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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One, two, five–three, sir!–things make a post

1) Not that the world needs more of me babbling, but fellow Odyssey alum A.J. Cooper was lovely enough to do an interview with me over at his blog.

2) I’ve spent far too much of today transfixed by the internet train wreck that is Weird Tales and their now-revoked intent to publish the first chapter of the “thoroughly non-racist book” Saving the Pearls. If you somehow missed the WTFery, you can find a summary and related links here.

5) After getting back from vacation a couple weeks ago, I was determined to get lots of writing accomplished before before the fall semester craziness begins. Sadly, I have been failing miserably at that. I’ll have a brief burst of productivity only to then turn into a total slug. Today, I was particularly slug-like. My brain, being the uncooperative evil thing that it is, seems amused by the irony that, after hosting a discussion night at TNEO called “Buffy the Rejection Slayer: Defeating Doubt, Procrastination & Other Writerly Demons,” I am now totally getting my ass handed to me by those very demons. I think it’s time to get out the stake.

Operation Remind Myself I’m a Writer

Operation Remind Myself I’m a Writer, Day One: The procrastination enemy has withdrawn to a defensive position. Fiction accomplished.

Day Two: The standoff with procrastination continues.

Day Three: Enemy regroups, distracts us with shiny objects.

Day Four: Our forces don’t even try. They just sit in the bunker, eating pizza and watching Iron Man.

Day Five: We finally pick up our weapons and take aim only to find out that the enemy built a Death Star while we were watching Iron Man.

Day Six: We fight back, but get our assess handed to us. Again.

Day Seven: Turns out that Death Star has an exhaust port…

[Disclaimer: It’s not my intention to make light of Memorial Day with a battle metaphor. My respects go out to those who have died on real battefields.]

Random Summer Is Random

I’m the kind of person who likes to have some structure to my life. It can be a little bit of structure or a lot of structure, but preferably a mix. If I need to practice piano earlier in the day than usual to accommodate something that can only be done later in the day, I like having that flexibility. But if I didn’t have my piano lesson at the same time every week, I’d have a hell of a time planning around it and remembering when I need to head out the door (note to self: you need to leave in about 45 minutes for this week’s lesson).

But trying to maintain any kind of structure to my days this summer? Didn’t happen. Too much flux, which is one of many reasons I’ve been so scattershot about blogging the last few months. Hopefully, though, September should bring a touch more stability with it. Classes for my MLIS program start this Thursday. Regular weekly choir rehearsals start up again next Wednesday. My last day at Ye Olde Day Job was a week ago; I’m hoping to find something part-time and library related, but in the meantime, there’s a freelance database project I’ll probably be taking on. And with all of those things set, maybe I can get back into something resembling a regular routine for writing and exercise, both of which I’m ashamed to say I’ve been mostly neglecting lately. Bad me. Bad.

Related to all of the crazy flux in my life right now, trying to answer the question “What do you do for a living?” at my grad school orientation last week was far more difficult than it used to be. “What do I do? Up until a few days ago, I was a grant writer for a theater company. Why did I leave something that sounds so cool? Well, working in the performing arts was cool, but fundraising made me miserable, and I really loved the two years I spent working in a music library, which is why I’m pursuing my MLIS now. Why didn’t I stay at the music library job? Because it was a temporarily funded project, or else I would have. No, I’m not going to be a fulltime student now. I’m hoping to find a part-time library job, and I’ll probably be taking on a freelance database project.  

“Oh, and I also write fiction.”