I Swear I’m Working!

I call  this doing the Hemingway.
I call this doing the Hemingway.

Need I say anything more on a glorious TGIF afternoon, lounging in my favorite open-air bistro, Capitol Hill Coffee House, and starting the development process for Act II?

Floating out there beyond the headlights awaits the plot point that signals the end of Act II. I know where I’m going, just need to get a handle on the scenes that get me from here to there.

Admittedly, this kind of planning work isn’t my strength. A nice little Chilean Merlot helps though!

Can we just go home now?
Can we just go home now?

On Honesty in Blogging, Part 2

(Continued from yesterday’s post.)

And you think: poor baby, a real job. But I’ll die a slow death of the soul. I can feel it already. I’ll have to give up my fiction for the most part. My fiction will become the thing I try to fit in, like a hobby, and that feels so wrong to me. So wrong. That’s not what my soul wants to do: FIT IN the fiction. No.

The 9-to-5 world sucks me dry. Maybe it’s my temperament, maybe it’s the florescent lighting, but it really does sap me of energy. I never did get much fiction accomplished during my salaried days. I don’t know how Bloglily and Nova do it, frankly. I have a lower energy threshold, I suppose, and that’s what I have to accomodate to get the fiction in–which is why I put myself at risk outside the system, so I’d have sufficient quiet time plus sufficient writing time.

At the moment, it feels like the risks haven’t been worth it, feels like I’ve given up a whole helluva lot (my life, basically) for the fiction. Feels like I’ll never have anything to show for the sacrifice. How’s this for wallowing and honesty in blogging?

Obviously, I’m emotional right now. The rawness will pass, but I’m depressive, too, so I hope I don’t fall into that stupor over the rest of the winter.

Even as I write this, I know that I’ll adjust as necessary to keep a roof over my head. It’s just that I hate feeling shriveled down to survivalism. I’ve never worried about money before. I’ve never felt that anxiety before. I’ve never felt the pull of money at odds with the pull of my dreams. Going for fiction never felt like risky behavior until now. I always assumed it would happen.

If this is a process, then I’m in the midst of just another obstacle, right? A deep and wide obstacle, but only an obstacle. If this is so, why does it feel like the end of my dreams?

The economy will improve, money will free up again, but that’s THEN, this is now.

On Honesty in Blogging, Part 1

This blog, it’s supposed to be an honest reflection of my writing life. It’s supposed to highlight my thoughts on craft, my fiction-writing trials and tribulation, my bumpy road toward publication. I thought my blog might inspire other fledgling novelists. I thought it might inspire because I was optimistic that the low points would be the run-of-the-mill frustrations. I even count the literary-agent setback in that category because it’s a common story.

But now, I’m in a bad way, a very bad way, and here’s where it’s hard to be honest. It’s making my soul clench to have to write this — and maybe I want to cry just a little — but I honestly don’t know if publication is going to happen for me. I might have to quit my dream, or at least sideline it for a long while. But sidelining it feels like quitting.

I feel weak and fearful right now. I’m not used to feeling like this. I don’t like it.

I thought I’d be well on my way toward publication by now. I had two years worth of stored money (most of it by way of the writing grant mentioned in the sidebar) to see me safely through to a contract. Hah–that’s VERY optimistic, I know. I thought at the very least, no problem, because I’ve never had trouble finding part-time freelance work.

The reason this post is difficult to write is because it’s all about money. Every struggling artist’s nemesis. Who likes to be honest about that? It’s yucky.

I’m in a bad, bad way. I had money to last me until July 2009. I had two freelance jobs lined up for right know, lucrative jobs that would help fill the coffers so I could continue on past July 2009 in this writing life of mine. Who knew when I quit my job in July 2007 that everything would go to hell?

The freelance jobs never happened. The bad economy sucked them dry as well as most of my remaining grant money.

I realized my dire financial straits this morning. It hit me like a massive coronary. And since the optimal freelance jobs have dwindled, I found myself looking at ACTUAL JOB ads within my previous career: technical writing.

Ugh, I’m getting so depressed thinking about this–I’ll continue my train of thought tomorrow.

Ode to a Neighborhood Cafe

kodigoodbyesign.jpgAn era has ended, and I hadn’t realized I was in a mini-funk until today.

I previously mentioned Kodi’s in this post. Alas, Kodi’s is yet another independent coffee house to bite the dust. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m at a loss. I mean really, how can a coffee house closure mean so much?

The answer is complicated because it relates to an internal conflict I face each writing day: I’m prone to restlessness (with routines), rebelliousness against “the man” (which means against myself since I’m my own boss), and nocturnal habits (yet I don’t write well at night). 

The challenging part of my writing life is what I call “being a good girl,” which means me — the restless, rebellious, nocturnal woman — fashioning a work week around dull and clean-living habits. This requires more self-discipline out of me than the writing itself!

Unfortunately, to pseudo-quote The Shining by Stephen King: All work and no play makes Lisa a dull girl (with a blocked brain). I have to work with my restless, rebellious self, not banish it. I’ve tried banishment: disaster. Thus, my optimal writing life must also include room for impulsive, procrastinatory, random people-time, which pacifies my bad-girl tendencies just enough to keep me balanced, happy, and writing (happier still).

To this end, Kodi’s was the perfect outlet and therefore crucial to my writing life. Kodi’s was a neighborhood coffee house with a crew of regulars — at least one of whom was sure to be lounging around when I entered — and an owner who became a friend.

Last Thursday during the wake we held after Kodi’s final day, I realized that I wasn’t the only discomposed regular. Our talk over beers and fancy alcoholic coffee drinks revolved around the next nearest cafe and whether it had plush chairs and decent mochas and friendly baristas and WiFi.

My writing life aside, our conversation got me thinking that in our rush-rush-rush, depersonalized world, the break-up of any family — even our rag-tag crew of Kodi’s eccentrics — is ample cause for a mini-funk. I’ll find a new outlet to assuage my bad-girl tendencies; however, I wonder how easily I’ll find such a merry and welcoming coffee-house community.