Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

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Coffee Talk: Disappointment, Made Better by Sunshine

Remember those exciting decisions we made a few weeks back that I was looking forward to revealing this week?

Welp, things didn’t go as planned. But when do they ever, really?

Our first decision was to get some chickens. More specifically, we decided to put in an order for 15 buff orpington chicks (14 laying hens and one rooster), which were to arrive this week.  We placed the order and then went out and got everything we needed to raise them, and were all set to receive them this week. Instead, we received a notice that the USPS extended last week’s weather-induced embargo on live animal shipping to the end of this week, in order to let them catch up on undelivered mail.

So now we won’t be getting our chicks until April. Which means no eggs until next fall at the earliest. Le sigh.

On the plus side, this gives us more time to figure out our chicken coop/tractor design and what we’re going to do about predators, and also now we won’t have to house juvenile chickens inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

So that’s one disappointment. And that decision had led to our second decision, which was to be our solution to the predator problem: getting a livestock guardian dog. You guys, we had decided to get a puppy. Specifically, we were all set to get an Anatolian shepherd puppy.

But for a variety of reasons, that also ended up falling through. There were just too many obstacles that kept cropping up that ultimately convinced us that it’s not the right time yet, and also that perhaps that’s not the right breed. And while I can see now that it’s for the best that things didn’t work out, I was pretty torn up about it when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen.

Not that we won’t be getting another dog, or perhaps even a puppy, at some point. We’re keeping an eye on the local shelters for something suitable, and we haven’t completely ruled out an Anatolian when another one becomes available. But it won’t be that sweet girl that we had our eye on and were all ready to bring home, and I’m sad about that.

Also, today marks three months since Pete’s passing, so there are mixed emotions. We still miss the heck out of him and, truth be told, we aren’t quite ready to move on to a new pup just yet. We’re trusting in God’s timing and praying that he’ll lead us to the right dog at the right time. He’s got an excellent track record of bringing us excellent dogs at just the right time, so we just need to be patient and trust that he’ll do it again.

Besides, Boudicca is enjoying the heck out of being an only furbaby for the time being. She’s getting spoiled rotten.

So it’s been a week full of disappointment, but there’s been cause for rejoicing, too. The weather thawed out, the last two days have been spring-like and full of sunshine, we got our well fixed and our water restored yesterday, and today I took my first shower in *mumblety* days.

In lieu of all the animal wrangling we thought we’d be doing this week, we’ve been cleaning and organizing, and I’ve been busy marketing myself and reaching out to potential clients. I’m still waiting for my newest client to start sending me work, and in the mean time I’ve been posting articles from my old freelance writing Substack to my Medium account. I finally signed up to the Medium Partner’s Program, which means my stories earn a little bit of money when paying members read them, so if you’ve got a paid Medium membership, spending some time reading my recent articles is an easy way you could help us out while we wait for new work to start coming in.

So is buying my books, if any of them look good to you. Most of them are also available on Overdrive through your local library (did you know indie authors get paid when you check out their books through the library? The more you know…).

Of course, we’re both also always grateful to be supported through prayer.

Maybe it’s just the weather turning that’s making me optimistic, but I have a feeling things are going to get back on track and start going our way again soon. I hope. At any rate, barring any other unforeseen catastrophes, I can look forward to getting fluffy baby chickens for my birthday, and there still may be a puppy in our near future. And we need to get busy starting seeds and getting our garden beds ready for spring planting. And I’ve still got a novel to finish. So it’s not like there’s not plenty to keep us busy while we wait for things to work out.

How are you faring in the aftermath of Winterpocalypse ’21? Are you recovering, or are you still dealing with yuck? And how can I pray for you?

Coffee Talk: Novel Progress, Job Hunt Progress, and Secrets Brewin’ Around the Homestead

Since these updates are coming more randomly now, let’s try a new title.

