Filtering by Tag: work

The Balancing Act

Last month, I picked up where I left off about a year and a half ago--I went back to school. Now, if you're sensing some bitterness there, you'd be right.

My dilemma is this: I've been writing a lot over the last year. I have discovered my voice as a writer, and I have decided on a career path for these book babies. School throws a wrench in these plans. When I'm writing, I'm thinking about homework. When I'm doing homework, I want to be working on my book. And when I'm doing neither, when I'm hanging out with friends or just relaxing, I keep thinking I should be doing something else. Cue deep breaths.

Part of me wants to say eff it and focus on the writing, but the years and student loans I've put into school would be for nothing. I've only got ten classes left for my Bachelor's. Ten classes. It'd be silly to not finish, right?

So now I'm left trying to balance my newfound fire for writing with classes that I don't particularly want to take. Throw in a full-time job, my awesome friends and a new relationship with a pretty rad dude, and I've got a lot on my plate.

So, how do I balance it?

I have no idea.

As if I don't already have enough on my plate, I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I'm going to write the third book in my first series. I'm super excited about this book. It's going to be a blast to write. That is, if I don't let everything else eat my soul.

So, how about you? How do you balance writing with a life full of other things? Any tips or tricks for me? I suck at balance.


Time Flies When You're...Doing Nothing

It has occurred to me that I have terrible time-management skills. I should be able to get much more done than I do, and yet here I am, a mountain of homework to finish, a To-Be-Read list that is taking over my office, a novel I haven't touched in months, and a blog that is coated in cobwebs and feeling neglected. Not to mention the laundry that needs folding, the floors that need sweeping and mopping, the dishes that need washing, the hair that needs dying and the waistline that needs trimming.

So, what am I doing with all my time? Aside from the full-time job, I have no idea. A lot of Facebook and Candy Crush, for starters. Throw in some staring into space, watching random TV shows, and multiple trips to the kitchen for snacks, and that about sums up every single time I sit down at my computer to get something done. Every free moment I have is filled with good intentions. "I've got an hour before I have to leave for work. I should write the rest of this chapter," or "An entire afternoon to myself? Time to catch up on that homework!"

And yet, all those hours slip away with nothing to show for them.

Part of the problem is, I can't seem to focus on one thing for longer than ten minutes before I move onto Facebook or the kitchen. I blame the Internet for that. It seems I am always, always distracted by All The Things!

What is a girl to do?

Buckle down and get shit done, that's what.

It has become clear to me that I need to sit down and budget out my time each week. I need to figure out the best way to be productive with that time. I need to suddenly become an uber-organized person.

That's like asking for a miracle, eh?

How about you? How to you stay motivated and focused? Do you have any time management tips? If so, I'm all ears!


IWSG - The Trouble with Dreams

This post is in participation with the Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts the first Wednesday of every month. Check it out!

I've always been a writer. From the moment I picked up a pencil and could scrawl words on paper, I've been making up stories. I didn't get serious about it until I was about seventeen. That's when I made my very first attempt at a novel (which will NEVER see the light of day). Since then, I have written five full novels and two half-started attempts. Most of this will never be read by another living soul -- heck, I probably won't even look at some of it. I've learned a lot along the way, and, despite all the hard work and frustration, I've managed to hold on to my love of words.

Publication has always been in the back of my mind. Even if I just wrote the first novel for fun, I wrote the second (and third, and fourth...) with the idea that someday I'd be published. When you're seventeen, a little ole thing like publication doesn't seem like that big a deal. It doesn't seem so hard. But once you grow up, when you start to research the big, bad world of publishing, well...it's an icy cold wake-up call.

But we keep on writing. We keep on dreaming. We push and we strive.

We.

Don't.

Give.

Up.

Even when we have people doubting us. Even when we doubt ourselves. When the writing sucks or the words won't come and we're crying ourselves to sleep. We keep on imagining our names on shiny new covers or bestseller lists. We think about "the call." We go to school and work our day jobs and take care of our families. We seek out careers that will allow us to pursue our dreams.

We are troopers.

Don't get me wrong, I love all this about being a writer. I love knowing I'm not alone in this impossible dream. I love having an entire community full of supportive, wonderful people who understand exactly what I'm going through. I wouldn't want to be anything other than a writer for all this alone.

