Words Are Hard

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Tag Archives: Calm thyself

Life Is Sorta Funny

I’m trying very hard to stop flaking on this writing thing, but it’s sorta difficult.  Apart from making snarky posts about my work-life, what have I been up to?

Not a whole heck of a lot, really.  I mean, I’ve been working.  Yours truly is now a supervisor and if THAT doesn’t fill you will fear and dread, then you may need to get your doom meter checked.  It’s just one of the many reasons I haven’t been able to really DO anything.  I’m winding down my only day off this week while writing this and when I wake up tonight I have a whole six days back on, two of which are thirteen hour shifts.  It’s also been somehow busier than normal so every day I leave work wanting to punch kittens.

Did I mention I quit smoking in April?  I’ve been on the razor edge of a relapse for the past two weeks now.  I still have some of the medication I took to help me stop, but it makes me very ill so it’s not really an option at this point since I haven’t called into work in over two years and I’m not about to start now.  So far, so good though.

So LOTS of reading has been happening and up until yesterday I was on a sorta kinda forced sabbatical from The Project.  The beginning has been throwing me left, right, and center and I think, given a little bit of poking (and prodding from the spousal unit), that I know how to fix it.  So yippee!  I get to do that this week – maybe.  Writing at work isn’t really an option unless I’m writing by hand (ow ow ow ow), so we’ll see how much inspiration I have after coming home from a night of not being able to strangle nurses who think calling before the body is actually ready is a good thing.

But all that being said: Hooray for upswings!  The fun part about being me is that I have a very, very mild type of mood roller-coaster.  I was diagnosed manic depressive before it became known as bipolar, but I don’t really think of myself as bipolar because it’s been so long since that diagnosis was handed down and things have changed (like puberty – puberty happened).  I’ve gotten very good at picking out when the downswing hits and when the upswing starts so when I’m feeling crappy and teary and whiny for no good reason and I can’t find plot for love nor money, I can recognize it.  It doesn’t make it better, per se, but at least I know that it’ll pass.

I just started the climb back up the coaster so I’ve got at least a month or two (if I’m lucky) of productive good times before I dive back down into the miasma of self loathing.  The medication I’m on isn’t strong, so it takes the edge off, but that’s about it.  I don’t get as high, but I also don’t get as low, so it evens out and, frankly, I’m lucky.  It could be much, much worse.

Anyway, babble babble babble, and apart from sorting the beginning of the story out somewhat, I’ve also got a new set of plot bunnies in the back of my head.  Technically, I suppose, they’re old plot bunnies, but like all things, I finally have a plot to go with the characters.  I started up that bible (lower case ‘b’) last week so maybe when I’m done with this book I can take a break from The World Outside and throw together something (not sure what – whether short-ish novella/story or novel) about lesbians in the circus.  There might also be vampires involved because I don’t like vampires much these days, so if I get to make life hell for a pair of them (the vampires, not the lesbians), I’m going to take that opportunity.

So I’ve been scrambling for books about both the circus and technical theater and in doing so, completely and totally forgot that I’d promised the spousal unit that I’d beta his former student’s sci-fi novel.  There’s also a book a co-worker lent me, as well as a newly acquired steampunk story with skypirates in it, Let The Right One In, and a couple other books recommended to me by way of this post that I wrote back when I didn’t have anything on my plate.

I need to learn how to read faster.

It would also help if this game weren’t so much fun. Nothing free should be this addicting.

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Oh. That good huh?

This is going to be a short post, mostly because the upswing hasn’t come ’round yet and I’ve spent more time dramatically sobbing into a pillow than actually being productive. That may or may be hyperbole, but when one of your beta readers is asked the question, “Would you read past the first chapter?” and their resoundingly honest answer is a very blunt, “No.” it sorta bruises the ego.

Thing is (and this is why I haven’t posted any teasers of the first chapter), I know that bit is broken. It’s (no seriously) attempt fourteen or fifteen (or more, I lost count) at starting this dumb thing and every time I try to fix it, the entire story ends up getting changed. Tweaked. Fixed. Rearranged.

That’s not bad, and it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but it is exhausting. Eventually I’ll be head over heels thanking dog for honest editors, but right now all I have to go on is a no and a vague idea that the info dump is too much, but not where or how. What makes it worse is this particular reader works days while I work nights, he lives an hour away, and has a small toddler at home. What this means is that I am astonished and humbled that he’s actually taken the time to go through my mess, but it also means that sitting down and talking through where the weak spots are and what about them makes the weak is just shy of being a massive headache.

