We need to let go of this idea of normal as something we’ve lost. There is no normal. It’s true monthly, yearly, five years, a decade, but easier to see if you look back twenty years, then another twenty years then another twenty. There is no normal. There is your childhood, and then there is now. Sometimes, normal just changes faster than usual with a cruel snap like whiplash, but the disaster is just as normal as the calm before. We always live in unprecedented times.
What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.
Sure, my dayjob discovered we all could, in fact, work from home because a vast majority of my job is digital anyway, and our industry is a 24/7 industry, so I wasn’t furloughed. Both of these are good things. I had a steady stream of income when other people still don’t know when they’re going to have one of those again. Also, I know I’m not the only one who has benefited from a tiny extra bit of sleep and no commute.
But something we thought would only affect us for a few months ballooned into something that might not end at all because of incompetence, ignorance, and belligerence as well as deliberate misinformation. I have a job, but it’s hard to believe that our landscape will ever look different or that my world will expand beyond my backyard.
That’s another way in which I recognize that I am fortunate. I was already living with my parents, so I’m not completely alone, and it’s a house in which all three of us have our own spaces. We have a large backyard, so our small world is still spacious. I also recognize that my extreme introversion works in my favor as well, although even introverts require some social interaction. My friend and I meet in our backyard to safely watch horror movies on our television out there. Yet another luxury.
I’ve had moments of claustrophobia, usually followed by agoraphobia that I’m not sure will subside when we’re told to go back to work in an office, so like most people, I’m uncertain what the future is going to look like. Hopefully that oft-mocked interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ goes the way of the dodo. Things haven’t gone so badly for me personally, but God, the amount of pain going on outside of my world… I feel, I mourn, I cry, I fear. Even if my surface is calm, the kids are not all right.
As with most creatives, I’ve had some issues with productivity, although I’ve pushed myself through the anxiety-, depression-, and fear-induced slumps, because I’ve had years to learn this kind of discipline, to write without motivation, going all the way back to 2012. I had a few unmentioned writing projects, and in addition, I strove to achieve the goals set out during last year’s recap.
It was my hope to publish DEEP DOWN, DRIFT, and BLUEBIRDS (T3). I managed to accomplish two out of three. BLUEBIRDS (T3) publication has been pushed out to next month, because I haven’t even gotten to the professional and beta edits. It’s disappointing, but I had a few things interrupt my big writing block from September to now, so that pushed me into this month. I’m still prolific, just not as fast as my internal book clock wants me to be. I’m not even kidding about that. After about a month of my writing pace, I’m ready to be done, which doesn’t really work for the longer novels. DEEP DOWN and DRIFT were so satisfying because I completed both in roughly three weeks each, but that was 2019, so alas.
Too bad I didn’t have a short book on the docket in 2020. From mid-September to mid-January (which I’m counting as part of 2020, because it makes things less complicated for my goals), I wrote CROOKED HOUSE (T5), finished it halfway through NaNoWriMo, started UNDEAD ANONYMOUS, and finished that last Sunday.
CROOKED HOUSE (T5) (fairy tale remix): 158,634 words UNDEAD ANONYMOUS (horror standalone): 151,749 words Total: 310,383 words
For the Thorns series, CROOKED HOUSE is actually short, to contrast with PUPPETEER in 2019, which was obscenely long at over 220K words. But hey, I’m a big believer in stories being as long as they need to be, and refuse to break up a novel into two parts for length rather than story reasons unless someone else requires it, and in self-publishing, I make my own rules. As long as it’s over 120K words after edits, it should be fine on a shelf.
UNDEAD ANONYMOUS’s length is a bit unfortunate, because I’d hoped that I could use it to try to break into traditional publishing. Even after extensive edits, I think it’ll be too long for a debut novel, especially in horror. However, I’ll still give it a try once I do my edits, and if it doesn’t go anywhere, I’ll just move on to the next appropriate trunk novel.
I didn’t meet my song-writing goal of an average of a song per month, but that’s all right. The few I wrote hit all the relevant points and expressed my feelings about this year of not a lot happening where I am but a hell of a lot happening elsewhere. I also didn’t meet my horror movie review goal. Like 2019, my schedule was just too tight.
