Back in the saddle…

As promised, something more lengthy than my quick announcement this week.

First, in case you missed the post: Threshold will be out this year.

Hang on, let me say that again:

Threshold will be out this year.

After a number of struggles, I’ve succeeded in this endeavor. That success bleeds further than simply releasing a book. This has been an exercise in life and existence more than it ever was about the writing, and I was wholly foolish to think it was anything so small. In the time between starting the manuscript and now, I:

  • bought a house
  • got married
  • had a summer reception
  • turned 40

And those are milestones; I am still a human being who has a day job, helps around the house, and tries to have some downtime here and there. Between all these different facets of myself – really, different personas – I got burnt out trying to fit in time for them all.

I was doing too much with too little, and it started to corrode everything. This exacerbated personal struggles I already deal with regularly, which I’m sure you can imagine didn’t help things. In the end, all of it just became more weight when I saw the new deadline approach, knowing I was not going to meet it.

I’m not telling you all this to make excuses for why it’s taken so long to get the next book out. I’m telling you this because it’s important.

You are whole. You are you.

Even when you are struggling – especially when you are struggling. You don’t need to be all of these things for everyone if they are going to break you. You need to carve out the time for you to repair your soul, your confidence, and your energy. You need to understand that it is not only okay that you do that, but it is imperative that you do it.

The world is shifting, and those shifts are creating more stress and pressure than before. We are unfairly comparing ourselves to people we don’t know, in circumstances we don’t have, and beating ourselves up over unfair expectations.

Stop it.

You are you. No one else has to deal with what you do when you do. No one else is in your head. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. They aren’t you.

Instead, look to the world for inspiration, ideas, and assistance. How is everyone else handling their struggle? Can you find a tool in there to help you with yours? Great! Use it. But don’t compare yourself to other people’s talent, or how well people handle their stress. They aren’t you, and they have their own struggles.

I’m slogging through it all myself. I have so many ideas all the time that it’s honestly a weight all itself knowing that I will never be able to write them all. Some stories will die with me. That’s a horrifying notion, but I can’t think about that. I certainly can’t let it consume me. Am I willing to sacrifice my friends and family, events and adventures, so I can try to use every waking moment to empty my head? No. I’m at least realistic enough to know that is a devil’s errand. I have to accept my limitations.

I’m not done writing. I’m getting ready to release my fourth novel – an accomplishment some never get to see. I’m getting better at it, too. I can feel it; I can see it. But writing isn’t the only thing I want to do with my time on this earth. There are a ton of things I want to do, and only one me I can do them with.

So, I’m learning to accept my limitations, and I’m going to turn that understanding into a strength. I’m going to be better for having this knowledge.

I think we all need the grace to be kinder to ourselves; living is hard enough as it is.

 

No one talks about the research…

Actually, they do. Lots of them do. I tend to avoid those conversations because I don’t like to be distracted by research. A lot of my stories tend to be based on anecdotal experience and not proven facts, because that is how I live. My experiences are my own, even when other people have them as well.

In fact, there’s been more than one time in my life where I have that “I thought it was just me” moment. Sometimes it is a blessing, sometimes it is a bummer. Depends on the situation.

But research is both. I hate having to take the time away from the flow of my writing to look up that one word or object or something that I *need* for this part of the story. But it usually isn’t something I can just skip over, either. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m a pantser (as in they who fly by the seat of) and not a prepper. I don’t do the research ahead of time. I brew stories in my head, and when they start boiling over, they go onto the paper.

I’ve tried to explain this to more than a few people over the years and often, I’ve gotten that same look from people. You know the one, it says, “That seems like an awful way to do things.” And maybe they are right, but this is how it has always worked for me.

I don’t say that as in “this is how it’s always been, why should i change?” I have tried many different ways of writing. This process works best for me. But I digress…

I just finished the first draft on an 8k story submission and thought I would share the things I bothered to stop and look up. Mostly because I find it fascinating all the things that come together in a story:

  • Population density in cities
  • Average square space of a city
  • Emergency first aid
  • Symptoms of blood loss
  • Handyman tasks
  • Storefronts (pictures of)
  • Blinds
  • Leaded glass
  • Grip tape
  • Firefighter’s helmet
  • Fire ax
  • Ax or axe
  • Work shirts
  • Padlocks
  • a host of synonyms and antonyms after the fact

…and I’ll be honest, a majority of this research was all for minute details for a single scene. A ridiculous amount of detail that most people will simply move past as the tension builds. I’m not offended, it’s what has to happen.

Writing, like filmmaking, is supposed to look easy. You want the audience to think about the story, not the amount of work you put into it. If they’ve been thinking about how much research you did to come up with that one object a secondary character is holding, then they’ve lost the story and you’ve lost them.

Anyway, I hope to have more news on this story in the near future. For now, you’ll have to be entertained by your own imagination.

Buying into belief…

So this “Ice Bucket Challenge” thing is all the rage right now. I have a hard time believing with how everywhere it is that I didn’t know what it was just a couple days ago. It has gone from a silly game on YouTube and Facebook to actual awareness of the cause itself, at least in my case. That’s been three clockwork days for me: ignorance to action. If it has affected me as such, in so short a time, maybe it’s actually raising the awareness – and the dollars – it should. I hope it is. Continue reading