5min- Failure

How do you judge failure?

I’ve tried so many things in my life. I went to college, but I have no degree. I started painting pictures that are half finished. I have book upon book that is only a fragment of a finished novel or short story.

But is it failure?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve failed, and Gregg has to give me a pep talk and remind me of how far I’ve come, and how much I have accomplished.

You see, there was a time when I did give up. I stopped writing, stopped painting, stopped doing almost anything creative because just existing took so much effort that I couldn’t do much of anything else. That’s the lie of depression. That’s the trap of living in an abusive relationship. You feel so worthless, and useless, that just getting out of bed and putting on clothes is difficult.

And here I am, years later, with finished books and a shelf with my name all over it…. And still I feel like a failure. That thing causing my depression may be gone, but the depression isn’t. It’s a life long companion.

What is failure? Failure is giving into that depression and letting it lie to me. But even if I fail for a day there is still tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, to try again. To get it right.

And that’s my five.

New Projects for a New Year

I bought a book. Well, I’ve bought many books, but this one is unusual. It’s a craft book with 100 small sewing projects.

You see, I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I’ve been working on my novel here and there, but I need something else to help fill those creative wells. Sometimes it helps to read. Sometimes play games. Sometimes go on a date with the boyfriend. Sometimes just switching projects helps a lot.

So I’m going to try something totally different. I bought a book called 100 Pretty Little Projects, and I’m going to do them. Once a week, every week, this year. I’m going to stream it to Twitch, then hopefully edit it down and stick it on YouTube. I’m hoping this will get me out of the rut I’ve been in since it is something completely different from anything else I’ve done.

So… Wednesday, here I come. I have the book, I have the fabric, and I have a camera. Now I’m going to tell that little bit of self doubt in the back of my head, the one that has constantly followed me since I was a kid trying to learn my multiplications and it was drilled into my head how stupid I was for messing up. I’m going to prove it wrong.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s really hard for me to put myself out there like this because I’m not just putting a story out there and letting people love or hate the story. I’m putting me out there, and it’s really tough to believe people want anything to do with me most of the time. But I’m going to try. And I’m going to keep trying till I figure out that it isn’t as scary as it seems.

Starting with this Wednesday! Follow me on twitch if you want to watch the mayhem!

An open letter to Wil Wheaton

A couple years ago I turned on Twitter to read my feed and realized I hadn’t seen a post from Wil Wheaton in a while. He was one of the first celebrities I followed, first because I enjoyed Star Trek as a teen, and secondly because I enjoyed his writing. So I found it dismaying to go to his feed and discover I had been blocked.

I soon realized this was a thing, and that he blocked 20k+ people who he termed as trolls.

Me? A troll?

For a moment I tried to think of a reason I had been blocked, and then promptly forgot about it since it wasn’t that important. I hadn’t spoken to him, and while I found his content funny or interesting at times, it really didn’t make a huge difference. I stopped following his content, watching his YouTube, or buying his books, and found other authors who hadn’t blocked me.

But there was a consequence to him blocking me that I didn’t learn until later. You see Mr. Wheaton didn’t just block 20k+ people. He put out a block bot so that others could block them as well. Hundreds of people blocking me just because someone decided I was undesirable without even speaking to me.

What could I have done to be labled undesirable? Perhaps it was my insistence that wearing sexy armor in video games isn’t sexist, and can even be empowering for women. Mr Wheaton posts a lot of Suicide Girl content so you would think he’d agree with that.

Perhaps it was my insistence that as a survivor of rape and abuse I didn’t have to live as a victim, and others could be helped to stop letting their past dictate who they are, and instead take control of their life. Heaven knows at least one ‘friend’ ditched me after I said that to him.

Maybe it was because I follow many people labled ‘deplorable’, as well as those from the other side because I do not want to be part of an echo chamber. I want to see why others feel the way they do, and learn from that. I want to love my enemies, and give them fewer reasons to be my enemy. I want to be a shining example of what I always thought a good person would be. (Not that I’m always good at that part, but I try.) And to me being a good person always meant accepting people where they were, and trying to encourage them, not tear them down.