I lost a significant amount of weight again, although it was harder this time, so I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to lose without making some significant sacrifices on everyday food, which is the hard part for me because it’s also the least sustainable change. But unlike last year, it finally made a dent in my wardrobe, which was FUCKING AMAZING, although my body isn’t the same as it was the last time I was this weight. In addition, all my blood test numbers were also FUCKING AMAZING, which means my doctor recommended that we try halving some of my medication, which was the primary goal, so GOAL MET.
Yes, I’m yelling, but I’ve devoted a giant chunk of my time when I’m not writing to aerobic exercising for my heart health, so seeing some objective success in my results warrants excitement on my part. I’m hoping that the halving of my prescriptions proves to be justified in my next set of blood tests and that maybe I can get rid of some of them altogether. I’m hoping to lose another chunk of weight as well, but like I said, that might be more difficult this year, and the percentage of weight loss I’ve had is already higher than average for sustainable loss, so believe it or not, that doesn’t bode well. The science of body weight is a far more complicated thing than we’d like to believe, which is why I try to be careful with weight goals. Sometimes, no matter what you want, you have to be realistic. Which bleeds into my next point.
I pushed all the way through 2020, burning myself out multiple times along the way, with the promise that I would be easier on myself in 2021. Which is where we are now.
I haven’t set up a 2021 writing schedule. Other than fulfilling last year’s goal of putting out BLUEBIRDS, I’m not planning on self-publishing anything unless I find myself craving a good round of edits instead of another writing project and the edits go better than planned and I can get something in to my editors. I haven’t blocked out my writing and editing like I did for the last two years. I’m not holding myself accountable for anything.
2021 is going to be the year when I let myself rest. That doesn’t mean I won’t work, but I’m going to allow myself more substantial breaks between work. I work because I like to do it, because I need the mental stimulation of creativity. Starting on a project and not letting up until I’m finished is just part of the process, but if I need to take a month off afterward, that’s what I’m going to do. If I want to take a few weeks off to reacquaint myself with the piano or teach myself calligraphy or return to sketching or jewelry-making, then I’ll do it. I don’t like being bored, and I love creating. But sometimes a girl also just needs to binge-watch something that’s more than a limited series during the three days she can’t exercise because she’s sloughing, and I’m super behind on my watch list.
Among the more concrete plans I do have for 2021, there’s a DRACULA retelling, because I’ve wanted to do one since I first read the illustrated and highly abridged version in fourth grade. I devoured versions of the story ever since, and inspiration finally hit for a concept I think will be tremendous fun. I also have a rewrite of YA near-future dystopia WAR HOUSE, which I wrote for NaNoWriMo back in…gosh, years ago, but that needs some serious alterations to work. I also have a list of assorted short stories and novellas (primarily horror) to choose from that I hope will be less stressful on me than my usual long-form writing. Even if they end up novel-length, they should still stay relatively short. That might give me some additional fodder for breaking into traditional publishing–or more fodder for my self-publishing backlist. I’m aiming to be a hybrid author, because after this year, I’m quite comfortable with self-publishing, but it’s expensive as hell, and my accountant keeps giving me side-eye.
For all five of you following the Thorns series, PUPPETEER (T4) and CROOKED HOUSE (T5) are written, but I’ll probably only give them one intensive edit each this year instead of my preparatory double edit, and I won’t publish PUPPETEER until next year. I also intend to take a break from writing the Thorns series by postponing OTHERWORLD (T6) until next year as well so I can get some more standalones under my belt. To be honest, I have pieces of that story in my head but no real plot. That isn’t unusual. I’m hoping to have a eureka moment at some point.
I’ll admit, I didn’t have much hope for this year, and everything that’s happened since has done nothing to change that hopelessness. I fear everything is going to blow up. I fear my brain is a fragile thing that’s going to shatter at any moment, and that I’ve teetered on the edge a few times and almost want myself to break to give myself permission to just fucking SLEEP for a month.
Writing is one of the few things I can control and one of the few things I’m actually good at, so I cling to what I can. I make the worlds in which I can escape. That’s no mean feat.
Also, I mentioned that I’m always behind on things. I finally jumped on a few social media trains–which are already square, but I’m enjoying them anyway. You can find me now on Instagram, and third time’s the charm on Twitter, where I finally feel I’m connecting with a community.
