Tag Archives: inspiration

I said “no” and the Universe said “yes”

I said “no” to a major promotion.

This may not be such a big deal, but I’m still in disbelief over my own audacity. I mean, I got tapped on the shoulder by an executive and was offered to take on a major project, the likes of which my organization has not yet seen. When I wondered out loud about how I was going to manage this in addition to my already stressful job, the executive offered to backfill part of my job. There was a new title with “Executive” to be had and no doubt extra compensation, although we did not get to the details of that. The project was sure to propel me right up to the next step of the corporate ladder.

So I said “yes”.

Oh yeah, minor detail – I said “yes” at first, like a good girl, one that bites more than she can chew and then chews like hell. I said “yes” and then proceeded to stress for two weeks about what the hell I am doing, all the way to a panic attack last Sunday, complete with chest pains. Then, Monday morning I called the executive and ever so politely withdrew from the project. She couldn’t believe it at first, even tried to come up with some arrangement, where I finish a couple of major projects already on the way and then take on this one, but finally agreed that she needed someone here and now. I was relieved. Sad, because my damn stressful job won’t let me take on something cool and exciting, but relieved. I went to my calendar and cancelled several hours worth of meetings I no longer had to attend.

Then the coolest thing happened. The little bit of spare brain capacity got flooded with a creative tsunami the likes of which I have not experienced in months. Have a look – all of this happened within approximately 30 hours, which included some sleep and a few snacks:

          

Yes, it’s a ginormous Christmas card. It was somewhere between complaining about the heat and how I can’t imagine Christmas in 30-plus degree weather and admiring my coworkers’ zest for decorating that I came up with this idea. I did not know if I would be able to pull it off, I just knew I had to do it. I found a store that sells primed canvas by meter, taped a 1.6mX2.5m piece of it to my (now ruined) dining room wall and went nuts. Saturday night date night got cancelled and I had to make a mad dash back to the art store for more paint, but the next day I was sneaking into work to hang this up on the glass wall of my office. I have the Monday off, so don’t yet know how it was received, but it doesn’t even matter – I was high on endorphins all day. Thank you, Universe, for giving back my creativity.

Oh, and thanks again for something unexpected – my Twitter thread of progress photos almost went viral:

I’ve never had any of my tweets get so many retweets and likes in such a short time. I’ve posted excerpts from my books and photos of my portraits, which took painstaking days to complete, and they gathered some interest, but never like this. Dozens of people left comments, and I am now left wondering about why this particular painting provoked such an emotional response. Is it the season? Or the mood of it? Does it have something to do with it’s size? Or how quickly it was completed? If you have thoughtsd on this, please let me know – one thing for sure, I may stray away from the portraiture for another test.

So things are great. Except now I have to paint the entire dining room wall – and not with Dulax, but with a mural exactly like this painting, because Josh said so 🙂

 

 

19 Comments

Filed under Painting

Working Title, Chapter 2

It almost didn’t happen – I had to battle some kind of virus (damn you, Australian winter!) and another bout of writer’s block. Overcame the first one by sleeping and the second by giving up on a particular scene (not deleting, just moving it down) and taking a slightly different direction. Voila, a new chapter and a new painting in the nick of time!

Thank you all so much for providing comments! They really helped – you may notice Pop is now Pa, and I have amended the first chapter accordingly. If you are new to the blog, please note that what follows is my attempt to write and live-post my new story one chapter and one character portrait at a time. There’s no way I can finish a portrait in a week, so I will be posting photos of each painting as they progress through the stages – some stages may be ugly. This one is of Rose, the narrator. Please feel free to comment, but be kind – I bruise (and doubt myself) easily. Also, if you’re new and interested – start with the Chapter 1.

Here she goes.

rose-2.jpg

The morning it all started someone dumped a box of kittens on our doorstep, tiny little things with ringworm so bad, their tails were bold. Pa was so excited I was seriously concerned he might have a coronary.

“Look, Rozochka!” He held one of the meowing rats up for me to see. “Look at ze white paws! Is like he has socks!”

I was less than thrilled. I actually like cats, just not so many of them. With the new additions, the household feline population reached at least a dozen, if you counted in the transients.

“That’s cute, Pa.” I leaned in closer and ran my finger across the kitten’s belly. “That’s a flea. I just saw a flea.”

