distraction and derailment

Fall has been a big season of change for me:

  • New day job
  • Studying for new certification for new job
  • No coach (he retired and I’m still looking for a new one)
  • Old friend back in town

Listed they seem trivial but taken together it’s required a realignment of priorities and expectations. Control freak that I am even the good changes have me flailing a bit. But learning a bit of flexibility is never a bad thing, and without the occasional shakeup it’s easy to go stale.

What little writing/editing I’m getting done is more productive. It’s like removing my nose from the grindstone allowed some ideas to free up, and I’m finally resolving some plot holes and character motivations that I’ve been fretting over for months.

Because of changes in commute I’m also forced to brainstorm in new places, and something as small as a change in scenery is enough to jog things loose.

My apologies for brevity, but yesterday was actually my first day of the new job and I’m still kind of cluttered. What have you all been up to?


writing and the day job

I don’t talk much about my day job online.

It’s a deliberate decision. My 9-5 has nothing to do with writing and I don’t like discussing private office goings-on in a public place. Nonetheless, the day job does affect the writing and likely always will.

This doesn’t surprise me. Only award winners and best sellers stand a chance of making a living purely for their art and even some of them keep day jobs: Hugo award winner Kameron Hurley has been unusually candid about her earnings. Which is all cool – I didn’t get into this to get rich. But it does mean that when something happens to the day job I have to divert attention from the writing.

My current contract is up in October, so I find myself seeking new employment for the first time in fifteen years. No matter how convenient it is to apply with a mouse click I still have to check listings, tailor the resume, interview, return emails etc.

Short version: it uses my writing time. Which is somewhat vexing, but very necessary. I’m more creative when I’ve got a regular income to keep the lights on and food on the table.

This also means I won’t have time to blog as I’d like – hence last week’s warning that I might go silent.

giving up one thing to get another

I used to be a costumer.

Let me back up. I am a costumer. My love of costume and fashion goes way back, and I started sewing in high school as a means of getting EXACTLY the outfit I imagined. Over the years I’ve turned my hand to everything from modern patterns to science fiction and historical costume, the latter especially a wonderful outlet for my restless need to research.

Fitted Gown
English fitted gown, ca 16th c.
Elizabethan partlet with blackwork embroidery

I not only enjoy sewing but do it well: I can draft my own patterns and alter existing ones; I’m comfortable dyeing, hand sewing, and even the odd bit of embroidery. Given that my day job has me moving pixels around a screen 40 hours a week it’s a refreshing change to work with something physical.

So you have some idea how big a deal it is for me to set it aside.

Farscape duster
Duster from tv show “Farscape”
Sleeveless doublet with trim, ca. 16th c.

Once I got serious about The Book ™ I realized I’d have to stop sewing. Fact: there are only 24 hours in a day. Eight of those I must sleep (and I really must; one of the cruel tricks of being over 35 is that I can’t function on 5 hours a night anymore); another 8 I must work to keep a roof over my head. ~Two days a week I fence and giving it up isn’t an option because I get cranky if I don’t exercise regularly. I also have husband, family, and friends who I enjoy spending time with. Something had to give.

My coach once gave me a valuable piece of advice: you give up one thing to get another. He meant this in the context of fencing: if you go on the offense you give up defense; if you defend one side you automatically leave another open. There is no one perfect act that gives you EVERYTHING, and I’ve found that this holds true for other aspects of my life.

Once the first draft is complete I’ll reward myself with a sewing project even if it’s just garment dyeing or a quick and dirty commercial pattern. Until then all creative energies must go towards the book.

This will be even more true for the next 6 weeks as the HNS conference folks finally got their requirements for cold reads/critiques to me. I need 10 more-or-less finished pages by May 31 to send to my mentor, so even the “pouring sand into the sandbox” of first drafting will be taking a back seat.

Wish me luck.