I’m Always Surprised By My Past Self

I was editing today which means that I was looking at my ebook, which I self-published just before college. It’s a series of flash fiction stories and a few poems that are on my favorite topic: werewolves. My plan is to resubmit it once I’ve been able to make it better with the knowledge and ability I’ve gained from college.

This is something that I usually dread: looking back at my past work. It’s like that moment in a crime drama when you know they’re going to find the body and you know it’s going to be horribly mangled beyond recognition but they’re going to show it anyway because who cares about scaring people for life, amiright? As the camera pans over you brace yourself for the absolute worst. There’s an immediate cut away to character reactions: horror, disgust, fear. Then they go to the body so you can get a really good look at it. It’s the dread, though, that gets you. You know it’s not going to be good but you don’t know how not-good it’s going to be until you open the document and look at the tangled mess of garbage you wove before you knew how to properly put a sentence together.

But there are also those moments where they cut to the body and you’re like, “Oh. Oh, that’s not as bad as I thought it would be.” This is really what happens when I look at some of my past writing.┬áIt’s always a pleasant surprise when that happens.

I wrote most of the pieces for my ebook in late high school. I even submitted a bunch as a project for my creative writing class at that time. They’re definitely not fantastic, which is fine. I was expecting to have a lot of grammar to edit and a million typos to deal with. But, line by line, I wasn’t bad. I haven’t found any crazy grammar errors or any real problems with the plots of the stories either. The characters are pretty flat but they are flash fiction (not an excuse but it’s understandable that my less-experienced-self sacrificed character to keep the length down).

I’m still trying to decide if it’s easier to deal with grammar problems or character problems. I knew that there was going to be an issue with the stories feeling the same because they all have the same topic and while they deal with different aspects, many rehash what others already said. I haven’t finished editing, or even reading through, all of it yet but I can already see similarities (thus, the same mistakes) in the stories I’ve read so far. Right now, I’m just going through for grammar. It’s going pretty fast but I worry that when I go through for character and plot that it’s going to be a lot. I’m glad that I’ve gotten over my fear of making flash fiction “too long.” Most of the stories are only two pages right now and flash can be quite a bit longer than that (if I learned anything about word count in college it’s that no one agrees on what word count means for whether to call a piece flash or a short story). The most difficult thing, I think, will be to create the characters individually in my head. It’s not that they’re going to need complex backgrounds but I have a ton of characters in a ton of different worlds and each of them needs to be unique.

While this may be a big undertaking, I really do feel up to the challenge. My grace period is almost a month down right now and I need to get this done so I can start promoting it and make some money before I have to start paying off all those pesky student loans. This may be the motivation of panic and sadness but it’s motivation nonetheless and that’s really all I need.

One day, I’ll be a known author. I want to be known but not super famous. There’s a sweet spot in fame where you can be known by many but not bombarded by people. I like to think I can get there by starting with this ebook.

 

 

Things I Should Be Doing

  1. Reading.

I haven’t been reading recently which is ridiculous. As a writer, I should be reading everyday. But I haven’t read for fun since probably junior year of college, arguably not a super long time but still a while. I feel like I don’t have time, partly because I’ve been working on my parents’ house so much this month. It’s really no excuse. I need to come up with a reading list to go through the too many books I already own.

2. Writing.

This blog has actually really helped. I tend to get caught up in Youtube videos or my mom’s plans to go grocery shopping or taking on home projects that take eight times longer than planned. It’s a real problem. I keep thinking I need to be writing. It’s a full time job and I haven’t been devoting full time hours to it. My new plan is to sacrifice work on the porch so that I can write. I’m limiting my daily porch/housework to 3 or 4 hours so I can have plenty of time for this blog, my yet-to-be-a-reality fiverr gigs, editing my e-book, and generating new writing.

3. Setting up my workspace

I have a desk that is currently covered in nothing that needs to be there in order for me to work. I’ve been putting off cleaning it up because who knows why and will get it finished in however long it takes. But seriously, it needs to be done so I can have a space for working. I’m seriously considering clearing off the landing just off my room and making that my office. It would be a nice space to have, for sure but do I want to clean the landing?

4. Everything on my to-do list

I have so many things to do that I’m just not getting done. Whether that’s because those things are taking longer than expected or because I just haven’t felt like doing them, they need to be done. I really need to get back into memorization (on my list), that’s something that has been really helpful to me in the past and I hop that it will continue to be an asset.

5. Relaxing.

I need to remember to make time to have some lone moments. Not moments where I sit and watch Youtube or a movie but a time when I can actually relax without distractions. Maybe with just a pen and paper to generate ideas. I think it would be really good for me to block off even just 20 minutes a day to do that. It would also definitely help me generate new work but it would be good me-time.

 

There is always more to do, always more that need to happen. I’m a determined kind of person but at the same time I can often lose hope that I’ll ever be able to do everything. I also like to hold things back from people even though I shouldn’t. It’s because I’m afraid that if I share it, other people will influence me too much or if I don’t finish it then others will judge me. I shouldn’t be afraid of these things because I have really good support group. Still, those self-doubts are there. This list isn’t even as detailed or specific as it probably should be because I don’t want to share tooo much.

