Three Years Down the Rabbit Hole

alice-and-cheshire-cat

 

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

 

I firmly believe that most of life’s idiosyncrasies can be summed up by one scene or another from Alice in Wonderland.

 

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

 

This aptly describes my feelings about my forays into the internet world, as I mark the end of my third year fumbling about this very strange place. Reflecting on my two pithy goals when I launched on July 27, 2014 are somewhat naively amusing. To wit:

 

Two things are going to happen before this summer is over. One, I am launching this website. Two, I am making serious advances on my mystery book. Unless I am dead. Then the pressure is off.

 

I certainly did launch the blog, and by the grace of all things holy, have kept it online, despite the many, many times I have thought, “screw this, I’m never writing again and I don’t need the pressure of maintaining this stupid website.” It’s like cutting bangs. When those scurrilous thoughts tormented me, I just stepped away, poured a glass of wine, kept my hands off of the scissors and the delete button, and waited for the demons to depart.

 

I will always write. I know this about me. It’s the only way I can kill people and not go to prison. And I like my little space in the netherworld, although sometimes its feels like I’m on an cerebral treadmill.

 

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”– Queen of Hearts to Alice

 

Indeed.

 

The second challenge, to make “serious advances” on my mystery book requires a bit of self-delusion nuance in analysis as to whether it has “happened.” In terms of physically writing the mystery/suspense novel, I’ve made more progress on my WIP in the last three months than in the last three years. It has been a disorienting, Alice in Wonderland-y journey. I’ve been tall and I’ve been small, but I still have my head.

 

And I’m convinced that I’ll continue to make further progress if I just heed what is perhaps the best writing advice of all:

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” King of Hearts to the White Rabbit.

 

And if you find a bottle marked “Drink me” you might be well advised to stick with the Pinot Noir.

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Making Progress | 4 Comments

It’s Like I’m Psychic!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

So when I said I was quitting social media and internet stuff, I didn’t mean my writing internet stuff. I love this first Wednesday blog hop. This is like a virtual writer’s conference and totally justified in terms of time and effort. Plus I count this as writing. And as bonus points for me, this month’s topic is quitting, which I have been doing left and right and center.

Today’s introspective question is: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Oh Alex Alex Alex. Did I “ever” say “I quit”?

Just last week. And predictably, every few weeks, or so.

But it’s always just a big, fat lie. I have always been a writer and I will always be a writer. I don’t really “come back” because it is simply impossible to leave.

Based upon my own experience and observation, I think writers “quit” because:

  • we’re stuck on our project
  • we’re bored with our project 
  • we’re caught up in other life issues
  • we’re frustrated because the first draft is a crappy first draft and not a brilliant finished product
  • we’re frustrated because our brilliant finished project isn’t finding an agent/publisher
  • we can’t be all things to “all people” all the time and something has to go, and it’s never “all people”
  • we’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books in a bookstore and we just know our own book sucks and will never be published [to wit: last week, a best-selling Wall Street Journal author released her new book, second in a series, with basically the same premise as my WIP. The obvious response? That’s It! I don’t have a chance! I QUIT!]*  

Writers “come back” because we’re writers. It’s like breathing. Or drinking wine. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. No matter what. [ok – maybe just me on the wine part]. 

*[said best-selling author’s book does not contain the really cool fraternity aspect of mine, so really, the stories are nothing alike. There are millions of authors writing lawyer books. I can, too.]

Today’s awesome co-hosts of the IWSG are also writers who have plenty more to say about quitting and coming back, so check them out:

JH Moncrieff,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Jen Chandler,
Megan Morgan, and
Heather Gardner

Posted in Idle Threats, It's the Law, IWSG, Unreliable Witnesses | 20 Comments

Quitting? Or Facing the Truth That Some Things Aren’t Worth the Time?

Sparkling whine dogSo I have dropped social media. Unsubscribed from every damn thing I don’t have time to read, buy, or think about. The relief is amazing! The extra time is . . . extra. And best of all, no more guilt because I can’t keep up with it all.

I thought all this extra time could be productively spent on a writing class I signed up for a few weeks ago. I’m well into week two, videos watched, readings done, classroom comments made. I’ve submitted my work and commented on others’ submissions. And now?

I don’t like it.

I don’t like the readings. I don’t like the focus. I don’t like the assignments. And now I’m all resentful, because all my extra time is spent on stuff I don’t like.

What to do? Spend another four weeks on something I don’t like? Or become a . . . quitter?