“I will call him Socks.” He hugged the dirty little thing to his chest.

“Don’t start naming them, please,” I said, checking my watch. “Socks needs to find a good home very, very soon. And wash your hands, for the love of God. Ringworm is extremely contagious.”

“I will wash, Rozochka.”

“Thank you. Gotta go. And please, I beg you, don’t let them in your bed.”

That was pointless, I thought, getting into my car. The kittens were destined to have the run of the house, grow up to be big fat cats, and settle in permanently. Pa was about to spend whatever was left of his pension on veterinarian bills and every waking minute grooming and feeding them. Pa needed humans, not a bunch of useless freeloaders that had no purpose and didn’t contribute to anything, just laid around staring out the window and contemplating their pointless lives.

I’m angry at kittens. That was a new low, except, of course, it wasn’t kittens that got me there. It was my freeloading soon-to-be-ex-husband. Alex and I were still stuck in mediation, and that meant I was stuck in life until I could settle and get unchained from the dead weight. Once the house sells, I will move into my own place. The thought made me terribly guilty, the way it always did. Pa wouldn’t say anything, but it only made the guilt worse.

“It’s the only way,” I said to myself. The only way for me to have a chance at those grandkids Pa so desperately wanted. I imagined Alex now regretted not even considering having a baby – God knows, he would be claiming child support too. I was almost thankful for his selfishness, except for me “kids” would now most likely mean IVF, even if I managed to find some guy equally anxious to procreate. According to Claire, there were still plenty of them on the Internet, men who just crossed over the hill and finally realized that greener grass is usually fenced in and jealously guarded. I still had a few years to sort through them before even the most unscrupulous IVF clinics would turn me down, I just needed my own place to do that. My own place, with no useless freeloaders contemplating their pointless lives.

And definitely no cats.

*

“Just move out now,” Claire said. “You don’t have to buy a house, just rent one. Rent an apartment. Or a room. Move on.”

“I can’t,” I whispered. “I feel so guilty.”

I didn’t have to whisper – the office was nearly empty, with everyone out in court or meeting clients. Still, years of working for the law firm of Rich&Richer, as Claire called them, trained me to think in billable hours. Talking with the fellow paralegal was not billable. Not that Claire cared.

“You’re always feeling guilty,” she said. “You need to stop that.”

“What, just stop caring about an old man who has nobody except me in this world?”

“He has a son, doesn’t he?”

I rolled my eyes. “You know my father is useless. The best-case scenario is that he disappears forever and I don’t have to worry about paying his debts, too.”

“When was the last time you saw him, two years ago? Maybe he’s dead.”

“That’s what I love about you,” I said. “Ever the optimist.”

She laughed. “Any time, darl’. But seriously, move out.”

“I can’t. You don’t understand. He’s so old. And the cats, my God, the cats. He got more this morning. People bring them around now. I bet if you Google “cat lady”, his address would be at the top.”

She laughed again. “So, he got the cats! He doesn’t need you.”

“He needs people. He only collects cats cause he’s so lonely.”

“Maybe you both need dates.”

I shook my head. “You know he wouldn’t.”

“Oh. The grandma?”

“Yep.”

My grandmother, Roza Lansky, has been dead for over sixty years. Sixty-eight, to be precise because that’s how old my father was. To my knowledge, Pa has not so much as looked at another woman for sixty-eight years. I suddenly felt like crying, and not because I was sad for him. I was sad for me, poor little me. I inherited her name and, according to Pa, her looks, but there wasn’t a man in the world who would mourn me for that long. Except for Pa, but he didn’t count.

“You’re okay.” Claire patted my arm. “Seriously, you don’t have to babysit him. That’s enabling. He should meet other people.”

I wiped my eyes. “He doesn’t leave the house.”

“Maybe he should. Join some club. Play golf or something.”

“He can barely walk.”

“He can study. They have this University of the Third Age now.”

“I don’t think he even finished school.”

She snorted. “It’s not an actual university. It’s like a school for old people. They teach random stuff, like public speaking and current affairs. My grandmother loves it. She is taking painting lessons. Maybe your Pa can do some painting?”

*

Pa wasn’t on the porch when I pulled up to the house later. I was spent – being a paralegal, especially in my office, was basically doing twice the work of a solicitor for half the pay. I had a thick folder to get through and if Pa wanted to watch movies on his own, then great. All I wanted was my bed and some quiet.