Wow, you guys, last week was kind of a crazy one, and this week also got off to an unexpected start.  I can’t tell y’all too much about it — or rather, I don’t want to just yet — but I can say that decisions were made regarding the ol’ homestead that left us neck-deep in research and that are going to make our lives here at the Bauhaushold a little topsey turvey for a while. What those decisions were, I’m going to leave for a surprise. Suffice to say, we’ve got a lot to do in the coming weeks to get ready.

really wish I could tell you where we went and what we did yesterday, but that would spoil the best surprise. I’ll be sure to “circle back” to it when the time is right. I can tell you that it involved getting to know some more good people from our area and spending more than an hour outdoors in the freezing drizzle with an insufficient number of layers, and that when we got back I was slightly damp, covered in hair, and I couldn’t feel my feet. But I was also very excited about the future.

We had planned to get busy this week with some of our preparations, but full-on winter weather kicked in here and it looks like it’s going to be hanging around a while. So I’m trying to take advantage of being stuck indoors to make some progress on the writing and freelance job hunting front. As far as the latter goes, I’ve got some great news! I’ve been invited to join the content team for Care Credit, so they should start sending work my way soon.

So with one new steady corporate client secured, the goals I’m focusing on now are to find one or two more clients of that caliber, and to break into writing for trade magazines. To that end, one thing I actually managed to get done last week was set up this landing page for my services.

As far as the novel goes, I’m making progress in small bites, committed to working on it at least twenty minutes a day. I know that sounds short, but I can usually do a couple of pages in that length of time. In those short but consistent bursts of time, I finished the epilogue and then went back and finished the big scene I’d left off on. Now I’ve just got several short, action-packed scenes leading up to the final confrontation.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I realized a few things. One is that I’m not wired to be a fast and prolific novelist, and I’m okay with that. Also, that I enjoy novel writing so much more when I’m not putting pressure on it to become my primary career. I labored for years thinking that was The Dream, and being constantly frustrated and disappointed at that not working out.

But these days, my dreams are looking a lot more like making a living doing tangible things that involve working with my hands in the real world, far from a keyboard, and I’m growing more and more at ease with the idea of my novel writing being a side gig, something I do mostly for fun and relaxation with the added benefit of bringing in a little extra income each month.

And the third thing I realized is that I’m happiest when my life is full and I have a variety of things to do. I think by now, as I edge ever closer to the end of my fourth decade, I know myself well enough to know that even if I was making a full-time living from my novels, I still wouldn’t want to do that all day and I would still need some variety in my life. There are a number of labels for this — scanner personality, multi-passionate, renaissance soul, ADD — and I’m learning to embrace it. An that’s sure making my life a lot more enjoyable than fighting it.

See also: learning to let go, go with the flow, be flexible, and trust in God’s timing, doing what I can each day and trusting Him for the rest.

Anyway, I can’t wait to reveal the things we’re getting ready for. One of them will be here in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, but we’re going to have to wait more than a month for the second thing, and that’s going to be the hardest secret to keep. So stay tuned (but feel free to guess what they might be). In the meantime, I’ll continue to get writing things done in between all the preparations.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

An Off-Schedule Wednesday Check-In: New Friends, Not Enough Sleep, and Getting Things Done

Hoo boy, this week has not been the week in which I get organized and start managing my time better, let me tell you.

The week started on a high note by making new friends! You have no idea how exciting this is for us — these are the first friends we’ve made since moving to Arkansas two years ago. We met them on a “blind friend date” at a diner on Monday morning, and our breakfast meetup turned into an all day conversation. Thankfully, they knew the owners so we didn’t get kicked out and the wait staff didn’t give us too much stink eye.

So that was cool, and now we actually know some people here, which is awesome, but by the time we got home late in the afternoon, Monday was pretty much shot.

And then for some reason, I woke up at four AM the next morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. I used to be able to function okay on six hours of sleep, but those days are far behind me. Fueled by coffee and good intentions, I managed to update my freelance portfolios and send out some letters of introduction, but that’s about it.