But I'm struggling. We all are, I know. It's the impossibility of this dream that keeps my feet on the ground, even while my head is in the clouds. I've got to keep a tight grip on reality. And this presents a problem.

I want to write. That's all I want to do. I want to type my days away. But a girl's got to eat. Bills have to be paid. And my job is barely cutting it. And so I'm going to school to further my education and get a better job. But what kind of job is there for someone who has never wanted anything but to write for a living?

What about you? Do you feel the pressure of the real world trying to smother The Dream? How do you keep going? What do YOU do for a living?


Back to the Drawing Board

I've been trying my hand at another version of Chapter One in my wip lately. I've lost count on how many versions of the first chapter are floating around on my hard drive. Why is it so hard to find the right place to begin your story? Do any of you have this issue?

This particular version has my story opening in a place I've tried before. On the advice of my writing group, I decided to give it another go. It may be a better place to open than my last attempt at Chapter One.

I'm really enjoying having a writing group. I love reading all their work, even if sometimes I kind of hate them because they're so good (I'm looking at you, Jeannie). And the feedback I've gotten from them has been great. It's awesome to have people to talk to about writing. They just get it, you know?

In other news, Summer Semester came to a rough end. I'm relieved to have a few weeks off from school work. I kind of wish I'd taken a semester off. I'm feeling a wee bit burned out, you know? School, work, homework. That's all my life has consisted of for so long now I've forgotten that there's anything else to life. It's a good thing Dana's patient or else she'd have kicked my butt to the curb months ago for neglecting all things relationship and home related. I really lucked out with that one, that's for sure.

So, what about you? What have you been up to? Enjoying your summer? Getting lots of reading and writing done?



Why, Hello There

So, rumor has it I promised a real, live blog post almost a month ago. And by "rumor has it," I mean, I just read my last entry and winced at the lies that spewed from my fingers. But I'm a writer, right? And I write fiction. Which means lies are allowed to spew from my fingers.

...right?

Anyway, I thought it was about time I stop neglecting my poor blog and make more than appearance.

Life has been hectic, to say the least. Between working full time, super crazy hours, and taking two summer classes, anytime I'm at home, all I want to do is sleep. But who needs sleep? Certainly not me.

Remember this post?

Well, shortly after I hit Publish, I found a post on my local NaNoWriMo forum about a writing group. A sent an email and a week or so later, I found myself a proud, giddy member of Pigasus Pen, a writing group comprised of four ladies with a passion for writing. Jeannie, of The Magic Nutshell, sums us up so well in her post: Pigasus Pen.

Thus far,I've only attended one meeting, with our next scheduled for next Sunday, but so far, I am thrilled to be among such smart, amazing, word-loving ladies. Outside of the Internet, I've never known another writer, so I'm looking forward to each and every meeting. The accountability and deadlines will help keep me on track with my writing, and the critiques are bound to bring new light to issues I've struggled with in my novel.

Outside of that wonderful news, I took a promotion at work. Yes, I'd mentioned looking for another job, but I was offered the promotion with better benefits than I was expecting, and since I've still got another 2 years or so before I'm finished with my Bachelor's, and then I've got to find a new job afterwards, I figured, why not? It will look good on my resume and give me leadership experience. Plus, I know the job inside-out already, so I may as well get paid more, right?

I also decided to give running a try. I've only done it three times so far, but I'm not dying and I don't hate it, so here's hoping it sticks!

I believe that about sums up the last couple months of my life. I'm excited about the next couple!

What about you? What have you been up to this summer? Have you been as busy as me? How's your writing going?



Tipping the Scale


Three days into October and I still haven't decided. I can't seem to make up my mind. I've got one foot planted firmly on each side of the fence. It starts in less than a month. I should be planning already.

If you're lost, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo. I'm torn right down the middle about whether or not I will participate this year. The last two years were easy decisions. Of course I'd do it. Why wouldn't I? It's the best thing since sliced bread! Or the Internet. Or whatever super awesome thing you couldn't live without.

This year, though...oh, boy. I've got a full plate. And so I've resorted to making a Pros and Cons list. Here goes nothing:

Pros:
1. I'd have a ton of words on a new project to work with when Projects One and Two are finished.

2. 50k in 30 days is fantastic practice at just letting go and writing. And isn't that practice we all need?

3. The sense of community from fellow NaNo-ers is unbelievable. Writers, in general, are an amazing group of people. But NaNo-ers? SO great!