The house was dark. Dark and quiet, except for the cats that greeted me at the door with indignant meowing, demanding dinner. For one terrifying moment I thought Pa was dead, had a heart attack while I was at work, or worse, hurt himself and couldn’t get to the phone, and slowly bled to death, alone, on the floor. It wasn’t hard to imagine, the old man was almost ninety. Then I heard cooing from down the hallway and saw a sliver of light coming from under the bathroom door.

He was sitting cross-legged on the bathroom mat, a towel in his lap, fussing over one of the kittens. The other kittens were asleep together in a basket and one of the tabbies observed the scene patiently from the counter, only the tip of his tail indicating the rage at having to wait for his regularly scheduled meal.

“What’s going on here?”

“Rozochka!” He straightened his back with a visible effort. “You’re home early.”

“Pa, it’s after six. How long have you been sitting on the floor?”

He looked at me with genuine confusion. “I don’t know.”

I helped him get up while he babbled away about the kittens, and the fleas, and how the vet said he could only use lavender oil to treat them because they were so young.

“Ze fleas, they don’t like ze oil. Very strange. It smell so nice.”

His fine white hair was messy and his hips and knees popped loudly. “You can’t do this, Pa.” I said. “Have you even showered today? You need to take better care of yourself.”

“I know, I know.” He shuffled towards the kitchen.

“You’re not cooking,” I said, overtaking him. “Sit down on a sofa, okay? I will cook.”

He didn’t even protest as he usually did. “Sank you, pet. I need to feed my babies.”

He fed the cats and then watched the news while I made a chicken stir-fry, something quick that I didn’t have to feel guilty about later. I brought the bowls into the living room – we usually ate at the kitchen table, but tonight wasn’t a usual day.

“Do you want something else, Rozochka? Maybe mashed potatoes?”

I almost had to hold him down. “Pa, relax. I don’t want any, but I will make something else for you if you’re hungry. Are you hungry?”

“No, no,” he said. “You know I don’t eat much.”

“That makes two of us.”

He sighed but didn’t even lecture me on the many reasons why I need to eat more. That was definitely unusual.

“Pa, are you okay?”

“I am very good, Rozochka,” he beamed at me. “The doctor gave me lotion for ze kittens. For tails. He said ze fur will grow back. He said­–“

“Pa, seriously. I’m starting to worry about you.”

“Why, Rozochka?”

“I don’t know. It’s the cats. Or maybe that you’re cooped up in here. When was the last time you got out of the house?”

“I went to the vet today.”

I laughed. “You see, it’s the cats again. When was the last time you did anything for yourself? Just for fun?”

He thought about it. “I am not cooped up. I like ze house. And cats.”

“You need people.”

“I have you, pet.”

I almost said I know. “Other people, Pa. New people. New things to do.”

He paused to think again. It was almost childlike. “I don’t know Rozochka. I don’t want anysing new.”

I don’t know why I kept pushing and I’d like to think that only part of it was the guilt of wanting to move out. I was worried about him, kind of like I worry about everything. I wanted him to be happy, and I wanted him to be safe, and all the research said a social circle is what everyone needs, but Pa’s circle was, unfortunately, more of a line. A thick, straight line between us, with no support from anyone else, not even his beloved son. It was that way forever, and it wasn’t my responsibility to fix, but I guess I didn’t see it that way. I pushed and prodded until he agreed to check out the University of the Third Age. It was in the city and he could take the tram almost to the door. There were language courses, and choir, and music, and yes, bridge.

He promised, I mean, practically swore he would check it out.

7 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

The happiest day of my month

It’s five am. I’m awake and I’m the happiest I’d been in a long time, maybe even a year. I wrote over a thousand words yesterday! And not just any words, the first chapter of that next novel that has been stuck in my head for so long. I’m still marveling at how easy it was to do, especially considering that I have had trouble writing anything for almost two years, even regular blog posts. How did I do it, you ask?

I simply decided that I don’t HAVE to write a book. The solitary year it would take me is just too much of a mountain, a burden, a crippling task. First I thought I will just write short stories, maybe see if I get enough of them to compile into something worthy of publication. But the story I wanted to write doesn’t easily fit into a short format, it needs time to unwrap its many layers. So I once again decided to try and publish it as an online serial.

