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Posts Tagged ‘Scrivener’

Most of us, at some point in our lives, have dreamed of working for ourselves. We sit in our office cubicle, or other equally dismal assigned work space, and wonder what it would be like to not have to answer to that asshole of a boss anymore, or sit next to that whining hypochondriac, or deal with the petty power plays of the supply clerk over the next set of copy paper requests. We imagine how nice it would be to set our own schedule as we tool away at our dream job training unicorns to tap dance. Or maybe something equally a fantasy, like being a writer.
I certainly entertained those thoughts. And when the day came that my husband agreed I could give up the (fruitless two year, hundreds of resumes sent) job hunt and stay at home to give my writing a full-time chance, I was giddy with joy. FINALLY, I could live the life I wanted. All those stories that had been dancing around my head, all those characters demanding to be released, could actually see the light of day. No more alarms, no more power suits, no more office bullshit, and no more disorganized bosses. I stopped being a Certified Administrative Professional, and became a WRITER.
Yeah, you can stop laughing now…

 

lol-cat

I love the smell of folly first thing in the morning…

 

My grand plan was to get up every day when I felt like it, write for a few hours, have lunch, piddle around the housework, fix dinner for the hubby, and finish off the day with a few more hours of writing. I went and bought myself some spiffy writing software (Scrivener is awesome!)*, a cool electronic pad that captures hand-writing (Wacom is awesome!)*, and smooth heavy-bond paper for my fountain pens (Levenger is awesome!)*. I fussed over how my desk should be laid out, whether I should go for time or word count, listen to music or not, have the TV on or not, and about a bazillion other silly things that really didn’t matter but did because I’m a little obsessive/compulsive that way.

In the beginning, I actually did get some stuff accomplished. I (slowly) finished a novel and some short stories, made pretty regular entries here at this old dump of a blog, and did at least two articles a week for an on-line “news” site called Examiner.com, now defunct. I did that gig mainly to get myself back into writing shape, knowing I wouldn’t make a living off it, and left well before their fall. I have made queries and submissions for both the novel and stories, essentially to a large field of crickets, it seems, given the non-responses I’ve received. And I started a second novel. So, in the grand scheme of things, maybe it doesn’t seem all that bad.

Appearances are definitely deceiving.

That early enthusiasm soon fell victim to my own lack of urgency. When I don’t HAVE to get up at a certain time, I don’t. In fact, I’m very cat-like in that regard. I’ll take a nap just about anytime. And when I say nap, I mean at least four hours of unconsciousness cuddled with the actual cats in a cool, dark room. And being naturally a night person, night was when I was awake. I’d see my husband off to work in the morning and promptly head off to the vault for my day’s snooze.

And not being responsible to anyone else’s agenda, when I was awake I wasn’t nearly as productive as I could have been. Hey, look! There’s a game I haven’t played in a long time. Maybe I should make something out of this fabric I’ve had for the last twenty years. Wow, I sure do have a lot of books I need to read – better get started. It’s amazing how fast time disappears when you’re not accountable.

Then came a couple scary events involving hospitals, bill collectors, and mortgage companies. The depression seemed to envelope me whole and what little productivity I’d managed rapidly fell off into nothing. Soon it was mostly sleeping and computer games, because nothing really matters, least of all me. Hiding is what I seem to do best. It’s so easy to put things off when there are no hard deadlines, no people to be responsible to, and no requirements beyond feeding the cats and the husband. And that little dark cave in my mind that began as a refuge, slowly transformed into a prison…

 

Wearing all black

But only until they come up with something darker…

 

I follow several other writers – a couple best-selling/award winners, and a few crawling up the ranks – all of whom are further along their journeys than I. Somewhere along the line, I began dissecting their schedules (if they didn’t outright tell their readers). They all blog more frequently than I, and post on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram numerous times a week. They usually write, or are at least engaged in some aspect surrounding writing, like editing or marketing, everyday. The up-and-comers send out dozens of queries and/or submissions a month, while the established pen mavens have to figure out how to balance all those offers with their already tight schedules. They talk about having to pay the mortgage, dealing with children interrupting their writing time, and imposter syndrome. They are going through all the same issues I am, but they have managed to keep the keystrokes active. They press through even on those days when it seems that writing is more a chore and less the passion they thought it would be.

They do it because they HAVE to, not just because they want to. They are beholding to their families, their editors, their readers, and any number of others involved in the chain of production from inception to publication. Don’t get me wrong: they still love what they do. But like with any career, once it starts rolling, there are other people to think of, and you’d best not let them down.

And that’s what I finally realized I’ve done. This writing thing isn’t just about me. My husband is carrying the household expenses on his shoulders while I piss away my day killing zombies. My family and friends support me and offer encouragement, despite me sleeping curled up with the cats all afternoon. There are even people who aren’t any of the above that read this blog regularly – or at least as regularly as my erratic entries allow – and still follow me regardless.

And that’s why self-motivation is an oxymoron. It doesn’t exist for me. I don’t give a crap for myself, so it doesn’t matter if things get done or not. You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t care. But I’m not operating in a bubble. I know that now. And I just can’t stand to let others down.