4. I'd get a free proof copy for completing the 50k. And, let's face it, holding a hard copy of your book in your hands is one heck of a motivator.

5. Well, NaNo is just FUN.

Cons:

1. I've got a full course load, including a math class I HAVE to pass. And math and I don't get along, so it'll take extra work.

2. I'm also working between 20 and 30 hours a week.

3. I've got a lack of fresh ideas. There are a couple old ones I can dig up and brush off, though.

4. Preparation for the winter holidays. Baking for Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping -- Black Friday, in particular -- random holiday parties that may crop up.

5. Two projects are in various stages of revisions. Shouldn't I work on one of those instead?

Oh, and I'm not putting this one in the Cons list because I'm so darn excited about it that it could never be a Con, but I've also got the LeAnn Rimes concert in mid-November, which will involve driving two hours to Detroit then staying overnight.

So, there you have it. My Pros and Cons list. Neck and neck. Of course. And, here, I thought it would help!

What do you think? Do either of these lists outweigh the other in terms of importance? Am I just over thinking it? Would YOU participate if you were me?


The Trouble with Dreams


I've always been a writer. From the moment I picked up a pencil and could scrawl words on paper, I've been making up stories. I didn't get serious about it until I was about seventeen. That's when I made my very first attempt at a novel (which will NEVER see the light of day). Since then, I have written five full novels and two half-started attempts. Most of this will never be read by another living soul -- heck, I probably won't even look at some of it. I've learned a lot along the way, and, despite all the hard work and frustration, I've managed to hold on to my love of words.

Publication has always been in the back of my mind. Even if I just wrote the first novel for fun, I wrote the second (and third, and fourth...) with the idea that someday I'd be published. When you're seventeen, a little ole thing like publication doesn't seem like that big a deal. It doesn't seem so hard. But once you grow up, when you start to research the big, bad world of publishing, well...it's an icy cold wake-up call.

But we keep on writing. We keep on dreaming. We push and we strive.

We.

Don't.

Give.

Up.

Even when we have people doubting us. Even when we doubt ourselves. When the writing sucks or the words won't come and we're crying ourselves to sleep. We keep on imagining our names on shiny new covers or bestselling lists. We think about "the call." We go to school and work our day jobs and take care of our families. We seek out careers that will allow us to pursue our dreams.

We are troopers.

Don't get me wrong, I love all this about being a writer. I love knowing I'm not alone in this impossible dream. I love having an entire community full of supportive, wonderful people who understand exactly what I'm going through. I wouldn't want to be anything other than a writer for all this alone.

But I'm struggling. We all are, I know. It's the impossibility of this dream that keeps my feet on the ground, even when my head is in the clouds. I've got to keep a tight grip on reality. And this presents a problem.

I want to write. That's all I want to do. I want to type my days away. But a girl's got to eat. Bills have to be paid. And my minimum wage job is barely cutting it. And so I'm going to school to further my education and get a better job. But what kind of job is there for someone who has never wanted anything but to write for a living?

What about you? Do you feel the pressure of the real world trying to smother The Dream? How do you keep going? What do YOU do for a living?

Hey There, Sunshine!

So it's Monday morning. The sun is shining (finally!) and birds are chirping. Spring just may have sprung. But this is Michigan, so I'm not holding my breath!

Today marks the last week of Spring semester for me. I've got one last final on Thursday and then I'm done. For three weeks, anyway. I've decided that, since I'm not getting many hours at work due to construction (damn you, construction!), I'd go to school full-time. So I'm taking 4 classes over the summer. I'm sort of nervous about it. I don't want to overload myself. But I'm sure I'm just being paranoid. It happens.

Anyhoo. This is my plan. After Thursday, I'm free for three weeks, aside from 20-30 hours of work. So, this is what's going to happen. Yes, GOING to HAPPEN.

I.

Am.

Going.

To.

Finish.

My.

Damn.

Book.

After months of not even glancing at it, I'm going to write the final few chapters of the book I started last November for NaNoWriMo. And maybe I'll be able to squeeze an edit or two in there somewhere. We'll see. For now, I just want to type The End.

Also, I've gone on a shopping spree lately. In the last month and a half, I have purchased almost 30 books, between online (thank you, half.com) and the used book sale in the basement of my local library (holy crap, there were tons of books!). And I haven't found the time to read any of them. In fact, I've had my friend's copy of Jennifer Weiner's new book sitting on my night stand for at least two months. Now, I love me some Jennifer Weiner, so the fact that I haven't devoured that book yet says a lot.