When you’re looking through glass at tomorrow’s history lesson, there are just some things that go through your head.
I worry that I won’t get everything done, that all the things I planned to write over the next ten years won’t get written. That I’ll die with series unfinished and stories untold and unshared.
I’ve gone a lot of places, I’ve met plenty of people, but writing is my life, and I don’t know if I’m going to be alive next year. That’s just truth.
I’m sheltering at home, but so many people in my area aren’t, and without masks. I don’t know anyone who’s died of coronavirus, but I don’t know how many people I know who will. And one of those people could be me. That’s just truth.
I work from home and I don’t go out. My dad is a Whedon dad; he does all the leaving for the household.
This is doing nothing for my paranoia and agoraphobic tendencies, to say the least for my thanatophobia.
One small but significant thing that’s changed is that I eat the ice cream and pizza now. Because if I’m going to die soon, I’m seriously not going to tell myself I can’t have the ice cream. It’s a good thing I really like working out.
On a personal level, not much happened to me in 2019. I gained a lot more responsibility at my job with changes at the company. And the biggest life event was the death of our sixteen-year-old cat, Sasha, whom I loved very much and continue to miss. Her death wasn’t unexpected, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.
We are now a catless household, and our lives are poorer for it, but we have an unpredictable dog, so I’m not sure whether cats are in the foreseeable future. You’d think that would be enough for me to move into an apartment, but I’m prohibitively resistant to change.
Sharing what you’ve accomplished during the year is less fun when you haven’t met a lot of the goals that you set for yourself. It’s okay that I didn’t, because writing takes up most of my time, and what isn’t taken up by that, I added regular cardio workouts, which take good chunks out of most of my week. Any hope I had to do much more creatively than writing died with my attempts to improve my blood test numbers. And I did. Some with the help of medication, but my triglycerides went way down on the last blood test, which was all me. So go me on that. So I need to adjust my expectations, as long as I continue to prioritize writing and my health. Good priorities to have, generally.
I did lose a significant amount of weight from the addition of exercise, but despite that, it didn’t make a significant change in my wardrobe, which kind of sucks, so it’s a good thing I’m doing it for my heart health and not my reflection – although it would be nice if my reflection could improve. I’m hoping that if I can’t improve my reflection in the coming year, at least I can lessen or eliminate one of my prescription medications.
I was supposed to reboot my jewelry-making, but that’s simply not going to happen until 2021 at the earliest, because this year’s writing schedule is really tight. And unfortunately, horror movie reviewing didn’t go very far at all, because last year’s writing schedule was so tight. I’m going to try again to do a dozen reviews in 2020. I’ve written several in my head. Just haven’t had a good moment to sit down and get them out.
I wrote ten original song lyrics, which is two short of my goal, but I also wrote three for one of my novels, so that balances it out and then some.
“House of Windows”
“How to Love”
“The Smiling Man”
“What Are You Wearing to the End of the World?”
“The Long Walk”
“Storm the Castle”
As far as my writing goes, I’m behind on my schedule by about a half a month to a month, and I didn’t get to rewrite WAR HOUSE, but I did finish three novels of quite varying lengths.
DEEP DOWN (pure horror): 60,480 words in about a month
DRIFT (modern gothic folk tale): 88,918 words in a little over a month
PUPPETEER (fairy tale remix, Thorns Series 4): a staggering 222,215 words in a little more than two and a half months (I started mid-September, but there was a two-week break in October when I had to proofread and prepare ROSE RED). I wrote 102,119 words in November for NaNoWriMo. It’s my longest first draft ever, and I’m going to have to cut at least 50K of it over the course of the next five rounds of edits, but I finished it before Christmas, so at least I got it done.
All of that for a total of 371,613 words this year. Technically, about 10K of DEEP DOWN was written in 2018, but I didn’t count it last year, and those handwritten words were transcribed this year, so let’s just go with it.
In addition, I went through all the motions to publish the second book in the Thorns series, ROSE RED. I’m not sure whether anyone but a handful of people I know actually read my books, which brings up the question of whether the sheer time and expense of publishing is worth it. But since I can’t stop writing, I might as well continue the vanity publishing and support the indie publishing industry while I’m at it, especially since I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to justify it.