So this is what I’m going to do. I will publish it on this blog, chapter by chapter, as it comes to me, without worrying too much about copy editing and comma polishing. It would be a challenge in itself, because it’s scary for me to show something I’ve written before I’ve had a chance at mulling it over for a long time or getting a native speaker/editor to fix the grammar and spelling. I just hope that the flipside will be that I won’t lose the momentum I gathered yesterday. After all, that’s how I wrote my first novel – it was a joke email to my sister, and had she not laughed and demanded more, it might have just stayed an email, forgotten in the sediment of thousands of other jokes I wrote and said to her. So if this serial post thing works out and I finish it, I still have a chance to turn it into a published book. After all, that’s how a few bestsellers started – The Marshian and if I’m not mistaken, The Twilight. Yes, traditional publishers would probably frown on this, but then publishers have ignored my many attempts at publishing Isa Maxwell series, so what’s new?

I decided that I won’t give up painting either and will weave into my new method – each post will have a new or updated painting to go with it. I have almost finished painting one of the characters and about to start on another one, my very first male portrait.

So that’s the plan. I will post the first chapter in a couple of days. Right now I will get back to writing and who knows, I could write another thousand words before my actual day begins.

Wish me luck!

26 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

Quick how-to: overcome a writer’s (or painter’s) block

Hi everyone,

As per usual, I’m not going to write a comprehensive guide on how to overcome the beast that keeps us from finishing (or even starting) that next (or first) novel. I just want to share with you an unexpected way I broke my own dry spell.

No, unfortunately I have not written another novel. Not yet. But I’d managed, after two months of being frozen in limbo, to paint another portrait. It’s not quite finished, but I wanted to share it anyway.

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to finally break a spell that was hanging over me – I just could not finish another painting I started. I was stuck. I’m not sure if it was fear that I don’t know what I’m doing or boredom of having gone just far enough. Maybe both. Maybe that’s why I have not finished the third novel in Isa Maxwell series – I got to a certain stage and just was not sure or interested in going through the polishing up stage. So I decided to move on from the not-quite-finished painting and try something new. Here it is, in case I forget it altogether.

Not only that, the portrait above is a character for a new novel, and in a completely new genre, a blend of a psychological thriller with some knife-to-the chest drama. Fingers crossed, I will get into it soon enough – the characters are starting to talk in my head, which is what I loved so much about writing my first two books.

So if you find yourself stuck or struggling to continue – maybe don’t. Put the draft in a drawer and start something new. Who knows, maybe it will lead you on to a completely new path. I hope mine does.

Wish me luck!

18 Comments

Filed under Painting

Literary Speed Dating

Did you know such thing even existed? No, it’s not authors dating authors, although maybe that’s not a bad idea either. It’s an event organised by an author society, where about a dozen publishers get to hear 3-minute pitches from writers that want to traditionally publish their books. I’ve known about the one organised by Australian Society of Authors for years now, but it has always sold out in a matter of days if not hours. This year, however, I get to go!

How did I do it? As usual, with dogged persistence. When I missed out last year, I went ahead and put a recurring reminder into my calendar to check the website for the next year’s announcement. Because I was told it would happen “early next year,” the reminder started on 1 January and repeated every day until now. I kept checking the website and was starting to lose hope when voila! There was the announcement and the web form. I tried to submit it a couple of times, but it didn’t work. When I called them, the staff member was in shock because she did not know it was already published on the web, it was supposed to get her approval or something. She took my credit card details (the event costs $50 AUD) and after much begging from me, sent me an email confirming that yes, I’m in.

So yay! On 24 June I get to finally meet those elusive publishers who so far managed to hide behind their assistants and template rejection letters. I have four months to finish my new book and to plan my assault. Me thinks I will be pitching not only the story, but myself too – the doggedly persistent author of not one, but three books. Gimme a contract for three novels over two years! I will deliver!

I will be posting about my experience, of course, and whether the event was worth the $50 (plus the membership with Writers Victoria). If you live in Australia, you may want to put a reminder in your calendar for next January or get onto the waiting list. If you live elsewhere, contact your local author society to see if they are doing something similar, or suggest that they do.

I know it’s a long time away, but the deadline got me even more energized to continue writing, and that alone is worth the fifty bucks. So far I’d managed between 800 and 1,100 words per day over the first three days, and that’s after long, hard days at work. let’s just see what happens over the weekend.

