If you're on my LJ, that probably means you've read my novel The Other Guy or at least have heard of it, and I hope you a) have thoroughly enjoyed it, or b) are about to thoroughly enjoy it. (There is no alternative to thorough enjoyment; I'm sorry.)
I'm not really sure what I'm going to be doing with this journal yet, but it's here, and you're here, and that makes me happy. :) Feel free to hang around, say hi, ask questions, etc., and I'll do my best to be outrageously interesting.
With many pardons begged for the intense navel-gazing about to follow. I swear I have a point.
Eleven days into the new year, I came home exhausted, having driven all over creation for meeting after meeting after meeting, on top of my regularly scheduled work, clocking a ten-hour work day I wouldn't get paid overtime for. My job duties had just changed, and my stress levels were snowballing. I slouched into the shower and spent most of that time slumped against the wall, scarce of the will to move, thinking Gob Bluth thoughts, spiraling. Hello darkness my old friend. The thing is, I'm unhappy. The thing is, I've been unhappy for years.
When the economy tanked several years ago, I went unemployed for well over a year, exponentially more convinced of my worthlessness as a human being with each passing day. I wrote fanfiction to fill the time; it was something I was decent at, and it gave me a purpose, small as it was, other than wishing really hard I could magically disappear into an alternate universe where I didn't suck at life. Quite by accident, I stumbled upon the idea for my current profession -- it was relatively interesting and, more importantly, seemed doable. I didn't have the right credentials for it yet, though. I'd have to go back to school. First, a year of post-baccalaureate courses to fulfill all the prerequisites, and two years of graduate school after that. Doable. Less horrifying a prospect than being permanently unemployed.
I finished my first novel just a few days before grad school was to start. Writing a novel had always been something of a pipe dream, something for other people with scads more talent than I to do. But I wrote it and I finished it, and it felt amazing. For the first time in my life, I thought, maybe this can be my job, maybe I can actually have a job I love. My foray into graduate school, the thing I was spending so much time and effort and money on, it was a means to an end; it was to get a job that I could work at until I could afford not to do it anymore. I hated the idea of it, as much as I was tantalized by the idea of the opposite. My best friend had to talk me off the ledge and make me be responsible and go to school.
A lot is said about reaching for one's dreams, living one's passions, doing what the heart wants. I get that. I want that. But I also get the need to be financially stable. And have medical benefits. Short of winning the lottery or being the surprise benefactor of a heretofore unknown, eccentric billionaire great-uncle's will, that's not going to change. The lights have to stay on somehow.
Twelve days into the new year, I called in sick. I was tired to my very bones. I wanted to go back to a time when I didn't dread waking up in the morning -- and actually, I didn't have to reach far to find it. It had happened only a couple of weeks ago during the holiday break, it had happened over a summer three years ago when I was writing The Other Guy, and it had happened in the long interim as I continued to contribute little stories here and there to fandom. It had happened while I was writing. I'd bound out of bed at seven, make a cup of coffee, forget to eat breakfast, let the coffee go cold, and write. I'd shovel lunch into my mouth only because I got lightheaded, and write. I'd write and write until it was time to go to sleep, and I'd head to bed, excited that I'd get to do it all over again the next day.
By contrast, the first thing out of my mouth when the alarm clock goes off during a regular work week? Fuuuck. Or on less dreary days, nooo.
I had been here countless times before, knowing perfectly well I didn't particularly enjoy what I was doing, knowing there was there was something else I'd much rather devote my time and energy to, and could, but I was terrified of it. What if the thing I loved to do didn't love me back? What if everyone did have a novel in them, and I'd already met my quota and had nothing left? What if everything I'd ever written was actually pure garbage dressed up as prose? But also... what if I never got off my ass to find out?
Normally, when beset with these thoughts, I'd journal them, wait for the worst of the feelings to pass, and trudge on as usual. But I was getting sick of writing down the same old crap; my journals have literally at least five years of the same damn thing, pages and pages of how I wished my life could be different. And I'd reached a saturation point. Instead of journalling, I went to YouTube and searched for motivational speeches. I needed someone to yell at me and slap me in the face and tell me I could do better. I don't know if I can even find those videos again; I went through four or five of them largely indiscriminately. It didn't matter, because boiled down, they all said the same thing: it takes work.
