The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: Pete

Friday Update

Friday Update: Surviving Inauguration Day, Looking for Work, and Novel Progress, Such as it Is

Happy Friday, gang!

Regardless of your feelings about the new administration, can we all just breathe a big sigh of relief now that we’re on the other side of the inauguration and all of the media hysterics about violent protests turned out to be a big nothing burger? To say nothing of all of the Q-conspiracists’ talk about 4D chess and insurrection acts and EMP/cyber attacks and last minute military coups.

While I’d be lying if I said I’m optimistic about things, or that the unity they keep claiming they want is actually possible at this point, I do feel like a load’s been taken off now that we’ve had a peaceful transition.

On a related note, on Wednesday I posted an article about narcissistic projection that nobody seems to have read. Maybe because I gave it a bad title. At any rate, I’m mentioning it again because I think this is important information. So as long as you’re here, take a few minutes to give it a read.

I didn’t get a lot of writing done this week, mostly because I’ve been prioritizing prayer above everything else this week, and also we had a lot to get done around the house. I did finally take a few minutes this morning to add a few hundred words to the epilogue I started on Monday. Or rather, that I ended on Monday. Today I went back and wrote the beginning of it.

I haven’t been very organized with my time lately (if by “lately” you mean since this whole pandemic started ten months ago) and that really needs to change. This may be the last week I can realistically keep up with my daily blog challenge (I didn’t blog here yesterday, but I sent out a newsletter, and that counts). Last night, I learned that my only remaining steady writing client is going to be drastically reducing their assignment volume, so I’m going to have to start hustling to round up some new clients, and that’s going to keep me busy. Marketing and looking for new work is even more of a full-time job than having work. The silver lining in all of this is that it’s the kick in the pants I needed to finally break into business-to-business writing, which pays a lot better than the business-to-consumer content I’ve been writing these past seven or eight years. Say a prayer for me and wish me luck.

But with all that in mind, if I only have time for a little bit of writing on the side each day and it’s a choice between the blog or the novel, I’m going to prioritize the novel. I’m still going to aim for at least two or three updates here a week, though, so it’s not like I’m going away, just scaling back a bit.

So that’s been my week, in a nutshell. My weekend plans include avoiding the news and watching another hour or two of Fellowship (it’s the extended edition, in case you haven’t guessed–last time we left off right as the members of the Fellowship arrived for Elrond’s council meeting) and brushing up on my article pitching knowledge. Oh, and maybe also taking down the Christmas decorations. I was determined to leave it up all winter as a symbol of defiant hope, but we need to clear some space and so we need to pack it all up and put it in storage to make some room for a couple of projects.

It’s going to be sad to take it down, though, not the least of which is because Pete was still with us when we put it all up. Putting it all away is going to make his passing seem all the more final. I really miss my dog, y’all. It’ll be two whole months on Sunday and we’re both still struggling to adjust to his absence.

I hope everyone reading this has a blessed and restful weekend. ♥

Monday Update: On looking for an easier world, loving poetry, and a progress report

“…don’t waste time
looking for an easier world.”

~ Mary Oliver, Dogfish

In a poem that already spoke to me, to a lot of what I’ve been dealing with over the last couple of years, this line jumped out and hit me square between the eyes.

I’m so guilty of this, of constantly looking for an easier world, and easier life, and it really is such a waste of time, isn’t it? It’s a distraction that keeps me from just getting on with it and living my actual life.

I’m pretty sure this is a 9 thing (that’s my Enneagram number, for those not keeping track). After all, the sloth is our spirit animal, and our besetting deadly sin. We 9s just want to float through life without much challenge, and when we are challenged we get angry and resentful, except anger is too challenging, so we deny it and just get sleepy instead.

But I know the truth, that challenges are good for us, or at least for me. When I’m in a healthy place, the right kind and amount of challenge and hardship pushes me to get up and shake off my complacency and perform like a 3, and this is when I thrive.

But it’s so tempting, always, to embrace my inner sloth and go to sleep and numb myself with entertainment or distract myself with work, to seek out the path of least resistance, to not simply deny but resent the hard work that needs to be done to get where I want to be.

These Monday morning musings are brought to you by the numbers 9 and 3 and the Enneagram and my reignited love of poetry and not enough sleep over the last few nights.

