Year of Exploration

2012 was the Year of Exploration.

After mostly ignoring all forms of social media, (besides Facebook) this year I dove in with the idea of putting myself and my writing out there instead of having it languish amid the piles of rejection slips from magazine editors and literary agencies.

My Social Media Findings:

  • Twitter – too short
  • Tumblr – too young
  • YouTube – too exposed
  • WordPress – just right

On WordPress I found a comfortable home with people I like. Random strangers actually read my words here and tell me that they like what they’ve seen. I won’t delete myself from those other places, as I have become a fan of many social media stars. And my time exploring there was not wasted, as I have learned much about the social media world and my place in it.

Luck vs. Hard Work
Luck vs. Hard Work

The biggest lesson I’ve learned: while luck still holds a huge chunk in the pie chart of social media success, the most important piece is, as it has always been, HARD WORK.

If it were easy, everyone would do it.

What Success Means to Me:

  • Get something published (in the old fashioned way)
  • Get a thousand followers on WordPress (reach for the stars, baby)
  • Feel like I deserve the appellation, Writer (I’ll know it when I feel it)

If I want to succeed, I must do the work.
But I don’t want to do the work.
I’d rather curl up with a good book, or watch a good movie, or click around the web until my clicking finger hurts.

I don’t make resolutions, I think they are nasty things to do to yourself. You have no idea what will happen to you next week, much less over the course of the whole year, how can you promise yourself to do this or that thing and expect to succeed?

However, next year I want to say, 2013 was the Year of Hard Work
Hard Work means sticking to a writing routine instead of just writing when inspiration, or a good prompt hits. It means being disciplined and focused. It means practice, practice, practice. It means consistently submitting and posting. It means going from this level of writing to the next.

I know I am a good writer. If I just work a bit harder at it, maybe 2013 will be the year I become great.

Company for Christmas

Hello Readers!

Juletræslys
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just a reminder… Regardless of your religious affiliation, if you will be alone on December 25th and looking for some company, click on the C4C badge over to the right to chat with some friendly folks.

 

 

And help spread the word by retweeting…

Thanks!

Yesterday’s Googling (or – what I did instead of working)

“Galaxy Samsung III”

In February my birthday present to myself will be a new phone. I usually have more money in February because I work a lot in January. The battery in my two-year old phone is dead again, it has been a great phone, but it keeps dying unexpectedly – like during conversations with my client. At least that’s what I told him.

“Audrey Hepburn / Promenada Country Club, ul Romatyczna 3, Warsaw / Cricket in Poland”

Ok this is a bit hard to explain – when I am looking for story ideas, I go into Wikipedia and just click on ‘random article’ and these are the three things that I found that seemed the most interesting. No story came out of it though. I just didn’t have that ‘story’ vibe yesterday. Writing is the only thing that can make me feel like the day had any value. It is addictive, and so much more satisfying than work.

“Homework phobia”

Arg – an email from my client – bold and unread in the inbox. Like a bug in my ear that I can’t get out, and everything around me is tainted by the sound of its buzzing. Maybe there is something seriously wrong with me. I feel like telling my client some horrible lie about my grandmother getting really sick. Sorry, yeah – it’s awful, she’s all alone in San Antonio and I’m the only one who can go out and help her. But those sorts of lies have that horrible way of coming back to haunt you.

Ergophobia - revisited.
Ergophobia – revisited. (Photo credit: practicalowl)

Ergophobia

Wow – maybe I have this? Ergophobia, (derived from the Greek “ergon” (work) and “phobos” (fear); also called ergasiophobia), is an abnormal and persistent fear (or phobia) of work (manual labor, non-manual labour, etc) or finding employment.

No – I’ve had the same job for ten years, it isn’t the work – it’s the black cloud of unwanted responsibility hanging over my head.

“Responsibility Phobia”

Hypengyophobia derives from the Greek hypengyos, meaning responsible and phobos meaning fear.
The signs of Hypengyophobia are individual and can vary from person to person. Some people, when confronted with their worry of responsibility, may begin to perspire, feel barely uncomfortable or develop into nauseated. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other persons are so severely compromised by this phobia, that they might experience crippling nervousness and/or panic attacks. 

Oh boy – this sounds really, really to close to home… ok – distract, distract…

“The Hobbit movie showtimes”

Ok – I’ll just tell my client I’m not available tomorrow – driving up north to see ‘family’ because seriously, Peter Jackson feels like family to me.

Got Time to Talk?

*cell phone rings*

Me: Hi!

