit. I can’t decide if her mom is evil or not and I can’t decide if she keeps in touch with her former in-laws. Opening up a sister-in-law character could add the conflict this happily ever after story will need.

Because regardless of what happens within the story you and I both know she will live happily ever after. My characters always do because I like sunsets and people riding off into them. I like kisses that fade into the soft glow of a candle’s flame. I like tying things up that used to be a big old mess into a neat and tidy perfectly pressed bow of awesomeness. Call it the romantic in me.

The thing that really surprised me this week is (dare I say it out loud without hundreds of torch carrying NaNoWriMo participants hunting me down?) how easy it was to write. Last year’s was not bad, I hit my word count or above everyday and the characters definitely developed personalities and all that happy crap but this year I feel like they’re just...I don't know, I guess, for lack of a better description, real.

It is so hard to describe but I know the fellow writers around these parts will understand. I’m loving it, truly, because it means my writing is short and sweet bursts of really lengthy stuff that actually flows. It reads well, every character seems to have a very distinct voice and my count just keeps ticking up. I love NaNo10!

Okay that is all, don’t hate me. Please?