Today was going to be the day that I really kicked some butt in the productivity department. But alas, my brain has been scattered all day, and focus has been an elusive friend. It hasn’t been a total waste — I didn’t exactly kick any butt, but I managed to kick the day in the shins by tracking down some old press releases I wrote years ago that can go in my business-to-business portfolio, along with some personal finance articles, PLUS I submitted a pitch to a homesteading publication, so we shall see if that leads anywhere.

I also did a lot of market research. And now I’m at that point where my head feels full in the same way that my stomach feels full when I overeat. I’m not sure whether that’s an ADD thing or an overstimulated HSP thing, but it’s not a great feeling either way. So now I’m dumping all of this here in the hopes that getting it out will relieve some of the pressure in my head. And it seems to be working! Thank goodness — it’s not like I can unbutton my head pants or anything.

This week’s got two days left. I’m hoping to send out some more pitches tomorrow, as well as sit down and come up with a plan to get organized. And I’m really hoping to set aside a chunk of time on Friday to work on the novel. I will most likely see you back here then.

How’s your week going?

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
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. ♥

Friday Update

Friday Update: Conspiracy Theories, ARGs, Novel Update and Weekend Plans

Happy almost-weekend, friends! We made it all the way through the week without any frightening historical events taking place, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned. It was kind of nice to get a little bit of a respite, although something tells me this is merely the calm before the next big storm.

Despite my resolve and best intentions, I was terrible at staying away from the news this week, but at some point yesterday I started to burn out on it and realized that everything at this point is speculation and rumor and propaganda and nobody really knows anything. What a crazy, turvey-topsey world we’re living in. Interesting times, indeed.

I’ve also been keeping my ear to the rumor mill, partly just to be ready in case any of it turns out to be true and partly out of the fascination you get when you drive by the scene of a bad accident, and… wow. If I ever decide to write a political thriller I’ll have no shortage of fantastic plots to choose from.

Which brings me to my theory about Q and QAnon (if you don’t know what those are, count yourself blessed). I’ve been a casual observer of this whole movement since they made it onto my radar shortly after the lockdowns began. One thing that struck me right away is the similarity between Q and an ARG.

ARG stands for alternate-reality game, a type of game that operates in the real world but is set within a fictional universe, in which the players follow clues and bread crumbs dropped around the internet–and in some cases real-life locales–to solve a mystery. JJ Abrams popularized these games in the late ’00s, starting with games set in the LOST-verse and later expanding to the entire JJ-verse.

For those who are unaware, Q is supposedly a military operation run by a person or persons high up in the government with access to the president, and they are all working together quietly behind the scenes to expose and drain the swamp and all of their corruption, which includes but is not limited to profiting off of child sex trafficking. This entity, so they say, wanted to start a movement and get this information into the hands of the public, and they do so by leaving “drops,” i.e., breadcrumbs and clues, on a message board for its followers — who call themselves QAnon — to parse and act on.

There’s quite a bit more to it than that — like the almost cult-like devotion of QAnon members to Q and the president and their absolute belief that they are our saviors, including a lot of Christians who ought to know better. In spite of all appearances, these true believers are trusting in a Plan that will result in a second term for the current president, busting child trafficking rings wide open and rescuing thousands, if not millions of abused children, and in mass arrests of the corrupt government leaders behind it all, followed by military tribunals to bring them all to justice.

As an admittedly casual observer, I’ve developed a strong suspicion that all of this is, in fact, an elaborate ARG, the players of which are intentionally led to believe that it’s all real and not in actuality an elaborate fiction. Why? I can think of a few reasons. Maybe the actual deep state set it all up to dupe and discredit Trump supporters as crazy and paranoid conspiracy theorists and stir up those within that group who have a less firm grasp on reality combined with a propensity to carry things to the extreme. Or maybe it’s just a group of bored hackers who enjoy screwing with people for kicks.

Or maybe I’m wrong and it’s real and Trump is going to pull off a second term with the help of Q and save freedom and democracy and thousands of children from the clutches of the satanic globalist cabal.

