The New Day Job

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Now that I’ve been working at this new day job gig for a little over three weeks and we’re nametag official, I suppose I can fill folks in on the details.

I’m working as a clerk at the local library part time. Right now the hours are perfect for me. I make enough to pay the bills, but I also have time to write and podcast. Though the job is a lot more than just shelving books and checking them out, it’s not stressful. There is always someone nearby to answer any questions and so far, the training I’ve received has been very good. And thankfully, I’m getting the hang of things. It’s quite the departure from the last day job.

I know what you’re thinking. A writer working at a library? It’s perfect! Well, yeah, sorta.

For one thing, it’s exposing me to books outside of my reading comfort zones (which I’ve been trying to do in the last few years anyway). It’s also exposing me to books that I’d never read, but it’s still good to know they exist. Like Amish romances. I had no idea these were so popular, but let me tell you, we carry a lot. So, it’s definitely inspiring me to read more, which will hopefully translate to me reading more consistently so I can read more.

On the flip side, it reminds me of how much I’m not accomplishing. Processing all of the new books reminds me of the ones that are sitting unpublished or unfinished on my hard drive. I want to say that it inspires me to work, but so far it’s just been a bit disheartening. I see all of those books and I can’t find my place.

Though if there are readers for Amish romances, then I’m sure there are people out there that want to read whatever it is I write. Something for everyone, right?

Sure.

In the meantime, I suppose I better get to work.

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May Writing Projects

pinkflowerApril turned out to be quite a productive month for me, quite unintentionally really.

I finished the latest round of revisions on The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys as well as the first drafts of all five of the potential script contest entries (first fifteen pages and one-page synopsis) before I left for Chicago. Part of the purpose of going to Chicago, besides seeing friends and eating orange chicken, was to be able to work on my writing without interruption or distraction. I found myself in a hotel room with no major writing project demanding my attention as I was still undecided what script to do for the contest. I ended up polishing “What You Don’t See” and “Short Hallway” (I polished a haunted hotel story in a hotel room while watching 1408 because my commitment to a theme cannot be denied) and got about a third of Voice polished before I left. A productive short trip despite the anxiety troubles I had.

I finished polishing Voice after I got home. I then turned my attention to the script contest. I ended up picking one called Open Christmas Eve and did my best to get those first fifteen pages perfect. I hit the “What the fuck am I doing? I can’t do this! I have no idea what I’m doing. This is pointless” wall Friday night, got my “Fuck it” second wind Saturday afternoon, and after a few more tweaks and some polishing, I submitted it Saturday night. I recognize that it’s probably a waste of an entry fee (and only with extreme luck will I even win that entry fee back), but I still did it. There is some kind of accomplishment in pushing myself to explore different forms of writing.

Speaking of, April was National Poetry Month and as an exercise I made myself write at least four lines of poetry a day. They’re just scraps of poems, nothing glorious, and I have no idea what, if anything, I’ll do with them (I posted one on my Instagram at the end of the month to celebrate), but it was a fun little project.

After all of that in April, what’s to be done in May?

I’m going to completely finish The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys. It needs a little more revision (just some tweaks), a beta read, and a polish. Once that’s done, I’ll get to work putting together the ghost story collection. I’m also going to work on finishing the first draft of Open Christmas Eve. Now that it’s submitted, the rest of the script should be easy to finish and I’ll feel like less of a cheat having the whole thing written.

I sort of feel like spending the summer writing a short novel. I’ve got the idea (actually, I have two ideas, but I think I’m going to save one for NaNo) and I think I’ll spend some time this month working on fleshing it out.

No worries about getting bored. Still plenty left on my To Do List of Doom.

That’s Just the Self-Doubt Talking

esteemIn several areas of my life and in regards to several aspects of my existence, I am a confident person. In fact, I have been told that the confidence I carry from knowing who I am and how I relate to the world, from knowing my job and doing it well, from being smart and funny and tossing that 1-2 punch like I’m going for a knockout is really intimidating. From certain vantage points, it looks like I actually have my shit together and I know what I’m doing.