Definitely going to be supporting the industry this coming year, since I hope to self-publish DEEP DOWN, DRIFT, and BLUEBIRDS (Thorns 3), which is…ambitious with the intensive process I’ve given myself. I finished the last personal edit for DEEP DOWN last night, so, pending my beta reader’s suggestions, it’s ready to send to my editors. I was also really pleased with the first draft of DRIFT, so I don’t anticipate tremendous changes during the double-edit.
Unfortunately, my last read of BLUEBIRDS felt…off. I think it’s a pacing and conviction issue. So I’ll need to give it another intensive edit before attempting the last double-edit and sending it to my editors. I’m also really not sure about PUPPETEER. It’s one of those things where it’s either quite good or quite terrible, and I just can’t tell. I’d send it to my alpha reader (she reads my stuff before I edit to make sure I edit in the right direction), but I don’t want to hand her such a bloated manuscript.
In addition to all the edits needed to publish – and the time required to accomplish them, especially for BLUEBIRDS – I’ve scheduled the re-write of WAR HOUSE, a few short stories, and two additional novels, including CROOKED HOUSE (Thorns 5). I’m guessing that if I don’t have the time, the short stories and WAR HOUSE might be pushed into 2021. My priorities are the publications, CROOKED HOUSE (T5), and the zombie novel I have planned for next NaNoWriMo. 2020 is going to be plenty busy, but it’s worth noting that 2021 isn’t going to be nearly as full, so I can afford to push WAR HOUSE off another year if I have to.
So that’s it – 2019 in the rearview, 2020 through the windshield. Here’s hoping that this year can be just as personally productive, even if I don’t accomplish much else.
After seeing MIDSOMMAR in the theater, I have a few Thoughts.
Bodies don’t bother me.
Oh, my body bothers me, but that’s different. I’m not talking about attractiveness. I’m talking about the very idea that we have flesh instead of silicone and Botox.
Wrinkles. Stretch marks. Cellulite. Sagging. Freckles. Scars. Zits. Mucus. These things don’t bother me.
I don’t understand why, when someone old or fat or conventionally undesirable wears something that shows their skin or takes off their clothes for a role, people say ‘God, I did not want to see that.’ I’m noticing a lot of old men and old women going naked in horror movies, and I think it’s supposed to incite the fear of mortality, the repulsion of ageing bodies.
When I see naked bodies, I’m not scared of my own unattractiveness, nor does it trigger the fear of my own mortality. If anything, full frontal of average bodies is a relief, and the nakedness of the old is comforting. Because it’s not as bad as people say it’s going to be. A little more flesh, a little less collagen. That’s it.
It’s not like we don’t already know what bodies look like. Our own. Other people’s by the shapes under and against their clothes.
It’s not scary at all.
We need to confront the fear of our own bodies, associated with sex and separate from it. Because let’s face it, most of our experience with our own nakedness have nothing to do with sex. I think we’d be less afraid of nudity if we had more of it divorced from sex and divorced from attractiveness. It’s sad that this thing we all have is so repulsive in our own sight that we rate ourselves out of ever seeing it. The rest of what we have access to is overwhelmingly young or surgically sculpted.
Looking back on 2018, I managed to reach several, if not all creative goals. I didn’t get to write my short horror novels. I made that resolution when work had a lot more downtime, but around May, that downtime disappeared, so they didn’t happen. I also didn’t manage to reboot my jewelry-making. When I had breaks at home, I generally wanted to rest rather than work.
But I did write an average of one horror review a month. Got the last one in just under the wire:
1. “The Lazarus Effect”
2. “Would You Rather”
5. “The Awakening”
7. “Starry Eyes”
8. “As Above, So Below”
9. “Slender Man”
10. “The ReZort”
11. “Silent Hill”
12. “The Wolfman”
And I did write an average of one song a month. Almost an average of two:
2. “Anything but a Diamond”
3. “Standing Water”
5. “The Valley of the Shadow”
6. “City on the Hill”
7. “Plenty of Fish”
8. “Devil in the Details”
10. “Without You”
12. “My Captain”
13. “Sleepwalker (Anthony’s Song)”
14. “Music Box”
15. “Rest of Your Life”
17. “The Rose Less Traveled”
19. “What Happened”
20. “For the Last Time”
23. “Would You Rather”
Most importantly, I managed to publish THORNS, the first book in the series of the same name. I’d done edits in previous years and made a number of changes then, but this required an intensive double edit (with the help of my beta readers), then doing the two indie pro edits in tandem, then proofreading. It basically took all year, piece by piece. But I’m really happy with the end product, and I hope you are as well.