I don’t think so. Mostly because I’m a student of prophecy (and I also read Fate of Empires, and I recommend you do, as well), and these things that are happening in this country seem to be right on schedule. Both Jesus and Paul, as well as Peter and John, told us things would get to this point, that people would be the way they currently are, and also there is no America in end-times prophecies, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that its time has come. And from a Biblical and spiritual standpoint, I believe the true author of this Q phenomenon is the author of lies and confusion, that this is ultimately a spiritual deception designed to distract believers from putting their hope and trust in Christ and, as I fear will happen for some when the “plan” doesn’t pan out, cause them to fall away from the faith.

Again, maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. I guess we’ll all find out on Inauguration day.


I didn’t plan to write all of that when I sat down here. I was just going to tell you how I spent too much time this week glued to the news, which is one of the reasons I didn’t make much progress on Revolution 2 this week, but not the only reason. Part of it is also because it always turns out that I need a few days off from writing after a long run of article writing. The rest of it is that I just need to let this story simmer a bit and allow time for the movie of it to play out in my mind so I can get some clarity on exactly how to tie everything up and get to the end.

So I didn’t feel like a total slacker, apart from blogging here, I spent some of my non-writing time switching this site over to a new theme and redid the home page. It’s still a work in progress as I ad some more pages, including a page dedicated to my sweet romance pen name, and update outdated info, but I’m pretty pleased with it so far.

I’ll try to get back to the novel on Sunday and get some momentum going again before the Inauguration happens and whatever drama occurs along with it. I’m truly hoping and praying that there will be none, and that things will be peaceful, and that all of the anticipation of something big happening fizzles out into a big nothing. I just want people to be safe, for as long as that remains possible.

In the mean time, I’m going to do my best to turn everything off and take a real break. Outside, the sky keeps spitting snow, and it’s going to be a cold weekend, so I’m going to stay cozy, maybe read a book, and watch the rest of Fellowship of the Ring.

So what do you think? Sound off in the comments. And have a safe, peaceful, restful weekend.

Do What You Can, and Trust God for the Rest

Image by Bohdan Chreptak from Pixabay

Yesterday was a full day, and I was also very tired, so I gave myself permission to not blog. Right on schedule, apparently–I heard a statistic this morning that January 12 is the day that most New Year’s resolutions die. Not that I’d made a NYR to blog every day–that was just a goal for this month, to get me back in the habit. And since the purpose was to build a blogging habit, and here I am, picking back up today, it’s all fine. Anyway, carrying on…

The weather turned sunny and warmish yesterday, so we headed outside and into the woods. We hiked to the bottom of the big hill on top of which our house sits, and then back up again, which was quite a workout, and it turns out I needed that as much as I needed the sunshine and time in the woods. I was wheezing a little by the time we made it back to the top, which shows how quickly I’ve gotten out of shape after only two weeks of neglecting my daily walk. At any rate, that little outing was as good for my body as it was for my mind and soul.

With the rest of my day, I finished the big article I’d started on Monday. The thing that took me so long with it was coming up with a thousand words to say on the topic. I tend to write with brevity, which can be a good thing with fiction, but it’s not helpful when I have a minimum word count, especially when that minimum is a thousand words on a topic that can be covered in only 500. After padding the article with as much tangentially-related info as I could come up with, I was still falling short, so it was time to haul out the adverbs. Want to know how to prevent bloat in deep-chested dogs? Ask me, because I’m an expert on it now. Or you can just wait for my unusually verbose, adverb-laden article to come out in a few months.

(But seriously, if you have a deep-chested dog, look into that whole preventing bloat thing, because that’s a serious and potentially deadly problem, and we’ve had quite enough of dogs dying around here, thank you and good day.)

