Boredom Update

By this time each year, most people have let their new year’s resolutions slide into oblivion. So, it made sense to wait six weeks before reporting on how my boredom experiment is going.

It’s been an abject failure.

Let me explain.

My life has improved dramatically in just a few weeks. Last year I read 16 books over the year. More than one a month. I considered it acceptable, though for a writer, less than stellar. This year, on Goodreads Reading Challenge, I committed to reading at least 50 books. With largely TV free evenings and weekends, I read 9 books in January. (So far, Beneath a Scarlet Sky – a true story of a 17 year old Italian boy during WWII, is my favorite.)

With more free time away from screens, I began meditating regularly again. I decided on the schedule of 20 minutes, twice daily. Yes, it meant getting up earlier, which I am loathe to do. There have been many mornings when I thought about going to just 1 evening session a day, but I wanted to stick with it until it was a habit — give it a fair shot. I’ve reached that point. I look forward to the time on the cushion, and am reaping the benefits of a regular practice, though some mornings, I would still rather sleep another 20 minutes.

It’s great I’m reading so much more, after all, I recently heard that every hour of reading is like an hour of studying writing. But, I also have a shelf full of writing books, many of which I’ve never read. It made sense to add more academic endeavors to my reading regimen.

After looking over the titles, I picked The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. In just the first chapter I saw things I could do to improve both books I’ve been working on. It felt like my opening chapter of Fear Unleashed didn’t grab the reader like I wanted it to. My intention was to create a slow build of getting to know the main character, but I don’t think that helped sell the story. It has inspired me to rethink much of my first novel, and since I have a lot of passion for those changes, I think I’m jumping tracks and letting my current work in progress go for a moment while I rewrite Fear Unleashed.

The truth of my boredom update is this… I have failed miserably at being bored in 2019. I now see that I already was bored and screen time was just a lazy way to fill the boredom. So I guess I am sort of breaking my resolution. I no longer resolve that 2019 is the year of boredom. Instead I resolve it is the year I switch boredom off and reengage with the things that give life meaning. It’s an easy resolution to keep.

How are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Have you also tried less screen time? How is that working for you?

Read any good books lately? Please tell me about them, as I’m constantly looking for my next book.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Keeping the Faith

Prepare for a somewhat rambling, stream-of-consciousness blog.

I’m sitting on my sun porch listening to the sounds of the night. Perfectly synchronized tree frogs, crickets, and other unknown insects are creating a symphony. They are accompanied by the urgency of sirens, and the groan of traffic.

The blue fairy lights wrapped around the old growth trees in my yard are all pulsing, completely out of sync. I spent the afternoon repairing one strand that a squirrel had decided was a chew toy. I’m taking great pride in seeing it twinkle, though I miss the fireflies that added white lights to the dance.

The writing has been coming at a slower pace, partly because I’ve been busier socially. It’s so hard to find that balance. I’m either holed up, or never home.

Another query needs to go out, and yet I find myself hesitant. Once again I feel like the outsider in the agent world.

Perhaps it is who I’m querying. They all seem to be about 22, bouncy, and adorable. They post about all the books they represent that are coming out and many seem instantly forgettable. They tweet all the story ideas they’re looking for, which sound an awful lot like mine, yet the rejections keep dripping in. And then they tweet about all the mistakes querying authors make, and this process begins to take on a familiar feel.

It reminds me of Hollywood, where I was never quite good enough. I was expected to play by rules I had nothing to do with setting up. It didn’t matter how much talent I had, or how many original ideas I had, if I didn’t meet certain expectations and play the games of the men in power.

Now, instead of sexism, I feel the weight of ageism. I feel the need to be hip and current. I’m expected to condense my book into 140 characters in a twitter pitch fest, or find just the right combination of words to win over an agent in a few paragraphs. And then there’s the whopping 5 pages of my manuscript I’m allowed to submit. I think about Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and wonder how it ever got published. The first 100 pages were excruciating, yet if I don’t wow them in 5 pages, I have no chance. Once again, I’m just not hip enough. Not cool enough.