Caller: “Hi, Jill. Are you busy?”

Old Fashioned Phone, before processing
(Photo credit: locket479)

Me: Well now, let me see… I have twenty-five people coming over for dinner in about an hour. I’m half way through cooking them a three course meal and the oven just caught fire. I have to clean the bathroom and fold three loads of laundry before they get here and I haven’t had a shower yet today. My mother just called and told me she’s bringing two dogs that she’s pet sitting for the weekend and that they need a special brand of dog food so I’ll pick that up at the store while I’m out buying a new front door to replace the one the burglar knocked down last night when he broke in and stole my purse. And lastly, my car is parallel parked outside my apartment and the parking authority lady is just now pulling out her ticket book.

***

ARG!  I just ANSWERED YOUR CALL, why are you asking me that question?!?

A Day Like Any Other Day

blue sky
(Photo credit: maaco)

This Saturday morning is like every morning: Coffee, Computer, Repeat. The word ‘weekend’ lost it’s meaning a long time ago. Today is a ‘non-work’ day as opposed to a ‘work’ day which could happen any day, regardless of its weekend or weekday status. But today the sun is out, and it wont be out for long. I want to go out there to feel it on my face. That would make today different. To feel the sun. I would call it Sunday.

But I won’t go out there alone. Can’t or won’t? Maybe can’t today. (That reminds me of my teacher in seventh grade saying, “Yes, you are capable of going to the bathroom. If, however, you are seeking permission, perhaps you would like to rephrase the question?”)

When my boyfriend runs out of cigarettes, we will go out there. And once I get him out there, away from his computer, I can talk him into taking a turn around the park. His unhealthy addiction often encourages healthy walking. I hope he runs out before the sun sets.

This is rambling and sounds a little crazy. But I am feeling a little crazy today, so that is appropriate I suppose. It is a crazy sort of day, isn’t it? A day that is sad, but filled with a sense of life and love because it reminds us to look around and see how lucky we are to be here. now. today.
On a Saturday morning when the sun is shining.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/daily-prompt-me-time/

A Joyful Sound

Patrick gave his mother’s unresponsive hand another squeeze before letting go. He stood up and walked over to the window. The view of the park was something even he could admire and he thought again what a shame it was that his mother couldn’t see it. She’d worked hard for a long time to save up the money to pay for this place, it was unfair that she went into a coma before being able to appreciate what her hard work paid for.

With his back to her, he started his carefully rehearsed speech. “Mom, I have something to tell you.”

He turned back to glance at her face and to the machines that monitored her heart and lungs. No change. “You have a grand-daughter, her name is Lilly and she is 36 years old and she has two kids and she lives in the city.” The words came out in a rush, as if now that he’d finally decided to tell her, after almost four decades of keeping the secret, he had to get it over with as quickly as possible.

A Tiger-lily (Lilium longiflorum) in front of ...
Tiger-lily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was that a change in her heart rhythm? The doctor said there was no reason to assume she wasn’t aware of what was going on around her. He watched the monitors for a moment longer. No, nothing had changed.

He turned back to the window.

“Do you remember that time I called home from school and said I crashed into a professor’s car and needed to get it fixed? You and Dad sent me two thousand dollars? Well…”

Patrick cleared his throat and realized telling his mother about an unknown grand-daughter wasn’t as hard as telling her about the lie.

“Well, there wasn’t any car accident. I gave the money to this girl I was seeing. She was a really sweet girl, mom, smart and funny. We were friends for a long time before… The point is she ended up pregnant. And I gave her the money to pay for an abortion. She said she’d take care of it.”

Many years later – a little older and wiser, he’d realized that two thousand dollars was too much for an abortion, but the girl hadn’t come back to school the next semester. In fact, he’d never heard from her again.

“I guess she lied to me like I lied to you.”

He watched through the window as a breeze picked up some early fall leaves, swirled them in a mini tornado then disappeared.

“Anyway, she took the money and moved to the city. She raised Lilly all by herself for a few years but eventually she got married. Lilly grew up calling that guy ‘dad.’ She says he was a good dad, but a little while ago she decided to find me.”

Lilly tracked him down to the law firm in the city where he’d worked since graduating. She didn’t call ahead, she just showed up one day. He’d known almost immediately who she was. She looked just like her mother. But it was his own lopsided grin he saw on her face that clinched it for him.

“She didn’t ask me for anything, she just wanted to meet me and to see what kind of guy I was.”