Maybe it’s because I was outspoken about my disagreements with Anita Sarkisian who saw sexism in everything, even Mario rescuing Peach. But you know what I think of when I see damsel in distress tropes? I think of my boyfriend who helped me cope with my social anxiety, who held my hand to steady me when I wanted to run from the room, who pushed me to run after my dreams instead of being afraid of them. Rescuing damsels isn’t just about blowing up bad guys and storming the castle, it’s about being a rock in the storm. A safety net. A partner. And my boyfriend definitely rescued me, many times.

Whatever reason Mr Wheaton decided to block me, that’s fine. But it saddens me that his judgment has been substituted for others. They blindly download his block list and do not make a choice for themselves, they allow the choice to be made for them.

I have been cut off from a segment of society that has decided the echo chamber is better. No opinion outside theirs is okay, and anyone who disagrees is banished.

Maybe not a bad thing to be cut off from, it sounds incredibly stifling. But a bad trend in general. Echo chambers can never survive because no two people think exactly alike in all things. Eventually they break down.

And yet, other than being cut off from a few people, Mr Wheaton’s block list has not hurt my life. I guess it doesn’t really matter in the end.

How did you start writing?

Asked on Quora earlier today.

When I was seven my teacher had a bunch of lined paper on her desk. I use to grab handfuls of it and staple it together at the edges. I had a beautiful orange marker to write stories about mermaids and nymphs playing with me in the back yard. I guess I never got over that wonder of the unseen.

I still write about mermaids, griffins, and monsters. Each story is a little scene into something amazing. Something wonderful. And I have always wanted to share those scenes with others. Now I get to!

The Walk of Shame

February has been the WORST month for writing since… well since I first got this new job. Even on the months that I had bronchitis and whooping cough I managed to write more than this month.

Total word count for Feb 2017: 4006

There are four days left. Four days to try and redeem myself, to try and push through this lethargy and get writing again. And I think I know what it is, what’s “blocking” me. It’s this novel. I’m getting toward the end where I have to re-read everything and make sure the plot stays consistent, and the grammar isn’t HORRIBLE. I have 17 of 22 chapters finished, and the last few chapters I’m just filling in the spaces that I didn’t write on the first run through. So I’m almost there.

The endings are always the worst. I have had to push myself to complete the ending of every single book that I’ve ever finished. Even the short stories have issues. Something about the completion of a book, the final words being put on the screen, that scares me. I mean all those little pieces I didn’t write on the first pass, I didn’t write them for a reason. They didn’t come as easy for me as the rest. They interrupted the flow of words. And now I have to face those spots and tackle them. And when I’m done I have to let go, send it to an editor, and maybe…maybe…PUBLISH IT!

But first I have to finish it. I want book one, at least the first run, done in the next two weeks. I only have five chapters, there is no reason I should’t be able to do a chapter every other day. TWO WEEKS CRISSY! That’s all you have! Get writing!

Then book two, which currently has 9 of 28 chapters finished. that one is going to take some reworking to get into the right order, and make sure everything makes sense, and timelines are good. After finishing the first nine chapters I realized I had a bunch of time that wasn’t accounted for, and that the main character, Sybel, isn’t shown learning about her powers, or growing. It was more just assumed. Which doesn’t work. Show don’t tell. So I added some chapters, plot points, and character development for not only Sybel but all the people around her. Fleshed out the world a bit.

I love this new series. I want to put it out there and start sharing it with everyone. I just need to get my butt in the chair and finish it.

Thankful

It’s 2am the morning after Thanksgiving. I have left over turkey in the fridge, and my children are all safe and sound in their homes. It was a beautiful day with family, and I am forever grateful for it.

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday who’s origins aren’t exactly pleasant. I know a lot of people choose to not celebrate it, and I can understand why, but I think today, above all days, I was thankful for something approaching normal.

For the last few months things have been ugly in many places. Friends and family fighting and bickering over politics, a subject that use to be taboo. Even disowning, or refusing to speak to each other because they didn’t agree with each other. I know a few people have cut me out for similar reasons, which made me sad.