So things are going to change. Even if it means using that damn alarm again…

 

 

*   Disclaimer: I have received no monetary sponsorship for these claims. I really do think they’re awesome and use them often!

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The week started out a little rough here in SoCal. No, there were no major earthquakes. Though there is some tectonic movement almost daily here, I just don’t bother to notice if it’s anything less than a 4.0. Yes, I’ve lived here that long. Anyway, our exciting Monday consisted of losing power in our neighborhood. I know that probably rates as a First World Problem for most people outside the USA, but you’d have thought the world was ending by the behavior of some of our neighbors.

And while very short term outages and brown outs are reasonably uncommon, even at the height of summer when everybody is cranking their ACs, we do have them. So I didn’t think too much of it when the grid went down at about twenty ‘till 5:00 Monday evening. Minorly annoyed because I was in the middle of watching a video on my computer, but not really concerned. It flickered on and off a couple times, then was back on solidly after about five minutes. La Di Da. Went back to my video. Had just finished it when hubby called to say he was on his way home from work. That’s my cue to start dinner.

The chicken was in the oven broiler and the potatoes were in the microwave when the power went out again at 5:54pm. Even though we have a gas stove, the oven is controlled by the electronics as far as temperature and time, so down it went. No microwave, no lights, no working fridge either. No big deal. The electricity’s not usually off that long. I activated the flashlight app on my iPhone so I could find the regular flashlight.

My husband had just pulled up in front of the house when the whole neighborhood went dark. He has an LED mini-light on his key chain and made his way to the front door with that. One thing people don’t seem to really comprehend about Southern California is that, no matter what time of night, it’s lit up like a Christmas tree decorating contest ALL THE TIME. There’s a street light just in front of our house, plus we have a porch light and a bright security light over the garage/driveway. There’s freakin’ light everywhere. And you really notice when it’s gone.

We puttered around awhile waiting for the electricity to come back on and listened to our neighbors on their patios calling all their friends to let them know about this latest bit of earth-shattering news. Being the middle of dinnertime on a weeknight did make it somewhat more annoying than usual, but the voices ranged from nonchalant laughing to paranoid panic so I found it an amusing bit of anthropological study. After about a half hour I pulled up the power company’s website on my phone to check the status. They estimated it would be 9:00pm before power could be restored. Hubby and I debated cooking the entirety of dinner on the stove top, since we could light the burners with matches, but decided it was getting too late even for that. The partially cooked food went into the fridge (now just an ice box) and we went to the local burger joint.

Now, being medieval recreationists, we tend to have candles and lanterns all over the place. When we returned with the food, I retrieved one of the hurricane lamps from the fireplace mantel and set it on the kitchen table.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

One of our (very dusty) hurricane lamps in service.

My husband and I ate and chatted by lamplight and didn’t really think much about the power being out. Temperatures were mild so we weren’t worried about the food in the fridge or sleeping without a heater. We’ve certainly camped in much less hospitable situations. About 9:00pm I checked the power company’s website again and the repair estimate had been revised to midnight. Shrug. Hubby set his cell phone’s alarm and we went to bed.

Normally I don’t go to bed that early in the evening, but 1) I’d been having a bad couple of days because of body aches and a touch of insomnia and needed to lay down anyway, and 2) what the hell else was there to do? When I woke up a few hours later and couldn’t get back to sleep, I trundled back down stairs and lit up the hurricane lamp again. The new estimate on the power company’s website was 6:00am. Wow. The longest outage prior that I could remember was about seven hours. Of course, at the height of a summer heat wave, which made it even more memorable. Thank the gods for whoever invented battery-operated fans.

So here I am, in the middle of the night, no lights, no TV, no computer, the phone running low on power – what’s a girl to do? Well, this one pulled out her favorite paper and her favorite fountain pen and let the imagination go. I sat there noodling on a couple of short stories as I listened to the sounds outside – nearly constant sirens, dogs barking, the couple down the street having their weekly argument, the boom box car that so loves to cruise through our residential neighborhood at 3:00 in the morning rattling our windows – and really enjoying the experience. There’s something about putting actual pen to actual paper that just can’t be duplicated with electronics. The paper’s texture, the smell of the ink, the scratch-scritch of the nib as the words tumble out under the golden flicker of firelight. It sent me back to the early days of my writing – #2 pencil on notebook paper – when the process seemed so much more visceral and organic.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my iMac with its Scrivener software and its instant research (read: Internet) access – but spending a few hours with pen and paper again really reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. It gives me a connection to the process I just can’t get any other way, and I realized how much I missed it.

The power was out for a total of eighteen hours. One of the longest I’ve ever experienced. And while a number of my neighbors seemed to have had serious issues (judging by the sirens), it wasn’t really a problem for me. My husband recently asked me if I would mind living in a mobile home if it meant we could get out of California. I told him I’d happily live in our tent for that reward (it’s not like it would be really roughing it – see “Playing Dress Up” for an explanation). It would mean less computer and TV and energy saving light bulbs, and more pen and paper and hurricane lamps. But I think I could live with that.

 

© 2015   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

 

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