Writing–Short Story Long

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I started writing a story at the beginning of the month tentatively titled “Gone Missing”. I’d had the idea for a long time for a story that centered around a town where missing people end up, but didn’t really have anything more than that. A few weeks ago the missing piece crashed down from idea-space, smacked in the brain, and I quickly jotted down the whole plot idea before I forgot it. I decided to start writing it as quickly as possible thinking it might be a good project to work on while struggling with my personal essay (that’s another post for another day).

Little did I know what my brain had wrought.

When I get an idea for a short story, it’s typically just that. Short. In fact, it’s been known to happen that what I think will be a decent sized short story turns out to be a piece of flash fiction. I have a tendency toward being short-winded (which sometimes causes me problems making word count during NaNoWriMo, but I digress). It’s been known that I’ve had to go back and add to my short story word count to make the minimum word count for a submission (“Land of the Voting Dead” is a published example of this).

So, I didn’t think anything of it when I started writing “Gone Missing”. I thought it might be on the longer side, like the first few drafts of “At 3:36” that hit between 14 and 20 pages. It was when I passed the 20 page point and realized that I wasn’t even half-way done yet that I knew I had something other than a short story on my hands.

Once it hit forty pages without hitting the climax, I figured that I had something close to a novella on my hands.  It sure as heck wasn’t a short story anymore.

I’ve never written a novella before and really never had the urge to, so it seems fitting that I’d blunder into it on accident. When I begin the revisions of this short story gone long, I’m going to revise it with novella in mind. Just to see what a little intention can do for this long tale.

As it stands, I’m enjoying this pleasant surprise.

I love it when an idea that I think is good (and I think most of mine are) develops into something so much better.

Writing–When the Brain Has Other Plans

I have trouble with my brain sometimes.

Here’s an example:

Last month, I got pretty tired of rewriting Spirited In Spite. It turned into quite the slog that I couldn’t wait to get through. And while I was doing this slog, all I was thinking about was how much I wanted to work on my short stories. In fact, towards the end of the rewrite and the end of the month, I did start working on my short stories as a kind of reward for getting through the rewrites.

It was easy to come to the conclusion that I was going to spend February working on my short stories.

About a week and a half into the month, I was tired of looking at these short stories (to my credit, I had three of them ready to submit and one of those I DID submit) and wanted to work on something else.

For some reason, that happens. My brain acts like a spoiled child. It gets what it wants, plays with it a minute, and then immediately wants to play with something else. It’s ridiculous and frustrating and clashes with my stubborn self and need to adhere to the goals set for me.

This time, though, I decided to compromise. After submitting one of the short stories, I took a break from them. Instead, I took the weekend and read one of my novel manuscripts (A Tale of Two Lady Killers), making some notes on it. On Monday, I went back to the short stories. The break helped me avoid the feeling of slogging. It helped me to avoid resenting the goals I’d set for myself and in the long run, accomplish them.

I have to remember that my pig-headedness is an asset only when I use it correctly. I also have to remember to be flexible with my goals. Sometimes my spoiled brat brain has a good point and maybe a day or two spent indulging it is for the best.

It’s more cooperative when I compromise.

New Year Hopes

I’m one of those people that is pretty superstitious about transitioning from one year to the next because my aim is always to go into the new year with the idea and aim to make it better than the last. (I’m sure that nobody wants to make their new year worse than their last, but I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind holding pat; either way, neither here nor there in terms of this post.) I always go into each new year with specific hopes and goals. I wouldn’t call them resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken. Hopes are meant to be had and goals are meant to be achieved.

My hopes and goals are one in the same. I have them and I’m going to work to achieve them. Here are some of the goals and hopes I have for 2012.

-I want to be happy. I’m a firm believer that happiness is something you create and I’d like to create a lot of it this year.

-I’m going to continue the practice of positive thinking. This one is hard for me. I’m a natural pessimist. I expect the worst, anticipate it for every little thing I do. I’m like Eeyore in that respect. Whatever I do, I attach a certain cloud of gloom to it. I’ve been working on correcting that outlook and I plan to continue that effort.

