The State of the Barb: Priorities, Y’all

So, this blogging thing? Kind of hasn’t happened a whole lot recently. But usually, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it’s the result of keeping my priorities in order. If I have precious little spare time and it comes down to a choice between writing a blog post or getting in more fiction writing time, the fiction is going to win. Usually.

Unfortunately, the last two months have not been usual. My priorities got out of whack, and writing time was reduced to pathetic little spurts. I have the super fancy word tracking spreadsheet to serve as a visual reminder of said patheticness.

groot tracker
The light blue-ish lines = my yearly word count goal. The darker blue-ish lines = me and my quickly stalled out progress toward said goal. But, hey, shiny spreadsheet tool courtesy of http://svenjaliv.com!

I started out 2017 on the productive side of the Force, writing several thousand words each month. Two new short stories! More progress on my steampunk novel! Multiple writing retreats where I got to do nothing but write all day and chat with awesome people!

But as you can see in the above image, things stalled out after April. I wrote for only 4 days in May, 227 words total. In June I got whopping 6 days of writing in, 439 words total—and over half of those words were today, the last day of the month. And because of the reality distortion field that is Facebook, there were sales and publications that made it look I was being all writerly and productive when I really wasn’t.

The lack of productivity wasn’t because of some major life shakeup. It was because (a) I have a long history of being terrible at saying “no” to things, (b) for every thing I do actually say “no” to, I tend to say “yes” to two other things, like some sort of overcommitted hydra, and (c) out of an overdeveloped sense of responsibility/loyalty, I was sticking with things that stressed me out or that I was no longer enjoying. And all that shit adds up after a while.

In other words, writing wasn’t getting done because of priorities that really shouldn’t be priorities, or at least shouldn’t be bigger priorities than being a writer. You know, the thing I’ve wanted to be since the second grade.

Self-reflection is great and all, but ultimately pointless if you don’t do anything about what you see. So recently, I’ve cut back on some things that were stressing me out. Yes, there are new things (like finally taking the dive into contributing to the Speculative Chic blog, which you all should check out), but new things are good if they’re things you’re excited about and have been wanting to do but couldn’t because of the stress-inducing things. New things keep life interesting.

But most importantly, I successfully applied butt to chair this morning and wrote fiction. And even though it’s been three weeks since I last did that, it wasn’t painful. I enjoyed it. I’ve missed it. It’s a priority again, damn it.

Okay, so you could ask: given all that, why the hell are you sitting there writing a blog post instead of getting more fiction done? That’s easy:

  1. Accountability. If a writer self-reflects in the woods and no one sees, did she really self-reflect?
  2. I got some fiction writing in today. It felt good. I’m therefore allowed to unwind before bed. This post is very unwindy for me. More fiction will happen tomorrow.
  3. This blog is among the things I’ve neglected because of questionable priorities. It’s time I gave it some love.
  4. Did I mention that accountability thing? Keep me honest, y’all.
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Flash! Ah-ah!

Three quick flash-related things:

Flash thing the first: My flash story “The Perfect Coordinates to Raise a Child” is now up at Daily Science Fiction. You know, for you heathens who missed it in your inbox two weeks ago because you don’t subscribe.

Flash thing the second: I’m on deck at the Star-Dusted Sirens blog this week babbling about Flashing vs. Showing Us Your Shorts. Your short stories, that is.

Flash thing the third:

You’re welcome. #SFWApro

Flashing, Star-Dusted Sirens, and the Return of the Novel Revisions

Wow, over a month since my last post. I’ve been more swamped with real life than I thought! While I could definitely use a ton more spare hours in my day, shiny writing-related things have still been afoot amid the craziness:

Shiny #1: Flashing! My story “The Swan Maiden” is now out in the current issue of Flash Fiction Online—the first issue put out under the leadership of FFO’s shiny new publisher, Anna Yeatts.

Shiny #2: More flashing! If you’re a Daily Science Fiction subscriber, my flash story “The Perfect Coordinates to Raise a Child” will be showing up in your inbox tomorrow (October 8). And if you’re not a Daily Science Fiction subscriber, the story will be available on their website a week later. Or you could, you know, subscribe.  Because it’s free. And awesome.

Shiny #3: I haz writing group, let me show you it. A few months ago, some other fine folks and I started The Star-Dusted Sirens, and now we have a blog where we shall babble about shiny writing-related things! We’re also on Twitter @StarDustSirens. Please check us out if you have a chance, if only to see the pretty logo that Katana Leigh created for us. Or you can take part in fellow Siren Naima Johnson’s contest to rewrite the first paragraph of Twilight.

Shiny #4: And last but not least, I’ve finally gotten back to revisions on My Big Fat Epic Fantasy Novel! They’re very slow going thanks to that pesky school thing I’ve got going on, but I’ll take whatever forward progress I can manage at this point.
#SFWApro

Hey, I have a blog! And time to post something on it!

*finally resurfaces from the Sea Of Too Much Else To Do*

I finished with my second semester of grad school about a week and a half ago (and totally rocked it, by the way), which means I get to be a writer again! And read things that aren’t for class! Wheeeee! And now that I’ve caught up on some other pesky real life things, it looks like I should actually have time for that whole blogging thing again too.

So, the state of writerly me: Before the semester started, I was pretty darn productive on the writing front–one novelette revised and sent out the door, one flash story written and sent out the door, and three flash/short story drafts written. Then the schoolwork tsunami struck, along with a new routine to get used to in February when I started a part-time fellowship in an orchestra library (which has been awesome), so there was a while there where I didn’t feel like much of a writer (an assessment my writerly success ratio seems to agree with lately). But now that I don’t have any grad school-related work to worry about until the fall, I get to reacquaint myself with the world of reading and writing fiction–something I look forward to with huge heaps of geekish joy.

*blows dust off blog*

Wow, it’s been a while, huh? I guess it’s time I stop with the “I’ll blog more, I promise” stuff and accept the fact that a regular blogging routine is probably not going to happen for the duration of my time in grad school. When it comes to establishing priorities, there are just too many things that win out over blogging at present–fiction writing, classwork, day job, musical endeavors, exercise, and sparing some moments to remind myself that I have friends and family.
Oh, and sleep. Precious, precious sleep.
That said, I can at least promise two upcoming posts: some story pimpage later this week, and later this month, a guest post by writerly compadre Lindsey Duncan, whose contemporary fantasy novel Flow has just been released by Double Dragon Publishing.

These are not the keyword results you are looking for

For me, one of the best parts of using website tracking tools is seeing some of the odd keyword searches that have led people to my blog or website.  Some are just entertaining.  Others leave me wondering, "What in Jeebus’ name was this person hoping to find?"

My short story "Love Spells" once received a rather snarky rejection that said the story was a few tweaks away from becoming a trashy bodice ripper.  So in a few entries on my blog (I was using Blogger at the time), I referred to the story as "my would-be trashy bodice ripper."  Since then, the most popular keyword search leading to that blog has become, not my name, but "ripped bodice" or variations thereof.  One of my favorite variations is "what is inside a ripped bodice." I mean, really? You have to ask?  Equally entertaining were the keyword searches for "tortured ripped bodices" and "reaped bodice."

Here are some of the other strange and entertaining keyword searches that have led folks to my internet babblings:

  • viking bunnies of doom
  • how do i make my words big?
  • thing guess
  • incoherent sentences exercises
  • screwing barbara stewart
  • death star slug
  • wackiness august 29
  • i am slug
  • musicophilia galactica
  • how to avoid pesky holes
  • castrated husbands

Anyone else have entertaining keyword searches of their own to share?