Moving on to something that’s been on my mind lately: after a few years of flirting with homesteading, we’re really wanting to give it a go this year. January is a tough month, because there’s not really much you can do, although we’re doing the things when we can. It’s tempting to get frustrated and worried, because in light of current events, there’s this sense of urgency that everybody’s feeling to get started, and even if you’ve already gotten a good start, it’s easy to feel like you’re behind.

This is not helped by influencers in the homesteading and prepping community, particularly on YouTube, who basically come right out and say that we’re all going to die if we’re not already fully established farmers and field medicine experts and expert marksmen with fully stocked larders who are also experts at canning food and baking bread. I get where they’re coming from — the proverbial S has already HTF, and it’s past time to prep for it. They want to motivate people to get serious and get started. But a lot of times the result of this messaging is that if you’re not moving to the country or starting a prepper commune or growing substantial crops or raising your own livestock and producing your own dairy products or filling your entire basement with canned and dry goods and etc., then it’s hopeless, so why even start?

So I want to encourage you that it’s not hopeless. Should you be prepping for hard times ahead? I believe that would be prudent. Do you have to make prepping and homesteading your life and pour your entire life savings into it? Nah, child. Do you have to get out of the city and do whatever it takes to move to the country? I don’t think that’s a bad idea if you actually can, but it’s just not feasible for everybody, and that doesn’t mean you’re doomed.

A few years ago when I figured out that I can’t do everything and trying to was making me exhausted and sad, I developed a philosophy: do what you can and trust God for the rest. I think that applies here as well. Nobody can do all the things, but everybody can do some of the things. I believe that prepping for hard times — be it illness or job loss, natural disasters, bad weather, a cyber attack on the grid, the government turning on its own citizens, whatever — is wise and responsible and also a Biblical concept. I think doing nothing and hoping to get by on the kindness of strangers or the provision of the government is misguided at best and irresponsible at worst. But I also know that God is my provider and protector. He set things up so that we participate in that provision as much as we’re able, but we don’t have to fear when we lose the ability or our contributions fall short. He’s not going to let us starve to death because our attempts at growing and preserving our own food were insufficient for the challenges we’re facing.

Do what you can and trust God for the rest. Don’t let the influencer scare tactics scare you right out of even getting started. Start with the basics you need to live — clean water, food, and a way to cook said food and stay warm if you lose power. Mary’s Nest is a great YouTube channel for this — she has a very encouraging, very soothing, and very doable playlist of videos showing you how to get started stocking your prepper pantry on a small budget.

It’s another warmish day, so I’m hoping to get outside some more this afternoon, and also to make some substantial progress on Revolution 2.

Any good prepping or homesteading resources to add? Tips for getting started? Drop them in the comments — or just leave a note to say hi and tell me how you’re doing.

 

Monday Check-in: Hobbits, Writing Plans and Bracing for What’s Ahead

One of the problems with committing to blogging daily is coming up with something worthwhile to blog about eacy day. This problem is compounded when, immediately after making said commitment, you get handed a slew of articles to write. Not that I’m complaining about the paying work — far from it. But it’s kept me from being able to give as much thought to these here blog posts as I would have liked.

I’ve got one more article to finish, and then I’ll be able to put some real time and thought into these daily posts. Until then, I’m afraid you’re stuck with bland life blather, if you’re actually here to read this. Of course, if I wanted to start writing about politics and current events, I’d have a whole litany of things to say, but considering the current political climate, now doesn’t seem like a prudent time to start delving into all of that.

Anyway, I got the rest I needed this weekend, although I wasn’t able to keep myself away from the news as I’d intended. But I did get a lot of prayer in, and spent a lot of time in the book of 1 Peter, which I highly recommend if you’re a Christian who is worried about the state of the world, as it’s basically a field guide for Believers living in a hostile and perilous culture.

