Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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I can't go to bed until my laundry is done. Too tired to do anything really productive, but this is a good time to do some thinking-out-loud, if you will.
The past few days have been weirder than my usual weirdness of days. I won't bore you with all the details, especially since I've already bored you with my tales of automotive woe, and so on. The first day of the Studio Tour is over, but I never know what to expect for the second day. Just have to wait and see.
I felt bad not being able to do better for Halloween Bingo. With all these "new" old gothics to read and a bunch of other book discoveries, I was all hyped up for it. Well, it didn't work out, for a variety of reasons. The books are still here in the living room, in two more or less neat stacks, just waiting for me to have the time.
On the plus side, I did return to one of my two major writing works in progress. I haven't posted an updated word count because I'm still writing longhand in a spiral notebook and haven't transcribed everything yet. My informal goal is at least one page per evening -- I do most of this writing at night after I go to bed -- and I've pretty much been able to keep to that measure.
This week-end's 12th Annual Artists of the Superstitions Studio Tour is a big event for me. I worked all week as much as possible on preparations, only to discover this morning how much I had either forgotten to do or just didn't have time for.
I also discovered that I have way more inventory than I have display space for. Before the spring studio tour, I really should buy at least two more tables. No, I do not have the funds for them. At least not right now. And I won't be able to use them for anything but the studio tours, where I have room for them. It's something else I have to think about.
Over the past month, the weather and my stupid back have kept me from doing a lot of work that I wish I could have been doing. This week I was finally able to attack another of the huge non-inventory crafting projects, huge in the sense that it has made a disaster of my studio. That project is now 90% done, to my intense relief. The other 10% can wait until after the Tour. For the first time in about eight months, I have working counter space in the studio.
I was even able to spend some time on the rock saw last week, though not nearly as much as I wanted. To my dismay, there is no longer a lapidary supply shop anywhere near me, and that's the only place I can buy the lubricating oil for the saw. There is a potentially viable substitute which I may be able to obtain locally; the only other option is buying online and paying outrageous shipping. This is another issue that has kept me awake at night. Without the lubricating oil, there is no cutting of rocks.
I also have an even more huge decluttering project going on in the house. It stalled two weeks ago when wrestling Moby out of the car did a number on my back; I simply couldn't do even the minimal physical work required. While I'm not 100% recovered, I'm much improved, and the decluttering will start in earnest again after the Tour.
The issues with my car are not minor. I live in an area where there is no public transportation and where the nearest grocery store is 2.3 miles away. Not to mention that I need a vehicle for art shows. I do not have the funds to replace it; I can barely scrape together the funds to fix it. This causes a lot of lost sleep, too.
There are some other personal issues going on that consume a significant amount of mental and emotional energy, too. There is nothing I can do about them but have patience and persevere and let things run their course. Of course, I lose sleep over this, too.
When I began writing again a few weeks ago, I considered using NaNoWriMo as an unofficial prompt. Adding 50,000 words in a month would advance the book significantly. I even for a while considered making it an official attempt. But the whole financial situation being what it is, I opted out.
The 24 Festive Tasks was another project I was looking forward to, but again, everything is in such flux that I don't feel comfortable making that kind of commitment. If I participate this year at all, it will be sporadic at best.
At the core, at the innermost heart of all this, is that I want to write. I have very little confidence in myself, and I tend to second-guess my writing all the time . . . except when I know damn well I write pretty good. The latter doesn't happen very often, or at least not often enough to keep me writing.
But today I had a customer at the Studio Tour make a comment while she was looking at a printed copy of The Looking-Glass Portrait. I had a few copies made by Amazon and I've actually sold a few -- they're outrageously expensive -- but mostly I have them to advertise the Kindle editions.
Anyway, this lady was looking at it, and she asked if it was historical. I told her no, it's contemporary, right down to cell phones and laptops. She was a little disappointed, because she thought it might be medieval based on the cover. I explained that it was a ghost story inspired by the house my aunt used to live in. So she flipped through the pages, stopping down and then to read a bit. I got the impression she was a real reader, not just someone who looks at books and then doesn't buy anything because oh, she just never has time to read.
She was looking at a random page, reading for a few seconds, and then she looked at me and said, "Wow, this a real book, isn't it."
I kind of laughed, embarrassed, and said, "Yeah, it is."
Now, you folks know I'm not very good at tooting my own horn, so this is difficult for me even to say second-hand. The lady went on to say, "I mean it's not like something somebody just wrote who doesn't really know how to write."
I knew she hadn't read very much, not more than a couple paragraphs at most from a few random pages through the book. But the words of Josh Olson echoed in my head:
It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.
(By the way, here’s a simple way to find out if you’re a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you’re not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)
She bought the book. She didn't have to. She could have made all kinds of excuses, and I'm not exactly a high pressure salesperson!
But she bought it.
I know that part of what's kept me from writing as much as I'd like to is the current state of world affairs. I lose sleep over that, too. A lot. Maybe things will change in the next 72 hours or so; maybe they won't. I've done what I can to contribute to the change I want to see, and beyond that it's out of my control. Maybe things will get worse, a whole lot worse. Maybe they won't.
But more than anything else, I want to write. I've let too many excuses keep me from it, and let too many fears and doubts take charge. I just can't do that any more.
I have a lot of commitments in the next two months. Some I can get out of, but most I can't. What I can do, however, is not make any more, except to myself: To write.
Heinlein's Ultimate Rule:
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
4. You must put your work on the market.
5. You must keep it on the market until it is sold.
Even in these days of instant digital publishing, where there's no waiting for editorial approval and contract offer, the Rule still applies.
Especially #1 and #2.