And then there’s the rest of the time.

While my self-doubt is always present in a few areas of my world, right now it is really rearing its unattractive head in terms of my unsuccessful writing career.

Here’s how it goes: I get the idea to do something. I think it’s a great idea. I think it could work. I think I could pull it off. I get gung-ho. I start to work towards bringing this idea to fruition.

And then I realize that it’ll never work. No one will go for this. I’m not popular enough/charismatic enough/smart enough/good enough to pull this off. It’s wasted time and effort because for this to work, people will have to participate/pay attention and nobody wants to do that. Nobody gives a shit what you do and they don’t want to play, Kiki, so stop wasting your time.

And then I get really bummed and start questioning what the hell I’m even bothering with all of this for.

It’s not just a vicious cycle, but it’s also very effective at ensuring that I don’t even try to do something because, hey, what’s the point? I’m just going to fail anyway and haven’t I landed directly on my face enough?

The latest aborted idea was the giveaway of one of my “wrecked” print copies. At first I thought, yeah, this will be fun. A few of my friends and family members will enter it. Nobody will get uptight if it doesn’t go completely smoothly because it’s my first one and I’m still learning the ropes and they’re my friends and family. It’s all cool. A practice giveaway! What fun!

It didn’t take long for the self-doubt to come strolling in like Blair Warner on a mission to out-snob somebody.

“Nobody wants one of your crappy wrecked copies. That’s a stupid idea. Nobody’s going to enter. They’ll just ignore you like always. You don’t even know how to run a giveaway. This is going to go tits up and you’re going to look like an idiot. Stop yourself.”

I don’t think I need to say that my friends and family don’t always ignore me. They don’t, of course. But my self-doubt is no dummy. It knows that I’ve been overlooked. It knows that I’ve been dismissed. It knows that I’ve been patted on the head and told “that’s nice” in order to be placated. It knows that people have shown absolutely no interest in anything I’m doing. It knows that I’ve been kicked aside in the rush for folks to surround someone else.

It knows.

It knows and it uses this to its advantage and I hate to say it, but I’m not completely up to the task of battling it every time it decides to make a grand entrance. My self-doubt gets a lot more encouragement than I do, unfortunately. Not always intentional, not always actual, but my self-doubt will bow to even an imagined applause.

And so I continue to struggle and I continue to fail through lack of action, but I keep coming up with the ideas and I keep trying to actually carry them out because one day, I might actually succeed.

But I doubt it.

Writing–Now I Don’t Feel Like It

flame box elder penI don’t really feel like revising (Vampires) Made in America right now. Oh, I know I said I would and I know that I will, but I just don’t feeeeel like it.

Part of the problem is I have this kind of problem this time of year, with all of the holiday stuff going on and making Grinchmas and preparing for the middle niece’s birthday next week (I still haven’t gotten her present yet, oops, need to work on that) and then the day jobs and chores, I tend to feel a little tapped out in the energy department. I don’t really enjoy a lot of the writing work I end up doing in December because I feel like it’s just more work. While I normally enjoy doing revisions (even the crappy, hard ones I feel a certain thrill that comes with spinning straw into gold), it’s a struggle for me to like them in December.

I think the other part of the problem is that I don’t feel like I’m doing any good with these revisions so far. I know I need to add a section, possibly a chapter, and I have yet to see the perfect spot to put it. I feel like all I’ve been doing for the past couple of weeks is dialogue tweaking. I did a major overhaul of the first two chapters and after that, everything has just been speeding right along with minor little changes here and there and I feel like I’m slacking.

This in turn makes me feel like I don’t wanna.

