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My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Big Ol' Personal and Meta Update

I didn't hate this picture, so....
It's been an incredible month, and that means some incredible things are on the horizon. And that I'm going to use the word incredible too often for one paragraph. Incredible!

For the past few years–since The Contrarian was getting ready to do his thing really–one of the main and most powerful themes of my life has been Not Enough Time™.

Though I'm managed (tenuously at times) to keep Writing About Writing churning out articles no matter how outrageous the past couple of years have been, there have been periods between loved ones with cancers, major break ups, moves, toddlers, financial crises, double bookings, and days with all four jobs where I just didn't have the time to do all the writing that I wanted to do. My ambition was writing checks my time management couldn't cash. (Boy that phrasing is just the gift that keeps on giving, isn't it?) And even though I am exactly the type of personal overachiever who tries to meet impossible goals by pedalling my aerodynamically unsound flying machine ever faster, I simply could never get certain things accomplished.

In the last two or three months, the winds have changed.

Though losing patrons, and thus income, is always a looming threat, in the past few months the income from all of your donations has given me...options. I'm only barely barely barely paying the, but the difference between even December and September is that I don't need to take a double booking to stay afloat. And I don't need to think about a third side gig. And I can even relax if I don't book a client for a couple of weeks.

And all of that has one major outcome: more time to write.

Probably at some point soon, I'm going to need to talk more about this. In late November, I did the Nov/Dec budget and discovered that (while I would have to consider my car a "luxury" for the calculus) I was paying the bills–ALL THE BILLS–with writing. No frills. No spending money. No brand name peanut butter. No car. (All that stuff is coming from a couple of side gigs.) But technically, I'm doing it.

Watching a dream that was The Dream™ as far back as fourth grade come into focus is a breathtaking experience. I've been writing for thirty years wanting only to do pay the bills with it and maybe have conversations about my work. I've recently had to trade in my five-years-ago goals for another set, and today I see that I've hit some of the bellwethers I would have called a pipe dream a decade ago. Life is busy, but good, and even though I miss my king sized memory foam top mattress and this dog I'm sitting likes to steal the bed by plopping down in the dead center, life is pretty good right now.

I just wish it wasn't QUITE so many Trader Joe's frozen meals. I really need to learn to cook.

However, today's update is not strictly personal. There's meta in there too.

One of the things I've wanted to do kind of for years now has been sit down with a date book and plan out the next couple of weeks worth of blog articles. Plan the posts that take a little longer. Do some bits that have gone wayward. Set aside some REAL time for my fiction. Knock some stuff out before the last second. Go back and fix the old posts while keeping track of where of I am in that process. Get the mess that is guest bloggers straightened up. Write a couple of filler pieces for the hopper that I can use when life happens.

And of course get some things done soon enough for my patrons that "early access" means something.

I even have date books bought in absolutely good faith thrown away with only a couple of weeks filled in for the whole year.  Instead threw away almost totally empty planners, posted almost everything at the last minute, and said "Why are you like this?" to the mirror a lot.

Basically me AF. 
I spent a lot of time thinking I'm vaguely a fuck up with a good "fake it" groove and between stress and impostor syndrome, I'm mostly convinced I'm just soft shoeing and jazz handsing enough to fool folks. It's been something of a relief and joy to discover that if I give my schedule a little fresh air, I find my way.

One of the things I discovered is that my the update schedule I dream of is basically impossible. At least right now.

I update this blog six times a week. (And it's going to take a better schedule with even fewer side gigs before I can bump that to seven.) I can't actually fit everything in that I want. Product reviews. Listicles. Plot shenanigans. Craft essays. Social justice bard stuff. Revisions. Movie deconstructions. Polls. Personal updates. Guest blogs. Fiction. All of it.

Not sitting down to schedule, I've just been in a constant state of "Just Get Something Up For Today" and then being increasingly annoyed at my inability to cycle through all the posts and the different kinds of posts I wanted to do with a better signal to fluff ratio. Months would go by since my last listicle or I would not get a Mailbox up for the week even though I wanted to. Hell, I've even fallen behind on some of my "jazz hands" because I feel guilty that I put up too much jazz hands.

When you're stressing out because you're behind on jazz hands, you really need to question your life choices.

Hitch: I'd never really looked at my update schedule and seen that at six updates a week, and a certain number of posts that are time sensitive (like polls and monthly reviews and a weekly segment of Mailbox and a weekly personal update). The problem wasn't just how busy I was or that I was failing my way into endless cascades of whatever I was ready to write THAT DAY. The problem was those six slots a week fill up fast.

I know I'm probably more interested in my exact update schedule than all of my readers combined, but several people have said they want to see more mailboxes or more of my silly plot-arc posts. And almost everyone (including me) wants to see me get more fiction published–both of the shorter and the novel-lengthed variety. The key to that is the same, I have to stop winging it so damned much. Flying by the seat of my pants means I write whatever's in my head the day I need to put the post up.

So I'm going to have to redo my current update schedule from the ground up, really soul-search for what bits I want to do weekly vs biweekly vs monthly, and come up with viability and higher fidelity than my current smear of vaguely weekly laid out ambitions.

Look for that later this week.

And if you're looking for the chewy lesson center of today's post, there are a few. If you're writing every day, you're doing great, even if you can't keep up with all your wildest ambitions. Sometimes if "pedalling faster" just isn't working, you might need to stop and take a bigger picture look at the whole machine. And of course, if you're an artist making money at your art, chances are just fucking spectacular that you probably are being harder on yourself than anyone would even dream of being.

1 comment:

  1. I love you, Chris, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-boy book 5 in process from the Cupboard Over The Stairs, in Meguro-ku, Japan. Yep, you will do it and so will I.

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