-I want to succeed in my ventures. This is going to take hard work, I know. Harder work than I’ve been putting into it, I’m sure (I’ll never feel like I work hard enough). But, it’s also going to take the positive thinking. Continuing my work with an anticipation of success instead of anticipation of failure is a must. I need to put myself out there more and not be afraid to sell  myself and my work.

-I want to have fun. Sometimes I’m so dedicate to work and making money to pay bills (even when I have some sort of regular paying day job), that I forget to stop and relax and have a good time. I’ve been known to put fun on my To Do list. Might as well put it on my goals list just to be sure it gets done.

-I want to purge the excess from my life. I am a packrat by nature, not hoarder levels, but I’ve still managed to accumulate more than I need or want. I need to continue to get rid of it. I’m already selling some things on eBay, but a full-scale rummage sale is going to have to  happen this year. I’ve been avoiding it because of all of the work that goes into one, but this year I need to put my laziness aside and get it done. The dead weight needs to go.

-I’m going to make some changes. Big and small, things need to be changed. Sameness can breed stagnation and I’m afraid I’ve got ponds of it in my life. Change isn’t easy, particularly for someone like me. I like to be safe and secure, but that yearning has actually had the opposite effect. I don’t feel that way. I feel more like I’m in a prison. The only key to my freedom is change. Just another thing I can’t put off doing for another year.

The nice thing about having hopes and goals is that success lies in trying. Even if I fail, there’s a certain amount of success that I made the serious attempt to do these things. That’s more than I can say for not trying at all.

The Worth of a Dollar

I’m not going to lie, money is important to me. The making of it, the having of it, the spending of it. I’m not too interested in other’s people money. I’m too busy thinking about my own. Or the lack thereof.

Money plays a big factor in my self-esteem. I’m worth not just what’s in the bank, but what I’m bringing in and how I’m paying the bills. My ego lives and dies by my checkbook.

It’s a pretty messed up measure of worth, I know. Never mind how the stock market keeps gyrating or the fluxuating price of gold; what’s it say on my pay stub?

Now one would think that since I pin so much of my worth on my money that I’d have gone through college and got myself a good paying job and ergo I would be in the position to think my shit don’t stink. Have we discussed that I like to do everything the hard way? Yeah, that was clearly not the case.

In terms of my self-esteem, it’s lunacy that I’m quitting a regular paycheck to go back to scratching out what I can. On the one hand, the struggle will make me happier because I’ll be doing what I want to do.  On the other hand, my self-esteem is looking to take a severe hit because the money is not going to be steady and I’ll be struggling to make ends meet once again.

Because of my money issues, I’m very good with my money. I’m good at going without. I’m good at saving. I’m good at paying the bills first. I’m good at making sure the obligations are taken care of before I do something fun, and even then I usually defer to responsibility and save my money instead of spend it. My dad likes to joke about how tight I am. I don’t know why he thinks it’s so funny. He’s the one that made me that way.

My dad grew up poor. Real poor. Poorer than I grew up, for sure. My dad harbors a bitterness that my mother (who did not grow up poor) gave us things when we were kids. Never mind that a lot of our toys and clothes were second-hand, it was just the fact that we had them. That my mom spent money to give them to us. Now, my mom did run us up in quite a bit of debt with her shopping, but still, my sister and I were far from spoiled in the material sense. Money is a big deal with my dad. He never has enough and he doesn’t want to spend it. Ask him. He’s always broke.

When I moved in with him during my sophomore year, I didn’t ask him for anything. I wouldn’t even ask him for lunch money. I lived off of what I had in my savings account from babysitting and working in my mom’s daycare. It wasn’t until I’d lived with him for a while that it occured to him that he didn’t know where I was getting my lunch money. Then he started giving it to me.

My sister had to have her appendix out when we were in high school. All I can remember from that is my dad bitching about the doctor’s bill. So when I fractured my ankle before senior year, I refused to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to listen to Dad bitch about how much I cost him (yes, we had insurance, but there’s that whole deductable thing and then what insurance won’t cover, and all that jazz). Over a decade later, I’m paying for not having my ankle properly set.

There’s no worse feeling than asking my dad for money. The disgust is palpable. So I do everything in my power to have my own. To make my own.

I’m hard enough on myself. I don’t need him to add to it.

The true test of this next venture is to make enough money to pay my bills. I pay my bills, the self-esteem stays happy and my dad continues to see me as legitimate person dwelling in his house. It’s a win-win.

Sure. No pressure.

Times, They Are A-Changin’

The reason why Monday Megalomania is posting so late (if you notice, it usually posts early in the morning) is because I had to put my notice in at my day job first.

Yeah, you read that right. I’m quitting my day job.

There are a lot of contributing factors, the biggest two being I’ve got another opportunity that I think will work out better for me and I’m not cut out for cube life.

The new opportunity is coming from my friend DaLette. I admit that I’ve been looking for an out from the day job for a few months. The steady money is nice, but I resented how little time and energy it left me to write. I initially thought to find a new day job, something part time, possibly in retail. But pickens have not improved since the last time I was looking for a day job. I was feeling stuck and pretty miserable.

However, DaLette was looking into starting her own business and after some research decided she’d keep doing things the way she’d been doing as a freelance landscaper/decorator, wedding officiator, and self-published author. One hell of a mixed bag, right? But it works for her and that’s what she told me. If I wanted to get out, I needed to make my own day job and freelance my strengths.

It took a few weeks for me to understand exactly what she was getting at. My gig is writing and I haven’t been too successful at making money at it. I couldn’t really think of anything else I had a shot at doing that would pay my bills and my bills need to be paid. Remember I made a mess of my finances pursuing this writing dream without a regular income and I’ve yet to really recover.

But the seed was planted in my head and I started looking in my life for things I could do to freelance, so to speak. It took a little time, but it finally hit me. One thing I’ve always loved to do and always been pretty good at doing is making jewelry. Bracelets have always been my specialty, but I’ve done necklaces, too. It occured to me that between friends, relatives, and the Internet, I could make a little money doing it.

With this thought in my head, I decided why should I wait to have someone publish my short stories? Why can’t I just publish my own? If I’m going to be selling my goods, I should sell the goods I really want to be selling, right? Right (I’ll be doing a post about self-publishing on Wednesday).

Now, I’m a very money-minded person (that’s a post for another Monday, too). I have to crunch numbers in order to look at the financial reality of what I’m getting into and I admit, I wasn’t thrilled with what I looked at initially. But after some thought, I figured at the very least it would get me some extra cash.

I started moving forward with these new projects, plotting how to use word of mouth and the Internet to my advantage. I like having a plan. It gives me goals. It gives me something to work toward. It makes me feel like I have some control.

And then DaLette stopped by.

Her freelancing has been going well. So well, in fact, that she needs some help. I offered to be that help before. I can be that help now. I’m going to be that help.

I figure that between my ventures and the work DaLette can offer me, I can keep my head above water in terms of paying the bills and have time to get back to seriously working on writing. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be work, but it’s going to be work at something I WANT to do and I LIKE to do.

Yeah, that brings me to the second factor. I didn’t really like my job. Maybe about a month into the gig I realized that I didn’t like it, but couldn’t figure out why. There was no reason that I could put my finger on other than I’d rather have been writing. However, I felt that even though I didn’t like it, I could tough it out for a while for the sake of the paycheck. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t a bad job.

In the past few months, that’s changed. The job has changed. I’m not happy with the change and I’m not happy with some other things that I won’t get into out of respect for the people that still work there. I’ve got some hang-ups with the way some things are done and some things are handled and there’s no reason for me to hang around in that environment and make things worse.

So, I’m getting out. After Labor Day, I will be free.

And back to working 7 days a week for whatever scratch I can make.

Writing–August Projects

You remember how I said that when revising long projects that I liked to go through the whole thing in one go and not go back until I was finished and how I was feeling the urge with The World (Saving) Series because it was taking me so long to finish?

Yeah, well, in starting Chapter 12 revisions, I realized there’s a couple of big scenes that are missing and if I’m going to get this chapter to work, I have to go back and work them into the previous chapters.

In short, Karma dropkicked me right in the butt.

So August will be spent doing revisions/rewrites on stuff I’ve already revised/rewritten in the hopes that I can move forward.

The likelihood of me being done with these revisions by the time NaNoWriMo rolls around just keeps getting slimmer and slimmer.

I’m not very good at this balancing act.