Hope you are well and that the Muse has visited you too, if not in the shower, then maybe in your dreams, or in the long boring meeting. Whenever it is, invite her in.

20 Comments

Filed under General thoughts

I have a dream. Again…

Look who’s back! “Who dis?” I hear you say, and yes, you have every right to forget me – I’ve been gone for three months. In cybertime, that’s like a generation. I’m sure new Twitter stars have managed to rise and implode since then, but I wouldn’t have known. I was too busy getting married and starting my new job.

Speaking of getting married – look at this happy couple!

registry-steps   walking-in-cbd   nighttime-in-cbd-2

You almost can’t tell that it was 39 degrees Celsius, which is just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit…crazy, but that’s the January in Melbourne for ya! I know that some of you can’t feel your toes right now, but trust me – you wouldn’t want to feel like you are cooking alive, either.

And yes, I’ve been at my new awesome job for almost three months, and yes, it’s incredibly demanding, but enough excuses already. I want to tell you about a wonderful thing that happened yesterday.

I came home late, as usual. Good thing that Josh cooks, because if not, I’d be surviving on tuna cans and stale bread. Early to rise and late home from work makes Ana one tired woman. So tired that a mere thought of sitting down to finish that third book or even write a new blog post creates involuntary spasms in my legs, which usually results in a couch faceplant, supplemented with trash TV. Every now and then I would also feel intense regret that the writing dream is over, and then pass out to start the early-to-rise cycle all over again. Sounds familiar? Yeah, it sucks.

I’ve tried beating myself up, writing daily plans, and setting up a reward system, but nothing was working. That is, until yesterday. I was in the shower, trying to wash off the daily stress, when I sort of spaced out. I was fantasizing about how my life could be different, when a story idea came to me, as vivid and real as one of those hallucinations I had when I was high on opiates in the hospital bed. When I came to, the bathroom was full of steam and my mind was full of plot twists, characters, and whole scenes.

My sister-in-law came over to have dinner and watch “Married at First Sight,” so I had to play hostess for a couple of hours, but all I could think of was the new story. I could not wait for the stupid show to be over, so that I could write down the idea, I was that afraid to lose it. I jumped onto the computer as soon as I could and did not get off the chair until Josh started yelling from the other bedroom that we had to get some sleep. I could not stop thinking about it this morning. I told my sister. She liked it. In fact, her exact words were: “Yep, here we go again!”

Yes, indeed. Here we go. A completely different new novel, a psychological thriller with little comedy, if any. A male protagonist. More character development, although I’m in love with the plot too. And I have a feeling I will be able to spill it onto the page in a couple of months – last night I could barely keep up with typing out the ideas as they were flooding in.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to in the last three months, and sorry again for disappearing, but if you’ve been self-beating and self-hating over a writer’s block, perhaps it’s time to try spacing out in a hot shower. Let me know how you go.

58 Comments

Filed under General thoughts

How to catch a Moby Dick

UPDATE: how truly awful, I didn’t know that Gillon Aitken has died just a couple of days ago. I can’t stop reading about him being “the true gentleman” and “literary giant.” RIP, Mr. Aitken.

If anything, the news gave me the shake I needed – life is short and I better get going. The plan still stands, although I will have to find another literary giant to help make my dreams come true.

ORIGINAL POST: I don’t know why, but after a year and a half of self-publishing game, I am once again dreaming of the elusive white whale of traditional publishing. It could be the exhaustion of all the marketing effort that has gone into promoting my books, or the recent confidence boost from finally nailing a big fat dream job. Suddenly I want to change everything: the pricing strategy, the plot of my third book, the marketing buget. It’s been a big few months and I have all the excuses to take it easy, but I just can’t. I feel like I need to take the writing dream by the collar and shake it until it wakes up and gets going again.

As previously lamented, a couple of years ago I started with an attempt to break into the traditional publishing. That time, I went with “cast the net wide” strategy. I penned about 70 applications and sent them off to American agents and a few big-name publishers. The best reply I got was “it’s funny, but we don’t know if there’s an audience for it.” It felt like a whole lotta effort for nothing and it felt like my dream of being a published author was dying. That’s when I decided to give it a great big shake by self publishing my first two books.