I plan for the same marathon in 2019 with ROSE RED, the second book in the Thorns series, to be published around the same time. Hopefully in October, because doing anything other than NaNoWriMo in November is hellish. I’ll also do a single pass through BLUEBIRDS, the third book, though it’ll go through the more intensive phase of preparation in 2020.
I don’t really do resolutions. I have goals, and most of them are ambitious but doable, and I don’t hate myself for not accomplishing them. I focus on the creative, because that’s the meaning of life to me. My writing schedule for 2019 is all set up, and while I foresee some changes, it would be awesome if I could keep to it. 2020 will have a lot more room for writing new things, but I want to get a good set done this year, too.
In addition to ROSE RED, I’m putting those two short novels back on the docket, and I hope to do a rewrite of WAR HOUSE, because it’s also a fairly short (for me) novel, but odds are that these will be the first to be sacrificed if time becomes an issue.
What’s not optional is the fourth Thorns book, PUPPETEER. I haven’t written a new Thorns novel since 2015, and I really want to get the next three tackled. But considering their lengths, that can sometimes be like climbing Everest. I enjoy it, but it’s a lot of time required. I predict three months, but it may end up being three and a half or four. Yikes.
I really would like to reboot my jewelry making. I have pendant components ready to be put together, but I just need to commit to the time to create and take pictures (because I have an actual camera, not a smartphone, it’s a longer process.
This year I’m not going to be as focused on writing songs, but I’d still like to write an average of one a month. I may or may not try to write the music to one.
I’m also continuing my goal of an average of one full horror review a month. It’s a good amount to commit to.
I’d also like to engage in one new creative thing. I keep going from calligraphy to sketching to painting. I’ve done all at one time, calligraphy least of all, but they all intimidate me.
On the non-creative side of life, a few things changed in 2018. I took on more responsibility at work, which filled up that time I used to have too much of. Of course, the business itself had major changes as well that challenged my writing schedule mightily, but I don’t like talking about dayjob work.
Our house underwent drastic renovation, and I basically got rid of my old bedroom and replaced it with furniture fully of my choosing and funding. It was the first time I really got to do that. My old furniture was perfectly respectable and not young-looking or anything (antiques and a sweet daybed), but it was the same furniture I’d had all my life, and it wasn’t stuff I chose. I’m really happy with the furniture I chose, built around a completely awesome drawer unit. And I and the cat love my new bed (I think she’s convinced it’s the best cat bed in the world). I’m still in the process of making my room my own, and for all the clutter I cleared out, there’s more left to get rid of.
I also started improving my diet, although I still have an unhealthy attachment to bottled Frappuccinos and tortillas. I’ve lost some weight and hope to lose some more, but I don’t expect too much.
The real accomplishments are in the realm of my writing. That’s the life I chose, and I’m mostly happy with that. It’s my favorite thing to do, spending time with all these amazing people and having adventures with them. Looking forward to doing so much more of that in 2019, even if the rest of the world seems to be falling apart. This much I can do.
On a weekend this April, I watched three movies, two horror, one mystery thriller. The two horrors I watched Friday night, KILLING GROUND and DEMON INSIDE (ESPECTRO), both featured sexual assault, raw but off-screen for the first and on-screen for the second. The rape element in KILLING GROUND especially, though off-screen, was particularly brutal–psychologically painful to endure because the movie was human horror rather than supernatural. But that’s not to minimize the rape in DEMON INSIDE, where the entire premise is Paz Vega’s trauma due to the assault and the paranoia that arises from her rapist being released because they don’t believe her.
On Saturday, I decided to take a break from the violence of horror, which is so often sexual or sexualized, to watch suspense thriller WIND RIVER, because it had Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson. I probably should have known better, because there’s a direct line between human horror and suspense thriller on the genre wheel. But there I was, subjected to yet another brutal rape and murder.
And people, I’m tired. I need to face my fears now and then, deal with it through supernatural lenses, confront some painful realities. Sexual violence plays a part of some of my fiction because of that. So yeah, I’m even a part of this, because like it or not, these fucked-up power dynamics are a part of our world. But God, I’m so tired of it.