I'm not disciplined. That's why I don't go on diets or make resolutions. Failure is foreseeable from the start. What I am good at is throwing confetti showers of excuses at myself. I'm too tired. I don't have time. I don't have ideas. I'm stuck. But as it turns out, I'm also a tad full of shit. My life won't change unless I change.
Which is not to say I'm going to run out and quit my job right now. Like I said, I have to keep the lights on. But I can also make time to get happy. That means working at it every single day, whether it's doing research or writing ten words or a thousand. That means not waiting for the stars to align with my muse's schedule as she flits in and out at will (mostly out). If I want to reach a point in my life where I can wake up on a daily basis and not groan like a dying beast at the thought of the next twelve hours, I have to put in the work.
It's possible I'll never reach that point. My fears may all be true and I may not be good enough a writer to ever get there. But the difference between trying and clinging to the status quo is that the latter is iron-clad insurance that I will never be happy with myself. If I try, at least I have a fighting chance.
So this is an open invitation. You are all invited to hold me accountable. Demand daily word counts from me, tweet me in all caps, remind me Tumblr will still be there tomorrow, send me pictures of squishy baby animals. (The last one probably won't help with motivation all that much, but who doesn't like pictures of baby animals? Give them to me! They are so cute.) Be my cheerleader, be my drill sergeant, be my motivational speaker. If you want it, I will do the very same for you.
Three hundred and sixty-five days into the new year, I want to look back and see a difference, if not in my life, then at least in me.
Some of you have politely inquired when the next book might be out. The short answer: I don't know. The long answer: [cue hysterical weeping]
Lots of writers and other maker-uppers of cool things are acquaintances, if not full-on chummy, with Crippling Doubt and his best pal You're-Not-Good-Enough. These fine gentlemen paid me a visit about, oh, nine months ago, and have since settled into my life as inextricably as a seventeen-year-old wine stain the middle of the carpet. Our days pass in a haze of backspace button abuse, blank documents, cursors that wink in and out of existence right alongside my writing abilities. We huddle together in the warm, blue glow of my laptop, listening to the gentle rhythm of the desk repeatedly meeting my head.
Crippling Doubt showers upon me an endless confetti of advice.
You're-Not-Good-Enough is solicitous and full of endearments.
It is... a challenge. And that, kids, is why I don't know when the next book will be out. The best I can do is: eventually. (Sorry.)
Cary, in real life: Did I ever tell you guys about my shapeshifting superpowers? It's only specific to certain situations, but happens without fail in scenarios like, oh say, job interviews. That's when I turn from a reasonably well-adjusted individual into a panicked, rambling mess, splattering word-vomit all over the floor. As usefulness goes, it probably ranks somewhere between Aquaman and the Wonder Twins. So that's where I am in my life right now; how are you all doing? Good?
Writing is hard: The good news is that I have about 80K written of a new story, and I don't excessively hate all of it. The bad news is that half of it doesn't quite work, and needs major reconstruction, and the thought of going through all those words makes me want to swandive into a vat of boiling grease. Okay, fine, it's not that bad. But it's still a damn lot of work. Unnnggghhh.
Nerd alert: Everybody should play the board game Pandemic (with expansions). It's a cooperative game where everyone strategizes together to save the world from disease, and I promise it's a lot more fun than I make it sound. Wil Wheaton and friends will tell you:
"A game where the players are the only thing that stands between life and horrible, shivering, puking, bleeding, miserable death" about sums it up
A darling friend of mine has been recommending Bill Bryson's books to me for ages and ages. I finally managed to pick up a copy of Notes from a Small Island at a used book sale (tread lightly, friends; it's a dark, dangerous place that saps your willpower and replaces it with fifteen books you don't need), and what do you know -- she's right and he's hysterical.