But I'm hoping to make my way through at least five books over the next few weeks. We'll see how that goes...

Anyway, it IS Monday, and I haven't shared a song with you in quite a while, so here we go. This is one of my favorite songs right now. Hope you enjoy!



Rambling and a Shout-Out

So it's half past midnight right now and I can barely keep my eyes open. It was a long day at work. A busy one. One filled with superior, grumpy people who thought it was perfectly okay to talk to me like I was an idiot. I love those days, let me tell ya.

Anyway, I've been working on my novel, despite my exhaustion. Last night, I made it to the weekly meeting of NaNo folks and I finally gave first person a go. I haven't quite decided how I feel about it. It's different, refreshing. For now. But I find myself reverting back to third person. Either that or I'll start writing in first person, present tense when the rest of the novel is in past tense. Mari, my main character, is developing a stronger voice with the POV change. That, I definitely like. Who knows if I'll keep it in first, but for now, it's given my novel just the right amount of energy after weeks of loathing and laziness. I don't think I've completely gotten over the "I hate my novel" phase just yet. Hate has turned into strong dislike. And I think it's got a lot to do with the fact that I've been trying to finish it since November. I just want to type "The End" and shove it into a drawer somewhere for a couple months, forget all about it while I lose myself in something new. I actually can't wait for that moment, which is why I keep pushing on. I NEED to get this thing finished!

I finished reading Water for Elephants last night. I loved it. I'll write my review soon. Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer are up next with Don't Look Down. I felt I needed something a little lighter after the book I was just immersed in.

I was reading some of the blogs I follow and came across this
. If I had known about it in time, I would have loved to participate! Although I'm pretty sure my first page is shoddy and clumsy compared to some of the ones I read. I want to give a shout out to Julie at Silver Lining for her spectacular first page. This page is part of a novel that placed in the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and I, for one, can't wait to read it!

Alright, I should probably get some sleep. I've got another long day ahead of me tomorrow. Fingers crossed, I'll have some time and energy to write when I get home!


February's Plans

So, I have been seriously considering doing a mini-NaNoWriMo in February. 30,000 words in 28 days. I'm in desperate need of finishing this darn novel and I can't seem to do it without the pressure of a deadline. I start writing, and thoughts race through my head. "Oh, this sucks." "You really are an awful writer, you know that?" "Could this be any more boring?" The last thought, of course, comes out sounding like Chandler Bing. It's all flat, dull prose that makes me want to throw my computer out the window (which, obviously, I would never do -- I spent too much money on the thing!).

I think I need the pressure. The motivation. I need to be pushed. And if I have a deadline, no matter that it's self-imposed, I believe it will help me finish this darn story.

First things first, I have to finish my outline. I had just enough written to get me through NaNo, and now I'm floundering. I have a hard time writing if I don't know where I'm going next. I don't know what it is, I guess I crave the predictability. I need to get my poor MC past her fifth month of pregnancy, past the awkward feelings for her brother's best friend, past the stress of keeping so many secrets, and onto a less dramatic, less stress-filled life. She may be a fictional character, but I feel bad for putting her through so much!

Sadly, I don't know if I can be ready by February. It's already the 30th. I'd have to finish my outline in one day. Which, I guess, is entirely feasible since I don't have to work tomorrow and I have an hour and a half to kill after work before I can even head home. As long as I put my nose to the grindstone -- by the way, I have never understood that saying -- I should be able to finish it up. And then I can continue working on the novel itself.

So...30k in 28 days. 1071 words a day. I can do it! Onward, ho!

In other news, I got my taxes done yesterday. I'm getting a pretty decent amount back. In my head, I'm planning out what needs to be done with the money. Pay Dana back for Christmas (she always buys all the gifts and we split the cost...minus whatever we spent on each other, of course), pay off the bill that's been stressing me out all year, get the new puppy it's shots and get it spayed/neutered (haven't decided if we're getting a boy or girl yet, but we're definitely getting one!) And, Dana wants to go halfsies on a Wii and accessories. I'm sure that won't leave me with much, but whatever's left will sit in my saving's account as a safety net. Which, with my unstable hours, is a necessity.

I'm really looking forward to getting back on the writing wagon. Wish me luck!