Guys, this is why women who enjoy horror sometimes need female revenge fantasies. This is why we need movies like AMERICAN MARY and THE WOMAN. This is why we need TEETH.
I’m not playing the suffering Olympics here. In reality, there’s all sorts of iterations of sexual assault, some which are woefully underrepresented in media. But as far as numbers and in terms of representation in the horror and thriller genres, the sheer amount of sexual and sexualized violence is stunning, and while women have their own way of sharing that part of the horror world–through sexual fantasy, through female-led and/or female-directed horror–and though both the horror and thriller genres have tried to make up for it with the Last Girl and Female Law Enforcement Officer in a Man’s World tropes, the fact is that most horror/thrillers are made by and/or for men.
The industry is catching on that half the viewership is female, and not just because guys bring their girlfriends, and there have been some wonderful movies in the new millennium that represent women as more than bimbos for the slaughter, breasts to slash. But the only LAW & ORDER still running is SVU, and rape is still used as a trial by fire for damaged women and a trigger to action for male heroes, often without consideration for how real and personal this trauma is, and how real the fear is. It’s helplessness. It’s being born with parts that other people think should belong to them (see DEADGIRL, which is NOT a black comedy, no matter what the back of the DVD case says). It’s an understanding that there are those who don’t see you as a person, only as the empty spaces you offer.
I’ve been fortunate all my life not to have suffered this particular violence, but I’m still a product of my culture, because I still have to arrange my life around the fear, consider how my actions would be perceived by a jury of my rapist’s peers.
So for fuck’s sake, sometimes I need movies like TEETH, and if it makes men cross their legs and wince, all the fucking better. Men could stand to be more afraid of women, and not just because they think menstruation is gross. But what about male revenge fantasy, one might say? First of all, there’s plenty of that in the action genre. For another, there’s literally nothing that women do to men in such overwhelming numbers that deserves gendered horror-genre revenge. “Lovesick teen” as a justification for terrorism, my ass. The worst thing a woman did was reject him. The worst thing he did was kill her. Women are getting kidnapped for marriage, trafficked and criminalized for it, burned with acid and raped and shot just because they say no, because someone thinks women don’t own their own bodies.
Men could stand to be a little afraid of women in such a way it doesn’t lead to burning or hanging witches. Maybe one day they will be.
In the meantime, I’ll watch AMERICAN MARY, and I’ll watch TEETH.
Like a lot of people with depression, end-of-year milestones can be difficult, which is why I don’t really like birthdays or New Year’s. I try to take care of myself and play things low-key during those times. The realist in me isn’t very fond of resolutions, although I can’t help but set a few goals that I usually keep to myself.
In my experience, creativity-based goals are the ones most likely to be achieved, so I don’t mind sharing them. I’m not holding myself to them, and although I get frustrated when I don’t keep to my schedule, I’m not going to beat myself up if I fall behind. It’s not helpful.
All of these are contingent on the world as we know it still being here by the end of the year. With my thanatophobia working overtime, I don’t take that as a given, and because I feel like I finally have some writing momentum over these last few months, it would just be my luck for the apocalypse to strike this year before I accomplish my life goals.
I had set an early 2018 release for THORNS, but that’s just not going to happen, because I have things I’m doing January and February. However, I hope to publish THORNS in October 2018, around the same time I published NOCTURNE in 2017. I need to do another personal edit, send it off to at least one professional editor, possibly two, then do the final personal edit and proofread.
Because I’ve had so much success writing in the company break room after work, I’m hoping to also have time during the extended editing process this Winter/Spring season to write two short horror novels that have been percolating in my head. One or both of them might be something I attempt to sell through traditional routes rather than self-publish, but I’m not sure yet. Both of them are a bit experimental for me, not least because they’d be short, but it’s not entirely unprecedented. WAR HOUSE was a short novel.
And speaking of WAR HOUSE, I’d like to rewrite that this summer. It was a good concept, but a bad plot, and if I had a bit of time to mold a better plot to fit the concept, I could still recycle a great deal of what I wrote in the original draft.