There's a passage in Notes about W.J.C. Scott-Bentinck, an eccentric recluse who has since become my role model. He communicated with his servants entirely by written notes, had food delivered to his room using a miniature railway system, and, if a servant saw him by accident, froze like a statue until they passed. After his death, his heirs found a room stuffed to the gills with "hundreds of green boxes, each of which contained a single dark brown wig." He sounds amazing, and I want to be him when I grow up. Failing that, the Simpsons version of Thomas Pynchon.
In other news, I hope you're all having a brilliant holiday season! If that is not your thing, I hope you are enjoying a regular week of the month! Whatever you're celebrating or not, I wish you all light and love and no end of good books to keep you company. ♥
Happy summer, everybody! I hope you're getting to enjoy whatever it is you enjoy of this lovely little season. Me, I get to be in school. (Hurrah, said nobody.) So, just a brief check-in today.
Some of you have added me on Google+ or LinkedIn or other things. I appreciate it so much when you guys take the time to reach out to me, and if I haven't responded to these adds, it's not because I'm snubbing you or anything; it's simply because I don't use those tools. I'm only currently active on Livejournal, Goodreads and Twitter. Of course, with my spotty updating record, you are well within your rights to laugh at my use of the word 'active'. (I'm also namesquatting on Tumblr, with ambiguous plans to do something with it if I ever get this next book off the ground.)
In other news, if you were one of the poor, unfortunate souls, as I was, who missed the Neverwhere radio play during its original airing on BBC Radio 4, YouTube has come to the rescue: Episode 1. Take an already brilliant story and add James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer and Benedict Cumberbatch? YES PLEASE.
Today was Seattle's Pride Parade. It was a hot, hot day and I managed to get a nice farmer's tan standing out there for about twenty minutes. Unfortunately, twenty minutes was about all I got to see of the parade, as I had other places to be (I think next year I should make it a point to actually attend rather than seeing a fraction of it by happenstance). Even so, being a part of it for that tiny portion was a pleasure; such a lovely, celebratory mood permeating the whole of downtown. Just beautiful.
And I would like to be his best friend. Barring that, purveyor of things he writes, so I guess that's where we are today. Mostly this post is an excuse to link you to things I have recently enjoyed on the Internet.
Eisenberg's McSweeney's column Bream Gives Me Hiccups: Restaurant Reviews From a Privileged Nine-Year-Old is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, and yet so much more. Simultaneously amusing, honest and heartbreaking. Seriously, I teared up reading the most recent one. (Caveat: I also tear up sometimes at Hallmark card commercials, so use that as your gauge for how emotionally unstable I am.)
You've probably seen Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal, but just in case this managed to give your attention the slip, here is, um, Ryan Gosling refusing to eat his cereal. I can't explain why it's so funny. It just is, okay?
I tweeted about this some time back, but it's still pretty much my favorite thing ever: Epic 23-Year Game of Tag. Totally insane and so inspired.
As mentioned in a previous post, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is only the best book ever on the face of the earth. (You think I suffer from hyperbole, but I do love that book something fierce.) Here, a comprehensive reference guide to Good Omens. Most excellent.
Joss Whedon was the commencement speaker at his alma mater Wesleyan this year. His speech is, quite simply, beautiful. Let's all aspire to be like him when we grow up, yes?
And we finish off with more Eisenberg. He's also a regular contributer to The New Yorker; recently he did a short script entitled Marv Albert is My Therapist. And then they got him and Marv Albert to perform it, to a nation's delight.
If I had a quarter for every time I could quite clearly hear someone's music even though their earbuds were jammed into their earholes, I'd never have to scrounge for laundry money ever again. Ever! And while having unlimited laundry funds would be awesome for me, irreversible hearing loss is awesome for nobody. With the risk of hearing loss increasing in recent years, especially in younger populations (TIME), education and prevention is key. It's never too early to start, as with this video-book aimed at the littluns:
And the next time you see a loved one making their inner hair cells sad, perhaps some gentle accosting wouldn't go amiss. They'll thank you for it later. (Probably. I mean, I totally would.)