The Month of Hopeful Productivity

November is NaNoWriMo. The month where writers try to create 50,000 words by the end of the month in hopes to create or start the novel that has been in their heads. This is a month that is supposed to be full of blissful productivity, one where you know you are working towards a goal and hope to succeed in it. Usually, I go in full of hope that this will be another year that I accomplish this goal. Some years, I try my best and fail mostly because life gets in the way. Some years, my own brain gets in the way. I have failed more than I succeeded, though it’s not about actually completing the goal. The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to settle down and attempt to start that novel you have wanted to write.

My problem, aside from my immune system and work and dealing with life’s obstacles, is that there are 2 books that I have started in this month, only getting about 5,000 words out of 50,000 but split between 2 books that both seem worthy of the effort. Finally, I settled on one only to second guess my call. I promised I would write a horror novel, but I keep undermining myself and critiquing my inability to write as I go. As a “published” author, I know you’re not supposed to think your book is utter crap until after you completed it, not belittle yourself as you go. I guess that’s just part of my process.

I spend most of my time writing for other people, then by the time I settle down to get my own writing done I feel like I’m all out of words for the day. My brain doesn’t want to think anymore. It wants to watch trashy television and recharge, only to pass out on the couch then fail miserably at going to and staying asleep at night. Then, I’m just in an endless loop of comatose functioning that there doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to get out of.

I’m not having a month of productivity. I’m having a month of irrational insanity that is interfering with my peak level of productivity. I have paused my streaming for the month to focus on the work that I need to get done in the morning so that I can dedicate my evenings to whichever novel I settle on. As my youngest rants on about which actor stars in what movie and random facts about the actor and when a movie was released and whether or not the rating says it’s appropriate for him. As my teenager overdoes his physical therapy so that he can get in “peak form” when guppy week starts at the end of the month. Life is tossing some lemons my way so far these past 2 months, and I’m really in no mood for lemonade.

There have been times where the beginning of the month started off slow, but by the end of it, my brain goes into overdrive and nails the deadline even if I just finish mere minutes before 11:58 on November 30th. Maybe this is just one of those times. I’m not a quitter though. I will go insane until I either succeed or fail at the end of the month. But I won’t give up.

Mommy’s Little Monsters

Anytime someone talks about how easy parenting is, I wonder how much they pay for a nanny every month. I have pretty awesome kids and I have it much easier than some parents, but I don’t think I’ve ever once said “This is easy. I’ve got this.” Usually, I don’t. Usually I’m taking a “hope for the best approach”. People tend to think that I’m a terrible mother because I have a more “sink or swim” approach to raising my children. As much as I want to control every aspect of their life to make sure that they don’t make the wrong choices, they have to learn accountability. Maybe if I regained control, I could have an “easy time” too.

For instance, I will help some with their homework sometimes. But they need to work through the things themselves. I won’t babysit them to make sure they do everything, because I can’t be there all the time. If they don’t finish their work properly because they wanted to speed through it or not do something at all, then they should face the consequences of that. Some people view this as harsh, but kids need to learn consequences or they never learn to be accountable for themselves. For my own sanity and their own level of responsibility, I can really only do so much.

The thing that we have to remember is that no matter how hard we think it is to raise them, imagine how much harder it is for them to grow up. They have those struggles of wanting independence, but still wanting their mommy to give them a hug or have brownies waiting for them. They want to do well, but they also want to hear you say how proud you are of them. Sometimes they forget that we love them unconditionally. Sometimes they forget that even if they get a bad grade or have a bad behavior report that we are still going to love and accept them. My youngest son got his first “yellow” card of the year a little bit ago after doing so well, and he was convinced that he was going to be punished forever for it. Some of it could be my own failings as a mother. Some of that is just your normal anxiety that young children have.

Kids think that they need to do 10000 activities to make us proud. That they need to be perfect and excel at everything. We may be well-intentioned in trying to keep them busy, but we may also be setting them up to burn the candle at both ends too much. My kids have the choice if they want to do an activity or not, but they need to something aside from screen time for a little bit each day. My oldest does sports in winter and spring, taking the fall and summer to relax. He does well in school and I think this is a perfect balance for him. Plus as a junior with 2 AP classes, CCD, volunteering, and college stuff, he shouldn’t take on much more than that. My youngest doesn’t really have any interests in those things. He prefers to play games or work on building/drawing something. That’s who he is. Rather than change that, I ensure he gets plenty of exercise, he goes out and has experiences, and get him to play puzzle games that are meant for critical thinking and not just fun. That works for him. Every kid is different. Plus, I think I’d go insane trying to juggle all those activities. This is as much for my sanity as it is for theirs.

My boys are Mommy’s little monsters. They fight with each other, they destroy my house, and eat everything in sight. But every time I want to yell at them for how hard they make things or because I’ve gone insane by 5pm, I just image what they are going through. Maybe my oldest had a bad day but because he’s a teenager, he doesn’t want to talk about it until he wants to or never. Maybe my youngest had an anxiety attack at school and he’s got his second wind of energy. Those boys are struggling as much as I am some days, and that’s something we can often forget.

