Wandering through the (dis)comfort zone

I hope I’m not the only one who procrastinates and avoids things…it’s a not very helpful habit, and keeps having unintentional side effects. I hate this about myself, but it’s a work in progress as far as getting rid of it. It was a long time in being built…I suppose we all seek out things that are soothing or pleasant…I just tend to avoid certain things until, say, it’s the night before a paper is due. That was for sure my college M.O. – and it typically had mixed results.

Those mixed results eventually taught me that I needed to strategize better at that type of work (it hasn’t spread acorss the spectrum yet) – but I remember professors at UNC giving me a gimlet eye a lot of the time. I was a laissez faire student once I got there (after hammering out a 3.8 gpa at my CC, it was zeroed out by transferring – a little depressing) – putting in effort precisely where needed, and not a ton more. But I remember my damned Poli Sci class (the one and only I had to take) – American Political Theory – the prof was just a little older than we were (and was let go after our term) and wrote on my massive term paper, “You proved your point, but I disagree with it.” And the grade to go with it was Depressing. At a university the size of UNC, you quickly find that you can’t fight the system too much – it will either bite you back, or ignore you.

Now, fifteen years later, I’m still doing that night before thing. What is it, the burn of adrenaline and fear, is that what makes you able to set to and pound out something right at the wire? Sweaty palms, upset stomach, eyes stinging…here we go again…. I’d like to have everything tidy and under control, for once in my addlepated existence.

My sister is good at doing what needs to be done, when it ought to be done. She’s got the opposite issue – the burning need to just do it, or not be able to sleep until it’s done. Well, except for a scientific paper she cowrote with her boss…but he kept changing things along the way, so I think that wasn’t entirely her fault. Which is more challenging to deal with, though, or is it the same effect – is there no real escape from that sense of panic – I guess getting it over with probably is a tiny bit better, if only by virtue of not prolonging the agony.

I’m sorta stuck there right now with the book – I need to finish it – I want to finish it – but there’s something hanging me up. I shouldn’t be too afraid by now…except I still haven’t seen any mediocre or negative reviews on the first book, and I feel like I’m waiting for a shoe to drop. I also need to put the first book onto the other sites still. I’m my only dictator of deadline – which doesn’t go well for an ADD procrastinator like me – but I guess I can overcome that. *sigh* Time to take the car to the repair shop.

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How I earned my first 2 dollar bill….

I have to thank my husband’s auntie for this experience. She, of her own volition, got on the stick and asked whether she could use my short stories for a reading group in her retirement community. It slays me, really! I don’t know what I imagine, but it’s nice so far, and having a deadline looming overhead is keeping me moving a little bit.

Actually, if I’m being quite honest, reading critically for short story writing has turned out to be much more helpful than I’d guessed. First off, you don’t want to be a rambler if your narrative is supposed to be succinct by nature, so you start thinking about how to say everything in much smaller, more meaningful mouthfuls. When you write long, you get a little lax. I’ve used the running metaphor for writing before, and it still holds true. When I set out on an hour or more looooong run, I’m only worried about being able to make it for the return leg, so I take it easy, and coast, and delve off into fantasy or two. On the days I go fast and short, I have to remain in the moment, focus on form, and push myself. This is exactly how I am feeling as I move through short stories. A little bit of endorphin, a little panic, a glance at the clock every few moments, and eventually, I can see the end nearing. I’ll breathe when I’m done.

Through the auspices of this reading group, I’m expanding a story I mentioned before, based on someone I observed in our neighborhood. Instead of one tiny piece of his pie, I’m making the rest of it, into a village narrative. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m in the home stretch of the second in the series. I wish it had been easier and more quick, but holy hell, we got the mother of all snowstorms last week, and I’ve been on my own with our kids, with my husband overseas on business. To quote Metallica, “…frayed ends of sanity/hear them calling me….” Tonight was a particular challenge, with our younger child going apeshit several times. He’s always been high strung, a colicky personality to the bone, but tonight was a new level of freakout. It’s tough to get him ramped down from those moments – you tell him he’s got to chill and do some breathing, and he screams that he’s CALMED DOWN NOW!!!!!!! I have never met this kind of kid before…and it’s chemistry, too – his extra-extrovert to my sanguine (normally) introvert. We collide like matter and antimatter – and clusters of black holes are littered around us by day’s end. I love his passion, for the most part, but it might kill me.

And for my efforts, I have gotten a modest fee, and a genuine two dollar bill to frame and baffle my husband with when he arrives home. It’s not perzactly publication, but if I can get a little feedback, and a collection of stories to play around with, it’s well worth it.

To be continued…..

Distractions

A veritable myriad of them. There’s the coverage of the trial here in CT that has everyone’s attention; the prosecution of the animals who destroyed a family three years ago in Cheshire. There’s all the cooking that I like (love) doing once the cooler weather sneaks in. There’s the Big E, calling to me with promises of maple cotton candy and lots of other food, food, food.

I have a secret weapon now, though, taped up in plain sight so that I can see it every time I sit down here. It’s a business card. It has an agent’s name on it. It was given to me by my dad, who happens to have known this person since he was a kid. The agency is in L.A. – I’ve heard of it before – it’s sitting and cheering me on to finish writing more, lots more, so that I can then pass it along to him.

Sometimes I put Pippi:

A really great piece of art by a fab artist named Sarah Mensinga

 As my profile picture when I’m feeling rebellious.

She bravely charges into any situation, scowling at naysayers, and ignoring the opinions of those who don’t matter. I try really hard to be like that, but I often end up with the other half of her personality: distracted by the urge to go on a pirate adventure.
I did manage to get out about 5 pages yesterday. I have a new means of keeping myself from being totally distracted by the internet (and facebook), at least. I am writing everything out longhand, and then transcribing it. It also achieves another purpose; I can edit and rewrite as I’m typing from my penciled pages.
I just have to keep looking up at that card. I need to remind myself why I’m doing this, but also that I now have a ray of hope.

Where did I put that notebook/pencil/medulla oblongata…?

So yeah, my goal is to finish a pretty hefty number of writing projects over the coming year. As of now, I have one thing done. Somewhat done. Almost there…it’s a children’s book, with the wordy parts done, but the part where the kids look at the pictures, that’s not so much there yet. I should probably sit and sketch it out, at least. I’m not certain that I’m the best artist for the whole thing, though. So, maybe my part is 80…70% done. That’s the part where I pat myself mentally, and say, “Good job, now you can have your coffee.”

I’m a procrastinator and a distractable tangent queen. I invariably forget and remember and forget again several times before I do things like, finally get my birth control pills refilled. It’s not a subliminal attempt to have more kids! I swear! We don’t even have enough bedrooms in this house to consider it, let alone wiggle room with what little sanity I probably have left. And I’m distractable. Did I say that already? No, really, it’s not like that, it’s more like, I get started on one thing, like trying to write, get sidetracked because of the smell coming from the refrigerator when I opened it, looking for creamer, and by the time I throw out everything iffy, it’s 3pm, and the bus is honking outside. And as we all know, when the kids come home, nothing else gets done.

So, I try to do what I can while they’re at school, if I can stay on target. Sometimes I end up doing things like cooking nine dinners to freeze. Or cleaning the fish tank. Stuff that still can’t be done while they’re home…unless I’m feeling psychotic.

Today, the day I’m writing this, I got distracted by facebook, the aforementioned bcp’s, going to Target, and then a frantic call from my son’s school, because he had an unfortunate incident in his pants. And that’s where my day went, well away from a trip to the library and settling in with my thoughts, to write. At least I’m not going to end up in real trouble in nine months….