Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What's a writer who's not writing to do?

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since I blogged properly. I figured it's the end of the month, so it's as good a time as any to catch up on some blogginess. It's also my cat, Dorian's, birthday! He's three whole years old! I remember when he was a little kitten... *sniff*

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on
Anyway, this is usually the time when I go "holy SHIT it's September!", unable to believe how fast the summer (and the year) has gone by. But this year's different. This year, I'm ready for fall on so many levels. Summer didn't fly by as it usually does, and for once, I'm actually ready for the whole "back to school" feeling.

Part of it, I think, is that I haven't written properly since... forever. I finished my first draft of my most recent full-length WIP at the end of last November. The two things I've written since then have been shorts--LET ME FLY FREE (my fire nymph novella) and THE ADVENTURE OF THE SILICON BEECHES (the little Sherlock short I wrote in June just for fun). While that's definitely something, working on shorts just don't feel the same as working on a BOOK book. BOOK books are all consuming... I dive in, and the next thing I know, a month has flown by and I don't know what I did other than go to work and write. That does happen with shorts too, but shorts are, well, shorter. So I only lose a few days instead of entire swaths of time.

Don't ask why I haven't written properly in so long, because I have no good answer. Part of it's because seasonal affective disorder hit me like falling airplane last winter. That coupled with the crushing of my dreams meant I spent months depressed as all hell (Yeah, yeah, I know. Vague-blogging). Part of it's because the next project I have planned--one I've been thinking about and telling people about for well over a year now--is different from what I've written before on so many levels, and I'm completely terrified of it. So of course, I've been procrastinating like all hell.

What have I been doing these past few months if not writing, then? Watching TV, for one. I gorged myself on episodes of The Flash and Make It Or Break It. Hanging out with people, for another. The one upside of not writing is that my social life has improved. And reading, of course.

And traveling! I kicked off the summer with a trip to Lake Tahoe with some college friends, doing all kinds of awesome outdoorsy stuff (hiking, fishing, kayaking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding... we did it all!). At that point, I'd already been in a writing slump for several weeks and was hoping the trip would hit the reset button on my life. It did motivate me to knock out that Sherlock short, at least.

Then, mid-June, was my annual pilgrimage to Firefly Festival, which I've attended every year since it began in 2012. God, I felt old next to all those teenagers. But also there was my friend's 60-something-year-old mom, who was rocking harder than all those whippersnappers and proving that age really is just a number.

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on
With July came Shore Leave and all its awesomeness. Cons are exhausting, but loads of fun. I've been pretty con light this year, and I'm feeling it! Thought it'd give me more time to write if I wasn't traveling all the time, but obviously that didn't work.

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on
Also, all those depressing news stories hit me weirdly hard in July, and I avoided the real world by inviting Twitter to flood me with fiction (as part of the #WordsForChange campaign, I offered to review or critique the books or manuscripts of anyone who donated to certain civil rights causes).

And then came my August travels. The month started off with my road trip to Indianapolis for Gen Con. Even though the novelty had worn off (since it was my second year), it was still completely amazing and totally worth the 11 hour drive. Will definitely be going back next year...

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on

A photo posted by Mary Fan (@astralcolt) on

Then I went to Greece! Man, that was fun. Lots of old stuff, lots of sun and sea. And it was HOT! Another reason I'm ready for fall... I'm so sick of being overheated (running around Manhattan in a black interview suit while it was 95 degrees out was especially fun).

Anyway, I'm still slightly jetlagged and my brain's all askew adjusting to a new job, new coworkers, new commute, new sleep schedule... a whole new routine. But I've decided that this weekend is the weekend of NO MORE EXCUSES. I've got lots of background reading to do still for my next project, and so far I'm mostly on track with my reading schedule, but I aim to at least get some writerly brainstorming done.

WHEW that was a therapeutic review of where things are. I'll admit, all this not-writing has been giving me a weird existential crisis... especially since the not-writing was all my own fault and not because other obligations ate up my time. Am I still a writer if I'm not writing?
Don't know what this expression was supposed to be but it fits this post

Yes. Yes I am. Because I'm still active in the writerly community and still plotting the next thing. And while it sucks being in this rut, waiting waiting waiting for dreams that'll probably never come true to materialize while others seem to get twice as much for a fraction of the effort... this isn't a competition. I have to keep reminding myself of that. Each day, it gets harder to congratulate people who are doing awesome... with their new book deals, their new releases, their new bestseller status... while I feel like I'm languishing. And I gotta keep reminding myself... this isn't a competition. Then I think about what the me of five years ago would have thought of the me of today, and I realize that she would have had a hard time being happy for me while her first manuscript got rejected over and over in a seemingly endless whirlpool of despair. So yeah, this isn't a competition.

Also, I got to go to Lake Tahoe and Firefly and Shore Leave and Gen Con and Greece.

Anyway. Back to work.

Also, my hair is purple now. Just like Jane's on the cover of what that first manuscript became... ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES :-)

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