So having a family tradition were we sit together, enjoy good food, and talk about the pleasant things in life was an invaluable experience. We remembered that we had each other, no matter what happened outside the walls of our home. We could rely on one another, and be there for each other. We could be thankful for having that hope. Even in the darkest times you need that lamp post that guides you through the dark. Some visible sign that helps you keep on the path you choose for yourself.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I hold onto the light, and try to hope for a better tomorrow.

I am grateful for the people I hold dear, and hopeful for the future because I know there are so many of us out there who just want the best for our fellow humans. Even if we can’t always agree what “the best” is.

Maybe I’m a bit naive. Maybe I’m simplifying things. But the world has become very complicated in some ways, and a little simplification can help us understand our part in it all. I am one of 7 billion people in the world. My path is my own, and I can’t let anyone else choose it for me. Nor can my small thread make a huge impact on the billions around me. At least not yet.

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your life, I hope you find that light to help you down the path of your own life. A lifeline to keep you afloat even when the world is trying to pull you under. And I hope you find a way to see the good in those around you, even when you disagree.

Numbers

This is a data post. Some of you have found the numbers interesting. For me the numbers are more about accountability to myself. If I’m doing better than last year I am hopeful. If not then I think I need to get my butt in gear and work harder.

graphSo here is the graph of each month for the last four years.

So far, this year, I have written 131k. May and June were my best months so far. That’s because I started writing The Half Blood Sorceress novels in May. Every time I start a new story, especially a series like this, the words just flow so fast and so free that I end up with three thousand words in less then a couple hours. I love it! That is always my favorite part of writing, the first bloom of an idea.

June was the month I had in between jobs where all I did was write, so of course I wrote a lot that month. A little bit less than May, which I was surprised about. Still, I wrote more in May and June than any other month except NaNoWriMo.

Then July I started the new job and my writing tanked. Not entirely surprising. I was physically and emotionally exhausted for the first few weeks of training. Then I started easing into the new job and had to figure out scheduling. Now I’m back into the swing of things with writing and balancing everything else and….my schedule is changing this weekend.

I’ve got a month and a half to figure out how to balance my schedule and writing with the rest of my life before this years NaNoWriMo. I really don’t want this to be the first year I fail NaNo in five years. I haven’t even figured out which project to write for this years NaNo. Will I do book two and three of The Half Blood Sorceress, or will I do a few more books in The Eternal Tapestry?

On average, after all of this, I wrote about 5-600 words a day. Not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but enough to chip away at the next series and get them ready for publishing.
As for the Bradbury Challenge which I started at the beginning of the year…I’ve completed ten short stories this year. That’s a little more than one short story a month. The trouble with short stories I’ve found is I keep getting shiny new object syndrome. I start working on a short story, then loose interest and go onto the next one. I have quite a number of short stories started but never completed, and a couple that I completed but decided to completely rewrite because they were terrible. But that doesn’t stop Shiny Syndrome from happening.

I love all the stories I come up with, even though I can see that a lot of them are terrible ideas. The terrible ones usually sit in an unaccessed file waiting for a day when they might jump-start a new idea. But then there are all of the stories that are good, publishable stories that I want to put out there some day, but fail to complete for whatever reason. I think I need to find a way to conquer my Shiny Syndrome in order to do that.

Worse, I have a lot of novels also slowly being worked on. Several of them are over 10k words. I have over 740k words written, and only 360k published. That’s a huge gap of incomplete works that I need to finish.

So….the next month and a half will go to figuring out my schedule, and hopefully finishing some of these short stories. NoNoWriMo is going to completing a novel or two in either the Eternal Tapestry world, or the Half Blood Sorceress series. Either way it’s 50k words into a new series and that will help me get the novels finished, and published, in the coming year.

I’ve got a long way to go, and I want to get back to writing 2k a day so that I can eventually get all the stories out of my head and onto the page. Of course then I’ll just have to dream up some new stories, won’t I?