Then there was the depressing moment recently when an agent I was really interested in, revealed her love of Twilight.

She is clearly not my agent.

I have a good story. In fact, I have a really good story. I’ll admit, there may be times I don’t tell it as well as I would like, but it’s as good, if not better than many of the books lining the shelves of bookstores. It will take three books to tell that story, and somehow I have to get an agent who has the patience to see where this is going. Either that, or I have to find a way to support myself while I write all three books. 45’s recent attacks on healthcare make that more and more unlikely.

But I don’t have just three books. One agent I follow recently tweeted that too many authors focus on breaking in with their first book and not on building a career. Frustrating! After this trilogy, I have an entire middle grade series in my head. I also have an adult dystopian book with a killer title, Dwellers of the Eye. I would love to build a career, but I need the income of breaking in with my first book to do it. Why is it so hard for those who have broken in to remember the frustrations and struggles of those still trying?

When I send a query off, I am filled with confidence. I’m certain this will finally be the agent to request my manuscript. When I receive a rejection, I am filled with fear and doubt that I have just wasted my entire life savings, and I am going to spend the rest of my life struggling to keep a roof over my head.

I had the silly idea that as this went along, the rejections would get easier. They do not. They get far harder, and with each one it also gets harder to keep the faith that I’m not on a fool’s errand.

Still, what else is there to do but to forge ahead. I’ve chosen my path and I have to see it through. Peak after valley, after peak, after valley, I will keep riding this publishing roller coaster and do my best to keep on keeping the faith so I can keep on sitting on my sun porch, listening to the music of the night, and living a life that feels filled with purpose.

Please like & share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Social Media Blackout

Currently I am participating in something called the Whole Life Challenge. Every week there are different challenges to participate in that are designed to imscreen-shot-2015-09-28-at-7-05-06-pm-615x450prove your life. One of last week’s challenges was a social media blackout. For an entire week I did not check Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Surprisingly, the hardest was Twitter. I use it as my breaking news feed, and without it, I feel out of the loop. I had to go on Facebook for work, so I got little glimpses of my feed as I signed on, then switched over to the business page. A friend adopted a new kitten. How could i not respond? What else was I missing out on? Whose birthday was I appearing to ignore because I didn’t send them good wishes? I resisted, and for the most part didn’t miss much. Here is probably what I missed – pictures of delicious looking food, political outrage against either candidate/party/party supporters, humble brags, cute pictures/videos of kids, cats, and dogs, recipes that look easy because somebody already prepared all the ingredients into cute little bowls, and memes that have made the rounds several times but are new to the poster and they’re wondering why more people aren’t liking it. Does that about cover it?

So what did I learn? I learned that checking Facebook is more of a habit than an addiction. Whenever there was a lull, I wanted to grab the phone. It wasn’t out of any burning interest to see what was going on, it was boredom. While I do miss being aware of what’s going on in distant friend’s lives, I am fully engaged in the lives of friends nearby, and that is far more important for all of us. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore anyway, and now I’d like to do far less skimming, as well.

Twitter, well… I’m still a news junkie, I don’t think I’m willing to give that up just yet.

On to editing. We’re closing in on the end of the editing process. My editor has done the Herculean task of fixing all my rookie mistakes and bad habits. His eye is so critical he finds fault with Tolkien, (and destroys my illusions in the superior story telling of the Lord of the Fantasies) which means he is pulling my story apart and finding the weak spots. At times that feels frustrating. I’m a little burned out on this portion of the story and just want to move on. And of course I would like to believe I’ve already produced something perfect. On the other hand, I know better and want the story air tight. I want it to be the best it can be, so I ignore my wounded ego, learn from my mistakes, and do the work to make it better. After all, if it is popular, I wouldn’t want someone at Comic Con getting stabbed with a pencil over a plot point argument.

I have a growing confidence that some publisher will want this series. I’m not saying it will be the next big thing, but I think there is an audience for it. I might not have to get a full time job just yet. And really, that’s what I want – the chance to keep writing and to keep this enchanted life going.

Please like & share:

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather