I Shoulda Been…

Do you ever think about what you could been? Or shoulda been?

Being a writer is a natural choice for me in many respects. I wrote my first story at six. I wrote and produced plays for the neighborhood kids in the summer. I wrote a radio play and we recorded it on a blank cassette tape using our old red radio. I’d make up stories for us to act out when we were playing pretend and then I’d try to write them down later. I was always starting stories that never got finished (that discipline came later). I read a lot and enjoyed living in those worlds, marveling at how those stories were created. Writing is something I’ve always done. I’m plagued with stories that demand to get out of my head even if I’m just telling them to myself.

However.

I probably shoulda been something else.

If I’m going to be honest, I shoulda been a bookkeeper or an accountant or a professional budget creator or something. Because I like money. And I like math when it relates to money. Since my mother first paid me to work in her daycare, I’ve tracked my money, estimated my paychecks, created budgets for myself, figured out payment plans for debt, figured out savings plans. I am annoyingly enthusiastic when it comes to finding new ways to manipulate and math my money. I’ll even math other people’s money.

Right now, I keep a monthly spreadsheet to track my income and spending. And I like it.

When people talk about making money by doing things they love, it’s usually said sort of wistfully, like what they love to do couldn’t easily be translated into a steady income. And here my love of crunching numbers is not only an actual job, but you can get a whole college degree in it.

I’m not exactly sure why I never thought about it as a viable career route, especially considering my limited college options at the time. My great-aunt had been a bookkeeper for years as well. It would have been an easy opportunity to explore. And yet…

It never came up. Never even crossed my mind as I budgeted the paychecks I collected from working in retail and worked in a credit union. Never thought much about it while I worked in the cash office of a store, calculating deposits worth thousands. It was right there in front of me and I never saw it.

If I had, maybe I’d be enjoying a day job of crunching numbers to pay my bills while I wrote.

Maybe I still can.

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August Writing Projects

Wow, look at that. August already. This year is just rolling by.

And I’m still working on stuff that I swore I’d have done in June.

Yeah.

So, this day job is turning into one of the hardest retail jobs I’ve ever had and what was supposed to be an easy part-time gig to help pay the bills is actually a huge time and energy vortex that I’m getting swallowed up in. My plan was to write at least a page on all of my current projects on the days that I work and then really rack up the words on my days off. The struggle with that, though, is that sometimes I don’t have the time (or energy) to get in my one page on everything, and then on my days off, I can still only manage the absolute minimum because I’m recovering from working.

If there’s going to be anything new, then August will see a shift in priorities. As much as I hate to stop working on a project in the middle, The Coop Run rewrite has to go on the back burner for now. Season 3 of Murderville needs to be my focus until I get it done, and I need to get it done as quickly as possible. Ideally, I’ll have it finished in the first couple of weeks of the month so I can let it rest a bit and then revise it in September. Because here’s the thing. Season 3 needs to be done all the way down to the eBook before NaNo. I’m already way behind my usual schedule. Now I have to play catch up and hope I don’t fuck up.

I also need to make some time to revise and polish next season’s preview story. But that’s a problem for next month me.

Right now, it’s all about finishing Murderville Season 3.

I’ll work out the rest later.

Speaking of Murderville, the very last episode of season 2, The End Of, goes live on August 14th. Don’t worry! It’s easy to catch up. Just become a patron and you’ll get access to every intriguing moment. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode lets you read AND gets you swell bonuses every other month, like whatever is happening on the 28th. Don’t miss out!

Writing with a Day Job…Again

When I set my writing projects for June, I didn’t have a day job.

By the time it posted, I did.

Life comes at you fast.

I’m back in retail, working at one of the local dollar stores. Every store does things somewhat differently, but a lot of the basics are the same. It’s like riding a bike. I haven’t forgotten.

Now I have to hope that I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to write with a day job. It’s been a while since I’ve been working out of the house for 15-20 hours a week. It’s been a while since I’ve had to write around that kind of schedule (as well as the other life things I have to write around, too). Right now everything is crazy because this day job happened very suddenly during an already busy time, both for writing and for real life. No doubt it’ll settle down and find a groove, but for now, I’m a little stressed and very tired.

