It’s been nearly a month since I posted. I’ve been writing a lot and working with my psychologist on my feelings about my writing. I realized that when I focus on outcomes like being able to support myself from writing, I am unhappy. It’s when I’m actually writing and story building that I feel good. But even having realized that, it’s not easy to let go of the outcomes I’ve wanted for so long. I don’t even know if I should. (I said in my April 20 post that I never would.) I’m still processing it.
The Kirkus review for Scribbling the Eternal was released. I made a video where I read it and share my thoughts. You can view it here.
I wrote over a thousand words yesterday. That’s a lot for me. I’m approaching the end of Chapter Four, but it’s been a struggle. When I stepped away and went for a walk (wearing a mask), I realized that it’s not achieving the things I need it to, so I’m going to have to rewrite a lot of it, which will mean deleting sentences I spent so much time crafting. It’s often hard to make those deletions; I become too attached to phrases. I spend a lot of time trying to salvage them until I’m finally convinced that they just don’t work for the story, and that I need to let go of them.
I was thinking about my blog post yesterday and talked about some of it via FaceTime with my friend Holly while on my daily walk this afternoon. During that conversation, I realized I have been partaking in one of the thought distortions my psychologist often points out to me which is disqualifying the positive.
Having a day job while being an author is hard. But despite that, I’ve published seven books, and most importantly, I wrote the books I wanted to write. I wrote for myself and have found a small audience. It would be a huge mistake to discount that.
Work at my day job has been inordinately stressful lately. The work from home status due to Covid-19 isn’t it making it any easier either. For the first time in a long time, I had a panic attack over the weekend that took me over three hours to recover from.
It hasn’t been all bad though. I continue to write in the mornings, before working, and that does improve my mood. Because of this commitment, I finally finished writing Chapter Three. It took four months, over a span of seven months, to write. (I began writing it in October but didn’t write in November, December, or January, because of depression.) It felt great to finish it as I think it’s been the most challenging chapter for me to write in the series. I’ve begun Chapter Four, and hope it won’t take nearly as long to finish. I’ve had two beta readers ask when they can expect new chapters and I plan to send them something after Chapter Four is complete.
I began this post talking about my day job because it’s really been wearing me down, and if something doesn’t change, I think there’s the likelihood of burnout. I talked with my psychologist about it today. She thinks I should consider leaving. I really wish I could; it’s my dream to be able to write for a living, but right now I don’t sell enough books to do that, and I need a paycheck. I could potentially find a job that would be less stressful, but it’s hard to leave what I have because I’ve been there for fifteen years and have a pension and health benefits to consider, including behavioral health benefits that I especially rely on.
The best answer would be to sell more books. I need to reach more readers to do that. There is so much advice out there on how to grow your readership, with social networking and advertising strategies being at the top of the list. I’ve yet to be successful at either. It’s so hard to make your books stand apart from all the other books out there, because there are so many good writers trying to accomplish the same thing I am. And then of course, with a writer’s natural instinct to be hypercritical of one’s own work, I have to wonder if maybe my books just aren’t good enough.
This post probably comes across as negative, but that’s not what I’m trying to express. My psychologist also suggested I consider changing my goal to be able to write for a living. But I will never do that. I will never give up chasing my dream. I have hopes that someday I’ll be able to look back at this post and see that it was about struggles I overcame.
I’ve mentioned that I try to stay off social media as it is generally not good for my self-esteem, and so staying off is something I actually work on with my psychologist. Social media can also take up a lot of time, time that I should spend writing. Anyhow, I had been doing well with staying off, having deleted multiple apps on my phone, but I consciously decided to come back on recently in order to promote an eBook giveaway. I’ve had to come back on social media for reasons like this before, and it’s always been easy for me to get back off once my purpose is complete. But this time it wasn’t, and I think that’s because of the current quarantine situation we are living under.
I regularly text with many friends, but now I make an effort to text with even more, just to stay connected and feel that people are there and to let them know I’m there for them as well. But I realized I need to see faces, and in quarantine this just doesn’t happen. So I think that’s why it was harder to walk away from Facebook and Instagram this time. I need to see my friends beyond just their text messages.