The problem with me is that I’m acting like this is the big and final revision of this manuscript when it’s actually just the first. Yes, that added section needs to go in now. And that last third of the book will probably be seriously worked over (at least that’s what my notes say…actually my notes say “the last third of the book needs work, good luck with that”). There will be another revision or two (probably three) after this. Hell, I’m not even sure whether or not I’m going to change the location yet or not (not a huge change, just going from real city to fictional-city-that-might-resemble-a-real-one). So, yes, this isn’t the end all be all of this book no matter what oogy feelings my brain is giving me right now.

But my brain doesn’t listen to reason. It’s worse than my heart in some respects. And my brain says I’m not working hard enough, apparently missing the point that I’m not supposed to be working very hard this month. It’s a real drag. I’m doing my best to press on, knowing that I am actually doing work, laying the groundwork for the next revision, even if it doesn’t feel like. This is all just a fleeting bit of stupid and I will get through it.

Right now, though, I just don’t feeeeel like it.

Writing–The Writing Crisis

Rainbow paperI am no stranger to writer’s doubt. I’ve often worried about whether or not I’m good enough, whether or not I’m smart enough, whether or not I know enough about the business as well as the writing, whether or not I’ll ever be able to figure out how to network and sell and all of that jazz. Those sorts of things have been on my mind since I first made the decision to try to make a writing career.

But certain things have come together at just the right time to make me really question whether or not I want to keep plugging away to make this writing thing a life. Over the summer I was feeling pretty good. I thought I had a handle on this self-publishing thing. But really, it was just an illusion built on the brief popularity of Yearly.

September hit and the sales disappeared. Yearly has been bought as much as it’s going to be. Nobody was really interesting in A Tale of Two Lady Killers nor do they seem to be interested in pre-ordering Spirited in Spite. My faith in my ability to be a self-published author is basically non-existent at this point.

In a way, this has confirmed my belief that I write stories that folks have no interest in reading.

But!

There’s still one more test I need to take before I can conclusively hang up my professional pen for good (I mean I’ll still write and probably self-publish it for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of a few others, just another way to make some change when I can, but I won’t be calling it my career). I need to confirm with people in the know that I don’t write marketable stuff, that I’m no good at telling a story.

I need to try to find an agent.

The way I look at it, it’s sort of a win-win situation. If I can’t find an agent to represent me, that confirms in concrete that I’m wasting my time pursuing this. I’ve already invested seven years. I’d rather not push boulders for another seven if I’m not going to get anywhere. I don’t like not being useful and I don’t like wasting my time. If I can’t make my living doing this, then I need to go find a way that I can.

But, if I manage to find an agent willing to represent me…well, then. That brings up a new set of existential questioning, now doesn’t it?

The bottom line is that I’m not satisfied with the way things are going and my only choice is to shake things up. The result will either be an ending…

…Or a new beginning.

Writing–Taking Care of Business (Sort Of)

Yearly special editionI was supposed to spend this month taking care of the business end of my writing. That’s where my energy was supposed to be focused. Organizing all of my projects and my schedule and trying to figure out how to sell more books, most notably, how to sell the Yearly Special Edition.

Well, I managed part of that.

My projects are organized. I have a good idea how the next few months are going to play out schedule-wise.

But I’m really no closer to figuring out a selling plan than I was at the beginning of the month.

Here’s the deal.

I think I have a good enough position in the Internet world to throw out links to my ebooks. It costs me nothing and I don’t do it enough to annoy people or turn them off. If nothing comes from my tweets/posts, then I really didn’t waste anything. It’s easy and comfortable and guaranteed.

However, I have no position in the Real world and not enough position in the Internet world to try to sell a physical book. It’s easy to ask people to spend a buck or two on my words. It’s a lot harder for me to ask people to spend 10 or 12 bucks because I’m nobody. How can I say I’m worth it?

Because of this uncomfortable uncertainty I don’t want to make the monetary investment it would take for me to sell those books in the Real world. It’s available online and I could do the same ol’ link-and-leave-it maneuver, but there’s a bit of ego that really would like to shill this thing in a hands-on way. There’s a bigger bit of ego that would like to actually sign these books and give a few away as part of a contest that drums up readers and such.