I plan on keeping my June writing plan. The Coop Run is on a deadline, so it will get first priority, but I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to get a good chunk, if not all of season 3 of Murderville written. Hopefully, my productivity will be as high as my hopes.

Though the day job will alleviate an immediate need for financial support, like all of my day jobs, I view it as temporary. My goal is to make a (decent) living by writing.

I still intend to do that.

Now I’m Just a Slacker with Only Two Day Jobs

slackerYou read that right, kids. I quit working one of my day jobs. I am no longer kid-minding.

During my semi-vacation from teaching home school, I was asked to consider taking on more subjects. So I considered it. I considered it and I considered it. It wasn’t really the actual teaching that was in question, though. A big part of my considering was trying to figure out how to schedule the additional subjects into my work week. If I wanted to keep working all three jobs (as well as the little online plus jobs I do for a few bucks throughout the week), then I’d have to cut into a significant portion of my writing time.

Writing is my career. The day jobs just pay the bills so I can pursue that career. In other words, writing is the priority.

I chose to quit kid-minding and do more home schooling.

There are a few motivations for this.

One, I’ll be teaching science in addition to taking over the reading assignments (I already teach English/grammar and Spanish). I may possibly take over math later on. It’s more lesson planning, but I’ll get to do science, which I love. Plus, I get to make the children read the books I had to read when I was in school. Revenge really is some kind of sweet. Plus doing the reading projects with the kids may prove beneficial for my own writing.

Two, one less job means less stress. Not that kid-minding was hard. The boy, for the most part, was well-behaved (at least with me) and his randomness was quite entertaining. But that three-job schedule could be a bitch to juggle sometimes and to be honest, I was pretty burnt out on it. It’s not fun to be working all the time, even for a workaholic like me. Yes, working one less job means less money, but the bills still get paid, I get a little bit more time for writing, and I’m a little less frazzled thinking about running from one job to the next while trying to squeeze in the household obligations and my own writing deadlines.

Three, this move sharpens my focus on my writing career. It’s time that I stepped it up. Now if I want to make more money, I either need to go back to working three jobs (or worse, get a “real” job) or I need to sell more books. Which would I rather do? Consider this the kick in the ass I’ve long needed.

So, there you go. My reasons for being a slacker and only working two jobs. Not that I need to justify my slackerdom to anyone, but sometimes people like to know the why’s and what for’s of my life as they are generally interested in my existence.

I know. It’s weird.

…And Then the Coke Exploded

Soda explosionFor those of you playing the home game, one of my day jobs involves minding the neighbor’s grandson before and after school on the days that she works. Last week, he had a rough couple of days.

Tuesday, he accidentally spilled a glass of grape juice on the only carpeted portion of the entire living room. It was a real fluke, too. He’d set the glass on the floor next to the couch like he’d done countless other mornings and the remote control slipped off the couch, hit the glass, and knocked it over.

So we had a nice little bonding time before and after school learning how to properly clean up grape juice.

The next day, he didn’t even bother bringing his juice into the living room. Lesson learned.

That afternoon, he got a plastic bottle of soda from the fridge. The Coke was frozen so he opened it over the sink, underestimating the hidden volatility of a frozen soda.

It exploded.

He yells for help and I hurry into the kitchen to find chunks of frozen Coke dripping from the ceiling. It was everywhere. It covered the curtains and the windows above the sink, dripped down the cabinets, somehow sprayed INSIDE the cabinets, covered the countertop and everything on it.

The boy looked like he was going to cry.

I laughed.

He was not pleased with this.

I told him not to freak out, grab some paper towels and get the ceiling first. We mopped up all of the soda we could find, all the while him saying that that his grandma was going to kill him and me repeatedly telling him that she wouldn’t. I made him take down the curtains and throw them in the washer before the soda had a chance to stain them and then we spent some time going over everything to make sure we de-stickied what had been splattered.

The poor kid couldn’t understand why I kept laughing every time we found soda in a new, hidden place. He didn’t see any humor in the situation.