Beyond this summer, I’m not sure whether I have anything I have to write, so maybe I’ll start the fourth Thorns series novel, but I’m not holding myself to that, since NOCTURNE took so long to finalize. However, since I won’t publish ROSE RED (2) until I write PUPPETEER (4), I should probably write PUPPETEER (4) sooner rather than later.
As far as non-fiction-writing creativity goals, I’d like to write an average of one song a month. I think poetry is good for my brain, even if my brain isn’t good for poetry, and sometimes the Thorns series has required something rhyme-y. I may never do anything with my song-writing; it’s just something to try.
I’d also like to get back into jewelry-making, because I have a lot of supply inventory I’d like to eliminate. Who knows? The bug may return. And I’d also like to create a line for the Thorns series that I can sell in tandem with it. I’m partial to rose jewelry as it is. So I’m going to make an average of two necklaces per month.
Also, I set this blog up as a horror review site in addition to discussing writing and sharing my novels, but depression kept me from doing much with that. I’d like to write one full horror movie review per month.
One of the biggest things I changed about my writing this year that made a huge difference was bringing my personal computer to work with me.
After I sign out from work, I take my computer to the break room and set it up on one of the high tables like a standing desk. I don’t plug in or connect to the wifi, so I’m not using any of their resources, just the empty space that isn’t otherwise being used. And without being able to get on the Internet or make a snack or do any of the other myriad things I distract myself with everywhere else, I literally can’t do anything else but write.
That gives me a good, dependable 700-1000 words in less than an hour before I endure traffic home (traffic is a over-stimulation issue for me—and many others, I’m sure) and start the long wind-down from the day. I also try to write another 700-1000 words at night, but my brain’s shutting down at that point, so it’s more difficult to focus. Plus, I have wifi at home, and other things I want to do, like watch mindless procedurals.
What did you change this year that made a difference in your writing?
Just to be clear, I do not have a green thumb. Literally or in the sense most people use the phrase. I kept mint going pretty well back in college, could keep mini roses for a few months, and I grew snapdragons for a while, because those are hardy little buggers I’d totally grow again. I’d probably also do well with succulents. Plants require attention, and plants don’t purr, so I’m much less likely to give them said attention.
However, something happens when I’m in the middle of writing projects, when I’m devoted to the discipline of writing even when I don’t want to.
Other creative places in my brain start waking up. I stayed awake for an hour and a half because my brain wanted me to make jewelry again, and it wasn’t going to stop until it was finished designing, even though I can’t begin to work on jewelry until the new year.
In the middle of work, I’ll jot lyric snippets down on sticky notes when they pass through my head (because I learned a long time ago that if I don’t write The Thing down, it does not stay remembered). Oh yeah, I just decided one day that I wanted to try writing songs, even though poetry was never my forte and I don’t know how to write music. It might be a 2018 project to keep me from ruminating over the apocalypse. Seriously, folks, I’m making this up as I go, and it’s not like I’m certain I’ll ever share the songs with anyone.
I have a miniature notebook where I write down new story ideas, not to mention the notes I write in the margins of my big longhand notebooks or on other sticky notes. That’s the main thing. When I plant a creative tree, that tree keeps growing and putting out new branches, new leaves. It takes all my effort to prune the damn thing so I can get my projects done rather than start on a new story every other week, which would lead to a lot of chasing white rabbits and no finished works to show for it.
But that To Write list keeps getting longer, and I’m a long-form writer who can’t churn finished work out that quickly. The ideas have bottle-necked in my brain, which is a surefire way to make that brain sick. The only solution is to stop being creative, but I can’t stop being creative because it’s all I have at this point. I have my day-job, and I have this. I sacrificed a life for this. It consumes every waking moment. It’s not stopping, and it’s not getting better.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the inspiration. But I’m only one artist, and I only have so much time in a day. Never enough time. I’ve written over 250,000 words this year, and there’s still not enough time to move the stories through fast enough for me to keep up. Tell me to get up earlier in the morning to write more, and I will find you, tie you up, and tickle you with a redheaded centipede. Discipline is not the problem. Depression occasionally is—at the moment it’s there, but not an obstacle, so I’ll get as much done as I can while it’s not.
My problem is time. Always time. I could have fifty more years, but I could also only have a week. Even if I have fifty years, would it be enough to get everything down, everything out? If it’s a week, I have so many regrets, I’d rather have something to show for it.