We also finished Battle of the Five Armies and then started Fellowship of the Ring. I’d never seen Five Armies, so it was nice to finally complete that trilogy. I also confess that I’ve also never actually read all of The Hobbit, which I’m sure loses me significant geek cred, but my husband tells me that the book and the movie trilogy have very few things in common. At any rate, I enjoyed Five Armies once it got past the middle lull following the (spoiler alert) death of Smaug and picked up again, and as endings go, I thought it had a stronger ending than Return of the King, although overall I think the original LotR trilogy is far superior to the prequels. In any case, I’ve moved The Hobbit up to the top of my TBR list for this year.

Now that we’re faced with another Monday, and life and work must both go on despite democracy dying in darkness, I’m turning my attention to what I hope to get done this week. That includes finishing and submitting the previously mentioned article and then turning my attention to this blog and coming up with some more thoughtful content. It also includes devoting more time each day to Revolution 2 and building momentum that will carry me through to the end. I may send out an update to my author mailing list later this week, and I’ve been wanting to sit down and come up with a plan for Facebook that will let me engage more there without it eating up too much of my time.

I’ve got just enough time in my work day to squeeze in a quick word sprint on the novel, so I’d best get to it. While I do, leave a comment and share what you’re tackling this week.

Let Me Re-Introduce You to Restless Spirits; Going Silent for NaNoWriMo (Halloween Eve Update)

It’s hard to know how to categorize my first traditionally published novel (which is why I think my publisher still doesn’t really know what to do with it). It’s one part clean romance and one part legit horror. It’s a ghost story with heart. It’s also about the everlasting bond between sisters and the power of forgiveness. It’s got all the fun, flirtatious banter and kissing of a romantic comedy and all the chills and thrills of a haunted house.

Basically, it’s like if Dean Koontz wrote a rom-com.

If you enjoy a walk on the spooky side but like your horror like you like your romance — clean, comedic and with a happy ending — then check out Restless Spirits for your next great Halloween read. Click here to learn more, or click here to see where it’s sold.


In other news…

This week was a freelance writing week, so not a lot of progress happened on either of my WIPs. I’m using today to tie up some loose ends, and tomorrow my husband and I will be having our entirely grownup Halloween celebration that entails eating junk and watching scary movies all day until we can’t keep our eyes open.

Nanowrimo (that’s short for National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated) begins Sunday. And while I’m not participating in an official capacity, I am going to be taking a break from blogging and pulling way back on social media so I can hunker down and try to finish both of my novels-in-progress in November. Can I actually do it? That remains to be seen. But I’m going to give it my best shot.

I’ll still probably pop in from time to time on Instagram (although I’m really going to do my best to curtail the time I spend in that app), but here and everywhere else, expect me to be scarce until these novels are finished.

I hope you have a fabulous Halloween and may all of your candy be free of sharp objects and viruses. And since you probably won’t hear from me again before then, I also hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

See you on the other side!

♥ Jean

 

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).

Edits pile up like leaves

Deliverance of the Damned revisions are well under way (that’s the sequel to Dominion of the Damned,, my Walking Dead meets True Blood post-apocalyptic zombie/vampire mashup, in case you’re new around here). I’ve got six chapters all cleaned up and shipped off to the editor (still a.k.a. my husband).

The good news is that he shouldn’t have a whole lot to do, so his edits shouldn’t take long. The bad news is that there are 36 chapters plus an epilogue (38 if I end up splitting up two extra-lengthy chapters), so at the rate of two chapters a day I’m currently managing, this is going to take a few weeks.

Oh, and thanks to all the rain we keep getting, we keep having to spend all the pretty days like today out in the yard cleaning up the never-ending supply of dead leaves, so that’s slowing things down, too.

all-the-leaves

SO many leaves

I tried to convince Mr. B. that we should just get a leaf blower and blow them all into the woods and be done with it, but he thinks that would just make the fleas and ticks worse by giving them more places to hide and breed, so he’s determined to gather and burn them. At least it’s good exercise and an excuse to spend my days outside.

But one day soon I shall get through these edits, and then I can get busy drafting Desolation of the Damned, which I’ve already begun to sketch out. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could get this entire trilogy done and published this year? I sure think so.

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