Another Year, Another NaNoWriMo Challenge

Every year, I try to sign up for NaNoWriMo. I know that I may or may not succeed. I have succeeded more times than I have failed, but failures are still rough. Especially on those years when you put all of your sweat and tears into something, only to fall just short of your goal (last year, 30,000 words out of 50,000). I’m someone who does take those things hard, but I’m also someone who shakes it off and moves on. Maybe it was just that I chose a difficult thing to write about, like one year when a story hit too close to home that I scrapped it. Or maybe I just get myself into some knotted plot hole and I can’t get out of it. Or maybe I just run out of ideas on how to make the story go forward. Short stories are where I seem to excel. Writing longer pieces seem to trip me up.

I try to have a plan every year. I take book ideas that I have worked on and tried to figure out which one will be the “one”. This year, I have decided to again attempt a thriller of sorts. My business manager/husband thought the topic was interesting and he gave me his confidence that I could do it this year. His supportive nature allows me to keep going on this path, even when other people think it’s a joke.

As October rapidly approaches, the goal is to start doing an outline and get things planned out. I attempted this last year, but I feel as though my outline wasn’t as detailed as it should have been for the story. Then, towards the end of this when I take a weekend get away in my favorite place in the world, I intend to find a nice little spot to get some final details done before November 1 hits. My fingers are crossed that this year will be successful. And let’s hope for some workout time to indulge in my favorite “brain” food that tends to help my writing process. (Send Dunkichinos, Flaming Hot Cheetos, and Peanutbutter M&Ms my way if you see me in November.)

Challenges are meant to be overcome, and I intend to try my best to achieve my goal this year.

Some Miscellaneous Ranting

Every now and again I have some random thoughts, that separately won’t make enough of a blog post. Today is one of those days. From politics to my own writing life, here are today’s random rantings.

Politics

Alright, so I can’t be the only one tired of all of this right? I keep seeing memes about how people need to be held to the same standard, but at the same time keep talking about things like “witch hunts” and “snowflakes”. Let’s talk about fair for a moment. Think about this: What if President Obama didn’t release his tax returns? Wouldn’t the right think that was suspicious? What if a terrorist-linked company pulled the same thing Russia did to get Obama elected? Wouldn’t the right want to investigate that? Because I would be really concerned in both of those situations. I thought that Hilary should have been investigated more closely to see if she compromised security or sold favors to foreign governments/organizations. Maybe I’m just crazy. Or, maybe I’m one of the few that actually thinks that everyone should be held accountable for the same things.

If you sexually harass or assault another person, you should be held to the fullest extend of the law no matter your race, economic status, or political affiliation. The same applies if you commit any crime. There are some shady areas where I would make exceptions. Like if you walk into a room to see someone assaulting your child and you beat the crap out of that person, I would find that very reasonable. But please, don’t start talking about double standards if you also accept double standards. I think that only guilty people hide things and when you are at the level of being a president, you allow the door to be opened to this extra level of scrutiny.

What’s Next for My Goals

After gaining acceptance to a short story anthology, I’ve been working hard towards other goals. I have started to figure out a setup for a podcast, but I’m still undecided on the details, such as what to talk about or how often I should do it. I’m thinking once a month, but the topic is still uncertain to me. I have some ideas for new books, including a new children’s book, which I have started to write up. Also, that comic is coming along slowly as I’m trying to get my bearings on doing this. It’s a bit of a struggle shaking out my artist rust, but I have faith in myself. Until then, freelancing and streaming to get myself out there is on the table. I have also come up with the concept for my next NaNoWriMo attempt, also a horror novel. This one I feel more comfortable with, so I’m very much looking forward to it.

That is it. Those are my short rants for today. I’m very much open to suggestions for podcasts if there is something that you would find interesting to hear about.

Overcoming the Writer’s Block

A submission is due in 10 days for an anthology. 10 days. I keep writing, but I end up tossing everything. It doesn’t seem right. I don’t like the start. What was I thinking when I wrote that? My brain tells me to go again and I do. It’s a long struggle. I have stories in mind that I want to write. In fact, I have manage to plan out NaNoWriMo already with a new idea isn’t of trying to add 50,000 more words to last year’s. I have considered reworking the 25,000 words I completed last year to create a 5,000 word short story. But I didn’t feel I could. It’s not a great time.

It’s not as simple as just writing. That’s the problem when you work in a creative industry. If your brain isn’t functioning that day, you struggle to complete your tasks for the day. You don’t get paid. Other professions, you can have an off day but you still get paid for it. When you have to create ideas and your brain decides “Nah, maybe tomorrow”, you’re stuck. You can try everything in your power to untie this not, but it’s not likely going to work as well as you’d hope.

Yesterday was probably my most productive day I’ve had in a while. The good news is I still have saved the 2 pieces I have started. The bad news is I’m still not feeling it. I hoped that a few days away would have helped the creative process along. It didn’t. But, I’ve always been a “crunch at deadline” kind of writer. Something will hit me and then I will be unstoppable writing. The problem when you spend your writing energy freelancing and ghostwriting to earn money, is that you exert all of your creative energy on those projects. Sometimes for only a few dollars per article. Then when it’s time for you to work on your own projects, it doesn’t work out well.

It isn’t easy being someone in the creative industry. There is no definitive on how good you are. Art is appreciated by some and mocked by others. I still love it. Here’s to hoping that getting through my projects gets a little bit easier now that the weather is getting nicer and I can enjoy some fresh air to clear my head.