Keeping It Loose

I, like most people, have an aversion to being trapped. I like to have options. I like to have choices. I like to have the freedom to make those choices.

It’s part of the reason why I didn’t move out as soon as I turned 18. If I’d have done that, then I’d be stuck in whatever job I had just so I could pay the bills. And considering the crap jobs I’ve had in my course of employment, it’s not like I’d be making enough to make ends meet and then have something to put aside for savings in the event that I needed to make a hasty exit from an unhappy job situation.

It’s why I’ve yet to buy a new car. Payments are like a ball and chain, both to the car and to the job providing the money for the payments. And it’s not like I change cars often. My current car I’ve had for ten years. But that payment obligation makes me uneasy.

Even blogging is a trap that I eye carefully. It took me awhile to commit to a blog and a theme and the schedule and the whole nine. And even when I finally decided to go through with it, I had to make sure I have myself enough room to change my mind and go in a different direction if I want to.

That’s the trick for me, I suppose. As much as I want safety and security, I’ve also got to have an escape route. I have to have room to jettison if I feel the need. I have to have the opportunity to be able to do at least some things on my own terms.

I’ve been struggling with that for the past couple of years. It feels like I’ve worked myself into trap after trap after trap. Every escape plan just leads to more trouble. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than to be working so hard to get out of a jam only to seem like I’m getting deeper in it. Like a fly thrashing in a spiderweb or a hapless adventurer flailing in quicksand, whatever I do I’m just making it worse.

I’m at my best when I’m keeping it loose and unfortunately, I’m  not in the position to be loose. Due to my choices I’m exactly where I don’t want to be. I’m trapped.

Now is the time for me to stop flailing. Now is the time for me to stop struggling. I need to be still. I need to assess my situation. I need to come up with a new escape plan. And then another one. And then another. I need to make a few options.

Now more than ever I need to find a way to get loose.

And then I need to stay that way.

The Many Career Changes of Kiki

Like most kids, I wanted to be a lot of different things growing up. Unlike most kids, I never grew out of that changing career state of mind. Whatever it is I find that I’m interested in, I want to do that.

My first big career choice came early in junior high. I wanted to be a meterologist. Weather and storms fascinated me. I didn’t necessarily want to be on the TV talking about the seven day forecast, but being in one of those weather centers, tracking tornado spawning storms appealed to me. I thought it would be a fun, exciting gig.

It wasn’t very well received. Saying that I wanted to be a meterolgist conjured up the images of people pointing at maps on the TV and I got a lot of teasing for that. I decided that keeping meteorology as a hobby was better for my self-esteem.

Then towards the end of junior high I set my sights on being a marine biologist specializing in sharks. I love sharks. Shark week was made for me. I read a lot of books about sharks and shark attacks. It was particularly the attacks on humans that fascinated me at the time, but really all aspects of sharks and shark behaviors held my attention. There’s an air of mystery about them that makes them fascinating and makes me want to learn more about them. Being on boats for weeks at a time didn’t really bother me. In fact, my cousin’s grandma offered me a place to live if I wanted to pursue my degree down in Texas.

But, it wasn’t very well received by everyone else. The one thing I kept hearing was “do you know how much math and science is involved in that?” despite the fact that I’ve always been told that I was smart and held to the highest academic standards.

So I changed my mind and looked elsewhere.

I wanted to be a surgical technician.

Too much blood and guts.

I wanted to be an actor.

You won’t make any money.

When I finally got out of high school and into college, I first wanted to study English with the idea of being a proper writer, not just the amateur stuff I’d been not showing to people up until that point. No one said anything because by that point they weren’t interested anymore. I was in college (a community college that I was paying for) and that’s all that mattered.

The second time I went back to college, my eyes were on studying sociology. I’d become fascinated with it during my first college go round after I did a paper on prison rehab programs. I thought that might be a good gig for me.

That lasted as long as I was in school.

My last go round on the college merry-go-round, I was majoring in psychology with the ultimate goal being a forensic psychologist. There was no way I could be a therapist. I don’t have the compassion needed to succeed in that field. But analyzing and tracking down bad guys is something I think I could have excelled at. I was pretty dedicated to it, too. Took all of the psych classes I could get into (as well as all of the sociology classes; hadn’t quite given up using that) and was doing well in them.