But this list IS manageable. In fact, I’ve got some time right now. I’ll get working on the space I need for writing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I Was Going to Write About Editing

Then I spent the last three days working on the front porch so I didn’t actually do any editing to talk about. I really want to make a habit of writing a post every week and I chose Saturday as my day to do that. So I’m committed to writing right now whether I have a lot to talk about or not.

I suppose I should explain about the porch. Because my parents see so much potential in houses they tend to buy old homes that need a lot of work. This means that whenever their grown children are around, housework is on the agenda. I’ve scraped wallpaper, learned how to use drywall mud decently, painted, ripped up carpeting, destroyed walls, and put down laminate wood flooring. That’s in addition to all the regular things that are expected like cleaning, heavy lifting, and whatever else needs to be done around the house.

The porch was actually my idea. I thought it would be a nice Father’s Day gift to my dad if my younger sisters and I stained the front porch. What I didn’t realize when I began three days ago was that 1) you have to clean and sand before you can stain and 2) all three steps require sunshine and dry days. It’s been raining almost nonstop which has made cleaning the wood difficult. We just finished off cleaning today (took MUCH longer than I had anticipated) and tomorrow is the first time in the forecast there’s supposed to be two sunny days in a row. Hopefully we can sand in the early afternoon then stain in the evening.

My dad has been aware of the project and is excited to see it completed. However, he’s also a perfectionist and that’s just not how the rest of the family rolls. He thinks that we’re gonna use a palm sander on the entire porch. It’s like 250 square feet, plus the steps. There is NO WAY that after scrubbing that entire deck on my hands and knees that I’m going to be on my hands and knees AGAIN just to sand that sucker. Not gonna happen. We’re gonna tape sandpaper to a mop and see how that goes. We’ll see what happens.

It will by no means be perfect. There are already mistakes. But, it’s going to look really fabulous and we have family pictures next weekend so it’ll look good for those. Plus, dad’s excited for it! He’s such a perfectionist he’s almost never excited for us, inexperienced children to do hardcore work on the house. This time he seems happy about it. He’s impressed with what we’ve done so far and mom says he’s really looking forward to having it done.

At least it’ll be one more thing off the million mile list of things that need to be done on this house.

 

UPDATE: I caved and started using the palm sander because the sandpaper-mop idea just absolutely bombed. Then I realized that the job was, in fact, WAY TOO BIG for a palm sander. After speaking with my father it was decided that he would like to purchase a belt sander for his own personal use (he actually got really excited when I started showing him different models on Lowe’s website). So tomorrow we will be the proud owners of a new belt sander and, hopefully, same day I will have the porch sanded. Fingers crossed.

Snapshot of My Life (The First of Many)

Here I am: graduated from college, staying at my parents’ house in Ohio, trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life.

This is not all it was cracked up to be.

I didn’t expect to have a lasting, warm-fuzzy graduation feeling. That’s not how I operate. But I guess I expected something to feel different. The only thing that’s different is now instead of stress about classes I have stress about finding a job (which I started feeling toward the end of my last semester, now it’s just multiplied). I want to move out by the end of the summer. I need to live my own life. I’m just afraid that it’s not going to happen as soon as I’d like it to.

Part of the problem with everything is that I need a job. And the problem with finding a job is that I don’t want one. No, I’m not being lazy. I want to work. But I don’t want to go in to a 9 to 5 and deal with people everyday. I want to write. I want this blog to become big enough to bring in some income. I want to get a couple books published. I want to do micro-writing jobs online.

Is that so unrealistic? I’m… cautiously optimistic that it’s not.

After graduation, I said my (tearful) goodbyes and headed home with my parents. It was a long drive. I planned what I’d be doing to prepare for the rest of my life. I planned cautiously, leaving time for my mom to spring projects on me last minute. I wanted to go through all my things, pack up what I won’t need until I move out, downsize to make moving easier. I thought up a list of excuses my parents would eventually need for various things like why I don’t have eighteen interviews lined up.

My parents are wonderful people. There’s no way for them to not ask me about jobs and my future career because they care about me. I love that. It just feels like I’m being bombarded when I’m not. Probably because I feel like I’m not going anywhere right now.

Two weeks and I feel stagnant! What is this anyway? Do I really need a fantastic job right out of school to feel like I’ve accomplished anything? Should I be moved out with a down payment on a house by now? I should at least own a car by now, right?

No.

Not at all.

It’s all those thoughts that have tinged my mood ghastly since graduation. I know they’re wrong. I don’t need all those things right out of school and no one realistically expects me to have them either. Building a reputation online, getting work published, making money doing what you love, it all takes time. I don’t understand why I feel like I don’t have any time to do that.

I’ve done plenty since coming home. I downsized, got rid of a few boxes worth of things, packed up a lot, posted textbooks on Amazon, took my sisters out for a day, helped my mom with a couple projects around the house, and I’ve started redoing the front and back porch as a Father’s Day gift. Yet these things feel hollow because they’re not a full-time, well-paying job that will enable me to move out. I’m editing my already existing ebook so I can republish it and promote it. I’ve sent my short story Faded Ink out to try to get it published and I sent out a gaming poem to an online journal. I got on my fiverr account to try to get some micro-writing gigs. I’m moving, but it doesn’t seem fast enough.

I have to remind myself not to give up. I’ve got a lot of people in my life who support me and have already helped me so much. It all seems quite overwhelming right now but I know that I can do this. God willing, I can do it.