My psychologist suggested video chatting, but that’s not easy for me, being shy and self-conscious (even though I have to do it during my day job and my therapy sessions are now via video chat). I don’t know why it’s so much harder for me to video chat when it’s personal, but it is. But I promised my psychologist that I would video call someone after our session, and I did, and that day I saw the faces of three friends while talking to them. It was a very good thing to do, and I’m going to try to do it more.
But even with embracing video chat, I’m still on social media and am not ready to leave it. And now that I’m there, I realize how poorly I use it to promote my books and myself as an author. A lot of that is due to shyness and not wanting everything I post to feel like an advertisement. But I took a step forward and made a video post on my Instagram where I’m actually talking and showing my face. (I did use a filter though.)
I have an author Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but now that doesn’t feel like enough. So I reinstalled Snapchat today and finally got on Tiktok. And dammit, now I feel overwhelmed. I want to promote my books, but honestly, I just don’t know how to do it well. I’ve read that I should focus on just one platform, but I don’t know which. Twitter is the easiest for me to post to, but I get the most interaction from readers on Instagram, despite not having any sexy pics.
I wish writing books was enough, but it’s so hard to make the books you’ve written stand out amongst all the other books out there and compete against all the other authors who are trying to do the same thing you’re doing. But beside social media and paid advertising, I don’t know what else authors can do besides hope someone famous will love their book and post about it.
I’ve been back on social media for sixteen days now. I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay. I should leave already as I’ve already felt some effects on my self-esteem, but right now, I still need to see faces. I guess that means I need to do more video chats in order to escape the social networks.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve transitioned to working my day job remotely like so many others. In recent months, with the help of my psychologist, I have been trying to change my workaholic ways and no longer work after leaving the office. Most importantly, this means not checking work emails after I’ve headed home. I’ve been successful 82% of the time. But now that I’m working from home, I’ve found that I’m working longer days. Some of that is because of increased workload caused by the pandemic, but it is also because I am finding it difficult to separate work time from personal time now that I am no longer physically leaving an office. I’m working on it though.
Work stress along with the anxiety and depression that I’ve been trying to keep at bay during the unfolding of this crisis has made it difficult for me to write. It feels like I’m actively avoiding it and that just makes me more depressed. Until yesterday, I hadn’t written for nine days, and all I netted were nineteen new words. But that was something, and today I’ve netted 150, bringing this month’s total to 1,396. It’s far cry from the 6,000 I aim to write a month, but I just have to keep trying. Chapter Three continues to be a struggle, but I think the end is finally in sight.
A reader described a dream she had about Orly. With some slight embellishments, I’ve worked it into the new book as a surprise for her. I hope she likes it.
I’ve gone 90 days without checking reviews. Not checking regularly is something else I work on with my psychologist, as checking regularly hasn’t been good for my self-esteem. That’s not because of potential bad reviews inasmuch as it is when there are no new reviews. I might check soon though. I’d really like to know what people are saying about Scribbling the Eternal. Excluding friends, family, and a couple emails from readers, I really have no idea.
I hope you are all staying healthy and afloat and know that this strange world we are currently living in won’t last forever.
I attended American Ballet Theatre’s Of Love and Rage last night. I had considered not going because I would have to go alone as I couldn’t find someone to take my second ticket, but I put on a suit and put a bottle of Klonopin in my coat pocket and went anyway.
I’m glad I went. It was a beautiful performance and it told a mythological story I had never come across before. The emotions captured between Callirhoe (Christine Shevchenko), Chaereas (Thomas Forster), and Dionysius (Blaine Hoven) were spellbinding and heart wrenching. The chorus performances really stood out in a way that I hadn’t felt in a ballet before. Watching Katherine Williams as the Queen of Babylon, made me think of Yelena—not the étoile but the one who stole Marcel’s heart. (In a handful of scenes, the head of Aphrodite was suspended in the background. It was so glorious I wanted it tattooed on me. I took a picture during bows, so maybe I will.)
The reason I’m including this in my blog is because the performance reminded me how important it is as an artist to experience other art. The ballet was so moving that it became inspirational. The experience has already influenced the chapter I am writing this morning.
And I didn’t even need the Klonopin I brought with me.