Patrick paused for a moment. The park was almost empty this early on a weekday morning, but he could now see a woman walking along the path towards the front door of the nursing home. The woman led two kids, a boy and a girl, by the hands. The girl had red hair like his. Her name was Patty.

“She wanted to know if I could handle being a grandfather, since I missed out on being a dad.”

He’d never married. His college sweetheart left without saying goodbye and took his heart with her.

A joyful sound came from the heart monitor. As he turned back towards the bed, he watched his mother move her hand on her own for the first time in weeks.

“Doctor!” Patrick yelled.

The attendant burst into the room. He scanned the equipment then pulled out a stethoscope and listened to the old woman’s chest.

“What’s happening?” Patrick asked.

The man took off the stethoscope and pulled out a flashlight.

“Well, I think… maybe,” he said, flashing the light across his patients eyes. Patrick’s mother blinked slowly, once, twice. “Yes. Good. It looks like your mother is waking up.”

Sad Stories

14:365 Pen & Paper
14:365 Pen & Paper (Photo credit: mattbeckwith)

I can only tell sad stories today.

The hero dies before he saves the girl and the magic drum.
Terror strikes an old woman’s heart, and she fails to overcome.
An evil wizard attacks a village, a promising youth runs away,
but he never meets the wizened hermit, nor returns to save the day.

I did not intend to rhyme,
it just came out that way.
But I’m not afraid to tell you,
it’s been that sort of day.

But now I did the same rhyme twice and so the spell is broken.
So finally I am back to tellin’ the reason I was sulkin’.

Yeah, I just rhymed ‘broken’ with ‘sulking,’ please, someone shoot me.

This is why I don’t write poetry.

Moving on….

I don’t believe in ‘disorders’ or ‘conditions.’ If it isn’t proven via strict scientific method, it just don’t exist in my philosophy. But – I do admit there is something about dark, short days like the ones we have now in Philly, that just kill any inklings of creativity I might think I have. (As the bad rhymes above must surely prove.)

I feel like a day in which I don’t create something is a day wasted. I’ve done the math (ok – actually I went to this web site: http://7is7.com/otto/countdown.html) and if I live to see the tricentennial (for you non-Americans, that is the 300th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, or July 4, 2076) which is my plan, I only have 23,213 days left.

Now, according to Wikipedia’s list of the world’s most prolific writers, A Spanish writer named Corín Tellado wrote 4000 novellas, or about 120,000,000 words (if her novella’s were 30,000 words long.) After her, the next highest is the English author, Charles Hamilton who wrote 100,000,000 words in his lifetime.

If I am going to beat those two fine writers, I need to write 5169 words a day, every day, for the rest of my life. Take that, NaNoWriMo’s of the world! My biggest obstacle though is that I like to write really short stories, a thousand words long at the most.

What all this math boils down to is this: I need to write five stories a day. And a short, gloomy day like today, when I can’t think a single creative thought, is not helping me at all.

I seem to have no problem doing math though… Maybe I’ve missed my calling! Oh no! Is it too late to start over?

Time vs. Money

Time is Money
Time is Money (Photo credit: Olivia Alcock)

I have a weird job. My commute usually involves a plane and my ‘cubical’ is a table in a ballroom of a hotel. I fly somewhere, work four or five 16 hour days, and then I fly home. And that’s it: job’s over and my time is my own until the next job. I do this about 25 times a year and that pays the bills. I don’t have any extra money, but I do have something that is much more valuable: time. My own time, in my own house, where I can play games and write stories and read books to my heart’s content.

But every once in a while I end up working from home. I know this is just me being crabby, but I HATE working from home. I don’t hate my job, but keep it out of my house! It feels like an invasion. It makes home feel less home-like. I am uncomfortable in a place that should be my sanctuary. (I can’t say no to this work if I want to pay the rent next month.)

I have a story in my head right now, one that I would love to spend the day working on. But I can’t, because I have homework to do. *whine* I send the homework to a client, but the client never thinks it’s good enough and always sends it back. One more revision, one more tweak until I start to lose my mind. (It would just be easier to teach the client how to use After Effects and be done with it.) They know they have me trapped because I am home. “You’re not doing anything important, right, Jill?”

Reading and writing and gaming are not important to them, those work-a-holics who think if they aren’t using every second to make money (money they never take the time to spend) that time is wasted. But those activities are very important to me. They are how I bring joy into my life.

I have arranged my life so that I work just enough. No one is dependent on me and I am dependent on no one. I don’t have fancy clothes or a fancy car, and my apartment is small, but I have TIME. When I am home, that time is should be my own.

What is more important to you, time or money?