This upsets me because he is actually qualified to tear the ‘script apart and the novel would (will, I suppose because I will figure this out) benefit from every blow he can throw at it.

The silver lining: the Editor (capital-I-am-being-paid-for-my-time-E) is working on it and she is equally qualified to rip it shreds. Obviously. I mean, I wouldn’t be paying her otherwise. She’ll also be much easier to get in contact with.

The second silver lining: People, if you’re going to marry someone, marry someone whose job it is to teach other people how to write. My wonderful husband took a gander and gave his professional assessment:

I think I know how fix it and no, you probably won’t have to rewrite the whole thing but I need to, like, show you because trying to describe it is hard. But like I need to go to rehearsal (did I mention he’s also an actor?) and you need to go to work so we’ll go over it in the morning.

Seven years of wedded bliss people. This is why. Of course now the big jerk won’t wake up…

Ack!

Since I started this blog last month I had a good buffer of posts ready to go, but it appears time has finally decided to get down and truly be a terrible, fleeting thing so that buffer has run out. You may have noticed that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are post days generally. Oh noes! It’s Thursday already and I have nothing for Friday!

So here, because the proverbial black eyes I asked for are starting to roll in: a rant on feedback, inspired by one too many writers going off the way wrong way after getting constructive criticism. Also notes to self because I’m going to need it in the coming weeks here. I cannot swear enough, people.

After reading the feedback our “friends” gave us: I HATE EVERYTHING

Getting feedback – real, very critical feedback – is a lot like working out (I imagine – I’m sort of allergic to working out). It can leave you feeling like you’ve just taken a good crowbar to the gut. You get the wind knocked out of you because you find out you’re not half as clever as you thought you were and all those funny little moments that you thought were genius actually weren’t. You want to curl up into a ball and cry and never, ever let anyone read anything you write ever again. In fact, you don’t even want to write anymore because OBVIOUSLY WE’RE JUST NOT ANY GOOD AT IT.

The reality is more complicated. Stick with me here. The beta readers are on your side. Unless they’re total asshats in which case they’re not going to be helpful and need to be ditched ASAP. I wish I had an easy to spot solution for finding out who is trying to help and who is just worthless, but I don’t.

And after the workout you’re sore. Your ego hurts. It hurts because this is your baby. You have spent days, months, years, a lifetime of anguish to get these words onto the page(screen). We suffer for our art. Even comedians are drawing the funny from a very dark well. These words are a part of who you are. The story is, in some primal way, your life and to have someone point out that maybe it’s not quite as solid as you thought hurts in an almost physical way.

But hey, we’re all adults here. We’ve been hurt before – it’s what led us to do what we do. I hate being told that, as a writer, I need to have a thick skin. I know this get off my case and let me sob into my beer gawd!

Ahem. Let’s assume that people are generally good. This is difficult for me so you’ll have to bear with me. I’m sort of a misanthrope. So somehow I have to convince myself that getting critical feedback is a lot less like getting beaten to a bloody pulp by a gang of forty and more like this:

After the sore, if you keep at it, you start seeing results. You’re story starts toning up. It starts building muscle. And it starts lookin’ good. Your beta readers are the gym baby and after awhile you start to feel like dancing because you have all the energy and there’s a healthy glow about you and you’re ready to face the WORLD!

HERE IS MY BOOK WORLD! READ IT! READ! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

And it all comes crashing down after one stupid review on Amazon, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet, so my delusions, let me keep them.

Anyway! Coming up on Sunday I actually do have a post, in honor of Father’s Day. I’m not a fan of this day, generally speaking, but I do have a minor character who is a dad and the idea for the drabble was a cute one (shut up it is) so two plus two equals special post!

Note to self: go through said post and remove spoilers from said drabble, dummy.

Also incoming is a review (!!!). While I’ve definitely done some heavy-handed critique (my snark can get pretty epic, but I only break that out for people I know very well because generally speaking, they ask for it and give as good as they get *see above creys*), I’ve never done, like, a review before. I finished The Pull by Rob White last night at work, enjoyed it, and I’ve got some digesting to do before I get some thoughts together about it but really quickly: if you’re looking for something fun to read in your down time, definitely check it out.

I think that’s your lot.

Wait no. Have a Sassy Dancing Ood:

Now we’re done.

Catharsis

ca·thar·sis

[kuh-thahr-sis]

noun, plural ca·thar·ses [kuh-thahr-seez]

1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
2. Medicine/Medical , purgation.