It’s been a few weeks since I posted. I haven’t had much to report. I’ve spent these past weeks rewriting the same paragraphs over and over without moving forward into the third chapter of the new book and discussing with my psychologist my feelings of failure and what it means to be successful as a writer.
But this morning I made myself move on to the next chapter and write new story. My net word count wasn’t high as I threw away a lot of text, but I ended the session feeling glad I had moved forward. In the evening, on my drive to the gym, an idea hit me in the face—something I didn’t expect, something regarding Yelena in this last book. I haven’t figured out how to convey it yet, but the idea has made me very excited, nonetheless.
I thought of going to sleep early tonight, but as I felt so happy with the progress I made today, I took myself out to vegan sushi and went way over my calorie count for the day.
Back on November 7, 2019, I posted that I felt disappointed when I went back to reread some of The Scribbled Victims. I mentioned how that always happens to me when I go back and reread my work after time has passed. That should have been such a happy day for me too, as it was the publication date of its sequel, Scribbling the Eternal.
On Monday, I told my psychologist something extraordinary happened in regard to this. I decided to listen to the audiobook version of The Scribbled Victims to try to keep me engaged with the series as I slowly write the third and final book. When I listened to it, I was no longer disappointed. I quite liked the story and felt myself loving Yelena and Orly. Sure, there were sentences I wish I could revise, different words I wish I would have used, but overall, I felt proud of it again.
I don’t know listening rather than rereading made such a difference. Maybe the credit is due to my narrator, Laura Bannister. Maybe hearing the words in her voice, rather than the one that reads aloud in my head when my eyes move over text, allowed me to appreciate it from a different and fresh perspective—as if the story was no longer my own, for I am certainly my worst critic. At any rate, I’m glad I decided to give it a listen.
I’m now listening to Scribbling the Eternal. Being so immersed in Orly’s thoughts as I listen, continually gives me new ideas and I scramble to jot them down on my reMarkable tablet. I hope this doesn’t sound egotistical, but as I write the final book, I may listen to the audiobooks over and over again, as it keeps me engaged, keeps Orly’s voice alive, and keeps the wheels of my imagination turning.
Back in July I wrote a post about how I was writing with pen and paper while building the story for the final book of the Black Wax Vampire Trilogy. I mentioned that this method changes my mood and mentality versus when I’m typing on a computer. Creatively, I think this has been very helpful, but as I continue to build this story, my handwritten pages have become difficult to manage and keep organized. To remedy this, I decided to purchase a reMarkable tablet, which allows me to continue writing by hand, but since it’s digital, I can organize all my notes into folders so I can find them more quickly. Another advantage I’ve found is that I can add to notes I had previously written. Often this wasn’t possible when writing on paper because I had already used up the entire sheet, and the next page in my notebook was on a different subject altogether.
Yesterday, I spent hours in the library, going through my paper notes, and taking the segments that are still relevant to my new book and rewriting them into the reMarkable tablet. Today, I’m using it to free write, with the aim of going deeper into what is so far a very simple story.
The reason I chose the reMarkable tablet instead of just getting an iPad was because it feels more like writing on paper rather than writing on glass, but more importantly, because it has no access to emails or social media. I block my access to those things when I write on computer, and so it was nice to be able to stay away from them when writing by hand.
The tablet cost $500 (and the felt case was another $100…$100 for felt? WTF?), but I’m hoping it will help keep my daydreaming organized so that maybe I can become more prolific. With this book in particular, I’m hoping it will help me finish it in under the two plus years each of the first two books took to write.
For months I had been in stuck in a deep depression that frustrated my therapists, but I knew I just needed to wait out. At the end of October, I felt myself coming out of it, and was relieved. But for the past couple weeks, I think I’ve been in denial—thinking I wasn’t depressed yet again, but I am. And I’m despondent and angry that the respite was so brief. I’m seeing my therapists regularly and it helps, but it’s hard to even get out of bed. Yesterday, I slept for seventeen hours. I’m trying to write, but it’s hard. I have force myself to sit down to write despite how much I love writing Orly. The writing sessions are never long, but they do make me feel a little better—like the whole day wasn’t a waste. Depression is exhausting. It feels like such a struggle that I can only hope I’m able to finish this book. Right now, the pages are few, and the end so far.