Until I was looking into starting the math classes I’d need to get my associate’s degree so I could move on to get my bachelor’s degree, I realized just how long it was going to take me to get through all of the schooling I’d need (at least a master’s) to get my career started. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to be a psychologist enough to spend years getting there, which would be even longer since I could only go to school part time while I worked.

It was also then that it dawned on me that the only thing I wanted to spend years struggling to do was what I’d been spending years doing all along: writing. I gave up on the idea that I needed any sort of formal education or validation and threw myself head long into making a career of it.

But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about pursuing other interests as careers (most recently: helicopter pilot, personal trainer, and sports analyst). Of course, I always look at the time it will take to make those things happen and change my mind.

That’s why writing is the perfect career for me. With a little research and by living vicariously through my characters, I can be all of those things while spending my time doing the one thing I really love the most.

Writing–Sick Days

I came home early from work last week due to a blizzard making work in the transportation business slower than Wile E. Coyote stuck in puddle of glue. It was a good thing, too, because it was that day that a cold crushed me like a boulder from a cliff.

For the next two days, I might have gone to my day job, but writing did not get done. I could function and didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as I did the first day, but I still felt pretty yucky. And when it came to writing, I just didn’t have the strength.

Considering I have enough trouble getting any writing done on a good day because I’m such an ace procrastinator, getting sick put a major cramp in my style. The dribble of productivity I’ve experienced since getting employed dried up to a desert and then the tumble weeds of guilt started to blow in.

I’ve got a lot to do this month. I can see it written out on my Whiteboard of To Do. There’s some serious work in there. And I took three days off for illness. There’s some conflict there. On the one hand, I was well enough to go to one job, so I should have been able to go to the other, so to speak. On the other hand, it was the going to the first job that wore me out for the second job. It’s important to rest when you’re sick and with a 6:15am wake-up call, my head was hitting the pillow really early.

It doesn’t matter. I feel like a slacker. If I take a day off from writing that’s not scheduled (oh yes, I schedule my days off), then it causes me guilt and pain. Even if the excuse is a good one, like I’m so sick I can’t think, I still feel guilty. And the unscheduled break throws me off my game.

Now I’m faced with playing catch up and considering I started the month unsure of what to work on first (aside from The World (Saving) Series revisions), I’m even more lost and therefore, feel like I’m even farther behind.

I’m in desperate need of a game plan.

And some cough drops.

Writing–Writing with a Day Job

Last week acquired a day job. I started working on Monday.

While I’m grateful for the regular income soon to be filling my bank account (before I send it right back out to pay bills), this full-time position brings forth a possible complication, namely, time to write. It’s too early now to judge on how big of an impact this job will have on my schedule. I’m still adjusting to the idea of getting up at 6:30 every morning. Also, I’m just working on revisions for The World (Saving) Series and so far none of them have been very extensive. Doing only one chapter a night, they haven’t really been very plentiful either. But I know some big ones are coming, heavy on the rewrites.

Next month I’ll be doing short story revisions/rewrites on top of the novel revisions. The month after that, I’ll be writing a new short story.

It’s going to be interesting, and I imagine frustrating as well, to see how I will be able to manage my time and rearrange my world in order to accommodate 8 1/2, 9 hours of my day now devoted to something other than playing Facebook games, blathering on Twitter, and, oh yeah, maybe getting some actual writing done.

I know that in order for this to work, I’m going to have to treat it like having two jobs. Sure, I can cram a lot of stuff in on the weekend. I’m already doing my blog posts for two blogs then and the weekends are usually when I make my greatest strides in getting writing projects accomplished (I have no idea why that is; you’d think it’d be the other way around, not doing as much writing on the weekends, but there you go). But for five days a week, I’m going to have to really get serious about time management, take no excuses, shun the distractions, and get something done. Progress must be made every day or I’ll be getting nowhere.

I’ve come too far to have everything suddenly come grinding to a halt just because now I’m spending my day earning money in order to support this career that I really want to have and really want to make work, but now I’m too tired to do it and don’t have the time. I definitely cannot succumb to those excuses if I want to be successful.

And I really want to be successful.

It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m going to do it. I really have no other choice.

It’s a good thing I don’t have a social life. It’d suffer terribly because of this.