There’s a bigger bit of practical sense that says I will lose my ass doing this. This bigger bit of practical sense points out that I’ve never been a good salesman, that I’m not exactly popular, that I’ve got no place to store unsold books, and that my credit card would probably be happier if I didn’t buy books I couldn’t sell.

I really envy people who can do this sort of thing. That can make this kind of investment and then pull it off. I just don’t have the skills for that, which hurts like road rash on your ass in the self-publishing world. Doesn’t look good to agents/publishers either when nowadays getting published means you do most of your own marketing.

I guess I’ll stick to what I know for now until I get a sign that I’m ready to scooch further out on the selling limb.

At least my credit card will appreciate it.

Writing–How Do I Sell Books When I’m Not Popular?

Yearly special editionThis is going to be very messy, slapdash sort of post. I’m brainstorming out loud, looking for advice and help and ideas and partners-in-crime and such.

See, I need all of the help I can get here. This is not the part of the writing business that I excel at (really, when it comes down to it, I’m not really good at any part of the business). Some folks are naturals when it comes to selling their books. They’ve got that charm and charisma and ability to be forward and not worried about coming off like an egotistical hack (that last one is my hang-up; I’m not saying any of those people are egotistical hacks. They might be, who knows, but I’m not saying it) and I do not. I have negative of those values.

Anyway, the point is, I’m looking for ways to sell the Yearly: Special Edition. I mentioned this in my projects post (mostly because I didn’t think it would be available anywhere but Lulu until the end of this month, maybe beginning of September, but surprise! It’s up on both sites, though Amazon doesn’t have a picture of the book cover because why would it? Meh). I know there are things I can do online because I do those in the absolute minimum for my eBooks (seriously, it’s a wonder that I’ve sold any copies of anything at all). But I’m really looking for ways to sell this book in my physical world, too. I have an actual book, not just a digital file. I could actually take it out into the world and talk to people about it and they could actually hold it and flip through the pages and such. Think of it as old school nostalgia.

Now, I’m one of those people that often thinks I can do something, but in the end, I cannot. I tend to fail spectacularly because there are always variables that I don’t factor in or I think I can do something on my own when I really can’t or I think my effort alone is enough when it’s far from it. So that’s why I’m finding this book-selling thing so confounding. I think I can, but I know in reality, I probably can’t.

So here’s what’s been going on in my head and if anyone has any advice or ideas or comments or cute pictures of hammerheads being their adorable selves, please, give me a comment.

(I moderate the comments, so if you’re going to use this as an invitation to be an asshole, let me tell you, I’ll be the only one to see it. The only attention you’ll get is me marking your comment as spam and rolling my eyes at your attempt to troll the BCE troll killer. Shout out to the way back now.)

-I’d like to do a sort of raffle for signed copies of the book, but also use it as a way to get up some interest in the other titles. Like, show me proof of purchase for a copy of Night of the Nothing Man or A Tale of Two Lady Killers and you’re entered in a raffle for the book. Or maybe a straight up Twitter contest, RT to be entered, deal. This is really the only online idea I have outside the realm of the usual.

-I’d like to try to do some in-person selling. I’m trying to think of a place where I could do a cheap sort of event. Maybe book clubs. Maybe an on-my-own do. Maybe I could talk to the local library. I don’t know. The guaranteed horror is that no one would show up. I have past experience with that nightmare.

-Has anyone ever sold books at cons? Expos? Flea Markets? Gatherings? Things of that nature? That might be something for me to try, but not on my own. Like if I could team up with several other indie authors and we all go in for some exhibit space. Yeah, it’d be more money to do, but there’s the added bonus of being in con territory and that’s always a good time. Plus, it’d give me an opportunity to get more author friends. I’m very terrible at being a part of the writing community. I still don’t feel like I quite belong.

That’s not as many ideas as I thought I had. But they are still ideas that exist and can be used and improved upon.

So, won’t you please, lend me your brain? And maybe a hand?