Hello, old friend. It’s been a while. I haven’t written here in too long and my life is different now. I’m not even sure this still posts to my Author page on Facebook. Speaking of which, I can’t find anything on there anymore and everything is huge and over-dramatic. It’s not worth the effort.
I’ve been writing a weekly post for The Writer’s Workout about my struggle with writing. Every week for the past six months, I try to think of things that will help me produce fiction. It’s not going well in terms of actual writing but it IS helping force me to make time for words each week. I’ve only missed one (week 26) issue of the past 31 so that has to count for something, right? If you choose the Sunday Evening Post category there, you’ll find every post I’ve written this year.
In other news… I finally left Scholastic after a mid-season shutdown where no one worked for a couple weeks. I left in 2019, pre-pandemic, so that wasn’t a factor. Scholastic’s schedule was incredibly limiting: we only worked 8.5 months a year so we all depended on that time to earn enough to carry us through the summer “off” months. Due to someone’s poor planning, we suddenly had a few weeks off during a typically busy time. I want to work. I had other reasons for leaving too but none I’d like to announce publicly.
I’m not really sure where this post is going, just catching everyone (all one of you who might still read this) up on the things in my life. In the end, I’m just doing the best I can. That’s all anyone can do, right?
Check out The Writer’s Workout, we’re launching a really cool literary journal in a few days. It could be fun.
You may know I work a few jobs (sometimes simultaneously) and they keep me pretty busy. I house sit for a few families, I do the Writer’s Workout thing, and I work at Scholastic.
Scholastic is “seasonal” so every “season” is a school term: August-December, January-May. I’m on my fifth season and it has been… weird. I’m not really sure what my job is anymore. When I started working there two years ago, my job was pretty simple: return unsold merchandise. There were heavy weeks where we’d get 4-5 days on the schedule, work our butts off, and still have leftovers at the end of the night. There were light weeks where we were lucky to stay the entire 5.5-hour shift–the only shift we were scheduled for the week. If we finished returns early, we went home. That was our job.
In January, the start of my fourth season, they decided to have me come in during the day and learn some other processes to help the day shift team since they were short. I learned how to pack posters and I loved it, but I liked returns more. There’s something satisfying about putting an item in its proper place.
In July, they asked if I wanted a more permanent position on the day shift. It’s still part time but the hours are more consistent and there’s work to do throughout the shift so what you’re scheduled is what you’ll work–and what you’ll get paid for.
I said no.
In my defense, I had to. I don’t have time to work 30 hours a week on top of the 60-ish I work at Writer’s Workout. Additionally, I knew I’d have to ask off for a long list of dates because when I’m house sitting, I’m there the whole time. I don’t leave; it’s not fair to the dogs I care for because I can’t leave work every hour and drive 45 minutes to the house to let them outside to pee. I said no because it’s not fair to the team for me to repeatedly miss days when they’d need someone there to cover that space.
They gave me the bump anyway. It’s more or less on my terms, which is hella generous and confusing. It’s also weird because I’m now on this split-shift thing where I start in the middle of the day shift and work through the night shift OR I leave in the middle of the night shift, depending on my Writer’s Workout needs (I know, right?). It’s also a TON of hours (32!) that I don’t have time for so yeah, super crazy busy there. It means that regardless of the amount of returns coming back for the night, I still work every day. I’m still scheduled at least six hours a day and I’ll get that six hours because it’s on day shift time and like I said, there’s always something to do.
I’m exhausted. I said no to the original offer for this exact reason. I knew I’d be wiped out, not have enough time to get my Writer’s Workout stuff done (currently 3-4 months behind there, hooray), be physically and mentally drained, lose sleep, find pain, etc.
The second Individual portion of Writer’s Games ended about an hour ago as I type this and it was our THIRD portion total for 2018. If you’ve read the production breakdown I put together for our donations page, you already know I alone spend over a thousand hours on Writer’s Games production and I’m by no means an island. I have a whole team of fabulously amazing people donating their time right alongside me. But the sad reality is, I just don’t have time to do both. This is why I said no the first time. This is why I’m really confused by the turn of events in my work situation this season. I turned down their original offer and they bent over backwards to work around my horrendous schedule so I could have even MORE hours than their original offer. I can’t fit this in my brain.
What even is my job now?! I pack some, I clean some, I return some, and then I keep going. But I don’t know who I report to officially, I don’t know if I have to meet the goal for packing, I don’t know if that matters. I don’t know. I know I try to meet the goals but I don’t know if my job depends on it like the day shifters. I know that I will never choose speed over accuracy and that I didn’t want a job packing because I need something I don’t have to bring home with me. I need something I can forget at the end of my shift and leave in the building so I can go home and focus on Writer’s Workout stuff. I know that if I have to worry about meeting speed goals so I can keep my job, I’ll mess up on accuracy and lose the job anyway. I don’t need a production position.