I’ve always had an on-again, off-again love affair with poetry. I wrote a lot of it back in my twenties and early thirties. I even did the occasional live reading. Yes, I, who hates public speaking and am struggling to work up the nerve to start my own podcast because I feel so goshdern awkward, actually stood up in front of a coffee shop full of people on poetry night at Borders and read my poetry aloud. I can’t really believe it, either, but it happened, more than once. A long time ago.

Poetry kind of fell off my radar about a decade ago, when we got hit with a long string of hardships, the kind of challenges that don’t spur you on to greatness but that instead break you and force you to rebuild your whole identity and worldview. Fun times.

But lately I’ve been jonesing for poetry. I feel like my life is better with poetry in it, and it makes me feel a little more like my old self, back before the breakening, when I was full of daydreams and possibilities. I’ve been writing poetry again, too, but I have no plans to get up and read it, or share it anywhere. It’s something I’m doing just for me, and there’s healing in that.

What I’m Working On

Deliverance edits are continuing apace, albeit more slowly than I’d like. With several days of rain in the forecast, we spent most of last week busting our butts to rake and burn as much of the remaining leaves as possible. We’re on a break from yard work thanks to the rain finally arriving this weekend, but when it passes there’ll be more leaves to deal with, because they truly are never ending, and we’re quickly running out of time to get them out of the way before mowing season starts.

At any rate, this weekend I also started the second novella in my upcoming Mae Bishop series, because I felt inspired, despite already having a backlog of stories that need editing. I’m trying to write at least 1,000 words a day on that before switching to editing my novel. At this rate, I’m piling up finished first drafts a lot faster than I can edit them. I might have to stop writing for a while and just focus on getting all of these manuscripts edited and ready to publish, but I want to get at least two more Mae Bishop novellas done as quickly as I can, and also the third and final book of Trilogy of the Damned. I might also need to switch up my methods and stop fast-drafting and start editing as I go.

This would be a lot easier if I could just write full time. As if I’m not the billionth writer to say that.

Newsy Bits & Sharing

If you’re the sort of person who actually leaves book reviews, I’ve got free digital ARCs of both Dominion of the Damned and Women’s Work up for grabs at Booksprout. There are a limited number of copies available of each, so be sure to grab yours quickly if you want one.

And please remember, a book review can be as simple as “I enjoyed this book” or “I didn’t enjoy this book.” Nobody’s asking you to write a book report.

Over on my writing and publishing blog, I shared four ways to hone your story instincts and become a better storyteller.

If you’re a chronic illness sufferer, you might want to check out this blog post series from Kristine Kathryn Rusch about writing with chronic illness. Even if you’re not a writer, I think it has broader applicability for how to manage your life and work around your illness. Here’s part one, part two and part three.

This thirsty squirrel might be the most precious thing you see today.

And now I must get back to work, but I’ll leave you with a photo of my dog Pete sharing my blanket cocoon (which, in my completely unbiased opinion, might give thirsty squirrel a run for his money).

Why writers need to blog. And a sad puppy.

There’s a reason I’ve always been so inconsistent with keeping up this blog. It’s because taking time to blog here makes me feel guilty. It’s not something I get paid to do, and it’s time I’m not spending working on my fiction. So in the hierarchy of things I spend my writing time/energy on, blogging always comes dead last, after paying work and fiction projects. Of course, once those priorities are out of the way, I often don’t have any time or energy left for writing a blog post (and when I do, my content marketing blog usually wins, since it exists to attract potential paying clients).

But what about building my author platform, building my audience and selling books? This week, Kristen Lamb’s Blog had a great post about the importance of blogging, which makes some excellent points, not the least of which is the importance of a well-kept blog in building your platform and connecting with your readers. She also talks about how blogging consistently helps train you to write through distractions, overcome perfectionism, and meet deadlines.

But the point that convinced me to stop putting my blog last is a truth that I knew already but had forgotten: blogging (at least, for me) serves as a fantastic writing warm-up to loosen the creative gears and get me into the necessary frame of mind. So instead of keeping on doing what I’ve been doing, which is sitting down to work on freelance writing and not allowing myself to blog until it’s done, and then continuing to sit for more than an hour and stare at the screen between checking Facebook while trying to psych myself up to actually write something, I’m going to try to start out my non-fiction writing sessions with a blog post to warm up. At least then I’ll actually be doing something productive with that time.