3. Psychiatry.

a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

From here.  In relation to where I’m going with this, what I’m talking about is FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS EVER FELT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD AT ONCE.

Which is pretty much how my whole week has been going.  How’s your week been?

Essentially it’s started out like this:  Hi!  It’s June, which puts me in the interesting and uncomfortable position of going to my beta readers and poking them on the shoulder asking them to maybe give me a little bit of feedback.  In other words, to reword my post into something more polite and send it off in an email to the list of like eleven who asked to read the currently raw manuscript.

And I have to do this because while I’d love to be able to, I really can’t afford to have a professional structural edit done.  Especially since a copy edit is not really optional (it is but it isn’t) and I’m looking to get some cash to my cover designer by the end of this month.

So that’s fun.

But every time I open up my email program this happens:

I think we’ve already gone over how easy it is for me to use reaction gifs.

It is literally exactly that.  I stare at it for about thirty seconds and close the window with a “NOPE!” face to rival NOPE faces.  I don’t want to bother people, even though the rational part of me knows better.  I have been told as much by the very people I’m terrified of bothering.  That doesn’t change the visceral reaction.

So I guess this post is more me working through how to get over myself and, y’know, bug the people who put themselves into a position to be bothered.  And I’m sure that, by the end of June (which was my deadline for myself because if I haven’t gotten something by then…) I’ll have finished feeling feelings and have a few less cares to give.  Hopefully that promised relief will come.

But.

Five times now I’ve sat down to do this necessary thing and five times I’ve immediately turned into Nathan Lane in The Birdcage.

Now did I say that just so I could link this .gif? The world may never know.

So it could go either way, really.

I fully accept that I am a complete and total pansy.  You guys should see the posts that don’t get published.  I have many many opinions, and many of them expressed with more four letter words than can be found on the Jolly Roger.  Blessing in disguise for you guys, really.

Of course, that could change once I get comfortable with the idea of saying things that might be wrong holy crap.

You keep using that word…

Ummm

So this is a thing that happened.

Full disclosure: This is not a funeral home whose phones I have ever answered but the “it’s taking too long to get the cremains back!” is a message I’ve taken many, many, many times for several dozen different places.

Unfortunately where I am I can’t watch the video and it doesn’t say in the article how long the families were kept waiting.  To be honest though, I think anything over a week is too long and I’ve talked to families who’ve been kept waiting several weeks.  Understandably, they were less than thrilled.

Of course my first instinct is to shield the director because he pays for the service that gives me a paycheck and there are several people in the world who don’t understand that the one thing funeral homes don’t usually do is pick the body up and immediately chuck it in the fire.  I have talked to nurses who make sure I know to tell the director to not cremate the body until the family has had a chance to view it.

So.  Um.  Speaking of people who should know better

Things that I know that I can’t actually tell you while I have you on the phone because I’m expected to play a certain degree of dumb: A funeral home cannot (and will not) cremate a body until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.  If they don’t wait until that’s done, they’re either in a place where the laws are really relaxed (not likely) or in big trouble because that is a HUGE no no.  Oy.

So I’ve heard anywhere from 24 hours (if it’s prearranged and the family/doctor/coroner has already signed off on it and even then, while close, it’s not a pick up-chuck into fire situation) to a week.  If it takes anything more than that people start getting irritated because memorial services start getting pushed back.  Burials don’t happen (yes, people bury urns – my grandfather was cremated and buried in a garbage disposal at his request …that should tell you everything about my sense of humor right there).  Stuff like that.

And like I said, my first instinct is to shield the director, but I can’t wrap my head around this one.  How long did the families wait?  The wording on the article is weird and sounds like the bodies were actually just stashed in the shop.  If that’s the case: dude wtf?!

Also: Y’know.  Randomly.  I think the comment on the article calling for the directors to be jailed for life is a tad excessive.  Perspective, my darlings.  The dead don’t care if they’re left hanging before the barbeque.  They ain’t goin’ anywhere on account of a sudden case of dead.

I feel for the families.  I do.  Every time I take that sort of message I feel bad, because I am a human being with who still knows what the word empathy means.  But the dead have no such feels to give.  They weren’t killed by the director.  They were just left hanging, and there is a massive world of difference between the two.

I also note that nobody’s pointed this out:

WTF is a funeral home doing with a second hand store?  Think about that for a minute.  Do you really want to shop there?

Really?

Black Cooper Sander Funeral Home, Hollister, C...

Black Cooper Sander Funeral Home, Hollister, California motorcycle rally, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) We don’t answer for this funeral home right now, but I totally would. Because it’s awesome.

 

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