I explained to him that it was all a matter of experience. He’s young. To him the mess is huge and the consequences are dire. I’m old. I’ve experienced worse. Sure, it’s a big mess, but it can be cleaned. And there’s chunks of Coke dripping from the CEILING. That’s pretty hilarious.

Also, it wasn’t my neck on the line.

He was so traumatized, that when he got a second soda, he took it outside to the very edge of the patio to open it, even though it wasn’t frozen.

Our second day of mess-cleaning quality time ended with twenty minutes of us wrestling the curtains back onto their rods and hanging them up again. I’m happy to report that all of the soda came out of the curtains.

I’m also happy to report that the boy was not killed by his grandmother, just like I said he wouldn’t be.

Writing–How Will I NaNo with Three Jobs?

English: My own work. Created using "Inks...

I had three jobs last year when I did NaNo and I came through it just fine, true. But last year I was only kid minding in the morning. Now I’m kid minding in the afternoon, too. Writing time may get a little scarce and/or awkward.

The days when I kid mind and teach will be the toughest.  I usually have a spare hour, hour and a half before teaching that I can use to get down some words. The more the better, obviously, and this is probably when I’ll try to get the bulk of the writing done during the day. And I can write a little more by hand during afternoon kid minding.  The rest will have to be done after dinner, if there are any words left to get.

I have a feeling that getting my absolute minimum will likely be my goal on those days. No overachieving will be happening, thanks.

Of course, I’m saying all of this with the anticipation that I will struggle on those days. It’s entirely possible that I won’t have much trouble, that the pressure of getting my words done in a short time will motivate me and I’ll get my word count for the day in no time.

And then I’ll end up struggling on the easy days when I have more time.

The balance must be maintained, you know.

I realize that I could always make up any low word counts on my days off. I try to get double the word count on the weekends anyway. But there’s something in me that wants to see my little word count graph steadily rising. Even if I win NaNo and hit my word count and finish my project, that little flatline will haunt me. I have a daily word count and I’m determined to stick to it.

If I sound a little paranoid, well, that’s how my brain operates. I anticipate the worst and prepare for it, even though more likely than not, I’m worrying for nothing. In this case, I’m probably worrying for nothing.

Whatever. I like to have a plan.

Shut Up, Brain

Human brain NIH

I’m one of those people that has trouble with ruminations. Ruminating, if you don’t know, is going over and over and over (and over) something in your head. I tend to replay stupid things I’ve done or said in mind, sometimes for hours. It keeps me from falling asleep. It keeps me from concentrating on other things that I need to be doing. It ratchets up the anxiety to the point that I think my head is going to pop off.

For example, last week I had some text message confusion with some people I work with at the clothing store. Long story short, my phone doesn’t like group messaging, reply all is a fucking crime, and I should have put that phone list in my phone when I got it. When I finally figured out what was going on and why, I felt like a total idiot.

And so, my brain set to work not only replaying that whole fiasco out, but also trying to come up with a way to explain myself should it come up in conversation during the next floorset about how I’m a moron without looking like a huge moron.

For two hours, I tortured myself with this garbage that everyone else involved likely laughed off and probably won’t even remember the next time I see them. But I don’t like being an idiot or looking like one, so I must be punished, I guess.

Finally, after driving myself crazy, I decided to try a little meditation. I do yoga daily and though I don’t usually do the meditation portion at the end of my workouts, I will do it on occasion when I’m feeling stressed or anxious, or in this case, dumb. And it worked! I did a quick meditation and immediately felt better, the anxiety and burden of stupid lifted off of my mind.

So what did my brain do?

Marvel at the fact that I was no longer thinking about it by trying to think about it again. Like someone with a sore tooth realizing the tooth is no longer sore and then poking around to see if they find any trace of that soreness left, thereby making the tooth sore again.

Yes, I’m that kind of dingbat. Or at least my brain is.

So, of course, I started thinking about it again. And then I meditated again. And then I poked around again until I started thinking about it again. And so I deleted the evidence from my phone. And I meditated again.

And then I said, “You know what? I need a blog post for Monday. Here. Let me just write about how stupid my brain can be and how stupid I can be. THAT will fix it.”

So there. Maybe now my brain will shut up about it for good.

Well…maybe a little more meditation.