Now the dream once again feels like its flatlining, and I need to shock it back to life. I’m thinking adreanline. I’m thinking a big dream, hence the Moby Dick. This time, I won’t cast my net wide, instead zeroing in on one big target. Here he is:

gillon

Yes, the literary agent of Helen Fielding. And why the hell not? As soon as I had this insane/brilliant idea, I fired off an email to Gillon asking if he’d be interested in having Isa Maxwell series republished with a traditional publisher. The way I figured, he’d probably say no. This is where my strategy will differ from the previous salmon-like application spawning.

I shall not take no for an answer. I will not move onto another agent until I am absolutely sure that I have bothered Mr. Aitken enough to at least have a look at Shizzle, Inc. Here’s my multi-step plan of ever-increasing pestering:

  1. Send an email (already done).
  2. Send copies of physical books.
  3. Contact other agents in the same agency asking how to get to him.
  4. Find him on social media and fire off @ messages until he figures out how to block me.
  5. Start an online petition of “Mr. Aitken, please read Shizzle, Inc!”
  6. Start a website http://www.mraitkenpleasereadshizzleinc.com and publicise it on social media.
  7. TBD. Something viral, preferably.

The way I figured, what do I have to lose? Okay, so I may eventually piss him off, but is that really worse than him not knowing who I am? On the bright side, what if he finds all this nonsense hilarious and decides to check on who the hell is this mad woman Spoke? Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, that’s the plan. If you have any crazy suggestions for the mad woman Spoke, let me know. Cause I’m doing this!

23 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

Spreadsheets are the writer’s best friends

Well, maybe they are just this writer’s. Somehow, no matter what problem or challenge I’m facing, my first thought always turns to Excel. (Hmm, “Excel”…subliminal messaging? Or truth in advertising?)

Maybe it’s that whole idea of breaking a major problem into its component parts and tackling them one at a time. Maybe it’s tapping into the brain’s reward system, as I did last year, when watching the trend line of “actual words written” motivated me to finish the first draft of Shizzle, Inc. Or, most likely, it’s the fact that without a spreadsheet, or at least a to-do list, I would completely forget what I’m supposed to do or what I’ve already done…

Wait…what was I talking about?

To illustrate, here’s one of my “writer’s little helpers”, the word count tracking spreadsheet:

Shizzle word count log

You can see that the “actual” line is a bit jagged, and occasionally dips below the target, but all is well that ends well – and in this case I got what I wanted exactly when I wanted it – the draft was finished on the day the spreadsheet predicted that it would be.

The latest one is helping me track my progress towards landing a literary agent. Oh, I forgot to mention in my last post that in addition to everything else going wrong, my agent and I parted ways in a sort of messy divorce. So I’m back to square one in terms of plans on how to publish Shizzle, Inc. A depressing thought that only a tracking spreadsheet can fix. So here it is:

Selling Shizzle

It’s really simple. Paradoxically for a die-hard optimist, I expect to be rejected by agents. A lot. Let’s say 99 times out of 100. A simple logic would then dictate that in order to get one agent to believe into a future success of my totally rad first attempt at writing a novel, I will have to submit it to at least 100 agents.

As the spreadsheet shows, so far I’m up to 34 actual submissions. As an easy visualisation tool, the light grey shaded cells show all the agents to whom I’ve sent a query, and the more depressing dark grey ones, with strikethrough font, show the ones that sent a rejection letter or ignored me long enough to indicate a “no cigar” outcome.

So far my spreadsheets got me what I wanted, when I wanted it – 85,000 words in less than three months, and an apartment in about the same time frame. I will be very, very surprised if after 100 submissions I will not hook a single fish…er, agent. I’m not worried, though – if that happens, Miss Fix-it will make a spreadsheet on how to self-publish her “widely rejected” and “ignored by the best” debut.

2 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

Worst writer’s block and best excuses for it, ever!

I can’t believe that my last post was nearly a year ago! Before you write me off as just another wannabe without stamina and staying power, let me rattle off the reasons why. They are all really good excuses…

Since there are so many of them, and because my mind is warped by years of project management and corporate reporting, I shall present them in this easy to read, unemotional dot-point format:

1. Literally two weeks after my last post, I broke up with a boyfriend of five years. That by itself is a pretty good excuse to forgo writing for a while in favour of drinking cheap wine while wearing pyjamas, eating Cheetos, and watching endless reruns of the “Big Bang Theory”, but then…

2. The next day I turned 41. Turning anything 40+ is pretty traumatic under any circumstances, but it’s even worse when you are newly single.