In other news, we took our Chihuahua, Pete, to the vet this week. He’s had six seizures this month (that we’re aware of), and he was due for blood work to check his thyroid. Because of the seizures, she (the vet) went ahead and did a full panel, and discovered that his liver enzymes are extremely elevated, which she things may be responsible for the seizures. So we’re treating that (poor dog’s taking more pills now than Matt and I combined) and hoping it will put a stop to the seizures, or at least slow them down.

Was he happy about going to the vet? Not at all:

Poor little guy. But at least he hasn’t had any seizures in the last few days.

Throwing in the towel on Camp Nano — and on even trying to cope with this week.

I think it’s time to throw in the towel and admit defeat on this round of Camp Nanowrimo. I haven’t had the time or energy to write in a solid week, and I don’t think I’m doing my book any favors by trying to force a daily word quota. I think it would be better served by sticking to my “at least 30 minutes a day” goal and remembering that a little progress is better than no progress.

So what’s been keeping me so busy for the last week? Taxes and tragedies, pet trauma and illness and vet appointments, scrambling to wrap up projects so I can get paid and to find new clients and projects to replace the ones I’m finishing, weather woes, prayer and reflection and Bible study, and a lot of just sitting here feeling numb and hugging on my husband and furbabies and wondering what the world is coming to. And tea. Lots of brewing and imbibing of tea.

The entire week has been stressful and surreal, starting last Thursday when I ended up spending the entire day going over my accounting records and making sure everything was in order, thanks to procrastinating on it for an entire year. Friday was all errands and making up for the freelance work I skipped on Thursday.

Saturday started out with accidentally sitting on my tiny dog, who was sleeping under a blanket on the couch. He wasn’t seriously injured, but he was sore and pretty sore with me for a while, and I of course felt like a horrible human being and pet mom. Saturday was also doing our taxes day, which we elected to do ourselves this year to save about a hundred dollars by using Turbotax instead of a professional tax preparer, and let me tell you, that extra hundred dollars to let somebody else who knows what they’re doing do all of the paperwork while you just sit there is well worth it if you can afford it. And between having underpaid my 2012 estimated self-employment taxes and having to pay back a portion of our first-time homebuyer’s credit from 2008, we owed quite a bit more than we expected to, and Sunday was figuring out what to do about that, along with housework and yard work.

Monday was when it took a turn for the surreal and tragic, which I’m sure you well know. We had just gotten home from a morning spent running tax-related errands about half an hour before the first tweets from Boston started circulating, and like pretty much everyone else I spent the rest of the day in shock and failed to get much else done. Tuesday was Sasha’s vet checkup, and we also took Pete for his annual and to have him looked over to make sure we hadn’t missed any hidden injuries from Saturday’s incident, and it was also a day of trying to catch up on client work. Wednesday, yesterday, was all about client work, and, not having slept well the last two nights, I was very tired and ready for bed when we finally turned in.

And yet, I was not so tired that the storms didn’t keep me awake, which meant I was up to hear the tornado sirens go off around midnight. I got up and ran into the living room to turn on the TV and check the weather to see if I needed to wake Matt up and take cover (I didn’t – the worst of it was well south of us) and spent the next hour on the floor in front of the TV watching the radar and praying for all of the Tulsa suburbs in the path of a tornado and making sure that we were out of danger. Finally, they gave the all-clear for the city of Tulsa proper, and I turned off the TV and went back to bed. And the tornado sirens continued to blow for another hour or so after that. My nerves, they were wracked.

This morning, I awoke to the news that the tornado had touched down again in some small towns to the east, but thankfully, nobody was seriously injured, although some folks, including the son of a friend of mine, lost their homes. I also saw the news about what’s happening in Texas, and I think that, on top of everything else this past week, is what finally broke my brain. I have work I need to do, but I have not slept well for the last three or four nights, and I’m very tired, and I’m very sad, and I just want to sit here and curl up with a cup of tea and my dog (who loves me again, although he jumps down from the couch when he sees me coming) and look at pretty things on Pinterest and maybe get off the computer and go make something pretty with my own two hands.

But: I have work to do, and my clients need their websites, and I need to get paid, and I need to find my focus and get it done. I will take a moment to count my blessings, because I know I have so much to be thankful for, make another cup of tea, go kiss my husband, and get to work.

It’s Monday. Have a puppy.

I have lots to get done today, so in lieu of a post, here’s my dog Pete, looking adorable as always. I figure this week, the more we’re all exposed to cuteness, the more calm and sane we’ll all be.

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