It turns out the answer wasn’t that difficult. The damn class was free. I’m the boss of me, right? What is my problem?

I’M OUT.

So I am now relaxing, in a cushy robe, some shades, and very refreshing beverage, happily focusing on my own story. Well, not “my” story – I’ll never tell that story. My made-up story about drugs and crime and murder. Totally made up.

 

Posted in I'm Just Making This Up, New Ways to Waste Time | 2 Comments

Breaking Up, Part Deux

So following up on my break-up with social media, the second “last straw” came when the internet attempted to crush me with an email inbox jammed with new messages, for the day – THE DAY – exceeding 100.

Email-Inbox

After a long day at the office, the very act of watching those damn emails load was enough to send my blood pressure through the roof. Clearly, unsubscribing from social media was not enough. Yet, this problem is completely self-inflicted.

Normally, I just hit delete delete delete and hope I don’t accidentally erase an important communication. But this time, something snapped, and I decided to put my annoyance to work.

I opened every single email (except the obvious spam), and unless it was received from some essential life source (like my bank statement or bill) or an actual communication from a live person with whom I wish to communicate (yes, I still use email for that purpose – so last century) I scrolled to the bottom of each message and hit unsubscribe.

Again and again and again.

Gone, newsletters I get for signing up for “free books.” Gone, RSS feeds telling me when someone has a new blog post. Gone, last chance sales for crap I can’t live without. Gone, newspaper alerts and headlines and and magazine subscription offers. Gone, coupons for stuff I don’t need to buy. Gone, that Amazon Daily Kindle alert. Everything I don’t want in my inbox – gone.

Most of these emails are the result of me subscribing to newsletters, blogs, contests, free books, etc. I really was interested in following the authors and reading their blogs. But there isn’t much sense in signing up for a free book if the resulting emails are going to take away all of my reading time, much less distract me from my own writing.

It pains me to admit that my inability to find writing time was solely the result of my own folly. Having dumped social media, aimless surfing, and useless email, I have spent dedicated time every day on my WIP. It really is a work in progress again.

And now, a glass of wine awaits on the porch for the “great book I’m reading” time. Just finished Lori Rader-Day’s riveting suspense novel, The Day I Died. Next up is Brad Parks’ The Good Cop.

Salute!

Posted in Killer Reads, Making Progress, Technology is My Nemesis | 2 Comments

I’m Breaking Up with Social Media

I’m not even using the fakey “it’s me, not you” line. It’s definitely them. And they are sucking the very soul out of my writing life. To wit:

Get off the internet

Pulling up the book featured on my daily calendar and related suggestions on Amazon.com  – 15 minutes

Scrolling through Facebook – 10 minutes

Pulling up books on Amazon.com that other people are raving about on Facebook  – 15 minutes

Scrolling through Twitter – 10 minutes

Pulling up books on Amazon.com that other people are raving about on Twitter – 15 minutes

Checking out Cake Wrecks – 5 minutes

Surfing for information about some inane point in my book and calling it “research” – 10 minutes

Checking out I Can Has Cheezburger – 5 minutes

Googling “writer’s resources” found Hemingway and a bunch of other stuff useful only if I actually finish a manuscript – 20 minutes

Pulling up daily Kindle specials on Amazon.com – 15 minutes

Hmmmm. Two hours. Two hours of my life that I could have spent writing. Pretty much every single day. Not to mention the cost of all those books on Amazon.com.

I’m not a moron. I just play one in real life. And even a fake moron can recognize real moronic behavior. So ten days ago, after my last whine-fest about not being able to get any writing done [sob] I gave social media and internet surfing the boot. I don’t miss it and I’m positive it isn’t missing me.

Coincidentally, without all the social media distraction, I am back together with Bob. I recently finished reading Chapter After Chapter (a schizophrenic ride, to say the least) and one of the resources the author mentioned was The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick. I didn’t even have to fight the urge to fire up Amazon.com, because this book is already languishing on my book shelf, half read. I gave up working through this a couple of years ago, but I pulled it out and decided to give it another go.

Voila! Now that I’m not surfing the best hours of my life away, I’m back into my writing groove. And enjoying a glass of Cline’s 2012 Red Truck, red blend, a budget-friendly, delightful summer porch wine, and some white cheddar cheese.

Posted in Making Progress, New Ways to Waste Time, Weekend Novelist, Yes I Need More Books | Comments Off on I’m Breaking Up with Social Media