3. And, as it turns out, it’s even worse when you are homeless. In the weeks prior, my home sweet home was repeatedly invaded by swarms of termites, the flying, mating kind. Out of obligation (and disgust), I reported the unwanted subleasers to the landlord. Little did I know that he would return the favour with an official-looking letter requiring me to vacate the premises in 60 days, so that the floors could be torn up and hundreds of litres of poison pumped into the soil below. I had every reason to believe he was the cold-heartedest landlord ever, until…

4. I’ve tried to rent a place with my dog. My adorable, miniature, house trained (sort of) Italian Greyhound. The only houses and apartments available to dog owners were complete dumps, the kind where I was sure to descend into depths of post-partum depression. Then it occurred to me, that at 41 I should shape up and buy a place of my own. Except…

5. I had all of 6 weeks to do it. Well, 10 weeks, after my tear-stained emails convinced the landlord to give me a month’s extension. How hard could it be? Apparently not as hard as…

6. The slap in the face I’ve received at work. My pet project, my baby if you will, was taken away from me with “thanks, we got it from here”. I was effectively demoted, although thankfully without loss of pay, which would have made the point #5 above practically impossible.

Let me pause here for a moment and reflect on where I was last April or so. At the rock bottom, ladies and gentlemen! Agh, the flashbacks! The horror…

Thankfully, this is where my alter ego, Miss Fix-it, stepped in to clean up the mess. Ok, so Miss Fix-it did have an occasional cry about it, but that was not all she did. She also:

1. Viewed over 50 apartments for sale in about a month. I still have the spreadsheet to prove that it was not just a cheap wine-induced nightmare.

2. Bid at three auctions and made two offers, including signing a deposit check with a shaky hand. Got outbid and had the check returned, with a mocking, red-hot “cancelled” stamp across its face.

3. After waiting a respectable 3 months, signed up for online dating. Went on a few dates, but mostly got material for a future book, a chicklit number about how hilarious it is to date in your 40s. It really is, if you drink enough.

4. Applied for jobs, so far six. Went to two interviews, but mostly got material for a future book, maybe something motivational, along the lines of “keep trying, even if you get beat by internal candidates” or whatnot.

I’d like to tell you that all those efforts paid off…that I lived happily ever after…funny enough, I can!

I bought an apartment, not the kind I set out to buy (an older, Art Deco with character, drafts, and leaky plumbing). I got a 2-year old place with a wrap-around balcony, floor to ceiling glass, brand new appliances, heating and cooling. I even pulled up the carpet in the living room and polished the concrete floor underneath, so that my dog can piss anywhere she pleases. It’s small, but it’s oh-so-me.

I also found a new boyfriend. Sorry, fiance – he surprised me right before Christmas! He is also not at all what I expected (a middle-aged man with a couple of kids, baggage and beginnings of a beer belly, who would watch TV and drink stubbies while I made dinner). He is gorgeous, fit, kind, and well-adjusted. He also gets up early every day and makes breakfast. Every single day. He is now in the kitchen, making dinner. Unreal…

The only thing that’s still not completely and utterly perfect is my job. But I’m not worried about it – Miss Fix-it is working on it. She also got a spreadsheet going of all the US agents that have received and will receive “Shizzle, Inc” submissions, but I’ll save it for another post.

Leave a comment

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

First steps

I didn’t know how hard it would be to sit down in front of a blank page, to start writing, not knowing if anyone would ever read a single word…or worse, thinking that if someone actually did find and read my stories, they would say things like “Wow. What a load of crap!”

Of course, there are much harder and scarier things out there. Like parachuting (which is not worth the risk, I mean, really not worth it). And actually, I have written fiction before (if  first chapters of a half-dozen unfinished novels count).  But I have never published or even posted anything in the cyberspace, for everyone to see and comment. Those first chapters of unfinished bestsellers are my personal treasures and secrets, my own fool’s gold.

But, you have to start sometime, somewhere, and for me it is today. Because I want to finish a novel, and because I want for others to read it. Because I want to get better at writing. Because I hope that in a multi-billion world there will be a few (a million?) that would one day close my book (or put down a Kindle) and say “Wow. What else did she write?” Now, that’s a dream worth the risk.

11 Comments

Filed under General thoughts