So on top of this new development at Scholastic (promotion???) and the third Writer’s Games portion for 2018, I’ve been house sitting every weekend this month. Every. Weekend.
I haven’t slept since ….. what year is it?
So like the idiot I am, I signed up for NaNoWriMo again. Do you know what else happens in November? The Writer’s Workout internship opens to applications and I spend the entire month reviewing this year, making changes, and planning for 2019. Additionally, we’re slammed at Scholastic because every school in a two-hundred-mile radius has decided the weeks surrounding Halloween are a great time for a book fair (can you blame them?). This means I’m not only packing a TON of stuff to go out, I have to stick around for the TON of stuff that comes back, too.
Don’t worry, my padded cell is already booked. It’ll be a nice vacation. Maybe I’ll get some sleep and some muscle relaxers to kill this pain in my spine.
You know how you get a thing going that you love and then it completely consumes your life and you can’t breathe anymore and you’re suffocating in this thing that you love but it’s harder to love now because it’s bigger than you ever imagined and you’re running out of breath just thinking about the power and weight of this thing you created and you need to just…
And let it be.
I told you a giveaway was coming. I warned you. The time is NOW!
Go to www.writersworkout.net/contests and SIGN UP for their Contest Updates mailing list using the email address associated with your Amazon Kindle account. They’ll send you an email a few days in advance of every contest they run so you can be prepared. It’s completely free, they won’t spam you. By they, I mean I. I won’t spam you. It’s me.
This giveaway ends February 12. THREE lucky winners will be randomly selected and gifted the digital 2016 Writer’s Games anthology. It’s that easy. So go! Sign up! Win free books!
If you don’t have a kindle, Amazon offers a desktop version free for download.
I put an envelope to my head and I saw the future. There will be a giveaway! Someone will win a book. It’s coming, but when?
Some stuff happened. The last six months have been a blur.
The Writer’s Workout played a game called Cabin Wars in July and my team won! Together, we wrote 242,365 words in one month. Overall, the members of The Writer’s Workout produced almost 600,000 words of fiction in July, 2016. How awesome is that?!
The Team portion of the Writer’s Games kicked off in August and ran through Sept. Event six caused a Death Match (two teams tied for first), which our surprise guest judge declared should be…. haiku. Each team had to produce a story told by five haiku. Members of the Writer’s Workout and the Surprise Judge picked the winner.
The Games Anthology was released right on schedule in October. While all this was going on, I’ve been trying and failing to fix Part Two of The Third Death. It’s not going well. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult to write, or that the material is complex; it’s not chronological and the narrator shifts time frequently (one of the major drawbacks to editing a story written during NaNoWriMo). I need two maps, four diagrams, a chart, and a compass to follow it so cleaning it up and reorganizing is a bit like stealing from a dragon. It can be done, but only carefully.
Some more stuff happened and I put down the pen for a few weeks. The sadness is too much to bear.
I’m trying to focus on different things. Bigger, far more challenging, and very different. We’re moving The Writer’s Workout in a new direction. It’s been a long time coming and I hope that soon I’ll be able to give it the focus it deserves. For now, I’m just trying to keep breathing.
And that’s Part One of The Third Death. Done.
In my exploration of the idea of granting myself permission to create (see previous post) again, I have fleshed out both a new novella idea and my weird paracomedy tv show idea. I set aside time for me to be my creative self and work on my things every day. So far it seems to be working. In the last 11 days, I have completed roughly one chapter of revisions every day.
I also edited 5 chapters for a friend, judged two events for The Writer’s Games, reviewed critiques for a TON of entries, and reviewed/co-edited 6 short stories. Apparently, it can be done.
Today I’m looking at Chapter 12 of The Third Death. In this chapter, Jimmy the Snitch faces the reality of life–and death–in the mob. For the first time, his loyalty is called into question. How he chooses to handle the situation determines the path of the rest of his life. Rereading this chapter, I’m excited and hopeful and I want to share this story with you. Rereading this chapter is renewing my love of storytelling (as well as my love of colorful ink shades. Check out The Goulet Pen Company).
Rereading this chapter, and the story so far, gives me the confidence to keep pushing through so I actually CAN share this story. Now that I know it can be done, let’s see how it goes if I push for two chapters per day. I will do all the things.